版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[More than a brick in the wall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083944.htm A Palace Museum restoration project wins an award, underscoring the importance of research. Wang Kaihao reports.

Baoyun Lou, or the Hall of Embodied Treasures, stands out among other parts of the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, which was the seat of power in imperial China.

Inside the complex that occupies 720,000 square meters in the heart of Beijing, the Western-style villa is prominent. It was constructed by the western gate of the Forbidden City as a warehouse for cultural relics in 1914, two years after the monarchy had ended.

On Wednesday, the International Day for Monuments and Sites, Baoyun Lou and five other conservation projects were given this year's award for "outstanding monument restorations in China". The award, which is based on professional assessments and a public poll, is bestowed by the Chinese committee of the Paris-based International Council on Monuments and Sites.

 

The Palace Museum's Shenwumen, or the Gate of Divine Might, undergoes renovation in 2017. Jin Wen / For China Daily

Recalling his experiences of working on the Baoyun Lou project, Wu Wei, an engineer, says the project is a mix of archaeology, historical research and restoration.

"We used digital methods to record all the information held by the architectural components of the hall before we took any more steps."

Wu's team did research in the surrounding areas of Baoyun Lou, which was built up on the foundation of an old palace. The palace was destroyed in a fire in 1912, but the front gate of the courtyard survives. The archaeological research found the gate dates to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

"This is different from what is recorded in files saying the original gate came up since the mid-Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)," Wu says. "We may have more discoveries."

Surprises keep popping up.

For example, the tiles, which Wu describes as "beef tongues" because of their strange shapes, were found to be imported from Germany after he went through records, which indicates that a German architecture firm worked in the Forbidden City in 1914.

"We cannot find any similar counterparts of such tiles in China," Wu says. "It's a pity that we cannot identify the specific workshop that made them."

As a compromise, the team cooperated with a workshop in Tianjin to mimic the original material. New "beef tongues" were made to fix the broken ones.

"But we will make sure these newly added parts are recognizable from the original," Wu says. "We have also left information about where they were produced on the tiles to help the future generations to renovate this place again."

He says the Baoyun Lou project has also created a chance to revitalize disappearing traditional craftsmanship. For instance, some doors of this place were painted in a kind of dye made from ash found at the bottom of cooking pots, but the technique is almost lost today.

"Some restorers had suggested that it be replaced with asphalt, but we stuck to using the old formula," Wu says. "We found the right craftsman in Beijing. That saved the skill from dying."

The Palace Museum began large-scale renovations in 2002, and the plan is to complete most projects by 2020 to mark the 600th anniversary of the Forbidden City.

However, before the Baoyun Lou project, many such projects suffered from the lack of detailed investigation. Nevertheless, the awarded project marked a mindset change for restorers.

The renovation of Dagaoxuan Dian, a Ming-era royal Taoist temple under the administration of the Palace Museum, and Yangxin Dian (the Hall of Mental Cultivation), the residence of the last eight Qing emperors, followed the same disciplines - comprehensive archaeological research, records of historical information and laboratory analysis from the beginning.

"We've seen more renovation projects of heritage sites that make academic research a priority," says Song Xinchao, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, who's also head of the Chinese committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. "That is what will be widely promoted nationwide.

"Conservation of the sites cannot be simply treated as construction work. They should be seen as rigid studies. Plans need more evaluation before action is taken."

Old look, new function

In the past decades, a common practice in renovation of historical sites in China has been to give structures a new look, but the winners of the recent award indicate a shifting trend.

"The relics may look as good as 'newborn' after renovation," Du Qiming, an ancient architecture expert and deputy director of Henan Museum, says. "But historical information present in the architecture is also erased through such methods."

He compares the scenario to ancient Chinese paintings.

"Inscriptions left by collectors throughout history are as important as the paintings per se because they show how the art piece got circulated," Du says.

"It is also suitable for old architecture. The broken parts with abundant information should be kept. They are part of history."

In the case of Baoyun Lou, 140 old bricks were planned to be replaced by new ones at first, but Wu's team found that some broken bricks were usable after being fixed. Only 20 bricks were replaced in the end.

"The principle of minimum intervention was thus used to preserve its genuine historical value," Song adds. "And all renovations should be reversible in case wrong decisions are made."

He also emphasizes that old architecture has to be better used after conservation to prolong its life.

Baoyun Lou sets a good example as a reception room for the Palace Museum.

It is now used as an exhibition venue to review the history of the Forbidden City after it became a museum in 1925. Its courtyard was a stage featuring Treasure the Treasures, an original historical play created by the museum's staff. And it was also a venue for a summit of leaders from China and the United States in November.

Dilemma to be solved

Problems still haunt conservation efforts in China.

At a news conference outside Baoyun Lou on April 16, Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, said the compulsory bidding system for the conservation has created a threshold.

"Rules demand that the projects introduce market competition," he says. "That will lead the cheapest plans to be favored. However, regular construction workers lack rigid training in professional conservation."

It also leads to modern construction materials being used instead of the originals.

"There is a huge gap in quality," Shan says. "Sometimes, they even don't match at all."

A good thing is: With more academic studies being introduced to conservation work at the museum, a certification system has been established in recent years to ensure all restorers within the Forbidden City are trained properly.

But the lack of tailored materials for conservation remains a bottleneck. Consequently, the Palace Museum is now building connections with regions that supplied construction materials in the imperial years.

Jin Jin from Suzhou, Jiangsu province, is the sixth generation in her family to use traditional techniques to make bricks. The kiln she lived by used to provide the "gold bricks" for the Forbidden City in the Ming Dynasty.

The so-called gold bricks were not actually made of gold but were of top quality and were exclusively used for palaces in ancient China. It sounded like metal when stacked.

