版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Old brands set for a new look]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429152.htm The city's time-honored brands are set for a makeover as the government continues to work on building the "four brands" of Shanghai - services, manufacturing, shopping and culture - over the next three years.

According to Qi Xiaozhai, director of the Shanghai Commercial Economic Research Center, the rejuvenation of old brands has already achieved progress last year. For example, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce has introduced three measures to help visitors find must-go places for dining, shopping and visiting in Shanghai.

Among them is a must-eat list for tourists which includes soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao, from Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant in Yuyuan Garden, mooncakes from Xing Hua Lou, and hairy crab dishes from Wang Bao He. Meanwhile, the must-buy list features brands such as Hero Pen, rice wine and Shanghai Watch, all of which are examples of Shanghai's craftsmanship.

In addition to the city's existing touring routes that lead visitors to discover these old brands, a new time-honored street located at North Shaanxi Road was also unveiled in September after a six-month renovation.

The street, which is slated to become a hub for cultural exhibitions and new product launches, features a dozen time-honored local brands such as Chinese traditional snacks and tailored suits.

"The four brands plan is closely connected to the city's old brands as they involve services, manufacturing, shopping or culture in one way or another," said Qi. "It is worth mentioning that all of the time-honored brands have their own special ties to Chinese culture and society."

For instance, Warrior, a well-known Chinese brand of athletic shoes that dates back to 1927, was used by Chinese athletes for decades as they triumphed on the world stage.

There are currently 222 old Shanghai brands, 180 of which are recognized as "time-honored" by the central government, and 65 of them have a history spanning more than a century.

Some of the most well-known local brands include the city's first taxi company Qiangsheng, bicycle makers Phoenix and Forever, stationery company Hero Pen and the Wing On Department Store.

There is also Leiyunshang Pharmacy, which expanded its portfolio from selling herbs to running Traditional Chinese Medicine clinics, as well as Shao Wan Sheng, which sells alcohol-preserved food that has been popular with gourmands for more than a century.

Among the oldest brands are writing brush manufacturer Zhouhuchen and ink stick manufacturer Caosugong, which were founded in 1694 and 1667 respectively.

Qi pointed out that one of the key challenges is repositioning these old brands to be more attractive to different demographics.

"We have to admit that some of the time-honored brands are not familiar with young consumers, and there is a long way for us to go before we can revive them," said Qi.

He also noted how jewelry maker and retailer Lao Feng Xiang, which has opened several overseas stores including one on Fifth Avenue in New York, has set a good example of how old brands can expand their business.

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Imaginary Visions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429151.htm Yves Saint Laurent conjured literal, literary and imaginary visions of Asia to distinguish his high-fashion creations.

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How the East inspired Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent conjured literal, literary and imaginary visions of Asia to distinguish his high-fashion creations.

He reinterpreted the sumptuous cloaks of Indian sovereigns, while Imperial China inspired the autumn/winter 1977 collection.

And though he hadn't visited Beijing at that point (he ultimately made his first trip in the 1980s), he remarked: "Beijing remains a dazzling memory. The China that I had so often interpreted in my designs was exactly as I had imagined it. I have already dreamed about it so much."

He was fascinated by Japan, too, and a superb uchikake kabuki costume and a selection of prints representing courtesans bear witness to this passion. As the first temporary thematic exhibition since the opening of the Musee Yves Saint Laurent Paris in October 2017, Yves Saint Laurent: Dreams of the Orient brings together more than 50 haute couture designs inspired by India, China and Japan.

The world has got a lot smaller since, but the aesthetic ambition still feels large and dreamy.

- CDLP

Illustration sketch of an evening ensemble, Autumn-Winter 1977 Haute Couture collection, Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris (first from left); Yves Saint Laurent illustration sketches inspired by Asia (the rest three).  

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[To Dye For]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429150.htm Discover last year's hottest hair color: milk tea

In 2017, "granny gray" (a mixed gray-white) was one of the hottest color choices in hair, but last year, "milk tea" rose to the top. Somewhere between gray and gold, this hue conveys a smooth feeling. It adds a splash of personality with candy colors such as pink or green, with techniques including highlighting and bleaching for additional style points.

If you want your fashionable, healthy hair to last, you'd better follow these tips. First of all, testing before you start dyeing is vital - some hair dye may contain allergens that could set you off. Make sure there aren't any cuts on your scalp and that your skin is back to normal 48 hours after you do the test. While you're doing the actual dyeing, too, avoid getting any dye on the scalp, skin, eyes or mouth.

Since your hairdryer's heat can accelerate color fading, don't get too close and use a moderate temperature to protect your hair. Finally, regarding quality and longevity, it's well known that dye can harm your hair. Accordingly, specialized conditioners are necessary. Among them, those that are high in protein are useful for damaged hair. After about 20 minutes of steaming and massage, your glorious locks will be as shiny and glamorous as you desire.

- CDLP

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Funny Bones]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429149.htm A dark time-piece from Bell & Ross laughs in the face of death

A watch both bold and macabre, the Bell & Ross BR 01 Laughing Skull might just remind you to live your life to the fullest and laugh in the face of death.

Made from micro-blasted steel, the skull-shaped dial rests in a 46 mm guilloche case decorated with a Clous de Paris finish.

But there's a surprise (spoiler alert) - it's the first in the watchmaker's line of death's head timepieces to feature an automaton.

As you wind the timepiece, the skull's mandible moves up and down - real horror show.

It may sound disquieting, but those of a fearless nature will know the skull and bones emblem has been used for centuries by warriors to remind them of their mortality. This one just does it with a chuckle.

- CDLP

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Domestic God of the inner sanctum]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429148.htm He is known as Zao Jun, the Kitchen God, a fair-faced celestial who spends only a few days in the heavenly court of the Jade Emperor. For most of the year, he presides over the heart and hearth of earthly households, guarding the livestock, the servants, and most of all, the cooking stoves.

He is privy to the darkest secrets, and he sees all.

He listens to the backroom gossip, the quarrels among the womenfolk. He witnesses the trickery of malingering servants, the secret stashes of food hidden for a stolen feast, the cutting of corners in the making of a complicated dish, the whispered rumors, the scandalous truths.

For those reasons, when it is time for him to ascend to make his annual report at the end of the lunar year, the whole household is suddenly alerted to his imminent departure and he is showered with food offerings to put him in the best of moods.

Yes. Even the gods must be bribed. In this case, the Kitchen God is sent off with an appropriate feast, all of which will include a final offering that is very sticky, and very sweet.

These sticky sweets, the foolish humans hope, will seal his lips or sweeten his tongue and he will return in the new year with the appropriate bountiful blessings from heaven after making a positive assessment of their merits.

In kitchens large and small all across China, the preparations are starting as Zao Jun travels to report to his boss on the 23rd day of the last lunar month.

He has been doing this every year for the longest time, as far back as the Xia Dynasty more than 2,000 years before even Christ was born. The Xia was only the first recorded dynasty in Chinese history, so it is likely Zao Jun has been around even longer than that.

Basically, the Kitchen God has been guardian of the stove ever since the Chinese started cooking indoors.

The day of his departure also signals the start to a flurry of preparations for the official arrival of Spring a week away. His portrait, probably smoky from standing over the stove an entire year, will be taken down, smeared with honey and reverently burnt to send him on his way.

In the new year, a brand new portrait will go up on the wall.

Meanwhile, the kitchen and its inhabitants will be pretty busy. There is even a folk rhyme to guide you through it all:

Twenty-third, pumpkin candies,

twenty-fourth, spring cleaning.

Twenty-fifth, tofu time,

twenty-sixth, make meat stew.

Twenty-seventh, kill the rooster,

twenty-eighth, rise the dough.

Twenty-ninth, steam the buns,

New Year's Eve, stay up late.

New Year's Day, celebrate!

Once Zao Jun leaves, replete with sticky pumpkin-shaped candies, the mops and dusters come out the next day and every dustball and cobweb industriously swept up and removed.

The more nimble among the girls will start creating beautiful paper-cuts from auspicious red paper. Fruits and flowers, the Chinese characters for happiness and spring, images of deer and bats and other lucky icons - all these will be pasted on windows and walls.

Those with good calligraphy skills will be called upon to write couplets of good wishes that will go across lintels and door frames. All on red paper.

In the meantime, an enormous amount of cooking will be done - starting with the slaughter of the chickens, ducks, pigs and goats to the soaking of soy beans for the making of tofu.

Another important task is the bun making. Steamed buns are very much part of the daily diet all year round, but the buns for the New Year will be decorated with dates and shaped into impressive works of art.

In my own household, my ayi (housekeeper) and I will be creating flower buns cut from strips of dough artfully twisted into blossoms. Ayi comes from Henan, where the ladies are really good at turning dough into masterpieces of miniature architecture.

She has taught me how to press dried Chinese jujubes into the dough for instant effect. The red fruits add color and flavor as well. We also make piggy buns because the pig is, of course, a symbol of prosperity, especially since it will be the Year of the Pig.

In the southern regions of China, a sticky rice cake called nian gao is also prepared. The basic recipe is golden syrup and glutinous rice flour. Occasionally, red beans and coconut milk are added and the mixture poured into containers lined with bamboo or coconut leaves. These days, elaborate jelly molds are used to shape the cakes, with fish molds being the most popular because fish is homophonic with "overflowing abundance".

At this time of the year, rituals and symbolic foods become part of the celebrations and even though some may seem to be based simply on superstitions, they are still oddly comforting and very much part of the festivities that make a new lunar year so very special.

As for the Kitchen God, I'm pretty sure he enjoys the attention he gets every year and he never fails to return, duty completed, and ready for another year listening in on the household secrets.

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Fashion IP may hold the key when it comes to the survival of brands]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429147.htm While many established global and domestic brands are facing challenges such as a lack of inspiration, loyal customers moving away and growing operating costs, Paul Fang believes that the integration of fashion and entertainment intellectual property cannot only invigorate the brands but also help them grow robustly.

Fang, the founder and CEO of China's fashion, lifestyle and entertainment company Suntchi, which has an official partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and New York Fashion Week, says that there are many opportunities available in China's fan economy and internet celebrity economy, besides growing consumer wealth and demand for more personalized items.

Suntchi, which was founded in 2008 and has offices in Shanghai, Tokyo and New York, focuses mainly on fashion brand management, global fashion and entertainment IP integration, global fashion and lifestyle events.

Speaking about the new trends, Fang, who first entered the fashion industry in 1999 and has seen China's retailing market firsthand as a strategy adviser and senior brand expert in various fashion companies, says: "The main drivers behind these phenomena is China's ongoing consumption upgrades, especially in the service, retail and hightech sectors; as well as millennials (those born in the 1980s and 1990s), who have already become the country's major spending power."

Besides, he says that this transformation will lead to a variety of needs, resulting in a series of consumer chain reactions and innovative upgrades, as well as the birth of new brands that are more responsive to the needs of consumers.

"In the meantime, recreational consumption will also become a strong growth driver because consumers' psychology is undergoing changes, and their demand for lifestyle and quality are no longer the same as in the past.

"Therefore, tailor-made IP integration can be an effective way to enhance a brand's earning ability, creativity and sustainability."

Meanwhile, eager to promote this new business model, Suntchi entered into a five-year strategic partnership with CFDA, the governing body of the American fashion industry which was founded in 1962 with a membership comprising more than 500 of America's foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers.

In 2017, CFDA launched a fashion exchange - an independent IP resource platform which gathers IPs from industries in the fashion, entertainment and fine arts sectors.

Fang also says that this partnership is a result of the rise of the Chinese economy, and was made only after an extensive evaluation process.

It took two years for both sides to seal the deal. And its cooperation with the CFDA also includes matters related to design, brands, supply chain, retail and capital.

Giving details about the deal, Fang says: "We understand that the cultures in China and the US are different, and that we are dealing with two different peoples."

Fang says that while he agrees that the collaborations will create different results for each side, he is trying to figure out the balance between the two cultures and understanding the disparities.

So far, the company has been working closely with more than 60 brands in the United States, Europe and Asia including Skechers, Tmall.com, as well as and over 100 international and domestic celebrities and artists.

Suntchi manages its clients' through its Super IP plus platform that cuts through the clutter comes with numerous entertainment options and technology upgrades.

And as it is the largest platform for IP authorization and commercialization in China's fashion and entertainment industry, the company has been deploying resources into building e-commerce platforms since 2017.

For Fang, the combination of the fashion and the entertainment industries is more lucrative than traditional business models as the integration can generate a new industry altogether.

Fang has an almost instinctive sense of where the future is heading, when he says: "The millennial generation pays for what they 'like' instead of 'want' and a great amount of their 'likes' are generated from what they see and hear on the mobile screens produced by the entertainment industry."

Also aware that Chinese millennials' preferences are shifting from expensive products to unique and personal items, Zhang Lan, a marketing professor at Beijing Technology and Business University, shares Fang's opinion, saying: "They like dressing differently and traveling, care about their individuality and have different pursuits to match their lifestyle.

"To woo them, many brands have been advised to bring iconic fashion such as denim, street styles and premium sporty brands to them," she adds.

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Composer chooses to go ethnic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429146.htm For Chinese composer Zhang Qianyi, his muse is the country's ethnic groups.

One of his most famous works is the pop song released in 1993, entitled Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which was inspired by the natural scenery of the Tibet autonomous region and Northwest China's Qinghai province.

He also composed for a Chinese opera produced by the National Center for the Performing Arts, entitled Lan Huahua, in 2017, which was based on folk music of Northwest China.

Recently, Zhang released an album, which contains all his music based on Chinese ethnic groups done over the past 20 years.

The album called Legend features 13 songs composed by Zhang, including Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and performed by Chinese singer, Alu Azhuo, who is from the Yi ethnic group.

Chinese songwriters, including Zhang's longtime friend, Qu Yuan, also wrote lyrics for some of the songs.

Speaking about the album, Zhang, 60, who was born in Shenyang, in Northeast China's Liaoning province, and was introduced to music by his father, a wind instrument player, says: "While preparing the song list, I reviewed my trips to those remote ethnic regions and I still feel amazed by the natural scenery and local culture."

Zhang started to play violin at the age of 6 and learned to play the bassoon at 12.

In 1977, Zhang began composing. And in 1984, he graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music with a degree in composing.

Though he has a classical music background, Zhang fell in love with Chinese folk music after seeing scenes of Tibet on television in the early 1990s.

And though he didn't visit Tibet then, Zhang wrote the song Qinghai-Tibet Plateau for the TV drama, The Road To Heaven, which tells the story of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

The song, performed by Chinese singer Li Na, then soon gained wide popularity in the country.

Since then, Zhang has traveled widely to visit areas populated by ethnic groups.

One of the songs in the album portrays the life of Genghis Khan and Mongolian ethnic culture. The song, Ga You La, meaning The Wrong Road, is adapted from a folk song of the Yi ethnic group.

Speaking about the song, Chinese singer Alu Azhuo, who was born and grew up in the mountainous regions of Southwest China's Guizhou province, says: "It (doing the song) felt like singing in the mountains of my hometown."

Alu, who was born into a Yi family, started singing and dancing as a child and came to Beijing in 2005 to receive vocal training at the PLA Institute of Arts.

In 2009, she won the first prize for pop singing at the Golden Bell Awards, a national honor for Chinese singers.

Then, in 2010, she won the golden award for pop singing at the CCTV Young Singers Grand Prix. Now, Alu is a solo vocalist of PLA Arts Center.

Speaking about her work with Zhang, she says: "When I first met the composer, he told me that it's a blessing for me to sing as a member of the Yi ethnic group.

"And he also inspired me to sing songs of other ethnic groups," Alu says. She has traveled to Sichuan and Yunnan, which are home to other Chinese ethnic groups, to understand local sounds.

The album also features musicians from other Chinese ethnic groups, such as Zhang Quansheng from Inner Mongolia, playing the traditional Mongolian musical instrument, the matouqin, or the horse-headed fiddle.

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Green haven where Beijing meets the Mediterranean]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429145.htm Plumping for a midrange Western restaurant in the suburbs of Beijing seems like an odd choice in a city teeming with new, exciting dining attractions.

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A French restaurateur with a bent for gardening is drawing palates away from more expensive establishments

Plumping for a midrange Western restaurant in the suburbs of Beijing seems like an odd choice in a city teeming with new, exciting dining attractions.

However, once the considerable assets of The Roots reveal themselves, you will be convinced you have stumbled over a veritable gem.

Those assets include: a venue where customers can enjoy gourmet Western home-style cuisine in a way that few Western restaurants in Beijing can match; a concern for offering xing jia bi (value for money); and a care for the surrounding environment, manifested in a 600-square meter garden in the concrete jungle.

The section of the jungle in which it is located is the Beijing Economic Technological Development zone 15 kilometers from Beijing's CBD area.

"Fewer gimmicks, good honest food is what we are out for," says the owner, Antoine Mansuy.

"We don't try to make it too fancy, and too pretty. We don't work too hard on presentation. Instead, what we do is to use our money to invest in the things that are important for the taste, and quality."

However, eschewing the too fancy and opting for the simple does not prevent The Roots from splashing out on top-notch equipment and boasting to the world about it. A poster near the escalator that takes you to the eatery urges diners and would-be diners to "savor the unparalleled taste that a prestigious Josper oven worth 200,000 yuan ($29,553) produces".

Such ovens, the pride of Spain, are more often seen in the lofty confines of Michelin-starred restaurants kitchens, and The Roots is probably one of few establishments to use the Josper to produce dishes in a lower price range. A handful of flash restaurants in Beijing have a Josper, and these are the kinds of places where a grilled chicken leg can set you back well over 100 yuan.

The Roots revels in its ethos of producing "handcrafted Western food", which, Mansuy says, carries the idea of authenticity, having someone cook the food for you, ensuring quality keeping a tight rein on prices.

"We make most of the stuff ourselves, including smoking salmon and sausages, and we prepare herb sauces fresh every morning for pastas."

Mansuy is keen to make the most of what the local land has to offer, and to use farm suppliers only within a few kilometers away in the surrounding Yizhuang area to maintain freshness and low prices.

"For me, importing avocados from the other side of the world makes no sense. It's expensive, and the quality may not be worth the money."

Seasonality is also something he takes into account when choosing ingredients.

For example, winter fruits such as fresh oranges and tangerines are attractive and tasty, and cheap right now, he says. So the restaurant offers a winter salad (32 yuan) that incorporates half a roasted caramelized orange in a creative way that can be squeezed into salad as a natural, delicious dressing. The inspiration, Mansuy says, came from him seeing a garlic head chopped in half and shaped like flowers in a steakhouse.

In summer, he says, the restaurant usually offers fresh salmon, but in winter tends to smoke it then dry it. That gives us the home smoked salmon salad (42 yuan), made the traditional way, with a full-bodied dressing coating the green leaves and elevating the taste of all vegetables.

The Chinese capital's summer climate is very close to that of the Mediterranean, Mansuy says, and herbs such as oregano, sage and bay leaf that he used in southern Europe can easily be grown in Beijing. With its recently introduced winter menu The Roots has given a nod to northern Europe, using cold-weather herbs such as fennel and garlic and onions and pickles.

The Roots also stands out from the pack with its care for the environment in the way it produces its food. Mansuy says the restaurant is picky about who it works with, opting for nearby farm suppliers that are environmentally friendly with carbon neutral vegetables and pesticide-free produce.

For take-aways and online orders, the restaurant provides only biodegradable plastic bags that degrade within three years.

"This is not merely a marketing ploy. It's early days, and many people may not appreciate what we're doing, but I hope to raise awareness about eating in a manner that takes account of nature and the environment."

Mansuy says he grew up on a farm in France and learned from a young age about aspects of gardening such as pruning plants and dealing with weeds. So when the local estate in Yizhuang granted him free rein over 600-square-meter plot adjacent to the restaurant last winter he was more than delighted to pitch in.

The idea is to produce something that educates young people, improves the environment and to grow crops for the restaurant.

"The garden has reduced our landfill waste by a solid 30 percent, using all our organic scraps from restaurant waste to make compost and help revive that soil."

When he first saw the lack of insects and wildlife that are helpful for plants on this barren patch of land he felt dispirited, he says, but gardening calls for patience, and he started by planning and conditioning the soil, and composting pits. He then dedicated 70 percent of the land to a variety of bushes and wildflowers, which may not be exactly pretty, but which provide habitats for birds and butterflies that help to keep the garden healthy.

"As the months wore on, I was surprised to see the ground was brimming with birds, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and fewer mosquitoes, and all that for a dirt-cheap investment."

Then, along with looking after the bushes and wild flowers he continued composting and growing herbs and vegetables.

Now the garden is closed in winter, as he speaks, and he whips out his mobile phone and shows a full 360-degree virtual reality tour of it.

The garden is designed according to the dishes he crafts for The Roots, he says, and the herbs he grew last year for the restaurant included bay leaf, oregano and rhubarb.

"I needed a lot of sage next year, so I'll grow more. But sometimes the plants grow so well in the garden. For example, last year mint and chuanxinlian (better known as green chiretta) grew unexpectedly well, so we use more of them in our dishes."

A popular French saying has it that whoever has sage in the garden has no need to see a doctor, Mansuy says, and a meal at The Roots with its signature sage tea (35 yuan) that is homegrown, healthy, fragrant, and magical, pays tribute to that maxim. The more we top up water, the darker the color we could see. Water does not dilute the color; rather, it deepens the pink, which then turns to purple, ruby, and plum after a while.

The fluid color is the result of mixing two main herbs - sage, and the other Asian herb, which separately produces a yellowish green color in water, but when combined, make a difference in generating a gorgeous, and fluid color. As to what that Asian herb is, Mansuy would not divulge this secret recipe he stumbled on while experimenting with a few herbs at home on his rooftop garden. That special sage tea is a unique selling point.

Any first-visiting diner at The Roots should not miss its signature peri-peri chicken (38 yuan), "the simplest yet the best" dish on his menu, Mansuy says. One whole chicken leg is marinated for 24 hours in a housemade sauce blended with more than 20 spices (again, the recipe is a secret) before being put into the Josper oven. The result is a crisp scorched skin, with soft, bouncy flesh underneath.

Another spectacular dish is the pesto and basil pasta (36 yuan) - the recipe being passed down from Mansuy's Italian grandfather. With the texture striking a fantastic balance between being moist and creamy, the pasta is hard to beat. Perhaps the long beans in the pasta let out some water and help to balance it.

Other standout dishes include a rack of pork ribs (128 yuan) which is sous-vide to enhance the structures before being barbecued in the Spanish oven for perfection. The ribs are infused with robust southeastern Asian flavors with lemon leaves, lemon grass, garlic and a few herbs.

One drawback in the lineup is the Spanish seafood paella (108 yuan), which I found light on the palette. I would have expected something saltier and full of umami flavors.

The most surprising dish appeared at the end of the meal. I have seen the inside of quite a few gourmet establishments in Beijing, but little has impressed me in any of theme as much as The Roots' classic British dessert banoffee pie (38 yuan).

This fabulous dish consists of five simple layers: coffee beans, whipped cream, biscuit, fresh banana and dulce de leche. When you eat it make sure you get a little bit of each layer when you dig your spoon in. Sheer satisfaction comes with each mouthful of the at once soft, crunchy, creamy, gooey, sweet and fruity concoction. The scraps of coffee beans help to bring out the bitterness to balance the sweetness and add an extra dimension of crunch with the biscuit.

The five ingredients work so well together that they need no others. It justifies Mansuy's statement about how timing is crucial to develop a proper taste. For the banoffee, the flavors of each ingredient work together on time, he says.

Mansuy met his wife, a Beijinger, in London, where he worked up from being a waiter to being both chef and holding managerial positions in distinguished restaurants. The couple returned to Beijing in 2012, and spent 18 months doing market research before opening The Roots in 2014, and a second branch in 2016.

Mansuy says running a restaurant in Beijing is a lot different to running one in France, where the business is very fragmented.

"In France, apart from the likes of Subway and McDonald's, there are barely any restaurant chains. No one tries that hard to expand their own restaurant. They're not that business savvy, even if they make enough money to get by."

As for his own expanding interests, that seem to be land-bound at present.

"In 2019 my aim is to work with the local authorities to get to use more land for gardening, and to organize events relating to nature and insects for young people.

"The more they know about this, the more chance we will have for a brighter, blue sky."

If you go

The Roots

Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 9.30 pm

3rd Floor, Yizhuang Creative Life Plaza, 6 Wenhuayuan Donglu, Daxing district

010-6785-9300

 

Mediterranean grilled fish. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Muji eatery tweaks food offerings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429144.htm Cafe and Meal Muji, an eatery run by the Japanese retail brand Muji, has launched a new menu.

Located on the ground floor of the Muji Hotel Beijing that opened six months ago, the compound in the historic old Beijing district near Tiananmen Square has been doing brisk trade, due no doubt to Muji's renown for its functional stationery, simplistic aesthetics of homewares and clothes. But the eatery has failed to make a splash on foodies' must-eat list. That is not until recently, when it made some big culinary adjustments.

Like Muji's products that appeal to an understated aesthetic, the restaurant's new menu reflects a penchant for making the most of natural and healthy ingredients, serving comfort dishes with tasteful designs.

Han Jie, 40, head chef of Cafe & Meal Muji, says that he aims to bring out the original, natural flavor of each ingredient with a more approachable touch to the customers.

Eighty percent of the original dishes have been replaced, he says, and the new concept encompasses easily recognizable dishes of different countries including fish and chips, Japanese hamburger steak, healthy vegetarian salad, spaghetti, curry and Chinese meat buns.

"These representative dishes look simple and approachable, but making them stand out from what other places serve is a demanding task," Han says.

"To preserve the flavor of each ingredient we cook as simply as possible, limit the use of chemical condiments and never add preservatives so as to make the most of the ingredients and highlight their natural delicious taste."

However, fewer cooking processes and condiments is by no means blandness. The prowess in minimalist can be reflected, for an example, in a simple dish of pumpkin soup (15 yuan). With no sugar added, no spices, no salt, no milk, but just a delicate topping of shredded morsel of parsley and an arch coconut cream line for garnish, the soup is so tasty on its own.

The restaurant works with farms on the outskirts of Beijing that cultivate produce with traditional farm manure and with no chemical pesticides or fertilizers, Han says.

Putting health at the top of the agenda in crafting the new menu, Han also uses healthier ingredients such as quinoa and chickpea.

The appetizer is an assorted deli (68 yuan) made up of three dishes - chicken and konjak salad, mixed nut spinach salad and avocado salad - that does well to whet the appetite. And it is served in generous portions, enough for sharing with two or three.

What a surprise, then, when the Ise udon is served. The gourmet noodle dish has been exquisitely prepared and costs just 38 yuan, hard to beat anywhere else. These noodles are extremely soft with a chewy texture, and they are topped with tender sliced beef, safe-to-eat Japanese runny egg, and crumbs of crispy tempura batter.

The housemade sukiyaki sauce, full of umami flavors, and with a lightly sweet twist, also gets top billing.

You may need some convincing to try cold tea in a harsh weather, but if anything will do the trick it is the sublimely thick and smooth feel of cold-brewed lime and mint jasmine tea (40 yuan) with its naturally sweet taste.

It's a simple blend of fresh mint leaves, lime slices and jasmine tea, together producing a floral, fragrant scent with a luscious and refreshing feel in the mouth. The other two choices of the signature cold brew tea series are phoenix meizan tea and iced kalamansi jasmine shaken tea.

In line with Muji brand's similar style, the restaurant features a calming and minimalist decor with its pale wood tables, green plants, the clean-lined layout, tableware and cutlery.

If you go

Cafe & Meal Muji

Monday to Sunday: 11 am to 10 pm; Ground floor, Muji Hotel, 21-2 Lang Fang Tou Tiao, Meishijie, Xicheng district, 010-6316-9199

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Gearing up for the games]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/19/content_37429143.htm Winter sports such as ice hockey, skiing and figure skating are becoming increasingly popular as the 2022 Winter Olympics approaches

As the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics approaches, more winter sports enthusiasts are participating in ice activities in Beijing.

Winter sports such as ice hockey, skiing and figure skating are becoming increasingly popular among the general public.

Shichahai, Summer Palace and many shopping malls in Beijing now provide winter sports venues.

In 2018, the number of winter sports youth athletes in Beijing was 4,531, an increase of more than 60 percent compared with 2017.

On Sept 5, 2018, the State Sports General Administration announced the 2018-22 plan of "mobilizing 300 million people to participate in ice and snow sports".

Photos by Wang Jing, Feng Yongbin and Du Jia

 

The Kunming Lake Ice Arena in Summer Palace swarms with skaters. Du Jia / For China Daily

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2019-01-19 06:49:27
<![CDATA[Lessons to remember from the last pre-internet war]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428804.htm Nearly 30 years ago, the guns of August were unleashed, and they still reverberate.

The phrase "the day the world changed" is often overused. But Aug 2, 1990, lives up to the billing. It was also the last major conflict before the internet era. In the immediate aftermath, the atmosphere in the Persian Gulf was almost surreal. After 100,000 Iraqi troops and 700 tanks drove into Kuwait on that hot August day, I was questioned by police in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Just days before the invasion, the page 1 headline on the British newspaper The Independent screamed "Iraqi tanks mass on Kuwait border". I went over to our translator at Gulf Times in Doha, where I then worked as the sports editor, to tease him.

"See, there is going to be war," I said, though I did not really believe it. As so often in the past when I teased him, Ismail Harb would light a cigarette, sip his tea and assure me that no Arab country had ever invaded another. "Saddam wants money, not war," he intoned.

Unknown to me, Ismail had just got his own show on Qatar TV. A day after the invasion, Ismail asked his viewers, "How is it, how is it that an Irish journalist could tell there would be war and not one Arab journalist predicted it?"

That night, the police raided the newspaper's office. "Where is Tom?" they shouted. I identified myself.

"How did you know? What information did you have?"

"It was in the papers," I replied. "Show us," they demanded.

I pointed to the yellowing stack of Independents and the top one with the tanks headline.

"There, see the headline," I pleaded.

"Do not read foreign newspapers," they said in terms that allowed no dissent.

And they left.

Ten minutes later, a newspaper in a Gulf country contacted us, unsure how to give the news. "How is this for a headline?" One of their English-speaking editors earnestly asked over the phone. "Brotherly Iraq invades sisterly Kuwait in slight misunderstanding." He wasn't joking.

The headline was never used, but the two incidents reveal much about the sense of panic, disbelief and sheer incredulity of those days.

In terms of invasions, Saddam had form. In September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. Iran, the feeling went, was in turmoil, its officer corps decimated through exile or executions and its Shah-era US-supplied equipment was lacking spare parts. Piece of cake.

Then the trenches were dug, poison gas used, and a war of attrition ensued. Eight years later, it ended, but like 1918, the seeds of further conflict were sown. Both countries were exhausted and financially fragile.

Whatever his shortcomings in executing the war, Saddam felt he had saved the Gulf sheikdoms and was worthy of greater respect. But the price of oil was falling. Just weeks before the invasion in 1990, Kuwait had raised its oil production from the OPEC quota of 1.5 million barrels a day to 1.9 million, further lowering the oil price from $18 to $14 a barrel. A $1-a-barrel fall cost Saddam $1 billion a year, and he was being shortchanged and losing face, he claimed.

Saddam also accused Kuwait of stealing Iraq's oil by boring at a slant northward along their frontier. Kuwait haughtily dismissed the claims. Saddam was not convinced and accused the emirate of blatantly stealing the resources of the nation whose armies saved it from Iran's revolution.

Saddam was the policeman. Now he wanted to be the law. Images of invasion, human hostages, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, anti-aircraft flak, Scuds and wailing sirens, precise missile strikes and billowing dark smoke from burning oil wells flooded our TV screens.

The last major conflict before the onset of the internet, this one was a TV war with nightly highlights. It ended on Feb 28, 1991.

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2019-01-18 07:40:39
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428803.htm Ancient Egyptians set homework, tablet shows

Homework written by a school student in ancient Egypt in the second century AD is about to go on display in London. An ancient lesson preserved on a wood-mounted wax slab about the size of a Kindle reads, "You should only accept advice from a wise man" and "You cannot trust all of your friends." Acquired by the British Library in 1892, the tablet hasn't been publicly displayed since the 1970s. The slab will be featured in an upcoming British Library exhibition called Writing: Making Your Mark, which traces the evolution of writing over 5,000 years of human history, according to library representatives.

Avengers may be assembled to save the Oscars

The Avengers saved the planet from an alien invasion and an artificial intelligence hellbent on human extinction. Their next assignment: saving the Academy Awards. The Oscars (Feb 24) were left without a host last month when comedian Kevin Hart stepped down following the widespread backlash to his history of making homophobic comments. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Academy is scrambling to reunite cast members of Marvel's Avengers movies as a rotating team of hosts to introduce segments and hold the broadcast together.

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2019-01-18 07:40:39
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428802.htm Biz: Disney ready for Spring Festival

Shanghai Disney Resort is ready to usher in the auspicious Year of the Pig with a number of special activities celebrating Chinese traditions with Disney elements. Throughout the New Year celebration period - from Saturday to Feb 19 - the attraction will have offerings and activities to celebrate Chinese customs and create fun new memories for families and friends of all ages, the resort said. The special treatments include new seasonal entertainments such as a Chinese New Year 2019 fireworks show and special festive food and beverages.

People: Sinologist spreads joy in literature

Alicia Relinque, who has been translating ancient Chinese literary works into Spanish for decades, said she has found the key to happiness. "It is Chinese literature," she said. Relinque is a Sinologist and professor at the University of Granada, Spain, where she teaches Chinese literary theory and criticism, Chinese theater and cinema, and general theory of Chinese language and literature. She is also director of the university's Confucius Institute. Her translations include The Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu, a romantic tragicomic love drama written in the 16th century, and The Orphan of Zhao, a 13th century drama that is similar to Hamlet.

Animals: Sea turtles face survival threats

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs released 100 sea turtles into the Huidong Sea Turtle National Nature Reserve in Guangdong province on Monday, marking the country's first large-scale release of sea turtles this year. The turtles are one of the oldest species in existence. These special animals play an important role within the ecosystem. Human activities have left them facing many new challenges; pollution, coastal degradation and the depletion of certain fish and marine populations, which hampers their ability to live healthy, productive lives.

Travel: Qinhuai Lantern Fair to kick off

The Qinhuai Lantern Fair will be open to the public from Jan 28 through Feb 22 in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, as part of celebrations to usher in Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 5. The event has attracted millions of visitors and participants every year since it started in 1985. Major lantern and lighting displays will be set up along the city's Jiangnan Examination Hall and Qinhuai River scenic spots.

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2019-01-18 07:40:39
<![CDATA[What's on]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428801.htm

A Chorus Line

Date: Until Jan 27 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

From the pen of legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch comes the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning sensation, A Chorus Line. In the story, casting for a new Broadway musical is almost complete, and for 17 dancers, an audition is the chance of a lifetime and something they have worked for all their lives.

A Chorus Line evokes both the glamour and grind of showbiz, and is the musical for everyone who's ever had a dream and put it all on the line.

The score features such classics as What I Did for Love, One, I Hope I Get It and many others. With its celebration and true-to-life depiction of performers and their struggle to achieve greatness on the Broadway stage, A Chorus Line has earned praise as a true masterpiece of live theater.

Rhythm of the Dance

Date: Feb 6-10 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Rhythm of the Dance continues the Lord of the Dance and Riverdance legacies with a performance that combines Irish step dancing with toe-tapping live music and a smattering of Latin rhythms.

The show is an inspiring epic, reliving the journey of the Irish people throughout history. Using modern art forms of dance and music, this richly costumed show marries the contemporary and the ancient.

Combining traditional dance and music with the most up-to-date stage technology, the show is a 1,000-year-old story delivered with all the advantages of modern stage shows.

Shadow Play: Mulan

Date: Jan 19-27 - 10 am and 2 pm

Venue: Ciro's Performing Arts Theater, Shanghai

The story of Hua Mulan, a girl who disguises herself as a man and goes to war in place of her elderly father has been adapted for numerous film and television works.

This new shadow play version of the beloved story includes stunning sets, music and fantasy elements that breathe fresh life into an age-old art form.

Shadow plays using silhouette puppets have a history of more than 2,000 years in China. The puppets are projected onto a backlit curtain while their limbs are manipulated by artisans behind the screen, typically to the accompaniment of music.

Film director Sherwood Hu is at the helm of the new show, which incorporates filmmaking techniques and modern visual effects.

Julien Brocal Piano Recital

Date: Jan 20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Winner of BBC Music Magazine's 2018 Newcomer of the Year Award, Brocal began learning piano at the age of 5 and first performed on stage at the Salle Cortot (Paris) at the age of 7.

He was spotted in January 2013 by Maria Joao Pires during a course at the Cite de la Musique (Paris) and she subsequently invited him to develop artistic projects at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel and become one of the founding members of the Partitura Project.

Since then, they have performed together at numerous concerts across the world, including with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra at the prestigious Chopin Festival, the L'Opera di Firenze in the Great Artists Series, the Sheldonian Theatre (Oxford, England), and Philharmonie de Paris.

Heartbeat of Home

Date: Jan 22-29 - 2 pm and 7:15 pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater

Heartbeat of Home, created by the director of Riverdance, is a music and dance spectacular featuring the vibrant, dynamic components of traditional Irish, Latin and Afro-Cuban music and dance. The world-class cast of 37 includes a 10-piece band creating new and electrifying sounds written by award-winning Golden Globe-nominated composer Brian Byrne.

The show is produced by Moya Doherty and conceived and directed by John McColgan, with concept development and lyrics by award-winning Irish writer Joseph O'Connor.

School of Rock

Date: Feb 22-28 - 7:15 pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theatre

Based on the hit movie, this new musical follows Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star who decides to earn extra cash by posing as a supply teacher at a prestigious prep school.

There, he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping mind-blowing rock band. With a new score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, story by Julian Fellowes and an incredible cast of kids shredding guitars, pounding drums and rocking out live, School of Rock is a treat for all ages.

Arod Quartet: Classic Reborn

Date: Feb 16 - 7:15 pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater

Though all four members are only in their early 20s, the Arod Quartet, based in Paris, has dazzled chamber music lovers with concerts at such prestigious venues as the Auditorium of the Louvre in Paris and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

The quartet quickly came to international attention after winning first prize at the 2016 ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Germany, having already taken first prize at the Carl Nielsen Chamber Music Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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2019-01-18 07:40:39
<![CDATA[Festive tour]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428800.htm The China National Peking Opera Company will perform shows in different countries to celebrate the 200-year-old art form on the first day of the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 5.

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Peking Opera artists will celebrate the old art form with shows abroad in February, Chen Nan reports.

The China National Peking Opera Company will perform shows in different countries to celebrate the 200-year-old art form on the first day of the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 5.

More than 70 Peking Opera artists and band members will join the tour abroad from Feb 1 to 25. They'll visit the United States, Australia and Europe.

Turandot, a coproduction of the China National Peking Opera Company and Emilia Romagna Theater Foundation, will be staged in Italy from Feb 1 to 10.

Its premiere was held in Bolzano, Italy, on Jan 10.

With actors of China's Peking Opera company playing the lead roles, including Xu Mengke and Zhang Jiachun, the theatrical production, based on a three-act opera of the same title by Giacomo Puccini, will be directed by Italian director Marco Plini. It'll be joined by Chinese dramatists Wu Jiang and Wu Yuejia, as well as musical ensembles from China and Italy.

According to Giuliano Barbolini, president of the Emilia Romagna Theater Foundation, which manages seven Italian national theaters, Turandot is the second collaboration between the China National Peking Opera Company and the foundation, which gives the traditional Chinese art form a Western theatrical twist.

The experimental Peking Opera production Faust, which is an adaptation of the Western masterpiece written by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, made its debut in 2015 and toured Europe. China's Peking Opera company also gave two performances of the classic show, The Legend of the White Snake, at the Alessandro Bonci Theatre in Cesena, Italy, on Jan 5 and 6.

Female Generals of the Yang Family, another Peking Opera classic, will be staged with three performances in Portugal from Feb 8 to 11.

Peking Opera actress Guo Xiao will play the lead role of Mu Guiying, a legendary female warrior.

"Female Generals of the Yang Family is a great display of Peking Opera, which combines a variety of techniques to portray loyal and brave Chinese female roles," says Guo, who has been performing with the China National Peking Opera Company since 2010.

The 30-year-old's mother worked as a Peking Opera actress. So, Guo has learned the art form since a young age and decided to make it a lifelong career by the time she was 11 years old. A year later, when Guo came to Beijing from her hometown, Jiangsu province's Xuzhou, she enrolled in the middle school affiliated with the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts.

Guo earned her master's degree at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts later.

"I played the role of Mu Guiying when I was in school. As I grew up, I had a different understanding of the role. The character is more than brave and strong. As a mother and a daughter, she is also soft and sweet," Guo says, adding that it will be her first time to leave her family and perform abroad during Spring Festival.

"Of all my experiences of performing the role, this time in Portugal will be special to me."

The troupe will showcase extracts from Peking Opera pieces, such as At the Cross Roads and Farewell My Concubine, during the company's visit to Portugal in February.

Yi Ling from the China National Peking Opera Company's foreign affairs office says that giving performances of Peking Opera - which was declared a form of intangible culture of humanity by UNESCO in 2010 - at home and abroad during Spring Festival has become a tradition.

Peking Opera performers from veterans to young artists will participate this year in the Happy Chinese New Year project, which is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Veteran Peking Opera artists, including Li Shengsu and Yu Kuizhi, will perform in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Yi says the programs aim to help Western audiences get a more comprehensive understanding of Peking Opera - not just the captivating martial arts but also the elaborate makeup and costumes.

"The ancient art form shows traditional Chinese values, such as loyalty, modesty and honesty," Yi adds.

 

Top: Peking Opera actress Guo Xiao plays the lead role of Mu Guiying in Female Generals of the Yang Family. Above: Zhang Jiachun from the China National Peking Opera Company portrays the princess Turandot in the Sino-Italian coproduction, which will be staged in Italy from Feb 1 to 10. Photos provided to China Daily

 

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[Veteran actress to restage masterpiece Pan Jinlian]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428799.htm Acclaimed Kunqu Opera actress Liang Guyin may be 77 years old, but she will soon return to the stage to play the role of a character who is 60 years younger as part of the 11th Classic Chinese Opera Series at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

The winner of the prestigious Plum Performance Award, China's top award for operas and dramas, will play the lead role of Pan Jinlian in the eponymous opera that revolves around a character from the 17th-century Chinese novel, Jin Ping Mei.

In the story, Pan poisons her husband after her extramarital affair was discovered and is later beheaded by her husband's younger brother. Although Pan's name in Chinese is a synonym for a slur against women, audiences have in recent times started to sympathize with the character as she was forced to marry her husband, who had a disability.

Despite being a veteran actress, Liang says that playing this role at her age is not without its challenges.

"To be honest, I'm already old, so I wasn't very willing to play a 17-year-old who is supposed to be sexy and seductive," Liang said during the media conference for the Classic Chinese Opera Series on Jan 9.

"I will try my best to perform the role. I do hope audience will be tolerant."

Created by Liang and other Kunqu actors 32 years ago, Pan Jinlian blends beautiful singing with fight scenes. The production first premiered in Beijing in 1987 and was well-received, despite being produced on a modest budget.

Liang says that she and her colleagues from the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe only spent 2,000 yuan ($538) to design the stage as they were more concerned about keeping the costs low. The actresses even resorted to wearing old dresses borrowed from others instead of making new ones.

Liang says she will perform the difficult stunts required of her character, in addition to a series of complicated and energy-sapping dance moves. Liang will also need to crawl on her knees during the performance, a gesture that expresses the character's remorse and fear before she is killed.

"It's very easy for me to do all these moves, even at this age. I've practiced Kunqu since I was a child. I will never forget how to do it," she says, laughing.

Pan is one of the characters that Liang loves playing the most.

"It's hard to define Pan Jinlian in only a few words, as she is so sophisticated," she says. "I need to express her loveliness, sadness, seductiveness and cruelty on the stage."

The opera will be staged by the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe on March 31.

While Liang usually plays the role of huadan (young and pretty women) in traditional Chinese opera, she has also performed as a noblewoman, a nun, a queen and an evil character. The famous artist Cheng Shifa once commented that Liang's smile - and even her frown - is so enchanting that it can be turned into a beautiful painting.

"I am really looking forward to watching Liang's opera," says Liu Xinran, a Peking Opera actor who also performs huadan roles.

"Her singing is like a fresh breeze from the valley, and her movements are so light and smart. Her uniqueness is simply unforgettable."

 

Acclaimed Kunqu Opera actress Liang Guyin, 77, will play the role of Pan Jinlian in the eponymous opera as part of the 11th Classic Chinese Opera Series at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[Performance series hopes to stoke greater youth interest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428798.htm The annual Classic Chinese Opera Series will be held at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center from March 11 to April 20. The center will stage 13 programs comprising 16 shows and will feature dozens of well-known actors.

To showcase the Shanghai Oriental Art Center's bid to encourage younger audiences to appreciate traditional art forms, the monthlong opera event will open with the screening of the 3D Peking Opera movie, Cao Cao and Yang Xiu.

Crossover performances during the event will include the modern one-man Kunqu Opera, I, Hamlet (pictured), which is adapted from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Created by famous Kunqu Opera actor Zhang Jun, the production had previously won praise from overseas audiences following its debuts in London and New York.

Other performances include Mulan, which infuses Western concerts with Peking Opera music; one-man Peking Opera Cao Qiqiao, Lady Macbeth; and Huju Opera's The Thunder Storm and The Daughter of Dunhuang.

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[Bringing su cuisine to Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428797.htm Su cuisine was what Zhan Deping missed most after he left his hometown, Jiangsu province's Pizhou, at age 15. The gastronomic category from Jiangsu is one of China's "four major cuisines", a classification system developed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and one of its "eight great cuisines".

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A new restaurant will serve authentic fare from Jiangsu province in the country's capital, Li Yingxue reports.

Su cuisine was what Zhan Deping missed most after he left his hometown, Jiangsu province's Pizhou, at age 15. The gastronomic category from Jiangsu is one of China's "four major cuisines", a classification system developed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and one of its "eight great cuisines".

Su cuisine is made up of jinling (Nanjing) cuisine, huaiyang (Huai'an and Yangzhou) cuisine, suxi (Suzhou and Wuxi) cuisine and xuhai (Xuzhou and Lianyungang) cuisine.

"Its diversity makes it special, "says Zhan, who co-founded the Subangyuan restaurant brand.

"It features sweet, fresh and salty flavors, and uses different techniques."

Zhan will open Subangyuan's fourth branch in Beijing in the coming Lunar New Year.

"Jiangsu is a large province on the map. It runs about 400 kilometers from north to south. So, dishes' flavors vary," he says.

"Xuhai cuisine is saltier and spicier. Jinling cuisine is salty and fresh. Huaiyang cuisine values ingredients' original flavors. And suxi cuisine is sweet."

Each cuisine features special ingredients and cooking methods.

Huaiyang has more soups and requires more sophisticated knifework. Jinling highlights roast duck. And suxi includes many stews.

Zhan invites chefs from all four places to present their best so that diners can sample a broad swath of su cuisine in one meal.

In the restaurant's name, Subangyuan, subang means su cuisine and yuan comes from the name of ancient poet, scholar, artist and gastronome Yuan Mei (1716-97), Zhan explains.

English food writer Fuchsia Dunlop describes Yuan as China's answer to famous French epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Yuan is hailed as one of China's four classical gastronomes by English diplomat, sinologist and historian of China Endymion Wilkinson in his book, Chinese History: A Manual.

Yuan passed the highest imperial exams at age 23 and served as magistrate in four places in Jiangsu. The native of Zhejiang province's Hangzhou resigned from his job in 1748 and bought Suiyuan Garden, or the Garden of Contentment, in Nanjing. He spent his retirement there, meeting friends, eating delicacies and writing poems.

He spent 44 years learning about ingredients and wrote the book, Suiyuan Shidan (Recipes from the Garden of Contentment), which includes recipes of over 300 dishes.

Yuan wrote: "Whenever I've eaten well and have been inspired by a meal I've enjoyed at someone else's place, I'd later send my chef to them to write down the recipes and techniques."

Zhan says he hopes Subangyuan can absorb the spirit of Suiyuan Shidan.

"Yuan lived in Jiangsu for most of his life and also traveled extensively. So, most recipes in his book belong to su cuisine," Zhan says.

"We don't replicate all of his recipes. But it gives us hints as to su cuisine's most-delicious dishes."

The cuisine features a lot of aquaculture, since Jiangsu is known as "the land of fish and rice".

Subangyuan serves the "three whites of Taihu Lake" - tullibee, shrimp and whitebait. It only serves tullibee that weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 kilograms. It takes the whitefish at least three years to grow to this size.

The tullibee is marinated before it's steamed over chicken soup.

The whitebait have no scales, bones, intestines, swim bladders - or even a fishy smell. They're fried with scrambled eggs and chopped spring onions.

The shrimp is boiled before it's marinated in huadiao liquor. It becomes transparent like jade after the thin shell is peeled off.

The Yangtze River is also famous for three fresh ingredients - lake anchovies, globefish and hilsa herrings - used in su cuisine.

Liquor-preserved crab is a must-try. It requires meticulous preparation and is rich in roe.

The menu also features huaiyang cuisine's signature dishes, such as wensi tofu and boiled, shredded bean curd.

Zhan and his team have traveled throughout all of Jiangsu at least three times to taste, select and learn about new dishes.

He has upgraded the menu seven times since the first branch opened in 2015.

"From decor to tableware, we want to present the culture of su cuisine in traditional style with a modern twist," Zhan says.

 

Subangyuan, a restaurant specializing Jiangsu cuisine, presents the culture of su cuisine in traditional style with a modern twist. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[A rare book on Chinese food will be published in English]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428796.htm Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) poet and scholar Yuan Mei's 1792 manual of gastronomy, Suiyuan Shidan, or Recipes from the Garden of Contentment, will soon have an English edition.

A bilingual version of the book will be released in the United States on Feb 5.

The English version has been translated and annotated by Sean Chen, a Canadian scientist who develops algorithms for computer-assisted, minimally invasive neurosurgery.

Karen Christensen, founder of Berkshire Publishing Group, says: "Chefs can get new ideas about Chinese food, and readers who have a general interest in Chinese culture or simply in global cuisine will find Yuan Mei's writing and Sean Chen's wonderful and lively annotations shed new light on Chinese cuisine."

The bilingual version will be valuable to students and scholars, and the English-only version is coming in April, she says.

Chen, who was born in Singapore but grew up in North America, was initially exposed to Chinese cuisine at home and in Chinese-American restaurants. But he deepened his knowledge about it during his university years. And he soon found himself obsessed with Chinese cuisine and food history.

Soon, he was reading works on Chinese cuisine and gastronomy, but one name just kept popping up - Yuan Mei and his Suiyuan Shidan.

The book contains instructions for, and critiques of, Chinese cuisine as well as more than 300 recipes from the period.

Chen tried to find an English copy but discovered it had been translated only in bits and pieces.

He began translating Suiyuan Shidan on his blog called The Way of the Eating in 2013. Christensen saw the blog a year later.

Christensen, who is committed to introducing Chinese works to a global audience, says: "I learned that it was a very important work, well-known to culinary experts, but had never before been translated into English. What a thrilling discovery for a publisher!"

She reached out to Chen, asked him to complete the translation and offered to publish the work.

Tracking down copies of the 1792 edition of the book was a big challenge for Chen. But he finally located two copies.

Chen initially found the classical Chinese text tough to translate.

"The expressions were different, and there was no punctuation, "says Chen, who learned classical Chinese using the Kangxi Dictionary along with other online resources.

However, as he became more proficient in classical Chinese, Chen began spending more time figuring out the recipes and their ingredients.

"There was this 'white tendon' that had to be cleaned from fish. That took a lot of research," says Chen.

"A lot of time was also spent figuring out the scientific names of the animals and plants referred to in the book."

The task of translating the book was split into multiple chapters and sections, which made it easier.

Each day, when he finished dealing with his work and family responsibilities, he picked up where he had left off.

"Basically, it involved doing the translation and research work whenever I had free time, which included commuting to work, "says Chen.

Chen says he has a deeper understanding of Chinese cuisine after translating the book.

"I notice what was eaten and cooked in the past is very similar to what is eaten now, and there is something of an unbroken lineage."

He also says there are huge influences of other cultures - Central Asian, Middle Eastern and European - on Chinese food.

"Fusion cuisine is not something new and modern but has been alive for centuries," says Chen.

For Chen, the first two chapters of do's and don'ts in Chinese gastronomy and cuisine shine a lot of light on what makes Chinese cuisine unique.

"It is the 'must-read' section of this book," says Chen.

"Very few people talk about the mechanics of Chinese cuisine, but this book tells you how to cook Chinese food and how to appreciate what is cooked.

"It's more than just a cookbook. It's more like a window to the past."

Chen says that overseas Chinese, who grow up or are born in North America, don't understand Chinese cuisine and its complexity.

"I plan to write something that lets children of Chinese ancestry reconnect with their culture through food and cooking."

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428795.htm A beefed up menu

Ootoku Changan opened on Jan 12 in the central business district area of Beijing, bringing yakiniku kaiseki ryori - the traditional Japanese multicourse meal - to the capital. Its five private dining rooms have wood-tiled ceilings, which is a nod to the ancient capital of Changan, which is now known as Xi'an. The set menu includes six different roasted cuts of black wagyu beef, ranging from tongue to flank, which is rare in kaiseki ryori. The rice, cooked in a special pot, is a sweet highlight after the wagyu.

3F, In01, No 2 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8566-0079.

A Hohhot take on lamb

San Wu Tang kitchen, with the help of chefs from Hohhot, capital of North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is providing an all-lamb feast until Jan 27. Roast whole lamb is the signature dish of Inner Mongolia and salty milk tea is the iconic drink. San Wu Tang kitchen is bringing the authentic northwestern flavors to the capital, roasting whole lambs in the traditional way and pairing the milk tea with homemade cheese snacks. Lamb shaomai (steamed dumplings) are also a must-try.

No 1 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8647-1035.

Manyo's tuna feast

The Saite branch of the Japanese restaurant Manyo has launched an all-bluefin-tuna feast. All of the bluefin are ethically sourced from a fishery in Nagasaki. The rarest and tastiest cuts of the fish, such as the meat on the face and around the eyes, are included in the sashimi platter. Meat from bluefin tuna is tender, rich in fat and highly prized, especially meat from around the belly. The feast also includes roast fish head and fish marrow, and rice with tuna.

W-4, No 16 Jianguomenwai Avenue, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-6521-2511.

The Italian job

Italian chef de cuisine Davide Carboni at the Daccapo Italian restaurant has designed two new set menus for lunch and dinner, which aim to lead his diners on a culinary journey around Italy, from Piedmont to Sicily. Carboni likes to use new cooking methods to present traditional Italian cuisine with a balance of taste and nutrition. His dinner menu starts with grilled scallops or vitello tonnato Piemonte-style and ends with tiramisu or Sicilian cannoli.

No 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-8522-1888.

China Daily

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[For the joy of creation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428794.htm Despite the onset of a cold front that sent temperatures plunging down to near freezing, the reception for the last edition of the Shanghai International Hobbycraft Expo was the complete opposite.

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The increasing popularity of the annual Hobbycraft Expo shows that people are relishing the chance to get hands on and craft their own works of art, Zhang Kun reports.

Despite the onset of a cold front that sent temperatures plunging down to near freezing, the reception for the last edition of the Shanghai International Hobbycraft Expo was the complete opposite.

According to the organizers, the event at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition& Convention Center in December attracted 300 companies, institutions and studios from 15 countries and regions, and on Dec 8 alone was attended by more than 78,000 people, nearly twice the amount of the inaugural edition in 2015.

This fast-growing popularity of the Hobbycraft Expo has made it one of the important cultural platforms recognized by the municipality, according to Yang Qinghong, director of the Shanghai Culture and Tourism Bureau's public culture department, who manages matters related to the conservation of intangible cultural heritage.

"Creating things with your own hands brings great joy and fulfillment," says Yang Wenxin, general manager of Shanghai YESBY.Me Information Technology Co, an organizer of the expo. "We are not only handicraft lovers, but also cultural inheritors."

From woodworking, leather smithing and glass sculpting to embroidery, pottery and print making, the fair showcased a comprehensive range of handicrafts through live demonstrations, interactive classes and lectures.

Events like the Hobbycraft Expo are important because they introduce traditional handicrafts and China's intangible cultural heritage to the wider public, says Zhang Lili, deputy professor with the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai University.

Zhang has been the director of the Public Art Coordinating Center of the academy since 2015, when she started working to help promote handicrafts recognized as China's intangible cultural heritage. She was also one of the nominees for the "People of 2018" listing by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for her work on the conservation of China's intangible cultural heritage.

Zhang points out that such events are important because they help people to appreciate the differences in workmanship between handicrafts and machine-made products.

"Many things today can be bought at lower prices because of mass production. When you show people something that is made by hand, they often lament about how it's pricier than something similar that was made by a machine. They just don't realize how much time, effort and workmanship goes into making the product by hand," she says.

"When they understand the true value and how each piece is unique, I hope Chinese people will spend good money on handicrafts, just like they buy a Louis Vuitton or Prada handbag."

Old craft, young learners

Among the performers at the expo were students from Qiangshu School of Maqiao town in Minhang district. Unlike the traditional lion dance where two people are needed to don a costume to perform, Maqiao has a miniature version called shoushiwu, which literally means "hand lion dance".

This art form originated more than 300 years ago as a popular street performance during the lantern festival, a major Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar Chinese calendar. In 2010, shoushiwu was recognized as one of the national intangible cultural heritages.

Besides teaching students how to perform this art form, Qiangshu School also offers classes on how to craft these puppets.

"Maqiao is home to the Qizhong Tennis Center. Every year during the Tennis Masters, our students would perform hand lion dances on the tennis court for guests from all over the world," says Gong Minying, a teacher of the school.

"When we first introduced the lion dance to the art class, children made lion faces with colorful clay. Once they opened up and used their imagination, the students created all kinds of forms and images that are so beautiful."

One major highlight of this year's expo was a series of classes given by inheritors of China's intangible cultural heritage, who taught visitors some of the basic skills required for their craft. Yang Qinghong said that it was not easy for artists to compress the fundamentals of complex handicrafts into one-hour sessions.

Craftsmen and young artists from the Shanghai University Art Academy also worked together to design programs that allowed participants to experience the fun and fulfillment of creation. By getting to work on something themselves, visitors got to experience the beauty and craftsmanship and fall in love with the heritage of China, Yang Qinghong adds.

Ancient wisdom

Huang Lei, a designer with more than 20 years of experience in building industrial tools, took his new company and business ideas to the expo. He named his company Muniuliuma, or "wood ox and flowing horse" in Chinese, which refers to the famous wooden ox invented by the legendary military strategist Zhuge Liang during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280).

Developed to transport army provisions, this mechanical creation was a fine example of the ingenuity of ancient Chinese engineering and woodworking, explains Huang.

To showcase this to the public, Huang developed a series of workshops where children and grownups could learn how to build small, articulated wooden models, albeit not as complicated as the famous wooden ox. In the past four years, Huang and his colleagues have taken these workshop programs to schools, communities and shopping malls.

"The best way to tell a story is to get people to experience it themselves," he says.

At the expo, Huang guided participants as they pieced together mortise and tenons joints using hot glue as part of the process of building the wooden models that came in different animal shapes.

"I am quite clumsy and not confident of working with my hands, so to make a rabbit model that can actually walk is a lot of fun even though there are only a few steps involved," says Zhang Lan, a participant of the workshop. "Also, you can take home what you just made so that every time you look at the rabbit, you remember the sense of achievement you got from building it."

 

Clockwise from top: Two students from the Qiangshu School in Maqiao of Minhang district perform the hand lion dance at the Shanghai International Hobbycraft Expo in December; visitors take a photo at the expo; attendees try out a product at a carpentry stall of the expo. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

 

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[A savior of waste gives used objects a new purpose]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/18/content_37428793.htm At another part of the Shanghai International Hobbycraft Expo, Ma Jiqiu's booth containing an eclectic range of items such as lamps, wall hooks and objects that he made from old fans, telephones, machinery parts and thermos drew a horde of curious visitors.

"I would like to buy a lamp for my new cafeteria," says a woman after consulting about the price and delivery conditions. "His design is unique and nostalgic at the same time. It will surely catch the eyes of some people at my cafe."

The 40-year-old Ma is, in his own words, a "waste collector" who got into the business of repurposing objects after his company went bankrupt years ago.

But he didn't just collect whatever people discarded - every object needed to be aesthetically pleasing by his standards.

"I didn't care how old an object was. I was more interested in the form and design than the age," he says.

When Ma first started, he would repair some of the items he picked up just to make them functional so that he could sell them at a better price, but he soon realized that too many of the items he collected could not be repaired. Reluctant to discard them, he decided to give them a new lease of life - as something else.

"I like to make lamps the most, because they make you feel warm, safe and they create an intimate ambience," Ma says.

Ma, who also works as a prop designer for films, named his workshop Save the Waste Studio, and himself "the savior of waste", because he believes it is his mission in life to give used objects a new purpose.

The most important objects that he has salvaged are electric meters. He even founded a private museum for them, the first of its kind in China.

Located at No 99 Donglin Street in the Sanlin old town in suburban Shanghai, the museum showcases 1,000 vintage electricity meters, which is only one-fifth of Ma's whole collection.

Ma says that these meters tell about the story of how electricity was developed, not just in Shanghai, but in human civilization, because they were made in 16 different countries. The first electricity meter he found was a delicate item that was covered in glass and made in the 1940s in Canada.

"I was struck by its beauty and design, but didn't know what it was," Ma recalled. "I was later told it was a 'fire meter', an old colloquial name for electricity meter in Shanghai."

Since that moment, Ma kept a constant lookout for these old meters. As there were hardly any people interested in this object, he managed to build up his collection quickly.

All the meters in his collection were salvaged in Shanghai. And the oldest was made around 1905. The majority of them were made between 1910 and the 1940s.

As his unique collection grew, so did his knowledge of the city. For example, he shared that it was through these meters that he learned about the opening of the first power plant in Shanghai in 1879 and the inaugural lighting up of 16 road lamps on the Bund in 1882, which marked the beginning of power supply in the city.

"Shanghai was the first city in China to use electricity. Soon after the technology was developed in the West, it was introduced to Shanghai," says Ma.

"With the introduction of electricity meters, electrical power could be measured, widely used and merchandized. These objects remind us of the past and the importance of electricity and saving power," he adds.

"These meters belong in a proper museum, but because there is no museum about electricity in Shanghai, I built one myself. It is my mission to keep these objects as evidence of the city's history."

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2019-01-18 07:40:19
<![CDATA[I don't own my phone anymore - now, it must own me]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427247.htm I didn't snap photos in the toilet stall. I didn't call my boss around 4 am. And I didn't blast music at top volume in our office.

My phone did. More precisely, Siri did.

Over half a decade ago, my cat knocked a glass of water over, splashing my phone - not enough to turn it into a brick, but enough to turn it into a lunatic.

Siri began giving herself commands. The volume, home and off buttons were unusable, although certain functions remained controllable. So, I used voice command to ask Siri to turn herself off.

Her answer was chillingly similar to that of HAL 9000, the sentient computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey - something like, "I'm afraid I can't do that."

So, I made an Apple store appointment.

In the meantime, Siri would randomly command herself to play songs at full volume in my work cubicle or during interviews.

The phone would take photos sporadically, including while in my pocket when I was in the restroom stall.

I can only imagine what people at the urinals thought when they heard "Click! Click! Click!" ... perhaps followed by my favorite song.

The day before my appointment, my phone starting blaring music at a restaurant just as the dishes arrived. My wife buried it in cushions. We scarfed our meal, and she took it home while I went back to work.

Several years ago, a malfunctioning phone was a problem.

In 2019, it's a disaster, as I realized last week when my splintered screen started coming off and the machine's guts started spilling out.

China's mobile internet development is so vast that phones are now crucial to every facet of life, from commerce to career.

My wife and I often count how many couples or friends are staring at their phones rather than each other at restaurants.

Four out of 12 people, including the two of us, were not on their phones at the last place we tallied.

It's easy to imagine they're ignoring each other for something more amusing.

Seemingly, many mostly are, often.

But today, it's impossible to know whether they're whimsically surfing the web between games or taking care of business - WeChatting clients, colleagues and bosses, paying bills, checking calendars and making appointments.

I recently cut out almost all entertainment usage of my phone since it started sending me screentime updates.

My screen time is down roughly 20 percent - to about six hours a day.

In other words, I'm using my phone for productivity or necessity for a quarter of every 24-hour cycle.

I spend my annual vacation in a treehouse in the forest in my hometown - a place without electricity, running water or phone reception.

It's a great break from the rat race, including its digital conduits.

But even a few days away from the machine while in the United States can cause problems with life in Beijing. I've emerged from the woods to find scores of messages, some of them urgent, when I intermittently access Wi-Fi in town.

I thought about this as I rode my e-bike to the fix-it shop on Wednesday.

I probably could have found a closer repair store - if my phone had been working.

Along the way, "phone zombies", staring at screens instead of watching where they were going, ambled around, forcing me to slalom around them.

It turned out several parts needed repair. The store didn't have the screen I needed.

"Oh no!" I thought.

"No problem!" the vendor said.

He whipped out his phone and ordered it delivered with a few taps of his finger.

"It'll be about 20 minutes."

Eventually, my phone was fixed.

I paid the 1,500 yuan ($222) bill - using WeChat on my mobile.

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2019-01-15 07:39:57
<![CDATA[This Day, That Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427246.htm Editor's note: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China.

On Jan 15, 1992, Shanghai Vacuum Electron Devices Co issued China's first B-share certificate, and one month later the shares were listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. At the time, B shares were only issued to overseas investors.

The issue and trading of B shares marked the entry of the local securities industry into the world market.

B shares were limited to foreign investors until February 2001, when authorities began permitting the exchange of B shares to domestic citizens via the secondary market.

In Shanghai, B shares are traded in dollars.

An item from China Daily on Feb 27, 2001, showed investors in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, filling in forms to open B-share accounts at a branch of Bank of China.

In recent years, authorities have made it much easier for investors to gain exposure to shares on China's stock market.

The government opened the Chinese mainland market through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect in 2014 and the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect in 2016.

Last year, global index compiler MSCI included China large-cap A shares on its MSCI Emerging Markets Index, marking another step forward for China's assimilation into the global financial marketplace.

In September, FTSE Russell, an index in London, announced that it would add the Chinese mainland's yuan-denominated A shares to its global equity benchmarks in phases, starting in June this year.

The long-awaited Shanghai-London Stock Connect is expected to be launched this year.

Under the link, Chinese companies listed in the A-share market will be able to raise money in London, while Chinese investors will be able to purchase shares in British companies, but the investors will not be able to raise fresh funds.

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2019-01-15 07:39:57
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427245.htm Rare bird receives a grand welcome in Beijing

The rare spotting of a European robin - native to the United Kingdom and large parts of Europe - near Beijing Zoo has surprised Chinese ornithologists. Crowned as the UK's national bird after a nationwide ballot in 2015, the robin attracted a large group of photographers and onlookers, who braved the cold to witness the majestic bird. A European robin was last sighted in the Chinese capital in 2014.

'Four generations under one roof' video goes viral

A video showing four generations of Chinese women has melted the hearts of millions across the world. The video begins with a child entering the frame and calling for her parent, who then appears. From child to parent to grandparent to great-grandparent, the video features four generations of the same family. It is part of a video meme challenge, which started on the short-video platform Douyin. A Dec 19 post on Sina Weibo from Douyin said one of the four-generation clips had gained 2 million likes.

A Swiss dictionary made in China

The first 13 volumes of a dictionary of Romansh, a language spoken in Switzerland, became available online at the beginning of December. The feat was made possible by outsourcing to China. The dictionary has existed on paper since the 16th century. The online version was typed in record time by six women in China, with the process taking about six months. "The digitalization had to be done in China. If we had had to do this in Switzerland or Europe we wouldn't have been able to afford it," Ursin Lutz, project director, said.

Check more posts online.

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2019-01-15 07:39:57
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427244.htm Tech: Sticker keeps fruit fresh for 14 days

Food waste is one the biggest challenges of modern times, with an estimated 52 percent of harvested crops going bad before reaching consumers. Now, Stix-Fresh, a Malaysian company, claims to have come up with a simple solution to the problem - tiny stickers that keep fruit from spoiling for up to two weeks. The stickers contain a special, all-natural formula - a mixture of ionized sodium chloride and beeswax - that slows the ripening process, keeping the fruit fresh and juicy for longer.

Travel: Wonderland with giant ice castles

Ice Castles is a 0.40 hectare castle in William Hawrelak Park, Canada. Complete with icicle ceilings and frozen thrones, it is a stunning Narnia-like place where visitors can take selfies against popular backdrops, including a throne room, a waterfall and inside an ice maze. About 9 million kilograms of ice is stretched into tall towers and tunnels. More than 20 workers started creating the castle in November, working icicle by icicle, and eventually using 10,000. The icicles are grown on racks that are sprayed throughout the night and left to freeze.

Culture: Highest piano concert in Himalayan

Earlier this month, Evelina De Lain set a world record for the highest classical concert when she played a grand piano at an altitude of 5,000 meters in the Himalayas. She performed Chopin's Nocturnes No 2 in E flat major and No 20 in C sharp minor during the 90-minute high-altitude performance. The 41-year-old musician lost the ability to move her hands properly 14 years ago as a result of repetitive strain injury. However, after an intensive therapy, she has regained much of her former dexterity.

People: Plants grow business in Hebei

Liu Zhenjian, 28, started his rural business after learning about methods of planting succulents. In 2016, he rented a greenhouse in Hengshui, Hebei province, and started from scratch, learning how to cultivate and maintain the plants, and developing a market for them. Now, the business has expanded to three greenhouses covering 6,000 square meters in total. Liu sells his products nationwide via the internet, social media and bricks-and-mortar stores, earning annual revenue of about 200,000 yuan ($30,000).

Theater: Films for Spring Festival holiday

Thirteen films are preparing to hit the big screen on Feb 5, when China will celebrate Spring Festival. Comedies are the most prominent offerings this season, followed by animations and science fiction. The latest online ticket sales figures from the box office tracker Maoyan show the films have already brought in 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) for the day. Chinese New Year is traditionally a time for family gatherings. This year's holiday runs from Feb 4 to 10.

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2019-01-15 07:39:57
<![CDATA[What's on]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427243.htm Shanghai Xinyi Chinese Chamber Music Group New Year Traditional Concert

Date: Jan 19 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai City Theater

Traditional Chinese chamber music was overlooked when modern styles such as pop and rock became popular after the launch of the reform and opening-up policy. In fact, many people consider the style to be out of date.

Dai Deyue, operating manager of the Shanghai Xinyi Chinese Chamber Music Group, aims to dispel such notions and to illustrate that the style has evolved through a series of fresh and revolutionary works.

The instruments used in the performances include a mixture of traditional Chinese and foreign, including percussion from South America.

Ning An & Yuan-Pu Chiao: J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations BWV 988

Date: Jan 19 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center

Born in December, 1976, Ning An began his musical studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Olga Radosavljevich and Sergei Babayan. He subsequently continued his studies under the tutelage of Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory.

He currently serves as the Artist-Teacher at the piano faculty of California State University, Fullerton School of Music.

Yuan-Pu Chiao was born in Taipei. He is a doctor of music at King's College London and a researcher at the British Library's Edison Fellowship. He is a well-known music critic and senior columnist in Taiwan.

Julien Brocal Piano Recital

Date: Jan 20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Winner of BBC Music Magazine's 2018 Newcomer of the Year Award, Brocal began learning piano at the age of 5 and first performed on stage at the Salle Cortot (Paris) at the age of 7.

He was spotted in January 2013 by Maria Joao Pires during a course at the Cite de la Musique (Paris) and she subsequently invited him to develop artistic projects at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel and become one of the founding members of the Partitura Project.

Since then, they have performed together at numerous concerts across the world, including with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra at the prestigious Chopin Festival, the L'Opera di Firenze in the Great Artists Series, the Sheldonian Theatre (Oxford, England), and Philharmonie de Paris.

Deutsche Philharmonie Bonn New Year's Concert

Date: Jan 26 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Poly Grand Theater

The Deutsche Philharmonie Bonn is highly professional, passionate and promising, with energetic and enthusiastic playing. Eager and intense, the orchestra presents itself on stage as one of the best free orchestras in Germany.

Its history makes it clear that this is not a simple symphony orchestra. Ambitious projects that have already found imitators, such as Music for All, are part of the orchestra's profile. Social projects underline the commitment of every one of the musicians.

The repertoire of the orchestra is diverse - symphony concerts with major symphonic works, such as Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, operatic productions, Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio, gala performances and crossover projects illustrate the orchestra's range.

Rhythm of the Dance

Date: National Center for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Date: Feb 6-10 - 7:30 pm

Rhythm of the Dance continues the Lord of the Dance and Riverdance legacies with a performance that combines Irish step dancing with toe-tapping live music and a smattering of Latin rhythms.

The show is an inspiring epic, reliving the journey of the Irish throughout history. Using modern art forms of dance and music, this richly costumed show marries the contemporary and the ancient.

Combining traditional dance and music with the most up-to-date stage technology, the show is a 1,000-year-old story delivered with all the advantages of modern stage shows.

Valentina Lisitsa Piano Recital

Date: Feb 14 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Valentina Lisitsa is the first classical artist to convert internet success into a global concert career in the principal venues of Europe, the US, South America and Asia.

She posted her first video on social media in 2007, a recording of the Etude, Op. 39/6 by Rachmaninoff. Her account has 346,000 subscribers and 147 million views with an average of 75,000 hits per day.

Her discography contains recordings of every piano concerto by Rachmaninoff, works by Chopin, Philipp Glass, Liszt and Scriabin as well as her latest CD Love Story - Piano Themes from the Cinema's Golden Age featuring major film music from the 1920s.

The Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn

Date: Feb 17 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

The Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn sets high standards with its stylistically assured versatility and its implemented ideal of chamber music.

The orchestra's principal conductor Ruben Gazarian expanded the standard repertoire in a remarkable way by enlarging the ensemble's symphonic scale and choosing compositions from the Romantic and Modern eras, as well as avant-garde pieces. He has worked successfully with renowned soloists such as Gautier and Renaud Capucon, Julia Fischer and Hilary Hahn.

In September 2002, Gazarian became laureate at the first Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, Germany.

Cellist Gabriel Faur has won several competitive events, such as the David Popper International Cello Competition in Hungary and the Johannes Brahms Competition in Austria, and has performed as a soloist and chamber musician.

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2019-01-15 07:39:57
<![CDATA[Creative block]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427242.htm A workshop of artisans in Tianjin is breathing fresh life into a traditional form of Chinese art printing, Wang Kaihao reports.

As the oldest artisan working at the Yangliuqing woodblock prints workshop affiliated to Tianjin Yangliuqing Fine Arts Press, Wang Wenda has been busy preparing for another Spring Festival.

Holding his self-made carving knife, day after day, 75-year-old Wang has been immersed in one of the most renowned Chinese New Year picture brands.

"Oh, it has been almost 60 years," says Wang, who seems to have hardly noticed the flow of time.

 

Yangliuqing woodblock prints of Tianjin are among China's most famous Spring Festival pictures. The making process includes (from top, clockwise) sketching the lines, carving the woodblock plates, printing in colors with water and ink, putting additional touches to the paintings and getting them mounted. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily

The Yangliuqing woodblock print has about 400 years of history, being founded in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The name, which literally means "willow is green", refers to a small town on the outskirts of Tianjin that is said to be the birthplace of this style of woodblock printing.

In 1958, when the country tried to combine the scattered artisans of the woodblock printing in a bid to save this endangered technique, a new publicly-owned workshop was established in downtown Tianjin. Wang was among the first to join the workshop in 1960.

"I was recruited as painter because I loved painting as a child," he recalls. "However, the carving department lacked people, and I was soon assigned to it."

He has remained in the role since then.

"It was difficult to learn how to accurately carve the lines at first," Wang says. "However, everything is fine with enough practice. There's no shortcut to hone such skills."

Traditional Yangliuqing woodblock printing has four processes: sketching the lines, carving the woodblock plates, printing with water, ink and pigments, and supplementary painting to create the halo effect, especially around human faces.

However, the procedure is highly time-consuming. Since only one color can be dyed at a time, it usually needs four or more plates to print one small picture, let alone bigger ones. Once printed, the picture will be aired for days to let the color dry, before applying the next one.

"No matter how small or large a picture is," Wang says, "we take no less energy."

After all, it is common for Wang to spend months creating one wooden plate, which is made of pear tree. The lumber has to be stored and dried for three years before it can be used.

After the plate is complete, the printing process itself can take up to a month for the picture to be finished and mounted.

Each artisan is in charge of one step in the whole process, a division of labor that is similar to the olden days.

Yangliuqing woodblock prints have abundant themes, which are inspired by literature, folk legends and myths, among others. However, the most recognizable are usually of auspicious symbols for the Chinese New Year.

A picture portraying a chubby baby holding a fish (yu) by a lotus (lian) is probably the best known symbol from Yangliuqing. It expresses the Chinese New Year wish, lian nian you yu, which means "there will always be some surplus year after year."

Historical records show that the Yangliuqing town and its surrounding villages were full of picture workshops during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

However, the early 20th century saw the arrival of the modern offset printing technique in China.

The popularity of offset printing grew, because it was easier and cheaper to produce pictures in larger quantities. Along with war and social upheaval, things looked bleak for the traditional printing method.

The most famous new year picture workshop in Yangliuqing town, Dai Lianzeng, which once served the imperial palace in Beijing, finally closed in the 1930s after 19 generations.

"If it was not the country's effort to save the craft of woodblock printing in the 1950s," Wang recalls, "it would be dead."

Still, the medium continues to struggle commercially. People's changing aesthetics may be a new threat to the life of Spring Festival pictures.

"Chinese New Year pictures were daily-use products in the old days," Wang says. "Now we have to improve the designs to make them appeal as art pieces. Only when we make them more exquisite, people are more willing to collect."

Reform has been underway since 2005, and a younger generation of artisans have joined the workshop. According to Kong Qing, a manager at the workshop, annual competitions have been organized there to encourage new designs and formats. Each year, two to three winning designs are turned into products.

"Veteran artisans and scholars will judge the blueprints to make sure the creativity does not go in the wrong direction," Kong says.

Guo Jinwei, 32, came here in 2011 after graduating from college. He is one of this year's winners. His new design mixes styles and themes that were often seen in imperial paintings and some former offset prints.

"Though my main job is to mount the pictures," he says, "I cannot restrict myself to one position. I have to frequently communicate with other people to get inspired."

More than 100 people have joined the workshop since 2005, but only around 30 have remained.

"Sometimes, we keep carving and drawing the same design again and again," says Gao Yan, 38, who is now a leading painter among the new generation in the workshop. "A layperson may consider it boring, but it's our job, like office work. Fortunately, it's a job that interests us."

Gao says he tries to add more shading and lighting effects in his designs to make the pictures more vivid - and even computer-aided design has been introduced to the process.

However, some cultural anthropologists have denounced such evolution, arguing that only the original styles, which look rough, can represent Yangliuqing.

"When more and more privately-owned picture workshops come up again in Yangliuqing town, which follow our new style, I think our exploration to prolong the life of Chinese New Year pictures will get the required result," Wang retorts, although he confesses that the most popular pieces are still classic themes.

"No matter how creative we want to be, people still love lian nian you yu pictures the most, just as much as the first day I came here," he says.

The workshop has collected about 6,400 old Yangliuqing print plates. Wang says they will remain as the foundation of creativity no matter how time changes.

In the old days, the master craftsmen would always hide some "secrets" from apprentices, fearing they would nurture competitors, but Wang says he will pass everything he knows on to those that follow him into the trade.

He now has a 28-year-old apprentice, the youngest in the workshop whose name is Xi Wang.

Maybe it is predestined. In Chinese, xiwang means "hope".

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[Many elderly Chinese are taking up a new hobby - photography]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427241.htm HEFEI - Carrying his single-lens reflex camera, tripod and light blocker, Yang Dezhou is ready to capture the "dancing aunties" with their flying silk scarves against a blue sky in East China's Anhui province.

Yang, 71, is among the growing army of silver-haired photography enthusiasts in China.

In 2015, the retiree decided to revive his teenage dream of being a photographer.

According to data gathered from Chinese tech company Alibaba last October, one in 20 senior citizens on its shopping platforms owned a selfie stick. The elderly photographers spent 4,300 yuan ($630) per person on cameras in 2017, up 42 percent from the previous year.

"Photography helps me freeze the moments and strengthen my physical fitness. It's also a sort of social activity when I go out with my friends to take pictures," Yang says, adding that the hobby is an excellent way to spend his retirement.

Depending on his pension, Yang has spent almost 60,000 yuan ($8,770) on his two cameras and three lenses, let alone the costly online courses about photo editing and on photography books.

Yang says photography has dug him into a bottomless hole, but adds that it is worth the price.

"I made lots of friends with the same interest through the photography classes and social media platforms," Yang says, adding that they often go out to take pictures all day long.

"We just enjoy it."

Yang joined three QQ groups and four Wechat groups of the photography classes in a community college for the elderly. There are more than 400 people in a group at most, he says.

Not too late to learn

Wang Yu, 65, is among those who joined in on the photography craze. Every Wednesday, she takes a photo editing class in a nearby community college in Hefei.

When the pictures get imported into Photoshop, the students first have to press CTRL+J to copy the layer.

"Remember, J, like the Jack in poker," Wang recalls her teacher telling her class.

Wang always sits in the front, carefully following the teacher with her notebook full of the important points.

Elderly people may take time to adapt to new technology.

"But we work hard until we grasp it," Wang says.

As Chinese people's living standards improve and senior citizens' consumption increases, photography classes in universities for the elderly and community colleges have grown nationwide in recent years.

China's first university for the elderly in East China's Shandong province attracted over 10,000 senior citizens last spring. Photography was among the top three choices of the applicants.

A university for the elderly in Anhui has set up four photography classes, each with 45 students. Its students range from over 50 years old to more than 80 years old, with an average age of 65.

