版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[The Fine Art Of Attraction]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684148.htm

US schools are becoming bigger draws for Chinese students with artistic aspirations. China Daily reports.

Autumn is around the corner and students are gearing up to start university across the country, but many will be looking further afield - heading for the United States for fine arts courses that are becoming more competitive at home.

A rising number of Chinese students are using the opportunity of studying overseas to major in various fine arts, ranging from film and dance to painting and design. It's a marked departure from the usual preference for the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

"We've historically seen that many Chinese students are very reputation and rankings focused when selecting where they want to study. And the US is home to more than one-third of the top 50 art and design schools in the world," says Jessica Brandt, director of resource management at educational trends-research company World Education Services.

A 2016 study by the company found that the number of Chinese students enrolled in fine and applied arts programs in the US has more than tripled - growing much faster compared to leading subjects, such as engineering, business and management, math and computer science.

The intense competition for spots in leading art and design programs in China fuels the trend. The Beijing Film Academy, one of the country's top universities for fine arts, received nearly 25,000 applications in 2015. Of those, 498 were accepted. That's less than 2 percent.

Acceptance rates at universities around the country are similarly low. Nearly 900,000 applicants taking the national college entrance exam for fine arts in China every year. This leaves a huge number of students unable to pursue their interests.

That means many students, who want a top art education - even if they do not get into China's elite universities - will likely continue to consider leading universities in places like the US.

That, coupled with a growing job market in China that is seeing more professional opportunities in the art sector, makes majoring in fine arts abroad a solid choice for many Chinese students.

Many art students tell China Daily that the flexibility of foreign university programs make fine arts education abroad very attractive.

A special entrance exam is required to get into an art university in China. It can take nearly two years of preparation. Meanwhile, international fine arts programs simply require a portfolio and a letter of interest, which many Chinese students find much more achievable.

Chu Yiwen went to an extremely competitive high school in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. She decided to study art only near the end of high school, when it was too late to begin preparing for the examinations.

"I love my country, but the system was not very suitable for me because I hadn't figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. It would also have taken much more time to prepare for the exam here instead of just applying to schools internationally," says Chu, a senior who studies 3-D design at the University of Iowa.

Hu Rui, a student from Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in film and a master's degree in media arts from New York University.

He says that more Chinese students are considering art a viable option.

"There are more people starting to think about studying art," he says. "But it was difficult - almost impossible - to transfer schools or switch majors in Chinese universities, so I thought I'd come to the US."

The number of Chinese enrolled in public universities in the US has soared from about 20,000 in 2008 to more than 140,000 in 2016, a recent paper by the US National Bureau of Economic Research shows.

Some Chinese art students who graduate from US universities feel torn over whether to stay in their host country or return home.

They also struggle to place their own styles after receiving a Western education. Hu says that he would love to "compromise" by creating in both countries.

"Now that I have roots in China and the US when it comes to my art, my dream would be to have a life where I can do both - appreciate my Chinese upbringing as well as my art education."

Julia Davis contributed to the story.

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[The advantages of a different approach]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684147.htm

Many Chinese art students abroad say the biggest challenge they encounter in their studies is the different approach to education. But that is also their biggest reward.

"In China, basic techniques and skills are the priority. The standards of assessments are strict and rigid," says Wang Tian, a 31-year-old fashion designer in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. "In Western countries, the ability to think independently holds more weight."

Wang runs a design studio and tutors fashion design students in the international art program of the art school of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.

She advises students on their portfolios, helps them with critical thinking habits and suggests improvements to their designs.

Wang started to learn painting when she was 6 and took part in various Chinese art classes in the following decade. She was admitted to the London College of Fashion in 2006 at age 19.

But her studies in London were not always smooth sailing, especially in the beginning.

Her paintings, which perfectly recorded the shape, shadow and other details of their subjects, were "dim and without features", Wang says.

Her classmates, on the other hand, displayed abstraction, expressed proportion or employed multimedia methods in their paintings. Some used sponges, cotton swabs or their fingers.

But it was also the emphasis on critical thinking and constant questioning that helped make Wang more curious about the things around her and think creatively. Those proved some of the most enriching parts of her education abroad.

Zhang Yan, a Guangzhou-based jewelry designer, is also aware of the differences in art education between China and the West.

She earned her bachelor's degree in industrial design at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. She furthered her studies at the School of Jewellery of Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom and received her master's degree in jewelry, silver goods and related products.

"Art education in China focuses on the consequence," says the 29-year-old from Hunan province. "Teachers, parents and even students pay more attention on the finished product, the final result."

In Western classes, the process of research and production is much more valued than the result, she says. Students' opinions are respected rather than simply judged as good or bad.

Becoming inspired by research, developing that inspiration with experimentation and improving works with critical thinking and problem solving are crucial for students. But these are often neglected in Chinese art education, she says.

Art education is given due weight in the UK, where the education system is shifting from science, technology, engineering and mathematics to STEAM (STEM plus the arts).

Many art education organizations offer learning projects that meet the various needs of different people.

The numbers of UK museums, galleries and art fairs are impressive, and exhibitions are updated frequently.

He Yiyang, from Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, has been studying museology at University College London in the UK for the past year.

Speaking about her internship experience at the Royal Academy of Arts, she says the museum is an informal learning institute that is indispensable.

"The museum has built a collaborative relationship with schools. During weekends or at night, the museum is occupied by students for classes or workshops," says the 23-year-old.

Museum educators also help primary and high school teachers guide youth to appreciate and practice art.

"I think that is one aim of art education - to instill in each of us the beauty and purity of art, and to encourage people to live happier lives," He says.

Art education in China is also improving rapidly.

Many art teachers who studied abroad have brought back new concepts and teaching methods, says Zhang, the fashion designer. Curriculums have been updated, and international educational cooperation is growing.

The employment market is becoming more diversified, which means more independent and creative talent is needed, she says.

"There are still challenges to overcome, but I'm optimistic."

Contact the writer at xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Sino-ASEAN mingling to forge closer bonds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684146.htm

Vietnamese students enjoy time at Chinese university

After more than three years at Guizhou Minzu University, Luong Nguyen Hai Nam, a Vietnamese student, has fallen in love with the land, the sour fish soup and the local culture.

"Guizhou is my second hometown. I hope to spend my life here after finishing my studies," says Luong, 21.

He got a letter of admission from the university in 2013, giving him a first-class scholarship with a waiver of tuition fees, free accommodation and a 1,000 yuan ($150) monthly stipend.

Studying abroad is a challenge for a high school graduate, especially considering the language barrier and cultural differences. But he felt enthusiastic when he got to Guiyang, the provincial capital.

"My teachers were at the airport to pick us," says Luong, who can now speak Chinese fluently.

Luong, who is majoring in human resources management, says he hopes he can get a good job in Guizhou after graduation, with his proficiency in Chinese.

Xia Jingang, the deputy dean of the school of international education at Guizhou Minzu University, says the school works hard to help international students to adapt and study.

There are currently more than 200 students from ASEAN countries - including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar - studying at the university.

Hoawg Xuan Truong, also from Vietnam and a junior student at the university, says the ASEAN students and their Chinese classmates and teachers often gather and cook meals during weekends.

"This lets us taste other Asian dishes on campus and share our thoughts, as well as make friends from different countries," says the 28-year-old.

Hoawg says the gatherings have enhanced their understanding of different cultures.

According to Xia, activities are also held during local festivals to make them feel at home.

Luong says he has visited most cities in Guizhou in his spare time and communicated with the local people, and this has taught him a lot about Chinese culture.

He says he wants to be a bridge between China and his country.

"I will tell people about what I saw and heard and I hope to enhance mutual understanding."

Xia, for his part, says: "We will organize cultural activities twice a year in which these students can mingle with Chinese people."

Dong Xianwu contributed to the story.

yangjun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Bold, virtual race of skeletons]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684145.htm SAN FRANCISCO - Researchers at Stanford University are hosting a competition of computer-generated skeletons in a virtual race, as a crowdsourcing effort to gain better models of the bone, muscles and nerves that may help doctors manage movement disorders like cerebral palsy.

Sixty-three teams have submitted 145 ideas to the competition, one of five similar contests created for the Neural Information Processing Systems conference scheduled for early December in Long Beach, Southern California.

Lukasz Kidzinski, a postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering at Stanford supplies each team with computer models of the human body and the virtual world that the body must navigate, including stairs, slippery surfaces and more.

The skeletons, in the race, will be running, hopping and jumping as far as they can before collapsing in an electronic heap.

The goal behind the contest, which was dreamed up by Kidzinski, is to better understand how people with cerebral palsy will respond to muscle-relaxing surgery, as the surgery does not always work to improve a patient's gait.

Kidzinski works in the lab of Scott Delp, a professor of bioengineering and of mechanical engineering who has spent decades studying the mechanics of the human body and has collected data on the movements and muscle activity of hundreds of individuals as they walk and run. As a result, they can build accurate models of how individual muscles and limbs move in response to signals from the brain.

However, according to a news release from Stanford, they could not predict how people relearn to walk after surgery, as no one is quite sure how the brain controls complex processes like walking, let alone walking through the obstacle course of daily life or learning how to walk again after surgery.

Machine learning has reached a point where it could be a useful tool for modeling of the brain's movement control systems, but for the most part its practitioners have been interested in self-driving cars, playing complex games like chess or serving up more effective online ads.

The virtual competition, instead, could be a "more meaningful problem". "The time was right for a challenge like this," Delp was quoted as saying.

In addition to external challenges, such as stairs and slippery surfaces, teams in the competition face internal ones, such as weak or unreliable muscles.

They are judged based on how far their simulated humans make it through those obstacles in a fixed amount of time.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[US high schools' intake of foreign students slows]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684144.htm

NEW YORK - The number of international students going to the United States for high school is leveling off after years of rapid growth, according to a new study.

Researchers at the nonprofit Institute of International Education in Washington say growth is slowing as students have more education opportunities in their home countries and abroad. But the US remains a top study destination for international students, researchers say.

"The numbers have been growing at slower rates each year, but there's still definitely interest and growth in international students coming to earn a high school diploma in the US," says Christine Farrugia, author of the new study.

American high schools enrolled nearly 82,000 international students last year, the study found, more than triple the number from 2004. From 2012 to 2013 alone, the number increased 8 percent, but by last year, the annual growth rate had fallen to just 1 percent.

Much of the shift has been driven by students from China, who accounted for 42 percent of all international students at US high schools last year. Although their numbers surged in 2013 and 2014, researchers found, the growth began to taper off in 2016.

It reflects a similar slowdown of Chinese students going to US colleges and universities, which some experts blame on China's cooled economy and increasing competition from schools in Australia and other nations.

High schools in the US are also drawing large numbers of students from South Korea, Germany, Vietnam, Spain and Mexico.

Among students who go to the US for high school, more are staying to earn a diploma rather than for short-term exchange programs, the study found.

Farrugia says the shift reflects a growing number of students seeking to gain an edge when applying to US colleges.

"They're coming to get that experience, to get that admissions advantage," she says.

California has been the top destination for international high school students, with 12,200 last year, followed by New York, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts.

Foreign students make up only half a percent of the more than 15 million high school students in the US, and they are required to cover their own costs. The vast majority of them attend private schools, and more than half attend schools with a religious affiliation.

While growth among international students has slowed, the number of schools hosting them has continued to surge.

The study found that 2,800 high schools enrolled international students last year, an increase of 26 percent since 2013.

At the same time, US colleges are increasingly building ties with those schools as part of their work to recruit international students to campus, says Rajika Bhandari, head of research at the Institute of International Education.

"There's a realization that recruiting future international students to colleges and universities in the US is not just going to be about going overseas," Bhandari says.

"A lot of them are actually right here in our backyard."

Associated Press

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Antisocial kids more likely to end up poor, new study says]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684143.htm

CHICAGO - People who are aggressive, hyperactive and struggle in school with "antisocial behavior" are more likely to end up in persistent poverty, require welfare assistance, experience chronic unemployment and suffer premature death, a report says.

The research, conducted by the University of Michigan, finds that this kind of persistence in antisocial behavior proves to be a strong independent indicator, along with reduced cognitive skills, for individuals to become permanently unable to participate in the workforce by age 50.

Research on socioeconomic attainment traditionally focuses on cognitive ability and educational performance as key individual factors. But researchers have recently begun to understand that such non-cognitive factors as mental health, behavioral problems and personality traits play an important role in academic achievement, employment and related outcomes.

Jukka Savolainen of the UM Institute for Social Research used data from the Jyvaskyla Longitudinal Study of Personality and Social Development, which followed 369 individuals from a city in central Finland from ages 8 to 50 and beyond.

The region is ethnically and socioeconomically homogeneous, and provides a valuable backdrop against which social scientists can study how personality traits influence people's lives.

At age 8, the study collected teacher and classmate assessments of the children's antisocial propensity: Whether they were aggressive and unable to regulate their behavior, as well as teacher-assessed school performance, and control variables such as gender and family socioeconomic status.

At 14, the study gathered teacher reports about problem behavior and school data about academic performance.

In early adulthood, the study measured the participants' socioeconomic status and deviant behavior such as criminal behavior, heavy drinking and alcoholism based on a self-reported questionnaire and government administrative records. In midlife, at 50, socioeconomic status was measured using information from government tax, health and population records.

"There's a strong antisocial pathway which starts from having a type of lack of control, which later on manifests in persistence in delinquency and rule breaking," Savolainen says.

"While others grow up and mature, some people remain leading the fast life, drinking, fighting and divorcing at an earlier rate."

The researchers didn't find a direct line of cause between childhood antisocial propensities to socioeconomic exclusion, but the antisocial tendencies set in a motion a cumulative pathway to adolescent problem behavior, adult criminal behavior and, ultimately, midlife socioeconomic exclusion.

"The real meat of this contribution (of study) is to document the noncognitive, or antisocial behavior pathway, through these life stages as an influential cause of persistent poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage," Savolainen says.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Summer tales for the soul]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684142.htm The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

]]>

It isn't late to start some holiday reading. Yang Yang recommends a few popular books.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

In late June, British actress Emma Watson hid copies of The Handmaid's Tale in various parts of Paris for people to find and read. It was not the first time she played this game. At the end of 2016, Watson hid Maya Angelou's memoir Mom & Me & Mom in the London subway as part of activities for her feminist book club.

The Handmaid's Tale, considered a feminist novel, tells of a dystopian future in which women in the Republic of Gilead are deprived of almost all human rights. Many women are forced to become purely reproductive tools for upper-class men amid widespread sterility in a polluted world.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood had said in an interview that George Orwell's classic 1984 came to mind while she was thinking about her future novel.

Atwood said she was collecting news about banning abortion and contraception around the world when she read a report about a fundamentalist sect taking over a Catholic congregation in New Jersey. The name that the fundamentalists called their wives - "handmaidens" - also had affected her.

In Atwood's novel, women are divided into different categories according to their "purity" and child-bearing capabilities, under terms ranging from wives to "unwomen".

Although Atwood rejected the idea that she wrote the novel particularly for the feminist movement, she expressed a warning of sorts through the narrator's mother's words, "You young people don't appreciate things ... You don't know what we had to go through, just to get you where you are. Look at him (a husband), slicing up the carrots. Don't you know how many women's lives, how many women's bodies, the tanks had to roll over just to get that far?"

At the start of 2017, Atwood joined the Women's March in Toronto.

In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, "After 60 years, why are we doing this again? But, as you know, in any area of life, it's push and pushback. We have had the pushback, and now we are going to have the push again."

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

US writer Marilynne Robinson published her first novel Housekeeping almost four decades ago, but the Chinese version did not arrive until recently.

Her second novel, Gilead, which won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, had already been published in Chinese.

Housekeeping is not about housekeeping per se. It is about the transience of life, love, friendship and family. The novel involves a family living in a remote Idaho town called Fingerbone.

The town boasts a huge, picturesque lake, with a bridge for trains passing through.

A girl named Ruth and her sister Lucille live together with their grandmother Sylvia Foster, whose husband Edmund died in a train accident. He plunged into the lake with the train and was never found. Sylvia's three, quiet daughters had all left the town within a year.

Sylvia's second daughter, Helen, eloped with a man who later left her. Helen had to look after her own daughters, Ruth and Lucille, on her own. At the suggestion of a friend, Helen drove her two girls to visit Sylvia, but left them at their grandmother's house before she killed herself by driving into the lake.

Sylvia dies several years later and her two sisters-in-law arrive to look after the two girls. But they also move away after a cold winter, leaving the girls with Sylvia's youngest daughter, Sylvie. Ruth and Lucille worry that Sylvie, a drifter, might leave them at any time, since she always sleeps with her clothes and shoes on.

In the end, Lucille moves out and Ruth joins Sylvie to drift around the world.

The novel was shortlisted for the Pulitzer for fiction and listed as one of the best 100 English novels by both The Guardian and The Times newspapers.

The New York Times listed it as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, saying that Robinson "knocks off the false elevation, the pretentiousness of our current fiction. Though her ambition is tall, she remains down-to-earth, where the best novels happen".

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

British author Ian McEwan's novel was published in 2014 and has recently been translated into Chinese. The Children Act, touted as his best novel since On Chesil Beach, poses difficult questions regarding the law, religion, ethics, marriage and love.

At the start of the novel, 59-year-old Fiona Maye, a respected high court judge specializing in family law, is reviewing a case at home when she is asked by her husband for "permission" to have an affair with a 28-year-old statistician because their marriage is not physically intimate.

The shocked judge refuses her husband's terms. Amid the ensuing argument, she receives a phone call about an emergency case: A 17-year-old leukemia patient did not receive blood transfusion because he is a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious group, whose believers do not accept such medical treatment.

The teenager, Adam, is three months from his 18th birthday and is still under the Children Act which protects the young. After visiting Adam and finding him intelligent and kind, Fiona decides to force blood transfusion on him. Adam is saved and somehow develops special feelings toward Fiona.

Fiona later rejects Adam's request to live with her when he traces her during one of her work trips, but she ends up kissing him.

The novel ends with a sudden twist when Adam's leukemia returns. But he is now 18 and has the right to decide whether he wants to be saved.

Redeployment by Phil Klay

This collection offers some of the top stories about the Iraq War. The New York Times called it one of the best fictions about war after Tim O'Brien's Vietnam War collection The Things They Carried. Phil Klay's stories are "the best thing written so far on what the war did to people's souls".

US writer Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. From January 2007 to February 2008, he served in Iraq's Anbar province as a public affairs officer. Anbar was among the most violent places in Iraq.

In the 12 short stories, Klay recounts the war from different perspectives of people including a serving soldier, a priest, a public affairs officer and an army veteran. He shows how the war psychologically affected people sent from the US to Iraq and how the conflict damaged their souls.

Published in 2014, it is Klay's first book. It won the US National Book Award for fiction.

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Literary vacation ideas from five classic novels]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684141.htm

CHICAGO - The summer's drawing to a close, and you still have one thing left to do: vacation! There are so many places you could go, from Barcelona to Disney World. But you, being a literary nerd, might want to go to a place with a story - literally! We know there are plenty more amazing places with literary history, but here are five that will transform these last days of summer into classics.

The Hamptons, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sadly, East Egg and West Egg don't exist, so we'll have to settle for the Hamptons. Sure, you probably won't see parties as extravagant and crazy as Gatsby's, but you will see big huge affluent houses, only the best restaurants and boutiques, and who can forget the beautiful beach? See what attracted Gatsby to this lovely corner of Long Island (you know, other than the green light across the bay).

Yorkshire Moors, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

There's a reason why Catherine loved this place so much. The land is beautiful, and maybe a little bit eerie, which is why it is the perfect location for this classic novel. Feel the drama, the beauty and the mystery of Wuthering Heights. You won't forget the incredible views of Clay Bank or the gorgeous starry nights. You can also visit the Norman castle in Helmsley to add to the whole other-worldly feel. Who knows? You might run into the ghost of Catherine herself ...

La Mancha, Spain, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Experience the magical, medieval and mysterious feel of Don Quixote in real life. Even though it is no longer the 1600s, you will still feel like you time-traveled with Don Quixote himself. With the extraordinary castles, windmills and vineyards, the past is just a plane ride away. Just don't forget to pack your 17th century armor!

Concord, the United States, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Capture all the beauty and all the feels of Little Women while walking down a sidewalk covered in colorful fallen leaves. This place has so much history. It will be like the March girls will be right there, walking beside you. Other fun literary tidbits about this place include the fact that Henry David Thoreau frequented Walden Pond, and that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his essay Nature at the Old Manse. This place is perfect for historical fiction nerds!

Paris, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

Paris is a city known for artists, from Pablo Picasso to the "lost generation", so literary nerds have to go there at least once. The great thing about Hunchback is the fact that you can literally go to the main place mentioned in this novel - Notre Dame. Of course, still visit the Eiffel Tower, by all means, but keep in mind that this wasn't around during the time of which this novel takes place.

When you visit places like this, places that have been around during the 1400s and sooner, you really feel like you're stepping back into time. And who knows? You may hear Quasimodo ringing the bells from far up in the towers.

What are you doing still sitting there? Pack your bags! Get going! There's a whole literary world for you to see and your own story to write.

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684140.htm

Music

Flower boy

Whether throughout his tenure with the Odd Future collective, or alone on a handful of solo albums, US singer Tyler, The Creator (whose real name is Tyler Gregory Okonma) has seemingly liked playing the fool with foulmouthed, abstract yet poetic references to golf and wolves, as well as baiting listeners with scathingly misogynistic lyrics.

But was it all just a setup for the towering rap-rumination of Flower Boy, a comparatively serious look at the various struggles of youth, romance and self-empowerment?

To the free accompaniment of flip-floppy jazz and wonky-hop soundscapes, Tyler raps "tell these black kids they can be who they are" on Where This Flower

Blooms, as he morphs from being a weird pimp into a butterfly.

Such rich gamesmanship and honest confusion has rarely been achieved in rap, rock or soul.

Game

Pyre

Supergiant's games are unmistakable. Characterized by immaculate world buildings, lush colors, exaggerated character models, and hip-but-poignant soundtracks, the studio has established a firm aesthetic.

Its new game Pyre follows through on those style conventions, but switches gears in the gameplay department. The game explores a vibrant fantasy world of imaginative creatures and magic while engaging in an original sport inspired by old-school arcade classics. Pyre is also filled with sumptuous colors and unusual character designs, which helps the game world feel alien and beautiful. The ins and outs of the sport take many hours to master, but the campaign's learning curve is gradual and welcoming.

It is a lengthy sojourn into a surprising setting, with gameplay focused on a thrilling, smartly balanced battle sport.

Book

Build yourself

Are you striving for "resume virtues" - the skills that can potentially empower your future studies or career? Well, according to The New York Times columnist David Brooks you should slow down, as there is a different approach that might potentially get you even further.

With his recent book The Road to Character, he's sparked a conversation about building stronger inner characteristics such as kindness, bravery and honesty, which are important to forming genuine interpersonal relationships and inspiring self-gratification.

This book can be your springboard to maturity, and it can potentially offer you a road map for your personality-building endeavors.

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Tips On How To Deal With Phone Addiction]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/16/content_30684139.htm Might as well face it, we're addicted to more than love, intoxicants and gambling.

Far more prevalent and pervasive may be our addiction to smartphones.

A new study by IAB Global Research found that nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, of smartphone users worldwide look at their devices every 30 minutes or more. More than a fifth, 22 percent, tap into their phones every five minutes. Assuming 10 hours off for sleep, that's still 168 times a day.

And not by accident. Silicon Valley programmers tweak phones and apps to make you check them often. So argues Tristan Harris, a computer wiz and scene insider who sold his business to Google, then tried to do right as the company's designated design ethicist.

Now running the nonprofit Time Well Spent, Harris says smartphone technology is stoked with incremental rewards akin to the enticing payoffs of a slot machine: ploys to keep you hanging around.

For example, sit through one Netflix episode or YouTube video and you're rewarded with the next one starting automatically in a few seconds. Binge all night! It's a bottomless pit.

Whenever a LinkedIn pal rates you worthy at, say, "communications", you're auto-nudged to return the compliment. And to connect with his (or her) friends.

All that internet "love" you've been feeling is a devil in disguise. It's easy to be swept up in the acceptance and joy after a torrent of Facebook "likes" come in for your cute cat candid. So then, craving more, you post even stupider pet tricks.

Students, take note. Those instant-messaging study breaks you keep taking will likely lower your GPA. So notes a Frontiers in Psychology report on "Smartphones and Cognition" newly authored by Temple University Department of Psychology's Henry Wilmer, Lauren Sherman and Jason Chein.

Other research work cited by the team suggests that maintaining a "sustained focus" becomes harder for excessive smartphone users. Also, that the mere presence of a cellphone sitting on the table while a person is being interviewed can affect cognitive performance. Gotta tweet!

What's a body to do? Harris has good suggestions for breaking the smartphone habit. So does Adam Alter, a marketing and psychology professor at New York University and author of the amusing and alarming Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

More good advice comes from Alon Shwartz, a lifelong computer wiz, entrepreneur and father of three, who argues for kids having a hand in their own phone management destiny.

For starters, Alter recommends simply putting your phone in a drawer for several hours. Not so hard, if you don't forget where you hid it.

He also suggests "defanging" your smartphone. Dig into the device's settings and turn off all notifications that allow screen pop-ups and "dings" when you've got email. Stuff that perks up ears, makes you salivate. "Interruption is good for business," adds Harris. "Companies know messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously."

Beware the "just one click" come-ons, warns Harris. "Virtually all engagement websites use this trick. ... TripAdvisor asks for a single click review - 'How many stars?' - while hiding the three-page form behind the click."

Another con job? The false impression of "choice" when a list of user options runs the gamut from A to C. The menu makers win, argues Harris, "no matter what you chose".

Hide colorful app icons, the ones you tap habitually, watchdogs counsel. Bury the little buggers inside a folder on the third screen.

Harris suggests enabling a gray-scale screen (in settings) on your phone. When viewed in black and white, icons for Instagram and Snapchat aren't as enticing.

Numerous apps and routers offer to put connected devices on a timer, shutting off phones during dinner and homework hours.

]]>
2017-08-16 08:51:46
<![CDATA[Honoring An Art Lover]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638856.htm Chinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek received the French government's top award, the Legion of Honor, for his contributions to cultural links between China and France. Lin Qi reports.

Chinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years now, hopes he gets "some more time" to accomplish his mission of boosting the image of Shanghai's Yuz Museum, which he founded three years ago.

The 60-year-old says this in the museum's cafeteria in the booming West Bund cultural hub. Visitors find the museum - transformed from a hangar of Longhua Airport - a perfect weekend hangout.

Three exhibitions were on at the museum on Sunday: one of the Brooklyn-based artist KAWS, KAWS: Where the End Starts, which has concluded; Serpentine Door, the China debut of US artist Math Bass; and Will/We Must, which shows works of established Chinese artist Zhou Tiehai.

Tek says the main goal is creating a dialogue between Chinese and Western cultures. And for this, Tek received the Officer of the Legion of Honor from the French government.

It was bestowed by Alex Cruau, the consulate general of France in Shanghai, at the museum on Sunday night.

Attendees include artists and the museum's patrons, including Ding Yi, Fang Lijun and Xu Zhen.

The Legion of Honor - instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 - is France's highest honor for military and civil achievements. It is given primarily to French citizens, but sometimes presented to foreigners.

Previous Chinese recipients are the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei; Ba Jin (1904-2005), one of the country's literary giants; and business magnate Ma Yun, or Jack Ma.

Tek, who accumulated his wealth from his agriculture business, started to collect works with a focus on contemporary Chinese art about a decade ago.

He has also contributed to Sino-French cultural links since 2011. He loans his Chinese art to French institutions, such as the Pompidou Centre.

His Yuz Foundation, which runs the Yuz Museum, sponsored Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi's solo exhibition in Paris in 2013.

Last year, a retrospective of Swiss master Alberto Giacometti in China was held at the museum, in collaboration with the Paris-based Giacometti Foundation.

Tek calls himself a "matchmaker", who introduced Pompidou to the State-owned West Bund Group.

The two announced in July a five-year project from 2019 to 2024. It features many cultural programs, including showing the Paris museum's collections at the West Bund art museum.

"The Legion of Honor is a great encouragement because it is a cultural recognition on the national level. It is rare," says Tek.

And he hopes it can raise awareness of what his museum has been doing.

"We are proud to say that our exhibitions, our team and educational programs have attained international recognition."

Tek says that when the museum opened in 2014, he told his staff they would have to work hard for five to seven years to make it popular. But it took less than two years. It tasted early success with the exhibition of Rain Room, a large-scale, immersive installation created by the artist group Random International.

Tek says the museum also introduces local artists with exhibitions.

He recalls hearing a collector say that he only collects antiques, which he believes are real treasures, and that he saw no good in contemporary works.

His response is: "China has produced a remarkable ancient civilization. To carry that heritage forward, people should work together to create a contemporary culture.

"Art museums are palaces of thoughts. It is our duty to manage museums so that they can make contributions to a country's cultural progress."

He says several contemporary Chinese artists exhibited at the museum have since been invited to show abroad.

"But we need to be very careful. I tell my team that one can make a wrong purchase, but one cannot stage a wrong exhibition.

"We normally spend two years preparing an exhibition. We try to spend wisely to make every exhibition a good one."

Yuz Museum was one of the first cultural institutions in the West Bund, an area of 9.4 square kilometers on the western bank of the Huangpu River. It features such venues as the Long Museum, founded by the collector couple, Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei.

Tek says that when his friends visited Shanghai over a decade ago, they asked him if there were museums that exhibited contemporary art, but he could find very few.

Now there are many, he says.

"When the Giacometti show opened, I told West Bund Group officials the exhibition would boost tourism."

He says they did not believe him until they saw the long lines outside the museum.

Tek says the director of a Paris museum once told him that a city without a good art museum is not respected.

"This museum (Yuz) belongs to everyone and Shanghai."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Clockwise from top: Visitors at the exhibition, KAWS: Where the End Starts, which features installations by US pop artist KAWS; Alex Cruau, the consulate general of France bestows the award to Budi Tek; a previous show, Overpop, at Yuz Museum, Shanghai.Photos Provided To China Daily

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Artist inspired by frescoes is a darling of big brands]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638855.htm There are piles of heavy books on tables, bookshelves and chairs in Liang Yuanwei's Beijing art studio. The 40-year-old has been researching fresco art both in China and the West.

This, she says, is her usual way of creating art - doing lots of research before putting her own feelings and ideas onto canvas.

Her style is reflected in her work. She loves repeating a single pattern - a petal or a flower. Repetition is Liang's way of expressing her feelings, hoping that viewers will focus on the movements of her brush instead of the pattern or the story her painting tells.

She says that although her monkish way of producing art is very slow, she persists with it.

She has worked with many top fashion brands.

She produced a painting for Dior's show in 2012. Earlier this year, she was invited to design a bag for Fendi.

"The art circle is small. So, I find that working with brands takes my art to larger audiences," says Liang.

When Liang was in Rome doing research on fresco art in Europe last autumn, she was invited by Rolls-Royce to be one of the seven artists from across the globe to create an artwork for its new motor car Phantom's glass dashboard, as part of a project called The Gallery.

Liang did an oil painting called Autumn Palette on a thin and long board, featuring leaves and flower petals, which was inspired by her visit to the Rolls-Royce factory in Goodwood, England.

It took her six months to complete the work in which she used techniques she had learned while studying Italian frescoes.

The scroll-like oil painting features Liang's repetition of patterns - leaves and flowers.

However, the artist says she wants to offer viewers a journey-like experience.

Liang, who was born in Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, got her bachelor's and master's degrees at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

After she was selected to produce artwork for the Chinese Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennial, she exhibited works in Pace London.

In recent years, Liang has showed great interest in classical European art and traditional Chinese art, especially that from before the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

In late August, she will go to Dunhuang, the home of China's largest Buddhist art trove in the caves of Gansu province, to learn about fresco art of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Liang says she wants to study Chinese literati art, or wenrenhua - an art form used by Chinese scholar-painters, who were interested in personal expression.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Sutras Saved By Soldiers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638854.htm Researchers are piecing together the incredible history of an ancient Buddhist canon rescued from Japanese invaders. Wang Kaihao reports.

It was a legendary military mission that saved priceless treasures from destruction and looting.

Chinese soldiers' bravery during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) preserved the 900-year-old Buddhist canon, the Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka.

The largely intact texts - the most-extensive surviving printed works of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) - are one of the National Library of China's four main collections.

The Beijing library revealed the findings of a July investigation into the scriptures' hidden history last week.

An expert panel journeyed through six cities in northern Shanxi province to piece together the puzzle of the texts' legacy. They pored over local archives, visited relevant sites and conducted interviews.

The precious Buddhist canon was originally collected by the Guangsheng Temple in Zhaocheng county (today's Hongdong county) in Shanxi.

It remained there for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1933 by a high-ranking, visiting monk. It took its current name at that time.

Monks had placed it in a sealed part of the temple tower.

Occupying Japanese forces visited the temple on the pretense of attending a ritual and tried to open the tower to steal the sutras in 1942.

The Eight Route Army led by the Communist Party of China sneaked through the Japanese blockade and spirited away the texts a night before the ritual. The soldiers stored the scriptures in coal mines and caves when Japanese forces scoured the area later.

Li Wanli is the son of the late Li Weilue, the commander who orchestrated the rescue operation.

He has collected historical files related to the Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka for about 30 years and joined the NLC's recent Shanxi expedition.

"Revolutionary pioneers sacrificed much to safeguard cultural relics," Li told last week's seminar at the NLC.

"Preserving a country's culture is as important as defending homelands against invaders. Saving the canon from enemy hands is just like winning a great battlefield victory."

His team visited the Guangsheng Temple and surrounding villages, and filmed interviews with about 20 elderly people with firsthand knowledge about the operation.

He describes the recent expedition as another "rescue mission", since many people relevant to the event have died. The team discovered vestiges in the bases of Buddha statues where the scriptures where hidden, confirming interviewees' recollections.

"We also learned many obscure details about the rescue," he says.

"It was an even greater struggle to counter the Japanese as they swept through the area."

Secret meetings and confidential mailing systems were planned to safely transport the scriptures. Local militias also concealed their whereabouts.

NLC researcher Li Jining says woodblocks for the 7,000 chapters were carved from 1149 to 1181 in today's Yuncheng, Shanxi.

The surviving version was printed in Beijing in the late 13th century on Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) emperor Kublai Khan's orders.

"It's a miracle of the world's printing history," he says.

"The encyclopedic collection includes not only Buddhist sutras, but also extends to philosophy, literature, astronomy, medicine and many other fields."

The Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka is the only surviving printed edition since the original woodblocks were destroyed during the Yuan Dynasty.

The sutras were sent to universities after the war.

They arrived at the NLC in 1949, the year of New China's founding. The institution spent 17 years restoring the ancient pages.

Today, 4,813 chapters remain in the library. Over 4,300 of those were rescued by the Eight Route Army.

Others were donated by private collectors. Some chapters were scattered around the country before the war and even showed up in Beijing's antique markets during that period.

"Some landlords contributed greatly to this heritage's protection," Li Wanli says.

The expedition visited the former residence of Zhang Ruiji (1872-1928) in Hongdong county. Zhang used his influence to persuade two schools of monks with divergent ideas to agree to move all the texts together to a safe place.

"His brother also led locals to boycott outsiders who wanted to buy them," Li Wanli explains.

Zhang's family collected 152 chapters of the Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka. His son donated them to the NLC in 1952.

Li Jining says the Shanxi trip also helped researchers resolve unanswered questions about the origins of the Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka.

They found stone steles that filled voids in the story of how the woodblocks were produced via 3,000 pilgrims' work under the leadership of a woman named Cui Fazhen and how the woodblocks were donated to the imperial court.

The NLC gave replicas of 100 chapters to the Guangsheng Temple and a local library in April.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Young artists' 'delusions' on display in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638853.htm They grew up with the internet, studied fine arts abroad and present at exhibitions around the world - including their motherland, where contemporary art and the market have both prospered.

A group show of dozens of works by young Chinese opened at the Tang Contemporary Art Beijing on Aug 5. Nine artists, many of whom were born in well-off families after the 1990s, are displaying installations, videos, paintings and photos.

The show's name, A Chemical Love Story, is borrowed from the title of a 1991 book about drugs by Alexander Shulgin and Ann Shulgin.

Bian Ka, who helped organize the show, says these young artists' pieces can produce "delusions like drugs can".

"They can access all the information they want through the internet and social media," Bian says.

"Their art comes from the virtual world and books, unlike the older generations whose works are often based on life experiences. This leads to delusions."

Qualifying artists had to be young, have studied abroad and have grown up in wealthy families.

"They're very international. Many resumes I received are in English. They even use English names," Bian says.

Chen Yimin signs her works as "Yorkson" rather than in her Chinese name. The 25-year-old, who recently graduated from London's Slade School of Fine Art, explains she uses her English name so audiences won't judge her by her gender or race.

Her mixed-media installation, To Job: Wars, was inspired by a Bible story and explores the dynamics of power and religion. Stained glass features two cartoons from pop culture, including the image of the French character Barbapapa, who appears as God.

"I think from a global perspective," Chen says, who lives in London.

The artist moved to Britain after high school.

She has staged two solo shows - one in her hometown, Guangdong province's capital, Guangzhou, and the other in London - and has displayed works in various cities in China and around the world.

"I prefer to do projects with different art institutions," Chen says of her future plans.

Bian says many of the young artists' works are "superficial and direct in expression" - and insists he doesn't mean this in a negative way.

It's a reality that most young artists and curators face in this age of globalization and the internet, he explains.

New York-based artist Liu Zhangbolong's pieces, for instance, feature three photos of university laboratories.

A video titled The Jog by Taiwan artist Musquiqui Chihying, who studied at Berlin University of the Arts, shows a person running inside a supermarket.

Bian says: "These artists see - and learn and think about - the world via the internet. But the reality of what people really experience in China, for example, is different."

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Keepers Of Time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638852.htm This weekend, Beijing Modern Dance Company will present a show on animals of the Chinese zodiac. Chen Nan reports.

On a recent humid afternoon in a rehearsal room of the Beijing Modern Dance Company, some 100 people sit on the floor chatting. Then they start to move under the guidance of 12 dancers.

"You tell me how you feel about this after the lesson," Gao Yanjinzi, the troupe's artistic director, tells the audience.

"You dance the way you want to. There is no standard."

The celebrated dancer-choreographer is giving a free lesson to interested people, and her dancers are demonstrating moves from the troupe's latest work, The Twelve Souls of Time, which will be staged at the capital's Tianqiao Theater on the weekend.

It will be the third round of performance of the show since it premiered in Beijing in May.

So far, the show has toured five cities on the Chinese mainland.

While the troupe, which was founded in 1995, has earned respect abroad, it still struggles to promote the art form at home.

Gao, a founding member who graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy with a major in modern dance choreography, has been trying to promote modern dance in China for long.

In The Twelve Souls of Time, which Gao has choreographed, she tells a story of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, inspired by Shan Hai Jing, or Classics of Mountains and Seas, a collection of Chinese legends written more than 4,000 years ago.

Gao created this sleeping "mountain god" that the 12 animals try to awaken. Through six challenges, the animals conquer their fears during a long journey and finally meet the god.

In the process, the animals also become gods themselves and safeguard the wheel of time.

In the Chinese zodiac, the years are given different symbols represented by the 12 animals. People born in each year are said to share some characteristics with the representative animal.

Gao has her 12 dancers imitating the moves of the animals through modern dance.

"Modern dance is different because you cannot categorize its moves. There are no limits. It's an art form that respects individuality. Both the dancers and the audience are required to be involved," she says.

"Audiences should abandon predictions about what they are going to see in a performance. The ability to imagine and interact with the dancers is very important," she adds.

Before The Twelve Souls of Time, Gao released her choreography work in 2013, Blooming of Time, which was inspired by the rotation of the 24 solar terms on the traditional Chinese calendar.

The Twelve Souls of Time continues her idea to pay respect to time, which marks the cycle of life.

"The 24 solar terms and the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac are essential parts of Chinese culture, which display the wisdom and philosophy of our ancestors," says Gao. "We want to introduce the ancient culture to the audience through contemporary dance."

Born in Guiyang, Southwest China's Guizhou province, Gao is a member of the Tujia ethnic group.

She has received a number of awards for dancing and choreography both in China and abroad, including the Grand Prix at the International Modern Choreography Competition in Belarus in 1999 for her choreography work Worlds.

She has toured the world with her dance shows.

In 2008, she was invited by German dancer-choreographer Pina Bausch to create and perform the solo work, As I Heard, which premiered at Bausch's festival in Wuppertal, Germany.

Gao's combination of elements from traditional Chinese culture and modern dance was highlighted in her work Oath Midnight Rain that premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2006 and used a score inspired by Peking Opera.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The dance show The Twelve Souls of Time is inspired by the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.Photos Provided To China Daily

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Mongolian desert tale inspires dance drama]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638851.htm When the dance drama Kubuqi, which is named after a large desert in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, was staged at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing on Thursday, the audience was introduced to a lesser-known fable of the Mongolian ethnic group through folk music.

The fable is about a magical flower, which can cure diseases among the residents of Kubuqi, a place in Ordos. But after being saved by the flower, a man takes it away out of greed, an act that turns the area's beautiful land into a desert. His mistake also brings him trouble but no one wants to help him except a girl who helps the man make amends and the flower bloom again.

Performed by the Ordos Singing and Dancing Troupe, the dance drama aims to raise environmental awareness. It has been staged 20 times, attracting nearly 20,000 viewers, since it premiered at the Ordos Grand Theater a year ago. Its recent show in Beijing was to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of autonomous region in August.

"When we decided to make a dance drama to talk about the environment, especially combating desertification, we naturally thought of the fable, which best shows what we wanted to say to the audience," says composer Cha Gan, who is from Ordos and spent two years finishing the composition for the dance drama.

Growing up in a herder's family on the grasslands, Cha, in his 50s, recalls he couldn't see the sheep while they were grazing in his childhood because the grass was tall. But about three decades ago, his hometown was hit by desertification. Efforts were made by the local people and the government to tackle the situation and improve residents' living standards.

"The desert's harsh environment resulted in poverty. The loss of grasslands is painful for herders who live by raising livestock. But now that we have got the grasslands back, we should protect them," says the composer, who has used traditional Mongolian elements, such as the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) and khoomei (throat-singing), to tell the story in the dance drama.

The actors and actresses from Ordos are connected to the changes of the grasslands, and helped deliver the emotions better, says the dance drama's director He Yanmin.

She says borrowing the name Kubuqi, which is spread over 18,600 square kilometers, was an attempt to remind the audience that the once-barren area got greener in recent years - more than 6,000 sq km are turning green.

Zeng Han, a senior local government official, says the sixth Kubuqi International Desert Forum, held in Ordos in July, praised the green drive of Kubuqi.

The Conference of the Parties, established by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, will hold its 13th session in Ordos over Sept 6-16, with about 5,000 Chinese and foreign delegates likely to attend.

The dance drama will be performed four times at the convention.

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Miao and Dong songs in limelight at unique choral festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/15/content_30638850.htm Two young women of the Miao ethnic group, clad in traditional dresses, sing on a boat that passes under an arched bridge over the Qingshui River in Southwest China's Guizhou province, raising the curtain for an international festival in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture.

The 2017 China (Qiandongnan) International Folk Song Choral Festival that ended on Saturday was held in Kaili, the prefecture's capital.

The festival's "world voices conference" drew 69 choirs from more than 20 countries and regions, including the United States, Mexico, Hungary and Russia.

It was perhaps the first time that traditional Miao and Dong songs were heard at an international event, according to Emily Kuo Vong, president of the International Federation for Choral Music, one of the organizers of the festival.

"It is a great chance for cultural exchanges as the festival also brings the most beautiful voices of the world to Qiandongnan," she says.

At the opening ceremony on Aug 10, local choirs, such as the Congjiang County Dong Choir and the Kaili Choir, performed songs with features of the two ethnic groups in Qiandongnan.

"Now I have a better idea about traditional Chinese songs," says Paulo Lourenco, the conductor of the ECCE Ensemble from Portugal.

Regarding differences in folk songs of Portugal and China, he explains: "These Chinese folk songs are based on the pentatonic scale, which is typical in Asian countries, while we use more harmonic and diatonic scales. And the instruments we use are also different from each other. Although folk songs vary among regions, music is a universal language."

Susan Nation, the double-bass player of the Chuck Nation Band from the US says she finds similarities between the ethnic culture of Qiandongnan and her homeland.

"I am from a part of America that is in the mountains and in the middle of the country. There is a very old mountain tradition. We have a similar history like the Miao and Dong (groups)," she says of the shared tradition of teaching songs from generation to generation.

With a history of more than 2,000 years, the "grand song" of the Dong people was derived from the sounds of nature, such as the chirping of birds or the flowing of rivers.

The song that eulogizes nature, labor and love was listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2009.

"We Dong girls start to learn the chorus from around 5 years of age. People from different villages gather under the drum tower (a building) and practice singing after working in the fields. The chorus also bonds us," says Qiu Xian, a local choir member.

Fan Ying, 50, a music lover from North China's Shanxi province, who was at the festival, says: "It was amazing to see the spectacular Dong chorus live. And the wonderful performances of foreign singers also broadened my horizon."

Many local choirs debuted at the festival.

Gan Wenhua, a singer from the Majiang County Choir, says his group had been gearing up for a performance by practicing more than five hours a day for the past month.

Sergio Quiroz, a singer from Mexico, says: "I was touched by the local voices. I hope our singing made them feel the same way."

The festival was held at the Kaili Cultural Palace of Nationalities.

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Choirs from more than 20 countries and regions take part in the international choral festival in Kaili, Guizhou province. Singers from the Miao ethnic group (left) and Kentucky Harmony from the United States perform at the festival.Photos By Xing Wen / China Daily

]]>
2017-08-15 09:26:04
<![CDATA[Lensman's Track Record]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/14/content_30589136.htm Photographer Wang Fuchun found fame decades ago with his book Chinese People on Trains, a project that is still ongoing.

A young woman looks deep into her lover's eyes as they scrunch together in a narrow bed, sharing one blanket, in a sleeping carriage of a train heading from Guangzhou to Chengdu.

The moment was captured in 1996 by Wang Fuchun, a photographer who's renowned for his book Chinese People on Trains, which features photographs capturing such moments in the lives of people traveling on trains.

Since 1978, Wang has devoted himself to photographing passengers on trains for nearly 40 years, and the 74-year-old photographer still sticks to this theme.

As time has passed, his collections of black-and-white images have formed a record of the changes in Chinese society and charted the transformation of China's railways as they have progressed the age of steam locomotives to diesel to the current era of electric bullet trains.

"His works show a strong sense of the times and display the spirit of the people," Yuan Zi, an author known for his young-adult fictions, said at a recent book event in Beijing to promote the release of the latest edition of Wang's Chinese People on Trains.

The book was first published in 2001. The latest edition includes 37 new photographs.

For Wang, the 1990s was a decade with rapid development and the country experienced great changes thanks to the reform and opening-up policy. It was also the period when his works became mature exhibiting aesthetic and historical value.

In one photo taken in 1995, a dog, standing on a table, stares hungrily at a young woman who's eating instant noodles in a sleeping carriage. Now that pets are transported separately from their owners when traveling by train, scenes like this can no longer be seen, says Wang.

Wang also outlines the fashions of the time through such pictures as a woman wearing a T-shirt with images of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, which were popular after the film Titanic was screened in China, a man using a prototype mobile phone, and two people listening together to a Walkman.

"Russian author Maxim Gorky said the subject of literature was humans. I think that is also true of photography," Wang says.

Guided by such a philosophy, Wang gave up landscape and wildlife photography to put all his energy into documentary photography.

"I would like to call myself the photographer nearest to people," Wang says.

According to Wang, the carriages in the 1990s could be crowded, muggy and smelly, yet the interactions between passengers neutralized the bitterness.

He wandered back and forth along the aisles of the trains observing the passengers, seeking to capture attractive and warmhearted moments: Men sharing cigarettes and alcohol, people playing cards, and parents trying to keep their kids amused were all framed in his viewfinder from a humane and humorous perspective.

"One thing I appreciate in his works is that by focusing on ordinary people, he presents a more positive perspective than merely showing the hardships," says Yuan Zi.

That optimism is rooted in Wang's childhood.

After losing both of his parents at a very young age, Wang was raised by his brother, who was working in the railway system, and his sister-in-law.

Although poor and with five children of their own to raise, they insisted on sponsoring Wang through a railway driver's school.

After five years' service in the military, Wang became a railway worker. Soon after the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), he started photographing the railways and trains.

With the privilege of free train travel as a railway employee, Wang traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and preserved tens of thousands of negative films through the 1990s. He might have traveled more than 100 times a year.

Wang's long-lasting attachment and deep affection for China's railways form the constant and primary motive for his 39 years' persistence.

During the mid-1990s, four or five diazepam tablets couldn't get him into sleep. However, the rhythmic rumble of the old-style trains was able to cure his chronic insomnia, he says.

Yet, Wang's devotion sometimes led to misunderstandings.

"When I wander along the aisle and look around, people will sometimes become defensive. Once a passenger mistook me for a thief and turned me over to the police. I had to show my work credentials and explain what I was doing over and over again before they would release me," he recalls.

As the Chinese people pay more attention to privacy nowadays, taking photos of strangers has become even harder. Wang was even punched in the face in 2015 when taking pictures of a passenger in a high-speed train.

Another challenge Wang faces is that people rarely talk to strangers nowadays. Instead, they appear in his photos concentrating on their cellphones.

"However, there are still interesting moments, interactions and stories on bullet trains and I'm trying hard to discover and capture them. For example, nobody talking and everyone staring at cellphones is a new story to tell."

Now in his seventies, Wang still grabs every opportunity to get on trains and photograph passengers in carriages.

His efforts for Chinese People on Trains will continue. Now he's working on a new edition of the book, which will be released next year.

"One can only focus on one thing in one's life. I'm so lucky to have my interest as my career."

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn.

]]>
2017-08-14 08:52:21
<![CDATA[Afghan child holds art show to help cancer victim]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/14/content_30589135.htm BELGRADE - An Afghan boy dubbed "little Picasso" exhibited his paintings and photographs in Belgrade on Wednesday, hoping to raise money for a Serbian child's post-cancer therapy.

Farhad Noory, 10, has lived in a refugee camp in the city with his parents and two younger brothers for eight months, during which time his paintings of famous people have made him a local media star.

His range of portraits include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, surrealist painter Salvador Dali and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Noory's family is part of the recent wave of migrants from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa who hoped to start new lives in Europe but got stuck in Serbia after a route was closed in 2016.

The boy's gift for art was spotted during language and painting workshops in Belgrade that were organized by local aid groups for refugees and migrants.

"We quickly realized how talented he was and sent him to a painting school as well as a three-month photography workshop. So this is a retrospective of what he learned there," says Edin Sinanovic of the Refugees Foundation, a local NGO.

In addition to holding his first exhibition, "Farhad wanted to help someone. So he chose to dedicate it to a 6-year-old Serbian boy who needs funds for his therapy after brain cancer," Sinanovic says.

Dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, Noory, who speaks a little English, says he was "feeling stressed" at his first exhibition.

The smiling young artist says he wanted to help a child in difficulty because "we need to be kind", and he hopes to meet the boy for whom he was fundraising.

In aid of the boy's therapy, Noory sold his photographs of everyday life in the city and prints of his paintings for 250 to 800 dinars ($2.5-8).

At the one-day exhibition in a cafe in central Belgrade, extra donations were collected in an old guitar case. Noory was to keep the proceeds from his original paintings, which were auctioned at the starting price of 2,500 dinars.

His family is among some 4,500 migrants staying in 18 state-run camps in Serbia now. Some 40 percent of them are children, according to Ivan Miskovic from the government's refugee agency.

"They have taken a long, difficult, serious and dangerous trip," Miskovic says, pledging to help Noory "develop his gift".

The youngster says he would like to go to Switzerland to study painting and languages, and the official expressed hope that the migrants would eventually reach their preferred destinations.

Agence France-presse

]]>
2017-08-14 08:52:21
<![CDATA[Chinese ceramic art class in Cairo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/14/content_30589134.htm CAIRO - Egyptian artists are learning China's ceramic techniques at a workshop in Cairo.

A Chinese artist and many Egyptian artists are making ceramic works at the workshop that aims to promote Chinese art among Egyptians to enhance cultural links.

They have been using plaster molds, boards and paper templates of fish and other shapes and designs during a 14-day event organized by the Chinese Cultural Center and held at the Foustat Traditional Crafts Center in Cairo.

Chinese ceramic artist Li Hongliang, who had given nine classes of 11 at the workshop, says the Egyptian artists responded well and some were qualified to join world competitions in ceramic art.

"I hope to maintain further interaction and communication with Egyptian ceramic artists through this workshop that cement ties between the Chinese and the Egyptian peoples as two nations of great ancient civilizations," Li says.

Ebtisam Zaki, an amateur artist in her late 50s, says when she heard about the workshop, she was so interested to join because she lived in China for a while and was fascinated by Chinese art, especially pottery and ceramic works.

"I have seen in China a lot of old and modern ceramic works with blue and white as (the) main colors and they really looked like our Islamic ceramic art, which shows the close resemblance between our two cultures," Zaki says.

Ancient pottery is seen in the antiquities of both civilizations in their different stages, indicating the originality and uniqueness of pottery art and artists in the two cultures throughout history.

Ahmed Eid, a ceramic artist attending the workshop, calls the project an important step in cultural interaction and people-to-people exchange. Art also deepens mutual respect.

"Cooperation between Egypt and China is as old as history, as they exchanged their strong cultural heritage through the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the Arab world including Egypt," Eid says, adding he hopes more such joint workshops will be held in the future.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-08-14 08:52:21
<![CDATA[Burst Of Patriotism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/14/content_30589133.htm China has seen a surge in the number of visitors to 'red tourism' sites in recent weeks. Yang Feiyue reports.

The recent military parade and celebration of the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army has boosted interest in "red tourism". And the number of visitors who have traveled to historical sites has increased across the board, major domestic travel agencies report.

The tourism is related to historical sites and places that record the revolution led by the Communist Party of China from 1921 to 1949.

And those who traveled to such sites in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area rose by 30 percent around Aug 1, according to Lvmama, an online tourist service platform.

Last year, such sites in the country received roughly 1.15 billion visits, up 11.7 percent over the previous year, online travel agency Tuniu reports, and tourism income from such visits was at 306.10 billion yuan ($45.74 billion), up 17.2 percent.

Beijing and Shanghai, and the provinces of Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guizhou, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu are the top 10 destinations for travelers seeking red tourism experience, according to Tuniu.

"Beijing was where several major historic events occurred and houses many such sites, including Tian'anmen Square and former residences of revolutionaries," says Zhao Huan, the publicity manager with Tuniu. "These places let people reminisce about the past."

Travel products, combining red tourism elements, hiking and sightseeing are popular in the summer. And the school summer vacation also helps to boost this kind of tourism.

"This is because many parents take their children to such sites," says Zhao.

Military-themed scenic spots, museums and historical sites also draw parents with children in August, according to Tongcheng Network Technology, an online travel agency in Jiangsu province.

Those between 14 and 35 accounted for 80 percent of all such tourists, according to Tongcheng.

Most such tourism sites feature mountains and water, and allow visitors to enjoy the "red spirit" while avoiding the summer heat.

Meanwhile, 10 red tourism routes connecting Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province were launched by local tourism authorities in early August. And nearly 100 red tourism spots were included for these routes. The routes tap into "red culture", while focusing on travel experiences along the way.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region abounds in such tourism sites and the most popular ones include the Beijing Military Museum, the Lugou Bridge, the Dagu Fort, the Pingjin Campaign Memorial, the Museum of the War of the Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, and the Monument to the People's Heroes.

The Monument to the People's Heroes has seen hordes of visitors to the capital over the years. The monument, which sits at the center of Tian'anmen Square, consists of 17,000 pieces of granite and white marble with bas-reliefs displaying eight major revolutionary episodes on the monument's pedestal.

The bas-reliefs showcase the fight to freedom in the course of the past century.

The former residence of Soong Ching Ling in Beijing is a popular draw.

The former residence, located in Houhai, in Xicheng district, used to be the garden of a royal mansion in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Soong moved into the mansion in 1963 and lived there until she passed away in 1981.

At the former residence, visitors can see a large number of photographs, documents and objects showcasing Soong's life, especially her participation in political activities.

The Langyashan scenic spot is also a household name as it was the spot where five martyrs fought to their deaths more than 70 years ago.

The scenic spot in Yixian county, Hebei province, is popular with visitors because in addition to commemorating the martyrs, visitors can also enjoy the mountains, karst caves and forests in the area.

Yu Ganqian, the deputy director of the Beijing Commission of Tourism Development, says: "Red tourism is a major highlight in Beijing", and the capital now has 100 government-accredited scenic spots for this tourism.

Beijing authorities will also arrange for retired PLA soldiers to interact with college students in September as the idea is to teach them about history, says Yu.

Last year, Beijing spent 57.10 million yuan on red tourism development, and parking lots, pedestrian lanes, seating, signboards and eco-toilets were provided at various historical sites.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-14 08:52:21
<![CDATA[Guiyang set to become major tourist draw]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/14/content_30589132.htm Contracts to develop a total of nine tourism projects worth 6 billion yuan ($893 million) in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, were announced at a tourism promotion conference in Beijing on Aug 4.

They include a geological tourism town, a self-drive camping site and a "red tourism" zone.

The projects are part of the city's efforts to become a tourism destination that offers diverse experiences, says Yuan Yunlong, director of the city's Tourism Industry Development Commission.

Guiyang is known as a summer getaway for its year-round cool weather and lush mountainous landscape. The average temperature is between 17 and 28 C all year round.

The city is expected to have 1,000 ecological parks by 2020.

New travel routes for visitors were also announced at the Beijing conference, and they will integrate the city's waterfalls, mountain parks, historical sites, ethnic culture and outdoor programs.

Guiyang's scenic spots usually see more visitors during the summer, the local tourism authority reports.

Approximately 30 million people visited Guiyang in the first six months of this year, up 18 percent year-on-year, and income from tourism was 85 billion yuan, up 33 percent year-on-year.

Last year, the city received 111 million visits from home and abroad, up 31 percent over the previous year, and the local government expects the number to cross 195 million by 2020.

Guiyang is going all out to attract travelers, and discounts are being offered to travelers from Chongqing, Nanchang in Jiangxi province, and Fujian province's Xiamen.

Separately, a total of 4 billion yuan will be used to upgrade or develop 23 scenic spots in the city this year.

As for new attractions, the Quanhu park, the Nanshan post, the Wanxiang Hot Springs and Nanshan water park have just opened to the public.

More flights and trains are also being introduced to make things easier for travelers.

The third phase of Guiyang airport will be completed by 2019, giving it a capacity to handle 35 million visitors per year.

And the high-speed rail system is also being expanded.

Currently, it takes eight hours by train to reach Guiyang from Beijing, but travel time is expected to be cut to five hours soon, according to Wang Yuxiang, the deputy mayor of Guiyang.

Rail connectivity to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is expected to be launched by the end of next year, and a rail line to Nanning in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region is now under construction.

]]>
2017-08-14 08:52:21
<![CDATA[Beautiful Bruges: Old-world Europe in the present]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/14/content_30589131.htm Walking through central Bruges is like a romantic journey into the past.

With centuries-old gabled buildings lining a web of canals and cobblestone streets, the vibe is quintessential old-world Europe.

Bruges also is one of the most beautiful cities in Western Europe, a place that has been called the Venice of the North.

Located about an hour northwest of Brussels not far from the North Sea, Bruges is the capital of West Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium. The city was spared major damage during the two world wars, so much of its medieval architecture is intact, earning the historic center of town a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2000.

Just walking the streets and along the canals is worth the trip, but there are a few mustsee sites around the city, including an early work by Michelangelo. Here are some:

The Markt

The large square at the city center is one of the most picturesque and bustling places in Bruges. A marketplace starting in 958, The Markt (Market Square) is often filled with pedestrians and bicycles crisscrossing past statues of medieval freedom fighters Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. The square is framed by the majestic Belfry Tower and Provincial Palace, seat of the West Flanders Provincial Court. Old, gilded houses with cafes on the ground floor line the rest of the square. Wednesday is market day, where traditional Belgian fare can be found.

Church of Our Lady

The spire of Our Lady towers above the city at 116 meters and claims to be one of the world's tallest brick structures. Inside it's like an art museum, filled with exquisite paintings, detailed woodcarving and elaborately-painted tombs. The real treat is Michelangelo's marble Madonna and Child, believed to be created around 1505 and the only one of his statues to leave Italy during his lifetime. Tickets for the museum are 6 euros ($7.06) for adults, 5 euros for seniors, kids 11 and under free. Note: The church is currently undergoing a major renovation that won't be completed until next year.

Groeninge Museum

Built on the site of the medieval Eekhout Abbey, the Groeninge Museum has a wide range of Belgian art, including paintings from the 18th and 19th century neoclassical and realist periods, Flemish expressionism and postwar modern art. The main focus of the collection is the works of the Flemish Primitives, including Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and Hugo van der Goes. Adults, 8 euros, seniors, 6 euros, and kids 11 and under free.

Begijnhof

This site is a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle in the rest of the city center. Founded in 1245, it was the home of Beguines, a group of women who lived pious lives without being part of a convent or monastery. Now a home for sisters of the St. Benedict Order, it features an expansive lawn planted with poplars, homes, an active church and a small museum that recreates the living quarters of a Beguine.

Saint John's House Mill

The Netherlands is famous for its multitude of windmills, but Bruges has four of its own. The Saint John's House Mill, built in 1770, is the only one open to visitors. Located on the northeast side of town, the Saint John's House Mill also is the only mill still in its original spot and still grinding grain. Closed on Mondays. Adults, 3 euros, seniors, 2 euros, kids 11 and under free.

North Sea

Belgium has a small coastline along the North Sea, but it's worth seeing (in the summer, at least) and only about 30 minutes from Bruges. Oostende is the largest town and the main transportation and fishing hub. Beach towns dot the coast, from Knokke near the Netherlands to De Panne near France. The beaches and dunes are perfect for a wide range of outdoor activities, from swimming and wind surfing to land yachting (think sailboat on wheels). The North Sea is very shallow, so low tide could mean a long walk to reach the water.

]]>
2017-08-14 08:52:21
<![CDATA[A destiny of love through music]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/13/content_30542395.htm A virtuoso heard his father's voice in the sonorous strings of the cello

As the first Chinese musician to join the New York Philharmonic, cellist Tu Qiang still feels humble, even after two decades of being part of the oldest symphony orchestra in the United States.

"Solos feature personal performance, while a symphony features not only personal performance but collective cooperation," Tu said in an interview with China Daily.

"The feeling is unparalleled - to express as much passion as you can but within a framework of cooperation," Tu added.

Joining the philharmonic in 1995 as the first ever Chinese musician in the orchestra, Tu began his cello studies as a 7 year old with his father Tu Zeguang, who was principal cellist with the China Broadcasting Symphony.

Tu's first cello was handmade by his father and friends who worked at an instrument factory. Tu still remembers the half-sized cello customized just for him made with wood from a bed board. His father made him three more instruments along the way.

"By modern standards, the craft value of those cellos was not that high, but the affection between my father and me carried by those cellos is something that cannot be matched," said Tu.

A love of classics

Tu's father not only taught Tu how to play cello, but also instilled in him a love for classical music.

Tu became obsessed with the sound of the cello as a child listening to his father practice.

"It felt like my father was talking to me," he said. "I later found out that it has long been claimed by musicians that the cello is the instrument that most closely resembles the human voice.

"Maybe I was destined from that moment to be accompanied by a cello for my lifetime," Tu said.

Making his solo debut at the age of 13 in Beijing in 1977, Tu began a two-year engagement as soloist with one of China's major symphony orchestras.

At age 17, he was awarded England's Menuhin Prize as a member of the China Youth String Quartet and was later selected by the Chinese government to study at the Sydney Conservatory, where he won the Parlings Award for Music.

Returning to Beijing, he was appointed associate professor of cello at the China Central Conservatory at the age of 20. At the same time, he became principal cellist of the China Youth Symphony and performed with it in Switzerland, West Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and Great Britain. His solo album, Meditation, was released by the China Record Corp.

Larger view

At a time when it seemed his prospects could not have been brighter, Tu quit his job. His study-abroad experiences inspired him to take a larger view. He wanted to become a world-class musician, which was also his father's dream for him.

With just $30 in his pocket, 22-year-old Tu boarded a flight to the United States.

"It was tough," Tu recalled.

He first went to UC-Santa Barbara on a scholarship, and then to Rutgers University to study with renowned cellists Bernard Greenhouse, Zara Nelsova and Paul Tortelier.

In 1995, Tu passed the tryouts and became the first Chinese musician in the more than 150-year history of the New York Philharmonic.

Before joining the Philharmonic, Tu said he had subbed with the orchestra.

"My first concert was Brahms' German Requiem with Kurt Masur. I was excited and nervous - suddenly I was sitting next to famous musicians. I was shocked at the orchestra's great sound," he said.

When he joined the orchestra, Tu had to give four concerts a week and there were more than 40 weeks of performance a year. Basically, he had to learn a new repertoire every week.

"I faced unprecedented pressure at that time," he said. To catch up with the orchestra, Tu practiced on weekends as well.

Today, Tu enjoys a multifaceted career as a performer, teacher and advocate for classical music.

Still a member of the New York Philharmonic, Tu has also performed as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician in Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

As a recording artist, Tu has released multiple solo albums on the China Record Corp label and chamber music recordings on the Bridge Records, Cala Records, and EMI labels.

A dedicated teacher, he is a member of the orchestral performance faculty at the Manhattan School of Music.

For Tu, the cello is more than just a musical instrument - it's also a lifelong gift from his father with love.

xiaohong@chinadailyusa.com

]]>
2017-08-13 13:57:09
<![CDATA[Strange summer of cinematic discontent]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/13/content_30541982.htm It's been a strange summer. Coming into the home stretch, the numbers seem to say "sure things" aren't so sure (clearly we've had enough Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers), girls can - gasp - succeed (Atomic Blonde, Wonder Woman) despite what boardroom suits think, and Marvel is getting lazy. Late August is a traditional dumping ground for wayward, unmarketable films, and as such has become a hotbed of pleasant cinematic surprise.

This year's Golden Bear winner at Berlin, On Body and Soul, comes from the same school of unconventional romance as Last Life in the Universe, Lars and the Real Girl and The Lobster. The film opens on two deer - a doe and a buck - wandering a wintery forest; silent, separated from the world, but attached to each other. The next images come from a simultaneously pristine and bloody slaughterhouse, where the retiring, resigned Endre (Gza Morcsnyi) works as finance director. Starting that day is the plant's new quality inspector, the icy, distant, and rigid Mria (Alexandra Borbly), who does nothing to endear herself to her coworkers. When a random break-in and police investigation leads to psychiatric evaluations for all staff, the significance of the deer in the forest is revealed. Endre and Mria are sharing the same recurring dream, and it unites them in a tremulous, cautious romance.

On Body and Soul tells a story as old as the movies: One about two damaged introverts ever so tentatively making an attempt at the kind of human connection they've long given up on but nonetheless desperately crave. But like Shakespeare, old stories are all in the telling - and in this case performance. Morcsnyi and Borbly, whose film it really is, turn in finely calibrated, economical performances that keep writer-director Ildik Enyedi's mawkish instincts from getting out of control. A slyly life-affirming film, On Body and Soul is carefully poised on the razor's edge of emotion, complemented by monochromatic visuals and an empathetic, melancholy Borbly who carries the day.

The latest entry into the burgeoning Conjuring franchise, Annabelle: Creation is the follow-up (in practice a prequel) to the creepy doll spin-off from James Wan's surprise 2013 hit, The Conjuring. The first entry, Annabelle, was an execrable example of cynical, clinical filmmaking that relied on the silliest of horror tropes with zero thought to creative execution. Thankfully this time, David F. Sandberg steps behind the camera to a much better effect. Sandberg made his debut with accomplished if unremarkable Lights Out, and here he doubles down on moody cinematography, deliberately layered tension and old-school atmospherics, all but guaranteeing a third installment.

In what appears to be the mid-1950s, toymaker Sam Mullins and his wife Esther (Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto) open their sprawling desert home to Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and six orphaned girls in her charge. The youngest, the polio-stricken Janice (Talitha Bateman) and her best friend Linda (Lulu Wilson), are immediately banished to the little girls' room, and feeling isolated already, Janice starts exploring the labyrinthine house and its various crawlspaces. Eventually she makes her way into the room that belonged to Mullins' deceased daughter. Cue demonic hi-jinks.

Compared with the understated On Body and Soul, Annabelle: Creation is a mess of outr emotion and cranium-pounding telegraphing, but each film is effective in its own way; both know exactly what they're out to accomplish, and do so with aplomb. Neither is perfect: Creation leans heavily on by-the-numbers horror convention, and is saved by an endearingly plucky central duo, particularly Wilson as the devoted, resourceful buddy. Body is a bit of an oddity as Berlin winners go, and on first glance seems a curious selection. After sagging in the second act and some tonal incongruity, once it's left to simmer for a while, a bittersweet love story emerges from the murky forest where much of the film is set. It could be called a dark feel-good movie - quite appropriate for one of the oddest summers in moviedom in recent memory.

 

]]>
2017-08-13 13:57:09
<![CDATA[Painting with a camera]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/13/content_30541981.htm Leo K.K. Wong's works make for a happy marriage of the photographic and the painterly. A show of representative works by the master photographer is now on in the city. Chitralekha Basu reports.

It's hard to believe Leo K.K. Wong never photoshopped an image in his more than 50 years of wielding the camera. In his rendition, lotus leaves appear in a stunning shade of cerulean blue. Plum blossoms growing on tree branches look like an intense fuschia red forest ready to erupt in flames.

The artist's steadfast loyalty to old technology seems to have served him well. Using a film camera rather than going digital allows him to manipulate the play of light on the photosensitive film roll. He says the surreal landscapes he creates are a result of allowing multiple exposures and varying the shutter speed. But then not everyone who prefers analogue over digital can invest nature with the luxuriant, fantastical, breathtaking allure that Wong seems to be able to achieve.

Extreme patience is probably at the heart of Wong's wondrous images in which lotus leaves floating on a pond glow like LED flashlights and a snow-covered landscape with a flock of herons grazing on it looks like a hand-painted Christmas card. Wong seems to have an intuitive sense of the perfect moment and the persistence to wait for hours together until he can freeze it.

When he had begun taking pictures, way back in 1965 (a somewhat late entrant to photography at 34) he would set off for Kowloon or the New Territories at 6 am and wait there until midday, training his camera on the stream of people who went about their daily chores. He would park himself in a quiet corner of the community play areas in newly-built housing estates, or visit the sprawling beaches where the kids frolicked around without a care. Wong says he misses the sense of sheer abandon with which children played on Hong Kong's streets and other public spaces in the 1960s. At that time he shot only landscapes in monochrome - an empathetic, sometimes joyous, nod to a way of life that was slower and less stressful than the way it appears now.

Cynics might argue that Wong's Hong Kong landscapes are way too beautiful to pass off as real. Even when he is portraying menial laborers and roadside vendors, there's a dreamy, somewhat unreal quality about them.

Wong tells us he wasn't necessarily ignoring the harsh and unsavory elements of life when he went about looking for subjects in Hong Kong's fishing villages, schools and marketplaces. "At that time Hong Kong wasn't a very rich society but you can see the people were quite happy."

Besides, he says, documentation of Hong Kong life was never a priority for him, although he ended up doing a bit of that as well by default. For the same reason he took care to not leave obvious and identifiable references to the city's architecture and generic features in his landscapes.

"I have consciously avoided including Hong Kong landmarks in my photos," says Wong. "Some photographers in my time would use a wide-angle lens. They wanted to include everything, like nowadays the trend is to take shots from high above. People say these would have a historic value. Then I never thought of my photos as materials for historical reference."

Learning from the finest

In the 1970s, Wong won the International Salon Exhibitions hosted by the Photographic Society of America, nine years in a row, picking up the top prize four times. And yet his first major solo show in his hometown was not held until 2002. By that time he had re-invented his photographic persona completely, going from monochrome to color, and from landscapes to abstract, interpretative takes on nature. In between, for about 10 years, he had stopped taking photos completely, choosing to study Chinese paintings and calligraphy instead.

He seems to have sought out the best teachers when he wanted to pick up a skill. Just as his medical degrees were earned at world-renowned institutes in the UK, when it came to cultivating artistic skills, Wong learnt his craft by watching the creative processes of the best in the line. His first guru in photography was the master photographer and portraitist S.F. Dan (Deng Xuefeng). Wong also learnt from his close friend, the photographer-filmmaker Ho Fan, who could manipulate the play of light and shade on the varying street levels in downtown Hong Kong to astounding effects. So when Wong decided to create photos with a painterly feel, he turned to the Chinese master painter Zhu Qizhan for guidance. "That old man was an expert in managing colors," says Wong. "His brushstrokes were very powerful. He encouraged me to do minimalist compositions, and use symbols and suggestions."

When he took up his camera again, in 1995, Wong was back in a new avatar, producing hypnotic, surreal images in vivid, unworldly colors.

Hong Kong, says Wong, became aware of his landscapes in monochrome only after he did a joint exhibition with actor Chow Yun-fat in 2009, in which Wong's black-and-white portraits of Hong Kong from the 1970s were placed against Chow's more contemporary ones. A retrospective of his oeuvre, spanning more than 50 years, can now be seen at Hong Kong's Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery. This is the first time Wong's work is in the market. Gallery owner Catherine Kwai informs the show has met with considerable interest from seasoned and top-level collectors, although the idea of photographs as high-value collectibles is yet to catch on in the city.

Kwai says they wanted to pitch Wong's photos as "works of fine art, with long-term collection value", a status she feels is richly deserved by a man having such a long and illustrious career. For a photographer who draws heavily on the painting traditions of China - from the splashed ink art technique to the minimalist charm of line drawings to the interplay of light and riotous colors - such recognition cannot be too far away.

]]>
2017-08-13 13:57:09
<![CDATA[Meet The Woman Creating Pyjamas To Wear To Dinner, Cocktails And The Office: Francesca Ruffini]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507991.htm The designer from Como, Italy remains ambivalent about the style trend she helped create

Francesca Ruffini is reluctant to be fashionable. In her home in Como, northern Italy, she started making the pyjamas she wanted to wear using the silk that the area is known for. Allergic to everything but cotton and silk, and wanting to be comfortable day to day, "I made some special pieces for me, just for my personal daily wear. They're useful with elegance, that's all. It's not a fashion story". But I'll have to disagree with her there. Since the launch last year, Ruffini has taken pyjamas not only out of the bedroom, but out of the house altogether - it's not unusual to see a pair of F.R.S. (named both For Restless Sleepers and with Ruffini's monogram) pyjamas being worn out to dinner, to the theatre, front row at a fashion show.

Ok, so perhaps they have been a little popular, she admits. "They became, for a few seasons, a kind of fashion. I was really surprised, and a little bit upset. It was a niche nobody was in, and now everybody seems to want to make pyjamas - why?" Because they looked so wonderful, of course, as the Italian style set wore them with jewelled sandals and oversized earrings to dinner - more effortless than a dress, more stylish than denim.

"It wasn't such good news for me! This was my small little world in Como, with all my fabrics, all my prints, all my dreams, and when I saw all these very important designers making pyjamas in their collections... it started from there, and then they arrived in Zara! If I go into Zara, I can buy pyjamas nearly exactly as mine, 100 euros, made I don't know where."

As a consumer, there's an appeal in feeling little bit undressed. "When I was a child, the first thing that I'd do when I got home, even if it was two o'clock in the afternoon, I'd change from my school clothes into pyjamas," says Ruffini.

Not that she holds with the current predilection for athleisure wear - the words 'gym pants' and 'baggy' come from Ruffini's mouth like curses.

Her focus is on elegance, elegance, elegance. "Even if the model is very simple, if you use a super-rich silk, that's a black tie fabric, a haute couture fabric - so then nobody realises they're pyjamas." The designs stem from classic masculine pyjamas - the overtly seductive pyjamas so often made for women have never appealed - "that's another world", she tells me. But they are cut "with obsession, because they must be comfortable, but at the same time, they must fit perfectly like women's trousers". Ruffini wears hers with a jumper and Vans when she's travelling, with a necklace to dinner.

The Daily Telegraph's fashion director Lisa Armstrong can often be seen at her desk wearing PJ trousers with a blazer, or the blouse tucked into navy cotton trousers.

"In my mind, it's always better to stay a little bit low profile than to show off. I never would come to a party dressed in couture," says Ruffini. "I'd prefer that during the party, somebody might just say, oh, this is nice. In my opinion it's also how you wear your hair: I've always worn my hair in a banana, it's like a chignon, since I was a 20-year-old girl. It was a little bit too old for me then, but now it's perfect. I really hate when women that are 50 and 70 dress like a girl who's 20, 25 years. For me, it makes no sense. They're not at peace with themselves.

"I'm over 50, and I never wear something that's shorter than midi."

She admires Jacqueline Kennedy's style as "she was always herself", but thinks Melania Trump is dressing up as someone else: "it's not very natural. Why do you need a stylist? You can do it yourself with your taste, your personality." Ruffini's own taste is more American than Italian, she says, as "Italian is a little bit more styled. It's perfect, it's always coordinated, if you wear the red shoes you must wear the red bag - no, it's not my taste. Nobody ever needs to know that you are wearing a designer. They must recognise you in your dress because it's your way of dressing."

For Ruffini, success isn't something to be measured in sales (although Matches, Net-A-Porter and MyTheresa aren't complaining about the brand's saleability). She would prefer to stay in her niche, making these pieces that she is so passionate about - no bigger line, no collaborations. Perhaps, she concedes, her silks could "decorate the table, the bed, the bathroom. You could use them also for fabric, wallpaper, why not?" It's clearly a disparate business model to the one her husband, Remo Ruffini, works to as CEO of luxury fashion house (and commercial giant) Moncler.

"It's a completely different mentality, because he lives in a super-big world, and he must face everyday a reality that is completely different to mine. But he always encourages me to do more, and try to go online with my eshop. And my sons, because they're very young, they see this world with eyes on the virtual, on the internet. They say to me, 'in one click, a million people can see you!'"

She laughs - but I'm not sure she likes the idea.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:07:15
<![CDATA[7 ageless style lessons from Helen Mirren as she turns 72]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507990.htm Helen Mirren has indisputably become a national treasure; she's our de facto stand-in for The Queen, a glossy but brilliantly British presence on the red carpet and an admirably honest and outspoken advocate for very modern issues like social media pressures which you might not expect a septuagenarian to become involved in.

Style-wise, the Calendar Girls star - who celebrated her 72nd birthday last month - has the knack of always looking polished with an inherent ease and joy to her look, whether it's a sharp suit or full-skirted gown. Here, we break down the building blocks of her ageless, sophisticated look.

1 Find your desert island designer: If Mirren had to choose one designer to wear forever, then we feel confident in assuming that she would bundle up her wardrobe of glamorously flattering Dolce and Gabbana and skip off into the sunset. The Italian design duo's cheerful florals and witty prints are rendered on dresses with cinched waist and romantic flared skirts which Mirren turns to for photocalls and premieres.

2 A quirky accessory will enliven a classic look: Exhibit 1. The black turban which Mirren topped her outfit with at the Power of Women awards in October last year.

Exhibit 2. A patchwork pouch bag which Mirren slung over her shoulder for a party at Versailles.

Both these offbeat accessories were paired with quite polite looksa black suit and a white lace dress respectively-but transformed them into something unique and memorable.

3 Confidence is your greatest asset: "There isn't a tip or piece of advice that works for all. I think 'fake it' is a good one, but going to the gym isn't bad either. Exercising is a very good way of controlling your mind. Yoga is all about meditative practices," Mirren told The Telegraph earlier this year as she discussed mental health at a L'Oreal event.

A quick glance at any shot of Mirren on the red carpet reveals this 3 'Fake It' (or maybe she's made it already?) approach; she's all dazzling smiles, jolly poses and perfect posture. It makes any outfit she wears look infinitely more fabulous.