According to Jin, one such brick, more than 1 square meter, will take almost one year to produce following 29 steps. After many trials, her workshop successfully made bricks with quality close to the ancient ones. On April 16, it was announced that the workshop had reached an agreement with the Palace Museum to provide 100 such bricks in the next three years.

The cost is sponsored by Taihu World Cultural Forum, which also paid for the Palace Museum to order 1 million pieces of gold foils from a Nanjing workshop for future renovations.

"We can hand over these precious materials ... for the sake of future generations," Shan says.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Museum recreates a taste of Versailles]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083943.htm NEW YORK - A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York seeks to recreate some of the grandeur of the Versailles royal palace in France.

At first, the idea was to create a book based on the accounts of people who visited the palace, such as diplomats and nobles.

But Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide, who's in charge of decorative art and sculpture at the Met, and Bertrand Rondot, chief curator at Versailles, ultimately decided to do a full-blown exhibit, which is open through July 29.

Depicting the beauty of Versailles so far away is a challenge. The Met is doing it with works from 53 sources and its own collection.

The exhibit features pieces and recreations of halls at the palace over the years, and audio for people to hear what visitors said of the palace way back in the day.

"There was a tradition in France, before Louis XIV already, that French subjects should have access to their king," says Kisluk-Grosheide.

"But then having spent all this effort on creating this magnificent palace and these enormous gardens, they wanted to share this. Because this was all to the greater glory of France and Louis XIV. So it was a very politically calculated idea," she adds.

"They loved particularly to receive foreigners because they would write about it, just like we tweet about this or Instagram today. And it was all to impress with the might of France."

The accounts also describe the rigid protocol in place at the French royal court.

One visitor depicted in the audio describes a visit by ambassadors who had to bow three times before approaching the king, then walk away backward, facing him as they left, even though he was no longer even looking at them.

Even after all these years, Versailles fascinates people, especially in the United States.

Kisluk-Grosheide says Americans love royalty - which they never experienced - but also French art.

And they have a special fondness for France since it supported the colonies when they fought for independence from Britain in the 18th century.

Even today, she says Versailles "is a place to dream".

Agence France-presse

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Nature's springtime gifts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083942.htm Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. Pauline D Loh writes.

Outside our backyard in Beijing there is a mist of green slowly covering the hard grey ground. On the trees, tender young leaves appear almost overnight, sharing space with tight round buds that promise to bloom.

The yanghuai, or locust tree, will soon be heavy with clusters of creamy white buds, pendulous and scented with honey. There will be many hawkeyed predators waiting for the buds to get large enough, and they will come in the dead of night, armed with their knives and scissors.

 

Clockwise from above: Green balls, a sweet snack made from rice flour mixed with mugwort juice; pomegranate-shaped steamed buns with minced pork and shepherd's purse stuffing; toon shoots are among the popular spring vegetables. Photos Provided to China Daily

The locust buds are a beloved food in spring, rinsed off in salt water and tossed in cornmeal before being steamed. They are a delicious gift from nature.

The flowers are also steamed on their own, and chopped up as a fragrant filling for dumplings and pancakes. In our house, the flower clusters also get deep-fried as tempura, which is excellent beer food.

The Chinese violet cress, eryuelan, is also out now. These little wild violalike herbs are enjoyed for their flowers but harvested for their tender young, mustardlike leaves. Our nanny (ayi) loves them tossed in a salad with a light dressing of vinegar and sesame oil.

But it is the shepherd's purse that is most prized of all the wild herbs of spring, and our ayi will forage far and wide, by the river and in the little wood nearby, for this tasty vegetable with its unique rosette of leaves.

She's not alone.

Jicai is most famously used in boiled dumplings, or jiaozi. Our ayi will carefully wash the jicai she has gathered, making sure all of the dust is cleaned off with repeated rinsing.

The jicai will next be blanched in boiling water and then thoroughly drained before being finely chopped. Mixed with ground pork, it will soon become delicious dumpling filling.

Our ayi is from Henan province, and the shepherd's purse is a taste of home. In fact, jicai dumplings are so popular that they are one of the best-selling dumplings in the supermarket chillers.

There are other spring plants, such as the hao, or wild chrysanthemum, with its jagged leaves and distinctive pungent fragrance, and the mugwort, used in infusions to ward off the harmful elements during Tomb Sweeping Day - Qingming - earlier this month.

During the Qingming period, when families remember their ancestors and tidy the family graves, bunches of mugwort are hung up on doorways to repel pests and pestilence. The weed is also pounded and its juice extracted.

The dark liquid is mixed into glutinous rice flour for the seasonal qingtuanzi, or green balls. This seasonal sweet snack is especially popular in places south of the Yangtze, such as Shanghai, Suzhou and Yangzhou.

In the warmer climates where spring comes earlier, jasmine buds, telosma - the flowers of the Chinese cowslip vine - and tender cassia blossoms are also popular. These slightly sweet flowers are often mixed into an omelette or made into a delicately scented egg drop soup.

In spring, wherever an elm tree grows, people living nearby will look forward to the tender seed pods, the elm "coins". They are harvested and cooked for a special pancake.

The Chinese find spring greens fascinating after the long hard winter, and even the freshly sprouted shoots of willow are foraged. Are they edible? Yes. Do they taste good? That's debatable.

But these are the rituals of spring for many Chinese who have gone through the hard times, or are not so far removed from their agrarian roots. Nature helped with her gifts in times when food was scarce, and enjoying them is a grateful memorial to such times.

My favorite spring vegetable has to be the toon shoots from our two trees. The Chinese toon is pretty widespread, found the length and breadth of China. It is a tall, lanky tree with dull green leaves that grow undisturbed at the bottom of most gardens.

Perhaps if you brush against it you may get a hint of its special pungency.

It sheds its leaves in winter and, when the sap begins to run in the spring, it puts out clusters of deep maroon shoots. This is what we've been waiting for.

These shoots are delicious when lightly blanched and chopped and generously scattered over soft tofu, dressed with a light soy sauce and sesame dressing.