Retired public servants, enterprise employees and teachers are the most active in class, according to the university.

Click and smile

China had more than 241 million people aged 60 or above by the end of 2017, accounting for 17.3 percent of the total population at the time, according to official statistics.

It is estimated that the country's elderly will occupy about one-quarter of the population by 2030.

But the shutterbugs are showing their enthusiasm in embracing their youthful life - carrying heavy equipment on their trips to take pictures and staying up late to process their work.

"Many senior citizens have changed a lot after taking up photography as a hobby. They told me that they found a way to realize the value of life," Luo Shirong, a salesperson at a photography equipment store in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, says.

In recent years, Luo saw more and more elderly people buy equipment, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the store's sales.

Senior citizens in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong province, were the most active clients of online camera shops, according to Alibaba.

"Many older people followed their offspring by moving to a new city, leaving their old friends and neighbors behind. Loneliness became one of their biggest challenges," says Zhang Zhixian, 72, president of the Shenzhen photography society for the elderly.

"Photography helps them share a common language with others," Zhang says.

Founded in 2006, Zhang's photography association now has more than 1,400 members. Every month, the members take pictures of local senior citizens for free.

"We find joy in photography, and pass it on to others," Zhang adds.

Xinhua

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[A festival frozen in time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427240.htm Nadam celebrations showcase Inner Mongolia's ethnic culture and offer an ideal opportunity for travelers to explore more of what makes Hulunbuir a winter wonderland, Xu Lin and Yuan Hui report in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia.

Travelers bundle up so that only their eyes are exposed to the frigid winds - but their eyelashes quickly freeze. Not even hot water stays liquid at these temperatures. Visitors splash hot water into the air and watch it fall as snow and tiny icicles.

This is what makes Inner Mongolia autonomous region's Hulunbuir city a winter wonderland for about seven months a year.

 

The Inner Mongolia autonomous region's Hulunbuir celebrates the Winter Nadam Festival with performances. Photos by Xu Lin / China Daily

The celebrated summer retreat is luring more visitors during the cold season. Travelers explore its snowy landscapes, activities and ethnic culture.

Many are from the south, where snow is rare. They brave the chilly weather to build snowmen and stage snowball fights.

Over 17.4 million tourists visited Hulunbuir from January to October last year. They generated about 60 billion yuan ($8.83 billion) in revenue.

Hulunbuir recently celebrated the Winter Nadam Festival with performances of such ethnic traditions as horse riding.

The celebrations include activities with such themes as music, folklore, photography and outdoor sports.

Visitors can ski and fish, and ride dog sleds and snowmobiles.

The traditional festival - nadam translates from Mongolian as "entertainment" or "recreation" - features horse races, wrestling matches and archery contests. It's staged twice a year - once in summer and once in winter.

Hulunbuir is an ideal destination for carnivores. It's known for its beef, mutton and lamb chops washed down with salty milk tea.

Boiled beefsteaks are dipped in sauce with chives or served with potatoes. Lamb legs are smoked for three hours to absorb the seasonings.

Hulun Lake abounds with such aquaculture as white fish and white shrimp, which are often deep-fried. White mushrooms are harvested in August and September, and dried for winter.

Downtown Hulunbuir is two hours' drive from Manzhouli, a major land port on the border with Russia with a tax-free zone.

Manzhouli's China-Russia-Mongolia Ice Snow Festival will last until February.

It features 110 ice and snow sculptures illuminated with colorful lights at night. Visitors to the land port can purchase inexpensive Russian goods like chocolate.

Travelers visit the border gate, No 41 Boundary Monument and nearby Russian towns.

Matryoshka Square hosts a 30-meter-high building in the shape of a nesting doll painted with three faces - ethnic Han, Mongolian and Russian - looking in different directions.

The square also features over 200 smaller doll statues and ornate Easter eggs.

A nearby hotel is also shaped like a nesting doll and decorated according to the theme - lamps, doors and closets are all shaped like the toys.

A three-hour drive along the border brings travelers to Ergun, next to the Greater Hinggan Mountains and Hulunbuir Grasslands.

Twenty-one ethnic groups inhabit the city.

Scalloped domes and tent roofs dot the cityscape.

Many of the ethnic Russian locals speak fluent Chinese. They've preserved many of the traditions of their immigrant ancestors.

Many Chinese settled along the border when the Chinese Eastern Railway was completed in the early 1900s.

A gold rush between the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries lured Chinese miners to the Ergun River that forms part of the border.

Many Russians also came to the river during the period.

This history is portrayed in the local musical, The Love of Ergun.

It tells the story of a young Russian woman, who falls in love with a Chinese gold miner. They return to his hometown, Ergun, and wed.

It's a portrait of the marriages between ethnicities at the time. The fifth generation of their descendants live in the area today.

The city's Liliya Manor offers accommodation in Russian-style buildings and Russian dining and cultural experiences. Its founder, Feng Yuxia, is the second-generation descendant of a Chinese-and-Russian family. She makes khleb (bread) according to her Russian grandmother's recipe.

Locals in traditional Russian garb greet guests by observing a tradition of offering them khleb dipped in salt.

The manor's Khleb Culture Center showcases khleb culture. Visitors can watch hosts make the bread or make it themselves, and sample different flavors and shapes.

Indeed, the warmth of the locals is one of the many appeals that make Hulunbuir a hot destination in the cold season.

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[A place where reindeer reign dear]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427239.htm Visitors to one of China's chilliest destinations can enjoy scalding hotpot in the open air and flavored ice for dessert.

Some bold male visitors strip down to their waists for photos in front of ice walls.

Lengjidian in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region's Genhe city holds the record for the country's lowest recorded temperature - that is, -58 C in 2009.

The National Climate Center recently issued a certificate to Genhe city as China's lengji ("the pole of cold" in Chinese), after an assessment by experts.

Its mountainous landscape is sheathed in snow, and trees are coated with rime.

The nearest village to Lengjidian is called Lengji, about 13 kilometers away from the "pole". It draws visitors who enjoy farm stays, local cuisine and dog sleds.

The settlement was a forestry-operated timberland until the commercial felling of trees was banned in 2015.

A huge thermometer announces the temperature near the village gate. Winters hover around-40 C.

Genhe's Aoluguya Ewenki ethnic township is home to China's only reindeer-herding tribe. The animals were their main mode of transport until the 1950s.

The roughly 300 members of the local Ewenki tribal branch raise about 1,200 of the deer.

China became the ninth country to join the Association of World Reindeer Herders when Aoluguya became a member in 2008.

Villagers were relocated outside of the forests to protect the woodlands and improve their livelihoods in 2003. Many work in the tourism industry. Some still raise reindeer.

Visitors can enjoy bonfire parties, watch reindeer-sled races and learn about the herding culture.

They can also send postcards featuring reindeer from the Christmas post office.

Genhe city is next to Oroqen autonomous banner. It's said to be the birthplace of Xianbei, an extinct ancient ethnic group.

It's today home to the Oroqen people, another ethnic group with a small population in Inner Mongolia.

The Oroqen people in traditional attire perform shamanic rituals to offer sacrifices to the god of fire at the annual yisaren ("assembly" in the Oroqen language) ice-and-snow festival held between December and March.

Visitors can enjoy large ice sculptures, ride on horses with hunters (guns were banned years ago) and visit the Oroqen ethnic-culture museum.

They can also join such winter sports as horse-sleigh riding, hiking and a local version of soccer.

The Oroqen people make such household utensils as bowls from birch bark. This necessity has evolved into souvenirs for visitors.

The government supports the tradition's preservation and promotion.

"Tourists prefer birch-bark handicrafts made using traditional techniques, because they're stitched with horse hair rather than glue," says 37-year-old He Lei, whose aunt taught him the craft as a child.

"Worms won't eat them. And they're good for storing tea."

Visitors who make the journey to Genhe city and Oroqen autonomous Banner in winter will discover how its cold climate has shaped Ewenki and Oroqen cultures, and they can experience the warmth of its people.

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[Cold competitions in winter wonderlands]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427238.htm Driver Zhang Guoyu zipped across the ice to finish the 4-kilometer race in 2 minutes and 27 seconds to finish in second place.

Over 90 percent of the course was frozen-lake crust.

"It feels cool to drive on ice, especially when you speed up or drift," Zhang says.

"Many people couldn't imagine what it feels like to drive 300 kilometers per hour on ice."

Zhang was competing in the 2018 China Off-road Tour's final from Dec 22 to 25 in the Canglangbailu Winter Sports Base in Hulunbuir in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Zhang won second place in the professional category for the team, Runracing.

Over 120 drivers joined finals in various classifications, including public and women's teams.

COT founder Lyu Baokun says the tour chose to bring the event to Hailaar this year to diversify the platform.

The 2018 COT's final is a major event of the 2018 Hulunbuir Winter Heroes Club, which started on Dec 22 and will continue until March.

It'll host a dozen winter sports competitions and activities, including snowmobile cross-country challenges, Formula 4 ice demonstrations and winter swimming.

Over 100 contestants from China and Russia joined the Hailaar International Winter Swimming Invitational Tournament, also staged at Canglangbailu on Christmas Day.

The competition's fifth edition claims to be China's highest-latitude and lowest-temperature swimming event.

Contestants swam in a 20-meter long, 7-meter wide "pool" dug into the ice.

Ai Hua, a local who has done winter swimming for 10 years, believes it makes her tougher.

The Canglangbailu Winter Sports Base that opened in 2017 also hosts a 3,000-square-meter indoor ice-andsnow entertainment center.

Hulunbuir Tourism Group president Liu Changshun explains Hulunbuir has long been a favored summertime destination because of its cool climate.

"Winter tourism hasn't been well developed," Liu says.

"We want to promote the season. It has special elements. And it lasts from November to March."

Liu believes the ethnic folk customs and snowy natural landscapes are distinctive.

Hulunbuir will host the 14th National Winter Games in 2020.

It's building ski resorts and indoor ice rinks.

And Hulunbuir built an ice hotel last year, using over 8,000 metric tons of frozen water, Liu says.

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[Out on a limb]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427237.htm A People's Liberation Army artist finds himself in a book of Chinese art thanks to his inspiration - desert poplars, Jiang Yijing reports.

When artist Ji Youquan, who works for the People's Liberation Army, first went to Luntai in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region as a tourist in 1998, he says he did not think he would visit the county every year for the next two decades, least of all to make paintings of desert poplars, a member of the willow family.

"It was afternoon and I was on the way to Luntai with friends, when I saw the kind of tree that I had never seen before. My curiosity drove me to get out of the car and take a closer look," Ji, who was born in 1953, says, adding that they later found a Populus euphratica forest.

"The shapes of the trees under the moonlight drove my imagination. I thought some looked like old people while some like animals. The weathered trunks indicated how the trees had withstood strong winds," he adds.

Ji says he went deeper into the forest that day. He didn't return to the car until it was totally dark, making his friends wonder if he was lost.

When he got back to the hotel that evening, he learned that the tree is described as "the most beautiful tree in the world" in the Uygur language. It can survive tough conditions for long periods.

Han people refer to the tree "a hero of the desert".

Ji, who lives in Beijing, has visited Luntai two or three times every year for 20 years since to make ink paintings of desert poplars. He has developed his own style of art around it.

In June, the People's Fine Arts Publishing House released China's Contemporary Artists Album: Ji Youquan (Zhongguo Dangdai Mingjia Huaji: Ji Youquan) as part of a series on those who have contributed much to Chinese art.

"This tree is a symbol of our nation's spirit. It encourages us to be determined when facing obstacles. As a soldier, as well as an artist, I should tell people what the tree is like and pass down the spirit to the younger generations," Ji says.

"About 90 percent of the desert poplars in the world are found in northwestern China."

Painting desert poplars for 20 years has not been easy. Ji has had to overcome many difficulties.

For example, he has had to go deep into desert poplar forests, where he was bitten by mosquitoes, to observe and sketch the trees.

"There were times when I was too exhausted to stand up due to bad body aches after painting. But the interesting thing was that, as long as I went back to the forest and looked at the old trees, I felt good and could pick up my pen to draw the pictures again," Ji says.

He has walked along the Tarim River in Xinjiang several times.

Ji says desert poplars have supported him spiritually. Whenever he thought of their ability to bear hardships over centuries, he felt encouraged to overcome difficulties himself.

Ji was invited by a culture-and-art organization to join a Chinese delegation to visit the United States in 2013, when he painted in front of dignitaries and friends at events. He also held an exhibition on the first floor of the United Nations headquarters in New York and received praise from UN officials as well as ambassadors of different countries, he says.

He sent three pictures of his artwork to the UN office and the embassy of China in the US as gifts.

Ji's family name means "hope" in Chinese. This is much like the subject of his paintings, he says.

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[Dublin to hold Lunar New Year festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/15/content_37427236.htm

DUBLIN - The largest Chinese New Year Festival ever to be held in the Irish capital, Dublin, will be staged from Feb 1 to 17, organizers announced last week.

"Over 80 programs will be held throughout the festival, making this year's festival the largest in terms of the number of its programs over its 12-year history," Aimee Van Wylick, a producer of the festival, told at a media briefing.

Activities will include concerts, including one by Ireland's National Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with Chinese musicians, films, traditional dances, acrobatic performances, food fairs, and other Chinese cultural exhibitions and workshops. The event is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors.

As the 2019 Lunar New Year is the Year of the Pig, many programs are related to the zodiac animal, such as a comic book workshop on Pigsy (or Zhu Bajie, a character in the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West), a special pig-themed banquet at a local Chinese restaurant and a tour of Dublin City Farm, say organizers.

A number of landmark buildings and sites will be lit up red from Feb 1 to 5 to mark the Lunar New Year, which will fall on Feb 5 this year, they say.

Nial Ring, lord mayor of Dublin, says the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival has been a vital platform for celebrating the strong connections between Ireland and China.

"The strong and vibrant Chinese community in Dublin has added hugely to the cosmopolitan culture of our city. It is a major source of pride to the people of Dublin that our Chinese New Year celebrations are among the biggest in Europe," he says.

China's ambassador to Ireland, Yue Xiaoyong, who also attended the briefing, says the fact that Dublin's city council has held the Chinese New Year Festival for 12 consecutive years demonstrates the friendship of the Irish and Chinese people.

He says: "2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Ireland, a milestone for our friendship and a new beginning for our bilateral ties with a future brighter than ever."

In a message contained in a booklet about the festival programs, which was released at the briefing, Irish President Michael D. Higgins says: "In Chinese culture, the pig is a symbol of wealth, good fortune and prosperity."

He wishes all members of the Chinese community in Ireland a happy and truly prosperous new year.

Xinhua

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2019-01-15 07:39:35
<![CDATA[Rock of ages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/14/content_37426652.htm Reclusive Chinese musician Qiu Ye is ready to return to the stage with a younger, new-look band, Chen Nan reports.

When Chinese rock band, Zi Yue - or It Says in English - released their first album called The First Volume in 1996, the band's founder, singer-songwriter and bassist, Qiu Ye, could not have imagined the lasting influence his music would have on China's rock scene.

By 2002, when they released their sophomore opus, The Second Volume, Zi Yue had won themselves an ardent fan base throughout China that would remain loyal for the next two decades.

Qiu's music, which combines techniques from Western rock with Chinese cultural elements, such as poetry, dialects and folk tunes, as well as more than a little of his unique humor, clearly resonated with the nation's rock fans.

Songs such as Xiang Dui (Gaze), which was used as the theme track for popular Chinese TV series, Struggle, in 2004, and Guai Guai De (Be Good) in which Qiu blends Tianjin dialect, reggae and rap, to portray a dialogue between a father and a son, have distinguished the band from their peers.

So, fans will be thrilled to hear that, after a long hiatus, Qiu will return with a live show in Beijing on March 2. He says he has been waiting for an opportunity to return since his last concert in the capital in 2014, noting that the music might be a little different from what the audience remembers. The concert will also have a theme centered around Beijing, which is Qiu's hometown.

The singer-songwriter has recruited younger members in his band to join him onstage and to help him breathe new life into, and deliver updated renditions of, his old hits.

In his studio located in Songzhuang, an art zone in the city's Tongzhou district, a small stage has been set up in the basement and rehearsals will start within a week.

"I ask the young band members to play beyond the original scores. I want them to show me something more than just technique," says the 52-year-old singer-songwriter. "Each song is like a drama, and everyone in the band should be its director. That would be fun."

But Qiu says it is not easy to recruit new band members, "some people soon quit, because I ask for too much", he laughs.

"They have less experience of playing onstage, but what I value most is their imagination, their ideas about music and their courage to display them," Qiu adds.

Asked about the reason for his absence from the music scene, the singer-songwriter recalls he used to tour around the country but during one live show about 10 years ago, he forgot the lyrics in the middle of a song and had to ask the band to play it again.

"I wrote the song myself and I had performed it many times before that. It was a warning to me. I felt empty then," says Qiu. "I feel blessed because I wrote those songs, which I still feel proud of today - but I knew it was time to slow down."

It was around that time he decided to move away from downtown Beijing and into the suburbs, as well as halting work on the band's third album.

He occasionally wrote songs for TV dramas and movies, as well as expanded his creative outlets to include painting and directing theatrical dramas.

Since 2006, Qiu has annually released a new recording online, which is essentially a year-end review of major news and happenings. His latest song, reviewing 2018, will be performed at the upcoming concert in Beijing.

"Everyone has a different reason for making music, mine is that I have something to say. It's more like writing a diary rather than for any commercial reason," he says.

Before he embarked on his journey as a rock musician, Qiu made friends with other Beijing rock singer-songwriters, such as Cui Jian and Dou Wei. It was Cui's iconic 1986 song, Nothing to My Name, that inspired him to become a singer-songwriter and form his band in 1994.

He used to share a stage with Cui but, unlike Cui, who grew up in a musical family in the city - his father was ethnic Korean and a professional trumpet player and his mother was a member of a Korean dance troupe - Qiu started from scratch and taught himself the guitar.

"When I performed onstage with Cui for the first time, I was very nervous, yet thrilled," he recalls, adding that he missed those early days "because every day was new and fresh and I was curious about music".

Cui, who is considered to be China's godfather of rock 'n' roll, talks about his first time watching Qiu play: "In the 1990s, I watched his live show for the first time, which was a pleasant surprise. Nobody rocks like him."

In 2014, Cui invited Qiu to play a role in his directorial debut, Blue Sky Bones. A year later, Cui also persuaded the low-profile musician to participate in the popular reality TV show, China Star, aired on Dragon TV in November 2015. The show, featuring influential Chinese singers as both contestants and judges, including Cui, was produced by the Recording Academy and the China Recording Association and was hoped would be an effective channel for Sino-US cultural exchanges.

"It was not a competition to me, but a platform to perform, to let the audience know about the variety of China's rock music. I am grateful to Cui," says Qiu, who plans to give more live performances throughout the country in 2019.

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2019-01-14 08:02:14
<![CDATA[Creating a stronger connection with Israel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/14/content_37426651.htm JERUSALEM - Sino-Israeli cultural and trade-promotion activities were launched at the China Cultural Center in Tel Aviv, attracting many Israelis, on Tuesday.

The three-day event included a Sino-Israeli cultural-innovation roadshow, a cultural-and creative-product exhibition entitled China Style and a photography exhibition, titled This Moment in Pudong, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up.

China Style showcases the development of the country's cultural and creative industries in high-tech sectors, innovation capacity and market prospects.

Shao Peiran, a 12-year-old boy, displayed his oil painting, A Dream Within a Dream, which portrays goodness in a child's eyes.

This Moment in Pudong presents 30 pictures that demonstrate achievements in Shanghai.

It features business, culture, society and life in the city's Pudong New Area and the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. The Jewish Refugees and Shanghai exhibition and a Yue Opera class were also held.

The activities will enhance the two countries' practical cooperation in culture and promote the development of cultural and tourism industries, says Ren Yibiao, president of the National Base for International Cultural Trade (Shanghai).

These activities "are very good because Israeli people are not very familiar with Chinese culture", the Israel-China Friendship Society's vice-chairman Gal Furer says.

Cultural exchanges are increasing as relations grow stronger, Furer says, adding that he's happy to see more Israelis gaining exposure to Chinese cultural products. The event featured China's national intangible cultural heritage, pottery, silk, embroidery and tea ceremonies.

Xinhua

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2019-01-14 08:02:14
<![CDATA[New Jersey orchestra set for concert to mark Year of the Pig]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/14/content_37426650.htm The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will ring in the Year of the Pig at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey, in the United States, on Feb 2.

The NJSO, under the baton of its music director Zhang Xian, will present a broad range of music celebrating both Eastern and Western traditions, including premieres of Chinese composers Li Huanzhi's Spring Festival Overture and Tan Dun's The Triple Resurrection.

Separately, the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, which was launched in 1988 by dancer-choreographer Nai-Ni Chen, formerly a principal dancer of Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Company, will give a performance choreographed to the Humming Chorus from Puccini's Madam Butterfly. And the Peking University Alumni Chorus, the New York Festival Singers and Starry Arts Group Children's Chorus will join in the concert for works, including Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, the Anvil Chorus from Verdi's Il Trovatore, the Jasmine Chorus from Puccini's Turandot and traditional Chinese songs.

Speaking about the show, Zhang, who was born in Dandong, Liaoning province, and studied piano at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, from age 11, says: "Our first Chinese New Year concert is a big part of the NJSO's effort toward boosting community relations.

"Spring Festival is an opportunity to deepen our connections not only with the Chinese community but also with the general public throughout the state, coming together to celebrate a very old tradition."

Zhang moved to the US in 1998 to complete her doctoral studies at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, where she took first prize at the Maazel/Vilar Conductors' Competition in 2002 and became American conductor Lorin Maazel's assistant at the New York Philharmonic later that year, and the philharmonic's assistant conductor in 2004.

In 2016, Zhang was appointed music director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. And she became the BBC National Orchestra of Wales' first female principal guest conductor of 2015.

Before that, she was the music director of the Sioux City (Iowa) Symphony Orchestra from 2005 to 2007. She has been the music director of Milan's Giuseppe Verdi Symphony Orchestra since 2009.

When Zhang was preparing for the concert, she wanted to bring Eastern and Western music together. So the event mixes dragon dances, traditional Chinese folk songs, modern music and very well-known Western opera excerpts.

As for the two premieres, she says that the Spring Festival Overture is a classic piece and very popular in China. It was selected to be broadcast in space on China's first lunar probe Chang'e-1.

Meanwhile, the NJSO has performed many pieces by award-winning composer Tan over the years. And the Triple Resurrection will be a festive showpiece for two soloists of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra - concertmaster Eric Wyrick and principal cellist Jonathan Spitz - besides local pianist Min Kwon.

Speaking about the show, Chen says: "Musically, it will be very attractive for the audience; and visually, this concert will be very colorful and vibrant," adding that when people walk into the lobby of the concert hall, they will immediately experience the culture firsthand, with Chinese calligraphy, dancing, solo performances by young Chinese musicians and a children's choir singing Chinese traditional songs.

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2019-01-14 08:02:14
<![CDATA[Smiling at danger]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424727.htm In an oxbow lake along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, a breathy sigh pierces the surface stillness as one of China's most endangered animals comes up for a gulp of hazy air.

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China's finless porpoises face a fight for survival in and around the Yangtze River but researchers see signs of hope, Kelly Wang reports in Wuhan.

In an oxbow lake along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, a breathy sigh pierces the surface stillness as one of China's most endangered animals comes up for a gulp of hazy air.

A slick black back with no dorsal fin arches briefly above the water line before plunging back down.

Such glimpses of the shy Yangtze finless porpoise, the only aquatic mammal left in China's longest river and known in Chinese as the "smiling angel" for its perma-grin, are increasingly rare.

Pollution, overfishing and shipping traffic have rendered them critically endangered, worse off even than China's best-known symbol of animal conservation, the panda.

China's government estimates there were 1,012 wild Yangtze finless porpoises in 2017, compared to more than 1,800 giant pandas that are no longer endangered.

But researchers see signs of hope.

Porpoise numbers fell by nearly half from 2006 to 2012 to an estimated 1,040.

But the rate of decline has slowed markedly since then, suggesting that conservation may be making a dent.

A central component of the rescue effort is the introduction of porpoises to several conservation areas off the busy river, where researchers say numbers have actually been increasing.

Encouraging signs

Around 30 to 40 porpoises were brought to the Tianezhou Oxbow Nature Reserve in central China's Hubei province - a curving lake linked to the Yangtze by a stream - at the beginning of the 1990s. There are now around 80.

"We found out that the animals can not only survive, but also reproduce naturally and successfully at Tianezhou," says Wang Ding, 60, a porpoise expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"That's very encouraging."

Researchers also credit official clampdowns on polluting activities and overfishing, artificial reproduction projects, and growing environmental awareness among China's emerging middle class.

"The voice and supervision of the public have played an important role," says Zhang Xinqiao, the species' project manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Chinese officials are keen to avoid a repeat of the baiji, or Yangtze dolphin - the river's only other aquatic mammal, which since 2007 has been considered "functionally extinct" - which was a huge conservation setback for China.

Losing the "smiling angel" would be a further tragedy, conservationists say.

One of the world's few freshwater porpoise subspecies, it is considered a natural barometer of the overall health of China's most important river.

'River pig'

The finless porpoise is mentioned in ancient Chinese poems and has been considered a harbinger of rain.

Some locals call it the "river pig" for its plump body and rounded head.

Adults can reach two meters long.

Since China reopened to the world four decades ago, living standards have soared, but so have air and water pollution.

But in January 2016, President Xi Jinping called for a river protection push. Steps have included curbs on development, stricter fishing rules and other protection projects.

Later that year, a formal porpoise action plan was launched, including increased relocations away from the river, more reserve sites and research on artificial breeding.

The Tianezhou reserve, established in 1992, claims to be the world's first and only example of cetaceans - which include dolphins and porpoises - surviving and reproducing after relocation.

Local fishermen near the lake were encouraged to change professions and Wang Hesong, 46, became a patrolman at the reserve.

"Look over there, a mother and a baby," Wang says, as his pilot cut their patrol boat's engine at the sight of two arched backs breaking the lake's silvery surface.

The shy mammals quickly submerged.

"They only come up for a couple of seconds to breathe. We go out patrolling every day and we see them every day," Wang says.

The 21-kilometer-long lake offers sanctuary, but porpoises within the river face intense pressure.

The WWF's Zhang warns that the species' days in the river may be numbered.

"They have nowhere to hide in the river," he says.

"As long as danger exists, such as a further deterioration of natural habitat, it's very likely their numbers could drastically decrease again."

Clock is ticking

With the clock ticking, a research facility in the nearby industrial city of Wuhan hosts six finless porpoises for research, breeding and to engage the public.

Two of them gracefully circled past an observation window that looks into their huge tank, playfully tilting their bodies to catch a glimpse of the human visitors.

"They are saying 'hi' to us," says Liu Hanhui, a volunteer.

"I think they understand human feelings."

According to the WWF, adult Yangtze finless porpoises have the intelligence equivalent to that of a child aged between 3 and 5.

Just before feeding, they are coaxed to open their mouths on cue, show off their smiles and shake hands by extending a flipper.

Yet, they are difficult to breed in captivity.

A calf born in June at the dolphinarium - founded in 1980 - is just the second produced there to survive more than 100 days, whereas wild calves often die before adulthood due to human impact on their environment.

Liu, an aquaculture student at a nearby university, along with 40 other volunteers, helps feed them on weekends and holidays, and takes part in various activities to promote awareness.

Conservation programs and events in the region have proliferated in recent years, backed by scores of businesses and NGOs aiming to instruct the public and encourage greater government protection efforts.

"Our development has caused a species to rapidly disappear. I feel like I'm atoning for mankind's crimes," Liu says.

 

Visitors respond to the smiles of two finless porpoises at an aquarium in Yichang, Hubei province, in June. Liu Shusong / For China Daily

 

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[US woman plays major role in promoting Chinese culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424726.htm NEW YORK - Joe Sinicki would have mistaken Carrie Feyerabend for a Chinese performer, had he not watched her presentation of the Peking Opera classic, The Heavenly Maid Scatters Blossoms, at a recent show at the State University of New York in Buffalo.

"She did pretty well. If I didn't see her, I would have thought she was maybe a Chinese girl," says Sinicki, who is a fan of Peking Opera.

"It was cool. I liked it. It was very abstract. There's a lot of symbolism," says Sinicki, who was enthralled by Feyerabend's dance with shuixiu, literally meaning "water sleeves", one of the most skillful stunts in Peking Opera.

Shuixiu refers to the extra-long dancing sleeves attached to the cuffs of a costume, which are used to perform various movements. There are hundreds of gesticulations in shuixiu dancing such as quivering, throwing and wagging.

Feyerabend is an American artist from the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera at Binghamton University who joined her Chinese counterparts in the show, Amazing Chinese Opera, which was held during the university's International Education Week in November, an annual initiative to celebrate and promote international education and exchange.

Founded in 2009, the institute is the first such place in the United States to offer Chinese opera lessons through cooperation with the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts in Beijing, while supplying tools and support for teaching Chinese language and culture.

Regular shows

Brought up in Skaneateles, a small town in New York state, Feyerabend studied Peking Opera in Beijing and now serves as an assistant to the director of the Confucius Institute at BU and is the only US member of its eight-person troupe.

"I enjoy playing that role," says the 26-year-old, who's the Peking Opera performer, anchorwoman and artistic director of each show. "I like being behind the stage and helping people make sure that they have a good performance. I'm just so proud of the work that they do. It's fun to watch. Every single time they make it look effortless."

Apart from the onstage work, Feyerabend helps in designing the troupe's repertoire, including Peking Opera acts, Chinese folk songs and traditional music such as guzheng (Chinese zither) and dizi (flute). The troupe has staged nearly 100 performances in more than 30 US states since 2009.

In order to better entertain local audiences, Feyerabend and her colleagues look to develop a good mix of music and Peking Opera, and give variations of different scenes from opera plays while making an individual act no longer than 10 minutes.

Feyerabend has been working at the institute for more than three years. A large part of her job is preparation work to ensure that all is set for the troupe to perform across the country.

"It's an administrative role, so there's a lot of paperwork that goes on behind the scenes," she says. "Being able to help out backstage logistically is really great when everything flows and goes right."

Myth unveiled

"CICO is the one and only Confucius Institute named for Peking Opera among its counterparts in the US," says CICO director Chen Zuyan. "Our courses are fully integrated into the university's academic system."

All of CICO's courses are offered for college credits. Such courses cover Chinese culture, Peking Opera, Chinese musical instruments and Chinese opera stage combat.

Justina Baez, a biology sophomore who chose the Peking Opera face painting course, says she was "caught off guard" the moment her Monkey King mask painting was complete.

"I was like, 'Oh my God!' My face just transformed. How did that happen?" Baez says with a laugh. "It definitely takes you into another culture and I think that's really cool. Being able to embrace a culture that's not really yours through face painting - I really like it."

The significance of such classes, Feyerabend believes, lies in the fact that "they can fuel passion and also help mutual understanding develop".

CICO also holds outreach events throughout the year at large shopping malls and schools in other states, including Peking Opera shows, interactive workshops and exhibitions.

In a recent exhibition CICO held at a local high school in the state of Montana, where they interacted with a group of theater students, they extended the event from one hour to two.

The feedback of the local students impressed Feyerabend. Some students told her they would share the new skills with their parents.

"So it's a good way to inter-generationally share the culture and a more organic way than just sitting in a classroom."

Resources beyond

Despite her major in Spanish at BU, Feyerabend chose to learn Chinese, because, as she put it, "it was a difficult language" and she wanted to challenge herself.

Standing out for her excellence, CICO picked Feyerabend to participate in Chinese Bridge, or the Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, three times, from which she obtained two opportunities to study in China.

The second time she participated in it was in the beginner's round in her sophomore year, and she won first place and gained the opportunity to go to China to study Peking Opera at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts in Beijing for a semester.

"I could feel myself growing both in my speaking and in my stage presence," she says.

Later, she won the senior-level round in the US, then went to compete in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan province, to finally win a Confucius Institute scholarship, through which she ended up studying at Xiamen University in East China's Fujian province.

According to Feyerabend, learning Chinese culture has not only facilitated her interactions with Chinese people, but also helped her connect with people from all over the world.

"It's definitely an interesting point of conversation, especially with Chinese co-workers and people that I've met," she says.

"I personally try to live by the guideline that you can't judge a book by its cover. You never know what's lying underneath.

"The only way to know is to have conversations with people, get to know their story and get to know their background."

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[Country music]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424725.htm A concert at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing on Friday brought together several bigname artists, including internationally acclaimed pianist Lang Lang, pop singer Xu Wei, ballet dancer Qiu Siting, percussionist Zhang Yangsheng and violinist Lao Li. But the real stars of the show were children like 10-year-old Wang Xinyao, who comes from a rural part of Xiongxian county, which is now part of the Xiongan New Area in northern China's Hebei province.

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A charitable program is laying the foundation for arts education in Xiongan's rural areas, Liu Xiangrui reports.

A concert at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing on Friday brought together several bigname artists, including internationally acclaimed pianist Lang Lang, pop singer Xu Wei, ballet dancer Qiu Siting, percussionist Zhang Yangsheng and violinist Lao Li. But the real stars of the show were children like 10-year-old Wang Xinyao, who comes from a rural part of Xiongxian county, which is now part of the Xiongan New Area in northern China's Hebei province.

Xinyao sang her favorite song, You Raise Me Up, which she believes echoes to her own story of a girl from the countryside, empowered by a once-out-of-reach education in the arts.

Only five months ago, Xinyao hadn't received any professional arts training and could only sing some off-pitch children's songs. That was all she had been taught in her school's music classes.

She has since learned to read music and can perform more complicated songs like the classic folk tune, Jasmine Flower.

"Singing has made me more confident," says Xinyao, who has joined her school's newly founded choir. "I dream of becoming a music teacher so that I can teach others what I've learned."

The concert was livestreamed on nearly 20 popular platforms to encourage children who love art, especially those in rural areas, to show their talents and chase their dreams.

The event co-organized by tech company Tencent and the Beijing Hefeng Art Foundation enabled Xinyao and other rural children to realize their dreams of performing on a national-level stage.

Hefeng and Tencent brought professional teachers from Capital Normal University to Xiongan and offered weeklong intensive training to 700 local art and music teachers in July 2018.

The classes were livestreamed to teachers in other rural regions, too.

"These trained teachers are like seeds. They can help spread quality arts education to many students in rural areas," Hefeng's founder and honorary chairman Li Feng says.

Li has been dedicated to promoting quality arts education in the countryside for about six years.

He believes the arts can inspire children, and stimulate their imagination and creativity while boosting their confidence.

Quality education in the arts is common in cities. But it's rare in China's vast countryside, where he estimates about 60 million children have no access to quality music and painting classes, due to a lack of proper spaces and teaching personnel, and the presence of exam-oriented education.

His foundation has brought training in fine arts, dancing and music to rural students across China.

"All they need is an opportunity," Li explains. "You notice how an education in the arts changes them."

Li's foundation and Tencent decided to partner to launch the campaign a year ago.

"As an internet-based company, Tencent hopes to make its own contribution in this field," says Cheng Wu, vice-president of Tencent.

"With professional institutions like Hefeng, we can explore new models of 'internet plus art education' by using new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to let the seeds of art be sown in more rural children's hearts."

They surveyed over 300 primary and middle schools in Xiongan as a pilot area. They then proposed a comprehensive solution based on common challenges, such as shortages of class content, qualified instructors, hardware and stages.

They've focused on training teachers instead of training students directly, as has been tried before.

The program takes advantage of Tencent's technologies and music and video platforms to maximize the training's coverage, with online classes featuring top performers, such as one by Lang Lang.

The charitable program has also engaged a number of high-level art institutions, such as the Central Conservatory of Music and Capital Normal University in Beijing.

A volunteer team from Capital Normal University's music college provides online tutoring for teachers and students every week, including web classes and teacher assistance.

The recent concert was a good example of the campaign's achievements.

Three choirs of students from schools in Xiongan performed choruses. Other kids performed ballets and piano music, while accompanied by a professional symphony and performances from superstars.

"Regional economies' uneven development makes it harder for rural children to access music, but their passion for it is as strong as anywhere," says Li Gang, deputy dean of CNU's music college, who often travels to Xiongan for the program.

"I was delighted to find that - despite insufficient resources - the teachers and children can create choirs and perform on a par with their urban peers after proper teaching and training."

 

 

Zhao Chencong, a student from the Duancun primary school in rural Xiongan, Hebei province, performs onstage with professional ballet dancer Qiu Siting. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[Immersed in virtual archaeological sites]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424724.htm China's first immersive virtual-interactive teaching laboratory for archaeology was recently built by Northwest University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, in Northwest China.

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Students at Northwest University can now use VR to visit and explore ruins and tombs while still in classrooms, Lu Hongyan reports in Xi'an.

China's first immersive virtual-interactive teaching laboratory for archaeology was recently built by Northwest University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, in Northwest China.

Through virtual reality, students at the university can "visit" archaeological sites while sitting in classrooms.

The laboratory was founded with the support of the Tang Zhongying Foundation.

This is the first archaeological teaching lab in a domestic university that uses VR to reproduce archaeological scenes and provide users with immersive and interactive experiences.

In the VR lab, where excavation sites can be reconstructed, students wearing equipment such as VR helmets and goggles can feel as if they are in a location that is being simulated.

They can observe the features of various ruins and grasp the basic procedures and methods of archaeological investigation and excavation.

Archaeology is a discipline that emphasizes the combination of theory and practice. Practice plays a key role.

However, the opportunities for students to participate in practical training and go to archaeological sites or museums are relatively limited.

The traditional two-dimensional classroom-teaching method of using pictures and words also makes it difficult for students to get intuitive experiences.

With the help of VR equipment, students can have a better grasp of the knowledge in books.

"In the immersive virtual-interactive teaching laboratory of archaeology, we can model the actual data collected from ruins and tombs, allowing students to experience them personally," says Ma Jian, deputy head of the School of Cultural Heritage of Northwest University.

"This can help students intuitively understand the characteristics of the different types of relics, describe the texts and pictures in the books more vividly, and gain a more detailed, more intuitive and three-dimensional understanding of them."

Teachers can vividly explain archaeological or historical knowledge in virtual spaces without being restricted by time and space. They can also get field-excavation practice.

One of the advantages of VR is its absolute security. It doesn't damage relics or threaten personal safety.

"This is a major innovation in the teaching methods and concepts of archaeology," Ma says.

Xi Tongyuan, head of the laboratory and a teacher of the School of Cultural Heritage of Northwest University, says that his school planned to introduce archaeology, relics protection and other courses into the system.

"In fact, not only archaeology but also geology, history and other disciplines can use this to enrich teaching," Xi says.

The laboratory makes full use of the advantages of Northwest University in the fields of archaeology, geographic information and computer science.

It extracts and condenses the existing technologies and achievements, draws extensively on the latest research results of digital cultural-heritage protection at home and abroad, and further improves the level of Northwest University in heritage protection and research.

 

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[Mandarin education in Uganda makes progress]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424723.htm WAKISO, Uganda - While singing traditional Chinese folk songs and giving kung fu performances, Uganda's first batch of Chinese-language teachers celebrated their graduation in Wakiso on Dec 20.

A total of 33 teachers graduated, 29 of whom passed proficiency Level 4, meaning that they can easily communicate in Mandarin without the help of an interpreter.

They will teach Chinese in secondary schools. Their graduation laid the foundation for the language's teaching in the East African country on a large scale.

"We have learned a lot about Chinese culture," says Jackeline Akello, who's one of the new teachers.

Qian Mingmin, one of the Chinese instructors, says the students have acquired the necessary skills for teaching Chinese in local schools.

She says they'll do follow-ups on the new teachers after they are assigned to their posts.

When schools open for a new term, the 33 teachers will teach Chinese in their designated schools. This will also start Chinese learning as the sixth language in the country's secondary-school curricula.

Grace Baguma, director of Uganda's National Curriculum Development Center, says another group of 40 language teachers from 40 different schools will be trained for nine months.

"We have the syllabus ready. Instruction materials are ready, and now the teachers have been trained," says Baguma, adding that by the end of the next four years, more than 60,000 students will have learned how to speak Mandarin.

Oswald Ndoleriire, Ugandan director of the Confucius Institute at Makerere University, says the university will roll out a bachelor's degree program on Chinese and Asian studies starting in 2019, a move aimed at encouraging the study of Chinese and Asian cultures.

He adds that a master's program in Chinese and Asian studies as well as one in Chinese-language teaching will be unveiled soon.

"We all know the great strides that the Asian continent has made and how much we can learn," Ndoleriire says.

Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of the Ugandan parliament, says in a speech read on her behalf at the graduation that Uganda needs to place itself strategically as China and Africa deepen cooperation, and prepare its personnel in both government and the private sector to be fluent in Chinese.

"This is a key way we can strengthen Uganda-China friendship and ably negotiate for better opportunities, especially in trade and investment, social interactions and mutual cooperation," Kadaga says.

Zheng Zhuqiang, China's ambassador to Uganda, says that there is an urgent need to break the language barrier as Uganda deepens its economic ties with China.

"While many Chinese in Uganda can speak English, it is difficult to find a Ugandan who can speak Chinese well," Zheng says.

"To narrow this deficit and cater to Ugandans' needs of learning Chinese, the Chinese government supports both sides in making this training a success."

 

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[Colleges serve potato dishes for poverty relief]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424722.htm LANZHOU - Apart from book donations and volunteer teachers, Chinese college students now have a new way to support China's poorer regions - by gobbling their potatoes.

Northwest China's Gansu province has supplied 1,000 tons of "poverty-relief potatoes" to the canteens of a number of Chinese universities in a new poverty-reduction campaign that started in 2018.

The universities bought potatoes directly from farmers in Dingxi, a city known for using potato farming to alleviate its grinding poverty, according to the province's education department.

By leaving out middle dealers, the farmer-canteen deals ensured a decent price for potato growers and helped support the livelihoods of nearly 800 farmers living in poverty.

The supply of potatoes is expected to help budget-conscious canteens, which are supposed to keep prices low for students, withstand the vegetable price rise in winter.

Dingxi, with its barren lands, had long been listed as one of China's poorest regions before it rose to become the country's major potato-production base.

China is endeavoring to make potatoes one of the country's staple foods to better ensure food security and improve farmers' incomes.

The spud known as the "foreign yam" in many parts of the country is credited for its nutritional value and resistance to drought, making it an ideal crop for rainless, impoverished rural parts of western China.

According to agricultural authorities, China will have more than 6.67 million hectares of potato fields, 30 percent of which can be processed into staple foods, by 2020.

Peking University and Tsinghua University among others have joined the program, according to Gansu's education department. Another 2,000 tons will be delivered.

To promote the popularity of such potatoes, canteens of 10 patron universities will open special windows for potato dishes, giving them the ability to sell more than 3,000 tons of potatoes a year, according to officials in Gansu.

"We make the potatoes into stir-fried shredded potatoes as well as french fries during breakfast," says Xu Zongdong, a canteen manager at Lanzhou City University in Gansu.

Xu says the potatoes are high-quality and low-price.

"The potatoes are popular among our students. The potato dishes often sell out."

 

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[Prof aspires to build local equivalent of KFC]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/09/content_37424721.htm

NANJING - Why would a Chinese nutrition professor start a roasted-chicken business with ambitions to turn it into a chain as popular as KFC?

Huang Ming's restaurant in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, is called Professor Huang. Customers sometimes have to wait in long lines to buy menu items such as roasted chicken or salted duck. The store's logo is a cartoon image of a scholar wearing glasses. The image is based on the likeness of its founder, the 48-year-old professor of the College of Food Science and Technology of Nanjing Agricultural University.

Huang began working at the university after receiving his PhD there in 2003. His field of research was meat processing and quality control.

"I noticed that many people buy cooked meat, such as roasted chicken, on the street, although they are aware that the food may not be very healthy due to excessive additives," says Huang.

When he was still an associate professor in 2009, he got the idea to transform his laboratory findings into food production, in the hope that people can enjoy safe and delicious meat products. He started by acquiring a food company on the verge of bankruptcy in Nanjing. He ran the company with his expertise in raw-material selection, food processing and preservation.

Huang opened his first restaurant outlet in the city, which soon became popular, six years later. Now he owns more than a dozen chain stores in Nanjing that are capable of churning out 30,000 roasted chicken pieces a day, with sales of 35 million yuan ($5 million) in 2018.

The government gave a clear signal in 2017 to encourage university staffers like Huang to become entrepreneurs. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security issued a document and proposed measures to support professionals to work part time or establish enterprises. With government incentives, Huang is confident in expanding the chain to other cities, including Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. He also plans to open outlets abroad.

"Americans like to eat chicken, and Japanese share a similar food culture with Chinese. There's no reason to miss these markets," Huang says.

"Some people raised their doubts about me not attending to my proper duties at the school in the first few years. But the food-industry experience produces findings and inspiration to assist in research."

Huang says he encountered problems in the food business that cannot be found in labs, and this has helped him produce more papers and patents. In his research, he tackled how to ensure the quality of cooked food without preservatives and how to maintain the flavor of meat with less salt and MSG.

He says he and his teammates have also invented an automatic oil-water-separation frying mechanism that can reduce possible harm caused by fried foods.

In the third year of his business, Huang obtained a professorship for his achievements in helping his graduate students win honors and publish papers in international journals.

In November, Huang's enterprise was designated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs as the National Center for Research and Development of Poultry Meat Processing Technology. His entrepreneurship was also awarded by the Ministry of Education.

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2019-01-09 07:45:53
<![CDATA[Stamp of approval]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/08/content_37424048.htm Veteran artist Han Meilin is full of festive cheer after designing a Lunar New Year stamp collection for the third time, Wang Kaihao reports.

At the grand age of 83, Han Meilin, who still has dark hair and a 1-year-old son, continues to prove that, despite his advancing years, he remains full of youthful vigor.

The Year of the Pig is coming, and Han, as one of China's most recognized living artists, is ringing in the Chinese New Year a little bit earlier.

 

More than 600 artworks created by Han Meilin (pictured above, front) are presented at the Palace Museum ahead of Spring Festival this year. Twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, including the horse and the monkey, compose the main theme of the exhibition. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

He is presenting no less than 600 new artworks in a show entitled Han Meilin: Chinese Zodiac Art Exhibition, which opened to the public on Sunday at the Hall of Literary Glory in the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City.

The Palace Museum was China's imperial palace from 1420 to 1911, and now houses 1.86 million cultural relics.

The opening marked the beginning of the 12th month of the lunar calendar, kicking off the Chinese New Year season.

He announced at a news conference in December that this solo exhibition would have 300-plus exhibits, but, by opening day, the number had doubled.

Han kept working up until the very last moment, with some exhibits signed with the date "Dec 30, 2018".

"In the past 40 years, my art has traveled around the globe," Han says. "Now, it's time to be shown at home. The Palace Museum is the biggest home for traditional Chinese culture. I'd like to share my work with the people and celebrate Spring Festival together with them."

Han has spared no effort to showcase his versatility in the name of spreading auspicious omens in this artistic shrine. The 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac are turned into colorful and highly expressive images in his hands and through diverse forms, including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, porcelain ware and furniture, among other media.

They combine to reflect the circle of life, a main theme not only for this exhibition, but also for nature.

"In spite of my age," Han says. "I don't want to get myself restrained. I always keep an open mind to various art forms."

He even implements three-dimensional printing to portray the abundant world in his mind.

Nevertheless, he still struggles for inspiration sometimes.

"Pigs look plain," Han says. "It's challenging to design abundant appearances for it."

However, once he begins to look for inspiration in Chinese folk art, the colorful grassroots aesthetics open like a water tap.

"My ideas just keep flowing," Han says. "Only when an artist is willing to go down, the artistic level can go up."

Han has stated for a long time that he was, for decades, a humble student of a folk artist from a rural area in Shaanxi province.

The difference is, he introduces techniques of classic calligraphy and water-ink paintings in his folk art world. For instance, he uses a marker pen as a major drawing tool, which, of course, is not a traditional medium for a Chinese painter, meaning that he has cut links with any established format before his time.

"We don't necessarily need to see his signature to recognize his work," Wang Yong, a researcher of Chinese National Academy of Arts, says.

"One of the most distinguishing features of his art is his imagination that typically belongs to a child. He is an honest man who always seeks love and beauty from his daily life."

For the upcoming Year of the Pig, Han has drawn 1,600 scripts. Following his typical style, Han uses exaggeration to omit some details of pig bodies, replacing them with decorative patterns.

"In Chinese traditional culture, the pig represents harvest and prosperity," the artist explains. "There is almost no Chinese folklore in which the pig is a miserable character."

He says his scripts can be widely used on different occasions other than the exhibition.

A batch of new year souvenirs have been developed with his pig prints, ranging from calendars to napkins and even lollipops.

However, the most important pattern Han has created is no doubt the one which is to be used on a new set of Chinese zodiac stamps. Since 1980, China annually releases such stamp collections, and Han is the only artist who has been invited to design them three times, with his designs also included in the collections of 1983 and 2017.

He depicts a chubby pig with a happy face in one stamp to indicate people's pursuit of a prosperous life and future. In the other stamp, he has designed a family portrait - the parents and three piglets - to present family union.

"Meilin adopts personification to paint animals," Chen Lyusheng, a researcher at the National Museum of China, says.

"Even animals like mice and snakes, which usually have an unfavorable impression among people, can be embodiments of beauty in his paintings. Indeed, love has no classification.

"Besides, the paintings show his temperament and spiritual world. One can't help feeling Meilin is never old," Chen says.

Han lived a hard life during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), but the years of being tortured and imprisoned did not twist his humanity, Wang, the researcher, adds.

"He never complained," Wang says. "Instead, he had grown a more fervent desire for kindness and became more caring for all living beings."

It was that spirit which encouraged Han to begin a tour project, "caravan of art", promoting his new explanation of Chinese folk art as soon as the nation's reform and opening-up began to usher in a new epoch for China.

Han held exhibitions in 21 cities in the United States in 1980, during which he was awarded the key to the city of San Diego as an honorary citizen, while Manhattan in the city of New York, declared October 1, 1980, as Han Meilin Day.

Foreigners are most probably familiar with at least two of his creations: The phoenix-shaped logo of Air China and the five Fuwa mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In 2015, he was named the UNESCO "artist for peace" in recognition of his long-term commitment to promoting art and artistic education in China, and his support for providing quality education to young people. In 2018, the International Olympic Committee also bestowed upon him the Coubertin Medal - a distinction awarded to those who exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship in Olympic events or through exceptional service to the Olympic movement.

Han's work can also be found among the collections of overseas institutions, including the British Museum, the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Institut de France and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.

Still, Han vows he has "a Chinese heart" despite his frequent travel and strong relationships overseas.

"Well, can you see anything exotic in my work?" he asks, smiling. "Everything is still made up of basic Chinese elements.

"I can drink foreign liquors, wear foreign suits or drive foreign cars. But my eyes are always black. Nothing can change that."

Choosing the Chinese zodiac as the topic of his new exhibition is "a humble student's way back and a report to the mother country's culture", Han says.

Feng Jicai, an author and Han's friend, says: "The zodiac is a cultural totem for Chinese people. Everyone was born under an animal of the zodiac, and they will have certain emotional connections with that animal throughout their lives.

"It also reflects our ancestors' worship of nature in ancient times," Feng continues. "When looking at Han's work, every one of us can see a story concerning ourselves."

Ten artworks in the ongoing display will become part of the Palace Museum's permanent collection, Shan Jixiang, museum director, says.

"For artifacts from modern times," the director adds, "we only collect the most representative works of top masters."

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2019-01-08 07:39:08
<![CDATA[A truly revolutionary painter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/08/content_37424047.htm The late Cantonese artist Li Tiefu (1869-1952) once said, "All my life, I've had two passions: revolution and art."

Li, who died nearly seven decades ago, is less well-known today since he spent half his life in North America and remained distant from art communities.

But he was a pioneer of Chinese oil painting. He was among the first Chinese to receive academic art training overseas.

Li was also a revolutionary.

He helped finance the work of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1926), who was three years his senior and also hailed from Guangdong province.

Li helped establish North American divisions of influential unified groups that Sun had co-founded, such as Xingzhong Hui (Revive Chinese Society) and Tongmeng Hui (United League).

The One Beyond the Ordinary, an exhibition running at the Art Museum of the Beijing Fine Art Academy, portrays Li's creativity and patriotism.

The exhibition, which runs through Sunday, shows Li's oil paintings and ink works. Most are on loan from the collection of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, where Li became an honorary professor two years before he died.

Li joined the large diaspora from Guangdong, who moved overseas in hopes of better lives earlier.

He was sent to live with his uncles in Canada at age 16.

Li attended a fine arts college in the country.

He moved to the United States in 1905 and continued to improve his painting skills at several stateside art schools.

The painter studied under renowned US artists John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, who taught him European art's classical traditions.

Li's oil works and watercolors demonstrate meticulous brushstrokes and refined color schemes.

He also imbued his works with the serenity and poetry of Chinese sensibilities.

"Anyone who sees Li's paintings will find the brushwork stunning," the Beijing Fine Art Academy's art museum's director, Wu Hongliang, says.

"He's undoubtedly China's first career oil painter."

Li became a member of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1916 and began to exhibit regularly.

As his art career took off, he also devoted himself to assisting Sun with his revolutionary activities in North America and funding for Sun's mission to end monarchy in China.

Li had been one of Sun's first supporters, starting in the early 1900s. He aided the establishment of Tongmeng Hui's New York division and served as its secretary for six years.

He organized performances and plays, and directed films to raise funds to propel the idea of modernizing China through revolution among Chinese expatriates.

Li returned to Guangdong in 1931, after 46 years in North America. His homeland was facing war against the invading Japanese forces. He spent the 1930s and '40s traveling across the country to learn about his homeland's people and landscapes.

He mostly lived in Hong Kong to paint, teach and exhibit.

His many watercolor works created during the period depict Hong Kong's mountains, seashores and woods. Many of the scenes he depicted vanished as rapid urbanization transformed Hong Kong in the following decades.

Wu says Li received adequate education in classical Chinese literature and arts before going abroad.

He continued to study ink painting and calligraphy throughout his life.

"People who visited him in New York often said he practiced calligraphy every day."

Li revisited the subjects of tigers and eagles in his ink paintings between the 1930s and '40s. He rendered to the animals with an unyielding spirit he hoped to awaken in his people, when promoting Chinese revolution while in the US.

His art assisted his revolutionary development. And his experiences as a revolutionary in turn also developed his art, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts head Li Jinkun says.

Li Jishen, a statesman and one of the founding vice-chairmen of the Republic of China, introduced Li to others in 1944 by saying: "His art is his life. He cares nothing about fame or wealth. He takes little interest in socializing."

Li left a calligraphed couplet that's displayed at the current exhibition that shows pride in his aloofness: "My distant character makes it difficult for me to agree with mundane pleasures. I'm too leisurely to find enjoyment in the worldly hustle and bustle."

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2019-01-08 07:39:08
<![CDATA[More to explore]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/08/content_37424046.htm Five additional Chinese cities are providing 144-hour visa-free transit as of Jan 1. Erik Nilsson and Yang Feiyue look at what these destinations offer.

It's a matter of time for travelers to five Chinese cities offering 144-hour visa-free transit as of Jan 1 - and for the cities themselves.

Visitors can discover how more days mean more discoveries in these distinctive destinations.

 

Clockwise from top left: The UNESCO World Heritage site Gulangyu in Xiamen, Fujian province. The Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, Hubei province. The seaside in Qingdao, Shandong province. The Yunnan Nationalities Village in Kunming, Yunnan province. A panda-breeding center in Chengdu, Sichuan province. These are among the top attractions of the five Chinese cities offering 144-hour visa-free transit as of Jan 1. Photos by Erik Nilsson / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

These locations realize time is money. And travelers who linger longer speed up tourism growth.

The cities are Yunnan province's capital, Kunming; Hubei province's capital, Wuhan; Fujian province's Xiamen city; Shandong province's Qingdao city; and Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu.

They'll allow visitors from 53 countries to stay for up to six days without visas, provided they meet such conditions as presenting travel documents and tickets to their next destination country or region.

Chengdu has already opened an English-language hotline to answer questions about the policy.

And Xiamen will develop packages in English, Russian and Japanese for travelers who take advantage of the new rules.

The cities adopting the 144-hour policy join Shanghai, and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in southern China; Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province in the north; and Liaoning province in the northeast. These places have approved similar relaxations in recent years.

China Daily takes a quick look at what makes these newcomers worth taking a long time to see.

Kunming

Yunnan's "city of eternal spring" is where geology, ecology and ethnology converge.

Spires slice the skies of Kunming's stone forest like stilettos, often cutting people off from their sense of direction. (Staffers guide dozens of people who get lost in this otherworldly world to the exit every day.)

Visitors float on boats in the wetlands that soak Dianguzhen ancient town. The area is a tangle of walkways built over bogs and beaches, including a sandy strand that locals jokingly call "Kunming's Maldives".

The Yunnan Nationalities Village hosts houses built in the traditional styles of the country's 56 ethnic groups. Guests can join such performances as bamboo dances, in which they jump over poles clacked together at ankle-height - or, they try to, at least.

Wuhan

The ancient Yellow Crane Tower offers a bird's-eye view of Wuhan's futuristic cityscape from the Yangtze's shore.

Visitors can understand why it has been immortalized in the minds of modern Chinese by ancient literati like eighth-century poets Cui Hao and Li Bai.

The tower takes its name from a legend - versions vary - about an immortal, who rode said waterfowl to Wuhan's Snake Mountain.

Visitors stroll along the city's snack street to sample such fare as duck necks and hot-and-dry noodles.

Optics Valley's pedestrian street hosts random statues among European-style buildings frequented by cosplaying livestreamers. Think of youths in bear and soldier costumes roaming among sculptures of Spiderman and a giraffe fleeing a T-Rex.

Xiamen

"Piano Island" is Xiamen's key attraction.

The UNESCO World Heritage site Gulangyu hosts hundreds of specimens of the instrument. Many of the most impressive are housed in shore-side museum.

About 10 million travelers descend on the settlement of roughly 20,000 residents annually.

Visitors walk among its concession-era architecture. Cars are banned.

Travelers also take advantage of Xiamen's seaside location by enjoying seafood, swimming and kite surfing.

Tens of thousands of migrating egrets gather in Yundang Lake.

Xiamen University is a major attraction. Its grounds are like gardens. And the campus is flanked by the Nanputou Buddhist temple and Jiageng Park, a scenic spot dedicated to the university's founder.

Qingdao

Beer, boats and beaches conjure the allure of China's "sailing city".

A holographic scientist who throws drinks in your face and a "drunken-simulation room" make Tsingtao's beer museum an interesting destination to learn about the country's biggest beer brand.

The surrounding area is known as "Beer Street" and is the epicenter of the local drinking culture, including a massive summertime festival. Frothy mugs are typically served with plates of steamed clams.

Newlyweds pose for photos amid Qingdao's concession-era architecture. Couples snap shots in front of European-style castles that hug the shoreline.

Families watch seals dance Gangnam Style, feed dolphins and pet belugas at the polar-ocean park.

Indeed, it was for good reason the city where Laoshan Mountain crashes into the ocean was selected to host the 2008 Olympics' maritime Games.

The sailboats, cruise liners and yachts that bob in its harbors today nod to its nautical appeal throughout time.

Chengdu

The city celebrated for its tongue-tingling hotpot is itself a melting pot of allures.

Its primary attraction for most international visitors is black-and-white - that is, the world's largest panda-breeding base.

They also enjoy its other UNESCO World Heritage site, Dujiangyan's ancient irrigation system and Qingcheng Mountain.

Bookworms make pilgrimages to the thatched cottage of Tang Dynasty (618-907) writer Du Fu, to see how the "poet of the poor" literally lived up to his title.

The city of teahouses and mahjong halls is known for its leisurely pace.

It's indeed a place to go slow - and, now, visitors without visas have six full days to do exactly that.

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2019-01-08 07:39:08
<![CDATA[Ancient allure makes village a modern magnet]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/08/content_37424045.htm Luo Zhiguang is grateful to the village heads before him.

The Party chief of Tangxia township's Liangxi village says the people who previously occupied his post did an excellent job of protecting ancient buildings.

And that has made the small settlement a big tourist attraction with growing appeal.

Luo also guides an increasing number of government officials, experts and journalists, who visit the village of 1,600 inhabitants in the Pearl River Delta city of Jiangmen, Guangdong province.

"About 90 percent of the houses in the village were constructed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and the early period of the 20th century," Luo says.

"Liangxi is unique among other ancient villages in that its ancient buildings feature Western elements."

Traditional-Chinese rooftop carvings feature such motifs as dragons, phoenixes and fish, which symbolize auspicious meanings, such as longevity and happiness. But doors, windows and balconies hail to Western architecture.

"Most houses were built by Chinese who'd returned from the United States," Luo says.

The nearly 8-square-kilometer village is less than two hours' drive from the provincial capital, Guangzhou.

Visitors come to see its roughly 500 households, chastity arch, two ancestral halls, village walls and four former residences of famous locals.

An ancestral temple that honors clan elder Luo Gui features a statue of the patriarch.

He's said to have led his clan to the area when fleeing wars in northern Guangdong about 800 years ago. Most villagers still share his surname.

Visitors also explore the 20-meter-long Qingyun Road that's paved with flagstones that are over a century old. Another name for the main thoroughfare, pingbu qingyun, means "being promoted" in Chinese, so villagers will ceremoniously walk along the road before leaving to study or work outside.

The chastity arch in the village's center honors a widow surnamed Wu, who remained faithful to her husband who died when she was young. The 4-meter-high, 3-meter-wide arch was built in 1736.

The 2,440-square-meter ancestral hall built in 1707 is Liangxi's largest temple.

It was the main public building. Clan elders handled local affairs and mediated disputes in the building.

The village walls and diaolou - structures built on pillars - hail to the early period of the 20th century.

Liangxi also hosts a workshop that demonstrates how citrus tea is produced during the harvest season.

Pu'er tea from Yunnan province is placed into hollowed-out fruit and sun-dried.

It's the only industry in Liangxi - that is, aside from its growing tourism, which, indeed, bodes well for locals' livelihoods.

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2019-01-08 07:39:08
<![CDATA[Songs of love and life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/08/content_37424044.htm Chinese rock star Xu Wei has announced a yearlong tour with a new album, Chen Nan reports.

A painting showing a city at sunset - a message of peace and hope - is the cover of Xu Wei's new album, Shining On All.

He's one of China's most-popular rock stars. But Xu has rarely appeared in public after he released his last album, The Moment, in 2012. His new album was released online on Dec 26 and sold more than 50,000 copies in the first five days. Xu announced in Beijing on Thursday his 15-city tour with the new album, which begins in Shenzhen in May and ends in the capital in May 2020.

At the Beijing preview of his tour last week, he performed eight songs from his new album along with his band that includes his longtime friend and guitarist Li Yanliang. The band formed nine years ago. Fans from different parts of the country arrived ahead of Xu's show to take pictures and hoped to get a glimpse of the star.

"It's an album for live shows, which makes me feel strongly about myself. As I am getting older, the world is seemingly bigger and bigger to me," the 50-year-old says, with a shy smile.

"When we did the rehearsals last night, I told my band members that I feel happy and lucky that I can still write songs, release albums and tour."

Xu's own life - the ups and the downs - has inspired his music and lyrics.

"I am not good at making friends, and I am not a talkative person, so I spend a lot of time alone," Xu says.

"Inspiration can come anytime and anywhere, such as when I run near the hills by my house, when I brush my teeth before bedtime or when I take a train."

The 10 songs on the new album, all written and performed by Xu, including the title track, Only Love and Song in My Heart, are about nature, his family, the city and people and their emotions.

The singer-songwriter started to learn the guitar at age 16 after falling in love with rock music. He formed his first band two years later. He left his hometown Xi'an, Shaanxi province, and came to Beijing, which was considered the base of Chinese rock music, to pursue his dreams in 1994. But no record company was ready to release his works in those early days. So he wrote songs like Birds and Drifting that reflect his struggles.

For one of his early songs, Two Days, released in 1994, Xu wrote: "I have only two days - one for hope and the other for hopelessness."

With a contract signed with Beijing-based indie label Red Star, Xu released his debut album, Elsewhere, in 1997. It helped him stand out from the crowd of aspiring rock singers. He also worked with a range of singers, including Tian Zhen and Faye Wong.

But success didn't come quickly. The market for rock in China, then dominated by pop music, was very gloomy.

Xu didn't hold his first solo concert until he was 37 years old.

On Aug 13, 2005, Xu got his big break with a concert at the Workers' Gymnasium in Beijing, where he performed his hits such as Blue Lotus, Perfect Life and Gift in front of about 10,000 people.

"When the crowds sang along with me, I was amazed," Xu recalls. "It seemed that I had waited for that moment for a long time. I was nervous and thrilled."

But just as his music was beginning to be widely played on the streets and had become popular among people from different walks of life, Xu began to retreat to a slow-paced life. He cut his long hair, quit smoking and was drawn to traditional Chinese culture like tea art, calligraphy and guqin (a plucked seven-stringed zither).

"Music is a cure, which gives me strength and love," Xu says. "The meaning of rock 'n' roll is also different to me. In the past, I wrote songs to relieve emotions like anger and sadness. Now, I see rock as an expression of love."

His days of restless are over, too.

Xu once told a story to his friend, singer-songwriter Ye Pei, that Ye shared on her social media account last week after Xu's live show in Beijing to celebrate his new album. She wrote that one day, Xu noticed a migrant worker singing one of Xu's songs at a Beijing construction site. Xu sat down next to him and listened. Then the singer-songwriter started to sing himself.

"The worker told him, 'You sing just like Xu Wei'," Ye wrote in her post.

"Xu laughed and kept singing."

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2019-01-08 07:39:08
<![CDATA[Spring Festival concert in New York]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/08/content_37424043.htm NEW YORK - The New York Philharmonic Orchestra will stage a Spring Festival concert and gala on Feb 6 in the city's Lincoln Center, featuring the US debut of Chinese composer Tan Dun's violin concerto, Fire Ritual, according to a news release.

Under the theme of "fire", which represents warmth, vigor and prosperity in some Eastern cultures, the event is the eighth of its kind presented by the NYPO to celebrate the most-important traditional festival of China, which is also shared by some other Asian countries.

Oscar-winning Tan's renowned violin concerto, Fire Ritual, which is influenced by the worship music and court music of ancient China, will be the highlight of the night. To better convey the artistic concept as a dialogue between humans and nature, the orchestra will be divided into two groups sitting on the stage and in the auditorium, respectively.

The event will see the NYPO's first collaboration with Kahchun Wong, a Singaporean conductor who became the first Asian to win the international Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition for young conductors in Bamberg, Germany, in 2016.

A string of brilliant new names in classical music will also be onstage, including violinist Bomsori Kim and soprano So Young Park, both from South Korea.

The iconic Spring Festival Overture, which can be heard everywhere in China during the celebrations, will also be performed to create a festive feel.

The NYPO has been one of the leading US orchestras since its founding in 1842. It performs at the David Geffen Hall of the Lincoln Center.

The Lunar New Year will start on Feb 5.

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2019-01-08 07:39:08
<![CDATA[An ancient art's new stage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/07/content_37423525.htm The reopening of an old theater in Beijing may mark a revival for Peking Opera, especially with shows infusing contemporary elements such as hip-hop and ballet, Chen Nan reports.

The grey-brick Tian Le Yuan Theater in the capital's ancient Qianmen area has served as a stage for creative culture since 1785 - and will reopen in March, after six years of renovation. Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) performed there for four years, starting from age 17. Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58), who shared the title of the four great dan roles with Mei, Shang Xiaoyun (1900-76) and Xun Huisheng (1900-68), premiered four of his classic Peking Opera shows there from 1923 to 1927, including The Legend of Hongfu and A Red Mole.

The famed artists were performers of nandan - that is, men who played female roles because women were then forbidden to appear onstage.

The theater also produced one of the country's first female Peking Opera troupes, Chong Ya She, in 1916.

Tian Le Yuan will present a new Peking Opera show, Liang Xiang, as its resident performance.

The show will debut at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center on Jan 18 and run through Jan 20 before moving to Tian Le Yuan.

The 5,000-square-meter Tian Le Yuan Theater will also host exhibitions of historical photos and other displays about Peking Opera. Visitors can don stage costumes and makeup.

Tan Zhengyan, who belongs to the seventh generation of the distinguished Tan family in Peking Opera, will open the show, playing the role of Guan Gong, a legendary and mythical figure worshipped by many Chinese as a symbol of safety and wealth.

The new show tells the story of a struggling 1930s Peking Opera troupe that has survived until today. Classic Peking Opera pieces such as Farewell My Concubine and The Drunken Concubine will mix in contemporary performance arts like hip-hop and ballet.

"I am prepared for different reviews - positive and negative," Tan says.

The 39-year-old started learning the art form as a child and has performed with the Jingju Theater Company of Beijing since 2001. Jingju refers to Peking Opera in Chinese. Members of the Tan family, which began to flourish in Peking Opera circles in the 18th century, are known for playing laosheng (elderly male) roles.

"East-meets-West stage productions have been controversial," Tan says.

"The most important thing to me is to maintain the core of Peking Opera, including the singing, the movements, the costumes and the makeup."

Peking Opera has been struggling like many traditional arts in recent years. Artists have enjoyed fewer performance opportunities as the demand shrinks. Many performers work part-time jobs or simply quit.

"We've seen a revival in recent years, thanks to government support," Tan says.

"Crossover shows may attract more audiences, especially young people."

Liang Xiang refers to a movement in which Peking Opera performers strike poses. It's also the Chinese name of the company producing the show.

Former TV host Ma Yingying founded the company, Lux Shine Culture Media Co, in Beijing four years ago. The 36-year-old fell in love with Peking Opera after hosting a TV program about it.

She has tried to give it a modern edge by combining the ancient art form with contemporary elements, including fashion catwalks.

"We want to make the show exciting and relevant to today's young people, who've never watched Peking Opera before," Ma says.

She adds that the show's creative team members are in their 20s and 30s, including the director Liu Nengyi, who graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, and scriptwriter Wu Hao, who graduated from the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts.

"I hope the reopening of this historical theater and the new show will enliven this ancient art form," she says.

 

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2019-01-07 07:28:44
<![CDATA[Cultural relic restoration in need of repair as a trade]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/07/content_37423524.htm JINAN - Chen Genquan lays down the rasp, removes the sawdust and narrows his eyes to check a wooden chair that has regained its original glory.

Chen, 65, is one of the cultural relics repairers in the city of Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius in East China's Shandong province.

Confucius, who lived between 551 BC and 479 BC, was an educator and philosopher. He founded the school of Confucianism that has deeply influenced later Chinese generations.

"The key to repairing wooden artifacts lies in keeping their original appearance unchanged," Chen says.

He has worked in a cultural relics repair team for over 35 years.

The team is in charge of restoring ancient wooden buildings and artifacts for the Confucius Temple, the Confucius Family Mansion and the Confucius Cemetery, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the three largest ancient building complexes in China.

Incredible craftsmanship

The sun rises on the same tidy yard and shines onto the three roofs of the 1,000-year-old Kuiwen Hall, a major building, which used to be a library in the Confucius Temple.

In 1985, the onerous task of fixing the structural problems of the hall fell upon the team's collective shoulders. This was the first large-scale restoration of the Kuiwen Hall since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

During the restoration, most of the wooden components, especially the roof ridges, were repaired or replaced.

"Cultural relics are history within reach. As a repairer, I'm responsible for preserving that heritage," Chen says, adding he worked nine hours a day for two years to complete his part of the work.

Regular checks and restoration of the ancient wooden buildings are conducted twice a year by Chen's team to deal with problems such as erosion caused by humidity. Often, Chen and his colleagues have to go through dozens of historical books and materials before the restoration work can begin.

In the repair team's workshop, a stone's throw away from the Confucius Temple, a dozen experienced relic repairers are busy measuring, sawing and sanding, with tools and wooden boards scattered everywhere.

Chen's desk is located in the corner of the workshop, upon which books related to ancient building renovation are piled.

In the past, he could not afford to buy books and used to copy the books he borrowed. In 1987, he bought his first book for 6 yuan - three days worth of wages.

Artisans like Chen are in great demand in the industry. Chen and the 50 other members of his team are often invited to other places in the country to share their knowledge on the restoration of wooden relics.

"Their reputation not only comes from their techniques and experience, but also people's respect for their craftsmanship," says Kong Deming, deputy director of Qufu's ancient building project management bureau.

Talent shortage

Chen has seen many people come and go. In the 1990s, many colleagues left the team to build antique-style wooden buildings with private companies for higher salaries.

"I never thought about leaving. Cultural relic restoration has unrivaled meaning and value for me," Chen says.

A survey showed that more than half of the cultural relics in China are suffering from erosion of varying degrees. Nearly 20 million relics are in urgent need of professional restoration. However, the industry faces an aging problem. The youngest member of Chen's team is 50 years old.

Kong says repairing relics has become less attractive, as machines can do a lot of the work, and young people are turned off by the arduous working conditions and long training period. Artisans like Chen who handle immovable cultural heritage have to work outside in the sizzling summer or biting cold winter.

"Getting hurt is an inevitable part of our daily work," Chen says, showing a scar on his right leg. "Craftsmanship has nothing to do with money, it has become a belief, driving my teammates and me forward. I hope more talented young people will understand that and join us."

China has already stepped up its efforts to solve the problem.

In October, the country's first national-level competition on cultural relic restoration was held in Qufu to highlight the importance of craftsmanship. A total of 111 skilled workmen participated in the contest.

Li Yongge, former director of the Palace Museum's ancient building repair center, says competitions like this can help China find more skilled workers in the relics restoration field.

"Relic restorers deserve more respect in our society. They save our cultural heritage from the ravages of time and make ancient culture and history come alive," Kong says.

 

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2019-01-07 07:28:44
<![CDATA[Making the old new]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423289.htm It may be easy for a novel to sell tens of thousands of copies in China, but it is unusual for a collection of essays by contemporary writers to achieve that scale.

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A souvenir edition of Jia Pingwa's popular collection of essays has been launched, Yang Yang reports.

It may be easy for a novel to sell tens of thousands of copies in China, but it is unusual for a collection of essays by contemporary writers to achieve that scale.

Writer Jia Pingwa's essay collection, Zizai Duxing (Be Free and Walk Alone), have sold 1 million copies since it was published in July 2016.

Along with Mo Yan and Yu Hua, Jia is one of the biggest names in Chinese literature. Winning his first literary award in 1978, Jia has published 17 novels, including recent ones such as Jihua (Pole Flower) in 2016 and Shanben (Origin of the Qinling Mountains) in 2018, and many novellas and essays.

In 2008, he won the Mao Dun Literary Award, the top honor of its kind in China, for his novel, The Shaanxi Opera.

Jia's fiction writing reflects distinctive features such as the local dialect, custom, people and landscape of the place where most of his stories are set - Northwest China's Shaanxi province, where he was born and continues to live. In his essays, he follows some of the traditional styles of the ancient Chinese literati and modern aesthetics and philosophy.

Jia's essays are popular in China. Some like The Ugly Stone are familiar to readers as they are included in middle school textbooks. He's known for his language and style: concise and simple but beautiful, rhythmic and emotional.

The 300-page Zizai Duxing contains 73 essays, most of which were written in the 1980s and '90s, when Jia was in his 30s and 40s.

"At that time, people thought essays should be lyrical like those in the 1950s. It's either about painful memories or about nature, hometowns, parents and classmates. So, essay-writing became increasingly narrow in terms of themes and ideas," Jia says.

"But after reading Zhang Zai's (1020-77) works, I realized that great essays are not necessarily lyrical.

"Essays can talk about conscience, politics, wisdom and the mind."

He agrees with Zhang's words that essay writing is "to ordain conscience for heaven and Earth. To secure life and fortune for the people. To continue lost teachings for past sages. To establish peace for all future generations".

However, since the 1990s, essays have become less popular among Chinese readers, who have come to prefer novels.

"So, the sales really surprise me. I never imagined that young readers would like my old essays," Jia tells scholars, writers and critics at a recent launch ceremony of the souvenir edition of Zizai Duxing.

"But one possible explanation is that my works are short so they suit young readers' preferences. Another reason might be the everlasting themes of youth - dreams, love and struggles," Jia adds.

For Zhang Qinghua, a professor at the School of Chinese Language and Literature of Beijing Normal University, the popularity of the collection represents a new direction in the development of "new literature" in China that was born in 1918, when writers such as Lu Xun, Hu Shi and Chen Duxiu sought to write in different styles than the traditional literati.

"New literature" marks the start of modern Chinese literature. Themes and language are influenced by Western literature.

"Contemporary Chinese writers are changing their identities not only as modern writers but also while going back to the traditions of the ancient literati," Zhang Qinghua says.

"Jia is not only a writer but also a calligrapher, a collector and a scholar, who studies issues related to farmers and land."

The popularity of Jia's essays hails a return of traditional essay writing, Zhang Qinghua says.

By observing the world from the perspective of a novelist, capturing ugly things in our daily lives and representing them in his writing, Jia has not only been inspired by traditional essays but also has formed his own style that adds new aesthetics, says Sun Yu, another professor of Beijing Normal University.

Sun's colleague, Chen Guangwei, says Jia draws inspiration from calligraphy and Chinese painting, including rhythm and techniques like leaving white spaces.

Chen Xiaoming, director of the department of Chinese language and literature at Peking University, gives four reasons for the popularity of Jia's essays.

His essays describe in simple and honest language the relationships between parents and their children, and among other family members, which touches common readers, Chen Xiaoming says.

"Jia expresses his understanding of nature by treating things as equal to humans, without imposing human will on nature," he adds.

"Another reason is his presentation of human nature as nonjudgmental. And he always injects his understanding of destiny in his works - that is, life is full of contingencies."

Literary critic He Shaojun says what touches him the most in Jia's essays is the author's free mind, without which "one can't really get into the essence of literature".

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Jia Pingwa talks about his creations with scholars, writers and critics at a recent launch ceremony of the souvenir edition of Zizai Duxing (below). Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[Preston and Child's stories are multifaceted and complex]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423288.htm The two authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child working together are masters at crafting Verses for the Dead, a story that goes beyond a simple mystery or thriller.

Their stories are multifaceted and complex, making the reading experience a true joy. This time, while Pendergast works with agent Coldmoon, the crime has many unconventional layers to it, making it more difficult to solve.

The killer murders his victim and then removes the heart. The organ is left at a gravestone in the cemetery with a cryptic note next to it. The victim and the owner of the grave seemingly aren't connected. Pendergast soon figures out that the heart is left at gravestones of women who committed suicide.

Pendergast thinks outside the box at all times and goes against direct orders to prove a hunch. He believes the women were actually murdered, and the killer known by the moniker Brokenhearts might be responsible for their deaths in addition to the recent victims. With his career on the line, Pendergast has a lot to prove and quickly or the killer might strike again.

What he doesn't know is that his new partner, Coldmoon, has strict orders to do everything in his power to see Pendergast fail.

The unorthodox methods agent Pendergast applies to solve the truly bizarre cases he encounters are legendary. This almost insubordination is the primary reason why his new boss wants him transferred out of his jurisdiction.

Readers unfamiliar with Pendergast will find this novel a fantastic launch point. He's a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, and the story reads like classic literature rather than the majority of mystery or thrillers on the market.

Associated Press

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[An accidental author]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423287.htm Di An (pen name) says she was "surprised" to receive the People's Literature Award for her recently published book, Jingheng Street.

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Di An didn't plan to follow her parents' footsteps to become a writer. But fate had different plans for the rich-list novelist, Wang Ru reports.

Di An (pen name) says she was "surprised" to receive the People's Literature Award for her recently published book, Jingheng Street.

"I searched the web to learn about the award immediately after I heard I won it," she recalls. "I saw the names of famous writers on the list and felt a little tense. I didn't expect such a recognition."

She wanted to undertake an easier project after her previous novel was published in 2014.

But authoring Jingheng Street proved even harder.

"I started to write in 2016. But I felt something was wrong and stopped for a while before resuming," she says. "Every chapter was difficult."

The story is set in Beijing between 2013 and 2015, when a large number of mobile apps entered the market.

Guan Jingheng struggles to make a living as a migrant in the city. He devotes himself to developing an app called Fendie and hopes to change his life at any cost.

He engages in a romantic relationship with Zhu Lingjing, who works in an investment company. Guan uses their relationship to help his business but ends up losing in both business and love.

The awarding committee says Jingheng Street "integrates office politics, business startups, commercial wars and love in the city. It is well-written with detailed emotions and clear rationality, reflecting the era, social transformation and changes in people's relationships."

Di An says: "Anything I write will be judged by readers since the story is set in a time they've experienced. They'll assess whether it's reasonable or possible. That also made writing it tricky."

Di An says the original idea occurred to her in 2015.

"I listened to a song when I was driving on a highway. The song touched me and made me think of some unspeakable things about love. I realized I hadn't written a love story for a long time."

She finally decided to place her romantic plotline within a framework of startups.

"App development was a trend between 2013 and 2015," she says.

She has met some people who've experienced dramatic ups and downs in the industry and believes the field offers opportunities to change an individual's destiny.

In 2016, she was impressed by a feature about internet entrepreneurs and investors who encountered difficulties.

"I especially remember a story about an entrepreneur whose app was struggling and was going to be sifted out of the market. He refused to give up and offered anyone who downloaded his app 1 yuan (15 US cents) or 2 yuan as a reward to enlarge the user base. But the money actually came from his family's personal account," she says.

"I can find stories in this industry. Entrepreneurs all hope to succeed, but different people have different definitions of success. I want to discuss what success means to Guan Jingheng in this book."

Di An doesn't want to over-explain her work.

"Readers have their own understandings," she says.

But she believes her story is also about desire.

"I want to see what people can do when driven by desires - what they can sacrifice and what they can't."

She had to research the industry extensively, since she wasn't initially familiar with it.

"I asked friends in the industry to tell me what their daily work included, how they worked and what pushed them to make decisions at work."

Her friends also beta read the novel before publication.

"I asked them core questions I cared about, like if they believed the main characters Guan and Zhu loved each other faithfully. If all of them said no, I knew I'd have to double-check my writing."