4 Don't be afraid to go barefaced: When Mirren announced at the height of Christmas party season last year that she thought it might be time for us to begin going bare-faced, the statement did raise some eyebrows. "I think it would be wonderful if it became a fashion (to go barefaced)," she admitted. "Things are always cyclical, so I suspect we might've reached saturation with the whole selfie thing and maybe we're moving in another direction. It would be great if we are, without being puritanical, because I love make-up, dressing up, so I don't want to be 'Oh we've all got to go without make-up'."

I think what she is saying here is that we shouldn't consider a full-face of make-up the only option for looking and feeling good.

5 Suit up: While feminine dresses are Mirren's go-to look, she is also savvy enough to know that one cannot live on florals and frippery fabrics alone. So her other go-to look has become a sharply tailored suit which she teams with crisp shirts, slicked-back hair and sometimes a swipe of red lipstick. It's a complete step change but works just as brilliantly.

6 Rules are there to be broken: On the whole Mirren toes the lines with her fashion choices, striking a sophisticatedly modern rather than daring tone. But she does sometimes remind us that mixing things up is rarely a bad idea. See the time she wore her beautifully embelllished floor-sweeping skirt with the most simple cashmere jumper.

7 It's all in the hair: Close analysis of Mirren's style reveals that often the key to the effortlessly chic impressions of her looks doesn't necessarily lie in the clothes (as well judged as they are) but how she wears her hair. Sometimes it is styled into a glossy blow dry, sometimes it's tousled curls and others it's glamorously swept back. But it's always a style which would look as great on a 20 year-old as a 70 year-old.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:07:15
<![CDATA[Game of Thrones: Who are the Unsullied?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507973.htm A look at the history and inspiration behind the eunuch warriors

In George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, the inspiration behind HBO's Game of Thrones, Unsullied soldiers, taken as young boys and raised to become a fighting elite, are fully castrated, with all their parts removed when they are still children. (The show, in contrast, has implied this may not be the case for all of the men.)

As far as we know, there hasn't ever been a vast slave army composed entirely of eunuchs. But that doesn't mean that Martin didn't take indirect inspiration from history when creating his fictional troops.

Below, we explore the way the Unsullied are portrayed in his books, detailing their cruel training regime, before looking at some possible real-world parallels for the slave army.

Why are the Unsullied fully castrated in the books?

"In Yunkai and Meereen, eunuchs are often made by removing a boy's testicles, but leaving the penis. Such a creature is infertile, yet often still capable of erection. Only trouble can come of this. We remove the penis as well, leaving nothing. The Unsullied are the purest creatures on the earth," explains slave dealer Kraznys mo Nakloz in Martin's book A Storm of Swords.

Of course, as many bewildered fans of the TV show have pointed out, full castration would not necessarily be the most effective way to build a super-strong army, at least in terms of sheer brawn. Eunuchs cut as young boys, such as the Castrati singers who became popular in the 18th century, will not go through the same puberty changes as other men, because of a lack of the hormone testosterone.

But according to Martin's books, while the Unsullied soldiers may not gain the same physical bulk they might have done were they left intact, they more than make up for this with their discipline, fearlessness and lack of desire. Unlike Westerosi, Dothraki or mercenary armies, the Unsullied aren't going to go on any post-battle raping and pillaging rampages. They also aren't going to abandon their duties to cavort in brothels or have sex with each other, or run away to fall in love and start a family.

"A eunuch who is cut young will never have the brute strength of one of your Westerosi knights, this is true. A bull is strong as well, but bulls die every day in the fighting pits," Kraznys explains in the books, when questioned by Daenerys about why the soldiers are cut.

"The Unsullied have something better than strength ... They have discipline," he adds.

The training the slaves endure to attain this discipline, however, is horrifically brutal. Following their castration, the young boys taken to become Unsullied warriors must burn their removed body parts on a pyre dedicated to the Lady of Spears, the Unsullied Goddess. They must also harden themselves emotionally, adopting and raising a puppy for a year, then cold-bloodedly strangling their devoted pet. (Find Grey Worm and his love for Missandei just a tad too adorable on the show? Picture him throttling a lovable pooch to death.)

To finally "graduate" as a fully-fledged Unsullied soldier, the test is even more horrible. The unlucky young men in question must go to a slave market, purchase a newborn baby from a slave dealer, then kill the infant in front of its mother. If they resist, they face death themselves.

Unsullied soldiers are also given a new, vermin-inspired name every day (in both the books and show, Grey Worm chooses to keep the name he was using on the day he was freed). The aim, in effect, is to strip away all humanity, creating an army of efficient automatons.

Which real armies might have inspired the Unsullied?

Inspiration-wise, Martin has always warned against drawing neat historical parallels, explaining that he avoids "direct one-for-one transplants, whether of individuals or of entire cultures".

That said, there are a number of historical armies who might have helped inspire the Unsullied. The horse-riding Muslim Mamluk armies of the Middle Ages, for example, were made up of slaves (the literal translation of the Arabic word Mamluk is "slave" or "one who is owned", although the term is used to refer to the men in these armies, and the dynasties they later founded, rather than to all slaves of the time).

Historians believe that the Mamluk tradition, which would endure for many hundreds of years, dates back to the ninth century, a time when mounted cavalry units were increasing in importance. Like the Unsullied, most of the men within the Mamluk armies were bought from foreign slave markets or captured while they were till young boys, then converted to Islam, and trained up to be loyal soldiers.

However, they were not dehumanised in quite the same way as Martin's fictional army. Instead, being a Mamluk soldier came to carry with it a certain amount of status. The soldiers were still obliged to serve the sultan they belonged to - but, because of their military prowess, and their importance in helping nobles maintain power, they often wielded considerable political clout themselves.

Indeed, in many notable cases, Mamluk armies would go on to overthrow their rulers, founding dynasties of their own in countries such as Egypt and India. In contrast, in Martin's books and the HBO show, we've witnessed the Unsullied overthrow their Masters, but only after being commanded to do so by Daenerys.

Other historical military forces often cited as possible inspiration for the Unsullied include the Ancient Greek Spartans, who certainly endured a punishing training regime (and gave rise to the modern adjective "Spartan", used to describe conditions which are notably austere and lacking in comfort).

According to the website History Behind Game of Thrones, there are a number of parallels between Spartan drilling and Unsullied training techniques. The Unsullied, for instance, are made to drink a special wine, the wine of courage, which deadens their senses and, across the years, slowly builds a tolerance to pain. The Spartans, however, simply relied on sheer hardiness, discouraging the young boys inducted into their ranks from showing any external signs of discomfort.

According to the website, this learned imperviousness was reinforced via an annual whipping contest, "known as diamastigosis, in which Spartan boys competed to see who could withstand flogging the longest without screaming or passing out". Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of competitors died during this "game".

Others, too, have drawn comparison between a legendary Unsullied battle from Game of Thrones history, alluded to in both the books and show, and the famous Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, depicted in the film 300. During the battle, 300 Spartan soldiers, led by King Leonidas, took on a vast Persian army, managing to hold them back for several days before nobly fighting to the death.

The popular, Hollywood version of events is of course a little exaggerated: the 300 were in fact joined by around 7,000 or so other Greek soldiers, although they were still vastly outnumbered by the Persians.

Likewise, in Game of Thrones Daenerys is told of the legendary Battle of Qohor, which took place hundreds of years before the events of the books and TV show. During it, 3,000 Unsullied soldiers defended a city against a horde of 20,000 Dothraki.

There is, however, one important difference between the soldiers of ancient Sparta and the Unsullied. The Spartans were not a slave army, and instead induction into the ranks of the military was seen as the natural patriotic duty of high-born men.

What about that ritual dog strangling?

It was reported in 2013 that ritual slaughter of a dog may have been used as a rite of passage for young boys during the Bronze Age.

Archaeologists working on a site in Krasnosamarkskoe, Russia, were at first puzzled by the discovery of the remains of dozens of dogs and wolves, the bodies of which had later been burned and dismembered.

While the obvious explanation would have been that the canines had been used for food, the patterns left on the bones were not consistent with this kind of butchery. Further examinations also showed that all the animals had been killed in the wintertime.

Instead, the researchers speculated that the dogs and wolves, all of whom were aged between seven and 12, may have been pets, killed as part of a coming of age ceremony for young men to mark their induction into a roving warrior band.

There is apparently ample historical precedent for the existence of these kind of all-male groups, which would be formed by young men leaving their homes and families and banding together.

"These were young guys on the edge of society who occasionally would steal cows, and you'd rather they were off stealing someone else's cows," archaeologist David Anthony, one of the site's excavators, explained to Archaeology.org. "So they were expelled from their social groups and told to raid other communities."

Ancient Indo-European texts also reveal that, in some societies, the sacrifice of a dog was used as a way of marking a young boy's transition to manhood.

According to a National Geographic report on the excavation, the dogs at the Krasnosamarkskoe site could even have been "longtime companions - possibly even hounds raised with the boys from birth".

Of course, the relatively recent date of the discovery means that it can't have been used by Martin as direct inspiration. But the author may well have been influenced by some of the wider associations between dogs and young male warriors, and by the idea of a blood sacrifice as an initiation rite.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:08:24
<![CDATA[The knick-knacks that became great art - Matisse in the Studio]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507972.htm One day in 1942, a few months after his recovery following a near-fatal operation for stomach cancer, Henri Matisse fell in love.

By then in his seventies, he was passing an antique shop in Nice, when he experienced what his countrymen call a "coup de foudre", or thunderbolt - love at first sight.

The object of his affections, though, wasn't a woman. It was a chair.

"I was bowled over. It's splendid" he wrote to his friend, the Surrealist poet Louis Aragon. "I'm obsessed with it."

Here it is, in the first section of Matisse in the Studio, a fascinating new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Frankly, it's monstrous: a 19th-century imitation of a piece of Venetian Rococo flummery, with a seat and back shaped like cockle shells, arms carved to resemble menacing fanged sea creatures, and rough-hewn legs that look like they have languished for an eternity on the ocean floor.

If ever we required confirmation that love moves in mysterious ways, this is proof. Aragon called it a "gigolo". But, in a series of drawings and paintings displayed alongside, we see how Matisse, wizard-like, turned it into something strangely beautiful.

The culmination of his "obsession" was Rocaille Chair (1946), an important late oil painting. Gone are the flounces and textures of the original. In their place are rapid, lambent brushwork, and a dramatic crop that emphasises the chair's voluptuousness, making its curves bulge against the picture's edges. Its dancing visual rhythm imbues an inanimate object with the charisma of a living person. The transformation is astonishing.

There are many spellbinding moments like this in Matisse in the Studio, which displays around 35 objects once owned by the artist alongside 65 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and cut-outs.

Throughout his life, Matisse had an extraordinarily sensitive, even sensuous relationship with the world of things. The objects he collected - African masks and figurines, Chinese porcelain, a glass vase from Andalusia, pewter jugs and silver coffee pots - weren't necessarily precious, in a monetary sense.

Rather, Matisse valued them for their fetish-like hold over him, which inspired him to work. Whenever he moved studio, he packed his motley collection of objects, which he called his "working library".

In a black-and-white picture reproduced at the start of the exhibition, they are grouped together, like children in a school photograph. Matisse wrote on the reverse of the original, which was taken in 1946, "Objects which have been of use to me nearly all my life."

Five years later, he expanded on their importance: "The object is an actor. A good actor can have a part in 10 different plays; an object can play a role in 10 different pictures."

In a sense, this new show is a sequel to another scintillating exhibition, staged 12 years ago at the RA, which explored the importance of textiles in Matisse's work.

The risk is that it could end up looking like a mess, an incoherent jumble sale of bric-a-brac resembling one of those flea markets that are so common in small French towns.

Thankfully, curator Ann Dumas, who was also responsible for Matisse: His Art and His Textiles, marshals her material with deft skill. The first section sets out her argument with clarity, by juxtaposing individual objects with works of art that they inspired directly. This is where we find the Venetian chair, as well as the vase from Andalusia. At once, we sense what drew Matisse to the latter, an appealing blown-glass artefact with a winning, wonky charm. Thanks to its lop-sidedness, it has an unmistakably anthropomorphic quality, arms resting on plump hips.

Nearby, a pair of silver coffee pots reveals the extent to which Matisse could transform unremarkable objects. In the marvellous Still Life with Seashell on Black Marble (1940), above, he turned one of them into a fiery being, with a priapic handle, seemingly aflame for the the luscious pink shell, reclining like a naked female model, to its right.

Later sections, structured according to theme, move beyond individual case studies. The next gallery, for instance, focuses on Matisse's infatuation with African sculpture, which he started collecting around 1906, when there was barely any market for it.

Today, we might accuse Matisse of colonialism: he disregarded the original context of the pieces that he bought. Rather, he was interested in raiding them for visual ideas: African art profoundly informed his radical remodelling of the female nude.

Throughout, though, the show's most satisfying moments are those which furnish us with direct links. For instance, Matisse owned a Roman marble female torso, which inspired his blue-and-white Forms, one of the plates in his illustrated book Jazz (1947).

Both works, ancient and modern, are sexy; an ingeniously positioned mirror reveals how closely Matisse followed the luxurious curve of the torso's backside. Yet, while the Roman piece is pitted and fragmentary, Matisse's image is a vision of sleek simplicity.

In the final gallery, we find a lacquered wood Chinese calligraphy panel, given to Matisse by his wife, Am��lie, for his 60th birthday, displayed above a selection of his paper cut-outs - much like it was in his studio in Nice. The panel wasn't included in Tate Modern's 2014 exhibition of Matisse's cut-outs, and seeing it here comes as a revelation: I had never reflected, properly, on the now blindingly obvious formal correspondence between his undulating cut-out motifs and the serpentine flow of Chinese characters. Extraordinary.

Matisse in the Studio is no blockbuster: not all the artworks are masterpieces, by any means. That said, I adore Red Interior: Still Life on a Blue Table (1947), in the final room. Someone, somewhere, should devote an entire exhibition to the under-appreciated series of late interiors to which this joyously uninhibited painting belongs. Its delirious black zig-zags were inspired by the "instinctive geometry", as Matisse put it, of Kuba cloths in his own collection - several examples of which hang above it at the RA.

Ultimately, this show isn't important because it creates the illusion of proximity to Matisse the man, by presenting us with the knick-knacks with which he surrounded himself. Its strength lies in its interrogation of the creative process. The thing about artistic inspiration is that it is infinitely subtle and complex - about as easy to grasp as smoke. Matisse in the Studio comes as close as any exhibition could to bottling the essence of the artist's creativity.

Until Nov 12; information: 020 7300 8000; royalacademy.org.uk

]]>
2017-08-12 09:08:24
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507949.htm

National Theatre of China Drama Dorogaya Yelena Sergeevna

Date: Aug 16-20 - 9 am

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

The lonely, melancholy math teacher Yelena Sergeevna has never thought that on such a cold snowy night, four of her students would have come to celebrate her birthday that she has almost forgotten. More unexpectedly, there is a "game" of youth hidden behind the beautiful flowers. The "game" starts from a key. The teenagers want to use it to unlock the safe which keeps the examination papers, and exchange them with the right answers they have brought. Since they are tenth graders who about to graduate, unsatisfactory graduation examination results will ruin their future. Yelena is the one who keeps the key, and she refuses to give it to her students. As the "game" goes on, dream and reality, truth and lie, passion and indifference, persistence and confusion, rule and free, defense and destruction, past and future, all are fighting against each other. What will it be like tomorrow after the struggle?

Romeo& Julia Koeren

Date: Aug 12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 50-320 yuan

Born of the stage, Romeo& Julia Koeren honors a musical storytelling tradition. The ensemble sings and emotes, making each performance a visual as well as a musical experience. The result is a unique form of vocal drama. Their eclectic repertoire spans from Italian Renaissance and French Baroque to Slavic songs and fiery folk tunes. Romeo& Julia Koeren takes the audience on a magic carpet ride that features tender tales of love as well as burlesque comedy.

Chekhov International Theater Festival 12th Night

Date: Aug 12-13 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Featured with modern choreography, this drama integrates strong Russian cultural flavor and musical dance elements, making use of British minimalist style in the set and lighting design, redefining the literary giant Shakespeare's fantasy about love. As a play performed in Russian, the drama, due to the director Declan Donnellan's ingenious arrangement, won the Best Director Award at the Russian "Golden Mask Awards", and the Chivalric Order of Culture" from the French government.

Summer Sonic 2017 Shanghai

Date: Aug 26-27 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai International Music Village

Price: 380-1,280 yuan

Summer Sonic Festival was founded in 2000 in Japan, with a focus on major national and international acts. Among the first bands in 2000's lineup were 311, Arrested Development, At the Drive-In, Ben Folds Five, and Coldplay. The EDM section of the festival was later split into Sonicmania, an EDM focused main stage held at a different time, which according to Time Out, "Held as a warm-up for Summer Sonic each year, the all-night Sonicmania party caters to dance kids who aren't so well served by the main festival itself" in 2011. Producer Creativeman formed a joint venture with Live Nation Entertainment in 2012. Live Nation bought full control of the venture in 2014.

26 Letters A Dancer

Date: Aug 22 - 2:30 pm/7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 60-300 yuan

The 26 Letter Dance is a journey into the world of letters and words. Physically and intellectually engaged in the piece, the young spectator is an active participant in this kaleidoscope rich in colors and textured dance. In this bold and playful work, choreographer H��l��ne Langevin invites children to take part in a unique experience in which they not only see a dance performance but actively participate in the various tableaux that punctuate the piece - loosely structured miniatures.

NCPA Opera Film The Long March

Date: Aug 12-13 - 2 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 60 yuan

After the Xiangjiang River Campaign, the Red Army enters Zunyi and gets a chance to consolidate. The Zunyi Meeting Announcement is proclaimed late that night, which marks a historic turning point in the Chinese revolution. Chased by the enemy, the soldiers start a raid of 120 km over the course of an entire day. They seize Luding Bridge marking the successful breakout. Ping Yazi, a young soldier, bravely tastes the wild plants but is poisoned and dies a heroic death. When the Red Army joined forces in Huining, Commissar Peng receives the last letter from Doctor Hong. This letter motivates the soldiers. The opera ends with the chorus Long live the Long March.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:09:44
<![CDATA[Declarer suffers from a strip]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507948.htm Bil Keane, who started the "Family Circus" cartoon, said, "I think it's a novelty for cartoon characters to cross over into another strip or panel occasionally." Some cartoonists do that with humor. Bill Amend's "Fox-Trot" comes to my mind.

We have a strip in bridge too, when a player is forced to lead away from an honor and lose a trick in the process. Usually it is executed by declarer, but sometimes the defenders can denude declarer.

In today's deal, how do the defenders defeat four spades by two tricks after West leads the diamond 10?

In the auction, South judged that he was a tad too strong to open four spades. North's redouble promised at least 10 points and fewer than four spades. Then, either North-South bought the contract or East-West played in something doubled for penalty. After East jumped to show his long club suit, South bid what he hoped he could make. (Note that five clubs doubled should cost 800.)

The defenders must take one spade, two hearts, one diamond and one club. But to get those heart tricks, East-West must keep declarer out of the dummy; otherwise, he can play a heart to his 10(an easy guess, given West's takeout double).

After the diamond-10 lead, East plays low. (If he wins, South unblocks his king and later overtakes his jack with dummy's queen.) Suppose South continues with his club. West wins, cashes the spade ace and plays a second diamond. East takes that trick and exits with his last trump, endplaying South in his hand to lead away from the heart king-10.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:09:44
<![CDATA[Listings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507947.htm SHOWS

Ultra Music Festival

Date: Sept 9-10 - 12:30 pm

Venue: Expo Park, Shanghai

Price: 780-1,280 yuan

Ultra Music Festival outgrew its Miami origins years ago, extending its beat-freaking tentacles into 23 countries across six continents by the end of 2018 for offshoot festivals and events that take the Ultra Music Festival atmosphere around the globe. Ultra Music Festival ambitiously entered Asia in recent years, cranking out a whopping eight-city tour of the region this past year with 6 of them happening within a 10-day period. More than 350,000 ravers attended events in Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Bali, Hong Kong, The Philippines and Japan, with 120,000 descending upon Tokyo's Odaiba Ultra Park alone over the course 3 days. That's not too far off from Ultra's flagship event in Miami that sees 165,000 over 3 days. During the 19th edition of Ultra Music Festival, it was revealed that China would be joining the Ultra Worldwide family. This year marks a grand expansion for the Ultra camp, with a new two-day festival in Shanghai, China from Sept 9-10. Ultra China will be held in the ExpoPark. Two days, 20 hours without a break, BASS, and a great experience in the main stage, the resistance stage and the Ultra Park Stage, with the nearly 40 live shows, together with the ULTRA team effort, they are bound to give you the best audiovisual experience of your life with their three-dimensional LED stage! With the rhythm of the perfect music, the crowds of people sharing one heart, which screams, Peace& Love & Union& Respect.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Concrete& Grass Music Festival 2017

Date: Sept 16-17 - 11:30 am

Venue: Shanghai Rugby Football Club

Price: 220-636 yuan

China's grooviest music festival is back. Same place, same weekend. 2 days and 2 nights of ultimate doses of every shade of fun. Rock roll rap trap funk jazz disco metal goodness, with all the usual (and unusual) trappings, distractions and ice cream. Still the most affordable escape from the urban grind out there. It's a widely held scientific fact that everything in the universe is improved by the company of others. We've built this festival on that principle - we're pretty sure you'll find something to love here (no loners in this parade). The discovery doesn't just happen onstage but all over our rolling grasslands. The left-field and righton. Pretty boys and shiny girls. The queer and the shy, the loud and the bombastic. The young and the old. Music, food, friendship and community in all its four-dimensional glory. Save the date. Concrete& Grass 2017. Sept 16-17, at the Shanghai Rugby Football Club. Lineup announcements are coming soon. Bring your smiles, bring your love, bring your friends, bring your family. We can't wait to show you what we've planned.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Royal Opera House Opera Film Cavalleria Rusticana& I Pagliacci

Date: Aug 24 - 7 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 60 yuan

Cavalleria Rusticana is a story deeply rooted in love, betrayal, and a love triangle. Turiddu has returned home from military service to find that his fiancee, Lola, has married another man. In his revenge, he seduces Santuzza, but discards her again and has an affair with Lola. Santuzza is devastated and tells Lola's husband, Alfio, about the infidelity. Alfio and Turiddu agree to a formal duel, and Turiddu is killed. A dramatic tale of love and betrayal, Pagliacci revolves around a commedia troupe. Nedda and Canio are married, however she is secretly having an affair with Silvio. Nedda even goes as far to attempt to break it off with Silvio. However their love is strong, and they plan to run away together. Tonio, also in love with Nedda, confesses his love to her, but she turns him away, shaming him. In an act of revenge, Tonio tells Canio about Nedda's affair. During a performance, Canio confronts Nedda, and stabs her. Silvio attempts to save her but gets stabbed as well. The audience, not realizing it was real, claps until Canio screams at them, "The comedy is finished!"

Contact: 010-6655-0000

A Coproduction of NCPA, The Metropolitan Opera, Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera & Festspielhaus Baden-Baden Opera Tristan und Isolde

Date: Aug 24-29 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-880 yuan

The opera Tristan Und Isolde marks the culmination of the German composer Richard Wagner's works. This masterpiece is a perfect combination of music, poetry, song, psychology, philosophy, sense and concept. Premiered at K?nigliche Hoftheater Munchen on June 10, 1865, this opera is regarded as a reflection of the love story between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck. Coproduced by NCPA, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden Opera, Teatr Wielki-Polisch National and Metropolitan Opera, the opera Tristan Und Isolde was debuted at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden Opera on March 19, 2016, followed by performance at Teatr-Polisch National (June 12th, 2016) and Metropolitan Opera (September 26, 2016). This opera is jointly directed by Mariusz Trelinsky an award-winning Polish director and Art Director of Teatr Wielki Warszawie (a Polish national-class opera house) together with his powerful team.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Jingju Theater Company of Beijing Splash Water Before the Horse

Date: Aug 12-13 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 120-240 yuan

Established in 1979, Jingju Theatre Company of Beijing is the largest professional performing arts ensembles of Peking Opera in China. The theater not only plays a key role in China's traditional opera circle but also enjoys a high overseas reputation. In the process of establishment and development of its arts brand, numerous performing artists made a great contribution, such as the "Four Major Masters of Female Characters" of Mei Lanfang, Shang Xiaoyun, Cheng Yanqiu, Xun Huisheng, as well as masters of other schools including Ma Lianliang, Tan Fuying, Zhang Junqiu, Qiu Shengrong, Zhao Yanxia, etc. They have left valuable wealth to the theater.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Ariana Grande Live in Shanghai 2017

Date: Aug 28 - 8 pm

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena

Price: 480-5,480 yuan

Live Nation is proud to announce Ariana Grande is bringing her world tour to China for the first time this coming August. The multiplatinum selling and Grammy Award-nominated artist is ready to ignite this summer with her debut performance in China. In less than a year, Ariana Grande captured the No. 1 spot twice, on the Billboard Top 200 - first with her Republic Records debut Yours Truly and also with its 2014 follow-up, My Everything, Yours Truly yielded the game-changing pop smash The Way featuring Mac Miller, which went triple-platinum, landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and seized No. 1 on the iTunes Overall Top Songs chart. Meanwhile, the platinum-selling My Everything garnered a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Pop Vocal Album" and spawned the six times-platinum hit Problem. Upon the single's release, Ariana became "the youngest woman to debut with over 400K sold firstweek," while the song ranked as the 5th "highest digital song debut for a female artist" and 9th highest ever. Moreover, it debuted at No 1 in 85 countries, topping the iTunes Overall Top Songs and Pop Songs charts for four weeks. In 2013, Ariana was named "Best New Artist" at the American Music Awards. Other accolades followed, with Ariana winning "Favorite Breakout Artist" at the People's Choice Awards 2014, the "Young Influencer Award" at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the "Radio Disney Chart Topper Award,""Choice Female Artist" and "Choice Single""Problem" at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards, and more. At the 2014 MTV VMAS, "Problem" was named "Best Pop Video" as well. 2016 saw Ariana released her mega-anticipated third full-length album, driven by the title track, which captured No. 1 on both iTunes Overall Top Songs Chart and Top Pop Songs Chart minutes after release. The album also debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, earning her the distinction of becoming the first artist to debut on the chart with the lead single from her first three albums. The album also hit platinum in China within 48 hours and it's approaching its 6th platinum now.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Musical West Side Story

Date: Nov 23-Dec 6 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

Price: 200-1,000 yuan

rovocative finger snapping of street gangs, Puerto Rican girls' whirling skirts on New York City's flat roofs, derelict West Side backyards - just a few notes of Leonard Bernstein's world-famous score, featuring songs such as Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty, immediately evoke these images of West Side Story. At its 1957 Broadway premiere the musical redefined an entire genre both musically and in terms of dance. The genius of its four creators - Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim - produced a piece whose great artistic quality remains unquestioned to this day. The film version won ten Oscars and brought the masterwork to an audience of millions just a few years later. Today West Side Story stands unchallenged as the No. 1 of American musical theater - daring, realistic, and as relevant as on the day of its premiere.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

National Theatre for Children: Baby Tadpoles Look for Their Mother

Date: Aug 19 - 10 am

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts

Price: 60-300 yuan

China Naitional Theatre for Children was formerly the China National Children's Art Theatre of the People's Republic of China. It was founded in 1956 and the first president was Ren Hong. China Naitional Theatre for Children shoulders the responsibility of providing outstanding children's theater works for the majority of young children, as well as that of the inheritance, development and innovation of the children's theater arts. The National Children's Art Theatre has trained several generations of artists and backbone in the children's theater art of China and has won numerous art awards. The Theatre has created and performed excellent children's theater works many times with tours all over the country and has been to Singapore, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Australia and other countries for exchange performances.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

ACTIVITIES& NIGHTLIFE

Zhao Bandi: China Party

Date: Aug 12-Sept 30 - 10 am

Venue: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Price: 30 yuan

The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art hosts this exhibition of the work of Zhao Bandi, which explores three decades of social change through realistic painting and photography. From the Olympics to SARs, this exhibition is a romantic and personal narrative of China's evolving social reality.

Contact: 010-5780-0200

"Wavelength - Rhapsody in Lines": 2017 Fashion and Art Week for Contemporary Artists and Designers

Date: Aug 12-13 - 10 am

Venue: Beijing Times Art Museum Price: Free

This August "Wavelength - Rhapsody In Lines" proudly presents recent works from 24 contemporary artists and fashion designers active in the US, Europe, and China. It will be the first time that the New York based serial exhibition, Wavelength, comes to China. Wavelength III will be held in Beijing, China, at Times Art Museum, Aug 5-13. The theme is "Rhapsody In Lines: New Consumerism: Fashion x Art." By bringing together conceptual fashion pieces, visual arts, jewelry, sculpture and multimedia installations, the exhibition illustrates a global trend in consumerism and lifestyle - the integration of Art, Fashion and social life. Beyond the artwork display, we will have pop store selling design products, host workshop for visitors to have hands-on experience.

Contact: 010-8567-9817

2017 Intelligent Food Trends Seminar

Venue: Diaoyutai State Guesthouse

2017 Intelligent Food Trends Seminar was held in Beijing in June. Fmeimei, a company that combines AI with the standardization system of Chinese cuisine, uses self-service intelligent terminal sales to sell takeaway food by internet remote control. They have completed setting up selling machines in 70 places in Beijing, and hope that more cities can share their internet technology.

Contact: customer@fmeimei.com

SPORTS

WWE Live 2017 China in Shenzhen

Date: Sept 17 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shenzhen Bay Sport Center Chun Jian Gymnasium

Price: 180-2,080 yuan

Fans attending WWE Live China will be able to see their favorite WWE Superstars, including John Cena, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, The New Day, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Sami Zayn and many more.

Contact: 400-610-3721

]]>
2017-08-12 09:09:44
<![CDATA[Night Riders In Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507908.htm The new tram tours cover Nanluoguxiang, Shichahai and historical and cultural sites

Clang Clang! A tram full of tourists move through the night in Beijing. Recently, Beijing Public Transport launched two night tourism tours where visitors can take the antique "clang clang" tram to enjoy the capital's attractions. The doors, window frames, floors and handrails of the trams are coated with wood-like material and the large windows give the visitors a clear view of the sights. The tours cover Nanluoguxiang, Shichahai and historical and cultural sites such as Tian'anmen Square, China Central TV Tower as well as the Beijing's Central Business District. Both tours start from Qianmen station, with the West tour at 7:30 pm and the East one at 8 pm.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:06:16
<![CDATA[A Fusion Of Ancient And Modern Fashion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507889.htm Chinese designers are setting themselves apart from the global competition today by turning to China's rich history for inspiration to create their contemporary apparel

Long before the invention of the qipao, or the cheongsam, there was a similar-looking type of clothing that most Chinese wore starting from as early as the 26th century BC.

Known as hanfu, or Han clothing, this traditional robe-like attire featured loose lapels and long flowing sleeves and was often adorned in vibrant colors. While the details found on the clothing changed through the centuries, the style of the hanfu has endured even till today, with a growing number of Chinese designers turning to it for inspiration and infusing elements of it into their contemporary designs.

"The old style is monotonous and makes people think of elaborate embroidery patterns featuring dragons and phoenixes. To make it appealing to today's crowd, we need to get rid of the original frame and be innovative," said Cai Wenqiao, an integrated design undergraduate student at Parsons School of Art and Design in New York.

For her final-year project, Cai designed eight pieces of clothing that were inspired by the Chinese prose called Peach Blossom Spring by Tao Yuanming, a famous writer of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). Four of the designs are meant for daily wear while the rest are suitable for formal events.

Cai used pink as the main color for all the pieces as it represents the peach blossom. She has also included classic hanfu elements such as embroidery featuring flowers and butterflies. Silk, a common material used to make Han clothing, was also the choice fabric for the project.

"The eight years of studying abroad has taught me the differences between eastern and western cultures. For this project, I wanted to find a balance between them," said Cai.

Apart from the hanfu, the cheongsam is another piece of traditional wear that is frequently used as the basis of modern Chinese clothing. One of the brands that is well-known for its contemporary renditions of the cheongsam is Danmang.

Established in March 2015, the Chinese company creates a variety of cheongsam-esque clothes that can be worn for daily life, work and even sport. It also has several creations that feature hanfu elements. Danmang currently sells between 350 to 450 pieces of clothing every month.

"Customers choose our product because they want to wear clothes that combine urban style with Chinese elements such as a small collar or embroidery on the cuffs or shoulders," said An Shiliu, a co-founder and designer at Danmang.

Apart from aesthetics, another reason why Danmang's clothes are popular is because they are practical and comfortable. Traditional Han Chinese clothing and cheongsams are usually long and fall below the knee, which could make movement cumbersome, and come with tightfitting collars that could be uncomfortable.

To address these issues, designers at Danmang have eliminated the shoulder pads, loosened the collar areas, shortened the skirts and even added pockets. Embroidery is also kept to a minimal.

The founders of Danmang initially thought that their target audience would be women aged between 25 and 40 years old. To their surprise, Danmang's designs have been well received by a much wider spectrum of consumers aged between 18 and 60.

Another Chinese designer who specializes in gentrifying traditional Chinese apparel is Uma Wang. After completing her studies at the China Textile University in Shanghai, Wang pursued a fashion degree at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.

She registered her eponymous label in London in 2005 and has showcased her creations at fashion shows in Milan, London and Paris.

Wang's creations have often been described as experimental. During the 2014 Milan Fashion Week, she unveiled a collection of ultralight-weight clothes made using Chinese paper that was processed in Italy.

"Mine is a continuous journey from East to West. It is a free movement on a long road that leads to Italy," Wang was quoted as saying after the show.

Bao Mingxin, a fashion culture research professor from Donghua University's fashion and design school in Shanghai, said there are several factors behind the growing trend of wearing Chinese-style clothing today and among them is a sense of national pride that stems from the rapid development of China's economy and its growing stature in the international scene.

Mike Bastin, a visiting professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing and a senior lecturer at Southampton University, wrote in a commentary earlier this year that this trend of combining the old and the new will not be going away anytime soon.

"Nostalgia provides an unfathomable depth of heritage for Chinese designers and should continue to feature prominently in their work, now on display across the international fashion landscape," he wrote.

"A fusion of nostalgia and modern influences should combine to set fashion trends for some time to come, with Chinese designers - often foreign-educated and Europe-based - well placed to contribute richly ... fashion's future is far from clear but what is clear is that Chinese designer influence and Chinese heritage infusion are here to stay."

He Qi contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at heqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-12 09:04:56
<![CDATA[Traditional Han weddings back in style]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507888.htm One of the most common dilemmas soon-to-be married couples in China face these days is whether to hold a Western or Chinese wedding ceremony.

The issue is so prevalent that most wedding companies have started to offer packages catering to either options.

At the Shanghai Wedding Expo that took place from June 17 to 18, a couple could be heard squabbling about this issue with a wedding planner by their side. Song Lichuan, the groom-to-be, wanted his upcoming wedding in November to be a Western-style one.

His fiancee Wang Ningning, however, was more excited about the prospect of wearing a traditional red and gold Chinese wedding dress which she said seems "more joyous" than a white wedding gown. She added that a traditional Chinese theme would also help differentiate her wedding from those her friends had.

Song and Wang are currently trying to reach a compromise. They might hold their wedding on a cruise liner instead.

"It will be very strange if all the guests turn up wearing modern clothes at a traditional wedding," said Song.

According to Zhang Wenhao, an increasing number of couples today are choosing to have traditional Han weddings. Zhang is the deputy director of Han Wei Yang, an organization that promotes Han culture by organizing Han weddings that feature traditional clothing and activities.

He said that the organization used to help plan about 10 traditional weddings per year since 2006. Starting from 2013, however, Han Wei Yang has helped up to 30 traditional weddings annually, a clear indication of the rising trend.

The most recent wedding that Han Wei Yang held was for a Shanghainese couple who studied abroad in the United States. They returned to Shanghai just to hold the traditional wedding ceremony.

The couple explained that they chose the traditional Chinese ceremony because they preferred the solemnness involved. They noted that Western weddings in China are nothing like those in the US where there is still a strong sense of tradition and ceremony.

A traditional Chinese wedding in China differs greatly from a Western one in terms of budget, clothes, magnitude and customary protocols.

With regard to wedding customs, couples need to perform certain tasks, such as drink wine from a special container made of a bitter hyacinth. This symbolizes that the husband and wife will share in each other's joys and sorrows in future. Another task involves cutting a strand of hair from the bride and bridegroom and tying it into a knot to symbolize a lasting marriage.

Zhao Qianqian, a wedding planner from Marry Me Wedding Planning Company, said that traditional Han weddings are generally more expensive.

"We usually don't recommend Han weddings to couples who have a tight budget," said Zhao.

The Han wedding package by the company starts around 30,000 yuan ($4,391) and includes wedding decorations, costumes, a professional team to coordinate the event and a wedding emcee. In contrast, modern wedding packages range from 10,888 yuan to 25,888 yuan.

Zhao said a big budget is required for Han weddings because of the many specific requirements that need to be fulfilled. Traditional Han weddings often require elaborate decoration and settings such as palace lanterns, Chinese-style pavilion and chimes. There is also a need for a specialized emcee who has been trained for several years in the art of hosting such occasions.

According to customs, there needs to be at least six bridesmaids and six groomsmen. The wedding couple would usually pay for their costumes too. In addition, the parents from the two families will also need to be dressed in special attire.

He Qi contributed to this story.

]]>
2017-08-12 09:04:56
<![CDATA[Joy of purity, simplicity: People and Stories of Kulangsu author's life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30464235.htm Zhan Zhaoxia is a scholar specializing in Gulangyu studies. In the mid-1990s, she was assigned to Gulangyu for work. Although grew up in the Tibet autonomous region, she calls Gulangyu her second home and finished the book People and Stories of Kulangsu based on her experience on the islet. She recently shared details of her life on the islet with China Daily reporter Li You.

Twenty years ago, you stepped onto Gulangyu, which is known as Kulangsu in the local dialect. What was your impression at that time? What are the differences compared with today's Gulangyu?

At that time, there weren't so many tourists on the islet. The residents were mainly elderly people and working staff of governmental departments.

With a total population of 20,000, the settlement was immersed in a strong atmosphere of life. The hospitals, schools, bookshops, drugstores, dry cleaners, bakeries hadn't moved out.

I remember the air was very clean, the leather shoes still shone without polishing for two weeks. The streets were also quiet, especially at night.

The music of piano could be heard from time to time. Today's Gulangyu has changed from a human settlement in many ways with its fame as a scenic hot spot spreading.

In former years, visitors fl owed onto the islet, making it once a "dirty, messy and crowded" place.

Thankfully, the Xiamen city government was alert to the issue and adopted a package of measures to deal with it.

Currently, the number of tourists has been controlled, endangered buildings have been recovered, the blocks turned back its clean and quiet appearance, the living standard of the people has been improved. I'd like to say, I really enjoy seeing the changes and I am proud of them.

When walking around in Gulangyu every day, wandering around the winding alleys, what did you see and feel?

From the so-called roof of the world, the Tibet plateau, I came to this islet on rippling blue water and lived here for more than 20 years, I think this is my fate and also my luck.

The red bricks, arched corridors, cornices of Chinese and Western architecture are what I am accustomed to see every day; and the piano from courtyard is what I often heard. They influence me subtly day by day. It can be said that it is the architecture and music of Gulangyu that awake my aesthetic sense.

In earlier years, I frequently encountered Shu Ting, the well-known Chinese female poet. We sometimes sat down, had a brief chit chat and quickly said goodbye to each other. The humanity and cultures are rooted in those people in Gulangyu. Inch by inch, it was opened to me. I infiltrate into it and it unconsciously becomes a part of myself.

Under what condition did you finish the book People and Stories of Kulangsu?

I always have the feeling that it was not my intention to write this book. Because my experience let Gulangyu become a part of my life, the writing process of the book was a natural flow of my feelings, to record the people and things that I love, to record this islet where I live. I'd like to dedicate this little book as a small gift to Gulangyu.

Tibet is the place where you spent your childhood, while Gulangyu is now where you live. What's the difference between those two places in your life?

The remote, rugged and cold Tibet plateau endowed me with the positive and pure side of my personality; the delicate Gulangyu taught me how to behave elegantly and gently. Although they are totally different places, I still hold the ideal that they share something in common, which are purity and simplicity, in my opinion.

Contact the writer at liyou@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-11 08:40:38
<![CDATA[Government, residents take pride in preserving heritage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30464219.htm Laws and regulations concerning protection of world heritage and scenic areas are providing guidelines for the conservation of historic roads, layouts and structures on Gulangyu Island.

Gulangyu hopes to leverage its cultural history and diversity by protecting its historical heritage and cultural scenes, according to Cai Songrong, deputy director of Kulangsu Cultural Heritage Monitoring Center.

A total of 931 sites have been defined as historic, including 19 national heritage sites, eight provincial heritage sites and 24 county level sites on the island.

"Gulangyu is a heritage site comprising of complex ... elements, such as historical buildings, yards, roads, natural landscapes and cultural relics," Cai said.

As guided by the principle of retaining the original state and style of such elements, a scientific and effective management scheme has been set up to lead the dedicated authorities to take appropriate protection measures.

Guidelines on Protection and Utilization of Gulangyu's Historical Buildings give suggestions on the layout of buildings, structures and construction, facade and decoration, daily maintenance, material and structural performance.

Laws contained in the Protection Plan of Gulangyu's Historic Buildings, The Conservation and Management Plan for Gulangyu Cultural Heritage Site and other regulations lay a good foundation for the heritage conservation.

Gulangyu belongs to the subtropical maritime climate zone, so architecture with a history of more than one hundred yeas can be easily corroded by the climate and plentiful rainfall, according to Cai.

Traditional crafts on the buildings have added difficulties to repair work, while local administrative authorities insist on employing local craftsmen to take over the restoration of the historic buildings.

The carrying capacity of the tiny island is calculated based on the ecology, space, social psychology and capacity of facilities.

The local government suggests that the maximum number of visitors at a specific time should be fewer than 30,000 per day.

"Gulangyu is not only a famous scenic spot but also the community of more than 2,000 native islanders," Cai said. "Controlling the number of daily tourists is an efficient way to ensure the comfort of the locals' daily life and the travel quality of tourists."

Currently, there are several different risk-prevention systems on Gulangyu to guard against disasters, such as emergency communication network, emergency rescue team and contingency plans and safety rules for typhoons, other storms and fires.

In addition to the efforts of governments and administrations, many volunteer groups are dedicated to conservation of the cultural heritage on Gulangyu.

The groups initiated by local residents work with local administrative authorities and communities to solicit public opinion, collect data, conduct academic research and monitor the progress, which won full support from the public.

"The best way of protection is to utilize rationally," said Wei Qing, director of a consulting team that worked on Gulangyu's application for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. The houses on the island can be used as household hotels, bookshops and coffee shops. A future plan for themed museums will use the vacant houses and former residences to showcase the islet's historic cultures, Wei added.

caoyingying@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-11 08:40:38
<![CDATA[The human element: progress focuses on rich history, culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30464202.htm Gulangyu has a lot going for it: Beautiful scenery, delicious food, historic architecture and a quiet atmosphere.

But after the island, known in the local dialect as Kulangsu, was recognized by UNESCO on its list of World Cultural Heritage sites, the officials charged with overseeing its development decided to focus on another aspect of island life: the human beings who settled there, and the unique culture they created.

The 1.88-square-kilometer islet was residence for around 14,750 people in 2015, including 11,265 permanent residents and 3,485 transient residents, who moved there not long ago.

"Since the beginning step of Gulangyu's application for World Cultural Heritage sites until it was successfully included into the list, the issue of its preservation is always under challenge," said Wei Qing, director of a consulting team that worked on Gulangyu's application for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status.

"The concept of human settlement of Gulangyu should be implemented throughout the preserving process," Wei said at a media forum held on July 28.

Through the effort made by local Chinese people, overseas Chinese and foreigners from varied countries, Gulangyu was built into an international settlement in the past centuries.

The diverse cultures and modern lifestyle rooted in the settlement embodies the modern concept of human settlement during the mid-19th to 20th century, according to Wei.

Before the 1980s, Gulangyu was a comprehensive system of human settlement, containing factories in which to work as well as home in which to live.

Starting in the 1980s, the local government proposed to make tourism the primary financial base for Gulangyu and made plans to move out the factories, some of the hospitals and schools that had been on the islet.

Thereafter, the tourism industry of islet gradually become the pillar industry, while factories shrank.

In 2008, the work on Gulangyu's application for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status was put on the schedule. Since then, the local government has recovered some of the historic relics and streets, human facilities and plants.

The ancient buildings of Gulangyu are incredibly hard to mend, said Dong Qinong, president of the Volunteer Association in Gulangyu.

All the construction materials including bricks must be shipped from Xiamen to the islet. After downloaded onto the islet, the materials have to be carried by human-powered carts, as driving is not allowed there.

The difficulty in transportation boosted the price of recovery projects and made them exceptionally time consuming. In 2008, local government proposed a policy to facilitate the operation of household hotels.

The social paticipants including more than 300 household hotels on Gulangyu invested more than 500 million yuan ($74.33 million) on the recovery of the old buildings, according to Dong.

"Although Gulangyu has become a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, it doesn't mean we should put it on the shelf and bury it under dust.

"We should make full use of civil power to protect the historical buildings on the island and rejuvenate the islet in the process of proper use," Dong said.

However, the overly heated tourism really affects the daily life of the residents. The high price of products drive residents to buy things off-island. To deal with the problem, Dong suggests government offer subsidies to island residents, supplementing the income they gain from tourism.

Another key concept rooted in this historical international settlement is the inclusiveness.

The government provided financial support to folk bands, letting them buy the instruments they wanted. It also sponsored the cultural activities on the islet, according to Cai Songrong, deputy director of Kulangsu Cultural Heritage Monitoring Center.

However, the core value of Gulangyu is rooted in its role as a historic international settlement. The preservation of human settlements needs the participation of generations, Wei said.

"We should make more communication with the local residents, encouraging them to work together in the preservation work and build up identity recognition as Gulangyu residents," Wei said.

]]>
2017-08-11 08:40:38
<![CDATA[Islet has well-deserved reputation as culinary haven]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30464201.htm In the early morning, when tourists first step onto the islet of Gulangyu, known in the local dialect as Kulangsu, their first goal is usually to watch the famously gorgeous sunrise from Sunlight Rock.

Then, they smell the food.

Shen's Changfen is one of the shops that tends to distract those visitors. The shop opens at the front of Fujian Road. When visitors find the shop, it is common to see a long queue waiting for service.

Changfen, a common snack usually seen in South China, looks like a long dumpling covered by rice-made peel, with egg, vegetables and meat within. The combined ingredients are steamed within a square steam box.

Shen's Changfen serves the most popular changfen on the islet. The rice peel is so thin that the ingredients inside are visible. The tender peel combined with the chewy shrimp as well as the fresh egg create its basic flavor.

The Chinese sauce, red pepper oil and minced garlic constitute the dish's soul. At the moment the newly cooked changfen is delivered to customers, they know all the efforts to find the place have been worthwhile.

Another must-try on the islet is the oyster pancake. If visitors have enough patience to wander around the alleys on the islet, they may find a group of household restaurants serving the dish.

A local chef with gray hair cooks the pancake on a street. He tosses the oysters, green onions and tapioca into a metal bowl, stirs them with chopsticks and mixes them into a paste.

Then he pours the paste onto the oil on an iron plate with heat underneath and fries it. Once the paste comes into shape, he places an egg onto it and then combines all the ingredients.

Because of the tapioca in the paste, the finished pancake looks like a jelly. The oysters within may remind eaters this is a traditional dish cooked by a real fisherman.

Visitors find that Gulangyu deserves its reputation as a culinary delight.

They can easily spot the seafood restaurants serving curry fish balls, steamed oysters, sate noodles, meat zongzi (glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo), fried sleeve fish and cookies. Visitors can also have a bite of the wax apples and passion fruits sold by the women standing along the streets.

After a good taste of the foods, visitors can also look around the bushes and corners of the streets.

If they are lucky enough, it is very likely they'll see some of the island's famous cats waiting for their share of the food.

]]>
2017-08-11 08:40:38
<![CDATA[Tribute To A Tech Hub]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463977.htm The Zhongguancun Notes, a nonfiction work by novelist Ning Ken tells the story of how China's Silicon Valley was formed. Xing Yi reports.

Award-winning novelist Ning Ken has just released his first nonfiction work, The Zhongguancun Notes, which tells of how the area evolved from a village to China's equivalent of Silicon Valley.

The idea of writing such a book came to Ning as he was browsing Secrets of Silicon Valley by Deborah Perry Piscione in 2015.

"Piscoine mentioned Zhongguancun in the last chapter, comparing Silicon Valley (home to world technology companies in the United States) with Zhongguancun and also an Israeli high-tech zone," says Ning.

"Although her tone was skeptical, the comparison shed little light on the role of Zhongguancun, it stimulated my interest."

Ning then devoted himself to interviews with people and field work in Zhongguancun for this book.

Ning, who was born in 1959, started writing prose and poems in the 1980s, and later shifted to novels.

His work A Masked City won a literary award named after renowned Chinese novelist Lao She in 2002.

The word Zhongguancun has long transcended its geographical meaning - an area in the northwestern corner of the Fourth Ring Road in Beijing - and become a byword for the country's booming IT industry.

There are a lot of books about Zhongguancun, but most of them look at it from a business perspective.

In Ning's book, the novelist tells of the history of Zhongguancun through the stories of people whose entrepreneurship forged and changed the place.

One of them is Chen Chunxian, a scientist with the Institute of Physics at the Chinese Academy of Science.

Chen was a top physicist and worked on nuclear fusion in the 1970s and '80s.

Once, on a trip to the US, Chen noticed the diffusion of new technology from laboratories to companies, from research to applications, in the Silicon Valley and Route 128 in Massachusetts.

Both the places have strong research institutes - Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - and robust private high-tech companies.

Since late 1950s, there were already many universities in the Zhongguancun area, so Chen envisioned a similar model for its development.

The late 1970s was when China has just adopted the policy of reform and openingup and private business was still something of a taboo for the Chinese.

So, Chen was discouraged by many people saying that he should not use resources from public funded projects to make money.

But despite the criticism, Chen started a department affiliated to his institute.

There was initial success but his plans soon faced resistance.

Chen's pilot program then got support from the then vice-premier Fang Yi after he read a document on Chen's plans in 1983.

In his comments on the document, Fang said: "What comrade Chen Chunxian is doing is fine and should be encouraged."

It was an informal approval, but it showed the attitude of the central government, which allayed concerns about the alliance between public research institutes and private companies.

The Zhongguancun boom started from there.

"It was a small step for Chen, but a giant leap for science and technology reform in China," says Ning in the book.

In his work, Ning refers to other key players, including Liu Chuanzhi, the founder of the country's biggest computer manufacturer Lenovo, and Cheng Wei, the founder of the ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing.

Speaking about China's Silicon Valley, writer Xu Zechen, who has also written a novel about the place called Running Through Zhongguancun, says: "What makes today's Zhongguancun is not money but people and their stories."

Su Di, the founder of Garage Cafe which is now the go-to place for angel investors and entrepreneurs in the Zhongguancun area, says: "Ning's book brings back memories of when I just started doing business in Zhongguancun.

"The strength of Zhongguancun lies in its stories, and that's what influences people who come here."

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[Among world's last matrilineal societies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463976.htm The Mosuo people, who live near Lugu Lake in Southwest China's Yunnan province, are among the last matrilineal societies on Earth. Women are in charge of everything from housework and looking after the livestock to making economic decisions and choosing lovers.

Newborns inherit the names of their mothers, not their fathers. Births of baby girls are celebrated more than baby boys.

"It so intrigued me that I stayed," Choo Waihong told an audience in Beijing last Thursday. "I lived among them and I made friends."

Choo's experience of living with members of the Mosuo people for six years is recorded in her book, The Kingdom of Women.

Hsiao-Hung Pai, a Britain-based journalist calls the book "a refreshing and authentic portrait of a hidden society in patriarchal China".

"At its heart, this is the story of what that experience did to Choo's attitude to her own culture as she explored the customs, habits and beliefs of her new friends," an earlier Guardian book review said.

The Mosuo people have 40,000 members and they can trace their ancestry in the area to as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

"When you meet with Mosuo women, you will find that they are very self-confident," Choo says. "They walk, they sit, they speak proudly and very self-assuredly."

Choo is a Singaporean of Chinese descent. She was a corporate lawyer in Singapore and California before retiring early in 2006 to travel around China.

Choo first learned about the Mosuo people when reading an article in a magazine about their festival in honor of the mountain goddess.

She stayed among the Mosuo people, spending six months every year with them for six years.

Choo sees the Mosuo's women-centric life as a privilege.

In a Mosuo family, the grandmother is the head of the household. All others living in the family belong to her matrilineal bloodline.

Mosuo women do not live with their husbands. Traditionally, the Mosuo people do not even have the concept of husband or wife. They practice "walking marriages", also called "visiting marriages".

Choo describes a marriage in her book, in which a man living with his extended family visits a woman in the evening, and they spend the night together in the woman's "flower chamber," which is a room every adult daughter in a family has.

Before sunrise, the man needs to return to his own home.

When Choo reflects on Mosuo culture, she constantly compares it with her own culture.

She thinks the "walking marriage" of the Mosuo people is revolutionary in contrast with the traditional Han values of her family, and her patriarchal father.

"He really believed he was the lord of our home," Choo says of her father. "He felt he had the right to have second wives all over the place."

Her mother, on the other hand, was allowed no right to have other lovers, and was expected to be the forgiving wife.

"The way of Mosuo society is there is no rule you must stay with only one lover," Choo says. "Nobody approves or disapproves of any choices you make."

It is the same for both men and women.

"Sex is not just a proprietary thing. Just because you and I have sex doesn't mean I belong to you exclusively, and you don't belong to me exclusively," Choo says. "I don't belong to you as property. No woman is the property of a man in Mosuo society."

Since the past 15 years, the unique traditions of the Mosuo people have been advertised to attract tourists to that area in Yunan, and Choo has noticed the influence of tourism on Mosuo culture.

"It is very true that tourism has invaded Lugu Lake and the Mosuo tribe," she says. "For the Mosuo, if you are included in the tourism economy, you make money."

More and more Mosuo people are becoming waiters, waitresses, chefs or drivers to serve tourists.

Education and entertainment also play a role on changing young Mosuo people.

"Now every home has a TV, so they are exposed to the outside world," Choo says.

The exposure was shown in one of the photographs by Choo during her talk in Beijing, which shows a Mosuo man holding a bright yellow smartphone.

Young Mosuo people are beginning to think that they do not want to practice the Mosuo way of love.

"My young friends in their 20s are getting married," Choo says.

Choo considers the gradual loss of Mosuo traditions as unfortunate, because they represent alternative possibilities.

"What we can learn from them is that it's possible to have a women-centric society and the world doesn't come to an end," Choo says.

Zhou Yifan contributed to this story.

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[Poised To Perform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463975.htm Beijing serves as a weeklong global platform for top ballet and choreography talent. Chen Nan reports.

On Aug 4, the world's budding ballet dancers and choreographers began flocking to the Chinese capital in a bid for that first big break under the watchful eyes of some of the best practitioners of their art.

The Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition, the fourth of its kind in six years, aims to uncover the dancers and choreographers of the future. The event is also positioned as a major platform for enhancing dance communication between China and the rest of the world.

"One of the highlights of the competition are the top-class international dancers and choreographers who are invited to be our judges. They will share their professional experience," says Zhao Ruheng, vice-president of the competition's committee. Zhao was also a dancer with the National Ballet of China and its former director, as well as one of those who initiated the event. "The judges are genuinely looking for the stars of the future. So what the contestants present has to be more than just techniques."

The competition consists of two categories - classical ballet and choreography - and it is open to contestants aged 14 to 22 for ballet and those aged 18 to 40 for choreography. It runs through Aug 11 and will be closed by two performances on Aug 12 and 13 at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Dance works include Flames of Paris (pas de deux), choreographed by Vasily Vainonen; and Adagietto, by choreographer John Neumeier.

The jury panel of the classical ballet competition will include Russian ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina, who performed with the Mariinsky Theater; Italian ballerina Viviana Durante, the former principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre; and Alexandre Riabko, the Ukrainian principal dancer of the Hamburg Ballet.

Nearly 20 international ballet dancers will also perform at the NCPA. They include Semyon Chudin, the principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theater of Russia; and Marcelo Gomes, the Brazilian ballet dancer who performs with the American Ballet Theatre.

Sergey Yurevitch Filin, the Russian ballet dancer and former ballet director of the Bolshoi Theater, serves as the president of the choreography division, which comprises jury members such as David Bintley, director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet; and Fang-Yi Sheu from Taiwan, the former principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

"Hopefully, more talented people will be discovered through this. We also invite the internationally celebrated choreographers to choreograph new pieces for young dancers," says Zhao, adding that the competition is held at three NCPA venues along with workshops and ballet-related movie screenings.

"I was discovered in competitions like this. This is a great project, giving so many young dancers and choreographers the opportunity to be noticed by the audience," says Julio Bocca, the president of the jury panel of the classical ballet division.

Born in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, Bocca started learning ballet at 4. His talent was recognized at 18 when he won the gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow. He was then invited to join the American Ballet Theatre. He later began to combine ballet with tango after meeting Ana Maria Stekelman, one of Argentina's leading choreographers and known for her fusion of tango and modern dance.

Regarded as one of the most important Argentine dancers of the late 20th century, Bocca has been visiting China since the 1990s. As part of the jury panel since the second competition in 2013, Bocca says he has been very impressed by the development of ballet in China.

"I've seen the growth of Chinese dancers and choreographers since I became a jury member of IBCC... It's not just about competing but also about presenting yourself," says Bocca.

Zhang Dandan, the former ballerina of the National Ballet of China and the director and artistic director of the Guangzhou Ballet since 1944, says that the audience is also crucial for the development of China's dance scene.

"When I was a dancer, I went abroad to participate in international competitions. Such a high-level competition is now held in China. It not just proves that China's dance scene is vibrant, attracting international attention, it also shows that audiences want to see more new dancers," says Zhang. "So we want to discover new talent as well as show audiences something they haven't seen before."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[Despacito opens doors for Spanish songs on English radio]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463974.htm NEW YORK - Despacito is easily the song of the summer with the success of the hit stretching beyond Spanish-speaking audiences to make it the year's most recognized song in the United States and elsewhere.

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's song, which has topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 13 weeks and counting, set a record as the most streamed song on Spotify and is the first YouTube video to reach 3 billion views. The song also has opened the door for other Spanish tracks to get airplay on American radio.

"The beauty behind (Despacito) is that it was never meant to be a crossover song. When I sat down with my guitar to write this song, I just wanted to write a great song that people would automatically connect to, and dance to, and really enjoy, so it was so nice to see how - in a very organic way - the whole world just connected to it," Fonsi says in an interview from Spain, where he was set to perform the worldwide hit.

"It wasn't really forced, it wasn't gimmicky ... it's sort of an accident if you will," he says. "There's something magical in that melody and in the beat and in the production ... and people in Russia and Australia and UK and France and US and South America - everyone's just dancing."

Despacito is the first mostly Spanish song to top the Hot 100 since Los del Rio's Macarena in 1996. The smooth jam about slowly falling in love has become a pop culture phenomenon since its release in January, selling more than 7.7 million tracks - based on digital sales, audio streaming and video streaming - according to Nielsen Music. It has spent 27 weeks at No 1 on Billboard's Latin songs charts, and while some believe Justin Bieber helped make the song a hit when he jumped on its remix, it's quite the opposite.

"Technically, the reason why Justin Bieber discovered the song was because it was so popular already," says Rocio Guerra, Spotify's head of Latin culture.

Despacito had reached the Top 40 on the Hot 100, and following the Bieber remix - which includes the pop star singing in Spanish - the song reached No 1. The remix spent 14 weeks on top of Spotify's global chart until last week when it was supplanted by J. Balvin's Mi Gente - another Spanish song finding success on US radio and the pop charts.

Mi Gente, a collaboration with Willy Williams, is No 30 on the Hot 100 after just a month on the chart.

"I don't think this is just something that happened overnight... it's something the Latin music industry and creative community, we've been working so long toward this direction, and I don't think specifically only in the US, it's a global momentum," Guerra says.

"There has been a domino effect," adds Guerra, who said there are currently eight Latin songs on Spotify's global chart, which includes 50 songs. "The more songs that we put on the global chart, people are getting more used to listening to songs in a different language."

She says that Spotify has spent the last two years pushing Latin music in regions outside Latin America: "We're proactively trying to push its consumption in countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the UK (and) obviously the US."

And there's proof it is working. Daddy Yankee became the first Latin artist to reach No 1 on Spotify in June, taking the spot from Ed Sheeran, and the Latin genre is third overall globally on Spotify, just behind pop and hip-hop.

Fonsi says he doesn't want to take credit for the success of Latin music on pop radio, but knows Despacito has helped set the mood.

"I hope that it's a door that will stay open for a long time. I think it's bigger than just this summer. I think it was (over) due for Latin music to get this attention and I love the fact that we're all collaborating in different languages," he says. "It's not about where you're from or what language you're singing in, it's about bringing cultures together and different styles, and it's good for music in general."

Associated Press

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[Grammy Treat Ahead]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463973.htm Music fans in China can expect to experience world-class live music, with the Recording Academy, creator of the Grammy Awards, announcing that it will hold a Grammy Festival in the country in 2018.

]]>
Creator of the Grammy Awards announces a touring festival of world-class musicians in China. Chen Jie reports.

Music fans in China can expect to experience world-class live music, with the Recording Academy, creator of the Grammy Awards, announcing that it will hold a Grammy Festival in the country in 2018.

The festival, a touring show featuring Grammy-winning artists, was announced on Aug 3 in Beijing.

"China continues to expand and grow its role as a force in attracting and engaging world artists," says Neil Portnow, 69, chairman and CEO, Recording Academy.

The US-based academy and the Chinese company Bravo Entertainment will hold the festival in China.

"We hope the Grammy Festival not only further elevates the music industry but also engages other industries to create powerful, global intellectual products," he told reporters in Beijing after the event was announced.

"I know some Chinese classical musicians such as Lang Lang, Tan Dun and Wu Tong who won this year's Grammy Awards with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, but we want more young musicians. I know hip-hop and jazz are also growing in China. That's what we want to do - to discover next-generation musicians for different kinds of music, to encourage them there is good future in music industry," he said on Aug 3.

During the news conference in Beijing, a traditional Chinese band gave a drum performance.

Portnow says that if Grammy-winning musicians saw that, they would go: "I want to play with them onstage."

"If you watch the Grammys, you know the favorite thing we like to do is unusual combinations, not predictable, combination of different generations, different genres and so this is perfect to mix up."

But Portnow did not reveal the festival dates for next year.

"My philosophy about something like that is to find wine in its time," he says, adding that the more important thing was to make the festival work out well.

The idea of bringing such a festival to China came in 2008 when Portnow was preparing for the Grammys' 50th anniversary. He says he wanted to do classical music and jazz for the show.

"We don't always do that. But 50th was a big anniversary, so we wanted to do something different," says Portnow, a fan of both classical music and jazz.

He found two interesting pianists among that year's nominees - legendary jazz musician Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang, a popular Chinese classical musician.

"So I talked to Ken Ehrlich, producer and director of the Grammys (in 2008), to discuss how we could combine them," Portnow recalls.

Accompanied by a full orchestra, Hancock and Lang Lang - four hands together - played George Gershwin's repertoire Rhapsody in Blue, with beguiling flair, setting the stage for the fireworks that concluded the show on Feb 10, 2008.

The awards also got the Chinese pianist named as the official ambassador of the Grammys in China.

Lang Lang invited Portnow to watch the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and introduced him to some key people in the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and musicians, including Yu Long, who is arguably the best-known Chinese conductor in the West.

"We talked about China, music and found (that) we share the same values to bridge cultures," says Portnow.

"Because (Chinese) culture is quite different, it seems for us that it's important to do cultural exchanges, not just for the Grammys but for society and for people to find ways to build bridges. So we started to think about how we could do something here."

Portnow came to China a few times after that and watched the annual Beijing Music Festival, created by Yu.

But bridging culture isn't easy. Making phones is easier because the process is technical, he says.

"When you are making art, it's very open and creative, and it's unpredictable. You have two cultures, two economies, two government systems, different regulations, time change, the distance, all of them make challenges, but anything good is worth doing. It takes work and we are prepared for the work."

The Recording Academy and the local company Bravo Entertainment have established China Music Vision Ltd, a partnership company, to work on the Grammy Festival in the country.

"We need local people who understand China and music, know both business and art," says Portnow.

Chinese people may feel familiar with the Grammy Awards but many don't know that it was the Recording Academy that created the awards in 1957.

"For 60 years, they've worked to help the world musically and culturally. They protect musicians' rights and provide music education in poor communities," says Michael Sun, CEO, China Music Vision Ltd.

"We hope to use the platform to bring more Chinese musicians to the world stage and connect them to the international music community."

The Chinese audience can watch the Grammys on TV, but Bravo Entertainment wanted to go a step further and bring them a live-concert experience with Chinese cultural elements in it, says company CEO Steven Fock.

"We will try to carry on the excellence that the Grammys are known for."

Contact the writer at chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

Musicians Lang Lang (left) and Herbie Hancock perform onstage during the 50th annual Grammy awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb 10, 2008. CHINA DAILY

 

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[US expert encourages eco-friendly investments in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463972.htm Diane Regas, executive director of the US-based Environmental Defense Fund, has recently felt more connected to China.

In June, her NGO received the approval of the Beijing Public Security Bureau to operate in China.

For the past 20 years, the NGO has been working with the Chinese government on environmental issues, such as using market mechanisms to control acid rain.

As an expert on environmental protection, Regas was invited to attend and speak at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May.

In her speech, she shared her long experience in the field in the hope that it may benefit green investments under the Belt and Road Initiative, she says.

Another point she made at the forum was that environmental investments should be made in line with the world's sustainable development goals and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

"The Belt and Road Initiative covers so many countries that it has the potential to have such a big impact on whether the world meets sustainable development and climate goals," she says.

"It's very important for China to look and do research to develop ideas to see how to make the investments big and consistent with the goals."

Regas joined the NGO, with its headquarters in New York, in 2006. Before that she worked for the US government's Environmental Protection Agency for more than two decades.

Regas was an adviser to former president Bill Clinton on environmental issues. She also chaired former president George W. Bush's task force on oceans.

In 2003, due to her accomplishments, she was given the Presidential Rank Award by the US government.

Regas, who is now 56, wasn't sure about what she wanted to do in the future when she went to college at age 18.

She studied Chinese history as an undergraduate student in the United States and was at Nanjing University in China for a short period thereafter.

She traveled around China to know more about the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a time of innovation in imperial China.

"Historians can teach us so much but I wanted to do things," she says.

So she went back to graduate school in the US to study environmental sciences and law, and became a lawyer and joined the US government later.

She says her drive to become an environmental advocate came from her experience as a child.

Regas grew up in Denver, a popular tourist spot due to its beautiful mountains and skiing options.

However, in the 1960s and '70s, as Regas was growing up, Denver, the largest city in Colorado, faced severe pollution and water shortage.

"When I was a child, sometimes the air pollution was so bad that we would have to stay inside (all day)," she says.

"Another thing is that we were very conscious of how precious water was because Denver is a very dry city. There was not always enough water coming from the mountains to support the city."

A young Regas saw how beautiful the mountains were as she went hiking, camping and skiing, but she also knew that people would be affected if the air wasn't clean or there wasn't enough water. "I saw the contrast and that got me started."

Now Regas cares about making the Belt and Road Initiative green.

"China is now in the leadership position, making us an encouraging set of commitments," she says of the world's climate goals.

People will ask a lot of difficult questions, including how the commitments will be implemented and other requirements consistent with sustainable development, but "that's good", she adds.

"There are things China will share with the world, and there is also a lot China can learn from the world. The two-way sharing is going to be very important."

yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[Foreign artist's project in Greece]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/11/content_30463971.htm ATHENS - Celebrated Argentinean artist Adrian Villar Rojas has transformed the outdoor space of the Athens National Observatory opposite to the Athens Acropolis into a "jungle", posing questions regarding disappearance, extinction, the passage and volatility of time.

Rojas' installation on the Hill of the Nymphs, entitled the Theater of Disappearance, is the first project he was allowed to set up in an archaeological site worldwide, according to organizers of the Greek Neon nonprofit that commissioned the work.

It is also the first time Greek authorities have given the green signal for such a major project at an archaeological site.

The Athens National Observatory, with a remarkable view of the Parthenon, is a landmark in the center of the Greek capital.

It is the first research institution established in Greece in 1842.

The observatory is part of the city's history and more often in recent years has tried through various events to highlight the links between science and art, its director, Manolis Pleionis, says.

"Opening up to a different kind of art and hosting the Theater of Disappearance was a challenge. Adrian Villar Rojas revealed with his work more potential of the historic site of the Hill of the Nymphs," Pleionis says.

On the Hill of the Nymphs, Rojas worked for months to sow 46,000 plants of 26 species, including bamboo, artichoke, watermelon, pumpkin and asparagus.

The vegetation gradually took over the hill, swallowing statues and will grow until the exhibition's end on Sept 24.

Since June 1, visitors have been able to walk through narrow paths to admire this "jungle" and discover the sculptural installations Rojas has hidden in vitrines among the plants as well as a barren zone that points to a war-torn site.

"What does it mean to have the soil beneath our feet?" the artist asks visitors through this intervention which also expands into the indoor spaces of the observatory.

"I come from Argentina, where essentially soil is a means of production... The strongest features of our national identity are our crops and cattle.

"When I arrived in Greece, I immediately understood that for Greeks what is below their feet was as constitutive of their national identity as it is for Argentineans, but in a completely different way. What was beneath their feet was culture: thousands of years of human civilizations," he says.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-08-11 08:26:30
<![CDATA[Reinventing Peking Opera]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/10/content_30417614.htm Peking Opera master aims to push the boundaries of traditional theater with shows that give the old art form a modern feel. Chen Nan reports.

Some members of the audience are thrilled, shaking their heads to the music, while others block their ears and leave the theater.

"These are typical reactions at Peking Opera performances," says Li Baochun.

"Some viewers, mostly seniors, are diehard fans, while young people find this ancient art outdated."

The 67-year-old Peking Opera master, the son of the late master of this old art form, Li Shaochun, does not deny that Peking Opera, which combines singing, dancing, acrobatics and martial arts, like many other such art forms in China, is struggling to survive in the face of a fading fan base.

The director of Taipei Li-yuan Peking Opera Theater - which he founded in 1998 after he moved to Taiwan - is pushing the boundaries of traditional theater and reaching out to audiences, especially the younger generation, with performances that give the old art a contemporary touch.

From Aug 11 to 13, Li will use Beijing's Poly Theater to present three productions: The Palace of Eternal Life, which focuses on the story of Li Longji, the seventh emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and his favorite concubine Yang Yuhuan; The Lotus Lamp, which is based on the Chinese legend about Chen Xiang saving his mother; and Zhao Kuangyin, the story of the first emperor of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Actors from Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, including Tianjin Peking Opera Theater and Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater, will perform together in the shows.

Since its birth, Taipei Li-yuan Peking Opera Theater has produced 44 original Peking Opera works, which have been staged nearly 200 times.

All these works are "new old plays", a brainchild of Li, in which "new" refers to new elements and techniques and "old" means the tradition.

Among the creations are Yun Luo Mountain, a revised version of a classic Peking Opera work, which Li's father performed, and The Jester, a Peking Opera version of Giuseppe Verdi's classical opera, Rigoletto.

For Li, absorbing new things keeps the Chinese opera fresh.

Every year, Li travels around the world to watch various shows - from contemporary dance and Broadway performances to rock concerts.

For example, in The Palace of Eternal Life, which premiered in Taipei in June 2016, Li mixed the Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera singing styles.

"Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera have many ways to interpret a role, especially complicated emotions.

"The soft, smooth Kunqu Opera style contrasts with the powerful Peking Opera style, highlighting the personalities and conflict," says Li, who plays the emperor in the piece alongside Kunqu Opera performer Xu Sijia as Yang Guifei.

In The Lotus Lamp, in which an "army" of tigers prepares for battle, Li blends Peking Opera with contemporary dance, accompanied by a Western symphonic band and traditional Chinese percussion.

Li, who was born in Beijing, studied Peking Opera with his late grandfather, Li Guichun, who performed at the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) court, and his father.

Li studied lao sheng (older, male) roles and wu sheng (male martial arts) roles for Peking Opera at the Beijing Theater Arts School from age 10.

After graduation in 1969, he worked at the China Peking Opera Theater, now the China National Peking Opera Company, before moving to the United States with his family in the late 1980s.

Later, he even considered quitting acting, and opened an ice-cream shop in the US to make a living.

"But my father always reminded me of who I am and what I am good at. I think Peking Opera is in my DNA," says Li.

Speaking about Li's work, Vivien Koo Huai-chun, the CEO of the Taipei-based C.F. Koo Foundation, which founded the Taipei Li-yuan Peking Opera Theater, says: "His creations can sometimes be unconventional and you are not sure about his ideas until you see the performance."

The foundation, which was set up by her late diplomat father Koo Chen-fu, also known as C. F. Koo, in 1987, promotes cross-Straits exchanges and the development of Peking Opera in Taiwan.

Tracing her family's links with Peking Opera, Koo Huaichun says her late grandfather, Koo Hsien-jung, a businessman who moved to Taiwan from Fujian province about a century ago, was among the first to invite Peking Opera masters from the Chinese mainland to perform in Taiwan.

"The reason was simple. He was homesick and he wanted to listen to sounds from home," says Koo Huai-chun.

"Peking Opera was a sound that many people who moved to Taiwan were familiar with. In the 1930s, there were many Peking Opera troupes and theaters to show the art form in Taiwan."

About a decade ago, Taipei Li-yuan Peking Opera Theater started touring the Chinese mainland and Li began to invite Peking Opera masters to perform in Taiwan and coach actors.

Speaking about his plans, Li says: "I like shopping. So, when I see luxury brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, I think these brands can keep their classic look while introducing new products. We can do the same with Peking Opera."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-10 08:33:04
<![CDATA[China's rich variety of music on show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/10/content_30417613.htm Five years ago, bassist Huang Yong, who lives in Beijing, toured Croatia with his jazz band. Two things impressed him the most: the beautiful coastal views and the impromptu jamming with local jazz musicians in some of the most popular live-music venues.

He will again perform in Croatia at the Pula Arena on Friday. One of the most famous and popular locations in Pula, the venue is a 2,000-year-old amphitheater where ancient Romans watched gladiator fights. It now hosts some of the finest international musicians.

Instead of performing with his jazz band, the veteran bassist this time is playing with Haya, an award-winning world music ensemble whose musicians are all ethnic Mongolians.

"It will be the first time for the band to perform in Croatia, which is exciting for us," says Zhang Quansheng, the morinkhuur (horse-head fiddle) player of Haya, who founded the band in 2006.

As part of the Croatia Meets China - Silk Road China Ethnic Music Festival, Haya will perform the hits, including Silent Sky and Flying Eagle, which combines traditional Mongolian sounds with other musical elements, especially contemporary music.

"What we make is world music based on Mongolian traditions," Zhang says. "I wanted our music to appeal to not just Mongolians. From our experience of performing abroad, we have achieved that goal."

The band has performed throughout China and in countries, including Sweden, Germany and Canada.

In the Mongolian language, haya means "the edge". It is a metaphor for the nomadic lifestyle that has become rare today.

"We met decades ago at a small bar in Beijing. I was impressed by the band's leading vocalist Daiqing Tana's voice," recalls Huang. "In their music, the band sings about nature, brotherhood, love and ancestors. I believe the audience in Croatia will love the music, which talks about universal topics."

As the director of the Croatia Meets China - Silk Road China Ethnic Music Festival, which marks the 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Huang has also invited two other musicians from China to the event, pianist Wu Muye and composer Li Zhihui.

Li, who combines elements of the music of China's ethnic groups with Western contemporary musical elements, will introduce his music, which is inspired by China's landscapes and combines traditional Chinese instruments, such as the bamboo flute and electronic music.

Classical pianist Wu, who graduated from the Paris National Superior Music Institution, will give a solo performance, including Chopin's The Polonaise in A-Flat Major, Op 53 and the Yellow River Piano Concerto, which was rearranged in a collaboration between musicians Yin Chengzhong and Chu Wanghua in 1969 based on the Yellow River Cantata written by composer Xian Xinghai in 1939.

"An important part of the development of China's music scene is the variety. Musicians break conventions and create original sounds and we want to share this with the world," says Huang, adding that he plans to take the festival to other countries next year.

Huang is also the founder of the Beijing Nine Gates Jazz Festival, one of the earliest events devoted to promoting Chinese jazz musicians. The festival, now in its 12th year, will be held in Beijing in October.

]]>
2017-08-10 08:33:04
<![CDATA[One Day In The Wild]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/10/content_30417612.htm First Sino-UK film after 2015 coproduction treaty is set for release in China. Xu Fan reports.

Chinese director Fan Lixin found it challenging to work with animals in Earth: One Amazing Day.

British directors Richard Dale and Peter Webber and he have directed the nature film.

"They (the animals in the movie) are from remote areas where it is difficult to reach. But even after you've gone there, it's hard to find them," Fan says in a recent interview in Beijing.

As the first Sino-UK film after a coproduction treaty signed by the two countries in 2015, the 100-minute film has been produced by BBC Earth Films and SMG Pictures, a Shanghai company.

With a crew of some 100 from China and Britain, the film took 142 days of shooting and three years of editing from more than 12,000 DVDs that capture footage in the wild.

The film has stunning scenes, such as giraffes fighting for territory, millions of mayflies over a river and baby iguanas' thrilling escape from snakes.

As the sequel to BBC Earth Films' 2007 hit documentary Earth, the new film tracks the sun from the highest mountains to the remotest islands and exotic jungles over the course of a single day.

Narrated by American actor Robert Redford, the film features 38 wild species from 22 countries, including hummingbirds from the tropical forests of Ecuador to narwhals in the Arctic waters. China's giant pandas, white-headed langurs and red-crown cranes are in it, too.

Neil Nightingale, one of the producers, explains the animal selection.

"I think they each fulfill a very specific role in the film. The story is about 24 hours. We have the red-crown cranes at the very beginning, because it (the scene) is a wonderful evocation of dawn," says Nightingale, who is also the creative director of BBC Earth.

"Of course, we could not feature China without the giant panda. We were very lucky to film a mother and a cub. It's a beautiful, very charming sequence in the middle of the morning that relates back to bamboo growth and the sun," he adds.

But the biggest surprise for him and his colleagues was the white-headed langur, an endangered animal that lives in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

They are rarely known outside, he says.

"They are such lovely monkeys. They come down to the forest to feed during the day, but in the evening - just like us - they are afraid of the dark. They are worried about things that might come and eat them."

The monkeys climb back into their caves in the cliffs when night falls.

To film their movements, the crew flew around 200 drones over the area, some carrying long-lens cameras to keep distance from the monkeys so as not to frighten them.

Another interesting moment came during the filming of pandas.

Fan says the photographers wore costumes with panda excreta to "cheat" the cubs, which otherwise would have gone far away from the cameras.

"China has an amazing biodiversity. The topic of endangered species in the country is also important," says Fan.

The film's Mandarin version is being narrated by Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan. Chinese-American novelist Yan Geling has added local flavor to the script.

Chan, who voices a wildlife documentary for the first time in his career spanning four decades, says he worked for hours on it, and almost "performed animal roles" during recording sessions.

In a scene where a penguin trips on a rock after an exhausting journey to hunt fish, Chan says he added an "whoops" that was not written in the script he was reading.

"He became very engaged with it personally and emotionally," Nightingale says of the Chinese actor.

"The funniest moment is the dancing bear. When Jackie first saw the footage, he started dancing ... He comes across (in) the movie like your favorite uncle who is telling an amazing story about the natural world," says Stephen McDonogh, another producer.

With the film (in Mandarin) ready to debut in China on Friday, the country will become the earliest market for the theater release of the documentary.

It may hit the United States or Britain in the fall, but the dates have yet to be confirmed, according to the producers.