Or they can be dredged through a light tempura batter, deep-fried and served as beer food. Another favorite way to serve it is to chop it up and cook it in an omelette.

Why the fascination with toon?

It has a very distinctive fragrance, which some describe as a mixed bouquet of allium flavors such as leeks, garlic or chives ... but not quite. For those who like the taste, it can be addictive and having a platter of xiangchun on the table is a sure sign that spring has finally arrived.

Fortunately, the xiangchun, or toon tree, is very fast-growing, despite losing most of its shoots every year, and it is prolific in most cities in the north.

There are many more spring plants that are popular with certain ethnicities in China but are considered weeds in other communities. In the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, for example, the tender shoots of nettles are harvested as a vegetable.

These are blanched to get rid of the sting, then dressed in garlic juice. Dandelion greens, known as kucai, or bitter vegetables, are eaten in a similar way.

Weeds, herbs, flowers, shoots ... did someone say that the Chinese will eat anything? Well, not quite. They certainly eat only the freshest.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Shepherd's purse dumplings

1 kg shepherd's purse (or fresh spinach or amaranth)

500 g minced pork

1 teaspoon ginger juice

1 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

1 tablespoon oil, plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Soy sauce, salt and pepper

50-80 dumpling or gyoza skins

Wash and rinse the vegetables, then drop them into boiling water for two minutes. Drain, cool and chop. Squeeze out all the water with your hands. If there is too much water in the filling, your dumpling skins will break.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat mixture, ginger juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Mix in the chopped vegetables, then add the tablespoon of oil and teaspoon of sesame oil.

Mix well and set aside to rest for five to 10 minutes.

Place a large spoonful of filling and seal the edges. For the potstickers or fried dumplings, crimp or pleat the edges of one side to get the concave shapes so they will stand in the frying pan.

For boiled dumplings, just make sure the edges are sealed tight with a smudge of water.

Fry the dumplings for five minutes over medium heat to crisp the bottom, then add boiling water to the pan and cover and cook another 10 minutes. Allow the water to evaporate, uncover and cook until bottoms are golden brown.

Boil a big pot of water and add dumplings. When the pot comes back to a boil, add half a cup of water to calm it down. When it boils again and the dumplings float, they are done.

Chop up some garlic and ginger shreds and place in vinegar and soy sauce for a dip.

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Coffee, cocktails and codfish in the city]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083941.htm Italian restaurants are a popular choice for five-star hotels in Beijing, yet it's rare to find one in the heart of a business district.

Located in Chaowai Soho in Beijing's busy central business district, Lincey Italian Cuisine opened on April 1, with a painting of a peacock peeping through its windows helping to differentiate it from its neighboring vendors.

Owner Wang Danfeng, 31, wanted to create a warm yet elegant atmosphere that combined some home comforts with a dash of luxury.

 

The newly opened Lincey Italian Cuisine in Beijing offers a variety of Italian specialties, including (clockwise from left) Tiramisu Classic, Lincey Salad and Parma ham with honey melon. Photos Provided to China Daily

"Traditional Italian cuisine is like Chinese cooking, as it often has a sense of a family reunion. So I wanted to create a place where young people striving in the capital could come to relax and enjoy company," says Wang.

The restaurant's manager, Cristian Rojas, is also Lincey's barista and bartender. As an Italian restaurateur who grew up in Argentina, Rojas received 12 years of training as a barista in Ireland and jokingly admits to being a self-confessed "coffee geek".

His signature drink is Irish coffee, which contains whiskey, brown sugar, hand-pressed coffee and fresh cream, giving it an aromatic scent combined with a smoky flavor.

"Irish coffee is the most popular and well-known liqueur coffee," says Rojas. "Although many places make it in different ways, I like to keep it traditional. We don't use a machine to make it - every ingredient is handmade."

The Mount Fuji-like cream float on top of the Irish coffee presents a poetic sight to the eye and also helps to soften the kick from the coffee and liquor on the palate.

Irish coffee is traditionally paired with Jameson whiskey from Ireland, but whiskey lovers can try upgrading it to Kilchoman single-malt Scottish whisky for a stronger punch.

Selecting the right ingredients is the key to perfecting Irish coffee, and Rojas has to pair the right coffee beans with his choice of whiskey to get the flavor right.

"In a sense, it's like Italian cuisine, as it consists of just a few ingredients, but they match and complement each other very well," Rojas says.

Lincey also offers a variety of classic Italian coffee and cocktails. For cocktails, Rojas likes to recommend each person the right cocktail to suit their taste.

His Prado cocktail is another signature work he makes using silver tequila - a particular kind of maraschino liqueur - and egg white, among other ingredients, to create a unique flavor.

The restaurant's other specialties, such as codfish and seafood in tomato sauce, Lincey salad, octopus linguine and four-cheese gnocchi, as well as beef fillet in black pepper sauce, have all proved popular with younger diners.

Lu Haibo, the chef at Lincey, is one of the first chefs in Beijing who received training in Italian cuisine. Lu has been working in Italian restaurants as an executive chef since 1999, and his passion for the job has never waned.

Lu cooks roast chicken leg with baked potatoes in a way that suits Chinese preferences. "I want to make dishes that appeal to young people while at the same time remain true to the traditional tastes of Italy. I am open to adjusting our menu accordingly to provide finer and more tailored service," says Lu.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Through the eyes of a dandy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083940.htm A new exhibition charts the work of avant-garde Chinese painter Chang Yu, who was at the forefront of Parisian artistic life during the hedonistic interwar years. Lin Qi reports.

As one of the first generation of Chinese artists drawn to study in France during the early 20th century, Chang Yu (1901-66) - often better known as Sanyu for his signature on paintings - was the epitome of nonconformity.