But she refused to change her storyline, even though friends advised her to.

"I have my own stance as a writer," she says.

Many readers say Di An's approach is much softer in this book than her previous ones.

She says it may be because she has become a mother.

"My daughter needs an emotionally stable mom. She'd feel very strange if I were too emotional."

"And fewer things irritate me since I turned 30. The unspeakable emotions that pushed me to write in my teens have disappeared."

Di An was born in a family of writers. But she didn't want to follow her parents' path when she was young.

Her father didn't believe she was talented enough to write novels at the time.

But she started to write when she studied in France and felt very lonely. Writing became a way to express herself.

She published her first work, The Sisters' Jungle, in the literary magazine Harvest in 2003.

Di An later wrote Farewell Paradise and then the City of Dragon trilogy, which together propelled her onto the China Writers Rich List.

She disliked it when people referred to her parents in front of her when she was younger. But she doesn't mind it today, since she's more famous than them.

"My father was once asked for an autograph after he gave a university speech because he's 'Di An's father'. He was glad to be called as such."

Di An doesn't expect her daughter to become a writer. "Everyone is different," she says. She just wants the girl to be able to support herself as an adult.

Di An says she sometimes feels anxious since the market is constantly changing. She worries her readers may shift their interests.

"But that uncertainty can be reduced, as long as I write."

Contact the writer at wangru1@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Di An's new book Jingheng Street. The author won last year's People's Literature Award for the book on Dec 12. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[Chinese learning demand in US grows]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423286.htm CHICAGO - When Ren Yi began teaching Chinese in the US city of Denver over 20 years ago, she never thought she would become a popular author of Chinese language textbooks.

"My self-made Chinese textbooks have been sold through Amazon and other sales channels, so far the feedback is very positive," says Ren.

Standing in a booth at the recent annual convention of the Chinese School Association in the United States in St. Louis, Missouri, Ren greets the attendees.

"There is increasing demand for my textbooks from US teachers of the Chinese language and students who want to improve their skills," Ren says, adding that the publishing house of her books has asked her to write new editions.

Ren graduated from Tsinghua University, a top Chinese university. She started to write a book for beginners with the encouragement of her students, who told her that her lectures were more educational than classroom texts.

"I tried to develop the first edition of Chinese language books for American students, which turned out to be a big success," Ren says.

She spent three years writing her first book and soon started to write the second. She says she improves her books based on daily teaching experiences.

In the past 20 years, Chinese education has witnessed tremendous momentum in North America, thanks to dedicated educators, CSAUS president Liu Shen says. In recent years, Chinese language education in the US has entered a new era.

"More than 200 students have been studying Chinese in our school in the last two or three years, which is three times more than we predicted. Most of them go for our innovative teaching of Chinese traditional culture like lion dancing, Peking Opera and so on," says Xiao Teng, principal of Ames Chinese Language Academy in the US state of Iowa.

"We find more and more Americans are learning Chinese in Iowa," adds Xiao.

Founded in 1994, the CSAUS is a non-profit composed of over 500 Chinese schools in over 50 US cities, with over 100,000 students and over 8,000 teachers.

Xinhua

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[Cultural auditoriums helping to revitalize village economies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423285.htm "The Yueju Opera troupe is coming!" It is the big news of the day for the residents of Yangjia, East China's Zhejiang province. They can barely contain their excitement and keep announcing the news to everyone they meet. Since the village has constructed a cultural auditorium, operas, performances and movies have become the obvious delight of its residents.

"I am a Yueju Opera lover, and I cannot wait to see it! " says Pan Hengyong, a resident of Yangjia, who arrives at the auditorium half an hour before the opera to make sure he secures a good viewing spot. People from nearby villages also join the crowd.

"Thanks to the cultural auditorium," says Pan, "I find my life enriched."

Since 2013, over 10,000 cultural auditoriums have been built in rural Zhejiang. Most of the auditoriums have exhibition halls, reading rooms and convenience service centers; some even have digital theaters. Rural residents enjoy the shows presented in the auditorium, learn the history of the village through exhibitions, hold activities to celebrate festivals in the centers, or simply enjoy using the auditorium as a social space.

"The construction of the cultural auditorium is an innovative way to revive the rural areas of Zhejiang," says Yang Guiqing, professor of urban planning at Tongji University.

Seeking cultural roots

The construction of such auditoriums is part of the rural revitalization strategy launched by the provincial government in 2013. Emphasizing the distinctiveness of village cultures, the project seeks to showcase and preserve the traditional cultures of Zhejiang's villages.

The auditoriums are vastly different across villages. With themes that range from farming culture to canal culture, the auditoriums feature the natural and historical endowment of the place in which they are located.

Villages in Xinchang county in Shaoxing have built auditoriums that serve as a poetry workshop, because the county has historically inspired many ancient poets - 1,505 poems by 451 poets were written in the area.

The auditorium in Yucai village in Haiyan county features "wood culture", exhibiting a collection of more than 20 kinds of wooden utensils commonly seen in the region south of the Yangtze River.

Xinjie village in Huangyan has opened a "ferry memorial hall" in its auditorium. It recreated an indoor ferry to commemorate the village's more than 300-year history in the field.

For places that are endowed with fewer historical resources, the cultural auditoriums are often built on plots that used to host local ancestral shrines. In South China, where ancestral veneration is a common practice, the sites that worship ancestors are sought out, preserved, and renovated to host the new auditoriums.

"The cultural auditorium is an important material carrier in reviving rural culture," says Yang. "It fully excavates, refines and displays the outstanding traditional cultural resources of the countryside. Through the contemporary cultural and artistic forms combined with the expressions of local characteristics, it creates a cultural atmosphere in which the villagers love and can actively participate in, thus establishing the culture of the village."

Green development

The cultural auditoriums not only entertain rural residents, but also promise potential economic growth. Tourists flood into the villages to learn the local culture and enjoy shows and celebrations in the auditoriums.

In July, Changshan county launched the first batch of seven "rural cultural auditorium tourist routes". The rural cultural auditoriums are becoming popular attractions by holding promotional conferences and seeking cooperation with travel agencies. So far, the tourist routes have received more than 200,000 visitors. In Nanhu, Jiaxing, over 200,000 netizens joined the village's residents in celebrating Spring Festival through online broadcasting last year.

The booming tourism also promotes public awareness about environmental protection. In Jianguang village in Jinhua, every household has a pair of waste bins (one for recyclables and the other for non-recyclables) in front of their doors with their names on the bins. If any waste is placed in a wrong bin, the household in charge will be made responsible.

"Our villagers were getting sick because of environmental pollution, but after years of effort, our village is much cleaner," says Chen Ronggui, a local. "Now that the village is developing tourism, my family supports it wholeheartedly."

Yang says: "The cultural heritage of the villages converges in the auditoriums. By excavating and upgrading the cultural resources that best reflect the local characteristics, cultural auditoriums creatively form a link between cultural formation and industrial development."

The construction of the cultural auditorium and follow-up work need investment. In practice, various localities have explored a variety of fundraising methods, such as "public welfare funding", "village crowdfunding" and "online crowdfunding". Crowdsourcing makes it a sustainable project and incentivizes and sparks the creativity of rural residents.

According to a white paper on the impact of Zhejiang rural cultural auditoriums in 2017, nearly 77.17 percent of a survey's respondents positively assessed the rural cultural auditoriums. By 2020, 80 percent of the total rural population in Zhejiang is expected to have access to its own cultural auditorium.

xupanyiru@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[Head of the table]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423284.htm Sichuan cold noodles with shredded chicken, beef in red-wine sauce, dongpo roast duck with lotus-leaflike pancakes and Sichuan-pepper lobster ... the small servings were devoured before all the guests could sample all of the dishes.

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Chinese cuisine enjoys unprecedented success at La Liste 2019's awards, Li Yingxue reports.

Sichuan cold noodles with shredded chicken, beef in red-wine sauce, dongpo roast duck with lotus-leaflike pancakes and Sichuan-pepper lobster ... the small servings were devoured before all the guests could sample all of the dishes.

The event was a wine party before the award ceremony of La Liste 2019 in Paris, where four restaurants from China, Japan, South Korea and Morocco presented delicacies from their respective countries.

Meizhou Dongpo's founder, Wang Gang, led his team to introduce Chinese cuisine to the guests, most of whom are celebrated chefs from around the world. He also presented panda puppets holding bags of tea from Sichuan province.

La Liste 2019 revealed its list of the 1,000 best restaurants around the world in Paris on Dec 3.

The list features 134 Chinese restaurants, including 22 from Hong Kong and four from Macao - the second-largest number among the 64 participating countries. That's seven more than last year, when China surpassed France for the first time.

Japan and France this year ranked No 1 and 3 with 148 and 116 restaurants, respectively.

Guy Savoy from Paris has won the first place for three consecutive years. It tied with New York's Le Bernardin for first place this year.

The highest-ranking Chinese restaurant is Capital at the Beijing Hong Kong Jockey Club, in the 19th spot.

La Liste was founded in 2015 as the French foreign ministry's response to the UK gastronomic guide, The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

The list is compiled using a data-processing algorithm.

It factors in over 400 international dining guides, such crowdsourced sites as Yelp and Trip Advisor, and reviews by such media as The New York Times and The Washington Post. It also considers Michelin and other guides.

Its smartphone app features over 16,000 restaurants in more than 180 countries, enabling travelers to choose restaurants that match their tastes and means, whether prestigious or modest.

La Liste's co-founder, Joerg Zipprick, comments on the website that new names are popping up in La Liste 2019. Many are unknown to the media.

Zipprick says a new trend is that Asian restaurants are entering the Western luxury market.

Chinese, Korean and Japanese restaurants have been confined to ethnic niches and expected to be cheap for decades. Westerners were reluctant to spend big in Asian restaurants.

"The situation is rapidly changing," he writes.

"Hotel chains, such as Shangri-La, are opening Chinese luxury restaurants all over the world, teamed up with talented chefs. Da Dong in New York, Guan Fu in Flushing... set new standards for Asian restaurants where the quality and bill are in line with high-end criteria."

Meizhou Dongpo's Guoancun branch ranks 10th among the Chinese restaurants on La Liste. And Wang Gang won the Entrepreneur Award that honors a chef or restaurateur who has built an empire with his concept.

"In 1996, at the opening of the first Meizhou Dongpo, who would have imagined that Wang Gang would not only become one of the most-prominent personalities of Chinese hospitality and catering, but that he would also become the head of an empire where the sun (almost) never sets?" La Liste says in a statement.

Meizhou Dongpo has more than 150 locations worldwide, including five in Los Angeles.

The committee believes the secret of Wang's success is authenticity, quality, rigorous organization and a smart pricing strategy, as Meizhou Dongpo restaurants remain affordable to the Chinese public.

Wang was also invited as the representative of Chinese chefs to join 16 chefs from other countries to have a lunch in the Elysee Palace with France's first lady, Brigitte Macron, before the award ceremony.

"I feel that food can link the whole world," Wang says.

"And I notice that in France everyone - from the government to the public - respects chefs."

Wang's aim is to cook Sichuan cuisine for the whole world.

The visit to Paris inspired him to open his restaurant in the city. He believes French people and people from his native Sichuan province are alike - both value gastronomy and quality of life.

"To compete with the best chefs in the world can make us improve," Wang says.

"We can learn their essence and infuse it to elevate Chinese cuisine. We need to keep humble and spread Chinese cuisine."

Wang's experience in the United States suggests that Chinese flavors are welcomed by Westerners but must be standardized for consistency.

"We need to respect local eating habits and keep the authentic Chinese flavors at the same time," Wang says.

"To standardize Chinese cuisine doesn't mean to cook dishes with a cold, machine-like approach but, rather, to manage chefs methodically and increase passion for Chinese cuisine and the pursuit of art during cooking."

Wang's visit to Paris to take part in the La Liste award ceremony was organized by the World Federation of China Catering Industry, which sponsored the trips of 40 representatives from China and Chinese restaurants overseas.

The delegation was led by WFCCI board of supervisors president Wu Li, who's also a member of La Liste's international advisory board.

"It's the largest group we've organized to join the ceremony, since more Chinese restaurants are listed this year," he says.

The delegation also visited several Michelin-starred restaurants in France, including the winner, Guy Savoy, and wineries in Bordeaux.

One of the best-known Peking duck restaurants, Quanjude, launched its Bordeaux branch at the end of November.

The delegation visited the restaurant and discussed with its chefs ways to invigorate Chinese cuisine's vitality abroad.

"To promote Chinese cuisine in the world, we need to cultivate Chinese-cuisine chefs overseas and build a qualification system to evaluate chefs," Wu says.

The award ceremony to celebrate Asian restaurants on La Liste 2019 will be held in Hong Kong later this year, Wu says.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Meizhou Dongpo’s signature Sichuan dishes are popular at the wine party before the La Liste 2019 awards ceremony in Paris. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[Indie festival perks up Xi'an's interest in fine coffee]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423283.htm Ten coffee shops popped up under the 1,300-year-old Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, before the new year came.

This was the latest stop on the Indie Coffee Feast's journey around China, co-hosted by the Woodstock of Eating and Soloist Cafe, and taking place in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, from Dec 28 until the first day of 2019.

More than 40 boutique coffee shops from home and abroad, including 11 local bean crunchers, opened pop-up counters at the Great Tang All Day Mall in Qujiang New district, Xi'an.

Zhang Qi, CEO of Woodstock of Eating, a Chinese carnival brand, says the event marks the intersection between ancient and current lifestyles in Xi'an.

"We want to break the boundaries among cities by linking the coffee culture of each city," says Zhang.

The event is the first highlighted event of the 2019 Xi'an & Best of Chinese program, which will run until March 6, and will feature more than 100 cultural events.

Beijing's Soloist Coffee led eight cafes from the Chinese mainland to Xi'an, together with three Hong Kong cafes and one from Taiwan. St Anthony and Blue copper from the United States, Roots Coffee from Britain and Coffee Liber from South Korea also made the trip.

Ma Kaimin, founder and barista of Soloist Coffee, thinks the Indie Coffee Feast has a more cultural outlook than pure trade exhibitions. It aims to teach customers about boutique coffee.

"The standard of high-quality coffee is open. What baristas do is like wine masters or chefs - finding the best beans and their roasting and brewing methods," Ma says.

Latte-art masters from Britain, the US, South Korea and China presented their skills each day between 3 pm to 4 pm before handing the stage over to baristas from Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Xi'an.

Food was an indispensable part of the activities. Cold French-style desserts like mousses and made-leines pair perfectly with coffee and add a bit sweetness to the bitter bean. There were also cocktails and beer that show the possibilities of infusing coffee with booze.

Thirty groups and performers presented live music, including pop, folk, jazz and indie rock. The performance on Dec 31 lasted until the countdown to midnight and the start of the New Year celebration.

Woodstock of Eating also invited three workshops and seven art institutions to combine different art forms and media with coffee, including illustrations, photos and even a barbershop.

Two forums themed "no coffee boundaries; we want to use coffee to create our life" and "the irregular lifestyle report of Xi'an youth" were held during the festival.

"We hope people can spend more time off the social media and experience more life in cafes," says Zhang.

Wu Nan, marketing director of Coffee&I magazine, notes that boutique coffee is a relatively new thing in Xi'an, and that the Coffee Feast will attract more local youth to learn about boutique coffee.

"It provides a guide for locals and tourists to find the good coffee in Xi'an, which is something missing from this ancient capital," Wu says.

After four stops during its inaugural year, Woodstock of Eating plans to bring the Indie Coffee Feast to more cities in China in 2019. Zhang believes each city has its own characteristics.

"So we want to build a coffee calling card for each city we reach," Zhang says.

"Currently, we are inviting overseas coffee masters to visit China with our festival, and we are also aiming to bring China's baristas and coffee shops to the world one day. We want to show the world that there are professionals in China making some good coffee."

 Indie Coffee Feast Xi'an station brings pop-up shops and cultural experiences to people in the capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province. Photos provided to China Daily

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/06/content_37423282.htm Migas' new Med-inspired menu

Spanish chef Miguel Casal has updated Migas Mercado's menu with 15 new dishes for the winter season, including three-hour cooked chicken and black truffle meatballs, roasted pork trotter cubes, sea cucumber and chickpea puree, all of which combine Chinese and Mediterranean cuisines. Also, as garlic soup is a classic winter dish that all the Spanish grandmas cook, Casal has concocted a traditional garlic soup with the flavor of homemade chicken broth with paprika.

7F China World Mall, No I Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-6700-7579.

Pantry's Best dumpling treat

As an important part of Chinese food culture, dumplings have long been endowed with the meaning of reunion blessings. So, Pantry's Best has launched a special cake to celebrate the new year in a sweet, Chinese way. Delicious cheese cream, cleverly shaped to look like a tray of dumplings (which themselves represent gold ingots, symbolizing happiness and wealth), adorns a filling of classic red-velvet cake, all topped with juicy currants to add a touch of festive red.

92-93, 3rd Floor, Ritanshangjie No 39, Shenlu street, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8562-6670.

Festive fare and winter spirits

To celebrate the festive season, head chef Lu Yi and Italian restaurant manager Cristian Rojas are curating a special eight-course menu boasting delectable dishes, including foie gras and caramelized figs, codfish and seafood soup, cheese and eggplant ravioli until Jan 10. Lincey has also paired four hot drinks - all serving in snowman-and Santa Claus-shaped glasses and cups - that are filled with winter spirits: hot mulled wine, hot whiskey, eggnog and hot toddy.

0105A, No 6 Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5869-0078.

Kuma opens sixth canteen in old locale

Nanluoguxiang is an old Beijing hutong (alleyway) with more than 740 years of history. The sixth Beijing branch of Kuma Canteen recently opened in the alley. All decor is designed by the owner, from the furniture to each item of tableware. Kuma sushi is one of their signatures, which looks like kumamon with fried shrimp, sea eel, salmon, crabmeat and cucumber. The half-cooked beef is a must-try. Onion and beef are wrapped together and dipped in sauce.

No 19 Dongmianhua hutong, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-5729-3207.

China Daily

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2019-01-06 15:03:15
<![CDATA[China blazes a deep blue trail]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/05/content_37423230.htm The crew of Noahs II did themselves and China proud in the recent Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

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Mainland crew conquers high seas in iconic Australian race

The crew of Noahs II did themselves and China proud in the recent Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

After almost two and a half days traversing the high seas, Noahs II wound up 12th overall and eighth in its division, the best ever performance by a boat representing the Chinese mainland in the annual blue-water classic.

The 70-foot Volvo Ocean class vessel finished the race just after midnight on Dec 29, taking exactly two days, 11 hours, seven minutes and 22 seconds to complete the 628-nautical-mile course.

"I am thrilled with our team's effort and the result," skipper Li Hongquan told China Daily.

"Although this is a grueling race, the crew played it really well."

A fleet of 85 yachts (ranging from the supermaxis measuring over 100 feet in length to the smaller 30-footers) and over 1,000 sailors took part in this year's iconic race, which began under a blue sky and light winds in Sydney Harbor on Dec 26.

"We were prepared for the worst of weather but, in the end, we had a comfortable sail down the east coast of Australia to Hobart," Li said.

He was even more heartened by the fact that most of the crew had never competed in such a big race. "All our training and hard work paid off," he said.

Li also paid tribute to the confidence that Noahs Yacht Club invested in the crew and the financial support the team received from Wilson Lee.

"This was a great opportunity for the crew to get familiar with bigboat ocean racing and will go a long way to promoting the sport in China," he added.

Team manager John Qu was equally impressed.

"Sure, it would have been nice to finish at the top of the division but we have improved our overall performance on previous years which is a good thing," he told China Daily.

"Don't forget most of the crew have never competed in a race like this, so this is quite a remarkable achievement."

He said the team's overall strategy was to "play it safe".

Wild Oats XI won its ninth line honors, fending off Black Jack and Comanche in a thrilling battle between the supermaxis.

All five supermaxis - also including InfoTrack and Sun Hung Kai Scallywag - were impressive as they tacked up the harbor, battling it out to be the first to clear Sydney Heads.

In the middle of the pack was Noahs II, which cut an impressive path with its yellow and red hull and red spinnaker.

Apart from China, another 10 international boats competed in the race.

Seng Huang Lee's Sun Hung Kai Scallywag - registered with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club - retired five hours into the race with a broken bowsprit. In all, six boats failed to complete the course.

While the faster and technologically designed maxis and supermaxis battle for line honors, the race tends to be won by the smaller boats after time, length and handicap are taken into account. The 2018 handicap winner, the 66-foot Alive, owned by Tasmanian Phillip Turner, was no exception.

As he accepted one of offshore racing's most prestigious prizes, Turner was still coming to terms with his success, saying: "It still hasn't sunk in."

The self-proclaimed introvert told Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's website that he does not "like all the attention" that comes with winning.

Turner recalled his upbringing in Hobart when his father would take him to Constitution Dock to watch the fleet finish the race one by one, afterward listening to or reading the crews' tales of triumph, woe and adventure.

The iconic event became a part of Turner's DNA, each year a building block to a lifelong dream that has now been realized.

"It has always been a highlight for me," said Turner before being presented with the Tattersall Cup.

Alive's overall victory was only the fourth by a Tasmanian boat, but the first since Bob Cumming's Screw Loose in 1979. The previous two were GD Gibson's Westward in 1947 and 1948.

Alive, which was fifth over the line, finished in two days, one hour, 40 minutes and 36 seconds, winning with a corrected time of three days, six hours, 41 minutes and 16 seconds.

Second was the New South Wales entry Wild Oats X, owned by the Oatley family and skippered by Stacey Jackson, who had an all-female professional crew.

Their corrected time was three days, seven hours, 55 minutes and 11 seconds, followed by the Hugh Ellis-owned and Adrienne Cahalan-navigated Voodoo, from Victoria, in three days, eight hours, 44 minutes and 20 seconds.

 

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2019-01-05 07:05:32
<![CDATA[Tango diplomacy sets the tune for success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/31/content_37421386.htm Argentine dance helps diplomat build strong partnerships to last a lifetime

Diplomacy and tango have key things in common: keeping in step, meeting people and partnership. That is certainly the case for diplomat Juan Cortelletti, whose introduction of the romantic and melancholy tunes of the dance to Chinese people seemed a perfect act of cultural promotion.

"We were very happy to organize the tango academy in China, and it is named after Carlos Cardel, a famous tango singer from Argentina. People met and made friends during the course," said Cortelletti, who spent three years working as the cultural counselor of the Argentine embassy in Beijing before returning to Buenos Aires in December.

Cortelletti said tango promotion has been one of the most important elements of his job. The embassy launched and sponsored dozens of tango schools all around China.

"Chinese people are very passionate about tango. Every year we sponsor the tango national championship in China: dancers from different provinces do their best to win and have the opportunity to represent China in the Tango World Championship held in Buenos Aires," he said.

"One extraordinary example of the reach of tango in China is that several square dancing groups have adopted tango as one of the disciplines they practice. This could make tango extremely popular."

"Often, learning about a culture is the starting point for an actual visit to a country," said Cortelletti, noting that culture and people are important for two countries to interact and strengthen bilateral friendships.

He cited one example.

Chinese are introduced to tango and become passionate about it. Then, the next step, they learn Spanish in order to understand the lyrics of the songs and be able to name the steps of the dance, then approach works of literature or watch an Argentine film.

"Finally, many will decide to actually visit the country."

When Cortelletti assumed his post in the embassy, he was entrusted by the Argentinian Ambassador to China, Diego Ramiro Guelar, to work with culture and place it at the same level of importance as any other branch of bilateral ties such as commerce and investment.

"We both believe that cultural efforts could in a way enhance the full bilateral relationship," he said.

In a signed article published on Argentine newspaper Clarin ahead of his visit to the South American country in December, President Xi Jinping wrote that "There are two passions for Argentineans, both centering on movements of the feet. One is football, and the other is tango."

He also encouraged more people-to-people interactions between the two countries and expanding cooperation in such areas as culture, education, science and technology, sports and tourism.

More measures should be introduced to facilitate personnel flows and share development experience as all this will contribute to stronger public support for China-Argentina friendship, according to Xi.

Cortelletti first visited China 10 years ago, when he attended a six-week course in Beijing hosted by the government about Chinese culture.

During the course, he learnt a great deal and traveled to many places including the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, Hubei province.

At that time, he already "knew about modern China and all the extraordinary economic progress", but he was still impressed by the country's achievements over the past years including the fight against poverty and scientific and technological innovations, such as the high-speed trains and bike sharing, when he returned in 2016.

For the diplomat and his wife, two daughters and a son, China has been a very important post because they were involved not only with their specific job to promote Argentine culture, but also were very committed to studying the language, history and traditions.

In three years, Santiago, his three-year-old son, has grown from a baby to a little boy who can speak fluent Chinese.

When Santiago stood up for the first time here in Beijing, Cortelletti and his wife had encouraged him in Chinese.

"We are sure that China will be with us for the rest of our lives," he said.

Last year, the embassy organized a Spanish literary contest for Chinese residents. Two of the prize winners were an 82-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy, which showed the interest in Spanish had spanned generations.

"It was very touching to see them both talking in Spanish at the prize-awarding ceremony and reading the work of Jorge Borges, one of the most admired Argentine writers," Cortelletti said.

Chinese literature, he said, has poetic and descriptive beauty in both content and characters, which makes writing the language akin to painting with rich colors, he said.

"I think I will miss speaking Chinese everyday in the street and to see the Chinese characters in the street," he said.

In November, Cortelletti met with Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, at an event organized by the Argentine ambassador.

"We learnt a lot from him and I have read one of his books," he said, adding that he was looking forward to reading all his books back in Argentina. As a foreigner, Cortelletti said he loves all kinds of Chinese food but he especially likes shrimp dumplings.

Besides organizing various cultural activities in China, the diplomat is also focused on promoting China in Argentina to make as many people as possible understand what is happening in China because "sometimes the idea they have is not accurate".

"It is natural that some people don't get used to new things, for example, the use and growth of artificial intelligence in China," he said, adding that he can see change slowly happening.

He hoped his work back in the Argentine foreign ministry will be related to his knowledge and appreciation of China.

In a farewell party hosted for Cortelletti, Guo Yao, a 36-year-old Chinese tango teacher who had been invited to teach courses by the embassy, danced the tango with her students, a fitting tribute to a cultured diplomat.

Guo said she was deeply impressed by the diplomat's efforts to promote tango in China through organizing lectures and courses.

Guo first met Cortelletti at a tango performance in 2016 when he showed up to express support for tango enthusiasts in China, like her.

"He is a lovely person and treats people in a kind way. We had a great time when we met," she said.

mojingxi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-31 08:05:28
<![CDATA[Reform and opportunity are key ingredients to thrive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/31/content_37421385.htm After decades of running her own business, Zhang Huamei, 58, from the Lucheng district in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, plans to retire next year.

For the general manager of Wenzhou Huamei Garment Accessories Co Ltd, the years ahead will allow her to travel at leisure and enjoy life.

Zhang, who obtained the country's first permit to open a small private business in 1980, runs the company focusing on garment accessories with revenue of several million yuan per year.

She has decided to hand over the company, which was established in 2007 and has five workers, to her 34-year-old son Yu Shangjing next year.

She said the internet has essentially changed the old way of face-to-face transactions. "Now clients from many places contact us via QQ or WeChat (two popular instant messaging apps in China) and then make orders online. I am not good at the internet, but my son can do it," she said.

Yu said: "The younger generation can use our wisdom to explore new opportunities and my mom can have more of her own time."

Twists and turns

Back in 1978, Zhang was not able to find a job after graduation from primary school. One year later, she started to follow some of her neighbors who sold small commodities as street vendors. Several items, including buttons, memorial medals and watch straps, were all she could offer on her "shop"-a wooden table.

Then the 18-year-old was worried about being detained by government officials who often cracked down on speculative activities.

The location of her "shop", just outside her house, made it easy to flee any officials. "When knowing the officials were coming, I wrapped up everything and shut the door," she said.

In February 1979, the central government released the first report on individual private businesses, giving them legitimacy, signaling reforms and opening-up in the economic scenarios and bringing new opportunities for people like Zhang.

The next year, unemployed individuals with permanent residence were allowed to start repair services and make hand-made products, but they could not hire others.

"One day, at the end of 1979, an official of the local industry and commerce bureau came to me and said I could go for a permit. With that permit, I could be a legal vendor without any need to hide from government officials," Zhang said.

On Dec 11, 1980, Zhang received a business permit, equivalent to the current business licenses for shops. The document, labeled as Number 10101, was hand-written with a photo of the young woman on it.

It was a novelty for her parents and friends.

With the permit, Zhang cleared her sitting room to trade. Two years later, she halted the business in the end of 1982 following her marriage to Yu Xinguo, preparing for the birth of her baby.

However, it was beyond her imagination that the permit would have historical value. In 2013, it was categorized as a movable cultural relic by a national survey working group looking at such items.

Movable cultural relics are typically objects dating from various historical periods, such as works of art, documents, manuscripts and books.

In 1985, Zhang's family moved into a new apartment of around 40 square meters, which was purchased with 9,000 yuan ($1,300) borrowed from relatives and friends. The payment was 180 times that of the monthly salary of Yu Xinguo, who worked for a collectively-owned enterprise.

Under the pressure of debt, Zhang decided to restart her business to sell garment accessories in 1986. Within one year, the couple was able to pay off all the loans and became well-known in their communities with savings of more than 10,000 yuan, a huge sum in those days.

"At the dinner on the eve of the Spring Festival, we were extremely happy," the husband Yu said.

However, life always has complications. With ferocious competition in trading accessories, the couple decided to sell leather shoes.

But they paid dearly for their lack of experience in this field, and lost savings of more than 100,000 yuan in just one year and owed suppliers thousands of yuan.

In Zhang's dictionary, no word was more powerful than persistence.

The couple took a gamble and opened a shop in the China Qiaotou Button City in Wenzhou, which is a nationally-renowned trading center for small accessories. They rented a shop selling buttons in 1994.

In three years, Zhang and her husband repaid the loans and accumulated some new savings. In 1997, the couple shocked neighbors when they purchased a Volkswagen for 300,000 yuan, which was then considered a luxury item. From then on, her life was never again as hard as it used to be.

Thanks to opening-up

In 2007, she established the company to streamline operations.

When looking back at her career, Zhang attributed her success to the improving national policies of reform and opening-up and her own hard work.

"We benefited from the country's policy to open the market to private businesses and got rewards while being persistent," she said.

Indeed, over the past four decades, the government has been committed to building a better business environment with administrative streamlining and delegation of power to facilitate private businesses.

The Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded on Dec 21, pledged support to private businesses and enterprises with law-based environment and ensured personal and property safety for private entrepreneurs.

In the first three quarters of this year, new market entities rose sharply to hit 15.61 million, up by 10.4 percent compared with the same period in 2017, said the State Administration for Market Regulation in a news conference on Oct 26. During that period, each day saw an average of 57,200 new market entities registered, it said.

By the end of September, China had 106 million market entities, including more than 70 million non-enterprise entities such as small private businesses, the administration said.

Zhang said she did not expect such fundamental changes in China's business environment. "Private businesses were not allowed 40 years ago, and now the government encourages people to do more in innovation and entrepreneurship," she said.

In December 2016, Zhang was among more than 600 small private business owners to meet with Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the first such event in 25 years.

She said the premier talked to her and spoke highly of the role of small private business owners, which encouraged participants to continue their career, she said.

As to the future, Zhang is confident her son will make even greater achievements.

"The business environment is far better than that in the late 1970s and we, the old-generation, have accumulated wealth for successors. They should do better," she added.

huyongqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-31 08:05:28
<![CDATA[Reform's children]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/27/content_37419892.htm Gazing at the green mountains or walking on muddy roads during the day and spending evenings by the dim light of kerosene lamps are among Yang Xiuping's earliest memories of her childhood in a village in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

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Chinese in their 40s list Deng Xiaoping's southern tours and China's WTO entry as key milestones of the past four decades while recounting their own lives, Satarupa Bhattacharjya reports.

Gazing at the green mountains or walking on muddy roads during the day and spending evenings by the dim light of kerosene lamps are among Yang Xiuping's earliest memories of her childhood in a village in Southwest China's Guizhou province.

Yang, who has just turned 40, attended school briefly as a child. She had to help her parents with farming activities like many of her peers in 1980s China.

In 1993, Yang left her village, which falls within the administrative purview of Tongren - until recently a rural town - to work further south in a factory that made plastic flowers in the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong province. She returned to Tongren six years ago and set up a company that artificially breeds fish.

Yang has gone from "factory girl to boss", according to local media.

As China this month marks four decades since the launch of economic reforms, Yang and some others from her generation share with China Daily their perspectives on the country's transformation from abject poverty to the world's second-largest economy - and how the change shaped their own lives.

Another migrant in Shenzhen, Yang Jian, arrived in the city in 2002. He grew up in Xinning county of Central China's Hunan province. He was in high school when Deng Xiaoping, considered the architect of the economic reforms, went on his now-famous southern tours in 1992.

A factor that drove policy in the late '70s was that minor changes were not going to fix the economy. Yang Jian, 44, advocates further opening-up of the market.

In Shenzhen, the country's first special economic zone, he started his own consultancy in 2008, organizing exhibitions for companies. He trades in automobile parts today.

Once a sleepy area on the Pearl River Delta, with "residents in envy" of the more-affluent neighboring Hong Kong, he says, Shenzhen's profile rose at the forefront of reform.

The entrepreneur counts China joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 as a major milestone for the country.

Some scholars, such as Wang Jiwen of Renmin University of China, view population migration in the country over the past 40 years as "an important manifestation of China's modernization", as he wrote in a journal of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences earlier this year.

Guangdong's migrant population was more than 30 million in 2010, the highest of any province. The country's total migrant population was 247 million in 2015.

In a 2013 social development report by the same government think tank, in-house scholar Li Peilin wrote that the household responsibility system "turned famers into relatively independent commodity producers".

It started as a rural experiment in East China's Anhui province in the late 1970s and was introduced nationwide in 1982.

Fan Ruo'en, who teaches comparative literature at Fudan University in Shanghai, lists the agrarian reform as a turning point of the past 40 years. Deng's 1992 tours and China's WTO membership are the other top milestones in his view, similar to Yang Jian's from Shenzhen.

While growing up in an old neighborhood of Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, also in Central China, Fan says he followed news of the reforms on radio and television. He traveled for higher studies to Shanghai in 2001 and joined Fudan three years later. An interest in folk arts has made him a patron of Kunqu Opera.

Better living conditions and greater mobility, Fan, 42, says are among the changes he and his family have experienced as a result of reform.

But he bemoans the erosion of values, such as modesty, in Chinese society as incomes rise.

While speaking of his childhood on Chongming Island, a Shanghai district at the mouth of the Yangtze River, 42-year-old Shen Jianhua, who describes himself as a trainer at a US company, recalls "a woman with a loud voice calling her children (in the street) home for dinner". He moved into the city in the early 1990s to study and stayed on.

The traffic situation and public sanitation in Shanghai have improved over the decades, he says, adding that with people migrating from elsewhere the local dialect is spoken less.

Chen Shumin is a teacher from Jincai High School located in Shanghai's Pudong district. When she started working at the school in the late 1990s, the campus was still surrounded by farmlands, with no place nearby to buy even a packet of chips. In the past 20 years or so, a subway line has been built and so have shopping malls, she says.

The development of the Pudong New Area began in 1990.

A Shanghai native, Chen, also 42, says it was inconceivable growing up in the 1980s that Chinese people would have a different life in the future.

"People were living in old crowded houses, sharing kitchens and toilets, and had little personal space or privacy," she recalls.

Chen herself used to take showers at the factory where her mother worked, she adds.

Chen, who mentors students learning photography, says two decades ago, the city had few shops where a range of cameras and lenses were sold. Her students, though, have far more choice.

"Reform is the norm. It will go on," Shen, the corporate trainer, says.

All five Chinese in their 40s express optimism in China's future but vary in their assessment of it.

Some recognize the challenges that remain - fixing environmental degradation being one.

Contact the writer at satarupa@chinadaily.com.cn

China Daily bureaus contributed to this story.

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2018-12-27 07:40:54
<![CDATA[A kiss warms prospects of new film ahead of New Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/27/content_37419891.htm When film stars Huang Jue and Tang Wei were lying on wild grass to shoot a kiss scene involving their characters in the new Chinese film, Long Day's Journey into Night, the sound recordist heard the actor's heartbeat quicken.

The moment displayed Huang's nervousness, but the film's director Bi Gan helped him relax with Erguotou, an alcoholic beverage.

"It felt like some little birds were hopping around my chest (before the drink). The recordist laughed and told some other crew members. I guess I'm famous for that now," Huang joked at the film's media preview in Beijing on Monday.

The film, which will be released on New Year's Eve, had made 104 million yuan ($15.1 million) in presale bookings by Wednesday, scoring a new record for arthouse films released in China. The figure exceeds even those of Hollywood blockbusters, such as Transformers: The Last Knight and the superhero film, Venom.

The kiss is playing a decisive role in the commercial success of Long Day's Journey into Night. The promotional slogan encourages moviegoers "to welcome the new year with a kiss". Some theaters have scheduled to screen the film at 9:50 pm on Monday, so the credits will roll at midnight. This is drawing lovebirds, who wish to celebrate the new year in a special way.

But the kiss scene that spans mere seconds is probably not the most significant part of the film, which won for the best sound, original music and cinematography at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan last month.

The film got international attention earlier this year when it was shortlisted as a contender for Un Certain Regard, a category of Cannes' awards that honors young talent and films shot in nontraditional ways. The film has been critically acclaimed in particular for an hourlong take that starts around 70 minutes after the story begins and continues until the end. The scenes were shot after many months of rehearsals with around 200 cast and crew members.

Usually, a long take - a cinematic term referring to shooting consecutive sequences without stopping the cameras - is regarded by critics as an index to judge a film's artistic quality.

Such masters as Ernst Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Hou Hsiao-hsien have used long takes in their films.

"There are some classic long takes that have earned films high status in the history of cinema, but that's not why I chose to do a long take. I did it because I wanted the second part of the film to be told in this way, which makes the audience feel as if things are happening in real time," says Bi.

Born in Kaili, Guizhou province, in 1989, Bi shot to fame with his directorial debut, Kaili Blues, about his mountainous hometown. The film, which won a string of awards, has a 40-minute take.

Long Day's Journey into Night, which is also set in Kaili, is Bi's second feature film. It follows a man's return to his hometown to pursue a gang boss' mistress with whom he fell in love long ago.

The first 70 minutes, screened in the 2D format, blends his search and flashbacks of the past. The following 60 minutes, which should be watched while wearing 3D glasses, abruptly switches to a tale depicting the man's hopes and fears in his dream.

"I show all my expectations, nightmares and desires in my films," says Bi, who believes that cinema is a powerful language.

With a budget of around 70 million yuan, Long Day's Journey into Night has a star-studded cast led by Huang, who's known for such artistic works as The Master, and A-list actress Tang, who shot to prominence after acting in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution.

Chen Yongzhong, Bi's uncle who was once a security guard but persuaded by Bi to star in Kaili Blues as the film's budget was tight, does a cameo as the gang boss in the new movie.

The actors and actresses of Long Day's Journey into Night spent nine months filming in Kaili. Usually, a feature film is shot on the Chinese mainland in three months or fewer.

Huang, for example, trained with a local teacher to learn the local dialect for at least two months. And Tang says she "cut her shoulder slightly after the makeup artists failed to create a convincing injury". The most challenging part for Chen was to fiercely pull Tang's hair for a sequence in which the gang boss seizes the two protagonists.

"My actors are very generous. They have given me their time and tolerance," says Bi.

For some critics and industry insiders, the film may show how far a film without studio backing can go in China's box office. But Bi says he has already got what he wanted.

"I just want to direct a good story," he says.

Left: A still image from the film, Long Day's Journey into Night, starring Huang Jue (left) and Tang Wei. Right: Cast members Chen Yongzhong (left), Tang Wei and Huang Jue promote the film in Beijing on Monday. Photos provided to China Daily 

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2018-12-27 07:40:54
<![CDATA[It's that time of the year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/27/content_37419890.htm Chinese tourists are expected to make their presence felt in large numbers again during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

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Travel agencies see brisk business with Spring Festival vacationers on the move, Yang Feiyue reports.

Chinese tourists are expected to make their presence felt in large numbers again during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

But many travel agencies are already reporting brisk business by way of bookings, with many Chinese planning to spend their unused paid vacation this month. Favorable visa policies in other countries and Christmas shopping packages are adding to the wanderlust, says Ge Lili, an executive at Lvmama, an online travel agency with its headquarters in Shanghai.

A series of the agency's December products has received more than 1 million bookings in half a month.

Thailand's visa-free policy for Chinese tourists, effective since Dec 1, has produced a significant month-on-month increase in the number of Chinese visiting the country.

Those who booked trips that cover well-known shopping sites in Europe via Lvmama have grown by 60 percent as compared with the same period last year, the agency reports.

Winter in northern China has also driven a large number of mainland travelers to warmer destinations. Many also seek fresher air.

Thailand, Singapore and Japan are the most-popular outbound getaways for Chinese tourists for the Christmas-New Year period, while Hainan province's Sanya, Fujian province's Xiamen and Yunnan province's Lijiang top the domestic list.

Chinese tourists have become a significant force in the international tourism market and have taken the lead in average per capita expenditure during travel abroad, followed by tourists from the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and the United States, according to a recent report jointly released by global payment giant Mastercard and one of China's biggest online travel-service providers, Ctrip.

Ctrip saw 690 billion yuan ($100 billion) in transactions from September last year to this September. For about 130 million users of its services, the average annual spending was at more than 5,000 yuan, the travel agency reports.

High-end travelers accounted for 20 percent of outbound tourists, but contributed over 80 percent of the total travel expenditure, according to Mastercard.

Tourism has become a way to understand consumption patterns, especially for holidays such as Spring Festival, and it's one of the best times for Chinese to take their families on trips, says Xiao Yinyuan, an executive in charge of outbound tourism at Ctrip.

Ctrip's December orders for Spring Festival tours so far have increased by 50 percent as compared with the same period last month.

"From the look of things so far, Chinese tourism consumption promises a rosy prospect," Xiao says.

The agency's newly launched private-tour products are being favored by Spring Festival vacationers. The products offer special tour-guide services for two or more people, and allow tourists to enjoy both group-tour services and the flexibility of individual travel, Xiao says.

"One out of every 10 tourists to Japan and Bali has signed up for the private-tour products," Xiao says.

The opening of the Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Guangzhou-Hong Kong high-speed railway have increased the number of travelers to Hong Kong via rail and automobile.

Many travelers have opted for the special administrative region's villages and towns off the beaten track to taste authentic yet distinctive Hong Kong elements, Ctrip reports.

Other than Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, France, Italy, Switzerland, Vietnam, the United States, Turkey, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Maldives are the most-popular destinations among Chinese who booked trips through Ctrip for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

Some short-distance getaways, such as the Philippines and Cambodia, are expected to see a surge in bookings in January, according to the travel agency.

Japan's visa relaxation for Chinese tourists with two visits to the country in past three years is likely to benefit 25 million to 30 million Chinese travelers, according to Xie Zhiwei, Ctrip's visa business manager.

The new visa policy will take effect on Jan 4 and cut previous requirements of financial conditions for Chinese tourists.

Ctrip has launched more than 3,000 routes in Japan for the upcoming Spring Festival. Bookings for Kyoto and Osaka and to see the snowfall in Hokkaido are at over 50 percent of capacity. Packages including Disneyland and Universal Studios in Japan and animal interactions there, such as in Nara, have been snapped up by Chinese families.

Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba and even the Antarctic region have claimed the attention of a considerable number of Chinese travelers. The number of Chinese who have booked trips to these destinations have more than doubled for each compared with the same period last year. Inquiries for trips to view the northern lights in Canada during Spring Festival have doubled at Ctrip. The three-day group tour to Yellowknife has sold out.

It's partly thanks to Canada's favorable policy that allows Chinese travelers to use their Alibaba-backed Sesame Credit points in place of their assets certification, Xiao says.

Chinese travelers' outbound experiences have increased, and they are now eyeing faraway continents, such as South America and Antartica.

The Antarctic region received 8,273 Chinese visitors during the 2017-18 season, accounting for 16 percent of the total tourism there, second to the United States, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators reports. That's nearly 3,000 more than the 2016-17 Antarctic tourism season, and 100 times as much as it was in 2008, when fewer than 100 Chinese visited.

Although the dollar-to-yuan exchange rate is rising, it hasn't affected tourism-product prices, which are basically at last year's levels.

"We've reached long-term cooperation with airlines, hotels and tourism bureaus, and will reduce costs through mass purchases to offer tourists better cost performance," Xiao says.

Costs to certain destinations, such as the Maldives, Australia and New Zealand, have dipped by 5 to 10 percent.

At the moment, the 12-day tour to New Zealand's west coast, Christchurch, Greymouth, Fox Glacier, Queenstown, Lake Takepo, Auckland and Rotorua is priced at less than 30,000 yuan for Spring Festival. For those who want to avoid crowds, Xiao recommends the emerging destinations Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, both of which offer visa-free entry to Chinese.

In addition, Kenya and Tanzania will be at their off-tourism period, which would make for relative quiet traveling experiences.

 

Chinese tourists take photos at Cambodia's Ta Prohm Temple in December. Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-27 07:40:54
<![CDATA[Southern villages fuel tourism through folk customs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/27/content_37419889.htm Shuangletun has relied on its multiple ethnicities to develop into a popular getaway.

Sitting in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region's Huanjiang Maonan autonomous county, the village is home to ethnic Maonan, Miao and Yao people, which makes for an ideal environment to experience distinctive Chinese folk customs.

"The number of tourists usually peaks on weekends, and villagers will perform traditional guest-welcoming shows," says Wei Yulong, the village head.

Every guest will be served a bowl of liquor before entry, and locals will dance and play reed-pipe wind instruments during the ceremonies.

The women's heavy silver accessories are quite a sight, and the roasted pork is something one shouldn't pass up.

Bonfire parties at night will transport even the most ardent urbanite from the hustle and bustle of the city back to a soothing, simpler, primitive state of mind.

The traditional singing and dancing of local ethnic people have drawn outsiders' attention since 1998, when they were invited to give performances across the country.

In 2009, villagers began to run tourism businesses and raised 1.35 million yuan ($195,800) on their own to build rural restaurants and hotels.

As the nation's precision poverty-alleviation program has progressed since 2016, the Huanjiang government has invested more than 10 million yuan to upgrade infrastructure in Shuangletun.

Roads, parking lots, toilets and an art-and-sports center were improved, while a pavilion and an artificial lake were built, giving the old village a much-needed face-lift.

Shuangletun is expected to receive 31,000 visitors in 2018, and tourism revenue is projected to hit 3.8 million yuan, says Zheng Zhiyong, director of Huanjiang's tourism authority.

Now, as tourism booms, the lives of the locals have also changed for the better.

"We lived in simple shed made of wood and grass, and survived by hunting and growing millet," Wei recalls.

Annual per capita income barely hit 500 yuan.

Now, however, locals have moved into spacious brick houses and developed an orange plantation and a duck-raising business.

"Travelers will pick fruit in the orange garden and taste the duck, chicken and other fare cultivated by the farmers," Wei says.

Many villagers who used to work in cities have returned home, and annual per capita income has surpassed 10,000 yuan.

Shuangletun is only one part of the Huanjiang government's efforts to use the pristine natural environment and rich ethnic elements to develop tourism and improve local residents' lives.

"We have lush forests, karst landscapes, waterfalls and historical sites," says Huang Rongbiao, Party secretary of Huanjiang county.

The unique songs and dances of Maonan people were recognized as a "living fossil of Chinese opera and national cultural heritage" in 2006.

The Huanjiang government is working on the development of two highly rated national scenic spots. The goal is to turn Huanjiang into an international destination, Huang says.

Wei is in charge of ethnic-dance trainings and rehearsals on Friday and Saturday nights.

The trainees are as young as 6. The oldest are in their 40s.

"We want to improve villagers' literacy and carry on Miao singing and dancing," Wei says.

 

Left: Locals in Shuangletun in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region play instruments to welcome guests. Right: Villagers in Shuangletun dance with tourists at a bonfire party. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-27 07:40:54
<![CDATA[Motherhood is key]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/27/content_37419888.htm Written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, Piano Concerto No 5 was Ludwig van Beethoven's last completed piano concerto.

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As she prepares to perform Beethoven at the Great Hall of the People, pianist Yuan Fang says becoming a mother has enhanced her music, Chen Nan reports.

Written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, Piano Concerto No 5 was Ludwig van Beethoven's last completed piano concerto.

Known as the Emperor Concerto, the composition exudes a powerful, grand and heroic mood.

On Dec 31, Chinese pianist Yuan Fang will perform the first movement of the piece along with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra at the Great Hall of the People during the annual New Year concert, which was first launched at the venue in 1996.

It is not the first time that Yuan will perform at the New Year concert in Beijing. On the last day of 2015, she played Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 1 with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Czech conductor Petr Altrichter.

This year, Austrian conductor Friedrich Pfeiffer, who is the conductor of the Vienna State Opera, will lead the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, which will also perform Bolero by French composer Maurice Ravel, Voices of Spring by Austrian composer Johann Strauss II and Ode to the Red Flag by Chinese composer Lyu Qiming.

"I have prepared for a long time to play Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5. The piece explodes with power but, inside it, you can hear the composer's personal and subtle emotions," says Yuan, who has played with renowned musicians, such as Zubin Mehta and Lawrence Foster.

"As a student, I listened to many versions of the piece interpreted by different pianists. The past experiences of touring worldwide and my performances of many other musical pieces enabled me to finally play the piece onstage with my own understanding."

She played Piano Concerto No 5 for the first time with the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of US conductor Dorian Wilson in 2015. This year, she played the piece with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in March at the National Center for the Performing Arts and with the China National Symphony Orchestra at the same venue in May.

Performing Beethoven seems to be the 36-year-old pianist's specialty.

Yuan performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and released an album, on which she plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 1 and Piano Concerto No 4, in 2015.

Growing up in Shenzhen, she started learning piano at age 4 and moved to Beijing to join the middle school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music at age 11. That's where she grew fond of Beethoven's work, which she describes as "full of human emotions and comforting soulfulness".

In 2001, Yuan chose to study in Germany, hoping to see Beethoven's manuscripts. She spent several years studying with German pianist Gerhard Oppitz while majoring in piano and chamber music at Munich's University of Music and Performing Arts.

Yuan returned to China in 2008 and taught at the Central Conservatory of Music from 2008 to 2016.

She planned to record Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5 this year but had to postpone it because of her pregnancy.

"When I practice the piece at home, I feel different. I am very relaxed while playing. The emotion is deeper and the inner strength seems to be doubled, which might be a result of motherhood," says Yuan, who is already the mother of a 6-year-old girl and will welcome her second child next spring.

Motherhood makes her music rich and emotional, she says. She can still recall that, when she studied in Munich, she was impressed by a winner of the ARD International Music Competition, the largest international classical-music competition in Germany. The winner was a Romanian pianist, who was pregnant.

"She played Beethoven and Mozart during the competition. Being pregnant isn't always easy, but it seemed that her baby inspired her and the pianist completed her performances with great confidence and solid technique," recalls Yuan. "It is a gift to female musicians when we are pregnant. We feel something more when we play onstage - grateful and blessed."

 

Pianist Yuan Fang will perform the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5 with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra at the Great Hall of the People during the annual New Year Concert on Dec 31. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-27 07:40:54
<![CDATA[Easing rural decline takes an artist's touch]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/27/content_37419887.htm The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, an outdoor art festival that spans 200 villages in remote mountainous areas in Japan's Niigata prefecture, has attracted more than half a million visitors, many of whom are designers, city planners and even Chinese government officials, according to Sun Qian, who is in charge of emulating the project in China.

Established in 2000, the art triennial was labeled "the art festival of Earth". It invites celebrated artists from all over the world to create artwork in rural areas, including empty houses, closed schools and rice paddies. It succeeded in sparking a revival of those rural communities that are mainly comprised of elderly people and children.

Apart from ordinary Chinese tourists, more than 50 government institutions from different cities and towns in China have visited the festival, hoping to learn how to revitalize rural areas with art, says Sun.

"I met acquaintances every day during my stay at the festival," says Sun of the popularity of the event among her friends. Many of them are involved in China's rural construction.

China faces the same problem as Japan: empty villages and aging communities, and Sun attributes the emphasis on rural revitalization to the passion of Chinese officials and her friends.

For the past decade, rural construction and revitalization have been at the top of the central government's agenda as it aims to inject new energy into "empty villages".

President Xi Jinping made rural revitalization a priority for governments at all levels at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017.

Subsequently, artists in China joined the trend to use art as a creative way to engage in rural construction. Dozens of art festivals and events have taken place in villages since last year, many of which hope to stage a similar event to the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in China.

Sun plans to create a model in Tonglu, a county surrounded by mountains and a river in East China's Zhejiang province.

"It's not simply moving artwork from cities to the countryside. It must involve as many groups as possible from society. Art is just a small part and a medium for the message," Sun explains.

"For us, art is created to solve problems. The art festival should help locals to solve certain problems, such as to erase poverty or to upgrade the local tourism industry," she says.

Her team signed a contract with Tonglu's local government in November to create a Chinese version of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial. They are currently doing research.

Sun started her work at the Japanese art festival three years ago, when she began to bring Chinese artists to take part in a residency project called China House, where artists transform classrooms of closed schools into art spaces or installations.

"Doing this kind of site-specific work can offer fresh inspiration for artists. They communicate with locals and learn about their culture and history. Locals can also learn from them," says Sun.

Kitagawa Furamu, founder of the Japanese art event, says that the trend of 21st-century art is that it's leaving the confines of city museums and expanding in rural areas. He has helped organize several similar events in Japan that use art to revitalize depopulated places.

Furamu will be involved in the Chinese version. In fact, he has been invited to give speeches on the subject by many Chinese cultural institutions.

The Tonglu festival is set to open in 2020 and will be held every three years.

Although it will share some resources with, and take lessons from, its Japanese predecessor, Sun says that more time for research and preparation is needed, because China's situation is much more complex than Japan's.

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2018-12-27 07:40:54
<![CDATA[En papillote the Chinese way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/23/content_37416730.htm Editor's Note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

French cuisine holds parallels with Chinese cuisine, and the two are so similar, in fact, that the basics mirror each other most of the time.

It is no use asking unanswerable questions about who came first. People with good palates and an appreciation of ingredients usually arrive at the same conclusions, even without consultation.

So it is that both Chinese and French cooks know that wrapping food in paper and cooking in it preserves that best natural flavors. The French call this method "en papillote". Chinese chefs, lacking the linguistic sophistication, simply tag a prefix - paper-wrapped chicken, paper-wrapped ribs, paper-wrapped fish ... Whatever.

All this was totally lost on me. As a little girl, it was a very rare treat when the family visited a chicken farm in the evenings for the speciality dish - paper-wrapped chicken.

The chef only slaughtered, marinated and wrapped up the bird when the order came in, so the wait was long. But it was alright. There were enough distractions.

There were chickens cackling in huge cages, their necks sticking out as they pecked hopefully at their feeding troughs. Usually, the farmer would scatter a handful of fodder if he saw children hanging about, so the chickens were conditioned to like people. Even cacophonous children.

There were also pigeons with exotic crowns. They shimmered as they strode about and were truly magnificent. They were pets, not food.

So were the peacocks, given the run of the courtyard so they sauntered disdainfully around, sometimes flaring their tails to show off in front of their admiring females and visiting infant humans.

The farmer also kept a mouse deer, a tiny little creature so shy it crouched in a corner all the time, blending into the surrounding foliage. Apart from testing our eyesight, it really wasn't much fun.

By the time we'd visited all the animals, the adults would start calling us back to the table. Dinner was ready, finally.

The lazy susan at the center of the table would have a platter piled high with little oily parcels. Right beside it would be a stainless steel basin/mixing bowl to catch all the discarded wrapping paper.

Even before the chicken reached our mouths, our noses would have sniffed out the fragrance. It was a heady mixture of Chinese wine, ginger juice and other assorted secret ingredients.

As the adults unwrapped the oily paper, they were always careful to catch the juices, making sure the drips were either in the bowl of rice, or a plate of plain fried rice vermicelli.

The children just licked the juices from their fingers.

The chicken was always tender, and so full of flavor it was like a merry-go-round in the mouth.

First, the chicken fat and skin were slightly crisp, the meat tender and just cooked through so juices squirted with every bite. Best of all, the marinade was a sophisticated mix of ginger juice and a fiery Chinese spirit that was scented with roses.

To a child, it was almost a guilty pleasure to eat this.

The adults may indulge with beer and BYO whisky, but the kids could only enjoy the chicken. Its wine-scented flavor made us feel so grown-up.

Years later, the chicken farm was sacrificed to the urban sprawl and our family gatherings faded into memory. I also learned to cook.

One Christmas, I decided to make paper-wrapped chicken to see if I could recapture the taste. I'm happy to say the recipe became so popular that it featured as a signature dish in one of my cookbooks.

If you plan well, it can be a pretty fuss-free dish for a party.

Motivated by this success, I went on to experiment with en papillote cooking, Chinese-style. The next thing I wrapped in paper was a sweet rack of ribs inspired by the famous spare ribs of Wuxi.

You need a rack of baby back ribs, because they are tender and moist. You also need the best quality brown sugar, good five-spice powder and Chinese black vinegar, preferably from Zhenjiang.

Both recipes make great finger food and are ideal for a large crowd, especially if you have an air-fryer sitting on the counter.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipes

Paper-wrapped chicken

(Estimate 300 g boneless chicken per person)

3 kg boned, chicken thigh meat, rinsed and drained

Marinade:

1/2 cup ginger juice

1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or mirin

3/4 cup soya sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 heaped teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Meiguilu spirit

(This is a rose-scented white spirit from Tianjin. Substitute with a good whisky.)

1/4 cup sesame oil

36 squares baking parchment, trimmed into 10 cm squares

1/2 cup sesame oil

Prepare the chicken by cutting them into bite-sized chunks. Don't be tempted to use large pieces. Smaller portions absorb the marinade better, and cook faster.

Place the chicken in a large basin, and add the Meiguilu first. Then, add the ginger juice, rice wine, sugar, soy sauce and rest of seasoning.

Go to work massaging the marinade into the chicken. Leave the basin, covered, in the fridge overnight.

The next day, you're ready to start wrapping. Prepare some coriander sprigs and thinly slice up some red chili peppers.

Generously brush the baking parchment square with sesame oil. Place a leaf or two of coriander under the chicken. Chicken best placed skin-side down. Wrap up the chicken and tuck the loose end tightly into the fold.

Once you wrap the chicken into parcels, you're ready to fry.

You can fry immediately, or keep the parcels for no more than two days.

I'm using my air-fryer (200 deg C for 15 minutes.) but you can use vegetable oil to deep-fry. Ten to 12 minutes on medium heat. But remember to drain well. I've tried baking and grilling but they don't work as well.

Serve hot, and remember a large basin for the discarded wrappers.

Paper-wrapped ribs

1 rack of baby pork ribs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Chine fragrant black vinegar (not the Shanxi vinegar which is too harsh)

1/4 cup Meiguilu white spirit 1 teaspoon salt

Cut up the rack into individual ribs. Marinade with rest of ingredients.

Wrap two ribs in each packet.

Deep fry as above or use the air fryer. Sweet, tangy and addictive.

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2018-12-23 10:34:51
<![CDATA[Chinese rock star fuses visual, audible art]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/23/content_37416729.htm Former vocalist of Chinese rock band Tang Dynasty hosts an exhibition of around 50 paintings inspired by his own musical creations

Ding Wu is sitting in the middle of his own exhibition at the headquarters of Modern Sky, the biggest independent music label in China, surrounded by about 50 paintings that he created over the past few years.

Among the paintings are seven works finished in the past year that were inspired by seven songs he wrote, produced and performed.

The combination of these paintings and songs now represent his first project, titled One Moment, as a solo artist with Modern Sky.

 

Ding Wu says his new project was inspired by fatherhood. He has a 7-year-old daughter.

 

Each of the seven songs shares its title with a painting, including Two-Sidedness, April and Lottery Ticket.

"It's all a little overwhelming," Ding says. "I didn't know if the paintings and the songs were ready to be released. When they are actually here and open to the audience, I feel nervous and excited. It's a professional and personal milestone for me."

One of the most famous rock musicians in the country, the 55-year-old first rose to fame as the vocalist of Chinese rock band Tang Dynasty in 1988. He co-founded the band with Chinese-American musician Kaiser Kuo and bassist Zhang Ju, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1995.

In 1991, the band released its first album, A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty, to critical acclaim, selling around 2 million copies in China and catapulting Ding to stardom. Its second album, Epic, which was released in 1998, and the third, Knight of Romance, released 10 years later, cemented its place in the history of Chinese rock.

One Moment is Ding's first solo album in more than 30 years and it chronicles his journey as an artist.

"Life is all about choices. When I look back, I see my life as a process of making choices. Sometimes I make a choice and that's the one moment that changed my life," he says as he picks out the title song from the new album.

The song opens with intense guitar riffs, symbolizing the moments that are most important in his life.

Ding also composed an instrumental piece, titled Seven Shadows, for his new album. He played the song as part of his opening act during a live performance held at Modern Sky on Dec 5.

"We are influenced by many people, our families, friends and colleagues. They are like shadows existing in our lives. But putting those influences aside, you should be who you really are," Ding says to the audience after playing the piece.

Ding's love of painting preceded his passion for rock music. Born in Beijing, he started painting when he was 9 years old and has been doing it ever since. He graduated from the department of fine arts at Beijing Arts and Crafts School in 1983.

Ding is a longtime friend of Shen Lihui, the founder of Modern Sky who also used to attend Beijing Arts and Crafts School. Ding says that the idea behind his latest project was born when Shen invited him to join the music label a few years ago.

"The process of painting gave me time to think and reflect. Paintings are for the eyes while music is for the ears. They perfectly complement one another," he says.

According to You Yang, curator of Ding's exhibition, the musician has used oil, acrylic and mortar powder to portray different emotions. Also, instead of realistic painting, which he was trained in, all seven works are abstract.

Ding says the new project is spurred by his experience of being a father. His daughter is now 7 years old.

"In the past, I stayed up all night playing guitar, painting or hanging out with friends. But after I became a father, my life has become quite routine and healthy. I go to bed early and get up every morning to take my daughter to school," Ding says, adding that he has quit drinking and smoking.

"She also loves painting. We paint together, and she always inspires me. I feel happy that I can record my life with the two great art forms, painting and music. I express my feelings through my brush and guitar."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-23 10:34:51
<![CDATA[Imperial splash in Shanghai]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/23/content_37416728.htm A large-scale exhibition celebrates the life and art of classic painter Dong Qichang

The works of one of the most important figures in Chinese art history, Dong Qichang (1555-1636), are being presented in a large-scale exhibition at the Shanghai Museum.

The Ferryman of the Ink World: Dong Qichang's Calligraphy and Painting Art consists of 154 paintings and calligraphic works, some from the museum's own collection and some borrowed from 15 other museums and cultural institutions, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tokyo National Museum.

 

Landscape paintings by Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) artist Dong Qichang in the style of old masters are among the pieces on show at the ongoing exhibition in Shanghai.

It is the largest exhibition of Dong's works ever on the Chinese mainland, according to Yang Zhigang, director of the Shanghai Museum.

Dong was born to a poor, but educated family in Huating in today's Shanghai. He passed the imperial examination and worked in a series of government positions starting from age 35. During his career as an artist, which lasted until he was 80, Dong made great efforts to explore traditional Chinese art, and he collected calligraphy and paintings.

Dong is now widely known for his art theories. He divided Chinese painting into northern and southern schools, traced their historical lineage and analyzed their aesthetic advantages. He also studied and analyzed Chinese ink-and-brush painting, emphasizing the moral power and spiritual heights of artists.

Through his creations, Dong showed that he had learned from previous masters and developed his own style and methods to become the leader of the Huating school. His artworks were widely sought and coveted during his lifetime. His artistic achievements were praised by both critics and emperors after his death at age 82.

Other exhibits in the show include works by important artists and calligraphers before Dong who had a great impact on his art, and works by later artists he influenced, Yang says.

"We hope to create a panoramic exhibition that presents the artist and his ideas in the context of the art history of imperial China."

Dong was by far the most influential figure in the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, and his artistic theories dominated the tone and principles long afterward, says Ling Lizhong, head of the art department at the Shanghai Museum, who is also the curator of the exhibition.

While preparing for the show, Ling says he made a list of all the works he wanted to display, feeling like a child writing to Santa Claus.

"I didn't think about whether it was possible to borrow these treasures and exhibit them in Shanghai. I just jotted down a dream list of artworks that I considered important and relevant for the exhibition," he said.

The Shanghai Museum managed to borrow more than 40 important paintings and calligraphy pieces from 15 other museums and cultural institutions.

Among the most celebrated works is The Remaining Mountains, borrowed from the Zhejiang Provincial Museum in Hangzhou.

One of the few surviving works by painter Huang Gongwang (1269-1354), Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, was partially burned in 1650. Today, one part is kept at the Taipei Palace Museum in Taiwan, while the other - The Remaining Mountains - is stored at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum.

"Some important artworks, such as The Remaining Mountains, are very fragile and cannot be exhibited for more than a few weeks," Yang says.

Because of Dong's influence on Chinese art history, his works coexisted with forgeries, even during his lifetime. Later on, artists followed his style and techniques, and a lot of paintings were mistakenly identified as Dong's creations. This has brought great challenges to the authentication of Dong's works. The exhibition highlights some details and proofs that helped academics decide whether or not a painting was Dong's.

Because of their fragility, some of the works can be displayed for only 45 days and then will be replaced by others.

"If you want to experience the complete exhibition, you will have to make four visits," Yang says.

The exhibition runs through March 10.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-23 10:34:51
<![CDATA[The long arm of German culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/23/content_37416727.htm Goethe-Institut marks three decades since it set up operations in China with a 30-hour event

The Goethe-Institut is celebrating its 30th anniversary in China this year. And one of the highlights was a 30-hour celebration, with concerts, performances, art installations, film screenings, lectures and events for children in November at its base in Beijing's 798 art zone.

Meanwhile, in 30 events held from September through early December, the organization held discussions addressing 30 essential questions about the future covering human and social development, art, technology, language and gender studies.

"The celebration is a condensed version of our work," says Clemens Treter, director of Goethe-Institut China.

 

Visitors learn simple dialog in German during an open course at the 30-hour celebration of the Goethe-Institut's 30th anniversary in China. Photos by Li Yinjun / For China Daily

     
The venue at the 798 art zone, decorated in green, is considered a cultural space where free talks, artistic productions and creative activities using new technologies are frequently offered.

Visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "Among the many branches of the Goethe-Institut I've been to around the world, this is one of the coolest spaces. Congratulations for having such a place filled with creativity."

Steinmeier made the comments on Dec 9 in the course of a discussion with scholars from a variety of fields on the challenges brought by the digital revolution.

As the cultural arm of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goethe-Institut, which is dedicated to promoting knowledge of the German language and fostering international cultural cooperation, founded its China chapter in Beijing in 1988 after talks by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and then-German chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Sinologist Michael Kahn-Ackermann, the founding director of the institute, says the founding was a complicated and difficult process that took more than four years of negotiation. Ackermann was among the earliest overseas students who came to China in 1975.

In the 1980s, he translated books into German, including those of Nobel laureate Mo Yan; two-time winner of China's prestigious Maodun Literature Prize Zhang Jie; and author Wang Shuo.

Ackermann attributes the founding of the Goethe-Institut partly to China's reform and opening-up and says the branch in Beijing was the only independent foreign cultural institution on the Chinese mainland for 16 years after it was set up.

Currently, the organization also has libraries and language centers in Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenyang, Qingdao, Nanjing, Chongqing, Xi'an and Wuhan.

At the opening ceremony of the 30-hour celebration, a number of Chinese scholars and artists shared their experiences of learning and working with Goethe-Institut China.

Jia Guoping, a composer and a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, attended a German language course there 25 years ago, shortly before going to Germany for further studies with a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service.

In 2007, Jia started working with the institute as part of a three-year chamber music program, during which orchestra and piano students from the Central Conservatory of Music had the opportunity to receive instruction from principal musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Meanwhile, Jia launched a corresponding chamber music composition competition called Con Tempo - which is still running - in which the winners' works are performed by students attending the program.

Later, in 2011, the Central Conservatory of Music set up the Ensemble ConTempo Beijing. The ensemble later made its debut in Europe, sponsored by Goethe-Institut China.

According to Jia, his team is now working with the institute on a "digital concert hall" program that screens recordings of some of the Berlin Philharmonic's concerts.

"Our cooperation with the Goethe-Institut China has promoted the development of contemporary music in China," says Jia, adding that the younger generation of Chinese musicians are open-minded, and that the institute is responsible for the change.

A growing number of music students at the Central Conservatory of Music are seeking to do further studies in Germany, a frontier of modern music, and many of them are studying at the Goethe-Institut China.

Clemens von Goetze, Germany's ambassador to China, says that China and Germany recognize the differences between the two countries and both want further cooperation.

Even though there are collisions and setbacks in cultural exchanges, Goetze hopes more people from both countries will master each others' languages, something the Goethe-Institut China has helped with over the past 30 years.

Treter said the institute also attaches great importance to training German teachers in China.

Marla Stukenberg, the regional director of the Goethe-Institut in East Asia, said: "We firmly believe that the various problems and challenges humanity is facing can be resolved with dialogue and that the talks should not be limited to bilateral exchanges. The cultural and educational programs promoted by the institute around the world are an example of this."

fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-23 10:34:51
<![CDATA[Ginkgo paradise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/23/content_37416726.htm With 30,000 trees, Jiangdong village in Yunnan looks like a forest of gold in autumn

Jiangdong village, surrounded by more than 30,000 ginkgo trees, including several dozen more than 500 years old, turns golden-toned toward the end of every year.

The beautiful scenery attracts thousands of tourists to the village, which is 40 kilometers from Tengchong, in western Yunnan province.

Seen from afar, the village looks like a vast ginkgo forest.

 

The Jiangdong village of Yunnan province has made protection of the ginkgo trees, especially the old ones, a priority. Photos Provided to China Daily

The villagers' homes, built in traditional style and enclosed by low, black walls built with local lava rocks, are scattered along narrow lanes.

Tall ginkgo trees cover the courtyards, with their yellow leaves lying on the ground and on rooftops in autumn.

In the old days, every newlywed couple in the village would plant a ginkgo tree, a species known for extremely slow growth, in their courtyard or field. The tree was expected to bear fruit when the couple got old, so they would be able to support themselves by selling the nuts.

Ginkgo trees that can bear nuts are customarily handed down as family assets in the village.

In recent years, the village has seen a tremendous transformation thanks to the development of ecotourism based on the trees.

The village used to be secluded and poor, but its beauty was discovered by some professional photographers.

To boost tourism, the local government launched a project in 2008 to enhance the village environment and infrastructure so that it could host visitors. Before that, the villagers lacked a proper water supply, electrical power and roads.

Separately, the local government also encouraged residents to open restaurants and inns to accommodate tourists and provided funding to help them upgrade their homes.

Yang Zhuying, 52, was among the earliest in the village to open an agritainment venture - a rural restaurant and inn. She started the business in 2008, and manages it with her husband. Their children also help during the busiest season, when they can receive as many as 200 diners per day.

Yang's family of five earns about 140,000 yuan ($20,167; 17,890 euros; £16,090) from the business annually.

"The venture has become the main income source for our family," says Yang, who also sells local specialties, such as ginkgo nuts, to visiting tourists.

According to Yang, she and her husband used to depend mainly on agriculture, such as growing tobacco, as well as on part-time jobs. But each of them could earn little more than 10,000 yuan per year.

Also, Yang says, in the beginning the only economic benefit from the ginkgos were the nuts, which local residents collected to sell to vendors. The nuts produced in the area are popular for their special glutinous taste, which is believed to be the result of local soil conditions.

But as tourism boomed in recent years, residents have developed more products from the nuts. Now, chicken stewed with ginkgo nuts is a famous culinary specialty.

The nuts have also been made into snacks, and the ginkgo flower, which once was discarded, is now sold at more than 200 yuan per kilogram. Even ginkgo leaves are made into decorative hats and sold to tourists.

Zheng Siyin, 74, looks after a stall near her home in the village and earns more than 100 yuan a day during peak season by selling ginkgo nuts and other items. Her family has six ginkgo trees, one of them nearly 500 years old.

She collected more than 200 kilograms of ginkgo nuts this year, with each kilogram yielding about 50 yuan.

"I am old and cannot do farming anymore. But I can still earn a little bit to help my children, thanks to the stall," she says, adding that the price of the local ginkgo nuts has gone up, too, thanks to demand from tourists.

Meanwhile, both her sons are running an agritainment business, she said.

According to Huang Chaojin, the director of the local community committee, more than 150 agritainment businesses have been started in the village, and many residents have opened shops selling specialties near their homes.

Last year, total revenue generated by tourism in the village came to 60 million yuan, and the average income of the villagers was 12,000 yuan - a lot higher than in surrounding areas, Huang says, noting that "ecotourism has greatly enhanced the lives of the villagers".

In 2010, 2,500 of the village's 4,000 residents were living below the poverty line. The number has been reduced to 105 this year.

While seeking further development of tourism, the village has made protection of the ginkgo trees, especially the old ones, a priority.

"Now all the residents are grateful for the benefits brought by the trees. And they avoid harming the older trees when they renovate or rebuild their houses," Huang says. "The harmonious coexistence of man and his environment, including the trees and wildlife, is now a village consensus."

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-23 10:34:51
<![CDATA[Hitting the right keys]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/23/content_37416725.htm A young Israeli pianist is making waves with the way he interprets pieces written by famous composers

As young Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg begins to talk about his unique musical interpretations, his eyes light up noticeably, radiating excitement and enthusiasm.

For him, music evokes imagery in the same way poetry does. Composers intricately weave the notes, and within their musical phrases they deftly and wittily conceal their wild fantasies and subtle sensitivities, Giltburg says.

Though he has toured China almost every year since 2007, Giltburg is faced with a particularly intense schedule on this year's musical circuit. Just hours after his arrival in Beijing, for example, he presented a three-hour piano recital at an art salon.

 

Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg believes music evokes imagery in the same way poetry does. Photos Provided to China Daily

But Giltburg says he never tires:

"Performing for me is a pleasure. If anything, I get energy from the audience, from the interaction and from the music itself."

Among the pieces Giltburg performed at the recital was Etu des-Tableaux, Op. 39, a homage to Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of his favorite composers.

He has recorded a number of Rachmaninoff's representative piano works, including in his most recent recording, which came out earlier this year - Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 and Variations on a Theme of Corelli.

While his dexterity is widely recognized, as his previous recording of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto was awarded Best Soloist Recording (20th/21st century) at the Opus Klassik Awards, what is more interesting is how he channels the composers through his performances.

"While it is obvious that everything is deeply felt, what we hear seems to be a portrayal of the composer's musical imagery rather than the soloist's take on it," music critic Patrick Rucker said of Giltburg's previous Rachmaninoff recording.

This is, in fact, how Giltburg approaches each piano piece he plays.

His approach searches for the composer's vision deep within the notes, rather than actively creating certain imagery based on previous experience.

"It's really important not to come up with an idea before you actually play the piece. It means you already closed off all the other possibilities for looking at the music," Giltburg says. "It's much better when, after having played a piece for maybe three, four months, you suddenly realize that something begins to grow from the music. And it's always a lot stronger and more organic because it's really connected."

With the Etudes-Tableaux, literally meaning "study-pictures", Giltburg vividly illustrates his concept, exemplified evidently by Etude-tableau Op. 39, No. 6, called Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, which offers a darker yet more thrilling account of the famous fairy tale.

"It's now not one wolf but three, because there are three voices playing in the same line, one after another, louder as the wolves chase her. And it ends with the growl of the wolf. So in this version, it's the wolves who survive in the end," Giltburg says.

"But then you look at these three wolves in the middle, and you see that the lines that are playing very low in the keyboard are the same lines as the previous Red Riding Hood motif. So it's as if it's not the wolves that are chasing her, but some kind of copy of her, like a doppelganger. So what does it mean that the wolves are growling in the end?"

In looking for interpretations from within, Giltburg exhibits a level of reverence for the music, an influence that comes predominantly from Israeli classical pianist Arie Vardi, with whom he has studied for 15 years.

Giltburg, who was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1984, first started learning piano from his mother, a piano teacher, at the age of 4.

But the family soon moved to Tel Aviv, where Giltburg started learning piano systematically from Vardi.

"He taught me almost everything I know today. In terms of the approach to the musical text, of seeing the notes, the score, as the highest truth and the highest authority," Giltburg says.

Later, after winning a range of awards, including second prize at the Anton Rubinstein Competition in 2011 and first prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2013, Giltburg was approached by Klaus Heymann, founder and chairman of the Hong Kong-based Naxos Music Group, in 2015. That marked the start of a long-term collaboration with Naxos.

Giltburg says his current plan centers on recording more pieces from his core repertoire.

"Recordings advance you tremendously, with the kind of concentration and focus on preparation you need for the recording sessions. So, when you come out of the studio you always know the piece much better than you did before."

Apart from performing and recording classical music, Giltburg, as a person with various interests, including reading, writing, cooking and photography, also enjoys writing about classical music.

The stories and listening guides he writes on his blog, Classical Music for All, have been published by various media, including the Guardian, Gramophone magazine and BBC Music Magazine.

"My friends who are not musicians once told me that there's so much going on when you play, especially with an orchestra. It's like chaos. But for me, it's the exact opposite of chaos," Giltburg says. "And I thought, maybe that's what I need to do. I need to tell people what's going on, so then they can follow."

Giltburg says he plans to continue writing about his interpretations of piano pieces and his performances.

"There is such power in classical music. The ability to touch your soul in such a direct and timeless way," he says. "Some of the pieces we're playing today were written more than 300 years ago, and they are still relevant. They still say something to people in the 21st century."

chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-23 10:34:51
<![CDATA[How an online Q&A left me twisting, churning and learning]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416111.htm On a Saturday morning in 2014 I walked into my living room to find my wife wearing a sheepish smile. "I've done something, and you may not like it," she said.

I'd not had any coffee at this point, so the best I could muster was a sigh.

It turned out that the night before I'd neglected to log out of my account on Douban, a social network similar to Pinterest.

For some reason, while unable to sleep, she had started a discussion thread using my account that read: "Hi, I'm Craig, a British journalist at China Daily. Got a question? Ask away."

OK, I thought, that's not as bad as it could have been. So why so sheepish?

"Well," she said, "people are actually asking stuff; a lot of people." In just a couple of hours at least 100 questions had been posted to the thread, and more were coming in.

Another, louder, sigh escaped my body.

"It'll help you to practice your Chinese," she said, as she backed out of the room. So, after a large pot of coffee, I cracked my knuckles and sat down at the laptop to answer (in English and broken Chinese) as many questions as possible.

My inability to read and write Chinese was obvious fairly early.

"Are you very cool?" read one of the first questions, to which I cryptically replied, "What kind of trousers?" Those familiar with Mandarin will have guessed that I confused the character 酷 (cool) with 裤 (trousers).

For some reason, people following the thread thought I was being witty; they seemed to not see - or chose to ignore - the total farce that was unfolding.

"Do you like potatoes? And do you like (retired soccer player David) Beckham?" That's easy. "Yes. And meh."

Soon the discussion turned to whether I liked Sherlock and Downton Abbey, two cultural exports that appear to have given many Chinese a slightly strange view of the Brits.

At the time, I wasn't aware some Chinese warmly refer to my homeland as "Fuguo", which translates as "land of homosexuals".

According to an exchange with one Douban user, the bromance between Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock and Martin Freeman's Watson was a fine example of this reputation. What was my opinion?

"I'll have to ask my wife about that," I replied, no doubt prompting some head-scratching.

There were also numerous enquiries about whether I use WeChat, either because they wanted to teach me Chinese, wanted me to teach them English, or an unspecified "other".

I can't just add you on WeChat - you have to earn it.

Some initially refused to believe I was who I said I was. Fair enough. There's a lot of fake stuff on the web - just look at the pictures people post on dating apps.

Then I received a question that completely stumped me. "Do you like yuxiang rousi?"

Running it through a translation app, I learned it meant "fish-flavored pork", but after the Sherlock conversation I was suspicious of some ulterior meaning and decided not to respond.

After a few hours, my fingers and my patience were spent, largely from trying to keep up with all the wangluoyu, or cyberspeak. I signed off, leaving my Douban friends to talk among themselves.

It was fun, and it did help with my Chinese. But the moral of this story is that you should always log out when using a shared computer - even if the only person you share it with is your wife!

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2018-12-21 07:46:59
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416110.htm Judge knocks down New York's nunchuck ban

A US federal judge has knocked down a New York state law banning nunchucks that dated from the 1970s, when martial arts star Bruce Lee popularized them in his movies by whipping around the twin sticks linked by a chain. District court judge Pamela Chen sided with an amateur martial artist who opposed the ban, reasoning that the right to bear arms, protected by the US constitution, applies not just to firearms but also to nunchucks. The law was challenged by James Maloney, who claimed the ban prevented him from teaching his sons a martial arts form that used nunchucks.

Top scientist predicts saltwater rice boom

Agricultural scientist Yuan Longping said saltwater-tolerant rice will be planted on 6.6 million hectares of saline-alkali land in eight to 10 years. At the Third International Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Forum held in Sanya, Hainan province, Yuan said the average yield will be 4,550 kilograms per hectare, meaning China could harvest an additional 30 billion kg of rice a year, enough to feed 80 million people. Saltwater rice is designed to grow in tidal flats or other areas with heavy salt content.

Authenticity of auctioned dragon head in doubt

Experts have doubted the authenticity of a dragon head sculpture sold for 2.4 million euros ($2.7 million) at an auction in France recently. The dragon head, along with other 11 bronze sculptures formerly guarded a building in Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace, in Beijing, which was built from 1709 onwards and looted by British and French troops in 1860. The whereabouts of the stolen heads of a bronze snake, goat, rooster and dog are unknown.