McDonogh says the success of Disney's nature film Born in China has shown that "China has an appetite for this type of natural history films".

Directed by Lu Chuan, Born in China earned more than 60 million yuan ($8.9 million) last year, making it the highest-grossing documentary in China.

Fan echoes the view, saying he hopes more such quality works will encourage investors to produce documentaries, a longtime underestimated genre in the Chinese movie industry.

"Documentaries can be entertaining even though they get content from real life," says Fan.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

The Sino-UK documentary Earth: One Amazing Day features 38 wild species from 22 countries, including white-headed langurs and giant pandas in China. PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

]]>
2017-08-10 08:33:04
<![CDATA[Ingrid Goes West looks at social media's dark side]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/10/content_30417611.htm Quick, what's more important: social media or real life?

For the title character in Ingrid Goes West, there is no question, and perhaps no distinction.

Powered by Aubrey Plaza's searing performance, director and co-writer Matt Spicer's feature debut explores such a dark side of social media obsession, it's hard to consider it satire. It's a story about young women who find validation in likes and followers, who equate social media experiences with real-life ones.

Like so many millennials, Ingrid (Plaza) is an Instagram junkie. Her phone is always in hand, a portal to all with hashtags, such as #perfect and #blessed. Any free moment is spent scrolling through photos. The double-thumb-tap she uses to "like" images is as instinctive as blinking.

But she's also obsessive and mentally unstable. She once crashed a wedding and attacked the bride after fixating on her expertly curated Instagram profile.

Flush with cash after her mother dies, Ingrid moves to Los Angeles to be near her latest social media obsession: Blonde, beautiful Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), whose life on Instagram looks like a chic California magazine captioned with literary quotes and hashtags like #weekendvibes.

Ingrid styles her hair like Taylor's. She eats at her favorite breakfast spot. She buys the purse Taylor posted about. Then she works out a way to meet the Instagram star so they can be friends.

Olsen is pitch perfect as sunny, superficial Taylor, who says everything is "the best" and has no qualms about asking a gas station attendant to lay on the ground to snap a perfectlyframed social media picture.

The screenplay by Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith looks at how Taylor's appetite for admiration might allow for a friend like Ingridher sycophantic fawning feeds right into Taylor's million-follower ego.

Plaza disappears into the unhinged Ingrid, a character exciting in her sheer unlikeability. She lies and steals to get what she wants. She exploits trust and kindness. But she brims with a deep human fear of inadequacy, one she hopes internet popularity might remedy. Plaza brings a vulnerability and desperation to Ingrid that makes her relatable. She's obsessive and unstable, but she just wants to be liked, online or anywhere.

O'Shea Jackson plays Ingrid's landlord, neighbor and admirer Dan, this story's version of the manic pixie dream girl. Though Jackson gets to show off his sparkling smile more here than in Straight Outta Compton, his character exists to be Ingrid's savior and moral foil.

Ingrid Goes West has fun with some social media tropes and Southern California tendencies, but it feels less like a satire than a cautionary tale, for both the envious and the envied. It dips into rich territory by examining the covetousness social media inspires, not just for things, but for attention. Still, even someone with millions of followers can feel lonely or unseen.

Taylor and Ingrid may approach Instagram from opposite sides but both live in a world where "likes" have tremendous value.

Associated Press

 

Actors Billy Magnussen (from left), Aubrey Plaza, Pom Klementieff, and Elizabeth Olsen, and director Matt Spicer at the premiere of Ingrid Goes West in Hollywood, California. AFP

]]>
2017-08-10 08:33:04
<![CDATA[Talking In A Common Language]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387716.htm Young musicians from 13 countries recently gathered in Qingdao for the first Eurochestries Festival held in China. Chen Nan reports.

Suit and tie, violin, homework, Zhang Muxiang can still vividly recall repeating to himself the three most important things he had to take with him on a trip to Quebec during his summer vacation in 2012.

Then 11, he was nervous as it would be his first trip abroad without his parents. He was also excited because along with about 50 members of the Golden Sails Symphony Orchestra of Beijing No 8 Middle School, Zhang was going to perform for the first time at the Eurochestries Festival, one of the world's largest youth classical music exchange platforms.

"The summer vacation in Quebec was unforgettable," says Zhang, now 17. "I am still in contact with the conductor we worked with in 2012."

Back in 2012, he was the youngest member of the orchestra; now he is the oldest and the orchestra's principal violinist.

He recently performed with the Golden Sails Symphony Orchestra at the first Eurochestries Festival held in China.

"I was really excited that the festival came to China this year. It enabled me to share music with so many musicians in what is my last year with the orchestra," says Zhang, who will graduate from Beijing No 8 Middle School next summer.

Held in Qingdao, Shandong province, from July 26 to Aug 5, the Eurochestries Festival attracted 20 orchestras from 13 countries, including the CasaSawt Choir from Morocco, the Choir of the University of Wroclaw from Poland and Beijing Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, who staged a total of 26 concerts across the coastal city.

At the festival amateur student musicians from China, including the Peking University String Quartet and the Zhi Xing Brass Quintet from Renmin University of China, also shared the stage with professional symphony orchestras.

They performed at various places, from indoor concert halls to outdoor venues.

"It was very inspiring for me as I have decided to pursue a professional career in Germany after graduation," says Zhang, who was introduced to music by his parents, both bank clerks, and started learning violin at 3.

Torstein Holmaas, the trumpet player with the brass quintet of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra of Norway, spent 24 hours traveling from Bergen to Qingdao. "I am delighted to come all the way here to perform in China, for the first time," he says.

The brass quintet performed a concert, playing classic songs from Norway, as well as collaborating with Chinese musicians at the closing ceremony.

"The level of young Chinese musicians is very high and they are easy to play with. Though it's difficult to communicate through language, we are good at using body language and we can understand each other when we perform music together."

The Eurochestries Festival was founded in 1989 by French composer and chorus conductor Marcel Corneloup to promote the orchestral practice of young musicians aged 15 to 25, through international exchanges.

In early 2016, Beijing-based violinist and conductor Liu Zheng made a proposal to the committee of the festival to bring it to China annually.

Having participated in several Eurochestries festivals held across the Europe, Liu, who studied music at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna from 2000 to 2003, wanted to organize a festival in his home country with an aim of bringing wider music exposure to Chinese students.

"I was impressed by the atmosphere of the music festival when I went there for the first time in 2000. The musicians from different countries not only performed together but also lived together, like a summer camp," recalls Liu. "I took some Chinese symphony orchestras to Eurochestries festivals but I wanted more young Chinese musicians to experience the festival and benefit from it."

For the first Eurochestries Festival in China, Liu wanted to showcase young musicians playing music from their own countries.

But he also drew up schedules for musicians from different countries to perform together under the baton of conductors from yet another country.

"It was challenging because the number of musicians was large (500 in all) but they are very disciplined and devoted to this project, despite the cultural and language differences," Liu says, adding, "Music unites people."

Between 2005 to 2012, the Golden Sails Symphony Orchestra of Beijing No 8 Middle School, founded in 2002, performed at the Eurochestries Festival four times, playing music pieces ranging from Torch Festival by Chinese composer Wang Xilin, which was inspired by the ethnic music of Yunnan province, to waltzes by Johann Strauss II.

During the festival held in Qingdao this year, the orchestra played pieces, including the second movement from Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No 10.

"The students challenged themselves successfully with very demanding music pieces," says Liu Lu, conductor and music teacher of the orchestra, who graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music with a conducting major and joined in the orchestra in 2005.

"But it's not just about music. It teaches the students how to accomplish things and how to communicate."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Female-only parking spaces drive debate]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387715.htm Is it consideration or discrimination? A video showing "female-only" parking spots near an entertainment facility in Henan province's capital, Zhengzhou, has caused a stir on the Chinese internet since it was posted on July 25.

The female-only parking spots are roughly 10 centimeters wider. The facility's staff claims they're intended to provide extra care for female drivers.

While some women see it as a kind move, others feel offended and view it as discriminatory against female drivers.

Should public facilities provide female-only parking spaces?

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Fruitful holiday]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387714.htm Young Chinese students going abroad on study tours

More Chinese students are putting overseas study tours on their agenda this summer. Consisting of language courses, sightseeing and international communication, study tours meet the demands of Chinese parents and students for a long and fruitful holiday, despite costs of around $4,000 to $6,000.

This year saw the number of students going abroad for study tours increase by nearly 40 percent, with reservations for tours starting almost a year ago, according to English First, a Swedish-English education company in China.

A recent report published by a Chinese tourism website showed most study tour participants were from middle schools. According to the report released by tuniu.com in June, 73 percent of their participants in 2016 were middle school students, 11 percent primary school students and only 3 percent college students.

Students of a younger age seem to be the upward trend.

"The biggest growth of our clients in the past few years is among primary school students, over 50 percent," says Joe Chiu, country manager of China's EF International Language Center.

Unlike study tour participants in other countries who are at least 13 or 14 years old, Chinese parents seem to be more willing to let their children go on tours at a very young age, Chiu says, noting that the youngest Chinese participant in his program was only 5 years old.

According to a blue book on global study tours released by New Oriental Education & Technology Group, expanding children's horizons was the major goal for parents, while improving language skills, experiencing independence and exploring cultural diversity were also popular.

Zhan Fuman, a 14-year-old from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, currently on a 15-day study tour in Australia with a price tag of 32,800 yuan ($4,820), went to the United States for her first overseas study tour last winter.

"She has been much more confident and independent since her first tour in the United States and learned to use knowledge from books and real life communications," says Zhu Wanxia, Zhan's mother.

Going on a study tour does not lead to going to a foreign university in the future, Zhu says, adding that they prefer their child go to a top Chinese university instead.

According to Chiu, only half of the students in their study tour programs went abroad for higher education.

"Some parents consider staying in China as a better choice for their children, and such overseas study tours are more about qualities beyond learning by the books," says Chen Jingjing, Chiu's co-worker from English First.

According to China's Ministry of Education, over 80 percent of Chinese students who studied abroad returned to China in 2016.

Being the world's second-largest economy, China is hungry for talent in all aspects.

According to the Outline of China's National Plan for Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development (2010-20) issued by the Education Ministry in July 2010, China called for more international communication and cooperation to give the country's youth international horizons, making them better understand international rules.

The ministry also encourages primary and middle schools to put short study tours in student curricula.

Xinhua

 

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[To cool planet, researchers propose spraying particles into marine clouds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387713.htm SAN FRANCISCO - A group of researchers at the University of Washington is investigating the idea of marine cloud brightening as a strategy to offset global warming. As a short-term measure for a possible future emergency situation, the strategy involves spraying saltwater into clouds above oceans to boost their capacity to reflect sunlight.

In a paper published in the journal Earth's Future, two UW researchers, including lead author Rob Wood, a professor of atmospheric sciences, say small-scale tests of marine cloud brightening would also help answer scientific questions about clouds and aerosols' possible role to help cool the planet.

One of the biggest uncertainties in climate models is the clouds, which reflect sunlight in unpredictable ways. Water droplets can only condense on airborne particles, such as smoke, salt or human pollution. When the air contains more particles, the same amount of moisture can form smaller droplets, which creates whiter, brighter, more reflective clouds.

For several years, researchers there have been working with a group of engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California, on the US West Coast, to develop a nozzle that turns saltwater into tiny particles that could be sprayed high into the marine cloud layer, according to a news release from UW, located in the US Pacific Northwest.

Now waiting for funding from government or private donors, the researchers propose to produce a sprayer that is able to eject trillions of aerosol particles per second, conduct initial laboratory tests of the sprayer, do preliminary outdoor tests in a fairly flat coastal area relatively free of air pollution and prone to marine clouds, and then move to small-scale offshore tests.

Nevertheless, geoengineering, also known as climate engineering, is controversial on ethical grounds.

Wood argues that "for climate, we're no longer in an era of 'do no harm'. We are altering the climate already. It's now a case of 'the lesser of two evils'."

Xinhua

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Britain's smallest school Ronaldsay Primary to shut after student leaves]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387712.htm

LONDON - A school in one of the remotest parts of Britain is to close when its one and only student leaves in just a few days. Known as the smallest school in Britain, North Ronaldsay Primary School will remain closed in the hope that its classroom will be needed at some time in the future.

The school bell will be silenced when Teigan Scott, 12, moves to a high school to continue her education.

But that will mean she will have to make the 20-minute air journey to her new school, Kirkwall Grammar School, on mainland Orkney.

The young student will pack her schoolbag early Monday and return each Friday to her home on an island with a population of around 50.

Local councilor Kevin Woodbridge says in a media interview that the population on North Ronaldsay, the most northern island in the Orkney archipelago area of Scotland, had halved since he arrived in 1977. He blames poor transport links and poor broadband connectivity, saying it affected the population's ability to work.

Woodbridge says: "It's very sad but it demonstrates the decline on the island that has led to this. When I came here there were 17 people at the school and 127 on the island. Now we have 50 to 60 people. I think it's totally down to the transport on the island. We only get fresh food once a week during winter."

Teigan's mom, Maureen Johnstone, says: "Teigan has just finished primary and is heading to Kirkwall Grammar School. She's had a lot of preparation for the move."

She says the school closure would be a big loss to the island, but her daughter would know a lot of pupils at her new school.

Orkney Islands Council says the school will be brought back into use if more families with primary school age children move to the island. The building is also to be used by community groups on the island.

North Ronaldsay is more than 1,200 kilometers from London. It is the northern most island in the Orkney islands, just 5 km in length, and spanning an area of around 700 hectares. The island is known for sheep farming, with its sheep eating seaweed in their diets.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Mountains are the wheel deal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387711.htm MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Teagan Mason didn't consider herself much of an athlete. She wasn't outgoing either. But the Shakopee sophomore underwent a transformation a year ago.

]]>
Bike racing over rough terrain gives schools a sense of pedal power

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Teagan Mason didn't consider herself much of an athlete. She wasn't outgoing either. But the Shakopee sophomore underwent a transformation a year ago.

Mason was persuaded by a couple of friends and a teacher to become a member of the school's mountain bike racing team.

"I was very nervous," Mason says. "It was a bit scary for me."

She quickly overcame her fears and now is one of more than 1,000 competitors from nearly 100 schools who participate in the Minnesota High School Cycling League. The league will get its sixth season underway in August.

"This has completely exceeded any of our wildest dreams," says Josh Kleve, the league's director and co-founder. "It has really been embraced."

Kleve had 100 coaches for 151 student-athletes in the inaugural season in 2012. There are now 400 coaches in the program sanctioned by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

There are six races - Austin, Duluth, Mankato, River Falls, Rochester and St Cloud - that comprise the season schedule. The state championship is in late October.

"The courses get progressively harder as the season goes on," says Shakopee assistant coach Kyle Sobota.

He and head coach John Oman formed the Sabers' squad three years ago.

Each racecourse is roughly 6 kilometers in length, while the number of laps varies on your level (varsity, junior varsity, sophomore or freshmen). There are also two Divisions (I and II), determined by team size. Races are held on Sundays, with pre-rides on Saturdays.

"We try to make the races special," Kleve says. "The production value exceeds many pro-level races. For many of our student-athletes, this is the first time they will hear their name read over a loud speaker. It has a festival atmosphere."

It also has a marathon-like feel at the start. At the sound of an air horn, the entire pack of bikers equipped with helmets is on its way around the obstacle course.

Like all new riders, Mason had plenty to learn. Her biggest challenge coming out of the starting gate was climbing hills.

"It's tough to get in the right gear, and get enough momentum to get up the hills," Mason says. "Going over and through obstacles was also hard."

She still remembers falling off a platform onto the packed dirt below during her initial run on the advanced loop at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in Savage. It mostly bruised her ego.

"I suffered a couple of bruises and scratches," Mason says. "I overreacted to the situation more than anything else."

Nothing prevented Mason from completing every course during her initial season while competing at the girls' freshmen level.

"She was a beginner, and had a lot to learn about being out on the trails," Sobota says. "She improves greatly, and it gave her a lot of confidence. Finishing every race last year was a testament to her character."

Champlin Park junior captain Brady Higgins is looking forward to making the transition from the boys' sophomore level to varsity.

"It should be a good transition," Higgins says. "You have to learn how to pace yourself. There is more of a strategic aspect."

Higgins is coming off a fifth-place finish in the sophomore class of Division II at the state championship a year ago. Champlin Park is entering its second season as a program by itself (not combined with Osseo-Maple Grove like previously).

"It's an everyone-included atmosphere," Higgins says. "It's a good league because you can have fun with it whether you are a beginner or more experienced."

Prior Lake sophomore Calvin Sandberg is one of the most experienced cyclists in the league. He has been mountain biking over 10 years, and competed on the varsity level for the first time last season.

"Moving up to varsity made me learn how to ride fast," Sandberg says. "I had to ride fast to stay up with the other competitors. The better competition pushed me to get better."

He enjoyed his best season, finishing as the runner-up with a time 1 hour, 23 minutes and 29.9 seconds in the state championship. He won the Austin event and was second in two other races as well.

"I did a lot better than I thought I would do," Sandberg says. "I surprised myself."

He also uses mountain biking to train for his other activity, lacrosse.

"It's great for cross training," Sandberg says. "It's super for your leg muscles, and not hard on your body."

There is one exception - immediately following a race.

"After a race I'm super exhausted," Sandberg says. "All my muscles are tired, but I'm also happy because it was a lot of fun."

Which is one of the primary goals of the league, along with getting more people involved in cycling. Over 50 percent of the student-athletes have gotten at least one parent riding a bike.

"It's really a fun sport," Sandberg says. "You can go anywhere and do anything on a bike. There are endless opportunities."

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Smart hat can give you a head start]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387710.htm CHICAGO - Atari has invaded the realm of fashion with their newest innovation, the Speakerhat. It has teamed up with Audiowear to design and create the new wearable tech, which they debuted on the San Diego Comic-Con show floor.

The baseball-style cap comes with its own stereo speakers inside the bill of the cap. The Speakerhat boasts a lightweight design that allows users to wear it for extended periods of time.

The hat also comes with a built-in microphone that can connect to devices via Bluetooth.

Playing music or audio through the hat is as easy as connecting to any nearby computer, smartphone or tablet to stream audio content.

The hat can do pretty much anything you can do with other Bluetooth-enabled devices, meaning it can also send and receive phone calls and respond to voice commands. And it comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

What really makes it unique is its patented Social Synchronous Broadcast technology, which allows for multiple hat wearers to listen to the same audio content simultaneously, eliminating the need to share earbuds with friends and allowing everyone with the hat to enjoy the same audio experience together.

There will be multiple hats available this fall. There will also be hats based on popular Atari franchises.

The hat is currently in beta. If you wish to participate in the cap's development process, you can log on to AtariLife.com to sign up as a beta tester on its contest page.

Tribune News Service

A new product of Atari, a baseball-style cap, comes with its own stereo speakers inside the bill of the cap. TNS

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Gardens seed horticultural skills]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387709.htm KENNETT SQUARE, Pennsylvania - Growing the "thousand bloom mum" - a showstopper at Longwood Gardens' fall Chrysanthemum Festival - takes 18 months and thousands of worker hours. In the week before the annual event, at least six people work full time to prep the plant.

But with fewer young people choosing careers in horticulture, Longwood is working to ensure that the effort and expertise that goes into growing this Japanese specialty plant is preserved for future generations. Three college students are documenting how to successfully raise a thousand bloom mum by creating a video archive that can be used to teach future generations of horticulturists and also spark interest in the field.

"The younger generation can't see the reward of doing this," says Jim Harbage, floriculture leader at the 405-hectare garden and education center in Kennett Square, about 56 kilometers west of Philadelphia. "It's not enough to have a sense of pride. It's not something that pays a lot of money."

The fear of losing the tricks of the horticulture trade is not limited to growing chrysanthemums. Patricia Binder, spokeswoman for National Garden Clubs Inc, says there is a concern "about the potential loss of institutional knowledge and the loss of gardening knowledge in general".

In an effort to spark interest in the trade, the nonprofit organization annually awards scholarships to students studying horticulture and related fields. Similarly, the American Public Gardens Association has partnered with public gardens nationwide, including Longwood, on the Seed Your Future initiative, which promotes horticulture as a career for young people.

Longwood Gardens decided to partner with the University of Delaware as part of its "succession planning", says gardener Tim Jennings, who specializes in water lilies.

In days past, a young gardener would learn trade secrets from a master gardener. Current Longwood mum master, Amanda Galano, worked in the shadow of now-retired Yoko Arakawa, who brought the thousand bloom mum to the public garden.

Arakawa learned the intricacies of growing the complex plant through multiple trips to her native Japan, where successfully growing a thousand bloom is considered an art some call "high-wire horticulture".

By the end of this summer, the students will have produced nine videos that document part of the mum growing process.

Each student has a different role in documenting the processes.

Sophomore Rebecca Ralston, who is studying wildlife and the environment, writes the script for the video; junior Joy McCusker, who is studying landscape architecture and landscape horticulture design, is "the lens", following the master gardeners around as they work and taking precise notes; and senior Max Gold handles visuals and has used drones, a GoPro and a gimbal camera to get his shots.

"We have to find new methods to add to the toolbox to teach new horticulturists what's important," says Ralston, who admits she wasn't aware chrysanthemums and mums were the same thing until her first day on the job.

This year, Longwood would like to see its thousand bloom top 1,500 blooms in time for the Chrysanthemum Festival in October. It can't get much bigger, Galano says, because it wouldn't fit through the greenhouse door.

Attention to detail is critical. Some practices are simply hard to explain, Galano says, and a carefully narrated howto video makes a big difference.

That said, best gardening practices are always evolving, Jennings says. He's confident that while the videos will serve as starting points for newcomers, they'll need to be updated as years pass.

"Gardening is not a stagnant field. The nature of being a gardener is wanting to try something new," he says. "Every year it's, 'What if we did this? What if we changed that?' We're always trying to make things easier and less labor-intensive while balancing that with tradition and not straying too far afield."

Associated Press

Amanda Galano (third from right) demonstrates how to aid the growth of a Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum to students from the University of Delaware at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. AP

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387708.htm Movie

My Other Home

Former NBA star Stephon Marbury (middle) says he is "addicted to acting" after starring in his first movie My Other Home. The movie, which features incidents from Marbury's life, is now being screened on the Chinese mainland.

The film, which starts with the story of Marbury's fall in the United States, focuses on the revival of his career in Beijing, the city which has become his second home.

The movie features pop idols, and Bruneian actor Wu Chun, a heartthrob for many Chinese fans, stars as Marbury's agent in the movie. The basketball star's Beijing teammates were played by stars like Taiwan-born Canadian model-actor Godfrey Gao and model-actor Vivian Dawson from New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Marbury says there will be a sequel. Director Yang Zi says he was lucky that most of the actors could also play basketball.

Music

Lust for Life

Ever since Lana Del Rey's 2011 breakout single Video Games, there's been a strain of sinister melancholy in her music. While nodding to classic rock, her latest album, Lust for Life, still maintains a melancholy mood. It features duets with Stevie Nicks (Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems) and with Sean Lennon (Tomorrow Never Came).

Some of Del Rey's self-consciously "woke" songs are labored. Titles like Coachella - Woodstock in My Mind don't exactly trip off the tongue. But they do signal a welcome shake-up in Del Rey's perspective on the world, and give her music a jolt of energy that's all to the good.

Game

Splatoon 2

Unlike most of Nintendo's classic games, Splatoon 2 is influenced by the online-shooter genre and molded by the youth culture of today. At startup, players create a character called an Inkling, a humanoid protagonist who can also turn into a squid. They're set loose on a trendy shopping district to hang out with avatars of other online players.

Inklings gather in teams of four, and battle in a high-concept form of paintball. The game favors teamwork and strategy over quicktwitch skills. A diverse set of weapons permit different forms of play.

China Daily - Agencies

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Keeping Fit: It Is All About Your Mindset]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387707.htm You really can think yourself fit, scientists have shown, after discovering that people who believe themselves to be physically active gain major health benefits.

A study of 60,000 people found that individuals who believed they were less active than others were up to 71 percent more likely to die in the following 21 years, even if they were relatively fit.

In contrast, those who considered themselves to be physically fit were protected against early death, even if that perception was wrong, in what researchers believe is an exercise placebo effect.

"Our findings fall in line with a growing body of research suggesting that our mindsets, in this case, beliefs about how much exercise we are getting relative to others, can play a crucial role in our health," says Alia Crum, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University.

"It's time that we start taking the role of mindsets in health more seriously.

"In the pursuit of health and longevity, it is important to adopt not only healthy behaviors, but also healthy thoughts."

The researchers say that people could gain the same impact by being mindful of, and feeling good about doing everyday activities, such as taking the stairs, walking, biking to work or cleaning the house.

Crum and her team analyzed surveys from more than 60,000 people in the United States who were asked about their levels of physical activity and monitored with an accelerometer for a week.

The researchers then viewed death records from 2011, which was 21 years after the first survey was conducted. Those who believed they did not exercise enough were far more likely to have died in the study period, regardless of how much activity they got.

"Most people know that not exercising enough is bad for your health," adds doctoral student Octovaia Zahrt of Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

"But most people do not know that thinking you are not exercising enough can also harm your health."

Zahrt says she had first noticed the phenomenon when arriving to study at Stanford and finding the other students were "incredibly active". Although she biked regularly and visited the gym, she began to feel stressed about her lack of exercise.

It led her to wonder whether the belief could actually alter motivation and affect health. Those who deem themselves unfit are more likely to remain inactive, fueling feelings of fear, stress or depression that negatively affect their health.

The researchers also believe that it is possible to get a placebo effect from the belief that they are physically active.

"Placebo effects are very robust in medicine. It is only logical to expect that they would play a role in shaping the benefits of behavioral health as well," adds Crum.

"Many people think that the only healthy physical activity is vigorous exercise in a gym or on a track.

"Our research suggests that perceiving everyday activities as good exercise is almost as important as doing the activities in the first place."

The research was published in the journal Health Psychology.

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[10级地震中,故宫模型岿然不倒!英国纪录片揭秘故宫建筑之神奇!]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/09/content_30387706.htm 说起故宫,这座世界上最为独特的博物馆,不光中国人感到自豪,外国人聊起来也是赞叹不已。近期,英国第4电视台推出了一系列关于中国的纪录片,其中有一集是《紫禁城的秘密》(Secrets of China's Forbidden City),为外国观众仔细讲述了这庞大工程在建筑过程中鲜为人知的秘密。

其中一段揭秘了故宫为何能在几个世纪的风雨飘摇中依然屹立不倒。

In its 600 years, the Forbidden City has withstood over 200 devastating quakes, including the deadliest earthquake in 1976, which centered around 150 kilometers east of the capital. Tangshan city was obliterated in that earthquake.

建成600年来,故宫经历了200多场破坏性的地震,包括1976年那场最为骇人的地震,震中就在北京以东大约150公里处。在那场地震中,唐山被夷为平地。

为了解开故宫建筑的秘密,专业木匠们按照1:5的比例,以中国古建筑榫卯和斗拱的建筑结构,复制出了一栋缩小的紫禁城建筑模型并对它进行了地震模拟测试。

在测试中,模型尽管晃动了很久,仍然稳稳当当地站在原地,只是发生了些许位移。

而这其中的关键,在于一个叫做“斗拱”的结构。

A Dougong is a complex bracket that supports the huge roof. At first glance, it looks like an elaborate decorative feature. But the unique design is the structural key to every Forbidden City building.

斗拱是一个结构复杂的支架,用于支撑巨大的屋顶。斗拱乍一看像一个精致的装饰物,但其独特的设计构成了故宫建筑群结构的关键。

斗拱由拱形和方斗形木块层层交错叠加而构成,一颗钉子也没用,这一点让外国专家赞不绝口:

Amazingly there are no nails or glue, nothing holding it together, other than sheer ingenuity.

令人惊讶的是,斗拱既没有钉子,也不用粘合剂,只靠着这种精巧的设计,牢固地组装在一起。

"So you can see it's a little bit flexible. It's very strong. Pressing down it can take a tremendous amount of weight. It ties together with other parts of the building and is a beautiful creative feature of Chinese architecture."

你可以发现它比较灵活,但也很坚固,压一压,它能承受巨大的重量。它能和建筑的其他部分结合在一起,是中国建筑中一件精美绝伦的设计。

这种结构使得木块牢固地结合起来,同时每层又有一定的松动。大大提升了建筑物的抗震性能。

The Dougong acts like a shock absorber in a car and there's both friction and rotation that absorbs the energy from the earthquake.

斗拱的功能相当于汽车里的减震器,零件的摩擦和转动抵消了地震产生的冲击力。

片中总结说,故宫抗震的秘密可以用一个词来概括:flexibility(柔韧、灵活)。

正是这种“柔中带刚”的特点,造就了故宫建成600年仍屹立不倒的奇迹。

外国专家感慨:

This is a fabulous proof of the genius of Chinese traditional architecture.

这是一个极好的例子,证明了中国传统建筑的天才之处。

对故宫而言,另一个潜在的威胁是大火。

For nearly 600 years, Beijing's vast Forbidden City has suffered from a recurring threat��fire.

在近600年历史中,北京规模宏大的故宫曾遭受一种反复的劫难——火灾。

The grand wooden Hall of Supreme Harmony has burned down numerous times.

宏伟的木质建筑太和殿曾多次被焚毁。

Rebuilding and restoring the Forbidden City remains an ongoing task. Today, work is being carried out on the gates, courtyards, walls and ceilings.

故宫的重建和修复仍在进行中。如今,大门、庭院、墙壁和天花板仍在修复中。

 

]]>
2017-08-09 08:26:37
<![CDATA[Unzipping The Future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372653.htm An immersive exhibition in Beijing invites visitors to reflect on how digital technology is shaping their lives. Lin Qi reports.

Since its opening two weeks ago, Today Art Museum's ongoing exhibition, .zip Future Rhapsody, has drawn big crowds.

The museum, in the heart of Beijing's downtown, has turned three floors of its main building into a playground of lights, sounds and images, using digital technologies.

The exhibition features 27 videos, installations and sound works which create an immersive environment, and it has become a popular place for young urbanities to take pictures and post them on social networks.

The artists featured include Claude Leveque from France, Charles Lindsay from the United States, Refik Anadol from Turkey and homegrown talents such as Feng Mengbo, Lin Xin and Shi Chuan.

The exhibition has received mixed reviews with some praising it and some saying it simply follows a trend of "immersive exhibitions" where new-media works are created to fill the space and provide eye-catching experiences without any artistic depth.

"There is no need to label the exhibition as a show of 'new media art' or 'a marriage of art and technology'," says Wu Juehui, who co-curates the exhibition with Yan Yan, the deputy director of Today Art Museum.

"From the beginning, we did not intend to boast about the kinds of advanced technologies being used. At the heart of this exhibition is what the artists feel and want to express in the digital age."

Wu, who is an artist and a teacher at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, says that while the artworks provide unreal and fascinating visual effects, they also invite viewers to reflect on the reality that people's lives are very integrated with digital technologies and wireless networks, especially through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

He says that is why the exhibition is titled .zip, after the archive file format which supports data compression.

The artworks contain almost all the digital formats that have become common, such as .txt (text), .jpg (image), .gif (graphics) and.mp3(audio).

"The exhibition is like a zip file compressing all the formats into one package," says Wu.

"When the viewers see the works, it is like they are 'unzipping' compressed data.

"They are shocked and amazed as they find it difficult to distinguish between real and unreal."

Artist Shi Chuan says the exhibition keeps pace with the times and "provides an angle to reconsider the role of technology and how it has changed an artist's approach to work."

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the museum's 14-meter high main hall which is transformed into a "box of black and white" - two walls and the floor are painted white, and the other two walls and the ceiling are black.

Wu says the black-and-white box is an independent piece of work and the largest one on show, rather than a place for display.

Nine video-and-audio works, including one by Wu and his UFO Media Lab, are projected in rotation on the white walls and the ground. And visitors can relax in the space: they can lean against the walls, sit and even lie on the ground, while being surrounded by the moving images, as if they are entering the minds of the works' creators.

"Everybody now lives with certain formats, and they have reshaped how people think and act," says Wu. "Maybe in the future, people will greet each other by asking, 'What's your format?'"

The exhibition is part of Today Art Museum's project "Future of Today", and it was launched in 2015.

Now, as people access artworks and exhibitions by virtual means, "Future of Today" aims to use diverse approaches to give art lovers experiences that are unique to a specific location.

The museum's inaugural exhibition in 2015 showcased artworks through technologies such as computer-meditated reality, and the artists featured included Chinese sculptor Sui Jianguo, newmedia artist Miao Xiaochun and Suzanne Anker, a New York-based visual artist.

Gao Peng, the director of Today Art Museum, says: "The project is bold and risky."

Gao says that when he took the directorship of the museum in 2013, two questions kept emerging in his mind - what will a future art museum look like and what artworks will suit such a museum.

"I haven't come to a conclusion yet. But we will keep seeking answers.

"We are now on an extraordinary journey - to build a museum of the future."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-08 08:25:25
<![CDATA[Art Nova 100 offers young artists showcase for their talents]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372652.htm Ever since it was launched in 2011, Art Nova 100, a Beijing-based institution which promotes young artists, mostly aged 35 and below, has helped more than 200 artists find galleries and more than 150 hold their first solo exhibitions.

For Zhao Li, a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, who founded the platform, introducing these newcomers to galleries and art curators is only a part of Art Nova 100's commitment. He also hopes to make them more widely known, by showing their works at spaces that receive a lot of visitors.

That is why the institution started its Art Nova 100 Opening Exhibition at a temporarily-built hall in Ditan Park in the heart of the capital city six years ago.

The annual exhibition shows some 100 artists selected from several hundred applicants across the country. It also tours other cities including Nanjing, Chongqing and Hong Kong.

This year's exhibition is now on at the Today Art Museum, showing paintings, sculptures, installations, videos and newmedia artworks.

"Usually young artists' productions are not as serious as that of established ones," says Zhao. "And a popular public museum like Today Art links viewers to contemporary art and its creators."

The ongoing exhibition, titled Rebuild & Transition, shows two categories of works. One exhibits artists who were featured in previous shows and who have achieved some note, such as oil painter Ju Ting, sculptor Wang Enlai and new-media artist Tian Xiaolei.

Zhao says the current exhibition showcases how they are "restructuring" their visual vocabularies following initial success.

The other section shows up-and-coming artists who, Zhao says, are in the middle of a "transition".

Some artists give tours of their works on show during the exhibition, which enables them to benefit from viewer feedback.

In addition to mounting the exhibitions, Art Nova 100 also organizes a residency project.

Its first attempt was a 40-day residency in Lijiang, Yunnan province, earlier this year where many artists participated in and learned the Dongba text, an ancient pictorial language of the Naxi ethnic group.

Zhao says the next residency will be in Ordos, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, where hand-weaving and dying techniques could inspire young artists.

He says Art Nova 100 also plans a residency in Lishui, Zhejiang province, where artists can draw inspiration from the rural landscape.

Speaking about the artists, he says: "Unlike their predecessors, the new generations boast a broader vision - many study and live abroad for years - and they are more expressive and confident. Still, they need to turn to their cultural roots, where they will find something enlightening, something they have overlooked for a long time."

Joachim Pissarro, a member of the selection committee who teaches art history at Hunter College of the City University of New York, says he has discovered many accomplished artists of the present generation, although their names are not well known yet.

He says these artists will promote art worldwide, and adds: "Once we all begin to see what's coming out of China, we will understand that the art scene in China is ... far more complex, interesting and exciting than the perception we have in the West."

]]>
2017-08-08 08:25:25
<![CDATA[Hotpot Hot Spot]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372651.htm Though the best place in the country to savor the speciality is Chongqing in Southwest China, there is no shortage of places in Beijing where you can experience the real thing. Xing Yi reports.

Hotpot is one of China's favorite dishes. A pot is filled with boiling chili broth, plates are full of raw ingredients chopped into slices, and diners putting whatever they want into the pot.

But eating a hotpot on a hot summer day? Some might call that crazy, but not in Chongqing.

"Hotpot and ice beer, that's my favorite when the temperature hits 40 C," my cousin Zhao Shishi, a Chongqing local, says.

"Eating hotpot is not about the temperature, but the mood."

Hotpot is not a one-person meal. And the atmosphere in hotpot restaurants is lively and boisterous.

People chat while putting meat or vegetables into the pot and waiting for it to boil.

Though the origin of hotpot is hard to determine, the current "hotpot capital" is Chongqing in Southwest China.

The title was bestowed on the municipality in June by the China Hotel Association. Eating hotpot is part of the city's culture, and there is even a comedy film, Chongqing Hotpot, which was released last year.

The city has more than 20,000 hotpot restaurants which own 50,000 franchises around the country, according to the Chongqing Hotpot Association. So it is not hard to find a Chongqing-style hotpot restaurant in Beijing.

But if you want to try an authentic one, Wang Gang Bo is a good place to start.

"The restaurant's name gangbo comes from the Chongqing dialect which means to chat," says Feng Li, the co-founder of the restaurant.

"We hope our guests enjoy chatting with friends while they eat hotpot."

The restaurant is located to the north of the Liangmaqiao embassy area.

For a meal for five to six people, the average cost per person is around 120 yuan ($18).

"We don't adjust our flavor to cater to local diners, if we did, we would lose our uniqueness," says Chen Jun, the main chef at the restaurant.

Chen has been working in hotpot restaurants for nearly 15 years, and he came to Wang Gang Bo's Beijing branch when it opened last year.

He says that there is a health consideration for eating hotpot in the summer from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine.

"Chongqing is very humid which increases the dampness in the body, so eating hotpot can burn off the excessive moisture," says Chen.

Unlike Beijing-style hotpot broth which is largely flavorless, the Chongqing-style broth is heavily flavored.

The broth served at Wang Gang Bo has seven ingredients including chili pepper, Sichuan pepper and old ginger giving it a red color and a spicy taste.

For those who cannot eat spicy food, there are mushroom or pork broths.

The joy of eating hotpot comes from its do-it-yourself character.

The simmering pot is used to cook meat, seafood and vegetables. Lotus root is among the restaurant's current favorites.

There are also many ways to make the dipping sauces. "In the Chongqing-style recipe you mix sesame oil and mashed garlic, while the Beijing-style sauce uses salty sesame paste, fermented bean curd and leek flowers."

It is said that Chongqing hotpot was invented in the ports along the river by sailors and porters who sought a simple and cheap way to cook. This may explain why the typical raw ingredients to cook Chongqing hotpot are animal organs such as duck intestines, beef tripe and pork arteries - as they were leftovers from the markets near the ports.

For first-timers, the ingredients may be a bit difficult to stomach. But there is no shortage of choices - lamb, beef, seafood, potato, bamboo shoots, lettuce - for today's diners.

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-08 08:25:25
<![CDATA[Rose wine gives chicken breasts flavor of Provence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372650.htm Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a convenient go-to for many cooks, from paleo-followers to budget-shoppers to busy moms. The mild flavor makes it incredibly versatile, so it's easy to slip this cut of chicken into almost any recipe or flavor profile. It's one of the leanest cuts of meat available, with a quarter pound boasting 34 grams of protein, and only 4 grams of fat.

The challenge with such low fat is, of course, keeping the meat tender and juicy. Even a minute or two extra of cook time can take dinner from succulent to stringy and tough. Grilling breasts brings extra risk, since cooking temperatures are high, narrowing the timing window, so it's even more important to get it just right. A few tips may help tremendously here.

The biggest challenge is getting the inside meat to cook before the outside meat gets tough, so the best move you can make is to use smaller chicken cutlets. Organic or free-range chicken breasts solve this problem completely, or if you have larger conventional cutlets, trim them in half or thirds before cooking. Next, avoid cooking the meat when it's super cold, by allowing it to sit at room temperature for half an hour before grilling. And heat the grill only to medium high, or if using charcoal, avoid putting breasts on the hottest part of the grill.

Chicken breast meat is usually done a minute or two before I suspect it will be, so I always rely on an inexpensive meat thermometer, so I'm sure to remove the chicken at 160 degrees. I then let it rest for five minutes to keep the meat at maximum juiciness.

This recipe for Chicken Breast Provencal is inspired by ingredients typical of the region of Provence in the south of France, but easily found in a well-stocked supermarket.

Rose wine is the secret behind the simple marinade that imparts a lightly sweet flavor, but if you have a floral white wine at home, it will do the trick nicely, too.

Olives - try to grab a handful of interesting ones at the salad bar - and roasted red peppers from a jar add Mediterranean color, and a tiny bit of balsamic syrup brings a bit of welcomed acidity.

Your family will enjoy this dish because of its flavors, while you'll know how healthy it actually is.

Chicken Breasts Provencal

Start to Finish: 15 minutes, plus marinating

Yield: 4 servings

4 chicken breasts cutlets, about 5 ounces each

1/3 cup rose wine (or fruity white wine)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence (or a mix of oregano, marjoram and thyme)

1/4 cup jarred roasted sweet red peppers, sliced, oil drained

1/4cup high-quality olives

1 tablespoon balsamic syrup (asterisk)

Kosher salt

Black pepper

In a bowl or resealable plastic bag, place the chicken, wine, olive oil, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper and mix well to coat the chicken breasts.

Let marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 8 hours refrigerated, allowing the final 30 minutes to be at room temperature.

When ready to cook, heat the grill (or a grill pan, if indoors) to medium high and lightly oil. Lightly blot excess marinade off the chicken breasts and grill until cooked through and the meat is 160 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Remove the chicken from the grill and place directly on warmed dish or platter. Top with the roasted red peppers and olives and drizzle with the balsamic syrup.

Let chicken rest a few minutes, and serve. For a quick homemade balsamic syrup: boil about cup of balsamic vinegar with teaspoon of brown sugar in a small saucepan until reduced by half.

Nutrition information per serving: 241 calories; 91 calories from fat; 10 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 86 mg cholesterol; 436 mg sodium; 5 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 27 g protein

]]>
2017-08-08 08:25:25
<![CDATA[Egyptian liver delicacy on table]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372649.htm CAIRO - Dressed in blue surgical scrubs and gloves, kitchen staff at the Egyptian restaurant D.Kebda prepare grilled beef-liver sandwiches behind a glass pane as the customers tuck in.

The sandwiches, an Egyptian delicacy known as kebda, are the only item on the menu of the surgery-themed restaurant, established in July by a group of Egyptian doctors.

Kebda is a popular street food in Egypt, but it can cause severe food poisoning if not prepared with proper care. The physicians hope to avoid that by applying the same rigorous medical standards they practice with patients.

"We tried to take our career values and apply them to this other field. There is no contradiction between them, we are still practicing doctors," says Mostafa Basiouny, one of the restaurant owners.

Reuters

]]>
2017-08-08 08:25:25
<![CDATA[Enlivening The News]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372648.htm China Daily's Greg Fountain has become a social media celebrity as the host of the 'Good Luck China' series of short videos. Andrew Moody reports.

Greg Fountain has had more hits than even the biggest pop stars would dare to dream of.

The 30-year-old Briton is the presenter of the "Good Luck China" series of short videos, which have been a Chinese social media sensation.

Of the series of videos - all produced by the China Daily new media team - one alone received 50 million hits.

The video journalist has now also made the national news, appearing on the main evening news program on CCTV 1 and a documentary program on the same channel.

It is, however, the light and informal style of the films in which Yingguo Xiaoge, or English little brother as he's known, which has captured people's attention.

"I think the key word is accessibility. A lot of the time - especially with politics - the language can be very dry and it is quite difficult to relate to," he says.

Fountain, unassuming and modest despite his new fame, was speaking in the lobby of China Daily, where he has worked for just over 18 months.

He was initially employed as a copy editor on the national news desk on arriving in China from Bahrain, where he was deputy news editor of the Gulf Daily News.

Very early on in his time at the paper, he was assigned to make a video for the annual sessions of the National People's Congress, the national legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, in Beijing.

"We did this in Tian'anmen Square with me holding a selfie stick reading from a bit of paper taped behind the phone. I was trying my best to look into the camera," he laughs.

Nonetheless the film proved an enormous success receiving 10 million hits in total on a number of platforms, including China Daily Weibo, WeChat and Facebook.

It came out at a time when there seemed to be an appetite for light but informative films, with one, Song of Shisanwu, a government video about the 13th Five Year-Plan (2016-20), especially attracting a lot of publicity.

Star appeal

Fountain has made a number of films since including ones on Chinese tea culture, China's railways, telecommunications, the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army and most recently about China's attempts to fight back against desertification in Saihanba on the Hebei province-Inner Mongolia autonomous region border, for which he was recently interviewed by CCTV.

"I was standing on this watch station and there was just trees to the horizon as far as the eye could see. The forest was about the size of Hong Kong in terms of land coverage."

His video with the most hits so far, was the one of this year's two sessions, which deployed green screen technology showing a seemingly diminutive Fountain walking along a desk.

"The mini me got a mention on the BBC and other media outlets," he says. "In terms of production standards it was much more sophisticated than the first one we produced, which was a lot more rough and ready."

The success of the films means that Fountain now often gets recognized on the streets.

"A couple of times I have noticed, even going into a supermarket, people taking pictures on their iPhones so I am pretty sure they recognize me from the videos," he says.

Unlike many broadcasters from the United Kingdom, Fountain does not speak in Received Pronunciation but in his native Yorkshire accent of the north of England.

"From what I have read - there have been studies in the UK - the Yorkshire and Scottish accents are among the most trusted British accents. My accent is actually a lot broader when I am speaking to my mum on the phone or if I am in a pub back home," he says.

"It is not popular with everyone. People have left comments saying they would prefer to hear an American accent since they say it would be easier for them to understand."

New experience

Fountain was brought up in Birdwell, a village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. After attending Wath Comprehensive School, whose most famous old boy was the former Conservative party leader and foreign secretary William (now Lord) Hague, he studied English and history at Reading University.

Wanting to follow a media career, he then did a master's in print journalism at Sheffield University.

"It was then that I first did a little bit of video, working with some broadcast guys who came into teach us," he says.

His first job in journalism was in Falmouth in Cornwall in the south west of England, where he worked as reporter on a weekly newspaper.

"It was a fantastic experience. Apart from the bread and butter stuff like covering courts and council meetings, we had crazy things like dolphins being beached and we would go and watch them being rescued and report on that."

His first experience of working abroad came when he joined the Gulf Daily News in Bahrain in 2011.

"The place was simmering after the 'Arab Spring'. I spent the first eight months wearing out shoe leather as a reporter covering the funerals of policemen who had been killed by roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," he recalls.

He went in to become the paper's deputy news editor, where he was on call until midnight every other night, before accepting an offer to come and work for China Daily.

"The day before leaving Bahrain, I was sitting in the sun in shorts, T-shirt and sunglasses. When I arrived in Beijing, it was -17 C. We arrived in the absolute bitter cold of winter. It was quite a shock."

Before he started at China Daily, Fountain had never been to China.

Home from home

He has since settled in. He and his 29-year-old partner Maria, a former chef and now yoga teacher, have an 18-month-old mongrel rescue dog called Ponyo.

"People think it is named pengyou (the Chinese word for friend) but it is named after the Japanese animation film. The vet said there is a bit of corgi in her and something else."

Fountain says he and his partner are currently studying Chinese online.

"We are both struggling along. It is probably the least effective way of studying. We are desperately trying to save up for our wedding in the UK in November so we don't have the money to pay for lessons at the moment."

Apart from being a video journalist, Fountain is also a columnist for China Daily and has made his views known on a number of subjects, including the UK's decision to leave the European Union in last year's referendum.

"I never thought there should have been a vote in the first place. I believe it is damaging for the future of the country I would love to be proved wrong but I have seen nothing yet that contradicts that. I am glad not to be in Britain right now but let's see."

For now, Fountain wants to carry on making films and explaining China to his following of fans.

"I love working at China Daily and in Beijing. I came here from Bahrain, a place with 1.3 million people and here there are 1.3 billion. You could live in Beijing for a decade and still find things you haven't seen or done," he says.

"Anyone who takes an interest in the news has to take an interest in China because it's now a huge player in so many ways."

Contact the writer at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-08 10:57:04
<![CDATA[Chinese acts get rave reviews at The Fringe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/08/content_30372647.htm A diverse array of contemporary and traditional Chinese productions entertained audiences in Scotland's capital on the weekend, as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 opened its doors.

China Focus, a collection of eight acts, debuted at the festival, and a dozen other independent performers also represented the country at this year's event, which is one of the world's largest arts festivals.

This year's Festival Fringe involves 3,398 shows from 62 countries, in venues throughout Edinburgh and will continue all month.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Festival Fringe Society, says: "We hope this is the start of a major collaboration with China at The Fringe. We want to see more Chinese work in 2018 and beyond."

Major Chinese performing arts companies at the festival include the National Theater of China, the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center and the Shanghai Academy of Drama.

Xiang Xiaowei, the cultural counselor at the Chinese embassy, says China Focus will be an annual feature, marking a "new chapter in cultural relations" between China and the United Kingdom.

"The China Focus series will become an icon of Chinese culture at The Fringe in the future and will further enrich cultural exchanges during the 'golden era' of China-UK relations," he says.

On Sunday at The Grand, the audience witnessed one highlight of the China Focus program - The Dreamer.

The collaboration between UK theater company Gecko and the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center has already racked up several four-star ratings from festival reviewers.

The production draws inspiration from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Tang Xianzu's Peony Pavilion.

While the dialogue is in Mandarin, non-Chinese speakers can follow the show through the actors' physicality. The immaculate set design, lighting and live violin all impress.

On Saturday evening, a sold-out crowd of more than 500 packed into Edinburgh's Assembly Hall to watch China Goes Pop, featuring the Shandong Acrobatic Troupe and the China Arts Entertainment Group.

Some of China's most talented jugglers, contortionists, aerial silk specialists and acrobats performed to recent pop smash hits.

The show was named one of Edinburgh-based reviewer The List's top circus acts for this year.

China Goes Pop is directed by Shanda Sawyer, who is known for the stage production of The Marvel Universe.

The Shanghai Theater Academy's Peking Opera The Boor, the National Theater of China's Luocha Land, and New City, New Sound by the Shenzhen's Alliance Art Group all opened on the weekend.

angus@mail.chinadailyuk.com

]]>
2017-08-08 08:25:25
<![CDATA[Shanghai Hits A High Note]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/07/content_30359003.htm City's symphony orchestra is one of the oldest in the world and it deserves to be celebrated as one of the best, says its artistic director Yu Long. Zhang Kun reports from Shanghai.

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will be the first musical ensemble from China to play at the prestigious Lucerne Festival in Switzerland.

The orchestra, led by artistic director Yu Long, will embark on a European tour, with a concert at the Lucerne Festival on Aug 20, followed by performances at Tirol and Grafenegg in Austria, as well as the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany.

"We are one of the best orchestras in the world today," says Yu. "We hope to perform with distinction at what is one of the most renowned music festivals."

According to Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily, the orchestra's European shows will be the "highest level international tour any Chinese music company has done".

Few orchestras from Asia have performed at the Lucerne Festival, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will also be the first orchestra from Asia to play at the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, says Yu.

The Lucerne Festival, founded in 1938, now stages three festivals every year, which are attended by more than 110,000 people annually.

The largest and most prominent is the summer festival, where internationally acclaimed orchestras and soloists perform more than 100 concerts and events in August and September.

Among the big names on the 2017 lineup are the Berlin Philharmonic, the Amsterdam-based Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic.

"Just as Germans take pride in the Berlin Philharmonic, I hope the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra can be the pride of everyone in China," Yu says when meeting with the Shanghai media before the orchestra set off for Europe.

On the tour, the orchestra will play works such as the Butterfly Lovers' Concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and Aaron Avshalomov's symphonic poem Hutungs of Peking.

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1879 and was first known as the Shanghai Public Band.

It expanded into an orchestra in 1907, and was later renamed the Shanghai Municipal Council Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra began to make international tours in the 1970s. Since then it has been a frequent performer overseas.

"Looking around the world, you'll find few orchestras with such a long history - we are even older than the Berlin Philharmonic," Yu says.

"The orchestra is an important part of the city's culture and history, and deserves to be celebrated. We want to set the bar and show we are one of the top-level symphony orchestras in the world."

While China's public has shown great enthusiasm for foreign culture, the world still has to learn about Chinese culture, he says.

Yu has been leading the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra for almost eight years. He is also artistic director and chief conductor of the China Philharmonic and music director of Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra.

In Shanghai, he has been the co-director of the Music in the Summer Air Festival since 2010.

The outdoor festival is aimed at taking classical music to a wider audience. This year's festival concluded with a concert featuring the No 5 Symphony in D Minor by Shostakovich, conducted by Yu, at the Shanghai Symphony Hall on July 15.

"We'd love to play more music by Chinese composers," he says, but there has not been many "heavyweight" Chinese works in the past decades.

"The Shanghai orchestra has been actively commissioning new works, and been in close contact with young composers, because the continuous birth of new work is of vital importance, not only for the music scene, but for culture and civilization," he says.

Contact the writer at zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-07 08:20:38
<![CDATA[TCM gives African students a healthy ambition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/07/content_30359002.htm Two students from Africa mix some pungent herbs, one lot to repel mosquitoes and the other to ease anxiety. They are among a group of Chinese students learning traditional Chinese medicine at one of the country's top universities.

Vanessa Njifack, 21, from Cameroon, is a first-year student studying at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. Badrah Said Ali, 26, from Madagascar, is a third-year student at the university, which has 1,500 international students among its 20,000-strong student population. They are two of three African students awarded scholarships to study at the university.

Njifack says back home people "think Chinese medicine is witchcraft".

She hopes to change that perception when she returns to open her own practice.

"Chinese medicine is so special. It has many benefits and helps Chinese people live long healthy lives," says Njifack.

She wants to specialize in acupuncture, which she considers very effective.

Ali first witnessed the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine from a relative back home. "My uncle has a practice. He used acupuncture to help a cousin who was struggling to have baby. More people are enjoying the benefits of traditional medicine. It's less invasive than Western medicine and doesn't involve strong drugs with harmful side effects."

Both women had to learn Mandarin as their studies are taught in Chinese. Njifack and Ali have risen to the challenge of studying medicine in a foreign language, although Ali admits the workload of foreign students is double that of Chinese students, as they often have to translate certain subjects into English after school so that they can gain a better understanding.

Among other things, the university teaches acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, cupping therapy and massage.

Degrees range from four years for a bachelor's degree in medicine to nine years for a PhD. The university also offers degrees in pharmacology, applied psychology and optometry.

Students do their practicals at Jiangsu Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine in Nanjing, which has close to 1,000 beds and treats 700,000 outpatients a year.

According to the World Education News and Reviews, more than 700,000 students presently study TCM in China, of those 5,510 are foreigners.

Since 2012, following the first China-Africa International Cooperation and Development Forum on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy in Cape Town, South Africa, there has been greater collaboration between Chinese and African practitioners.

More students from Africa are also coming to China to learn traditional Chinese medicine as an alternative to Western medicine.

According to the organizers of the forum, there are more than 1,000 students from Africa who have studied traditional Chinese medicine in China and some of them have been conferred master's degrees.

China's global integration has led to its universities opening their doors to an increasing number of international students.

According to some estimates, students from Africa account for more than 1 in 10 students studying abroad. Previously their universities of choice were in the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

However, in recent years that has changed as Sino-African ties have strengthened.

According to China's Ministry of Education, the growth rate of international students has seen a striking 35 percent annual increase on average. Between 2005 and 2015, the department reported that the number of African students in China rose from 2,757 to about 50,000.

Statistics show China's pharmaceutical exports to South Africa, Morocco, Benin and Nigeria are rising.

South Africa already has a traditional Chinese medicine market that is comparatively well-developed.

In 2000, the South African government went through the legislative process to recognize supplementary medicine, including acupuncture. In August 2002, the government required that all herbal products be registered before entering the South African market.

At the forum Ibrahim Mahmoud, president of the South African Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association, said that traditional Chinese medicine had a promising future in the country. He believed that through joint efforts with the Chinese TCM practitioners, more Africans would understand, recognize and accept Chinese medicine.

The author is an online editor of South African newspaper Weekend Argus.

]]>
2017-08-07 08:20:38
<![CDATA[Kennedy Center's honorees revealed]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/07/content_30359001.htm WASHINGTON - Rapper LL Cool J is set to become the first hip-hop artist to be celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors, one of the top awards in the US arts that marks its 40th anniversary this year.

Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan, soul singer Lionel Richie, television writer and producer Norman Lear, and dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade are the other 2017 honorees, organizers announced on Thursday.

The awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center will take place on Dec 3.

LL Cool J, whose real name is James Todd Smith, was hailed by Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein for having "taught the world how to rhyme as one of the pioneers of the hip-hop phenomenon".

The 49-year-old New Yorker is seen as one of the pioneers of pop rap and was the first rapper to gain 10 consecutive platinum-plus selling albums.

He has parlayed his success into an acting career, with a long-running starring role in NCIS: Los Angeles.

"To be the first rap artist honored by the @kencen is beyond anything I could have imagined. Dreams don't have deadlines. God is great," tweets the rapper-actor, whose moniker stands for "Ladies Love Cool James."

Estefan, meanwhile, is the first Cuban-American to receive the award and arguably the most popular crossover artists in Latin music history.

The 68-year-old Richie - known both as a solo artist and for his work with The Commodores - is a pop legend, known for hits such as All Night Long, Hello and Endless Love.

De Lavallade appeared on Broadway and in films, and was the principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera.

She has choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dance Theatre of Harlem, among others.

Lear, a 95-year-old World War II veteran whose sitcoms like The Jeffersons and All in the Family brought social issues into American living rooms in the 1970s and 1980s, says he was grateful for the award but would not attend.

"It is more important now than ever that we stand up for artists, for artistic expression, and for the valiant fight that artists fight to reveal the wonder and oneness of the human spirit," Lear says in a statement.

The ceremony airs on CBS on Dec 26.

Agence France-presse

]]>
2017-08-07 08:20:38
<![CDATA[Families Cruising Along]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/07/content_30359000.htm A holiday on the ocean wave is growing in popularity, especially for parents. Bookings rose nearly 50 percent year-on-year in July. Yang Feiyue reports.

Lyu Lian has booked a late August cruise for her family since the kids are on vacation. The Beijing resident will travel with her daughter, husband, parents and her sister's family, from Shanghai to Nagasaki in Japan aboard a cruise ship operated by the Florida-headquartered Norwegian Cruise Line.

Lyu says it would be difficult and demanding to keep the family together if she chose any other means of travel.

"We have almost 10 people traveling together, and taking a cruise allows us to spend quality time together," says Lyu.

The family group will visit Shanghai's Disneyland for two days before boarding the ship on Aug 22, and return to Beijing via Tianjin.

Many Chinese like Lyu are now taking cruises, especially those with children.

Cruise bookings from the mainland rose nearly 50 percent year-on-year in July, China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip reports. And the average age of Chinese cruise travelers who booked through Ctrip this summer stands at 36.

Parent-child trips, such as the one featuring a chance to see dolphins in Yatsushiro, saw bookings surging 600 percent month-on-month in July.

Yuan Ping, the senior sales vice-president with Hong Kong-based Genting Cruise Line, says: "Our cruises for July and August sold out."

The cruise company has arranged special events for children, including science education lectures and fencing training, says Yuan.

"Cruises are good options for family travelers who have the elderly and children with them," she says, explaining that they don't have to move around checking into hotels or taking buses, and there is a lot of entertainment to ensure quality family time together.

Genting's ship currently covers Tokyo, Osaka, Fujiyama and Kagoshima.

Ctrip's cruises have also integrated a penguin attraction in Nagasaki, Universal Studios in Osaka and the aquarium in Fukuoka for cruise passengers with children.

Chinese food is also available.

Meanwhile, China is the fourth-biggest cruise market globally, says a report of the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation's cruising branch.

Chinese ports received 955 cruise ships last year, up 65 percent over the previous year, according to the report.

The report also says that China handled 4.39 million cruise passengers last year, up 82 percent on the previous year, and the country is expected to become the second-biggest cruise market in the world, after the United States, by 2020.

The growth of the cruise market represents an increasing awareness of this travel mode, says Liu Xiaolyu, the cruise travel general manager with Ctrip.

Also, new cruise ships and domestic ports are driving the market, says Liu.

Many new cruise ships entered the Chinese market in July, and this has stimulated traveler interest.

The Norwegian Joy cruise ship began to operate from Shanghai on June 27, the SuperStar Virgo from Star Cruises launched its maiden voyage on July 6, and the Majestic Princess from Princess Cruises entered the Chinese market on July 11.

These ships, besides the Quantum of the Sea and Mariner of the Seas, both from Royal Caribbean International, and the Costa Serena all offer varied experiences.

The Norwegian Joy saw the most bookings for July and August, with the Ovation of the Seas and the Quantum of the Sea right behind it.

More cruise ports have also made things easier.

Shanghai and Tianjin are the main departure ports, but Xiamen in Fujian province, Qingdao in Shandong province and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, now give travelers more choices.

Liu says: "People used to flock to Shanghai earlier, but many northerners now opt for Tianjin."

Now, travelers from the south can depart from Xiamen or Shenzhen, while those from central and western China can go for ports based on proximity, says Liu.

Also, ships departing from Shanghai, Tianjin and Qingdao mostly visit Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku; while those leaving southern ports mostly travel to the Ryukyu Islands, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

For now, Nagasaki, Fukuoka and Nichinan are the top three destinations for cruise travelers, but Kitakyushu, Yatsushiro and Kochi are also attracting travelers.

For Lyu, the upcoming cruise is more about bonding.

"It's rare for us to spend time together, and the cruise will allow us to do things together," she says.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-07 08:20:38
<![CDATA[Sunken treasures give Albania's waters a sense of history]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/07/content_30358999.htm SARANDA, Albania - Descending beneath the waves, the cloudy first few meters quickly give way to clear waters and an astonishing sight - dozens, perhaps hundreds, of tightly packed ancient vases lie on the seabed, testament to some long-forgotten trader's unfortunate voyage more than 1,600 years ago.

A short boat ride away, the hulking frame of an Italian World War II ship appears through the gloom, soldiers' personal items still scattered in the interior, its encrusted railings and propeller now home to growing colonies of fish and sponges.

Off the rugged shores of Albania, one of the world's least explored underwater coastlines, lies a wealth of treasures: ancient amphorae long, narrow terracotta vessels that carried olive oil and wine along trade routes between north Africa and the Roman Empire, wrecks with hidden tales of heroism and treachery from two world wars, and spectacular rock formations and marine life.

"From what I've seen so far, you can't swim more than a few meters without finding something that's amazing, whether it's on the cultural history side or the natural history side, here in Albania," says Derek Smith, a coastal and maritime ecologist and research associate who has been working with the non-profit RPM Nautical Foundation to explore the Albanian coastline for the past decade.

Now Albania's National Coastline Agency is examining how best to study and protect its sunken attractions while opening them up to visitors in a nation that is virgin territory for the lucrative scuba diving industry.

"The idea of presenting the Albanian underwater heritage is a new idea for the country, because so far there is very little known about the rich history of the Albanian coastline, and in particular the shipwrecks," says agency head Auron Tare, who has been involved for the past 12 years with RPM Nautical Foundation's underwater research.

"I believe the time has come now that we should present to the world the wealth of this heritage that we have in our waters."

Albania has gradually opened up to international tourism and shrugged off its former image as a hermit state that briefly turned into lawless bandit territory in the late 1990s. But coastal land development has been burgeoning in an often anarchic fashion, and there are fears the more accessible wrecks could be plundered unless adequate protections are put into place.

Legislation is expected to be passed soon to protect the country's underwater heritage while also granting some access to visitors.

Neighboring Greece, to Albania's south, has struggled with balancing tourism with protecting its ancient artefacts. Greece was so fearful of losing its underwater antiquities it banned diving outright in all but a handful of places. Even today, diving is forbidden on any wreck ship or plane built more than 50 years ago, regardless of when it sank.

Albania is going for a more balanced approach.

"I'd say that in the near future the ancient wrecks should be open to scholars and research," says Tare, who noted the country has also lost some of its underwater heritage to plundering in the last 20 years. "Where (as) some of the modern wrecks which do not have much to lose in the sense of looting might be opened up to the dive industry."

He estimated that with access to the more modern wrecks from WWI or WWII, diving could pick up in Albania in the next five years.

The RPM Nautical Foundation, in cooperation with the coastal agency, has mapped out the seabed along about a third of the Albanian coastline, from Saranda near the Greek border to Vlora. Using a combination of divers and high-tech equipment including sonar and a remotely operated underwater vehicle, or ROV, its research vessel has discovered nearly 40 shipwrecks.

"So far RPM has documented from about 3rd and 4th century BC through to World War I and World War II contemporary shipwrecks," says Smith. "So we've got quite a big range of maybe 2,500 years, 2,300 years' worth of cultural resources here on the Albanian coastline that have really largely been unexplored."

"A lot of these wrecks are very important as national heritage treasures," says underwater araeologist Mateusz Polakowski.

"Just as much as the biology of it is, just as important as the reefs and the fish populations are, I think these shipwrecks not only become artificial reefs, but they also instill a sense of cultural identity, cultural heritage."

Xinhua - Ap

]]>
2017-08-07 08:20:38
<![CDATA[Bean curd flowers or brains?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/06/content_30349683.htm Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

The arguments start with the name. Most southern Chinese call this soft bean curd jelly douhua, or bean curd flower. Northerners, however, think it looks and tastes like soft-cooked offal, and it is known as doufunao, or bean curd brains.

The division is so wide that everything else about it comes under debate.

Should it be made with gypsum, brine or fermented vegetable juice? Should the texture be very soft or more solid? Should it be served in the morning or evening? Should it be served sweet or savory?

 

Soft bean curd jelly is good and easy to eat, for both toddlers and older people. Photos Provided to China Daily

For 2,000 years now, the debate has gone on and on, and there are still people in China to this day who are fanatically loyal to sweet or savory and find the alternative hard to stomach.

Let's start at the beginning.

Bean curd itself was a serendipitous discovery when a group of Taoists seeking the elixir for immortality for an emperor dropped some liquid into a pot of soybean juice. It curdled and formed soft curds and tasted delicious. That was history.

Later, people learned to press the curds. Once the excess water was removed, a harder, cakelike texture resulted. This was the bean curd or tofu. From there, this product was made into puffs, deep-fried, stuffed, fermented and processed into a whole category of ingredients.

For many, it is the first soft curds that they love.

In the north, the bean curd jelly is breakfast food. Doufunao is sold in markets and outside train stations to cater to early-morning shoppers and commuters. It is savory and satisfying.

Vendors use a shallow ladle to skim scoops of bean curd pudding into a bowl, then add a thick brown sauce full of dried lily buds, black woodear mushrooms and tiny slivers of meat. Sometimes the gravy also has shreds of beaten egg.

The whole thing is garnished with chopped coriander.

According to my Beijing hutong-bred husband, the classic combination for breakfast in the old days, before Western fast food, was a bowl of doufunao, a dough fritter or youtiao, and shaobing, a baked pancake. This used to be sold mainly by Muslim vendors in his neighborhood, which was right next to Niu Jie, home to the oldest mosque in northern China. They would use mutton in the broth.

Nowadays, there is also a lighter version of doufunao, without the meat, but simply drizzled with thickened soy sauce, sesame oil and chili oil. Again, it is garnished with coriander.

Once breakfast is over, doufunao strangely disappears from Beijing streets, and it is not something you can order in restaurants, either.

In Zhejiang, they also like their bean curd jelly savory, pairing it with dried krill or tiny shrimps, chopped Sichuan pickled vegetables and spring onions.

In Sichuan itself, the excellent underground water makes the bean curd jelly exceptionally smooth and flavorful. The curds are eaten with the region's spicy sauces and roasted peanuts, or with deep-fried soybeans for that extra crunch.

Leshan in Sichuan, home to the giant Buddha carved out of the cliff-side, is famous for its douhua. There, the soybean juice is congealed with sweet potato starch and steamed with beef, and served with crispy dough fritters and meat fritters.

Douhua is so beloved in Sichuan that it is listed as one of the province's intangible cultural heritages.

The southerners in the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian also love their douhua, but they eat it all day long, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in both sweet and savory ways.

For starters, the sweet bean curd pudding is eaten with dark or light cane sugar syrup. Sometimes, ginger juice is used to flavor the syrup.

It becomes an even more delicious dessert when sweetened red beans are added. In both Chaoshan and Fujian, ginkgo nuts and softened peanuts are some of the choices for toppings. There is even more variety at specialist stalls or shops that sell nothing but sweet bean curd jelly.

Douhua is easy to eat, for both toddlers and the toothless. It is easy to digest and doesn't tax the digestive system. A famous douhua dish is steamed with fish paste and goes by the name laoshao ping'an, peace for young and old.

In Chinese supermarkets these days, you can buy bean curd making sets, with the soybean powder and a bottle of congealant.

The use of gypsum is largely frowned upon these days, and it's hard to find the other "sour water" congealant made of fermented amaranth roots. Instead, most prefer to use a sea-salt brine.

These are available in little bottles with eyedrop dispensers. Some of the best are the Japanese brine from Hokkaido, if you would like to make your own.

To me, bean curd jelly is the ultimate comfort food.

My fondest memories are of those dark, damp winter nights in Hong Kong, getting off the bus after work after midnight and waiting in line for a bowl of steaming hot bean curd jelly. The old lady only had a single pot, which she'd carry at the end of a bamboo pole. On the other end would be a huge vat of dark sugar syrup strongly flavored with grated ginger.

You stood on the sidewalk slurping up the bean curd with a metal Chinese spoon, each mouthful gliding down the throat and into the stomach, the warmth spreading out like the rays of an internal sun.

Too soon, you handed back the empty bowl and watched as she packed up, before slowly walking off, her shadow shimmering as she passed the rain puddles on the road.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Steamed Bean Curd Pudding

This was my Cantonese grandmother's recipe.

A large bowl of plain bean curd jelly, unsweetened

300g shrimps, shelled and deveined

Chopped spring onions

Soy sauce, sesame oil

You can buy a bowl of plain bean curd jelly from your market vendor for this dish. Alternatively, you can use a tub of soft silken tofu, which is firmer but works just as well.

Prepare the shrimps by rinsing them and then drying them thoroughly on kitchen paper towels. This is to keep them crisp. If you have time, place them in the refrigerator, uncovered, to dry off even more.

Place the bean curd in a large soup bowl and add the shrimps on top. Steam over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and season with soy sauce and sesame oil. Sprinkle with spring onions.

Nothing can be simpler. It's a good dish to serve for lunch on hot summer days.

]]>
2017-08-06 13:55:56
<![CDATA[Royal garden brought back to life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/06/content_30349682.htm Yuanmingyuan, a resort used by Manchu royalty, was burned down by Anglo-French expedition forces in 1860. Archaeologists are now rediscovering the magnificent landmark

In China, the destruction of Yuanmingyuan ("the garden of perfect brightness"), or the Old Summer Palace, in Beijing is seen as a national tragedy.

In 1860, Anglo-French expeditionary forces burned down this exquisite resort, used by the Manchu royalty of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), during the Second Opium War (1856-60).

But now there are efforts to discover more about the magnificent garden. Archaeologists, with the help of paintings and historical records, are trying to get a better picture of this landmark.

 

Remains of Western-style architecture in Yuanmingyuan. Wang Kaihao / China Daily

In a project to the east of the Yuanmingyuan ruins, the remains of Ruyuan, an exquisite garden in typical Jiangnan style (which refers to areas in East China on the southern banks of the Yangtze River), was unearthed.

The 19,000 square meter garden is a replica of Zhanyuan, a garden in Nanjing, in eastern Jiangsu province, and it was built following an edict by Emperor Qianlong (1711-99).

The garden, completed in 1767, was called Ruyuan, which means "a garden just like Zhanyuan".

Huge, and almost intact, bases of buildings have been found at the site, as well as a garden with paths paved with colorful stones.

"It was a surprise to find the foundations so well-preserved," says Zhang Zhonghua, an archaeologist from the Beijing Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and leader of the Yuanmingyuan project.

"Only some scattered and broken sections were visible before the excavation."

For example, the 1-meter-high foundation of Yanqing Hall is there, as well as a 1.4 meter part underground, says Zhang.

"The deep foundation indicates that the hall was grandiose," says Zhang.

The 322-square-meter hall was the main building in Ruyuan.

The discovery of ceramic tiles that are hollow indicates that Ruyuan was equipped with a central heating system.

The excavations also show that there was an artificial lake and special equipment to regulate water flow.

As a result, emperors were able to take a boat on entering the garden to a pier by Yanqing Hall.

Zhang's team is also analyzing seeds found in the area to find out what kind of flowers used to blossom in Ruyuan.

Zhang says that when compared with the Forbidden City, which emphasized formal rituals, Yuanmingyuan was a place where emperors could relax.

"The patterns on walking paths in Ruyuan are irregular, which shows the rulers' casual lifestyle," he says.

"We even found the prototype of a modern urban road network, like today's relief roads and roundabouts, that show advanced design."

Also, though houses face southward in traditional Chinese architecture, those in Ruyuan broke the rule, probably to give the emperors a view of the lake from all corners of the garden.

Two stones bearing Emperor Jiaqing's calligraphy indicate renovation of Ruyuan during the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820).

In addition, Zhang says that tiles found at the site have reddish marks on them, indicating they were burned.

"All the tiles we found had cracks," he says.

"These tiles, only used in imperial institutions, were of top quality. The cracks prove that they burned for a long time."

Zhang's team is seeking to establish a date for the fire.

"But, for now, I can tell you that the fire was in the late Qing Dynasty," he says.

"So, it is still premature to connect this fire to the looting of 1860."

However, he says that there are no historical records of Ruyuan after Emperor Xianfeng's reign (1851-61) ended. So, this probably means that the garden had been destroyed by then, coinciding with the Anglo-French invasion.

Preliminary investigation of the site began in 2012, but the main project was launched in 2016 and covers an area of 3,800 sq m.

Parts of Ruyuan are still buried today, as they are beyond the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park.

"So, it is up to the urban planning department if they want to expand our excavation site," says Zhang.

"It will cause trouble if we block the artery - Zhongguancun North Avenue - for archaeology."

Zhang says that the designs of Ruyuan show there was a pedestrian overpass connecting Ruyuan with nearby gardens, and he says that there are possibly ruins beneath the Tsinghua University campus, which is across Zhongguancun North Avenue.

"Yuanmingyuan was much bigger than the ruins we see today," he says.

Though most ongoing archaeological works are not accessible to the public for safety reasons, the Yuanmingyuan site is a popular tourist destination, since visitors are allowed to have a look at the archeologists working.

Yang Yulian, from the Beijing Administration of Cultural Heritage, says: "Archaeology is also a good opportunity to educate the public. And fans of cultural heritage upload pictures on social media and even do live broadcasts."

Yang directs the bureau's education office. She says the Yuanmingyuan model could be replicated at other archeological sites in Beijing.

Some artifacts from Ruyuan are now displayed at the exhibition hall of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park, and the display will run through October.

Separately, Zhang says that more archaeological work is to follow at the site.

Research on the Yuanmingyuan ruins began in 1996, and the excavation of Ruyuan is a part of a five-year project that started in 2015 to figure out the original layout of this complex.

Because of surviving stone relics like fountains and columns, people get the impression that Yuanmingyuan was a Western-style garden, says Chen Hui, a researcher at the administration office of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park.

"But Western construction comprises a small part of the architecture in Yuanmingyuan," says Chen.

"It's a pity that Chinese-style architecture was mainly in wood that easily disappeared. So the excavation can give people a panoramic view of the complex."

Zhang says it will take a long time to learn about this destroyed wonder in detail.

"I will be satisfied if we can use archaeology to show what 10 percent of Yuanmingyuan was like before I retire," says Zhang.

wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

More about Yuanmingyuan

The construction of Yuanmingyuan began in 1707 during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722), and went on throughout the next century.

It was approximately five times the size of the Forbidden City.

Yuanmingyuan was known as the "garden of gardens" for its gardens and palaces as well as its temples, pavilions and galleries.

Many famous gardens from the Jiangnan area in southern China were reproduced in Yuanmingyuan, and Western architectural styles also got mixed in.

The most visible remnant of Yuanmingyuan today is the Xiyang Lou (Western Mansions). This group of European-style palaces, fountains and gardens was planned by Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian missionary.

A fountain, with bronze heads of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac spouting water was the best-known icon of this section.

Besides functioning as an imperial resort, Yuanmingyuan was also a place where four Qing emperors (Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang and Xianfeng) handled the affairs of state.

Yuanmingyuan was burned down by Anglo-French expedition forces in 1860.

Though it was proposed to be reconstructed during the reign of Tongzhi (1862-74), the plan was dropped due to a lack of money.

During an invasion by the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900, Yuanmingyuan was hit again by bandits.

In 1988, the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park was set up to better protect the site.

]]>
2017-08-06 13:55:56
<![CDATA[Finding a home away from home]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/06/content_30349681.htm As more young people head abroad to study, the demand for student accommodations is growing rapidly

"I was not feeling good in the house. My roommate and landlord were not easy to get along with, so I moved one month after I arrived in Britain," says Liu Tianyi, a 26-year-old master's student at Durham University.

In 2015, Liu, a native of Zhuzhou, Hunan province, went to the United Kingdom to study international social work and community development. Before leaving China, she found a house through her friend on Sina Weibo, a Chinese micro blog.

Liu knew nothing about the house until she arrived in the UK.

 

Zhang Le (second from right) enjoys a meal with her family and friends at her rented house in the United States. She is a music education doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University. Provided to China Daily

"The house was on a hill and very far away from downtown Durham. And my landlord was not friendly," says Liu.

For Liu, life abroad was different from what she had imagined. She was not prepared for the problems.

Today, there are many students like Liu who struggle to find suitable accommodations abroad.

By the end of 2015, 1.26 million Chinese were studying abroad, about 25 percent of the world's total, according to a report by the Beijing-based think tanks Center for China and Globalization and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The overseas student accommodations market has great potential.

"If we look at the rents in cities across the globe, then we're looking at an industry valued at around $150 billion," says Luke Nolan, CEO of student.com, a platform with headquarters in the UK that provides an overseas student accommodations service.

Liu returned to China after a one-year program.

Speaking about her experience, she says that she should have put in more effort in finding a house.

"Taking the initiative is crucial," says Liu.

New media platforms offer a way for students to look for accommodations.

Zhang Le, a 31-year-old music education doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, found a house by going online.

"I found a house through Penn State's BBS," says Zhang, a native of Shuangyashan, Heilongjiang province. "After I got the contact of the landlord, I told him to download WeChat (a Chinese messaging app), through which we could communicate."

This helped Zhang to understand the neighborhood and the ways of commuting. Now she lives in a two-bedroom house with her husband.

Overseas study is no longer only for the young, as many older students now take along dependents, just like Zhang.

"I had to plan in advance, as my husband was to stay with me. I was fortunate to find a good house, but it could be difficult for those who are young," says Zhang.

Even as demand for overseas accommodations by students from China grows, there is still no convenient way to find housing, since this is an industry with both complexity and variety.

"Almost every city in China has students going to a huge range of destinations, including the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, France and Germany," says Nolan.

"Students from different countries have different needs, and the property markets are different, too."

Li Jiabao, a 23-year-old law student at Sciences Po in Paris, says that international students from non-European Union countries need a guarantor to rent a house in France.

"In my four years at university, I was lucky that I had a roommate from Norway in the first year and then a Chinese agency that helped with the guarantor bit, but it was slightly expensive."

Still, not every foreigner studying in France is as lucky as Li, a native of Shenyang, Liaoning province.

Besides the hardships in finding housing in different countries, safety is one of the main consideration for Chinese students, followed by location and price, according to an overseas student accommodations report by student.com.

Zhang says: "I suggest that a freshman should live on campus for the first year. As for single female students, it would be better to find a roommate instead of living alone."

In addition, colleges sometimes send out information.

"Location really matters," says Li. "Some of my classmates lived in nearby cities, which were roughly a one-hour commute," Li says.

Liu emphasizes that finding good accommodations eases the culture shock.

"When I was in the United Kingdom, my roommates always hosted parties on the weekend. I am not the kind of person who socializes very much, so attending the parties helped me to immerse myself in the community," she says.

For a lot of Chinese students, studying abroad is the first time they have been away from China or the first time they have lived by themselves.

So, when faced with new languages and cultures, it can be quite challenging to adapt.