Many of Chang's artistic friends aspired to study at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, such as Xu Beihong, one of China's most prominent modern artists, and his then wife Jiang Biwei. Yet Chang, who had the reputation for being an idler, chose the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, which provided a less academic and more relaxing environment that attracted artists who sought freedom from rigid academic restraints.

During his time there, Chang polished his painting skills, especially through his depiction of female models. He painted many nudes, an undertaking which would have been considered immoral back in his home country at that time.

He also plunged himself into the enjoyment of France's "crazy years", a period marked by liberation and creativity in the aftermath of World War I. This artistic and cultural diversity nurtured a group of so-called "dandies."

Chang became one of them and until his death he continued to live in Paris and retain the group's attitudes toward art and life, despite suffering impoverishment and being overlooked by the art world in his later years.

Chang's most carefree and happiest years were those spent at Grande Chaumiere. And the artworks he produced during this period are at the heart of an ongoing exhibition at the Tina Keng Gallery in Taipei.

Sanyu's Hidden Blossoms: Through the Eyes of a Dandy, which runs until Sunday, plots his artistic development from his early beginnings at the Grande Chaumiere right through to his later works, which he created as he struggled with destitution and homesickness. He never returned to Chinese mainland and died alone in his studio following an accidental gas leak.

This is the seventh exhibition dedicated to Chang over the past 25 years held by Tina Keng, the gallery's founder. She says she was first introduced to Chang's work during her first visit to Paris about three decades ago.

"I was instantly taken by his hand and style," Keng says. "Out of all the references to the dichotomy between East and West and amalgamating the two styles, Sanyu is a true pioneer that interplayed Eastern and Western concepts in such a unique and clever way that it set him apart."

Explaining why she continues to focus on the Paris-based artist, Keng says that as time went by and more of Chang's works came onto the market, she had the chance to add these paintings to subsequent exhibitions, allowing her to share with other collectors a deeper understanding of Chang's character and the development of his oeuvre.

One of the earliest Chinese painters to become immersed in the real-life environment of Western art, Chang managed to blend the color schemes of oil painting and the modernist spirit growing in Europe with the brush strokes of traditional Chinese ink painting and the simple elegance of Chinese aesthetics.

Although Chang was a social figure - he enjoyed making new friends and attending parties - his works often conveyed a sense of detachment, mixing emotions of tranquility and aloofness with loneliness. His paintings often centered around a single subject matter, for example, a vase of blossoms against an empty backdrop, or a lone horse set against an expansive grassland.

He was born to a wealthy textile-making family in Nanchong, Sichuan province, and his elder brother spared no effort in sponsoring his studies abroad until the family business waned during the wars and chaos of the 1930s, Keng says. This family support allowed him to pursue art without being fettered by financial concerns and in the process helped him develop a sense of pride and defiance.

Keng adds that because Chang was brought up in a well-off environment, he received a comprehensive education in Chinese literature and the arts. He practiced refined calligraphy, he had a solid knowledge of literature, and in his later works, he incorporated elements from Chinese folk art and inscriptions from ancient Chinese stone and bronze tablets into his work.

She says a good understanding of both Chinese and Western cultures therefore enabled Chang to quickly adopt the bold, vanguard features of modernism in his creations, while naturally retaining the essence of his home culture - making him a unique exponent of the Chinese modern art movement.

Chang has been often compared with the Japanese-French artist Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), because of his similar approach to blending styles from East and West.

"They were both influenced by Amedeo Modigliani," Keng says. "Foujita's works also feature brief, clean lines - but for me, I feel these lack emotion; Chang's works are full of emotion, brought about by the cultural enhancement and history of the country he grew up in."

Keng says the themes of reclusiveness, pride and homesickness conveyed by Chang's works are likely to touch a chord with contemporary audiences dealing with the fast pace of urban life.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Works by acclaimed painter on display]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083939.htm The easiest way now to get a glimpse of China's natural beauty on canvas in one place is to go visit the ongoing retrospective show of ink painter He Haixia (1908-1998), who is said to be one of China's best landscape painters of the 20th century.

From the palm trees of South China's Hainan province and the sharp mountains of Southwest China's Sichuan province to the strangely shaped stones of East China's Zhejiang province and the gorgeous Yellow River in North China, they are all covered in He Haixia's 110 paintings on display at Beijing's Guardian Art Center.

The majority of paintings in the exhibition focus on landscapes, covering scenes commonly depicted by Chinese painters.

Besides the landscapes, the artist's paintings of birds and flowers, figures, and calligraphy are also on show.

Known for his large-format blue-and-green landscape paintings, the artist was often invited to paint for the Great Hall of the People and the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. And his long scrolls are still seen at these venues.

The highlight of the show is a 3-meter long painting called Dreams Come True produced by He at the age of 81, depicting a forest using techniques such as gongbi (painting with detailed brushstrokes) and splashed colors, a Chinese painting technique He learned from his teacher Zhang Daqian, one of the most prodigious Chinese artists of the 20th century.

He Haixia became the modern Chinese master ink painter's student at the age of 27, after he drew a portrait for Zhang. And the next year, in 1936, the young student took part in a group show featuring four artists, including his teacher and another master painter Qi Baishi.

He Haixia accompanied Zhang on tours around China, visiting mountains to gain inspiration. And he was able to see lots of paintings by ancient master painters, which were in a collection owned by Zhang.

There are traces of Zhang in He's works, but he also had his own style, wrote ink painter Huang Yongyu in an article published in 1983, where he said that he once mistook He's work for his teacher's.

Huang said He could paint more than 200 types of trees in different ways, something that could not be taught but was rooted in his careful observation of life.

The artist's excellence in landscape paintings came from his travels across China, and even outside the country in his later years.

At the exhibition, there are works depicting Japan's temples and cherry trees, which were produced based on He's visits to some Japanese artists in the 1990s.

Recalling his father-in-law's painting process, Lyu Yafang, He's son-in-law, says that when the artist talked with his wife about places they had visited, he would immediately turn to painting if he had not produced a work about the place they were discussing.