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2018-12-21 07:46:59
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416109.htm Video: Intrepid reporter finds story's essence

Our journalist Erik Nilsson, always willing to find the essence of a story, tried his hands, literally, as a bamboopole porter in notoriously hilly Chongqing and rides along with an senior biker group. He also jumps aboard cruise and cargo ships to discover how the Three Gorges Dam connects the country. Visit our website to explore Chongqing with Erik.

Travel: Altay to boost winter tourism

Altay, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, seeks to tap into its rich winter tourist resources and become a hot destination for snow sports and the winter-related tourist market, authorities said at a promotion event held in Beijing recently. The Altay region boasts a rich variety of landscapes, from glacial rivers, forests and grasslands to alpine valleys, lakes, wetlands and deserts. With three outstanding scenic attractions including Kanas Lake, the area is regarded as one of the most promising tourist markets in Xinjiang.

World: Work in a box in a Tokyo train station

Four offices, resembling phone booths, have been installed inside the ticket gate at Tokyo's Shinagawa Station. The "Station Booths" have been developed for use as short-term private offices. Each is equipped with a desk, power outlet, free Wi-Fi connection and heating. Reservations are made via a designated website and users are allowed to stay for up to 30 minutes.

Culture: Ink exhibition brings an artistic touch

An exhibition that opened at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing on Friday, brings together 35 Chinese artists who have been exploring the possibilities of ink art. Divided into six parts, the exhibition examines the evolving forms of ink, as this traditional medium of classic Chinese art is presented in an experimental way. The exhibition, which runs through to Jan 2, seeks to usher ink art into a globalized context.

Photos: La Piscine Museum reopens

The refurbished La Piscine Museum reopened in October. Located in Roubaix, a city in the postindustrial belt of northern France, the museum, formally known as La Piscine Museum of Art and Industry, underwent an 18-month renovation. The extension gives the museum over 2,000 square meters of additional space.

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2018-12-21 07:46:59
<![CDATA[印度首富嫁女]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416108.htm 日前,印度首富穆克什·安巴尼的千金 - - 伊莎华丽出嫁。这场豪华婚礼立即引发了全球媒体的报道。下面,请跟双语君来看看吧!

India's richest man Mukesh Ambani saw his daughter, Isha, tie the knot with industrialist Swati Piramal's son, Anand, on Dec 12.

12月12日,印度首富穆克什·安巴尼的千金伊莎与阿贾伊·皮拉马之子阿南德喜结连理。

Bloomberg reported that guests to the prewedding festivities, in the central Indian lake city of Udaipur, ranged from international and local celebrities such as Beyonce and Shah Rukh Khan, to politicians like Hillary Clinton and business tycoons, including financier Henry Kravis.

据彭博社报道,受邀参加婚礼庆典的不仅有碧昂丝和沙鲁克·汗这样的国际和当地名流,也有希拉里·克林顿等政要人物,以及亨利·克拉维斯等商界大亨。

The guest list was so long that the Ambanis and Piramals took over at least five five-star hotels, and a "war room" was set up in Mumbai to manage logistics.

因为宾客名单太长,所以双方家庭包下了至少五家五星级酒店来招待嘉宾,还在孟买设立了一间“指挥室”来管理后勤工作。

According to local media reports, more than 100 chartered flights flew guests to and from Udaipur's Maharana Pratap Airport.

据当地媒体报道,双方至少承包了100架飞机往返于乌代普尔的马哈拉那普拉塔普机场接送客人。

People familiar with the planning estimated the cost at about $100 million. However, a person close to the family said the amount was not more than $15 million, according to Bloomberg.

彭博社报道,据知情人士估计,这场婚礼的花费约为1亿美元;但也有一位家族近亲称,费用不超过1,500万美元。

The New York Times compared the price of Prince Harry's wedding with this one. The royal wedding, it reported, cost $40 million in a country where labor costs are much higher.

《纽约时报》更是将这场婚礼的开销与哈里王子大婚进行对比。报道称,后者的耗资也不过4,000万美元,况且英国的人力成本比印度要高得多。

But whatever the cost, it would be small change for the father of the bride, Mukesh Ambani, a tycoon with an estimated net worth of $42 billion.

然而,对于新娘的父亲穆克什·安巴尼而言,这点钱根本算不得什么,毕竟这位大亨的净资产估值约420亿美元。

Invitations included necklaces and precious stones stacked in a two-tier floral box, amounting to a whopping $4,236 each, India Today reported.

据《今日印度》报道,随请柬一起送出的还有一个装有项链和宝石的双层花卉盒,每个盒子的价值高达4,236美元。

Some locals also got to share in the event's goodies, as the Ambanis donated enough food to the city of Udaipur to feed 5,100 people three meals a day for four days.

乌代浦尔市的居民也分到了好处。安巴尼家族连续四天每天无偿为5,100人提供三餐。

The Ambani family's Mumbai home, named after the mythical Atlantic island Antilia, has 27 stories, three helipads and is estimated to be one of the world's most expensive properties, second only to Buckingham Palace, The Washington Post reported.

《华盛顿邮报》报道,安巴尼家族在孟买的豪宅是以神话中的大西洋岛屿安提利亚命名的,有27层楼,三个停机坪,被评为世界上最昂贵的房产之一,仅次于白金汉宫。

Ajay Piramal, the father of the groom, Anand, is the head of the Piramal family, which is valued at $5.4 billion, according to the BBC.

据英国广播集团报道,新郎阿南德的父亲阿贾伊是皮拉马家族的掌门人,坐拥54亿美元家产。

The Economic Times reported that the Asia-Pacific region has already overtaken North America as the world's leading home for High Net Worth Individuals, meaning those who have more than $1 million in assets in addition to their main home. Collectively this group enjoyed wealth amounting to $22 trillion in 2017, according to consultants Capgemini.

《经济时报》称,亚太地区已经超过北美,成为全球“高资产净值人士”最为富集的地区。高资产净值人士是指那些除房产外资产超过100万美元的人群。凯捷咨询数据显示,2017年这部分人群的财富总计达22万亿美元。

Accelerating economic growth and equity market rallies (in Asia-Pacific region) helped push the global total of these individuals' wealth to a record $70.2 trillion, the World Wealth Report showed.

《世界财富报告》显示,(亚太地区)经济增长加速和股市反弹,推动了全球高资产净值人士财富总额增长至创纪录的70.2万亿美元。

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2018-12-21 07:46:59
<![CDATA[A shopping paradise comes true]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416107.htm I encountered - and then joined - an army of life-size, saxophone-playing, dancing, robotic Santas in Yiwu. I happened across these automated, musical Kris Kringles in the planet's biggest mall in Zhejiang province's Yiwu, a city known as the "supermarket of the world".

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If you can buy it anywhere in the world, you can likely buy it in Yiwu - 'it' being almost anything, including life-size robo Santas, who dance and play the sax. Erik Nilsson explores Earth's largest mall in 'the supermarket of the world'.

Editor's Note: This is Part 3 of the six-part Yangtze diaries series based on journalist Erik Nilsson's recent 35-day, 2,000-kilometer journey to 11 cities to discover how the Yangtze River Economic Belt has transformed over the 40 years since the reform and opening-up.

I encountered - and then joined - an army of life-size, saxophone-playing, dancing, robotic Santas in Yiwu. I happened across these automated, musical Kris Kringles in the planet's biggest mall in Zhejiang province's Yiwu, a city known as the "supermarket of the world".

Just for kicks, I donned a red-felt hat and stood among their ranks, trying to blend in.

It ... sorta worked. Not really, though.

If you can buy it-"it" being nearly anything - anywhere in the world, you can buy it in Yiwu. It's indeed a shopper's paradise come true.

In fact, the chances are pretty decent that what you're wearing or using right now may have been purchased wholesale from the city.

The 75,000-booth Yiwu International Trade Market is the epicenter of the world's largest trading hub for small commodities.

It's so vast that, if you were to visit every stall within a week, you'd only get eight seconds at each one.

One Western documentarian created an artistic video of its "infinity" that, by pure chance, popped up in my mobile-news feed a day after my visit.

I think it to be an appropriate word for the endlessness of the goods that stock countless shelves.

But, four decades ago, Yiwu's boundless retail sector was restricted. Ordinary citizens weren't allowed to operate large companies before the reform and opening-up.

"Our market originated from the local 'feathers-for-sugar' trade culture, which has a history of more than 300 years," He Haimei told me at her stall in the mall.

"Farmers would trade sugar, needles, thread and buttons - these very basic things - in exchange for chicken feathers around big festivals. This tradition made Yiwu what it is today."

She began her business by selling photos of performers from the film, Dream of the Red Chamber, for 1 yuan (14 US cents) outside cinemas.

She could earn 30 yuan in as many days.

"That was my husband's monthly wage back then. It was great money!"

She later made sun hats, using leftover material from a Japanese garment company in the city, and sold them for 0.3 yuan (4 US cents).

People started hawking goods at a street market that authorities shut down.

But she complained to a local leader.

"I told him that kids' trousers and other goods had been confiscated," she recalls.

"I said: 'All our goods come from Shanghai. If Shanghai can sell things, why can't we?'"

The official hosted a meeting about 20 days later, she remembers.

"He said we needed to lead the farmers to do business to get rich.

"He told us: 'We're leaders. We should serve the people.' I cried. I'd received an assurance that I could do business. It was a turning point for Yiwu."

Today, she exports thousands of kinds of scarves to over 30 countries, while her son runs a fashion-design studio in Italy.

The extent of Yiwu's internationalization became clearer to me when I met a Senegalese exporter who has lived in the city for 15 years and - although his English is excellent - he felt more comfortable doing the interview with me in Chinese.

Sula (his Chinese name) is among over 20,000 foreigners from 100 countries and regions who live in Yiwu. About half-a-million more visit to make purchases every year.

"Shopping in Yiwu is like shopping in the entire Chinese market," he told me, in Mandarin.

"The reason is very simple. In the Yiwu International Trade Market, you can find products from across the country, from places like Shandong, Fujian and Beijing ... People from the Middle East, the United States and France come to do business with me. That gives me an opportunity to do business with other countries."

Sula exports about 2,000 different products to African countries, including the Congo, Senegal and Gambia. I spotted the very same cups that I use in my apartment in Beijing in his display room.

I later visited his warehouses. Shirtless men glistened with sweat as they hustled to load nine semitrailers with goods headed to Senegal. Sula told me they pack between three and 20 truckloads a day - sometimes more.

How trade is accelerating became more apparent when I visited the 36-kilometer-long Hangzhou Bay Bridge. It connects the cities of Jiaxing and Ningbo in Zhejiang province, and has lopped hours off the travel time between cities in the Yangtze River Delta.

Goods and people can travel internationally by rail since the Yi-Xin-Ou train made its maiden voyage from Yiwu to Madrid in 2014. Trains from Yiwu now cross nine international routes to over 30 countries.

And the city's cross-border e-commerce companies are grasping the opportunities brought about by the Belt and Road Initiative.

"We used to transport goods to Hangzhou or Shanghai and then export them," Dayue Internet Technology manager Yue Xian explains.

"But, now, the Yi-Xin-Ou train enables us to transport goods directly from Yiwu to countries along the rail route."

Importantly, the increased connectivity links Yiwu with Zhejiang's provincial capital, Hangzhou, where the country's largest e-commerce company, Alibaba, is headquartered.

Alibaba's service platform Tmall Global has become the country's biggest cross-border e-commerce player since it was founded five years ago.

"We are actually helping many, many global brands come into China," the company's vice-president, Wei Chen, told me at Alibaba's headquarters.

Today, Tmall Global deals with over 18,000 brands from 74 countries, he says.

"A lot of the younger generation, they always come to Tmall Global to find the new stuff. So, I think, for a lot of foreign brands, China is the golden opportunity. And this is just the beginning."

Indeed, four decades after the three-century-old local "feather-for-sugar" platform was set free to fly into the future, Zhejiang province is soaring into the tomorrow of global trade.

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[Evonik's deep roots in Chinese market continue to grow as country flourishes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416106.htm Evonik Industries, the world's leading specialty chemicals company, has pledged its long-term commitment to China as the country further pushes its reform and opening-up.

The company started its business in China as early as the 1930s, establishing a representative ofice in Shanghai, and it currently employs over 3,000 employees and operates 10 production sites in the country.

Shanghai is the headquarters of the Evonik Asia Pacific North region, which serves customers in China, Japan and South Korea.

"China is the world's biggest chemicals market, with the highest growth potential," said Claas Klasen, president of the Evonik Asia Pacific North region.

"Evonik regards China as one of the driving forces of the global economy, and we are committed to growing our business here," Klasen added.

Deeply rooted in China

For years, Evonik has been stepping up its research and development in China. Focusing on "innovation in China for China", the Shanghai-Xinzhuang R&D center has maintained rapid expansion since 2003, while playing a key role in Evonik's global R&D strategy.

In addition to developing large-scale scientific research projects at the R&D center - both by itself and in conjunction with local partners - the company has also worked to facilitate Shanghai's development as a center for innovation in science and technology with global influence.

The company, earlier than most of its peers, began construction of a multi-user site in Shanghai Chemical Industry Park in 2004. According to executives, by the start of the current year, the accumulated investment had reached over 700 million euros ($800.4 million).

The site now houses production plants of methyl methacrylate, isophorone and isophorone diamine, specialty organics, silicone surfactants and other advanced Evonik products. According to the company, all its business segments in China can benefit from the leading technology, equipment and joint infrastructure facilities on the site.

In August, Evonik Industries and Chinese company Wynca agreed to form a joint venture in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province to produce fumed silica - a product used, among other things, in transparent silicones, coatings and paints, and modern adhesives.

With an investment in the mid double-digit million euro range, the facility, with a projected annual output of 8,000 metric tons, is scheduled to become operational in 2021.

Precipitated and fumed silica are among the company's "Smart Materials" - one of four strategic growth engines identified by Evonik for above-average market growth and margins potential. The joint venture will supplement Evonik's global network of fumed silica production facilities. It will enable the company to supply high-quality products to the growing Asian market via significantly shorter transport routes, the company said.

Driving sustainability

Globally, Evonik has partnered with Siemens to jointly research breakthrough technology that will result in a more streamlined, simplified and efficient production process, using greener technology than conventional methods.

The company also launched a series of plant-specific digitalization transformation projects. It said these projects would boost its digitalized development in various ways, streamlining and improving its production and customer service.

On the way to seeking sustainable growth, the company has long regarded people as its most important assets. Since 2007, Evonik has been recognized 12 times as one of "China's Top Employers" by international publishing company Top Employers Institute.

Embracing reform

The president of Evonik Asia Pacific North says that with its long-held policy of reform and opening-up, China is becoming a center of technological innovation with remarkable advantages in industrial designs and technologies.

Today's China is more than just a world factory. More and more products and solutions are "designed in China" and "innovated in China", according to Klasen.

Evonik is encouraged by the Chinese government's plan to further broaden market access, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights and expand imports. This shows how much the government values a vibrant economy and an innovation-driven development strategy. An open and dynamic China will unlock enormous opportunities for sustained prosperity, Klasen said.

In September 2017, the company set up Evonik International Trading (Shanghai) Co Ltd in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, accelerating product and service delivery to China's customers.

"Evonik wants to grow in China and we are committed to contributing to the region's sustainable and dynamic development by leveraging our cutting-edge innovations and partnering with key stakeholders in China," Klasen added.

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[Take your time to dine]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416105.htm In the cold of winter, a pot of stewed food is a family favorite in northern China, as it's warm and flavorful with multiple ingredients and a thick, hearty soup.

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A new restaurant in the capital's central business district that specializes in fare from northern China seeks to slow down mealtimes in the fast-paced city, Li Yingxue reports.

In the cold of winter, a pot of stewed food is a family favorite in northern China, as it's warm and flavorful with multiple ingredients and a thick, hearty soup.

Stewing is also one of the most-traditional Chinese cooking methods - after hours of slowly simmering away, the ingredients become easier to digest and absorb, and their rich flavors are released.

Chef Zhao Guangyou spent 500 days visiting almost all of China to find the best ingredients to create a menu for One Meal restaurant, which specializes in stews and traditional Beijing flavors.

The eatery in Beijing's central business district aims to slow down mealtimes in the fast-paced city.

"It's a place for family and friends to sit down together and enjoy one meal as if they are at home, so that the diners can feel relaxed," says Zhao.

Zhao was born in 1974 in Xianyang, Shaanxi province. He graduated from a culinary school in Xi'an in 1993.

"When I was in culinary school, my teacher told me that cooking is actually a comprehensive subject and is more than merely making dishes," says Zhao.

"To cut a fish, you need to learn about anatomy and biology, while the cooking methods actually involve a knowledge of physics and chemistry," he recalls. "It makes me feel proud to be a chef."

After graduation, he served as a personal chef and, later, as an executive chef for a private club.

In 2008, he was named as executive chef of JE Mansion Beijing and, at the same time, he started to learn from Wang Xifu, who is a descendant of an imperial-cuisine family.

"Wang is not only a master chef of imperial cuisine, but also studies the folk customs linked to the food," Zhao says. "Most traditional Beijing snacks are said to originate from empress Dowager Cixi or emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), but that's not entirely true."

Wang believes many imperial dishes and traditional Beijing snacks have lost their original flavors, as younger generations of chefs have not really tasted the authentic delicacies. So, he decided to replicate the classic dishes, and find their traditional flavors and cooking methods.

Zhao is learning with Wang and helping him to find the lost flavors, dish by delicious dish.

Deep-fried meatballs are one of the Beijing dishes that Zhao has learned from Wang. Each meatball is made with 30 percent fatty meat and 70 percent lean meat, and the key to cooking them correctly is to control the heat.

"The dish almost vanished in recent years, just because chefs didn't know the right way to make it. Wang, however, saved the dish by finding the authentic method, and now it's on the menus of many Beijing-cuisine restaurants," says Zhao.

Chinese writer Liang Shiqiu (1902-87) once wrote of the dish: "The meat was finely chopped before being fried until its tender inside was coated with a crispy crust. When you take a bite, it will melt in your mouth. There's nobody who won't love it with a bit of pepper and salt."

Tangyoubing (crisp fried dough with brown sugar) is a traditional Beijing snack often seen at breakfast booths on the street. But it's getting harder to find as street food fades away.

Zhao brought the snack to One Meal after learning the cooking method from Wang. "The key is to use flours with low gluten," says Zhao. "He told me the standard of a tangyoubing is that it has to stay crispy even when it's getting cold."

It's his apprentice, Ju Zelin, the executive chef of One Meal, who controls the dishes' quality, and ensures they are served the same way each day.

Bread soaked in fish-head soup is a highlight of the menu. Fish are delivered alive from Qiandao Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, each day. The soup has to be stewed for hours before serving. Each fish head weighs between 1 and 3 kilograms - ideal for a main course at a family gathering.

Stewed abalone and chicken claws is another of the eatery's signature stewed dishes, as both ingredients are abundant with collagen and their flavors infuse each other. Unlike the southern way of stewing, which uses more sugar, Zhao's northern style employs more soy sauce.

Of course, Peking duck is a classic menu item, and Zhao chooses to use 45-day-old Beijing ducks roasted in an oven with jujube wood. Honorable mentions must also go to the stewed chicken and pig's large intestines, pastries and traditional Chinese cheese with raspberry smoothies.

The background music at One Meal is unique - it combines elements of Peking Opera and modern hip-hop. All 47 songs are specially composed for the restaurant by Kunqu Opera performer Chen Jun and HitFM host and DJ Guo Peng.

The open kitchen is another slick addition that adds a sense of interaction between chefs and diners - walking past it is like wandering in a food fair, allowing you to choose your favorite snacks, whether it's tanghulu (sugar-coated hawthorn berries on a stick) or tangyoubing.

 

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[Beijing gets the feel of a Mexican neighborhood]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416104.htm An ounce of tequila, a dash of triple sec and the juice of half a lime or lemon - that is the first known margarita recipe, which was published in the December 1953 issue of Esquire.

The margarita is a drink that became popular during prohibition in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s as people drifted over the border to Mexico for alcohol.

Now, Mexican bartender Rodrigo Lizardi is bringing his version of the margarita to the newly opened El Barrio, a new destination for Mexican cuisine in Beijing.

The drink menu also features a frozen batida, coqueta and michelada.

"People used to think one shot of tequila can get you drunk, but that's with low-quality stuff," says Lizardi, who aims to showcase the variety of tequila and Mexican drinking culture in China.

All of El Barrio's tequilas are made from blue agave. It is said to be the only restaurant in China now certified by the Consejo Regulator del Tequila (Tequila Regulatory Council).

Like any international city, Beijing is home to restaurants serving food from all over the world. A variety of different cuisines have gained popularity with local consumers, but none more so than Mexican cuisine.

Tacos, nachos and margaritas are a routine part of Beijingers' diets and Mexican restaurants are noted for their party-like atmosphere.

But David Connolly, co-owner of El Barrio, says: "The type of Mexican food that you can find in Beijing is not diverse, so there is still a lot you can explore with Mexican food and alcohol."

El Barrio means "neighborhood" in Spanish and it was chosen as the restaurant's name as Connolly wants El Barrio to be a place where the community comes together to enjoy Mexican cuisine.

El Barrio has also injected fresh blood into the Mexican-food scene in Beijing because of its decor, contemporary Mexican and Latin soundtracks, and extensive menu that offers dishes from across Mexico.

El Barrio's design is inspired by classic Mexican colors and visual elements from across Latin America.

The two-story space is separated into a downstairs restaurant with a huge outdoor seating area as well as a rooftop terrace.

The indoor area has 70 seats and the outdoor area has 50 seats.

Custom-made rattan furniture and cane chandeliers modeled after traditional Mexican wide-brimmed hats provide natural textures. And the eye is also drawn to the huge triple-arch bar.

The space is decorated with pink neon lights, which creates a bright, festive atmosphere.

According to Connolly, the expansive outdoor seating area is one of El Barrio's highlights - the outdoor terrace was designed to mimic a street in the colorful town of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, which is well-known for its rich cultural heritage and unique architecture.

Another highlight of El Barrio's decor is a series of artworks by renowned Mexican artist Ernesto Muniz. And his eye-catching collages took a huge amount of work.

El Barrio's executive chef is Jose Miguel Rodriguez Alvarado. The Mexican chef has more than 20 years of experience, having been immersed in the kitchen of his family restaurant since he was a child.

Thanks to his start in home-style cuisine, Alvarado has developed a strong interest in local delicacies elevated by professional techniques.

Alvarado was executive chef of Los Pepes, one of the most famous Mexican restaurants in Queretaro, Mexico. And he has also taught professional culinary courses at UCOMondragon, training Mexican chefs who have since worked at restaurants all over the world.

He says: "I hope El Barrio will be more than just a restaurant, but it will be a place where people can enjoy Mexican culture."

The menu at El Barrio comprises Mexican dishes combined with modern ingredients and presentation techniques. Signature dishes include nachos with homemade tortilla chips and Iberico chorizo, Tijuana-style chicken wings, charcoal-grilled wagyu beef tacos and spicy slow-cooked lamb birria.

El Barrio's nachos feature homemade tortilla chips topped with double cheese and Spanish-style chorizo, along with a range of Mexican-style sauces, including black-bean puree, avocado salsa, Mexican crema, pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa.

The Tijuana chicken wings are a classic dish from Tijuana, a city in northern Mexico in which the chicken wings are marinated with smoked chillis, slow cooked until soft and tender, and then lightly fried until crisp on the outside.

Lizardi pairs the food with his cocktails. He likes to give diners free samples of different tequilas.

"Besides Mexican food, we want this place to be a tequila bar," he says.

 

Left: Carne Asada is one of El Barrio’s signature Mexican dishes. Right: Bar manager Rodrigo Lizardi (left) and coowner David Connolly aim to bring Mexico’s tequila culture to Beijing. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416103.htm Hulu has a new seasonal menu

With nutcracker soldiers standing outside the door, and silver snowflakes and pink balloons inside, Hulu is set to celebrate Christmas. A new seasonal menu offers tomahawk steak and roast suckling pig. The Australian beef rainbow salad is a highlight. It includes green, flower-shaped avocados, brown Australian beef, white quail eggs, orange pumpkins and caramel-colored walnuts. The dish looks like a mini garden on the plate.

S4-32, Taikoo Li South, Sanlitun, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-6512-5701.

Spend tea time at the Peninsula

Afternoon tea is infused with festive inspirations at the lobby of Peninsula. The coveted silver-tiered stand contains mandarin-and-clove-scented salmon with caviar, honey-glazed ham, a sage-and-hazelnut tartlet topped with mulled wine jelly and foie gras. A festive children's afternoon tea features seasonal treats.

No 8 Goldfish Lane, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-8516-2888.

U'Deli focuses on festive food

U'Deli focuses firmly on seasonality. And working with the NUO Green Farm Cooperative and trusted local suppliers it offers a host of Christmas goodies and hearty hampers for the festive season. Its American pecan-pie flavored with bourbon comes in a decadent pastry crust and its white chocolate yuzu log cake are delightful.

No 2A, Jiangtai Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5926-8281.

Jaan offers pure luxury for Christmas

Jaan Restaurant is cooperating with jewelry brand Ciga Long to offer a luxurious, twinkling Christmas Eve dinner with a violin performance. The romantic trip starts with cauliflower royale with sea-urchin sabayon, and seared foie gras with a sherry-infused chestnut cream. The main course can be grilled lobster or grilled wagyu M3 sirloin.

No 33 Chang'an Ave East, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-8500-4181.

George's gives a reason to celebrate

George's Restaurant has six-course Christmas Eve and Christmas Day set menus to celebrate the festive season. The menus include recommended dishes, such as pan-seared Hokkaido scallops, roasted Boston lobsters and a miniature chocolate log for a sweet finish.

Park View Green, No 9 Dongdaqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8561-2864.

China Daily

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[Constructing heritage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416102.htm When talking about China's architectural heritage, people usually immediately think of ancient constructions, such as the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace.

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A new illustrated book is an in-depth study of Beijing's'10 great buildings', Wang Kaihao reports.

When talking about China's architectural heritage, people usually immediately think of ancient constructions, such as the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace.

Nevertheless, compared with this 598-year-old palatial complex in the heart of Beijing, which has drawn scholars to study its details over the years and social interest in protecting the site, other landmarks recording recent history or contemporary memories also need public attention.

The illustrated book, The 20th-Century Chinese Architectural Heritage Classics: Beijing Volume, was released at the Forbidden City, which is officially known as the Palace Museum, on Tuesday.

Jointly compiled by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics, the in-depth book includes 50 of the most-representative 20th-century architectural works in the city and the relevant architects' background information.

"The 20th century witnessed the transition of China from an agrarian to a modern society," says Shan Jixiang, head of the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics and director of the Palace Museum.

"Architecture is the most direct and visible witness of such changes."

The entries to the new book include the Great Hall of the People, which combines Soviet-style facades with Roman columns and traditional Chinese roofs; a Bauhaus-style former 798 factory that's now an art hub; and some early constructions on Tsinghua University's campus.

The book also studies the old embassy area in Dongjiaominxiang, which was set up between 1901 and 1912 after the Boxer Rebellion. The only European-style historical neighborhood in Beijing still retains buildings of the former French, Austro-Hungarian, British and Italian embassies, as well as old barracks, banks and a club.

"It's physical evidence that shows how foreign powers invaded China," Shan explains.

There is something new to study, even in the Forbidden City: the Hall of Embodied Treasures, or Baoyun Lou, which was built in 1914 as a warehouse for cultural relics, two years after the monarchy fell.

"Unlike most ancient architecture that has lost its function and only remains as a site for studies or tourism, these recent constructions are still in use," he says. "They are living heritage."

The construction of 10 major landmarks, including the Great Hall of the People, the Workers Stadium and the National Art Museum of China, began in Beijing in 1959 as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of New China.

With huge personnel costs, most projects were completed within mere months, including the time to draw the blueprints. They are often called the "10 great buildings".

"The architecture combines Chinese, Soviet and Western elements," Zou Denong, a professor at Tianjin University, says.

"These miraculous works reflect Chinese architects' explorations of new formats and mark a peak time in architecture in the country. The trend was followed by other cities in China."

Some don't see many constructions from the last century as "heritage" as they are not old enough, especially those built after 1949.

Ma Guoxin, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, says sufficient policy support to protect the heritage of the last century is still lacking. Some buildings have disappeared in China's fast urban development. Ma is a designer of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall in Tian'anmen Square and Terminal 2 of the Beijing Capital International Airport.

For example, in Jinan, capital of Shandong province, a German architect helped build a railway station in 1908. The Gothic-style structure was long used as the main transportation hub of the city and carried generations of local citizens' collective memory. It was demolished amid a huge controversy in 1992 and was replaced by a new station.

However, as the public's consciousness improves, many proposals have been made to rebuild the old station, but new challenges have arisen.

Shan says that even buildings like the "great 10" are not perfectly safe. Though proposals to include them in a national list of cultural heritage sites have been discussed for years, they have not been approved by authorities for the old reason - they are "too young".

The Overseas Chinese Hotel, which ranked among the top 10 earlier, was demolished in 1988.

When the National Museum of China was being renovated in the 2000s, its facade was planned to be completely changed. The idea was dismissed after a fierce debate.

"More studies of China's 20th-century architectural heritage are needed to avoid such incidents from happening again," Shan says.

"No other century in human history has created such abundant architecture in such diverse styles. More and more heritage sites of that time have been globally recognized."

Since 2000, when UNESCO mentioned the urgency to safeguard 20th-century architectural heritage, many countries made protection of such sites a priority.

Sydney Opera House was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. Seventeen structures worldwide, which were designed by the late French architect Le Corbusier, also got the status in 2016.

Heritage recognition is improving in China.

Ma handed a list to the International Union of Architects in 2004 that included 22 of the most-important Chinese architectural-heritage buildings from the 20th century, promoting an official identification of their status in China.

The nation's first list of key architectural sites of the 20th century was released by the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics and the Architectural Society of China in 2016.

The list has been expanded twice since then and now includes about 300 sites nationwide.

"Chinese architecture means much more than wooden buildings (like in ancient times)," says Jin Lei, deputy director of the 20th-century architectural heritage committee under the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics.

"Chinese architecture today follows traditions, but it should have the global vision to mix different styles."

Consequently, as a trial, the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design launched its architectural and cultural heritage research center, also on Tuesday.

The center is based on the principles of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a major advisory body for UNESCO. It is to engage in systematic investigations and publicity of 20th-century architectural heritage in China and offer a platform for architects and heritage experts to exchange ideas for the renovations of relevant old buildings.

Jin says the recent efforts of academic organizations and architects will lead to better laws to protect heritage sites.

The purpose of protecting such sites is not only about creating new tourism destinations or past nostalgia.

"They can inspire more creative ideas for urban development in the future," Jin adds. Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

 

(Clockwise from top) The Great Hall of the People, the National Art Museum of China and Tsinghua University's campus are among the most-representative 20th-century architectural works in Beijing that are included in the newly released illustrated book, The 20th-Century Chinese Architectural Heritage Classics: Beijing Volume. Photos by Xinhua and provided to China Daily

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[Cultural institutions honor contributions to relics' protection]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/21/content_37416101.htm Many cultural relics of the Palace Museum - China's former imperial palace in Beijing, which is also known as the Forbidden City - and some ancient books in the collection of the National Library of China are in the two institutions due to the efforts of Zheng Zhenduo (1898-1958).

Zheng, a pioneer in cultural-relic protection in New China, was honored by the museum and library in Beijing on Wednesday. The day marked the 120th anniversary of his birth. Zheng was the first director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration after 1949.

When he took the position, the country had just started reconstruction after the civil war. Zheng immediately began his endeavor to bring some lost treasures home.

Boyuan Tie (letter to Boyuan) and Zhongqiu Tie (letter about Mid-Autumn Festival) - top calligraphy works from the fourth century - were once beloved by emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). But they were lost after the monarchy fell.

Zheng's coordination enabled their return from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland for 350,000 HK dollars in 1950. Zheng also persuaded art guru Zhang Daqian to sell Night Revels of Han Xizai, a 10th-century scroll painting, from his private collection to the country's cultural institutions at "a low price".

All three artworks are now among top artifacts housed at the Palace Museum.

Zheng's contributions went beyond.

"He has left abundant legacies for us to consolidate cultural relic-related work today," Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, said at the memorial seminar.

"He pushed for a legal system to protect the cultural relics. He started training others to protect them. Many of his theories still guide our everyday work."

Zheng opened the first training class in New China on ancient-book restoration in the 1950s. He wanted the Palace Museum to do more than just collect royal artifacts, by building a comprehensive collection of different artworks and educating museum visitors about the history of cultural relics.

"These ideas were pioneering in his time," says Gu Yucai, deputy director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration. "We are working on them today."

During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945), he saved many ancient books to prevent them from being lost.

Zheng got into debt buying some 600 ancient pottery figurines in 1947 and '48, during the civil war. However, he donated all the figurines to the country's cultural institutions after taking his official position at the heritage administration. Many of the figurines are regularly displayed in the sculpture gallery of the Palace Museum.

And after his death, Zheng's wife donated some 7,000 copies of ancient books to the National Library of China, following his will. Some items from this donation are displayed at an exhibition that opened on Wednesday at the same library as a tribute to him. A catalog of his ancient book collection was also published on the same day for academic studies.

"The exhibition is not only to show Zheng's marvelous collection," says Zhang Zhiqing, deputy director of the national library, "but also to remind people of his legacy."

Zheng advocated that archaeologists and relics researchers should not collect or buy antiques as personal belongings. In 1997, this idea was listed by the National Cultural Heritage Administration among professional ethics for workers in the field of cultural relics.

Born in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, Zheng once taught in top higher-education institutions, such as Yenching University (now part of Peking University) and Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Fudan University in Shanghai. He also worked on history, traditional Chinese folklore and literature.

As a translator, he introduced Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's Stray Birds in China, and did many comparative studies between Chinese and Western cultures.

Zheng died in a plane crash in 1958.

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2018-12-21 07:46:37
<![CDATA[The Sad Tale of the Very Silly Thing: A Brexit bedtime story]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415354.htm Once upon a time, there was a man who decided to do a silly thing. He didn't realize it was a silly thing at the time, that came later, as is often the way when doing silly things.

Now this man ruled a kingdom that called itself united, although some people weren't so sure about that but that is a tale for another day.

The kingdom had many friends who lived nearby, and from time to time they would help each other. If one friend had no money, the others would give them some. If one friend had no food, the others would share theirs.

And everyone was free to go wherever they pleased.

Which some people thought was quite nice.

But others in the kingdom didn't like these friends and thought they were sneaky and up to no good.

So they persuaded the man to do the silly thing which, as we said at the start of our story, he didn't know was a silly thing.

He also didn't think the silly thing would ever happen. Not really. But it did! It happened! And the man was so surprised that he ran away.

A great confusion gripped the kingdom, and half the people wondered what had just gone on. The other half were obviously under the influence of some weird spell that made them believe not having friends anymore was a good thing, and not a silly thing at all.

Whenever anyone asked, they would chant words like "borders", "sovereignty" and "control" but they could never quite explain what they meant.

Time passed. And then a lady became the new ruler of the kingdom to replace the man who ran away. She promised to make it all better and make everything in the land all lovely again (although it wasn't lovely for everyone but that is also a tale for another day).

But the kingdom's friends weren't convinced and kept asking: "Are you really sure you want to do this? I mean, like, really sure?"

And the lady replied: "Yes. Absolutely, certainly, almost probably. Maybe."

Which, as you might imagine, made the friends even more confused.

Time passed. There was lots of talking, some of it in the kingdom and some of it where the friends lived, in a huge hall full of flags and jugs of water. Some of the men who were supposed to be helping the kingdom got very angry and decided they weren't going to talk any more and they also ran away. But the lady didn't, although some people wanted her too.

By now, a lot of the people in the kingdom were very angry and a lot were very bored.

Then the lady said she had some exciting news. The kingdom and the friends had finally agreed how to make the silly thing not so silly! Hurrah!

But wait, some people said, the thing you say will fix the silly thing is just as silly as the silly thing was! Boo!

The lady was in a bad mood now. She told them they were being very naughty and they would discuss this later, adding "borders", "sovereignty" and "control" for good measure.

And although it was nearly Christmas, lots of people in the kingdom felt quite sad because they weren't sure they would live happily ever after.

The End (not).

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2018-12-20 07:27:30
<![CDATA[This Day, That Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415353.htm Editor's note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy.

An item from Dec 21, 1984, in China Daily showed Xiangyanghong 10, China's first scientific expedition vessel dispatched to the Antarctic, had dropped anchor near Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city on the globe.

The country's scientific capacity in the Antarctic has improved rapidly.

China has sent 34 Antarctic expedition teams since 1984 and built four research stations at the South Pole - Great Wall, Zhongshan, Taishan and Kunlun. A fifth is under construction on the Ross Sea Ice Shelf.

In 2016, the country's first fixed-wing aircraft in the Antarctic, Xueying 601, was put into service, which greatly enhanced logistical capacity.

The Polar Research Institute of China of the State Oceanic Administration unveiled a plan early last year to begin site selection for the country's first airfield in Antarctica.

While beefing up air logistical capacity, the country's first home-built icebreaker is under construction at Jiangnan Shipyard Co, and will be put into service next year.

Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, is the only Chinese icebreaking research ship in service. It is now serving on the 35th Antarctic expedition.

In January 2014, Xuelong rescued 52 people who had been stranded since December on a Russian research ship.

China's Antarctic Programs, the country's first white paper on its Antarctic explorations, was published in May, pledging to boost the country's capabilities in the exploration and study of the continent.

Besides the scientific expedition, Antarctic tourism is popular among China's growing middle class.

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2018-12-20 07:27:30
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415352.htm Free breakfast dished out for sanitation workers

Sanitation workers in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, can wake up each morning safe in the knowledge they have a healthy, hearty breakfast to look forward to - and what's more, it's free. Restaurant owner Huang Xiaoqin and her husband have offered free servings of hot meals each morning in December for four years. Huang said, "Helping others makes me happy."

Fans force airline to delay departure in HK

Three Chinese fans were the focus of fierce online criticism for delaying a flight's departure just minutes before the scheduled take off. The fans of a South Korean pop group, suddenly told the crew that they wanted to get off the flight and demanded ticket refunds. The Seoul-bound Korean Air flight from Hong Kong International Airport was delayed by an hour on Saturday, according to the Korean Times. All 360 passengers on board had to disembark and go through a security check again. The three were later confirmed as fans of Wanna One, a K-pop boy group that performed on stage at the 2018 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong on Friday, the Korean Times said.

Evelyn Berezin, processor pioneer, dies aged 93

Evelyn Berezin, the computer engineer who designed the world's first word processor, has died at the age of 93. Berezin was a pioneer who revolutionized how the word writes thanks to her groundbreaking work on a computerized word processor four decades ago, when computers were still in their infancy. Berezin died on Dec 8 in a Manhattan nursing home in the United States, having declined treatment for the lymphoma she was diagnosed with earlier this year.

Check more posts online.

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2018-12-20 07:27:30
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415351.htm Video: Foreign firms invested in success

Since the implementation of the reform and opening-up in 1978, overseas investors have been able to enter China and set up either joint or wholly-owned foreign ventures in the country. As a result, China became one of the top destinations for foreign investment. Visit our website to find out more about foreign companies in China in the past four decades.

Photos: Elvis lights up traffic safety rules

Friedberg, the central German town where Elvis Presley was stationed as a US soldier in the 1950s, has installed three pedestrian lights with images of the rock icon. A red image of Presley with a microphone tells residents and tourists to keep their blue suede shoes parked firmly on the sidewalk, while a green silhouette showing off his signature gyrating moves lets people know that it's time to rock 'n' roll. And the town can't help falling in love with the music legend - it already has a square named after him. The nearby town of Bad Nauheim has also held an annual Elvis Presley Film Festival since 2002.

Rankings: Top artificial intelligence figures

Li Yanhong, CEO of internet search giant Baidu, has entered the Global Top 10 AI Figures list, ranking third just behind Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, according to the Chinese edition of the Harvard Business Review. Li is the architect of China's artificial intelligence industry, the report said. He built the first self-driving open platform in the world, promoting the development of the smart-driving sector in China and globally. Visit our website to have a look at the top 10 artificial intelligence figures in the world.

Biz: Didi chases Uber down Mexico way

After defeating Uber on its home turf, China's top ride-hailing service provider Didi Chuxing is launching a campaign to establish itself in its US rival's backyard - Mexico. The capital, Mexico city, is one of Uber's busiest markets. After five years of operations in the country, the US tech giant has nearly 250,000 drivers and 7 million users across 35 cities. Uber currently holds a market share of around 85 percent. But with a campaign aimed at recruiting drivers and tempting customers, Didi appears to be gaining a foothold. The Chinese company has been pushing hard to recruit drivers and win passengers in Mexico, offering attractive bonuses to drivers and discounts to new users.

Travel: Traditional arts cast in a modern light

With surging crowds, deafening cheers and, most important, fantastic light shows, a night in Lyon is one of the best ways to encounter the romantic magic of France. Integrating traditional customs with state-of-the-art technologies, the Lyon Festival of Lights, held every December, is a one of the world's largest celebrations of the visual arts.

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2018-12-20 07:27:30
<![CDATA[约翰.拉贝]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415350.htm 12月13日是第五个南京大屠杀死难者国家公祭日。在这场浩劫中,一位名叫约翰。拉贝的德国人庇护了约25万中国人。下面,请跟双语君来看看他的事迹吧!

John Rabe's story presents a paradox. He is remembered as a great humanitarian despite remaining a loyal member of the Nazi Party.

约翰·拉贝的故事充满矛盾。他作为一名伟大的人道主义者为世人铭记,但同时他又是一名忠实的纳粹分子。

Chinese-American writer Iris Chang, the author of The Rape of Nanking, described the German in the following way: "To most of the Chinese in the city, he was a hero, 'the living Buddha of Nanking', the legendary head of the International Safety ... But to the Japanese, Rabe was a strange and unlikely savior. For he was not only a German national - a citizen of a country allied with Japan -but the leader of the Nazi Party in Nanjing."

《南京大屠杀》的作者 - 美籍华裔作家张纯如 - 这样描述他:“这个德国人对大多数南京人而言是一位英雄,是‘南京的活菩萨’,是设立国际安全区的传奇牵头人......但对于日本人来说,拉贝是一个令人匪夷所思的存在,难以被奉为救世主。因为他不但是日本二战同盟国 - 德国的公民,也是南京纳粹党头子。”

The safety zones sheltered approximately 250,000 Chinese people from slaughter during the massacre.

在南京大屠杀中,这些安全区给大约25万中国难民提供了庇护所。

Born in 1882 in Hamburg, Germany, Rabe came to China in 1908. He began working for the Chinese branch of Siemens in 1911 and 20 years later, in 1931, transferred to Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and served as director of the Siemens branch office.

拉贝1882年出生于德国汉堡,1908年来华。1911年,拉贝受聘于德国西门子中国公司;20年后,也就是1931年,他被派遣至江苏南京,任分公司经理。

During his stay in Nanjing, he kept a daily journal of the Japanese occupation. The detailed account of his life in Nanjing provides an invaluable insight.

在南京期间,他用日记记录了日军侵占南京的暴行。他的日记成为后人了解这段历史的重要参考。

In November, 1937, as the Japanese army advanced on Nanjing, Rabe, along with other foreigners, organized the International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone to provide Chinese refugees with food and shelter. He explained his reasons in his journal: "There is a question of morality here ... I cannot bring myself for now to betray the trust these people have put in me, and it is touching to see how they believe in me."

1937年11月,在日军进攻南京的前夕,拉贝和其他外国人共同建立了南京安全区国际委员会,为中国难民提供食物和庇护所。他在日记中这样解释道:“这是对道德的拷问......我不能辜负当地人对我的信任。他们的信任令我十分感动。”

"Under such circumstances, can I, may I, cut and run? I don't think so. Anyone who has ever sat in a dugout and held a trembling Chinese child with each hand through the long hours of an air raid can understand what I feel.

“在这种情况下,我能弃之不顾吗?我做不到。只要你曾在防空洞里,一手抱着一个惊惧的中国孩子,捱过数小时的空袭,你就会理解我的感受了。”

"All the women and children, their eyes big with terror, are sitting on the grass in the garden, pressed closely together, in part to keep warm, in part to give each other courage. Their one hope is that I, the 'foreign devil', will drive these evil spirits away.

“坐在草地上的那些妇女和儿童紧紧地靠在一起,既为了相互取暖,又为了给彼此壮胆。他们的眼里充满着惊恐。他们希望我这个‘洋鬼子’能把这些恶魔赶走。”

By February 1938, Rabe was back in Berlin and he began to give lectures that included films and photographs of the atrocities he had witnessed.

1938年2月,拉贝回到了柏林。之后,他到处演讲,用他拍摄的图像和视频材料曝光了日军的暴行。

Later he was detained and interrogated by the Gestapo. Only through the intervention of Siemens was he released, but he was not allowed to lecture again on the subject

不久,他被盖世太保逮捕审讯,在西门子公司的干涉下才得以出狱。出狱后的他被禁止再发表关于日军暴行的演讲。

He retired in 1947. Rabe's final years were lived largely in poverty supplemented by monthly food and money parcels provided by the Chinese government and sent to him as recompense.

拉贝于1947年退休,晚年过得很是潦倒,每月靠中国政府救济的食物和汇款度日。

He died of a stroke in Jan 5, 1950.

1950年1月5日,拉贝因中风病逝。

The more than 2,000-page diary came to light in 1996 because of the efforts of Iris Chang who found the book.

直到1996年,作家张纯如发现了拉贝日记,这本长达2000多页的记录才得以面世。

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2018-12-20 07:27:30
<![CDATA[New adventure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415349.htm In a room with big windows through which you can get a spectacular view of the sea in Sanya, the city in South China's Hainan province, Aamir Khan showed up, wearing a gentle smile.

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Bollywood star Aamir Khan starts to promote his latest film on the Chinese mainland, Xu Fan reports.

In a room with big windows through which you can get a spectacular view of the sea in Sanya, the city in South China's Hainan province, Aamir Khan showed up, wearing a gentle smile.

A couple of hours later, the Bollywood star walked onto the stage at the closing ceremony of the first Hainan International Film Festival with Jackie Chan to announce the best feature winner.

It was Dying to Survive, an acclaimed social drama about the moral struggles of a medicine smuggler, which ultimately took home the festival's top honor on Sunday night.

It is perhaps appropriate that Khan had the honor of presenting the award, given that some of his highest-grossing films in China - such as 3 Idiots, PK and Dangal - poke fun at social prejudices or reflect the struggles that people have to face in their daily lives.

But Khan says that tackling social issues is not his motivation or criteria for choosing movie roles.

"When I'm selecting film scripts, I'm not thinking of social issues. I'm not selecting a film based on a social issue, because I feel that my primary responsibility to (the) audience is to entertain them," Khan tells China Daily at the festival.

"The audience buys the ticket and comes to the cinema, as they want to be entertained. If they want a lesson in sociology or psychology, then they'll go to college," he adds.

The 53-year-old star, with a film career spanning over three decades, hopes his latest film, titled Thugs of Hindostan, will entertain in spades.

Among India's most expensive films produced, with an estimated budget of $47 million, Thugs is set to open across Chinese mainland theaters on Dec 28. Khan says the film does not have "a social message". He plans to promote it in Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Xi'an, Nanjing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing.

Also starring Amitabh Bachchan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Katrina Kaif and Lloyd Owen, the action-adventure film, adapted from an 1839 English novel, is about a band of thugs who aspire to free India from British rule.

Khan stars as Firangi Mallah, a con man recruited by the British forces to steal information from the thugs' leader.

Khan describes his character, Firangi Mallah, as unpredictable, and with conscience, but no moral values.

"He can sell his mother for money. But I've found he's really an interesting and entertaining character," says Khan.

The star had discovered a resemblance between his new character and a household name in China's martial arts world. Two months earlier during the Taihu World Cultural Forum in Beijing, Khan revealed one of his favorite Chinese characters is Wei Xiaobao, the fictional protagonist penned by late Hong Kong literature master, Louis Cha, in his classic novel, The Deer and The Cauldron.

When Khan was in Hong Kong around eight months ago, he met a local filmmaker who gave him a copy of the novel, which comes in three volumes.

Spanning the political conflicts during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in 17th-century China, the martial arts story follows Wei, a teenage hooligan born to a prostitute mother in a brothel to become the best friend of the emperor.

"The Chinese boy is 14 years old. He is sly, funny and a bit like my character (in Thugs of Hindostan)," Khan says during a brief interview.

The influential star also talks about the popular Indian TV show Truth Alone Prevails, which he has hosted since 2012. The program examines some controversial issues in Indian society, such as child abuse, child marriage and dowry.

"I believe that if somebody protests against me, it's a good thing. I want to know why the people are not believing in me," Khan says.

He says he feels lucky as many Indians like the show, but he adds "there are a few people who don't want things to be changed because they benefit from things remaining the same way".

Having visited China many times in recent years, Khan says he expects to cooperate with Chinese filmmakers, actors and actresses to shoot a Chinese story.

The star even reveals that - should such an opportunity arise - he will spend at least three months preparing, as he would want to memorize the Chinese lines.

With more and more Indian films coming to China - nine imported this year - Khan also says he has contacted China Film Administration, the country's top regulator for the sector, to express his wish to have some Chinese films screened in India.

Kung fu giants, such as Jackie Chan and the late Bruce Lee, have been the best known Chinese film stars in India for a long time. Now, Khan wants Indians to know more about Chinese cinema.

 

From top: The upcoming Indian epic Thugs of Hindostan, starring Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif, will open across the Chinese mainland on Dec 28. The upcoming Indian epic Thugs of Hindostan, starring Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif, will open across the Chinese mainland on Dec 28. Aamir Khan, the most popular Bollywood star in India, shares his filmmaking experience during a masterclass of the first Hainan International Film Festival in Sanya on Sunday.Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[Hainan film festival welcomes Hollywood A-list]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415348.htm With a bunch of top international stars in attendance, the recently concluded Hainan International Film Festival has gripped the rest of the world.

Its masterclasses, which ran from Friday to Sunday, were arguably the biggest highlight of the weeklong event, where A-list celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Aamir Khan and Isabelle Huppert imparted their wisdom to a gripped audience.

Award-winning Turkish director Ceylan opened the program and shared his experience and tips on filmmaking.

Born in Istanbul in 1959, Ceylan shot to fame with his directorial debut, Cocoon, the first Turkish short film to be selected in a competition section of the Cannes Film Festival.

However, it is a string of his following films - especially the Palme d'Or winner, Winter Sleep (2014) - that have established his reputation as a master of Turkish cinema.

"For me, filmmaking is like an investigation; an examination of myself and the people I've known very well," says Ceylan during his masterclass.

Most of Ceylan's films employ a small crew, with the actors comprising mainly friends or relatives. His films are reviewed as being full of poetic depictions that arouse deep thoughts about Turkey and its people.

But even for an internationally acclaimed filmmaking master, Ceylan says it still feels painful to launch a new film, and the most challenging parts are writing the script and the shooting.

"People usually say filmmaking is a collaboration, but I always feel lonely because nobody understands my creative vision like I do," he says.

Feeling isolated from the rest of the production, whether in the limelight, or behind the scenes, is probably a shared anxiety.

Arriving around 4 am at Sanya airport on Saturday, Depp - who wore a pair of sunglasses and looked a bit tired - followed Ceylan, to open up on his joys and fears in a candid retrospective of his 30-year acting career.

As one of the highest-paid superstars in Hollywood, Depp is familiar to Chinese fans for his role as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He recently impressed local audiences as the titular dark wizard in David Yates' blockbuster Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

However, the star says in contrast to his often flamboyant and eccentric film roles, he is actually a shy and introverted person in real life.

"For me, the safety in being captain Jack Sparrow is already an answer for everything," says the 55-year-old actor.

An emotional Depp asks: "How many years have I said other ones' lines more than I have said my own things?"

He started out playing the guitar at age 12 and Depp recalls that when he first went to Hollywood in the early 1980s, it was in the pursuit of his dream of being a rock star. He stumbled onto his path as an actor quite by accident.

Speaking about his first role in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street, he felt he was silly and ignorant about how films were made.

To polish his performance, Depp purchased books and attended acting classes, but it did not work. He realized that observing the people around him was the best way to learn how to portray diverse personalities and the different way people talk and move.

"One of my favorite things in the world is watching people. Human beings are fascinating creatures. To observe them is probably one of the most interesting things to do on earth," says Depp.

Maverick director Tim Burton is probably one of the most important figures in Depp's career, paving his way to the highest echelons of Hollywood's acting elite.

It was Burton's dark romantic fantasy film, Edward Scissorhands (1990), which nabbed a nomination for best actor at the Golden Globes for Depp. The pair has teamed up several times since, notably in the musical adventure film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and the fantasy film Alice in Wonderland (2010), both of which won a lot of acclaim.

Recalling his first meeting with Burton, Depp says they were both really shy at first, and they ended up drinking eight cups of coffee during the conversation that lasted around three hours.

An old friend of Depp who once co-starred with him in the romantic drama Chocolate (2000) - which was nominated for five Oscars and four Golden Globes - French actress, Juliette Binoche reveals that performance naturally became part of her life when she was still a teenage student.

For Binoche and her fellow actress, Isabelle Huppert - who is the most nominated actress for the Cesar Award with 16, and has won two for best actress - acting seems like a gift they were born with.

While Huppert teasingly claims that she is actually a lazy actress who only reads a script once, Binoche recalls she realized how to perform authentically at age 18, and has not needed to demonstrate much to prove that she is an actress since.

Similarly, throughout their careers, both of the veteran French actresses have shown huge interest in arthouse films.

"You can't entertain people and also make them think or fear," says Huppert.

To better understand the pearls of wisdom shared with those who were lucky enough to attend the feast of celebrity masterclasses, there were also 100 excellent films from more than 30 countries and regions that were screened as a part of the festival, which ran from Dec 10 to Monday.

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[INSPIRING TALES IN AN ENGAGING FORMAT]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415347.htm When 56-year-old Chinese American IT engineer Rob Chang performs for the TV show Speak to the World, his broken Mandarin is not enough to support him to finish a short speech. He switches to English in the middle.

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The third season of the TV series on overseas Chinese tells their stories in a more compelling manner than the previous two, Wang Kaihao reports.

When 56-year-old Chinese American IT engineer Rob Chang performs for the TV show Speak to the World, his broken Mandarin is not enough to support him to finish a short speech. He switches to English in the middle.

As someone who grew up in Silicon Valley, California, Mandarin was not his first language, but when he shares his family's experiences, no one can doubt his affection for his country of origin.

He is grandson of Zhang Xueliang, also spelt as Chang Hseuh-liang (1901-2001), a Kuomintang general who tried to get Chiang Kaishek to forge an alliance with the Communist Party of China to fight Japanese aggression in 1936.

For his efforts, the general was detained over the next 50-odd years.

Then, Rob Chang's father, who was born in Tianjin, was sent to the United States at the age of 8. And he was raised by a local family in San Francisco with his birth parents' true identity hidden for a long time.

Speaking about his life, Chang says: "I think it is very important for overseas Chinese to understand their roots and the long history of China.

"And as the world is moving forward, the next generation should also know from where we've come."

After being encouraged by his grandfather, who was always "optimistic and peaceful", Rob Chang visited the Chinese mainland and studied at Peking University.

More such stories from overseas Chinese are featured in the new season of Speak to the World, which recently began showing weekly on China Central Television.

In the show, Joan Chen, the 57-year-old Chinese-American actress best known for her role in 1987's Academy Award-winning film The Last Emperor, says she was afraid of the stage, and once wanted to escape from cinematic circles because of her timidity.

But she conquered her weakness and grew to be a successful film producer.

Chen, who is among the first generation film stars from China after the reform and opening-up started 40 years ago, later migrated to the US, and is seen as a cultural ambassador between the two countries.

Then there's Lisa Lu, 91, who presents her story of growing up in a traditional opera family in Shanghai and becoming a prolific actress, who is widely respected in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the appearance of Liu Shaolin and Liu Shao'ang, the half-Chinese half-Hungarian brothers who recently won the first Winter Olympic Games gold medal for Hungary since 1994, adds a touch of comedy to the show with their Mandarin spoken in strong Northeast China accent.

The ongoing show is the third season of Speak to the World. In the previous two seasons, a debate and knowledge contest format was used. But this year, the production team decided to use the first-person account format to make the show more friendly.

Speaking about the show's new format, Wang Jingfang, the director says: "The overseas Chinese are witnesses and advocates of China's reform and opening-up as well as the other miracles that have happened in the country in the past four decades.

"These accounts are reflections of their cultural connections, portray a true picture of their living conditions. And it is also a way to demonstrate cultural self-confidence."

As for the choice of guests on the show, they go beyond celebrities.

And among them is Chong Keat Aun, a Malaysian DJ, who has spent 13 years collecting folk songs - vocalized in southern Chinese dialects - from 300 elderly people of Chinese origin in his country.

"These songs tell us of our ancestors' struggles to set up new life," says Chong. "And they also lead us in the direction of home."

As for Jacob Chieh-kuo Wood, an entrepreneur in Nigeria, he speaks of his years of running hotels and doing philanthropy for education of local communities.

Thanks to his contribution, Wood, a Shanghai native, is the first Chinese "chief", an honorary title, in Africa.

Speaking about the larger goal of the series, its director Wang says: "We want people to see the achievements and contribution of the overseas Chinese to China's relations with the world in different fields."

Giving details of how the guests were picked, she says the nearly 60 guests in the show were chosen from 1,000 candidates.

Commenting on the show, Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, says: "These people's lives show traditional Chinese culture. And it helps create a common identity for Chinese all around the world."

 

A poster of Speak to the World, a recent show on China Central Television. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[Terracotta Warriors exhibition kicks off]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415346.htm

WELLINGTON - The National Museum of New Zealand recently launched an exhibition of Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality.

The exhibition features eight warriors standing 180 centimeters tall, and two full-size horses from the famous terracotta army, as well as two half-size replica bronze horse-drawn chariots.

Also on display are more than 160 works of ancient Chinese art made from gold, jade and bronze.

"The terracotta army represents a pinnacle of ancient Chinese art and civilization, and is one of the eight wonders in the world. And the exhibition offers an excellent opportunity for New Zealand to be exposed to the ancient Chinese civilization," Wu Xi, China's Ambassador to New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue, said at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

"It is a highlight of the people-to-people exchanges between China and New Zealand. And it also is a prelude to the 2019 China-New Zealand year of tourism," the ambassador said.

"In many areas, China and New Zealand have comparative advantages that complement each other. So, it is fair to say that with the ongoing development of China's economy and deepening cooperation in Belt and Road Initiative, the future of China-New Zealand relations will remain strong.

"We hope China and New Zealand will continue to enhance mutual understanding and trust through more cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and practical cooperation to bring more benefits to both peoples, and to contribute to the peace and prosperity in the region and beyond," she added.

Speaking at the event, New Zealand Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said: "New Zealand's relationship with China is one of our most important and far-reaching relationships, based on mutual benefits and mutual respect.

"This important relationship is much more than selling things to each other and today's exhibition is a great example of cooperation in other areas."

"The Terracotta Warriors exhibition is a cornerstone of the New Zealand program for the 2019 China-New Zealand year of tourism, and the year of tourism is going to focus on increasing the quality of experiences in both directions.

"The exhibition will encourage more New Zealanders to continue the journey to engagement and understand China, one of our most important partners," Davis added.

The exhibition runs through April 22.

Xinhua

 

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[China, Australia celebrate cultural ties]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415345.htm People listen carefully to the beautiful music produced by guqin - a plucked musical instrument that was widely favored by the literati in ancient times - during a special performance to spread traditional Chinese culture.

The show, held at the Australian embassy in Beijing on Dec 5, was part of a news conference to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Australia-China Council and the publication of a commemorative album that looks back at the past 40 years of the platform's work.

China and Australia built diplomatic ties in 1972 and, in 1978 the ACC was established to promote cooperation and communication between China and Australia in the fields of art, culture, sports and education.

According to Warwick Smith, the chairman of the ACC, "there are so many great stories of these early connections between Australia and China".

For example, crowds of Australians waited in line for hours to see the Terracotta Warriors when they went on display in Canberra, Australia, in 1983. For many, it was their first glimpse of ancient Chinese artifacts. At that time, the ACC sponsored a discovery of the funerary sculptures to help promote awareness of the exhibition.

Harold Weldon, a board member of the ACC who is also a writer, filmmaker and China adviser, says his favorite story about the ACC's work over the past 40 years is related to Chinese acrobatics.

"In 1984, the ACC invited some Chinese acrobats to come to Australia. They taught Australian acrobats some fantastic skills like juggling, balancing and dancing. The skills have been passed on, and since then many generations of Australian acrobats begin by learning those skills," says Weldon.

"Now, there is a famous Australian circus which offers performances to hundreds of thousands of people every year. It all began with the lessons from those Chinese teachers passing on their knowledge to Australians in the 1980s."

In September 1985, three trainees from Northwest China's Gansu province took part in a 14-month training program in Australia. They learned experimental techniques to improve the efficiency of sheep farming. The project also demonstrated how well-administered and thoroughly planned training programs in Australia could be beneficial to Chinese industry.

Other than the ACC story, Weldon talked about his own story related to China.

He was born in a family that manages Australia's largest book publishing and media group. He traveled to China for the first time in 1985 when his family wanted to publish some books and photo albums to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Long March over 1934-1936. He traced the footsteps of the Red Army soldiers and traveled to many places in China.

"From then on I fell in love with China. We then did more projects about the country through the 1980s and 1990s, and into the 2000s."

The ACC has also published a commemorative album that specifies its work over the years, including history, economic diplomacy, arts and culture, education and other fields.

Speaking about the future of the ACC, Weldon says: "We need to tell our stories to each other to make us more relevant. It's a journey that never ends. It's like another Long March."

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne says, "The Australia-China Council is a true success story of sustained soft power engagement over decades and generations."

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[Ballet legend bows out]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415344.htm Tributes have been pouring in for Li Chengxiang, a renowned Chinese dancer-choreographer, who died at the age of 87 on Dec 14 after a long illness.

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China's dance scene mourns performing arts pioneer, Li Chengxiang, who passed away last week, Chen Nan reports.

Tributes have been pouring in for Li Chengxiang, a renowned Chinese dancer-choreographer, who died at the age of 87 on Dec 14 after a long illness.

According to the National Ballet of China, which was headed by Li from 1984 to 1994, he was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, but his health condition worsened over the past two years.

On Dec 17, Chinese ballet dancers, former colleagues and friends of Li gathered at the National Ballet of China in Beijing to mourn his passing.

Ballet in China has a nearly 60-year history. Li was among the first group of Chinese ballet dancers who received training from Russian experts in the 1950s. In 1957, Li became the assistant teacher of the Beijing Dance School when Russian dancer and choreographer Pyotr Gusev was the school's artistic director.

With the founding of the National Ballet of China in 1959, Li played in the first three classic ballet productions adapted by the troupe: Swan Lake, Le Corsaire (The Pirate) and Giselle.

Of all his choreographic works, the best known is Red Detachment of Women, China's first original ballet production, which premiered in the capital in 1964 and in which, Li played the ruthless landlord Nan Batian. It is perhaps best known in the West as the ballet performed for former US president Richard Nixon during his visit to China in 1972.

Based on a 1961 film of the same name, which was directed by Xie Jin, it tells the story of a rural girl, Wu Qionghua, who escapes a life of slavery and joins an all-female Communist Party army battalion led by commander Hong Changqing on Hainan Island during the civil war in the early 1930s.

To better understand and portray the female soldiers, Li led the composer Wu Zuqiang, choreographers Jiang Zuhui and Wang Xixian, as well as ballet dancers Bai Shuxiang, Zhong Runliang and Liu Qingtang on a trip to Hainan.

"The dancers took off their ballet shoes and put on army boots. They received strict training just like soldiers," says Feng Ying, a veteran ballet dancer and the director of the National Ballet of China, who has also performed the leading female role of Wu Qionghua.

"Li also incorporated the moves of Peking Opera into his choreography, which was pioneering," adds Zhao Ruheng, renowned ballet dancer and former director of the National Ballet of China, who took the position after Li's 10-year tenure ended in 1994.

"Li had made great contribution to the development of Chinese ballet. He also shared his vision about art playing an important role in the life of people. The missions of developing Chinese ballet and training homegrown ballet dancers had always been on his mind."

Feng says that Red Detachment of Women is still evolving since a new generation of ballet dancers perform the piece every year.

"We are proud that the ballet piece not only appeals to audiences in China, but is also well-received when we tour abroad," Feng says. "It portrays Chinese women in powerful roles that broke with the traditional image of weak women of the time. The spirit of the story is shared by women worldwide. It's the best example of telling a Chinese story through a Western art form."

Li, who was born in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, graduated from North China University, the predecessor of Renmin University of China, with a major in theater. He started working with the Central Academy of Drama as a dancer in 1954 and, that same year, he was enrolled to study ballet at the Beijing Dance School and started choreographing his original dance pieces.

Established dancer Chen Ailian began studying traditional Chinese dance in Beijing in 1952. She met Li for the first time at Beijing Dance School in 1954 when Li invited her to dance in his choreographic work, Shepherdess.

"It was the first time that I learned Tibetan dance moves and Li was inspiring to me," recalls Chen, 79, who was born in Shanghai and grew up in an orphanage.

In 1959, under the instruction and direction of Russian experts, Yu Mei Ren (The Beautiful Mermaid) premiered in Beijing - it was the first Chinese dance drama to combine Western ballet with traditional Chinese dance moves. Li was one of the choreographers and Chen played the leading role.

"Few Chinese choreographers combined ballet and traditional Chinese dance as well as Li did then. He understood the language of the two dance forms," Chen says.

 

China's first original ballet production, Red Detachment of Women, is one of Li Chengxiang's choreographic works. It has become a classic in the National Ballet of China's repertoire, with the new generation of ballet dancers performing the piece every year. Shi Ren / For China Daily

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[Musical tribute to Pantoja]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/20/content_37415343.htm

With a set of wooden recorders, a musical duo took the audience to the Baroque era and retraced the route of Spanish Jesuit Diego de Pantoja, whose odyssey helped establish the early bond between China and Spain.

The singsong concert held recently marked the end of The Year of Diego de Pantoja, a series of events hosted by Spain's Cervantes Institute through 2018, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Pantoja's death in Macao.

The concert showcased the journey of Pantoja and other European missionaries to Asia, and their contributions to globalization. The pieces ranged from duets written in Pantoja's birthplace Valdemoro to hymns performed by missionaries in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Pantoja, who arrived in Macao in 1597 and then moved to Nanjing in 1600, worked with Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci, and together they came to Beijing in 1601.

For the following 17 years, Pantoja devoted himself to missionary work in Beijing.

According to Rafael Dezcallar, the Spanish ambassador to China, Pantoja was not only a missionary, but more importantly a scholar and a messenger of culture.

And what Pantoja achieved was far more than simply religious education, for he facilitated the communication between China and the Western world, Dezcallar says.

The instrumental duo La Folia comprises two recorder experts Pedro Bonet and Belen Gonzalez Castano.

With 20 or so recorders, they performed duets from Pantoja's time, most of which were related to religious services.

When Pantoja and Ricci arrived in Beijing, they paid tribute to Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), with two mechanical musical clocks.

The clocks were endearingly called singsong clocks because of their sounds.

For the finale, the duo presented select musical clock tunes from the British Library collection. In the 1730s, Baroque composer George Frideric Handel collaborated with the craftsman Charles Clay in programing music for clocks.

The concert also featured a Malaysian saong based on a work by Arcangelo Corelli, one of the most renowned Baroque musicians of the time whose influence suffused religious music.

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2018-12-20 07:27:09
<![CDATA[Adventures in a Developing Country, Part 13: The Phone Number]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/19/content_37414500.htm Because my wife was working in Tianjin a few years ago, I naively thought it would be a convenient place to sign up for phone service. What I didn't realize was that my colleagues in Beijing would ignore my calls because they thought a scammer was targeting them from another city.

In the end, however, this wasn't the biggest problem. That honor goes to canceling the number at the end of the contract.

I'll say here that my provider, China Unicom, delivered terrific monthly service. I could acquire a cell signal from just about anywhere, the internet service was fast, the price was low.

I was in no hurry to drop the number. After all, it appeared on my business cards.

But my wife kept finding better deals. She has an uncanny ability to spot a bargain. On Taobao she's like a heat-seeking missile, and I'd swear I've seen her iPad smoking after she's done with it.

It was no surprise, then, that one day she found a great phone deal here in Beijing - and with China Unicom, no less, which I already liked.

So my first order of business was to cancel the old number.

Easy, I thought.

Guess again. I was shocked to learn that to accomplish this I would have to travel to Tianjin and appear in person at the company's office with my photo ID.

It seems in a developing country that you cannot make such arrangements by telephone or internet.

Worse, if you have a refund coming, there's more pain in store for your posterior.

To collect your money, you must make a second trip to the office to appear in person after the contract expires.

That you simply want a different number from the same company matters not. China Unicom in Beijing is a separate division from China Unicom in Tianjin, and they're not integrated.

Accounts are not fungible.

Look, I understand about developing countries.

Business systems may not be as polished as they are where I come from.

In the United States, for example, I would simply call my phone provider, identify myself with the last four digits of the credit card I used when I signed up, and that's it. Ta-da! Voila! Bingo! No more phone number. Alternatively, I could do the deed online.

Not here.

And so, for the better part of a day last weekend, I trekked glumly to Tianjin and back via train and taxi for a transaction that should have been easy to fulfill without leaving home: "Please cancel."

Getting a new number from China Unicom in Beijing was a snap. The office is located near home, so showing up in person was no problem.

But I was curious about the cancellation policy. Surprise! The same rules apply. If you ever want to cancel, you must show up in person again, even if you live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The final step in getting the Beijing number was the most interesting. I was asked to gaze into a camera, like you do at the bank. But the agent didn't just snap a picture: He asked me to bob my head up and down a few times. And then again. And again.

That's weird, I thought. Suddenly it dawned on me: He's capturing facial recognition information for a database.

You'd think a telecommunications giant capable of handling technology like that ought to be able to do a little thing like change a customer's phone number without forcing him to travel in person to Timbuktu - or Tianjin.

Maybe customer service is just one of those things that's developing.

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2018-12-19 07:29:05
<![CDATA[This Day, That Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/19/content_37414499.htm Editor's note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy.

An item from Dec 19, 1981, in China Daily showed Yin Shengxi playing the erhu, a stringed musical instrument, at his teahouse in Beijing.

Yin, a former government official, was among the first batch of private businessmen in the capital thanks to China's reform and opening-up.

After decades of development, private companies are now the country's main engine of economic growth.

Today, the private sector contributes more than 60 percent of the country's growth and 80 percent of new jobs, according to the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.

The spirit of entrepreneurship has grown at an exponential rate in recent years.

In 2014, the central government proposed mass entrepreneurship and innovation, which has been viewed as a new engine for the country's economic growth.

Thanks to the policy support, China accounts for more than one third of the total number of "unicorns" globally, becoming the world's second-largest birthplace of start-ups valuing more than $1 billion.

The most high-profile are smartphone maker Xiaomi, car-hailing app Didi Chuxing and drone manufacturer DJI in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, which has a global market share in consumer drones of around 70 percent.

MIT's Technology Review included nine Chinese companies such as iFlytek, Tencent, Face++ and DJI in its 2017 list of the Top 50 Smartest Companies.

Apart from the internet and mobile technology sectors, many entrepreneurs started appearing in other industries - energy, healthcare, financial services, consumer, retail among others - where businesses were increasingly intertwined with the rapid growth of science and technology.

Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology, there are 115 university science parks and over 1,600 technology business incubators in the country providing mentorship, legal advice and office space to dreamers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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2018-12-19 07:29:05
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/19/content_37414498.htm Data suggests women drivers are safer than men

In the battle of the sexes, driving has always been the frontline but Wuxi traffic police in Jiangsu province have found that women are better drivers. Men caused more road accidents than women this year, according to their findings. There were about 300,000 traffic accidents in Wuxi this year and women drivers were responsible for just 15 percent, according to the police's data. It showed 88 percent of car accident casualties were caused by male drivers. Studies found that men tend to engage in certain riskier behaviors while driving.

TV shows off 'robot' that's a man in a robot suit

A state-of-the-art robot that wowed TV audiences across Russia turned out to be a man. Robot Boris starred on a science report for state television showing off his amazing ability to walk, talk and even dance. But Boris turned out to be a man wearing a costume made by a company called Show Robots. The costume, equipped with microphone and tablet display, creates the "near total illusion of a real robot".

Stop procrastination, without thinking twice

Everyone procrastinates. The ability to make up your mind and stick to a course of action is harder than it seems. If procrastination has become a problem for you, here is a video telling ways to change your behavior so you can be more productive. An added benefit is that you'll feel more upbeat, less worried and stressed, and more confident about your reputation and effectiveness.

Check more posts online.

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2018-12-19 07:29:05
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/19/content_37414497.htm Society: Student team delivers in Chongqing

A delivery team for online shoppers has been set up by students at Sichuan International Studies University in Chongqing. As university students are keen on online shopping, the campus delivery shops are always flooded with parcels and short of hands. The campus team was founded to solve the problem and create part-time jobs for students. With cooperation from Alibaba's Cainiao Logistics, the university invested in an approximately 300-square-meter office for the business, which started operations in September. The hourly pay is 10 yuan ($1.40) and a student can work 20 hours a week. Visit our website to find out more about the team.

Fashion: Bring the color of 2019 into your life

For those who love the color pink, there's good news: Another shade of pink will become the color of 2019, according to the latest announcement from the renowned color institute Pantone. Named Living Coral, the color is a blend of pink and orange similar to that found in coral. As Pantone vice-president Laurie Pressman said, coral pink works for everybody, "across the gender spectrum in apparel and across segments." This warm shade could be a great choice for Asian people, who often have a varied complexion.

Animals: Cheers for dogs with craft beer

Independent craft brewer Brew-Dog has announced the launch of its first bespoke craft beer for dogs. This is the first time a brewery has created a beer for dogs using the same base "wort" as it uses for its popular craft beers for humans. It is an alcohol and hop-free, noncarbonated beer, containing canine-friendly B vitamins and probiotics beneficial for dogs. Packed with citrus overtones and a familiar malt backbone, the brew is perfect for all four-legged friends.

Books: Ling Jiefang leaves a lasting legacy

Novelist Ling Jiefang, better known by his pseudonym February River, died in Beijing on Saturday at the age of 73. Starting his writing career in his 40s, Ling made his name through the 5-million-word Emperor series, three books centered on three most powerful leaders of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911): emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong. Many Chinese have watched the adapted TV dramas of Ling's works during the past few decades. Ling also published an essay collection on the anti-corruption campaign, discussing its unprecedented scale and effort. In memory of the author, visit our website to have a look at six of his representative books including The Great Kangxi Emperor and The Yongzheng Emperor.

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2018-12-19 07:29:05
<![CDATA[捏脸应用]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/19/content_37414496.htm 最近,韩国一款名为捏脸的应用在下载榜单上雄踞榜首,这款应用一夜之间受到中国网民的狂热追捧。越来越多的人“捏”出了自己在虚拟网络世界中的理想形象。下面,请跟双语君一起来看看这款应用吧!

Zepeto, created by the people behind popular South Korean photo app Snow, lets people build avatars by scanning their faces.

捏脸是韩国拍照软件公司Snow开发的一款应用。用户可以通过脸部识别来生成自己的虚拟形象。

It's currently the #1 app on iOS.

目前,捏脸应用在苹果下载榜单中位列第一。

Zepeto can generate your avatar that's "cuter than your favorite animation character" using facial recognition.

该应用能通过面部识别技术生成你的虚拟形象,甚至“比你最喜欢的动漫角色还可爱”。

You can also edit the face a little and their clothing to match who you are in real life.

你也可以对其进行美化、为它搭配衣服,使这个形象更贴近你本人。

There's also a feature called "Photo Booth", which allows you to take a 3D photo on your own or with a group of friends. You can even customize it by adding a realistic background.

该应用中还有一个功能叫做“照相亭”,可以拍出你的单人或者和朋友合影的三维照片。你甚至还可以添加现实背景。

US news website, Buzzfeed, summarized the reasons why people are obsessed with simulation and role-playing apps.

美国新闻网站Buzzfeed总结了现代人沉迷于模拟和角色扮演应用的原因。

It reported, "You can follow friends, meet new people, and do creative things like take photos together and customize your avatar."

报道称:“你可以在此关注老朋友,结交新朋友,还可以拍出创意十足的合影或者定制自己的头像。”

"There's also an in-app currency that can be bought with real money or through 'daily quests'.

“通过充值或者完成‘日常任务’,用户可以购买应用中的虚拟货币。”

"The virtual world strips away the barriers, inhibitions and real-world prejudices that can often stand in the way of friendships forming, instead encouraging, fostering and nuturing some pretty intense, long-lasting friendships and relationships."

“在现实世界中,有许多阻碍友谊的障碍、约束和偏见,而这些因素在虚拟世界是不存在的。相反,虚拟世界鼓励人们多交朋友,建立长久而紧密的友谊和人际关系。”

A user called Moonlytn said, "I got Zepeto because I saw all my friends memeing with it on social media. Decided,'Hey, why not just see what that app is?'"

一位名叫Moonlytn的网友说:“我看到身边的朋友都在社交网络上‘捏’出了自己的形象。所以我就想,为什么自己也不下载一个用用看呢?”

Another user told Buzzfeed,"The relationships one makes are just as real as any in real life, and it allows you to redefine yourself in the way that you want and wish you could be - not a redefinition of character, but of self-identity."

另一位网友对Buzzfeed网说:“虚拟世界中的人际关系和现实生活中的一样真实。在虚拟世界中,你能以自己想要并希望成为的样子重新定义自己 - 并非改变你的个性,而是重新定义自己的形象。”

US weekly magazine, Newsweek, reported that, "As the app has grown in popularity, a rumor about tracking has started to spread around the web."

美国《新闻周刊》报道:“随着这款应用越来越流行,关于捏脸应用监听用户的传闻在网上流传。”

"Users are worried that Zepeto may be tracking them without their permission and are starting to delete the app."

“一些用户们担心该应用可能会在未经允许的情况下监听他们。他们已经开始卸载这款应用。”

According to tech news website, PiunikaWeb, Zepeto developer has offered an official word on the matter.

据科技新闻网站Piunika Web报道,该应用的开发者就此给出官方声明。

"We confirm that no tracking, or any tracking activity, of any person or object is taking place on the Zepeto app," it said.

声明称:“我们向用户保证,捏脸应用没有进行任何监听活动,也不涉嫌任何监听行为。”

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2018-12-19 07:29:05
<![CDATA[United incapable of living with Liverpool, laments Mourinho]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37414002.htm LIVERPOOL - Jose Mourinho hinted Manchester United's players are simply not good enough to compete with Liverpool after being brushed aside 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday by the Premier League leader.

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Beleaguered boss lauds leader's technical, physical superiority after Anfield humbling

LIVERPOOL - Jose Mourinho hinted Manchester United's players are simply not good enough to compete with Liverpool after being brushed aside 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday by the Premier League leader.

Mourinho claimed ahead of the game that Liverpool has had luck on its side this season, but while there was fortune in substitute Xherdan Shaqiri's two deflected strikes in the final 17 minutes, the visitor did not deserve anything more than a fifth league defeat of the season.

"The players gave everything and when they give everything I'm never upset with them. I have a good feeling towards them, they play in relation to their qualities, the same way the opponent played in relation to their qualities," said Mourinho.

"They (Liverpool) are fast, intense, aggressive, physical, they play 200 miles per hour with the ball and without the ball."

Mourinho also turned on his players' injury record after having to name a patched-up defense, with Eric Bailly replacing Chris Smalling just before kick-off because the latter was injured in the warm-up.

"We have lots of problems related to physicality," added Mourinho. "We have lots of players that I could consider injury problems, because some of our players are always injured."

However, there will be little sympathy for the Portuguese's protests as he left $112 million signing Paul Pogba on the bench for the full 90 minutes, while $63 million summer recruit Fred didn't even make the squad.

Victory took Liverpool back a point above Manchester City and a mammoth 19 clear of United, which remains in sixth and is now 11 points off the top four.

However, Mourinho insisted United can still qualify for next season's Champions League.

"I know that we lost some other matches but we played Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City away, probably the three best teams apart from Tottenham," he added. "I think we have more possibilities to do more points in the second half of the season than the first."

Under siege

The contrasting form showed by both sides this term continued as United strained to keep a rampant Liverpool at bay.

However, after Sadio Mane's opener, the visitor did at least manage to equalize through Jesse Lingard thanks to a fumble by goalkeeper Alisson.

"You (the media) didn't say too many nice things about them and good things about us. It was made for another result. We wanted to avoid that and we fought really hard," said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool laid siege to United's goal early on with David de Gea stretching to keep out a low drive from Roberto Firmino, Ashley Young clearing off the line and Fabinho firing wide from the edge of the box.

"A brilliant start. One of the best performances we've had since I've been at Liverpool," added Klopp. "The first half an hour was outstanding."

Only City has kept Klopp's side from scoring in the Premier League this season and a United defense that has kept just one clean sheet in the league since September never looked capable of holding out like they had in their two previous visits to Anfield.

Mourinho's men were finally breached when Mane controlled Fabinho's chipped through-ball on his chest and volleyed past the onrushing De Gea on 24 minutes.

However, Liverpool's momentum was punctured by an Alisson gift 12 minutes before the break.

The Brazilian was Liverpool's hero with an injury-time save to secure the Reds' place in the last 16 of the Champions League against Napoli on Tuesday.

But he spilled a Romelu Lukaku's low cross into the path of Lingard, who bundled home.

The second half followed a similar pattern but it wasn't until Shaqiri's introduction 20 minutes from time that Liverpool found a way through.

Three minutes later de Gea did well to prevent Ander Herrera turning Mane's cross into his own net, but the ball fell for Shaqiri and his effort cannoned in off Young.

Shaqiri got lucky again with 10 minutes to go when the diminutive Swiss star's left-foot strike flicked off the diving Bailly to leave de Gea helpless.