Nolan says the notion of "student community" is vital.

Zhang Zefeng and Su Yingle contributed to this story.

Contact the writers through zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-06 13:55:56
<![CDATA[Sad farewell to Chris, professional to the end]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/06/content_30349680.htm When Chris Peterson joined CHINA DAILY's London bureau in July 2015 as European managing editor, he had already notched up a remarkable half-century as a journalist.

He penned what was to be his last column - a typically colorful description of the benefits of London's new Chinese-designed buses - just two weeks before his death at the age of 70.

Peterson learned his trade at the Oxford Mail and Times newspaper before joining the sports desk of Reuters news agency in London in 1970. We first met there in 1975 when he returned from a two-year Asian posting that had taken him to Singapore, Phnom Penh, Vientiane and what was then Saigon.

It was the start of a literal love affair with Vietnam. In recent years, he frequently traveled back there to spend time with relatives of his Vietnamese-born wife, Mai.

In the 1970s, print trucks still rumbled along Fleet Street, home to Reuters and most of the UK national press, and we still hammered out our dispatches on pre-war typewriters and communicated with overseas bureaus via telex.

By the end of his career, Peterson was juggling social media accounts like a teenager and fronting live Facebook interviews.

His strengths were not only as a consummate editor and reporter, but also as a mentor and adviser to young, up-and-coming journalists, not least the enthusiastic team of colleagues at CHINA DAILY in London who valued his guidance.

Gao Anming, deputy editor-in-chief of CHINA DAILY, says Peterson was a valued member of the staff. "His short yet successful spell at our Beijing headquarters last year left everyone who met him with feelings of warmth, inspiration and admiration," says Gao.

Peterson's Reuters career included postings in Paris and in Hong Kong, as chief correspondent, before he left the agency in 1992 to take up a senior post at Bloomberg News.

Reuters, however, remained his spiritual home. Shortly after he joined CHINA DAILY, he told former colleagues: "I find myself drawing on my Reuters experience far, far more than, from the years I spent at Bloomberg. Reuters training, back then, was as good as it gets."

Li Wensha, CHINA DAILY European editor, says that the benefits of Peterson's experience and professionalism were felt in many ways by his colleagues.

"In an office where many people are working away from their homes in China, he was affectionately known in Chinese as 'grandfather' and played a big role in contributing to the family atmosphere of the office," she says.

Li says Peterson's professionalism was felt most keenly during the turbulent events in the UK of recent years. "During the Brexit referendum, he insisted on attending the office through the night rather than working from home. It at first seemed straightforward, but then at 3 am, when it became clear that the UK was going to vote to leave the EU, the real work started. Chris must have written a further seven articles that day."

He also delighted in explaining the oddities of British society to his CHINA DAILY colleagues.

In one of his last columns - on an unusual heat wave in London - Peterson wrote: "I had a delightful few minutes explaining to a Chinese colleague why it was so dramatic that authorities running Royal Ascot, the five-day horse-racing meeting under the Queen's patronage, had announced it would be OK for gentlemen to remove their jackets. Attendance at Ascot requires top hat and tailcoats for men in the Royal Enclosure, and lounge suits for others."

Among all those who worked with him throughout a career that lasted more than 50 years and almost till the day of his death, his humor and generosity will be sadly missed.

editor@mail.chinadailyuk.com

]]>
2017-08-06 13:55:56
<![CDATA[When the flag is raised, expect fate to take over]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/06/content_30349679.htm Thanks to their overreliance on cliche, screenwriters make it easy to recognize these moments that point toward doom

We've all seen the war movies. Before heading off to battle, the rookie recruit kisses his girlfriend goodbye, promising, "As soon as I come back, I will marry you." Or maybe he keeps a photo of his childhood sweetheart in his wallet to show others what's waiting at home.

It's as bad as someone on Game of Thrones saying, "We'll talk when I get back."

They're dead meat. We all know it.

Chinese moviegoers have a term for this sort of signaling: "Don't raise a flag!" (不要立 flag! Bùyào lì flag!) Originally a gaming term, "raise a flag" refers to particular lines or cues that serve as a sure sign of impending death or disaster. It usually exists as a half-Chinese, half-English term - 立 flag, with 立 (lì) meaning "raise" (mixed use of Chinese and English has become increasingly popular both online and in conversation among younger Chinese, even though some scholars and media have criticized the phenomenon, citing "language purity").

The term is often used on social media or in "bullet subtitles" (弹幕 dànmù), viewers' comments that shoot across the screen as chyrons when a video is played. Thanks to their overreliance on cliche, screenwriters make it easy to recognize a flag. When a hitman hero swears "This will be the last time I kill," he is raising a flag (社交媒体 shèjiāo méitǐ) - he's guaranteed to not only kill many times more, but probably also die himself before washing his hands of the business. When a mother calls her child before surgery to reassure the youngster that "Mommy will be back soon," that's a flag saying she's sure to die on the operating table. Even a schoolgirl telling her best friend a secret after school raises a distinct flag that the consequences could be fatal. All the viewer can do is plead, "不要立 flag!" or lament, "Flag 已立 (Flag yǐ lì. The flag has been raised)."

You may have heard another expression - 乌鸦嘴 (wūyā zuǐ, literally "crow mouth") referring to someone who says something ominous. If someone says about a person, "He has been out of contact for 24 hours. I'm afraid something has happened to him," it's crow mouth. When you hear some grim crow-mouth talk, it's not regarded as ominous or unlucky. Instead, people call it "反 (fǎn) flag," or "counter-flag", meaning these phrases indicate that everything will, in all likelihood, turn out all right.

The logic goes that if one's worst fears have already been aired, they are far less likely to transpire. It's akin to jinxing: Just as pride comes before a fall, a declaration of confidence is like a red rag as far as fate is concerned. So better instead to predict one's own impending doom as a way to ensure your own survival - a false-flag operation, if you will.

Not that flags are always life-or-death matters. In daily life, the criteria for what's a flag and what flags mean are fairly loose. Indeed, having faith in just about anything could be interpreted as a flag. For example, your friend may casually predict sunny weather: "明天一定是个好天气 " (Míngtiān yīdìng shìgè hǎo tiānqì. It must be a good day tomorrow!) And you probably will say: "你最好别立 flag 又雾霾了怎么办?" (Nǐ zuì hǎo bié lì flag, yòu wù máile zěnme bàn? You'd better not raise a flag! What if there's smog again?)

Another example, after the test, you may said: "这题目真是太简单了, 我肯定能过. Zhè tímù zhēnshi tài jiǎndānle, wǒ kěndìng néngguò. It was so easy. I am sure I can pass it." and then there is somebody saying: "你最好别立 flag, 当心补考有你一个. Nǐ zuì hǎo bié lì flag, dāngxīn bǔkǎo yǒu nǐ yīgè.)

It doesn't matter how good the going is - even if you pass the day with flying colors, many Chinese think it's safer to wave a white flag than raise a red one.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese, www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

]]>
2017-08-06 13:55:56
<![CDATA[Famed jazz club hits a high note in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349134.htm More than 200 shows staged at venue in the past year

For music lovers in Beijing, it can seem like they are forever mourning the closure of another live venue, usually due to financial pressure. But one of the most prominent names in jazz bucked that trend last year with the opening of a new venue in the capital.

Blue Note Beijing, which opened on Sept 13, has hosted some of the biggest names in jazz, including Grammy winner bassist Stanley Clarke, who performed at the club last September, and said: "The place is beautiful. This could be the most beautiful Blue Note venue I have ever seen. It has the flavor of the New York Blue Note and embodies the Blue Note tradition."

 

Veteran Taiwan songwriter and record producer Jonathan Lee performed at Blue Note Beijing on July 27. Photos Provided to China Daily

More than 200 shows have already been staged at Blue Note Beijing, including a show by the legendary jazz pianist, 22-time Grammy winner Chick Corea, who performed at the club's opening on Sept 13, and the club will celebrate its one-year anniversary with jazz luminaries such as saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, Cuban pianist Harold Lopez Nussa and American saxophonist Kamasi Washington.

"I am quite satisfied with what Blue Note Beijing has achieved during the past year," says Tian Tan, the owner of Blue Note Beijing. "It's different from Blue Note clubs in other cities. People, who have come here, get that we have blended New York's famous Blue Note jazz club with Beijing, a place where jazz doesn't have a large audience."

Because of that, he didn't envision Blue Note Beijing being a pure music live venue.

"The place is not just about the music, you can also have great food and drinks" says Tian. "Basically, it's a place in Beijing, where you can enjoy a fun night."

The food offered at Blue Note Beijing caters to international as well as local tastes, and over the past year, the venue has attracted about 40,000 people.

The genesis of the club was more than three years ago, when veteran Taiwan songwriter and record producer Jonathan Lee introduced Tian to Steven Bensusan, president of the Blue Note Entertainment Group, who was pushing the global expansion of the brand. Steven is the son of Danny Bensusan, who opened the first Blue Note Jazz Club in 1981 in Greenwich Village, New York,

"About three decades ago, I had a great night at Blue Note Jazz Club in New York. At that time, I was just a new songwriter and record producer. I couldn't help thinking if one day we could have a place like Blue Note Jazz Club in a Mandarin-speaking city, it would be amazing. You can take a taxi and after driving several blocks, you can enjoy a live performance by the best musicians in the world. Thirty years later, the music world has changed dramatically and we have the first Blue Note in Beijing," said Lee on the opening night Blue Note Beijing.

Lee, 59, who spent over a decade in Beijing and about two years in Shanghai before he moved back to Taipei four years ago, has witnessed the growth of China's music market for decades and collaborated with big-selling artists, such as Hong Kong singer-actress Karen Mok and Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam.

Tian's company, Beijing Winbright Investment Group, which specializes in the entertainment and hospitality industries, has become Blue Note Entertainment's partner in China.

The location for the club was crucial for Tian. He spent three years looking for the right venue for Blue Note Beijing, which is located at the renovated site of the former US embassy near Tian'anmen Square. The two-floor venue is the biggest of all the Blue Note jazz clubs, with a space of around 2,600 square meters and a capacity to host 300 people. Ticket prices range from 150 ($22) to 400 yuan.

As well as hosting big-name international artists and bands, the venue is also dedicated to presenting local Chinese musicians. About one-third of the shows are performances by local Chinese musicians, such as 18-year-old Chinese jazz pianist A Bu and jazz-pop duo Mr. Miss, who won the best vocal collaboration award at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards in June.

"We want to introduce young Chinese musicians, as well as offering them opportunities to perform with established musicians from around the world," says Tian.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-05 07:44:59
<![CDATA[An ecosystem for digital music supports Chinese artists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349133.htm With three studio albums to his name, singer-songwriter Li Ronghao is preparing for a new album and a nationwide tour this year. However, like many Chinese singer-songwriters, Li, who was born in Bengbu, East China's Anhui province, was struggling to have his music heard a few years ago.

"I wanted to know what people thought of my songs but I couldn't find any listeners, except for people I knew, such as my classmates and neighbors,' recalls Li, aged 32, who started learning guitar at the age of 9 and began writing songs in high school.

However, thanks to the internet, he was able to find his audience and rise from being an unknown indie singer-songwriter to a pop star.

The turning point in his fortunes was in 2014 when his debut album, Model, received four nominations and won the best new singer award at the 25th Golden Melody Awards, which are considered the Grammy Awards for the Mandarin-speaking music scene.

Li shared his story at a recent news conference for the Tencent Indie Musicians Project, a program launched by Tencent Music Entertainment Group, part of China's internet giant Tencent, aimed at supporting Chinese singer-songwriters.

The company has introduced an online platform, which offers a variety of services for new singer-songwriters, including releasing songs, arranging live shows and copyright protection of their material.

"We want to help talented singer-songwriters find a market for their songs while protecting their rights," says Helen Lo, strategic development manager of Tencent Music Entertainment Group.

Tencent Music Entertainment Group was founded in July last year as a leading online music service company in China, with the merger of three major online music streaming providers, QQ Music, KuGou and Kuwo.

There are more than 60,000 indie singer-songwriters registered on the six online music sites, and they have released more than 100,000 digital albums.

According to Cussion Pang, CEO of Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the domestic music scene is going through a revival, with a growing number of singer-songwriters emerging.

"The prevalence of various music social media platforms means it's now easier than ever for the indie singer-songwriters to reach listeners," Pang says.

One who has successfully done so is singer-songwriter Liu Ruiqi, who streams her live shows and interacts with her fans via one of the online music sites. Now, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter has more than 1.2 million fans online and is preparing for her first national tour.

"During the process of preparing (Tencent Indie Musicians Project), the numbers we found out were really shocking for us, which urged us to carry out the program and benefit those hard-working indie musicians," says Pang, adding that 60 percent of indie singer-songwriters in China make about 2,000 yuan ($297) a month and 80 percent of indie singer-songwriters couldn't get their songs heard.

He also adds that the company is dedicated to enforcing IP protection in the music industry, a major issue when working with indie singer-songwriters.

Despite China's huge population, it has never ranked among the top 10 music markets, largely due to the rampant piracy. However, the rise of streaming means the potential of the Chinese music market is beginning to be tapped.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Global Music Report 2017, recorded music revenue grew 20.3 percent in China last year, driven by a 30.6 percent rise in streaming.

Major and independent labels from all over the world, are now working with local partners determined to create a legitimate business delivering quality services that reward artists and rights holders.

"It's important for us to be proactive in building a real economic ecosystem for digital music in China, and contributing to a healthy digital music landscape for independent musicians," Pang says.

]]>
2017-08-05 07:44:59
<![CDATA[Reviving a spirit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349131.htm Xinghuacun is known for wine production going back 1,500 years. And Fenjiu, a traditional brand of lightly scented liquor produced there, wants to stay true to its traditions while at the same time being modern

An ancient-looking building cluster appears before us as we set foot in Xinghuacun town in northern China's Shanxi province. More than 100 imposing black-tiled buildings stand close to each other and their roofs resemble a sea of stones stretching out into the distance.

They are building replicas from the Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The cluster covers a floor space of 1.58 million square meters, the size of 10 Palace Museums in Beijing. The wall surrounding the cluster alone runs 10 kilometers.

The cluster is part of the Fenjiu and local government efforts to integrate tourism with local wine culture.

Xinghuacun has been known for wine production going back 1,500 years. The famed Tang Dynasty poet Du Mu (803-852) made the town an epithet for good wine in his well-known poem The Mourning Day.

To date, the town is home to the time-honored winemaker Fenjiu, which specializes in producing lightly scented liquor.

The cluster will feature the whole process of wine making, from crop planting and wine brewing, to storage, filling and packaging, as well as an exhibition, says Zhang Xiaojun, an investor.

Zhang says that introducing Xinghuacun to the world will make Chinese liquor as popular as global brands.

Fenjiu is a traditional brand which wants to stay true to its traditions while at the same time keeping abreast of modern developments.

But as grand and attractive as Fenjiu's new conglomerate is, the traditional wine making process has been retained.

"Modern technology has not helped me a lot with my work," says Wang Guangfeng, who has been the distiller's yeast maker for 30 years.

Most of Wang's work is based on experience.

"Peas and barley (two of the major ingredients) are from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Jilin and Gansu provinces, and they vary based on where they come from, so we need to fine-tune the ratio accordingly", the 52-year-old worker says.

Mixing water in also needs experience. "You need to monitor the water speed to ensure consistency," he says.

But the hard work begins when it comes to microbial cultivation, which takes 26 days.

"First, you need to move the blocks of the compacted mixture into a room, wrap them with mats, and then inject them with the microorganism," say Wang.

Then, one relies on experience to adjust room temperature and humidity, including by opening or closing windows and turning over the blocks. No modern machine can help.

Wang says he is used to waking up in the middle of the night to check on the fermentation process.

"It's like taking care of a baby. But the yeast is the heart of the liquor. If it's not properly handled, the later process is a lost cause," he says.

The main thing is for the microorganism to spread on the surface like a thin layer of sesame.

When the 26 days is over, Wang takes a few days off before the next round starts.

When asked if he gets bored with the work, Wang says the process never ceases to surprise him.

"The beauty is that every time is different, and you can always make better yeast than the previous one, and you feel pride when the yeast makes for better liquor."

Saying goodbye to Wang, we make our way to the Fenjiu museum that has a history of more than 800 years.

There, old wells, pavilions and workshops tell the story.

Back in 1915, sorghum-based Fenjiu first made waves abroad at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

The expo helped hundreds of local small wineries showcase their products.

At the museum, rooms for retail sales, accountants, managers, kitchens and wine storage facilities have been maintained the way they were in ancient times.

There, one gets an insight in how the Chinese wine business was conducted.

Meanwhile, Xu Fenjun, who is in charge of liquor production at Fenjiu, says: "Fenjiu might be the only winery that doesn't have water purifying equipment."

This is because local water comes from Shanxi's Pangquan'gou, which is surrounded by forests that cover an area of 6 million square meters. There, natural permeation purifies the underground water, so it can be used without any treatment, says Xu.

Separately, some liquor production still goes on at the museum. There, hundreds of black porcelain vats are buried underground for fermentation.

"It (the process) is clean and keeps bacteria away," says Xu. Moreover, the method also keeps the temperature from fluctuating too much.

Cleaning the vats, however, is heavy lifting. "First we have to use boiling water to clean the vat, but not the neck, because the impurities there could get in," says Xu.

Later, the vat is turned upside down, and the neck is cleaned. Then, Sichuan pepper water is applied

The time-honored liquor brand is now looking to innovate to endear itself to the younger generations.

Zhang Yanguang, the Fenjiu board secretary, says: "The liquor industry needs to satisfy young people's needs."

There's room for innovation in taste, packaging, alcohol content and design, he says.

The brand is also working with sport event organizers and new media to promote itself.

The ultimate goal is to create a taste for Chinese white spirit. And Zhang believes that young people will eventually fall in love with traditional Chinese liquor as they learn more about it.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-05 07:45:54
<![CDATA[The market for sports tourism races ahead in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349130.htm Li Xia has been traveling around to keep up with major marathon events at home and abroad.

He has been to such Chinese cities as Yading in Sichuan province and Yumen in Gansu province, and Japan and the United States to run.

"I don't really care about the results, and I just want to enjoy running and have fun along the way," says Li.

Many like Li now travel to take part in or watch sports events.

The number of travelers who booked sport tourism products through Tuniu, a major online travel agency in the mainland, surged 150 percent in 2016 over the previous year, the travel agency says.

Sports tourism covers hiking, cycling and marathons and the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

First-tier cities in China have become a major source of outbound travelers for sports tourism, according to the report.

Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing in Jiangsu province top the list.

White-collar workers are a major force, accounting for 53 percent of those opted for sport tourism.

Lijiang, Dali, Kunming, the Diqing Tibet autonomous prefecture, Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Xining in Qinghai province, Sanya in Hainan province, and Erdos and Hohhot are the most popular destinations for hiking and cycling, Tuniu reports.

Travel mostly spans four to six days and costs around 2,000-4,000 yuan ($297-$594).

The sports tourism market has potential, experts say, as it only accounts for 5 percent of the tourism market in China, while the figure is 20 percent in developed countries.

The global sports tourism market is now growing at 14 percent annually, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and by 2020, the market is expected to cross $400 billion.

Meanwhile, a bunch of tourism towns featuring sports elements have sprung up or are coming down the pike.

The National Tourism Administration and the General Administration of Sports jointly approved 30 sports tourism facilities in late June, and by 2020, a total of 100 sports tourism destinations will be built, with 100 sports events and 100 sports tourism routes to be developed.

The number of sports travelers from China is expected to reach 1 billion by then, accounting for 15 percent of the tourism pie. And sports tourism expenditure is likely to cross 1 trillion yuan by then, according to the National Tourism Administration and the General Administration of Sports.

Where they come from

Top 10 domestic source of sport tourism traveler

Shanghai

Beijing

Nanjing, Jiangsu province

Shenzhen, Guangdong province

Guangzhou, Guangdong province

Tianjin

Wuhan, Hubei province

Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

Xi'an, Shaanxi province

Shenyang, Liaoning province

]]>
2017-08-05 07:45:54
<![CDATA[What's in a name?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349121.htm In the 1980s, fashion brands began putting their logos on everything. Here, we chart their recent rise to prominence

Before ready-to-wear became standard practice, made-tomeasure was a common choice when it came to getting a piece of clothing. In the 1950s, it became popular among Parisian women to collect sewing patterns - the garment template released periodically in magazines - so they could bring the pattern to a tailor's shop or sew it themselves at home.

However, self-sewn clothes had all but disappeared by the 1980s as ostentatious, showy styles took the lead. Attire became highly conspicuous, such as Madonna's garish look in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, Joan Collins's powerful woman's shoulder pads and the yuppies' preppy upscale styling that rose in parallel with the increase of wealth in many societies including the US, Britain and Hong Kong.

 

Caroline Vreeland and Shea Marie wear Tommy Hilfiger for autumn 2016. Tommy Hilfiger Licensing LLC / Tommy Hilfiger Licensing BV

People seemed to be splashing heaps of cash on clothes and desired more visibility. Fashion companies smelled a business opportunity to increase their value by elevating their brand profiles, so they spent enormously on marketing and ad campaigns. Logos evolved from a differentiating name to a strong branding force and a status symbol.

From the decadent '80s to today, fashion brands have embraced marketing with glamour and creativity, putting their logos under the spotlight. Eminent players in the '80s and '90s included emerging American jeans brands such as Jordache, Calvin Klein and Guess, which put their distinctive logos on the back pocket. Traditional French fashion houses such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton have been huge marketers as well, in a quest to be at the top of those consumers' minds.

In that era, the size of the logo grew, as well as the influence, from runway to off-the-rack. At London Fashion Week in 1996, Tommy Hilfiger famously dressed his models and rapper Treach (from then-prominent American hip-hop group Naughty by Nature) in giant logo T-shirts with the brand's signature colors, making a big statement for the label, Hilfiger sales nearly hit US$500 million in 1996 - a huge jump from US$107 million in 1992.

Showing off logos became a key point in styling. When Calvin Klein launched its successful underwear campaigns in the early 1990s using topless, well-endowed male models such as Mark.

Wahlberg for its line of boxers, countless men (and certainly women, too) started to view the logo in a different light. Now it's possible to see any type of person sporting a Calvin Klein band around their waist, whether it's a Hollywood star, a plumber or your next-door neighbor.

Today, logos are prominent on the street - think the Nike swoosh, the Gucci double-G, the Chanel interlocking Cs, the Louis Vuitton monogram. Still others are turning to logo-less products, such as those by Japanese lifestyle brand Muji, whose name means "no-brand quality goods". Either way, whether you love or hate logos, you can be secure that you're not defined solely by what you wear.

Lifestyle Premium

]]>
2017-08-05 07:44:19
<![CDATA[Recent convert]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349120.htm Want high heels and flats without carrying an extra pair in your handbag? Thanks to technology, you're in luck - with convertible shoes

Sky-high shoes are lovely, but they can also cause a lot of pain after you've worn them for some time. One hour, six minutes and 48 seconds, to be exact, according to a 2013 survey conducted by the UK's College of Podiatry on how long it takes on average for a woman to feel the agony of high heels.

With this in mind, a few brands have started to experiment with the idea of interchangeable heels. Tanya Heath is one the early pioneers who attempted to make the convertible shoes of her dreams come true. Her brand, Tanya Heath Paris, launched in 2012 after three years of working with a team of engineers, shoe designers and technicians. In various colors, styles and heights (ranging from 4.5 cm to a towering 8 cm), the brand's heels can also be personalized.

Most importantly, the replacement of the heels on a pair is quite straightforward - just press a button deep in the insole, slide the heel out and, when you slide the other heel in, do it with a bit of force until you hear a click. "Do make sure you hear the click so that you know the heel is safe to walk in," advises Heath.

"Our love of high and low" is one of the taglines used by another leading convertible shoe brand: Mime et moi, based in Munich. When one pair of shoes can be converted into multiple styles (be they pumps, boots or flats), the sky's the limit. And if you love to mix and match styles - and heights - you're sure to get the best of both worlds.

For footwear aficionados, with all these new choices, you might want to start thinking about a new way of sorting your shoe closet. Could you go by heel type? There's stiletto, trotter, kitten, block, flat... What about by pattern and style? Try metallic, all-day basic, velvet, mosaic, polka dot, animal print... the list goes on and it's a brave new world.

Lifestyle Premium

]]>
2017-08-05 07:44:19
<![CDATA[With Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors finds shoes to match its bags]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/05/content_30349119.htm In a bid to burnish its brand image, US bag and accessories maker Michael Kors is buying luxury shoemaker Jimmy Choo in a deal worth $1.35 billion (896 million pounds).

Jimmy Choo, which counts Jennifer Lopez, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and Beyonce among its fans, has a high-level profile that tempted Michael Kors to pay a premium.

Shareholders in Jimmy Choo will get 2.3 pounds ($2.95) in cash for each share, about 36.5 percent above the firm's share price of 1.685 pounds on April 21.

Michael Kors has struggled recently, announcing in May that it would close up to 125 stores due to weak sales.

It said that Jimmy Choo is "the ideal partner" and will have its online presence bolstered as a result of the deal. Jimmy Choo CEO Pierre Dennis and Creative Director Sandra Choi will remain in their jobs.

"Jimmy Choo is poised for meaningful growth in the future and we are committed to supporting the strong brand equity that Jimmy Choo has built," said John Idol, CEO of Michael Kors.

Analysts from research firm Jefferies said the deal could help Michael Kors rebuild its brand name, though that would happen in the longer-term and not have an immediate impact on the company's stock.

"We believe the strategic steps Kors is making to elevate its own brand are working, and believe the addition of Jimmy Choo, an iconic premium luxury brand, should be beneficial," the analysts said in a note to clients.

Shares in Jimmy Choo were up 17 percent at 2.28 pounds last Tuesday, while Michael Kors was down 2.5 percent at $34.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-08-05 07:44:19
<![CDATA[Finding The Inside Track]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347922.htm

Colson Whitehead explains how New York, post-traumatic stress and a long gestation helped shape his latest award-winning novel. Mei Jia reports.

Colson Whitehead, this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, who is on his first book tour in China, says he finds Beijing's roads too broad to make walking around enjoyable, but Shanghai, like New York where he grew up, is an incredible place to walk around.

"I love cities. They're fascinating," he tells China Daily at the hotel where he is staying in Beijing, a few hours before he joins poet Xi Chuan for a talk on the theme of cities.

"A city is sort of a calendar," Whitehead, 47, says. They chronicle their residents' lives and emotional history by, for example, "mapping a nice meal in Manhattan, or the corner where I broke up with my ex".

For his novel The Underground Railroad, which has won multiple awards since it was published last year, Whitehead wanted to weave his hometown New York into the book, which was not that easy since it is set in the 1850s and tells the tale of Cora, a slave who makes a bid for freedom from the Georgia plantations using the underground railroad.

"I managed it with the main villain, Ridgeway. He is from New York," he says.

The novel is his sixth, and, in his words, it has had "quite a year". It was a New York Times best-seller, won the Pulitzer and the 2016 National Book Award for fiction, and it has been translated into 40 languages. The Chinese version was published in 2017.

It also got recommendations from Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

The New York Times said he "told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present".

And the Pulitzer committee gave the book the award for its "smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America".

The Underground Railroad refers to a network of secret routes established during the early-to-mid 19th century to help the African-American slaves escape to the northern states or Canada.

Whitehead first conceived the idea of the book some 17 years ago, but he waited until he was finally ready to begin writing it.

Whitehead spent a long time doing research for his skillfully structured story. He read the 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery collected by the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s, visited a historical plantation site in Louisiana and re-read classics such as Toni Morrison's Beloved.

"There's always a writer that is smarter than you and has done the writing you wanted," he says.

His response is always to write something that speaks to him.

"I was going to have to write about life on a plantation, my impressions of how people react in such situations," he says. "That meant I couldn't write a plantation scene that didn't incorporate what we know as trauma, the experiences of people who have survived genocidal violence such as the Holocaust."

Writing a book in 2015, there was a plenty of material available on post-traumatic stress, and how a person's psychology is deformed by incredibly brutal experiences.

Although Cora, the main character of the book, stands out as being brave and able to act, Whitehead depicts some of his other slave characters in a lesser light, they gossip and abuse their fellow sufferers.

The book's translator Kang Kai says the more "human" characters are one of the book's attractions.

Liang Hong, a literary critic from Renmin University praises the book for being "well structured and told, revealing a multifaceted history".

Whitehead was born in New York in 1969. He grew up in Manhattan to a well-off family and graduated with a BA from Harvard University's English department in 1991.

He was an avid reader from childhood and his years at Harvard strengthened the literary influences of James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon. He started out as a journalist at the Village Voice, where he found some space for writing fiction.

But although his work has now been recognized with many awards, he has had his own struggle to get where he is now. His first draft for a novel was rejected by 25 publishers and he finally dropped the idea, and his parents repeatedly urged him to "get a real job" until his first novel was published.

"I've been writing for 20 years. And I have books that didn't sell copies," he says.

But writing offers him the most joy, and he's now enjoying his days of writing, traveling and occasional teaching.

His next book is set in Florida in the 1960s, and he is taking his time to finish it.

"Sometimes I'll take a nap and then write a page, and then take another nap and finish another page," he says.

"My daughter once asked if I had a job, and I replied we have food to eat so I'm working."

Cooking is his only hobby besides writing. His first cookbook was about Sichuan food, which a friend's mother brought back from China in the 1980s.

"It's nice to finally have the original version since I'm here in China," he says.

Contact the writer at meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[US editor, who rescued Anne Frank's diary, dies at 93]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347921.htm NEW YORK - Judith Jones, the legendary editor who rescued Anne Frank's diary from a US publisher's rejection pile, died on Wednesday. She was 93.

Jones, a luminary of the publishing world, who also introduced the world to American culinary writer Julia Child, was close to literary giants such as John Updike, Anne Tyler, William Maxwell, John Hersey, Peter Taylor and Sharon Olds.

She passed away at her home in Vermont, the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group said in a statement. She worked for Knopf for more than 50 years, joining the company in 1957 and officially retiring only in 2011.

"Judith was a legend in book publishing," says Sonny Mehta, chairman and editor-in-chief, paying tribute to the once young assistant who rescued Frank's Diary of a Young Girl from a rejection pile in Paris.

The diary, which the young Jewish girl had written while hiding from the Nazis between June 1942 and August 1944, is one of the most famous testimonies of life during World War II and one of the most famous diaries of all time.

Frank, who was born in Germany and lived with her family in the Netherlands, died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp aged 15, just months before the war ended.

Her diary was first published in the Netherlands in 1947, followed by French and German editions in 1950 before appearing in Britain and the United States in 1952.

The first US edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl ran a modest 5,000 copies and contained a preface from former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Doubleday reputedly spent little on publicity, but sales quickly took off.

A subsequent US play Diary of Anne Frank was a Broadway hit and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1956. A 1959 Hollywood movie won three Oscars. The diary has been a fixure on school curricula since the 1960s.

Worldwide, the diary has sold more than 30 million copies in 67 languages.

Jones was also instrumental in persuading Alfred Knopf to publish in 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking - a tome that introduced generations of American home cooks to French food and to now legendary chef Julia Child.

"It is no exaggeration to say that she profoundly influenced not only the way America reads and but also the way we cook," Mehta says.

Jones won five Pulitzer Prizes, five National Book Awards and three National Book Critics Circle Awards, and her cookbook authors won dozens and dozens of prizes, says Knopf Doubleday.

Afp

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[Celtic Legend]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347920.htm

Richard Wagner's opera on tragic love set to win hearts in Beijing this month. Chen Nan reports.

Richard Wagner's opera, Tristan und Isolde - produced by the National Center for the Performing Arts, Metropolitan Opera, Teatr WielkiPolish National Opera and Festspielhaus Baden-Baden Opera - will be staged in Beijing later in the month.

Conducted by Lyu Shaochia from Taiwan and directed by Mariusz Trelinsky from Poland, the opera will be performed by Chinese and Western singers.

The NCPA has presented a variety of operas since it was established in Beijing in 2007. This opera is being presented on its 10th anniversary this year.

"We have produced more than 50 operas and collaborated with many foreign opera houses," says NCPA vice-president Zhao Tiechun.

"Tristan und Isolde was the most complex opera written in its time and is still one of the most intricate operatic masterpieces," he says.

It will be the fourth Wagner opera that the NCPA has produced, following Der Fliegende Hollaender (The Flying Dutchman), Lohengrin and Tannhaeuser.

Tristan und Isolde is an opera in three acts, spanning five hours, and is based on the tragic love story of English knight Tristan and the Irish princess Isolde. German poet Gottfried von Strassburg wrote the original poem inspired by a Celtic legend. With the English and Irish at war in the 12th century, the two lovers had to die to declare their love.

Premiered in 1865, the opera is viewed as one of the most influential operas by Wagner.

German composer Richard Strauss once wrote: "Tristan und Isolde marked the end of all romanticism. Here the yearning of the entire 19th century is gathered in one focal point.

This indicates that the opera was a turning point in Western performing arts.

"Everything comes together in opera - ballet, poem, drama and theater," says Trelinsky in Beijing.

Tristan und Isolde is a "revolution" because after this opera, Western composers changed their approach to the art form, he says.

In most operas and musicals, it is very clear when an aria, duet, chorus, overture, or other ensemble ends, but Wagner blurred these boundaries.

Trelinsky says that unlike in many other romantic stories, in which lovers want to live together, the main characters of the opera's story hoped to be united in death. "Falling in love for them was like poison. But this opera shows that love can be as strong as death," he says. The director gives a contemporary flavor to the stage and costume designs.

"Although it's complicated and difficult to understand, the audience will be impressed by this masterpiece, which presents a cinematic feeling," says Trelinsky.

In March 2016, a version of the opera, produced by the Metropolitan Opera, Teatr WielkiPolish National Opera and Festspielhaus Baden-Baden Opera premiered at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, one of Germany's largest opera and concert houses. It was staged in Warsaw and New York in June and September last year.

American tenor Jay Hunter Morris plays the role of Tristan, with Danish soprano Ann Petersen as Isolde.

"Of all the blessings in my life, my wife, my children and everything, one of the greatest joys is that I can stay in this business long enough to play the role of Tristan," says Morris, who is known for his performance in the Metropolitan Opera's 2011-12 series of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

"He (Tristan) is the opposite of who I am. It's quite challenging to play him," Morris says of the sadness of the character.

"The music is so beautiful and emotionally challenging (for the tenor)."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[Santana joins hands with Isley Brothers to break walls]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347919.htm NEW YORK - Teaming up with The Isley Brothers for a new album, Carlos Santana isn't just uniting two musical legends. He believes the sound can change the world.

The pioneering rock guitarist holds lofty hopes for Power of Peace, a collection of covers recorded with The Isley Brothers, who set the stage for pop music in the 1950s and 1960s.

"We felt that we needed to come together like superheroes and come and rescue this time and place in this planet that so intensely needs medicine to heal itself," the fedora-wearing guitarist says.

Described as "medicine music" by Santana, the album, which came out Friday, merges the smooth soul voice of Ron Isley with Santana's distinctively rich-toned, poetically phrased guitar riffs.

The best-known songs covered on the album include Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground, on which Santana rocks out with a high-voltage solo, and Marvin Gaye's environmental anthem Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), which takes on some of Santana's signature Latin rhythms.

Isley, 76, shows the still mellifluous texture and high range of his voice on Leon Thomas's Let the Rain Fall on Me and as he channels Billie Holiday on God Bless the Child.

Santana, who recently turned 70, has long spoken of a spirituality found in music - and believes ever more fervently in its power in 2017's political climate.

"I encourage people to play it in parking lots, shopping malls, CNN - everywhere," Santana says of the album, "so you can correct a twisted, crooked mind that wants to harm other people."

Making clear he was alluding to US President Donald Trump, Santana says: "Some fool is trying to create more walls.

"We say, you don't have to. Save your money. It's already in people's heads," he says.

"So we want to take the wall out of people's heads by creating this kind of frequency."

Power of Peace was recorded in little more than four days in Las Vegas when Santana invited Ron Isley and younger brother Ernie Isley, a guitarist.

Santana says The Isley Brothers had helped inspire him into music after he first heard them.

"It just sounded like a galactic church jumping out of the jukebox telling me, 'we need you to join us in creating medicine music,'" he says.

He approached Ron Isley after the singer attended one of Santana's shows, starting a friendship that Isley says involved daily telephone chats.

"It was an unexplainable experience for me after 60 years of doing this music," Ron Isley says. "It was so much fun."

Also recording on the album was Santana's wife Cindy Blackman Santana, a jazz drummer best known for her work with Lenny Kravitz.

She recalls that Ron Isley's take on The Look of Love had been the couple's song for the first dance at their wedding.

Santana hopes the collaboration will continue.

"We want to go around the world to keep bringing more walls down in the head, in the brain and the mind."

Afp

 

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[China to play big role at UK fest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347918.htm In August, the focus of the international arts world turns to Edinburgh, where Chinese acts will play a major role at the Edinburgh Festival.

More than a dozen performers from China will put on shows throughout the month at the world's largest arts festival, including offerings of music, theater and dance.

The Center for Shanghai International Film Festival has organized China Focus, a group of seven acts that will travel to Scotland with the support of China's Ministry of Culture and the Scottish government's international enterprise agency, Scottish Development International.

David Leven, head of SDI's China office, says: "Supporting connections like this between China and Scotland helps strengthen our relationship and encourage collaboration. Edinburgh's year-round festivals generate 313 million pounds ($410.8 million) for the Scottish economy, with the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors the main beneficiaries."

From Aug 212 theater fans can watch the National Theater of China's Luocha Land at C Venues. The play follows Maji, who finds himself in an island kingdom of flesh-eating demons. Maji's plans for escape become confused as the other worldly laws of this mysterious place, where beauty and ugliness are reversed, take their toll on his psyche.

The Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center and British physical theater company Gecko will put on a joint performance of The Dreamer at the Pleasance Grand between Aug 2 and 15. The production draws inspiration from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Tang Xianzu's Peony Pavilion, which is one of China's most enduring love stories and was written in the 16th century.

From Aug 327 visitors to the Assembly Hall will be treated to a fusion of acrobatics, pop music, traditional Chinese art forms, and Broadway storytelling with the spectacle China Goes Pop.

The show sees the Shandong Acrobatic Troupe and the China Arts Entertainment Group put through their paces by choreographer Patti Colombo and director Shanda Sawyer.

The Shanghai Theater Academy will put on an experimental Peking Opera adaptation of Anton Chekhov's one-act play The Fools at Grassmarket.

Shenzhen musicians' collective the Alliance Art Group will put on New City New Sound, a crossover concert that mixes Chinese folk with world music, at the Royal Terrace on Sunday and Monday.

The Zhuo Pei Li Cantonese Opera Workshop takes its adaptation of "The Scottish Play", Shakespeare's Macbeth, to the New Town Theatre on Monday and Tuesday.

The Shaanxi Performing Arts Centre's Treasure Trove of Shadows follows the rugged life of a Chinese puppet master during World War II. It runs from Aug 2028 at C Venues.

angus@mail.chinadailyuk.com

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[Music For The Migrant]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347917.htm Li Jianqing has spent the last decade in Beijing and his first album pays tribute to the outsider. Chen Nan reports.

When Li Jianqing took part in a singing competition in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 2005, winning was not his aim.

Instead, he wanted to impress one of the jury members, veteran Taiwan producer and singer-songwriter Jonathan Lee.

At that time, Li, then 28, who is a classically trained violinist, was with the Guangxi Symphony Orchestra and wrote his own songs.

He also performed as a lead vocalist in a pop band called Purple Sun.

However, the young man was struggling because few of his peers shared his ideas about music.

"They considered my style as 'weird'," says Li. "But I wanted to prove to them that songwriting could be different.

"I grew up listening to Lee's songs and I believed that he would understand me."

So, he recorded a sample of his music on a CD and wrote his phone number on it.

Later, Li got the CD passed to Lee, who is referred to as "Taiwan's pop music godfather".

A few months later, Li received a call from Lee, who offered him a job in Beijing.

For the past decade, Li has worked as Lee's assistant and has written songs for pop stars such as Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam and Taiwan singer Aska Yang.

Li released his debut EP, Still An Outlander, in July, comprising six songs for which lyrics were written by Lee.

Li performed the songs at a concert on July 24 at Blue Note Beijing, the first branch of New York's famous Blue Note Jazz Club in China.

Wearing a white shirt, black trousers and a pair of black sneakers, Li walked onto the stage after his mentor Lee's brief introduction.

Then, with his guitar he joined a band, including a keyboardist, a bassist, two violinists and a cellist.

"People may know my songs but not me," says Li.

"Today, I want to formally introduce myself, and let music do the talking."

Indeed, you might not notice this skinny soft-spoken 39-year-old until you listen to his music.

In 2015, Li released his first single, In A Flash.

The song, for which Lee wrote lyrics, is about migrants who live in a big city.

However, he did not release any more music until the recent EP.

The EP is about Li's observations on life in Beijing over the past decade through songs like Journey Home and Things That Will Never Change.

Lee, 59, who is the producer of the EP, says: "These songs are special not just for Li but for me, too."

About four years ago, Lee returned to Taipei because his mother's health was bad. Before that, he had spent nearly 12 years in Beijing and two years in Shanghai.

So, when Li, who was born and grew up in Guilin, shared his feelings about working and living in Beijing, Lee decided to write about their feelings.

Lee is known for his storytelling and conversational lyrics about romance, life and memories.

In Journey Home, Lee writes about people leaving their hometowns.

Speaking about his feelings, Li says: "One of my band members, a bassist, was an ambitious rocker. But he now runs a roast duck shop in our hometown.

"One day, I saw his photo on his WeChat, in which he was wearing an apron and had his son in his arms, with his wife standing nearby.

"His smile was so warm," says Li. "I then thought about going back home. But I am too proud. For me, it is harder to return home than to leave."

In the EP, Li also has two songs based on contemporary poems - one of them is Grandmother, written by Chinese poet Lan Lan.

Li's grandmother died before he was born. And, according to Li's mother, his grandmother lived on boat and earned a living by fishing until she met Li's grandfather, who was a carpenter.

"Lan Lan's poem reminds me about my grandmother," says Li.

Li's family was poor and from a young age he tried to prove that he could be as good as his peers. His father was good at chess and one of his chess mates was a violin teacher, who introduced Li to music at 7.

His first violin cost his father a month's salary - 12 yuan - in the 1980s.

"I found an outlet in music but self-doubt was never far away. But eventually, I got the confidence to put it out there," says Li.

Before working with Lee, Li dreamed about being famous and releasing an album. But, now his goal is to study with Lee.

"The past 10 years with Lee make me want to slow down, to learn and to think," says Li.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[Two Linkin Park albums back in US top 10 chart]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347916.htm NEW YORK - Two albums by Linkin Park reentered the top 10 on the US sales chart on Tuesday as fans mourned the suicide of frontman Chester Bennington.

One More Light, the California rockers' final album, which hit number one when it came out in May, jumped back to number four on the Billboard chart for the week through Thursday.

Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park's debut album, which was the top-selling US album of 2001 and produced angst-ridden hits such as In The End - returned at number eight on the latest weekly chart, tracking service Nielsen Music says.

Bennington - whose raw metal voice complemented the hiphop interludes of Linkin Park guitarist Mike Shinoda - was found hanging at his Los Angeles home on July 20.

The 41-year-old had long struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and the trauma of child abuse.

Family and friends buried Bennington privately on Saturday in Los Angeles, according to social media postings of participants.

The band on the internet has also endorsed hundreds of public events around the world to honor Bennington ranging from charity shows to fan meet-ups.

In a sign of the global appeal of Linkin Park, one of the busiest areas for memorial events is Asia, where the band's song Numb topped the latest song download charts in Singapore.

The US Billboard chart - released a day later than usual after technical issues - saw the melancholic pop singer Lana Del Rey debuting at number one with her latest album Lust for Life.

The album, which features stars from The Weeknd to Stevie Nicks, sold 107,000 units or the digital equivalent, narrowly edging out new albums by rappers Tyler, The Creator and Meek Mill.

Del Rey dethroned rap mogul JayZ, whose 4:44 slipped to number seven after two weeks on top of the chart.

Agence France-presse

 

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[Bizarre Foods host on new program]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347915.htm NEW YORK - Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods, thinks he's misunderstood.

He says he's known as "fat guy runs around world, eats bugs". But he adds, "I don't think I've eaten a bug or an organ in Bizarre Foods in years."

"I purposely set out to make a show that's entertaining," he says. "At the same time I try to be very thoughtful and thought-provoking."

The show's current season focuses on American destinations, along with their history and social context. And a new show, The Zimmern List, debuts early 2018 showcasing his favorite places, "where I actually go when the cameras aren't rolling."

Zimmern, a chef who's won four James Beard awards, invites reporters to follow him in Queens, New York, for a glimpse of what The Zimmern List will be like.

In the Astoria neighborhood, he samples cured meats and pastries at Muncan Food Corp, founded by an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia. Then he has a goat dish called katakat at Kababish, which serves Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi food in Jackson Heights. He finishes with Taiwan noodle soup, pork roll and minced vegetables at Happy Stony Noodle in Elmhurst.

Here are some excerpts from the wide-ranging chat with Zimmern.

Finding good food

"I google local food writers. ... I look up who are the most famous chefs on the Eater Heatmap but I also look on the Michelin guide and see who are the three-star Michelin chefs."

"People forget that if you go onto Instagram or Twitter, you can actually click on someone's feed and look at their timeline and you can flip back and back and back. So if I want to know where's great to eat in Italy, I'll look and see where Michael White and Mario Batali and all these other chefs have eaten when they've been in Italy last year."

Most bizarre food

"In Samoa, we had a coral worm that swims up from the bottom of the ocean, thousands of feet, and dies in the sun and then falls back down and fertilizes the coral.... To eat that worm when it floats to the surface with the natives, I can't think of something stranger. Enset, which is a bread, made from pounded palm roots that's buried in the ground for months and fermented before it's baked, that some of the tribal Ethiopians still make in that country... that's certainly strange.

"People always ask me, 'What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?' and I'm just like, 'None of it is strange to the people who are eating it there.' I've not eaten any of those foods in America."

Associated Press

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[County hosts equestrian event to show culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/04/content_30347914.htm "Drink to get drunk, ride to fly (gallop)," says Ungog, president of the Jiatang Equestrian Performance Troupe.

"The clop is in our blood. We will not fear the risks of getting hurt while riding," the 62-year-old Tibetan adds.

In summer - a beautiful season in the grasslands - horseback riders reveal their skills and courage while celebrating this year's Jiatang Equestrian Culture Festival in Chindu county, Qinghai province.

Ungog's troupe gave spectacular performances on the Jiatang grasslands, located at an elevation of more than 4,400 meters, during the three days of the festival that started on July 16.

The riders and their horses fascinated viewers with difficult movements while galloping on the mountains.

The riders did activities such as handstands, back-bends, shooting and presenting flowers, and stunts like riding two horses at the same time.

Ungog has connected with horses since a young age, and he has tamed more than 10.

He says horses from ages 5 to 9 are usually very fast. While some people might prefer horses with a "moderate temper" for such shows because they are easy to tame and train, he says for the Jiatang grasslands, furious horses are more popular.

"Gentle horses cannot run wildly, and without speed, the equestrian performance will not be rakish enough," Ungog says.

"Horse racing is a great Tibetan culture, and it needs innovation to keep the balance between tradition and modern equestrian approaches. Of course, the younger generation relies on modern transportation tools more, but I'm glad to see more young people joining the equestrian association."

Palden is an association member who performed in the first annual equestrian festival last year. He participated this year, too.

He says traditional performances include shooting, brandishing a sword and picking up the hada (a long piece of white silk Tibetans present to honored guests) while riding a fiery horse; modern projects like presenting flowers and wine on the back of galloping horses are skills he picked up in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

When asked whether he likes motorcycles or horses more, Palden laughs and says: "Horses, because they are from the grasslands and will not hurt nature."

Pagyu Gyata, the director of publicity for Chindu county, says the festival aims to show the equestrian culture as the soul of the Jiatang grasslands, and it is about environmental protection as well.

"The festival shows the value of nomadic culture to visitors and also local residents." He says the festival reminds local people, from officials to herdsmen, to pay more attention to environmental protection to show their culture in a better condition to the world.

"After all, culture is the foundation of life," he says.

Xu Haoyu contributed to the story.

 

]]>
2017-08-04 09:15:42
<![CDATA[Winning the battle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/03/content_30343726.htm A sequel to the 2015 hit Wolf Warrior opened across the Chinese mainland on July 27 and raked in 1.7 billion yuan ($253 million) in five days, making it the highest-grossing movie in July. Xu Fan reports.

It was a real-life adventure in Africa for him. At a recent event in Beijing, Wu Jing speaks of his experiences while working on the military-themed movie Wolf Warrior 2. He saw colleagues bitten by spiders, acted with lions and nearly drowned at sea.

The movie, a sequel to the 2015 hit Wolf Warrior, opened across the Chinese mainland on July 27. It raked in 1.7 billion yuan ($253 million) in five days, and was the highest-grossing movie in July.

The popular review portal Douban.com gives it 7.5 points out of 10 thanks to its action sequences.

 

 

The military-themed movie Wolf Warrior 2 features Wu Jing in multiple roles, including director and star, and is set in an unnamed African country facing a civil war. The cast includes Chinese actress Yu Nan (below, middle) and US action star Frank Grillo (above right), who is known for his role as Crossbones in Captain America movies. Photos Provided to China Daily

   
The film, which features Wu in multiple roles besides director and star, is set in an unnamed African country facing a civil war.

Wu plays Leng Feng, a former Chinese special forces operative, who fights a US mercenary and his bloodthirsty soldiers.

The cast includes Hong Kong actress Celina Jade and US action star Frank Grillo, who is known for his role as Crossbones in Captain America movies.

For Wu, the movie is a dream project.

The former martial arts champion shot to prominence with kung fu productions, such as the 1999 TV series, Legend of Dagger Lee, directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Yuen Woo-ping, and two crime thrillers - SPL: Sha Po Lang and SPL 2: A Time For Consequences.

But Wu, who was then seen as an heir to the legacy of China's action superstars like Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen, wanted to go beyond just fighting on screen.

So, after co-directing the 2008 thriller Legendary Assassin with Hong Kong filmmaker Li Chung-chi, Wu began working on the Wolf Warrior idea. He was inspired by reports about Chinese peacekeeping missions and efforts to evacuate Chinese who were caught up in wartorn areas overseas.

"When I watched news clips of these events, I felt proud of China," says the 43-year-old.

Wu says he was then disappointed with Chinese showbiz for favoring only young pop idols.

So, he wanted to change the discourse and make films based on Chinese soldiers.

After the Wenchuan earthquake in Southwest China's Sichuan province in 2008, Wu volunteered to help. There he saw Chinese soldiers risking their lives to rescue survivors.

"After that, I wanted to showcase the kindness, wit, courage and sacrifice of Chinese soldiers," he says.

Wu had to make the first Wolf Warrior movie mainly with his own money because very few potential investors believed that a military-themed movie could become a commercial success in 2008.

But thanks to word-of-mouth praise, the first movie became a hit in 2015, bringing in nearly 550 million yuan.

Then, with a bigger budget for the second movie, Wu led his crew from more than 10 countries and regions to Africa to make Wolf Warrior 2, the first Chinese military-themed movie shot in that continent.

The crew also went to Iceland to film some scenes, a possible indicator of what will come next.

"We went to several African countries," Wu says. "And the experiences there were more thrilling than what you see in the movie."

As for his reactions to the unexpected events, he says: "I was stressed, but not scared. All these are unique experiences."

Speaking about what he learned from working with foreigners, he says he learned a lot about action sequences, including safety.

The movie used 12 tanks, two helicopter props and more than 100 cars.

Some cutting-edge weapons and vessels are also seen, such as a Type 052D guided-missile destroyer.

Giving his take on the future, Wu says: "As of now, China has few such military movies. We are still exploring the genre and hope to raise the bar."

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-03 07:51:28
<![CDATA[Toronto film fest to open with 'Borg-McEnroe' biopic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/03/content_30343725.htm

TORONTO - Toronto's International Film Festival served up an ace Monday, announcing it would open with a movie depicting the epic rivalry between tennis legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

The premiere of Borg/McEnroe, which stars Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Borg, re-enacts the legendary on-court battles between the volatile American and his cucumber-cool Swedish rival.

"The story of this nail-biter matchup changed the sport of tennis forever, and the outstanding performances from LaBeouf and Gudnason will be a spectacular way for festivalgoers to kick things off," says TIFF director, Piers Handling.

The film, which will open North America's largest film festival on Sept 7, is a change in scenery for director Janus Metz, whose award-winning documentary Armadillo focused on Danish troops serving in Afghanistan.

LaBeouf, who last month was forced to publicly apologize after being arrested for drunken behavior at a hotel in Georgia, plays the US tennis star famous for his tantrums and curly mop of hair.

McEnroe frequently clashed on court with the Swede, whose cool composure provided a stark contrast in their face-offs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They played 14 times in all - each won seven times.

"The on-court scenes have the dynamism of a street battle, and the drama peels back layers from what we know about both players," says the festival's artistic director, Cameron Bailey.

"This was more than a simple conflict pitting an icy European against an impulsive American. Audiences are in for one hell of a showdown."

Borg/McEnroe is the second tennis movie on the TIFF schedule. Battle of the Sexes, the story of tennis legend Billie Jean King's showdown with Bobby Riggs, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, is also in the lineup.

The Toronto film festival, which runs this year through Sept 17, has become a launchpad for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors, attracting hundreds of filmmakers and actors to the red carpet in Canada's largest city.

AFP

]]>
2017-08-03 07:51:28
<![CDATA[Bigelow explores a horrific history]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/03/content_30343724.htm There is no nice or pretty way to tell a story about the systemic oppression and mistreatment of black people in the United States. It's fitting then that Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit, an account of the murders of three unarmed black men that took place in the Algiers Motel in late July 1967, is an all-out assault on your senses and soul.

It's hard to overstate just how visceral and harrowing an experience it is.

Detroit is a well-made and evocative film that is also numbingly brutal with little to no reprieve. And while it might be the only true way to tell this story, it's also one that is not going to be for everyone.

To set the stage for the Algiers Motel, Bigelow begins by speeding through the history of black people in the US with animated acrylics and pounding music emancipation, the great migration, white flight and the racist zoning practices that led to the overcrowding of black residents in urban pockets. Tensions have already reached a tipping point, and then in the summer of 1967, Detroit police bust an after-hours club in what would become the inciting incident for the riots.

Three days after the riots begin, a local singing group called The Dramatics are about to go on stage at a big, crowded theater hoping to get their big break but are interrupted and sent home due to the events outside.

The charismatic lead singer Larry and his buddy Fred decide to peel off and get an $11 room at the Algiers and wait out the night. There they meet two white party girls, a veteran, Greene, and a provocateur, Carl, who plays around with a starter pistol that eventually catches the attention of the police in the area. The officers, who we've already learned are rotten, storm the motel on the hunt for the sniper they presume is there.

Bigelow collaborated again with screenwriter Mark Boal on Detroit, which is perfectly evocative of this specific time and place but lacking the perspective and illumination that one might hope a 50-year-old event would warrant.

Perhaps they wanted to leave conclusions and interpreting to the audience, and as the film notes at the end, no one knows for certain what happened in the Algiers Motel. Some of the scenes were pieced together and imagined by the filmmakers.

Also very little insight is given to the victims' lives outside of this event. Maybe that's not the point, though. Maybe anger is all you're supposed to feel when you step outside the theater. Maybe not feeling satisfied with Detroit is the point.

This was America, you think. This is still America. And the movies can't offer a resolution that history hasn't.

Xinhua - AP

]]>
2017-08-03 07:51:28
<![CDATA[War over army epic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/03/content_30343723.htm The summer blockbuster The Founding of an Army has sparked heated discussion on Chinese social media. Xu Fan reports.

The much-anticipated The Founding of an Army has become a hot topic on Chinese social media, also because of opinions expressed by a revolutionary's grandson.

Ye Daying - the grandson of Ye Ting, the late Communist general - recently made a series of posts to protest the movie on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

First, he criticized the producers for casting young pop idol Ou Hao to star as his grandfather. He says he believes Ou is "too sissy" to play the military legend.

 

Ou Hao plays the role of Communist general Ye Ting in The Founding of an Army. The general's grandson protests that Ou is "too sissy" to play the military legend. Provided to China Daily

Ye Daying also slams Bai Ke, whom he says shot to fame from comic roles and is not fit for serious war epics.

Bai stars as Qu Qiubai, a Communist leader in the late 1920s and early '30s. Ye Daying, a filmmaker known for his patriotic movies, got more than 20 other descendants of revolutionary heroes to sign an open letter to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the sectoral regulator, demanding an apology from the producers.

Set in the late '20s, The Founding of an Army, a follow-up to The Founding of a Republic (2009) and Beginning of the Great Revival (2011), cast more than 50 pop idols to play New China's founding fathers or historical figures.

"It could have been a good thing if excellent young actors were hired for this. But the producers recruited heartthrobs for their popularity and the film's profit," Ye Daying wrote in the letter.

Directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau, the movie tells four major chapters: Chiang Kai-shek's purging of Communist Party members on April 12, 1927; the Nanchang Uprising that marks the founding of the People's Liberation Army in the same year; the Sanheba Battle led by Zhu De in 1927; and the joining of forces on Jinggang Mountain in 1928.

"The Nanchang Uprising is a major chapter in the history of the Party and its armed forces. To give a serious revolutionary tale to a director in the entertainment genre, who knows little about China's revolutionary history, is a disrespect to that history," Ye Daying wrote.

Lau, who's best known for the Infernal Affairs franchise, is the man behind a series of popular gangster thrillers.

For this film, he says he read many books and consulted historians to ensure that history is properly shown.

"I saw the two previous Founding films and watched a number of similar movies. I had to know how such movies were shot on the mainland in the past and what kind of freshness I could bring to the new movie," Lau said during a promotional event in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, on Saturday.

Ye Daying's words have led to a heated discussion online, with netizens divided.

While some support his views, others regard the fast-paced tale and its star-studded cast as helpful in drawing the audience to the film and ultimately getting more people to know about the history of the Communist Party's harsh struggles to found its own army.

The movie had raked in 270 million yuan ($40 million) by Wednesday, trailing Wolf Warrior 2, an action flick based on the special forces, to take the second-highest seat at the box office since both were released on July 27.

Some cast and crew members are on a national tour to promote the film. Since Ye Daying posted his views to his micro blog last week, they have been frequently asked for answers during the tour.

Bai, who stars as the early Party leader, Qu, says he understands.

"He (Ye Daying) is worried that a young man like me may not know and admire the revolutionary heroes. But as a Communist Party member, I have followed their faith (in communism)," Bai said at Saturday's promotional event in Guangzhou.

As one of the most commercially successful directors in Hong Kong, Lau says he thinks it's normal to expect good box-office returns for any movie, and this is no different.

The Founding of an Army has been produced by the State-run China Film Group and Bona Film Group, a private company that has successfully developed a formula to use top Hong Kong talent to rework traditional Chinese patriotic movies for a wider viewership and bigger revenue.

Such movies produced by Bona include Tsui Hark's The Taking of Tiger Mountain and Dante Lam's Operation Mekong.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-03 07:51:28
<![CDATA[Need for speed drives summer box office in US]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/03/content_30343722.htm LOS ANGELES - Hollywood's love affair with automobiles continues.

A look at July's box-office grosses shows three car-themed movies racing to the Top 10: Transformers: The Last Knight ($128 million), Cars 3 ($146 million) and Baby Driver ($89 million).

While the rest of the world was slow to warm to cars, Americans have embraced them with a vengeance ever since Henry Ford's revolutionary moving assembly line made them affordable.

And though China went on to become the largest automobile manufacturer, by far the longest love affair with auto has been with the United States - Hollywood in particular.

US TV host Jay Leno, whose 150-piece, multimillion-dollar car collection is legendary, says, "Cars are part of the American dream, and Hollywood gets that."

Automobiles have been the go-to device for thrills, chills, action and intimacy. Hollywood starts our engines young, with family classics like Dick Van Dyke's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), then rolls into Pixar' s lovable 3-D animated phenomenon, Cars, Cars 2 and Cars 3, and picks up speed with the Herbie - Love Bug tweener franchise (1968-2005).

The car mania was further fueled by films that inspired a generation of teenagers packing a learner's permit and yearning for "roll" models.

The low-budget, Oscar-nominated Smokey and the Bandit (1977) peeled out with a whopping $127 million at the box office and TV's Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider and Chips ruled the metaphoric streets all through the 1980s.

Hollywood can effortlessly shift gears, with coming-of-age movies like the George Lucas classic American Graffiti (1972) and Penny Marshall's Riding in Cars with Boys (2001).

Given the importance of cars in daily life, is it any wonder that nothing grabs our attention faster than a catastrophic car crash?

Aykroyd and Belushi smashed 70 cars in the Blues Brothers (1980); Need For Speed (2014) was purported to pile up a collector's ransom of tortured steel, ranging from a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento and Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to a lean, mean McLaren P1.

And it's no surprise that Paul Haggis drove off with a best picture Oscar for Crash (2004).

Cars are endlessly evocative. Like the factory molds that create them, we shape them in our own image, imbuing them with every symbolic nuance under the sun.

As Vin Diesel so aptly puts it in The Fast and the Furious: "I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters - not the mortgage, not the store, not my team... For those 10 seconds or less, I'm free."

In Hollywood, cars are not just sexy status symbols or poignant plot devices - they are box-office gold. Car-centric franchises have rocked the tollbooth, raking in millions, even billions, in revenues worldwide, such as the Transformers ($1.5 billion) and the Fast & Furious ($1.5 billion).

On the racetrack, while Warner Bros' Speed Racer may have run out of gas at $44 million, Ron Howard's Rush handily crossed the finish line with $90 million, and Will Farrell's hilarious Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby flagged in $148 million.

"I've always had a fascination with cars and racing. I love to get behind the wheel and get competitive ... It helps you focus and dedicate yourself to doing what's needed," says German car-enthusiast and Hollywood star, Jason Statham.

No matter which car flick gets a greenlight next, one thing is certain: Hollywood feels the need for speed.

Xinhua

 

]]>
2017-08-03 07:51:28
<![CDATA[A new TV series tells the story of PLA Navy submarine]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/03/content_30343721.htm In 2014, crew members of Submarine 372 of the People's Liberation Army discovered that the vessel was sinking fast.

Then on a patrol mission at sea, they were caught between life and death at midnight, after a sudden change in water conditions.

Thanks to the fast reaction and skills of the PLA Navy, the crew was able to stop the submarine from sinking in a few minutes.

President Xi Jinping honored the naval fleet's Senior Captain Wang Hongli in 2014. Wang's crew was also given first-class merit citations by the PLA Navy - a rare honor in peacetime.

 

Director Zhao Baogang (left) says his latest TV series, Deepwater Forces, is about China's effort to establish a new, modern navy. The new series is a tribute to the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy. Photos Provided to China Daily

The incident inspired the TV series Deepwater Forces, which has been airing on Beijing Satellite TV, Zhejiang Satellite TV and streaming site iQiyi since July 27, with two episodes each night.

Directed by well-known TV figure Zhao Baogang, the series has added fictional content to develop it into a story of young officers on a submarine.

Zhao's 2007 hit TV series, Struggle, depicted bittersweet love in an urban setting. But his old fascination for the ocean led him to make this navy-themed series, a first in his 30-year career.

"The core of the story is about China's effort to establish a new, modern navy," Zhao tells China Daily.

To make the sets look as real as possible, Zhao got his team to build a life-size submarine prop in Fangshan district, around 40 kilometers from downtown Beijing.

But many scenes were shot inside a real submarine that the PLA Navy allowed the TV crew to use for the series when the vessel was not needed for missions.

"The submarine soon became the top star. We had to follow its schedule. After all, its real job is not TV performance but to safeguard the country," Zhao jokes.

Zhao says he spent more than five months shooting in such coastal cities as Dalian and Qingdao.

As the story centers on a group of young service personnel, the cast members are actors and actresses born in the 1990s. But cameos are played by soldiers and officers of the PLA Navy.

Zhao says he hopes the series will also appeal to audiences that like military-themed TV dramas.

"The largest scene shows around 1,500 naval crew members," Zhao says.

Xia Ping, a rear admiral of the PLA Navy, said in an earlier promotional event in Beijing that helicopters and other vehicles were also provided for the shooting.

The TV series examines a lesser-known aspect of the navy and is a tribute to the PLA Navy in its 68th year, as well as to the PLA, which celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding this year.

"We hope there will be more such quality productions to tell about the navy's glorious history and achievements," says Xia.

]]>
2017-08-03 07:51:28
<![CDATA[Rediscovering A Royal Garden]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317776.htm Yuanmingyuan, a resort used by Manchu royalty, was burned down by Anglo-French expedition forces in 1860. Archaeologists are now studying the magnificent landmark. Wang Kaihao reports.

In China, the destruction of Yuanmingyuan ("the garden of perfect brightness") or the Old Summer Palace in Beijing is seen as a national tragedy.

In 1860, the Anglo-French expedition forces burned down this exquisite resort meant for Manchu royalty of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) during the Second Opium War (1856-60).

But now there are efforts to discover more about this magnificent garden. And archaeologists, with the help of paintings and historical files, are trying to get a better picture of this landmark.

In a project to the east of the Yuanmingyuan ruins, the remains of Ruyuan, an exquisite garden in typical Jiangnan style (which refers to areas in East China on the southern banks of the Yangtze River), was unearthed.

The 19,000 square meter garden is a replica of Zhanyuan, a garden from Nanjing, in eastern Jiangsu province, and it was built following an edict by Emperor Qianlong (1711-99).

The garden, completed in 1767, was called Ruyuan, which means "a garden just like Zhanyuan".

Huge and almost intact bases of buildings have been found at the site other than a garden with paths paved in colorful stones.

"It was a surprise to find the foundation so well-preserved," says Zhang Zhonghua, an archaeologist from the Beijing Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and leader of the Yuanmingyuan project.

"Only some scattered and broken sections were visible before the excavation."

For example, a 1 meter high foundation of the Yanqing Hall is there, besides a 1.4 meter part underground, says Zhang.

"The deep foundation indicates that the hall was grandiose," says Zhang.

The 322 sq m hall was the main building in Ruyuan.

The discovery of ceramic tiles that are hollow also indicate that Ruyuan was equipped with a central heating system.

The excavations also show that there was an artificial lake in Ruyuan and special equipment to regulate water flow.

As a result, the emperors were able to take a boat on entering this garden to a pier by the Yanqing Hall.

Zhang's team is also analyzing seeds found in the area to find out what kind of flowers used to blossom in Ruyuan.

Zhang says that when compared with the Forbidden City, which emphasized formal rituals, Yuanmingyuan was a place where the emperors could relax.

"The patterns on walking paths in Ruyuan are irregular, which shows the rulers' casual lifestyle," he says.

"We even found prototype of a modern urban road network, like today's relief roads and roundabouts that show advanced design."

Also, though houses face southward in traditional Chinese architecture, houses in Ruyuan broke the rule, which was probably to let the emperors get a view of the lake from all corners of the garden.

Two stones with Emperor Jiaqing's calligraphy show renovation on Ruyuan during the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820).

And, Zhang says that the tiles found at the site have reddish marks on them, indicating that they were burned.

"All the tiles we found had cracks," he says.

"These tiles, only used in imperial institutions were of top quality. The cracks prove that they burned for a long time."

Zhang's team is seeking to establish a date of the fire.

"But as of now I can tell you that the fire was set in the late Qing Dynasty," he says.

"So, it is still premature to connect this fire to the looting of 1860."

However, he says that there are no historical records of Ruyuan after Emperor Xianfeng's reign (1851-61) ended. So, this probably means that the garden was destroyed by then, coinciding with the Anglo-French invasion.

Preliminary investigation of the site began in 2012, but the main project was launched in 2016, and covers an area of 3,800 sq m.

Parts of Ruyuan are still buried today as they are beyond the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park.

"So, it still depends on the urban planning department if they want to expand our excavation site," says Zhang.

"It will cause trouble if we block the artery - Zhongguancun North Avenue - for archaeology."

Zhang says that the designs of Ruyuan show that there was a pedestrian overpass connecting Ruyuan with nearby gardens, and he says that there are possible ruins beneath the Tsinghua University campus, which is across Zhongguancun North Avenue.

"Yuanmingyuan was much bigger than the ruins we see today," he says.

Though most ongoing archaeological works are not accessible to the public for safety reasons, the Yuanmingyuan site is a popular tourist destination as visitors are allowed to have a look at the archaeologists working.

Yang Yulian from Beijing Administration of Cultural Heritage says: "Archaeology is also a good opportunity to educate the public. And fans of cultural heritage upload pictures on social media and even do live broadcasts."

Yang directs the bureau's education office. She says the Yuanmingyuan model could be replicated at other archaeological sites in Beijing.

As of now some artifacts from Ruyuan are being displayed at the exhibition hall of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park, and the event will run through October.

Separately, Zhang says that more archaeological work is to follow at the site.

Archaeological research on the Yuanmingyuan ruins began in 1996, and the excavation of Ruyuan is a part of a five-year project that started in 2015 to figure out the original layout of this complex.

Thanks to the surviving stone relics like fountains and columns, people think that Yuanmingyuan was a Western-style garden, says Chen Hui, a researcher at the administration office of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Park.

"But Western construction comprises a small part of the architecture in Yuanmingyuan," says Chen.

"It's a pity that Chinese-style architecture was mainly in wood that easily disappeared. So, the excavation can give people a panoramic view of the complex."

Zhang says that it will need a long time to learn about this destroyed wonder in detail.

"I will be satisfied if we can use archaeology to show what 10 percent of Yuanmingyuan was like before I retire," says Zhang.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[Exhibition blurs painting and sculpture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317775.htm The title of Hang Chunhui's ongoing exhibition in Beijing, Ambiguity, is inspired by a verse from the 11th century Yuefu Shiji, or the poetry collection of the music bureau. The verse reads: "Lotus flowers disappear in mist and dew, only the leaves are ambiguously visible."

The 41-year-old artist says the line indicates a traditional Chinese way of art appreciation that mysticism is beauty.

He says it works with his recent exploration of creating works that blur the boundary between painting and sculpture.

Hang is known as an ink artist. Most of his previous paintings feature a classic style involving the gongbi technique.

But since 2015, the Beijing-based artist has turned experimental, producing works that combine ink painting and sculpture.

His 30 creations now on show at the Asia Art Center, in the city's 798 art district, demonstrate his skills.

"When people look at the works, they are likely to be deceived," says Hang.

For example, when one stands in front of Warm No 2, the person feels that it depicts a piece of yellow cloth with folds and wrinkles.

But if he walks to any side he realizes that he was misled: Hang doesn't paint the folds or wrinkles. They are formed by the wooden board that is pasted under the painting.

Hang uses the same "visual trick" in another work, Daily Series - White Desktop.

In this work, the viewers first think that the four edges are painted in gray. But when they go closer they find the gray areas are the frame's shadows, which are cast by lights carefully installed on the ceiling and angled.

Hang's experiments are grounded in an interdisciplinary academic background.

He studied sculpture for his bachelor's degree. He received a master's degree in visual communication and a doctorate degree in traditional inkbrush painting.

Hang says his works attempt to smudge the line between painting and sculpture, traditional and contemporary approaches to ink art and abstract and representative forms.

"I hope that my identity as an ink artist is forgotten by the audience after they tour the exhibition."

While he says he no longer works in the realm of traditional ink art, he adds that this approach does not intend to dispel the Asian flavor of his creations.

"As a Chinese artist one cannot escape it.

"Besides, I believe that retaining the Asian taste is how ink art carries on and enriches the presentation of a sculpture."

The exhibition also features one of Hang's latest creations that he wishes to develop into a new series.

In the work, he paints against a gray background Braille alphabets that say: "If you can see, you don't need this passage."

It is also the work's title.

He says the work addresses the differences between vision and hearing and the cultural gaps that are hard to narrow.

He also invites people to discuss the possibilities of communication.

"When I painted the work, I saw a sophisticated side of myself - which appeared when I became more skillful with the gongbi style.

"I felt enormously free and rejuvenated."

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[Tea And Tapas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317774.htm Beijing's Houhai area is always crowded with tourists, but the new luxury hotel VUE offers sophisticated diners a place away from the hustle and bustle to sip afternoon tea and savor Spanish tapas.

]]>
A new cafe in Beijing's Houhai offers diners a chance to experience what happens when foods with different textures and flavors come together. Xing Yi reports.

Beijing's Houhai area is always crowded with tourists, but the new luxury hotel VUE offers sophisticated diners a place away from the hustle and bustle to sip afternoon tea and savor Spanish tapas.

The noise of the crowds and honking horns fade away as I stroll down the hutong (alleyway) in front of the Prince Gong's Mansion.

Hidden among the surrounding gray brick courtyard houses, the hotel's Fab cafe and bakery sits along the alley between the former residence of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) prince and Houhai Park.

It's a peaceful oasis in this tourist hot spot.

Ignasi Prats is the chief baker and chef.

He grew up in a Spanish family that has worked as bakers for three generations. And he has worked in an acclaimed restaurant with three Michelin stars, El Celler de Can Roca, in the city of Girona in northern Spain.

"When my grandfather started the bakery in Barcelona in the 1950s, bread and pastries were grab-and-go food," says Prats.

"Combining a cafe with the bakery came later."

The name Fab stands for flour and beans, the ingredients for pastries and coffee.

The cafe provides European pastries such as Swiss rolls, rose raspberry macaroons and blueberry cheesecake, at 30 to 40 yuan ($4 to $6) each. A cup of a double espresso costs 19 yuan, and a cup of Americano is 25 yuan.

"We want to be part of the local community," says Andy Mok, vice-president of the hotel, explaining that they want the cafe to be a place where hotels guests can socialize with locals.

I had a cup of Americano with Mont Blanc, which is a cone-shaped pastry coated with chestnut cream, and stuffed with blueberry and sponge cake. A caramelized chestnut is on the "peak".

The hotel's Pink Rabbit restaurant in the backyard is more upscale.

With Prats in the kitchen, the restaurant features innovative Spanish cuisine.

Before arriving in Beijing in 2016, Prats worked in El Celler de Can Roca, which was twice selected as the world's best restaurant by Restaurant Magazine, and then in the Ritz-Carlton in Barcelona.

Prats likes to create new dishes.

He says that part of the reason he left the Ritz-Carlton hotel is that: "Five-star hotels don't give you the freedom to create something new."

For me, eating Spanish tapas is a journey full of fun and surprises.

To start, I had The Cone, which is goat cheese put in mini basil cones with pistachios inside and strawberries on top.

It looks like an icecream but tastes salty at first, and then leaves a sweet flavor in the mouth.

The second dish, Lychee Tomatoes, is not a new type of tomato. Rather, it is prepared by marinating peeled cherry tomatoes in lychee juice, making it a refreshing summer snack.

"Lychees are my favorite food in China, but they're not very common in Spain," says Prats. "So, I used this technique to change the flavor of the tomatoes."

Pig Bite is another signature tapa by Prats.

It's small bits of roasted suckling pig put on corn crackers with smashed avocado and cranberry jam underneath.

The crispy pig skin and the crackers sandwich the tender pork.

If those dishes don't satisfy the stomach, you can order Spanish seafood rice ($42 for two people) or Australian ribeye steak ($57 for 350 grams).

For dessert, I had a Pina Colada, a white chocolate pudding named after a cocktail.

A pineapple capsule, a coconut marshmallow, almond flakes and mango jelly constitute the different layers of the "cocktail" pudding.

"I like to put food with different textures and flavors together," says Prats. "It's about the balance of different textures and tastes.

"Parents always tell us not to play with your food, but here you can play with different ingredients to get your own creative bite," he says.

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

VUE, a new luxury hotel, offers sophisticated diners a place away from the hustle and bustle of the Houhai area where it is located.Provided To China Daily

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[For Philadelphia Phish fan, time to make doughnuts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317773.htm NEW YORK - Phish announced its 13-show run in New York with a video in January that showed giant doughnuts rolling through the city.

That got Felicia D'Ambrosio's phone buzzing, with calls from friends hoping that might mean a role for the Phish superfan and co-owner of a Philadelphia doughnut and fried chicken shop that had made doughnuts dedicated to the band in the past.

"Well, no, I don't want to work on Phish tour," thought D'Ambrosio, who has been to more than 100 shows.

Then came the request. From the band.

Time to make the doughnuts.

Doughnuts are everywhere in Phish's "Baker's Dozen" residency at Madison Square Garden, which kicked off last week and lasts until Aug 6, from the tickets to a huge mural to the thousands of Federal Donuts being given out to fans each night. The band is even working each night's custom flavor into its setlists.

The band "never stops surprising me and delighting me and I trust them", D'Ambrosio says. "To us at Federal Donuts, it's this weird collaboration of this thing you love and this thing you love."

Phish doesn't need gimmicks to draw fans to their mostly sold-out shows, but they are known for playful gags onstage. One song features guitarist Trey Anastasio and bass player Mike Gordon performing while jumping on trampolines, and drummer Jon Fishman's other instruments include a vacuum cleaner.

It was Fishman's standard outfit - a blue dress covered with red doughnut shapes - that first inspired D'Ambrosio to whip up The Fishman - a blue vanilla raspberry doughnut with a pink glaze - ahead of a 2015 show.

Mark Welker, the executive pastry chef at New York's Eleven Madison Park and NoMad, took notice of the Fishman doughnut and another Federal Donuts creation, The Fluffhead, named for a classic Phish song - and when the band came to him for a recommendation on a doughnut maker for the residency, he recommended D'Ambrosio.

"I knew their doughnuts are really, really good. They're fans. This is the only option," Welker says.

The band sent its flavor ideas to Federal Donuts chef Matt Fein, who came up with his interpretations to send back to the band.

"Then they were like, 'yea, rock and roll, go for it,'" D'Ambrosio says.

"It was nice and simple."

For the Phish strawberry doughnut, Fein says that his muse was a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Dessert Bar. He made the shortcake topping out of freeze-dried strawberries and doughnut crumbs.

"It's neat to get their take on what they wanted and then be able to put my name on it," Fein says. "Most of the flavors they chose were pretty traditional. That being said, they said growing up they only really had traditional doughnuts."

Federal Donuts employees are putting in overnight shifts to get the doughnuts made in Philadelphia and shipped up to New York for each show - but Fein says the fact that the band is working the flavor into the show makes the extra work totally worthwhile.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[London farms fish and greens]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317772.htm LONDON - Inside a warehouse in industrial southeast London, farmed tilapia swim in blue tubs filled with pristine water, ready to be sold to trendy restaurants across the capital.

In an adjacent room, under pink LED lights and controlled temperatures, shoots of salad leaves and herbs grow on recycled carpet fiber fertilized with the fish waste. In this cavernous, windowless space more suited to a nightclub than a farm, the greens are stacked on metal shelves stretching to the ceiling.

It's a far cry from traditional British farms that sprawl across acres of land. But for Kate Hofman, who co-founded GrowUp Urban Farms in 2013, producing food in this 557-square-meter building in Beckton was not only clever and cost-effective. It was also a sustainable way to feed people in the city.

"Sometimes people have an idealized idea of how their food is being produced. In their head, they think that farmer Joe tends to his field with his hoe and grows his heads of lettuce," the 32-year-old says.

"We're trying to show that you can have an industrialized food system ... but you can do it in a way that's sustainable," says Hofman, who launched Britain's first commercial aquaponic farm - a system that uses fish waste to fertilize crops, which in turn filter the water used to farm the fish.

Rich and poor countries alike are tasked with creating sustainable and inclusive cities by 2030 under global development goals agreed in 2015-and sorting out how cities are fed is a crucial part of that challenge, experts say.

As two-thirds of the global population are forecast to live in cities by 2050, compared with about half now, urban planners and policymakers are increasingly looking to agriculture in towns and cities as a solution to provide nutritious food.

Land used for farming in cities and the areas around them equals the size of the European Union, a recent study says, while others estimate some 800 million urban farmers provide up to 20 percent of the world's food.

Unlike imported produce, food from city farms and gardens travels less, reducing production costs, waste and fuel use.