Even when the artist was in his 70s, he would squat on his heels to paint on a long landscape scroll on the ground, a process which required a lot of stamina.

He Haixia was born in Beijing, but missed out on the chance of a formal education due to poverty.

So, he was taught calligraphy at home by his father, and went on to learn ink painting with painter Han Gongdian.

Meeting master painter Zhang was a turning point in his career.

Speaking about the artist's life and times, Chen Lyusheng, the former deputy head of the National Museum of China, says: "He Haixia was a key student of Zhang and keen on promoting Zhang's landscape skills. But he had his own style too."

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Book prize jury focuses on traditional culture when picking winners]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/24/content_36083938.htm The revival of traditional Chinese culture is the focus of the latest Wenjin Book Award, one of China's top book prizes.

The awards, which are in their 13th edition this year, were bestowed in the National Library of China on World Book Day, which fell on Monday.

Nine winners were selected from 1,874 books - usually non-literature - published in 2017 nationwide, and the works were jointly appraised by 81 libraries and a 14-member panel.

One winner was The One Hundred Classics of Traditional Chinese Culture (Volume 1 to 10), which includes Analects, an ancient Confucian classic; a Classic of Poetry, a collection of poems from the 11th to the 7th century BC, and I Ching, a Chinese divination book; the oldest surviving Chinese classic from the Western Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century to 771 BC), as well as commentaries by modern experts.

"The book uses recent academic work to explain traditional culture to the public," says Han Yongjin, the director of the NLC.

"The annotations reflect old traditions, but they also show new views, which is a highlight of this series," he says.

Thirty Great Inventions in China, another winner, uses a new angle to review the history of Chinese scientific technology, breaking the stereotype of the "Big Four Inventions", which refer to papermaking, gunpowder, the compass, and printing, which were all created in China.

"The Big Four were talked about for too long because they greatly helped the development of Western civilization as well," says Feng Lisheng, the author of the book.

"However, they cannot reflect the panorama of Chinese technological history.

"Scientific creativity is highly advocated in today's China," he says. "And this book re-evaluates our achievements."

The book also includes two modern inventions - biologist Yuan Longping's hybrid rice in the 1970s and artemisinin, a medicine used against malaria which was discovered by Nobel Prize laureate Tu Youyou.

The book Liang Xun Chuan Jia ("Good Mottos Passed Down Generations") tells the importance of traditions, morals, regulations, and values in Chinese families that help to form a country's collective cultural foundation.

Xue Yi Wei Ji ("Learn to Promote Oneself") discusses the history of the education system and purpose of education in ancient China, and looks at how we see things today.

Chen Guying, a philosopher from Taiwan and now a professor at Peking University, hails the trend of highlighting Chinese traditions at the awards ceremony.

"When I was in France in the 1980s, I was astonished to find a high school student had to read 15 to 20 Western classics," says Chen. "Now, it's a wise choice for us to also stick to our own cultural identity by reviewing ancient classics."

But, Deng Xiaomang, a philosopher and author of Zhe Xue Qi Bu ("The Start of Philosophy"), another winner, says that books on themes like philosophy find it hard to attract reader interest in the digital era.

"People see such books as useless," he says. "However, we are also to blame, for our inability to blend Western philosophy with a modern Chinese context."

His new book, which introduces abstract jargon, however, has been warmly welcomed.

"It's a surprise," says Deng. "But it also encourages scholars to be more creative to make academic achievements popular with the public."

In popular science, Space Journey, which looks at behind-the-scene stories of two Chinese astronauts' trips into space with Shenzhou XI in 2016, and Quantum Mechanics For Children were recognized by the jury.

Two translated works also made the winners list.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived from the United Kingdom traces the history of DNA studies and Le Beau Livre de la Terre ("A Beautiful Book of the Earth") from France uses a wide range of high-definition images to show geological changes.

wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-24 07:21:19
<![CDATA[Life and times of a magical realist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/23/content_36076693.htm Chinese writer Liu Zhenyun has been honored with France's Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for his contribution to world literature. Mei Jia reports.

Upon receiving the award of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters on April 13 at the Institut Francais in Beijing, Liu Zhenyun says what he did was just sit beside "small potatoes", the unimportant people he listened to in times of need, and wrote about them because nobody else would listen to their stories.

He always uses the metaphor that it is not him who writes and creates his characters. He just listens to them as they talked to him in their own words.

"People say that my writing is full of humor. But I say I might be the least humorous writer in China - it's just because my characters live in this humorous world," Liu says.

"I just listened. And by translating, the foreign readers listened to them. And by listening, what comes out is a strength to do things, to change things," he added.

Liu, born in 1958 in Yanjin county in Henan province, graduated from Peking University's Department of Chinese Language and Literature. Typical of established Chinese writers born in the 1950s, his works have been frequently adapted into films, with many of them directed by Feng Xiaogang.

The French ambassador to China, Jean-Maurice Ripert, presented the medal and accompanying certificate to Liu at a ceremony in the capital's French cultural center.

"We want to honor your talented works, your contribution to world literature, and continued efforts in promoting cultural exchanges between France and China," Ripert says.

The ambassador gave a brief history of Liu's major works, saying Liu had published six books in French and had titles translated into 20 other languages.

Someone To Talk To, a Mao Dun Literature Prize-winning novel, has sold more than 2.2 million copies; and I Did Not Kill My Husband, has also been widely read around the world.

"Your view of human nature is full of sarcasm, tenderness and reflection," Ripert says.

Acknowledging his love for and the influence of French literature, art and philosophy on Liu's work, Ripert says that the Sino-French friendship had been built on respect for each other's history, culture and language.

Liu says that one of the features of French literature is that the observations of many French writers remain unchanged.