Agence France - presse

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA[Sarri backs Hazard to thrive in new role]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37414001.htm

BRIGHTON, England - Maurizio Sarri insists Eden Hazard can thrive in the 'false nine' role after the Belgium playmaker inspired Chelsea's 2-1 win at Brighton on Sunday.

Sarri's side cemented its grip on fourth place in the Premier League thanks to the latest virtuoso display from Hazard.

Hazard started the season playing in a wide role for Chelsea and won the Premier League's Player of the Month award for September.

However, he has been moved to the central striker's role (but still given a license to roam) by Sarri as the Blues boss tries to find a solution to his team's lack of cutting edge.

Both Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have struggled for goals when leading the Chelsea attack this season.

And, while Hazard at times doesn't seem comfortable in his new role, he was still too hot for Brighton to handle, with an assist for Pedro's opener and a fine finish to double Chelsea's lead before halftime.

Only a crunching challenge by Brighton's Dale Stephens slowed Hazard down, but Sarri expects the midfielder to be fit to face Bournemouth in Wednesday's League Cup quarterfinal.

Asked if Hazard will continue as a false nine, Sarri said: "I think that, for us, he could be very important in this position.

"He's very able to come out and play with his teammates, very able to create spaces. Now I think that, in that position, he has to improve in attacking the box."

Brighton manager Chris Hughton admitted Hazard is already enough of a danger to most teams, regardless of where he lines up on the pitch.

"Very difficult to stop. He's a world-class player," Hughton said. "When you have that kind of player, it's very difficult to get close to them. You have to do that as a team, and we got to grips with them better in the second half."

It was a satisfactory end to a difficult week for Chelsea after the alleged racist abuse of Raheem Sterling by one its supporters in the 2-0 victory over Manchester City and anti-Semitic chanting from traveling fans during the Europa League tie away to Vidi in Hungary.

The Blues remain upbeat thanks to Hazard's ninth assist of the season and his ninth goal - his first since early October.

He teed up Pedro for Chelsea's first after 17 minutes before the Belgian got on the scoresheet himself by firing home in the 33rd.

Chelsea endured a nervous finale after Solly March netted in the 66th minute for the Seagulls.

"I think we could have won better because we played very well for 60 minutes," Sarri said.

Agence France - presse

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA[Digest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37414000.htm Golf

Loves conquer all in Father-Son Challenge

Davis Love III and his son Dru played so well on Sunday that they set two scoring records, rallied from a three-shot deficit to win the PNC Father-Son Challenge and then wondered if they would get to play again.

Team Love shot 27 on the front nine at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Florida, to get in the mix before taking the lead with a birdie at No 11 and finished off their record round with four more birdies an eagle for a 16-under 56. The score broke the 18-hole record in a scramble format by one stroke.

They won by three shots at 26-under 118, another record in the format. "Who knows? This might be our last time playing, so it was fun to finish it off," said Love senior.

Footgolf

Argentine ace Perrone crowned kicking king

Matias Perrone of Argentina became the footgolf world champion in Marrakesh, Morocco on Sunday, beating Briton Ben Clarke by two shots to claim the title.

The sport involves competitors kicking a soccer ball around a golf course, with the cups around 53 centimeters in diameter.

Sophie Brown triumphed in the women's tournament in a 1-2-3 for Britain from Claire Williams and Natalie Richardson.

France won the team event by beating Britain in the final on Saturday, with the United States overcoming Spain in the third-place match.

Soccer

WC winner Lucio, 40, extends playing career

World Cup winner Lucio has revealed plans to continue playing beyond his 41st birthday with Brazilian Serie D club Brasiliense.

Lucio made just nine appearances for the Brasilia-based side in 2018 after arriving from local rival Gama in April.

Despite recognizing that he has lost some of his speed and agility, the centerback said he still had something to offer as a player.

"My career hasn't finished," said Lucio, who turns 41 in May, after a charity match in Porto Alegre on Sunday.

"I didn't play much (this year) but I'll be back in 2019 and, fitness permitting, I'll play another year. That's my objective."

Baseball

Mets add punch behind plate with Ramos deal

The New York Mets have agreed to a $19 million, two-year contract with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

The agreement signals an end to the Mets' pursuit of Marlins catcher JT Realmuto. Instead, New York turned to a two-time All-Star coming off a strong year with the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. The source spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been confirmed and is pending a physical.

He would get $8.25 million next year and $9.25 in 2020, and the Mets would have a $10 million option with a $1.5 million buyout.

Agencies

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA[Crisis deepens as paddlers sink to new low]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413999.htm Time is running out for China's table tennis chief, Liu Guoliang, to revitalize the nation's flagging fortunes in its beloved sport ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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Alarm bells ringing after Team China's abysmal performance at Grand Finals

Time is running out for China's table tennis chief, Liu Guoliang, to revitalize the nation's flagging fortunes in its beloved sport ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The enormity of Liu's task was highlighted by an embarrassing, some might say disastrous, performance by the national team at last week's ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon, South Korea.

Instead of a clean sweep of golds that fans had been hoping for, China's only title came in the women's singles - the nation's worst ever performance at the tournament.

The miserable showing was yet more evidence of a power shift in the sport, with Japan now leading the way as it eyes glory at the Tokyo Games.

In the men's singles final, Japanese 15-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto vanquished China's world No 4 Lin Gaoyuan 4-1 to become the youngest athlete to win the title.

"I was not in my best condition throughout the game because I felt huge pressure during the final and I worried too much," said 23-year-old Lin.

Lin's coach, Liu Guozheng, was left stunned by the loss.

"The last time Lin Gaoyuan played a great game against Harimoto, so we didn't anticipate how hard this match would be and how quickly the teenager has developed.

"Actually, we'd studied Harimoto beforehand, but his performance still went beyond our expectation. We need to conduct a more detailed analysis when we get back home. There is so much work to be done for the Olympics."

In another big shock, China's world No 1 Fan Zhendong crashed 2-4 defeat to Brazil's Calderano Hugo in the quarterfinals.

"Hugo's great performance deserves the victory and good luck!" Fan conceded afterward in a Weibo post.

China couldn't compete in the men's doubles after Ma Long's late injury withdrawal, while the mixed doubles team failed to qualify for the Finals.

"I want to apologize to all the fans," said 30-year-old world and Olympic champion Ma.

"My knee keeps hurting, and I tried so hard to play in the Grand Finals. However, the recovery wasn't good enough."

World No 4 Chen Meng's gold and an all-Chinese lineup in the women's semifinals at least provided some positives for the team. However, a new breed of Japanese paddlers, including 18-year-old Ito Mima, continually threatens to usurp China at the top of the women's game, too.

It all adds up to a huge test of Liu's tenure as chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association.

During his inauguration speech earlier this month, Liu remarked: "Even if there are competitive rivals and difficulties, we will still pull teeth from the tiger's mouth."

The 42-year-old, though, is well aware that won't be easy.

"We are facing a very real and severe crisis. Given the age of our top foreign rivals, we might face greater challenges in the Olympics," he said recently. "Japan has been making efforts for decades and dreams of winning gold in Tokyo. I have to admit the gap is closing."

As the first Chinese player to win a career grand slam (world championships, World Cup and Olympic titles), Liu appears ideally qualified to turn things around.

He has already introduced two reforms - the establishment of an athletes' committee and a new two-way selection system for coaches and players in a bid to produce more suitable partnerships.

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA[Dominant duo in FINA awards double]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413998.htm

There was double delight for China at the FINA World Aquatics Gala on Sunday in Hangzhou, where Shi Tingmao and Cao Yuan picked up diver of the year awards.

The legendary Shi claimed the female award for the fourth time in a row after another stellar season in which she continued her 3m springboard dominance.

The 27-year-old won all four individual golds and the overall title in the FINA World Series, and, with her partner Chang Yani, finished first in the 3m synchro, too. She added two more golds at June's FINA World Cup in Wuhan.

The two-time Olympic champion, however, was typically modest about her achievements.

"I won all the competitions in the past 12 months, but I still have room to improve," she said. "Hopefully I can do my best at the next year's world championships and try to win a fifth award."

Cao bagged his second male diver of the year award, having also won the prize in 2014. The 23-year-old captured two gold medals and two silvers in the 3m springboard event in the World Series to capture the individual overall title ahead of his synchro partner Xie Siyi.

In the World Cup, Cao finished second to Xie.

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, who collected four golds at last week's short-course world championships in Hangzhou, was crowned female swimmer of the year, with South Africa's Chad Le Clos taking the men's prize.

In artistic swimming, Giorgio Minisini of Italy and Yelyzaveta Yakhno walked away with the male and female awards respectively.

Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil was named women's open-water swimmer of 2018, with Ferry Weertman from the Netherlands the men's winner in that category.

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA['Lady Messi' keeps impressing in Paris]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413997.htm Chinese star Wang Shuang continued to show her world-class pedigree with a goal in a dominant French league victory for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

The recently crowned Asian women's player of the year hit the net in the 58th minute with a leftfoot strike as PSG routed Metz 7-1 at Stade Jean Bouin to extend its unbeaten record to 14 matches - a run that includes 12 wins.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto finished with a hat-trick, Ashley Lawrence bagged a brace while Kadidiatou Diani was also on target for the host in its last game before the winter break.

Playmaker Wang, dubbed 'Lady Messi' by fans, was delighted to end 2018 on a high.

"It feels good to score in the last match of the year," Wang, who signed for PSG in August, told Xinhua after the game.

"I still feel that the team has experienced ups and downs. Some-times we play quite well and sometimes pretty bad. We are still a young group, so it's quite normal."

PSG trails leader Lyon by two points at the top of the standings, with the league resuming on Jan 12.

As well as PSG's quest for glory on the domestic and European fronts, it promises to be a big year for Wang, who hopes her skills can help steer China to a deep run at next summer's World Cup finals in France.

"I think my experiences in France will be an advantage to me to compete in the Women's World Cup here," the 23-year-old said during a recent interview with FIFA.com.

"Paris is the home of PSG. We face not only teams from the French league, but also from other countries during the Women's Champions League and these teams represent the best of Europe."

China faces a tough task at the World Cup, however, after drawing European powerhouses Germany (a two-time world champion and ranked No 2) and Spain (No 12), as well as the 48th-ranked South Africa.

Wang, though, is optimistic about China's chances.

"It is my second World Cup. I was given a substitute role at Canada 2015 as a young player but I didn't score. So my initial goal is to break my Women's World Cup duck this time around. I want to score as many goals as possible and help my team to a good result."

Xinhua contributed to this story.

 

China's Wang Shuang congratulates Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kadidiatou Diani on her goal during PSG's 7-1 victory over Metz in a Division 1 Feminine match in Paris on Sunday. Dave Winter / Icon Sport Via Getty Images

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA[Marathon effort to stamp out cheats]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413996.htm Kenyan and Ethiopian runners dominated Sunday's Shenzhen International Marathon but perhaps the biggest winners were the organizers, who went to great lengths to ensure a clean race following a major cheating scandal last month.

Three weeks ago, over 250 runners were caught cheating in the Shenzhen Nanshan Half-Marathon - 18 had competed with fake bib numbers, with three running using others' identities given lifetime bans from the event. Another 237 participants, most of whom had taken shortcuts, were banned for two years.

Organizers had vowed to avoid a repeat of such unseemly incidents in Sunday's race, which featured over 30,000 participants and was won by Kenya's Edwin Kipngetich Koech in two hours nine minutes and 44 seconds. Mulu Seboka Seyfu of Ethiopia took the women's title (2:27:12) and Zhang Zhenlong was the best-placed Chinese in 10th (2:20:43).

Rigorous planning and organization, including the use of microchipped wristbands, facial-recognition technology and video monitoring, appeared to deter any potential cheats.

"We employed several measures to avoid the possibility of cheating, making it almost impossible to cut corners or use fake bibs," an organizing committee official, surnamed Song, told Xinhua.

"These are only preventative measures, and we hope the runners chose to respect the sporting spirit of the marathon."

In addition, 224 referees and over 3,000 volunteers were stationed along the course, with runners also warned that cheating would result in lifetime bans from the event.

Marathon running has surged in popularity in China in recent years, with the number of road races staged in the country growing from just 22 in 2011 to 1,072 this year, according to the Chinese Athletics Association.

But with the craze still in its infancy here, such rapid growth has resulted in some teething problems - and even tragedy.

At November's Suzhou Marathon, local runner He Yinli created a storm after dropping a Chinese flag she had been handed as she approached the finish line.

Social-media users accused He of disrespecting the flag, however she was merely afraid of being slowed down by carrying the national standard.

Shoddy organization resulted in more serious consequences at the 2016 Xiamen International Half-Marathon, when an unregistered runner died.

Learning process

There are many lessons to be learned from all of these cases.

The Shenzhen Nanshan Half-Marathon incident was as much a failure of organization as it was a shameful case of cheating.

Marathon routes should always be clearly demarcated and secure. Evidence suggests that the Shenzhen route was neither of these.

In addition to allowing cheats to cut corners, a poorly delineated route also raises a number of security issues.

A well-organized marathon must mobilize resources along the entire route in order to make sure that those who cross the line have actually completed the course, and done so safely. Reassuringly, those boxes appeared to have been ticked at Sunday's race in Shenzhen.

The tragic incident in Xiamen was another dereliction of planning.

The runner who died had not registered with organizers directly, but had instead procured his bib through a third party. A simple verification process would have avoided this tragedy.

Digital technology can help in this regard. Runners could be assigned an individual QR code to be placed on their bib when they arrive at the event. The code could then be scanned before the starting gun to provide an additional layer of security.

As regards the furor in Suzhou, first and foremost, runners should not be handed flags before they finish a race.

By learning from these situations, organizers can improve the quality of races. And as more and more Chinese embrace marathon running, it will become ever more imperative to ensure that these standards are maintained.

 

Over 30,000 people took part in this year's Shenzhen International Marathon, with the event going off smoothly and fairly after stricter regulations were introduced to combat cheating. Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-18 07:42:30
<![CDATA[Christmas tree a symbol of love, acceptance across cultures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413995.htm My old Christmas tree - the very one I bought years ago at a Hangzhou supermarket - was the last thing I expected to find in my in-laws' storage room in their rural Zhejiang home.

My husband Jun and I had just moved back to China after spending years in the United States, my home country. We had decided to stay at the family home during our transition back to life in China, which just happened to overlap with the start of the Christmas season.

While I recognized we probably couldn't "deck the halls" with the same flair as my family had done in the US, I still longed for that one holiday necessity - a Christmas tree.

The last time we had owned an artificial tree in China, we lived in a small apartment in Shanghai, where it always occupied a place of importance in our living room every Christmas. But before moving to the US, we had left the tree behind with Jun's family, like many other possessions we could never have packed because of the limited space in our luggage.

I knew his parents, frugal by nature, cherished the many practical household items we had passed on to them. Yet, if there was one thing I felt certain they had already jettisoned from our Shanghai days, it was the old Christmas tree. After all, they hadn't grown up celebrating the holiday, and I had never glimpsed a single Christmas decoration in their rural home.

Why would they hold onto something that ostensibly had no obvious place or purpose in their rural Chinese lives?

So after moving back to China, when I brought up with my husband the idea of having a Christmas tree, I had assumed it would lead to talk of taking the bus to the largest supermarket in the county, sure to have a corner dressed in tinsel, filled with everything from rosy-cheeked plastic Santas to artificial evergreens of all sizes covered in shiny baubles and twinkling lights.

Instead, hours later, my husband poked his head into the bedroom, to bring great news of a package he and his parents had pulled out of one of the storage rooms: my old Christmas tree.

I bolted downstairs with all the excitement of a little girl on the morning of Dec 25, and found my beloved tree wrapped up in crinkled plastic. Opening it delivered even more thrills - nestled inside the faux branches were my old ornaments, including many I thought of as keepsakes, and a string of electric lights that still glowed in a rainbow of colors.

Hours later, after setting up the tree in a corner of the dining room, I still marveled at how my in-laws had stored it all these years. What moved them to hold on to it? Why had they kept it, instead of throwing it away?

Yet I shouldn't have even pondered such a question, as the answer was obvious. They had clearly embraced me as one of their own, which meant making room for me and the holiday celebrations of my country and culture, even in their storage.

I doubt my in-laws will ever approach Christmas with the same enthusiasm and wonder that fills me each December. But that's just fine, because they've given me the best gifts anyone could ever ask for: love and acceptance.

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2018-12-18 07:42:07
<![CDATA[This Day, That Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413994.htm Editor's note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy.

China's robotics industry saw steady development in 2017 with about 1,686 sector companies established.

An item from Nov 30, 2000, in China Daily shows that Xianxingzhe (the pioneer) was the first bipedal humanoid robot in China. But the nation's first domestically completed industrial robot, Yegang No 1, was unveiled on Dec 18, 1987, paving the way for the booming market.

China remained the largest market for industrial robots in 2016, with sales rising by 26.6 percent year-on-year to 88,992, according to a report released by the China Robot Industry Alliance.

At the same time, China is expanding the use of industrial robots in sectors including car manufacturing, aviation and home appliances.

China's industrial robot output increased 8.7 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of 2018. A total of 118,452 industrial robots were manufactured January-October, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The domestic robotic industry has maintained rapid growth over the past five years. Industrial robot output surged 81 percent to exceed 130,000 last year, achieving the government's target three years ahead of schedule.

The country released a guideline in 2016 with a goal of tripling annual production of industrial robots by 2020.

China is in a critical stage of "Made in China 2025". The development of industrial robots has become a major factor in transforming and upgrading China's manufacturing industry.

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2018-12-18 07:42:07
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413993.htm Boeing Zhoushan project delivers first airplane

The Boeing Zhoushan 737 Completion and Delivery Center in Zhejiang province delivered its first plane of the 737 family to Air China on Saturday. The delivery marked a milestone for the joint plant of the aerospace giant and its Chinese partner, the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, the first such Boeing facility outside the United States. The 737 MAX 8 airplane was largely assembled at Boeing's Renton plant in the US. It flew to China's coastal city of Zhoushan for completion works. "The moment signifies our growing partnership with China that stretches back over nearly half a century," said Kevin McAllister, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Skier, 87, still relishes the thrill of going downhill

George Raham still feels the special thrill at the top of a ski hill. He has been skiing for 82 years - and collected more than 60 pairs of skis along the way. He's never thrown a pair out, so they're all gathered in what he calls his "ski basement". "I've just never lost my interest in it," Raham said. He lives in the perfect place for his passion. His home, which he shares with his wife, is in Harvie Heights, a hamlet on the outskirts of Canmore in Canada's Alberta's Rocky Mountains. "I'm still strong on my skis. I feel a lot younger. You know, I'm better on my skis than I am on my feet walking around," he said. "It still gives me the thrill I got 80 years ago."

Miss USA apologizes for mocking rivals

The holder of the Miss USA 2018 title has apologized after she was captured on video mocking two of her fellow competitors for their English-speaking skills. In a video posted to Instagram, Sarah Rose Summers made light of Nat Rern, Miss Cambodia, and H'Hen Nie, Miss Vietnam. She said of Nie: "She's so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes ..." she said before mimicking a confused nod and smile. After an online backlash, Summers offered an apology on Friday.

Check more posts online.

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2018-12-18 07:42:07
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413992.htm Culture: African wood carvings on display

African art inspired many acclaimed modern artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henry Matisse in the early 20th century. But besides art, the continent also has a long and rich legacy of wood carving. Tree of Life, an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China which runs through Jan 21, features a selection from the museum's collection of African wood carvings from countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin. Please visit our website to find out more about the exhibition.

Regional: Renewable energy for new airport

Renewable energy will account for more than 10 percent of the Beijing Daxing International Airport's energy consumption when construction is completed next year, municipal authorities said on Wednesday. This will be the highest among all airports in the country, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform. The new airport, which is scheduled to be in operation in 10 months, has placed photovoltaic solar energy panels on the roofs of the car park and business-jet hangar while geothermal energy will be used in service facilities.

Forum: Oversized classes to be trimmed

China can meet its target of trimming the number of "supersized" classes in its compulsory education system before the end of the year, keeping the ratio under two percent, said an official with the Ministry of Education on Thursday. As of October, the number of supersized classes - those accommodating more than 66 students in primary and middle schools - registered a drop of 48.7 percent year-on-year, the biggest in 10 years, said ministry official Lyu Yugang at a press conference. Lyu said educational authorities will coordinate with local governments to channel more resources to poverty-stricken counties, urging them to prioritize land allocation for schools and to improve education quality in rural areas. Visit our website to find out more.

Art: Show to review how ink painting developed

The Beijing Minsheng Art Museum is holding an exhibition to review the evolution of ink painting over the past four decades. The show, New Ink Art in China: 1979-2018, examines how artists enriched the landscape of ink art through their experimental approach but still kept to the core spirit of the tradition. The show, which runs through Feb 23, features works from public art museums, artists and collectors. The museum is located in Universal Creative Park, next to the contemporary art center 798 Art District.

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2018-12-18 07:42:07
<![CDATA[现代科技保护长城]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413991.htm 年初,英特尔公司与中国文物保护基金会签约,宣布将运用英特尔人工智能技术和无人机技术实施长城保护项目,以前所未有的方式保护这一世界纪念性建筑遗产.下面,请跟双语君一起来看看科技是如何保护文物的吧!

The Great Wall is symbolic of China. But many parts of the wall, like the Jiankou section, are blighted by erosion and showing the ravages of time.

长城是中国的一个象征。但很多段墙体,如箭扣长城段,随着时间的推移,已经受到了严重的侵蚀。

The Jiankou section spans mountain peaks and treacherous cliffs, making the preservation of this part of the wall no easy task.

箭扣长城跨越了山峰和险峻的悬崖,使得保护工作难度加大。

The Great Wall is not just one wall, but many interconnected walls. Sections of earlier fortifications were joined together to form a united defense system against invasions from the north. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

长城不是一道单纯孤立的城墙,而是许多互相连接的城墙。这些早期的防御工事连接在一起形成一个统一的防御体系,以防御北方之敌。1987年长城被列入世界文化遗产。

The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is partnering with Intel to launch an innovative new approach to its restoration: artificial intelligence and drones.

中国文化遗产保护基金会与英特尔合作,推出了一种创新方法来保护长城:人工智能加无人机。

The drones are able to capture thousands of detailed and highly accurate images of the wall, which can be stitched together to create a 3D model, delivering the foundation a data-driven plan for the restoration.

无人机能拍摄上千幅清晰准确的长城局部图片。这些图片可以通过合成还原出一个三维模型,以便中国文化遗产保护基金会利用这一数据库制定长城修复计划。

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal had a story headlined "China's Great Wall is 'crumbling'. Now architects are using drones to save it."

本月初,《华盛顿邮报》以《长城正在“坍塌” - 建筑师们正在用无人机拯救长城》为题发表了一篇文章。

The report said that as much as 30 percent of the wall "lies crumbling into ruins" as it is slowly reclaimed by the natural world.

文章指出,大约30%的长城正在自然风化的缓慢作用下“坍塌成废墟”。

However, it remains too dangerous to reach or traverse some of the most vulnerable sections of the ancient wall.

但是,到达或移动到古城墙最脆弱的地方仍然是一项非常危险的工作。

The drones have allowed authorities to map and measure sections of the wall, offering precise data to rebuild the structure, according to the Wall Street Journal.

据《华尔街邮报》报道,无人机可以帮助中国工作人员测绘长城的每一个部分,为长城的修复工作提供精准的数据。

The BBC also reported that solutions like this can shore up, literally, the entire section of the Great Wall.

英国广播公司也报道称,像这样的解决方案可以使得整座古长城得到更好的保护。

According to Intel, an artificial intelligence algorithm detects structural flaws on the Jiankou section and even calculates the exact number of bricks needed to repair it.

英特尔介绍,将使用一种人工智能算法来监测箭扣长城建筑结构上的损毁情况,甚至可以计算出到底有多少块墙砖需要修复。

The entire workflow is powered by an Intel Xeon processor, from photogrammetry stitching to visualizing the 3D model.

从影像测量合成到最终建立三维模型,整个工作流程都有英特至强处理器完成。

Hopefully now more of the great wall will remain for future generations to see, according to the BBC.

报道认为,现在更多的古城墙有望被保留,为后人所见。

The South China Morning Post also had a story headlined "China's crumbling Great Wall is getting some hi-tech conservation help from drones".

《南华早报》也以《中国正在运用高科技无人机技术保护正在坍塌的长城》为题报道了此事。

Intel said the project bridges technology with cultural heritage.

英特尔认为,这项工程将技术和文化遗产保护联结起来。

But some netizens criticized the project. One said, "If they reconstruct it, it is no longer authentic; they might as well let nature claim it. It is part of the natural process."

但也有一些网友表示不赞同。其中一位认为:如果他们修复了长城,那长城就失去了原貌。应该让大自然重塑它,这是一种自然过程。”

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2018-12-18 07:42:07
<![CDATA[Fuel cell cars championed as eco option]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413984.htm China should make fuel cell vehicles a highlight of its new energy vehicle campaign, which currently consists primarily of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, according to a senior official.

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Official notes the vehicles have zero emissions, are long-range, quick to refuel

China should make fuel cell vehicles a highlight of its new energy vehicle campaign, which currently consists primarily of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, according to a senior official.

"FCVs should be included as a new focus, as they boast such features as zero emissions, long driving ranges and short refueling times," said Wan Gang, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, in an article in the People's Daily on Saturday.

For traction, FCVs mix hydrogen and oxygen, stored in cells on board, to power an electric motor. This makes each vehicle extremely eco-friendly - no pollution and the only by-product is water. A typical fuel cell bus, like the Mirai developed by Toyota Motor Corp, can run up to 650 kilometers and takes three minutes to get refilled.

Such vehicles can complement electric cars, which have shorter ranges and longer charging times, and thus cannot fully meet demand for long-haul transportation, wrote Wan, former minister of science and technology and a leading expert in the country's new energy vehicle program.

China has been the world's largest new energy vehicle market since it overtook the United States in 2015. In the first 11 months this year, sales of these green vehicles reached 1.03 million in the country, primarily composed of electric vehicles.

"Now we should step up our efforts in our studies on FCVs to make major breakthroughs in core technologies, fundamental materials and key components," argued Wan.

Globally, FCVs are still at an early stage of development, a niche choice due to technical hurdles, high prices, and a lack of infrastructure. Commercial FCVs started to be used around 2010, while passenger cars did not hit the market until around 2014.

In all, China had around 1,200 FCVs on its roads, and less than 20 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of 2017, ranking behind the United States, Japan and South Korea, according to the International Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association.

The Chinese government has set a goal to have 5,000 such vehicles on its roads by 2020, 50,000 by 2025 and 1 million by 2030.

Wang Ju, deputy secretary-general of the International Hydrogen Fuel Cell Association, said China's vast automotive market and its experience from developing and promoting electric vehicles will prove to be advantages in the new sector.

China's SAIC Motor Corp Ltd has seen the fleet of its fuel-cell buses start commercial operation in Shanghai earlier this year.

Great Wall Motor Corp Ltd, the first Chinese member of the Hydrogen Council, said its premium brand Wey will release its first FCV in 2020 and start mass production in 2022.

They will face stiff competition from South Korean and Japanese carmakers. Last week, Hyundai Motor Group announced plans to invest $6.75 billion in hydrogen fuel cell technology, allowing it to produce 500,000 FCVs annually by 2030.

It expects global FCVs to expand to around 2 million vehicles a year within the same timeframe.

Toyota is a strong advocate of FCVs as well, and plans to follow up on its Mirai model with a range of SUVs, pickup trucks, and commercial trucks beginning around 2025, according to Reuters.

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Central metropolis set to be global futures hub]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413983.htm

ZHENGZHOU - Some 75 overseas investors have participated in the purified terephthalic acid (PTA) futures trading on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange (ZCE) since it opened to foreign investment two weeks ago.

The PTA futures are the third variety on the Chinese mainland open to overseas investment after crude oil and iron ore. It is also the latest move by Zhengzhou, capital city of Central China's Henan Province and a logistics hub with a population of about 10 million, to become a major international futures hub.

Founded in 1990 in Zhengzhou, the ZCE is China's first commodities futures exchange established after the country's reform and openingup.

The total number of futures changing hands on the ZCE rose by 38.45 percent to 700 million contracts in the first 11 months this year, accounting for 26.86 percent of China's futures market, according to the China Futures Association.

The Zhengzhou government released its plan to enhance opening-up and internationalization in 2017, which encouraged the ZCE to develop its overseas market.

In December 2006, China listed PTA futures on the ZCE. It opened to foreign investors on Nov 30 this year, when daily turnover of the most active PTA futures contract reached 29.5 billion yuan ($4.28 billion).

"PTA futures are China's first chemical futures and the first of their kind to open to overseas investors, marking one step forward in the opening-up of China's futures market," said Fang Xinghai, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

PTA, a commodity chemical and textiles raw material, is a downstream product of petroleum and one of the most important bulk organic raw materials in China.

As the world's largest producer and consumer of PTA, China's PTA production capacity exceeded 49 million metric tons in 2017, accounting for around 55 percent of global manufacturing capacity, said Zhu Fang, director of the information and market department of the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation.

"The price of PTA futures has become the pricing benchmark of spot trade and an important reference standard for domestic PTA enterprises and polyester enterprises. It improves the pricing efficiency of upstream and downstream products, and the efficiency of market allocation of resources," Zhu said.

China's futures market has marched toward internationalization in the first half of this year with crude oil futures and iron ore futures embarking on the overseas market.

The ZCE plans to study and encourage other futures varieties with great overseas demand to further open up to overseas investment.

As a major agricultural province, Henan is a pioneer in farm produce futures. It began trading wheat, corn, soybean, mung bean and sesame futures in 1993.

Xinhua

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Robot sub maker lauds Tianjin tech pool]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413982.htm It was an unusual day for Liu Haibing, an engineer from Tianjin, as he and a "friend" searched for a sunken bus, which had plunged into the Yangtze River in Chongqing after a fatal accident in October this year.

"It was not an easy task, as the underwater environment was very complicated at that time, including poor visibility and violent turbulence," he recalled.

In the end, it was his friend, a submersible robot built by Tianjin Sublue Ocean Science and Technology Co Ltd, who found the bus 70 meters under the surface of the river.

As well as being a success for Sublue and the rescuers, the moment was also a success for the Binhai New Area, over 1,700 kilometers away in Tianjin, and just the latest occasion a product from the tech park had made a mark in the world.

Created by the Tianjin government, the area aims to attract hightech industries like artificial intelligence or smart manufacturing, and help supplement the city's traditional strengths of aviation and chemicals.

It also aims to bring coordinated development to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, a national-level initiative focused on sharing regional resources and spreading economic growth.

By the end of 2017, more than 464 municipal-level and above research centers, including 111 key laboratories and 241 technological centers of major companies, had been established in the technological cluster.

More might yet come, after the Tianjin government announced earlier this year that it is to invest 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) in backing companies involved in AI, robots, software, virtual reality and intelligent-connected cars.

Wei Jiancang, general manager of Sublue, said the preferential policies and services from local authorities had been a great enabler for technological innovation in the area.

"The New Area has a complete and well-rounded industrial ecosystem, offering high-tech companies a big help in both research and production," he noted.

Founded in 2013, Sublue produces a range of underwater robots, autonomous underwater vehicles and gliders.

Having made breakthroughs in the military and industrial sectors, it began to explore more consumer-orientated products last year, such as scooters and robots. That appears to have opened growth in new markets. Around 90 percent of its consumer products are sent overseas.

"With a growth in orders from the United States and Australia, the overseas market has been our new engine for growth," Wei said.

Ocean-related industries have been a hotbed in recent years. The added-value of ocean-related industries will exceed $3 trillion by 2030, said a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

"It will be a promising market as countries from around the world have paid great attention and spent a lot in building ocean-related technologies and infrastructure," said Wei.

"At the same time, the consumer market is growing rapidly driven by the growing entertainment demand from young groups," he added.

The company has predicted its sales will hit 262 million yuan this year, huge growth from the 90 million yuan it reported last year.

 

A diver uses an underwater booster developed by underwater robot producer Sublue. Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Gilead Sciences hopes to end hepatitis B]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413981.htm Global biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences Inc has reaffirmed its commitment to curing hepatitis, and with it, helping sufferers in China, a country with one third of all the world's hepatitis B carriers.

Due to its population, China is crucial to the firm, said Rogers Luo, vice-president of Gilead and general manager of Gilead China, in a media briefing, adding that new research and development initiatives are likely to come to the country soon.

For over 30 years, California-based Gilead has sunk billions of dollars into the R&D of anti-hepatitis drugs. Breakthroughs mean that one strand, hepatitis C, can already be completely cured. The firm says its goal now is to find a permanent cure for hepatitis B.

"We are sure we will finally cure the disease," said Gregg Alton, chief patient officer of Gilead.

Statistics from the World Health Organization showed there are 86 million hepatitis B virus carriers in China. Without treatment, it is estimated that between 2015 and 2030, 10 million people will die from a hepatitis B-related disease.

"Although there is no permanent treatment for hepatitis B now, with the upgrading of antiviral drugs, chronic hepatitis B patients, who receive long-term treatment, can have better medication options, with a very low drug resistance rate and better safety assurance, reducing the risk of liver cancer," said Ren Hong, head of the Second Affiliated Hospital at Chongqing Medi-cal University.

However, medical professionals said that message is slow to get through to patients.

Zhuang Hui, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, described chronic hepatitis B as "a severe public health problem in China."

"One third of the chronic hepatitis patients in the country don't know there are anti-hepatitis drugs now, half of the patients haven't received standardized antiviral therapy, and 60 percent of them stop taking medicine before it's time to," he said.

The WHO is aiming to eliminate hepatitis by 2030.

Margaret Chan, former director of the WHO, noted that combating hepatitis requires joint efforts from the government, NGOs, the healthcare industry, society and patients. The Asia-Pacific region, especially China, is a crucial part of the global initiative.

On Nov 8, Gilead received approval in China for Tenofovir alafenamide, a drug designed for treating chronic hepatitis B in adults and children weighing over 35 kilograms, and 12 years of age and older. The drug is the only anti-hepatitis B drug that has got approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the last 10 years, bringing new hope for patients.

In addition to TAF, the company has launched five products in China in the last 15 months. It is also working closely with authorities to make the drugs available through China's medical insurance system.

"One major task of the company is to raise the accessibility of the innovative drugs introduced to China, to enable more patients to use our medicines, at a more affordable price," said Luo.

Although no specific figure was revealed, the company said it will increase its investment in China in the future. "We see the tremendous progress of the Chinese central government in improving the healthcare market, particularly for innovative companies in China," said Alton.

"The government has focused on four key areas. It has more sophisticated, transparent and predictable regulatory reform, allowing us to get products onto the market. Its reimbursement reform has made our products more accessible for our patients, especially those who are poor."

He noted that the government has also made progress in protecting intellectual property rights, both for patents and data, and that the government has a strong commitment to enforcing ethical practices among firms in China.

"These four key areas really make the environment good for innovative companies like Gilead. Therefore, we intend to do more clinical research and look for more scientific partnerships in China, and we will absolutely increase our investment," he said.

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Draft rules due for new tech board]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413980.htm Draft regulations for the Shanghai Stock Exchange's highly anticipated science and technology innovation board are likely to be released in less than two weeks, according to industry insiders.

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Experts expect regulations for trading science, innovation stocks this month

Draft regulations for the Shanghai Stock Exchange's highly anticipated science and technology innovation board are likely to be released in less than two weeks, according to industry insiders.

The draft is very likely to be released by the end of this year, said Liu Xiaodong, CEO of Sailing Capital Management and former deputy general manager of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, at the Shanghai Finance Forum on Saturday.

Xu Jiongwei, chairman of China Securities Investment Co Ltd, said that prior to the new tech board, Chinese regulators had set stricter requirements for companies intending to go public, resulting in a limited number of qualified companies.

But, based on current market discussions, it seems regulators will set lower bars for such companies.

"The biggest change will be profit. In the past all A-share listed companies had to report profit for a certain period of time. But it is widely assumed the new board will also take into account the company's income rather than simply profit, which indicates the system's higher inclusiveness," Xu said.

But, he added that one major problem that could hold back profitable companies is the new tech board's liquidity.

During his keynote speech at the China International Import Expo on Nov 5, President Xi Jinping elaborated on three decisions on the development of Shanghai, one of which is the introduction of a science and technology innovation board at the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang said that the science and technology innovation board should focus on key areas such as integrated circuits, artificial intelligence, biomedicine, aerospace engineering and electronic vehicles. He made the comments during a meeting with the Shanghai Stock Exchange management team on Nov 20.

The Shanghai municipal government released a guideline on Nov 22 to support the development of high-tech companies in the city. Qualified companies will be granted financial support of between 200,000 yuan and 2 million yuan ($29,000 and $290,000). Local companies intending to go public on the new board should complete their application by Nov 23.

Shao Jun, chairman of DT Capital Partners, said that domestic Chinese investors will for the first time benefit from the exponential growth of the industry leaders in the technology area.

"In the past, profits raised by the rapid growth of industry leaders like Alibaba and Tencent were given to overseas limited partners and shareholders. They planned to return to the Chinese market after growing into juggernauts, which is not right. China has created these miracles, and the profit generated during their most rapidly evolving period should be given to domestic investors," he said.

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Tongrentang shares down on expired honey woes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413979.htm Tongrentang, a Beijing-based time-honored traditional Chinese medicine provider, saw its share price decline after reports say it used expired honey as a raw material in its products.

On Saturday night, a news report by Jiangsu TV reported that a honey provider that supplies Tongrentang in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, was suspected of producing honey in an illegal manner.

The honey maker is accused of processing returned honey and changed the labeled date of production.

Shanghai-listed Tongrentang dropped 2.33 percent and closed at 29.31 yuan ($4.25) per share in Monday's trading. The company's valuation now stands at 40.2 billion yuan.

Tongrentang posted a statement on Sunday saying that its sub-affiliate Beijing Tongrentang Bee Industry Co Ltd had been negligent and inadequately supervised the entrusted production process.

The company said it has signed an agreement with the Yancheng-based supplier, requiring the products involved to not flow into the market. Those honey products can only be used for feeding bees, and cannot be used for any other purposes, it said.

Tongrentang added it has established a specialized team to thoroughly investigate the matter, and will announce the result in a timely manner, according to its statement.

As Beijing Tongrentang Bee Industry is registered in Daxing district of Beijing, the local Food and Drug Administration has also launched an investigation.

Other medicine companies also suffered an overall decline on Monday in the wake of the news.

In the first nine months, Beijing Tongrentang Bee Industry netted sales revenue of 197 million yuan, with a loss of 873,000 yuan, according to its earnings report.

In 2016, a batch of honey products of Tongrentang had been tested of mixing syrup by a third-party institution, and the honey were imported from its partner in New Zealand.

An industry analyst said food and drug brands should strengthen the supervision of their original equipment manufacturers, as many suppliers usually make little profits and there exists certain safety risks.

Pedestrians walk past a Tongrentang store in Beijing. Provided to China Daily 

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Taishan nuclear plant reactor ready for operations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413978.htm

One of the third-generation European pressurized reactors (EPR) in Taishan nuclear power plant has completed test operations in Guangdong province, making it the first among the EPR units ready for power generation, and was considered a milestone in the world's nuclear power sector, said industry insiders.

Taishan nuclear power plant is the biggest cooperation project between China and France in the energy sector, with two 1750-megawatt EPR units in its first phase of construction.

The first reactor completed a 168-hour trial run at 5 pm on Thursday, putting it on course to become the world's first commercial nuclear reactor using third-generation EPR technology, according to China General Nuclear Power Corp and its French partner Electricite de France.

The success of the reactor proves EPR is a reliable technology, and will provide the companies with useful experience relating to the construction and management of similar nuclear projects, including the second reactor unit in Taishan, said Guo Limin, general manager of the Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co Ltd, constructor and operator of the Taishan project.

The second reactor unit started hot functional tests 10 days ahead of schedule on Dec 10, and is expected to go into operation next year as planned, according to Guo.

The hot functional test is a critical pre-operational requirement which ensures that certain major systems function together as designed.

Fabrice Fourcade, vice-president of EDF and chairman of EDF China, said experience gained from the Taishan project can help with the construction of other nuclear power projects. Also, as the Taishan project demonstrates the safety, competence and maturity of EPR technology, it can help to solve the energy shortage problems facing many economies experiencing rapid growth, Fourcade added.

Han Xiaopeng, chief analyst with China Energy Net Consulting, said the operation of the EPR unit is not only a positive outcome from deepening energy cooperation between China and France, but also proves EPR technology is safe and effective, and that nuclear power is a good choice for building a lower-carbon energy future.

The construction of Taishan's first two reactors started in 2009 and 2010 respectively, following the other two in Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France, as the world's third and fourth third-generation EPRs.

Once they are fully operational, the two reactors in Taishan will be capable of replacing about 8.03 million metric tons of standard coal consumption annually, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 21 million tons, equivalent to planting 58,500 hectares of forest, according to China General Nuclear Power's statement.

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2018-12-18 07:41:16
<![CDATA[Huawei CFO may draw more Chinese women to business]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413164.htm Westerners may have been surprised to learn from news coming from Canada that Huawei, a major Chinese tech company, has a female chief financial officer.

Many people outside China view the nation as a patriarchal society. But reality is different from perception. I'd like to believe that Chinese women are redefining their role in society and fancy their chances of succeeding in business.

That belief isn't based solely on the rise of Meng Wanzhou, a billionaire, to Huawei's executive suite or the gradual blooming of female executives in big companies. They include bicycle-sharing company Mobike, which is led by Hu Weiwei; Gree Electric Appliances, steered by Dong Mingzhu; and Ant Financial, led by Peng Lei, a self-made billionaire who also co-founded Alibaba.

Female CEOs in China (4.5 percent of the total) outnumber those in most other countries, including the United States.

At the other extreme, women run smaller businesses, such as fruit and vegetable shops, neighborhood grocery stores, fast-food stalls, garment and lingerie stores and beauty salons.

But it's in the middle ground between these two extremes that Chinese businesswomen seem to be finding their sweet spot. One of the reasons is e-commerce.

Opportunities arising from the digital medium are now spilling over into the physical realm. Chinese women are breaking new ground in niche brick-and-mortar businesses.

The startup culture appears to have spawned a new thinking and a quiet confidence that are now informing women's choices.

For example, a tea expert is striking out on her own by floating a venture focused on foreign tourists visiting China. Her studio offers creative crash courses that give an overview of the country's rich tea culture and train students on how to brew different varieties. Considering that Chinese green tea has become a rage outside the country, it's conceivable that foreign tourists will enroll when such courses are bundled with tours by online travel agencies.

Sightseeing, sampling local food and absorbing Chinese culture are no longer the only activities on most tourists' to-do lists these days. Life-enriching experiences and activities are sought that can be squeezed into travel itineraries, so that spending big bucks produces a bigger bang.

Who wouldn't want to go back home and show off new skills in how to recognize and evaluate different varieties of Chinese teas, or how to buy and brew them using custom-made porcelain paraphernalia?

This entrepreneurial woman's courage to try converting a concept into a profitable business may be a sign that Chinese women's gut-level instincts are undergoing a massive change.

The female-founded businesses I have come across recently give credence to my theory: a popular eatery that serves Middle Eastern delights like shawarma and falafel (it helps if the husband is a Syrian hulk who doubles as the chef); a frozen yogurt chain that is doing well even during a bitterly cold winter; a city-centric local tour and excursion operator targeting expatriates; a life skills training company aimed at empowering working women in fighting depression; yoga studios; niche restaurants; and translation and interpreter services that use mobile apps.

These are but a sample. Chinese women are already ubiquitous in the media, entertainment and sports industries. The digital world has produced an army of female celebrities, including livestreamers who publicize new products, and services and entertainers who broadcast fun shows involving cosplay and real-life snippets in real time.

The #MeToo campaign's Chinese footprint, and the wide popularity of female-oriented Indian films in China are also testimony to the rising distaff power.

Far from being a disgrace because of her questionable arrest in Canada, Meng's brush with global attention, though unplanned, might end up inspiring more Chinese females to boldly go where few women have gone before.

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2018-12-17 08:33:57
<![CDATA[This Day, That Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413163.htm Editor's note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy.

China's consumer markets are booming along with nation's economic development, which in turn provides convenience for sellers of counterfeit goods.

As counterfeiting has flourished in the country over the decades, a lucrative, parallel industry has blossomed to fight it. An item in China Daily highlighted a man named Wang Hai from Qingdao, Shandong province, who was known for fighting counterfeit goods. He was awarded 5,000($725) on Dec 17, 1995.

With the development of e-commerce in an environment of relatively lax supervision, increasing amounts of counterfeit goods have appeared on the market and created jobs for professional fraud-fighters like Wang.

The theme for World Consumer Rights Day in March this year was "Making digital marketplaces fairer". In line with that, China's government-backed consumer rights group has been cracking down on e-commerce platforms for selling counterfeits.

"The Chaoyang Branch of the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce has signed framework agreements with four e-commerce platforms in the district," Yun Yue, the branch's section chief, told China Global Television Network.

In addition, China's most popular instant messaging app, WeChat, announced a major breakthrough in fighting privacy infringement and sales of counterfeits. As of early February this year, WeChat had removed more than 22,300 infringing links and permanently banned nearly 1,000 bogus miniprograms.

Experts suggested that all government entities involved in stopping counterfeit products should create a mechanism to cooperate with each other.

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2018-12-17 08:33:57
<![CDATA[On our Sina Weibo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413162.htm Pet restaurant welcomes animal lovers

A newly opened restaurant in Changchun, Jilin province, is serving up food for pets. Diners at the restaurant can enjoy their meal while picking one of the special dishes for their animal friends. Currently, there are eight recipes on the menu, but more are on the way. Netizens said they are willing to take their pets to the restaurant and hoped it more would open across the country.

Worst passwords of the year

According to SplashData, a leading provider of security applications and services, topping off the list of terrible passwords were"123456789" at No 3, "password" at No 2 and "123456" at No 1. This year marked the fifth-straight year that "123456" and "password" kept their top two spots on the list. SplashData compiled its list by evaluating more than 5 million leaked passwords. The company estimates that 10 percent of computer users have used at least one of the 25 worst passwords on this year's list, with roughly 3 percent using the worst password, "123456".

Professor helped rescue student from ISIS zone

A chemistry professor at Lund University in Sweden dispatched a team of mercenaries into an Islamic State war zone to free one of her doctoral students and his family. Charlotta Turner, professor in analytical chemistry, received a text message from the student, Firas Jumaah, in 2014 telling her to assume he would not finish his thesis if he had not returned within a week. He and his family were hiding out in an abandoned bleach factory, with the sounds of gunshots from roaming ISIS extremists reverberating around them. Jumaah, who is from Iraq, is a member of the Yazidi ethno-religious group, which is hated by ISIS.

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2018-12-17 08:33:57
<![CDATA[On chinadaily.com.cn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413161.htm Forum: Wuhan man builds his own aircraft

A man from Wuhan has spent 150,000 yuan ($22,000) to build his own aircraft, Chinanews reported online on Wednesday. Shu Mansheng adjusted his plane's jet engine on Wednesday. Since 2009, Shu has fed his passion for aviation by designing and testing more than 20 different aircraft. Despite crashes that left him with broken ribs on a number of occasions, he hasn't been dissuaded from pursuing his dream. Please visit our website to find out more about the aircraft.

Art: Craftsman displays his woven artwork

A craftsman exhibited his art woven from the leftovers of crops, such as stalks and corn husks, this week to highlight the traditional folk art. The exhibition took place in a residential community in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. The weaving technique itself was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2008. Craftsmen make baskets, hats, animal figures and other items. Han Liuye, 39, learned how to weave the plant material wh en he was a child in the village of Liugou in Zhangjiakou. In recent years, he has focused on promoting the craft to the public.

Biz: Wonderland of flowers graces city

A garden with a stunning variety of flowers is a popular tourist attraction in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Deng Xiaohua, who has worked in the floral industry for 22 years, started building the garden in 2015. From the design and selection of materials to the decorations, every detail of the garden is a testament to her love of life. The garden is home to more than 1,000 kinds of flowers and has become an artistic landmark in the city.

Culture: Mongolia to get more literary attention

The Sino-Mongolian International Publishing Exchange platform and a Sino-Mongolian translation workshop were unveiled last week at the Mongolian embassy in China. Organized by the Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network and the Mongolian publishing house Nepko, the platform will be dedicated to exchanges of books and literature and facilitating more cooperation in translation and publication. Nepko Press and Guangming Press have designated the support group as their sole agency in China. The Sino-Mongolian Translation Workshop will undertake future translation projects for the group. Since 2015, several publishing houses in Mongolia, including Nepko, have worked with the group to introduce contemporary Chinese books such as Empresses in the Palace and The Story of Tea to Mongolian readers. Visit our website to find out more.

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2018-12-17 08:33:57
<![CDATA[《摘金奇缘》]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413160.htm 中国日报双语新闻

电影《摘金奇缘》日前在国内上映。这是好莱坞25年来首部全亚裔演员出演的电影。影片打破了许多美国人对亚洲人的刻板印象。下面,请跟双语君一起来看看吧!

Crazy Rich Asians, hyped as the first Hollywood film in two decades with an all-Asian cast, hit Chinese screens on Nov 30.

好莱坞浪漫爱情喜剧《摘金奇缘》11月30日在中国上映。这是好莱坞20年多来首部全亚裔演员出演的电影。

The movie, from Warner Bros, has earned $236 million in the United States. That makes it the biggest-ever romantic comedy. It was also a box office hit in Singapore, where it is set.

华纳兄弟出品的电影《摘金奇缘》在美国的票房已达到2.36亿,成为历史票房最高的浪漫喜剧电影。在电影拍摄地新加坡,它也成为了票房黑马。

Adapted from Kevin Kwan's best-seller of the same name, it tells the story of an Asian-American woman who gets a culture shock when meeting her boyfriend's ultra-wealthy family in Singapore.

这部电影改编自新加坡籍作家凯文·关的同名畅销小说,讲述了新加坡首富的家族继承人带上华裔美国女友,回新加坡引发的文化冲突。

The Wall Street Journal reported that the film shows Asians in a refreshing light: The men are attractive and charismatic; the women are headstrong and independent.

《华盛顿邮报》是这样报道的:影片从一个全新的角度展现了亚洲人:男性迷人魅力,女性有主见,也很独立。

There isn't a stereotypical nerd or martial arts master in sight.

影片中没有对于亚洲人是书呆子或者武术大师的刻板印象。

An Asian-American woman's online post about the movie went viral. She said, "You're 8 years old. Your third-grade class orders Chinese food and your father delivers it. You are so excited to see your dad in school. He's your hero. But apparently other kids don't think he's so cool. They laugh at him and mimic his accent. You don't want to be Chinese anymore."

看过电影后,一位亚裔美国女人的留言引发了网友热议。她写道:“那年你八岁,你三年级的同学定了中餐外卖,你的爸爸送的餐。你觉得爸爸是个英雄,觉得能在学校见到爸爸非常自豪。但是别的小孩不觉得他很酷,他们嘲笑他,模仿着他的口音,你再也不想当华裔了”。

"You're 9 years old. You attend ballet camp. Someone tells you that another girl hates you. She thinks your eyes are an 'ugly shape'. You don't have the vocabulary to describe why that's hurtful. But now, you hate your distinctly Asian face. You don't want to be Chinese anymore."

“那年你九岁,你参加了芭蕾训练营,有人告诉你有个女孩讨厌你,她觉得你眼睛的形状很丑。你不知道怎么用语言表达那种受伤的感觉。但是从那时起,你开始讨厌自己长了张亚洲人的脸,你再也不想当华裔了”。

"You're 17 years old. You're off to college and meet other Asians. They have pride that you never had. You meet a boy who wonders why you don't speak your family's native tongue and why your favorite food is grilled cheese, not xiaolongbao. You say your family doesn't live that way."

“那年你十七岁,你上了大学,遇到了其他亚洲人。他们对于自己的一切都很自豪。你遇见了一个亚洲男孩,他很奇怪为什么你不说家乡话,为什么你最喜欢的食物是烤芝士而不是小笼包。你跟他说你们家生活习惯不一样”。

"But you know you rejected your culture a long time ago. You know you refused to speak Chinese. It clicks. It's a race to reclaim everything you've hated about yourself. For the first time, you want to be Chinese."

“但是你很长时间以来,一直在拒绝自己的文化。你拒绝说中文。但你某天突然想通了,你觉得是时候找回那些你一直讨厌的东西了。第一次,你想当一个华裔”。

"You're 20 years old. You've spent the past several years repatriating yourself. You get your family's name tattooed into your skin. That character is there forever. You won't let anyone make you feel the way you did all those years ago. You love being Chinese."

“你二十岁了。在过去的几年里,你一直在找回自己。你把家族姓氏纹在皮肤上,那个字永远与你在一起。你再也不会像从前那样让别人影响你。你喜欢做一个华裔”。

"You're 25 years old. You see a movie with an all-Asian cast at a screening, and for some reason you're crying and you can't stop. You've never seen a cast like this in Hollywood. Everyone is beautiful. You're so happy you're Chinese."

“你二十五岁了,你看到了一部全亚裔班底的电影登上了荧幕。不知为何,你止不住地哭。你从来没欣赏过这样一部好莱坞电影,每个人都很美。你为自己是个华裔感到高兴”。

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2018-12-17 08:33:57
<![CDATA[Private-sector bonds get fillip]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413157.htm NDRC's nod for BYD's 6 billion yuan bond heralds ease of financing for quality firms

China's top economic planner's recent measures will make bond markets more supportive of private enterprises' efforts to raise funds through corporate bonds, analysts said.

On Nov 15, the National Development and Reform Commission released a slew of policies aimed at easing private enterprises' woes in raising finance through bonds. One of the headline measures was to support qualified private enterprises in issuing high-quality corporate bonds.

 

A worker performs welding tasks at a BYD assembly line in Shenzhen on May 25, 2016. Reuters

High-quality corporate bonds are those instruments issued by enterprises regarded highly by ratings agencies, have stable financial performance and boast leading roles in structural transformation or regional economies.

Such bonds are characterized by streamlined issuance procedures. Their issuers are required to use the proceeds on projects involved in economic restructuring.

Meng Wei, spokesperson for the NDRC, said at a news conference on Nov 15 that the commission recently approved private-sector BYD Co Ltd's high-quality corporate bond issue worth 6 billion yuan ($872 million).

The electric vehicles maker intends to use the bonds to ease the pressure of raising mid- and long-term capital, Wang Jing, director of the fund management center at BYD, told China Economic Herald.

Such NDRC-approved bonds were issued by only eight State-owned enterprises for 171 billion yuan in all in the past.

Wang Tingting, an associate professor with the Central University of Finance and Economics, considered the NDRC's statement important. For, typically, the NDRC regulates only bonds issued by State-owned enterprises and subsidiaries of the central governments. Private-sector corporate bonds have been mainly regulated by the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

"The NDRC probably signaled policy changes to make bond markets more supportive of private enterprises," Wang said. "To contain default risks brought by more private-sector corporate bonds, the commission started the changes by encouraging only reputable private enterprises to issue bonds."

The NDRC approved 380 corporate bonds in 2017. Only four of them were from private enterprises, according to NDRC data. But from now on, the NDRC will likely facilitate more private enterprises' bond issuances, especially high-quality corporate bonds, analysts said.

"The commission should be flexible and proceed gradually to control risks," said Tang Yao, an associate professor with the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.

Tang further said procedures for handling bond defaults and a specialized market for junk bonds are needed.

With such mechanisms, the market would be able to price these bonds appropriately, and thus become capable of accommodating bond issuances by private enterprises with lower credit ratings, Tang said.

"There are always defaults in a market economy, but well-developed bond markets can price them and deal with them efficiently, " he said.

The NDRC's Nov 15 announcement came after a number of financial authorities had promised to provide more financial support to the private sector.

In China, the private sector accounts for more than 60 percent of the national economy but only 25 percent of the banking system's outstanding loans, official data showed.

The commission said it will encourage issuances of a special type of corporate bond to raise money for venture capital funds, without limitations on the types of startups that can be invested in.

Venture capital firms are already allowed to issue bonds to invest in startups satisfying specific requirements and projects incubating innovative startups, said Wang from the CUFE.

"The new measure will give them a new option where they can choose investment targets from a wider range of private startups and better manage risks through diversification."

The NDRC will also rationalize rules for certain bonds issued by reputable large and medium-sized companies, and managed by commercial banks, whose proceeds are used to lend to select groups of small and micro businesses, it said.

Possible rule improvements include measures to enhance ratings of the bond issuers and improvements to related risk mitigation mechanisms, to better deal with higher credit risks of small businesses, Wang said.

According to Beijing-based Genial Flow Asset Management Ltd, which deals in fixed-income private funds, bond markets have always been an important financing channel for private enterprises, which makes the NDRC's latest measures helpful.

Costs, and difficulties in bond financing, escalate during economic downturns, so other approaches to supporting private enterprises, such as the promised increase in bank loans, are necessary, it said.

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2018-12-17 08:32:41
<![CDATA[Foreign investors' passion for A shares seen boosting market]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413156.htm Foreign investors' increasing participation in China's A-share trading will help improve market functioning and boost performance of large-cap equities and consumer stocks, analysts said.

Foreign investors' role has become more important in recent years, they said.

According to Aberdeen Standard Investments, a London-listed global asset manager, holdings of foreign investors in the A-share market accounted for about 2.5 percent of total market capitalization as of June this year, up from 2.1 percent and 1.3 percent by the end of 2017 and 2016.

"We expect the proportion to rise in the following years, considering A shares' inclusion in major global indexes such as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index," said Nicholas Yeo, head of China Equities at Aberdeen.

The trend, Yeo said, will likely help improve corporate governance in mainland listed companies, because foreign investors prefer such companies to make their long-term investments sustainable.

To attract long-term capital, many Chinese listed companies are striving to improve corporate governance. Foreign investors are keen to see more Chinese companies, including State-owned enterprises, proactively making full disclosures about market-sensitive information. This includes information like incentives for senior executives, said Yeo.

"To increase foreign investors' interest in A shares, policymakers have been adjusting rules."

One such adjustment was to reduce trading suspensions. Compared to 2015, overall suspensions have declined by 80 percent this year, according to market data.

Zhang Xia, chief strategy analyst at China Merchants Securities, said foreign investors could help solve the twin problems of the Chinese stock market - the lack of long-term investments and the prevalence of short-term speculative trading.

Typically, foreign investors adopt long-term investment strategies, and prefer large-cap stocks and consumer stocks - which is likely to help those stocks to register good performance in the future, Zhang said.

"We are overweight on consumer discretionary ... it's a continuing theme for us," said Kevin Anderson, head of Asia Pacific investments at State Street Global Advisors. He made the remark while sharing the company's view on Chinese stocks for 2019 in a roundtable.

Foreign investors' keen interest will likely make trading in large-cap A shares more active than before and their prices more elastic, said Hong Rong, founder of investor education platform Hongda Education and an MBA tutor at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance.

"As foreign investors 'lock' part of their holdings in a large-cap stock to implement long-term investment strategies, a smaller trading volume can cause the same price changes, attracting more investors to trading in the stock," Hong said.

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2018-12-17 08:32:41
<![CDATA[A sumptuous square of pork belly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413246.htm Editor's Note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

It has to be layered in the right proportions, with a thin gelatinous skin topping alternating strata of lean meat and fat, each melting into the other but still clearly separate.

The best belly pork has at least three clear layers of fat and meat, and chefs would delight in meat with five distinct layers, evenly distributed, with the perfect ratio of lean meat to fat.

Properly prepared, it melts in the mouth, the fat dissolving on the palate, rich but not greasy - you'er buni. That is the pinnacle for a piece of pork belly, arguably the best cut of the pig to a Chinese chef.

It is indeed a universal favorite in China from the cold frigid northern lands to the temperate regions of the south.

You cannot talk about pork belly without mentioning Su Dongpo, the Song Dynasty poet and court official who steadily ate his way to gourmet sainthood despite his mixed fortunes as a district administrator in the Imperial court.

He was exiled several times and assigned to then remote places such as Hainan Island, and Hangzhou. Wherever he went, however, he endeared himself to his subjects by eating and drinking with them.

He built the famous causeway across the picturesque West Lake as an irrigation aid, and his name is on it to this day. But it is for his famous pork belly invention that he is most remembered.

Dongporou is a square of belly pork braised in soy sauce and sweet yellow wine until it is chopstick-tender.

Folk legend has it that the people were grateful because Su Dongpo had once again contained the annual floods. The farmers slaughtered pigs in celebration and they reserved the best cuts for their governor.

He loved a good drink, so they gifted him with flasks of the best yellow wine as well.

Su Dongpo woke up the next day to find his doorstep covered with slabs of belly pork, and urns of wine. There was so much food that he couldn't possibly finish, so he had to think of ways to preserve them.

He told his wife to cook the slabs of pork in soy sauce and yellow wine, seasoning them with the classic pairing of ginger and scallions. To hold the shape of the pork, his wife tied the squares with rice straws, which in turn gave the meats a slight grassy perfume.

The result was such delicious decadence that he invited everyone back for a feast, and soon, all were singing the praises of this newly created Dongpo Pork.

This is the tale that goes with the dish even now in the restaurants of Hangzhou, and though the details and the recipe may vary a little with each generation of chefs, the romance of its invention remains.

The mighty pork belly manifests itself in yet another classic Chinese dish, kourou, or inverted pork belly braised with taro.

This dish has Hakka origins, and traveled all over China with the "guest people" who left the Central Plains many centuries ago and led an itinerant life before they finally settled in modern day Fujian, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

They brought this special pork belly dish with them and it soon developed regional variations as the Hakka chefs adapted to local ingredients.

This is a dish that requires a complicated preparation that is hours long, but it is a dish that must be served for all festivities ranging from house-warmings to births, deaths, weddings and major festivals on the calendar.

The best pork belly is scrupulously cleaned, marinated and then deep-fried until the skin blisters. The meat is then dunked into cold water to shock the skin into tenderness. The pork belly is then cut into the size of dominoes and sandwiched with slices of purple taro.

Meat and taro are then neatly tucked into a deep bowl, skin-side down. A secret marinade of soy sauce and spices is poured over and the whole bowl steamed over high heat for several hours.

When it comes time to serve, the bowl is inverted onto a plate so the tender pig skin is displayed, brown and gleaming with juices.

Again, the long cooking process would have rendered the oil, and the pork belly would be lusciously rich but not at all oily - you'er buni.

Banquet dishes aside, every Chinese kitchen has its favorite recipe of braised or roasted pork belly.

In classic Cantonese roast meats, roast pork is a staple, with slabs of crisp-skinned bellies hanging besides roast geese, sweet fillets of lean chashao and white-cooked chicken.

The secret is in the five-spice salt marinade and the laborious preparation of the skin, reminiscent of medieval torture instruments involving many needles. Of course, the chef's mastery of the open flames decides how succulent the roast pork will finally be, but the highlight of a piece of roast park is always the skin.

For me, the best belly pork originated in my grandmother's kitchen. It was a homely braise redolent of cinnamon and cloves, and fragrant with the perfume of a good soy sauce.

The pork bellies were cut into smaller squares and they were accompanied by deep-fried tofu puffs and hard-boiled eggs tinted a chocolate brown by the sauces.

Every lunchtime, my platter of unpolished rice porridge would be accompanied by the stir-fried vegetable of the day, and the delicious nuggets of braised pork belly, and a hardboiled egg.

My grandfather liked his pork belly really crisp, and nanny would fish out the nuggets and sear them in the frying pan. The fat would render and crisp and get really crunchy. My grandfather always shared his pork belly with me.

The Chinese pork belly has traveled far, both through time and distance. Western chefs discovered the braised meat about two decades ago, and some actually made a version of Dongpo Pork as their signature dish.

Those were the days when Asian fusion first mesmerized global gourmets. These days, however, you are more likely to find them in Hangzhou dining on the real thing.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Braised pork belly

Grandma's Tauyu Bak (Braised Pork Belly)

1 kg pork belly

500 ml light soy sauce

200 ml dark soy sauce

200 ml water

100 g rock sugar

1 stick cinnamon, two star anise pods, 10 cloves

(Placed in a muslin bag)

Salt to taste

Scrub the skin of the pork belly very clean. You can scrape it with a sharp knife to remove any stray hairs. Blanch the meat with boiling water and rinse. Cut into large pieces.

Place the soy sauces and water into a deep pot, add the spice bag and bring to a boil.

Crush the rock sugar.

Heat up a frying pan on high and sear the pork belly. Add the rock sugar and fry till the sugar melts and the caramel coats the meat. Pour off the rendered oil, and add the meat to the boiling sauce.

Bring to a boil again, then immediately lower to a simmer until the meat is just tender.

You may add hard-boiled eggs and blanched tofu puffs at this stage. The braised meat always tastes better overnight.

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[An ancient canal returns to life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413245.htm 'We will lose everything' if it is damaged, official says

Lingqu Canal, the world's oldest man-made navigable canal dating back 2,000 years, is returning to full vitality in an effort to bolster tourism and modern agriculture.

The water conservation project in Xing'an county, 70 kilometers from Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, had strategic military importance in ancient China and was ordered built by Emperor Qin Shi Huang during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) to help unite the country. Today it is a sought-after tourist attraction as well as a vital water source for farmland.

 

Tourists visit Lingqu Canal in Xing'an county, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in August. Tang Guangdong / For China Daily

"The canal supports residents' spirits, and is a symbol of the county that attracts tourists," says Huang Hongbin, Party secretary of Xing'an.

He says that more than 400,000 visititors from outside the county came to see the canal last year. The Lingqu scenic area is free to residents.

"We are now making efforts to impress visitors with Lingqu's cultural values, beyond just its natural charm," he says. "A canal-themed museum has been under construction since September 2017, which will help give visitors a better experience with its vivid interpretation."

Covering 12,000 square meters, the museum has attracted an investment of 80 million yuan ($11.5 million; 10 million euros: £9 million) from the government. It's scheduled to open around the Lunar New Year in February, according to Huang.

"We are also in the process of restoring the canal's function for irrigation and transportation to rejuvenate agriculture along the canal," he says.

The 36.4-kilometer canal irrigates about 43 square kilometers and benefits more than 59,000 people, according to the government.

Tang Chunyan, a 40-year-old Xing'an native, runs a restaurant and a cooperative focusing on raising fish.

"The canal brings clean water to the paddy, and makes the fish we raise in the field plump and appealing to the travelers' tastes," she says. "We made a profit of about 600,000 yuan last year thanks to the long-standing irrigation system."

However, protecting the ecosystem of Lingqu Canal remains the priority in the ancient water conservancy project, Huang says.

"No industrial plant has been allowed to open along the canal since the 1950s," he says. "We revere the canal, although it's challenging to balance protection and development. Preservation of relics should always come first, as we will lose everything if the canal is damaged."

The government began canal repairs in 2016, with nearly 200 million yuan invested so far in transportation functions and to restore the environment along its banks, Huang said.

The canal was listed as one of the world's Heritage Irrigation Structures by the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage in August, and preparations are underway to apply for World Cultural Heritage recognition.

chengsi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[Oil painting by Chinese master Wu Guanzhong auctioned for $16 million]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413244.htm Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong's oil painting of a serene Jiangnan landscape fetched 112.7 million yuan ($16 million; 14 million euros; £12.5 million) at Poly International Auction's sale on Dec 6 in Beijing.

The 1994 painting, titled Twin Swallows, was sold at the second-highest price paid for an oil work by Wu, who died in 2010 in Beijing. The modern master's output, especially landscapes, enjoy wide popularity for their color system and for conveying a sense of Chinese poetry.

Wu first created a colored ink painting, also titled Twin Swallows, in 1988. Based on that, he created the oil version with some variations in details. The ink version was auctioned in the same sale, selling for 54 million yuan.

The most expensive piece of Wu's oil on canvas, and of his oeuvre, is Zhouzhuang, a 3-meter-long landscape of the water town in Jiangsu province. It grossed HK$236 million ($30 million; 27 million euros; £24 million) in a Hong Kong auction in April 2016.

Throughout his career, Wu revisited the motif of Jiangnan - the area comprising the lower reaches of the southern bank of the Yangtze River. A native of Jiangsu province in the heart of Jiangnan, Wu captured the region's tranquil beauty, giving full play to his homesickness after decades of living in Beijing. His classic paintings of charming Jiangnan easily arouse viewers' poetic sentiments.

Twin Swallows gathers these elements to form an iconic image of Jiangnan in general: the white walls and gray roof tiles of folk architecture; age-old trees laden with leaves; a clear, reflective river; and a couple of swallows flying in a damp, clean sky.

Wu combined the Chinese and Western styles in Twin Swallows to present a simple elegance. He adopted the classic Chinese painting techniques of baimiao, finely controlled outlining, and liubai, leaving blank areas.

The painting shows Wu's effort to portray Jiangnan in oil over two decades. In the 1950s, when he was a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, he heard lectures by visitors from the former Soviet Union who said Jiangnan was gloomy all year, so its was not bright enough for a good oil painting.

Afterward, Wu traveled frequently in Jiangnan in the firm belief that he would find a way to show its beauty in oil on canvas.

"I love the gloomy spring days," Wu once said. "Black, white and gray are the main tones of Jiangnan. It thus became the base on which my works are grounded, and also the start of my career."

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Twin Swallows, by Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong, is sold at the price of 112.7 million yuan on Dec 6. Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[Garden show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413243.htm A Kunqu Opera performance brings Shen Fu's famous memoir to life in its real-life setting

One can feel a bit of chill in the air at 8 pm outside the north gate of the Canglang Pavilion in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. But one soon forgets it when the hero Shen Fu and his beloved wife, Chen Yun, appear on a boat. Accompanied by a melodious flute, the two step out to be greeted by their butler.

The immersive theater version of the Kunqu Opera Six Chapters of a Floating Life, based on the book by Shen Fu, starts in front of the gate. As they walk up a stone road to Canglang Pavilion, the two performers - Zhang Zhengyao from Jiangsu Performing Arts Group's Kunqu Theater playing Shen Fu and actress Shen Guofang, as Chen Yun - are followed by the melody mingled with the sound of the wind, footsteps and whispers in the garden.

 

 

Zhang Zhengyao and Shen Guofang as Shen Fu and Chen Yun. Photos Provided to China Daily

Playwright Zhou Mian does something remarkable. It should really be called an "immersive garden" opera, for this is "Kunqu Opera plus garden", a joint effort by the local government and Yu Theatre Company, a production company based in Nanjing that specializes in foreign dramas. The garden version of the opera not only creates a classical style and setup for Kunqu Opera but also sets it on an authentic stage.

Shen Fu and his beloved wife, Chen Yun, used to live along the street near Canglang Pavilion. Built in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, Canglang Pavilion is the oldest of Suzhou's existing gardens.

The autobiographical writing of Suzhou native Shen Fu (1763-1825) is known for its acute portrayal of love, in contrast to the usual Chinese classics that mostly center on the grandeur of royal families and heroic figures.

The show Six Chapters depicts a married couple whose loving relationship stands out from the patriarchal norms of the time. Although Kim Hunter Gordon, the executive producer and translator of the play, feels it's more complex than that.

"As a character, Shen Fu has this boyish recklessness about him. Perhaps the most interesting difference between him and other male characters on the traditional Chinese stage is that this is his own first-person narrative," he says.

The couple were comfortable and elegant, living the "Suzhou lifestyle" that finds contentment in nature and everyday life.

The drama is divided into five parts: "Spring Festival", "Summer Light", "Autumn", "Winter Snow" and "Spring Again". Simple pictures of life in Suzhou are interwoven with Shen and Chen's affectionate relationship. The show's producer, Xiao Yan, founder of the Yu Theatre Company, hopes that everyone can experience the beauty of Suzhou gardens and Suzhou Opera through this play, and feel the exquisite elegance and charm of the Suzhou-style life.

"Six Chapters of a Floating Life is not only a performance but also an immersive experience in Suzhou gardens, integrating cultural and creative products, making the performance part of garden life and art life, and a one-stop viewing program for the refined and elegant Suzhou lifestyle," Xiao says.

The show tries to convey the book's love of life, the willingness to spend time and energy to go deep into every detail, to invest in it and enjoy the attitude of life.

"This was the Suzhou lifestyle for the literati of the time, but it is a lifestyle that many people want nowadays," Xiao says.

In addition to normal garden version of Kunqu Opera, the producer also introduces an abridged version for younger audiences. There are also plans next season for an English version, in which a historical foreign character appears in 19th century Suzhou as a guiding narrator to the audience. The 30-minute interactive session, which answers questions from the audience, together with the 60-minute performance is staged every Friday. The 30-minute interactive, plus 30-minute abridged show is performed every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

The opera has become a window for visitors to understand Suzhou culture and the Suzhou-style life in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Gordon, the executive producer and translator, says there is a certain universal appeal to an evening performance in a beautiful garden.

"As for the play itself and its relationship to both Shen Fu's original work and Chinese culture more broadly, we've thought really hard about how to use subtitles to make it more accessible to international audiences in the most effective and concise way possible," he says.

The innovative staging of Kunqu Opera in one of Suzhou's most famous gardens has breathed new life into the traditional art form.

"The normal theatrical mechanics of microphones, elaborate lighting and an easily accessible backstage and wings are replaced with the garden setting. But the biggest difference is that it brings the actors closer to the audience. This is challenging but also invigorating, both for them and the audience. The proximity makes the detail in the singing, movement and facial expression much more apparent," Gordon says.

"The special thing about this production is that it's set in the very garden next to which Shen Fu grew up and where he and his wife, Chen Yun, first set up home. It was an important place in their life. In one episode in the book, Shen arranges for them to visit the garden in private. While much of the layout, scale and architecture of the present garden has changed since then, the current pavilion is the same one that they visited. So by coming into the actual setting of their story, the audience is invited back in time into the book itself."

In doing so, people can find some elements of the Kunqu Opera that are connected with life, and the ancient art form can continue to renew its charm. The "Kunqu plus garden" initiative gives a new lease on life to traditional Kunqu Opera.

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[Christmas comes to Gubei]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413242.htm Water town is decking its halls for the holiday season: There are Santa visits, decorated trees and crooning choirs

Santa Claus is coming to town - Beijing's Gubei water town, that is.

The attraction, also known as Beijing WTown, recently announced that it's celebrating the Christmas season until Dec 31 with traditional decorations and festive activities for visitors, especially families.

It's hosting parades, a daily Christmas market with snacks, homemade gifts and outdoor Christmas-tree lighting ceremonies every Saturday.

A choir sings carols in a hilltop church. Kids can make cupcakes and decorate trees and enjoy children's stage plays at night.

Santa passes out gifts. Visitors can write him letters or send him postcards. Lucky guests will get replies.

Gubei will also host traditional temple-fair activities starting from the Western New Year on Jan 1 to prepare for the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival, including paper-cutting, shadow-puppet shows and cross-talk comedy.

The 430,000-square-meter water town opened in 2014. Its buildings follow the styles of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, as well as the early 20th century.

It's located at the foot of the Simatai section of the Great Wall in suburban Miyun district's Gubeikou town.

Simatai is known for its precipitous landscape. Its undulating terrain and geographic location made it an important military fortification in ancient times.

The 5.4-kilometer-long wall with 35 guard towers is one of the only stretches of unrestored Ming-era Great Wall. Some bricks are inscribed with characters that indicate who created them centuries ago. Tourists can also take a 15-minute ride in a helicopter to have a bird's-eye view of the zigzagging Great Wall in the mountains.

The town is 120 kilometers from Beijing's downtown and 80 kilometers from downtown Chengde, Hebei province. Buses travel between Beijing's Dongzhimen and Gubei water town.

Visitors who stay overnight are advised to book hotels in advance, especially during weekends and holidays, since there are only 1,378 rooms. Some travelers stay in guest-houses run by nearby farmers.

The canal-laced town resembles those south of the Yangtze River but incorporates some northern Chinese elements. Some components like wooden window frames and decorations are authentic and were brought from old buildings in other provinces.

The water town's scenery changes throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy flowers in spring, boat rides and starry nights in summer, red leaves in autumn and snow in winter.

Travelers visit such places as a traditional distillery and dye workshops to learn about historical industries and to make their own liquor and colorful cloth. They can also buy traditional oil paper umbrellas, kites and lanterns.

Visitors can also visit biaoju - establishments that offered armed security for the transport of valuables over long distances centuries ago.

A traditional academy shows how Chinese people were educated in ancient times.

Guests can also enjoy such street foods as roasted sweet potatoes, candied-haw skewers and barbecue. And they may encounter lion dancers or acrobats performing on the streets.

Restaurants serve Cantonese food, Peking duck and beefsteak. Some offer views of the Great Wall. Shutterbugs enjoy snapping photos of sunrises and sunsets over the bulwark.

Night tours by lantern light explore the town's streets and then head up to the Great Wall, from which viewers can take in a panorama of the town sparkling below.

The town's dancing fountain lights up with a nighttime show in which water jets and colored lights change with the music, and 3D images of phoenixes and other iconic images are projected onto the mist.

Visitors can also soak in the indoor and outdoor hot springs. Different pools are different colors to indicate their supposed health benefits.

Indeed, Christmas is just one of many reasons to visit the water town this season. Those who make the journey will discover it's a jolly place all year.

xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The town is located at the foot of the Simatai section of the Great Wall, one of the only stretches of unrestored Ming-era Great Wall. Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[Literary bonds forged in Algeria]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413241.htm Chinese publishers sign more than 200 agreements at this year's book fair

Nineteen-year-old Algerian Issam Chouiref studied Mandarin for a month before he came to the Chinese publishers' booths at the 23rd Algiers International Book Fair, which ran from late October to mid-November.

He wanted to volunteer.

 

Children's books at the China booth draw visitors during the 23rd Algiers International Book Fair. Photos Provided to China Daily

China, with its delegation of more than 100 publishing professionals and writers, along with 2,500 book titles, it was the country of honor at the fair. It was the first publishing exchange between Algeria and China and has remained the biggest.

"I came to say 'Welcome, Chinese friends, to Algeria'. We're old friends, and I'd like to see the good relationship between us kept well so that when the Chinese friends go home, they'll remember there was an Algerian who helped them," Chouiref told China Daily.

A fan of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Chouiref studies foreign languages by himself and is an apprentice in a foreign-trade business. He sometimes does part-time translation and teaching. His Chinese name, Huang Jinlong, means "golden dragon".

Chouiref came to the booths during the fair and, without asking for payment, worked as a translator, sales assistant and overall bridge between two cultures.

With his help, China Intercontinental Press sold about 180 books in French on Oct 29, the first day of the fair, and 200 more in Arabic later.

"He's now like my younger brother, even though we just met for a couple of days," says Jiang Shan, who works for China Intercontinental Press.

"I'm motivated to learn more about the Chinese language and culture," Chouiref says, adding that he is trying to help build relations between Algeria and China.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Algeria - where writer and philosopher Albert Camus was born and art masters Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet lived - was one of the countries that led the proposal to restore China's rights in the United Nations in the 1970s. China was the first non-Arabic country to recognize the Algerian provisional government in 1958 and this year invited Algeria to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese publishers brought books, mostly in Arabic, French or English, to the pearl of the southern Mediterranean coast, Algiers. The city was packed with visitors at the exhibition center where the literary and cultural events were held, as well as at the National Library where a photo exhibition, Beautiful China, was held.

Some visitors came to hobnob with famous writers, including Nobel laureate Mo Yan. Some just came for any interesting Chinese element. Many took photos with members of the Chinese delegation, and some asked for their names to be handwritten in Chinese characters. The use of chopsticks was shown to a few more.

This year's fair saw a record 2 million visitors, according to organizers. More than 1,000 publishing houses from 47 countries and regions participated.

Chinese publishers signed 207 agreements on copyright cooperation with others at the fair, mainly on traditional culture, children's books, language learning and books about China's development.

Among the titles in focus was Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, and its translated versions in Arabic, French and English. The book has two volumes. The first had a global circulation of 6 million copies; the second, which is a collection of Xi's speeches, notes and talks from August 2014 to September 2017, grouped in 17 major topics, reached 13 million copies worldwide.

Its publisher, Foreign Languages Press, held readers' seminars in Spain and Portugal.

Bachar Chebaro, secretary-general of the Arabic Publishers' Association, which has published 30 Chinese titles, says the Belt and Road Initiative has enriched the relationship between China and Arab countries.

"The book shows China's open attitude about communicating better with international society and targets some of the misunderstandings," Chebaro says. "I'm impressed by the idea of always putting people's interests first."

Egyptian publisher Ahmed Elsaid says the world is interested in learning more about China as the country's importance grows. "As you learn more, you'll love its culture more," he said.

The Chinese way of thinking, tradition and culture are inducing readers to dig deeper, said Elsaid, who has found himself busy on the international book fair circuit in recent years.

"That means my team and I are getting more recognition. I started out trying to offer Arabic readers more choices in Chinese titles. Now I'm exerting myself to present China and its charm through more books," he says.

Under the translation agreements between China and some Arab countries reached during Algiers fairs over the years, 130 titles have been selected as representative of the projects.

Liang Yanshun, a senior official of the publicity department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at the China-Arab Publishing Culture Forum during the fair that the two countries have been supporting each other and have formed friendships in the process.

Liang said many stories about links between the two peoples are being told through books.

China had published 17 titles by Algerian authors, and Algeria had published 23 Chinese titles before this year's book fair, he said.

Algeria Press Service correspondent Nour Cherkit said: "Today, with the economic relations between China and Algeria, things are getting better and better. We are seeing translations of works by great Chinese authors, and there is more exchange between our two countries. The book fair is a beautiful bridge of exchanges."

Algerian publishers say they take China as an important partner, and they respect China for being an ancient civilization like the Arabic civilization.

Assia Moussei, the founder of Algerian El-Ikhtilef (meaning "difference") Publishing, is also a medical doctor.

"We're attracted to Chinese history and its present-day stories, experiences and culture," Moussei says.

At first she thought the Algerians' interest was in Western stories and books. Later, after market tests, she found her readers were eager to know about what's happening in China.

The Arab world is happy to see China's rise, she says.

Moussei says she initially believed interest was limited to literature. Then she discovered that it extended to politics, economics, society, history, culture and children's books.

Her company has released books on China's anti-corruption campaigns and an encyclopedia of history.