"Because (urban farms) are in proximity to an urban population, they can see for themselves where their food is coming from. This has a benefit in terms of education and reconnecting food with the consumer," says Makiko Taguchi, an urban agricultural expert at UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

Hofman says Britain's huge appetite for salad leaves and herbs, and the fact that most of it is imported, were key reasons why she decided to grow such plants in her warehouse.

Hofman sells 200,000 bags of salad each year to local food retailers and restaurants. She also sells 4,000 kilograms of fish each year and believes the ethical farming of fish provides a sustainable source of protein, especially at a time when nearly 800 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat, according to the FAO.

Though Hofman doesn't think urban farming could ever replace existing food-production systems, she hopes to pioneer ways to scale up the output of urban farms.

Reuters

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[Homage To The Past]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317771.htm Items used by New China's founding fathers are now on show in Beijing, Lin Qi reports.

A media group comprising 15 Chinese and foreign journalists arrived in Yan'an, Shaanxi province, in June 1944. They stayed there for a month, visiting the Communist bases nearby and interviewing leaders of the Communist Party of China, such as Mao Zedong.

The visit generated a series of reports, which updated the accounts of Communist-controlled border areas in northwestern China, after American journalist Edgar Snow's 1937 book, Red Star over China.

Maurice Votaw was a member of the visiting group who worked for the US newspaper, The Baltimore Sun. He was gifted a set of nine woodblock prints from Zhu De, one of the Communist leaders who later became New China's commander-in-chief.

The set was made to publicize to villages the discipline of the Communist Eighth Route Army. It was given back to China by a visiting group of US scholars in 1979.

Now the woodblock prints are being shown for the first public viewing at an exhibition at the National Museum of China. More than seven decades after they were created, the colors still look vivid.

The exhibition, Collected Artifacts of Founding Fathers, that runs through Sept 26 shows some 300 artifacts once used by or related to the founding fathers of the People's Republic of China, such as letters, posts, photos, weapons, wax figures and paintings.

They are from the collection of the National Museum of China, and its director Lyu Zhangshen says nearly half the exhibits are on show for the first time.

The exhibition ushers in the 90th anniversary of the founding of People's Liberation Army that falls on Tuesday.

It traces back to the Nanchang Uprising that started on Aug 1, 1927, the first movement of the Communists to fight against the then Kuomintang rule. Since then, the CPC-led troops grew stronger and produced several militarists, such as the "10 grand marshals of New China", whose belongings and statues are on display at the show.

The museum's curators categorize the exhibits into four sections navigating those critical moments in the development of the PLA.

The first part focuses on the army's "devotion to serving the people", a belief and tradition that is still held dear by today's PLA soldiers.

Objects include a blanket dating to 1928, when the CPC-led Red Army confronted the Kuomintang troops in a village in Hunan province. The defeated Kuomintang soldiers left many belongings, including the blanket, and the Red Army gave it to villagers.

The second part shows articles and books that demonstrate the strategic vision of the Party and military leaders.

The third part hails the heroism and brotherhood of armies when experiencing hardships during wartime.

Leather waist belts once fed many Red Army soldiers when they ran out of food during the Long March (1934-36), a two-year military retreat to evade the surrounding Kuomintang army. One 77-centimeter belt used by military and political leader Ren Bishi is on show.

When his soldiers couldn't find grass or tree bark to eat, Ren suggested cutting off several sections from his belt. He told his guardians to first burn the pieces and then boil them in water to make them edible, and he shared them with soldiers.

"The smell could not be tasty at all. But Ren tried to be encouraging and said they could pretend they had been enjoying boiled beef," says Lyu.

The belt's remnants are on display. The cutting marks are still visible.

The last part traces the significant battles the CPC armies won before the establishment of New China in 1949.

"Reviewing the vicissitudes of PLA's past, one will find it impossible to forget those heroes, and one will feel inspired and ready to work hard for China's great rejuvenation," says Lyu.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[Artist uses nature to ease pain and stress]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317770.htm Kong Ning, a self-taught interdisciplinary artist, enthusiastically advocates love and care for nature in her oil paintings, poems, films and performance art.

She wore a long-tailed wedding gown made of dozens of fabric leaves in a residential compound in Luoyang, Henan province, on July 15.

It was part of her ongoing One Hundred Thousand Leaves project, an initiative to raise people's awareness of environmental issues.

More than 20 hearing-impaired children made leaf-themed drawings in Luoyang.

She kept these drawings. Since she will take the performance to other cities, she wishes to collect 100,000 children's paintings in total.

She says she will piece them together to form a 20-meter-high leafy installation.

Returning cleanness and serenity to Earth has been at the heart of Kong's many performances.

"I have an innocent thought that I'm a child trying to blindly steer the world in a different direction," says the 59-year-old Beijing-based artist.

She says people have become even more indifferent about the products that finally become junk.

People won't find lasting happiness as long as metropolises are built at the environment's expense, she says.

Kong has created several performance works to publicize her idea that every one should be the inventor, user and maintainer of a circular economy that greens the environment.

In these works, she designs long, distinctive wedding gowns she wears as "a maid of nature".

She puts on a different blue gown made of 300 biodegradable bags in another performance work titled H2O.

She displayed the work in Venice in June. Each bag is shaped like a person. The dress' tail is about 40 meters long.

She says the gown feels both fragile and weightless once it's inflated, indicating a balance between humans and nature.

"A person comes into this world and leaves as lightly as a drop of water falling from the universe," she says.

The theme of love highlights Kong's oil paintings. She expresses fear and doubt, too.

A large-eyed girl, who looks like her, appears in many of her works, which boast a vivid palette and surreal scenes. Her eyes open wide to show innocence. Her outstretched arms seem ready to explore the world. But her twisted body suggests hesitation caused by the fear of getting hurt.

Kong was a criminal lawyer decades before she turned to painting in 2000.

Her experience has left many emotional scars, she says.

In 2000, the death of her mother added to her depression. She quit law and isolated herself from the outside world, she says, until one day, she bought painting supplies and tried to paint something to kill the time.

She says she felt her sadness and anxieties ease as she painted. She also started to feel stronger and joyful.

Since then, she has been painting feverishly as a salvation from feeling helpless. She also creates installations, poems and performance art.

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[Chengdu prepares to host modern art fair next year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/01/content_30317769.htm Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu, will hold its first international contemporary art fair, Art Chengdu, in April.

It's organized by a group of Chinese in their 30s.

The fair from April 28 to May 2 will be the first of its kind in southwestern China, where a large number of collectors and artists live.

About 30 galleries will be invited to attend, including 10 from outside China.

"The size of Art Chengdu will be small (at first), but we hope it will attract young collectors and art lovers," says Huang Zai, co-founder of the fair.

A Chengdu native, Huang says Chengdu had little regular art activity, although private museums and galleries have mushroomed in recent years.

Her partner, Huang Yu, came up with the idea of holding an art fair in Chengdu in June, after he held a show displaying his collection of contemporary Chinese art, featuring works by 66 artists, at a local museum.

Huang Yu is regarded by media as a typical young Chinese collector born in the 1980s.

The 36-year-old was awarded Collector of the Year 2016 by Chinese art magazine HiArt, along with Liu Yiqian, who offered a record price of $170 million for Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani's oil painting in 2015.

"My friends and I hope we have the chance to buy good art in our hometown," says Huang Yu, who flies to art fairs across the world every year for his collection, which mainly features videos and conceptual art.

Many of his friends, including some who're in their 20s, are collectors of contemporary Chinese art.

Huang Yu held a forum of young Chinese collectors that attracted many people from the finance and property sectors during his show last year.

"They buy a lot of contemporary art and always fly to Hong Kong for purchases," he says, adding that the number of young collectors in China is increasing.

Many are from Chengdu, a city that is also home to many accomplished contemporary artists.

Huang Yu's own collection has many works by artists from the province.

He says that during the art fair, they will cooperate with well-known artists from Sichuan to make large-scale works to be placed in public spaces to "interact" with locals.

They will also have a special section of the fair to display local artists' works.

He says the city is rich in culture and history.

But there are few avenues for young art lovers who want to learn more about contemporary art.

That's why he and his partner, Huang Zai, decided to stage an art fair to offer a platform to show contemporary works from around the world.

Huang Zai explains that they hope that works will be affordable for people who are just developing interest in contemporary art. She says they also hope to see big names on show.

"The locals spend about 15 billion yuan on eating hotpot every year. I think they can buy art," says Shi Zheng, art director of the art fair.

Her confidence in local consumption comes largely from their passion for luxury goods and fancy cars.

Forbes ranked Chengdu third on its 2012 China luxury-consumption list, after Beijing and Shanghai. Chengdu residents bought 40,000 luxury cars in 2014.

Shi says the fair offers outsiders an incentive to visit the city, which has many tourists spots like the panda park.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-08-01 06:46:37
<![CDATA[Having faith in music]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/31/content_30305493.htm

 

Taiwan pop singer A Lin performs at the first CMIC Music Awards in Beijing on July 20. Photos Provided to China Daily

New awards aim to restore the dignity of China's music industry, lost due to piracy. Chen Nan reports.

In 2014, Song Ke was appointed chairman of the China Music Industry Committee, a nonprofit, which has more than 100 members belonging to record labels and distributors.

That year, Song turned 50.

"When you're 50, you still dream and want to do something that can be your legacy," says Song, the former head of Warner Music China and now the CEO of Ali Music Group, a division of e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Over the past three years, he has led the committee's discussions on recording copyright issues and promoted the government's regulations on them.

But it seems that has not satisfied him.

Being a central figure in the development of China's music industry for more than two decades, the dream he harbored for years was establishing authoritative awards for China's music industry.

On July 20, he realized his dream when he hosted the first CMIC Music Awards, honoring the best achievements of the preceding year in 32 award categories.

"We want to recognize talented people in the music industry and encourage young musicians. And most importantly, we can finally regain our industry's dignity, which we have lost," Song said onstage during the awards ceremony in Beijing.

"We have many music awards in China now, which have celebrities, screaming fans and generous sponsors. But it's more about entertainment. They have nothing to do with music," Song said. "It's time to have awards just for the sake of the music."

That night, Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam Yik-lin was awarded the best female vocalist and Hong Kong singer-songwriter Khalil Fong won the best male vocalist award. Pianist Lang Lang's New York Rhapsody won the award for the best classical album.

Other award winners included Taiwan pop star Jay Chou, Beijing-based folk singer-songwriter Zhao Lei and Shanghai Rainbow Indoor Chorus.

"It's the first music award we've received. It's great encouragement for a new singer," says Xia Wenjing, the agent of folk singer-songwriter Chen Hongyu who won the best new artist award.

In the early 2000s, due to rampant online piracy, record companies considered it not worthwhile to release albums, and they turned instead to managing artists' performances and advertising as their main source of revenue.

Song even left the industry to open a restaurant since "people are willing to pay for their food but not the music they listen to".

But now it's the right time to launch the award, he says.

"The music market has improved thanks to technology and new government policies," Song says.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Global Music Report 2017, recorded music revenue grew 20.3 percent in China last year, driven by a 30.6 percent rise in streaming revenues.

In the last three years, Song attended the Grammy Awards and Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards, which enabled him to learn how those awards were run.

Xu Yi, the former CEO of Sony Music Entertainment China, was unanimously voted president of the CMIC Music Awards Committee in March.

Although Xu and Song are longtime friends, they were also competitors in the music market. Now they are cooperating for the first time. Song is in charge of the award's business management while Xu takes care of the voting procedures.

"It was really a tough job because no one has ever done it before in China," says Xu, who invited Taiwan veteran songwriter and producer Jonathan Lee to be the chief consultant.

"What we needed was a music award that was fair and had authority."

The jury panel of the CMIC Music Awards consisted of 10 key members - each invited 10 people from the music industry to assist them to vote.

"The awards are a new chapter for China's music industry," says Shen Lihui, one of the jury members, who is the founder and CEO of Modernsky, China's biggest indie music label.

Although he had confidence in the CMIC Music Awards, Song also foresaw there would be doubts from the record companies, singers and sponsors as they were new.

Indeed at the ceremony for the CMIC Music Awards, few singers showed up and their awards were accepted by the record companies and their agents.

There was also no television broadcast, although the awards were streamed online by streaming site iQiyi, which attracted an audience of about 150,000.

Despite this, Song says the awards were a big success.

"It was beyond my expectations because the industry's elite showed up, which is a great sign. We've done the most challenging part, making the first CMIC Music Awards a reality," says Song.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-31 07:51:19
<![CDATA[Detroit musicians conclude China visit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/31/content_30305492.htm

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra concluded its first tour to China on Saturday, where it presented a new arrangement of Dream of the Red Chamber in five Chinese cities, including Suzhou, Changsha and Shanghai.

This was the premiere of Dream of the Red Chamber: a Caprice for Cello in China. The piece is based on the music by Wang Liping for the TV series A Dream of the Red Mansions in the 1980s.

Chinese cellist Trey Lee worked with Hong Kong-based Chinese composer Alfred Wong to create a new arrangement for the music.

Lee flew to Detroit to rehearse with the DSO before embarking on the tour to China, says Anne Parsons, the president and CEO of DSO.

The arrangement was an unusual choice for DSO, as the orchestra did not know about the piece until it was recommended by the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, a member of the Poly Theater Group, which presented the orchestra's China tour.

Yet, this was not the first time DSO premiered Chinese music.

In 2013, DSO played a concert titled Songs of the Earth, featuring Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang's Twilight of the Himalayas in New York.

"We always try to play something from the country we go to," says Parsons. "We think this is what music does: It brings people together and creates relationships."

An orchestra with 130 years of history, DSO wants to be "open and transparent" and "inviting and welcoming".

To achieve that, the orchestra has opened its live performances through free webcast.

Also, with a $50 fee a year, you can join the DSO family and watch replays, says Parsons.

Since the launch of the Live from Orchestra Hall in 2011, DSO's webcasts have reached audiences in more than 100 countries.

Although Parsons did not give the number of paid members, she says: "We had 36,000 viewers for one concert before we left Detroit for this tour."

Chinese violinist Wu Haixin joined the orchestra in 1995.

The musician from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, says he is proud of the orchestra's rich history and professional atmosphere.

Having been active in international exchanges, Wu sees himself a "bridge between China and the United States".

He says it would help young students if they did short internships or training at professional orchestras such as DSO, so they could experience the cultural heritage and atmosphere, the fast-paced professional schedule and how an orchestra creates its distinctive sound.

Yu Wei, the principal cellist with DSO, joined the company in 2015.

Having worked with New York Philharmonic for seven years, he says: "I am glad I did both."

The young musician from Shanghai was proud to play in his hometown, and can't wait to bring Detroit and Shanghai closer.

"DSO is a great orchestra, and deserves to be heard more."

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-31 07:51:19
<![CDATA[Chinese youth orchestra debuts in US, holds tour back home]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/31/content_30305491.htm

The newly formed National Youth Orchestra of China made its debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York on July 22.

Under the baton of French conductor Ludovic Morlot, the orchestra performed Chinese-American composer Zhou Long's The Rhyme of Taigu and Dvorak's Symphony No 9 (From the New World).

"If Saturday's performance was a test run for this new venture, these Chinese musicians scored big," music critic Anthony Tommasini wrote in the New York Times on the orchestra's Carnegie show that featured Chinese pianist Wang Yuja.

Xie Liyuan, a 17-year-old violinist from the high school affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music, says: "It was an unforgettable experience of performing at the Carnegie Hall. By performing in the orchestra, I learned to listen to others' playing. We made great effort together as an orchestra."

Inspired by the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, which started in 2013 as a Carnegie project, gathering more than 100 musicians from ages 16 to 19, the National Youth Orchestra of China was launched in December. Online auditions were held in 2016 and 105 musicians from ages 14 to 21 were selected to perform in the Chinese orchestra.

The orchestra kicked off its national tour by playing in Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou over July 26-29.

Composer Ye Xiaogang, who teaches at the Central Conservatory of Music, has been appointed as the first director of the orchestra.

Nicholas Brown, a pioneer of the project that launched the Chinese youth orchestra, says: "In China, much focus of classical music training was on solo performance, which was amazing. But we also think that Chinese have the potential for orchestral performance."

The other pioneers are Vincent Accettola and Paige Breen. The three former students of Yale University initiated the project after Accettola noticed young Chinese watching their performance during the US national youth orchestra's China tour in 2015. That led them to develop an orchestra for Chinese youth.

The Chinese students learn orchestral skills and get passionate about performing, Brown says in Beijing.

Conductor Morlot says: "The whole goal is to be able to approach music from the perspective of listening to one another, to learn from one another, which is a great challenge for these young Chinese musicians."

Trained as a violinist, Morlot had the chance to play in an orchestra from a very young age.

"I played lots of chamber music and (for) orchestras. I had the chance to grow (along) with that heritage and I wanted to share it with these Chinese musicians," he adds.

]]>
2017-07-31 07:51:19
<![CDATA[Holidays on the water]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/31/content_30305490.htm

Majestic Princess has set sail from Shanghai. The cruise ship offers a number of features for Chinese tourists so that they can enjoy something familiar on board. Xu Lin reports.

As more Chinese enjoy cruises with their families, many overseas cruise brands are eyeing the Chinese market with new luxury vessels.

Majestic Princess, which is customized for Chinese tourists, recently started operations from its home port, Shanghai.

The ship, which has a capacity of 3,560 guests, offers a number of features for Chinese tourists so that they can enjoy something familiar on board.

It has entertainment, which is popular in China, such as well-decorated karaoke rooms and mahjong, besides soya milk and traditional Chinese tea. Also, guests can get iced bubble tea from Gong Cha, a popular franchise in China.

Speaking about the facilities, Arnold Donald, the president and CEO of Carnival Corp, which owns the California-based cruise brand Princess Cruises, says: "Tourists always want a few things that are familiar, but they are also interested in learning new things. And the Princess is about an international cruise experience.

"Cruises are about experiences on a ship. They are about the destinations that the cruise will take you to. People travel to see places and experience things that they don't get at home," he says.

Those who travel with children can leave them in the youth and teen centers, so they can enjoy other activities on board.

In the daytime, guests can sample food from home and abroad in 22 restaurants and bars.

And while taking in the sea view at the window seats, they can savor dishes prepared by two Michelin star chefs at the French restaurant La Mer and the Chinese restaurant Harmony Specialty.

They can also walk on an 18-meter-long glass walkway and shop at duty-free outlets selling luxury brands, such as Cartier in an area of about 1,100 square meters.

At night, travelers can watch the Las Vegas-style show, Fantastic Journey, that cost $6 billion to produce.

Speaking about the guests' profiles, Wang Ping, the vice-president and general manager of Princess Cruises China, says: "A lot of Chinese guests on Princess Cruises are from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. But we also have potential markets in third-and fourth-tier Chinese cities."

She adds that the cruise brand has three home ports in China - Shanghai, Tianjin and Xiamen - but is looking for more opportunities. She emphasizes the importance of good ties with travel agencies, with the help of whom they are able to attract more Chinese business.

Speaking about marketing, Donald says: "Summer means vacation time because children are not in school. So, our marketing strategy is straightforward - to prioritize China.

"We do conventional advertising as well as broadcast on social media."

Last year, 122 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas, up 4.3 percent compared with 2015.

And in 2016, the number of outbound cruise passengers from China was a record 2.12 million.

According to Donald, this means that in China, those who travel overseas on cruises account for about 1.6 percent of the country's overall outbound travelers. So, many Chinese tourists still haven't done a cruise yet.

"China is a huge market. Our biggest challenge is working effectively with the distribution system, to help them tap the demand for cruises," he says.

In 1995, Donald cruised with about 50 members of his extended family - the oldest was over 80 and the youngest was 3. It was before he entered the cruise industry.

"Some of them had never traveled outside their home city. All of us had a fantastic time, and at the same time everybody could pursue the things they were interested in. We could do whatever we wanted and still be together," he says.

Speaking about the company's plans for China, he says: "China is the largest outbound market in the world. And we are convinced that it will be the largest cruise market in the world. We just want to be a part of that and a part of making that happen."

In 2015, Carnival formed a joint venture with China State Shipbuilding Corp and China Investment Corp to create a Chinese cruise brand.

The joint venture's first ship is expected to be ready in 2023.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-31 07:51:19
<![CDATA[Vacation in Maine? Water, woods, the arts and adventure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/31/content_30305489.htm

For me, summer vacation means spending time in a Maine pond where the sound of loons calling is about the most exciting thing that happens all day.

But I do venture occasionally from my little paradise to experience other things the northernmost state in the northeastern United States has to offer, whether it's the coast, a mountain hike, a whitewater adventure or a museum. Here are a few options.

The shore

Maine's scenic coast has so many wonderful towns that you almost can't go wrong, but every spot has its own personality. Old Orchard Beach just outside Portland has a sandy beach, busy pier with food, drink and souvenirs, and an old-fashioned amusement park. You could also make a day of visiting Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg in the morning and nearby Reid State Park in Georgetown in the afternoon. In Rockland, the manmade Breakwater jetty lets you walk nearly a mile from the shore into Penobscot Bay, and a ferry runs across to Vinalhaven island, where it's worth spending the night. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park is another popular spot.

Hiking

Acadia National Park and the gateway town of Bar Harbor are beautiful but very busy in summer. About 1.5 million people visited the park in July and August of 2016, so be prepared for traffic and crowded trails. For a lovely, doable alternative, consider a day in Camden, with a hike up Mount Battie. A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence, engraved on a plaque at the top, describes the stunning view, with references to "three long mountains and a wood" and "three islands in a bay".

For serious hikers, the Appalachian Trail runs through Maine, terminating atop Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. Depending on your route and fitness level, a hike up and down Katahdin's steep, rocky trails could take 10 to 12 hours, which means you'll run out of daylight if you don't start early. Parking for Katahdin hikes is also limited and often gone by 8 am, so consider driving up the night before.

The new (and controversial) Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument doesn't offer many visitor services yet, but the National Park Service offers tips online for enjoying the area.

Whitewater

Whitewater trips are available on several Maine rivers. My favorite outfitter is Moxie Outdoor Adventures, based in West Forks, which offers an all-day Kennebec River trip that's part paddling like crazy through Class IV rapids and part scenic wilderness float trip. Midday, boats are beached on an island where guides cook steak and chicken over a fire. On one trip, we even saw a moose en route to our launch spot. Warning: You will get soaked. Bring a quick-drying fleece to wear over a swimsuit and shoes (not flip-flops) to wear in the water.

Moose

You can find moose-watching tours on land and water. I've enjoyed sunset boat trips to see moose on Moosehead Lake, but as with any such excursion, there are no guarantees that you'll see the wildlife you came for. In rural and northern areas, moose present serious driving hazards, especially at dawn, dusk and after dark, so watch out (and be careful what you wish for).

For kids

Portland Children's Museum is fun for a rainy day. Aquaboggan Water Park in Saco offers slides, wave pools and mini-golf. Old-fashioned fairs take place around the state all summer, featuring rides, games, farm animal displays and more. One friend told me his little girl's favorite Maine outing was chasing butterflies at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Shopping

Freeport is home to dozens of outlet stores along with the flagship for L.L. Bean. Take your picture in front of the massive boot by the Bean entrance. Note for insomniacs: Bean's flagship is open 24/7.

The arts

In Portland, visit Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's house (he wrote the poem Paul Revere's Ride) or take a Stephen King tour of Bangor to see places that inspired his spooky tales. In Cushing, tour the Olson House where Andrew Wyeth painted Christina's World and see Wyeth paintings at Rockland's Farnsworth Museum. The Portland Museum of Art offers tours of painter Winslow Homer's waterfront studio and house on Prouts Neck. Music festivals abound as well, from classical to folk.

Boat rides

Rent a kayak or canoe, or take a ferry, like the ones to Monhegan Island or from Portland to the islands of Casco Bay. There are fancy yachts, schooner rides and dinner cruises, along with lobster boats where you can watch a lobster trap being pulled in. Many port towns also offer nature boat rides. Just know that you could pay a lot of money to spend a few hours on the ocean and not see the whales, seals, eagles or puffins pictured in the brochure.

Seafood

Everybody has a favorite place for lobster rolls and chowder. Mine include the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company in South Freeport and The Lobster Shack at the end of Two Lights Road in Cape Elizabeth.

Lodging

Take your pick: campsites, B&Bs, motels, hotels, even upscale resorts. Or rent a rustic cottage, what Mainers refer to as a "camp". If you're lucky enough to be on the water, sit back and listen for those loons.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-07-31 07:51:19
<![CDATA[An appointment with hope]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295788.htm Volunteer medical teams from Beijing visit a remote township in Tibet as part of the China Hearts program

Despite the heat, 79-year-old Yudron was among the hundreds of local residents who lined up outside the local medical center in a remote township in the Tibet autonomous region waiting for the chance to see visiting experts from Beijing-based hospitals and medical institutions.

The members of the visiting medical team were among 800 medical professionals and volunteers from Beijing visiting Nyingchi as part of an annual nine-day charity program, called China Hearts, that sends medical volunteers to underdeveloped and remote parts of China.

The medical team that arrived in Yuxu township early in the morning on July 9 comprised 40 doctors and volunteers, and they received nearly 800 patients, mostly Tibetans, in two days.

 

The charity program China Hearts sends medical professionals and volunteers to Nyingchi, a remote and underdeveloped area in the Tibet autonomous region. Doctors from Beijing offer free clinic services and medicine to local Tibetans. Photos by Liu Xiangrui / China Daily

According to Yudron, the villagers in the neighborhood were informed in advance that there would be free clinic services, and they knew it was an opportunity too good to miss.

"We were excited about it and came to join the line immediately after lunch," says Yudron, who was given free medicine after receiving her diagnosis.

"The doctors were very professional and patient. I'm very satisfied with the service I received."

Yudron says she usually visits the township's medical center, which is just one kilometer away from her village, if she has any health issues. But the center can only handle small medical problems, as it is relatively poorly equipped and has no well-trained doctors.

Although the county hospital has better medical facilities and doctors, it is 70 kilometers away in Bomi - more than two hours ride on the mountain roads, Yudron says.

Because of this, she rarely visits the county hospital and the small private clinics in Bomi county for her health problems, including one with her digestive system that has troubled her for nearly three decades.

"It's a lot of trouble and more costly to go to a hospital in the county town. So we usually go there to buy medicine only once in a while and take the medicine back to be treated at the township medical center," Yudron says.

Several of her family members, who are all farmers, have health problems. The cost of medicine is still a burden for them, despite favorable policies that reimburse them to some extent. The family spent more than 30,000 yuan ($4,410; 3,788 euros; 3,394) on medicine last year.

The medical team visiting Yuxu also attracted many residents from villages far away from the township.

Tsedro, 29, brought his mother on his motorbike from their village, which is nearly 40 km away.

"We were informed that experts from Beijing would be holding a free clinic in the township, so we headed out early to catch it," says Tsedro. "The doctors checked us and gave us some medicine, plus some suggestions for the future. It's helpful."

His mother has liver disease, and Tsedro suffers from a stomach illness.

Outlining the shortage of healthcare professionals and facilities in the area, Zhang Bin, director of Bomi county's healthcare department, says there are only three medical institutions in Bomi, which have just 55 medical workers, while another 64 medical workers are divided among 11 township-level health centers in the county, which has a population of more than 30,000.

"We lack professional medical staff. Often one person has to take on multiple jobs," says Zhang, adding that not only do they lack enough medical workers, they also lack infrastructure investment, medical facilities and funds.

He praises the China Hearts program, saying: "Such charitable projects not only bring us good medical services, medicine and equipment, but they also help train the local medical workers."

Doctors specializing in 10 clinical areas, such as cardiovascular diseases and gynecology, were among the team that visited Yuxu.

According to Hu Sanbao, director of the department of orthopedics of Beijing's Anzhen Hospital, one of the volunteer doctors who visited Yuxu, residents in the region commonly suffer from such health problems as rheumatism and arthritis, as a result of the climate and the locals' traditional living environment.

Under the China Hearts program, which was initiated in 2008 by medical experts and philanthropists in Beijing, health services are provided to underdeveloped and remote parts of China.

A committee organizes the program each year. So far, the organization has sent more than 20,000 volunteers to provide medical services to farmers and herdsmen in various regions, and the local healthcare facilities receive medicine.

In Nyingchi, medicine worth 8 million yuan was delivered to local hospitals and other medical institutions.

In addition, contributions and donations worth over 200 million yuan have been given to the needy, and nearly 10,000 local medical workers have received training over the years, thanks to the program.

It is estimated that more than 500,000 people have directly benefited from the program over the years, including nearly 1,000 children with congenital heart disease who have undergone free surgery.

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[On the road to adventure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295787.htm An increasing number of Chinese are now adopting caravaning and heading out on the highways to enjoy their leisure

Konstantin Abert, along with a group of 40 Europeans, was excited to arrive in Beijing after a two-month drive from Dusseldorf, Germany. The visitors, all in recreational vehicles, were just in time to visit All in Caravaning 2017, China's largest exhibition of RVs and motor homes, which was recently held in Beijing.

More than 650 exhibitors from home and abroad showed products there, ranging from RVs to accessories.

"China is a safe country for caravaning, but the procedures are complicated for foreigners. I like China's beautiful landscapes. such as deserts and mountains. and its delicious food," says 50-year-old Abert, who has regularly traveled to China in his RV since 2006.

 

As more Chinese, including Ge Minwei (above), take up the lifestyle of caravaning, domestic and overseas corporations are eyeing the Chinese market. Provided to China Daily

The group - comprising Germans, Swiss and French between age 50 and 65 - traveled through nine countries along the Silk Road.

"The Chinese are very friendly and helped us when we were in need," he says.

Meanwhile, just like Westerners, an increasing number of Chinese are adopting caravaning as a leisure pursuit.

There were about 21,000 caravan parks on the Chinese mainland in 2016. The government announced plans last year to build another 2,000 by 2020.

Speaking about the future, Axel Bartkus, managing director of Messe Dusseldorf China Ltd, a co-organizer of the exhibition, says: "The Chinese market has great potential. And we've been working on the legal side to ensure more vehicles on the road and more RV campsites.

"Also, we have to do a lot of education on RVs in China."

Commenting on caravaning, Ge Minwei, 49, who works for a TV station in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, says: "A caravan is like a mobile home and you enjoy the scenery the instant you open the windows.

"It doesn't matter where the destination is, as long as you can feel happiness and relax."

Ge often travels around with his wife and their dog in his spacious 8-meter-long trailer.

Speaking about how things have improved for caravaning, he says that in 2015, the Traffic Management Bureau of the Public Security Ministry allowed travel trailers to use the roads in China.

"It's not a legal clause, but it's big progress for China's RVs industry. Now, you only need to get a special license for your trailer.

"In the early years, I had to explain to traffic police what a trailer is and argue with them that it can be run on the road. Now they are not surprised to see them."

Explaining how caravaning works, he says RV lovers typically frequent places that have no water, electricity or toilets.

When they get together, they obey an unwritten rule that each one carries his own chair and food.

Ge says that when he first went camping, he felt relaxed after enjoying a barbecue, drinking and chatting.

Before that, he had thought of camping as tedious.

"When I woke up by the lake the next day, I realized I wanted this kind of life," he says.

"You can take off your 'mask' and be yourself while hanging out with friends.

"You don't label them in accordance with their social status. The only thing that counts is whether you share something in common," he says.

After that, he fell in love with camping and then started to go caravaning.

Now, domestic and overseas corporations are eyeing the Chinese market.

Zhu Jun, vice-general manager of Beijing-based company RV International, the Chinese agent for German trailer brands Hobby and Fendt, says: "As more Chinese go for RVs, the imported brands are catering to the demands of Chinese customers."

Separately, China International Travel Service (HK) Holding Ltd will soon unveil a mobile app, allowing users to rent RVs and book from a network of 100 campsites in Yunnan province. It is planning to expand the service to Hainan Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Giving details of the program, Lan Chunhong, general manager of the company's capital operation department, says: "You don't have to spend money to buy a caravan. You only have to rent one to experience a road trip by RV.

And we want to promote it (the service) as an affordable way of traveling in China."

He says renting a caravan costs around 1,200 yuan ($178; 153 euros; 137) per day, and campsites cost between 50 and 100 yuan per day. A caravan is sufficient for a family of between four and six.

Tourists can now get a caravan at the airport at Kunming and return it in Dali, Lijiang and Xishuangbanna. Each campsite is around 50 kilometers from the next one, so it is convenient to drive from one to the other.

Lan also says that in China, a caravan campsite is often like a destination, with dining places and entertainment activities. "But our campsites are different. They only offer water and electricity supplies. So, after touring around in the daytime, travelers can stay there at night as all campsites are close to scenic spots."

xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[Bridging culture and cuisine]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295786.htm Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

About 15 years ago, we decided to buy a house in Kunming, Yunnan, in the southwest of China. We thought it would make an excellent retirement retreat.

Yunnan is a relatively quiet province, with few urban attractions or bright city lights. Instead, it boasts startlingly beautiful scenery and mild weather throughout its length and breadth and is well known as an international tourist destination.

How can you even argue with a place that has Shangri-La as one of its attractions? And we haven't even started on its list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

 

Guoqiao mixian is presented with a dozen little platters holding a variety of raw and cooked ingredients and a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

For me, however, it is Yunnan's ethnic diversity that makes it feel like home. Of the 56 official ethnic groups that make up the demographic profile of China, almost half can be found in our adopted province.

There is a graceful tolerance prevalent in Yunnan seldom seen elsewhere. Yi and Bai, Hani, Dai, Tibetan, Naxi and Mosuo live right next to each other in town and country, sharing each other's tribal customs, festivals and food. That's excluding the other dozen or more tribal communities scattered all over this high-altitude plateau province.

Perhaps it is for this reason that people in Yunnan have found it very easy to accept outsiders from early on. From the first French and English missionaries in the late 19th century, adventurous plant hunters and botanists like Joseph Rock, volunteer US Flying Tigers during World War II, to present day Scandinavian and European enclaves doing business and teaching English all over Yunnan, foreign influences are seen, felt and appreciated.

Apart from the happy harmony, it is the food that best reflects Yunnan's colorful psychographics. And there is none more representative than one single noodle dish.

It stands out as Yunnan's most recognized culinary signature, and visitors consider it a wasted trip if they did not sample it at least once.

Over the Bridge Noodles, or guoqiao mixian, is a dramatic presentation.

A dozen little platters holding a variety of raw and cooked ingredients are first placed on the table together with a serving of rice vermicelli in a large bowl. A steaming hot bowl of chicken soup follows.

This is where the fun begins.

The soup is almost smoking in its intensity, but you don't realize how hot it is until you combine the thinly sliced meat and vegetables in the bowl of vermicelli and pour it on.

It cooks everything instantly.

This dish also has a folk legend behind it that reflects the Yunnan respect for scholarship.

Once upon a time in Mengzi county near the UNESCO World Heritage rice terraces of Yuanyang, there was a scholar who was more concerned with lazing around and composing odes to the mountains and hills than doing something concrete.

In those days, the quickest shortcut to fame and fortune was to sit for the Imperial examinations held once every three years.

If you scored well, you became a court official immediately, but the arduous process involved studying for tests at village, county, provincial and, finally, national levels.

Our scholar's wife kept encouraging her reluctant spouse to sit for the examinations, going out of her way to find a nice quiet cottage for him so he could concentrate on his studies. She also cooked for him every day.

But the distance from home to cottage meant a long journey over several bridges and food became cold. She racked her brains on how to serve him piping hot food and hit upon this recipe of pouring hot chicken soup onto cold noodles.

The chicken soup, made from the local silky chickens, was kept hot under the surface layer of oil.

After a year of chicken soup and noodles, the scholar set off on his long journey to the Imperial examinations, and it goes without saying that he did very well.

But I still think it was his wife who had the brains.

These days, Over the Bridge Noodles are no longer just another home-cooked dish. They are served all over the province, from lowly farmers market pop-up stalls to lavishly decorated specialty restaurants.

If you visit Yunnan anytime soon, you will be tasting this delicious dish, so here is an insider guide to the proper way to eat it.

On the little plates will be thinly sliced pork loin, chicken breast, squid with blanched pig kidneys, Yunnan ham and tripe. Accompanying them will be pea and alfalfa shoots, chives, coriander shoots, spring onion and ginger julienne. There will also be a tiny plate of finely shredded bean curd.

A raw quail's egg is placed by the side, as well as condiments such as soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper and the Yunnan favorite - hot chili oil.

First, take the wafer-thin pork and chicken slices and coat them in the beaten quail's egg. Season with salt or soy sauce. Then spread out the raw marinated meat on top of the rice noodles, followed by the other ingredients in this order: raw meat, cooked meat, tofu, green vegetables.

Now for the dramatic moment. Carefully pick up the hot bowl of chicken soup and pour it over the noodles. You will instantly see all the raw meat turn color and cook.

Don't be impatient. The soup is still scaldingly hot, and you have to mix the ingredients and noodles thoroughly to bring the soup down to an edible temperature.

Once you've eaten a bowl of smooth slippery rice noodles in that bowl of rich chicken broth, you'll be fortified for the tasks ahead, visiting all of the various cultural and historical relics for which Yunnan is famous.

And I should mention you've already slurped up a slice of epicurean history, since that bowl of Over the Bridge Noodles was officially listed as one of China's Intangible Cultural Heritages in 2008.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Over the Bridge Noodles

1 large fat chicken, about 2 kg

1 kg pork bones

500g ham hocks

1 5cm piece of ginger, smashed

1 large spring onion, knotted

100g Yunnan ham, thinly sliced

100g chicken breast, thinly sliced

Pea sprouts

Bean sprouts

Shredded carrots

Your choice of rice noodles, thick or thin, blanched

First, make the soup. Chop the chicken into large pieces, skin on. Blanch the chicken, ham hocks and pork bones to get rid of surface scum.

Heat up a large pot of water to boiling and add chicken, ham hocks and pork bones, ginger and knotted spring onions. Bring to a rolling boil and then turn down to a slow simmer for about an hour.

Look after your soup well, skimming off bubbles and scum but taking care to save the oil. By the end of an hour, you should have a rich broth simmering under quite a thick layer of mainly chicken oil.

Assemble noodles and place the raw ingredients on top, followed by the vegetables. Ladle on the hot soup and serve immediately with condiments.

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[Making of a playground]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295785.htm A new Happy Valley park in southwestern China may see Chongqing becoming a center for many such attractions

Dancing cartoon characters, screaming visitors on roller coasters and hospitable service personnel marked the opening day of a new Happy Valley park in Chongqing in southwestern China on July 8.

Covering an area of 500,000 square meters, the new facility is expected to give a shot in the arm to tourism in the municipality, says He Yousheng, a senior official with the local government.

It fills a void. Until now, there was no large-scale international theme park in Chongqing.

 

Chongqing's Happy Valley boasts a complex landscape featuring a river, a valley and a cliff. Photos by Yang Feiyue / China Daily

The park is expected to draw 3 million visitors annually.

Many came from outside Chongqing to visit the park on opening day.

A visitor surnamed Wu drove two hours from Guang'an in Sichuan province with her family.

"Although Chengdu also has a Happy Valley park, we're closer to Chongqing," says Wu.

She says her son had been pestering her to go since hearing of the park.

The Overseas China Town Group built its first Happy Valley park in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 1998.

Over the years, the group has built parks in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin as well as Chengdu in Sichuan province and Wuhan in Hubei province.

Chongqing's rapid economic growth and high speed rail and air connection are part of the reason that the Happy Valley park was set up here.

Last year, the municipality received more than 450 million visits from home and abroad, up by 15.1 percent over the previous year.

Tourism income was 265 billion yuan ($39 billion; 33.5 billion euros; 30 billion), up by 17.5 percent.

Meanwhile, other theme park chains are making plans to set up shop in Chongqing.

The Six Flags theme park chain from the United States is expected to start operations in 2019 and later this year, a cartoon park, a European-style resort, a polar region ocean park and a flower park are scheduled to open.

A water park next to Happy Valley opened on July 8.

It was also built by the Overseas China Town Group and covers an area of 180,000 square meters.

The park features one of the world's biggest wave-making pools.

Happy Valley, which is able to withstand increasing competition thanks to innovation, got the "Chinese Famous Brand" tag from the trademark review and adjudication board of the State Administration for Industry Commerce last year.

Speaking about the new park, Wang Xiaowen, president of the Overseas China Town Group, says: "It's the first time we have tried to build an innovative theme park using a complex landscape featuring a river, a valley and cliff.

"We are hoping that the park can contribute to tourism development in Chongqing.

There are nearly 50 facilities at the park, and they stand at various heights, creating a three-dimensional impact, says Wang.

The sky wheel Eye of Chongqing is 40 stories high and is believed to be the sixth-tallest in the world.

The flying roller coaster, which resembles a moving dragon, moves 360 degrees on green rails.

The Twin-Tower Heroes are two iron towers that can spring you from the ground to the top in less than two seconds. And before you know where you are, it sends you into free fall.

Also, there are programs that cater to visitors who seek less-exciting experiences.

A water feature runs through a primitive rainforest-like area and allows participants to go through twists and turns featuring a whirlpool, giant stones and a waterfall. High-pressure water jets ambush you to dial up the thrill.

A flying cinema offers a giant sphere screen and flying seats that change angles to merge you with the film.

Local elements featuring gourmet food and culture have also been integrated into the park to distinguish it from its counterparts.

Performances will also be staged to spice up the visitor experience. They include magic shows, dinosaur and pirate-themed float parades, light shows and a Halloween carnival.

To help visitors explore the park, a mobile app has been developed for ticket purchases and reservations.

Transportation is easy, too. The park is roughly a 30-minute drive from the city's downtown. And the city rail service can also carry visitors to the park.

With several theme parks coming down the pike, it seems Chongqing will ultimately become the place for those wanting to play.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[Words of wisdom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295784.htm Parents are discovering the benefits of ancient arts and helping their children know what it means to be Chinese

Dressed in traditional Chinese costume, known as hanfu, with a long plait hanging down her back, 9-year-old Zhang Linxi introduced her artworks - two pieces of calligraphy and two ink paintings of birds and flowers - to those who stopped by her works during an exhibition in Beijing's 798 Art District in June.

The three-day show featured works by about 360 calligraphy and ink painting lovers, many of whom were children between ages 5 and 10.

Linxi, a fourth-grade primary student, has been studying calligraphy for two years. She has a practice room at home, with ink brushes, ink stones and seals bought for her by her father.

 

Children learn to put their hearts in Chinese characters while writing traditional calligraphy with ink and brushes. Photos Provided to China Daily

"We encourage her to learn calligraphy. It's a good way to learn about our culture," says her mother. "It helps her gain wisdom and fosters identification with Chinese culture."

Li Xiaoya, CEO of Beijing-based Hanxiang, a franchised calligraphy training school, says: "Most parents who can afford it appreciate art education, and they regard calligraphy as a gateway to traditional Chinese culture." Li organized the 798 exhibition.

Learning calligraphy also means learning classical poems, because the written scripts are excerpts from poetry from the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties. Calligraphy students also have to learn traditional seal-making skills, since each piece of calligraphy has a name printed with a seal.

"It's more than just calligraphy. It's about Chinese history and culture as well," Li says.

The popularity of calligraphy has grown rapidly with the central government's promotion of traditional Chinese culture, and Hanxiang has expanded rapidly. In 2015, Li had eight calligraphy training schools in China. Now the number has nearly tripled.

Li recalls that in 2009, when she opened her first calligraphy training school with several teachers, many of her friends advised her against it, as calligraphy was such a "marginalized subject". But the once-unpopular subject is now back in fashion.

Besides helping their children learn history and culture, many also hope to help build their personalities, so they become more focused and persistent.

Fu Yankai, a 9-year-old boy who started learning calligraphy two years ago, sat quietly in the noisy exhibition room in the 798 Art District where his calligraphy was displayed, taking his time to carefully write a scroll. His mother says he is quite different from the naughty boy he used to be.

"He can now sit down for hours concentrating on one thing," says his mother.

Yankai took part in a culture tour for children earlier this year to explore an ancient city, Suzhou in Jiangsu province, with traditional Chinese gardens and architecture where many well-known poets and calligraphers of the past wrote their poems.

The children played a game in which they let cups float down a stream, and when the cup stopped, the person next to it on the bank had to sing a song or recite an ancient poem. It is a game the ancient poets were fond of playing.

Culture tours like this have increased Yankai's passion for both calligraphy and Chinese culture, says his mother.

"We're Chinese; our children must understand our culture," she says.

Li's training schools also provide lots of culture tours. For instance, they explore how Chinese porcelain is made and how to write and paint on pottery.

Song Weiyuan, a calligrapher and a long time educator and scholar, says writing calligraphy may seem like a "useless thing" that many of the children may never use when they grow up, but it's still important for them to learn it.

"Calligraphy represents the highest level of Chinese art, since it is an art that has lasted for thousands of years. It's a continuous record of how the Chinese characters change and how people write them," adds Song.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

 

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[Slowing down with calligraphy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295783.htm When Chen Hong refused her colleagues' invitation to a party after work, explaining that she had a calligraphy class to attend, her workmates were surprised and wanted to know why she was learning the ancient writing style.

Wearing ripped jeans, her hair dyed light yellow, the 23-year-old accountant says she renewed her childhood interest in calligraphy six months ago.

"I spend an hour or two on calligraphy after work at home to calm myself and cultivate my mind," says Chen, who also loves playing video games, going to karaoke bars and shopping with friends.

Back then, she thought it was boring, but now she says she finds it interesting.

"The world runs so fast. I try to slow down with calligraphy," she says.

Chen, who was encouraged to learn calligraphy by her father when she was a little girl, is one of an increasing number of Chinese people who are turning to traditional culture in pursuit of spiritual peace and enjoyment.

Ma Di, a manager in a real estate company in Beijing, says his lifestyle changed since he embraced calligraphy a year ago.

The 34-year-old goes to the gym regularly and likes to play snooker in his spare time. However, he says he likes the serenity he feels when doing calligraphy.

"I think calligraphy is a good way for me to calm down after a day's work," says Ma, explaining why he is learning an art that many of his friends think is for old people.

"Before I learned calligraphy, I knew little about our culture and history," says Ma, adding that he plans to spend more time learning about Chinese culture, since practicing calligraphy has sparked a strong interest in it.

To get into the spirit of it, he wears a traditional costume at home and has set up a separate area with traditional Chinese wood furniture, where he drinks tea instead of coffee.

Li Xiaoya, CEO of Hanxiang, a calligraphy training company in Beijing, says the number of adults learning calligraphy is increasing.

Women who learn calligraphy are often 20 to 30, while the men are more than 40 years old, says Li. "They all want to cultivate their minds through calligraphy."

Li Xiaoyang, a government officer in Beijing, paid about 7,000 yuan ($1,030; 890 euros; 795) for a yearlong calligraphy course.

The 31-year-old mother of a 4-year-old boy usually spends some time writing calligraphy after playing a drum with her son. She also likes yoga and running, which are popular among mothers of her age in China.

Unlike some mothers who spend time shopping online and watching TV dramas, Li Xiaoyang says she likes to sit down to read books. But recently she has taken to calligraphy.

"I thought it was just another kind of handwriting, but the more I practice, the more I realize it is much more than that," she says.

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[Hitch in finding a marriage partner]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/30/content_30295782.htm Traditional matchmaking struggles to keep pace with China's ever-changing way of life

'Lots of media have been coming here," says Mr Zhu, a father in his 60s who regularly attends Beijing's Zhongshan Park matchmaking corner with his 30-year-old daughter. "Around 2 or 3 pm is usually when the crowds come," his daughter, Ms Zhu, adds. It is 1:30 pm yet, there is already a line jostling to look at prospective dates.

The ancient art of xiangqin (相亲 xiāngqīn, matchmaking) is back in the news, following reports recently on the growing materialism, superstition and parental entitlement on display at China's infamous public "marriage markets" (相亲角 xiāngqīn jiǎo, literally "matchmaking corner").

The surge in interest has irritated regulars. "Don't take any pictures; especially don't take any pictures of the names (and CVs) on the ground," a woman surnamed Meng warns us as she passes. "Do it and the old ladies will surround you - they'll run you off. They're afraid of people selling that information."

 

Zhu and his daughter are among the few in attendance willing to talk openly about the matchmaking corner. Provided by the world of Chinese

But Ms Zhu believes that some are simply embarrassed about being seen. "Young people do come, but they come when the market's about to close, at 5 pm or 6 pm. They're a little self-conscious."

Situated in the northernmost section of the park, up against the 600-year-old moat encircling the Forbidden City, the Zhongshan marriage market feels like an open secret. Scores of people sit guardedly at the curb, beside handwritten CVs advertising their (or their absent children's) age, income, family assets, education and employment history in a puzzling intersection of prudence and imprudence.

Make eye contact and they'll stand with an expectant smile - "Are you looking?" - before sinking back into indifference at discovering their new friend is only browsing, doesn't meet any number of deal-breakers such as age, job type, or household registration status (户口 hùkǒu).

Mr Zhu and his daughter are among the few in attendance willing to talk openly about the matchmaking corner. "I don't have anything to hide," Mr Zhu says.

Mr Li, a 44-year-old entrepreneur from Hunan province, says his efforts to use online dating and matchmaking through WeChat group chats were stonewalled. "Online, you just get dates. They'll eat and drink with you and wave goodbye. On WeChat, just like here, they're asking: How much do you make, how many houses you own. I have two apartments, but they hear it's in Shunyi (a Beijing suburb), and say, 'We won't consider you.' Your apartment has to be within the Second or Third Ring Road."

Li has a deal-breaker of his own, "Just Beijing hukou, everything else is negotiable. It makes it easier for the kids to go to school in the future."

Many others who attended observe a caste system based on hukou location. "Beijingers don't look for them, so it's outsiders who look for (other) outsiders," explains Ms Meng, who speaks with a non-Beijing accent.

Under China's current hukou system - a relic of the planned economy that remains largely unreformed - household registration determines where newlyweds can purchase homes, educate offspring, and even affects prospects as remote as whether their putative children can get into top universities.

Economic considerations, however, are paramount. According to their CVs, everyone at Zhongshan Park attended a major university, earns a high four-or five-figure salary, has a house in their family name, and an important job at (in order of desirability) a State-owned organization, Fortune Global 500 corporation or rising startup in Zhongguancun. But even for families that check all the boxes, Zhongshan Park is no easy place to find a mate.

Neither Ms Zhu nor her father knows anyone who has successfully made a match - though they've heard plenty of talk - but visit anyway because of the increasing "estrangement" of the big city.

"See, Beijing - you live on the east side, I live on the west side, it's basically a long-distance relationship," Mr Zhu quips. "With cross-province relationships, there's high-speed rail. But Beijing? Traffic jams!

"You don't know your neighbors, they don't come and say hello anymore. You don't know what they do (for a living)," he adds, growing more serious. "It's not putting pressure on my daughter, but giving her an opportunity - all of her colleagues are female, how else is she supposed to meet someone?" (Ms Zhu says she has a bachelor's degree and works as a teacher).

It's a reversal of a past still etched in the memory of many: Formerly China's biggest hub of State-operated working places (单位 dānwèi), Beijing is one of many cities grappling with the breakdown of State-prescribed social relations as a result of urbanization and privatization. Finding a partner through conventional means is more difficult. Li came here almost 30 years ago, when his father worked at Capital Steel, Beijing's biggest State-owned enterprise; these days, all he has is his status as a self-made businessman, and it's not quite getting him the acceptance that he wants.

"I started with nothing. Now I have my own company and house," he says. "It spared me little time and energy to get married when I was younger." And so he returns to the matchmaking corner year after year, leaning defiantly against a tree near the end of the path, airing his views to passers-by.

Unlike many, Ms Dong didn't wander away after learning we aren't here to make a match. She wants to talk to young people because her daughter doesn't approve of what she's doing. "I'm here behind my daughter's back," she admits. "I saw a report about this place on TV, and I wanted to see what it was about."

Like Mr Zhu, she's anxious about her daughter's prospects because of the challenges of modern life. "In today's society, cities are getting bigger and bigger, and further apart. Everybody's so busy and has so much pressure," she says. "My daughter was an excellent student, with a master's from Renmin University of China; she has to work so hard at her job, working overtime, there's really no time to look. I wanted to lessen one burden for her."

What she has seen, though, has made her "draw a question mark over the whole process," she says. Can you really find someone here? There's already a generation gap between parents and children - parents come here and meet other parents, but will the kids get along?

"There is no discussion of feelings," she says. "You find out how their families are situated, but you don't know what kind of person they are. You don't even know what they look like; there's no picture most of the time."

Mr Li, an eight-year veteran of the Zhongshan Park marriage markets, says: "Life is just about finding a good enough person to pass the days with - eat, sleep, go to work - not like the matchmaking corner, where it's all about competition."

What Ms Dong regrets is not encouraging her daughter to settle down while she was studying. "She was a straight-A student, so she focused on her studies," she says. "Now she enjoys the single life, busy in her work, and hobbies such as traveling - she traveled to Europe, booking air tickets all on her own - but everyone else is busy with their own lives, too."

Ms Dong's preferred solution harkens to the days of the planned economy: "I think if the government really wanted to solve this problem, they should have different danwei (working places) organize events for single people. That way you'll really meet someone with similar interests and background." Until then, she says self-deprecatingly, fussy mothers and matchmaking corners are necessary evils.

"You think that, at 18, your children will move out and be independent, but it's so exhausting to be a parent today. Now, when she was at schoolit was like a big supermarket, plenty to choose from and plenty of time," she says, growing more introspective. "And what's more, people were more innocent there: They don't have all these ulterior motives and demands when getting to know you."

Tan Yunfei and Hatty Liu contributed to this story.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese, www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

Word box

小伙子, 你有女朋友吗?

Xiǎohuǒzi, nǐ yǒu nǚ péngyǒu ma?

Young man, do you have a girlfriend?

没有.

Méiyǒu.

No, I don't have one.

给你介绍一个女朋友怎么样?

Gěi nǐ jièshào yīgè nǚ péngyǒu zěnme yàng?

How about introducing you a girlfriend?

很好啊, 谢谢!

That's nice. Thanks

Hěn hǎo a, xièxiè!

你老家在哪里?

Nǐ lǎojiā zài nǎlǐ?

Where are you from

我老家在湖南.

Wǒ lǎojiā zài húnán.

I am from Hunan province.

你是做什么工作的? 在北京有住房吗? 有北京户口吗?

Nǐ shì zuò shénme gōngzuò de? Zài běijīng yǒu zhùfáng ma? Yǒu běijīng hùkǒu ma?

What's your job? Is there a housing in Beijing? Do you have Beijing hukou?

呃......

è

Er.....

]]>
2017-07-30 14:22:03
<![CDATA[Staging a comeback]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/29/content_30290884.htm Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company was on the verge of extinction in 2001, but it has had a dramatic reversal of fortune thanks to its president

When Song Yan was offered the opportunity to become the president of Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company in 2001, he was about to leave the company.

"It was a tough decision to make," recalls Song. "The situation of Peking Opera was bad. Like many traditional art forms, it faced decline."

"We had few performances and struggled to survive," the 53-year-old says. "Everyone in the company tried to figure out other ways make a living, including me. But the opportunity of being the president of the company was too tempting. I have such a deep connection with the company and I didn't want to watch it die."

 

Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company has not only survived, it is also one of the best-known Peking Opera companies in the country, staging about 600 shows a year. Photos Provided to China Daily

Having joined the company when he was 12, he felt he had to take the job. But on his first day as president of the company, he was forced to borrow 200,000 yuan ($29,632) from the local government to pay the company's debts. To change the opera company's fortunes, he led the actors in giving nearly 800 performances in 15 months.

Sixteen years later, the company has not only survived, it is also one of the best-known Peking Opera companies in the country, staging about 600 shows a year. It has also toured more than 20 countries, such as the United States, Japan and Australia.

But the ambitious president wasn't content to rest on his laurels, and he tried to think of ways to expand the company's audience. His original tragic drama, titled Wang Zi, was one of his most successful moves in recent years.

The show, which premiered in October 2015, tells the story of a father and his adoptive son against the backdrop of a Peking Opera troupe in Beijing from the 1930s. It has been staged nearly 50 times across China.

The title refers to a piece of cloth, which is tied around a Peking Opera performer's head before they put on the heavy head accessories.

"There is a department in Peking Opera troupes called kui xiang, and the people who work for that department who take care of all the head accessories and help the actors tie the piece of cloth around their heads before a performance are called xiang guan. It requires years of experiences because the piece of cloth has to be bound to the head very tightly so that the heavy head accessories won't fall off when performing. But it cannot be too tight because it would be really painful for the actors," says Song.

Song's father worked as a xiang guan his whole life and Song spent his childhood backstage with him.

"The audience just see the glamorous performances onstage, they rarely know what is involved behind the scenes. With this drama, I wanted to tell the stories of the people backstage," says Song.

Working with actors from the National Theater of China and the Central Academy of Drama, Song plays the leading role of Qiuzi, a broke and depressed businessman, who happens to find an abandoned baby while trying to commit suicide. There is a wang zi lying beside the baby, which makes the character guess that the baby comes from a Peking Opera troupe. Although he fails to find the baby's parents, he starts working in the kui xiang department of a troupe and the child is trained as a Peking Opera actor.

"It was an idea that had been lingering in my head for about three years before I finally wrote it down in 2015," says Song, who was born in Beijing and started learning Peking Opera performance at the age of 6. "What I wanted to do was introduce Peking Opera to young audiences in a way they could enjoy. Dramas in small theaters are now popular with young Chinese, which inspired me to combine Peking Opera with drama."

However, he knew nothing about drama and theater. It was his son, who had learned Peking Opera in his childhood and who was now a drama director, who became his teacher, helping him to interpret the traditional art form in a contemporary way.

"It was really challenging for me, a Peking Opera actor, to do drama. I spent months practicing how to walk and talk onstage since it's totally different from performing a Peking Opera role, which requires powerful and exaggerating movements and facial expressions," says Song.

"We had lots of discussions, even arguments, during the rehearsals. But my father is open-minded and he learned quickly," says his son, 26-year-old drama director Song Tianshuo, who graduated from the Central Academy of Drama with a major in directing.

Wang Zi, will be staged at Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts Center from July 31 to Aug 6 to mark the occasion of Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company's 80th birthday.

Formerly known as Min Le She, the company was founded by its first president Zhang Qi and Peking Opera actor Liang Yiming. It was renamed Fenglei Peking Opera Company in 1971.

After a successful tour of the drama in Taiwan in April 2016, Song Yan started preparing a second drama in what he plans to be a trilogy.

The drama titled Ke Si Jian Yi is about the people who rented costumes to Peking Opera troupes during the 1930s. It will make its debut on Nov 2 and 3 at Mei Lanfang Grand Theater in Beijing. He is now preparing the third drama, which about the life of a Peking Opera actor.

"The first drama is a tragedy and the second is a comedy. Both of them tell the backstage stories of Peking Opera. The third drama will focus on a Peking Opera actor who goes through many hardships but still fails to make it as a successful artist," says Song Yan. "There are many people in Peking Opera troupes hoping to become stars onstage but only a few can make it. But that doesn't mean those people, who don't become stars, are not good actors. I want to dedicate the third drama to these performers."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-29 07:14:21
<![CDATA[Puppet gives the little soldier, Zhang Ga, new life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/29/content_30290883.htm Almost every Chinese grows up knowing the story of a young boy named Zhang Ga, and his determination to become a soldier.

Xiao Bing Zhang Ga (Little Soldier Zhang Ga) is the title of a novel by Xu Guangyao, which was adapted into a popular movie in 1963. It has since been turned into another movie, a TV series and an animated feature film.

But few will have seen it as theatrical production featuring puppets and real actors.

The new version of Little Soldier Zhang Ga, directed by Liu Xiaoyi, the puppetry director of the Chinese version of the stage production of War Horse, and produced by Guo Yan, is touring the country, including shows on Sept 9 and 10 at Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing.

 

The new version of Little Soldier Zhang Ga is touring the country, including shows on Sept 9 and 10 at Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

"When the producer first asked me to make a show based on Zhang Ga in 2015, I was touring with War Horse, and frankly, I wasn't very interested because the story of little soldier Zhang has been told many times already," says Liu, who had been working with the Chinese-language version of War Horse, a China-UK theatrical collaboration, since 2013. "However, with the producer constantly asking me to do it, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to re-imagine the classic story with puppets."

With a small-budget, Liu invited three actors from War Horse to join the project and he created the character of Zhang Ga using Papier-Mache.

"Papier-Mache is a fragile material. I didn't want Zhang Ga to be like he is in the novel, a fearless hero. Instead, I want to display a real human being, who can be weak sometimes," Liu says.

Liu felt his idea was justified after talking with the author of the book. Now 92, Xu Guangyao told Liu that he wanted Zhang Ga to be a brave soldier because he was not when he was in the army during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

"The writer wanted the character to do things that he couldn't do. But in our stage version, I wanted to convey the truth of his story," Liu says.

Set in a beautiful and peaceful village in northern China, which is destroyed by war, the show has simple objects symbolizing the main characters other than Zhang Ga. For example, the character of Zhang Ga's grandmother is presented through a balloon. When she is killed by Japanese soldiers, the director has one of the actors pop the balloon with a pair of scissors.

He also combines a variety of audio elements, from traditional Chinese opera to electronic sounds to suggest the characters' movements and emotions, such as footsteps and anger.

"The production can be staged in any venue, from big theaters to an open space such as a square," says the show's producer, Guo, who also co-wrote the script. "The director, though in his early 30s, is a nine-year-old boy inside. I was overjoyed to see the familiar story told in this unique way and I believe it appeals to audiences from different countries."

Guo, who graduated from the Central Academy of Drama and majored in directing, worked with pioneering Chinese theater director Tian Qinxin for years. In early 2017, Guo co-founded a company SACA to produce and promote children dramas. Although she has directed musicals and theatrical dramas, she admits Little Soldier Zhang Ga is her most ambitious project to date.

"I visited the Edinburgh International Festival on three consecutive occasions, but I didn't see many stage productions from China in those years and I want to change that," says Guo.

Her show has now been staged more 70 times since it premiered in 2016. In August that year, the production was staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the world's largest arts festivals.

This September, it will be performed during the Russian Festival of Arts for Children and in October, it will be staged at the Southbank Center in London and the Children and Teenager Theater Festival in Sibiu, Romania.

]]>
2017-07-29 07:14:21
<![CDATA[Raising the barre]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/29/content_30290875.htm A look at the achievements of Tan Yuanyuan, a prolific ballet dancer from Shanghai and a national treasure whose passion for her craft is as dazzling as her sublime movements on stage

On June 19, China's most acclaimed ballet dancer Tan Yuanyuan completed the last of many tasks her eponymous ballet studio had set out to do when she launched a book titled Zujian Shangde Yishu (The Art on the Toe: An Introduction to Nine Leading Ballet Companies in the World) at Hotel Equatorial in Shanghai.

Tan, who has been dancing with the San Francisco Ballet for more than 20 years, is the only Chinese dancer to ever attain the rank of principal at a major US ballet company.

The book documents the history and achievements of nine of the world's leading ballet companies and contains insightful interviews with various artistic directors and renowned choreographers.

 

Age is just a number: 40-year-old Tan Yuanyuan has no intention to retire and is currently working to produce a new neo-classical show.

 

Liu Wenguo, deputy director of the dramatists association in Shanghai, said that it was largely because of the trust and support Tan has won through multiple collaborations with these established companies and choreographers that the publication of such a book was possible.

Qian Shijin, who used to be a programmer at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, said that while ballet started about 400 years ago in France, it was only introduced to China in the 20th century. As such, it is remarkable that the country has been able to produce a ballerina such as Tan.

"She is without doubt China's pride. After all, she is the only Chinese ballet dancer to be featured on the cover of Time magazine."

Humble beginnings

Born in 1977, Tan grew up in a traditional neighborhood in Shanghai's Hongkou district. She still fondly remembers her childhood days when people would spend their summer evenings eating salted soybeans and watermelons to beat the heat.

Tan first learned about ballet when she watched legendary Russian dancer Galina Ulanova perform in Swan Lake on a tiny black - and-white television that was placed along the lane outside her home.

"She was so light. She was flying like a feather... I tried to imitate her by standing on my toe, but it hurt badly," Tan wrote in her 2013 autobiography Ballet and Me.

As a child, Tan enjoyed being outdoors and was exceptionally agile. She loved climbing trees, picking figs and catching cicadas. She first learned how to dance in pre-school where her teachers would rave about how she was born to do ballet. She was later approached by the Shanghai Ballet School.

However, Tan's father wanted her to become a doctor instead. Her mother, on the other hand, loved ballet and once even harbored the ambition of becoming a dancer. The latter naturally supported her daughter's wish to enter dance school.

Ling Guiming, the head of the Shanghai Ballet School at that time, also tried to convince the father of his daughter's rare talent. Ling said that the school's gates would always be open to the girl.

The parents reached an impasse regarding their daughter's future and decide to resolve the matter with the flip of a coin. Tan's mother won the toss.

A tough journey to fame

Despite having the ideal physique, teachers at the ballet school criticized Tan for lacking strength in her movements. They even said she was "as soft as noodle".

"I used to cry a lot. One of the teachers, Lin Meifang, gave me two choices, saying that I can either continue crying or train harder. I chose the latter," said Tan.

It is no secret that the training routines for ballet dancers can be extremely difficult and repetitive. While Tan does not regret her career choice, her father thinks that she has paid a heavy price for her passion, pointing out the numerous injuries suffered over the years and how she never got to enjoy her childhood because of the hectic training and performance schedules.

In 1991, Tan won her first medal in an international arena when she finished second in the Helsinki Ballet competition. The next year, she won the Nijinsky award at the All Japan International Ballet Competition in Nagoya. The prize, which was named after the legendary Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, had previously been exclusive to adult male dancers.

The 1992 International Ballet Competition in Paris marked a turning point in Tan's career. She was initially overwhelmed with stage fright because the theater floor of the Paris Opera House where the competition took place had a 15-degree tilt, a design characteristic aimed at allowing audiences to appreciate the feet movements of ballet dancers.

Tan recalled how Lin "gave me a kick on the back" before sending her onto the stage. This seemingly hardline approach worked wonders. Tan danced so well that the 82-year-old Galina Ulanova, who was one of the judges, gave her a perfect score.

Tan later won a scholarship and moved to Stuttgart, Germany, to further her ballet training. During her time in Germany, Helgi Tomasson, the artistic director and principal choreographer at the San Francisco Ballet, got in touch with Tan. He told her that she would become the company's youngest solo dancer should she accept his invitation.

In 1995, Tan joined the San Francisco Ballet. Just two years later, at the tender age of 18, Tan became the company's solo dancer. Tan was only 20 years old when she was promoted to principal dancer.

"When I saw Yuanyuan perform all those years ago, I knew she had a very rare gift," said Tomasson. "What makes her so special is her work ethic, her ability to absorb a dizzying range of styles and choreography, and her capacity to perform at the highest level of excellence."

Tomasson added that he was especially impressed with her performance in John Neumeier's The Little Mermaid which premiered in 2010.

"Yuanyuan was indeed the mermaid: tortured, determined and utterly vulnerable. At the end of her performance that night, she was not the only one holding back tears," he said.

Tan also considers this particular performance to be among the most memorable because the story served as a reflection of her journey in ballet.

"I felt I was the mermaid. I fell in love with ballet because of its beauty, but didn't realize it was such a cruel art, that there was great pain with every step I took. It was like walking on blades. Sometimes I hated the pain and attempted to run away, but the more the pain, the deeper my love for this art form," Tan said.

"Before the performance, I thought I had already arrived at the pinnacle of my dancing career. After the show, however, I felt that I still had not achieved my full potential."

No time for a breather

Though she is already 40, Tan has no plans to retire. In fact, her itinerary still seems as packed as it was decades ago.

Publishing the book was just one of numerous things Tan has been busy with since setting up the Tan Yuanyuan Ballet Studio in Shanghai in 2015. Apart from having to manage the studio, Tan and her colleagues have also organized forums and master classes. Despite her packed schedule, Tan still managed to perform in 70 shows by the San Francisco Ballet last year. She also revealed that she is currently working on creating a new neo-classical ballet production of a Chinese story.

"I work day and night. I am one of those people who will always complete what they say they will do," said Tan.

During last year's China Shanghai International Art Festival, the Tan Yuanyuan Ballet Studio hosted an international forum on choreography alongside the Shanghai Theatre Academy. During the forum, Feng Shuangbai, head of the China Dancers' Association, pointed out that China's dancers generally lack the ability to improvise, a result of the traditional training regime that focused largely on perfectly copying the movements illustrated by the teacher.

"When dancers are told to improvise, you would find that everyone ends up creating similar moves. The traditional pedagogy has been limited to imitation and this has led to the lack of creativity in Chinese ballet choreography," said Feng.

To address this problem, Tan invited two fellow dancers from the San Francisco Ballet and French choreographer Medhi Walerski to Shanghai in June.

These experts conducted master classes for 34 students, dancers and choreographers who came from the Shanghai Theatre Academy, the Shanghai Song and Dance Troupe, and the Shanghai Opera House dance group.

Tan said that these classes provided participants with "an eye-opening experience" that showcased dancing as a self-expression instead of a set of movements.

Liu, who used to be a leading member in the organizing committee of the China Shanghai International Art Festival, lavished praise on Tan for her valuable contributions to the art and dance scenes in the city.

"She always manages to participate in the festival as well as other major art events in Shanghai. Yuanyuan is an international ballet star and a national treasure. She is also a beloved daughter of Shanghai," he said.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-29 07:13:29
<![CDATA[Building Bridges]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/28/content_30281482.htm Pedro Nueno, a Spanish business management expert, has compared his launching of business schools around the world to "building bridges of peace" at a time of growing global commercial exchanges.

]]>
An international business school, set up in the 1990s, is among China's largest such institutions. Its founder Pedro Nueno is still at the helm. Liu Xiangrui reports.

Pedro Nueno, a Spanish business management expert, has compared his launching of business schools around the world to "building bridges of peace" at a time of growing global commercial exchanges.

During his first visit to Beijing in the early 1980s, he was impressed by the booming economy of China, which had started its reform and opening-up by then.

Nueno, sensing the need and confident of the country's potential, immediately planned to start a business school here.

Nearly three decades later, his vision is reflected in the China Europe International Business School, one of China's largest business education institutions, and Nueno, now in his early 70s, still serves as its president and a professor of entrepreneurship.

Nueno has taught at different institutes around the world, such as Harvard University, and has been a frequent speaker at international conferences.

He has been a consultant for many international institutions and corporations, including the World Bank, and has been a member of the advisory board of many business schools, including IESE in Spain.

According to Nueno, his interest in business schools was sparked by one of the professors at Harvard, where he received his doctorate in business administration.

The professor helped establish several business schools around the world after World War II and saw this as a means of building bridges between countries, and Nueno wanted to do the same.

So, the first thing he did after finishing his studies was to help launch a business school called IAE in Argentina, a well-known place for related studies in the country.

He then helped launch business schools in Colombia, Mexico and Portugal.

In the early '80s, he came to realize "now it's the moment of China", as he believed the fledging market economy would generate demand for business management knowledge.

So, he first launched a two-year MBA program - with around 50 students - in Beijing in 1984, in cooperation with some European business schools as the precursor to a full-fledged campus in Shanghai later.

Nueno says building a school from zero was not easy.

He and his Chinese partners first found a space with help from the local government. They then spent time searching for instructors and finally formed an academic board.

He also drew on his own resources, including reaching out to business institutions around the world and inviting friends who are professors to teach in China.

A few years later he and his Chinese partners planned a campus in Shanghai.

They then convinced the European Foundation for Management Development, which is an association of European business schools, to get involved in the project, and also raised funds from international companies based in Hong Kong for the campus.

"People trusted us because they saw we were a committed Chinese-European team, and I think this has always been the case," he says.

The Shanghai government also decided to support them with land in the Pudong area, which has now turned into a vast well-equipped campus.

However, before the campus opened in 1995, they had to use classrooms in Shanghai Jiaotong University and even hold lectures inside local hotels, says Nueno.

Now the school has grown significantly. It has three campuses - in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen - and two international bases, one in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and the other in Zurich.

The school has around 800 EMBA students and holds three full-time MBA classes every year, with about 40 percent of the nearly 200 MBA students from overseas.

"It (the school) is becoming more global. But we will continue to grow in China and also internationally," says Nueno, adding that many Chinese students from the early years have become top managers with Chinese companies.

According to Xu Dingbo, the associate dean at the China Europe International Business School, modern management education was pretty much a blank slate in China in the early'80s.

"Nueno realized that China lacked modern management education, which would become a bottleneck for its economic development. So he became one of the earliest to make efforts in this respect," says Xu.

Xu adds that he respects Nueno for his efforts to combine Chinese practices and traditions with modern management skills in the school's teaching, research and business practices, while emphasizing internationalization at the same time.

The school also partners with top-notch research institutions, such as Harvard Business School, to run joint modules worldwide.

"Management is a global thing," says Nueno.

"China is a big economy and has some aspects that are peculiar and some opportunities and risks. So, what we try to explain is all these little differences in a global module."

Nueno's efforts to expand China's global business presence led him to a meeting with President Xi Jinping in 2012.

The meeting was held soon after Xi was elected as the top leader and was attended by 20 foreign experts.

Nueno in his speech talked about how the Chinese government was perceived by the rest of the world. And he also shared his opinion on what should be China's priorities.

Nueno says he thought Xi sent positive signals when talking about China's further opening-up.

Nueno has high opinion of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Xi.

"I think it is a fantastic project. It's a way to indicate that China is opening to the world," he says, adding that he believes the development of one country is not a threat to another, but an opportunity.

To recognize Nueno's contributions to business education in China, the Chinese government honored him in 2009 with the Friendship Award, which is the highest honor given to foreigners for their contribution to the country's social and economic development.

Nueno, who visits China almost twice a month, says he is now used to this busy life and even makes use of his flight time to write.

He has authored more than a dozen books, including the recent Thanks, China.

The book, published in Spanish a few months ago and which will be available in Chinese soon, is about China's contributions to the world.

For instance, since purchasing Volvo Cars in 2010, Chinese company Geely Auto has grown the former Swedish company and created many new jobs.

He adds that though there may be doubts and opposition to Chinese companies like Huawei entering foreign markets, just like what American or Japanese companies faced before, these companies are creating employment.

"The majority of companies are doing things correctly. So, I think it makes sense to say 'Thanks China! Come!'" he says.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

Pedro Nueno, president of China Europe International Business School, speaks at a graduation ceremony in Shanghai. XU XIAOLIN/CHINA DAILY

 

]]>
2017-07-28 08:54:56
<![CDATA[Chinese, foreign experts talk of shared values of Silk Road program]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/28/content_30281481.htm Putting onions and carrots together will make soup both delicious and nutritious.

This is an interpretation of harmony - the Confucian philosophy that is at the core of the Chinese civilization - which is also the spirit behind China's cooperation with other countries, big and small, especially with regard to the Belt and Road Initiative, Thaddeus Metz, a professor of philosophy and religion with the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, said in a speech at the 2017 Symposium on Chinese Studies earlier this week.

Co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences first in 2013, the symposium has been aiming to build a professional platform for exchange of thoughts among scholars from home and overseas.

This year, 26 experts on China studies and international relations from 22 countries joined 20 Chinese scholars to exchange ideas on the theme: the Belt and Road Initiative in global view.

"We can also find the Confucian thought of 'harmony' in the win-win cooperations, that is, two very different sides work together to do a project that will benefit both sides," says Metz.

Metz was one of many speakers who dug out Chinese mainstream ancient thoughts to interpret the cooperation mode under the Belt and Road Initiative.

"For thousands of years, Chinese people have talked about the concept of 'land under heaven'. For Chinese people, harmony on the land under heaven is built on compassion, to love and respect anyone in the world fairly," says Wang Keping, a researcher on aesthetics with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Now through the Belt and Road Initiative, we also have the fundamental principles for sustainable development for mutual benefit, openness and tolerance," he says.

Liu Mengxi, director of the Institute of Chinese Culture at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, talked about the classic Confucian thought "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" to explain China's relations with the world today, especially when China is the world's second-largest economy with an increasing influence that may worry many other countries.

Modern China is responsible not only for its own destiny but is likely to influence the whole world, says Ismatulla Bekmuratov, dean of the faculty of world policy, history and philosophy at Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies.

"But China firmly refuses to impose its own development mode on other countries."

China will not impose its own values on other countries, either, as many speakers agreed, but will respect diversity in different cultures.

Yuan Zhengqing, who studies China's diplomacy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says that in the 5,000-year development of Chinese civilization, Chinese people have pursued peace and harmony. The rule of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) was an exception, he says.

"So while we pursue the development of our own country, China will also care about the interests of others," he says. "China wants to promote dialogue among different cultures."

Martin Albrow, fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Britain, talks about how some predictions in the 1970s by a sociologist from Harvard University did not happen.

"He said the world would be governed by theory. This has not happened in the West. I would suggest to you that it is happening in China, one of the most important contributions that China is making to the world today is generating a new theory for the world we are going to live in," he says.

If sharing values is emphasized, we need to understand the diversity of ideas.

"We have to work toward creating common values. This is how the Belt and Road Initiative can work in practice."

yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

Experts from home and abroad attend the 2017 Symposium on Chinese Studies in Beijing to discuss the global influence of the Belt and Road Initiative.  CHINA DAILY

]]>
2017-07-28 08:54:56
<![CDATA[For those in uniform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/27/content_30267419.htm The Founding of an Army, directed by Andrew Lau, is listed on Chinese social media as one of the most anticipated films. Xu Fan reports.

The upcoming 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army is seeing many military-themed movies and TV series hitting the screens.

The Founding of an Army directed by Andrew Lau, a Hong Kong filmmaker known for his stylish action sequences, is listed as one of the most anticipated films on some movie portals and the Chinese social media.

A follow-up to The Founding of a Republic (2009) and Beginning of the Great Revival (2011) - about the birth of New China and the Communist Party of China - the new movie is about the early history of the Party's armed forces in the late 1920s.

 

Clockwise from top left: Li Yifeng stars as military strategist He Changgong, Zhu Yawen as Premier Zhou Enlai and Liu Ye as Chairman Mao Zedong. Most of the actors playing Chinese military leaders from the 1920s in the new film are young pop idols. Photos Provided to China Daily

It starts with Chiang Kaishek's annihilation of Communist members in Shanghai on April 12, 1927, and chronicles the formation of the Party-led armies through milestones such as the 1927 Nanchang Uprising and 1928 joining forces at the Jinggang Mountain.

As a tribute to the PLA's 90th anniversary, which falls on Aug 1, the movie is set to open in Chinese mainland theaters on Thursday.

While the upcoming PLA anniversary has brought new focus on the movie, the film was in the news earlier for other reasons.

"When reports appeared that I would direct the movie (in 2016), many people asked, 'Why a Hong Kong director?'" says Lau.

Lau is best known for the Infernal Affairs franchise, which drew Hollywood's Martin Scorsese to make The Departed, an Oscar winner.

The question of who will direct the new film assumed significance as the previous two movies were directed by Huang Jianxin and Han Sanping, both born in the 1950s on the Chinese mainland.

Also, such patriotic movies had been mostly directed by filmmakers from State-owned studios with veteran actors in key roles.

But the "rules" were broken for The Founding of an Army.

The cast is another reason that caused controversy.

In the film, most of the actors playing Chinese military leaders from the 1920s are young pop idols.

Meanwhile, Huang, who is the executive producer, says that they had two plans for casting choices.

"One plan was to use actors aged between 35 and 40, while the second plan was Lau's, who wanted a younger cast to relive history."

Zhou Enlai was 29 and Ye Ting was 30 when they launched the Nanchang Uprising in 1927.

Meanwhile, the film avoids stereotyping in its depiction of political leaders.

Liu Ye, who plays Chairman Mao Zedong, displays some emotion in a scene featuring Mao's farewell to his wife Yang Kaihui and their children before he leaves to set up a revolutionary base in the Jinggang Mountain.

Zhang Hongsen, the deputy head of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, recently posted two articles praising the movie on his WeChat account, China's most popular social media app.

In the articles, Zhang says that the country's top movie authority told the director to produce an artistically crafted story.

He also supports the young idols in the film, saying they worked hard for low pay.

Zhang also says China's movie industry needs more young actors.

Industry watchers see The Founding of an Army as an example of how such movies are being tailored for a younger viewership.