"What I saw in Paris is almost what Balzac and Victor Hugo saw. Whereas, Chinese writers like the readers to see and notice the changes in the landscape, as well as in society," he says.

At the ceremony, Liu showed his gratitude to his publishers and translators, especially Genevieve Imbot-Bichet, with whom he has shared a friendship that has lasted more than 20 years. Imbot-Bichet first discovered Liu's works in 1992.

Liu thanked her for bringing his characters into the international domain, which had allowed him to travel and meet foreign readers at literary events around the world.

His books have often been hailed for their sense of "magical realism", something that Liu believes happens in everyday life.

"It's truly tragic, when you mean to write a tragedy, and others choose to read it as a comedy," Liu says.

Liu compares this to Li Xuelian, the protagonist in I Did Not Kill My Husband, who spent 20 years trying prove her innocence, and ends up discussing her plight with a cow, the only living being that believes her.

"Writers are just cows sitting there with Li Xuelian," Liu says.

Xudong Zhang, professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies at New York University, says one task of contemporary Chinese literature is to combine the inner force of the Chinese language with the innate energy of contemporary Chinese everyday life.

"Liu Zhenyun's Someone to Talk to You is an exceptional success in terms of this task, or rather, the attempt to put into language an explanation of the inherent logic of life itself," Zhang says.

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2018-04-23 07:33:53
<![CDATA[Survey shows new reading choices]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/23/content_36076692.htm Reading has started to become a lifestyle choice for many Chinese, says Liu Shu, vice-president of Kindle Content at Amazon China, when she released the 2018 Amazon China Reading Report on Wednesday.

Based on a survey of 14,000 respondents and the company's big data, the report found that most of those surveyed read every day, and nearly half had read more than 10 books a year.

It also found that 80 percent of the respondents read more than half an hour per day.

This is the fifth consecutive year that Amazon China has released its reading reports.

And although the 2017 report - where about 56 percent of the 14,000 people surveyed read more than 10 books a year - seems better than the 2018 one, Liu says this is because those surveyed in the latest report comprise more of those born after 1980, who in general read less than older generations.

The proportion of people who read more than 10 books a year varied by age group, with the figures for those born in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s being 62 percent, 57 and 56, respectively.

Similarly the figures were 45, 47 and 53 percent, respectively for those born in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Those born before 1980 generally spent more time reading every day.

The report also shows that more Chinese read both e-books and printed books, with 55 percent of those surveyed falling in this category.

Nineteen percent of those surveyed read mainly on electronic devices, compared with 12 percent who wanted only printed material.

Separately, although Amazon Audible has been growing rapidly in North America in the last three years, Amazon China has yet to offer the service on the Chinese mainland.

However, the survey shows that in the last year, about 12 percent of those surveyed not only read e-books and printed books, but accessed audio books. A small number - 0.24 percent - of people surveyed only accessed audio books, which means there is huge room for this genre to grow, the survey suggests.

"We are watching what the Chinese want and will offer the service if needed," says Liu.

Another trend that showed up in the survey is that Chinese people are willing to pay for reading material, amid increased awareness of intellectual property issues. And 80 percent of people surveyed paid for e-reading material in the last year.

The survey also shows that those born after 1990 tend to read more on electronic devices. And more than 80 percent of those born after 1990 often pay for e-reading material, especially e-books.

The report also reflects the revival of physical bookstores in recent years.

Among those surveyed, about 86 percent had been to physical bookstores, with nearly half of them saying they made special efforts to visit these bookstores.

Another finding in the report is that a good reading environment can promote reading, and that comfortable electronic reading devices and better reading services can also help.

Referring to a reading atmosphere, Chinese writer Jiang Fangzhou, born in 1989, says that she is easily distracted, and so usually needs to turn her smartphone to flight mode, or put it aside in a different room.

Xue Zhaofeng, an economist from Peking University, says that people need better reading environments.

"The libraries and classrooms are well designed, but the furniture is not good enough," he says.

"I think a good reading atmosphere should be a good place to sleep, a good place to buy things and eat, so that you can stay there comfortably," he says.

Besides, Xue says he has stopped posting messages on his microblog or on other social medium platforms, so that he can concentrate more on reading.

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2018-04-23 07:33:53
<![CDATA[India hopes to lean on Bollywood to bolster ties]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/23/content_36076691.htm India has sought more space in China's entertainment industry, in a sign of growing confidence in its cinematic exports to the country.

Visiting Indian officials recently proposed the creation of two additional "working groups", one on culture and the other on pharmaceuticals, under an existing bilateral mechanism that covers infrastructure, technology, energy, resource conservation and policy coordination.

In his opening remarks at the fifth meeting of the India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing on April 14, Rajiv Kumar, the deputy chairman of India's main economic planning body, Niti Aayog, called for the liberalization of China's entertainment sector.

"We would like to expose the Chinese population to some more Indian movies," Kumar said at the session that was briefly open to media.

The India-proposed cultural committee could include entertainment, Kumar added.

So far, there has been no response on the subject from China.

The chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, He Lifeng, and other officials were present at the economic dialogue.

Kumar cited the success in China of the Hindi film Dangal during his address.

The biopic of an Indian wrestler who trains his daughters to become world-class athletes in a conservative, small-town setting where women are mostly engaged in household activities, found favor with Chinese film critics and the box office alike. It was released in China in 2017.

Aamir Khan, the actor who plays the aging wrestler, has become the face of Bollywood in China. On China's Twitterlike Sina Weibo, Khan has a following of more than 1 million, and he now endorses phones made by the Guangdong-based company BBK Electronics.

But the commercial run of three other Hindi films this year - an estimated 1 billion yuan ($159 million) by two, with the third still screening at more than 193 million yuan - seems to have encouraged India's approach to the softer aspect of its relations with China.

Secret Superstar, which Khan co-produced, made around 746 million yuan, many times more than its India income, followed by 285.4 million yuan for the film Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The latter does not star Aamir Khan, nor does Hindi Medium, the latest Bollywood feature to reach China.