Her views are shared by Esraa Abdel Sayed Hassan, director of the Chinese-language department at Ain Shams University in Cairo.

Hassan has been learning, teaching and translating Chinese for 30 years.

"The Arabic readers' interests are wide, and we yet have more to discover and explore about China," Hassan says, adding that she just finished working on the Arabic version of an ancient classic on science and technology by Song Yingxing of the 17th century, and the Fifteen Lectures on Chinese History.

As for the Chinese side, Beijing Publishing Group has cooperated with Arabic publishers since 2007. A total of 100 titles were sold, including novels, essays and children's books.

Huang Jian, president of Jieli Publishing House, the organizer of a publishing forum on children's books during the fair, says he sees promising prospects for the children's book market there.

"Arabic readers tend not to reject Chinese content and thinking because it strengthens harmony and peace," Huang says.

Take Algeria, for example, he says, where 32 percent of its total population is younger than age 15 and 64 percent are under 30.

Hans Anderson Award winner Cao Wenxuan brought some of his key works in Arabic to the fair. Writer Zhao Lihong released a new book about dealing with fear, inspired by his son's notes, to local readers.

Children's works were the highlights of the fair. Titles included Moon Stage, Sister Wanda Can Help and Clumsy Wolf.

meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[Tea lovers warming to coffee]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/16/content_37413240.htm Rapid urbanization and foreign travel fuel greater demand for high-octane beverage

For Zhang Yalin, an auditor at an accounting company in Guomao, Beijing's upmarket central business district, grabbing a latte from a cafe in her office building marks the start of her work day.

Zhang is one of a growing number of Chinese who have started to habitually consume the caffeinated beverage, and they are helping make the nation's market for the drink the fastest-growing in the world.

Although most Chinese associate coffee with Western lifestyles, they are increasingly warming to it, especially in large cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. Coffee consumption in the country rose from 26,000 metric tons in 2006 to 128,000 tons in 2016.

Wu Jiahang, who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, says that two decades ago most Chinese did not appreciate just how delicious coffee is.

"When I arrived in China for the first time in 2000, I brought coffee from Colombia as a gift, and people thought it had gone bad due to the sour taste," says Wu, who was born and raised in the South American country.

When he was appointed chief representative of the Colombian Coffee Growers' Federation for Greater China to promote coffee beans from his country, Wu says many Colombians, especially coffee growers, initially did not believe that their beans could be sold to China.

But within years, more coffee-growing countries began to sell in the country, lining up to secure a slice of the market where the growing middle class was seeking its caffeine fix.

Esther Lau, an analyst with market research company Mintel, says that "a coffee culture has been developing in China". She believes the country's massive and rapid urbanization, along with a growing number of Chinese traveling overseas are the main factors behind coffee's rapidly expanding popularity.

Chinese coffee consumption has nearly tripled in the past four years, and the market potential for the drink is enormous.

An International Coffee Organization report released last year noted that Chinese coffee imports grew by 16 percent year-on-year in 2017, compared with about 2 percent in the United States, the world's largest coffee consumer.

Wu, using Colombian coffee as an example, says annual output was less than 400 tons 12 years ago, but is expected to exceed 2,000 tons this year.

But with freshness being the key, Colombia is not China's first choice for coffee beans. According to a report by the international trade statistics database UN Comtrade, the top three coffee exporters to the country are Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Vietnam is the world's largest exporter of robusta coffee, a sturdy variety of bean with low acidity and a high degree of bitterness.

Nguyen Thi Thu Hang, a senior adviser from Vietnam on export evaluation and capacity-building for small and medium-sized enterprises, says high-end coffee shops in general mainly buy arabica beans. However, robusta beans, which are the most cultivated in Vietnam, are cheaper and often used to produce powder for instant coffee.

Vietnamese coffee beans account for 35 percent of those imported by China, which Hang says is down to persistent strong demand for instant coffee, particularly among office workers who are pushed for time.

The country's fast-expanding middle class has become accustomed to buying and drinking lattes, cappuccinos and other forms of the drink in coffee shops. Demand, especially for hot, fresh coffee, is rising, with consumption growing by about 22 percent in 2014. This expansion has led many leading coffee chains to open more stores in China.

"The Western lifestyle is attractive to upper-and middle-class urban consumers," Lau says.

The main outlets in China are Starbucks, Costa Coffee and McDonald's, with smaller companies occupying 25 percent of the market. In Shanghai there are now more than 6,500 coffee shops.

Starbucks, which opened its first store in China in 1999, is the market leader with a 31.5 percent share in 2013. When Howard Schultz, its CEO, visited the country in 2016, he said Starbucks would open 500 new stores annually by 2021. That would double the number of its outlets in China to 5,000.

Costa Coffee, a British multinational, plans to open 900 more stores in China by 2020, which will give it 1,344 in the country.

Esteban Liang, managing director of Costa Coffee in Asia, says: "To be seen in a coffee shop is a way for people to express themselves and to say who they are, the products they consume, the food they buy, the coffee they drink."

As coffee is still a relatively new thing for China's tea-drinking population, sweet milky forms of the drink, such as lattes and mochas, are the most popular.

To cater to Chinese tastes, international coffee chains have modified their menus to include more blended and tea-based drinks. The specials on offer at Starbucks include a green tea java chip frappuccino, along with green-tea-flavored cake.

In large cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, where drinking coffee has been popular for a number of years, independent businesses are also appearing.

But Dave Seminsky, who owns a coffee shop in Shanghai's Jing'an district, says his store will not cater to individual customers' preferences.

"We're staying true to coffee. I don't have bags of sugar and lots of milk hanging around," he says.

Seminsky says getting customers to change their habits has been one of the biggest challenges, but that by roasting its own beans his business can offer a "premium experience". He added that part of the price of a cup of coffee includes "the experience of going into the store, and we're trying to differentiate from the big companies".

The boom in independent coffee shops such as Seminsky's underscores the demand for more high-end coffee. With China's move toward a consumer-driven economy, customers are searching for a greater diversity of beverages.

Igor Carneiro, head of trade and investment promotion at the Brazilian embassy in Beijing, says his country is targeting the high-end Chinese market and hopes to export a coffee-drinking culture to it along with related products.

"Drinking coffee is inherent in Brazilian culture," he says, adding that Brazil is trying to target China's growing number of high-end consumers because many coffee growers in the South American country believe a smaller market often comes with higher value.

Even though Brazil supplies nearly 30 percent of the coffee beans globally, it ranks 35th in exporting them to China. Carneiro believes this is because Brazilian coffee lacks brand recognition among Chinese. To tackle this, a campaign titled "Brazil, the coffee nation" is being launched.

"A growing number of Chinese now prefer freshly ground coffee. Some even prefer specific coffee beans produced by certain countries. We are facing a prosperous and rapidly growing coffee market in China," Carneiro says.

"By promoting coffee we are actually promoting a lifestyle that is both relaxing and energetic," he says, adding that even though Brazilian coffee beans are relatively expensive, as most of the cost involves transportation, he remains confident about the Chinese market.

Lau, the market research analyst, says a high price is considered a sign of quality in China.

"The more expensive the better - there is still this concept in China, and many coffee dealers know it. They want to brand themselves as premium chains, and that is why their prices are slightly higher in China."

Last month, Brazil was one of the countries represented at the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which attracted more than 300,000 visitors.

The expo featured coffee traders, producers, beans, machines, imports and exports. Wu, from Colombia, who was among the exhibitors, says he is constantly striving to bring his country's coffee to Chinese consumers.

"From high-end products to ordinary ones, coffee has been witness to China's reform and opening-up, and the expo has been an ideal opportunity to ensure that more Chinese coffee drinkers know about our coffee."

However, he added, from time to time Colombian coffee producers are concerned about transporting coffee beans by sea because of the cost and time involved, and are not entirely familiar with Chinese consumers' preferences.

"They are worried about whether their prices are competitive compared with coffee beans from other countries, or whether their products will interest Chinese dealers," Wu said. "But I always tell them the key to winning the market is to focus on the acceptance of Chinese consumers."

panmengqi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is displayed at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. Liu Dawei / Xinhua

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2018-12-16 10:05:49
<![CDATA[Ginkgo paradise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/15/content_37412711.htm With 30,000 trees, Jiangdong village in Yunnan looks like a golden-hued forest in autumn

The Jiangdong village, surrounded by more than 30,000 ginkgo trees, including several dozen older than 500 years, turns golden-toned toward the end of each year.

The beautiful scenery attract thousands of tourists to the village, which is 40 kilometers from Tengchong city, in western Yunnan province.

Seen from afar, the village looks like a vast ginkgo forest.

The villagers' homes, built in traditional style and enclosed by low and black walls built using the local lava rocks, are scattered along narrow lanes.

Tall ginkgo trees cover the courtyards, with their yellow leaves lying on the ground as well as on the roofs during autumn.

In the old days, every newlywed couple in the village would plant a ginkgo tree, known for its extremely slow growth, in their courtyard or field.

The tree was expected to bear fruit when the couple got old, so they would be able to support themselves by selling the nuts.

Ginkgo trees that can bear nuts are customarily handed down as family assets in the village.

In recent years, the village has seen tremendous transformation thanks to the development of eco-tourism built around the ginkgo trees.

The village used to be secluded and poor, but its beauty was discovered by a bunch of local professional photographers.

To boost tourism, the local government implemented a comprehensive project to enhance the village environment and infrastructure in 2008 to allow it to host visitors.

Before that, the villagers did not have proper water supply, power and roads.

Separately, the local government also encouraged villagers to open restaurants and inns to accommodate tourists and provided funding to help them upgrade their homes.

Yang Zhuying, 52, was among the earliest in the village to open an agri-tainment venture - a rural inn and restaurant.

She started the business in 2008, and manages it with her husband.

Their children also help during the busiest season, when they can receive as many as 200 diners per day.

Her family of five earn about 140,000 yuan ($20,167) from the business annually.

"The venture has become the main income source for our family," says Yang, who also sells local specialties, such as ginkgo nuts, to visiting tourists.

According to Yang, earlier she and her husband used to depend mainly on agriculture, including growing tobacco, and taking part-time jobs. But each of them could earn only a little more than 10,000 yuan a year then.

Also, according to Yang, in the beginning, the only economic benefit from the ginkgos was the nuts, which the local residents collected to sell to vendors. The ginkgo nuts produced in the area are popular for their special glutinous taste, which is believed to be the result of the local soil conditions.

But as tourism has boomed in recent years, the locals have developed more products from the ginkgo nuts.

Now, chicken stewed with ginkgo nuts is a famous specialty.

The nuts have also been made into snacks, and the ginkgo flower, which used to be discarded, is now sold at more than 200 yuan per kilogram.

Even ginkgo leaves are made into decorative hats and sold to tourists.

Zheng Siyin, a 74-year-old, looks after a stall near her home in the village, and earns more than 100 yuan a day during the peak season from selling things, including ginkgo nuts.

Her family has six old ginkgo trees, with the oldest being nearly 500 years.

She collected more than 200 kilograms of ginkgo nuts this year, with each kilogram yielding about 50 yuan.

"I am old and cannot do farming anymore. But I can still earn a little bit to help my children thanks to the stall," she says, adding that the price of the local ginkgo nuts has gone up too thanks to demand from the tourists.

Meanwhile, both her sons are running an agri-tainment business, she says.

According to Huang Chaojin, the director of the local community committee, more than 150 agri-tainment businesses have been started in the village, and many villagers have opened shops selling specialties near their homes.

Last year, the total revenue generated by tourism in the village was 60 million yuan, and the average income of the villagers was 12,000 yuan, which is a lot higher than the surrounding areas, says Huang.

"Eco-tourism has greatly enhanced the lives of the villagers," says Huang.

In 2010, 2,500 people out of the village's 4,000 residents were living below the poverty line.

In comparison, the number has been reduced to 105 this year.

While seeking further development of tourism, the village has made protection of the ginkgo trees, especially the old ones, a priority.

"Now all the villagers are grateful for the benefits brought by the ginkgo trees. And they avoid hurting trees which are more than a 100 years old while renovating or rebuilding their houses," says Huang.

"The harmonious coexistence of man and his environment, including the trees and wildlife, is now a village consensus."

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2018-12-15 07:17:27
<![CDATA[No better way to keep warm]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/15/content_37412710.htm Most locals in Suzhou swear by a bowl of hot mutton soup

As the days gets colder, almost nothing can beat a bowl of steaming mutton soup if you want to keep warm. As it happens every winter, mutton shops mushroom on almost every street corner in Suzhou, in Jiangsu province.

People living on the south bank of the Yangtze River love mutton, but what many people don't know is that Suzhou is one place that excels when it comes to preparing it.

In late autumn, the hairy crabs taste the best, and when the season of crustacean meal ends, a bowl of hot mutton soup adds the final touch in winter.

However, for many Suzhou residents, drinking mutton soup in winter is not so much about keeping warm as it is about maintaining a tradition.

Most visitors see Suzhou as gentle and elegant and expect the food to be as refined.

So it is hard for them to imagine that mutton soup is part of the fare. But if you want to find out how much the people of Suzhou love their mutton, just count the number of mutton shops in Suzhou.

Some of the best mutton in the area comes from Cangshu town. But when Cangshu mutton first began making news many were puzzled given that the town has no tradition of raising sheep.

In fact, the town sources sheep from across the country.

The reputation comes from the fact that the locals are fastidious about how their meat is cooked.

Cangshu mutton is all about freshness, and to ensure this the animals are often slaughtered on site.

Also, in order to release the taste of the meat, Cangshu mutton is prepared using a method where the lamb is cooked in a wooden barrel.

Another popular mutton dish comes from Suzhou's Shuangfeng ancient town.

Shuangfeng mutton noodles appeared in the early 1900s when Meng Ajun, who lived in the west of the town, opened a shop called "Meng Yong Mao".

The restaurant is famous for its heavy soup and fine noodles, and the noodles have a unique flavor.

In the late 1980s, as private enterprise took root, mutton noodle shops sprang up all over the town.

Later, in 1990, the Qifeng Hotel, which specializes in mutton noodles, was set up on the west side of National Road 204. A year later, there were 13 mutton noodle shops in the town.

Then, in order to standardize the quality of the mutton noodles, the local government took the lead in monitoring the shops for quality.

Shuangfeng mutton is made from a local breed of goats.

Now, as demand grows and tastes change, the traditional bowl of mutton noodles has evolved to meet the demands of customers.

So the full mutton feast was created in the 1990s comprising mutton, blood and body parts.

The local government built the "Top Quality Lamb Food Street" in 2009, and it now comprises 11 specialty mutton restaurants.

Separately, the authorities have been holding the Blessing Culture and Lamb Food Festival since 2007.

During the festival, a mutton food show and competition are organized, and cultural performances such as a dragon dance and a lion dance are held. In September 2008, Shuangfeng town was designated "Hometown of Chinese Lamb Food" by the China Cuisine Association, and "the full mutton feast" was awarded the special gold medal at the "Fourth Sheep Industry Development Conference" held in September 2007.

Shuangfeng mutton noodles comprise red soup and handmade noodles besides the succulent meat.

So, if you find yourself in Suzhou on a cold night and are hungry, go to a mutton shop for a bowl of hot mutton soup or mutton noodles.

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2018-12-15 07:17:27
<![CDATA[Building an engine of growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407370.htm I was almost run over by a robot in a car factory in Shanghai. Indeed, I suddenly found myself in the path of an automated machine that whizzes along a track on a Volkswagen plant's floor to move auto parts from one place to another.

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Shanghai's skyscrapers and auto industry bear testimony to how the reform and opening-up have transformed the metropolis and surrounding cities. Erik Nilsson explores its development as the starting point of a 2,000-kilometer journey along the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of the six-part Yangtze diaries series based on journalist Erik Nilsson's recent 35-day, 2,000-kilometer journey to 11 cities to discover how the Yangtze River Economic Belt has transformed over the 40 years since the reform and opening-up.

I was almost run over by a robot in a car factory in Shanghai. Indeed, I suddenly found myself in the path of an automated machine that whizzes along a track on a Volkswagen plant's floor to move auto parts from one place to another.

I am, in fact, not an auto part. So, I jumped out of the way - just in the nick of time.

But the experience highlights how the sector is advancing, in no small part because of increasing automation.

I was touring the Volkswagen factory in Shanghai to learn about how the city's auto industry has accelerated in the past 40 years.

The visit was part of an 11-city, 2,000-kilometer, 35-day journey to discover how the reform and opening-up has transformed the Yangtze River Economic Belt, which accounts for about 40 percent of the country's population and GDP.

Shanghai - the metropolis where the Yangtze empties into the ocean - was a starting point for my journey and for the reform and opening-up along the belt.

The city was also a launch pad for the nation's auto industry and today remains a leader in the sector.

I learned about its latest advancements while riding in a self-driving internet car after speaking with Bao Anrong, a worker who assembled the country's first Volkswagen Santana in the 1980s. It was a milestone at the time.

There was a saying in China then: "You can easily travel around the world in a Santana."

In 1985, a Volkswagen Santana could cost upward of 200,000 yuan, or $30,000. That was an incredible amount for an ordinary Chinese. Bikes were status symbols, and few people could imagine owning a car.

"We domestically produced only three parts when we started our assembly line - tires, radios and antennae," Bao recalls.

"Gradually, we started making more parts - glass, paint, bumper beams, seats and dashboards. It took us three months to produce our first Santana. That's a long time."

Today, the factory where Bao worked - that is, where I was almost hit by the robot - produces about 650 cars a day.

And China now manufactures nearly all of its own automobile parts.

But other aspects of how the reform and opening-up have transformed how people in and around Shanghai get from Point A to Point B became apparent when I visited the country's largest car-production base, Shanghai International Automobile City.

Worker Shen Xiaowen told me that the improved traffic infrastructure enables him to be with his girlfriend, who lives in Jiangsu province's Kunshan city, which is now reachable within half an hour by the highway.

And the reduced travel time between Shanghai and surrounding conurbations also expands the ways in which their development is mutually reinforcing.

"My hometown (Anting) used to be relatively undeveloped," Sun says.

"But it has improved in recent years. It's OK today. I'd certainly like to go back home if the welfare was as good as Shanghai's."

I later rode in the ROEWE Model X, an intelligent, self-driving internet car.

My host, ROEWE's new energy product planning director, Xie Ruiqing, suggested I tell the car, in Chinese: "I'd like to see the stars."

I did. And the moon roof opened.

Then we hit the road.

My host showed me how she could lock the electric car to follow any other vehicle on its own. She didn't need to pull the steering wheel to drive, or tap the brakes or gas to stop, go, slow down or speed up.

I'd read and seen videos about self-driving cars. But this was my first time actually riding in one.

Beyond advancements in Shanghai's auto industry, the city itself has transformed over the past four decades.

It's today known for its futuristic skyscrapers.

But the thickets of such architectural icons as the Jinmao Building, the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center were rundown clusters of hovels just decades ago.

I spent a day with Wei Gensheng, a former crane operator who worked on constructing the Bund and became a nationally acclaimed photographer for the panoramic pictures he snapped from his crane.

"At that time, there was a saying: 'Even a bunk in Puxi is better than an apartment in Pudong'," Wei recalls.

"In the eyes of Shanghai residents, Pudong was a rural place. There were old-style houses in longdang (traditional alleys). Now, they're modern residential complexes. It's a totally different feel today."

That's perhaps an understatement, by my estimation.

I'd instead say it's at least "unrecognizable" - maybe even "unimaginable".

And that sentiment holds true for many dimensions of the development of Shanghai and surrounding cities since the adoption of the reform and opening-up.

And it seems poised to prove increasingly true in the years to come, as innovation and coordinated development accelerate in the region and throughout the country, especially in the new era.

 

A photo by former crane operator Wei Gensheng shows a panoramic view of Shanghai's Bund, which Wei helped build. He is celebrated as a photographer for the shots he took from his workplace. Wei Gensheng / For China Daily

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[Exhibition provides thought-provoking look at originality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407369.htm Italian artist and curator Maurizio Cattelan is known for his approach of using elements borrowed from elsewhere in his own creation to discuss the relationship between originality and copying. His works are often collages of elements from historic events, cultural phenomena and social news. He challenges people's existing opinions and provides a novel perspective on what's happening in the world.

Cattelan says his practices have always centered around the belief that "copying is an act that can bring originality". He says that there is a difference between the acts of copying and replicating. He explains that while a copy "maintains a relationship with" - and may likely enrich - the original, a replica adds nothing new and is simply identical.

Cattelan stresses this belief at The Artist is Present, an exhibition he has curated at Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Ironically, the name itself imitates artist Marina Abramovi, who in a 2010 exhibition with the same title, sought to show how the artistic concept is more important than the medium through which it is conveyed.

The show, which will end on Sunday, is jointly presented by the Shanghai museum and the Italian fashion brand Gucci.

The exhibition brings together more than 30 artists from around the world whose work is being displayed in 17 rooms on the museum's first floor, which was remodeled just for the show.

Visitors enter each of the rooms and are introduced to different ways of copying, as the featured artists provide their takes on things that already exist, in a bid to provide people with a new perspective of the world.

It is a mind-transforming journey, according to Cattelan, who's own works are also featured. He says it is to redefine some of the ideas that seem natural to people and to break some of the rules that are supposed to be followed.

The diverse backgrounds of the artists adds intellectual depth.

Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga, for example, bases her work on the methods of anthropology and comparative religious studies, which she majored in at university before becoming a career artist. She is showing Pink-blue at the exhibition, a work she created in 2017 in which she appropriated theories on the influence of colors on human behaviors.

The piece - more of an installation - turns a passage at the exhibition's entrance into a surrealistic space. People walking through it are immersed in pink and then blue fluorescent lights.

Earlier research found that if people are exposed to pink, they are less prone to violence. Blue not only calms people down but also makes it difficult to see the veins, prohibiting the injection of drugs. The color combination can be found painted in prisons, detention centers, psychiatric hospitals and public toilets around the world.

Kiwanga copies these special environments at the exhibition, asking the question: Do these colors cause inhibitory effects? She says that, if they do, it leads to another question: Will the influence be long lasting or only temporary?

Some artists shown at the exhibition, such as Shanghai-born Xu Zhen, address the subjects of East-West exchanges and globalization.

Xu is a well-established contemporary Chinese artist with a growing international reputation. The 41-year-old has won recognition for his distinctively huge installations. He remodels ancient Chinese and Western sculptures displayed at museums worldwide and pieces them together to form a new work.

Xu's contribution to the show, Eternity, is composed of copies of headless Buddhist statues from ancient China and statues originally located on the facades of the Parthenon in Greece. His placement reflects a sophisticated balance of the shapes, colors and styles of two different forms of art. He presents the clashes between Eastern and Western civilizations.

Xu says: "Only when one truly accepts the culture he or she was born into, can he or she understand that culture has no borders."

At the exit of the exhibition stands one of Cattelan's works - a paper wall re-creating the view of the famous Hollywood sign and its surrounding area where people can take photos before leaving. It's an example of the artist's sense of humor, as he examines the phenomenon of people sharing photos on social media.

If it is the act of showcasing that matters the most, why bother visiting the real spot if there is a lifelike copy closer to home? Cattelan leaves it open for the visitor to answer such questions and draw their own conclusions.

It can be a start, he says, for when they return to real life, where copying is everywhere, they will see the world in new dimensions.

 

Left: The Artist is Present exhibition at Yuz Museum in Shanghai provides a novel perspective on what’s happening in the world. Right: Maurizio Cattelan’s work, Untitled, reproduces the interior of the Sistine Chapel. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[Shaobing warrior]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407368.htm For over five decades, 62-year-old Feng Huaishen has been playing with flour. By the end of the 1970s, he was making around 3,000 shaobing (sesame-seed cakes) each day.

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Feng Huaishen is fighting to keep the craft of making traditional Beijing snacks alive, Li Yingxue reports.

For over five decades, 62-year-old Feng Huaishen has been playing with flour. By the end of the 1970s, he was making around 3,000 shaobing (sesame-seed cakes) each day.

In those early years of preparing the snack for Beijing's peckish masses, it's a fair bet that a great number of the city's residents would have tasted one of his doughy morsels at one time or another.

These days, however, while it is easier to find someone selling shaobing, it is very difficult to find the same quality as Feng's fine fare.

Each one looks exactly the samea diameter of 7 centimeters, weighing 80 grams and filled with more than 18 layers - a rarity among the now-ubiquitous shaobing vendors scattered around the city.

"It's not because my shaobing is not tasty any more but because it takes a lot of work to learn and practice. Few people want to make that effort," says Feng.

Feng applied for the traditional Beijing shaobing skill to be listed as part of the intangible cultural heritage of Beijing's Fangshan district. It was approved last year.

"You can find shaobing in different sizes and with only few layers, but I want to set a standard to show people what real shaobing is," Feng says.

Besides being a regular guest on television, presenting the skill of making shaobing, Feng recently wrote a book entitled Xiaochidayi (Little Snacks, Great Skill), in which he collates stories about traditional Beijing snacks.

Feng was assigned to Longfusi snack shop as an apprentice in 1975. He worked under Wang Fuyu, a shaobing master, who led him on his path to shaobing fame.

At first, Feng did not like his job. Most of his classmates were given jobs in factories, and he thought working in catering would not earn him much respect.

However, despite having to perform menial tasks like igniting the oven (which always left his face plastered in coal ash), his master showed him how excellent a pastry chef can be - even if he is just making a common shaobing.

To achieve such excellence, he would start with the dough. It requires 1 kilogram of flour mixed with 600 grams of water - the balance is always set at 1.6 kilograms - per batch. Wang would throw it on the scale and every time it would always be exactly 1.6 kilograms. He never once moved the balance.

Feng devoted himself to learning from Wang, and after a couple of months, he perfected the skill of cutting the dough to the exact weight.

The next step, however, is the most challenging, and a bit of a trade secret: "Throwing the fan". The idea is to roll and flatten the dough into a fan shape, before throwing it onto the counter, making it longer and thinner.

"The key is to hold the fanshaped dough, whirl it in the air and throw it hard onto the board. You're trying to make it more than a meter long and very thin," explains Feng. "That single movement can take people years to master."

One of Feng's apprentices took seven years to learn that single step, while many others were still practicing.

"It's the secret to making a shaobing with 18 layers. Without this step, the dough would not be thin enough and you can only achieve a few layers when you roll it," Feng notes.

"We used to have a special tool to roll the dough into a fan shape. I only have one in my home as a collector's item, but most people couldn't figure out what it is."

Shaobing opened Feng's eyes, and he began an exploration of pastry, learning how to make other traditional Beijing snacks, some of which have seemingly otherwise disappeared.

In 1990, when Beijing held the Asian Games, Feng was assigned to ship snacks to the athletes' village, during which time he became intrigued by an exquisite-looking snack, a sweet treat that was formed of four delicately fried pastry bubbles.

As soon as he returned to the kitchen, he asked his master to show him how to make the snack, which is called tangpao. Nowadays, you can no longer find it for sale, as it requires a superb level of skill to make.

Most of these doughy delicacies hark back to the Forbidden City, when they were originally prepared for the imperial family. Feng decided to learn how to make them from Cui Baolong, a third-generation successor to the art of Fangshan cooking, which imitates imperial cuisine from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

"Now when I eat snacks in restaurants, I will ask their chefs how they make it," says Feng. "We have lost the precious skills required to make some of them by hand, and they have been replaced by machines.

"Take the yellow-pea cake as an example. Some chefs only take 20 minutes to finish preparing it, but in the traditional way, just washing the peas thoroughly takes 20 minutes."

A traditional bean roll, which would take Feng six hours to make, has to be eaten within half a day.

"The flavor and taste of handmade bean rolls can never be replaced by machines," Feng says.

In the 1990s, Feng traveled almost all of China to learn new baking skills. In 2002, he even took a job as the chef of a Chinese restaurant in Africa, where he created his own version of Peking duck - impressing the local diners.

Now, Feng is the pastry consultant at Yiwanju restaurant in Beijing.

He makes his own version of nailao - a form of Chinese cheese, where rice liquor and sugar are added to fresh milk and distributed in bowls. The bowls are then heated before being left to cool and set. The sweet creamy snack attracts many foodies to the restaurant.

He started to formally take on apprentices in 2016, as he wants to pass on his skills, but he is careful to select those who really care about reviving the art of making traditional Beijing snacks.

Wang Chunqiang has studied under Feng for seven years and is used to Feng's high standards.

"Feng's shaobing will not shed a single sesame seed, which is incredible," says Wang.

Feng explains that he once heard a comic dialogue that stated shaobing always lose sesame seeds, and that sparked his imagination to find a way to ensure all the seeds stayed on the snack.

"The secret is to wipe a layer of water mixed with flour before dipping it in the sesame seeds," says Feng.

Feng plans to open his own snack studio in Beijing, at which he can bring all the traditional local snacks he knows how to make to the munching masses of the city once more - including the ones that people in their 20s and 30s may never have tried. It's not quite ready yet - like his baking, Feng wants to take his time and get it right. But we have waited this long. So, a few more months will just whet our appetites even more.

 

Top: Each of Feng Huaishen’s shaobing has more than 18 layers and looks like a book when cut open. Middle: Zhahuitou, fried dough with meat filling, is a traditional Beijing snack. Above: Feng makes his own version of nailao - a form of Chinese cheese, where rice liquor and sugar are added to fresh milk. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[Yak as a snack - a new kind of noodle-and-meat treat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407367.htm The Chinese character bu consists of two parts - gong on top of fu, which also means kung fu.

After Kung Fu Panda was released, the word bu got a new meaning, referring to people who know kung fu.

A Bu Noodle is on the B1 floor of the Hopson One shopping center in Chaoyang district of Beijing - and the name hints that it serves kung fu noodles.

According to Ma Zhonghua, the manager of the restaurant, the eatery is a noodle house focusing on yak-meat kung fu noodles from Qinghai province - all the meat they used is fresh yak delivered to the restaurant daily from Qinghai.

"The yaks live on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is 3,600 meters above sea level," says Ma.

"Yak meat is rich in protein, amino acids, carotene, calcium and phosphorus. It's low in fat. So, it's called the champion of beef."

A Bu's menu is simple - their signature noodles are yak-noodle soup and dry noodles with sauce and minced yak.

The slices of yak meat are marinated the night before, and stewed for hours before being served.

Similarly, the soup is made from yak bones and marrow, which has to be boiled for eight hours.

"The noodles really need kung fu to make," says Ma.

"Unlike the regular Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles, the springy texture of these noodles comes from dozens of procedures. The chef has to rub the dough using the same gesture for more than half an hour.

"There are several types of noodles. So, if you have a preference, you can tell the chef. Otherwise, you get the one with the regular width."

The thick-sliced yak, yak kebabs and mutton kebabs on tamarisk sticks, cold rice noodles and pickles are also worth trying.

The milk tea made using brick tea and milk is another must-try.

"In Northwest China, people's diet is a bit greasy. So, we drink milk tea to neutralize the grease," says Ma, adding that you can also enjoy homemade yogurt.

The restaurant is located next to office buildings, so its customers are mainly office staff on weekdays.

Ma says the food is delivered to diners' table within minutes of the order.

"The noodles need only 30 to 40 seconds to boil and can be delivered to the table in under three minutes.

"And diners can ask for more noodles for free."

 

Dry noodles with sauce and minced yak, thicksliced yak and pickles are among the signature dishes of A Bu Noodle, which focuses on yak meat with Qinghai flavor. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407366.htm NUO upgrades brunch offering

N'Joy at NUO Hotel Beijing is launching its upgraded Sunday brunch in December, with choices ranging from sea urchin and NUO caviar to welcome canapes and Brazilian churrasco alongside 450 other dishes. The buffet also has authentic Middle Eastern meat rolls, Thai salad, Indian curry and a cheese table. The hotel sources the finest ingredients from all around the world - fresh oysters, premium tuna, sweet and succulent lobster, mussels and superior oscietra.

No 2A, Jiangtai Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5926-8281.

Atmosphere has new cocktails

The Atmosphere at China World Summit Wing, Beijing has a new menu of signature cocktails conceptualised by head bartender Dicky Hartono. The series of eight cocktails are inspired by deities from eight global cultures, ranging from the ancient Aztecs to the Roman goddess of love. The Crescent Mist on the new menu is inspired by Three Kingdoms (220-280) hero Guan Yu of China. The cocktail is a subtler and gentler interpretation of a whiskey sour and features Michters Bourbon, sous-vide chrysanthemum-infused baijiu (white liquor), homemade kumquat honey syrup and fresh lemon juice.

No 1 Jianguomenwai Ave, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8571-6459.

Barbeque of Mediterranean style

Fresco Steak and Seafood House, which opened in Beijing recently, features Mediterranean-style barbeque. Steak is a signature dish. But grilled seafood and seafood paella are also musttries. The secret of the barbeque is the Spanish Josper oven that brings out the Mediterranean flavor. French blue lobster, Spanish scarlet shrimp and seasonal oysters are all included in the Mediterranean treat.

No 27-1, Dongzhimenwai Ave, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6461-8100.

Hotpot restaurant opens new outlet

Chengdu's Malubianbian, a Sichuan hotpot restaurant, is launching its third brunch outlet in Beijing. The decor of the restaurant is hand painted with elements from the last century. The main condiment of the hotpot is chili powder and minced peanuts. Spicy small potatoes, spicy porcine brain and spicy tender beef are all must-tries at this eatery.

105-1, No 10 Dongbojie, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5335-5209.

China Daily

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[ON A HIGH NOTE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407365.htm In 1978, China launched economic reforms that subsequently touched different aspects of citizens' lives, including music.

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Leading composers say China's music scene has improved with the reform and opening-up, Chen Nan reports.

In 1978, China launched economic reforms that subsequently touched different aspects of citizens' lives, including music.

A year earlier, the national college entrance exam resumed - after the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) had ended - and the Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music, which also reopened then, set up four student-enrollment offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, attracting over 170,000 applicants.

But only 105 students could be admitted to the school in 1977.

The six teachers of the conservatory then, including Li Chunguang and Yang Jun, wrote a letter to the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, asking for permission to increase the intake of students. Two days later, Deng replied, saying he had agreed to their request. The number was raised to 213.

"The teachers wrote the letter because they saw many talented youngsters at the audition and hoped that the young people would get the opportunity to study in the school," said music conductor and president of the Central Conservatory of Music, Yu Feng, during a forum at the school on Dec 10, marking the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up.

"It helped define an era of China's music scene."

Two concerts were held at the National Center for the Performing Arts on Dec 10 and 11, with performances by the Central Conservatory of Music Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Chen Lin, a student of Yu.

They showcased China's achievements in classical music over the past 40 years. The repertories featured pieces by graduates of the conservatory, who are world-renowned musicians today, including Extase for oboe and orchestra by Chen Qigang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Tan Dun and Horizon, Op 20, for soprano, baritone and orchestra by Ye Xiaogang.

The renowned Chinese composers, Ye, Tan and Chen, who enrolled at the conservatory to study music composition in 1978, gave speeches at the forum, recalling their school days and sharing their understanding of the changes in the country's music scene both as witnesses and creators.

"Western classical music started taking root in China less than 100 years ago and has achieved a lot, especially since the reform and opening-up started," says Ye, 63, who was born in a musicians' family in Shanghai and started learning the piano at age 4.

Now, he is the chairman of the Chinese Musicians' Association and a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music. He initiated the Beijing Modern Music Festival 16 years ago.

Ye came to Beijing when he was 23 years old and began his studies at the conservatory. He worked in a factory in Shanghai for six years before that.

"We benefitted from the reform and opening-up, and the resumption of the national college entrance exam. Now, Chinese musicians perform internationally. Looking back, the year 1978 laid the base for China's rise on the global stage," says Ye, adding that the originality and creativity of Chinese composers has been among the important changes in the classical music scene in China in the past four decades.

"The merger of Western classical music and Chinese culture has made the works of Chinese composers unique," Ye adds.

New York-based composer Tan, 61, who was born in Hunan province and joined a local Peking Opera troupe before he went to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, says his favorite place as a student at the conservatory 40 years ago was the library there.

"I read books and scores in the library after classes. So did my classmates. We wanted to learn, to practice and to test our musical ideas. Now, I want to know what the young students read."

Tan's works cover various genres, including orchestra, opera and film scores. One of his most famous works is composing the Oscar-winning soundtrack of Ang Lee's 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Tan recalls that his years at the school introduced him to a wide range of international classical and contemporary music, which laid the foundation for his future experiments that transcended style and cultural boundaries in composition.

"Now my elder son is interested in movies while my younger son, who is 12 years old, loves music. He reminds me of my younger days and I am grateful for the life-changing experience 40 years ago," Tan says.

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[Show on how genders think and act ends]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/14/content_37407364.htm The talk show, This Is Us, which tries to delve deeper into the behavioral and cognitive differences between men and women by providing opportunities for the genders to have frank discussions on various issues, has aired on Tencent Holdings Ltd's streaming platform every Thursday night since Sept 20. The show concluded last week.

The online program, hosted by renowned Taiwan TV anchor Kevin Tsai and actress Jiang Shuying, invited two celebrities for each episode to exchange their views on relationships, careers, aesthetic tastes and other topics with others whose occupations range from lawyer to scientist, and vlogger to wardrobe manager, exposing the differences in thinking and communication of the two genders at home and in the workplace.

The celebrities included Taiwan-born actress Barbie Hsu, TV hostess Zhu Dan, Hong Kong-born actress Charmaine Sheh, writer Guo Jingming and pop singer Hu Yanbin.

AdMaster, a Beijing-based digital-data company, surveyed 1,000 men and women ages 18 to 45 across the country through questionnaires, to show on the program how the two genders are divided on some controversial topics. And at the end of each episode, psychologist Lei Ming was invited to explain the psychological causes of the divergence of views.

On the micro blog Sina Weibo and website Zhihu, young netizens often jumped into discussions about gender differences in connotative meanings of words, sharing their own amusing or annoying experiences when confronted with misunderstandings stemming from the biologically based differences.

At this point, Zi Xiang, program planner of the talk show, says he hopes that, through gathering men and women from various professional backgrounds to discuss practical issues in daily life, the show will help young people learn how to better relate to the opposite sex and integrate into society.

The show encourages guests to have straightforward and honest conversations just as its slogan, "a candid talk will bring us closer to each other", suggests.

Jiang agrees, and, in her hostess role, she wants to be as sincere as possible.

"I think it is important to be direct and brave enough to show yourself and accept your own inadequacies," says Jiang, who seemed emotional and outspoken on the show.

"There are innate differences and inevitable disagreements between the sexes. What we should do is to find an efficient way to communicate with each other," she adds.

Her partner, veteran anchorman Tsai, who is best-known for his role hosting the long-running Taiwan variety show, Kangxi Coming, says he found Jiang showed her inner world in front of the cameras easily. That allowed the studio audience to know her real self and not just her roles in dramas and films.

Jiang regards the hosting experience as precious material for her acting career.

"At the studio, I could observe the way the show's guests talked and be inspired by their diverse life experiences, which are so different from mine," she says.

The actress, who became known because of her award-winning role in the film So Young in 2013, is a postgraduate student of media economics at the University of East Anglia, Britain.

She says the major taught her how vital gender differentiation was, and that was useful in building her identify in the entertainment circle.

"Being an actress, I should stay unique, and I will finally find my place," she adds.

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2018-12-14 08:07:44
<![CDATA[When a song made a difference]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/13/content_37400317.htm Li Guyi's musical journey over the past 57 years has always been connected with the song, entitled Homeland Love, a mellow love ballad written by Ma Jinghua and Zhang Peiji.

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Homeland Love is more than a mellow ballad for its singer Li Guyi, Chen Nan reports.

Li Guyi's musical journey over the past 57 years has always been connected with the song, entitled Homeland Love, a mellow love ballad written by Ma Jinghua and Zhang Peiji.

You can sense her love for the song when Li, 74, pauses to sing it as if she were onstage.

"It's not just because the song brought me fame," says Li, who was then a 36-year-old singer with the Central Symphony Orchestra - now known as China National Symphony Orchestra. She first performed the song in 1980 and soon became a household name in China.

"It's because with the song, I went through a singer's worst days."

Li's performance of Homeland Love became controversial because her vocal style challenged the status quo of singing in China at the time.

Instead of using a solid, wide vocal range while singing, a style which dominated the music scene in the country then, Li sounded sweet, easy and she used the air-breathing technique, a pop-singing style.

She was criticized, and even forbidden to sing the song.

But the turning point came in 1983 when Li was invited to perform six songs at China Central Television's first Spring Festival Gala, known as chunwan in Chinese, one of the most-watched annual shows in Chinese broadcast history on the Eve of the Lunar New Year.

Though Homeland Love was not included on the list of songs she was set to perform, a lot of viewers called in, asking for Li to perform the song at the gala. The gala's director Huang Yihe made the decision to broadcast Li's performance of the song.

Since then, Homeland Love has become a hit, and is one of Li's most popular songs.

Li said at her home in Beijing that it was a beautiful song and most importantly, audience opinion about art had started to change thanks to the reform and liberation of thought that went on through the 1980s.

She said that it was during this time, China started to develop its own pop music, which offered a platform for songwriters to create "original material".

The veteran singer is now on a list of 100 outstanding individuals who greatly contributed to the country's 40 years of reform and opening-up.

This October, along with her vocal students - over 20 professional Chinese singers, Li held a concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of China's reform and opening-up.

The concert saw the musicians perform over 30 songs written by Chinese songwriters since 1978, including Homeland Love.

Li said that the last 40 years has brought about a change for musicians, besides offering economic opportunity for the country.

She said that beforehand, songs performed on TV were similar grand performances dealing with big topics.

"But after that, a diversity of music styles started to emerge and songwriters tended to depict personal emotions," she says.

Another one of Li's hits, Unforgettable Tonight, a song which has been used as the closing song for the annual Spring Festival Gala for 32 years, also proves that people's views about music changed after the reform and opening-up.

"Traditionally, the closing song for a national TV gala is magnificent and the singers perform with high-pitched voices to big orchestras. However, Unforgettable Tonight is slow, smooth and my singing is soft and light," says Li, adding that the song, written by Qiao Yu and Wang Min, was born when the 1984 CCTV Spring Festival Gala invited artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The songwriters then used the song to celebrate the new year like a big family's reunion.

Li, who was born in Kunming, Yunnan province, began her music and theater career at the age of 15, when she started studying huaguxi opera, a folk music and dance art form in Hunan, at the Hunan Art Institute.

She then worked with the Hunan Huaguxi Opera Theater from 1961 to 1974 as an actress.

When she moved to Beijing to join in the then Central Symphony Orchestra in 1974, Li learned Western singing techniques and Peking Opera. Inevitably, the different ways of singing later merged into her own style.

In 1975, Li who was among the first group of Chinese musicians to perform abroad, sang in Australia and New Zealand, and in 1978, she performed with Central Symphony Orchestra in the United States.

During the past 40 years, the Chinese music scene has blossomed, and she says that the younger generation of musicians, who are often influenced by the West, should base their music on their Chinese roots.

Now, Li promotes original Chinese songs featuring musical elements from Chinese folk operas and ethnic groups.

She revealed that here are over 300 forms of Chinese opera and different techniques of singing used by Chinese ethnic groups. The art forms are unique treasures, she says, which deserve further study and promotion.

Li said the lyrics of Chinese songs written during the 1980s are poetic and the melodies are often inspired by Chinese tradition.

 

Li Guyi performs the song, Homeland Love, at Photo Beijing 2018, an international photography event, on Oct 20. Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-13 07:20:27
<![CDATA[Film of poverty alleviation wins top honor at Huabiao awards event]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/13/content_37400316.htm Most of the well-known faces in China's film industry were at the 17th Huabiao Film Awards in Beijing recently, ranging from directors like Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-wai to internationally recognized A-listers such as Zhang Ziyi, Li Bingbing, as well as pop idols like Kris Wu, Lu Han and the band TFBoys.

Nearly 300 stars and filmmakers were at the awards ceremony, which was held in the National Aquatics Center.

Live streaming of the gala attracted more than 6 million viewers on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, triggering numerous real-time comments. But it was Hold Your Hands - a film set in a remote village in Central China's Hunan province - which proved hottest on the chilly winter night.

The movie - which bagged awards for best feature, best actress and best scriptwriter - is about the villagers' efforts to alleviate poverty.

Miao Yue, the scriptwriter and director, says she is thrilled about the honor and expressed gratitude to the villagers.

She spent several months interviewing them before she was inspired to pen their story.

The film stars veteran actor Wang Xueqi and Chen Jin, who took home the best actress award.

In an earlier interview, Miao had said that she had managed to avoid stereotype depictions frequently seen in such films by making the characters as authentic as possible.

"I found a common weakness in such films, in which the lead roles are too perfect and noble in personality to convince viewers.

"In contrast, you can see that in most Hollywood blockbusters the stories may be fantastic but the characters relate to the audience," says Miao, explaining about how she learnt to tell a better story.

Giving an example, the director admitted that she once failed to hold back her tears while watching a scene featuring Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent, where he breaks up with his girlfriend Lois Lane in the 1978 Hollywood blockbuster Superman.

"To humanize a character is a must," she added.

Meanwhile, three films - Operation Red Sea, Wolf Warrior 2 and Xuanzang, the biographical drama about the titular Buddhist monk in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) - won two awards each.

Dante Lam Chiu-yin won best director for the Chinese navy-themed Operation Red Sea; while Wu Jing was best actor for Wolf Warrior 2, the country's highest-grossing film of all time.

The biennial awards, instituted in 1957, are as prestigious as the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers when it comes to domestic films.

However, unlike its two counterparts, the Huabiao best feature awards are presented to multiple films under a category called the Outstanding Drama Award.

This year, the awards were given to 10 films, including the four which won more than one prize.

The other six are Operation Mekong; The Founding of an Army; The War of Loong; The Woman behind the Man; Our Time will Come and Bigfish & Begonia, the only animated film among the winners.

Separately, Chen Kaige's epic Legend of the Demon Cat won veteran Cao Yu the best cinematography award.

The best youth film award went to the romantic comedy How Long Will I Love U, while the best children's film award was bagged by Running Like Wind, based on the true story of a middle-school girls' football team in South China's Hainan province.

 Clockwise from top left: Dante Lam Chiuyin (center) wins best director at the 17th Huabiao Film Awards for Operation Red Sea; Actor Chen Daoming (left) and actress Zhang Ziyi (center) announce the best features winners; Chen, Ge You (center) and Xu Zheng (to the right of Ge) are spotted at the starstudded Huabiao event, which gathered nearly 300 celebrities; and director Miao Yue delivers a speech after winning the best scriptwriter for Hold Your Hands. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-13 07:20:27
<![CDATA[Making waves at the box office]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/13/content_37400315.htm With earnings of 850 million yuan ($123.4 million) in just six days in China, Aquaman has become the most successful superhero film adapted from American comic giant DC's books on the mainland.

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Aquaman becomes the most successful DC superhero film in China, Xu Fan reports.

With earnings of 850 million yuan ($123.4 million) in just six days in China, Aquaman has become the most successful superhero film adapted from American comic giant DC's books on the mainland.

The $160-million epic starring Hawaii-born actor Jason Momoa as the lead is running on around 85 percent of the country's screens - including nearly 600 Imax screens - since Dec 7.

The release of Aquaman in China also makes it the first Hollywood big-budget film to be shown in China two weeks ahead of its North American release.

Typically, films in mainland theaters run for one month. So, considering that the film has just been released, Aquaman is estimated to earn 1.76 billion yuan, according to the box-office tracking and analyzing site Maoyan.

To gauge how successful this film is, you have to consider that the box-office performance of the previous record holder for films based on DC's heroes.

Warner Brothers and DC Film's ensemble epic, Justice League, featuring Superman and Batman, earned just 691 million yuan in 2017.

For nearly a decade, DC's superheroes had been outperformed by its longtime rival Marvel in China, the world's second-largest movie market. Avengers: Infinity War earned 2.39 billion yuan earlier this year to top all Marvel's superhero films in China.

This time, however, DC is striking back.

Aquaman has achieved other records too.

It's now the top-grossing film in a single day and for the first weekend of December in China.

With scores up to 9.5 points on Maoyan, 9.3 on Taopiaopiao and 8.1 on Douban - all seen as barometers of popularity - most netizens say the film is a visual feast, which offers unprecedented spectacles of underwater kingdoms.

Most fans attribute the latest DC spectacle to James Wan, the Malaysia-born Australian director of Chinese heritage.

Earlier during his Beijing promotional tour, Wan said that one of his favorite Chinese novels was the 16th-century Journey to the West, in which a chapter depicts the Monkey King getting into a dragon's underwater palace to seek a powerful weapon

Some Chinese fans say they can identify with the film as the sequences about Aquaman retrieving the Trident remind them of the Monkey King story.

Before directing Aquaman - his first superhero film - Wan was best known for his horror movies such as Saw and Dead Silence, as well as the car-racing blockbusters Furious 7, the second highest-grossing imported film in China.

A question - about what they felt was Wan's main contribution to Aquaman - drew responses from 114,120 netizens on Douban, the country's most popular entertainment review site.

And one of the responses was: "It's amazing to see Wan demonstrate his talent in action sequences, where he combines various elements from various genres - including sci-fi, adventure, epic and horror - to shoot a deep-sea version of Star Wars."

The film explains the origins of Arthur Curry, also known as Aquaman - the 77-year-old superhero who first appeared in a 1941 DC comic book - and recounts the adventures of the hero to unite the seven seas.

In the 143-minute movie, you can see many special effects-studded scenes.

For instance, underwater armies on giant seahorse-shaped creatures and sharks fight a sea battle; numerous monsters chase Aquaman and Mera, a princess from one of the underwater kingdoms who later becomes Aquaman's wife.

But there are also some dissenting voices from diehard fans of DC superhero films who compare the latest work to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy and Zack Snyder' Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (2017).

One critic Zhang Qi says for those who have read the stories of Aquaman and other major characters in the original comic books, the movie is a bit of a letdown.

"But now superhero films probably don't need to have a serious plot. Mere entertainment will do," he adds.

 

Scenes from Aquaman, whose box-office earning has made it the highest-grossing superhero film adapted from American comic giant DC's books on the mainland. The film stars Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Amber Heard as Princess Mera. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-13 07:20:27
<![CDATA[A new TV series seeks to deliver war story in a different way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/13/content_37400314.htm A thriller set in 1940s China, based on a novel written by the author Mai Jia, is set to be serialized on the small screen.

Postproduction of The Message is nearly completed and it will be released in 2019, it was announced at a seminar of the China Television Artists Association on Saturday.

The Message is the first project being entirely produced by Shanghai-based Tencent Penguin Pictures, an affiliate of Chinese tech company, Tencent Holdings Ltd, and will premiere on v.qq.com, the company's streaming platform.

The original novel was first released in 2007 as a series in the magazine People's Literature but gained a wider audience when, in 2009, the book was adapted into a film with an all-star cast, which included Li Bingbing, Zhou Xun and Zhang Hanyu. A TV adaptation followed in 2011.

Focusing on a hidden battlefield of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), the story sees intelligence operatives from Japan and its puppet-government in China hunt for a Communist secret agent, code-named Lao Gui ("old ghost"). As the plot unfolds, the undercover heroes have to skillfully evade the search and attempt to keep their communication network safe.

The new 38-episode production is expected to have fresh approach to the story.

"I was a little worried when I first took the project since everyone who watched the previous film knows who Lao Gui is," Li Yunliang, director of the new series, says. "There aren't more secrets, and we had to add something new."

As such, he has implemented a leaner approach that he refers to as a "zero wasting scenario". In this new production there are only seven main roles across the whole series - two interrogators and five suspects - and most subsidiary plots were cut. Other than some flashbacks, all the scenes happen on a ship and in a villa.

"Many domestic thrillers get too diluted by lots of romance or action scenes," Li explains. "We want to stick to the main story from the beginning to the end."

The 2009 film has many torture scenes. They were even played up in the 2011's TV version. In the upcoming version, however, such scenes are to be largely deleted. Li's team want to depict a purely "psychological war".

Will the new format be well received by TV audiences?

Some parts of the new production have been released to critics and their opinions are divided.

Zhao Tong, a researcher with the China Television Artists Association, thinks the new production will lead a new trend in Chinese spy-themed TV series as it resembles the atmosphere of a locked room, which reminds people of British author Agatha Christie's works and the Japanese cinematic classic Rashomon.

Chinese spy-themed TV series setting their stories in the past have gradually grown in popularity since 2004, after the country's media authorities set a limit to control the number of TV series about contemporary criminal investigation.

Lurk (2009), also about the war of resistance, is so far the best acclaimed production in the genre, gaining 9.2 points on entertainment review website Douban.

"A new generations of viewers will also see the stories as a reflection of their office life and an issue of 'conflicting identities' in a society where people migrate for jobs," Zhao says while explaining the reason for the popularity of such shows.

He says The Message, with its new elements, will trigger wider discussions on human nature after being released next year.

However, Qin Zhengui, deputy supervisor of the TV series channel of China Central Television, says: "When a rubber band is stretched too far, it will surely break. It's still uncertain whether our audiences are ready to accept such a tense rhythm without getting tired."

But Li Zhun, the honorary president of the China Literature and Art Critics Association, says he worries that the overwhelming emphasis of a cat-and-mouse game and psychologically thrilling atmosphere will dilute the historical background needed for the young generation.

In the story, special agents from the Communist Party, the Kuomintang, Japan and Japan's puppet-government, all get mixed up in the battle.

"Young people need to have the right understanding of the heroes' sacrifice for a nation's liberation and revolution," Li Zhun says.

 

From left to right: Cross-Straits cast of the upcoming thriller The Message includes actor Zhao Lixin (left); Taiwan actor Tony Yang and Hong Kong actress Janice Man; actress Xu Lu and actor Zhang Zhijian. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-13 07:20:27
<![CDATA[The German connection]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/13/content_37400313.htm The Goethe-Institut celebrated its 30th anniversary in China earlier this year. And a 30-hour celebration comprising concerts, performances, art installations, film screenings, lectures and events for children was held on Nov 17 and 18 at its base in the 798 art zone in Beijing.

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It has been three eventful decades since the Goethe-Institut set up operations in China, Fang Aiqing reports.

The Goethe-Institut celebrated its 30th anniversary in China earlier this year. And a 30-hour celebration comprising concerts, performances, art installations, film screenings, lectures and events for children was held on Nov 17 and 18 at its base in the 798 art zone in Beijing.

Meanwhile, in 30 events held from September through Dec 9, the Goethe-Institut China held discussions on 30 essential questions about the future as well as human and social development, covering art, technology, language learning and gender studies.

"The celebration is a condensed version of our work," says Clemens Treter, director of the Goethe-Institut China.

The venue at the 798 art zone, decorated in green, is considered a cultural space where free talks, artistic productions and creative activities using new technologies are frequently held.

Visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says: "Among the many branches of the Goethe-Institut I've been to around the world, this is one of the coolest spaces. Congratulations for having such a place filled with creativity."

Steinmeier made the comments on Sunday in the course of a discussion with scholars from a variety of fields on the challenges brought by the digital revolution.

The cultural arm of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is dedicated to promoting knowledge of the German language and fostering international cultural cooperation, the Goethe-Institut, founded its China chapter in Beijing on Nov 1, 1988, due to the joint efforts of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) and then-German chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017).

Michael Kahn-Ackermann, the founding director of the institute, says the founding was a very complicated and difficult process that took more than four years of negotiation.

Ackermann was among the earliest overseas students who came to China in 1975.

A sinologist, he has translated books of Mo Yan, the Nobel laureate; Zhang Jie, a two-time winner of China's prestigious Maodun Literature Prize; and author Wang Shuo into German in the 1980s.

Ackermann attributes the founding of the Goethe-Institut partly to China's reform and opening-up and says the Goethe-Institut in Beijing was the only independent foreign cultural institution on the Chinese mainland for 16 years after it was set up.

Currently, the Goethe-Institut China has libraries and language centers in Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenyang, Qingdao, Nanjing, Chongqing, Xi'an and Wuhan, besides Beijing.

At the opening ceremony of the 30-hour celebration, a number of Chinese scholars and artists shared their experiences of learning and working with the Goethe-Institut China.

Jia Guoping, a composer and a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, attended a German language course there 25 years ago shortly before going to Germany for further studies under the German Academic Exchange Service scholarship.

In 2007, Jia started working with the institute as part of a three-year chamber music program, during which orchestra and piano students from the Central Conservatory of Music got the opportunity to be instructed by principal musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic.

Meanwhile, Jia launched a corresponding chamber music composition competition named Con Tempo - which still runs - so that the winners' works could be performed by students attending the program.

Later, in 2011, the Central Conservatory of Music set up the Ensemble ConTempo Beijing. The ensemble later made its debut in Europe sponsored by the Goethe-Institut China.

According to Jia, his team is now working with the institute on a "digital concert hall" program that screens recordings of some of the Berlin Philharmonic's concerts.

"Our cooperation with the Goethe-Institut China has promoted the development of contemporary music in China," says Jia, adding that the younger generation of Chinese musicians are open-minded, and that the institute is responsible for the change.

A growing number of music students at the Central Conservatory of Music are seeking to do further studies in Germany, a frontier of modern music, and many of them are studying at the Goethe-Institut China.

Clemens von Goetze, Germany's ambassador to China, says that China and Germany recognize the differences between the two countries and both want further cooperation.

And though there are collisions and setbacks in cultural exchanges, Goetze hopes more people from both countries can master each others' languages, something which the Goethe-Institut China has helped with over the past 30 years.

According to Treter, the institute also attaches great importance to training German teachers in China.

Marla Stukenberg, the regional director of the Goethe-Institut in East Asia, says: "We firmly believe that the various problems and challenges humanity is facing can be resolved with dialogue and that the talks should not be limited to bilateral exchanges.

"And the cultural and educational programs promoted by the institute around the world are an example of this."

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2018-12-13 07:20:27
<![CDATA[Sino-Greek cultural exchanges continue]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/13/content_37400312.htm ATHENS - Greece's National Museum of Contemporary Art, or EMST, in Athens has been building new bridges of intercultural dialogue with China as part of a wider Sino-Greek effort to bring the two countries and their people closer, the museum's director Katerina Koskina said in a recent interview.

Last Tuesday, during the opening of an exhibition of EMST's newest acquisitions of the past two years, Koskina talked about the collaboration launched last year with the National Art Museum of China, or NAMOC, thanks to the support of the culture ministries in Athens and Beijing and the exchanges of museum exhibits.

She also expressed hope that ties between Greece and China in the field of art could deepen in the future.

"Last week, EMST inaugurated in Beijing at the National Art Museum of China a very important exhibition, which includes more than 80 works of art by Greek and international artists," Koskina says referring to the exhibition, which is entitled In the Beginning Was the Word. Concepts - Images - Script.

Forty Greek and foreign artists are participating with 80 works that belong to EMST's permanent collection. The exhibition runs through mid-January 2019, as part of the 2017-18 year of cultural exchanges between Greece and China.

"It is a great opportunity, because the dialogue between such important ancient civilizations that grew together and today are able to reinforce that old dialogue, is really amazing," she stresses.

"This exhibition is a kind of return as last year EMST hosted a very important exhibition on Xieyi (freehand brush work) painting and masterpieces from the NAMOC collections in Athens which was the starting point of a, hopefully, long lasting friendship and cooperation in the cultural field between Greece and China," Koskina says.

The exhibition Chinese Xieyi: Masterpieces from the National Art Museum of China ran from September to November 2017, and received a warm welcome from Greek audiences.

"The reception from the Athenian audience was very warm. There were excited comments about this exhibition and we had many visitors," Anna Mykoniati, EMST's curator, says.

Explaining the idea behind the exhibition, which traveled to China, she says EMST chose writing and script in art as a main theme, because China has a great tradition in calligraphy and this is a theme that the Chinese audience can relate to, while also getting an idea about the Greek contemporary art scene.

"The Chinese audience was very open to the artwork, because it is very contemporary and the collection of NAMOC is more traditional, more painting," she says.

She says both China and Greece have huge civilizations behind them. "As far as I can tell from my experience in Beijing, the Chinese have a deep respect and admiration for the Greek civilization and I think that works both ways. It is the same for Greeks too," she underlines.

EMST is one of the partners in the International Alliance of Art Museums and Galleries involving the countries that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The alliance was established this summer in Beijing.

"We are very hopeful that this will lead to a future collaboration with China and other countries along the Silk Road," Mykoniati says.

Greek artist Alexandros Georgiou, who is participating in both exhibitions currently hosted at EMST and NAMOC, has no doubt that Sino-Greek intercultural dialogue has much to offer.

"I always learn something new when I look at Chinese art and it is never what I thought it is going to be. So I think it comes from a culture that, in a way, can relate to ours by being so different, but shedding a different light on subjects that we also care about, but never thought of in the way that Chinese artists do," he says.

Xinhua

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2018-12-13 07:20:27
<![CDATA[Bringing sculpture to life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37387004.htm Late sculptor Liu Kaiqu's views about art are still a source of inspiration for modern-day artists, Lin Qi reports.

One of the things that the late sculptor Liu Kaiqu (1904-93) told his postgraduate students at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in the 1950s was that a genuine sculptor should have the heart and mind of Pygmalion.

In Greek mythology, Pygmalion - the king of Cyprus, who is also a sculptor - falls in love with one of his works, an ivory statue named Galatea. And he is so obsessed with it that he keeps fashioning it to perfection and admires it every day.

Finally, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, gives life to Galatea. She marries Pygmalion and bears him a daughter.

 

Winning works at the previous Liu Kaiqu Awards are on permanent display at the Wuhu Sculpture Art Gallery. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

Liu was among the first Chinese students at the prestigious National High School of Fine Arts in Paris in the 1920s.

In his words, a good sculpture should not only look alive but also "be granted with a soul and, essentially, a sense of eternity and independence". And to achieve that goal, he said, a work that will stand the test of time should reveal in combination one's historical and cultural heritage, and national spirit.

Liu's views of art were shaped during a time when his motherland was torn by poverty, chaos and foreign invasions. And those views are reflected in 34 sculptures by artists from home and abroad that won the Seventh Liu Kaiqu Awards in late October. The awards are an annual initiative launched in 2011 by the China Sculpture Institute in Beijing and Wuhu's city government.

The works are now on display at the Wuhu Sculpture Park in Wuhu, a laid-back city on the banks of the Yangtze River in Anhui province.

The winning works will be shown for a year until a new edition of the awards are given.

The awards are named after Liu to mark his place in modern Chinese sculpture and his legacy, which records the course of national liberation and uprising from the ruins of war.

Liu was a member of the design team for the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tian'anmen Square, which was completed in 1958.

The sculptural reliefs on the monument show 10 key events between the start of the First Opium War in 1840 and the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Liu also sculpted dozens of statues of important figures in modern China, such as the great Chinese statesman Sun Yat-sen. And he portrayed unsung heroes, including soldiers fighting Japanese invaders and farmers toiling on land.

Today's sculptors work in quite a different context - social stability and material affluence.

Yu Chenxing, a teacher of sculpture at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, won this year's only gold award for his work, Prediction.

The stainless-steel sculpture that is several meters high depicts a Chinese abacus but with a new look.

The giant abacus gradually narrows on one side to a pointed end, looking like a silver ladder stretching up high into the sky.

Yu says: "The abacus is a great invention, but we no longer rely on it for calculations. So the reason the abacus matters to us now is not for its form but for the wisdom the age-old tool encapsulates that we can still relate to."

He says the work invites the audience to not only take pride in China's rich, longstanding civilization but also to ask what today's Chinese can do to create a new height of thinking.

Yu first participated in the awards in 2013 when his work Jiangnan won a bronze. It showed a cluster of bamboo on top of which sat a bamboo chair.

Speaking about the work, Yu says he was inspired by his childhood home surrounded by bamboo. The evergreen plant was then the main material to make home appliances.

A small model of Jiangnan is exhibited together with over 100 works from the previous Liu Kaiqu Awards at a permanent display at the Wuhu Sculpture Art Gallery inside the sculpture park.

Zeng Chenggang, who chairs the China Sculpture Institute, says that sculpture is even more rooted in people's minds in Wuhu because of the Liu Kaiqu awards and exhibition, and the annual event has helped deepen people's understanding of art.

"This increasing intimacy between sculptures and people shows that art is contributing notably to enriching Wuhu's landscape, making it more enchanting for both locals and visitors," he says.

Sculptor Pan He says he and Liu were among the first few in the late 1970s to realize the importance of promoting sculptures in outdoor venues, in addition to museums, to receive more exposure.

Pan says a city needs not only extensive green areas and squares but also culture that can be spread through public art, such as sculptures, and that artists should also use this opportunity to express ideas that can become timeless.

Yu says nothing makes sculptors happier than seeing their works installed at a venue for public viewing.

He says the number of public places that combine leisure activities with artistic appreciation, such as Wuhu Sculpture Park, is growing.

 

 

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition to return next March]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37387003.htm Two years ago, works from 40 celebrated artists from across the world were displayed in Wuzhen, a water town in East China's Zhejiang province, giving locals and tourists to the small town a sense of what contemporary art is.

The second edition of the Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition will open next March and is expected to help broaden people's minds about the new trends in contemporary art, according to the team of curators.

Feng Boyi, who leads the team, says that next year's show will feature the work of 45 artists from 21 countries, all of whom are active in the international contemporary art world. The list includes British visual artist Julian Opie, Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima and Argentine artist Amalia Ulman, who is known for her internet art.

 

The silk-factory area in Wuzhen (pictured above, middle) will display works by artists from across 21 countries at the second edition of the Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition curated by Feng Boyi (left). Zhuang Hui (right), a Chinese artist, will create a wooden installation for the show. Photos Provided to China Daily

Feng was also a curator for the first edition in 2016. It highlighted pieces from such famous artists as Damien Hirst; Florentijn Hofman, who made a giant pink fish for Wuzhen; and Marina Abramovic, dubbed the "godmother of performance art" by the media. Feng explains that next year's exhibition will try to feature artists of different styles.

For instance, organizers have invited 29-year-old Amalia Ulman, who is the youngest of the 45 artists to participate. She rose to fame due to controversies surrounding her work.

"We want to let tourists and locals see what is happening in the contemporary art world. The artworks must be varied in style," says Feng of their selection of artists for the show.

More than a dozen artists will make special pieces for the Wuzhen exhibition. Their works will be shown in different environments: the ancient water town area, a silk factory, a granary area and a village.

Zhuang Hui, one of the Chinese artists who will attend the exhibition, just returned to Beijing from a trip to Wuzhen. It was his first visit to the small town known for its scenery, ancient houses and bridges.

He had planned to exhibit a previous piece in the small town. However, the granary, decorated with a wooden interior, inspired him to create a wooden installation.

"The carpenters I met in Wuzhen were so good that it has driven me to create a new piece," says Zhuang, who produces artworks across the mediums of photography, video and installation.

The flexible exhibition spaces of Wuzhen differ from those of galleries and museums. They can better inspire artists to create new, tailor-made works, Zhuang adds.

In recent years, more art exhibitions have moved from cities to small towns and, in some cases, even smaller villages. Wuzhen is among the first towns in China to host exhibitions similar to a biennale or triennial.

In 2016, when the first exhibition was held, many locals had no idea what contemporary art is, and just as many had never even been to a museum. The invited artists exhibited their works in public spaces, such as an ancient theater, a garden's corner and along the stone streets. It effectively shortened the distance between the artworks and their audience, which was largely made up of tourists from across the country.

Feng says that, while there are lots of shows in art institutions in big cities in China - more than 60 shows were held in Shanghai in November - a show in a small town where people can encounter international art so casually as they can in Wuzhen is a rarity.

The 2016 exhibition in Wuzhen proved to be a success, both for locals and for art circles, says Feng. Some of the foreign artists who attended the show introduced the town to their friends and contemporaries, but the event still needs time to build its brand, says Feng.

Next year's show will take place between March 31 and June 30, and there will be a fund established to sponsor 12 Chinese artists who are younger than 35 years old.

Feng explains that the youth section aims to provide a platform for talented young Chinese to communicate with celebrated international artists.

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[Christmas comes to Gubei]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37387002.htm The water town is decking its halls for the holiday season, with Santa visits, decorated trees, choirs crooning carols - and much more. Xu Lin reports.

Santa Claus is coming to town - Beijing's Gubei water town, that is. The attraction, also known as Beijing WTown, recently announced that it's celebrating the Christmas season until Dec 31 with traditional decorations and festive activities for visitors, especially families.

It's hosting parades, a daily Christmas market with snacks and homemade gifts, and outdoor Christmas-tree lighting ceremonies every Saturday.

 

 

The Gubei water town in Beijing's Miyun district that features buildings of the Ming and Qing dynasties' styles and a section of the Great Wall is celebrating the Christmas season until Dec 31 with traditional decorations and festive activities for visitors. Photos by Xu Lin / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

A choir sings carols in a hilltop church. Kids can make cupcakes and decorate trees, and enjoy children's stage plays at night.

Santa is passing out gifts. Visitors can write him letters or send him postcards, and lucky guests will get replies.

Gubei water town will host traditional temple-fair activities starting from the Western New Year to prepare for the upcoming Chinese Spring Festival, including paper-cutting, shadow-puppet shows and cross-talk comedy.

The 430,000-square-meter water town opened in 2014. Its buildings are constructed in the styles of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, and the period of the early 20th century.

It's located at the foot of the Simatai section of the Great Wall in suburban Miyun district's Gubeikou town.

Simatai is known for its precipitous landscape. Its undulating terrain and geographic location made it an important military fortification in ancient times.

The 5.4-kilometer-long wall with 35 guard towers is one of the only stretches of unrestored Ming-era Great Wall. Some bricks are inscribed with characters that indicate who created them centuries ago. Tourists can also take a 15-minute ride in a helicopter to have a bird's-eye view of the zigzagging Great Wall in the mountains.

The water town is 120 kilometers from Beijing's downtown and 80 kilometers from downtown Chengde, Hebei province. Buses travel between Beijing's Dongzhimen and Gubei water town.

Visitors who stay overnight are advised to book hotels in advance, especially during weekends and holidays, since there are only 1,378 rooms. Some travelers stay in guesthouses run by farmers nearby.

The canal-laced water town resembles those south of the Yangtze River but incorporates some northern Chinese elements. Some components like wooden window frames and decorations are authentic and were brought from old buildings in other provinces.

The water town's scenery changes throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy flowers in spring, boat rides and starry nights in summer, red leaves in autumn and snow in winter.

Travelers visit such places as a traditional distillery and dye workshops to learn about old-time industries and to make their own liquor and colorful cloth. They can also buy traditional oilpaper umbrellas, kites and lanterns.

They also visit biaoju - establishments that offered armed security for the transport of valuables over long distances centuries ago.

A traditional academy shows how ancient Chinese were educated.

Guests also enjoy such street foods as roasted sweet potatoes, candied-haw skewers and barbecue. And they may encounter lion dancers or acrobats performing on the streets.

Restaurants serve Cantonese food, Peking duck and beefsteak. Some offer views of the Great Wall. Shutterbugs enjoy snapping photos of sunrises and sunsets over the bulwark.

Night tours by lantern light explore the town's streets and then head up the Great Wall, from which viewers can see a panorama of the town sparkling below.

The town's dancing fountain lights up with a nighttime show in which water jets and colored lights change with the music, and such 3D images as those of phoenixes are projected on the aerosol.

Visitors can also soak in the indoor and outdoor hot springs. Different pools are different colors to indicate their supposed health benefits.

Indeed, Christmas is just one of many reasons to visit the water town this season.

And those who make the journey will discover it's a jolly place year-round.

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[ETC calls for easier visa rules for Chinese travelers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37387001.htm BRUSSELS - The European Travel Commission called for full visa liberalization for Chinese travelers last week in a bid to tap into the world's largest outbound travel market and generate more inbound spending and jobs across Europe.

The ETC, an association of 32 national tourism organizations, is the leading promoter of Europe as a tourist destination.

In a news release, the ETC says it has published a report quantifying the potential impacts of visa facilitation for Chinese travelers on European tourism.

"The results show that visa liberalization would undoubtedly increase demand from one of the most lucrative source markets and contribute to European GDP and employment growth," the release states.

"The analysis estimates that a full visa liberalization scenario between China and the European Union is likely to increase the average growth of Chinese arrivals from 7 percent to 18 percent per year between 2018-23.

"This in turn would generate additional inbound spending of 12.5 billion euros ($14.2 billion) per annum and raise total employment level by nearly 1 percent, creating 237,000 additional jobs, including 120,000 directly within the travel and tourism sector - contributing to an increase of Europe's GDP by 1 percent."

Stating that "Europe's visa regimes are among the most restrictive in the world according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization", the ETC says "it is imperative that the EU's visa policies are modernized and enhanced to further facilitate travel from key markets".

Robert Andrzejczyk, the ETC vice-president and coordinator of the ETC's visa advocacy work, says in the release that "liberalization of Europe's visa regimes for Chinese travelers is essential for the continent to maximize its share of the benefit from the growth of the Chinese travel market in the decades ahead.

"Now, more than ever, Europe needs to secure further employment. Investing in visa liberalization targeted at key markets can achieve this aim efficiently and effectively".

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[Rwandan tourism packages on offer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37387000.htm KIGALI - Rwandan tour packages have been placed on one of China's major online travel-service platforms, which enable Chinese tourists to directly book a tour to the East African nation, the Rwanda Development Board said in a statement on Dec 5.

The launch of the "Visit Rwanda" pavilion on Alibaba's travel arm, Fliggy, followed the launch of the Chinese e-commerce giant's Electronic World Trade Platform in October, which aims to promote public-private dialogue.

According to the memorandum of understanding signed between the Rwandan government and Alibaba under the framework of eWTP, Fliggy and the RDB will work together to promote Rwanda as a tourist destination through a Rwanda Tourism Store for booking flights, hotels and travel experiences and a Destination Pavilion, where Chinese consumers can learn more about Rwanda.

"We believe that the Visit Rwanda pavilion on Fliggy is one of the avenues that will lead to an increase in tourism traffic to Rwanda from China," says Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the RDB, in the statement.

Chair of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism Aimable Rutagarama says the Rwandan tourism sector is confident that putting tourism prod-ucts on China's online platforms will help the industry efficiently penetrate the Chinese market.

The move will also help the tourism sector earn more profit as intermediaries will be bypassed and commissions reduced, says Rutagarama in the statement.

He urges all tourism businesses to embrace the platform and package their services and products in a unique and innovative way to market Rwanda as an attractive and competitive destination.

Rwanda plans to double tourism earnings in the coming years through sustainable wildlife conservation, the RDB said in September.

Rwanda's tourism sector generated $438 million in 2017, according to the RDB.

Visits to see endangered mountain gorillas living in Volcanoes National Park contribute about 90 percent of tourism revenues from the country's national parks, RDB statistics show.

Rwanda also boasts other tourist attractions such as the Akagera and Nyungwe national parks, and Lake Kivu.

 

Forest villas stand on an eroded volcanic cone on the edge of Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, one of the country's most famous tourist attractions. Photos Provided to China Daily

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[Building ties with books]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37386999.htm Chinese publishers sign more than 200 agreements at this year's Algiers International Book Fair, Mei Jia reports in Algiers.

Issam Chouiref learned the Chinese language for a month before he came to the Chinese publishers' booths at the 23rd Algiers International Book Fair from late October to mid-November.

The 19-year-old Algerian wanted to volunteer there.

Bringing in a delegation of more than 100 publishing professionals and writers, as well as 7,500 books of 2,500 titles, China was the country of honor at the fair, which marked the first and biggest publishing exchange between Algeria and China to date.

 

"I came to say 'Welcome, Chinese friends, to Algeria'. We're old friends, and I'd like to see the good relationship between us being well kept, so that when the Chinese friends return to China, they'll remember there was an Algerian who had helped them," Chouiref tells China Daily.

A fan of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Chouiref studies foreign languages by himself and is an apprentice for a foreign-trade business and sometimes does part-time translation and teaching.

His Chinese name, Huang Jinlong, means "golden dragon".

Chouiref came to the booths during the fair and, without asking for payment, worked as a translator, sales assistant and "bridge" between the two cultures.

With his help, China Intercontinental Press sold about 180 books in the French language on Oct 29, the first day of the fair, and 200 more in Arabic later.

"He's now like my younger brother, though we just met for a couple of days," says Jiang Shan, who works for China Intercontinental Press.

"I'm so motivated to learn more about the Chinese language and culture," Chouiref says, adding that he is trying to help relations between Algeria and China grow.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Algeria, where writer and philosopher Albert Camus was born and art masters Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet lived, was one of the countries that led the proposal to restore China's legal rights in the United Nations in the 1970s. China was the first non-Arabic country to recognize the Algerian provisional government in 1958 and welcomed Algeria to be involved in the Belt and Road Initiative earlier this year.

As Chinese publishers brought books, mostly in Arabic, French or English, to the pearl of southern Mediterranean coast, Algiers, the city was packed with visitors at an exhibition center, where literary events and cultural display are held, as well as at the National Library where a photo exhibition on "beautiful China" was held through Nov 28.

Some visitors came for famous writers, including Nobel laureate Mo Yan. Some just came for any Chinese element that interested them. Many took photos with members of the Chinese delegation, and some asked for their names to be handwritten in Chinese characters. The use of chopsticks was shown to a few more.

This year's fair saw a record number of visitors at more than 2 million, according to its organizers. Over 1,000 publishing houses from 47 countries and regions participated.

Chinese publishers signed 207 agreements on copyrights cooperation with others at the fair, mainly on traditional culture, children's books, language learning and books about China's development.

Among the titles in focus is Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, and its translated versions in Arabic, French and English. The book has two volumes. The first's global circulation reached 6 million copies. And the second, which is a collection of President Xi's speeches, notes and talks from August 2014 to September 2017, categorized in 17 major topics, reached 13 million copies worldwide.

Its publisher, the Foreign Languages Press, held a readers' seminar in Spain on Nov 22 and in Portugal on Nov 27.

Bachar Chebaro, secretary-general of the Arabic Publishers' Association, whose publishing house has published 30 Chinese titles, says the Belt and Road Initiative has enriched the relationship between China and Arab countries.

"The book shows China's open attitude to communicate better with the international society and targets some of the misunderstanding," Chebaro says. "I'm impressed by the idea of always putting people's interest first."

Egyptian publisher Ahmed Elsaid says the world is interested in learning more about China as its importance grows, and "as you learn more, you'll love its culture more".

The Chinese way of thinking, tradition and culture are attracting readers to dig deeper, Elsaid says.

Elsaid has found himself busy on the international book-fair circuit in recent years.

"That means my team and I are getting more recognition. I started out trying to offer Arabic readers more choices in Chinese titles, (and) now I'm exerting myself to present China and its charm through books," he says.

Under the translation agreements between China and some Arab countries reached during the Algiers fairs over the years, 130 titles were selected to represent the fruits of the projects.

Liang Yanshun, a senior official of the publicity department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at the China-Arab Publishing Culture Forum at the fair that the two countries have been supporting each other, and have formed friendships in the process.

Liang says many stories of the links between the people of the two countries are being told through books.

China had published 17 titles by Algerian authors, and Algeria had published 23 Chinese titles before this year's book fair, he says.

Nour Cherkit, an Algeria Press Service correspondent, says: "Today, with the economic relations between China and Algeria, things are getting better and better. We are seeing translations of works by great Chinese authors, and there is more exchange between our two countries, (and) the book fair is a beautiful bridge of exchanges."

Algerian publishers say they take China as an important partner, and they respect China for being an ancient civilization like the Arabic civilization.

Assia Moussei, the founder of Algerian El-Ikhtilef (meaning "difference") Publishing, is also a medical doctor.

"We're attracted to Chinese history and its present-day stories, experiences and culture," Moussei says.

At first she thought the Algerians' interest was in Western stories and books. Later, after "market tests", she found her readers' eagerness to know about what's happening in China.

The Arab world is happy to see China's rise, she says.

She initially believed the interest was limited to literature. Then, she discovered the fields extended to politics, economics, society, history, culture and children's books.

Her press has released books on China's anti-corruption campaigns and an encyclopedia of history.

Her views are shared by Esraa Abdel Sayed Hassan, director of the Chinese-language department at Ain Shams University in Cairo.

Hassan has been learning, teaching and translating Chinese for 30 years.

"The Arabic readers' interests are wide, and we have yet more to discover and explore about China," Hassan says, adding that she just finished working on the Arabic version of an ancient classic on science and technology by Song Yingxing of the 17th century, and the Fifteen Lectures on Chinese History.

As to the Chinese side, Beijing Publishing Group has cooperated with Arabic publishers since 2007. A total of 100 titles were sold, including novels, essays and children's books.

Huang Jian, president of Jieli Publishing House, the organizer of a publishing forum on children's books during the fair, says he sees promising prospects for the children's book market there. "The Arabic readers tend not to be rejective of Chinese content and thinking for its strengthening of harmony and peace."

Take Algeria, for example - 32 percent of its total population are younger than age 15, while 63.8 percent are under 30.

Hans Anderson Award winner Cao Wenxuan brought some of his key works in the Arabic language to the fair. Writer Zhao Lihong released a new book about dealing with fear, inspired by his son's notes, to local readers.

Children's works were the highlights on the fair. Other works include Moon Stage, Sister Wanda Can Help and Clumsy Wolf.

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[IN BRIEF]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/11/content_37386998.htm A gift for lovers of good food

 

Beijing food critic Dong Keping's book, Xun Wei'er, Dong Keping's Food Notes (Looking for Tastiness), has just been released. Dong, who was an adviser to the popular food-documentary series hit, A Bite of China, says that those in the catering business - both chefs and restaurant managers - should eat out more often or make food trips to broaden their horizons and learn from others. The book, published by Qingdao Publishing House, features his jottings about the food he has tasted at home and abroad in recent years. And it ranges from Cantonese food and spicy Sichuan dishes to a small French restaurant in Paris. The book also delves into the history and culture of Chinese food, and introduces traditional Chinese foods eaten at various times of the year, like the Spring Festival. Dong also focuses on the latest trends in the food industry, like more Chinese restaurants opening up in the central business districts overseas.