The film, jointly produced by China Film Co and Bona Film Group, is similar to Tsui Hark's The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014), a revolutionary tale about a Communist reconnaissance soldier hero and Dante Lam's Operation Mekong (2016), a tale about a hunt for a Myanmar drug ring, both commercial successes.

Jiang Yong, a Beijng-based industry analyst, says star power and Hong Kong filmmaking talent are an effective formula to make such movies work at the box office.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-07-27 06:58:28
<![CDATA[TV documentary showcases early history of PLA]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/27/content_30267418.htm When 10-year-old Liu Jian was studying at a Beijing primary school in the early 1960s, his teacher read a famous poem written by Chairman Mao Zedong to the class.

But when the students were confused about the battle depicted in the poem, the teacher asked Liu if he could get details from his grandfather.

Liu is the grandson of Zhu De, one of the founding fathers of New China and the People's Liberation Army.

"My grandfather rarely talked about his feats at home, as he believed the victories belonged to the people," says Liu.

But the late army marshal made an exception for the teacher, inviting her home and speaking about the battle, which was a key one.

This story is featured in the upcoming TV documentary Ni Cong Jinggangshan Zoulai (You Come from Jinggang Mountain), which is based on the early history of the PLA.

Liu and 22 other descendants of the armed forces pioneers, such as the late premier Zhou Enlai's niece Zhou Bingde and the late army marshal Luo Ronghuan's son Luo Dongjin, recently attended an event to promote the series in Beijing.

To mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA, the six-episode series will air on Beijing Satellite TV from Aug 1, with two episodes every night.

The series, set between 1924 and 1930, chronicles events that shaped the army and Mao's military theories.

The events include the 1927 Nanchang Uprising, the Communist Party of China's first fight against Kuomintang rule, the founding of the Party-led army and the Sanwan Reorganization, which set up a new system to consolidate the Party's leadership of the army in Jiangxi province in 1927.

Another event highlighted is the joining forces at Jinggang Mountain, which saw the forces led by Zhu and Chen Yi retreating from the Nanchang Uprising to join Mao's army that had retreated from another battle - known as Autumn Harvest Uprising in Hunan province - in the Jinggang Mountain that borders Jiangxi and Hunan provinces.

Huang Wei, director of the series, says the crew took more than eight months to produce the series, 55 minutes for each episode.

"The average age of our team is 26. But when we were doing research, we discovered that most of the soldiers were younger than 26," says Huang.

"It was impressive and moving. These warriors risked their lives, tolerating extremely harsh conditions to fight for the people. They made us see the power of faith," he adds.

Inspired by the stories, Huang says that seven members of the crew applied to join the Party after the filming.

The documentary uses the 22 relatives of the veterans as narrators as well as wartime letters, diaries and memoirs to relive history in an interesting way.

Huang, who has worked on documentaries about the PLA history with regard to the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945), the War of Liberation (1946-1949) and the Korean War (1950-1953), says the series also taught him about the early history of the armed forces.

Zhou Bingde, daughter of Zhou Enlai's younger brother, says the series will inspire the younger generations.

She recalls the words penned by Zhou Enlai in 1919, which show his wish to see China rise in the world.

"Now we are seeing his dream come true," she says.

Yao Youzhi, a scholar with the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army, says the series is narrated in an audience-friendly way.

]]>
2017-07-27 06:58:28
<![CDATA[Back to basics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/27/content_30267417.htm New report urges Chinese filmmakers to produce more quality content for box-office success. Wang Kaihao reports.

The lack of quality content in some Chinese films is leading to their poor box-office performance, according to the 2017 Report of Chinese Film Art.

The report, which was compiled by the China Film Association, was released last week. It points out that many Chinese filmmakers tend to develop storylines based on investor requirements, such as a high-paid star cast, lots of visual effects and the related publicity campaign, rather than focus more on creative efforts.

"With huge capital being infused into the film industry, a director's role has weakened," the report says. "Producers have a greater say."

Chinese film-Operation Mekong-is recommended by the critics committee of the China Film Association. CHINA DAILY

Chinese films made 10.4 billion yuan ($1.54 billion) at the country's box office in the first six months of the year, comprising 39 percent of total ticket sales, according to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

"The time to rely on box-office surprises is over," says Yin Hong, a professor of media at Tsinghua University and the report's lead author.

"China needs more quality films rather than only a few success stories to lead the industry."

While it is a general trend in Chinese cinema to make films based on true stories or re-adaptations of classic productions, such films when produced in bulk do not achieve the desired results as seen from many unsuccessful attempts, he says.

Last week, the critics committee behind the report voted Operation Mekong as a highly recommendable film of 2016.

The film is based on a true incident in 2011, when two Chinese cargo ships were attacked on the Mekong River by a drug-trafficking gang. Later, China launched a cross-border manhunt to bring the gang leader to justice.

The film did very well at the box-office, which the report says was due to a combination of patriotism and humanity that it shows.

Zhang Wei, deputy head of the critics committee at China Film Association, attributes some current difficulties in domestic filmmaking to the genre that tries to copy popular films.

"After nostalgic youth-themed films became popular a few years ago, big screens were full of such productions but the audience got bored after a few," says Zhang.

"Now that genre is almost dead."

He says Chinese studios should have better planning when developing story ideas.

"Hollywood studios have detailed plans about films they are going to shoot and have clear business plans."

Liu Fan, a researcher with the Chinese National Academy of Arts, says filmmakers' dependence on intellectual property for adaptations is another reason for the box-office setback.

"Fans of the original works (mainly novels) cannot continuously support such film adaptations," Liu says.

"And when the IP bubble gets bigger, some screenwriters get careless and ruin the original stories."

Love O2O, adapted from a popular online novel, and L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties, a fantasy derived from a popular novel, encountered huge losses at the box office.

"Their failure has warned film investors that a cobbled-up IP production with popular young actors won't always make money," says Raymond Zhou, an independent film industry analyst on the critics committee.

He says even until a couple of years ago, critical appreciation did not mean commercial success for Chinese films.

"When some works were highly rated by professional critics, they usually did badly in the market," he recalls.

"The public saw such films as harder to understand."

But the situation has changed after poor productions swarmed the market in recent times.

"People will not choose a film simply for a big star, and public praise for films is playing an important role at the box office," says Zhou.

"It's a good thing for our audiences to cherish good films."

In 2016, the satirical comedy Mr. Donkey, which is adapted from a stage play, and Song of the Phoenix, which focuses on inheritance of traditional folklore, were both considered good within a small circle but they turned out to be commercially successful.

Paths of the Soul, following some Tibetan villagers' pilgrimage to a sacred mountain, premiered in June, and even set a record at the box office - in art-house film history - earning more than 100 million yuan.

Filmgoers in China now frequently refer to popular review websites like Douban to check a film's quality before going to cinemas.

Liu Jun, a researcher with the Beijing Film Academy, says such guidance is also helpful to filmmakers in finding typical Chinese stories for the big screen while avoiding being repetitive.

"We've seen too many historical or fantasy films in recent years," he says. "Our filmmakers can say something more about Chinese wisdom or bravery in handling modern issues. They can reflect the big picture of our times."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-27 06:58:28
<![CDATA[Chinese TV show explores big charm of small cities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/27/content_30267416.htm Viewers have been hooked to Charm China since it was first aired on China Central Television on July 14.

Each episode of the show compares cultural elements and economic development in two different cities, giving a chance to local government officials and residents to voice their views on TV and become somewhat famous in the process.

In addition to knowing their cities very well, the mayors or deputy mayors who appear on the show also need to be eloquent. Sometimes, they are asked to join in the singing and dancing.

Others who appear are members of cultural troupes and chefs. Some celebrities also choose to back their preferred cities or hometowns on the show.

Xu Peidong, an established songwriter, has visited Yan'an, Shaanxi province, to create works related to the city that is considered the cradle of the Communist revolution in China.

He participated in the debut episode of Charm China that featured the city.

"The food there is also highly recommended," Xu says in a recent interview. "It is delicious and once fed pioneers of the Communist Party of China."

"Yan'an is getting more fashionable," he says. "While young people there have not forgotten the city's original spirit, they are catching up with the times."

He says that the positive energy of youth is reflected on the show.

Yan'an's "competitor" in the same episode was a place with its own characteristics: Alxa in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, which is famous for its roasted lamb and desert scenery.

Liu Wang, an astronaut with the Shenzhou IX spacecraft, decided to back the city on the show because some Chinese manned space missions have been launched there.

Charm China will include 32 cities and run through the end of this year.

"These cities are either low profile or those that people have stereotypical views about," says Tang Lin, producer of the show. "Small cities can also have big charm."

He says local officials know their cities well and can act like "anchors" to guide each episode.

Tang says that the promotional ideas created by these cities can be tested on air but due to time limits, city representatives must make full use of their best campaign methods.

Spectators in the studio and online viewers also poll to decide which cities might be appealing for future episodes, which will be shot in parts in such destinations.

He says the program was made to change the perception that many Chinese cities "look the same and lack individual features" because of similar urbanization plans.

"We can provide a banquet of different cultures from all over the country," Tang says.

Yin Hong, a professor at Tsinghua University, says the show is a good attempt to promote a city's tourism while exploring the cultural context. "It's a new way of marketing," he says.

The concept of "whole area tourism" was included in the annual Government Work Report of 2017 delivered by Premier Li Keqiang at the Two Sessions in March. It aims to expand tourism attractions from single scenic spots to entire cities to improve service and coordination between different sectors.

"China's tourism needs new orientation," says Yu Guomin, a communications professor at Beijing Normal University, adding that Charm China is an early advocate of the new approach.

]]>
2017-07-27 06:58:28
<![CDATA[Foreign filmmakers capture Ordos for wider audience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/27/content_30267415.htm Five foreign filmmakers explored craftsmanship in Ordos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, by shooting short films in the city earlier this month as part of the Looking China Youth Film Project, an annual event organized by the Huilin Foundation and Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture at Beijing Normal University since 2011.

The event is intended to promote Chinese culture travel more widely through the cameras and perspectives of foreign filmmakers.

This year's young directors and camera crew are from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. With the help of Southeast Asia Broadcasting Center of China Radio International and Ordos New Media Center, they spent about two weeks in Ordos and nearby areas for their projects.

Their tour focused on craftsmanship in Ordos as revealed through the various skills of its people, including growing trees to prevent desertification, enhancing art forms such as traditional songs, making carpets by hand, decorating wood with burn marks, and making Mongolian clothes and headwear.

Chansey Phan, a film director from Cambodia, says he liked his crew to call him by his Chinese name, Pan Jiangshui.

His film tells the story of a worker who has been planting trees in Kubuqi, a large desert in Ordos, for about 15 years and contributed to the city's efforts to combat desertification.

He had to go to the windy desert every morning and stay there until late at night to document the worker's life and capture the desert's sights.

Phan says the worker's persistence touched him and the desert's vast beauty amazed him.

"The task was challenging but full of joy," he says.

Wee Your Lee, a filmmaker from Malaysia, chose pyrography as his subject. He filmed a veteran in Ordos decorating wood with burn marks.

"It will be a pity if the art dies," says Wee. "I hope that through my lens, more people around the world will learn about the art and support its preservation."

Tee Inthilard, a cameraman for MV Lao Television in Laos, chose Gurduu, an ethnic Mongolian music form, for his film. "The music goes through the heart. It's so amazing," says Inthilard.

All the films were shown in Ordos on July 11 and a selected few will be screened internationally later.

Contact the writers through heshuang@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-27 06:58:28
<![CDATA[Looking for a house away from home]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255228.htm As more young people head abroad to study, the demand for student accommodation is growing rapidly.

"I was not feeling good in the house. My roommate and landlord were not easy to get along with so I moved one month after I arrived in Britain," says Liu Tianyi, a 26-year-old master's student from Durham University.

In 2015, Liu, a native of Zhuzhou in Hunan province, went to the United Kingdom to study international social work and community development. Before leaving China, she found a house through her friend on Sina Weibo, a Chinese micro blog.

Liu knew nothing about the house until she arrived in the UK.

 

Zhang Le (second from right) enjoys a meal with her family and friends at her rented house in the United States. She is a music education doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University. Provided to China Daily

"The house was on a hill and very far away from downtown Durham. And my landlord was not friendly," says Liu.

"I also had lots of fights with my roommate since he always reported me to the landlord for not sorting the garbage, which I did."

For Liu, life abroad was different from what she had imagined - she was not prepared for the problems.

Today, there are many students like Liu who struggle to find suitable accommodation abroad.

Growing demand

China had 1.26 million students studying abroad by the end of 2015, about 25 percent of the world's total, according to a report by the Beijing-based think tanks Center for China and Globalization and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The overseas student accommodation market has great potential.

"If we look at the rents in cities across the globe, then we're looking at an industry valued at around $150 billion," says Luke Nolan, CEO of student.com, a platform head-quartered in the UK that provides overseas student accommodation service.

"We've also noticed that, in addition to the market for full academic year accommodation, there's a growing demand for short-term accommodation."

Liu returned to China after a one-year program.

Speaking about her experience, she says that she should have put in more effort in finding a house.

"Taking the initiative is crucial," says Liu.

New media platforms offer a way for students to look for accommodation.

Zhang Le, a 31-year-old music education doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University in the United States, found a house by going online.

"I found a house through Penn State's BBS," says Zhang, a native of Shuangyashan in Heilongjiang province. "After I got the contact of the landlord, I told him to download WeChat (Chinese messaging app), through which we could communicate."

This helped Zhang to understand the neighborhood and the ways of commute. Now she lives in a two-bedroom house with her husband.

Overseas study is no longer only for the young, as many older students now take along dependants, just like Zhang.

"I had to plan in advance as my husband was to stay with me. I was fortunate to find a good house, but it could be difficult for those who are young," says Zhang.

Even as demand for overseas accommodation by students from China grows, there is still no convenient way to find housing, since this is an industry with both complexity and variety.

"Almost every city in China has students going to a huge range of destinations, including the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, France and Germany," says Nolan.

"Students from different countries have different needs, and the property markets are different, too."

Li Jiabao, a 23-year-old law student from Sciences Po in Paris, says that international students from non-European Union countries need a guarantor to rent a house in France.

"In my four years at university, I was lucky that I had a roommate from Norway in the first year and then a Chinese agency that helped with the guarantor bit, but it was slightly expensive."

Still, not every student studying in France is lucky enough like Li, a native of Shenyang in Liaoning province.

Safety is key

Besides the hardships in finding housing in different countries, safety is one of the main considerations for Chinese students, followed by location and price, according to an overseas student accommodation report by student.com.

As for Zhang, she says: "I suggest that a freshman should live on campus for the first year.

"As for single female students, it would be better to find a roommate instead of living alone."

In addition, colleges sometimes send out information.

Giving her take, Li says: "Location really matters."

Science Po is located a little far from where she lives.

"Some of my classmates lived in nearby cities, which were roughly a one-hour commute," Li says.

Liu emphasizes that finding good accommodation eases the culture shock.

"When I was in the United Kingdom, my roommates always hosted parties on the weekend. I am not the kind of person who socializes very much, so attending the parties helped me to immerse myself in the community," she says.

For a lot of Chinese students, studying abroad is the first time they are away from China or the first time they are living by themselves.

So, when faced with new languages and cultures, it can be quite challenging to adapt.

Nolan says that the notion of "student community" is vital.

Zhang Zefeng and Su Yingle contributed to the story.

Contact the writers through zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Is it necessary to visit US college campuses in summer?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255227.htm Visiting college campuses in the summer is a common way for high school students in the United States to get to know different colleges and be better prepared for the college application process. Now, more Chinese faces are appearing in these US college tour groups.

In 2016, Chinese students accounted for 31.5 percent of international students in the US, according to the Institute of International Education, a US-based nonprofit that focuses on international student exchange and support.

The number of Chinese high school students applying to US colleges is increasing, and more of them have begun to consider visiting colleges to decide which ones they will apply to.

Going to a college campus in the summer enables students to see campus facilities and talk to admission officers. It is also an opportunity for students to experience the campus environment and decide which college is the best fit.

Visiting multiple colleges allows students to compare advantages and disadvantages, and know better what kind of college they want to go to.

Yet there are concerns over whether it is a good idea for Chinese students to travel to the US to visit colleges. The trip is costly and time-consuming and the information students ultimately get may not be worth the cost.

So, is it really necessary for Chinese students to visit US college campuses in the summer?

YES

It's an effective way to get to know colleges and their communities in a relaxed manner.

1. Students have more time in summer, so they can visit various college campuses at a more comfortable pace. They can spend more time on each campus, and get to know more about the campus environment and community.

2. College admission officers and faculty members are generally more free during the summer. Visiting college campuses at this time allows students to talk to admission officers or faculty members, and ask questions about their application process and academic pursuits.

3. Students can get a clearer picture of how to prepare for the college application process. They will be less stressed in the last year of high school, when early stages of the application process will already have started in the fall.

NO

Students may spend money yet not get a picture of the real campus during off season.

1. In summer, college campuses may either be empty or crowded with students attending summer programs. Either way, they do not resemble the usual atmosphere of colleges. If students visit at this time, they cannot get a sense of what the campus culture and student vibe are really like.

2. Colleges usually close some of their buildings during summer, so students do not see all the campus facilities. Also, construction on campuses usually take place in summer, limiting students' experience of the whole campus, and this may even harm their overall impression of a college.

3. Going to the US to visit colleges costs money, and most students need their parents to pay for the trip. Much of the information they get from college visits can be obtained from websites or college representatives holding meetings in China.

China Daily

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Foreigners get a taste of China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255226.htm A Beijing summer camp turns into a melting pot of different cultures

"Do not use much water, or else the panda you draw will become very fat," a Chinese painting teacher says in Chinese.

Immediately, the same words in English, Polish and Hungarian are delivered to students in the classroom.

Filled with the sounds and rhythms of different languages, the Chinese painting classroom is a melting pot of different cultures.

This classroom offers a glimpse of the experience at the "You and Me, In Beijing" summer camp organized by Beijing Foreign Studies University's Confucius Institute from July 15 to 25.

Students from Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom and South Korea gather to learn Chinese and experience Chinese culture.

"China is developing greatly, and it is important internationally," Hungarian student Fekete Marcell Zoltan says in fluent Chinese.

When the painting teacher gives instructions, he helps translate the words into Hungarian for his classmates.

After finishing the panda painting, Fekete writes his Chinese name, Ma Hongbo, on traditional rice paper.

Fekete is from Budapest and has learned Chinese for eight years at the Confucius Institute at Eotvos Lorand University.

"Now a lot of people are learning Chinese," says the 15-year-old, who wants to be a diplomat in China.

During the course of the summer camp, students attend performances of Peking Opera and the dragon dance, visit the Great Wall, Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City, and spend time with Chinese families.

They also have lessons on language, Chinese painting, paper-cutting and kung fu.

Yet for students like Fekete, the summer camp is more than just experiencing Chinese culture. It is also about meeting people from different cultures and learning how cultural backgrounds shape their views of China.

Zhu Qi, the director of Beijing Foreign Studies University Confucius Institute's Cultural Exchange Department and a manager of the summer camp, says: "Here, students not only learn about Chinese language and culture. They also learn how peers from other countries learn Chinese."

One of the students' favorite programs is the Meetand-Greet.

It is an icebreaker, during which students from different countries form groups and compete in games and team building.

Mark van Couwenberghe from Belgium, the coordinator of Broedersschool Sint-Niklaas Chinese Language Courses and leader of the Belgian students at the camp, says: "It is like a mini Olympic Games or mini United Nations."

There are also activities such as Cultural Corner, which involves students introducing traditional food and cultural products from their countries, and flag-design, which requires students to draw a flag that integrates both elements from their own cultures and China.

Group Activities Without Borders is the biggest difference of this year's camp, according to Chang Bingyu of Beijing Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, also a manager of the summer camp.

"This is the 10th year of the program. We wanted to break boundaries," says Chang.

Zhou Yifan contributed to the story.

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Researchers claim new device will help gamers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255225.htm

CANBERRA - Australian researchers recently said they have designed a new device that could someday be used in gaming consoles to improve graphics and the speed of data transfer.

The device, created by a team at the Australian National University in collaboration with a team from the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, Germany, is similar to a tiny antenna around 100 times thinner than human hair, and is used to speed up data exchange between processors in a console.

The invention was two years in the making.

According to senior researcher Dragomir Neshev from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, it could be used to improve user experience in gaming consoles in the near future.

"One of the big problems that gamers encounter is sluggish game play, which our nano device could greatly improve by speeding up the exchange of data between the multiple processors in the console," Neshev says in a statement.

"The speed of this data transfer is currently limited by the speed that electrons can flow along the copper wires connecting the processors in gaming consoles.

"Our invention can be used to connect these processors with optical wires that will transmit data between processors thousands of times faster than metal wires. This will enable smooth rendering and large-scale parallel computation needed for a good gaming experience."

Neshev says the team had to create the device to be small enough to match the modern console's smaller electric parts and added that it is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. "We are the first to make a tiny optical nano-antenna device with the ability to sort and route ultra-fast bit-rate telecommunication signals," he says.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Dynamic Duo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255224.htm After years of paying the dues at cafes, Mr. Miss finally gets to celebrate success. Chen Nan reports.

Du Kai and Liu Lian are doing interviews in a Beijing coffeehouse before an upcoming party to celebrate their winning the best vocal collaboration award at the 28th Golden Melody Awards in June.

They are the first performers from the Chinese mainland to win the award, and the Beijing-based jazz and pop duo's debut album, Mr. Miss, after the name of their act, also set a record among singers from the mainland by being nominated in two other categories - best album producer and best newcomer.

"When our name was announced that was a big 'wow' moment for us," says Du, the 33-year-old male singer-songwriter of the band.

 

The band Mr. Miss wins the best vocal collaboration award at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards in June. Photos Provided to China Daily

"The three nominations were beyond our expectations, let alone winning an award," says the female singer-songwriter Liu, 27, who also works for a public relations company in Beijing.

Even getting to the awards, held in Taipei on June 18, was full of drama for the duo.

The day before they flew to Taipei to attend the awards ceremony, they performed a show in Nanchang, Jiangxi province. Due to heavy rain, their flight was canceled and they had to drive about 10 hours to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to catch another plane.

Fortunately they made it to the ceremony at the last minute. Although they missed the chance to walk on the red carpet, they still managed to hug and scream in joy and give an impromptu speech.

It was a far cry from four years ago, when the Beijing-based duo were still struggling to pursue their music dream playing at a coffeehouse in the capital and getting 300 yuan ($44) for each live performance.

That changed when they met Ge Fei, their current manager, in 2011, when they were part of a project aimed at supporting young original Chinese singers.

Ge, 44, who graduated from Sichuan Conservatory of Music and majored in percussion performance, has played in his own rock band and worked as music producer at a mainstream entertainment company. In 2009, he co-founded the indie music label, Cao Sheng Music, with Taiwan veteran songwriter and producer Chou Chih-ping.

"We founded our own label with the hope of supporting independent original Chinese musicians. The award given to Mr. Miss boosts our confidence we can do that," says Ge.

He says what appealed to him was the duo's songs, despite being jazzy, were accessible to audiences.

"I was impressed by their music. Jazz is not a mainstream genre in China but their interpretation of jazz made their songs easy to listen to and understand," says Ge, who also produced the duo's first album.

"The only thing we were concerned about in the beginning was they didn't have enough original material. But they worked very hard to write their own music instead of adapting some classic pop songs into jazz. Though it took them seven years to finally release their debut album, it's been worth it," says Ge.

Their first original song was called The Story of Mr. Miss, which Liu wrote in about a week. It is included in their debut album, along with 10 other original songs.

Thanks to Du's research into vaudeville, a form of theatrical musical play, which was popular in the United States from the 1880s to 1930s, Mr. Miss stands out among their peers for their original jazz-pop rhythms and storytelling lyrics.

"When you look at the history of Broadway musicals, you find many jazz standards. Looking further back, we discovered vaudeville," says Du. "Our lyrics portray images, which are suitable for telling stories to the listeners. With our interaction onstage, it's easy and fun to bring listeners into a particular scene."

They also used The Great American Songbook, also known as "American standards", for inspiration and polished their performing techniques via streaming shows.

Later this year, the duo will undertake a national tour of major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, as well as performing at outdoor music festivals, such as Zhangbei Music Festival, which will be held from July 28 to 30 in Zhangbei county, Hebei province.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Statement earring getting bigger and bigger]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255223.htm CHICAGO - Earrings are the accessory of the moment, with amped-up drama that works on the red carpet or the beach.

Let's be frank: It's not about being subtle. The most extreme styles are "shoulder dusters" reaching from the lobe to, yes, the shoulder and beyond, along with nearly head-sized hoops and surprisingly striking ornamental pieces.

"It's time to supersize yourself," says Simone Smith, whose eponymous jewelry collection offers dozens of hoop styles in large and extra-large sizes.

Smith sees the movement toward big as burgeoning. "Women are definitely getting more daring, and big earrings were all over the runway shows."

Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council, a US-based nonprofit trade association, agrees that the trend may well have been born on the runway.

"It first hit our radar in the fall collections. We saw it in New York, Paris and Milan, where designers were paying a lot more attention to the earring."

The drama of the look is accessible to all ages, says Giberson. "You see photos of everyone from Michelle Obama to Selena Gomez wearing it."

The weight is an important factor, says celebrity stylist Jacqui Stafford. "With heavier earrings you need to take them off after wearing them for an hour... they're so uncomfortable."

In terms of style, she advises wearing statement earrings on their own, noting they "should be the main focus".

This season, Stafford says, they're best worn "with those fabulous, shoulder-baring tops. It's very senorita style".

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Tech tips for an unplugged vacation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255222.htm CHICAGO - With summer travel kicking off, we're offering several tips on how to really disconnect from work electronically. After all, isn't taking a minute to enjoy a breathtaking view more important than a corporate email? We think so.

Disable email. Actually, disable everything. Turn off your work email, and really hide it. For example, on an iPhone, go to "settings" and then "mail". Go to "accounts", and swipe the button to turn off your work email account, so it won't automatically download emails or show the red number of new messages.

Also, disable alerts. We do not understand why people feel the need to have a palm-sized list of updates from "homes you might like" and "news that may scare you". Create a smartphone environment where you seek out information.

Another way to do that? Log out of everything. We don't download apps for everything. And we don't save all passwords. So when we check social media, it requires actually typing in a website, username and password. Each layer serves as a check to see whether it's really more important than whatever you're doing in real life.

Remove calendars from your phone. If you're the type who has work calendars, or any calendars, connected to your smartphone, remove them.

Your only appointment is with the beach, the mountains or a good book.

Set up a solid out-of-office message. Do this early, so that you're not stressing about typing it out before heading to the airport.

Use airplane mode, even after landing. Many people suggest swiping that airplane icon up whenever you can. Airplane mode doesn't allow accessing the internet for everything you need, but it does put an end to alerts, in case you didn't have the strength to disable alerts.

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255221.htm Movie

Martial arts

Brotherhood of Blades II is one of the most anticipated Chinese films this summer. The martial arts movie is the prequel to the 2014 hit Brotherhood of Blades, which received critical acclaim for its in-depth examination of humanity and style of aesthetics. Set in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the new movie will see the return of Shen Lian, the protagonist warrior. Shen is a member of the imperial secret police force Jinyiwei. His encounter with a mysterious painter draws him into a conspiracy cycle.

In the new movie, Taiwan actor Chang Chen reprises his role as Shen, and new roles are played by mainland actress Yang Mi, and actors Zhang Yi and Lei Jiayin.

Music

Kane Strang

After earning a sizable following in his native New Zealand with last year's Blue Cheese album, Kane Strang has found himself a band and signed to international label Dead Oceans to release an album that sees the Dunedin-based artist make huge strides as an intelligent and emotive songwriter. It's an album that takes inspiration from '60s psychedelia and guitar pop bands like the Zombies and the Kinks and mixes in some early noughties New York rock in the form of Interpol and the Strokes to give the whole thing some bite.

K-pop band

South Korean boy band EXO launched their fourth studio album, The War, on July 18, which they say was influenced by other music genres such as electronic dance music and reggae. The lead single, Ko Ko Bop, combines the "tropical feeling" of reggae with the fast pace of electronic dance music, EXO member Baekhyun says.

Formed in 2012, EXO earned global success with their first studio album, XOXO. Its hit song Growl was picked as the best K-pop song of 2013 by Billboard. The group's three previous albums have each sold over one million copies.

China Daily - Agencies

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Choose your next cellphone carefully and recycle old ones]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/26/content_30255220.htm As more and more of the world develops - and smartphones become ubiquitous - electronic waste (aka "e-waste") is a bigger problem than ever.

Around the world, people generate some 50 million tons of e-waste every year, much of which ends up improperly disposed of in landfills where toxins common in electronics like lead, mercury and cadmium can leach out and contaminate surrounding soils and groundwater. Much of the remaining e-waste gets shipped off to developing countries despite the environmental consequences, or even worse, just dumped illegally into the ocean.

But thanks to consumer pressure to do the right thing, most major electronics manufacturers have started to pay attention to the problem and take action to reduce the flow of e-waste.

Apple, for instance, long targeted by Greenpeace and others for lack of concern about the environmental and health impacts of its sourcing and production processes, has made great strides in the last five years in recovering customers' old products and reusing the constituent parts in new products.

In 2015 alone, the company collected some 90 million pounds (40.82 million kilograms) of Apple-branded e-waste, recovering upwards of 61 million pounds of material, including steel, plastics, glass, aluminum, copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, nickel, silver, tin and gold, to re-incorporate into new products.

Environmental advocates who love their iPhones can sleep easier knowing that lead, mercury, beryllium, arsenic, PVC, phthalates and brominated flame retardants are no longer welcome in or will soon be phased out of Apple's supply chain.

But most of us upgrade our smartphones every two years, so that means that even today's greener iPhones still contribute to the e-waste problem. Europe's Fairphone thinks it has the answer.

By incorporating long-lasting design and fair-traded materials, ensuring good working conditions and making products that are fully recyclable, easy-to-fix and reusable, Fairphone hopes to revolutionize the smartphone market with its eco-conscious products.

As the electronics industry matures and moves toward more sustainable components, that combined with better design can also help reduce the steady stream of e-waste. For instance, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have come up with a way to extend the life and boost the productivity of lithium ion batteries - the standard power source in today's electronics - by treating their electrodes with hydrogen. Such a development could be huge for preventing e-waste, given that most of us toss our old phones within two years when the battery inside starts to deteriorate and underperform.

Choosing carefully when it comes to selecting your next smartphone and recycling your old one through its manufacturer are important first steps in becoming part of the solution to the growing problem of e-waste.

Becoming an advocate by encouraging others to do the same is another way to greatly expand your positive impact. The nonprofit e-Stewards program is dedicated to teaching people how to deal with used electronics - and individuals can pledge to become one of the program's envoys to help spread the word about the importance of reducing e-waste.

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-07-26 07:36:52
<![CDATA[Porcelain for posterity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239377.htm An ongoing exhibition in Beijing showcases the excellence of the 'five great kilns' of imperial China. Lin Qi reports.

Some 40 years ago, the late Chen Wenzeng became an artisan at a porcelain-making factory in his native Hebei province. There he met two workers, Lin Zhanxian and He Huan. The three of them then devoted themselves to restoring the glory of Ding ware.

For many centuries, between the Tang (618-907) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, kilns in Hebei's Dingzhou county, now called Quyang, where Chen was born, produced white ceramics, making the Ding kilns one of ancient China's "five great kilns".

The technique, however, declined and disappeared in chaos after Yuan rule ended.

 

A copy of the Ding ceramic pillow by the late artist Chen Wenzeng, featuring a baby boy is on show at the National Museum of China. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily

Relying on scanty historical records, the trio then revived the technique of making Ding ware.

Their reproductions show how a Ding ceramic is unique with its paper-thin body, its smooth texture and sound, which resembles that of the ancient Chinese percussion instrument qing.

As for Chen, one of his celebrated works is a copy of Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) pillow. It is molded in the shape of a baby that lies on its belly, and its back is where people rest their heads.

There are three original ceramic pieces in existence in China: one housed at the Palace Museum in Beijing and the other two are at Taipei's Palace Museum.

Meanwhile, before he died in 2016, Chen donated one of his pieces (copies) to Beijing's Palace Museum and an identical work to the National Museum of China. The latter is now on show at an exhibition of the National Museum of China's recent acquisitions of modern porcelain pieces.

The exhibition showcases works that celebrate the excellence of the "five great kilns" in the Song Dynasty - the Jun, Ru, Guan, Ding and Ge kilnsand as well as pieces representing the Longquan kilns.

Besides the works from the kilns there are copies of other classic ware from the state museums, including a Song vase modeled after zun, a kind of bronze ware.

The original piece is in Shanghai Museum, and the piece on display was produced last year by Wang Jianwei, 52, from Henan province.

There are also works from the Heavenly Clothes painting series by Sun Jun, which depict the elegance and lightness of clothes blowing up by wind.

Lyu Zhangshen, director of the National Museum of China, says the exhibition showcases the artistic heights of Chinese porcelain, and the efforts of today's artists in carrying forward these traditions.

He says the ceramics fired at the five great kilns were exported to West Asia and Africa via the ancient marine Silk Road as early as the Tang Dynasty and through the Yuan Dynasty, and after the late 14th century they were sought by European royalty.

"Chinese porcelain had cast an influence on the economy, technology, culture and daily life of different regions," he says.

He says, however, that later the country suffered a sharp decline in the porcelain industry because of social turbulence and underdeveloped production capacity, not to mention global competition. He says many of the artists featured at the exhibition are among the first-generation from State-owned factories, which were established between the 1950s and 1970s.

The factories were mostly located at the former sites of the "five great kilns", and they sought to revive dying techniques.

Lyu says that these factories, which operate today, have not only decoded the secrets of porcelain-making but have also created modern works, especially Chinese-style dinnerware that are used as state gifts and at state feasts.

The exhibition also features tableware, which was used at the G20 summit held in Hangzhou in 2016 and at the Belt and Road forum in Beijing in May.

The tableware was designed and manufactured in Zhejiang province - where the Longquan kilns and the Ge kilns were located - and in Shenzhen.

Zhang Shouzhi, a retired professor of Tsinghua University who specializes in porcelain technique, says that to rebuild China's reputation in porcelain, Chinese companies have to study classic Chinese motifs and shapes.

The 85-year-old veteran, who has designed ceramic sets used for state ceremonies since the 1950s, says: "The main thing for a ceramic artist is to love life. For example, Longquan boasts picturesque scenery and people turned their love for the landscapes into Longquan green-glazed porcelain."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[Exhibition shines spotlight on British abstract artist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239376.htm Age prohibits Gillian Ayres, the British abstract artist, from doing as much work as she would love to with regard to painting and gardening.

"The day I was no longer able to dig a hole and plant something or climb up ladders to paint large paintings was as bad as the day my driving license was taken away because of old age," the 87-year-old artist says in an email interview.

Yet her latest paintings still burst fiercely with vibrant colors and powerful shapes. She is inspired by the environment surrounding her home in the remoteness of southwestern England and also the plants she has grown for some 30 years.

 

British abstract artist Gillian Ayres' exhibition, Sailing off the Edge, to be held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, will showcase 17 large paintings she has produced since 1979. Photos Provided to China Daily

"The place I live is a great place to work and paint," she says.

"Most of my favorite plants originally come from China."

She sees nature as paints, she says.

Ayres will share the richness of her art in her China debut in Beijing on July 30.

Titled Sailing off the Edge, the exhibition to be held at the Central Academy of Fine Arts from July 30, will show 17 large paintings that she has produced since 1979.

That year marked a special moment in Ayres' career. She had just become head of painting at the Winchester School of Art, the first woman to hold such a position in Britain.

She gave up teaching in 1981 to be a career painter. But it was not until her late 50s that she could live by painting alone.

Explaining the exhibition title, Philip Dodd, the British curator, says it is because Ayres compares her way of painting to the experience of Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who thought the world was flat before he sailed, and "sailed off the edge of the known world", finding new worlds.

He says when Ayres is asked about what her paintings mean, she says she does not know.

"She says this because each time she does a painting she is 'sailing off the edge', exploring new worlds in paint. Her paintings are new worlds, unknown before they are made," Dodd says.

Ayres will not attend the exhibition opening because of a heart problem and diabetes.

She says she was so ill last winter that it took her a long time to get better.

Her artist son Sam Mundy will be present on her behalf.

Besides the Beijing exhibition, a retrospective of Ayres' art is now on at the National Museum Cardiff, Wales, through Sept 3.

Her exhibitions address a recent phenomenon in the international art world - showcasing senior female artists.

Exhibitions are being held to recognize their creativity that was overlooked earlier.

Dodd says that thanks to the waves of feminism people now look back and see female artists who were invisible to museums earlier.

"Gillian Ayres is an important artist because she is a good artist. But this present moment makes it easier to 'see' her."

Ayres says the act of trying to achieve something is in reality "very lonely", but she has never felt inferior as a woman because half of the world is made up of them.

"There is nothing stopping them (female artists)!"

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[A most unlikely cook]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239375.htm A former anthropologist, who says creativity and flexibility are more important than authenticity, presents dozens of dishes from different countries in her latest book. Xing Yi reports.

With vivid images and descriptions of color, taste and smells, Tzu-i Chuang's book of recipes Simple, Sumptuous, Sublime is an enjoyable read. The book showcases 84 dishes from different cuisines, such as pickled Chinese lettuce stems, Indian keema curry and Mediterranean style roast fish.

"There are also dishes cooked in a combination of different styles," she says in Beijing.

   

"Cooking food is more diverse than the dichotomy between 'Chinese' and 'Western' cuisines."

With each recipe, Chuang shares an essential cooking technique that can be applied to other dishes, allowing readers to create their own dishes.

"Rules can be broken," Chuang tells readers at a recent event.

"I think creativity and flexibility are more important than the authenticity of dishes."

Chuang has some 170,000 fans on Chinese micro blog Sina Weibo, where she shares her cooking.

Chuang, who was born in Taiwan, had no plans to become a chef and food writer when she was growing up.

In 2006, she was a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"Writing a thesis is tough work and it was making me depressed," she says.

"Cooking was my only consolation. I used to cook at home and invite friends over to eat and chat."

Chuang then decided to move to Massachusetts, to be with her husband who was at Harvard University then, and finish her thesis there.

One day, she passed by the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, and saw students busy cooking.

"That was when I became aware that there is such a thing as a culinary school," says Chuang.

She then applied to join the school.

"I thought that I would try it (cooking) for a year. And if it didn't work out I would go back to finish my doctoral studies," says Chuang. "But after two weeks, I decided I would not go back."

"At a party at Harvard, when I told people I am a chef, they were like 'that's amazing!'" she says. "People can see your passion when doing the thing you love and they feel happy for you."

As an anthropologist-turned-chef, Chuang wrote about her experiences online, and then published two books: Anthropologist in the Kitchen (2009) and Everybody Wants to Cook (2012).

Hong Kong writer Leung Man-tao in a recommendation for her first book, says: "Chuang is not a betrayer of anthropology. She is a gourmet who finally finds the kitchen, the place where she belongs."

In her books, Chuang supports organic farming, eating local seasonal food and reducing waste.

"It is not very good that young people do not know how to cook at home," she says. "We need to go back to the kitchen."

Chuang has been posting videos on how to cook on YouTube since 2013. And her videos have received tens of thousands of views, besides gaining her nearly 60,000 followers.

As for fans, a young reader says at the event: "I learned to cook a lot of dishes by watching your videos.

"I hope to see more videos from you because they are a really convenient way to learn cooking."

Chuang, who has spent the past few years in Boston, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Washington and Jakarta with her husband Jim Mullinax, a US diplomat, says that through cooking people can forge closer bonds with family and friends.

"Everywhere I went, even if we were just spending a year or two there, I decorated our house to make it homely. And made a lot of friends."

Chuang says that when inviting friends home to eat, it is better to increase the quantity of each dish than to cook many dishes.

"So you can have the time to dress yourself, put on make-up and chat with friends. This is a more elegant way to live."

Chuang left Jakarta in June and is set to move to Chengdu, in Sichuan province, in August, where she hopes to discover new things about food.

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

Zhou Yifan contributed to the story.

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[What a feast! Tour de France food and drink gems]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239374.htm PARIS - For three weeks, as the Tour de France riders did their thing, a team of journalists who followed them valiantly ate and drank their way through the gastronomic offerings along the 3,540-kilometer route. From the start in Germany, through Belgium and Luxembourg, and around France they sampled the local beverages and dishes, sifting good from bad so you won't have to.

Taste of the Tour, a daily sporting, cultural and gastronomic guide to Stages 1 to 20, recorded their findings.

Here, as the Tour wrapped up on Sunday with the final Stage 21 to Paris, is their "best of" the gems and must-try treats waiting to be eaten, drunk and discovered by anyone who follows in the 104th Tour's footsteps:

Plat du Tour: In many ways, it's unfair to single out just one dining experience from the three-week gastronomic marathon also known as the Tour de France. The stinky Herve cheese in Belgium, for example, was as memorable as the pungent blue Roquefort sheep's cheese served by young farmers on Stage 14 to Rodez. And the Japanese food at the race start in Duesseldorf, catering to its large Japanese population, held its own against some of the signature dishes that towns across France proudly offered to Tour visitors. But in this exalted company, one dinner surpassed them all. The Gouts et Couleurs (Tastes and Colors) restaurant in Rodez has one star in the famed Michelin food guide. The only question, after a five-course treat of gastronomic inventiveness that bordered on art, was why the cozy place doesn't have more. The veal and the chocolate sorbet dessert were otherworldly.

Vin du Tour: The Tour champion traditionally waits until the very last stage into Paris to enjoy a flute of celebratory Champagne in the saddle as he rides to the finish on the Champs-Elysees to collect his winner's prize of 500,000 euros ($582,000). Those who follow the riders around France, writing about, filming and recording their feats for history, cannot in good conscience show such restraint. And that's not their fault. Honest. Invariably, Tour towns proudly ply race visitors with their local tipple: a cherry brandy in eastern France, boutique Champagnes on Stage 6 that went past the home of France's wartime hero and former president Charles de Gaulle, and some Burgundy reds so memorable on Stage 7 that it became increasingly hard, as the glasses added up, to remember what they were called. But a highlight from the multitude of vineyards crossed or neared in the past three weeks would be Condrieu, north of the finish of Stage 16. The appellation spreads over just 100 hectares in northern Rhone, close to the vineyards of Cote-Rotie. Its wines are dry with floral and fruit flavors. They don't come cheap, but these exceptional elixirs need to be tried at least once.

Home du Tour: The bed and breakfast revolution that has swept across France, producing an astounding array of alternatives to featureless hotels, has made following the Tour a far more pleasant and livable experience. Cheaper too, because comfortable homestays are often better value than ho-hum hotels. How does a night in a medieval fortress sound? In Baraqueville in the south of France, one family of dairy farmers charges just 20 euros ($23) per person per night for a bed in their giant fortified home, with a breakfast of fresh bread, jam, milk straight from the cow and as much coffee as your heart can handle.

Jam du Tour: If there was a yellow jersey for the best home-made jam, Marlene Gosset would win it. Her Matin Tranquille bed and breakfast on a hill overlooking Liege in Belgium, the finish of Stage 2, is a haven of comfort, tranquility and good taste. Marlene is a delightful host. And her jams... oh! Made from fruits from her back garden, full of flavor and not too sweet, they turned breakfast into a ray of sunshine.

Best stage: Stage 12 to the Peyragudes ski station in the Pyrenees seemed tailor-made for Chris Froome to execute one of his devastating uphill attacks and put the Tour beyond his rivals' reach. But on the absurdly steep final ramp on a high-altitude landing strip, the three-time champion suddenly ran out of gas. The Briton's wheels seemed to be glued to the road. He huffed and he puffed but he couldn't bring his race lead home. French rider Romain Bardet scrambled up the 16-percent gradient to win the stage, and Italian Fabio Aru took the yellow jersey of Froome's shoulders. The mountain airstrip was a filming location for the 1997 James Bond adventure Tomorrow Never Dies. Twenty years later, it provided the most dramatic twist in the story-line of the 104th Tour.

Best scenery: Because it mostly takes smaller roads, the Tour is treated to some of the best scenery France has to offer. The Izoard pass in the Alps was the high point, with the highest mountain-top finish, won by Warren Barguil on Stage 18, and the most breathtaking views. At an altitude of 2,360 meters, only a few hardy flowers and trees have adapted to the rarefied air. The huge gray slopes of scree lend the place a surreal feel. This was the first time in the history of the 114-year-old Tour that a stage finished at the top of the punishing and famous climb.

Next stage: All good things must come to an end.

See you next year.

Associated Press

 

Supporters (left) are seen with a giant statue at the start of a stage during the 104th Tour de France cycling race. For three weeks, a team of journalists valiantly ate and drank their way through the gastronomic offerings along the 3,540-kilometer route. Photos by Reuters

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[Lively lens]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239373.htm Photos of ordinary people near bridges make waves. Tan Yingzi reports in Chongqing.

Chongqing has built more than 4,500 bridges in recent years, the largest number in China.

Located in Southwest China, through which the Jialing River flows into the Yangtze, it is often referred to as the "City of Bridges".

Unlike some photographers who focus on the architectural beauty of bridges, Yin Jun pays attention to the lives of ordinary people around them.

 

A woman (above), with a torch in her mouth, works in a vegetable market under Shuangbei Bridge in Chongqing. The daily lives of ordinary people revolve around the 4,500 bridges in the city. They develop farms, have picnics and dance around the bridges. Photos by Yin Jun / Provided to China Daily

"Bridges symbolize the development of a city," he says. "They also bring many changes in the lives of people, and I want to record that."

Since 2015, Yin, 54, an amateur photographer, has visited major bridges in downtown from Chongqing and taken more than 20,000 pictures. He lives there as well.

His photo collection, titled Under the Bridges, recently won the top prize at the 2017 Chongqing Photo Contest, which is the largest photography competition in the city held once in two years.

The collection includes eight pictures that show daily life of the local people. Under the bridges, people sell vegetables, have picnics, develop farms, dance, sing, pray and sleep.

The picture of a woman selling vegetables one dimly-lit winter morning with a torch in her mouth has won high praise from the judges and the media.

"It is an open-air Sunday farmer's market under Shuangbei Bridge," Yin says. "There is no lighting system so vendors have to arrange their own lights for the stands when the day is still dark."

He found a young woman as she was busy piling up vegetables with both hands and used her mouth to hold the torch.

"I was touched by her diligence," he recalls. "I got her permission to take the pictures. I also bought some vegetables from her."

Another photo tells the story of an old migrant worker who slept under the Jialingjiang bridge to save money. Many poor people from rural areas in China come to big cities like Chongqing to find jobs.

In 2015, Yin finished his morning swim in the Jialing and found the old man, in his 50s, washing his face by the river. The migrant worker's simple luggage was packed under the bridge.

"Some of my friends knew this man and told me his story," Yin says. "I didn't want to bother him and for six days I tried to find a good angle to take pictures."

The city provides simple accommodation for migrant workers and one night costs about 10 yuan ($1.5), the photographer says, "but the old man thought it was too expensive".

For two years, Yin used his spare time to find such stories, and his friends also gave him tips. He usually went out early mornings or after dinner. His wife often went with him.

Yin began to learn photography in 2012 and in the beginning shot "everything". After a few years, he decided to focus on the daily lives of ordinary people.

"I learned photography by myself," he says. "I have read a lot of books and seen many photo albums."

His favorite photographer was the late US photojournalist Eugene Smith who had contributed to the development of the photo essay format.

"I like his photos of an American county doctor," he says. "I hope I can follow one project for a long time just like him."

Contact the writer at tanyingzi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[Artist brings island-inspired show to Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239372.htm Nanjing-based artist Zhang Lei has been described by his friends and art collectors as a "watcher" of Jiangxinzhou, an island on the Yangtze River in East China's Jiangsu province.

Until recently, the 29-year-old artist, who studied at Nanjing University of the Arts, lived on the island. Many other artists of the area have also lived in the villages of Jiangxinzhou in search of tranquility. In addition, house rents are cheap and the public transport to Nanjing city is convenient.

Zhang, who lived there for a few years, is among the last artists to have moved out of the island because old buildings are being dismantled to convert Jiangxinzhou into an upscale destination.

Zhang has found a new studio in downtown Nanjing, but says he doesn't regret departing Jiangxinzhou.

"There are always things in life that one cannot go against. One needs to accept them and move forward," he says.

But he has encapsulated his experiences on the island in many paintings. And dozens of them are now on show at a solo exhibition at the Gome Art Foundation's gallery in Beijing.

The exhibition, Passing by Jiang Xin Zhou, shows how the island's simple life used to comfort a young student away from his home in northern China - Zhang is originally from Tangshan in Hebei province - and how it kept inspiring him and allowed him to focus.

Zhang has many black-and-white paintings in his "simple and straightforward" way, and they reveal his easy attitude toward life and the larger natural environment.

His subjects include villagers, dense woods, abandoned cottages and vineyards on Jiangxinzhou that formed the basis of his daily life there. In his works, he rearranges them to create dreamy scenes in surrealistic style.

For example, he enlarges the eyes of people or depicts a bird that is disproportionally larger than the mountains where it lives.

Some other works portray a dark field under a few stars or a beam of light projected by a coming bicycle, revealing a feeling of both refreshment and loneliness.

Many of his paintings are inspired by scenes that he saw daily in Jiangxinzhou while still in college: He had to wake up early to take boat rides to Nanjing, stayed at school until late and went back home through the empty fields of Jiangxinzhou.

Zhang says although the island's landscape was his motivation to create the different pieces, he didn't paint "poetic narratives", rather, he sought to communicate the inner peace of the island, a luxury that is difficult to find elsewhere and provided him the courage to cope with his transition to big-city life.

"I've learned to turn myself into a 'thermometer' of life," he says.

The artists' community in Jiangxinzhou and the island's natural scenery have attracted the attention of outsiders including Yin Er, a Shanghai-based designer and filmmaker.

He made a film on life on the island and cast Zhang in a lead role - a painter and a house agent (in spare time) who meditates between villagers and migrants in Jiangxinzhou.

"Zhang's work boasts graceful smoothness in texture, a feature that is easy to describe but difficult of find," Yin says, comparing the art to jade.

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[London to create new art quarter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239371.htm LONDON - The City of London Corporation and major arts organizations in the Square Mile announced on Friday ambitious plans to create a new art quarter for the historic city. The northern border of the city of London will be the home to a new Culture Mile, according to CLC, the local municipal authority.

The Culture Mile will feature a new museum covering London and its history and a new music center that will have the capacity to be a major venue for visiting orchestras. The area is already home to the Barbican Arts Center with two concert halls, two theaters, an art gallery and cinemas, as well as the Museum of London, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and London Symphony Orchestra's St Luke's venue.

In addition, the area has a rich heritage ranging from the Roman period through medieval churches and ancient crafts groups to distinguished contemporary buildings by leading architects.

"Now is the time to draw all this history, innovation and achievement together in a major initiative, as the arts, heritage and culture organizations in the northwest of the City ... come together to launch Culture Mile, a major destination for the culture of today in the heart of London's financial district," says Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican Arts Center.

"With the exciting major development of the new Museum of London in West Smithfield, and the ambitious vision to create a new Center for Music ... we have the potential to work with stakeholders and partners to redefine the role of the City for future generations," Kenyon adds.

The area has traditionally been the home of offices of major financial institutions such as the Stock Exchange and of global financial giants like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

CLC policy chairman Catherine McGuinness says the aim is to make London "admired as much for being a world-class cultural destination as for its position as a leading global financial center".

"There is no doubt that Culture Mile will transform the area and in the face of Brexit send a signal to the world that London is... a welcoming, open and resolutely internationalist city."

Xinhua

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[Museum honors Muppets creator]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/25/content_30239370.htm NEW YORK - A new exhibit featuring the work of Muppets creator Jim Henson is now on permanent display in New York to celebrate the career of the American puppeteer who brought to life such characters as Miss Piggy and Big Bird.

The Jim Henson Exhibition, housed in a new gallery space funded by the city at the Museum of the Moving Image, features more than 300 artifacts related to Henson's career, including 47 puppets, character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, iconic costumes and more.

Film and TV clips and behind-the-scenes footage are presented on more than 27 monitors and projections throughout the gallery. Interactive experiences allow visitors to try their hand at puppeteering on screen and designing a puppet character.

Barbara Miller, curator of the collections and exhibitions at the museum, says the exhibit explores Henson's work for film and TV and his transformative impact on popular culture. It also includes material from some of the puppeteer's lesser-known film projects.

"Of course there's familiar favorites like Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog and Big Bird and all the things you would expect to see at an exhibition about Jim Henson and the Muppets," says Miller.

"But there's also a picture that emerges of Jim Henson as an experimental filmmaker, as someone who was always creatively restless and looking to do the next thing," she says, adding that museum staff wanted to "permanently tell this story".

Henson's characters helmed The Muppet Show on TV between 1976 and 1981, before appearing in numerous films including 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol, and 2011's The Muppets. Henson, who died in 1990 aged 53, was also the creative mind behind the long-running children's show Sesame Street.

The exhibit was organized by the Museum of the Moving Image, located in New York's borough of Queens, in collaboration with the Henson family that donated many of the show's artifacts in 2013, The Jim Henson Legacy and The Jim Henson Company, and in cooperation with Sesame Workshop and The Muppets Studio.

Reuters

]]>
2017-07-25 07:42:58
<![CDATA[Storyteller in song]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/24/content_30224657.htm Cloud River Mountain, a collaborative work by four Western composers, is based on Chinese myths and legends and features the expressive voice of Chinese folk singer Gong Linna. Chen Nan reports.

One day in 2011, while on a tour of China with four other international composers, the American composer Michael Gordon walked into a small music store filled with televisions, all playing different music videos. One in particular caught his attention. It was Gong Linna, a Chinese folk singer known for her expressive voice.

"I had never seen or heard anything like Gong Linna and I was deeply impressed by her performance artistry," recalls Gordon, who, through hand signals, asked the store owner to write down the name of the artist.

A few days later, Gordon attended a symposium on contemporary Chinese music, and one of the speakers was the German composer Robert Zollitsch, Gong's husband.

 

Chinese folk singer Gong Linna (top and above left) performs in the concert Cloud River Mountain in New York in mid-July. The concert was a collaboration of musicians from the West and East. Photos Provided to China Daily

Gordon and Zollitsch kept in touch and decided to explore the possibilities of cooperation.

Along with fellow composers, Julia Wolfe - his wife - and David Lang, Gordon is the co-founder of Bang on a Can, a New York-based musical organization, which is known for projects such as the annual music festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, and the ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Gordon and Zollitsch collaborated on a 30-minute set of songs that premiered at the 2015 Bang on a Can Marathon.

This was later expanded into a 70-minute concert, titled Cloud River Mountain, which was performed at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College on July 14 and 15 this year, as part of the annual Lincoln Center Festival, which has been held since 1966.

At the concert, Gong performed 11 songs, with lyrics in both Mandarin and English, composed by Zollitsch, Gordon, Wolfe and Lang.

The four composers also collaborated on an instrumental piece. The music and lyrics were inspired by ancient Chinese poetry and myths, which was an idea initiated by Zollitsch.

"We did rehearsals from 10 am to 5 pm for about a week. With the diverse backgrounds of each composer, we had an amazing experience of cross-cultural musical communication," says Gong.

Born in Guiyang, the capital of Southwest China's Guizhou province, Gong started learning Chinese folk singing at a very young age and enrolled at the Chinese Conservatory of Music in Beijing at age 16.

"I performed not as a singer but also as a storyteller in the concert. Sometimes I sang like one of the mythical figures with sounds of crying and yelling," says the 42-year-old singer.

Since each of the composers has a unique style, Zollitsch gave the composers different materials based on their own styles, Gong says.

For example, American composer Lang, who won the 2010 Grammy Award for best small ensemble performance, composed Moon Goddess, which was inspired by Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet Li Shangyin's work about the goddess who lives on the moon.

Gordon composed the piece, When Yi Shot Down the Sun, which was based on Tian Wen (Asking Questions to Heaven) by Qu Yuan, a poet during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). The piece tells the Chinese myth of a young archer named Hou Yi, who shot down nine suns to cool the earth.

"It was fascinating to explore Chinese culture and the traditional Chinese vocal performance practices that Gong Linna brings to her singing," says Gordon, adding that Gong is the first Chinese singer they have worked with.

Zollitsch gave each composer the lyrics and a translation of the Chinese myths. "Then they developed their own ideas. It worked much better than I expected," says Zollitsch.

He also brought Chinese sheng (a traditional Chinese wind instrument) player Nie Yunlei to the project for the first time.

"When the sound of the sheng was mixed with Western instruments, such as an electric guitar and clarinet, it functioned as a secret ingredient, powerful and very Chinese," says Zollitsch.

The German composer grew up in Munich, Germany, and came to China on a scholarship to study guqin (the Chinese seven-stringed zither) in Shanghai in 1993.

Before settling down in Beijing, he researched traditional music in the Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions, while collaborating with a number of Chinese musicians. He met Gong in 2002 and they married in 2004.

In 2009, Gong received rave reviews after she released the song Tan Te (Disturbed) online. Composed by Zollitsch, the song uses sounds rather than words to convey different emotions and moods.

During the past few years, Zollitsch has been working on pieces inspired by poetry of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, hoping to both enliven Chinese music and bring back classical poems to a modern society.

"For years, we have been talking about reviving traditional Chinese music and bringing it to the world. The most important thing is to maintain the unique identity of Chinese music," says Gong.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-24 07:44:24
<![CDATA[American urges bar patrons in Beijing to tell personal stories]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/24/content_30224656.htm Sven Romberg narrated a personal story in public for the first time as a freshman at American University in Washington in 2005.

As part of an assignment on local culture in the US capital, he had visited a popular jazz bar called HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz & Blues and bought a soft drink because he was then underage. He had expected to listen to jazz but a woman there walked onstage and said that the evening would be about storytelling.

"I was so terrified of public speaking," recalls Romberg, now 32. "I almost left, but ended up sticking around."

Romberg didn't tell a story that night but did so the following month at the same venue. He told his audience about his brother who "woke up" during a knee surgery.

 

Sven Romberg hosts weekly storytelling nights at 4corners bar in Beijing. Mark Marino / For China Daily

Over the past three years, Romberg has been hosting weekly storytelling nights at 4corners, a hole-in-the-wall hutong (alley) bar-and-restaurant in Beijing, which mostly serves Canadian and Southeast Asian food. Every Thursday evening, he goes from table to table asking regulars and newcomers if they have a story to tell.

The venue's resident dog, Bojangles, commonly known as Bo, greets patrons at the door, while a board inside holds up the sign "Storytelling theme: Bully".

"Pow, pow," says Romberg, imitating a feisty young girl he once knew and punches the air in an attempt to teach the invisible bully a lesson.

He usually weaves his anecdotes with action and intonation. The night goes on as others recount and remember their own such stories - a woman who found out from her parents that she had bullied her brother during their childhood and a teacher who witnessed his students' pranks go wrong.

Although storytelling has persisted since ancient times as a way of writing history, the act of telling stories in public settings and recognizing them as art is a modern movement, according to Catherine Burns, the artistic director for The Moth, a nonprofit. She says she often hears about storytelling events from Australia to Antarctica.

"It makes sense to me that people who have all chosen to be in a very different part of the world, or the part they grew up in, would want to come to a bar and tell stories and connect with each other," Burns says over phone from New York.

A top quality in storytelling is the speaker's willingness "to be vulnerable", she says, because many stories are about people's struggles.

"We hear again and again someone comes out to a storytelling night, they're feeling alone and ... hear a story that might have nothing to do with them but they'll find some connection ... and they go home feeling a little bit less alone," Burns says. "As the world becomes more and more digital, it's important to connect with people in a more direct way."

Before 4corners, Romberg, who grew up in Georgia and Tennessee, would host storytelling nights in his Beijing apartment with many people.

The crowd was different every time, he says.

"A lot of people assume before they come for storytelling that it will be about China but almost overwhelmingly, the stories are about home and about travel," Romberg says. "Something about distance makes it interesting."

Tavey Lin, 4corners co-owner, says Romberg is a storyteller at heart - he wants to tell you about his life and interesting things that have happened to him.

"Our format is very off-the-cuff and we encourage that sort of atmosphere," says the 33-year-old.

Biology teacher John Mendenhall, who has watched Romberg onstage, says he is among rare hosts of such events in Beijing.

Aside from hosting the storytelling night at the hutong bar, Romberg occasionally runs workshops to help others improve their own storytelling ability and formulate narratives.

Mark Marino contributed to the story.

]]>
2017-07-24 07:44:24
<![CDATA[Stays away]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/24/content_30224655.htm Young Chinese travelers are increasingly opting out of traditional hotels in favor of shared accommodation. Yang Feiyue reports.

Wang Haining, a seasoned traveler, who has visited many cities both at home and abroad, chooses to avoid conventional hotels and instead opts for homestay, as he says it is more cost-effective and his host can introduce him to the local culture.

"It's a convenient way to get useful tips and gain a firsthand experience of local life," says Wang, who began using house-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb, Xiaozhu and Tangguo, on the recommendation of a friend.

 

Chinese travelers have become big consumers of shared accommodation overseas, with their footprint extending from Asia to the United States, Europe and Australia. Travelers on sightseeing and leisure tours are the main consumers, and most of them travel with friends and families. Photos Provided to China Daily

"This way of traveling allows me to interact with local residents and get a better understanding of local culture and customs," he says.

There are a growing number of Chinese travelers opting for peer-to-peer accommodation when traveling.

According to a report jointly published by Airbnb and the China Tourism Academy, Chinese travelers have become big consumers of sharing accommodation overseas, and their footprint extends from Asia to the United States, Europe and Australia.

Airbnb tracked 1.6 million users abroad by Chinese travelers last year, up 142 percent over the previous year.

Those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s account for 83 percent of all users.

Travelers on sightseeing and leisure tours are the main sharing accommodation consumers, and most of them travel with friends and families, the report says.

Travel periods span four to seven days.

More meaningful social interactions with locals and unique experiences, as well as reduced costs that allow travelers to enjoy destinations and tourism activities that would otherwise be out of reach because of the cost were the major reasons cited for Chinese traveler's choosing of shared accommodation.

Sharing accommodation has helped to stimulate tourism spending, utilize idle resources and boost rural development and cultural exchanges, the report say.

The top overseas destinations for shared travel include Japan, the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Australia and Italy.

Chinese travelers made 1.22 trillion trips overseas last year, and 47 percent of them had travel-sharing experiences, says Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy.

"Compared with other fields, the tourism industry has been greatly influenced by the sharing economy," says Dai, adding, "It is creating a new mode of travel."

The huge potential of the sharing travel market in China has also caught the eye of some like Jin Dongzhe, the founder of Tangguo, an internet company that matches private house renters with tourists.

He noticed the great potential in the private rental business when he entered the market in Liaoning province's capital Shenyang in 2007.

"There are many idle houses in China, especially in the third-and fourth-tier cities, and they can satisfy travelers' accommodation requirements," he says.

The government's decision to support bed-and-breakfast and short-term rentals in 2015 also encouraged Jin to launch his new company.

Tangguo now has more than 3.5 million registered users and covers villas, homestay venues, and apartments in 218 Chinese cities, and it is making inroads in 30 countries, including Thailand, Singapore, France, the US and Italy.

More than 6,000 Chinese visitors to Thailand booked through Tangguo during December 2016 to March 2017.

"I started as a private room broker between house owners and individual travelers, and I know what both sides want," Jin says.

Travelers can interact with the landlords to get information on the nearby attractions and local history and culture, and Tangguo provides a cleaning and maintenance service, so landlords and renters don't need to worry about the upkeep of the properties.

Jin has a broad vision for the sharing leisure experience.

"In the future, if you want to go to the countryside and have a barbecue, for instance, you won't need to buy all the equipment," Jin says. "All you will need to do is find the grill and things you need online and they will be there when you arrive."

Last but not least, he says, it means everyone can act as a tour guide and offer their own distinctive services.

"When travel stops being just sightseeing and becomes immersion in local life, we'll create a new travel lifestyle" Jin says.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-24 07:44:24
<![CDATA[Sichuan: From an earthquake memorial to 'agritainment']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/24/content_30224654.htm Collapsed buildings and rubble frame a sculpture of a huge jagged clock face inscribed with the date and time when a natural disaster struck Sichuan province on May 12, 2008.

The structures form part of the Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum, located in the ancient town of Anren in Dayi county.

The edifice speaks to the triumph of the human spirit - the courage to get back up when all seems lost.

Nine years ago a devastating earthquake hit Wenchuan. More than 70,000 people were killed and nearly 5 million were left homeless.

 

Left: The structure of a clock at the Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum is inscribed with the date and time when Sichuan was hit by a massive earthquake. Right: Taoping Qiang village, home of the Qiang people, is known for its ancient stone architecture. Photos by Melanie Peters / For China Daily

Today breathtaking mountains and forests form the backdrop to the museum built in memory of the disaster.

The space, sombre yet tranquil, receives many visitors and tourists.

It is the epicenter of one of China's worst earthquakes in 30 years. With a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter scale, the earthquake destroyed everything in its path.

A few years ago the Chinese government commissioned architects from Tongji University, in Shanghai, to build a museum as a reminder that man has little power when up against the force of nature.

The team was led by architect Cai Yongjie, and experts in the field of seismology were able to offer incredible sight. Cai designed large subterranean buildings with green rooftops. From above, it offers an image of a land cracked and destroyed by the underground tectonic plates.

In the museum stark photographs, relics and wax sculptures tell the story of the disaster and the rescue mission. An earthquake simulator forms part of the narrative to help visitors experience the vibrations of a real seismic event.

The museum is open daily.

Taoping Qiang village

About 16 kilometers from Wenchaun is Taoping Qiang village, in Guangrou county. It is home to members of the Qiang ethnic group. The village which dates back 2,000 years is well known for its ancient stone architecture. This includes a "mysterious oriental castle" which has piqued the curiosity of archaeologists. Tours are offered through a labyrinth of alleyways to discover more of the Qiang-style architecture.

It is a complex network of stone towers and dwellings constructed of earth, stones, hemp and wood. Each house has a white stone, a religious symbol, to ward off evil. The ancient watchtowers, ranging up to 30 meters high, take on shapes of hexagons or octagons. These solidly built towers and homes withstood the earthquake.

The Qiang people have also managed to preserve their culture and customs through the ages. In the village, women sell baskets of sweet cherries picked from nearby orchards and old men sitting at their gates enjoy barley wine. There are stalls with elegantly embroidered clothes, scarves and other trinkets particular to the region. Qiang-style embroidery is a Chinese cultural treasure and the forte of the local women. The skill has been handed down for more than 1,000 years.

Qiudi village, Lixian county

More than 2,000 meters above sea level in Sichuan's mountainous rural Lixian county, about 35 km from Wenchuan, is a small community of Jiarong Tibetans. They live in Qiudi village. Their lives, once marred by poverty, have been turned around through government programmes. Their economy received a welcome boost through yak farming, running a hydro project and tourism. Families have opened their homes to tourists who wish to experience their culture. It is a bed-and-breakfast of sorts which locals called "agritainment".

Hosts dressed in ethnic gowns welcome guests into their Tibetan-styled homes, which are ornately decorated with splashes of bold color. The mountain air is fresh and the local hospitality warm. It's a welcome retreat from city life.

The author is an online editor of South African newspaper Weekend Argus.

]]>
2017-07-24 07:44:24
<![CDATA[Ballet boys are just tutu funny]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215627.htm

 

From left: Jonathan, from the United States, inspects his costume; Victor, from the Philippines, works on his makeup; leg warmers help prevent injury; performers get ready to go on stage.

Unique show in which dancers cross the gender divide is big hit with audience in Beijing

An all-male ballet troupe recently performed in Beijing. The show, Men in Tutus, was staged at the Beijing Exhibition Theater. In the dressing room, the men put on their fake eyelashes, their dance skirts and ballet shoes with skill and grace. And, as they appeared on stage as four little swans, the audience erupted with laughter. The dance company, Les Ballets Eloelle, founded in 1996, has 15 ballets in its repertoire, with male dancers playing both the male and female roles. The show, brimming with classical and popular elements, is also filled with black humor. Les Ballets Eloelle has taken its shows to several countries, including Australia, France, Italy, South Korea and Japan.

China Daily

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[Where romance, creativity and honesty go hand-in-hand]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215605.htm

 

The coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province has attracted many travelers from home and abroad. Chen Qingqiang / For China Daily

The beauty and culture of Xiamen have proved a powerful lure for lovers and artists

Shao Ye calls his establishment a store - but if it is, it is one of the strangest stores you will ever come across. For in this place, nobody buys or sells anything, the stock in trade being goodwill.

This is Nest in Xiamen, Fujian province, and Shao is one of its co-founders.

Your first inkling that this establishment is a bit unusual comes when you walk along a narrow corridor containing shelves packed with old books and paintings. Walking up the even narrower spiral staircase, you find a bright and broad roof area with a wooden tea table, fine china cups and several bonsai plants.

Here we have a gleaming example of the sharing economy, a bit of space in the city where anyone is welcome to relax, drink tea or coffee, chat and read, without handing over so much as a jiao, unless they feel inclined to make a donation.

Shao says that since the "store" opened in 2014, visitors have not taken a single thing out of the door with them. Instead, many bring tea, coffee and snacks to share with others

"In a shop where nobody is buying stuff, tourists who come here can really relax. Xiamen is a civilized place, and if anyone can turn this idea into a reality, it can."

There are others, too, who seem to have boundless faith in this city, among them Zeng Liangliang, a tour guide who has worked here for 12 years, and who says culture and its friendly natives have drawn many people to it.

The attractions include the pedestrian-only Gulangyu Island, just a few minutes by ferry from Xiamen, which is one of the country's most visited tourist attractions. This month, the island, known in the local dialect as Kulangsu, was put on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Its celebrated piano museum, the Furong Tunnel at Xiamen University decorated with pictures by college students and the dancing team of the Xiaobailu Art Theater testify to a colorful city of culture and art, Zeng says.

"Most of the tourists I accompany are young people, along with some older people seeking a warm refuge in winter. Once they have finished their trip, 95 percent of visitors say they liked it."

One of the places many visit is Zengcuoan village, once a small fishing village, dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which has transformed itself into a gathering place for cultural creativity.

Along the narrow road, more than 1,200 creative cultural stores and hotels welcome over 10 million visitors every year.

Most of its population of more than 1,500 citizens used to make their living by planting crops, catching seafood or farming fish, but as more rural dwellers have moved into cities, the old ways have disappeared.

New ways of living appeared as a vanguard of migrants flocked to Xiamen, including painters, sculptors and folk singers, drawn to a city seen as an ideal place for practicing their arts. They sowed the seeds of the area's cultural and creative tourism, which has now become a flourishing industry.

Several years ago, the local government began organizing associations that would bring together the estimated 5,000 young people in the city involved in art and mobilize them to stage cultural events such as new year parties and training courses.

One of those who turned up was Li Renjia, who now runs a cake shop. This native of Fujian province had left it many years before, and for seven years worked for the US-based catering company Yum Brands in Beijing. In 2012, he returned to his hometown in Fujian and set up his own business in Zengcuoan village.

Xiamen is about 2,000 kilometers from Beijing and, for Li, they are worlds apart.

"In Fujian, when someone steps into your home, the first thing you do is make them a cup of tea."

That homely warmth spills over into commerce, he says, with business talks tending to be carried out in a very relaxed way, perhaps over dinner, and matters of efficiency and results taking second place to civility.

"Not everything has to be nailed down in a contract in black and white. Yet promises are respected in a spirit of integrity."

A few years ago, Zengcuoan village's shop owners jointly signed a pledge on honest trading, including a clause that stipulated that any store engaged in dishonest conduct would be expelled from the village, he says.

Such honesty seems to be a winning policy, for Li says that in five years his daily revenue has risen a hundredfold, from about 100 yuan ($15; 13 euros; 11.60) in 2012 to more than 10,000 yuan now. That success has been underpinned by applying a dash of artisanal and commercial flair to his baking, drawing on a 120-year-old Fujian technique and using it to make cakes that contain fresh flowers - the target market being women ages 18 to 30.

Another of Zengcuoan's shopkeepers is Hou Yen-chin, 36, who opened a porcelain shop in 2015. Unlike many of his peers who have abandoned noisier, rowdier places for the tranquility of Xiamen, Hou felt immediately at home after arriving there from Miaoli county in Taiwan.

"This place and my hometown have a lot in common," he says. "In both, the lifestyle is slow and tranquil."

In his shop, customers who flock from all around the country are able to paint porcelain cups with custom words and images, he says. In many cases they will be gifts for loved ones that include the artist's heartfelt wishes.

Love helps nearby Siming district do a roaring trade. Xitouxia village in the district is now the go-to picture location for couples who are about to marry. Ten wedding photography businesses have set up there and there are 70 photography studios that cater to about 30,000 couples from around the country every year.

chenmeiling@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[Stuffed full with tradition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215604.htm

 

Niangdoufu becomes a lot more than just bean curd. Photos Provided to China Daily

Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

Ever since the Chinese invented bean curd, they have been trying all ways to make it taste even better. On its own, bean curd is bland, but it can be paired with other ingredients with great versatility.

Thousands of years ago, some clever cook decided to make a pocket in a piece of bean curd and stuff some meat in there. The recipe was picked up by other clever cooks over the years and fine-tuned into a variety of styles that variously developed in Sichuan, Guangdong and Hunan provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

There is a story about the dish's origins.

An aging mother was very bothered by how quarrelsome her sons had become and she tried many times to defuse the tension between the siblings. Finally, one day, she got them to come home for dinner.

She decided to make their favorite food. One son loved tofu, while the other loved meat. She thought hard and combined meat and tofu into one dish and made bean curd stuffed with pork. Her sons loved it.

While they were eating, she took the opportunity to remind them of the power of unity. Her sons, mellowed by good food, quietly nodded. They did learn their lesson and went on to build a business empire together.

Perhaps this was one of the reasons this dish became so popular.

But there was one particular community that adopted the stuffed bean curd as its own. The Hakkas, originally "guest people" from the Central Plains, subsequently settled in the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong.

Hakka stuffed bean curd or niangdoufu has become a culinary style, going far beyond just that one dish. Inside the walled villages or tulou of the Hakka people, the women used to spend hours each day cutting bean curd and making the filling.

These would then be fried before being served with a savory brown gravy.

As time passed, they augmented and improved the taste by using deep-fried tofu, tofu puffs and thin layers of skin off the top of soybean milk. They also started making the filling more substantial.

Meat was mixed with fish and prawn paste, and finely minced salted fish was added to increase the umami.

It was only natural to use vegetables from their garden within the village walls, including such southern varieties like bitter melon, lotus roots, okra, aubergines, red and green chili peppers, melon, squash and pumpkin.

So, niangdoufu became a lot more than just bean curd. It became a dish that included stuffed vegetables and other tofu products.

Then, the Hakkas joined the diaspora to Southeast Asia, and they brought their stuffed bean curd with them.

Away from the motherland, the ingredients and cooking method evolved once again, adapting to local conditions.

In the Southeast Asian archipelago, fish was more easily available than meat, and pork became more a seasoning than the main ingredient.

Other emigrants from Chaoshan also contributed to the dish, teaching the Hakkas how to make fish paste that could be used as filling.

In Singapore and Malaysia, two styles of niangdoufu became popular.

The Hakkas retained their original recipe, using fish paste as the foundation of the filling and adding meat and salted fish. They kept the selection simple, sticking to bean curd products mainly, with fewer vegetable choices.

They also developed garlic-based savory sauces and served it with chili, pounded and fried, very much like a cross between a sambal and hot oil. They also served their tofu with platters of a thick sweet hoisin sauce.

The fish-paste stuffed niangdoufu is very popular with office ladies and those who prefer a lighter diet, because there are plenty of vegetables to choose from.

A food stall offering niangdoufu is a colorful display, and these days the modern food courts in Singapore will almost invariably have a vendor offering this.

Apart from the freshness of the vegetables and bean curd products, and the sweet fish filling, diners also look at the soup that comes with the pieces.

It has to be brewed from soybeans and dried anchovies. The beans give the broth a natural sweetness, and the dried anchovies give it depth.

Sometimes, the soup is made with sprouted soybeans, which adds a similar flavor but is much easier to manage because the beans do not need to be rehydrated.

There is a little ritual to ordering.

You line up at the stall with a large bowl and little tongs. Then, you select what you need - fish balls, tofu, stuffed vegetables, maybe pickled squid pieces, a sheet of laver, a bundle of konnyaku, your choice of water-cress, cabbage or Shanghai greens.

The stall holder will next ask you to choose from rice vermicelli, thick or thin noodles, or glass noodles. Then you have to tell him if you wanted the niangdoufu in soup, or served dry.

The pieces in your bowl are expertly blanched to cook them, and the noodles added to the bowl. The large pieces of stuffed beancurd and vegetables are then snipped into bite-sized portions with scissors.

Fried golden garlic, toasted sesame seeds, a savory sprinkle of soy sauce and sesame oil, and you have a delectable, healthy meal.

By the side of the stall will be tubs of chili and hoisin sauces from which diners can help themselves.

In China itself, you'd be hard put to find vegetables served with beancurd outside the Hakka walled villages. It is interesting to see how one dish has so evolved in its journey through both history and to different places. Classic dishes can easily withstand the test of time.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Homemade Stuffed Bean Curd

1 box of silky tofu, carefully cut into squares

200g minced pork belly

50g dried salted fish, bones removed, minced

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon minced shallots

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt and sugar to taste

1 cup water plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a mixing bowl, mix minced pork, minced salted fish and teaspoon cornstarch together. Mix vigorously in one direction till it gets sticky. Add the minced shallots and mix well.

Lay out the tofu squares in a steaming platter. Use a teaspoon to scoop out a hollow in the center of each tofu square. Place a heaped spoonful of meat filling inside.

Using your wet hands, smooth over the top. Steam over high heat for 10 minutes.

While tofu is steaming, fry the garlic in enough oil to get it crisp and golden. Drain and set aside.

Pour off excess oil. Heat up soy sauce, Chinese wine and sesame oil in the same pan. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and add to the pan. Cook until sauce is translucent. Sprinkle on half the fried garlic.

Remove tofu from steamer and pour off any water on the plate. Pour the bubbling brown sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining garlic and some spring onions.

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[Seeking lost libraries along the silk road]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215603.htm

 

Abigail Reynolds plans a book incorporating images, texts and other documents originating from her experience, as well as moving-image works using her 16mm footage. Photos Provided to China Daily

British artist's six-month journey by motorbike took her to sites in China, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and Iran

British artist Abigail Reynolds recently embarked on a six-month journey in search of lost libraries along the ancient Silk Road route, traveling by motorbike.

The artist, based in Cornwall, England, followed a route to trace and document 16 libraries lost to conflicts, natural catastrophes and war. It resulted in her visiting locations dating from 291 BC to 2011 in China, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Egypt, Italy and Iran.

"The journey itself was challenging and huge, encompassing three-quarters of the globe, traversing multiple cultures, none familiar to me," she says. "The journey took me to the edges of my knowledge, just as the lost libraries took me to the edge of visuality."

She says she chose the Silk Road because it is a symbol of exchange among cultures.

"The Silk Road was open for the longest time, and it was always a positive symbol of connection and communication," she says. "I knew that there would be libraries along that route, because books were a precious commodity, along with silk, gold, medicines and all the other things that empires desire."

Reynolds loved the idea of following the same path taken by well-known figures before her.

"There were some very well known, celebrated libraries that were lost and found along the Silk Road, and I enjoyed the idea that I would be following a meaningful line and making a journey that many people had made before me, such as Marco Polo and Muhammad Ibn Battuta." The first leg of her arduous journey was in China - Yinchuan in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Xi'an in Shaanxi province and Dunhuang in Gansu province.

She relied on her motorbike to get around and a 16mm, wind-up Bolex camera to capture her adventures. But finding the libraries was not an easy task.

The oldest lost library on the Silk Road was the Xianyang Palace in Xi'an, which was destroyed around 261 BC. All that remains today is a wasteland, and she was advised to visit the Terracotta Warriors settlement near the area instead, but she persisted.