Hindi films have started to resonate with Chinese moviegoers partly owing to the lack of convincing options at home across genres.

A common description of the trend on Chinese social media is: Bollywood sheds light on Indian realities but in an entertaining way.

Some trade analysts in China say the diversity of cinema signals a potential upward revision of the country's quota system, whereby 34 foreign films are allowed for general screening on the mainland each year on a revenue-sharing basis.

The foreign films get up to 25 percent of box-office earnings.

Although Hollywood continues to bag the maximum number under this system, Bollywood might challenge the order if its appeal in China grows.

But there is no indication of any change on the quota front from the government.

"Bollywood can also enter the Chinese market through the flat-fee structure," Tan Zheng, deputy editorial director of Dian Ying Yi Shu, a film magazine in Beijing, says of the other option for foreign films in China, where movie rights in the country are first bought by Chinese studios.

The coming weeks are expected to witness more official engagements between India and China, including a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Qingdao in June, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

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2018-04-23 07:33:53
<![CDATA[Yurts, blossoms and spring snow]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/23/content_36076690.htm Beijing's Pinggu district is about to explode like fireworks with flowers. Erik Nilsson comes for the show but stays for the snow.

"Wow!" my 6-year-old exclaimed as we opened our yurt's door.

"It's amazing!"

It was. And unexpected.

 

The yurts in a resort in Pinggu are covered with snow and the year's first peach flowers glisten in the ice during the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday in early April. Photos by Erik Nilsson / China Daily

We'd come to see the "sea of peach blossoms".

Instead, we witnessed a winter wonderland - in the spring.

Turns out, we'd arrived a couple of weeks too early for the best blooms. And the snow had arrived a couple of weeks too late for the season - that is, the blizzard blasted down during the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday in early April, a time typically celebrated for the most clement weather.

Still, we were enchanted.

We'd arrived in a village in Beijing's rural Pinggu district at night and awoke to discover the forested valley sheathed in white. The year's first flowers glistened in the ice that encased their petals like iridescent jewels.

Snowball fights ensued. Snowmen were built. And we conjured our own "blizzards" by grabbing the trunks of young pines and shaking the white stuff that pulled their branches downward so that it instead blustered down on our heads.

These are the magical moments parents hope to share with their children.

We boiled snow scooped from the top of our yurt for morning coffee.

Our family was surprisingly warm in the ethnic Mongolian-style tent.

The resort's owner insisted that's because it's covered with wool rather than cheaper fabrics. The property also hosts ancient buildings, and new cabins and villas arranged as if they were tossed down the mountain.

But we were seeking an experience more akin to camping.

Bonfires warmed the chilly evenings. Travelers huddled around the flames to drink and dine. Others thawed out while spinning chuan'r (skewers) between their fingers over charcoal barbecues.

Large woks sizzled outdoors above three nearby wood fires encased in what would otherwise appear to be a brick counter - a traditional outdoors-stove setup often used in rural China.

We were delighted to discover a web of hiking paths crowned the wild peaks that horseshoed our farmhouse resort. We didn't encounter a single soul during hours of trekking.

My wife and I planned to stage our (belated) Easter-egg hunt on one of the slopes. By astonishing coincidence, the kids and my wife saw a rabbit hopping through the woods nearby.

It was as if Mother Nature had conspired with Father Time to present both Old Man Winter and the Easter Bunny to our kids in rural Beijing.

Many visitors come to Pinggu not only for the peach blooms, which crescendo around the May Day holiday, but also for such natural wonders as the Flying Dragon Valley, Jinhai Lake and Jingdong Karst cave, which features subterranean boat rides that conjure images of the River Styx.

They also come to experience such man-made marvels as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Bolitai Great Wall, the Huangsongyu Reservoir and the Pinggu Glass Sightseeing Platform, which is colloquially known as the "UFO" for its flying-saucer shape, among other glass skywalks. (Don't look down! Except, that's the point.)

And they arrive to enjoy such cultural attractions as the (small) peach museum, folk villages and the annual International Peach Blossom Music Festival that runs until May 30.

This year's event also features the Strawberry Music Festival from April 29 to May 1, when 117 rock acts from home and abroad will perform at one of China's largest such events. Over 100 shuttles will bring concertgoers from downtown, and 6,000 parking spaces have been arranged near the main venue, the municipal government's website says.

The festival also features such outdoor sports as bungee jumping, cycling and hiking.

But we'd journeyed to Pinggu for peace and quiet rather than concerts and crowds.

And that's exactly what we found - plus much more.

Indeed, it was still exciting in its own way - in no small part because of the surprise snow.

That said, we missed the "peach flower sea", in which 14,670 hectares of blooms blaze pink and white, which we'd witnessed years ago.

The orchards, too, resemble blizzards when their petals tumble like snowflakes.

And they, too, leave visitors saying, "Wow!"

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2018-04-23 07:33:53
<![CDATA[Video series reveals destinations' human side]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/23/content_36076689.htm Chinese travel-information website Qyer and Quriosity Studio recently co-released the short-video series, Encounter, about the daily lives of locals in 11 countries.

The 30-episode series of three- to five-minute videos tell the stories, and show the visual splendors of such destinations as Australia, Bhutan and Thailand.

They reveal the lives of such real-life characters as a pottery artist in the Christmas markets of Vienna's Karlsplatz and a bell-ringer who has worked for 35 years in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Bulgaria's capital, Sofia.

The series received over 10 million hits in the first two weeks after its release on major Chinese video platforms and Qyer in early April.

"People make places. What impresses you most while traveling is your interactions with the locals rather than the beautiful views, scenic spots and historical sites," Qyer's founder and CEO Xiao Yi says.

"Chinese travelers will enjoy the beauty of travel and take inspiration from these tourism-related stories."