A focus on the role of think tanks

 

A new book by Wang Haiming, the secretary-general of the China Finance 40 Forum, a nongovernmental platform of Chinese think tanks, explores the role of conservative think tanks in US politics. The book, published by China Citic Press, is a useful addition for Chinese scholars interested in the subject. In the book, Wang looks at the formation, development and predicaments of the think tanks, and looks at the Trump administration from a political perspective, making the book a timely read.

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2018-12-11 07:31:56
<![CDATA[Breaking musical boundaries]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/10/content_37381811.htm A concert featuring works by an American pianist for traditional Chinese instruments is to be staged in Beijing, Chen Nan reports.

When American composer-pianist Joel Hoffman first encountered Chinese music decades ago, he found it interesting, exotic yet forbidding like a closed door. But his curiosity and need to understand has always been much stronger than the difficulty of translation.

"It's impossible to say whether the motivation is more like the wish to solve a crazy difficult puzzle or simply love.

"It must be both," says the New York-based musician, who was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1953.

He received degrees from the University of Wales and the Juilliard School in New York before becoming a professor of College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.

Now, a guest professor at the China Conservatory of Music, he has been visiting Beijing twice a year, for the past decade, besides working with a number of talented musicians in China, including instrumentalists, conductors and composers.

Among the people he works with is Chinese bamboo flute player Zhang Weiliang, who is a professor and composer for the China Conservatory of Music.

Six of Hoffman's nine works written for Chinese musical instruments were commissioned by Zhang, including a bamboo flute concerto for him.

Their latest collaboration, The Shadow of Water, composed by Hoffman for six bamboo flutes, pipa, guzheng (Chinese zither), erhu and vibraphone, will be premiered at a concert on Wednesday at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

The concert will premiere eight works written for traditional Chinese musical instruments, with the theme of water, which is one of wuxing, or the five elements - water, wood, fire, earth and metal - in traditional Chinese culture.

Speaking about what made him take up his latest assignment, Hoffman, who has composed two works for Chinese traditional orchestras besides chamber works of various sizes and kinds, says: "For many years I was fascinated by Chinese traditional music and its remarkable set of instruments. But I am also interested in the music of Debussy. So when Zhang Weiliang commissioned me to write a piece on water, I immediately thought of the piece by Debussy called Reflets dans l'eau," says Hoffman

"Also, though I have encountered all the instruments found in The Shadow of Water before, this particular combination is unique for me."

The China Bamboo Flute Orchestra, which Zhang launched in 2012 and in which there are about 25 young Chinese traditional instrumentalists, will be part of the concert.

Since 2012, the orchestra has been performing concerts of premiering new compositions for traditional Chinese musical instruments.

Besides The Shadow of Water by Hoffman, the concert will also premiere works including Lake View for 10 bamboo flutes by Liang Lei; Cold Ferry for 10 bamboo flutes, guzheng, pipa and percussion instruments and Mottled for xiao (vertical bamboo flute), big flute, guzheng and the orchestra, composed by Yang Qing, a teacher at the China Conservatory of Music.

Two of Zhang's compositions, Flowing Water and Drifting Clouds for eight bamboo flutes, guzheng, erhu, pipa and vibraphone; and Rime for female vocalists, guzheng, vibraphone and eight bamboo flutes, will also be premiered at the concert.

Speaking about the importance of the concert, Zhang, 61, who was born in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and started to learn to play bamboo flute at the age of 8, says: "New materials are crucial for the development of traditional Chinese musical instruments. The eight works sound oriental and contemporary, which breaks the stereotype of traditional Chinese folk music as it is portrayed traditionally onstage or on screen,"

Incidentally, Zhang plays a wide range of Chinese flutes, but his artistry is not limited to his instruments. And, he is also focuses on improving the instruments and finding new sounds.

"The profound culture and history of my hometown, Suzhou, has nourished my interest in Chinese flutes. For instance, the bamboo flute is widely used in Kunqu Opera (among China's oldest operas that dates back more than 600 years). So, I grew up listening to the music played on Chinese flutes," says Zhang.

"For many, traditional Chinese music may sound old and out of fashion. But it's not true and we, as traditional Chinese musicians, should let the wonderful results be seen by more people."

Zhang, who has more than 20 albums to his credit, has led his orchestra to perform globally many times.

In 2017, the orchestra toured France, which let Zhang meet up with French composer Arthur Thomassin, who is the director of the Conservatoire Departemental de Musique-Danse-Theatre de Bobigny in Paris.

Then, impressed with the performance, Thomassin proposed that Zhang teach his instrument at the conservatory.

"The bamboo flute will complete the flute family very well at the conservatory and Zhang is a musician of great humanity, great sensitivity and with a masterful technique," Thomassin says, adding that the flute is an ancient instrument but it straddles the worlds of traditional and contemporary music.

Meanwhile, Zhang is preparing teaching materials and will fly to Paris early next year to launch the course.

Thomassin says the next step will be to start classes for Chinese instruments like the erhu and the guzheng.

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2018-12-10 07:43:12
<![CDATA[Meet the man who helped turn Matou Mountain green]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/10/content_37381810.htm Once barren with over 70 percent of its land an arid desert, Youyu county of Shanxi province has been turned into a thriving oasis and the subject of oil paintings, thanks to seven decades of strenuous human effort.

In Youyu, many have devoted themselves to the cause of afforestation. Li Yunsheng, 63, is one of them. As of this year, Li has devoted 16 years of his life to planting trees and his beloved Matou Mountain.

The Matou Mountain is located in the northern part of Youyu county, reaching an altitude of 1,800 meters. On the mountain slope lies the Matoushan village, where Li Yunsheng was born and raised.

Discharged from military service with the railroad forces of the People's Liberation Army in 1984, Li took up work as a driver before establishing his own driving school. With a decent income, he lived an adequate life with his wife and three sons.

In 2002, due to the harsh conditions of the village - remote location, inconvenient transport and poor environment - the Youyu government arranged for the relocation of its entire population, which included around 20 households.

"Many farmers had moved out in advance. When they left, I found it hard to part with the village. So, I thought, maybe I could stay and improve the village's overall environment," Li says.

Out of this wish, Li contracted the 83 hectares of Matou Mountain, marking the beginning of his tree-planting journey. However, he never foresaw the complete alteration of his previous life.

He would go up to the mountains everyday before dawn and return home after sunset. If he got hungry or thirsty, he would eat a packed lunch and drink cold water.

"I didn't expect tree-planting to be so difficult," Li says. "Because of the drought and the sandstorms, the mountain was bare of any trees or even weeds. There was not even a single path on the mountain."

Li says due to the low survival rate of the saplings, he had to replant trees at least five times before they would finally take root and grow healthily.

The wind and sand eroded Li's skin. His hands and feet still suffer from skin fissures.

Having spent all his money on larches, pines and shrubs that help to fix the soil, he had to apply for loans from banks and borrow from friends and former colleagues.

Despite the financial hardship, what was even more intolerable for Li was the incomprehension and objection he faced from his family and friends, many of whom deemed him mad for giving up his perfectly normal life.

Li's wife, Yan Aiyun, refused to go onto the mountain with him. When, after three years, she finally did step on the soil of Matou Mountain, she was immediately moved to tears by the verdant landscape.

"Since then, no matter how much money we spent, how much effort we devoted, how much hardship we suffered, I feel it is all worthwhile." Yan says.

Despite the difficulties and distress, Li specifically expressed his gratitude to Wang Jian, the former director of the county's transport bureau.

Quickly running out of budget and owing a great debt, Li had to seek support from officials to build a road and he went to the bureau to explain his dilemma.

Wang immediately filed a report to the provincial government and managed to build a road on Matou Mountain in just 20 days.

So far, Li has spent over five million yuan ($726,511) on his tree-planting project and has planted approximately 3 million trees.

"At first, I would put in 100,000 or 200,000 yuan each year. Now, I only need to spend about 20,000 yearly, to replace the dead trees with new ones," Li says.

Li has now paid back most of his debt with his earnings from raising cattle. "Now the environment is quite nice, and the mountain is in close proximity to Youyu's historical site Shahukou. I am even thinking of developing agritourism here.

"Some people have asked me what I am aiming for, but I really don't know the answer. I just simply love trees," Li says. "At least I have done one thing in my life. I have gone through adversity, but now I feel proud and a strong sense of accomplishment."

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2018-12-10 07:43:12
<![CDATA[Seafood delicacies year-round]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/09/content_37377124.htm Editor's Note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

Abalones, scallops, mussels, clams, sea cucumber, whelks, prawns, fish, cuttlefish ... practically everything from the sea can be preserved and dried, ready for another day in the Chinese kitchen.

Chinese fishermen are experts at preserving what they cannot sell the same day. At any seaside port, you can often smell these even before you see them - racks and rows of drying shellfish, baby prawns or tiny fish.

 

Dried seafood is preserved to make delicious dishes available out of season. Provided to China Daily

And the chefs are waiting to resurrect all the condensed flavors with some clever processes. It could be as simple as pounding savory dried prawns and using them in a soup or stir-fry, or as involved as the one-week labor of love reconstituting a hardened abalone into a soft, tender morsel again.

Dried seafood is part of the repertoire of marine pleasures, the precious ingredients from the sea that are preserved to make delicious dishes available out of season.

On the lower end of the scale, dried prawns are the home cook's pantry basics.

In northern regions that are far away from the coasts and ports, this is how the Chinese add seafood flavors to their diet. Baby shrimps or krill are dried and stored. The xiapi or shrimp skins are used whole, shells and all, for there is little meat on them.

A simple everyday soup is to pour boiling hot water over krill and torn-up pieces of dried laver. A final garnish of coriander leaves, and a flavorful soup is ready in minutes.

Krill is also toasted in the wok and added to stir-fries of vegetables to add that touch of seafood umami. They are also used in dumplings to sweeten the filling.

Larger prawns, also naturally dried, are known as haimi or xiami the last character meaning "rice". These "prawn rice" are equally precious and sparingly used as a seasoning ingredient.

Long ago, Chinese fishermen discovered the secret of dehydration. Shellfish such as mussels, cockles, clams and whelks are shelled end then naturally dried in the sun when they are abundant. They are then stored for those times when ingredients are scarce, and used to enrich the dining table.

Drying enhances the natural sweetness of the shellfish, and dried whelks, mussels and clams are commonly used to flavor seasonal broths.

Some dried seafood can be very expensive.

Good-sized scallops cost a bomb, especially now when marine resources are being depleted so quickly. The best are found in the cold waters of the more northern latitudes, and a kilogram of dried scallops may set the determined gourmet back by a couple of thousand yuan.

Still, dried scallops (the round adductor muscles of the shellfish) are in great demand because they are an essential ingredient to so many banquet dishes.

When Spring Festival comes around, another mollusk will be in equal demand, either fresh or dried. The abalone is a treasured dish, and chefs will spend a lot of time preparing dried abalones so they lose none of their intense deliciousness.

The dried shellfish are soaked, then repeatedly blanched in hot ginger and scallion water baths till they soften. Then they are braised in broths made with chicken, Chinese ham and pork bones.

To the Chinese gourmet, the tender shellfish that is the result of such laborious effort is worth every bit of the trouble.

A simpler but no less flavorful option is a dish of dried oysters cooked with purplish black moss. The oysters, dried hard, are slowly braised in a pork belly reduction until their own flavors bloom and mix with the meat.

The hairlike strands of black moss soak up all the sweetness and are probably the most coveted mouthfuls. The name of the dish is facai haoshi, homophonic with "a prosperous marketplace", so it is especially beloved by businessmen diners.

Dried sea cucumbers are also an expensive seafood item. The hard, black wrinkled tubes hardly look appetizing at all in their raw state, but the alchemy in the Chinese kitchen turns them into a very famous signature dish in Lu or Shandong cuisine.

But before the chefs work their magic, they have to prep the sea cucumbers by repeated soakings and changing of water, including gentle simmering in ginger and scallion water to revive the collagen.

Then the great thick stems of Shandong Welsh onions are sliced thin and used to flavor the oil. Chicken stock creates a fragrant brown gravy that is used to cook the sea cucumbers.

The result is soft, gelatinous mouthfuls that are still springy and chewy but tender.

And then of course there are the dried fish.

Salted fish range from an overnight brining to a deeply fermented, pungently fragrant fish that melts in the mouth, with a variety of products in between.

From dried prawns and tiny salted anchovies to dried abalones and sea cucumbers, the range of products is testimony to the determination to have flavorful marine pleasures available all year round.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipes

Fried rice with salted fish

2 cups cooked rice

100 g salted fish, bones removed

100 g minced pork

2 eggs, beaten

1-2 stalks spring onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced ginger

Black pepper

Dice the salted fish. Heat up a deep frying pan with some oil and add salted fish. Fry till fragrant and lightly golden. Add ginger and spring onions.

Add the minced pork, tossing to break up clumps.

Add the rice and mix well. Pour the beaten egg down the side of the pan and allow to set for a minute. Stir into the fried rice mixture. Season with black pepper and additional salt, if necessary. Serve hot.

Steamed scallops and marrow

1 large marrow, or hairy gourd

8 whole dried scallops, soaked overnight

1 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon water

Wolfberries for garnish

Peel and cut the marrow into eight sections. Hollow out the centers and remove the pith.

Place a soaked dried scallop into each marrow section. Arrange in a deep platter. Mix the cornstarch slurry with the chicken stock and carefully pour over the marrow. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.

Steam over high heat for 20 minutes. Remove and add wolfberries for garnish. Serve immediately.

Spicy mussels

300 g dried mussel meat

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced chili peppers

2 stalks spring onions, chopped

1 tablespoon hot bean paste (doubanjiang)

Salt and pepper

Rinse the dried mussels and soak in plenty of water for an hour. Drain and dry.

Heat up oil in a frying pan and add garlic, ginger and chopped chili. Fry over high heat till fragrant and slightly crisp, stirring all the while.

Add mussels and hot bean paste, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, add half the spring onions and toss well.

Garnish with remaining spring onions and serve hot.

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2018-12-09 14:46:04
<![CDATA[UNESCO lists Tibetan bathing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/09/content_37377123.htm Medicinal hot spring healing joins roster of traditional cultural heritage practices

Traditional Tibetan bathing for health and healing was added to UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list on Nov 28.

The entry - officially listed as "Lum Medicinal Bathing of Sowa Rigpa: Knowledge and practices concerning life, health and illness prevention and treatment among the Tibetan people in China" - was added to the list during the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Port Louis, Mauritius.

 

A master of traditional Tibetan bathing instructs his students in the proper procedure at a Tibetan hospital in Lhokha, Tibet autonomous region, in earlier November. Phurbu Tashi / Xinhua

 

The committee said in its decision that the element "underlines the importance of traditional knowledge concerning nature and the universe and offers a positive example of the sustainable relationship between humans and their environment".

In the Tibetan language, the word lum refers to the traditional knowledge and practices of bathing in natural hot springs, herbal water or steam to adjust the balance of body and mind, ensure health and treat illness. Sowa Rigpa refers to traditional Tibetan medicine.

According to the bid document submitted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the theory behind medicinal bathing is based on five elements: sa (earth), chu (water), me (fire), lung (wind) and namkha (space).

Its practitioners include farmers, herdsmen and urban residents, with the manpa (physician), lum jorkhan (pharmacist) and manyok (assistant) having different responsibilities in the practice. It also embodies traditional Tibetan astrology, rituals, religions and many other aspects of daily life.

As the main component of traditional Tibetan medicine, the bathing practice is widely transmitted in the Tibet autonomous region, as well as among the Tibetan populations in Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu provinces.

Nevertheless, the major hubs of lum medicinal bathing are in agricultural areas along the Yarlung Valley and the Tsongkha mountain range.

"The inscription will help improve the visibility of this intangible cultural heritage in general, as well as awareness of its significance. And it will encourage dialogue on health and respect for nature between different ethnic groups," said Zhang Xu, vice-minister of culture and tourism, and head of the Chinese delegation in Mauritius.

"It also demonstrates the great attention that the international community pays to intangible cultural heritage in the domain of knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe," he said.

Some parts of lum medicinal bathing were placed on the national-level intangible cultural heritage list in 2008 and 2014.

According to Zhang, a coordination team was established by Tibet's department of culture in 2015, with wide participation from communities and practitioners.

Thanks to that, more institutions were established to promote academic research and community-level health practices. The medicinal bathing practice has been introduced into the curricula of local colleges. Primary and secondary school students can also learn through textbooks.

Guided by the ministry and supported by the National Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in China, the team worked out a five-year plan (2019-23) with a monitoring system to ensure development of the heritage in the future.

Lum medicinal bathing is China's 40th item to be inscribed in UNESCO lists of intangible cultural heritage.

"These inscriptions and selections reflect China's increasing capacity for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, which is significant for improvements in the sense of identity and pride in the communities, groups and individuals concerned," Zhang said.

He added that enthusiasm for protection of heritage will contribute to the promotion of traditional Chinese culture as a whole.

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2018-12-09 14:46:04
<![CDATA[10 new Confucius Institutes lift global total to 548]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/09/content_37377122.htm The delivery of plaques to 10 new Confucius Institutes at the opening ceremony on Dec 4 of the 13th Confucius Institute Conference in Chengdu, Sichuan province, brings to 30 the number of new Confucius Institutes that have been built this year.

The new Confucius Institutes are in Dominican Republic, Mauritania, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, Antigua and Barbuda, Papua New Guinea, Palestine, El Salvador and Burkina Faso, according to the Confucius Institute Headquarters, also known as Hanban.

There have been 548 Confucius Institutes, 1,193 primary and high school Confucius Classrooms and 5,665 teaching sites established in 154 countries and regions. A total of 47,000 full-time and part-time teachers from China and other countries teach 1.86 million students with various academic backgrounds face to face, as well as 810,000 students online.

In 54 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, there are 153 Confucius Institutes and 149 primary and high school Confucius Classrooms, the headquarters said.

The two-day conference, sponsored by the headquarters and the Sichuan provincial government and organized by Sichuan's Education Department and the Chengdu city government, drew more than 1,500 participants, including university presidents and representatives of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms from more than 150 countries.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom offers nearly 200 classes, and 14,000 people have learned Chinese there, the university's former vice-chancellor, Keith Burnett, said at the conference's opening ceremony.

Confucius Classrooms in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas have taught tens of thousands of children, he said, and the Chinese teachers and staff of Confucius Institutes are excellent folk ambassadors, enabling people in communities from different parts of the world to feel China's friendliness and dedication.

As well as teaching children and students Chinese, the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield cooperated with local companies in dealing with challenges facing all people, such as healthcare and industrial efficiency, he said.

Isaac Meroka Mbeche, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi, Kenya, is director of the university's Confucius Institute, which offers a program that teaches students Chinese and practical skills. Around 20 graduates are contributing to the smooth operation of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway as drivers, maintenance workers and attendants, he said.

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2018-12-09 14:46:04
<![CDATA[The relic hunter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/09/content_37377121.htm For three decades, Duan Shengkui has devoted himself to building a collection of artifacts that tell the story of Yunnan in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression

Over the past 30 years, Duan Shengkui has accumulated more than 100,000 items relevant to the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), in a bid to raise awareness of a part of history that he believes deserves more attention.

Duan, a 53-year-old native of Tengchong, in the western part of Yunnan province, started his longtime collection with 200 pieces that he originally used as props while playing at being soldiers with his childhood friends.

"It was easy for us to find game props and costumes. There were real guns, helmets and military uniforms left over from the war period. Almost every household in our village kept some," Duan says, adding that it was a popular pastime for rural children to play the "game of war" back then.

Duan's hometown was one of the battlefields during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. His uncle, Duan Yueren, was a member of the Kuomintang party and headed one of the three famous anti-Japanese guerrilla units in Tengchong during the conflict.

From both his father and his grandfather, Duan learned about the heinous crimes committed by the Japanese army.

"I heard a lot of tragic stories about the villagers being brutally treated by the aggressors," says Duan. In the early 1940s, more than 200 people from the local area were killed by Japanese troops after one of their officers was shot dead by the guerrillas, he says.

"It has always been my dream to ensure that more people know about the crimes committed by the Japanese aggressors in western Yunnan and the unwavering resistance of the Chinese people."

While in high school, Duan was inspired by magazine articles about hobbies such as stamp collecting and decided that he would start collecting items related to the War of Resistance. Starting with the "game props" he already had, he began searching for all kinds of war relics.

At first, he exchanged items to get ones he wanted, while some people offered him artifacts for free, but eventually he started to spend money on his growing collection.

It was when Duan was in college that he started to research history behind items in his collection and was surprised to discover that his hometown's part in the War of Resistance was not as widely known or as frequently recorded in historical materials as events that took place elsewhere.

"Few people, such as my classmates, were aware of it, which was a sharp contrast to the stories I heard," Duan says.

Gradually, Duan had the idea to narrow his focus and collect more relevant items with a view to one day establishing a themed museum.

In the beginning, Duan primarily sought out military items used by the Japanese troops during the war, before he gradually realized that it was important to collect things used by the Chinese army and its international allies, such as the US "Flying Tigers", to comprehensively and accurately reflect the war.

Duan started working for the local branch of Agricultural Bank of China in the mid-1980s, and he has used a large portion of his income to build his collection of war relics.

As well as extensively traveling through villages and towns in Tengchong to look for artifacts left over from the war period, he has even traveled to Japan, the United States, Myanmar and India to attend auctions in his bid to find suitable items to expand his collection.

Duan would carefully search for and verify each item before he'd decide whether to acquire it, and years of study and extensive reading have made him an expert. He can easily tell the difference between types of weapons and uniforms, among other things, and can accurately identify the factories and the year in which the items were produced.

In the eyes of Duan's friend Ge Shuya, a local expert on the War of Resistance in western Yunnan, Duan's limited income in the early years forms a sharp contrast with his rich collection now.

"He had to live a frugal life back then, but he didn't balk at paying for relics he believed were important," Ge says.

Spending almost all of his salary on his collection, Duan had to apply for loans in order to support his family. Later, Duan started collecting more valuable antique pieces that he could sell to repay his loans.

Duan estimates that, over the course of his 30 years of collecting, he has spent more than 30 million yuan ($4.3 million; 3.8 million euros; £3.4 million) collecting relics and items related to the War of Resistance in western Yunnan.

Despite the misunderstanding and doubts of others - and even being called "crazy" by people, including members of his own family - Duan says he doesn't regret devoting himself to his collection.

"It's about Tengchong's history; it's very important," he says.

Eventually, after gathering enough items to exhibit, Duan was able to realize his dream in 2005 and establish a museum in Heshun, an ancient town in Tengchong. It opened with about 7,000 items on display, each carefully arranged according to Duan's own ideas.

When someone asked Duan if he was trying to stir up hatred through his exhibition, Duan replied: "Hatred should be resolved, but memory and history must be preserved forever. A nation without awareness of its history and struggle is dangerous. I spent half of my life doing this to alert every citizen."

In addition to continuing his search for relics, Duan is eager to record the stories of old soldiers who fought in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. According Duan, while the relics are physical evidence, the surviving soldiers' narrations are more vivid and a valuable historical record. Unfortunately, he notes, they are a rapidly diminishing resource and are far more difficult to collect.

Li Yingqing in Kunming contributed to this story.

 

Duan Shengkui says, a nation without awareness of its history and struggle is dangerous. He has spent half of his life doing this to alert every citizen. Photos by Liu Xiangrui / China Daily

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2018-12-09 14:46:04
<![CDATA[Wang gunning for global glory]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/09/content_37377120.htm China's 'Lady Messi' crowned Asian women's player of year, but says award is 'just the beginning'

Wang Shuang has set her sights on landing silverware for club and country after being crowned Asia's female player of the year.

The Team China and Paris Saint-Germain midfield maestro was presented with the prize at the Asian Football Confederation Annual Awards on Nov 28 after fending off competition from Japan's Saki Kumagai and Australian Samantha Kerr.

Wang becomes the fourth Chinese to claim the honor after Sun Wen (1999) and Bai Jie (2003) and Ma Xiaoxu (2006).

 

China's Wang Shuang poses for the cameras after being named the Asian Football Confederation's women's player of the year in the Omani capital, Muscat, on Nov 28. Xinhua

But having earned individual recognition, the 23-year-old Wuhan native now wants to get her hands on some team trophies.

"It already meant a lot to be nominated," Wang said in English during her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony in Muscat, Oman. "Thanks to the CFA (Chinese Football Association) and my national team for their support to allow me to dream big.

"May this award inspire my team and myself to do better in the women's World Cup next year. This is just a beginning."

Netting four times, Wang helped China finish third at the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup in April to earn qualification for next year's World Cup finals in France.

The prolific scorer and playmaker again proved pivotal, with a six-goal haul, at this summer's Asian Games, where the Steel Roses lost 1-0 to Japan in the final.

Wang's impressive international form earned her a two-year contract in August with French giant PSG, where she has since flourished, racking up four goals and four assists in 12 games.

"Of course, this has been a year of great results," said Wang, who also represented China at the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics. "But personally I do feel some regret that we were not able to do better at the Asian Games.

"This is a fresh start for me playing in Europe. I feel that this award will help me succeed at the highest level."

Wang admits that being the only Chinese player, male or female, to play with a major European club has brought added pressure.

"I understand the fans' expectation to see a Chinese player succeed overseas, which brings some pressure, so I try to stay relaxed and not push myself too hard whenever possible," she said in a recent podcast interview with China's Olympic sailing champion Xu Lijia.

On and off the pitch, though, Wang's settling in just fine to life in the French capital, filling her downtime with gym workouts, language classes, hanging out on the Champs Elysee and sampling the local cuisine.

"Technically, I don't see much difference in the training here (in Paris) and at home," Wang told Xu, a gold medalist in the women's Laser Radial class at the 2012 London Olympics.

"But physically I have to do some extra work to become stronger and faster so I get the best from my body in games."

The glamor of PSG is a world away from the poorly funded women's league in China, where players earn only around 5,000 yuan ($720) a month.

Recalling her days in the domestic game during the podcast, Wang revealed she had to wash her own uniform and cleats after every training session and game.

"The award was a great payback for her hard work and an encouragement for the dedication of all women's players in our country," China's national women's team coach Jia Xiuquan says of Wang's achievement.

"She is still quite young and I believe there remains a lot of untapped potential for her to improve and become a real international star."

Wang's silky skills have earned her the nickname "Lady Messi", but she confessed that her idol in the sport is the Barcelona superstar's big rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.

"His work ethic and the high demands he places on himself to be professional on the field and in life inspire me to always try to become better," said Wang.

Meanwhile, China walked away with two other awards at the AFC ceremony. The CFA was given the President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football together with the Palestinian and Singapore associations, while Chinese official Zhang Jilong, a former AFC vice-president, was presented with the Diamond of Asia award for his service to the confederation.

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2018-12-09 14:46:04
<![CDATA[From fine dining to flipping burgers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/09/content_37377119.htm Michelin star chef ditches fancy hotels for the excitement of the pop-up stand

Macao's Grand Lisboa Hotel may be known as the world's only dining destination to have seven Michelin stars under one roof, but its latest culinary project was a pop-up burger stand in collaboration with Uwe Opocensky that was only open for three days in September.

The German-born chef worked previously with Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for nearly a decade from 2004, overseeing a total of 10 restaurants, three of which have been awarded with Michelin stars. In 2015, he left the luxury hotel group and surprised the Hong Kong restaurant industry by joining the burger chain Beef& Liberty.

 

German chef Uwe Opocensky prepares a burger. Provided to China Daily

Over the years, both as a business partner and its executive chef, Opocensky has grown the brand into one of the most sought-after burger destinations in China, including overseeing its expansion into Shanghai.

Opocensky, who has cooked for former US president Bill Clinton, the UK's Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales Charles Philip Arthur George, is now aiming to bring his burgers to more locations across China and even Asia through the pop-up concept.

He spoke with China Daily about his motivations behind departing the fine dining scene and why he simply loves burgers.

Why did you decide on the pop-up concept?

A pop-up is more about the excitement for both diners and servers because of the short duration of its existence. People these days constantly want to be entertained and excited. Pop-up stores are a great opportunity for the operator and the guest chef to exchange ideas, be mutually inspired and learn from each other. This is my second time doing pop-up with Beef & Liberty. There should be more in the coming years in both the Chinese mainland and Asia. The pop-up dynamics are very much driven by social media, which is also the future.

How do you think social media and the obsession with taking photos of our food have affected the restaurant industry?

As a chef, I am always concerned about delivering food when it is at its freshest. However, we are in the hospitality industry, which means we have to adapt to what our guests want. And if they want to spend 15 minutes taking a picture, that is their choice. It's not for me to tell them what is right or wrong. What I am going to tell them is that when I serve it to you, that's the right moment. If you miss it, that's your choice.

Would you spend time making your burger appear nice for photos?

No, I serve it delicious, because at the end of the day that's what counts for me. Of course I would want to make it look good and appealing, but I don't want to overstyle it. You can always create the world's biggest pizza or the most expensive cocktail to create a splash on social media. But what's the point of it? Does it taste good?

What do you want to express with burgers?

For one thing, people walking into fine dining or five-star hotel restaurants usually have certain expectations for the foods they are served. These places reach only a very small amount of people because of their price points. With Beef & Liberty, I have a much bigger audience and also a much more difficult one because they all have different perceptions. This is good as it forces me to think differently and take on new challenges. I want to grow as a chef. I have more flexibility and a greater range in terms of what I can do since getting out of the fine dining scene. There is little personalization about it (fine dining). It's more about following guidelines and reading off the scripts. There is nothing wrong with that. But having been there for so many years, I am personally done with it.

Why burgers in particular?

I have known the owner of Beef & Liberty for a long time and I am also part of it (as a business partner). This means I am not an employee and my voice gets heard. So you can say it's less about burgers, but more about the people behind the burger.

Do you think there is a misconception that burgers are just fast food?

If you think about burgers, you think of obvious brands. But if you know about food, what these brands offer is not delicious. What they offer doesn't do justice to burgers. So what we want to do is focus on this particular category and add quality to it, such as using grass-fed beef that is sustainable.

Having won Michelin stars before, what is your take on the guide now?

I've tried so many years to get two Michelin stars, and it never happened for whatever reason, so I had my shot at it. For me it's a barometer of who you are. Hopefully when I'm in my own environment, they will look at me again. But, on the other hand, I just want to have fun now.

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2018-12-09 14:46:04
<![CDATA[Selves Set Free]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/08/content_37374441.htm Saudi film director Haifaa Al-Mansour's The Wedding Singer's Daughter delivers a game-changing message for Miu Miu's Women's Tales series

It's night-time in 1980s Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Glittery and glamorous heels climb out of cars. Women shrouded in traditional black abayas make their way into a wedding hall, where they reveal what's underneath: dazzling dresses and wild hair. Their true selves are set free, unseen by the male gaze. There are strict segregation rules in Saudi weddings. All eyes and ears are on the wedding singer, until the electricity suddenly cuts out. "This is the worst wedding singer ever," guests mutter condescendingly. Will the young daughter manage to save her mother's dignity?

The Wedding Singer's Daughter, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, is the 16th commission from the Miu Miu Women's Tales short-film series, which each year premieres at the Venice Film Festival in September. The works invite contemporary female directors to investigate vanity and femininity in the 21st century; previous directors have included Dakota Fanning, Celia Rowlson-Hall and Chloe Sevigny.

 

Al-Mansour felt a wedding was the best encapsulation of Saudi Arabia today.

Al-Mansour felt a wedding was the best encapsulation of Saudi Arabia today. "I always felt a wedding is like the actual mirror of society in Saudi Arabia," she explains. "We are always segregated and our societies are fragmented.

People don't really get together so much in Saudi Arabia, apart from weddings, schools, et cetera. In a society where music is illegal and forbidden, I wanted to capture that tenderness, and that kind of tension between the bigger society and people who entertain - those who are meant to bring joy and be celebrated ... but that doesn't happen so much in Saudi Arabia."

Known as the country's only female film director, the success of Al-Mansour's 2005 documentary Women Without Shadows influenced a new generation of filmmakers. Her inaugural feature, Wadjda, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012, is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director. She also directed this year's Mary Shelley, with Elle Fanning playing the lead role of the author. Al-Mansour is also the first artist from the Persian Gulf region to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Al-Mansour's game-changing career has mirrored the fortunes of Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been overseeing new freedoms - women can now drive (as of June this year), visit the cinema and work in shops. But Saudi women must still dress in abayas - full-length robes - and many but not all wear the niqab (face-covering veil).

"I want to continue making films," says Al-Mansour. "It's hard to deal with societies that are very conservative, but patience pays off - especially with cinema, which in Saudi Arabia was illegal until recently." The Saudi government has given the go-ahead for her new film, The Perfect Candidate, to be shot in the country, with the backing of the new national Saudi Film Council. It's a huge victory for the director. "I have backing and funding from the government now that cinema is legal again, so I will not be hiding in a van and I will be able to shoot in the streets - more relaxed, more engaged with the art."

To substantiate the point about the growing narrative of feminine power, Al-Mansour cast Los Angeles-based Saudi pop singer Rotana Tarabzouni, a role model to women world over, as the wedding singer in The Wedding Singer's Daughter. "I feel like I truly represent the growing pains of Saudi Arabia," says Tarabzouni. "And I have lived on both sides of it. I think of myself and women of my generation as the necessary and exciting growing pains of any society going through a reform and artistic renaissance." 

"I'm really proud of Miu Miu doing all those Women's Tales," says Al-Mansour. "It's often hard for women to tell their stories, especially in filmmaking - an industry so much controlled by men as financiers, producers or directors. Now, women are moving forward and having a safe working environment. My goal is not to condemn someone, but to try to make beautiful films. Women also need to support each other at the front and back of the camera to create solidarity and power. We can't move alone. We have to focus together."

 

 

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2018-12-08 06:47:23
<![CDATA[Fur sheds its staid image]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/08/content_37374440.htm With advanced techniques and modern designs, fur is no longer just for grandma's closet

A fashion show on Oct 23 sought to revamp the image of fur with modern styles and covetable looks.

With the theme "Urban Chill", the show featured modern designs and advanced processing techniques.

 

Jointly hosted by Saga Furs and the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology Innovation Park (Bift-Park), the show featured the representative collections of eight of China's most iconic fur brands - Brandon Sun made by HK Fur Factory Ltd, Felefasa, KC Fur, Lanca Joint Fur, Maryglenn, Osstina, Top Fabution33 and YLF.

Saga Furs is an international fur auction house headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, that was founded in 1938. Its name is a Nordic-Germanic word, meaning the endless story. It has built a reputation for tightly monitoring the production chain for fur materials, wide selection of high quality furs, and the design and development capability of Saga Fur Design Centre in Europe.

As early as 20 years ago, the auction house started working with the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, opening a design project for fur trimming, giving professional lectures and sponsoring graduation projects to contribute to the promotion of Chinese fur design.

With a multinational designer team, Saga Furs is trying to connect with the younger generation through youthful fashion such as vests and baseball shirts, youthful colors such as pink and the use of materials such as lace.

The designers used the natural shading of fur to create stripe-effect pieces with depth. Silver and blue fox were alternated, fox jackets were constructed in waves so the under wool showed up in streaks of lighter color, or diagonal bands of plucked mink were placed on sheared mink.

Intarsia was used to create artistic animal prints and abstract patterns that highlighted the natural beauty of the various fur colors. Mink and fox fur were spliced with materials with contrasting texture, and the geometric patterns and letters created by fur made full use of their different textures.

Street style elements have been applied to the fur design. Matched with denim jackets and sweaters, normally high-end furs, such as fox and mink, had a more easygoing and casual look.

As sportswear has become increasingly popular fashion choice, the designers have not missed the chance to give it a fur twist. Coats with fur linings were designed for outdoor sports such as golf, providing comfort and warm, while allowing movement.

Popular dramas also provided inspiration. The US drama Game of Thrones promoted the wide application of longhair fox fur. And Morandi colors, which are colors with low saturation in gray tones, have been popularized by one of the hottest Chinese dramas recently, Story of Yanxi Palace. They were given a different interpretation with furs dyed in birch silver, sea bream purple, and rose gray.

Eight brands, different looks

Brandon Sun gathered designers from different countries including Italy and Korea. It showcased deconstruction as means to break the traditional look of fur clothing, focusing on strong contrasts and exaggerated shapes through the reorganization of elements. Luxurious raw materials created an avantgarde look influenced by the utilitarianism of street style. The coats made with different kinds furs, combined with reflective nylon ribbons, looked young and dynamic, with large metal textured jewelry emphasizing the punk rock genes of the brand.

Felefasa is a brand rooted in the philosophy of "nature". It brought a collection of fur garments made of mink and decorated with fox and squirrel fur.

KC Fur combined the Millennial Generation fashion of the United States West Coast with fox skin and mink from Saga Furs. The strong contrast of colors, the rhythm of long and short hair, and the young silhouette of wide sleeves gave a contemporary feel to the collection.

The founder of the Italian brand Lanca has been active in the fur industry since the early 1970s. With more than 40 years of experience, he tries to express pure Italian fashion with his team. He introduced fur sportswear including jackets, baseball shirts in matching colors such as black, blue and green.

Maryglenn says elegance is a compulsory element in the philosophy of the brand, which features combinations of different colors and furs that strike a balance between their strong personalities and harmony.

With the various totem patterns, portraits and abstract graphics, including the image of the Mona Lisa, Osstina used simple silhouettes to set off its collisions of colors, dialogues between stripes and patterns, and contrasts of materials. The collection was aimed at modern urbanites.

Top fabution33 brought a collection dominated by black and gray, contrasted with dark pink. The overall shapes were simple, smooth and slender, but with deconstruction and asymmetry used to good effect.

Established in 1992, the last brand YLF is from Beijing. The brand targets urban men and women who enjoy a casual lifestyle. It chose to express the urban sprit by matching its fur designs with sports shoes and leather pants. The dyed furs formed groups of letters, used in conjunction with white otter fur to highlight the pursuit of new modern image fur. The bran's use of denim, fur intarsia, and printing on fur also helped it break the traditional image of fur.

"In the past, people would associate fur clothing with their grandma's closet. Many people have an image of longhair fur coat in black or brown in their head. Fur used to be divorced from the younger generation. There was not much choice when it came to fur style," says Samantha Vesala, the Chief Business Officer of Saga Furs Asia. "But now is different. With advanced techniques and modern design, fur no longer looks outdated."

 

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2018-12-08 06:47:08
<![CDATA[Public image of fur farms is a little fuzzy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/08/content_37374439.htm

Animals walk down the runway draped in human body parts, such as ears, hands and hair, wearing them like clothes; more human bodies hang on a wooden stand backstage, while people crouch in cages, half dead and hopeless.

This bizarre, ghoulish imagery comes from an award-wining video entitled Feel How the Animals in the Fur Farms Feel which was made by the animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) early in 2013.

The final frame zooms in on a little girl huddled in the corner with disheveled hair and a dirty face, holding tight to the bars of the cage while unconsciously shaking. Tears glisten in her big round eyes and above her lip.

The video switches the roles of humans and animals, two kinds of species that don't speak a common language. It aims to trigger the transpositional consideration of humans, which believe themselves superior and who seek to control the destiny of lesser species.

The protection of animals is always a hot-button issue, particularly when it comes to animal products like fur. Questions of sustainability and ethics always arise.

Last October, one of the most famous international luxury fashion brands, Gucci, announced its decision to join the Fur-Free Alliance beginning with its spring/summer 2018 collections.

Marco Bizzarri, the CEO of the brand, claimed that the decision to remove fur from all of its collections was the result of long consideration and a series of discussions with the company's top designer, Alessandro Michele - whose debut collection included Gucci's best selling fur - and hide-covered Princetown slippers.

"Technology is now available that means you don't need to use fur. The alternatives are just as luxurious. There is just no need," said Bizzarri, referring, of course, to faux fur.

Joh Vinding, chairman of Fur Free Alliance, said, "For decades animals in the fur industry have been subjected to immense cruelty, living their entire lives in miserable, filthy cages. Gucci's new fur-free policy is a game-changer and an example for the whole luxury fashion industry to follow."

Gucci's announcement certainly brought the war between the fur industry and animal protection movements to the fore, but the Italian fashion giant is not the first big name that has chosen to turn its back on the fur trade.

Among others, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Vivien Westwood, Kate Spade, Zara and Calvin Klein have all taken a stand with a "no fur" policy.

Stella McCartney, whose late mother, Linda, was a staunch vegan and animal welfare activist, never allowed fur or any animal product in the designs of her eponymous brand. In fact, in its autumn/winter 2015 collection, the brand won at the British Fashion Awards with a fur-free fur coat.

However, faux fur may not be the perfect answer, raising a number of questions about sustainability.

While it takes around half a year for real fur to fully biodegrade, the faux fur is usually made with nonbiodegradable plastic.

According to MadeHow, a website that explains and details the manufacturing process of a wide variety of products, faux furs are typically made from synthetic polymeric fibers such as acrylic, modacrylic, and/or polyester, all of which are essentially forms of plastic; these fibers are made from chemicals derived from air, water, coal, petroleum and limestone.

Plastic can be very harmful for the environment when it's improperly discarded, especially when the faux fur sheds just like it's organic counterpart.

As pointed out by The Ocean Conservancy, plastic has been discovered inside the bodies of more than 60 percent of seabirds and 10 percent of sea turtle species, which they consume during the process of looking for food. According to Forbes, plastics might be one of the reasons the rising extinction rates of numerous animal species.

Samantha Vesala, who works at a fur auction house expressed worry that the tiny hairlike plastic fibers might affect water sources and landfills, as well as accidentally entering the human body through contaminated fish or other kinds of meat.

Vesala explains that a farming circular economy in the fur industry, which is widely applied in Northern Europe, including Finland, ensures that nothing is wasted during the fur production process.

Fur animal carcasses and by-products from the food and fishing industries are collected to produce feed. Animal fat can be used as a raw material in the manufacture of biodiesel. The feces of the fur animal is rich in phosphor and nitrogen, and it can be transformed into fertilizer after composting, as well as being a potential energy source for industries such as metal refining.

An article on the PETA website, without a stated publishing date, claims that 85 percent of the fur industry's skins come from animals that live their entire lives in crowded, filthy wire cages.

However, these days, the industry is heavily regulated, with animal welfare and sustainability at the core of its operations in many countries.

In early 1999, a set of rules was drawn up to protect animals bred for their fur in Europe, but even before that - since the late 1980s - there was Danish research into the welfare of such animals underway, with some of the most comprehensive documentation in livestock research in Denmark. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University performed research into the welfare of mink with consistent funding and support from the local government. The research results have been incorporated into the Danish rules on protection of animals bred for their fur since 2007.

All Danish mink farms receive regular statutory veterinarian visits each year, which involve a routine inspection to identify any health or welfare issues on the farm. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration also makes regular inspections.

At the same time, with the breakthrough in gene studies by Aarhus University, fur animals are now being fed individually. Because each animal digests and absorbs food differently, such a setup guarantees the effectiveness of feeding, optimizes food consumption and reduces related costs. A similar farm management system also runs in Finland. It's stated on Sagafurs' website that quality is about the well-being and health of the animal.

The Saga Certification by Finnish Standards, launched in 2005, has established a close cooperation with the country's authorities, the EU, and veterinarians who specialize in servicing the fur farms.

On certified fur farms, which accounts for up to 93 percent of mink farms in Finland by the end of last November, animal welfare is ensured by controlling any infectious diseases, compliance with FFBA vaccination recommendations, daily monitoring, documentation of animal health and euthanizing animals within the boundaries of the farm.

This strict and inclusive approach puts fur farming well ahead of the meat industry in terms of animal welfare standards.

Boycotting real fur out of love and respect for animals is brave, but faux fur is not a better choice, and the breeding and handling of animals for their fur is not always as cruel as many imagine or as it is sometimes portrayed.

The debate is not going to be settled overnight, and will continue to be an emotive one, but while it is said that you should never judge a book by its cover, perhaps the same could be applied the next time a person draped in fur passes by.

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2018-12-08 06:47:08
<![CDATA[Tomes that roam in the ether]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/08/content_37374426.htm New meets old - or at least slightly used - as trading used books online becomes all the rage

Shen Bing's first foray into secondhand book buying turned out to be a revelation. The book she bought, Tengxun Zhuan (The History of Tencent), was not only in good order, to her it seemed almost brand-new. In addition it had been autographed by the author and it cost her a little less than 18 yuan ($2.6), 30 percent of its original price.

Shen bought the book from Duo Zhua Yu, or Deja Vu, an online secondhand bookshop that buys secondhand books at between 20 percent and 40 percent of their original price and sells them at between 30 percent and 55 percent of their original price.

 

Buying used books from the store has brought more unexpected bonuses to Shen: small mementos it often sends her when it dispatches books to her. Once she bought a novel by the Japanese author Keigo Higashino and received a message sent via the mini-program from its previous owner saying the story was fascinating and that she hoped she would enjoy it, she says.

"That message gave me a very warm feeling, and because of it I read the book more attentively than I would have otherwise, trying not to miss any of the detail."

However, for Shen, 27, a clerk with the Bank of China, the most appealing feature is that these books are so cheap. Since September last year she has bought more than 500 books from Duo Zhua Yu mostly at a discount of 60 percent, spending a total of 7,000 yuan. She has also sold more than 200 books to the store at a discount of about 80 percent.

"I always buy social science books there. The most popular ones are hard to find, and sometimes when I'm finished reading I sell them back to the store."

Duo Zhua Yu was founded in January 2017 and had soon won a large following of people like Shen, buying and selling their books to it and helping to turn the online market for secondhand books into a very prosperous one.

 

During the recent Singles Day online shopping spree, when tens of thousands of sellers cut prices to attract customers, Duo Zhua Yu said it would pay more for the books it bought for 24 hours and in doing so its inventory swelled with the addition of 100,000 books, which it says is five times the number of books it usually buys each day.

Wei Ying, 32, founder of Duo Zhua Yu and a former employee of the e-commerce company Alibaba, says the idea of opening an online secondhand bookstore arose from her experience selling old books and CDs when she was a university student in Beijing.

At the time she was addicted to reading books and watching movies, she says, but soon realized she could not possibly afford all the books and CDs she was keen on, so she began to sell her old ones to buy new ones.

Wei set up a stall on the campus of the Communication University of China, selling her wares a little below the original price. She sold some popular CDs at the original purchase price, she says, giving her a sense of achievement.

"Many books were too popular to borrow from the library," Wei says. "By reselling them after reading them I could read books at leisure very cheaply. The experience showed me that if we treat durable goods properly, everyone can use them without having to pay too much.

The dream of running a secondhand shop thus took root in Wei's mind, and in January last year she quit Alibaba, starting her online secondhand bookshop.

Her business started from groups in the social media app WeChat and she later set up a WeChat official account, with a mini-program to run the business. In March last year Wei had 5,000 books stored in her house in Wangjing, northeastern Beijing. After a year's growth, the warehouse she rented in a Beijing suburb had more than 20,000 books.

Continuing growth forced her to move twice as she sought more space to store all the secondhand books she received, once to Langfang in Hebei province and again to Tianjin. In July there were over 700,000 books in her 7,000-square-meter warehouse in Tianjin, Wei says.

"I had never imagined we could grow so quickly."

Duo Zhua Yu now sells about as many books as it buys each day, about 20,000, and its customer base has grown to more than 100,000 people, she says.

The online shop's success is built on what seems to be a changing attitude to ownership by which younger Chinese are giving greater emphasis to the right to use things rather than the right to possess them, which means they are more likely to pass on used items to others. Other manifestations of that are rental bicycles and rental clothing.

Moreover, better quality bookbinding gives books more durability, making them amenable to being circulated among different buyers. And due to the improvement of technology, it is possible for the WeChat-based mini-program to easily distinguish different books by scanning its ISBN code to show the price.

Other online secondhand book stores include Zhuan Zhuan (Exchange) and Manyou Jing (Wandering Whale), which have official accounts or mini-programs on WeChat.

Zhang Ningyu, 36, an editor with the social-media platform Sina Weibo, says she sold more than 100 books to these secondhand bookstores in June when she was moving from one side of Beijing to the other.

 

"I'd read all the books so I didn't need them. The online secondhand bookstore was a good solution."

And of course her windfall from the old books helped her buy yet more, she says.

Zhang, who has a daughter in kindergarten, says that after buying books for herself and finding those on Duo Zhua Yu and Manyou Jing were clean, she began to buy storybooks for her daughter.

"I appreciate what they do in cleaning and disinfecting each book, which I find reassuring."

Wei says: "With what we do we aim to give each book maximum value and we hope more and more used books will come into circulation, providing more choices for people who love reading. And with low prices we want to engage the interest of more people in reading books."

A report on China's book market last year published by Beijing Open Book Co Ltd, a provider of data and information for the publishing industry, said the book market in China had turnover of 803,200 million yuan last year, 14.5 percent more than in 2016. The increase indicates that the book market in China is still growing.

Hu Xiaoming, 29, who runs a book shop in Tianjin and has been buying secondhand books for several years, says he enjoys wandering around old book stalls along the street and coming across good old books that he likes. With the growing business of online bookstores, he began to buy secondhand books online.

"It's convenient and the books are clean, which people appreciate," he says.

Hu suggests that these days people are overburdened with material possessions, which helps make recycling an attractive proposition.

Many online bookstores buy only books published this century, Hu says, a policy he disagrees with. Since many old books owned by older people are as valuable as more recently published works, he says, online secondhand book dealers should be more open to books published earlier.

"I once met this 70 year old selling his books to street waste recycling stations. He bemoaned the fact that because his children did not want them and he could no longer read them, he had no choice. I wish online bookstores would buy older books so more people could make better use of them."

Though online secondhand book stores provide plenty of convenience and seem to have bright prospects, more conventional, physical bookshops, are still showing their resilience. During the National Day holiday in October, Duo Zhua Yu rented a shop in Beijing for a week, its first offline store, and says it sold 180,000 secondhand books in just six days.

Hu, who has managed bookshops for 10 years, says that while the internet is a great sales channel, there is nothing quite like stumbling on a good book in a physical shop.

"You have to touch the book to ensure it's the one you want, and it's important to start reading it as soon as you have paid for it."

 

 

 

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2018-12-08 06:46:53
<![CDATA[The rarified atmosphere of an online bookshop]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/08/content_37374425.htm Whenever somebody is asked about the earliest online secondhand book-selling platform in China, if they can come up with an answer, chances are that it will be Kongfuzi Jiushu Wang (Confucius Old Book website). The site was set up in 2002, eight years after the internet arrived in China.

Though the website is well-known for selling secondhand books, its founder, Sun Yutian, 43, born in Shanxi province, prefers to call the site's wares "old books".

"Secondhand book is only a category of books we sell, besides which we also sell books published during the period of the Republic of China period (1912-1949), as well as non-bestsellers," Sun says.

If you scan the website you will soon see that plenty of books it sells are ancient ones, including the classics of traditional Chinese culture, whose admirers are as almost as rare as the books they love.

"Most books we read are best-sellers, as is the case with the books regular bookstores sell," Sun says. "The market for niche readers is small.

"What I did was build a platform to let more book lovers find all the books they want, no matter whether the books are new or ancient, bestsellers or non-bestsellers."

Ultimately the aim is to provide customers with books they cannot buy elsewhere, he says.

The website is run on the model of customer to customer, or C2C. People run their online shop at a low price, paying 100 yuan ($15) to 600 yuan annually or pay 4 percent of their income with the platform.

More than 70,000 stores sell in excess of 100 million books on Kongfuzi says, and more than 10 million people have bought books from the platform. By the end of October Kongfuzi had had turnover of nearly 800 million yuan, he says.

 

Brand-new best-sellers on Kongfuzi are always cheaper than the same kind from other online book retailers such as JD or Dangdang. However, sets of old books published last century are always expensive.

For example, a secondhand Four Great Classical Novels published in 1970s costs 2,000 yuan, 30 times its original price.

"It's common for publishers to produce hundreds of thousands of best-sellers, making the cost of each low," Sun says. "But because of the low productivity and people's poor awareness of collecting books, it's hard to keep a set of books from last century for decades, which means the price is high."

On Kongfuzi there are many books that could be regarded as collectors' items, he says.

On October 30, the day when the well-known Chinese Wuxia author Jin Yong died, Kongfuzi sold more than 10,000 sets of books. The most expensive was Jin's collection of works published by Shanghai Joint Publishing Press in 1999, selling for 99,999 yuan.

Besides books, many transcripts, letters, works of calligraphy and paintings are sold on Kongfuzi.

"These artifacts are closely related to ancient books and traditional Chinese culture," Sun says.

I hope the circulation of these items can help spread our culture, as well as give more people the chance to appreciate their value."

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2018-12-08 06:46:53
<![CDATA[Inspiration flows in Myanmar]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/07/content_37368218.htm As a 10-day art and culture exchange visit to Myanmar drew to a close, participating artists presented brilliant watercolor works inspired by the Buddhist country.

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Eight Chinese painters on art and culture exchange program use their talent, techniques to enrich creative ties. Wang Yuke and Yang Han in Yangon, Myanmar.

As a 10-day art and culture exchange visit to Myanmar drew to a close, participating artists presented brilliant watercolor works inspired by the Buddhist country.

Myanmar: Through the Dragon's Brush, an art and culture exchange program organized by China Daily and the Chinese Culture and Art Association, brought the work of nine Chinese artists to four major cities in Myanmar - Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake - where they told tales of the country with brushes and canvas.

The 32 finished works exhibited on the trip's last two days were well received in Yangon, managing to capture the multilayered characteristics of the country - sacred and traditional, also humble yet modern.

Upon arrival in Yangon on Nov 14, the group was warmly welcomed by Argus Ang, chief executive of RVi Group, a main supporting organization for the exchange program.

Over the next two days (Nov 15-16) in Yangon, the artists visited the landmark Shwedagon Pagoda and held a sketch session at Kandawgyi Lake, which offered a distant and panoramic view of the pagoda. They also visited U Lun Gywe Art Gallery, for a glimpse into the local art forms, styles and genres.

The glittering gilded stupa, being renovated manually, stopped the artists in their tracks. They also marveled at the Myanmar people's faith in their religion.

A highlight during the stay in Yangon was a meeting with Hong Liang, the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar. Acknowledging that the China-Myanmar art exchange trip helped artists from both sides to find common ground creatively, Hong shared with the artists what the embassy has been doing to bolster cultural ties between Myanmar and China.

Apart from the opening in July of the China Cultural Center in Yangon, the embassy has held concerts, grand shows and exhibitions in collaboration with national and provincial art institutions from China.

The embassy envisions launching another art center in the near future - in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw. It is projected to be 15,000 square meters, much larger than the current center in Yangon. "We hope the art centers in Myanmar will serve Chinese artists as 'free galleries' that they can make full use of to exhibit their great works of art," said Hong.

Pleased to see that regular art performances and exhibitions have attracted curious locals, Tian Shanting, cultural counselor at the embassy, declared that the newly opened art center will "open to the public every day, with cultural activities available every week and highlight programs every month".

Although art is emphasized in Myanmar, the country's art has remained obscure on the world scene. Hong put this down to the country's instability, which had subdued the people's creativity. He hoped the two-way communication on art between China and Myanmar could "help fuel the dynamic of creating art and prompt local artists to unleash their potential".

Hong also noted that promoting art exchanges between the two countries against the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative has profound implications. Since Myanmar is a key direct access point to the Indian Ocean for China, the impact of the China-Myanmar art and cultural exchange will extend further to the regions along the Indian Ocean, generating further economic benefits.

Zhou Yanzhao, chairman of the Chinese Culture and Art Federation and an international art critic, who accompanied the tour, said art acts as an effective medium of communication in the Belt and Road Initiative. "Art helps to channel one culture into the other and establishes mutual recognition with other cultures. The mutual understanding is built through connectivity, which is an unconscious and a gradual process," he said.

Zhou added that collaborative painting, an important part of the Myanmar art trip, is a good example of how artists can bond and attain harmony through cooperation.

The artists spent an afternoon in Mandalay visiting the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which is renowned for containing the world's largest book - a giant stone tablet at the foot of Mandalay Hill inscribed with text from the Buddhist Tripitaka. The shimmering gold-plated stupa, ubiquitous domed white shrines, delicate mural paintings and a relatively peaceful vibe invoked the artists' desire to paint on the spot.

Next was a visit to the Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce. U Myint Naing, the chamber's executive vice-chairman, has paid much attention to art education in Myanmar.

Art education providers are in short supply in the country and awareness is low, he said. He has approached well-established art schools and troupes in China, hoping to co-launch exchange programs. Under construction is a vocational school with the support of Yunnan University, in Southwest China, where art courses will be available.

The artists were split into two groups, arriving in either Bagan or Inle Lake on Nov 18. Bagan is known for its proliferation of Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas, and the breathtaking views at sunset. Each group of artists was impressed - either by the grandeur of Bagan's pagodas, or Inle's serene lake lined with stilt houses - and their inspiration overflowed.

Collaborative painting sessions were held during the trip. Two completed large-size group paintings were exhibited together with 30 individual works on Nov 21 and 22 at Junction City in Yangon.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition was followed by a panel discussion: famous artists from China and Myanmar shared their thoughts on the value of culture and art exchanges.

Among the guests was U Alistair Ang Eng Chong, general manager of RVi Institute, part of the RVi Group.

U Aik Htun, chairman of Shwe Taung Group, a leading corporation in Myanmar and a cosponsor of the art tour, said: "The art exchange program will help bring Myanmar's art and folk culture to the inter-national community. It will prove important in boosting Myanmar's economy."

Shwe Taung Group has partnered with corporations from 12 countries to improve the infrastructure in Myanmar, ranging from express highways and railways to bridges and hydroelectric power. "But we can't neglect the power of art," said U Aik Htun. "Only by improving the art intelligence in the country could people shape a forward-looking mindset."

Contact the writers at jenny@chinadailyhk.com

 

The eight Chinese artists visit Myanmar's landmark stupa Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, which later became a source of inspiration for their art creation.

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2018-12-07 08:03:40
<![CDATA[When sci-fi is child's play]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/07/content_37368217.htm Two of China's top science-fiction writers Liu Cixin and Han Song sat down with poet Bei Dao and Peking University professor and cultural critic Dai Jinhua for a discussion at the recent launch in Beijing of a collection of short stories, entitled Science Fiction for Children. It is the 11th book in the Chinese series Books for Children.

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Collection of short science-fiction stories launched as part of children's book series, Yang Yang reports.

Two of China's top science-fiction writers Liu Cixin and Han Song sat down with poet Bei Dao and Peking University professor and cultural critic Dai Jinhua for a discussion at the recent launch in Beijing of a collection of short stories, entitled Science Fiction for Children. It is the 11th book in the Chinese series Books for Children.

Bei Dao (pen name) is the series' editor, and Liu and Han were invited to choose stories for the book.

In recent years, science fiction has gained popularity in China, especially after Liu won the Hugo Award in 2015.

"The future has never been so attractive as it is now. This (the award) provides opportunity for science fiction (in China), and that is why it is getting more attention than before," Liu says, adding that it is also a result of China's social development.

Science Fiction for Children contains 15 short stories published from the 1950s, a golden age for the genre, until the present, including British author Arthur Clarke's The Wind from the Sun, Chinese author Tong Enzheng's Magical Flute in the Snow Mountain, A Walk in the Sun by US writer Geoffrey Landis, Liu's The Micro Era, Han's Cosmic Tombstone, and American writers Ted Chiang's Tower of Babylon and Ken Liu's Cosmic Spring.

While they both picked old classics and representative pieces by contemporary writers, Liu and Han had different approaches to the new collection of short stories for children.

"I focused more on hardcore technology, or hard science fiction," Liu says.

Comparatively, Han's emphasis was on "the philosophical thinking and doubts about the human capability to conquer nature", Dai says.

Liu writes in his preface to the book that opposed to fairy tales, scifi will gradually become a reality. As a result, apart from inspiring children's imagination and broadening their view, sci-fi will help to mentally prepare children for various possibilities of the unknown universe, Liu says.

The book starts with US writer Tom Godwin's The Cold Equations, published in the 1950s. It tells of a cruel death of an underage girl who illegally hides in a rescue spaceship to see her brother on a planet far from Earth. In order to reach the destination as quickly as possible, the spaceship has a fixed quantity of fuel that does not allow any extra weight - only the pilot. Otherwise, the spaceship will crash and the pilot and the six people including the girl's brother on the planet will all die. As a result the girl must be tossed out of the vehicle into space as soon as possible and she will die immediately.

It is a story picked by Han, who came across it when he was a middle school student.

"It impressed me deeply, for it revealed the truth of the universe to me for the first time. When it comes to physical rules, all people are equal, and they cannot be broken by anybody," he says.

"As I grew up, I gradually realized the broader meaning. Under such circumstances - nothing, power or money, can save the girl. It's what we lack now. Apart from textbooks, what is more important is that we should tell children the truth about the universe," he says.

"Children can accept death, and sometimes they understand it more profoundly than we expect." Bei Dao agrees that children should not be kept away from such notions as loneliness, death or frustration.

Commenting on Liu and Han's works, Dai says they represent two different aesthetic styles and directions in sci-fi writing.

Liu's fiction is more of practical writing based on imagination, but Han writes more to explore the humans' inner world when confronted by the unknown universe, the changing reality or the uncertain future, Dai says.

"Especially about people's anxiety about the world that keeps being transformed fast by information technology, artificial intelligence, bioscience and virtual reality," Han says.

Liu has earlier expressed his worries about this trend of "inward exploration" in sci-fi writing.

"Currently sci-fi writers around the world tend to explore humans' inner world rather than outer space like people did during the golden period from the 1930s to the '70s, when science fiction was optimistic, enterprising and open-spirited. Sci-fi's inward-looking tendency reflects the situation of human civilization. In the 1960s, we landed on the moon but since then we have not moved forward much. We don't go to the moon anymore. In contrast, the fastest-developing technology, information technology, is an 'inward' one.

"Soon the day will come when we will need only to spend our life in a room without any difficulty. With VR, we can experience the world without stepping outside the door. The whole human culture will become more and more inward. If stars or space are experienced through VR, why should humans take risks to explore them any further? The new-generation of sci-fi works mirror such a trend.

"As a sci-fi writer, although the future has many possibilities, if it does not include interstellar travel, no matter how prosperous the Earth is, it's a dark future to me," Liu says.

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-07 08:03:40
<![CDATA[Road to progress]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/06/content_37363028.htm Every time director Miao Yue drove on the Yaxi Expressway, a 240 kilometer road snaking through mountains in Southwest China's Sichuan province, she marveled at the spectacular views, which gave her the feeling of riding into the clouds.

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A film about the lives of expressway workers also reflects the sacrifices and struggles that accompanied China's reform and opening-up over the past 40 years, Xu Fan reports.

Every time director Miao Yue drove on the Yaxi Expressway, a 240 kilometer road snaking through mountains in Southwest China's Sichuan province, she marveled at the spectacular views, which gave her the feeling of riding into the clouds.

But she never thought she would be able to stop and photograph the scene, which, according to traffic regulations, would earn her 12 demerit points leading to her driver's license being suspended.

So it was a big surprise for the filmmaker known for the award-winning film Hold Your Hands - a poverty alleviation-themed movie - when she got a chance to shoot her new film The Connection on a similar expressway which is still under construction.

Recently, the China Film Administration, the top regulator of the sector, selected nine films - including The Connection - to mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and opening-up in China.

The Connection focuses on the lives of two generations of expressway workers, who struggled in hazardous weather conditions to boost China's road infrastructure.

Among the other films chosen are Running to the Spring; Hope of Road; Dr. Huang Danian; Fighting Men of China and The Photographer.

Speaking after a promotional event for the nine movies in Beijing recently, Miao says she took up work on The Connection, from the Chengdu-based Emei Film Group, the largest studio in Sichuan, in 2017.

Roads have always been an issue in Sichuan as the region features complex landscapes, including plateaus, basins and mountains. And while these geographical features give the region an edge in the production of tea, silk, besides making it a haven for wild pandas, its lack of connectivity has often hampered its economic development.

The Yaxi Expressway, a section of the Beijing-Kunming highway that cost 20.6 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) and took five years to build, has now linked the province to the country's north and south since it opened to motorists in April.

To build the expressway which has 270 viaducts and 25 tunnels, engineers and workers had to overcome many geological hazards such as gas eruptions, water spouts and rock falls.

All this inspired Miao, who believes the road represents one of Sichuan's biggest achievements brought about by the reform policy.

Besides, the huge project spawned a number of human interest stories.

For Miao, a scriptwriter-turned-director, a good storyteller must be a diligent journalist first.

And she did just that, repeating what she had done with Hold Your Hands - a heartwarming story based on the true stories of local villagers' efforts to reduce poverty in Central China's Hunan province.

So, she trekked hundreds of kilometers to interview those who were part of the project.

"Work on the Yaxi Expressway was wrapped up six years ago. But I discovered that a majority of the engineers and workers who built the road are now working on the Yakang Expressway," she says.

Yakang Expressway, one of the most difficult road-construction projects taken up in China, will improve Sichuan's access to the country's east and west, with 82 percent of the project comprising via-ducts and tunnels.

The expressway, which is estimated to cost 23 billion yuan, is expected to shorten the drive from Chengdu to Kangding from seven hours to four.

In late autumn of 2017, Miao and some of her colleagues took a ride to the incomplete Xingkang suspension bridge over the Luding River, which will be 280 meters long when completed.

Speaking about that experience, Miao, a graduate of Chinese language and literature from Guizhou Normal University, says: "I was shocked to see this magnificent project being built beyond the clouds. All the engineers wore red hard hats, quite matching the color of autumn."

The bridge, which is expected to need four years to complete, has nearly 1,000 construction workers and around 100 engineers working on it.

To ensure safety, engineers are required to wear red hard hats, workers yellow ones and visitors white.

So, for the first time in her filmmaking career spanning three decades, Miao wore a white hard hat to sit behind the rolling cameras, and her cast and crew of more than 100 members - including lead actor Li Baotian and actress Chen Jin - all wore similar hats.

Li is famous for Zhang Yimou's Oscar-nominated Ju Dou and French director Philippe Muyl's The Nightingale; and Chen recently won the best actress award at the 34th Hundred Flowers Awards in Foshan, Guangdong province, for Hold Your Hands.

Speaking about the shoo, Miao says: "The filming on the construction site of Xingkang Bridge lasted more than 40 days, from June to mid-July this year. And ultimately, we all got used to wearing the hats, even subconsciously putting them on after we had moved to a safer filming site," says Miao.

Recounting her experience of making the film, Miao says that it is the spirit and sacrifice of construction workers, who are mostly migrant laborers from rural China and have endured the separation from family for years, that touched her the most.

"Their annual leave is only 12 days. And back in the early years they probably spent half of the vacation traveling to get home. They are the unknown heroes of our era," she says.

The Connection has yet to get a general release date. But for those who may be interested in seeing films reflecting China's transformation over the past 40 years, Hope of Road - depicting poverty alleviation efforts in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region - is set to open on Thursday; and Fighting Men of China - about the unprecedented expansion of the internet industry - will be released on Dec 18.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

Top: A scene from The Connection, a film to mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and openingup in China. Above left: Veteran actor Li Baotian stars in the film. Above right: A poster of the film. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-06 07:42:11
<![CDATA[Sky's the limit for popular landscape documentary]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/06/content_37363027.htm Apart from the occasional trip by an airplane, few people get the chance to admire China's magnificent landscapes with a bird's-eye view.

Other than attempting to obtain a pilot's license, or spending a fortune on plane tickets, perhaps a more economical alternative would be to just watch China From Above, a documentary series that mainly uses aerial shots to capture the country's mountains, rivers, cities and its people.

For domestic audiences, the two-episode second season of the show has been available on the streaming site, Bilibili, since Nov 10, and accumulated nearly 1.3 million "clicks" as of Wednesday.

As a joint production by companies from China, the United States, New Zealand and Singapore, season two also premiered on the National Geographic Channel on Nov 10, with the second episode airing the following day.

The first episode travels along China's 18,000-kilometer-long coastline, the fourth longest in the world, exploring its diverse environments, from the frigid Bohai Bay in the north to Hainan island in the far tropical south.

Shifting to a somewhat west-to-east route, the second episode embarks on a journey from the Himalayas to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, taking in multiple cities, including Chongqing and Wuhan, along the way, before finally reaching the bustling metropolis of Shanghai.

"China is a country of immense contrasts. While most Westerners have a very set idea of China, we wanted to surprise and intrigue them by showcasing the diversity of Chinese people and landscapes beyond the Great Wall," says Kyle Murdoch, managing director of NHNZ Ltd.

Based in Dunedin in New Zealand, NHNZ is one of the show's producers, which also includes China Intercontinental Communication Center, US-based National Geographic and Beach House Pictures in Singapore.

Murdoch reveals the idea to shoot China from the sky first came about in 2012.

"Back then, drones were not as widely available as they are today - so this was a very ambitious undertaking as we'd need to shoot mostly from helicopters," he recalls.

"It's unique because while many people could record from the air in many other countries around the world, the regulations permitting this in China make it very difficult for just anyone to do," adds Murdoch.

The first season achieved huge popularity. It became the most-watched online documentary in China in 2015, winning more than 10 awards and being broadcast to more than 170 countries and regions.

Now, with more advanced technology, the second season uses video camera drones with 4k ultra high definition resolution, allowing much clearer and sharper images as they follow moving objects from above.

However, it's not just a collection of picturesque scenes. The camera lens also comes down to earth to tell the emotional and interesting stories of the people below, says Wang Yuanyuan, director of the film and television production center with CICC.

"China's documentary-making industry has improved in recent years. We've learned a lot from our foreign partners," she adds.

In the first episode, the show covers the story of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, China's first major combined bridge and tunnel sea-crossing project. The crew interviewed a surveyor, who left home shortly after getting married and could only see his wife once or twice a year over the course of the seven-year construction.

In some other stories, a 61-year-old woman leads a team in a swimming competition to cross the Yangtze River in Wuhan, and we see an archery challenge that dates back more than 80 years take place in a Tibetan valley.

In the second episode, for instance, a group of climbers, instead of taking their last chance to mount an attempt on the world's highest peak, choose to remain at the northern base camp of Qomolangma, or Mount Everest, along with some 150 yaks, to clean up and collect rubbish and equipment left on the route.

"Every time we produce a film about China, we learn something new. There is so much to discover, uncover and share about this incredible country," says Murdoch.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-06 07:42:11
<![CDATA[Helping folk revival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/06/content_37363026.htm Wearing a simple, yet elegant, linen dress inspired by hanfu (traditional Chinese clothing), national first-level performer Lei Jia sings with the accompaniment of a small ensemble, telling the audience stories of the past.

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Lei Jia's series of recitals outline her mission to further the knowledge of traditional Chinese music, Cheng Yuezhu reports.

Wearing a simple, yet elegant, linen dress inspired by hanfu (traditional Chinese clothing), national first-level performer Lei Jia sings with the accompaniment of a small ensemble, telling the audience stories of the past.

This is Lei's The Songs of the Ancestors tour, a series of Chinese folk song recitals spanning over a year around the country, serving as her doctoral graduation concert from the China Conservatory of Music.

"These folk songs have been sung by our ancestors in their daily lives for hundreds or thousands of years. With these concerts, I'd like more people to feel the beauty of these folk songs," Lei says.

The concerts take the form of chamber music, with a host explaining the stories behind each song during the intervals. The repertoire includes 15 folk songs from 10 regions and six ethnic groups, requiring the mastery of nine different Chinese dialects.

"I feel like this kind of salon-like concert setting, with an expert explaining the past and present, the ins and outs of the songs, enriches the concerts and offers the audience something to reflect upon," Lei says.

Tian Qing, a musicologist devoted to the protection of Chinese folk culture, has been the host at several of Lei's recitals.

"Salons establish a level of interaction between the performer and the audience. We guide the audience to understand the music, including its origin and background, so they can gain knowledge while still appreciating the music," Tian says.

For the accompaniment Lei chose an ensemble composed of less than 20 musicians. Apart from the Chinese folk instruments, the ensemble includes a Western string quartet, an African djembe and a guitar.

According to Lei, these modern elements are employed to offer the audience a familiar, yet fresh, aesthetic experience, while in essence the songs still convey the spirit of Chinese music.

The recitals begin with Xi Caixin (Washing Cabbage), a folk song from Lei's home province of Hunan.

Lei, who was born in Yiyang, Hunan, in 1979, entered the Hunan Art School, currently known as Hunan Vocational College of Art, to study Huaguxi (flower-drum opera), an opera style unique to Hunan region.

Lei says she benefited a lot from her years of practicing flower-drum opera.

The fundamental skills she acquired equipped her to become a well-rounded musician who can excel at all kinds of stage performances, including folk operas, modern Chinese operas and recitals.

After graduation, Lei entered the China Conservatory of Music for undergraduate studies in 1997. She was later admitted to the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 2002, establishing her career as a soloist singer.

During both her study and work, she was greatly influenced by Chinese folk music, and has continuously worked to further its popularization, making multiple field trips to different regions in a bid to grasp the authentic local dialect, culture and customs behind the songs.

In 2006, she released an album entitled The Sky of Dandelions, a collection of Chinese folk songs, to public acclaim. As Lei explains, the title is a metaphor for the tenacious vitality of Chinese folk culture.

Lei's another album was an all-encompassing compilation that included one song from each of the country's ethnic groups, and was gifted to foreign leaders and officials who attended the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

These recordings laid a solid foundation for Lei's academic research in folk music and her current performances.

With the aim of studying folk music on a higher level, Lei started her doctoral studies at the China Conservatory of Music in 2013, specializing in the research of vocal performance art.

"Doctoral research requires me to really think from the perspective of the entire industry. Why do we perform folk music and how?" Lei says. "At this point, I feel, in a sense, it is a mission to find the answer I have been seeking. They will not come to me right away, but I still want to try and reach a higher objective."

Tian says that the concerts prove the increasing attention being paid to folk music within academic circles, which is particularly meaningful. "With these concerts, Lei pays a tribute to folk music. It expresses the attitude of this young singer toward tradition and her belief that folk music is the origin of modern music forms."

With this recital tour, Lei intends to showcase to the world the charm of Chinese folk music, with the techniques she acquired from her in-depth research.

"Traditional Chinese art has a particularly rich soil, from which we can extract a wealth of cultural nutrients," Lei says.

Contact the writer at chengyuezhu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-06 07:42:11
<![CDATA[Homecoming scenes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/05/content_37354410.htm It is a daily routine for 82-year-old Hou Yujin from the Zhuang ethnic group to show tourists around her traditional home, pointing out the exquisite layout and details.

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Ecomuseums are transforming the prospects of villages in Guangxi, Xu Lin and Shi Ruipeng report from Longsheng county.

It is a daily routine for 82-year-old Hou Yujin from the Zhuang ethnic group to show tourists around her traditional home, pointing out the exquisite layout and details.

Dating back more than 160 years, the two-story, 180-square-meter residence was built out of fir wood using mortise and tenon work, a process that doesn't require nails.

Traditional Zhuang houses are propped up by wooden supports and have ladders leading up from the first floor - which was generally used for keeping livestock - to the second floor, where the people lived.

"Tourists like to sit around my 200-year-old family table. I'm touched when they offer me their best wishes," says Hou in her home in Longji village in multiethnic Longsheng county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Although Hou lives on her own, her daughters often visit her. She remains in sound health, still does her own housework and enjoys sewing embroidery. She speaks fluent Mandarin and loves to socialize, especially with young people.

She recalls how villagers used to plant tea and other crops and raise pigs to make a living, before tourism began bringing in extra income.

Longji village is an ancient Zhuang stockaded settlement with a history dating back over 430 years. It's famous for its picturesque views of terraced fields and well-preserved examples of ancient Zhuang residences.

In 2010, the Longji Zhuang Ecomuseum opened in the village, and Hou's house was chosen as one of the few exemplary residences due to its long history and good state of preservation. The museum helps owners of historical properties to repair their houses and persuades them to preserve antiques and other old items.

It's one of the 10 "ecomuseums" under the guidance of the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, a traditional museum based in the regional capital, Nanning. Two ecomuseums relate to the history and culture of the Han people, while the remaining eight cover other Chinese ethnic groups.

Guangxi's government started the project in late 2003, and the most recent ecomuseum opened in 2011.

Hou Wenqiang, curator of the ecomuseum in Longji, says: "Many people assume that the village's exhibition hall is the ecomuseum. Actually, the instant you enter the village, you're placing yourself in the ecomuseum, which includes the whole community.

"We need to promote ourselves to raise public awareness about what the definition of an ecomuseum is. China's first ecomuseums were established in the late 1990s in Guizhou province."

The aim of the project is to protect old residences and preserve historic and cultural relics like tablet inscriptions in the village.

It was a lucky coincidence that tourism companies started to promote the village as a destination to group travelers in 2010, the same year the ecomuseum opened. Owners of old houses like Hou Yujin jumped at the chance to work with travel agencies to receive tourists.

When the village was selected for the ecomuseum project, the local government began building roads to provide better access to the village. Visitors previously had to walk for around an hour along a rocky pass to reach the settlement.

"Our aim was to protect the original ethnic culture here," says Hou Wenqiang. "Villagers soon began to support the ecomuseum because it attracted tourists and helped to preserve their culture."

They also emphasized the need to protect intangible cultural heritage, such as bamboo-woven goods and traditional clothing.

The Zhuang people in Longji village sing folk songs relating to traditional themes, such as farming. Besides using stone to construct bridges and gates, they also use the material to make everyday articles, such as mill stones and water vats. The four major local specialties are tea, rice liquor, glutinous rice and pepper.

Pan Tingfang, former head of the village, says the locals are leading a better life now thanks to the growth in tourism. And this renewed prosperity has attracted more young people to return to their hometown to open restaurants and hotels rather than seek employment as migrant workers in big cities.

According to Pan, the locals are hospitable, honest and kindhearted. They are happy to interact with tourists and tell them about the best places to visit, such as the ecomuseum's exhibition hall.

However, both Pan and curator Hou know how hard it is to maintain the balance between developing tourism and protecting local culture.

"When villagers are building hotels or restaurants with bricks and mortar, there are no specific regulations. It looks a bit strange to have modern buildings among the older architecture," says Hou Wenqiang.

He says the local government should take the initiative to come up with solutions, such as relocating villagers to nearby areas to protect the original character of the villages.

He says that in a nearby village that's proving popular with tourists, much of the architecture has become a pastiche of brick and wood after years of commercialization - and that's the last thing he wants to see happen to Longji village.

Contact the writers through xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2018-12-05 07:58:25
<![CDATA[Specialized museums walk a fine line]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/05/content_37354409.htm The website of the Oxford English Dictionary describes an "ecomuseum" as an interdisciplinary museum that presents "the history and heritage of a particular community or region in the context of its society, culture and natural environment".

In 1971, two French museologists coined the term "ecomuseum" and put forward its definition. It was introduced into Chinese academic circles via a magazine in the 1980s.

China's first batch of ecomuseums were established in the late 1990s in Guizhou province, with counterparts in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region opening soon after.

Each ecomuseum in Guangxi has an exhibition hall that features collections from local villagers, ranging from traditional attire to everyday items.

In 2012, a group of ecomuseums and exhibition halls opened across Anji county in East China's Zhejiang province - a more economically advanced region than the two original locations.

Besides the three major large-scale ecomuseums, there are also ecomuseums in other parts of China, such as in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Yunnan province.

"The whole community, including architecture and residents, is an ecomuseum. Many people are not clear about the concept and often mistake the exhibition hall for the ecomuseum," says Gong Shiyang, deputy curator of the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, a traditional museum that advises 10 other ecomuseums across the region.

As he explains, exhibits in a traditional museum can come from other places, while in an ecomuseum, all the exhibits are deeply rooted to their native regions.

"It's a dynamic experience - you can observe the lives of the original residents. Instead of seeing an object like farm tools in an exhibition hall, you can see how villagers use them in the actual fields."

In the early stages of the project, the standards for choosing a site included the preservation status of the architecture and an assessment of its intangible cultural heritage.

The 10 ecomuseums are located in different parts of Guangxi. They feature different ethnic groups and characteristic handicrafts like embroidery.

Gong says the ecomuseum project in Guangxi aims to protect ethnic culture and boost the development of local communities. Unlike traditional museums, they emphasize follow-up work to encourage the local community to become more involved.

"We've made a great deal of progress over the past few years. For example, villagers now know the importance of protecting and repairing old buildings," he says.

In each ecomuseum, they choose several exemplary historical residences that are well-preserved and then train the owners how to further protect them. These buildings also prove popular with tourists.

Mai Xi, a department director at the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, says: "We do our best to maintain public works of architecture like ancestral halls. Many villagers modernize the interiors of their old houses a bit, and leave the exteriors as they are.

"One possible solution is for us to purchase one or two old houses built at different times, so as to demonstrate the community's development like a timeline."

Their staff members often take photos or make videos to record local culture and teach villagers to follow suit. They organize an annual photo and film festival for staff members and villagers to showcase their works and publish photo books.

"These kinds of digital works are also a form of protection - it's a precious cultural wealth. Some locals are willing to learn and understand the importance of this," Mai says.

Ecomuseums are beneficial to the local community, he says.

"The local government intensified the construction of infrastructure like roads, plumbing and electricity, which were not available in some remote villages in our ecomuseums at that time," Gong says.

"If there are inflows of tourists, it means more income. It improves the standard of living for the locals, especially for those in areas with poverty. We also train locals to make handicrafts and help them to sell them and increase their income."

However, Gong admits that increased tourism can often be a double-edged sword. Tourists like to experience authentic culture, and villagers are aware that they should protect it so as to attract visitors. But if there is excessive development of tourism, it's inevitable that the local culture will be damaged by commercialization.

He says it's essential that different government departments work together to persuade villagers to build modern residences in a certain place near the original villages so as to preserve the overall styles of the ancient residences.

According to Gong, half of the 10 ecomuseums in Guangxi have not been awarded scenic-area status due to their remote locations, which may have afforded them some additional protection.

"The concept of the ecomuseum is still new around the globe and needs more publicity in China, too. Both Chinese curators and their foreign counterparts are exploring in various ways."

He says they work with overseas counterparts who have recognized Guangxi's project as a functioning model - one with a traditional museum, such as the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi, taking the lead as a guide and working with the 10 ecomuseums across the region.

Meanwhile, the Anthropology Museum of Guangxi is cooperating with scholars from three museums in the United States to do fieldwork to research ethnic culture in two ecomuseums in Guangxi.