"No one wanted me to go to the Xianyang Palace site," she says. "The guides who were there told me it did not exist. I just had to do a lot of arguing. In fact, there is a museum there."

Although the site is decrepit and dusty, Reynolds says there was "something realistic and beautiful about that".

She describes the Mogao caves in Dunhuang as an incredible find. The library there was discovered more than 150 years ago, and "there were scrolls that have been collected from all the cultures that fed into the Silk Road".

The language barrier also gave rise to another set of challenges.

"I don't speak any Chinese, and I don't recognize the writing or read the body language," Reynolds says.

"When I was in Xi'an, I didn't know the word for rice, which now I know, so I had to draw a bowl of rice and everyone in the restaurant thought this was hilariously funny and they passed around my drawing. But I got the rice."

Reynolds has always been fascinated with libraries, having "lived a life around books as well as visual art".

The artist even worked as a bibliographical citations assistant for the Oxford English Dictionary.

"I often think about communities of people and how these communities shift and change through time, how our ideals change, and the library for me is like a portrait of a community," she says.

Reynolds is now involved in a community group fighting to save her local library from closure. "On the news, there are so many reports of the destruction of cultural sites in Iraq, like in Mosul and Palmyra, and I am aware of libraries being lost in Damascus," she says.

"So the sense of the loss of a library is something which is extremely contemporary but also ancient, and a subject that is very close to me at home in my personal life."

The result of her epic journey through 2,000 years of history and across much of the globe is Ruins of Time: Lost Libraries of the Silk Road, an exhibition held at Art Basel earlier this year in Hong Kong.

She says her exploration is more important than ever following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

"At the moment, I feel, particularly in the UK, that we are turning away from a lot of good decisions that were made, about being a part of the EU, about embracing otherness, becoming more liberal, more tolerant, more interested in differences," Reynolds says.

"All of these things are really important to me, in terms of my cultural identity. I feel dismayed that the wider culture that I belong to seems to be rejecting these principles that I think are so important."

Reynolds says that as a woman, traveling solo, she faced unfamiliar places and cultures that were quite difficult at times.

"I knew I'd be traveling in Iran and I would need to wear the hijab, but the actual physical experience of wearing the hijab was so outside my experience.

"I was terrible at wearing the hijab, it kept slipping off," she says.

"And it was difficult to remember that you must not shake hands with a man. I feel that as an artist I had experiences which I think will take me a long time to fully process or understand, and that of course has an impact on my work."

In Cornwall, Reynolds uses a motorbike to commute to her studio, and she decided to use the same method of transportation for her journey to make the adventure more "her own".

Traveling by motorbike, Reynolds was able to meet people she would not normally meet, an aspect she says she really enjoyed.

She also emphasizes the importance of being "connected and physical" in her trip.

"I would not join a tour group in a coach because you'd just be stuck on this thing which isn't even your decision. I just feel like you would lose all agency, lose all your ability to do things your own way, which is the opposite of what I like. Being on a motorbike, you're really connected to your environment because you're vulnerable. You're very aware all the time of everything around you. I really value that feeling."

Reynolds, who studied English literature at Oxford University, now plans a book incorporating images, texts and other documents originating from her experience, as well as moving-image works using her 16mm footage.

boleung@mail.chinadailyuk.com

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[In search of Shangri-La]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215602.htm

 

Napa lake in countryside Shangri-La, Yunnan province, in June. The area is a top destination for migratory birds.

It was a fictional paradise that became a reality - and now those who live there want more people to share its delights

In his 1933 novel Lost Horizon, British author James Hilton described "Shangri-La" as a mysterious valley in the Himalayan region where the main character, Hugh Conway, a diplomat from his country, hopes to find peace from the conflicts of the world.

In an interview, Hilton said he had imagined the place based on research at a museum library.

"A full moon rose, touching each peak in succession like some celestial lamplighter, until the long horizon glittered against a blue-black sky," he wrote in the book.

In 2001, the ancient town of Zhongdian in Southwest China's Yunnan province was renamed Shangri-La. Located at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters above sea level, it is called Gyalthang - the "valley of the blue moon" - in Tibetan. Shangri-La is the seat of the local government of the Diqing Tibet autonomous prefecture.

According to one theory, Zhongdian was renamed because it bears a strong resemblance to Hilton's fictional land, while another suggests it was done to boost tourism.

Nevertheless, this town in Yunnan's northwest - with its old wooden houses, quiet alleys, surrounding mountains, a large lake, mastiffs and yaks - is charming.

And, some residents, local and foreign settlers alike, are working to raise the remote town's profile.

The larger county's population of 170,000 is mostly made up of Tibetans. Members of the Lisu ethnic group, among others, also live there.

Dakpa Kelden, a 47-year-old Tibetan entrepreneur and art patron, returned to the town in 1987 from India. The town's airport was built in the 1990s, when foreign tourists first started to arrive.

Shangri-La was a different place back then, he says.

The area's main business used to be exporting wood, but a flood of the Yangtze River halted that trade. Subsequently, tourism picked up and is now estimated to fetch 1 billion yuan ($147 million; 123.4 million euros; 127 million) annually.

Dakpa Kelden runs a boutique hotel and a thangka art school near the town's public square that offers a stunning view of a Buddhist temple, especially at night when its top facade is lit.

Chinese youngsters regularly enroll for residential programs teaching the centuries-old Buddhist art form, which uses colors made by grinding materials such as rocks and pearls.

"Our purpose (at the training center) is to give them the required skills and knowledge of the history of thangka painting," he says.

Karma Tachen, 31, vice-chairman of Shangri-La Highland Craft Brewery, studied the art form in college in his hometown in neighboring Sichuan province. Lately, he has been living the "life of Zen" in Shangri-La after spending some time in Italy, where he had gone to learn design.

The company on the town's outskirts, where a new development area is taking shape was established by Songtsen Gyalzur, a Swiss real estate developer of Tibetan origin, in 2009.

With a growing appetite for craft beer in the country and the availability of natural resources like fresh water and highland barley in Shangri-La, it is aiming to increase production from 4,000 metric tons a year to 24,000 tons in the future.

The company has invested 45 million yuan of its planned 98.8 million, Karma Tachen says.

While sales have been limited to Yunnan so far, they will likely enter Sichuan, the Tibet autonomous region and Qinghai province, in the country's northwest, later this year.

The company's beer bottles feature artwork inspired by Tibetan folk stories, but demand for craft beer among young people locally has yet to pick up.

Shangri-La's mysticism and fine summer weather have drawn many foreign tourists over the years, but there are few who have settled permanently.

Cafe owner Uttara Sarkar Crees came to Shangri-La nearly 20 years ago and has decided to stay there. She had lived in Africa, Nepal and her home country, India, before beginning a life in China.

Shangri-La has always been rich in culture and biodiversity, she says.

"There's a lot more integration among the ethnic communities today."

A huge fire raged through the old parts of the town in January 2014, dealing a big blow to more than 300 business establishments, including hers. Although the rebuilding is ongoing, tourist numbers have fallen in the past two years because of the large-scale destruction of restaurants and hotels.

"Some expats moved out after the fire," says Guillaume de Penfentenyo, a partner at Flying Tigers, a bar frequented by foreigners that takes its name from the US armed forces' volunteers who helped China fight Japanese attacks during World War II.

Before settling down in Shangri La in 2015, the 29-year-old from France had lived for a while in the city of Wuxi, in East China's Jiangsu province.

He says property rents here have increased in recent times and essential commodities like vegetables are expensive because local traders get them from other parts of Yunnan.

He doesn't find Shangri-La exotic or laid-back, but rather a place with "quality of life".

satarupa@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[A new view of Nanjing - the amazing city]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215601.htm

 

African journalists have fun on the Nanjing city wall. Edmund Smithasante / For China Daily

Stunning show made group of visitors envious of the metropolis that has achieved so much

We grudgingly got out of the bus because we felt so tired and thought we were heading straight for our hotel to rest after long hours climbing the Nanjing city wall and visiting other historical sites.

In our exhaustion we had all forgotten that we had not finished our itinerary for the day and that we still had to visit the Nanjing Planning Exhibition Hall.

Our group of African journalists, in China at the invitation of the China Africa Press Centre and the China Public Diplomacy Association, were not so enthused when we were shown around the hall, whose exhibits were similar to those we had already seen on the tour.

These were ancient relics, pictures of some past emperors and prototypes of some human settlements as they existed many years ago.

But it was in another big hall, with the setting of a theater or film auditorium, that the journalists lit up.

We found ourselves walking on glass, and beneath us, as well as in the open space ahead of us, we saw a model of the whole city of Nanjing, masterfully crafted, with high-rise buildings, roads and other infrastructure, as if they were real.

"Wow," everybody kept saying as we gingerly trooped into the hall, marvelling at the beautiful work and the effort put into every detail. We saw mountains, rivers and anything you can imagine that exists in real life.

Then we saw one of the officials of the city, who had accompanied us, signaling to someone. We didn't know what for until the lights went out in the hall and we were shown a 15-to 20-minute video about the city, showing what it had achieved and its future plans.

However, if we were excited about what we were seeing, we were oblivious to the pleasant shock that awaited us.

Just as the video started, the model of the city came alive, with street lights and lights in the buildings. Amazing.

What a spectacle that was. Nanjing is truly a very well-planned city, down to the very finest detail.

Then the comparisons began.

"Can we have this back in our own countries?" we kept asking ourselves, while we lamented the haphazard developments back home and how we sometimes lacked foresight in the planning of our cities.

Nanjing was formerly called Nanking, which means capital of the south. It is one of the oldest cities in China, with a 2,500-year history and a population of 8.3 million, separated into the northern and southern parts by the Yangtze River.

The former capital of China, considered a medium-sized city, it is currently the capital of Jiangsu province.

The city, which covers 6,592 square kilometers, boasts petrochemical, automobile, chemical, electronic, ICT and pharmaceutical industries, and previously produced Fiat vehicles with the Italian motor giant.

Currently it has a partnership with British company MG to produce cars.

Earlier, the group of journalists visited the Nanjing city wall, which was built more than 600 years ago by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, who started the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The wall has a height of 21 meters.

Although the construction methods are still a mystery, legend has it that the wall was built by over 1 million people with bricks and stones, using special adhesive made from tung oil, glutinous rice juice and lime powder.

The brick manufacturers had to put their addresses on the blocks to serve as a means of accountability to ensure that only good-quality bricks were made for the wall. Anyone who did a shoddy job was punished.

The wall had four parts and included the capital wall, interior and outer walls, but only the capital wall has been preserved.

According to the tour guide, the original length of the capital city wall was 35.267 km but is now 25.091 km after parts were destroyed in battles over the years.

Of the wall's 13 gates that existed in historical times to facilitate easy movements and trade, only four remain today.

The journalists explored the city wall from two of the remaining gates - the southern or Zhonghua City Gate, the largest in China currently, and the South East Gate of the Ming City Wall.

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[Catching a sunrise in the Kubuqi dunes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215600.htm

It was a very fine Tuesday morning when a group of African journalists and Chinese officials gathered at 4 am in front of the Seven Star Lake Desert Hotel in the Kubuqi Desert.

We were going on a trip to the desert to see the sun rise.

Curiosity and a love of nature is what made most of us decide to join the early-morning trip, even though we were weary from the previous day's long hours of touring.

Sunsets are popular in Africa and produce picturesque views - but sunrise? It was worth exploring, we reasoned.

Twenty-seven journalists from as many African countries, in China on a 10-month exchange program, were accompanied in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region by three officials from the China Africa Press Centre, the organizers.

For those of us who had opted for the desert trip, the drive was not too long and soon we were at the location where we would wait patiently until the sun was ready to rise from its slumber.

The trek to the best vantage point on the dunes in the Kubuqi Desert was not an easy one, and only the most willing and determined made the ascent.

Every step we took, our feet would sink deep into the fine desert sand and it took some skill and strength to put one foot in front of the other.

Eventually, the party of 13 people was able to get to the apex of the dunes and see, sprawled beneath them, a vast expanse of desert, shrubs and - what a surprise - in the distance, a crater filled with water . .. an oasis!

Some balancing skills were needed to avoid sliding down the dunes, and one organizer gave us a scare when he cautioned us not to stray too far or risk sliding down and being swallowed by quicksand.

I hope that wasn't true. Thankfully it wasn't put to the test.

The trip was worth it, however, because not long afterward we saw the rays of the sun appearing gradually from the clouds.

What a majestic sight it was when the sun eventually appeared in all its splendor. A beautiful golden hue engulfed us.

The cameras started clicking and the pictures were breathtaking.

"Wow" became the word of the moment - and what an emotional moment it was for all of us.

The glory of the sun as it rose over the Kubuqi Desert could easily provoke tears.

"Nature is beautiful. Nature is wonderful and we are glad that we cut short our sleep to witness this splendor."

That was the silently spoken sentiment of those who had braved the dunes.

Soon the heat of the sun grew in intensity and we had no choice but to return to our base - the hotel - and get ready for the day's activities.

The experience on the dunes had invigorated us for the day's activities, which included traveling to another city in Inner Mongolia autonomous region - Ordos, in the Kangbashi New District.

We were ready to take on any activity lined up for the day after that awe-inspiring and emotional encounter with nature. The memory will stay with us for a very long time.

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[Family tree roots go deep]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/23/content_30215599.htm

 

The picturesque waterfront of Chikan is a popular stop on the itinerary of overseas returnees. Provided to China Daily

Genealogy tourism grows as more overseas Chinese return to seek clues to their identity

Before the Chan family left, they locked up their home and handed the keys to their neighbors, the Situs, to keep an eye on things. If the Chans' descendants should ever return to the village of Chikan (赤坎 chìkǎn) from overseas, the Situs would be there to open the door.

Thirty years later, Huiying Bernice Chan, a New York anthropologist of Chinese descent, arrives at her grandmother's old home the day after Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping festival. After seeing Chan's photos proving she is related to the former neighbors, Mrs Situ fishes a key from a drawer. Mr Situ himself arrives a few minutes later, beaming.

"Sure, I remember the grandmother," he says as he unlocks the door. "I remember all the family. I was very small, but I lived right here. They went to America, didn't they? It was a very long time ago."

Kaiping, where Chikan is located, is part of a region known as the Five Counties (五邑 wǔyì) in Guangdong province, about 100 kilometers southwest of the metropolises of Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Together, the counties make up one of the biggest of what's known as the qiaoxiang (侨乡 qiáo xiāng, overseas homeland) in China. These communities are dotted across China's southeast coast, from Fujian down to Guangdong's Teochew region, the booming Pearl River Delta, then west as far as Zhanjiang near the island of Hainan. Starting from the mid-19th century, poverty and war forced these communities to cross the sea for survival. Young men set out to work in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, the Americas and Australia, sending their earnings home and eventually calling for their families to join them abroad.

In many ways, however, the identity of qiaoxiang has less to do with who left, as who comes back. The countryside around Kaiping is dotted with diaolou (碉楼 diāolóu), colonialstyle watchtowers, UNESCO World Heritage sites that were featured in the 2010 action-comedy movie Let the Bullets Fly, filmed just off Chikan's main street.

Fusing Chinese and European architecture, these fortresslike diaolou were built by those who wanted to use wealth accumulated overseas to protect their family's property from bandits. Signs on local schools, parks, hospitals, even a farm, bear the characters for "overseas Chinese" (华侨 huá qiáo) rather than the usual "people's" (人民 rénmín); some were built decades ago, but most are sponsored by diaspora groups, who make return visits for ribbon-cutting ceremonies and the occasional Spring Festival. And in almost every village in the Five Counties, there are families like the Situs, who preserve stories, memories and sometimes a physical home to show descendants of overseas Chinese should they ever come looking.

"It was incredible; I was always under the impression that we had lost contact," Chan says after visiting one of her ancestral villages. "But they were very up-to-date with information about my family. They knew about who passed away, and how. That's what amazed me - the bond that's kept between villages around the world."

In Chinese, the most common words for these kind of journeys are 寻根 (xúngēn, root-seeking), 寻亲 (xúnqīn, relative-seeking), or 返乡 (fǎnxiāng, returning to the home village). None quite tell the full story. Overseas Chinese may simply be curious to see a place they've often heard mentioned, without being sure there are records or relatives left to find. Most don't intend to "return" permanently, and many don't linger in the ancestral village itself more than the time it takes to snap some photos.

Perhaps this is why the Chinese terms are often paired with (lǚ, travel), denoting travel or tourism, as in 寻根之旅 (xúngēn zhī lǚ, root-seeking travel), while in English, these journeys are sometimes referred to as "genealogy trips" or "ancestor searches", conjuring up images of poring over genealogy databases so that one can claim descent from Charlemagne at a dinner party.

As straightforward as this seems, there are obstacles. One would need to know enough about China and the Five Counties; language skills in both Mandarin or a local dialect are vital as well, as websites are only in Chinese and few staff members speak other languages.

Unlike Chan, who arrived with the names of all four grandparents' villages in a notebook and was fortunate to find neighbors who'd kept in touch, most "roots seekers" have far rockier starts.

Some descendants may not know anything, other than that relatives were once Chinese. Two sisters, Eunice and Jing Yi Beh, third-generation Malaysian-Chinese, say that their grandfather never shared any details about his former life, possibly due to painful experiences. The only clue was the name of a village engraved on his tomb, a Chinese burial custom for those who've died overseas.

Arriving in Yangkeng village in Puning, Guangdong, the Beh family found that there was no one left who could recall anything about their branch of the family. Even being shown the village's copy of their clan's genealogical records, or zupu (族谱 zúpǔ), proved to be disappointing, as it only went back to the generation after their great-grandfather's.

"So we just saw our clan's ancestral temple and asked the village official to spread the word on WeChat that we were looking (for relatives); he hasn't heard from anyone yet," Jing Yi Beh says, a year later. "Instead, I've found all of his relatives that he asked me to look up in Malaysia." The only thing the family could do was sample the local food, says Beh; that, at least, tasted like home.

A best-case scenario is documented in All Our Father's Relations, a Canadian documentary that had its overseas premiere at the Beijing International Film Festival in April. In it, four siblings of the mixed-race Grant family visit their father's home village near Zhongshan in 2013. The Grants discover an uncle they never knew about, meet the daughter left behind by another uncle who'd emigrated to Canada, and are shown pictures of their ancestors decorating the walls of their great-grandfather's house.

"I was told, 'You are the 17th generation of this house,'" Larry Grant told the Vancouver Courier afterward. "'Oh, my God.' That was my reaction."

Yang Shereng, a researcher affiliated with the overseas association in Toisan (Taishan, 台山 táishān), another of the Five Counties, says, "Every person in the world, of any ethnicity, any skin color, has some yearning to know where they come from." Yang has had clients who have searched fruitlessly for 10 years, armed with just family lore that "the village their great-grandfather left 200 years ago had a well in front of an ancestral temple in front of a hill." Other clients arrive with detailed information, only to find the ancestral home razed, the victim of either natural disaster or urban development.

"Not everyone is lucky enough to find relatives," Yang says. "It has been too many years, lots of villagers have migrated, and older people who had memories of their family have passed away."

But when all the pieces fall into place, whether through luck or perseverance, the experience is "miraculous," says Yang.

Having visited her family home, Chan is now hoping to locate all four grandparents' zupu and trace their history back 100 generations. In Chikan, she visits the library of the Guan clan association, where the genealogists are working on a family tree of the male members of her grandmother's clan. As the elderly researcher flips through the thick tome, fathoming a path through the sprawling lines and unmarked pages, there's a moment of recognition. "My family," Chan points suddenly at a page.

A moment later, she has her own notebook open on a page with the names of current relatives, which the researcher is adding to the ancient tree, penciling new names in margins and leaves that have been waiting for them all along.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese, www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

]]>
2017-07-23 14:05:21
<![CDATA[Poptails: Recipes for making boozy lollies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210962.htm With the weather hotting up, there's no better time to try making your own lollies

Lollies have grown up. Boozy "pops" are appearing at smart parties and even Aldi has got on board with its own cut-price range. But ready-made versions can be sugar heavy and weird tasting, not to mention expensive - so you're far better off making your own.

In principle, you can adapt any of your favourite cocktails to a lolly, as long as you bear in mind the ice science (adding alcohol lowers the temperature that the lollies freeze at).

Of course, like that bottle of white wine I stuck next to the ice cream and forgot about, even an alcohol content of 14 per cent will go solid in a domestic freezer - eventually.

It probably won't, however, freeze hard - and while a friable texture is on the whole a good thing (unless you want to suck on an ice cube) you still need the lolly to be fairly solid to stay on the stick.

Then you'll probably want to add a bit of sugar - it gives a nice sticky lickable quality, and improves what the professionals call the "length" of the flavour. But, alas, it also gets in the way of ice crystals forming. Combining too much sugar with a load of alcohol, and you have a recipe for a slush puppy, not a Solero.

The upshot is, save the full-strength cocktails for your glass, and settle for something considerably lighter for your lollies. You can always have two.

Sugar syrup

Make a small batch of sugar syrup for sweetening your lollies and you'll speed up the process. This will keep in the fridge in a jar for months.

Makes 150 ml of syrup

Ingredients

100g caster sugar

100ml boiling water

Method

Put the sugar in a bowl and pour over the boiling water.

Stir and leave to stand until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has cooled.

Negroni (with pomegranate)

This is a take on the classic Negroni mix of gin, Campari and red vermouth - but with some pomegranate and orange juice added. I think these are best made in small moulds - I use 60ml shot glasses.

Makes about 6 60ml lollies

Ingredients

1 large orange

150ml of sugar syrup, as above

100ml pomegranate juice (from a carton is fine)

2 tsp Campari

1tsp gin

2tsp red vermouth

Method

Take the zest off the orange with a vegetable peeler. Juice the orange.

Mix the orange juice, sugar syrup, pomegranate juice, Campari, gin and vermouth, then pour in to lolly moulds.

Cut the orange zest into long strips and wrap around the lolly sticks, and pop them in. Freeze.

Rum and coke float

Makes about 4 100ml lollies

Ingredients

200ml Coca cola

4 tbsp Rum

1tbsp sugar syrup as above

tub vanilla ice cream (not soft scoop)

Method

Mix the rum, coke and sugar syrup. Pour about half into the bottom of six moulds - it should be about a third full. Freeze until set.

Mix the rest of the rum and coke with 4tbsp of ice cream. Pour into the moulds until they are about two thirds full. Freeze until set.

Top with ice cream until the moulds are just about full. Push in sticks and freeze.

Gin and elderflower

Gin and tonic makes a good ice lolly, especially if you add a good squeeze of lime. But as the elderflower is in full bloom right now, here's a more seasonal cocktail.

Makes about 4 100ml lollies

Ingredients

150ml elderflower cordial

squeeze lemon

50ml gin

130ml water

fresh elderflowers, to garnish

Method

Mix the cordial, lemon, gin and water. Pour into moulds and top with lots of elderflowers. Freeze.

Mezcal and cucumber margarita

Mezcal is a smoky Mexican spirit, made from the agave plant, which gives a fantastically exotic flavour to cocktails.

Makes about 3 100ml lollies

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber

4 tbsp Mezcal

1 lime juiced

2tbsp triple sec

4tbsp sugar syrup as above

Chopped chilli, or chilli sauce (optional)

Sea salt flakes and smoked paprika (optional)

Method

Cut the cucumber into chunks and whizz to a puree. Rub through a sieve so you have a deep green cucumber juice.

Mix the juice with the Mezcal, lime, triple sec and sugar syrup, plus a little chopped chilli or chilli sauce if you like.

Pour into moulds. Push in a few slices of cucumber. Freeze.

Serve scattered with a few flakes of sea salt and some smoked paprika, if you like.

Baileys Magnums

Even if you aren't usually a fan of sweet, rich Irish cream liqueurs, this is worth trying for the gently caramelly cream it makes. On a stick with a dribble of chocolate, it's a really good thing. If you want to make a regular soft scoop ice cream, then whisk the cream to soft peaks, then add the well chilled evaporated milk and sugar and whisk again until softly billowing. Pour into a plastic tub and freeze - there's no need to stir it as it freezes.

Makes 4 100ml lollies

Ingredients

200ml evaporated milk

200ml double cream

50g icing sugar

50ml Baileys

100g plain chocolate, melted

Method

Mix the evaporated milk, cream, icing sugar and Baileys. Pour into moulds and freeze.

Once frozen, unmould and drizzle with melted chocolate. Return to the freezer briefly to set the chocolate.

Bloody Mary

After a hot summer night of partying, these are the perfect pick me up. There's no sugar in these, so they are icily refreshing rather than strictly lickable, but a dash of soy sauce boosts the tomato's savoury flavour.

Makes about 3 100ml lollies

Ingredients

250ml tomato juice

A shake of Worcestershire sauce

A dash of chilli sauce

2tbsp vodka

A dash of soy sauce

Celery stick

Thinly sliced lemon

Method

Mix the tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, chilli sauce, vodka, soy sauce and lemon.

Adjust the flavours to suit you and pour into moulds.

Tuck in a slice of lemon and a stick of celery along with the stick. Freeze.

 

With the weather hotting up, there's no better time to try making your own lollies.Provided To China Daily

]]>
2017-07-22 07:01:48
<![CDATA[The soup kitchen gets a Michelin-star makeover]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210961.htm A pop-up project run by the world's top chefs show us how to make the most of leftovers

It was half past 10 at St Cuthbert's Hall, now home to Refettorio Felix. The chefs working intently in the kitchen (from Alain Ducasse's three-Michelin-star restaurants in London and Paris, and Massimo Bottura's three-star Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) carefully patted chicken stuffing into roasted aubergine slices and sorted lettuce leaves with scientific precision.

But the customers, gathering in the newly painted eau-de-nil dining hall, were not the type to frequent Michelin-starred restaurants. St Cuthbert's Centre, which for 25 years has been providing them with hot meals, clothing, medical support and mental health services, describes its clients as "marginalised, vulnerable people", more than half of them homeless.

Refettorio Felix, which launched in Earl's Court last Monday at the start of London Food Month, is part of Bottura's Food for Soul project, aimed at raising awareness of food wastage and hunger. It's the third "soup kitchen" restaurant, after Refettorio Ambrosiano launched at Expo 2015 in Milan and Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio de Janeiro, which opened during the 2016 Olympics.

Back in the kitchen, my job was stripping the leeks of their outer leaves to reveal their bright centres, ready for the chefs.

The ingredients for the Refettorio are provided by the Felix Project, which redistributes food which would otherwise be destined for the dump, much of it still in fine condition. The booty included a sack of crisp-leaved watercress, whose thick stems excited permanent chef Nassim Khalifa most. She snapped off a piece, fat as a marker pen, and gave it to me to try. It was crisp, juicy and peppery. "Good, eh?" she exclaimed. "I can use it like celery."

This is the kind of improvisation that has seen Khalifa, a tiny Gujarati woman, through nine years of cooking at St Cuthbert's Centre. With just one helper, she provides a choice of dishes to a clientele many of whom have bad teeth, poor digestion and very firm ideas of what they want to eat. "Mostly comfort food," she explains. "No al dente vegetables; they want pies, lasagne, fish and chips - and they love my curries." There's a heavily subsidised charge of 2.50 for a three-course meal, though, as Stephen Milton, the centre's manager, explained, "no one goes away hungry if they can't afford to pay".

During London Food Month, however, the dining room, renamed Refettorio Felix, will be offering a free, no-choice menu cooked by a rota of top chefs including Angela Hartnett, Sat Bains and Michel Roux Jr.

At bang on 11am, Alain Ducasse arrived, immediately tasting the pur��e due to be served up with the stuffed aubergine. He murmured to the chef, Romain Meder, who snatched up a cheap plastic pepper grinder. It broke in his hands, showering whole peppercorns into the pan.

As Meder delicately scooped out the peppercorns, Massimo Bottura came bounding past in trainers and black jeans, stopping to chat with customers as their food was brought to them by volunteers.

The customers paused from reading the newspapers or doing the crossword to settle in to lunch. Guy, who was once a chef at the Marriot in Grovesnor Square, declared his courgette veloute with cherry and radish chutney "stunning".

Ginger, a long-haired Scot who was homeless for 10 years and now manages on 75 a week disability benefit, was less sure. "Big plates, small portions," he declared, eyeing his two slices of aubergine. When I pointed out that I'd seen lots of empty plates going back to the kitchen, he replied: "That's because they were almost empty when they came out. I'll need to go somewhere else for a proper meal." Others agreed that Bottura's pasta and pesto, served the day before, had been more substantial.

I asked Ducasse if the small bowl of soup, stuffed aubergine and berries with a milk foam and chilli sorbet was filling enough. "If you have all three courses, it is fine," he insisted. Even if it is the only meal you'll get all day? He paused, then conceded: "Perhaps not."

Both in the kitchen and the dining room there may be some adapting to do, but even when the high-end chefs leave at the end of the month, Refettorio Felix will stay, and Khalifa will have the new kitchen complete with 12,000 (10,400) ice-cream maker, installed by the Food for Soul project, in which to work.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 medium aubergines, sliced into rounds

2cm thick

Olive oil

300g chicken meat, finely chopped (leg, thigh, or breast - or scraps)

1 egg

teacupful fresh breadcrumbs

teacupful cooked rice

4 tbsp grated Parmesan

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Scoop out the middle of the aubergine slices to make an indentation in each (keep the trimmings). Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking tray and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until tender.

Mix the chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, rice, Parmesan and parsley. Fill the aubergine slices with the mixture, smoothing the mounds. Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Check part way through and cover with foil if they are getting too brown.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and cook onion until tender. Chop the aubergine trimmings and add them to the pan with the garlic. Cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, to make a sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the stuffed aubergine slices with the sauce, plus a green salad.

To volunteer at Refettorio Felix, email info@foodforsoul.it or dropin@stcuthbertscentre.org.uk

]]>
2017-07-22 07:01:48
<![CDATA[Loose weight and live longer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210960.htm Dr Aseem Malhotra reveals the secrets of the world's healthiest village

Dr Aseem Malhotra was in the middle of his ward round when lunch was brought out by the health assistants. He had just reached the bedside of a man whose life he had saved the night before. The patient, in his fifties, had been brought in as an emergency, needing an angioplasty to unblock an artery to his heart.

Far from simply thanking Dr Malhotra, the man was becoming agitated. On seeing his lunch - a burger and chips - he said: "How do you expect me to get well when you are serving me the same kind of cr** that brought me here in the first place?"

"He had a good point," says Dr Malhotra today. "I used to talk to all the patients about lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, they could make to prevent them coming back in. But I hadn't made the connection to nutrition."

At the time, Dr Malhotra, now 39, was working as a cardiology specialist registrar at the renowned Harefield Hospital, Hillingdon, and had been a qualified doctor for 10 years, operating on hundreds of patients with heart disease. "Of course, I had noticed more stress on the system, and that people were coming in with conditions linked to obesity." But it was this conversation that triggered his interest in how he could make a difference through diet.

Seven years later, his curiosity has become something of a calling. Having extensively researched the causes of obesity, Dr Malhotra became a founding member of Action on Sugar, a pressure group run by senior doctors, and is now is now a leading figure in the public health campaign against sugar, calling for next April's 'sugar tax' on soft drinks to cover all confectionary products.

"I read all the research I could and concluded that simple lifestyle changes such as consuming less sugar were more powerful than any medication doctors can prescribe."

In fact, when Dr Malhotra began his own extensive research, after his burger-and-chips revelation in 2010, he was fascinated by the way attention had been focused on a fatally flawed message: reduce fat consumption and cholesterol levels.

The more he investigated, the more convinced he became that this fear of fatwas to blame for increased consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates, and it is this which has sent rates of heart disease, as well as obesity and type 2 diabetes, rocketing in tandem.

Dr Malhotra has now distilled his expertise into an easy-to-follow 21-day plan called The Pioppi Diet, which is published on Thursday, and which we will be showing you how to follow in tomorrow's paper. Its central message is to stop fearing saturated fat and cholesterol. Stop counting calories. And start considering sugar as public enemy number one.

Professor David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, has praised the plan as "fearless" for questioning ingrained nutritional guidelines, which have actually "underpinned the obesity epidemic over recent decades."

It takes its name from a small Italian village where the locals not only tend to live longer - the average man has a lifespan of 89; many live to 100-but do so without contracting the chronic diseases of ageing, such as type-2 diabetes and dementia, that the rest of the world accepts as inevitable.

The doctor's interest in Pioppi was two-fold. The locals' way of life was clearly fascinating: was it just diet which kept the population so well for so long, and could lessons be extrapolated for the wider world?

But Pioppi also has a sort of iconic significance. It was the home from home for American physiologist, Professor Ancel Keys, who first developed the idea of a Mediterranean Diet as being the ideal eating plan, in the Fifties. Pioppi is even protected by UNESCO as a result.

But Ancel Keys was also famous as the man who demonised saturated fat, theorising that it was the cause of blocked arteries and, as a result, heart disease-a position Dr Malhotra no longer agreed with.

Visiting the village with filmmaker Donal O'Neill to make a documentary called The Big Fat Fix in 2015 he was able to examine the Pioppians more closely.

And possibly the most important lesson Dr Malhotra learnt as he did, was that the word diet as we understand it is a misinterpretation of the Greek word diatia, which means lifestyle. Eating olive oil and fresh fish was just part of the Pioppians' wider picture, he concluded, which included habitual daily movement, lack of stress, good quality sleep, and a sociable, inclusive society.

"Yes, the local eat pasta - but only in small quantities, and they rarely touch sugar. They only eat dessert on a Sunday, pizza once or twice a month. They take time over lunch. They don't have a gym in Pioppi but they are constantly on the go."

It's a prescription, he believes, that could be life-changing back in the UK if followed. "When we recommend food and lifestyle changes, reducing intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, patients achieve a fast result, definitely within 21 days. I've seen type-2 diabetes reverse, something we were taught at medical school couldn't happen."

Dr Malhotra practises what he preaches, having completely overhauled the eating habits he developed growing up in Stalybridge, Cheshire. "I was a proper sugar addict: Coco Pops for breakfast, a KitKat and a packet of crisps in break time at school. Luckily I was sporty, but I was always hungry so I snacked all the time. That was normal, wasn't it?"

Although a talented cricketer, he had been drawn to medicine, cardiology in particular, due in part to the death of his older brother at 13 from heart failure, caused by a virus.

"Amit, who was two years older than me, had Downs syndrome and he taught me about compassion. His death was just bad luck, but it had a real impact on me."

Both of their parents were GPs; in fact his father later taught Dr Malhotra to cook, meaning he enjoyed a reputation at Edinburgh University where he began medical studies, as "the guy who cooks the best chicken curry". He adds: "But I didn't appreciate how impactful and important food was to health. And we didn't learn anything about it at medical school. I always ate dessert and chocolate."

Within weeks of cutting out the vast quantities of sugar, bread and pasta he had been consuming from his diet, he shed a stone in weight from his midriff - a happy "side effect" of a healthy lifestyle which "reduces the chance of heart disease, dementia and cancer, too."

"Diet is the number one issue," he adds. "More than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol, it contributes to more disease and deaths. This should be the message from doctors: that food is medicine. And if we all took up the challenge, the effect on the NHS budget would be transformatory too."

Of course, not everyone will find it easy to transform their entire diet and lifestyle. "Healthy food needs to be made affordable, for a start. And we know that certain groups find this harder than others. If you work a night shift - as I know - you are more likely to eat sugary processed food. So we need to get rid of vending machines full of chocolate bars and ban junk food in hospitals."

He thinks "bold" chief executives could even end the coffee shop culture in hospitals, which sees staff and patients alike hooked up to endless lattes and muffins.

There are also those who overeat for emotional reasons. "Comfort eating ties into stress which is itself a massive risk factor for many diseases. So we need to deal with that, whether that's by offering mediation, yoga or Pilates classes. Or encouraging more social interaction and friendship off line."

Lastly, he points out, "There is no such thing as a healthy weight, but a healthy person. That is what we should all be aiming for. Living like a Pioppian would mean a reduction in the 20 million deaths worldwide caused by cardiovascular disease. Plus obesity reversed and levels of type 2 diabetes declining. That's my ultimate dream."

 

In Pioppi, locals not only tend to live longer-the average man has a lifespan of 89; many live to 100-but do so without contracting the chronic diseases of ageing.Provided To China Daily

]]>
2017-07-22 07:02:18
<![CDATA[The sleep hacks that you need, from cold showers to warm socks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210959.htm Do you feel like a walking zombie around the office today? Craving just one precious moment of reinvigorating sleep? Well, help is at hand. US Scientists have found that having a purpose in life could see you improve your sleep quality and have fewer nighttime disturbances.

The new study, which was published in the journal Sleep, Science and Practice, found that of the 823 people between the ages of 60 and 100 surveyed, 63 per cent were less likely to have sleep apnea if they reporting having meaning in their lives.

Finding meaning in your life is just one of many tricks in the playbook when a full nights sleep is required. Before you reach for the sleeping tablets, try some of these other sleeping hacks.

Warm Socks

Humans are endotherms, which means that we can regulate our own body temperature and make sure all our organs are working at the right temperature. Our biggest drop in body temperature is when we sleep. Our feet contain certain blood vessels that are designed to dissipate body heat.

That's enough of the science stuff - how does this help you get to sleep? If you're cold, pop some socks on and cut off the blood vessels that are chucking away your vital body heat. If you're hot - more likely, during these sticky, worryingly sweaty summer months - just pop your feet out from under the duvet. Job done.

Sleep away from your phone

According to a report by Deloitte released last year, people in the UK have never been so addicted to their smartphones. But are you really going to be scrolling through Facebook while your eyes are closed? Come on, that cute dog video re-post can wait till the morning.

According to a 2014 report by Ofcom, eight out of 10 of us keep our mobile phones on next to us - but the blue light emitted from our smartphones has a stimulating effect, much like sunlight, making it hard for us to switch off.

If you use your mobile as an alarm just pop it in your bathroom, or the kitchen. And don't use it 30 minutes before you plan to sleep. Instead, make yourself a cup of herbal tea (caffeine free, natch) and open a book; maybe you'll learn something as well as waking up all prepared to take on that anxiety-inducing 9am meeting.

No midnight snacking

We've all been there - thrust wide awake by a sudden hankering for a large slab of cheese and some slices of ham squashed into a crunchy baguette. Mouths are drooling with just the thought of it - but put the ham away, as high-fat foods can leave your digestive system whirring while the rest of your body battles to get to sleep.

Conversely, high in magnesium foods like avocado or mixed leaves could have a positive effect, with research showing magnesium improved the quality and length of sleep in insomniacs.

Ideally, you want to leave two hours between your last munch and that all important bed time.

Prep for the day ahead

A lot of those anxiety-building thoughts that are preventing you from getting to sleep are due to tomorrow's schedule. Gary Zammit, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Institute in New York, suggests establishing a nightly routine to help shift your brain into sleep mode and prepare for the coming day.

So, get a headstart and organise yourself. Make your lunch, get your bag ready and lay our your clothes for the next day. Your future self will thank you for it.

Find some inner peace

A 2015 study, by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, showed that 58pc of insomniac participants were able to get a better night's rest from having meditated. It's not a shock to find that most restless nights are caused by stress, so anything that can help with soothing our daily issues is bound to produce results.

Meditation is also able to activate our autonomic nervous system, which helps with our digestion and breathing. There are plenty of instructional guides on YouTube that directly target those looking to meditate themselves to sleep. Give them a try and you may also see some benefits elsewhere in your life.

Cold Shower

It's no news to anyone when we say it has been Hades levels of hot recently. Remember from the socks, our body temperature naturally drops when we fall asleep. But, it's tricky when we're too busy sweating our guts out thanks to this unholy warmth.

So, take a cold shower at the start of the nightly routine. It'll drop your body temperature, tricking the old noggin into thinking that you're ready for sleep. Ta-dah!

]]>
2017-07-22 07:02:18
<![CDATA[Better Late Than Never]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210952.htm After she put it on hold nine years ago, Ding Wei's fourth album finally sees the light of day

Nine years after she recorded it, and 13 years after the release of her previous album, Ding Wei's fourth album titled Untied, was finally released on June 23.

"Now when I hear the album again, it feels like am collaborating with myself from 10 years ago," says Ding, now in her mid 40s. "I never intended not to release the album. I was waiting for the right moment."

In 2015, she traveled to London to redo the production on the album, working with veteran musicians, including guitarist Dominic Miller, who has played with Sting for decades, and drummer Ian Thomas, who has played with Eric Clapton.

She also signed a contract with the London-based independent record company, Cooking Vinyl, and the album has been released worldwide.

"It's great to introduce Chinese pop music to Western listeners." says Ding. "I don't have to use traditional Chinese instrument and folk music elements to prove where I come from. They will know it when they listen to my songs because it's in my blood."

For the domestic market, she adds that she hopes to introduce a different type of pop music to the listeners, "something not so mainstream and commercial".

"We discussed replacing some of the songs with new material but we gave up that idea. All the songs captured the feelings I had when I wrote them. I want to have those songs heard even though those moments have already passed," says Ding.

The songs cover a wide range of genres, such as trip-hop and electronic music, and the lyrics are the singer-songwriter observations on the world and reflections on her life.

Stardom

Ding, who was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, found stardom at the age of 20, when she was still a student at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music majoring in composition. She became one of the best known pop stars of the 1990s, producing chart-topping songs and performing sellout shows.

As well as many hits of her own, including The Butterfly With Broken Wings, she also wrote compositions for big-named stars, including Beijing-based pop diva Na Ying and Hong Kong singer-actor Andy Lau.

The most remarkable things about the music scene two decades ago, Ding says, are the singer-songwriters' loyalty to their music and how healthy the music environment was. However, with the rampant piracy in China during the 2000s, she said the market became unfriendly to original singer-songwriters like her.

"I didn't think it was the right time to release the album due to the bad market. I was also not satisfied with the production we did," recalls Ding, who with the support of the album's producer, Lin Chaoyang, a schoolmate at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, put the album aside.

Lin, who is also known as Salt, graduated from the Moscow P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory and is a classically trained violinist.

In 1996, Lin was invited to teach at the Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music, which enabled him to reconnect with Ding in the capital.

Besides Ding's new album, the two have also collaborated on music compositions for more than 40 movies and TV dramas since 2007, such as the series Dwelling Narrowness in 2009, and a 2011 Chinese romantic comedy, Love is Not Blind.

"We've known each other for decades and she is a singer-songwriter with a distinctive style, which is rare in China," says Lin. "I am confident about this new album, even though we've waited for such a long time to release it. Like Ding's early music, this album proves that she has always been ahead of the curve."

Songwriter

Ding was introduced to music by her father, who let Ding learn to play the erhu at 7 years old.

At 10, Ding was admitted to study at the primary school affiliated to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and she was expected to become an erhu player for a national orchestra when she grew up.

However, like many of her peers, Ding listened to Western pop music when she was a teenager, and it was Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes and Rickie Lee Jones' Pop Pop that made Ding decide to become a singer-songwriter.

"Writing songs to me is a very private and emotional process, which I enjoy very much," she says.

She also notes that what makes the music special is the singer-songwriter's personal style.

"I don't want to follow any trend, though I am fully aware that some of the music types are easy to sell and can become popular overnight. It would be very boring if all the songs you hear have the similar beats," she says.

For example, one of her best-known songs, Girl and Quartet, was born out of an image in Ding's mind, in which she saw a girl standing onstage, just like Ding herself, with two violinists, a violist and a cellist playing behind her.

The song was released in 1999 on Ding's second album, Begin, and its combination of pop and classical music gained Ding critical and commercial success.

The album also had a song, called Winter is Coming, which portrays Ding spending winter alone in Beijing and hearing her father has been diagnosed with cancer.

"Melody always comes first to me. I don't want to tell stories with my lyrics. What I aim to do is create an atmosphere via music," Ding says.

After releasing Untied, she says she can now finally move on to her next album. She will perform at some outdoor music festivals in China and will tour nationally from 2017 to 2018 in support of this new album.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Chinese singer-songwriter Ding Wei releases her fourth album, Untied, after a 13-year gap from her last album in 2004.Li Qi / For China Daily

 

]]>
2017-07-22 06:58:36
<![CDATA[A Kind Of Revival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210951.htm When Tanya Chua walked into a five-star hotel in downtown Beijing recently, she did not expect to review her two-decade-long music career via photos, songs and videos.

]]>
Singer-songwriter Tanya Chua, who was in Beijing recently to announce a collaboration with Universal Music Group, speaks about her work

When Tanya Chua walked into a five-star hotel in downtown Beijing recently, she did not expect to review her two-decade-long music career via photos, songs and videos.

"I had not really looked back on what I had done as a singer-songwriter until this moment. I am kind of proud of myself," says the 42-year-old Singaporean Chua, who is based in Taiwan now.

With 10 full-length albums, Chua is the only Singaporean singer-songwriter, who has won the Best Mandarin Female Singer three times at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards, which is considered the Grammy Awards of the Mandarin music scene.

She was in Beijing for a news conference, which celebrates the singer-songwriter's latest collaboration with Universal Music Group, one of the world's leading music-based entertainment companies.

After Chua released her debut English album, Bored, in 1997, she signed up with Universal Music Group, which ushered her into the world of Mandarin music.

"So, it (this new collaboration) feels like reuniting with your first lover," Chua says of working with the record company again. "I saw many familiar faces, who are still working in this company. They bring back lots of memories."

Chua, who has released hundreds of songs both performed by herself and by other Mandarin pop singers, such as Faye Wong and Na Ying, looks forward to doing crossover performances with musicians under the label.

Chua has also done the theme song Purple for the movie, Wukong, directed by Guo Zijian and starring Taiwan actor Eddie Peng Yu-yen, which is being screened across the country.

Speaking about the song, Chua says: "Usually people ask for songs to be written. But this is the first time that I was invited to sing a song, which I had not written.

"The song is kind of traditional and old school.

"So, the fact that I could interpret the song, which is not my style, surprised me."

Now, she is preparing for an upcoming concert in Shanghai on Aug 12.

Speaking about the show, she says: "I prefer hiding behind my music. So, it took a long time for me to learn how to perform onstage and how to communicate through singing my own songs."

Chua started her music career by performing in pubs and cafes in Singapore while she was still a student at Singapore Polytechnic.

She did not plan to be a professional singer-songwriter until her debut album Bored.

"I knew that I had talent but I did not know how far I could go," says Chua.

"But after the first album, I decided to take singing seriously."

In 1998, she went to Los Angeles to study electronic guitar, and a year later she released her first self-titled Mandarin album.

However, the road was rocky.

Her second and third albums, Remember and I Do Believe, earned her Golden Melody Awards nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female Artist, but did not sell well.

So, Chua was then asked To sing songs written by others instead of her own material, which made her lose confidence.

"That was the lowest point for me as it deviated so much from why I went into the music business in the first place," says Chua.

Then, in 2004, she moved to Taiwan and started from scratch.

She found herself a small record company, who believed in her music and told her to be herself and write her own material.

She also became the producer of her album though she knew nothing about being a producer then.

"I bought lots of equipment and taught myself," says Chua. "The process was lonely but rewarding."

In 2006, her album, Amphibian, was nominated for three Golden Melody Awards, including Best Album Producer, and won her the Best Mandarin Female Singer award.

"It was a bittersweet moment. That was the moment when I started to understand what my music was all about, and what it should sound like. It felt like I had come full circle, though it took many years," she says.

She believes that curiosity is important in songwriting.

She likes observing what people are saying or doing and considers herself a sponge absorbing her natural surroundings.

When the sponge is all soaked up, she just lets all the accumulated thoughts spill out in songs.

"I have a small studio at home. I lock myself in a room for weeks. I cannot even sleep when I focus on writing. The melodies just play in my head over and over again," she says.

]]>
2017-07-22 06:58:36
<![CDATA[Making an impression abroad]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210948.htm

China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors

Suddenly, it seems, the world is discovering Chinese street food. The eureka moment is a bit overdue, because street food is the real signature of any country's culinary heritage.

Forget dumplings and hotpots, long soup, short soup, lobster sauce, sweet and sour pork, humongous spring rolls and General Tso's Chicken. These bastardized versions of Chinese food have now been properly relegated to where they first belong, quaint restaurants in Chinatowns very far away from the source of good Chinese food: China.

And, in the past 30 years, local brands have been quietly building up their reputations at home. Finally, some are flexing their wings and ready to take flight and migrate abroad.

One of the first to show the world the successful amalgamation of cultural and culinary heritage is Nanjing Impressions, Nanjing Dapaidang, the stalwart eatery by the banks of the Qinhuai River in the ancient city.

In Nanjing, Jiangsu province, it is already legendary as an outstanding success story of a local boy made good, showcasing all the classic street food, from the city's iconic "saltwater" duck to humble braised tofu and an amazing variety of "little eats" in between.

It is not just the food. The ambiance and decor are equally iconic: rough-hewn wooden furniture subtly polished for comfort, red oilskin lanterns literally lighting up the entire menu on the ceiling, even the costumed greeter at the door with his booming greetings as guests enter the restaurant, with the soft, dulcet tones of pingtan music in the background. All of these have become the restaurant's calling cards, no matter where it is located.

Nanjing Impressions tested other locations within China, such as Beijing, but the first overseas Nanjing Impressions was opened last year in Singapore, a city famous for its near-fanatical gourmets. It is as good a test spot as any other. If Nanjing Impressions holds its ground there, it can make it anywhere. That was the reasoning,

The logic is not far from the truth, and Singapore is indeed taking to Nanjing street food with great enthusiasm. We hear that the big bosses are already eyeing San Francisco and London next.

It is a real pleasure sitting inside the restaurant, and for an hour or so, we might as well be in Nanjing, if you ignore the bustling mall traffic just outside the main door.

The chefs have kept the food as authentic as possible and a few missing ingredients meant the kitchen team had to think on their feet, and quickly.

For example, Singapore bans the sale of duck blood, and no ducks are allowed to be imported from China, for quarantine reasons. So the saltwater duck is made from birds raised locally.

Still, this is no ordinary bird. It swims in a brine that is legendary. Through war, pestilence and revolution, the Nanjing chefs have guarded their brine with their lives, sometimes literally.

Some of these have been in the family or restaurant for decades, and since each duck is cooked and marinated in the brine, it leaves behind its soul and sweetness in the pot.

The ducks, unlike their roasted Beijing relatives, are lean, dark and tightly textured. Their skins are slightly crisp but tender, not tough.

The meat is clearly layered, and the teeth pick it apart easily. At first bite, the savory intensity bursts through and you get a mouthful of pure flavor.

Every Nanjing chef has his own secret blend of dry rub that is first applied to the raw bird, which is then marinated overnight. Then there is the seasoning to the brine, a white saline solution that is very different from the usual soy-sauce-based brewing liquid in other parts of China.

The cooking process, too, takes skill and precision and demands a masterly control of heat.

You don't want a duck that is cooked hard and fibrous, and you cannot serve up a half-raw bird. So there is a delicate balance to navigate.

Then, there is the secret to the full flavor, a long, slow simmering and macerating that may literally take days. Nanjing chefs probably never knew what osmosis is, but they use it to perfection every time.

Another specialty is the giant meatball.

There are meatballs, and there are meatballs. When Spring Festival comes around every year, my mother-in-law must have her Beijing sixi wanzi, Four Happiness Meatballs, that are quarter-pound whoppers that must be fried first, then slowly braised.

This is the northern cousin of the Lion's Head Meatball, Nanjing's culinary name card.

This is a meatball of right royal pedigree, a mound of meat that is surprisingly light in the mouth. A good lion's head should dissolve in the mouth without needing any pressure from tooth or tongue.

It's all in the knife work, the pride and professional signature of a Nanjing chef.

Of course, a good pork belly cut is essential. It must have tender skin, that layer of collagen that adds the essential bond for the meatball. Then, it must have well-distributed fat and lean layers.

A chef once whispered the secret to the cutting in my ear.

First, the meat is blanched, just enough to firm it up properly and just enough for the chef to check that no stray gristle or bristle remain.

Then the belly is shaved into paper-thin slices, which are cut into slivers, then minutely diced.

All the while, the chef must gauge the quality of meat so he knows exactly how thinly to cut. Too fine, and it all turns to mush.

After that, the meat is seasoned and beaten, by hand. Always by hand.

It is then tenderly formed into a ball and carefully pressed. Too firm, the meatball will cook hard; too lightly, and it falls apart.

After being tenderly poached in light stock, it is finally served, garnished with nothing but a few tender shoots of cabbage greens.

It is dishes like these and the stories behind them that help Nanjing Impressions impress diners abroad. And if this is Chinese street food, then the world is in for a treat.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-22 06:55:58
<![CDATA[Delectable dishes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210947.htm 1 Steamed chicken with Pickled Cabbage: An unconventional chicken "salad" pairing cooked chicken on top of sweet and sour pickled cabbage and drizzled with a slightly spicy savory dressing.

2 Nanjing Impressions Salt-water Duck: This dish is so famous that it has become associated with the city itself.

3 Silky Gourd Claypot: Another dish that reflects the clean flavors of Nanjing cooking. Sweet tender young silky gourd is cooked in its own juices with nothing more than garlic.

4 Braised Deep-fried Beancurd: This is one of the most popular dishes in the original restaurant. Beancurd is deep-fried then slowly simmered in a sweetened soy-sauce gravy.

5 Lion's Head Meatball: It looks almost demure in its lack of seasoning, but the first juicy mouthful would change your mind. This is a must-order.

6 Madam Chiang Kai-shek's Congee: The famous Mrs Chiang was well known for her beauty regime and this was one of her secrets - a light porridge made with fresh lily bulbs and Chinese yam. This is a slightly sweet porridge.

7 Yangchun Noodles: It's a good cook who gets his basics right. Plain noodles in a dark broth, and a flavorful finish to a satisfying meal.

]]>
2017-07-22 06:55:58
<![CDATA[Food festival in Beijing offers treat to fans of Yangzhou cuisine]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210946.htm Yangzhou is the birthplace of Huaiyang cuisine - one of China's four major cooking styles - that is famous for its light, fresh taste and exquisite knife work.

But you don't have to visit to enjoy the cuisine.

The ongoing Yangzhou Food Festival at the Beijing Minzu Hotel lets you enjoy a Yangzhou feast in Beijing through July 31.

The festival menu includes signature dishes cooked by chefs from the Yangzhou State Guesthouse, one of the most celebrated hotels in Yangzhou.

One of the must-haves is wensi tofu, a dish which represents the knife skills of Yangzhou fare.

It is said that the dish was created by a monk called Wensi during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

To prepare the dish, a small block of soft and tender tofu is shredded into more than 5,000 pieces.

Chefs feel rather than see what is being cut, especially because when they cut the tofu, they must do it with same frequency and at a fast speed, so that the cuts sound like a monk using a wooden fish during Buddhist rituals.

The shredded tofu, which can pass through the eye of a needle, is placed in water to fan out like a flower, and then poached in chicken stock before being served.

Another must-have is a giant meatball known as shizitou, or the Lion's Head.

The dish is made with fatty and lean pork.

The pork is hand cut, not minced, and then shaped into meatballs and simmered in stock for at least four hours.

Squirrel fish is also a must-have. Here, chefs fillet a whole mandarin fish, and then fry it in boiling oil so that it curls up like a squirrel's tail.

The crispy fish is served with a homemade sauce.

Jicai tangyuan, or shepherd's purse rice dumpling, is also very delicious.

The rice dumpling is soft and tender, with a strong fragrance.

The city's famed baozi (steamed buns with stuffing), and its namesake fried rice are also on the festival menu.

liuzhihua@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-22 06:55:58
<![CDATA[A mirror for the present]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201547.htm A digitized archive of V.K. Wellington Koo's papers will be available online in November, offering researchers access to materials from the legendary 20th-century Chinese diplomat's collection of papers kept by Columbia University..

]]>
A digital archive of papers from Columbia University on famous diplomat V.K. Wellington Koo will be available later this year. Xing Yi reports.

A digitized archive of V.K. Wellington Koo's papers will be available online in November, offering researchers access to materials from the legendary 20th-century Chinese diplomat's collection of papers kept by Columbia University.

Columbia University has around 300 boxes of the famous diplomat's letters, notes and documents, among which 57 boxes were donated by his family after his death.

The online archive is a joint project by the university and the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and parts of the collection are being released for the first time.

Some replicas of Koo's papers are now on display at the Columbia Global Center in Beijing through Sept 15.

Wang Jianlang, director of the Institute of Modern History, said at the opening of the exhibition on July 14 that the cataloging of more than 200 boxes of the archive materials is complete, and they will be accessible on the institute's online database after a final check.

"When studying the history of China's modern diplomacy, one cannot ignore Koo," says Wang. "Koo is regarded as the No 1 diplomat of the Republic of China."

Sean Quimby, director of Columbia University's Rare Books and Manuscript Library, says: "The Koo archive consists of meticulously written notes of conversations with various figures, including at least three presidents of the United States."

The digital project now includes 60,000 items.

Born in 1888 in Shanghai, Koo, whose Chinese name is Romanized as Koo Vi Kyuin, or Gu Weijun in pinyin, received traditional Chinese education before he went to a missionary school, St. John's College.

At the age of 16, Koo went to study in the United States.

He spent seven years in Columbia University in New York, studying international laws and diplomacy, and earned his doctoral degree with a thesis, The Status of Aliens in China.

In 1912, Koo became the secretary of Yuan Shikai, then-president of the Republic of China, and stepped into a diplomat career.

Koo was appointed as Chinese ambassador to the US in 1915 and became one of the five Chinese delegates to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles at the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris after World War I.

Koo made his name known on the international stage by his eloquence and persistence defending China's sovereignty over some territories in Shandong province which were occupied by Germany during World War I.

Failing to secure the return of the territories to China (they were granted to Japan), Koo and the delegation refused to sign the treaty.

It is regarded as the first time in China's modern history when the country said no to major Western powers.

Later, Koo held various important government posts in the 1920s and 1930s, including finance minister, foreign minister and interim prime minister.

In the early 1930s, Koo assisted the international inquiry delegation investigating the invasion of Northeast China by Japanese troops.

When the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) broke out, he traveled to Geneva to speak at the League of Nations, helping China to win international support.

Koo was ambassador to Britain from 1941 to 1946, during which time he promoted talks between China and Britain, a milestone in the process of abolishing unequal treaties Britain imposed on China.

He also contributed greatly to the founding of the United Nations at the end of World War II.

"Koo was one of the very few senior diplomats in the world who experienced both the forming of the League of Nations and the establishing of the United Nations," says Jin Guangyao, a Fudan University historian who has written a biography of Koo.

Jin studied Koo's archives when he was doing research in the US in 1997.

"Back then, I had to transcribe the papers," Jin recalls. "I'm sure the digital archive will benefit many researchers when it goes online."

From 1957 to 1967, Koo served as a judge at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

After retirement he moved to New York, where he died in 1985. He was 97 years old.

He bequeathed to his alma mater, Columbia University, several hundred hours' worth of taped oral history and donated the paper documents that largely make up the archive.

Concluding his oral-history project in 1975, Koo wrote: "Since the early years of my career, I have always been keenly interested in preserving for future generations important diplomatic communications and references.

"For the history of today has its origin in yesterday, and such archives not only provide us with the mirror of the past, they also help us to better understand the changes taking place in our world."

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn  

Liu Danian (third right), late director of the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, meets V.K. Wellington Koo's daughter and granddaughter in Beijing in the 1980s while the think tank organized the translation of Koo's memoir.

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Tombstone marks sacrifice by Dutch priest in Chinese village]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201546.htm The tomb of Aemilianus van Heel located on top of a small hill in Shitou Geda village, Yuanqu, North China's Shanxi province, overlooks a patch of a wheat field he reclaimed from the wild in the 1930s.

The newly built white-marble tombstone, which looks conspicuous against the Loess Plateau, is 310 centimeters tall, representing the 31 years of the Franciscan missionary's life. He was from Leiden in the Netherlands, and known as Father Hu Yongsheng among locals.

This year marks the 110th birth anniversary of Van Heel.

The residents of Shitou Geda regard him as a family member, who is still alive, residing on the hill, and a patron saint of their hometown.

The Imperial Japanese Army invaded the Yuanqu county on Sept 13, 1938. Then, more than 2,000 refugees hid in the Catholic church in Shitou Geda.

Van Heel sat at a table in front of the church to prevent the Japanese troops from harassing those inside at the time.

On Oct 8, the Japanese army broke into the church hunting for women. But he threw a Japanese soldier out of the church, just like an "eagle catching a little chicken", many senior villagers say.

The furious Japanese soldiers then sent him an ultimatum demanding he hand over 20 young women and 10 cattle to them.

Van Heel is believed to have replied: "You can take my mule. There are no cattle in the church. As long as I am here, you will not get a single woman from the church."

The villagers found him lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom the next morning. It is believed that he was murdered that night with two shots in the chest and a deep cut on each of his wrists.

The Japanese army claimed he had committed suicide.

The refugees then buried his body in the church yard and fled, leaving his assistants who hid a fleeing Kuomintang general Gao Guizi two years later from the Japanese army, after Gao was defeated in a battle in the region.

Gao Shijie, the daughter of Gao Guizi, funded the renovation of the tomb and the building of a new tombstone to remember Van Heel's sacrifice and the assistance to her father.

According to Hu Lianying, a villager in her late 80s, Father Hu also had a sense of humor. "He once joked with me: 'Hey, little girl. We are from the same family. You see. We share the same family name Hu'."

Hu Lianying says Father Hu missed his parents in the Netherlands very much, and often looked at their photos, which he also showed to local residents.

The village's residents also say that Father Hu was a good doctor as well.

He treated patients for free. And he also raised a dozen of orphans, some of whom are still alive.

Gao Shijie says in her statement on the renovation of his tomb: "Although Father Hu had no offspring, and his heroic behavior is unknown in his motherland, we, the survivors of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) are his successors if we can emulate his spirit of self-sacrifice."

The Dutch people did not know about Father Hu until 1990, when a local villager in Shitou Geda, Song Minhui, wrote a letter to the Dutch embassy in Beijing.

The then-Dutch ambassador Roland van den Berg wrote to Song appreciating his account of the young Dutch priest and the embassy translated Song's letter into English to let the Dutch people know about Father Hu.

The Dutch foreign ministry also then assigned a professor to investigate his early life. He found that there were no relatives alive, but a bishop then aged 94 who had known Father Hu remembered his story and said: "He was a brave and courageous man."

Van Heel was born in 1907 in Leiden, and came to China in 1933.

He learned Chinese in Luzhou, Shanxi, before joining the Shitou Geda Catholic church in 1936.

The church, which was built by Western missionaries in 1917, operated schools for boys and girls. And he was the third priest to be posted to the area.

The church was shut in 1949, and was demolished in 1985 to provide building materials for public infrastructure in the county.

The church was reopened in 1986 in caves neighboring the old site of the church.

In his statement marking the renovation of the tomb, the former Dutch ambassador writes: "It is with great satisfaction that now - 110 years after his birth - a fitting memorial has been established to remember this courageous Dutchman, who gave his life to protect the Chinese people against a foreign aggressor. It marks another proud page in the long history of the relations between the people of China and the Netherlands."

Le Yongyue, the current priest in the church, who has been working there for 19 years, often goes to the hill to sweep the tomb.

He say: "Father Hu gave his life to protect the Chinese people. He is a role model for me."

Contact the writers through liyang@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Moo-ving back into China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201545.htm US beef might be back in the mainland where appetite for the meat has been growing rapidly, but its high price might hamper efforts to gain market share in a country where many people don't know the difference between a rib-eye and a sirloin. Xu Junqian reports from Shanghai.

Liang Jiahao first encountered beef in 2002, in a local chain restaurant called Haoxianglai, which literally means "really wish to come" in Chinese.

The meal was considered a luxury. Liang, who was then a fifth-grader, spent 10 times his weekly allowance on a steak that cost 200 yuan ($30). But it was money well-spent.

"It was the first time I was asked how I wanted my steak done. That completely blew my mind. I never knew there was a scale for the doneness of meat. The only question my mum or grandma would ask me regarding meat is whether I wanted my pork fried or braised," quips the 26-year-old Shanghai native.

Today, as the founder and owner of My Butchery, a trendy butcher and deli in Shanghai, Liang is the one offering choices. Ground beef or steak? Rib-eyes or sirloin? Australian or Brazilian cuts?

The shop, which was opened to fill the gap between overpriced offerings from import supermarkets and the greasy counters at local markets, will soon expand its offerings by including a new product: eagerly awaited US beef.

US beef has been absent in the Chinese market since 2003, when China banned all imports from the US following the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease. Exports of US beef to China resumed this month under a new trade deal that followed the meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump in Florida in April.

"The reinstitution of US beef to China is huge," Sonny Perdue, the US secretary of agriculture, told China Daily on July 1. "Because of the growing middle class and the consumption of good and tasty protein, I think US producers can supply the products in demand here."

While Perdue declined to forecast the volume or value of US beef entering China in the coming years, he noted that US beef producers are eager to satisfy the appetites of Chinese consumers.

"As you know, there has been a boom in the growth of beef in China over the last four or five years, and I am convinced that once Chinese consumers taste US beef, this growth will be 10 or 20 times larger in the coming years," he adds.

"American steak is delicious," says one user on China's Twitter-like Weibo service. "It doesn't have the mutton smell of domestic beef."

Appetite for beef

Per-capita consumption of beef in China, where pork is the most popular choice of meat, has doubled from 2.8 kilograms per year at the beginning of the century to 5.45 kilograms in 2015.

While this amount is small compared to the global average of 6.6 kilograms, the US Agriculture Department has projected that China will this year overtake the European Union as the world's second-largest consumption market for beef, after the US where per-capita consumption is 25.27 kilograms.

Last year, people in China consumed 8 million tons of beef with a market value of 360 million yuan, according to China's Ministry of Agriculture. Domestic beef production rose to 7.17 million tons in 2016, a 2.4 percent year-on-year increase. A demand-supply gap of 830,000 tons is still waiting to be filled.

Before the ban, US beef had a significant market share in China. According to The Observatory of Economic Complexity, US beef accounted for 44 percent of China's total beef imports in 1999. In recent years, Australia and Brazil have become the main sources of imported beef in China, which is currently the world's second-largest beef importer after the US.

Restaurants and hotels in China like Morton's of Chicago and Park Hyatt say they plan to promote US beef soon. But industry players say that the return of US beef is unlikely to reshape the current landscape or oversaturate the market.

"The market is too large and demand is still more than supply. Besides, its high price has restricted it to a very niche group of consumers," says Yang Yiyi, vice-president of Yiguo, a fresh produce e-commerce platform headquartered in Shanghai.

Backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Yiguo is one of the first two domestic e-commerce retailers to sell US beef in China. The other is Womai.com, an online platform run by the country's largest food trader, China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp.

According to the new trade deal, US beef exported to China must come from cattle no more than 30 months old and be free of any hormones, ractopamine and other chemicals prohibited by Chinese law.

Xu Shangzhong, chief of the China Cattle Industry Association, points out that less than 10 percent of the total beef production in the US meets these stringent criteria.

Warm reception

On Womai.com, a 180-gram US rib-eye costs 38 yuan ($5.60) in a group-purchase special, almost 50 percent higher than a similar deal for Australian beef of the same cut and size. Despite the price tag, interest in US beef is still high. Both websites sold their first batches of meat, 300 kilos from Womai and 700 kilos from Yiguo, within four days.

"US beef has been one of our top searches on the website over the past week," says Tang Xizhen, director of Womai's fresh produce department.

The two websites say most of their customers are between 30 and 40 years old, have an above-average income, are open-minded about Western lifestyles and culinary habits, and prefer shopping for food and fresh produce on online platforms rather than at traditional wet markets.

The growing trend of healthy eating has also boosted the popularity of beef, because of its higher protein and lower fat content than pork.

Despite robust growth, China's beef market is still in a nascent stage where consumers are unfamiliar with the specifics of the product.

"We still see people comparing the price of US fresh prime cuts with Brazilian frozen flank simply because they are under the same category of beef. Also, the majority of beef sold from our website is still prepared in a Chinese way - cooked in soup, braised or wok-fried," says Yang.

"Chinese consumers don't really care about the type of cut or whether the cow was grass-fed or grain-fed. There is only one criteria when it comes to meat - tenderness, be it pork or lamb or beef."

Contact the writer at xujunqian@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Colombian chef wins top prize]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201544.htm MEXICO CITY - Leonor Espinosa, a Colombian chef known for sourcing local ingredients and giving back to the communities that supply them, won the Basque Culinary World Prize on Monday, a 100,000-euro ($114,000) prize for chefs who make a difference.

Espinosa, the head chef at LEO in Bogota and founder of the Funleo foundation, received the award in Mexico City from a star-studded jury presided by Spanish chef Joan Roca, whose restaurant El Celler de Can Roca has twice been named the best in the world.

The jury called Espinosa "one of Colombia's most celebrated chefs and a key figure in its gastronomic renaissance".

"Espinosa has revived the ancestral knowledge and know-how of mainly indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples. She supports rural development based on food sovereignty, and promotes routes to market for small producers," it says in announcing the award.

"She's a person with tenacity, perseverance, and commitment to preserving her country's diversity," Roca says at the award ceremony.

The prize was launched last year by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque government in northern Spain.

The Basque Culinary Center is a gastronomic university born off the back of a revolution in Spanish cuisine epitomized by the Basque country's plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants and by Ferran Adria, the father of molecular gastronomy.

The first winner was Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe, for her work to make the world a better place through chocolate: namely, by improving conditions for farmers of cacao, one of her signature ingredients.

Espinosa is known for her highly artistic take on culinary traditions from across Colombia, from the "conchadores" who gather shellfish on the Pacific coast to the recipes inherited from African slaves on the Caribbean coast to the flavors of the Andes highlands.

The prize money is to devote to a project or institution of her choice.

"The award shines a light on those communities that for years have struggled to be recognized for their ancestral value and contribution to national cultural identity," says Espinosa, 54.

On Tuesday, star chefs Roca, Michel Bras of France, Gaston Acurio of Peru and others led a symposium on biodiversity and gastronomy amid the floating gardens of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mexico City.

Agence France-presse

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Cheese Sandwich Souffle is easy weeknight meal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201543.htm One time many years ago, I was riffling through my grandmother Ruth's box of handwritten recipe cards when I pulled up short at the sight of the title of this recipe for Cheese Sandwich Souffle. Souffle? Fancy! But reading the details, I quickly understood that this item was nothing more or less than the wedding of a ham-and-cheese sandwich and some French toast.

But that didn't make it a souffle. It required no separating of eggs, nor any beating of egg whites. Once I actually made the recipe, however, the title didn't seem like such a stretch. Fresh out of the oven, these sandwiches have puffed up in a very souffle-ish way. Similarly, they boast the moistness and airiness of a souffle.

But what I especially loved about the recipe was how ridiculously easy it is to prepare, making it the ideal candidate for a weeknight meal. (Huh? A sandwich for supper? Yes. Eggs for supper? Indeed.) Preparing this dish is so simple, you ought to consider inviting your kids to help. But whether or not the kids lend a hand, this sandwich will be even more attractive once the schoolyear - and the hectic dinnertime grind - kicks in. Just know that you'll have to plan ahead a bit; the sandwiches need to soak in the egg/milk mixture for a full hour before you pop them into the oven.

This recipe can be customized in all sorts of ways. You can swap out the ham for smoked turkey, prosciutto or your meat of choice. You can lose the Gruyere in favor of provolone, cheddar, mozzarella, or your favorite cheese. Vegetarians in the family? Say goodbye to the meat and hello to a hearty vegetable like grilled eggplant or sauteed Portobello mushrooms. Want to make a slimmer version? Use low-fat cheese and non-fat milk. However you roll, all you'll need to flesh out the meal is a side salad or vegetable. These sandwiches are plenty hearty.

Cheese Sandwich Souffle

Start to finish: 2 hours (15 minutes active)

Servings: 4

Butter for buttering the baking pan

8 slices homemade-style white or whole-wheat bread, crusts removed

1/4 pound thinly sliced cheese (Gruyere, cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, et cetera)

2 ounces thinly sliced boiled ham, prosciutto or smoked turkey

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon table salt

2 cups whole milk

In a lightly buttered 8-inch-square baking dish, arrange 4 slices of the bread flat on the bottom, trimming the slices if necessary to fit snuggly in one layer. Cover each slice with one-fourth of the cheese and one-fourth of the meat and top each one with another slice of bread to form a sandwich.

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the salt, add the milk and beat until combined well. Pour the mixture over the sandwiches, cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the sandwiches on the middle shelf of the oven uncovered until they are browned around the edges and just set in the center, about 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer a baked sandwich to each of 4 plates and serve right away.

Sara Moulton is host of public television's Sara's Weeknight Meals. Her latest cookbook is HomeCooking 101.

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Moment Of Compassion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201542.htm Volunteer medical teams from Beijing visited a remote township in Tibet in July as part of the China Hearts program. Liu Xiangrui reports from Nyingchi.

Despite the heat, 79-year-old Yudron was among the hundreds of local residents that lined up outside the local medical center in a remote township in the Tibet autonomous region waiting for the chance to see visiting experts from Beijing-based hospitals and medical institutions.

The members of the visiting medical team were among 800 medical professionals and volunteers from Beijing that were visiting Nyingchi city as part of an annual nine-day charity program, called "China Hearts" that sends medical volunteers to underdeveloped and remote parts of China.

The medical team that arrived in Yuxu township early in the morning on July 9, comprised 40 doctors and volunteers, and they received nearly 800 patients, mostly Tibetans, in two days.

According to Yudron, the villagers in the neighborhood were informed in advance that there would be free clinic services. And they knew it was an opportunity too good to miss.

"We were excited about it, and came to join the line immediately after lunch," says Yudron, who was given free medicines after receiving her diagnosis.

"The doctors were very professional and patient. I'm very satisfied with the service I received."

Yudron says she usually visits the township's medical center, which is just 1 kilometer away from her village, if she has any medical problems. But it can only handle small health problems, as it is relatively poorly equipped and has no well-trained doctors.

Although the county hospital has better medical facilities and doctors, it is 70 km away in Bomi - more than two hours ride on the mountain roads, Yudron says.

Because of this, she rarely visits the county hospital and the small private clinics in Bomi county for her health problems, including the problem with her digestive system that has troubled her for nearly three decades.

"It's a lot of trouble and more costly to go to hospital in the county town. So we usually go there to buy medicine only once in a while and take the medicine back to be treated at the township medical center," Yudron says.

Several of her family members, who are all farmers, have different kinds of health problems. The cost for medicines are still a burden for them despite favorable policies that reimburse them to some extent. The family spent more than 30,000 yuan ($4,410) on medicine last year.

The medical team visiting Yuxu also attracted many residents from villages far away from the township.

Tsedro, 29, brought his mother on his motorbike from their village, which is nearly 40 km away.

"We were informed that experts from Beijing would be holding a free clinic in the township, so we headed out early to catch it," says Tsedro. "The doctors checked us and gave us some medicines, plus some suggestions for the future. It's helpful."

His mother has a liver disease, and Tsedro suffers from a stomach illness.

Outlining the shortage of healthcare professionals and facilities in the area, Zhang Bin, director of Bomi county's healthcare department, explains there are only three medical institutions in Bomi, which have just 55 medical workers, while another 64 medical workers are divided among 11 township-level health centers in the county, which has a population of more than 30,000.

"We lack professional medical staff. Often one person has to take on multiple jobs," explains Zhang, adding that not only do they lack enough medical staff, they also lack infrastructure investment, medical facilities and funds.

He praises the "China Hearts" program, saying: "Such charitable projects not only bring us good medical services, medicine and equipment, they also help train the local medical workers."

Doctors specializing in 10 clinical areas, such as cardiovascular diseases and gynecology, were among the team that visited Yuxu.

According to Hu Sanbao, director of the department of orthopedics of Beijing's Anzhen Hospital, one of the volunteer doctors who visited Yuxu, residents in the region commonly suffer from such health problems as rheumatism and arthritis, as a result of the climate and the locals' traditional living environment.

Under the China Hearts program, which was initiated in 2008 by medical experts and philanthropists in Beijing, health services are provided to underdeveloped and remote parts of China.

A committee organizes the program each year. So far, the organization has sent more than 20,000 volunteers to provide medical services to farmers and herdsmen in various regions, and the local healthcare facilities receive medicines.

In Nyingchi, medicines worth 8 million yuan were delivered to local hospitals and other medical institutions.

As well, contributions and donations worth over 200 million yuan have been given to the needy and nearly 10,000 local medical workers have received training over the years thanks to the program.

It is estimated that more than 500,000 people have directly benefited by the program in the past years, including nearly 1,000 children with congenital heart disease, who have undergone free surgery.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

The charity program China Hearts sends medical professionals and volunteers to Nyingchi, a remote and underdeveloped area in the Tibet autonomous region. Doctors from Beijing offer free clinic services and medicine to local Tibetans.Photos By Liu Xiangrui / China Daily

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Local company helps herdsmen fight sand and poverty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/21/content_30201541.htm Babu Siren runs a thriving business that includes restaurants and dune buggy rides in Hanggin Banner of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. He also farms sheep and licorice.

Life is a far cry from more than a decade ago when he struggled to support his family as a nomadic herder in the Kubuqi Desert, which was referred to as the "sea of death" because of its harsh conditions and the poverty in which people around it lived. The sand dunes had swallowed the grasslands.

And, sandstorms from there even polluted Beijing, which is 1,200 kilometers away.

Babu Siren, who is from the Mongolian ethnic group, and a large number of other desert dwellers are now reaping the benefits from the work of local companies and communities.

One example is Ordos-based Elion Resource Group that has invested more than 30 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) in the past 30 years in a plan to tackle desertification and alleviate poverty.

Babu Siren says during the peak season in summer, he hosts some 1,000 visitors a day, and makes 150,000 yuan a year.

"I no longer have to worry where my family's next meal is coming from."

Ahead of the 6th Kubuqi International Desert Forum, to be held from July 28 to 30, Elion says its model can be replicated in other parts of the world to fight drought and poverty.

The forum will be held in the desert and is seen as a major activity in international efforts on such front. This year's theme is "greening the Belt and Road, sharing desert eco-economy".

Around 300 government officials, entrepreneurs, economists, scientists and artists from different countries are expected to attend the forum, where Elion will also discuss how it helped save more than 6,000-square-km of land from desertification by growing herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, building a solar energy unit and constructing 300 km of road in Hanggin.

The herb of choice here is licorice, which thrives in a tough environment. It has stimulated industries to improve the lives of the local people who earn an income through farming the plant and leasing land to grow it. These herbs also help to slow down desertification and gradually transform the desert areas into arable lands.

The "green wall" also acts like a barrier to counter the effects of sandstorms and helps to rehabilitate the land.

Wang Wenbiao, a senior economist and chairman of the board of the Elion Resources Group, was bestowed the honor of Global Dryland Champion by the United Nations in 2013 for the company's work in the desert. Through much adversity, Wang, who was born in Hanggin, realized his dream of defeating poverty and improving the lives of his community.

Wang describes his childhood memories of his hometown in a word "sand". He says changes in the area would not have been possible without government support and people's participation.

Monique Barbut, the executive secretary-general of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, says the rehabilitation of the desert is a model for the global community, and it can balance the ecosystem and the economy.

According to a UN study, parts of Africa and Asia are at similar risk, as are parts of North America.

In June, Barbut spoke at a UN convention in Beijing, where the Joint Action Initiative to combat desertification, rehabilitate degraded land and mitigate the effects of drought was launched. The initiative aims to make China's ambitious rejuvenation of the old Silk Road environmentally sustainable.

The Belt and Road Initiative plans to boost economies from China, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean to parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. But these plans could prove futile as many of the countries involved in the initiative are affected by desertification and drought.

Barbut earlier called for the international community to come up with long-term solutions to "battle the ravages of drought and flood which are destroying communities". She warned that drought and floods devastate families and destabilize communities because they lead to mass migrations, leaving the vulnerable open to human rights abuses and long-term security threats.

She also believes China's experience in helping revive the health of deserts could benefit initiatives such as Africa's Great Green Wall, a project that aims to grow 8,000 km of trees and plants across the width of the continent to provide food and jobs.

The author is an online editor of South African newspaper Weekend Argus.

]]>
2017-07-21 09:03:38
<![CDATA[Orlando in full bloom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/20/content_30187198.htm The Hollywood star comes to Beijing to promote S.M.A.R.T. Chase, a movie produced by a Chinese company. Xu Fan reports.

While on a red carpet, English actor Orlando Bloom responds to screaming Chinese fans, signing autographs and posing for photos with them.

Scenes like these where a Hollywood star is in China to promote an upcoming film are frequent since the country overtook Japan to become the world's second-largest movie market in 2012.

But the Beijing tour of Bloom, known for playing Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, is a bit different.  

 

The upcoming thriller S.M.A.R.T. Chase, featuring English actor Orlando Bloom and stars such as teenage actor Wu Lei, actress Xiong Dailin, veteran actor Ying Da, actress Liang Jing and Taiwan model-actress Hannah Quinlivan, will open in Chinese mainland theaters during this year's National Day holiday week. Photos Provided to China Daily

S.M.A.R.T. Chase, the thriller that Bloom promoted last week in Beijing, is a title backed by Chinese filmmakers.

The film, produced by Shanghai-based Chinese studio Bliss Media, is directed by British director Charles Martin.

Except for Bloom, the other stars are Chinese. They are teenage star Wu Lei, who shot to prominence with the hit TV series Nirvana in Fire; Taiwan model-actress Hannah Quinlivan; actress Xiong Dailin, known for her role in the Ip Man franchise; veteran actor Ying Da and actress Liang Jing.

The movie, set in Shanghai, is about a missing Chinese antique.

In the film, Bloom plays a private security agent leading his team, known as S.M.A.R.T. (Security Management Action Recovery Team), to locate the treasure.

Han Wei, president of Bliss Media and the movie's executive producer, says: "We've seen many Hollywood blockbusters hit Chinese screens. It makes us proud to see a Chinese movie go abroad now."

The Shanghai-based firm has close business ties with Hollywood, having previously distributed Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge in China and co-financing the biographical drama Jackie starring Natalie Portman.

The producers say that the movie's overseas distribution rights have been sold to 45 countries and areas. And it will open across the Chinese mainland during this year's National Day holiday week from Oct 1 to 7.

For Bloom, 40, this film is his first role in a Chinese movie.

Bloom has a huge fan base in China. On the Chinese Twitter-like Sina Weibo, which is also his first social networking account, he is now followed by 2.1 million fans.

Speaking about his experiences in China, Bloom says: "I had a wonderful time shooting the movie in China. And I had amazing actors and actresses to work with.

"We had a really fun script. It feels very authentic to Shanghai. And the character is realistic too."

In the movie, Bloom's character escorts the antique on its way from Shanghai to Vancouver, but he is ambushed en route.

A lot of the action scenes were shot in Shanghai, one of China's most internationalized cities, and many landmark buildings there are featured in the movie.

Giving more details about the film, where all the lines are spoken in English, Han says that the movie provides a glimpse of modern China and its lifestyle.

She also says Bloom will tour around 10 Chinese cities to promote the movie, something rarely done by a Hollywood A-lister.

Typically such stars visit Shanghai or Beijing for promotional events.

Meanwhile, for Bloom, the local food was a great attraction.

His favorite food item was the xiaolongbao (a steamed bun popular in Shanghai)

As for refusing to use stand-in stuntmen, he says: "The producers didn't really want me to shoot action sequences. But I was very determined because I felt it was important for the character.

"I think when you see some action movie stars ... like those hanging outside buildings ... you know it's them. I want to make sure you (the audience) know it's me."

While asked if his starring in a Chinese movie will encourage more projects in China, he says: "I believe there will be more Hollywood stars doing movies in China."

"I certainly had a great experience here. I think they will too."

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-20 07:22:28
<![CDATA[Animated film on 'tea pets' set to hit mainland screens]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/20/content_30187197.htm During a visit to Paris a few years ago, Gary Wang saw some "tea pets" - porcelain figures usually placed on tea trays - displayed in an antique shop there. It reminded Wang of his early years in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian province, where one of local pastimes was to drink tea and "raise" such pets.

The figurines, a part of China's tea culture - usually in the form of animals or ancient Chinese - need to have tea poured over them. And the longer this process continues, the more valuable they become.

"I could not stop thinking about what would happen if those little statues came alive," he says during an event in Beijing.

Wang has turned his thoughts into a 3-D animated movie, Tea Pets, his second directorial feature produced by the Beijing-based studio Light Chaser Animation.

 

Gary Wang's (right) second directorial feature, Tea Pets, is a 3-D animated movie about a group of tiny statues that come to life. Photos Provided to China Daily

The movie will open in Chinese mainland theaters on Friday.

The film, which was screened at the 2017 Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France earlier this year, is now seeking international distributors for an overseas version. But producer Yu Zhou did not reveal the details.

Meanwhile, the studio's first animated feature, Little Door Gods, also rooted in Chinese culture and myths, has an English version done by Hollywood stars such as Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

As for Tea Pets, the film set in a picturesque city in China is about a group of tiny statues in a tea shop that come to life when left alone.

There, A Tang, the protagonist figure, teams up with a robot to embark on an adventure with the hope of changing their destiny.

More than 160 animators worked for around five years on the Tea Pets project.

Some of them even visited Dehua county in Fujian province and Yixing city in Jiangsu province - two places known for pottery - to learn about "tea pets".

Speaking about the challenges they faced, Yu says: "The most difficult part was to make the 'pets' look like ceramics and then bring them to life. We worked for nine months to develop a new software to create this special effect."

Despite the buzz created by Tea Pets, most domestic animated titles have been overshadowed by Hollywood or Japanese hits since the late 1990s.

Speaking about this phenomenon, Yu says that most domestic titles are aimed at young audiences.

He believes Tea Pets is a good way to draw adults to watch such films.

Wang says Chinese animated works were once loved by locals, specially in the 1960s and 1970s.

"They were typical Chinese tales," says Wang, adding that Chinese animators should focus more on producing quality works with Chinese roots.

He says that Tea Pets cost 85 million yuan ($6.76 million), merely one-tenth of what a Disney title with similar computer-generated imagery would need.

Also, to better polish the storytelling, Tea Pets held test screenings and adjusted the content based on audience feedback.

Wang, who is the founder of China's first video-sharing site Tudou, says animation gives him more freedom to build a dream world.

His next feature-length movie is called Mao Yu Taohuayuan (Cats and Paradise).

It's about a cat and his son living in a city.

]]>
2017-07-20 07:22:28
<![CDATA[After work at Tokyo eatery]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/20/content_30187196.htm A Japanese film based on manga work finds fans in China. Xu Fan reports.

When Japanese director Joji Matsuoka was asked by someone if he had watched the Chinese TV series Midnight Diner, the audience at the Sunday preview of his latest film in Beijing burst into laughter.

That was because the series is based on a Japanese manga work, and Matsuoka has directed two related films and a TV series.

First emerging as Yaro Abe's popular manga work in 2006, the heart-warming stories about a late-night eatery was adapted into a three-season Japanese TV series from 2009 to 2014, and also spawned two feature-length movies released in 2015 and 2016. All of them are critically acclaimed.

 

Midnight Diner 2 revolves around the happiness and sorrow of ordinary people, which is one of the biggest draws of the franchise. Photo Provided to China Daily

Matsuoka was promoting the second feature, Midnight Diner 2, in Beijing ahead of its China premiere. And, the Chinese series helped the Japanese franchise to dominate news in China.

Once among the most anticipated TV dramas, the Chinese series, however, obtained 2.7 points out of 10 on popular reviewing site Douban in June.

Most Chinese viewers complained the series was accompanied by too many advertisements, poor performances by the actors and actresses and the failure to keep the original work's in-depth story.

For diehard fans, the newly released Japanese sequel Midnight Diner 2 is seemingly an authentic effort to remedy their disappointment with the Chinese TV drama.

But for Matsuoka, the question about Chinese series is a bit challenging.

Reluctant to comment more on the Chinese series, he said at Sunday's preview it was "touching" to see that TV producers here considered it for a remake.

Similar to the first movie's structure, Midnight Diner 2 consists of three independent stories - a frustrated editor regaining her confidence, a mother's conflict with her son who wants to marry a woman 15 years older and an elderly woman looking for her missing son.

The film was shot in the franchise' trademark setting, an eatery in Tokyo that runs from midnight to early morning to gather those who take it as a harbor from the busy metropolis.

Having worked with the franchise for eight years, Matsuoka says it has become more difficult to select stories from the original comic material for the movie adaptation.

He says he had to read all the manga books again, with more than 100 stories.

The Japanese franchise focuses on the low-paid people who live on the margins of society. The owner of the eatery, known as The Master, also the only chef at the snack bar, not only fills their stomach but also serves as a therapist listening to their stories of happiness and pain.

"That (tune) is what we have stayed with from the beginning," says Matsuoka, the 56-year-old director.

"We didn't want to shoot rich people, who are probably highlighted in many modern-themed productions. We prefer to explore the tough lives of those who tirelessly work for a better future, and to hail their courage and diligence," he says.

Kobayashi Kaoru, the award-wining Japanese actor who stars as The Master, attended another event in Beijing on July 11.

He says the franchise has been appealing for years, thanks to the story's subtlety as well as its ability to raise modern-day issues.

The key to adapting the popular manga work to successful screen productions was being faithful to the spirit of the comic books, he adds.

"I didn't expect the franchise to be so popular in China," says Kaoru.

As one of the limited imports released in July, the low-budget Midnight Diner 2 earned 4.3 million yuan ($636,500) on Tuesday, taking the fourth spot on China's box-office charts on its debut.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-20 07:22:28
<![CDATA[Hollywood digs into French sci-fi comic for ideas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/20/content_30187195.htm BEVERLY HILLS, California - "I'm Valerian and she's Laureline," Luc Besson says with a smile, and gesturing to his producer and wife, Virginie Besson-Silla. "She's the clever one."

Valerian and Laureline are the lead characters of Besson's sci-fi epic, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets that hits US theaters on Friday. They're names that most American audiences don't know, even though the French comic about two 28th century intergalactic cops that it's based on, Valerian and Laureline, has been in existence for 60 years and influenced Star Wars.

The filmmakers are seated in their shared office inside the Beverly Hills outpost of Besson's company EuropaCorp about a month before the Valerian's stateside debut. He's behind a massive rectangular wooden desk and she's across the table from him. Besson-Silla has a desk, too. It's off to the side, round, and much, much smaller.

"I prefer a round table! Everyone thinks it wasn't my choice," Besson-Silla says.

"She could have had a bigger one," he adds, seemingly still befuddled by it.

It's almost another metaphor for their relationship - Besson as the larger-than-life public-facing personality who makes big statements and even bigger movies, and Besson-Silla as the one who orchestrates things in her own way just slightly out of the spotlight.

They were colleagues before they were anything else. Now they have three children, ages 15, 14 and 11, and have found they actually enjoy being partners at the office and home.

Valerian is by far the biggest film they've ever done estimated to have a $180 million price tag. Both are coming off the success of Lucy and the decades of goodwill Besson has built up in wild-eyed, crowd pleasing genre fare like La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element.

Though he was a lifetime fan of the series, it wasn't until he was working on The Fifth Element with Valerian illustrator Jean-Claude Mzires that he even considered taking it on.

Besson wouldn't acquire the rights for another 10 years. It wasn't until he visited James Cameron on the set of Avatar that he realized a film adaptation of Valerian and Laureline was even possible, technologically speaking.

And they've taken their time with it. Besson did a large number of character and world sketches himself. He created a bible with descriptions of all the creatures.

He found his perfect leads in two burgeoning stars: Cara Delevingne for Laureline and Dane DeHaan for Valerian.

As far as the money goes, Besson isn't concerned. With international sales, he says the film is 90 percent covered.

"The risk is more psychological than the money. The risk is if we fail then you lose your reputation," Besson says.

He's also a realist about possibilities and the fickleness of the market. Valerian will launch against the World War II actioner Dunkirk and the comedy Girls Trip.

"If there's a film a few weeks before us that is huge and everyone loves it, you don't exist. If you come after a desert of two months, then you're the savior. The good thing that we smell a little bit is there is a lassitude... lassitude?" Besson says.

Besson-Silla jumps in: "People are a little bored with sequels."

"There are so many sequels," continues Besson. "People are little tired of so many superheroes. At least we're fresh!"

Associated Press

]]>
2017-07-20 07:22:28
<![CDATA[Movie on Shanghai's old Jewish community on streaming sites]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/20/content_30187194.htm Having lived in Shanghai for a few years, producer and actress Jane Wu learned that more than 20,000 Jewish refugees had taken shelter in the city after fleeing Europe during World War II.

In 2015, Wu shared the story with Sid Ganis, a former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a veteran Hollywood producer.

"Ganis is Jewish. The story resonated with him, and he believed it could be adapted into a movie," she says in a recent interview to China Daily.

Spending nearly a year in research, Wu and Ganis have coproduced the short film, A Children's Song, retelling the story through the perspective of two modern-day students. The 22-minute movie, which swept up around 20 prizes in the United States, will soon run on some Chinese streaming sites.

 

A still from A Children's Song, a short film produced by Jane Wu (left). The work is about Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II. Wu is also an actress who has starred in Hollywood movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (right). Photos Provided to China Daily

With A Children's Song, Wu expects that her prospects will improve in Hollywood.

Born in Northeast China's Liaoning province in 1989, Wu moved to Shanghai as a teenager. She began her career as a model but soon discovered her talent in action movies.

In 2015, she spent a lot of time learning English, especially slang and film industry jargon, to integrate with the local environment of Hollywood.

She says Hollywood is changing with regard to its taste in Chinese performers.

"The casting directors usually have someone to tell them about what kind of actresses the Chinese gravitate toward. They now not only make sure it appeals to the North American viewers but also care about the Chinese market," Wu says. "But what they regard as the most important is if the actor or actress is fit for the role, and talent."

Compared to many outsiders struggling in Hollywood, Wu says she has been lucky.

In the past two years, she has obtained cameo roles in the big-budget blockbusters Captain America: Civil War and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was my first big Hollywood movie. I was so excited and invited my mother to the US to attend the premiere," she says.

After seeing the movie, however, they were disappointed. Wu had a role with 11 lines but most of her scenes were edited out in the final version.

"I then comforted myself. That is Hollywood," says Wu.

She says she will be working in the fourth movie of the Hollywood franchise xXx, starring American actor Vin Diesel.

In addition, Wu is using her connections in Hollywood to produce and host the talk show Behind the Spotlight, which is being shown on Chinese streaming site iQiyi and the satellite TV channels CCTV 6 and Shanghai TV Station since April. The show will also run in the US in the future, she adds.

The program unravels behind-the-scenes stories of some Hollywood hits through interviews with top producers and studio executives.

]]>
2017-07-20 07:22:28
<![CDATA[Character building]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170434.htm Parents are discovering the benefits of getting their kids to learn calligraphy. Deng Zhangyu reports.

Dressed in traditional Chinese dress, called hanfu, with a long plait hanging down her back, 9-year-old Zhang Linxi introduced her artworks - two calligraphies and two ink paintings of birds and flowers - to those who stopped by her works during an exhibition in Beijing's 798 Art District in June.

The three-day show featured works by about 360 calligraphy and ink painting lovers, many of whom were children aged between 5 and 10.

Linxi, a 4th-grade primary student, has been studying calligraphy for two years. She has a practice room at home, with ink brushes, ink stones and seals bought by her father from fancy stores.

Children learn to put their hearts on Chinese characters while writing traditional calligraphy with ink and brushes (top), appreciating veterans' calligraphy art in exhibitions (middle) and students make copybook rubbings on inscriptions using paper and inked pads (above). Photos Provided to China Daily

"We encourage her to learn calligraphy. It's a good way to learn about our culture," says her mother. "It helps her gain wisdom and fosters identification with Chinese culture."

"Most parents, who can afford it, appreciate art education, and they regard calligraphy as a gateway to traditional Chinese culture," says Li Xiaoya, CEO of Beijing-based Hanxiang, a franchised calligraphy training school, who organized the 798 exhibition.

Learning calligraphy also means learning classical poems because the written scripts are excerpts from poetry from the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties. Calligraphy students also have to learn traditional seal-making skills since each piece of calligraphy has a name printed with a seal.

"It's more than just calligraphy. It's about Chinese history and culture as well," Li says.

The popularity of calligraphy has grown rapidly with the central government's promotion of traditional Chinese culture, and Hanxiang has expanded rapidly. In 2015, Li had eight calligraphy training schools in China. Now the number has nearly tripled.

Li recalls that in 2009 when she opened her first calligraphy training school with several teachers, many of her friends tried to advise her against it as calligraphy was such a "marginalized subject". But the once unpopular subject is now hot.

Besides letting their children learn history and culture, many also hope to help build their children's personalities, so they become more focused and persistent.

Fu Yankai, a 9-year-old boy who started learning calligraphy two years ago, sat quietly in the noisy exhibition room in the 798 Art District where his calligraphy was displayed, taking his time to carefully write a scroll. His mother says he is quite different from the naughty boy he used to be.

"He can now sit down for hours concentrating on one thing," says his mother.

Yankai took part in a culture tour for children earlier this year to explore an ancient city, Suzhou of Jiangsu province, with traditional Chinese gardens and architecture where many well-known poets and calligraphers of the past wrote their poems.

The kids played a game in which they let cups float down a stream and when the cup stopped, the person next to it on the bank had to sing a song or recite an ancient poem. It is a game the ancient poets were fond of playing.

Such kind of culture tours have increased Yankai's passion for both calligraphy and Chinese culture, says his mother.

"We're Chinese; our children must understand our culture," she says.

Li's training schools also provide lots of culture tours. For instance, they provide tours to explore how Chinese porcelain wares are made and how to write and paint on them.

They are organizing a tour to Dunhuang in Northwest China's Gansu province to appreciate the murals in the caves that were painted thousands of years ago.

Such kinds of activities are popular and sell out quickly, Li says.

Song Weiyuan, a calligrapher and a long-time educator and scholar, says writing calligraphy may seem like a "useless thing" which many of the children may never write when they grow up, but it's still important for them to learn it.

"Calligraphy represents the highest level of Chinese art, since it is an art that has lasted for thousands of years. And it's a continuous record of how the Chinese characters change and how people write them," adds Song.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Something to write home about]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170433.htm When Chen Hong refused her colleagues' invitation for a party after work, explaining that she had a calligraphy class to attend, her colleagues were surprised and wanted to know why she was learning the ancient writing style.

Wearing ripped jeans, her hair dyed light yellow, the 23-year-old accountant, who works in Beijing, says she renewed her childhood interest in calligraphy six months ago.

"I spend an hour or two on calligraphy after work at home to calm myself and cultivate my mind," says Chen, who also loves playing video games, going to karaoke bars and shopping with friends.

Back then, she thought it was boring but now she says she finds it interesting.

"The world runs so fast. I try to slow down with calligraphy," she says.

Chen, who was forced to learn calligraphy from her father when she was a little girl, is one of an increasing number of Chinese people who are turning to traditional culture in pursuit of spiritual peace and enjoyment in recent years.

Ma Di, a manager in a real estate company in Beijing, says that his lifestyle changed since he embraced calligraphy one year ago.

The 34-year-old goes to the gym regularly and likes to play snooker in his spare time. However, he says he likes the serenity he feels when doing calligraphy.

"I think calligraphy is a good way for me to calm down after a day's work," explains Ma of his reason to learn this art which many of his friends think is for old people.

"Before I learned calligraphy, I knew little about our culture and history," says Ma, adding he plans to spend more time learning about Chinese culture, as practicing calligraphy sparked a strong interest in it.

To get into the spirit of it, he wears a traditional costume at home, and he has set up a separate area with traditional Chinese wood furniture where he drinks tea instead of coffee.

Li Xiaoya, CEO of Hanxiang, a calligraphy training company in Beijing, says the number of adults learning calligraphy is increasing.

Women who learn calligraphy are often 20 to 30, while the men are more than 40 years old, says Li. "They all want to cultivate their minds through calligraphy," she says.

Li Xiaoyang, a government officer in Beijing, paid about 7,000 yuan ($1,032) for a year-long calligraphy course.

The 31-year-old mother of a 4-year-old boy usually spends some time writing calligraphy after playing the drum with her son. She also likes yoga and running, which are popular among mothers of her age in China.

Unlike some mothers who spent time doing online shopping and watching TV dramas, Li Xiaoyang says she likes to sit down reading books. But recently, she has taken to calligraphy.

"I thought it was just another kind of handwriting, but the more I practice, the more I realize it is much more than that," she says.

She says calligraphy needs a good knowledge in literature, history and philosophy to get some achievement in it.

"It's a lifetime's practice," Li Xiaoyang says.

When she posts her calligraphy work on social media, she receives lots of likes and much praise for how graceful the characters look. "I now want to explore more Chinese culture," she says.

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Should colleges charge public for fields?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170432.htm Public access to sports facilities has become a concern for sports authorities over the years. There are many venues for big sports events in the country, but facilities for people to exercise daily are not enough, experts said at a sports forum in Beijing in May.

The central government provided 930 million yuan ($137.98 million) in subsidies to State-owned stadiums, for these facilities to offer free or subsidized services to the general public, Xinhua reported mid-June.

Some experts say that universities opening their sports facilities to the general public is one way to solve the problem.

Some universities charge the public to use their sports fields. But many neighboring communities who use the sports fields complain about it saying that universities by definition are an open space for public education, so a closed, fee-charging campus goes against the spirit of freedom and inclusiveness.

Supporters of the payment policy, however, say that too many visitors crowd the campuses, disturb order, and deprive students and faculty from using the sports fields. Some others, while supporting the universities' policy of controlling access to visitors, question whether charging a fee is the best way.

They say if limited access could be given to non-university entrants, then charging a high fee would be unfair to low-income residents. So, should universities charge the public for use of their sports fields?

YES

Universities are not completely open spaces for public use.

1. Charging a fee is the most effective way of controlling access and gaining the most value out of the university's resources. A high fee would filter out most of the visitors who have no desire to use the sports field for its intended purpose.

2. Universities and their assets are expensive investments, funded by the government and the public, for the education of students and scientific research. If members of the public want to use these facilities, which might put stress on the university's resources, it makes sense that they should pay a price.

3. Neighboring residents have other options of places for recreation, such as public parks, if they do not want to pay to use the sports field.

NO

Universities should serve the public, not just their faculty and students.

1. Universities are public assets - they should serve students and faculty but the general public as well. If there are too many "outsiders" on the campus disturbing order, school officials should do something to control the crowds without demanding a payment.

2. The university has many options to control public access to the campus or sports field, such as giving free access cards to residents of the closest communities, or rotating a limited number of cards among residents. Charging a fee is not a fair option.

3. The university should not take unilateral decisions to control the access of neighboring residents by charging a fee. Instead, it should negotiate with the local government and residents.

China Daily

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[School helps developing countries]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170431.htm Institute a platform for nations to study different economic models

The South-South Cooperation and Development Institute at Peking University hosted its first graduation ceremony on July 6 in Beijing.

Twenty-six government officials, including 10 women, from 16 developing countries who have finished their master's program attended the ceremony and talked about their experiences at the university.

The institute is a platform for developing countries to discuss different economic development models, a place to exchange ideas about how to eliminate poverty and achieve modernization.

The institute was established in April last year, after President Xi Jinping declared the plan to open such an institute at the High-level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation co-hosted by China and the United Nations at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept 26, 2015. It is to deepen the cooperation between China and the other developing countries from support on finance and engineering to communication on development of intelligence and ideas.

The curriculum design of the institute is economics-centered, oriented toward problem-solving, but at the same time, covers quantitative analysis, political systems, public relations, leadership skills and globalization.

Awan Andrew Riak, an official from South Sudan who studied for a year at the institute, says: "When you look back at African history, we haven't gone anywhere since our independence in the 1960s. But the South-South institute has now provided us with a chance to establish the North-South dialogue, and our inspirations will move our people.

"With South-South, we believe that we are looking critically into the challenges that we face, and we are looking into the relevant solutions.

"I wish South-South would take more students instead of making it very limited, because we have more people who require this education, and it might change the country."

Another student, Doroteia Alberto Chipande from Mozambique, says the education modules at South-South are pragmatic.

"South-South wants students not just to learn things in class, they want us to see what happened and how it happened for us to have the feeling," Chipande says.

She cites a field trip to Shenzhen in the country's south, as an example.

"We all know about Shenzhen, and we heard about Shenzhen, but being in the place and talking with people and to feel the atmosphere of the city is totally different. Eventually, we got different ideas about its development and innovation."

Chipande says the experience at the institute made her not only know China better, but also other countries in Africa.

"Being in China, and having more than 20 classmates from different countries, that was one of the biggest lessons," she says. "I realized I didn't know enough about my own country."

Chipande says she wants to see more women joining the institute for such courses. There were just 10 females in her class.

China Daily

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Students use art to tackle important issues]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170430.htm FOX VALLEY, Illinois - Fox Valley area students offered their take on important issues through art at an exhibition in Batavia.

"I think the biggest issues we face today are suicide and depression," says Tyler Magnuson, 17, of Aurora. "I like the concept of people expressing themselves through art rather than words."

Students representing a number of area school districts displayed work recently at Water Street Studios as part of an awareness campaign sponsored by Kane County Juvenile Justice Council.

Kane County Juvenile Justice Council Coordinator Julia Ankenbruck says about two dozen submissions were entered through the program and that entries were largely submitted by high-school-age students.

"We had a theme each month, and the majority of the drawings were done in colored pencils or oil pastels and put on poster board," Ankenbruck explains. "There were five winners selected that are on display, and they are going to receive a plaque as well as some art supplies and gift bags which are being donated by the studio here."

The themes of the program included homelessness in January, unhealthy relationships in February, bullying in March, substance abuse in April and mental health issues in May.

Program manager for Kane County Juvenile Justice Pamela Ely says about half of the submissions at the event came "from my kids who are in detention".

"Obviously when you are in detention, you've got a lot of time on your hands and when I offered some of these kids the opportunity to participate, they did," Ely says. "A lot of these kids come from difficult backgrounds and know some of these issues personally by living through them."

Parents and students as well as local officials like Lake Cowart, assistant state's attorney for Kane County, visited the exhibition. Cowart acknowledges that it is hard sometimes for others to express themselves in words.

"Kids are skilled in other ways, including art, and having something like this is an excellent way to give kids a voice and express themselves," she says. "Increasing awareness of the issues and risk factors is important given some of the challenges families are facing."

Marisela Jauregui of Aurora says her daughter, Crystal Jauregui, 13, was one of the students who submitted a drawing which consisted of a pair of hands bound in chains. She says she found the drawing to be "scary".

"My daughter is really quiet but I know she loves drawing and painting," she says. "Her picture was scary, but I'm glad she's found a way to express herself."

Crystal says she worked on her art project for about a week and that her inspiration came from thinking about the aftermath following something traumatic.

"If you think about the topic of rape, for example, it's the type of thing that holds you down like you're in chains and you can never forget it," she says. "The background I used in my drawing is the space you live in afterwards along with what you remember."

Ankenbruck says the work of the students on display "would be used in promotional materials" the Kane County Juvenile Justice Council plans to produce in the coming months.

Magnuson predicts those student-inspired materials would be effective.

"I think the message is better in that you have kids relating to kids, rather than adults always telling kids 'no'," he says. "Kids telling other kids not to do something is a lot more effective."

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Top four ways to shrink your carbon footprint are often overlooked]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170429.htm MIAMI - Researchers in Sweden have identified the top four things people can do to reduce their carbon footprint, but warned on July 11 these steps are rarely promoted in the public sphere.

The report in the journal Environmental Research Letters described a "missed opportunity" to let people know the most effective steps they can take to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, a primary driver of global warming.

"We found there are four actions that could result in substantial decreases in an individual's carbon footprint - eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living car-free, and having smaller families," says lead author Seth Wynes of Lund University in Sweden.

"For example, living car-free saves about 2.4 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, while eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tons of CO2 equivalent a year."

Avoiding airplane travel saves about 1.6 tons of CO2 equivalent per trip.

By far the biggest action - having one fewer child - saves an average of 58.6 tons of CO2-equivalent emission reductions per year, the report says.

"A US family who chooses to have one fewer child would provide the same level of emissions reductions as 684 teenagers who choose to adopt comprehensive recycling for the rest of their lives," it says.

These four steps were identified from an analysis of 39 peer-reviewed papers, carbon calculators, and government reports that calculate how individual lifestyle choices may reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When researchers looked to see which anti-carbon actions were promoted in Canadian textbooks and government communications in the United States, Australia, Europe and Canada, they found a general focus on "incremental changes with much smaller potential to reduce emissions".

For instance, commonly promoted government strategies included changing light bulbs and comprehensive recycling.

Researchers said these steps are respectively eight and four times less effective than a plant-based diet.

None of the Canadian textbooks mentioned limiting family size as a way of reducing one's carbon footprint.

Streamlining the message from schools and from governments could make major steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, researchers say.

"There are so many factors that affect the climate impact of personal choices, but bringing all these studies side by side gives us confidence we've identified actions that make a big difference," says Wynes.

"Those of us who want to step forward on climate need to know how our actions can have the greatest possible impact."

Agence France-Presse

Kids at Taihe School in Beilun district of Ningbo, Zhejiang province, paint on recyclable paper bags for consumers to use while shopping. Suo Xianglu / For China Daily

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Australia's 1st drone piloting course]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170428.htm CANBERRA - The University of Adelaide has become Australia's first university to gain accreditation to offer a course in professional drone piloting, in what has been described as a major step forward for commercial drone use in Australia.

The university has announced it will offer an intensive, five-day course at a cost of A$3,500 ($2,660), which will allow professionals to use the drones with greater freedom, opening up greater opportunities in filmmaking among other key industries.

In an interview with Xinhua on July 11, Prof Lian Pin Koh from the University of Adelaide's Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility said while hobby drone pilots might not need a license to fly their machines, they are restricted in what they are allowed to do.

"For most people who want to fly a drone for recreation, they can learn to fly the aircraft themselves without needing a license," Koh says, if they "abide by a set of standard operating conditions specified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority", like, not flying above 122 meters.

"However, the situation is different if a person wants to fly a drone for work, for example, to take video shots of a property for a real estate company. In that case, this drone operator would need to be professionally trained by undertaking a course like ours, and be holding a Remote Pilot License before they are allowed to do so.

"Having a license also allows you seek permission or exemptions from CASA to perform more complicated or riskier tasks."

Koh says that he expects a wide range of people to undertake the training considering the benefits the course brings, saying that he has heard of interest from professional photographers and engineers, and amateur pilots who want to further their learning.

"We expect trainees from a diverse field, from high school students who aspire to be drone pilots, through professional photographers and videographers, to engineers in the oil and gas industry who want to use this technology in their work," Koh says. 

The professor says gaining the accreditation is a major step forward for not only the university, but the Australian drone landscape. The courses are set to begin in August.

"When I first started on this path, colleagues at my former university thought I was wasting my time on toys and laughed," Koh says. He joined the university in 2014 and made it his mission operating drone as a research tool, and making students drone pilots.

With support from bosses and staff, he's happy "this dream is finally coming to fruition".

Xinhua

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Playing on the heartstrings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170427.htm Cellist Ou-yang Nana will soon conduct a 12-city tour of the mainland to support her new album - songs from Walt Disney movies. Chen Nan reports.

Like many people her age, Ou-yang Nana grew up watching Walt Disney movies, and her favorite character is Cinderella.

"She faces life's difficulties with kindness and courage, which is very inspiring to me," says Ou-yang, a 17-year-old cellist from Taiwan. "I apply that philosophy in my own life."

When she was asked by her record company, Universal Music Group, to record an album of songs from movies by Walt Disney Pictures, Ou-yang naturally chose the song, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, which was written and composed by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston, for the Disney movie, Cinderella, in 1950.

The musician meets the audience on July 7 in a cinema in Fuzhou, Fujian province, to promote campus film All About Secrets that stars her. Zheng Shuai / For China Daily

The cellist also chose another eight pieces to perform with the Bulgarian Film Orchestra for the album, Cello Loves Disney, including Let It Go, a song written and composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Disney's 2013 movie, Frozen, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight, a song composed and sung by Elton John, from the 1994 movie, The Lion King.

One of the highlights of the album sees the cellist performing with Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan on a Mandarin version of the pop song, A Whole New World, from Disney's 1992 movie, Aladdin.

To support the new album, which was released on June 16, Ou-yang will launch a 12-city tour across the Chinese mainland from Beijing on Aug 15, other cities including Suzhou, Nanjing and Hangzhou.

It has been two years since the cellist released her debut album, titled 15, on which she performs classical pieces, such as German composer Felix Mendelssohn's cello sonatas, Songs Without Words, and British cellist and composer William Henry Squire's Tarantella (Op 23 for cello and piano).

"In the past, my goal was to become a cellist with great technique and distinctive style. So I put emotional music pieces that touched me on my first album. But now, I want more people to enjoy my music," she says.

Her change of attitude came from audience feedback.

"Most members of the audience coming to my recitals are teenagers. They often find the classical music pieces hard to understand and then lose interest," says the cellist. "I want to show them that classical music can be fun. I want to offer them a different feeling about classical music and the cello."

Born in Taipei in a celebrity family - her parents are both actors and her aunt a pop singer, Ou-yang has lived in the spotlight from a young age. Since childhood, she has appeared on TV shows with her parents and two sisters, Nini, 21, and Didi, 13. She picked up the cello at age 5 and made up her mind to become a cellist at 8. But her parents didn't think their daughter would take up the cello as a career until she won some awards in music competitions on the island.

In 2013, she went to the United States to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was taught by renowned cellists Peter Wiley and Carter Brey.

Willowy, long black hair, and big-eyed, Ou-yang is also an actress, starring in the 2014 romantic comedy Beijing Love Story, and recently in the campus romance All About Secrets.

"I really don't feel an advantage over others because of my family background, but I do feel I need to work very hard to prove myself," she says.

Earlier this month, Ou-yang traveled to 17 cities on the Chinese mainland to promote her new movie and new album.

"Lately, I often think of my childhood, especially the days when I began playing the cello," she says. "I miss the days when I had the time to play my instrument for six hours or more a day alone in my room. But now I have to squeeze a few hours to be alone with my instrument."

She always guarantees herself at least three hours of practice every day, as "a way of meditation and relaxation".

Calling being a cellist a passion and her role as an actress a job, Ou-yang says her musical ambition is to collaborate with the Japanese composer and conductor Joe Hisaishi.

"It is on my wish list. But I know I still need to prepare myself more to make this collaboration happen," she says.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Marti Noxon's To the Bone a deeply moving debut]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170426.htm NEW YORK - Writer-director Marti Noxon's deeply moving feature debut, To the Bone, isn't just about a young woman confronting anorexia; it's a story about coming to terms with the ridiculous, awkward, beautiful and painful realities of adult life.

Without judging or romanticizing, Noxon presents a heartfelt and heartbreaking portrait of a 20-year-old woman trying to cope with the challenges of growing up by obsessively restricting calories.

Noxon and star Lily Collins - who both have personal experiences with eating disorders - have created an indelible character in Ellen/Eli, the eye-rolling, over-it millennial at the heart of the film. Like a next-generation Juno steeped in bitters, Eli is all fragile vulnerability and stubborn defiance - a sneering mix of fear, arrogance and angst, simultaneously yearning for and fearing adulthood.

Eli has been in and out of treatment for her eating disorder. She's so skeletal and drawn, her eye sockets seem oversized and her skin looks gray. But she insists everything is under control. Like, get over it.

Her family begs her to try yet another inpatient program, and she agrees to join a group home where half a dozen other young bulimics and anorexics ("rexies") are living in various states of recovery. The house's lone male resident, Luke (newcomer Alex Sharp) takes an instant liking to her.

Her formal treatment includes a disastrous family therapy session with her new-age mother (Lili Taylor) and well-meaning but often inappropriate stepmother (an outstanding Carrie Preston). Informally, it includes a fledgling romance with Luke and a bizarre bottle-feeding ritual with her mom.

The film presents eating disorders almost like a form of addiction. Keanu Reeves plays Dr Beckham, whose approach is to encourage patients to decide for themselves what their future lives should look like. In one of the film's most poignant scenes, he reveals one of adulthood's great and troubling secrets. "Things don't all add up," he says. "But you are resilient. Face some hard facts and you could have an incredible life."

And right there is why this film is universal, even if you're not a young person with an eating disorder. Growing up means realizing that life isn't always fair and there's no guarantee that everything will be all right. Eli literally shrinks away from this truth.

Collins and some of the other actresses are so painfully thin that parts of the film are uncomfortable to watch. It's also hard to see the young characters so tormented and consumed with body image. One describes a famous (and unquestionably thin) actress as "kind of fat, don't you think? Like at least a size 6".

But the story is not all bleak. Noxon, a veteran writer and producer of such TV hits as UnREAL, Mad Men, Glee and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, deftly manages her film's tone, blending humor and heart without being saccharine or trite. She treats Eli's struggles seriously but not too earnestly, a delicate balance obviously aided by the loving perspective of personal experience.

The film's optimism shines through in a magical sequence set inside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Rain Room exhibit. Beckham takes his patients on a field trip there, and their experience of the space where water miraculously rains down from the ceiling but doesn't get visitors wet is a cinematic metaphor for the delicious thrill of discovery - a perk of being alive.

To the Bone is a beautiful achievement. It illuminates the compulsions and dangers around disordered eating and the struggles of so many teens and adults who channel their concerns and fears about life into hatred of their own bodies. It gives voice to the experience of girls, who are rarely prepared for the onslaught of male attention that comes with puberty and adolescence. It underscores the importance of family, however dysfunctional. It's a story about the difficulty of being human and the bravery it takes to grow up.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Hot tips on how to keep cool and chic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170425.htm No matter how much I pine for summer, the super-hot weather sneaks up on me.

Are the pits shaved?

Are the legs smooth?

Are the toes pedied?

Does this sundress still fit?

So to ensure we have a more aesthetically pleasing summer, I've culled together a few fashion tips. Some may seem obvious, but based on what I've seen around town this week, they clearly bear repeating.

Longer silhouettes

Often we make the mistake that shorter pieces will keep us cooler. This is not the case. They don't blow with the light summer breeze. And after intense perspiration, a tight shirt or a Bodycon mini clings to us in ways that aren't very attractive. Instead, opt for the breathable A-line, the ankle-grazing maxi, a pair of wide-legged trousers. You won't have to keep adjusting your clothing and you will feel cooler.

Go light

Lighter colors - tan, ivory, white, pastels - reflect the sunlight and that will keep you cool. Darker hues like navy and black absorb the sun and will keep you sweating. Also, don't forget your sunglasses. They will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Care for your feet

We aren't saying that you have to have the latest marblenail pedicure - short, clear toesies will do. Please, just groom them. And to avoid dry heels, use a lighter lotion. This way your feet won't slide and those ankles won't look dry. (Feel free to moisturize your elbows and knees, too.) Didn't get a chance to get all pedicured up? Opt for sneakers. This season sneakers are going with, well, everything.

A flatter shoe

This is the weather where you will want to carry those toe-pinching stilettos to the office and take on Philly's asphalt in a ballet flat or barely-there wedge. The scorching temps make your feet swell, and there's nothing worse than teetering around in pain in intense heat. (Oh yeah, teetering around in pain in intense cold.)

Makeup

It's happened to me time and time again. I'm on the phone, it's hot outside, half of my applied face is sliding down my iPhone. Not a good look. Instead opt for a light foundation infused with an SPF. And don't forget your SPF lip gloss. Our lips burn, too.

Deodorant

To quote my mom, "There is just no reason to be funky first thing in the morning." That's true even if the thermometer is tipping 30 C. Think of your fellow public transit riders. That said, try Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths or a face mist like Cauldie Grape Water mist.

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/19/content_30170424.htm Movie

Comedy

Our Shining Days, a coming-of-age comedy, aims to encourage dream-chasers with an inspirational story. Set in a high school specializing in training musical talent, the movie follows a young girl's efforts to set up a folk music band. The movie, directed by Wang Ran, stars Xu Lu, Peng Yuchang, Liu Yongxi and Luo Mingjie. The film will open across Chinese mainland theaters on Thursday. Hong Kong veteran musician Kubert Leung is the movie's music director, and the singers are Japanese pop diva Mika Nakashima, Chinese singers including Zhou Bichang, Aska Yang and Lala Hsu.

Game

RiME

RiME is a slow, solemn puzzle platform game that requires patience. When you first load up the game, you notice just how gorgeous it is to look at. From the shimmering waters, to the breathtaking day and night cycle, right down to the ivory white towers that you climb and explore, the game is a visual marvel. The vistas are given extra beauty backed by a powerful soundtrack. A melancholy tone seems to pervade the game. The story begins with a young boy stranded on an island. There's no dialogue in the game. You're given no instruction on how to solve the various puzzles. They're kept simple so that you can figure them out on your own.

4 Pics, 1 Word

This is a game in which you have to find the common bond among four photos. Click Play and on your screen will pop up a quartet of images such as an email icon, an answering machine, a bottle floating in the ocean and a woman checking her cellphone. Below them will appear some empty boxes and below that a grid of letters. Type in the letters you think fit the answer (in this case "message") and collect virtual coins that can then be used to acquire hints for more difficult puzzles. There are challenges along the way.

China Daily - Agencies

]]>
2017-07-19 07:43:48
<![CDATA[Guangdong shows the way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155699.htm An exhibition of hundreds of paintings and sculptures shows how one province shaped Chinese art since the early 20th century. Lin Qi reports.

The National Art Museum of China is for the first time using its 17 exhibition halls to trace the artistic evolution and influence of a single province. The Destined to Reform exhibition, now on at the Beijing museum, shows how artists from Guangdong province shaped Chinese art since the early 20th century.

The show features more than 550 paintings and sculptures, which are on loan from public museums, cultural institutions and families of the artists.

The central chamber on the first floor, the most important space in the museum, has ground-to-ceiling photos of 21 prominent members of the Guangdong artist collective.

 

The ongoing Destined to Reform exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing features more than 550 paintings and sculptures by artists from Guangdong province since the early 20th century. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily

Guangdong, which occupies nearly one-fourth of the mainland's coastline, was in the forefront of cultural exchanges and social transformations over the past century.

The southern province was known for producing leaders of the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, which led to the end of monarchy in China, and was the forerunner of the country's opening-up and reform.

It was also the birthplace of art reformers who modernized Chinese cultural traditions and was one of the places where contemporary Chinese art first began to flourish.

"For the last 100 years, Guangdong has been the cradle of art. The first-generation artists from the province studied art in Europe and Japan in the early 20th century, and were also among the earliest Chinese to be exposed to art movements across the world," says Xue Yongnian, a theorist from the Beijing-based China Artists Association.

He says that among them were pioneers like Gao Jianfu (1879-1951), who called for reforms in both society and art.

Gao, whose paintings are on show, co-founded the Lingnan School of Painting, an artists' group in Guangdong, which revived the dying ink-brush tradition by introducing oil painting techniques.

Gao graduated from the 130-year-old Tokyo Fine Arts School, now the Tokyo University of the Arts. And, with support from Sun Yat-sen, a renowned statesman who led the revolution that ended imperial rule in China, he was devoted to the dissemination of revolutionary ideas and art education.

The Tokyo school produced several modern Chinese artists, such as Li Xiongcai (1910-2001), a second-generation painter from the Lingnan school, whose works are also on show.

The exhibition features Li's Patrol in Forest, which demonstrates his skill in depicting natural scenery.

Chen Lyusheng, the former deputy head of the National Museum of China, says Guangdong's artists played a unique role in modern Chinese art, not only because they were open to foreign influences, such as oil painting, but because they cared about livelihoods.

"They explored styles that suited the times and the needs of the people.

"And as they traveled to other parts of the country, they influenced artists there. As a result they became models for Chinese modern art."

The exhibition also celebrates attempts to renew the face of Chinese art by featuring works of painters like Guan Shanyue (1912-2000).

A reproduction of his Jiangshan Ruci Duojiao (How Beautiful the Country Looks), is on show. Guan executed the 9-meter-long work with Fu Baoshi in 1959 on a State commission.

The ink-brush painting, which depicts a magnificent sunrise, was inspired by a poem by the late Chairman Mao Zedong.

Since its completion, it has adorned the entrance hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Contemporary artists such as Liang Quan, 69, are also represented at the show.

Liang, who has exhibited at home and abroad, explores the idea of "emptiness" in Zen Buddhism.

The exhibition also pays tribute to female artists from the first half of the 20th century.

One of them is He Xiangning (1878-1972), who is known today more as a social activist and as the wife of senior statesman Liao Zhongkai. Her paintings depict lions.

Li Jingkun, the head of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, says: "Good artworks are records of history, and by seeing them, one can trace the evolution of thought.

"Viewers can see how artists felt obliged to participate in social transformations."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[New exhibition gives glimpse of Michelangelo's universe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155698.htm Italian artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) published one of Michelangelo's two biographies during the Florentine artist's lifetime. He is also known for writing other artists' biographies.

Although he was criticized for favoring Florentine artists in his writings, most agree that his comments don't exaggerate the status of David in art history.

The original 5-meter-high statue of David is on display at the Gallery of the Academy of Florence. But a reproduction of the same size is now on show at the Bird's Nest Culture Center, at Beijing's National Stadium, the main venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

It is the centerpiece of The Divine Michelangelo Art Exhibition, a show which runs through Oct 10.

The show features copies of the Renaissance man's most celebrated works and also his architectural designs.

In addition to David, the reproductions on show include The Pity, another signature work, which depicts a seated Mary holding the body of Jesus on her lap.

The original is housed at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

Michelangelo completed the two works before he reached the age of 30.

The exhibition also has reproductions from another body of work - the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The scenes include The Creation of Adam.

The reproductions are painted by Antonio de Vito, the exhibition's Italian curator and also a fresco painter based in Florence.

De Vito, who has also done copies of Michelangelo's sketches and drawings, says that the idea behind the exhibition is to provide a look at the artist, so that when viewers finish their tour, they have a basic idea of Michelangelo's greatness as a sculptor, a painter, an architect and a poet.

"For Michelangelo, it was an easy job to create a comparison of light and shadow in his output," he says.

"That is why he was able to show such vivid faces in his sculptures and paintings. He conveyed the power of these figures, rather than simply focusing on sculpting or painting the outlines."

A studio has also been re-created at the exhibition to show how Michelangelo sculpted and painted. De Vito will demonstrate in the studio how a fresco was painted in 15th-century Italy.

"As an artist and scholar, I needed to understand his mind and how his hands worked.

"As I recreated these works I came to better understand how Michelangelo was different from other artists."

He adds that the exhibition also shows viewers the hardships Michelangelo faced when painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

"Doing a fresco like that is complicated because painters have to execute their work very quickly before the fresh plaster and the pigment mixed with water get dried.

"It became an even more difficult task for Michelangelo, because unlike many other artists of his time, he paid much attention to detail."

De Vito says Michelangelo worked with the same aim when doing sculptures and designing architectures. He says that when Michelangelo sculpted on a piece of marble, he wasn't guided by the whole picture. He started with the details.

He says that because of the great difficulties involved, today there are very few fresco painters who employ techniques from the Middle Ages.

He says that while Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael also tried doing frescoes, Da Vinci could not made a success out of it, while Rahpael had many people assisting him. In comparison, Michelangelo worked alone.

De Vito says the exhibition shows that Michelangelo still connects with today's world.

He says that although technological advancements have brought much convenience, the Florentine master's view still holds true that men should be the "managers" of themselves and should "defend" what they believe.

"He sculpted David out of marble. He set an example of what an artist should do - creating something out of nothing."

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Making France's day]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155697.htm A recently opened bistro in Beijing celebrates the best of the country's favorite foods, Mike Peters reports.

The French celebrated their national day on the weekend, an occasion that inspires plenty of Champagne-swilling and fine dining. But since the spirit of Bastille Day suggests a movement away from the Versailles-ish lifestyle, it's a good time of year to explore French food that's a little less gilded.

Which is not to say less delicious. Beijing's French restaurant scene has long favored the chandeliered style, but several excellent bistro-type eateries have opened in the capital lately. The latest is Bistro 108, tucked in a new dining street just opposite the US embassy and a stone's throw from the French.

 

 

Clockwise from top: Fish tartare with crunch vegetable and passion fruit; gambas flambes au pastis, a trio of king prawns flamed in a boozy sauce with herbs and aniseed; canard, a French duck leg served with fried potatoes and a vegetable; au chocolat, or chocolate lava cake. Photos Provided to China Daily

The joys of a recent visit began for us in a glass: The house rose, not too dry and not too sweet, made for a smooth aperitif that also paired nicely with the seafood and duck dishes that came later. It's a mere bagatelle on the bill at 25 yuan ($3.70) a glass. The restaurant represents the J.P. Chenet winery in China, giving it an exclusive opportunity to offer that value.

Our recent visit began with a small plate of hot-from-the-oven baguette, including some slices with a crispier crust. The restaurant orders the bread from outside half-baked, our server tells us, and then pops it into the oven to be finished. There is, of course, real butter to go with it.

Our starter choice was the most popular one, judging from a quick look around the small eatery. The cast-iron skillet of fruits de mer (of the sea) included tender squid, scallops, shrimps and some delectable tiny clams, fried with white wine and whipping cream flavored with fine herbs. It's 58 yuan and generous enough to share if you're also trying to save room for dessert.

Mains were as sensational as local magazine reviews suggested they'd be.

The confit canard (88 yuan) is a French duck leg served with fried potatoes and a vegetable.

The duck is French for reasons beyond snobbish authenticity. Chinese ducks, obviously of renowned quality, are quite different birds, a species chosen to produce fat bodies and not so consequential limbs. The French, of course, are said to have an eye for a shapely leg, and for this traditional French classic, the leg is what it's all about. So the restaurants sources big birds from the motherland raised to produce lean but substantial legs. The final quick-fry gives it a deliciously crunchy skin that can get a bit oily if you allow the dish to cool, so get those WeChat shots done quickly and enjoy the hot, savory goodness.

The vegetable on this day is a thick slice of tomato grilled with herbs, a side that is often watery and forgettable. Here it's a flavor bomb, reflecting the careful sourcing that owner Clement Bacri and chef Nadia Meliani clearly take pride in. This tomato was a triumph of summer ripeness, exploding with the earthy goodness of the countryside.

We also tried the gambas flambes au pastis (158 yuan), a trio of king prawns flamed in a boozy sauce rich with herbs and aniseed. Beautifully presented with the shellfish sprouting from a mound of mashed potato, it's served with a savory side of sauteed chopped tomatoes (again a star), yellow zucchini and tender asparagus.

Lyons native Meliani has also won local praise for her beef dishes, including a zesty boef Bourguignon (88 yuan) braised in red wine with garlic, onions and fine herbs that sells out early. Cote de boef is an Australian prime rib of beef served with three kinds of sauces, mashed potatoes, fries and salad. At 568 per kg, it's the big-ticket item on a menu that overall is nicely medium-priced.

Dessert is well-worth saving room for. It's tempting to describe the fondant au chocolat, or chocolate lava cake, as Beijing's best, but we tend to think that about every version of this sweet we've ever met. Suffice it to say this one is pure delight. The same can be said for the apple tart, a thin-crust apple pie that ripples across the plate to give a scoop of vanilla ice cream a warming embrace.

The restaurant's name is a bit of a dodge on bad luck. The actual address is 104 - not a happy number in Chinese - so the name became Bistro 108.

"I've been a food lover since I was born, and it was my dream since I was a kid to open my own place one day," says Bacri, whose professional background is in fashion and events. "I was waiting for the right place and the right moment."

We'd say the moment has arrived.

Contact the writer at michaelpeters@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Ancient Brews reveals tasty history of alcohol]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155696.htm It's easy to find cold brews on summer days, but here's a twist: a journey back to the alcoholic beverages that people drank thousands of years ago.

Patrick McGovern, a renowned scientist and passionate lover of fermented beverages, brings the history of ancient brewing alive with this fun, tempting and thought-provoking book, Ancient Brews: Rediscovered & Re-created. McGovern is director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. For more than three decades he's been a pioneer in archaeological chemistry - a field that combines old-school fieldwork with cutting-edge technology such as mass spectrometry and DNA analysis.

The new lab tools are able to identify the chemical makeup of astonishingly small beverage traces that remain on ancient artifacts, such as the stains on beverage containers found in the Egyptian pyramids. McGovern and other researchers then match the chemical fingerprints to various grains, fruits and spices, and come up with a kind of reverse recipe, brought to life thousands of years after the original beverage was originally consumed.

Ancient Brews is a geeky and tasty way to learn about ancient history, and the science of booze. McGovern explains the chemistry of fermentation, the molecular components of alcohol (two carbon atoms, six hydrogen, one oxygen) and how our love of alcohol probably originated more than 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period, when flowering plants appeared and fruit flies developed specific genes to process alcohol.

But McGovern isn't entrenched in the past. The book contains numerous recipes for home brewers, created in collaboration with Sam Calagione, founder of Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery. There are also food suggestions based on archaeological findings.

The recipe for the accompanying beverage has some familiar beer ingredients (malt extract, honey and hops) but also twists: saffron threads and grape juice. That's a theme in the book: McGovern shows that people had exotic tastes thousands of years ago, all over the world.

Numerous archaeological sites now reveal that ancient people often combined what we call beer (fermented grains) with wine (fermented grapes), and also experimented by adding a vast range of local herbs and flavorings.

Ancient Brews includes history, science and recipes for several other drinks: Kvasir, inspired by evidence from a 3,500-year-old Danish tomb, uses meadowsweet (or mead wort), yarrow, birch bark and lingonberry.

Ta Henket, inspired by ancient African beverages, includes crushed wheat, flour, hops, dried dates, Irish moss, chamomile, Za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice) and a touch of salt.

Chateau Jiahu goes farthest back in time, to 9,000 years ago in northern China, where people made a beverage that combined fermented rice, grape juice, honey, hawthorne and orange peel.

McGovern's mix of gee-wiz science and thoughtful historical context makes Ancient Brews a refreshing read, for the summer or any other season.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Small diet changes may prolong life: study]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155695.htm MIAMI - It's hard to eat right all the time, but making small improvements by choosing healthier foods now and then may significantly boost one's chances of living longer, says a US study.

The report in the New England Journal of Medicine is the first to show that improving diet quality over at least a dozen years is associated with lower total and cardiovascular mortality.

Researchers at Harvard University tracked dietary changes in a population of nearly 74,000 health professionals who logged their eating habits every four years.

Researchers used a system of diet-quality scores to assess how much diets had improved.

For instance, a 20-percentile increase in scores could "be achieved by swapping out just one serving of red or processed meat for one daily serving of nuts or legumes," says a summary of the research.

Over the 12-year span, those who ate a little better than they did at the start - primarily by consuming more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish - saw an eight to 17 percent lower risk of dying prematurely in the next 12 years.

Those whose diets got worse over time saw a higher risk of dying in the next 12 years of follow-up, on the order of a six to 12 percent increase.

"Our results highlight the long-term health benefits of improving diet quality with an emphasis on overall dietary patterns rather than on individual foods or nutrients," says senior author Frank Hu, professor and chair of the Harvard Chan School Department of Nutrition.

"A healthy eating pattern can be adopted according to individuals' food and cultural preferences and health conditions," he adds.

"There is no one-size-fits-all diet."

Agence France-Presse

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Heart of them atter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155694.htm An ongoing art show in Beijing sheds light on the importance of human emotions in our tech era. Xing Yi reports.

A dozen artists are presenting an exhibition by simulating sight, smell, touch and sound at the M. Woods Museum in Beijing.

Running from July 1 to Oct 8, it is titled Heart of the Tin Man, and reveals alternative modes of creativity and expressions.

The curator of the exhibition, Huang Xufu, is also a co-founder of the museum.

 

Email Trek, an installation by Chinese artist Xu Wenkai, is on display at the Beijing exhibition Heart of the Tin Man. Photos Provided to China Daily

Huang, 23, has just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. On the opening night of his first curated show, he was busy showing people around.

The idea of the show came after he met one of the artists whose work is on display.

"During one of my visits to Austine Lee (the artist), he spray-painted an image of me while I was 'glued' to the phone," Huang says. "I look like a 'tin man' in the painting."

Speaking about the concept of "tin man" - the show's theme, Huang says technology enables people to share information quickly and freely and everyone has a wider access to information and a chance to be heard. But at the same time, it's eating up people's lives so much that they have stopped paying attention to real things, such as their emotions.

British artist Gillian Wearing showcases her project Your Views, which she put together after inviting people across the globe to upload onto her website short video clips taken from windows.

It is "the largest collaborative film ever made", says Wearing.

As curtains open, the screens show vistas from Kobe to Alaska. It reminded people at once of the world's vastness and connectivity through different ways.

"In places where technology is fairly underdeveloped, for instance, Africa, we get the most fabulous views," Huang says.

"The exhibition is focusing on the two sides of technology, encouraging people to quit technology for a while and to feel the world with their original senses."

Another co-founder of the museum, Lei Wanying, better known as Wanwan, says the metaphor of the "tin man" comes from The Wizard of Oz, in which the character is looking for a real heart.

"With the increasing forms of art and the integration with technology, the essence of art is never changed by its medium or shape, because it has heart," says Lei.

Lei's favorite part of the exhibition is a replica of a room, where artist Yang Zi works and lives when she visits the Labrang Monastery in the Gannan Tibet autonomous prefecture in Gansu province. In the 4-square-meter room stands a table on top of which are placed several smartphones with drawings created by the artist.

Yang used to live in a big city before she moved to the lesser developed region. Now, the focus of her daily life is observation and meditation.

"My mind is very clear, I don't even dream at night, and I get up very early every morning," Yang says. "I know exactly what to do, one thing that does not change is that I crank the prayer wheel every day."

The living conditions aren't perfect in Gannan, with limited daily resources and the lack of entertainment options.

Yang relies a lot on her smartphone for drawing after she found out about software she can use to create her new worlds, especially in red, yellow, blue, green and white - the colors representing the elements fire, land, water, wind and the sky. These five colors are found in prayer banners that flutter in Gannan and other places where Buddhism is popular.

"It's not important for the audience to see my drawings, the important thing is to make them sit down and spend a minute to think about how I made them, and then they must be connected to my art," Yang says.

"We should pay more attention to our hearts, and it's the aim of the exhibition to activate the emotions inside us."

Another eye-catching installation on display is Dominae Illud Opus Populare by British artist Ryan Gander.

With the technology of facial recognition and motion sensor, a pair of animatronic eyes is replying to people's facial expressions with emotions including surprise, anger, curiosity and concern.

The relation between artworks and audiences is overturned - the observers are now observed by the artwork, the artist explains.

Xu Haoyu contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[3-D used to make Bronze Age man's face]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155693.htm

LONDON - Academic "time detectives" from Liverpool have used 3-D digital technology to reveal the face of a Bronze Age farmer who lived in middle England 4,000 years ago. Experts from Face Lab at Liverpool John Moores University used the technology based on a study of the man's skull.

The man's skeleton was found in an ancient burial ground in the county of Derbyshire in the 1930s. For the past 30 years the bone remains have been part of a collection at Derbyshire's Buxton Museum in a scenic area of Britain known as the Peak District.

But until now nobody had been able to imagine what the man looked like in life.

The project is part of a heritage effort to connect the museum's collections to the surrounding landscape.

Joe Perry, assistant collections officer at the museum, says it was important to put a face to the Bronze Age remains.

Caroline Wilkinson from Face Lab says clay was used in the technique to help build the face.

It is always a thrill to see the process work on ancient people, she says, adding: "It's a surprise to people when they look like us, it creates more empathy."

The skull of the man was found damaged inside a stone box at the old burial ground known as Liff's Low. A type of beaker and a stone pendant were found along with the human remains.

Perry says there was a need for humanity with the Liff's Low skeleton.

"We need to make people think about the skeleton as a person who lived and worked in Derbyshire. We have a duty of care to the deceased, we wanted to emphasize that these are people," he says.

Perry says the man could have been about 35 when he died and spent his life farming within the district.

It is believed the stone box he was buried in collapsed, causing damage to the front of his skull.

The remains, along with the image of the Peak District's most famous farmer, will go on public display when the museum reopens in September.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Confucius museum to open in 2018]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155692.htm JINAN - A Confucius museum under construction in the hometown of the ancient Chinese educator and philosopher will be home to more than 700,000 relics, including well-known Confucius family documents, sources with the museum said on Saturday.

A display plan of the museum, which is expected to open in the second half of 2018, was finalized following a meeting in Qufu city of Shandong province earlier this month.

The major museum complex in Qufu consists of an 11,000-square-meter display area, 7,000 square meters of warehouses and a 1,000-square-meter cultural heritage restoration center, says deputy curator Yang Jinquan.

The items to be displayed on rotation include more than 300,000 documents of the Confucius family from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) up to 1948 that contain details of the family history during feudal times.

In addition, there will be more than 40,000 books dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and more than 8,000 pieces of clothing and accessories from the Ming and Qing (1368-1911) dynasties.

Confucius (551-479 BC), an educator and philosopher, founded Confucianism, a school of thought that deeply influenced later Chinese generations.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Ancient art inspires ink painter to create modern work]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/18/content_30155691.htm Ma Xiaotian has been painting lotus flowers at his studio in Beijing even in the July heat.

The ink painter says the dark green leaves and pink flowers on paper "have a magical power to cool his body and mind".

He has just completed a painting, more than 1 meter in height, which took him three days to finish, from early morning to late night.

"When painting lotus leaves, I use the technique of lishu (a style of Chinese calligraphy)," says the 55-year-old artist.

Lotus is one of his favorite topics. The painter has also painted figures, birds and flowers, and landscapes - all of which have been included in his new book released in spring.

A solo show is under plan and will be held by the end of the year, he says.

The book has more than 100 pieces of ink-and-wash paintings, almost half of which are figures, such as men fishing on a boat, children dragging a cow or an old man playing the guqin (a traditional zither) under a tall tree.

The earliest figure painting in the book is one depicting a beautiful woman in ancient clothing, which Ma painted at the age 17. The piece won him a national prize and encouraged him to explore the art form for a lifetime.

Unlike many other Chinese painters who went to art colleges to learn the skills, Ma didn't train at such an institute. He learned from different painters he admired.

The Beijing native started painting in his teens. He also started to work at a communication company by the time he was 17. He spent all his spare time on ink paintings after work. He tried his best to make friends with master painters, such as Huang Yongyu, and learn from them in person.

"Only when I paint I feel like myself and I feel happy," the artist says.

Li Yanan, a longtime friend of his, says Ma usually uses his ink brush instead of a pen to take notes during meetings.

Ma once ran a telecommunication business and set up a separate painting space at his office.

"We were shocked that he suddenly closed down his business five years ago and said he would devote all his time to Chinese painting," Li says.

In the last five years, Ma has learned different styles from ancient and modern masters, while trying to find his style.

Although he has tried various techniques, the one thing he has stuck to is painting based on ancient skills but with a modern mindset.

He says he is a firm defender of traditional Chinese painting, which both looks good and reflects the painters' inner mind.

"We should have confidence in our own culture and art," says Ma, wearing a Chinese-style jacket and sitting at a tea table.

He likes to read books and ancient Chinese poems. In his studio, there are lots of books on his desks and bookshelves.

"Chinese art emphasizes the cultivation of a person's mind. It needs one's life experience, knowledge of literature and great painting techniques," says Ma, adding that a lifetime is needed to explore such art.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-07-18 07:44:48
<![CDATA[Having fun with science]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/17/content_30140571.htm Star scientist Pan Jianwei finds not only purpose but also peace and happiness, exploring the mind-twisting mysteries of quantum physics. Yu Fei and Xu Haitao report.

Albert Einstein may have thought quantum entanglement kind of "spooky", but the world's first quantum satellite, launched by China last year, has proved that the phenomenon of particles remaining connected so that actions performed on one affect the others, still exists at a distance of over 1,200 kilometers.

And Pan Jianwei, the satellite's lead scientist, now has a bigger goal: to test quantum entanglement between the Earth and the moon at a distance over 300,000 kilometers.

Pan is already a science legend.

 

Pan Jianwei shows the products of quantum communication technology in Shanghai. Cai Yang / Xinhua

When his co-authored article about the first quantum teleportation was selected by academic journal Nature as one of the 21 classic papers for physics over the past century, he was only 29 years old.

When he was appointed a professor of the University of Science and Technology of China, he was only 31.

When he was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, he was only 41 - the youngest academician at that time. When he won first prize in the National Natural Science awards, China's highest science awards, he was just 45.

Phenomena such as quantum superposition and quantum entanglement are still not fully understood, but Pan is shining a light into the weird and wonderful world of quantum effects.

Bewildering start

Born on March 11, 1970 in Dongyang city, East China's Zhejiang province, Pan was an excellent student and a playful boy. He went to study at the University of Science and Technology of China in 1987, where the academic competition was fierce.

In 1990, Pan first came into contact with quantum mechanics, which totally confused him: "How can there be such a phenomenon as quantum superposition? (Whereby particles exist across all the possible states at the same time) It's like a person being in Shanghai and Beijing at the same time."

In college, he read the collected essays of Einstein. "For me, Einstein's essays are the most profound and beautiful sound of nature," he says.

But Pan almost failed in the midterm exam on quantum mechanics.

Desperately trying to figure it out, Pan chose quantum mechanics as his research direction - and he's still entangled with it.

He realized all the theories about quantum physics had to be tested in experiments. However, China lacked the conditions to do such experiments in the 1990s.

After graduation in 1996, Pan went to Austria to do his PhD at the University of Innsbruck, studying with Anton Zeilinger, a world-renowned quantum physicist.

"When Pan came to me as a young student, he was a theoretical physicist. He had not done any experiments before. But I very soon realized he had the gift for doing experiments," Zeilinger says in an interview with China Features. "I assigned him to do the experiment on teleportation with a group, a very complicated experiment. He accepted it and immediately got started."

Pan was full of enthusiasm. Soon he was leading the experiment. When there was a problem, he was never discouraged. He saw it as motivation to do something that had not been done before, Zeilinger says.

He was optimistic, always found solutions for problems, and always wanted to work to find something new, says Zeilinger.

Now he is a global leader in the field of quantum physics.

"I'm very proud of him," says Zeilinger. "I encouraged him to go back to China. Because I could see there was a big opportunity for him in China."

National innovation

After mastering advanced quantum technology, Pan returned to the University of Science and Technology of China in 2001 to establish a quantum physics and quantum information laboratory, hoping China could quickly catch up with the pace of development in the emerging field of quantum technology.

To make breakthroughs in quantum information research, the lab needed scientists with different academic backgrounds. So Pan sent his students to study in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to obtain the most advanced knowledge in specialties such as cold atoms, precision measurement and multiphoton entanglement manipulation.

More than 20 years have passed since Pan was first amazed by the quantum world, and the star scientist and media celebrity says science should be in the spotlight rather than scientists.

"Building an innovation-driven country requires nurturing the public's interest in science," Pan says.

Development driven by innovation is one of China's core strategies. And the experiments of the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale satellite are among the most important scientific research.

"We hope to distribute entanglement between the Earth and the moon at a distance of some 300,000 kilometers in the future," Pan says. "In theory, this bizarre connection can exist over any distance, but we think quantum entanglement might be affected by gravity.

"I'm 47 now. I hope we can accomplish that experiment before I retire at around 60." Pan regards developing quantum communication and the quantum computer as his responsibility and exploring the fundamental secrets of the quantum world as his inner motivation.

"I never forget questions at the deepest level. I want to continue to experiment," Pan says.

In experiments, there is inevitably frustration. Pan says they require patience, and the key is to have fun in the process.

"Pursuing the secrets of the quantum physics brings me calm and peace. It's like walking on the lawn in the spring sunshine."

China Features

]]>
2017-07-17 08:25:45
<![CDATA[The future of VR? US researchers may hold the answer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/17/content_30140570.htm MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - At the Mall of US' arenasized Smaaash amusement arcade, people wait in line to slip on headsets that resemble blacked-out ski goggles and spend a couple of minutes feeling transported.

They experience the sensations of flying a jet in combat, rescuing a kitten about to fall from a skyscraper or looping in circles on a roller coaster.

Not far away, the mall's Best Buy carries a range of consumer-level virtual-reality equipment. Salespeople explain how VR works, how it feels and how you might make it a part of your home entertainment collection.

For years VR has been hyped as the next revolution in computing technology. Technology giants are investing heavily in its future.

 

Virtual reality has been hyped for years as the next revolution in computing technology. TNS

But there's one big obstacle still in the way: It makes large portions of the population - especially women and children - sick.

Motion sickness linked to physical movement has been a fact of life for centuries. But recent years have seen a dramatic increase in physical unease caused by interactive visual technologies. It's caused by the perceptual disconnect as our eyes process vivid images of movement that are out of sync with what our bodies feel.

If VR is ever going to reach its much ballyhooed potential, Minnesota likely will play a major role. Two research projects - one at the University of Minnesota and the other at the Mayo Clinic - are focused on combating VR-induced nausea.

Without such a breakthrough, it's unlikely that masses of people are going to hand over their hard-earned money for VR.

"Why would anyone pay $600 for something that makes you toss your cookies?" asks Thomas Stoffregen, a professor in the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology who studies how people become spatially disoriented and physically ill by experiencing simulated motion in virtual reality.

Consumers who expect the manufacturers to find a fix are going to have a long wait, he says.

"The companies that are making these are not facing that problem at all. When you buy one of these devices, it comes with an instruction sheet, and down at the bottom of it there's a legal disclaimer that says, 'You may get sick playing this game.'

"That's their approach to it," he says. "They're not making design changes based on it, they're just making legal liability changes."

Other potential solutions are materializing, however. Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a method using electrodes at the forehead, ears and neck to trick a user's inner ear into perceiving motion synchronized with movements in the visual field.

It's currently being used to help military pilots avoid nausea and has been licensed to the Los Angeles-based entertainment technology firm vMocion.

While there haven't been any approaches from the tech companies, Samsung created a similar electrical stimulation application of its own.

The Smaaash arcade deals with the motion-sickness issue directly. In front of each VR simulator are large signs detailing possible side effects and prohibiting use of the device by people with vertigo, heart trouble, high blood pressure, back, neck or bone injury, recent surgery or illness, motion sickness or pregnancy.

The arcade requires customers to be buckled into a tethered safety harness to prevent tumbling from the virtual precipice to the literal floor.

Widespread public exposure to virtual-reality equipment is a recent development, but the technology has been under consideration long enough to drive extensive academic research.

Since 1990, Stoffregen has explored the effects of VR motion sickness on hundreds of volunteers ranging in age from 10 to 75.

He's found that the risk of negative bodily reactions varies across hardware and across games. Typically, 30 to 60 percent of the volunteers felt VR sickness within 30 minutes or less.

As with unstable physical motion in the real world, women are far more susceptible to VR motion sickness than are men.

Technology evolves endlessly, and improved VR gear eventually might cure the ailment it has created. The products on the market today could turn out to be only VR at the prototype stage of development.

Stoffregen is worried that if researchers can't solve these problems, lawyers might have to.

Tech visionaries predict that VR will move beyond social media and entertainment applications into immersive workplace functions.

If so, Stoffregen warns that significantly improved design and programming will be necessary to avoid employment discrimination lawsuits.

If VR sickness affected only voluntary gamers, it would be a trivial matter, he says, but making it an employment issue shouldn't be ignored.

Since women are more susceptible than men to VR's balance-disrupting effects, Stoffregen believes using VR in business would represent sex discrimination.

"If you're disadvantaging 50 percent of the population, you'd like to think there are some consequences."

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-07-17 08:25:45
<![CDATA[Treasured island]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/17/content_30140569.htm With giant banyan trees shading its graceful European mansions, Gulangyu looks like a Mediterranean island in the South China Sea. Robin Goldstein reports.

The historical international settlement of pedestrianonly Gulangyu Island, in the bay of Xiamen, was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site at the 41st United Nations World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland on July 8.

I first saw Gulangyu (known in the local dialect as Kulangsu) through the eyes of my partner, Yang Jing, a concert violinist who grew up on this 1.88 square kilometers islet. It's just an islet, officially, a small village of about 4,000 households and 14,000 people living on a small island in the shadow of the larger, newer island of Xiamen city.

 

Gulangyu, the small sea island off the coast of Xiamen in Fujian province, boasts many 19th-century buildings as it was once clustered with Western religious groups, international institutions and foreign consulates. Photos by Hu Meidong / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

Yang's family has been in Gulangyu for three generations. Before I set foot on the island, I had heard her CD Kulangsu: Through the Strings of Time - which combined classical music with natural sounds recorded from around the island - and Yang had explained to me that there were no cars or bikes allowed on the island.

She had told me of the narrow cobblestone streets that wind through hills and spill out onto tropical beaches lined with coconut palms.

She had described the giant banyan trees shading the graceful European mansions, the romantic couples posing for wedding pictures, and the 13 historical consulates that made Gulangyu look like a Mediterranean island plopped into the South China Sea.

But not even Yang's tales of beauty and charm could have prepared me for the magical experience of stepping off the ferry onto Gulangyu for the first time.

The 10-minute ferry ride from downtown Xiamen takes less time than your average city taxi trip, but it is a ride into another world, into a Chinese-Western past that you might not even know existed.

Like that of Venice, Gulangyu's air is just something that has to be breathed in to be understood.

Last November, in the midst of the final stages of the UNESCO World Heritage Site inspection process, Typhoon Meranti slammed directly into Xiamen and Gulangyu.

"After eight years of hard work to restore and protect our heritage properties, the biggest typhoon we'd ever seen hit the island three days before the UNESCO inspector was due to arrive," says director Zheng Yilin of the Gulangyu Administrative Committee.

Xiamen gets a few glancing blows each year during typhoon season, but this was the largest storm to hit the city directly in 50 years.

Nineteen giant ancient trees fell, and more than 3,000 were damaged.

Zheng says that 100 local families lost their homes, and other local families took them in.

"More than 300 volunteers came to help," she says, including many foreigners living in Xiamen who volunteered all day to clean up debris from the beaches and roads.

The UNESCO inspection visit was postponed, but only by a few weeks.

Gulangyu's local government, its citizens, and its volunteers worked day and night hauling garbage, clearing floodwaters, re-paving streets, and reconstructing buildings that had been damaged.

A team of plant biologists trimmed and righted and saved hundreds of injured trees and planted thousands of new ones.

Nine months later, the island is as verdant as it's ever been.

Thankfully, almost all of the island's 19th-century Amoy Decostyle mansions, with their graceful archways and red-brick facades that fuse Minnan (south of Fujian province), or Hokkien, and modernist elements into one unique architectural language, survived the storm with only minor cosmetic damage.

So did the many adorable boutique hotels, the brightly colored souvenir shops and kitschy bars, the tropical fruit stands and casual restaurants, and the brave bare-chested men who roll wheelbarrows of cargo and luggage across the island's steep hills. (Some things are more challenging without cars.)

A few days after the storm, the street-food bazaar of Long Tou Road was already bubbling again with fragrant casseroles of ginger duck, fresh local clams with garlic and chili, and the most canonical local speciality: the oyster omelette, made with fresh oysters, eggs, scallions, and sweet-potato flour and served with bright red Xiamen-style hot sauce.

Before long, the 580-seat Gulangyu Concert Hall, an acousticonly venue that stages free classical concerts for the public almost every night - from local student recitals to visiting symphony orchestras - was also open again.

Gulangyu is also an island of museums, home to a new satellite branch of the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City as well as what are without a doubt the world's best and most beautiful piano and organ museums.

This is no accident: When classical music came to China, it first arrived on Gulangyu, and the island has given birth to a long line of great classical musicians, of which Yang is only one of the latest.

She still plays and hangs out with her old teachers and coaches some of the current students of the music school she first entered at age 7.

Perhaps more surprising for visitors whose expectations of China are filtered through the rhetoric of foreign media, the island is also blessed with temples for believers of all denominations: Protestant churches and Catholic cathedrals, Adventist homes, and a spectacular Buddhist temple that lies at the foot of Sunlight Rock, one of the most beautiful perches in all of China. All of these places are supported and maintained as historical monuments as well as being active places of worship.

If the UNESCO inscription was a particularly modern moment for Gulangyu, it was a rare modern moment, for although this is a community that has been completely international since the mid-1800s, it is also one that turns upside-down any preconceived notions you might have of internationalism or modernity. It is a place where things are still carried around in wheelbarrows, an island that still operates at walking speed - andante - where the millions of tourists who visit annually can wake up each morning to a symphony of piano notes and birdsong instead of the honking horns and exhaust fumes of the cities from which they came.

The civil servants now running the island see themselves as nothing but the current guardians of these precious qualities.

Deputy Director Zhang Shunbin of the Gulangyu Administrative Committee says: "Our hardest challenge is finding a balance between Gulangyu as a tourist attraction, a local community, and a historical monument. We must be careful. We must make sure that local people can still live normal lives even as the island attracts more international attention, for it is the everyday life of the island that also makes it so beautiful."

]]>
2017-07-17 08:25:45
<![CDATA[Art lovers' Providence: From WaterFire to street murals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/17/content_30140568.htm PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island - With a plethora of street art and a world-famous design school, Providence provides plenty to do for art-loving travelers.

The capital city of the smallest state in the United States is compact, and many of its most appealing artistic attractions are within a short walk of each other amid the restored architecture of the city's downtown and College Hill neighborhoods, which are straddled by the Rhode Island School of Design, known as RISD (pronounced RIZ'-dee). Travelers can take in much of the art without spending a dime.

Public art

There has been an explosion in high-quality street murals in the city's downtown in the last several years. One, by Shepard Fairey, pays homage to Providence, where Fairey, a 1992 RISD graduate, first got noticed with his Andre the Giant Has a Posse and Obey Giant street art campaigns.

Murals by artists, including Polish artists Natalia Rak and Bezt, dot the landscape downtown. The latest, Andrew Hem's Misty Blue, depicting a girl amid fireflies in a forest, was completed just last month. Elsewhere, photographer Mary Beth Meehan's giant portraits of city residents look down over downtown streets, part of her installation entitled SeenUnseen.

A few blocks from downtown, walk up the steep College Hill to Brown University, and there are several sculptures on display, including Untitled (Lamp/Bear), a 7-meter babyblue bear combined with a giant desk lamp, by Swiss artist Urs Fischer, and Idee di pietra (Ideas of Stone) by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone, a sculpture of a life-size tree, the branches of which hold a giant boulder.

WaterFire

WaterFire, the city's most famous public art event, happens more than a dozen times a year, and it is free. Dozens of braziers installed in the city's three downtown rivers are filled with cedar, which is then set on fire. The fires are kept alive throughout the night by black-clad fire-tenders moving silently on boats. Fire eaters and other performers, along with music, add to the atmosphere. The piece, created by artist Barnaby Evans, has been going for more than 20 years. It is scheduled to coincide with the tides. Last month, the group behind the event opened the new WaterFire Arts Center, which is meant to eventually serve as a hub for the creative community, Evans says. He says it is hosting more than 100 performances during Fringe PVD July 24-29.

RISD Museum

This gem of a museum at RISD punches far above its weight, with a permanent collection of around 100,000 objects, including notable pieces of Ancient Egyptian art, Asian art, textiles, 20th century design and American decorative arts.

Among its current and upcoming exhibits are etchings from late 19th-century Paris, including work by artists including Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, and Stranger than Paradise, which includes works of different styles and eras on the natural world.

The museum is free on Sundays and the third Thursday evening of each month. Part of its fifth floor is currently closed for renovations, but the work is expected to wrap up at the end of next month.

Eating, sleeping and shopping

Providence is populated with small shops selling art and crafts made by local artists. Downtown's Craftland is filled with prints, jewelry, felt creations and other works by local artists including Rachel Blumberg and Meredith Stern, as well as artists from farther afield. Stock, on the city's East Side, focuses on housewares, with a wide selection of functional and decorative pieces, many handmade in Rhode Island and elsewhere in New England.

Filmmaker John Waters is among the celebrities who has been spotted at the minimalist Dean Hotel, which also features a cafe, cocktail lounge, beer hall, and karaoke bar.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-07-17 08:25:45
<![CDATA[Sketching out a career]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/16/content_30130210.htm Taking up art for a livelihood is more than just putting a brush to canvas

A degree from an art college does not always mean that you embark on a path to become a successful artist. Instead, it simply means you have entered a very competitive arena, and that you have to survive a rather high rejection rate.

"A lot of people will quit in the first five years after college, when they cannot su