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2018-12-05 07:58:25
<![CDATA[Modern art goes high-tech]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/04/content_37350490.htm Since opening in June, Tokyo-based art collective team-Lab's immersive shows - Borderless at Tokyo's Mori building and TeamLab Planets at a temporarily-built art space just a 10-minute drive from the Mori building - have attracted about 1.7 million visitors from across the world.

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A Tokyo art group is drawing huge crowds with immersive shows, Deng Zhangyu reports.

Since opening in June, Tokyo-based art collective team-Lab's immersive shows - Borderless at Tokyo's Mori building and TeamLab Planets at a temporarily-built art space just a 10-minute drive from the Mori building - have attracted about 1.7 million visitors from across the world.

Every day, visitors wait in long lines for admission to experience an immersive world that has been created by an art group comprising engineers, architects, mathematicians, programmers and computer graphic specialists.

As for the shows' popularity, they are soon expected to receive more visitors than the Museum of Modern Art in New York within the first five months of opening, says Toshiyuki Inoko, founder of team-Lab.

"It took 18 years for us to be recognized by people," says Inoko, who set up teamLab in 2001 while he was completing his graduate studies in information physics at the University of Tokyo. His group comprised just a few members then, but has now grown to about 500.

In the past few years, teamLab has led the world of digital art by offering interactive experience and immersive shows by mixing art and technology. And they have also received numerous invitations from museums, art centers and galleries around the world.

The term "digital art" is used by Inoko to describe teamLab's work, because it is different from painting, sculpture, installations and even multimedia art.

Speaking about how he came up with the term, Inoko, 41, says: "I googled digital art online and found that nobody used it to name their art. So I decided to use it."

But he adds that if anyone offers him a better term he would gladly accept it.

Most of teamLab's works, now on display at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum - an exhibition space dedicated to teamLab's works - aim to erase the line between people and nature, art and viewers, and humans and technology by using lights, sounds, projections and motion sensors.

At the digital art museum, which is bigger than a football field, in the Odaiba area of Tokyo, 470 projectors and 520 computers are used to produce 60 digital works. And among the exhibits is a waterfall several meters high that cascades down the wall onto the floor and disappears around the visitors' feet when they obstruct the flow of water.

Also, flowers bloom and scatter into pieces in a circle of birth and death on walls and floors while viewers touch them either with their hands or feet. And virtual birds, fish and other animals move from one room to another.

Speaking about his works, Inoko says: "I wanted to explore and extend the notion of beauty. I'm interested in the relationship between man and nature, and encourage people to explore their body and the world."

Also, he says currently people live lives removed from nature, which gives them a mistaken view that humans can live separately from nature. And this is his focus in teamLab's works.

TeamLab's works always use elements from nature, such as water, light, animals and plants to create a world that allow visitors to be part of nature instead of focusing only on themselves.

Nearly half of the 1.7 million visitors who have seen the shows so far are foreigners, and about 10 percent of them are Chinese.

Xiao Ge, a Chinese artist who flew to see the two shows with her curator husband in November, says that teamLab's show is like an art Disneyland for adults.

"I was excited for almost five hours when experiencing the immersive shows, even though I hardly had any sleep the day before.

"And although it's different from traditional visual art, I think it expands the concept of art."

TeamLab is very popular in China, too, with their shows held in Beijing, Shenzhen last year and Wuhan this year. The show in Shenzhen last year attracted more than 400,000 visitors in about four months.

Inoko says a plan to hold a show at a Shanghai museum is under discussion. And their latest show in China - to be held on Saturday - will feature three of their works at a fashion and art event in Shanghai by Hong Kong actor Edison Chen.

Separately, Inoko says his works have more Chinese collectors because the Chinese art market is now strong and open.

In Japan, museums are less likely to display his work due to budgetary constraints and a conservative attitude toward art, he says.

In fact, teamLab's digital works are often criticized for being classified as fine art. But, in 2016, their digital work Universe of Water Particles was sold at a Philips auction in Hong Kong for $240,149, the first time a digital work had gone under the hammer. And this year, their works were also sold at Christie's.

As for how he sees technology in art, Inoko says: "Technology is a tool to free our art from material. So, we never use technology for the sake of it. We only use it to help create new works."

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Clockwise from top: Some works from Tokyobased art collective teamLab’s immersive shows Borderless and TeamLab Planets: Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather; Expanding Three Dimensional Existence in Transforming SpaceFree Floating, Flattening 3 Colors and Blurred 9 Colors; and Memory of Topography. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-04 07:38:29
<![CDATA[Famous Jiangnan landscapes to go under the hammer in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/04/content_37350489.htm In many people's minds, there exist two ways to discover picturesque Jiangnan, on the southern bank of Yangtze River. One is to view the landscape in real life and the other is to view the paintings of the late modern master Wu Guanzhong.

Wu, a native of Yixing, Jiangsu province, in the heart Jiangnan, recreated the natural beauty of the region he had been familiar with since childhood in such a way that it evokes a poetic resonance in a viewer, rendering his works with a classic charm.

Two paintings from Wu's Jiangnan landscape series will go under the hammer in Beijing on Thursday as part of a sale by Poly International Auction. Both titled Twin Swallows, the paintings are of the same size and present the same composition, but in different mediums: one is a classic Chinese ink piece completed in 1988 and the other is oil on canvas, and was completed six years later.

The two works, both 70 by 140 centimeters, depict the same serene scene, in which a couple of swallows fly over a stretch of riverside and houses built in a typical Jiangnan architectural style.

The composition looks as simple as one can find in many landscapes of Wu's oeuvre. It is divided into three parts, the reflective water, the rectangular residential buildings and the gloomy sky - in which one could easily miss the two flying swallows whose size is relatively small compared with the paintings' other subjects.

The color palette of the two pictures is light. Wu smeared the river and the sky with a subtle degree of gray and, at the center of the paintings, he outlined several conjunctive white walls, a distinctive feature of the Jiangnan architecture. He only dabbed some green, red and yellow on a tree standing by the river, bringing about the only vibrant aspect to an overall sad or serene effect that engulfs the two paintings.

According to Wang Luxiang, a researcher at China National Academy of Painting in Beijing, Wu began exploring the Jiangnan motif after he attended classes given by art professors of the former Soviet Union in Beijing, in the early 1950s. Wu, a graduate of oil painting at the prestigious National High School of Fine Arts in Paris, then taught at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

Wang says Wu had heard the Soviet-era lecturers say that Jiangnan was not a suitable subject for oil painting, because, unlike Europe, it rained heavily throughout the year in the region, thus the architecture and the views were drab, and it was difficult to distinguish the land and the sky, both awash with gray.

"In much disbelief, Wu began traveling frequently to Jiangnan from the 1960s onward," Wang says. "He sketched and experimented. He wanted to find an approach to depict the poetry and elegance unique to Jiangnan that could be presented in both Chinese and Western forms."

Wu finally found it after a two-decade effort.

"He succeeded in choosing a grayish silver as the dominant tone of his palette. He was inspired after his long gazes at local houses.

"He also found in the structure of these buildings the clean-cut combination of dots and lines. His paintings show a brilliant combination of a lot of lines, large areas of white space and dots, with reduced details," Wang says.

The greatness of Wu's Jiangnan landscapes is that he was able to balance sense and sensibility by juxtaposing the energy of nature and the power of man-made structures and forms, he adds.

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Wu Guanzhong's two paintings, both titled Twin Swallows, will be auctioned in Beijing on Thursday by Poly International Auction. The oil on canvas (top) was completed in 1994, and a classic Chinese ink piece (above) in 1988. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-04 07:38:29
<![CDATA[A small city's big history]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/04/content_37350488.htm A legendary Chinese ruler made Linfen his capital and a cradle of Chinese civilization over 4,000 years ago. But today, it's a small city and largely undiscovered travel destination in northern China's Shanxi province that's worth exploring for its historical legacy.

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Linfen isn't well known despite its important place in China's past. But visitors today will discover a legacy worth exploring, Wang Ru reports.

A legendary Chinese ruler made Linfen his capital and a cradle of Chinese civilization over 4,000 years ago. But today, it's a small city and largely undiscovered travel destination in northern China's Shanxi province that's worth exploring for its historical legacy.

The city recently hosted the first Great Rivers Civilization Forum on Tourism to promote travel related to the Yellow River. The slogan was: "All travels are about leaving home; but, in Linfen, you arrive home."

"The Yellow River has sired Chinese civilization and shaped numerous places in Shanxi with natural beauty and profound culture, especially in Linfen," mayor Liu Yuqiang says.

Legendary emperor Yao (c.24th-23th centuries BC), who declared the settlement his capital, remains a symbol of the city today, much like the city was a symbol of his reign millennia ago.

Travelers can visit the Yao Temple built 1,700 years ago to commemorate him and two other legendary emperors, Shun and Yu.

A gate was also built in the city to commemorate Yao's effort to found Chinese civilization.

Another important period for Linfen was the 700 years during which it was part of the Jin state, during the Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-256 BC) - a story that unfolds in the Jinguo Museum.

The museum is built on the tombs of the Jin rulers, their wives and funerary objects.

Legend has it that Zhou emperor Ji Song gave a paulownia leaf to his younger brother, Ji Yu, as a promise to invest him with a fiefdom when playing as children.

Later, a historiographer asked Song to fulfill his promise.

He said he was just joking. But he was later told an emperor's words must be taken seriously.

Finally, Ji Song gave Tang to Ji Yu as his fiefdom. Ji Yu's son, Ji Xiefu, changed the name from Tang to Jin.

Shanxi is still abbreviated as Jin in a linguistic carryover of its past identity.

Chong'er is one of the Jin state's bestknown marquises.

His father's concubine, Liji, conspired to help her son ascend to the throne and framed the crown prince, Shensheng, leading to his death. She also exiled Chong'er and his younger brother, Yiwu.

Chong'er lived in his mother's native land, the Di state, for 12 years, during which he started to rejuvenate Jin with his followers. They visited many states to seek help.

Some treated them as distinguished guests. Others were cold and even insulted them. But they endured all of the hardships.

After 19 years of exile, Chong'er returned and seized the throne from his nephew, ushering in the most-glorious age of Jin. He was later regarded as one of the Spring and Autumn Period's (770-476 BC) five hegemonies.

Another important chapter of Linfen's history is memorialized in the Hongtong Dahuaishu Ancestor Memorial Garden - a legacy of deception and forced migration, according to historical records.

In the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), emperor Zhu Yuanzhang decided to relocate people from populous Shanxi to the central plains, where massive wars at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) had impaired productivity.

Many people didn't want to move despite generous subsidies. The government put up a notice asking those who were unwilling to leave to register their names under the locust tree beside a temple. Those who were willing to go didn't have to.

But those who went to register were immediately forced to migrate. Some were even tied to the tree for fear they might flee.

Members of families of four or more people had to migrate. Two family members would have to relocate if the family had six people. And three would have to relocate if it had eight.

Mostly men left.

Families were split apart - often, for the rest of their lives.

The locust tree witnessed 18 migrations in 50 years, making it a symbol of the events. The migrants ended up in about 20 provinces in central, northern and eastern China.

Many people still return to the tree to trace their roots today.

Visitors can watch a performance that depicts the migration.

Or, they can visit the Yellow River's Hukou Waterfalls, the Taosi Ruins or the Dingcun Paleolithic Sites.

Indeed, it seems the small city has a vast history, largely unknown to travelers - for now.

Those who make the trip will find much to discover.

Contact the writer at wangru1@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Visitors from around the world come to Linfen, Shanxi province, to see the magnificent view of the Yellow River's Hukou Waterfalls. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-12-04 07:38:29
<![CDATA[Ancient allure survives in Lijiang, despite commercialization]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/04/content_37350487.htm Lijiang is an attractive destination away from the disquietude of China's megacities, backed by pristine scenes of nature and the elegant beauty of ancient Chinese architecture.

A disastrous earthquake leveled the area in 1996. It was meticulously rebuilt with strict adherence to the original design, contributing to its UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1997.

Dayan city is now the poster town of this splendid old culture. The settlement has long been a cultural bastion of the Naxi ethnicity, who ruled the surrounding highlands for centuries under successive Chinese dynasties, peaking between the Ming era (1368-1644) and the middle of the Qing's (1644-1911) reign.

Lijiang's old town comprises Dayan, and Shuhe and Baisha towns.

As with many renovated historical settlements in China, much of the area has become overtly commercial and lacks any real charm of the local culture.

However, the buildings, streets and traditional adornments are so gorgeously restored that it definitely warrants a visit from architecture and history buffs.

Lijiang has been featured in many movies and TV series. It was a destination for the Amazing Race series in 2011.

Much of the old town is dominated by the grand view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, a perennially snowcapped giant that serves as a stunning backdrop for Dayan's traditional low-rise buildings.

Adventurers can scale its snowy heights in the colder seasons. And visitors can enjoy the mass-choreographed Impressions of Lijiang performance created by Zhang Yimou, staged with the mountain as the backdrop during the warmer months.

Lijiang emerged as a bastion for bohemians in the 1990s, when a few local inns opened to host a growing trickle of artists and travelers. Today, it's a hub for big businesses vying for patronage from the millions of annual arrivals.

There are, however, pockets of charm unperturbed by rampant development.

The local morning market by Dayan's city wall remains rustic. It offers a chance to interact with friendly Naxi vendors, who sell an array of items, from local fruits and vegetables to traditional crafts and folk art.

The best way to appreciate the old towns is to visit at the crack of dawn before the tourists arrive in hordes.

Start in Dayan by following the waterways that flow through most parts of the town. Take your time to enjoy the details of the architecture and elements of Chinese culture they convey. These include the calligraphy and traditional paintings that are pasted on the doors and columns, and the stone engravings and woodcarvings that adorn the buildings' exteriors.

Visit the Mu Residence, the resplendent abode of the last tusi (Naxi ruler) of Lijiang, and finish at the Sanqing Hall.

The areas surrounding the old towns host natural wonders like Lashi Lake, which is a scenic wetland region traversed by the traders of yore on the historic Tea and Horse Caravan Road.

Sadly, this attraction is host to horse farms and tour operators, who entice tourists with jaunty photos of horseback riding and boat rowing that overpromise on what they deliver for the cost.

Like many splendid natural and cultural heritage sites, rampant commercial activities have hindered many travelers' quests for meaningful local experiences.

But Lijiang's pockets of authenticity, exceptional architecture and picturesque countryside make it well worth visiting, still.

For China Daily

Left: Lashi Lake, a scenic wetland region traversed by the traders of yore on the historic Tea and Horse Caravan Road. Right: The Mu Residence, the resplendent abode of the last tusi (Naxi ruler) of Lijiang. Photo by Cedrik Tan / For China Daily 

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2018-12-04 07:38:29
<![CDATA[The face of changing China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/03/content_37346439.htm Yang Lan remains a constant presence as her TV career continues to blossom in parallel with the country, Liu Xiangrui reports.

TV host and entrepreneur Yang Lan says she is lucky that her entire career has overlapped with the major part of the country's reform and opening-up, which she calls "a golden three decades for television".

In fact, several major transitions in her career are actually consistent with the development path of the media and entire cultural industry in China.

"Reform gave me the chance to become a TV host in the first place," says Yang, with her signature smile, at her office in downtown Beijing.

In 1990, Yang, freshly graduated as an English major, stood out during her China Central Television recruitment because of her image and natural hosting style - being given the opportunity to host a new program called Zhengda Variety Show.

Yang says she was chosen as one of the hosts because the organization was looking to change its traditional hosting style, and her "clean background" as a young host became an advantage.

The program, which sought to introduce the outside world to a Chinese audience, was innovative, as it featured lighthearted studio interactions with guests.

With the program's rating reaching a record-high 20 percent, she became a household name nationwide.

Despite her success as a young anchor, Yang started thinking about the future, and surprised everyone when, in 1994, she resigned from CCTV and went to study for her master's degree in the United States.

"I wasn't satisfied, and eagerly wanted to see the world," Yang explains, though she had not figured out what exactly she was looking for and in which direction she was headed.

"Most young TV hosts in China tend to face bottlenecks later in their careers. I just believed that I should appreciate in value over time, rather than devalue."

Yang returned from the US in 2001 and started Yang Lan One on One, which was the first high-end TV interview program in China.

The show has become one of the longest running, and most influential, of its kind in China. It has featured interviews with around a thousand public figures, from various fields and many countries, covering hot topics in politics and economics, as well as social and cultural issues - each one offering the personal experiences.

According to Yang, she started the program after seeing the trend of a more in-depth integration between China and the world thanks to the fast development of the country.

"The shallow and general introductions about the outside world weren't enough anymore, the Chinese audience needed more thought and culture," Yang says.

In Yang's eyes, the real dividend of "reform and opening-up" comes from the liberation of individual creativity.

"We didn't have the chance to choose what we wanted to do before, and then we were given the chance. I am the one who is willing to take certain risks and I made my choice," Yang says.

Seeing great market potential in the media industry, Yang founded the Sun Media Group with her husband Wu Zheng, as well as establishing one of the earliest documentary channels in China in 1999.

After years of development, the company has become one of China's leading privately owned media groups, with businesses expanding from TV production and education to sports and cultural tourism.

Yang says her business venture hasn't been without challenges, but she has stuck to her belief, even during the most difficult times.

"We want to create truly original and valuable cultural products," Yang says.

In recent years, she has also learned to handle both the opportunities and challenges brought about by the fast transformation of media technology and its business models.

"Things change quickly. There is no need to panic, nor blindly follow the trends. Too often it's hard to keep up with the trends. I believe that adhering to originality, quality and content-rich products can help us survive," she says.

In recent years, her company has released several critically-acclaimed documentary programs, such as The Legend of Designers, which is about Chinese crafts and the beauty of craftsmanship, and In Search of Artificial Intelligence, a documentary on the development of artificial intelligence.

"I've always been thinking about how we can let the world know about what's happening in China," Yang says.

"You'll see in these programs that, with the development of science and technology, China has changed greatly, from mimicking others to paying great attention to originality; from quantity and appearance first, to quality and innovation first, with an emphasis on personal aesthetic values."

Nowadays Yang maintains tight schedules, and splits her time almost evenly between managing her company, creative work, such as hosting and planning new TV products, and her social work and philanthropy.

"I have gradually reshaped my way of thinking. I can be blown away by some great creative ideas like before, but now I have to think about the practical aspects, too, including how the ideas can be realized and at what cost," says Yang, speaking about her changing role.

As a celebrity, Yang is involved in many important social activities, including presenting on behalf of Beijing for the application to become the host city of the Olympics, both in 2001 and 2015, respectively.

According to Yang, she felt the different attitude of the Chinese people while applying for the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"We wanted to invite the world to see China when we applied in 2001, but the attitude changed in 2015, because by then we wanted to contribute more to the progress of the world of sports, so, in my presentation, I was particular in introducing the changes in China, the great prospects of our sports industry and its potential for the promotion of the global Olympic movement."

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-03 07:46:02
<![CDATA[Peony Pavilion gets a unique touch at outdoor performance venue]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/03/content_37346438.htm Imagine an entire 15-hectare cultural park as an outdoor site for a performance adapted from The Peony Pavilion, a well known masterpiece by Tang Xianzu, a playwright who lived in mid-16th and early 17th-century China.

For the performance, you need to move around to follow the progress of the show, which is staged in different areas and accompanied by fabulous lighting and water effects.

Tang wrote the play to be staged as a classic Kunqu Opera. Now, after two years of preparation, a large location-based modern interpretation is being staged in Tang's hometown Fuzhou, in East China's Jiangxi province.

Called The Dream of the Peony Pavilion, it is the first large-scale location-based performance adapted from a traditional Chinese play.

The show integrates traditional Chinese theater art, especially its singing and costumes, with modern stage techniques, including a complex sound and light system.

The Peony Pavilion, also called The Return of the Soul at the Peony Pavilion, is a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) romantic tragi-comedy written in 1598. It depicts a love story between the daughter of a high-ranking official and a young scholar.

In the end, they overcome all difficulties, transcend life and death, and finally get together.

Jointly produced by the Fuzhou Cultural & Tourism Investment Development Co and the Beijing Yangguangxinrui Culture Development Co under the Sun Media Group, the 80-minute show strings three parts of the original story together, with performances staged in three major areas of a cultural park built specifically for the show in Wenchangli, a heritage site in Fuzhou.

Dong Yong, the executive producer of the show, says the show's creative team wanted to "preserve the essence of the opera" while being innovative.

"We attached equal importance to the expressive power of traditional opera and its resonance with the audience," says Dong, who is himself a traditional opera enthusiast.

To allow the audience to appreciate the excerpts from the original opera, some difficult singing lines were adapted.

According to Liu Zhouming, the chief director of the show, cutting-edge stage technology is employed in the show to help improve the presentation of the classic work, including recreating all the pavilions, terraces and towers depicted in Tang's work.

The entire performance site has a lot of electric, lighting, acoustic and mechanical equipment to help achieve the desired stage effects, despite the huge difficulty in maintaining them.

Over 80 percent of the performances are completed on stages placed above water that can also move up and down.

There is a giant 360-degree water curtain, which rises to a height of 20 meters above the lake's surface during the show with multiple layers of laser images projected on it.

One of the highlights of the show is when the curtain rises and all the figures from the three realms jointly express their best wishes to the protagonists.

Wang Yugang, the chief designer of the stage and lighting, says: "Tang's work which uses dreams to reflect reality gives us much room for creativity when it comes to stage design."

Wang says that all of the large-scale stage buildings were constructed with regular wood or cement, so that the venue can be used as a tourist site during the day and a performance site during the night.

In a related development, 18 old houses dating back more than a century were carefully restored and skillfully incorporated into the performance.

A wall with a landscape painting showing the daily life of Ming, which is 156 meters long and nine meters high, was also created to give the audience a sense of immersion.

As the show progresses, the performers guide the audience who are touring the park at the same time.

The producer has designed two viewing routes and those taking the VIP route have a chance to appreciate the show from close quarters.

Zhang Xiaojun, a tourist from South China's Guangdong province, says: "The show was an eye opener as it allowed me to both enjoy authentic classic opera and appreciate a first-rate stage presentation."

Yang Lan, the president of Sun Media Group says: "Kunqu opera is a very elegant art and The Peony Pavilion is a classic play with a history of more than 400 years. So, how to make the audience understand the show and appreciate it was a big challenge for us.

"As a result, we put in great effort to achieve breakthroughs in re-creating the scenes and the atmosphere using technology."

The government of Fuzhou says that the show will become a core part of the local cultural tourism industry, which continues to dig into the legacy of Tang Xianzu and his work in a bid to raise the city's profile.

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2018-12-03 07:46:02
<![CDATA[Love and loathing from the footnotes of history]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/02/content_37342978.htm Few artifacts from the Sogdians have been found, but those that have been offer insights into their role in the ancient world

"Of all the more than 60 stone tablets unearthed in Luoyang and bearing the epitaph for their Sogdian owners, only one was discovered during official excavation," says Mao Yangguang, a professor of history at Luoyang Normal University.

For the past decade, Mao has been reading between those inscribed lines, hoping to garner more clues about a people who once controlled a crucial part of international trade but have become mere footnotes of history.

"The tomb-raiding once rampant in this part of the country has left little for us, but this particular one, which was intact upon its excavation by archaeologists, is of special importance," Mao says.

"This is because the tomb owner, a man named An Pu, was no ordinary trader like most of his contemporary Sogdians, but a general who once fought to defend the borders of the Tang Empire (619-907)."

An Pu's grandfather, who went by the name An Xili, was the tribal leader of a small Sogdian kingdom northwest of the Chinese empire, Mao says.

"Around 630 An Pu and his father, whose name we have no way of knowing, reneged on their nomadic overlord and submitted to Tang. Appearing in the pages of history as something of a war god, An Pu proved invincible on the battleground and was made a general by the Tang court."

The Sogdian general died in 664, age 64, and was later inhumed with his wife, who outlived him by 40 years. The burial ground was constructed by An Jinzang, An Pu's son, who, instead of leading a horseback life of his own, became a court musician.

"Between them the three generations of Sogdians witnessed the height of Tang, to which their own lives provided the most titillating annotations," Mao says.

"The love-hate relationship they had with the Chinese empire was characterized by mutual courtship and the occasional pang."

In an article written for the catalog of a Silk Road exhibition at the Henan Provincial Museum, Sun Ji, a Chinese historian, cited a Tang Dynasty travelogue in which the Sogdians were described as "shrewd, cunning and reckless".

Given that the Sogdians were first and foremost businessmen, this assessment may not be entirely groundless. However, local Chinese also found the Sogdian practice of consanguineous marriage deeply disturbing, Sun says. (It is true that until the early 20th century, it was perfectly normal for a Chinese to marry his or her cousin. But if the writings between the sixth and the eighth centuries are to be believed, it was acceptable for a Sogdian to marry his blood sister or even mother.)

Adding to this were the Sogdians' unconventional funerary traditions, which involved having the remains of the dead eaten by dogs. (Similar practices can be found in what is known as the "sky burial" of the Tibetans, whereby a human corpse is placed on a mountaintop to decompose or to be eaten by scavenging animals, mostly carrion birds. But if there is any concrete connection between the two, it has yet to be established.)

Consequently, although during the Tang era, especially its first half, the Sogdians had a prominent place in the life of the local Chinese, marriages between the two people were rare.

Personal sphere aside, this tinted view did little to prevent the Sogdians from making inroads into almost all other aspects of Chinese society, thanks in equal part to their great adaptability and the many skills they had acquired by tradition or by learning.

One of these was what seemed to be their natural prowess in dance and music, which largely explains the popularity of Sogdian servants among the wealthy elite of Tang. (Some of them were men of magic, as a pottery figurine unearthed in Gansu province, in northwestern China, clearly indicates. With both hands hidden behind his back, the man, whose high-bridged nose and thick beard revealed him as a Sogdian, was in the middle of playing finger tricks.)

Images of Sogdian musicians and dancers, rendered mostly as pottery figurines or on murals, abound in Tang Dynasty tombs, testifying to a willingness of the local Chinese to be entertained by the same people in their afterlife.

Some were also chiseled onto the gilt surface of various metal wares that bore the unmistakable influences of West Asia, influences brought by the Sogdians themselves and representing a more profound aspect of Silk Road exchanges.

In other cases the likeness of a Sogdian served unlikely functions in a rather amusing way, for example as a pottery granary stopper or a box lid.

Rong Xinjiang, a professor of history at Peking University, says many Sogdian men served as metalsmiths in the imperial workshops of Tang. But rather sadly, very little of their craftsmanship was later passed down to their Chinese counterparts, a fact that some historians believe was partly due to Chinese society's deeply entrenched bias against artisans. They were viewed as lesser mortals compared with the literati. So there was little effort in Chinese history to record and preserve what they were doing.

Between the fourth and 10th centuries, the Sogdian dominance of the Silk Road in effect turned their Eastern Iranian language into a lingua franca of Asian trade. On the other hand, their role as middlemen had given them a unique linguistic edge from a relatively young age; most Sogdian merchants were proficient in more than one tongue.

As a result, many well-educated members of the group were recruited by the Tang court as official interpreters. There were also others who converted to Buddhism and were active in translating religious scriptures.

"In retrospect, this latter engagement spared the ancient Sogdian language - at least its written form - the fate of total extinction," Rong says. "By comparing the original scripture with the Sogdian translation, historians have been able to decipher a large part of the archaic tongue."

One place where these precious documents used to be housed, Rong says, is in the Dunhuang Grottoes in northwestern China, whose 500 or so caves are treasure troves of Buddhist art. The Sogdian translations have been found in one particular cave, where the dry desert climate combined with a lack of oxygen have contributed to their remaining relatively intact.

"In fact, the Sogdians played a major role in religious transmission along the Silk Road, a role often overlooked," Rong says. "They helped to bring to China the Buddhist religion, which reached its height during the Tang time, and in this process themselves converted, from their original belief of Zoroastrianism."

Archaeological discoveries provide evidence of the conversion. Unearthed in the Buddhist shrine in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, is a clay head sculpture of a Sogdian gongyangren, or donor. Bearing in mind the wealth they accumulated in trade, it is not surprising that some of that wealth was offered up to temples of worship.

Another example involves a gilt bronze rendition of a Sogdian performer, leaping and twirling on top of an inverted lotus flower. The dance is purely Sogdian, but the flower, on which Avalokitasvara, or the Goddess of Mercy, is often seated, is commonly viewed as a symbol of Buddhism. (It should be noted that there were also Sogdians who took up Christianity and, as the earliest Christian believers in China, helped to disseminate their religious message in their adopted home.)

Changes took place not only in the religious sphere, Rong says.

"The two-way influence between the Sogdians and the local Chinese is encompassing to say the least. And there's no better place to observe this than the inside of their burial chambers.

"So far, no pre-fifth century Sogdian tombs have been discovered, for clear reasons: people at the time still preferred the aforementioned organic way of dealing with their bodies, a practice closely related to Zoroastrianism. However, stone-inscribed epitaphs for Sogdians started to appear in China around the late sixth century, a telltale sign of their gradual cultural conversion."

Mao of Luoyang Normal University says that almost all Sogdian tombs discovered in Luoyang have stone epitaphs - the wooden coffins have long rotted and been reduced to traces on the ground.

"Some epitaphs are dedicated simultaneously to the husband and wife."

Sogdian elements were introduced into the final resting place of their contemporary Chinese, not only in the forms of ceramic sculptures and murals.

"The Sogdians were cast not only as servants and entertainers, but also as retinues and protectors," Mao says, referring to a clay sculpture that used to guard the entrance to a Tang Dynasty tomb in Xi'an.

The tomb guards, indispensable for ancient Chinese burial grounds, usually took their images from ferocious animals, real or mythical. But this particular one has the pricked ears of a horse, the spiky wings of a unicorn, the stout legs of a lion and the fierce face of a Sogdian man.

We should not be surprised, says Sun Ji, a Chinese historian.

"Long under the rule of Xiongnu, the Sogdians themselves, although vulnerable in a way, also developed a tough side."

Needless to say, the long journey they took, often under unpredictable circumstances, also helped to inject a dose of hardiness into the Sogdian blood.

Thus came another profession of the Sogdians: to serve as mercenary soldiers among foreign troops, including that of Tang. And with the deepened influence that the Sogdians exerted over the Chinese empire in the seventh and eighth centuries, their presence in the Tang army took on a new dimension during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong (685-762).

"That was when, after nearly a century after the founding of Tang in 618, the fighting capacity of its troops had greatly dwindled," Sun wrote in an article. "At some point it was suggested to the emperor that the introduction of Sogdians as not only ordinary soldiers but also generals might provide a solution."

The emperor took the advice, and a couple of decades after the death of An Pu his men were enjoying a higher political profile.

Among them was An Lushan, no relation to An Pu, a Sogdian general stationed in what is today northeastern China. Having won the total trust of Emperor Xuanzong and his beloved concubine Yang Yuhuan, An Lushan, who was given more military power than any of his Sogdian predecessors, rebelled. One direct result was Xuanzong's fleeing from his royal palaces in Xi'an, palaces later sacked by the rebel troops. Another was the forced suicide of Yang during their escape, by angry soldiers who accused her of having fostered nepotism and misled the emperor.

The rebellions - another erupted soon after - were not completely put down until 763. Part of the blame was placed on the Sogdians, whose signature leaps and twirls, once part of Tang's dance routines, were now viewed as a deluding force.

This was not totally unjustified. An Lushan, a good dancer despite his plumpness, was believed to have first swirled himself into the favor of Yang Yuhuan, herself well-versed in dance and music. Meanwhile, Emperor Xuanzong, the self-proclaimed king of music, had taken under his personal tutelage more than a few Sogdian artists.

Forever gone was all the confidence and optimism associated with a golden era in Chinese history, and an openness that was a byproduct of that confidence.

At one time the Sogdians, after staying in China for more than three years, could officially register as Tang citizens. Some became court officials, their elevated status mirrored by the resplendent funerary objects filling their tombs.

However, not everyone was affected, Mao says.

"By the time people changed their attitude, many Sogdians had been living in China for so long - some were second- or even third-generation immigrants - that they had long stopped feeling like foreigners. The backlash sent little ripples across the local Sogdian community, although trade along the Silk Road did wane."

An Pu and his son An Jinzang were lucky enough to not have to live through all this. The son, a court musician who served the crown prince during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian (624-705), the only female monarch in Chinese history, earned himself a page in the annals of Tang through a rare act of loyalty.

According to historical record, the empress, after receiving a secret report that her son, the crown prince, was plotting against her, ordered an investigation. All who were close to the prince were thrown into torture chambers where confessions were extracted

An Jinzang was not immune. But he did not flinch. Instead, he cut his own abdomen with a knife, shouting to his investigator: "Let my heart prove what my words cannot."

However, he did not die. The empress, deeply shocked, ordered prompt treatment for him and the immediate closure of the case.

The crown prince later became emperor and was succeeded by his son, Emperor Xuanzong, during whose reign the rebellions took place. An Jinzang, for his part, lived a long life and died in 731, having been made a nobleman by the grateful father and son.

"His story reads more like a martyr than a merchant or mercenary," Mao says.

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2018-12-02 14:55:18
<![CDATA[Chengdu's all-day snacks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/02/content_37342977.htm Editor's Note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

Sichuan cuisine is known for its mala quality, a numbing spiciness that comes from the prolific use of its famous peppercorns. But Sichuan food is not just about heat. It includes a much broader spectrum of flavors, and this is best showcased by its vast variety of street snacks.

In Chengdu alone, you can be eating street food from morning till midnight, and you'd have just skimmed the surface of the available choices.

 

Chengdu loves a good skewer of meat or vegetables, which they call chuanchuan (above); Zhongshuijiao (above right) are dumplings served in hot oil. Photos Provided to China Daily

Let's take a trip, which begins with a leisurely cup of tea in the park, where pavilions and booths selling hot tea are a common sight. A lidded bowl of tea here is a morning ritual, and you sip it slowly, catching up on the day's news with a newspaper, or settling down as a friendly old man cleans your ears for a small fee.

He uses a bamboo sliver with a scooped edge, so tiny it looks like a caviar spoon. He would methodically clean your ears, and then brush it clean with another bamboo stick, this time tipped with a tiny clump of downy feathers.

Hot tea and ear-cleaning services - an odd but irresistible combination.

Now that you can hear perfectly, it's time to sally forth in search of breakfast.

Start with a bowl of soft, savory bean curd. The tender, custardlike curds are topped with pickled vegetables for a bit of crunch and then drizzled with hot oil.

Those with a sweet tooth can choose to eat their curds sweet, with a ladleful of brown sugar syrup. The curds are beloved in Sichuan, where they call it bean curd flower.

Or breakfast can be a bowl of noodles, if you can decide which variety you prefer.

There are the famous dan-dan noodles with savory meat sauce, little bowl noodles with tailor-made condiments that include sesame paste, soy, chili oil, herbs and Sichuan peppercorns, or the "sweet-water" noodles that are served with a sugary but spicy hot bean paste.

Chengdu folks have a fondness for innards, and a popular choice any time of the day is noodles served with chunks of large intestines doused with chili oil to help mask the gaminess.

Dumplings are also popular in Chengdu, and there are two or three very famous choices.

Hongyou chaoshou are large wanton dumplings served in a vinegary sauce spiced up with chili and Sichuan peppercorns. Named after the bright red sauce, these soft-skinned dumplings are fiery favorites.

Zhongshuijiao are also dumplings served in hot oil, but they're shaped differently.

Apart from noodles and dumplings, Chengdu loves a good skewer of meat or vegetables. They call these chuan-chuan.

Bamboo sticks are used to string up all sorts of ingredients and cooked in a spicy broth. These are then piled into a large basin and placed on the table. Diners pick out their favorites and then pay for what they eat.

There is also something called maocai, which is a selection of food such as fish, prawns, pork, beef, chicken or mutton cut up in slices or pieces. You choose your meat and add vegetables or tofu. The platter is then handed over to the cook, who then cooks up everything the way you want it, with the seasoning you prefer.

This stir-fry special is a city favorite for lunch, dinner or late night supper. At the same stall, you can often find another interesting off-cut - deep-fried nuggets of brain.

The brain has to be carefully cleansed of any blood vessels. It is blanched to firm it up and then coated in a crispy seasoned batter before being cooked in hot oil. For those who dare, the result is a crisp crunch at first bite, followed by the custardlike texture of the brains.

Those with a taste for the even more exotic can try another Chengdu specialty, spicy rabbit heads.

These skeletal tidbits are a favorite street-side snack, although it is a bit disconcerting to see pretty Sichuan lasses munching happily on a rabbit skull spotted with chili flakes.

Compared with this, the next Chengdu dish is positively tame. Granny's pig trotters are pig's feet cooked till they are fall-apart tender. They come in a thick soup, but you eat them dipped into spicy chili oil - what else?

Sometimes, the name intrigues more than the dish. "Lung slices by husband and wife" is one. It is a delicious stir-fry using beef, tongue, heart, tripe and intestines and the only organ it does not include is lung.

Still, misnomer or not, it remains one of the most popular dishes on the streets.

After the skewers and meats, Chengdu foodies love their desserts.

Glutinous rice balls are cooked in boiling syrup till they turn golden brown. They are then drained and cooled until a brittle sugar crust forms. Hongtang guozi, or brown sugar rice balls, are then sold skewered onto bamboo sticks.

They must be eaten hot, so the sugar crust crackles in the mouth, exposing the soft, hot glutinous centers.

Another dessert that Chengdu children of all ages love is something called three cannonballs, also made of glutinous rice flour.

Cooked rice flour balls are bounced onto a dough board where cymbals are placed. The balls hit the cymbals before ricocheting into a basin full of toasted soy bean flour.

Customers buy these snacks more for the acrobatic skills of the vendor than the actual dumpling, but that's where the fun lies.

The candy artist also sells his skills and delights in exhibiting them. Using a special funnel, he draws with heated caramel and artfully turns out flowers, butterflies or even dragons as his customers watch.

As the caramel hardens, the candy becomes edible art.

And finally, there are the jellies.

Wobbly cakes made from bean pastes and starches are eaten with sweet or spicy sauces. Collectively known as liangfen or cool cakes, the plain white cakes are made of potato starch, and the yellow cakes from mung beans.

There is also a transparent jelly made from fig sap known as bing liangfen or iced jelly. These are served cold with brown sugar syrup.

These are just some of Chengdu's street snacks. To fully savor the whole range, you'd have to get an airplane ticket and plan for a very long, very delicious holiday.

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2018-12-02 14:55:18
<![CDATA[Rock steady beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/02/content_37342976.htm Three decades later, China's godfather of rock 'n' roll is still on the road

When Cui Jian stepped onto the stage to perform at a concert at Beijing Workers' Stadium in 1986, few Chinese knew what rock 'n' roll was.

At the packed venue, Cui, then 25, performed his original song Nothing to My Name.

That song opened a chapter in China's rock music story and marked the start of a journey that would eventually make Cui the country's godfather of rock 'n' roll.

 

Cui Jian, Chinese rock 'n 'roll singer, gives many performances worldwide each year. Photos by Song Xiaohui / China Daily

 

Now, more than 30 years later, the 57-year-old Cui, wearing his trademark white cap with a red star on it, is still on the road.

On Dec 6 and 7, he will perform two shows along with his bandmates at Blue Note Beijing, the first Chinese branch of the Blue Note Jazz Club, the famous New York establishment.

Unlike his shows at stadiums, theaters and outdoor music festivals across the country, which attract tens of thousands of people, Cui will offer an intimate live performance experience for his fans and perform his songs with new jazz arrangements.

"We give many performances worldwide each year, and we want to do something different every year," says Cui. "The two shows at Blue Note Beijing will have different repertoires. I don't plan to perform some of my best-known hits, like Nothing to My Name, Greenhouse Girl, False Monk and Rock 'n' Roll on the New Long March. But maybe I will perform the songs if the audience requests them. I don't know yet."

One of the songs he is going to perform, however, is Another Space, which was featured on his 1998 album The Power of the Powerless.

Cui rarely performs it because the song, which combines electronic music and rock, is demanding and the song is heavy and philosophical.

"During the rehearsals, we rearranged the song by taking off electronic music elements, which gave the song a different dimension," says Cui. "I am looking forward to sharing it with the audience."

The Blue Note was founded in 1981 by Danny Bensusan in New York's Greenwich Village. Many legendary jazz musicians, including Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock, have performed on the Blue Note stage.

Ever since Blue Note Beijing opened in the summer of 2016, Cui has watched shows there, including some of the biggest jazz names in the world.

"I am a big jazz music fan and some of my band members are jazz musicians.

"I am open to different music genres because each of them gives me unique energy," says Cui, adding how music from South Africa and Latin American has inspired him.

His longtime band members include saxophonist Liu Yuan and bassist Liu Yue.

Speaking about the shows, Cui says: "Rock, jazz and classical music, these three different music genres have influenced me. And I am excited to see how these music elements merge onstage and, most important, I want to see the reaction of the audience."

Commenting on Cui, Wu Jiajia, in charge of the performances by Chinese entertainers at Blue Note Beijing, says: "Cui has been pushing boundaries for a while now. For example, he performed with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in 2010 and, this time, the audience will enjoy some of his rarely performed songs with fresh twists."

Cui, who was born to a musician father and a dancer mother, is a classically trained singer-songwriter who joined the Beijing Symphony Orchestra as a trumpet player in 1981, where he started to learn the guitar and formed a band with other classically trained musicians.

Speaking about his life, Cui says: "I am lucky to be born into a family of artists.

"My parents' friends are all artists. So I talked to them, learned with them and I wanted to live a life like them. There was no other job than being a musician that was good enough for me," he says.

Cui has also starred in movies such as The Sun Also Rises (2007), directed by award-winning filmmaker Jiang Wen. And he made his directorial debut in 2013 with Blue Sky Bones, which features his own music.

Cui's last album, Frozen Light, was released in 2015. Regarded as his musical comeback, and 10 years after his album, Show Your Color, it explores the theme of light, darkness and space with tracks such as Fish and Bird, Outside Girl and Cool Melon Tree.

Speaking about his work, Cui says: "I am not a productive musician. That's because for each song I write, I want to find the most accurate lyrics and melodies to express myself."

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2018-12-02 14:55:18
<![CDATA[The man who helped design China's urban landscape]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/02/content_37342975.htm Since meeting with Deng Xiaoping in 1978, Singaporean has helped plan nearly 50 cities nationwide

He is best known as Singapore's "father of city planning", but Liu Thai Ker can also boast of having a hand in shaping the urban landscape in China.

You could say it started in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore.

"I was asked to take care of him as I could speak Mandarin well," recalls Liu, the chairman of Morrow Architects & Planners, who served as chief planner and CEO of Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority from 1989 to 1992.

Deng was taken to the rooftop of the Ministry of National Development building, where Liu explained Singapore's urban planning.

"I like to think that partly because of that, when Deng went back to China a few months later, he made the announcement (that China would learn) urban planning from Singapore," Liu, 80, says.

Back then, Liu was a junior staff member at the Housing and Development Board of Singapore, where he rose to become chief architect and CEO.

"I was an ignorant young man, but I knew that Deng was a very important reformer for China," he says. "He was very down-to-earth with no airs. He asked pointed, practical questions. I was very comfortable briefing him. He made a very good impression."

A year later, Liu made his first visit to China, where he made stops in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, and had the chance to see the country at the start of reform and opening-up.

"I saw the historic parts of Beijing, with a lot of siheyuan," he says, referring to the capital's traditional courtyard homes. "Unfortunately, most of them are gone already.

"In those days, people in the street wore either black or blue colors. They were very drab-looking, and yet the historic buildings were so beautiful."

It wasn't until the early 1980s that Liu received his first commission to plan a city in China - Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province - through the Singapore government.

His experience on the topic stems from planning new towns for Singapore, each capable of accommodating about 200,000 people. By the end of his 20-year HDB career in 1989, he had created 23 new towns, including public housing and complementary facilities and amenities for their residents, such as playgrounds for the children and community centers for recreational activities.

"When I did the planning at HDB, I also planned the surroundings to protect the neighborhoods," Liu says. "This meant I would have to keep updated on the urban plan of Singapore. By extension, I had no problems planning a city."

A lot of convincing

That the city in question was Fuzhou was probably no coincidence. The ethnic Chinese living in Singapore mostly had roots in southern Chinese provinces like Guangdong and Fujian.

"It was probably to encourage them to invest in China, too," Liu says.

On a more personal note, Liu's mother hailed from Fuzhou, which further compelled him to take up the commission.

"As a child, I heard a lot of stories about the city, so I was comfortable," he says. "For example, Fuzhou has the nicknames of Rongcheng (banyan tree city) and Sanshan (three hills). In fact, I went to Sanshan Primary School, established by the Fuzhou people living in Singapore."

One of the first things he did in Fuzhou was to look for the three hills. When he could not find them, he realized it was because there were no roads leading to the hills and they were obstructed by buildings.

"I created roads around the hills so they can be seen more easily," he says.

Another cause he championed was the preservation of the city's historical buildings. The most famous area is Sanfangqixiang (three lanes, seven alleys), which had been home to the literati, government officials and the wealthy upper class. However, rather than preserve the area, the local authorities were determined to raze it to the ground.

"Those were beautiful buildings with unique styles that you don't see elsewhere in China," Liu says. "It took a lot of convincing not to demolish them."

He found himself repeating the same arguments when it came to the Minjiang River that runs through the city. Although it was filled with sewage, Liu could see its potential.

"They protested, but I forced them to select a site to put a sewage treatment plant to treat the sewage so the river would become clean," he says.

In the early 1990s, toward the end of Liu's work on the Fuzhou master plan, Xi Jinping, now president of China, was appointed Party secretary of Fuzhou.

Liu met with Xi to brief him on his plans for the city. Later, he was asked to design the Fuzhou Changle International Airport. "I said no because I had never planned an airport," Liu recalls.

A few months later, Xi visited Singapore and asked to see Liu privately, and again he broached the subject. "He said he appreciated two things about me: First, the timely delivery of the Fuzhou master plan, and second, its good quality."

Xi said if Liu could do that, then he was confident Liu could do the same for the airport. In the end, Liu accepted and had the Changi Airport Group help out.

An important learning point was not to underestimate the rate of urbanization in China. While Liu consciously planned for the long-term growth of the city, it developed much faster than anticipated.

"The change of China is really dramatic," he says. "In those days, when I planned the area, I thought it would last a long time. But actually the rate of urbanization has moved much faster than that."

Last year, the Fuzhou government knocked on his door again to ask him to plan greater Fuzhou, which will stretch all the way to the coast. He is now working on the master plan.

Back in the '80s, before he finished planning Fuzhou, Liu received his second commission - for Xiamen Island, also in Fujian. Again, the thirst for progress drove the authorities to want to pull down historic buildings to replace them with skyscrapers.

Liu says: "I told them if you insist on pulling down these buildings, it's like throwing the gold mine of tourism into the sea. Do you really want to do that?"

Today, visitors to Xiamen Island can see a neighborhood of heritage shophouses that Liu saved from demolition. They can also make a stop at Yuandang Lake, which Liu says was a "cesspit of sewage" when he first visited.

The authorities had insisted on breaking the dam that divided the lake and the sea, and let the water flow out.

"I told them it was one of the highlights of the city and that they were not allowed to," Liu says. "One day in a meeting, I sat down and said I'm not going to dismiss the meeting until we find the solution for a sewage treatment plant to treat the lake - so we talked until we did."

For many years now, Xiamen Island has been rated one of the most livable areas in China, Liu says with pride.

"Old habits die hard," he says. "You needed to give a lot of explanations to convince them. But I sensed they were all patriotic about rebuilding China, so if you told them it would be good for the city, at the end, they would accept."

Another noteworthy project was the master plan for Ningbo, Zhejiang province, which Liu did after he left the Singapore civil service to join RSP Architects Planners and Engineers as senior director.

To show just how important the project was to the Singapore government, the city-state's founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, joined in the final presentation of the concept to the Ningbo authorities.

Liu remembers wanting to plan the area around the port.

"It took me three and a half hours to drive there," he says. "Ten years later, when I returned to the city and asked them to show it to me, it took me 35 minutes to drive to the port. That's the power of planning."

Architectural history

A more recent project is one in Xi'an that was approved in 2016. It is a master plan for a new central business district that will connect the capital of northwestern China's Shaanxi province with Xianyang, a neighboring historic city to the west.

Integral to the plan is a line linking the central business district to a site dating back to the Northern Zhou Dynasty (557-581).

Rather than ignore such an ancient site, Liu included a pedestrian walkway along the line that will be paved with contemporary buildings designed in architectural styles progressing from the Northern Zhou Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

"When you walk along this line, you walk through China's architectural history," he says.

Liu has planned close to 50 cities in China over almost 35 years. More are in the pipeline, in places such as Qingdao, Yantai and Jinan, all in Shandong province.

Two years ago, he was appointed chief planning adviser to Yunnan province and has been busy working on plans for greater Kunming, Shangri-la and Dali.

He said urbanization in China has become more sophisticated, thanks in part to the Chinese people and their extensive travels. This has inevitably affected the way Liu designs master plans for his Chinese clients.

"I have to provide a greater range of urban facilities to satisfy their needs," he says. "For example, I have to show them more clearly the education plan, such as the location of the universities.

"In the past two to three years, President Xi Jinping has been emphasizing more than before about the importance of the protection of ecological areas. They are also more specific about what they want to use the space in the cities for."

Even as he works, Liu is conscientious about imparting his knowledge of urban planning to Chinese planners. He often uses the analogy of cooking, saying there are three things required to design a good city.

The first is good raw materials. Most cities in China have outstanding ones by way of historic buildings and gifts endowed by Mother Nature.

Second, the recipe must be well-written. Chinese urban planning needs help in this area, which is why he goes there to help them "write the recipe".

Third, good cooking skills are important. This means the implementation of the plan has to be strictly enforced.

"I describe the Singapore urban planning experience used by me as being updated, Asianized, Western planning theory," he says. "While the concept of urban planning originated from the West, it cannot be used wholesale in Asia, since 60 percent of the world's population lives on 30 percent of the world's land area - making it high-density. The demands on urban planning are more complex than before. For example, there are challenges like industrialization, pollution and traffic.

"This approach is not well understood in the West and China, therefore I feel they have not quite reached the level of understanding we take for granted in Singapore."

Still, Liu says he feels other Asian countries have plenty to learn from China.

"In the context of urban planning, China has four strengths," he says. "It has a strong government, so if you have a good idea, it will be implemented. It has total ownership of land. If you want to develop, the most important capital of development is the land. China is economically well off. Whenever there is the need for infrastructure investment, they can afford to do so.

"Finally, there has been a large amount of urbanization in the past four decades. The planners in China are more experienced and sophisticated than in many other places, which have not gone through the same process," Liu says.

Liu often tells his Chinese clients that China, in the near future, will be the best country in the world in terms of its military, economics, culture and science. To complete the list, they must create good cities. "That part is their biggest challenge," he says.

For China Daily

 

Liu Thai Ker talks with local media in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Nov 20, 2013. Zhang Chang / China News Service

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2018-12-02 14:55:18
<![CDATA[The relic hunter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/01/content_37340458.htm For three decades, Duan Shengkui has devoted himself to building a collection of wartime artifacts that tell the story of Yunnan between 1937 and 1945

Over the past 30 years, Duan Shengkui has accumulated more than 100,000 items relevant to the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), in a bid to raise awareness of part of history that, he believes, deserves more attention.

Duan, a 53-year-old native in Tengchong, in the western part of Yunnan province, started his longtime collection with 200 pieces that he originally used as props while playing at being soldiers with his childhood friends.

"It was easy for us to find game props and costumes. There were real guns, helmets and military uniforms left over from the war period. Almost every household in our village kept some," Duan says, explaining it was a popular pastime for rural children to play the "game of war" back then.

Duan's hometown was one of the battlefields during the War of Resistance. His uncle, Duan Yueren, was a member of the Kuomintang party and headed one of the three famous anti-Japanese guerrilla units in Tengchong during the conflict.

From both his father and his grandfather, Duan learned about the heinous crimes committed by the Japanese army.

"I heard a lot of tragic stories about the villagers being brutally treated by the aggressors," says Duan, explaining that, in the early 1940s, more than 200 people from the local area were killed by Japanese troops after one of their officers was shot dead by the guerrillas.

"It has always been my dream to ensure that more people know about the crimes committed by the Japanese aggressors in western Yunnan and the unwavering resistance of the Chinese people."

While in high school, Duan was inspired by magazine articles about hobbies such as stamp collecting and decided that he would start collecting items related to the War of Resistance. Starting with the "game props" he already had, he began searching for all kinds of war relics.

At first, he exchanged items he wanted, while some people offered him artifacts for free, but eventually he started to spend money on his growing collection.

It was when Duan was in college that he started to research history behind items in his collection and was surprised to discover that his hometown's part in the War of Resistance was not as widely known or as frequently recorded in historical materials as events that took place elsewhere.

"Few people, such as my classmates, were aware of it, which was a sharp contrast to the stories I heard," Duan says.

Gradually, Duan had the idea to narrow his focus and collect more relevant items with a view to one day establishing a themed museum.

In the beginning, Duan primarily sought out military items used by the Japanese troops during the war, before he gradually realized that it was important to collect things used by the Chinese army and its international allies, such as the US "Flying Tigers", to comprehensively and accurately reflect the war.

Duan started working for the local branch of the Agricultural Bank of China in the mid-1980s, and he has used large proportion of his income to build his collection of war relics.

As well as extensively traveling through villages and towns in Tengchong to look for artifacts left over from the war period, he has even traveled to Japan, the United States, Myanmar and India to attend auctions in his bid to find suitable items to expand his collection.

Duan would carefully search and verify each item before he decide to acquire it, and years of study and extensive reading have made Duan an expert himself. He can easily tell the differences between different types of weapons and uniforms, among other things, accurately identifying the factories and the year in which they were produced.

In the eyes of Duan's friend Ge Shuya, a local expert on the War of Resistance in Western Yunnan, Duan's limited income in the early years forms a sharp contrast with his rich collection now.

"He had to live a frugal life back then, but he didn't balk at paying for relics he believed were important," Ge says.

Spending almost all of his salary on his collection, Duan had to apply for loans in order to support his family. Later, Duan started collecting more valuable antique pieces that he could sell to repay his loans.

Duan estimates that, over the course of his 30-years of collecting, he has spent more than 30 million yuan ($4.4 million) collecting relics and items related to the War of Resistance in Western Yunnan.

Despite the misunderstanding and doubts of others, even being called "crazy" by people - including members of his own family - Duan says that he doesn't regret devoting himself to his collection.

"It's about Tengchong's history, it's very important," says Duan.

Eventually, after gathering enough items to exhibit, in 2005 Duan was able to realize his dream and establish a museum in Heshun, an ancient town in Tengchong. It opened with about 7,000 pieces on display, each carefully arranged according to Duan's own ideas.

When someone asked Duan if he was trying to stir up hatred through his exhibition, Duan replied: "Hatred should be resolved, but memory and history must be preserved forever. A nation without awareness of its history and struggle is dangerous. I spent half of my life doing this to alert every citizen."

In addition to continuing his search for relics, Duan is keen to record the stories of old soldiers who fought in the War of Resistance. According Duan, while the relics are physical evidence, the surviving soldiers' narrations are more vivid and a valuable historical record. Unfortunately, he notes, they are a rapidly diminishing resource and are far more difficult to collect.

Li Yingqing in Kunming contributed to the story.

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2018-12-01 07:18:18
<![CDATA[Visitors flock to Yunnan memorial]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/01/content_37340457.htm

Unlike most public museums, the Memorial for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in Western Yunnan, located in Tengchong city of Yunnan province, is a very special one.

Nearly all of the 80,000 items kept in the memorial were compiled by a native collector named Duan Shengkui over the past 30 years.

The memorial was built by the local government with an investment of 150 million yuan ($22 million) and opened to the public for free in 2013.

With a diverse collection of pieces the memorial is arranged in such a way that it can be used not just for exhibition, but for research and education.

Now, a national-level one museum, the venue has become a popular tourist site in Tengchong and received over three million visitors in 2017, ranking first among all of Yunnan province's cultural tourist destinations.

Separated into several sections, the museum not only displays various relics from the war, from weapons, documents, pictures and items used in daily life, but also shows the local history of the War of Resistance and its effect on that part of the country, especially regarding the Chinese Expeditionary Force and the battle for the key supply line linking China's Yunnan province and Myanmar.

Although Tengchong is located on the corner of China's southwest border, it is one of the battlefields that witnessed some of the fiercest fighting during the War of Resistance.

In September 1944, Tengchong became the earliest county town to be recovered by Chinese army during the war. The town, once a prosperous waypoint on the Tea-horse Ancient Road in Southwest China, was almost completely destroyed during the battle for its liberation.

It was estimated that, during its nearly three-year occupation by Japanese troops from May 1942, more than 90,000 civilians were killed and 28,000 homes were destroyed in the Baoshan area, which Tengchong is a major part of.

A lot of the memorial's arrangement ideas were borrowed from an earlier private museum established by Duan in 2005.

On entering the memorial, the audience can see a thought-provoking display of 1,300 steel helmets arranged in a matrix on three walls, as if seeing many soldiers marching through in units.

According to Duan, these steel helmets, which are of different types and used by soldiers of different nations during the war, were collected by him visiting houses in his hometown over the years, and some even have bullet holes in them.

Duan is also good at artistic reconstruction in his arrangements, using a large number of real cultural relics, accompanied by painted backgrounds and silica gel figures, as well as the sound effects of rumbling guns and airplanes.

To create one single large-scale battle scene in the memorial, Duan used hundreds of relics from his collection.

The exhibition ends with a key he was given by a local villager. It is said to be the key to a forgotten Japanese arms depot, which was turned in by a Japanese soldier after he surrendered.

"The key represents suspense. There is more about this part of history, and more relics waiting for me to identify and collect," says Duan, whose collection has gradually expanded to more than 10,000 pieces.

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2018-12-01 07:18:18
<![CDATA[An eye on history]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/01/content_37340456.htm A new book records the life of Chinese under Dutch colonial rule in Java in the 17th and 18th centuries

Over 40 years ago when Professor Leonard Blussé of Leiden University was a young student he was introduced to a Chinese book chronicling the lives of the Chinese people in Batavia (today's Jakarta) in the 17th and 18th centuries. He found it fascinating and made it his goal to translate it into English. But due to the complexity of the language and the dialects involved, he had to shelve the project.

Then 10 years ago, he met Professor Nie Dening from Xiamen University in Fujian province, and they decided to do the work together. Their book, The Chinese Annals of Batavia, the Kai Ba Lidai Shiji and Other Stories, was recently published by Brill, a long-standing Dutch publishing house. It edits, annotates and translates the original book entitled Kai Ba Lidai Shiji.

Professor George Bryan Souza of the University of Texas at San Antonio, a historian on global maritime economic history, is full of praise for the book, saying "Blussé and Nie have produced an exemplary volume."

He says aside from its scholarly importance, it will appeal to anyone interested in Southeast Asian history, Chinese history, and intercultural history.

It is a timely reminder of the maritime trading routes that were the precursor of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that countries are building today.

Zhuang Guotu, former dean of the Research School for Southeast Asia Studies at Xiamen University, says that Kai Ba Lidai Shiji is an important work for reconstructing Southeast Asian history. "That the two professors spent 10 years to compile the English annotated version is a reflection of their academic quality and dedication, and blazes a new path for Sinology research in the world."

The original book

A manuscript of Kai Ba Lidai Shiji by an anonymous author, circulated at the end of the 18th century. The two annotators speculate that the author might have been the secretary of the Kong Koan of Batavia, a semi-autonomous organization, in which the local elite of Jakarta's Chinese community supervised and coordinated its social and religious matters - as they believe that only a secretary would be in possession of in-house information, and that it might have taken its present form in 1793,

Historical accounts compiled by the Chinese in Southeast Asia are very rare, because most of them headed south for business, focusing more on commercial benefits rather than literary cultivation. The Kai Ba Lidai Shiji is all the more precious as it chronicles the lives and work of Chinese people between 1610 and 1795 and their troubled relationship with the Dutch colonists.

"The text is a mix of languages: Fujian dialect, Malay, and Dutch, and full of ancient, variant, colloquial, (then) simplified and coined words of Chinese ... it took great efforts to turn them all into English. The two annotators have unlocked a wealth of historical accounts for us and the book makes for smooth and riveting reading" said Zhuang at the launch of the book.

Not straightforward annals

Kai Ba Lidai Shiji is a chronological narration based on major events, such as the appointments and successions of governors and captains. But the author of Kai Ba Lidai Shiji heeds the words of Confucius, who said that historical accounts should adopt the techniques of Chun Qiu (the technique of portraying the character), showing the author's tastes and attitudes in the natural flow of events. The author of Kai Ba Lidai Shiji describes characters and emotions in a brief and vivid manner. Portraits are not rigid and stylized, and the characters are richer and more vivid than can be found in most historical records of the times. Some figures here, like Su Minggang, Guo Jun, wife of Yan Erguan, a coffin bearer, are very memorable.

And the author did not, or made little effort to conceal his true impressions. He gives a straightforward account of people and events without much reservation. For example, a jiada (leader of the Chinese) who was unable to write is treated with contempt by the author, a cultured man. Another jiada, who came into office in a ceremony with much fanfare, but died after a year, is mocked by the author who says it as the working of karma. A boedelmeester (or curator of wills, the title for a Chinese in charge of an orphanage) is even cursed by the author who calls for him to be "sonless" for not showing the generosity expected of his position. This "local gazetteer" thus has an unfamiliar and charming sincerity.

Filling a gap in history

What is worth mentioning that the account in the Kai Ba Lidai Shiji of the Batavia massacre is much more detailed than any other Chinese accounts.

The author traces the roots of the massacre all the way back to 1619, when the Dutch occupied Jakarta, and changed its name to Batavia. In the early days of Dutch Batavia, residents were scarce and the city needed a large number of workers, shop assistants, bakers and undertakers and Chinese took these jobs.

The Chinese and Dutch colonists lived in the city peacefully for a century, but the Dutch colonial powers required the Chinese to carry registration papers, deporting those who did not comply. The massacre was triggered by a rumor claiming deportees were not being taken to Ceylon to work in the sugar plantations as claimed but were instead being thrown overboard once the ships carrying them were out of sight of Java. The Chinese, who had long fermented grievances against the Dutch began to gather around Batavia. In October 1740, the colonists, fearing a response from inside the city, started slaughtering Chinese, killing more than 8,000. Blussé pays a great deal of attention to the description as he says that the details accord closely to those he saw in files in the Dutch archives.

"I have been writing a monograph on the massacre. I have read a variety of materials. The description of Kai Ba Lidai Shiji is clearly close to the matter. It shows us the conflict from many angles. The analysis of the cause of the matter is also convincing, especially regarding the internal contradictions of the Dutch administration. The relevant materials preserved by the Dutch East India Company corroborate the account," says Blussé.

Plain details show the early Chinese's life

Dutch records and realist paintings in the 17th and 18th centuries were much appreciated in Europe, and they are considered relatively reliable records. The book contains 20 illustrations, including works by Dutch painters, that try to reveal the life of the Chinese in Batavia.

The author is a researcher at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies on Chinese Literature, Xiamen University.

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2018-12-01 07:17:27
<![CDATA[Maritime museum witness exchanges]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/01/content_37340455.htm BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - As Brunei and China have enhanced trade and investment cooperation in recent years, more and more Chinese come to visit the country that has a long history of business and cultural exchanges with China.

In Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum, close to Brunei's ancient capital Kota Batu, a 500-year-old shipwreck witnessed the history of ancient maritime silk road linking China, Brunei and rest of Southeast Asia.

"The history of communication and exchange between Brunei and China can date back to 1,500 years ago and we have many relics and sites, but the Brunei shipwreck is the biggest one," said Dr Karim Osman, an archaeologist and former director of Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum.

The shipwreck was discovered in 1997 during a geophysical survey, 32 nautical miles off the coast at 62 meters deep. The excavations uncovered 13,261 artifacts, of which the majority were ceramics from China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Based on the ceramics found, the shipwreck is dated to late 15th to early 16th century. It is believed that the ship originated from China or Southeast Asia and have sunk due to foul weather or overloading.

The Brunei shipwreck marks the most important discovery in Brunei's maritime archaeological history. This discovery revealed crucial information on the role of Brunei in maritime trade in the late 15th to early 16th century.

Karim said the most important artifacts found in the shipwreck are 4,565 blue-and-white porcelains from Jingdezhen of China's Jiangxi province, accounting for one third of all the artifacts.

All those porcelains are displayed behind the glass shield, but visitors can still see the details of blue and white decorative pattern, and vivid birds and flowers. Many of them are covered with remains of maritime creatures, but a few are as clean as newly made in modern times.

"This porcelains were transported by river from Jingdezhen to Quanzhou, a major port in China's coastal Fujian province, and then shipped out to Southeast Asia, including Brunei," the archaeologist said.

"We also found a tomb of Chinese official named Pu Gong, who lived during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and died in Brunei. It means the trade and communication between the two countries started over 1,000 years ago," he added.

Outside the museum entrance, visitors can easily find the Brunei River flowing northeast to the Brunei Bay in the South China Sea.

"When the tide ebbs in the river, we can even see some porcelains glittering under the river channel. The ancient Brunei capital Kota Batu had a port along the river and a lot of ships had run between China and Brunei. The shipwreck is not the only one, I believe many still remain undiscovered under the sea," he said.

Karim pointed to a hill behind the museum and said that near the Kota Batu historic site, even now people can still find porcelain pieces, as the ancient people in the capital used many Chinese porcelain in their daily life.

"It is widely known in Brunei that one of our ancient sultans, the Abdul Majid Hassan was buried in Nanjing of China after he passed away during his visit to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in 1408 with a son and two daughters," he said. "The Ming emperor sent his son back to Brunei with a tablet moaning the Brunei sultan, but the tablet was lost and should be buried near this hill," he said, marveling the long history of ties between the two countries.

Xinhua

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2018-12-01 07:17:27
<![CDATA[Once more with falling stars]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/01/content_37340438.htm The Michelin Guide returns to Shanghai and looks to have hit back against criticisms of its play-it-safe approach

In what appears to be a response to those who have deemed the Shanghai Michelin Guide too mild and biased toward Cantonese and French restaurants, the 2019 edition, which was released in late September, has shaken the boat a little by stripping three restaurants of their stars.

The most notable of the three was Tang Court, which received three stars in the first two guides. It is now a two-star establishment alongside the likes of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Canton 8, which made headlines for being the cheapest two-star restaurant on the planet in the inaugural edition.

 

This downgrade also means that Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, which serves innovative cuisine by combining food with multisensory technologies, is the only three-star restaurant in Shanghai.

Jin Xuan, a Cantonese restaurant in Ritz Carlton Pudong, and Kanpai, a Japanese-style establishment on the Bund, both lost their only stars in the current edition.

A total of 34 restaurants were awarded Michelin stars in the 2019 edition, up by four last year. The winners this year include one new two-star restaurant and five debutants in the one-star category.

Although some have pointed out the departure of Tang Court's chef as the reason behind the loss of its star, industry insiders told China Daily that it is not so much a matter of the restaurant resting on its laurels but more of the tire manufacturer's response to criticism in China.

Each of the guide's former editions has been slammed for overlooking Shanghainese and other types of Chinese cuisine and instead dishing out stars to Cantonese restaurants. Statistics from the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration show that nearly a quarter of the 43,000 restaurants and eateries in the city offer traditional or modern Shanghainese cuisine, also know as benbangcai, yet these establishments account for less than 10 percent of the winners in the inaugural guide.

Spicy Sichuan cuisine and refined Huaiyang cuisine, both of which can be easily found in Shanghai, also had a dismal presence in the inaugural guide.

The latest Shanghai MichelinGuide seems to have addressed these issues with diversity. Among the new entrants in the one-star category are Moose, which serves Huaiyang cuisine, Xin Rong Ji, which specializes in Taizhou cuisine from East China's Zhejiang province, and Amazing Chinese Cuisine (Jing Xi Hui), a Chaozhou cuisine restaurant.

President of Michelin China Bruno de Feraudy said at the news conference that the restaurant scene in Shanghai could be best summarized by the words "dynamic" and "global" as the city of 24.8 million residents has accommodated not only the most traditional and modern cuisines, but also a variety of foods from all over the world.

He expressed hope that local foodies could use the Michelin stars to explore the dynamics of Shanghai as well as China, seeing as to how the guide was released in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, earlier this year.

But the guide is not merely expanding geographically in China. In May, the tire company announced a strategic and long-term partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall which would attempt to "leverage the power of online retailing to explore possibilities of localizing global delicacies".

As part of this partnership, three Michelin-starred chefs in Shanghai have been commissioned to create nine recipes using imported foods sold on Tmall such as New Zealand salmon and Australian wagyu beef. Supported by instructional cooking videos, the recipes have been specially designed for the country's young and tech-savvy households who value home cooking as a healthier, instead of cheaper, alternative to eating out or ordering in.

Tough competition

The move to expand its footprint in China comes at a time when the company is facing increasing competition from brands such as World's 50 Best Restaurants and local companies such as Dianping.com which have their own food influencers. In fact, the website launched its own China restaurant guide earlier this year and uses diamonds instead of stars for rating.

Called Black Pearl, the guide has singled out 28 one-diamond restaurants as "must try once in a lifetime" dining establishments, with five of them located in Shanghai. According to Dianping.com, each restaurant featured in the Black Pearl has been reviewed by at least three judges. About 200 anonymous judges, one-third of whom are chefs, are part of the judging process. The bills are covered either by the website or the judges themselves. None of the judges are paid for their efforts.

"It takes passion, cash and patience to create a guide like this. And we are not planning to make money from it," said Wang Xing, CEO of Dianping.com.

After all, the Shanghai-headquartered company is hardly short of cash. In 2017, the company - it has more than 250 million active users and listings of 7 million shops and restaurants in 2,800 Chinese cities and counties - generated transactions worth 360 billion yuan ($51.9 billion).

"Black Pearl is not trying to be the Chinese version of the Michelin Guide. Rather, it is aiming to be a world-class list compiled by Chinese for Chinese," said Zhang Chuan, vice president of the company who led the compilation of the guide.

But it is not the only company that is trying to influence the choices of Chinese diners.

Another new competitor is Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency. This year, the company introduced its "Ctrip Gourmet List" for Shanghai, with editions for dozens of other cities to be followed. But unlike the Michelin Guide, which is renowned for maintaining the anonymity of its inspectors, this list has proudly displayed its judges, who include Dong Keping, the consultant for China's most watched food documentary A Bite of China, Chinese celebrity chef Liu Yifan and Chinese singer-turned chef Lin Yilun.

In January, Ctrip also announced a collaboration with US online restaurant reservation service provider Open Table to facilitate bookings at tens of thousands of restaurants across North America.

A poll conducted by Hotels.com in 2017 showed that food was the third-most important option for Chinese travelers after safety and sightseeing.

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2018-12-01 07:16:41
<![CDATA[From fine dining restaurants to flipping gourmet burgers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/01/content_37340437.htm Macao's Grand Lisboa Hotel may be known as the world's only dining destination to have seven Michelin stars under one roof, but its latest culinary project was a pop-up burger shop available for only three days in September that featured a collaboration with Uwe Opocensky.

The Germany-born chef worked previously with Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for nearly a decade from 2004, overseeing a total of 10 restaurants, three of which have been awarded with Michelin stars.

In 2015, he left the luxury hotel group and surprised the Hong Kong restaurant industry by joining the burger chain Beef & Liberty.

Over the years, he, both as a business partner and its executive chef, has grown the brand into one of the most sought-after burger brands in China, including overseeing its expansion into Shanghai.

Opocensky, who has cooked for former US president Bill Clinton, UK's Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales Charles Philip Arthur George, is now aiming to bring his burgers to more locations across China and even Asia through the pop-up concept.

He tells China Daily about his motivations behind departing the fine dining scene and why he simply loves burgers.

Why did you decide on the pop-up concept?

A pop-up is more about the excitement for both diners and servers because of the short duration of its existence. People these days constantly want to be entertained and excited. Pop-up stores are a great opportunity for the operator and the guest chef to exchange ideas, be mutually inspired and learn from each other. This is my second time doing pop-up with Beef & Liberty. There should be more in the following years in both the Chinese mainland and Asia. The pop-up dynamics are very much driven by social media, which is also the future.

How do you think social media and the obsession with taking photos of our food have affected the restaurant industry?

As a chef, I am always concerned about delivering food when it is at its freshest. However, we are in the hospitality industry, which means we have to adapt to what our guests want. And if they want to spend 15 minutes taking a picture, that is their choice. It's not for me to tell them what is right or wrong. What I am going to tell them is that when I serve it to you, that's the right moment. If you miss it, that's your choice.

Would you spend time making your burger appear nice for photos?

No, I serve it delicious, because at the end of the day that's what counts for me. Of course I would want to make it look good and appealing, but I don't want to over-style it. You can always create the world's biggest pizza or the most expensive cocktail to create a splash on social media. But what's the point of it? Does it taste good?

What do you want to express with burgers?

For one thing, people walking into fine dining or five-star hotel restaurants usually have certain expectations for the foods they are served. These places reach only a very small amount of people because of their price points. With Beef & Liberty, I have a much bigger audience and also a much more difficult one because they all have different perceptions. This is good as it forces me to think differently and take on new challenges. I want to grow as a chef. I have had much more flexibility and a greater range in terms of what I can do since getting out of the fine dining scene. There is little personalization about it (fine dining). It's more about fol-lowing guidelines and reading off the scripts. There is nothing wrong with that. But having been there for so many years, I am personally done with it.

Why burgers in particular?

I have known the owner of Beef & Liberty for a long time and I am also part of it (as a business partner). This means I am not an employee and my voice gets heard. So you can say it's less about burgers but more about the people behind the burger.

Do you think there is a misconception that burgers are just fast food?

If you think about burgers, you think of obvious brands. But if you know about food, what these brands offer is not delicious. What they offer doesn't do justice to burgers. So what we want to do is focus on this particular category and add quality to it, such as using grass-fed beef that is sustainable.

Having won Michelin stars before, what is your take on the guide now?

I've tried so many years to get two Michelin stars, and it never happened for whatever reason, so I had my shot at it. For me it's a barometer of who you are. Hopefully when I'm in my own environment, they will look at me again. But on the other hand, I just want to have fun now.

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2018-12-01 07:16:41
<![CDATA[MATTER OF TASTE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-11/30/content_37336129.htm Food might be one of the last barriers to fully immerse oneself in a foreign culture, and for British gourmet and writer Fuchsia Dunlop, that frontier for Westerners when it comes to Chinese food is kou gan (mouthfeel), or texture. "Cross it, and you're really inside."

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A British food writer explains why sensation is important in Chinese food, Yang Yang reports.

Food might be one of the last barriers to fully immerse oneself in a foreign culture, and for British gourmet and writer Fuchsia Dunlop, that frontier for Westerners when it comes to Chinese food is kou gan (mouthfeel), or texture. "Cross it, and you're really inside."

By texture, she particularly refers to that of the food Chinese people are famously interested in, such as goose intestines, ox throat cartilage, chicken feet, sea cucumber or abalone, which Westerners usually consider pointless since they taste like "a bike's inner tube or plastic bags".

In one of her popular books, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper published in 2008, Dunlop devoted an entire chapter, The Rubber Factor, to what kou gan means in Chinese cuisines.

She lists some representatives: cui of fresh crunchy vegetables (a particular quality of crispness), tan xing (springy elasticity like that of a squid ball), nen (tenderness of just-cooked fish or meat), or shuang (that "evokes a refreshing, bright, slippery, cool sensation in the mouth").

"Actually quite a few readers have written to me and said 'after reading that, we went to a restaurant, we ordered chicken feet, and we tried to eat that differently,'" she says.

In 2016 and 2017, she gave presentations, workshops or gastronomy seminars about texture in New York, Oxford and London. At one seminar in New York, Dunlop prepared a tasting with some jellyfish, a duck tongue, pig ears and so on.

At a food conference in Oxford she gave a presentation about why even the richest people in China would want to eat duck tongue and other foods that in the West are traditionally considered "rubbish eaten by poor farmers". After explaining the texture, she asked all the participants to taste the food.

She asked her audience to put aside their prejudice and negative thoughts, and instead concentrate on the sensation in the mouth.

"A lot of people said it was one of the best presentations they'd seen. It was totally fascinating because all these things are new for them," she says.

"They just probably thought duck tongue a bit weird, but they never actually considered why you might want to eat a duck's tongue, so I'm like a kind of missionary for this. I'm trying to get people to open their minds."

She said kou gan enables people to taste a whole range of things like Chinese people.

However, as a woman growing up in Oxford, Dunlop also spent more than a decade to finally cross the last frontier. In Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, she records how she "turns into" a Chinese through adventures with Chinese food and increasing her understanding of its role in society as well as its deep roots in culture.

Now a translation of the book is available on the Chinese mainland.

Dunlop visited China for the first time in the fall of 1992. Although she grew up in a household always filled with exotic flavors - from Japan, Turkey, Spain, India and Austria - and she was brave enough to try unfamiliar food, she struggled to swallow her first preserved duck eggs at a Hong Kong restaurant.

"They leered up at me like the eyeballs of some nightmarish monster, dark and threatening. Their albumens were a filthy, translucent brown, their yolks an oozy black, ringed with a layer of greenish, moldy grey. About them hung a faintly sulfurous haze," she writes.

From Hong Kong, she went to Guangzhou and other parts of China and continued her adventures with local dishes, including the "unexpectedly palatable" stir-fried snake whose "flesh was still edged in reptilian skin".

The preserved duck eggs and other dishes that "made (her) flesh crawl", however, did not cripple Dunlop's interest in the "disorganized" but "vibrant" Chinese mainland in 1992, which she observed was completely different from her imagination.

Returning to London, besides learning Mandarin and writing quarterly roundups of Chinese news for China Now magazine, she also tried Chinese recipes.

In 1993, on her way home from Lhasa, she stopped by Chengdu to visit a friend and ate representative Sichuan dishes such as mapo tofu and yuxiang qiezi (fish-fragrant eggplant) for the first time, which impressed her.

The next year, she got a scholarship to study in Sichuan University for a year. A reason for her to choose Chengdu rather than Beijing or Shanghai was her memory of the food there.

When she was 11, Dunlop says her dream was to become a cook, but she was laughed at by her teacher. She suppressed her dream until she came to Chengdu. Then, Dunlop studied cooking skills at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, becoming one of the first foreign students to learn Chinese cookery.

After her one-year visa in China ended, she managed to prolong her stay to study cookery for another six months. Apparently, the six-day study per week at the school was not enough, so she visited big and small streets in Chengdu to look for delicious food.

Since her teens, Dunlop kept a notebook wherever she went and wrote down the recipes of different dishes she tasted, just like her mother. She has so far used up 130 notebooks.

Returning to Britain in 2001, Dunlop completed her first book Sichuan Cookery, a cookbook called by Observer Food Monthly "one of the top 10 cookbooks of all time".

In 2003, Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking came out, followed by her third recipe book Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province.

After three cookbooks from Sichuan and Hunan, she still had more to say about her experience, so she published Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper. In the book, apart from Sichuan and Hunan, she loves Fujian province, where Dunlop gulped down a cup of baijiu (white liquor) mixed with the blood and bile of a wriggling snake, and Gansu province, where she spent a Spring Festival in the village of one of her Chinese classmates and witnessed the Northwest China way of remembering ancestors with food.

After years of exciting but exhausting travels, she discovered the cuisines of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, where the Huaiyang cuisine represents the taste of Chinese literati.

In the book, she cites Chinese literati writings about food to show "how deep the roots are of talking about food in China, about considering food as something very important", she says.

"You see that right from the ancient philosophers' using food and cooking as metaphors, and the ideas from The Analects of Confucius. For example, the way you eat is an expression of how civilized you are, and what kind of person you are. It's really fascinating.

"I don't think there's any other culture where food has been taken so seriously, partly because, as I've written in the book, the first duty of the emperors was to feed people. That's the basis of social stability. It's the basis of the home, how you communicate with your ancestors and gods. It's an expression of how cultivated you are."

In 2013, she won the James Beard Award for the fourth time for her book Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking. Three years later, Dunlop published her latest book Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China.

Dunlop is working on more books and stories about Chinese food and culture, given the huge diversity of cuisines in China.

 

 

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2018-11-30 07:56:39
<![CDATA[Internet star launches cookbook with homemade recipes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-11/30/content_37336128.htm When, on May 16, 2013, Li Ruowen uploaded her first cooking video on YouTube - a video of her making white asparagus wrapped with Italian ham - she had little inkling how it would shape her life. Since then her hobby has grown into a lucrative career.

Known on the internet by her pseudonym, Amanda, Li now has accumulated more than 10 million followers across numerous social media platforms.

This month, after four years of preparation, Li launched her first cookbook, Amanda Tastes, which has 94 of her recipes for preparing meat, vegetables, seafood, baked goods, sauces, snacks and desserts.

Part of that preparation included translating Tamar Adler's book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, before publishing her own guide to cooking.

"The theme of my first cookbook is homemade dishes," explains Li, adding: "I hope my readers can find inspiration for their daily meals and enjoy cooking them."

Li doesn't stick to traditional cooking methods and ingredients, always looking for the easiest way to make a dish, so that her audience can easily replicate her recipe.

"I'm not a professional chef. If I want to figure out how to make a new dish, I'll just try as many times as necessary until I'm finally satisfied with it," Li notes.

As a science student, Li treats her cooking almost like a science experiment, using logic to create her dish. "Cooking is like a chemical reaction," says Li.

"Take baking for example, for a cake to be successfully made, you have to have three elements in harmony with one another - the weight of flour, the consistency of the beaten eggs and the temperature of the oven."

To understand the balance, Li would experiment by controlling two of the elements and changing the third to work out the best resolution.

"Each dish in the book is designed like that, from the measurement of each ingredient to the balancing of the flavor - even the success rate of the recipe - everything is carefully considered," says Li.

In the book, Li provides as detailed a recipe as possible and, at some key step, she will also add an explanation for "why we should do this and what will happen if we don't".

"I hope readers are not just learning how to replicate a dish, but by working through the book, they begin to understand the knowledge of hiera