He's confident that short videos about tourism will increasingly appeal to audiences as short videos are surging in popularity in the mobile-internet era.

Xiao says Qyer is a content-and community-driven platform, and Encounter is a milestone for the website's shortvideo strategy.

"We've filmed stories about interesting people from different destinations, including restaurants and hotels," says Encounter's director Zhao Qi, founder of Quriosity Studio, which produces international-tourism videos.

"Ultimately, it's about delivering diversity of lifestyles and values."

Zhao produced Last Train Home, which won the 33rd News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2012 for both Best Documentary and Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting - Long Form.

"It's challenging to complete 30 high-quality short videos in just over six months," Zhao says.

The studio's team went to some of the destinations for on-site filming.

They invited local crews to shoot some episodes. The studio then assumed such editorial responsibilities as topic selection, content outlining and revisions.

One episode is about Noriko Suga, who owns Noboribetsu Onsenkyo Takinoya, a traditional onsen (hot spring) hotel in Hokkaido, Japan.

She's the third-generation inheritor of the family business. Last year marked the hotel's centennial anniversary.

"We offer four kinds of onsen with different minerals. Soaking in an onsen relaxes your body and benefits your skin," Suga says, dressed in a kimono, at the news conference for the videos' release in Beijing.

She adds that Hokkaido is good to visit in all seasons. There are beautiful cherry blossoms in May and red maple leaves in autumn.

Japan received roughly 7.4 million visits from the Chinese mainland last year, a more than 15 percent increase over 2016. China has been Japan's largest inbound market for three straight years.

Those who've encountered Encounter and visit this year may arrive with a deeper understanding of these destinations' human interest.

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2018-04-23 07:33:53
<![CDATA[Spring Festival in Kenya was unforgettable visit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/22/content_36072208.htm

In February 2015, my mother and I went to Kenya for the first time to spend the Spring Festival holiday with my father.

A year previously, he had been appointed as the executive in charge of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway project, contracted by China Road and Bridge Corp. Since then, family reunions have been precious to us.

It was my first visit to Africa. The contrast between the cold of Beijing and the rainy reason in Kenya surprised me, and my second surprise was when I saw my father, with his tanned face, waving to us and holding a bunch of flowers at the entrance to the airport terminal.

Oddly, I was not very interested in doing a safari park trip. Instead, in the following two weeks, we stayed in the camp with the staff working on the railway project. People there led simple lives, dedicating most of their energy to the construction of railway. As far as I could see, no matter how busy they were, they arranged their daily life in an orderly way.

The most joyful time of day was dinnertime. We sat around the table, enjoying the Chinese cuisine prepared by local chefs who had successfully learned to cook Chinese food.

One pleasing thing was that we were able to watch television programs from China Central Television. On the afternoon of the eve of Spring Festival, the staff and members of their families gathered in the canteen to make dumplings. We then watched the Spring Festival gala aired by CCTV.

I heard my father on the phone, saying, "Great! Well done."

He had been told that the Kenya Wildlife Service and the World Society for the Protection of Animals had sent letters of thanks to CRBC because of the company's good deeds.

Several days previously, an adult elephant had accidentally fallen into a waterhole about three kilometers away from the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway construction site near Makindu, a town in Makueni county. The Kenya Wildlife Service and the World Society for the Protection of Animals tried in vain to rescue it by mobilizing helicopters and police.

When they heard about the incident, members of the No. 4 Management Department of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway project immediately rushed to the site and worked out a rescue plan. After five hours of careful maneuvers, the elephant was rescued unharmed.

Later, after carefully observing the routes taken by elephants looking for water, CRBC built a series of special wells, providing a safe environment for wildlife. Special culverts and other measures were provided along the routes.

The Mombasa-Nairobi railway finally went into operation on May 31, 2017.

The author is a Chinese student who has visited Kenya three times.

For China Daily

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2018-04-22 12:22:30
<![CDATA[Adventures of the famous five]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/22/content_36072195.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.

While Western cooks depend on a wide variety of dry spices to pep up their dishes, their Chinese counterparts have it easier. Generations of chefs have developed several time-tested spice mixes specifically for Chinese dishes.

The most famous among these has to be five-spice powder.

 

Five-spiced tea egg. Photos Provided to China Daily

It is a very distinctive spice mix that you automatically identify with Chinese cuisine. While the mix may vary from place to place, its main ingredients are invariably black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and intensely aromatic wild galangal, a species of ginger that tribal communities call shannaizi.

Cinnamon, cloves and star anise are the "sweet" spices, while cardamom, nutmeg and galangal give the mix body and fragrance.

The "five" in five-spice does not refer to the number of ingredients used. Instead, it is an indication that the spice mix is full-flavored according to the Chinese culinary principles of suan (tart), tian (sweet), ku (bitter), la (spicy) and xiang (fragrant).

Five-spice, like all else in China, can vary and adapt to the requirements of the different regional cuisines.

In Sichuan, five-spice can be fiery, with the addition of powdered prickly ash berries, the famous palate-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The same mix is enjoyed in Beijing and the northeast provinces, where five-spice has been traditionally used to preserve meats.

The five-spice powder I am most familiar with is the sweeter spice mix used in the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Here, it is used in fragrant meat rolls wrapped in bean curd skins and deep-fried to a delicious crisp. The rolls are named after the spice itself - wuxiang, or ngoh hiang in the local dialect.

It is also the main seasoning for the famous soy-sauce braised chunks of pork known as tauyu bak, which are deeply colored, richly flavored and speak of home to Xiamen natives.

Their Cantonese neighbors are also very fond of the sweet five-spice, and huge vats of stewed offal are made palatable with its addition.

That infamous dim sum dish of braised chicken feet or phoenix claws would lose much of its attraction without sweet five-spice.

In the north, a more spicy version of five-spice is popular. It has less cinnamon and leans heavily toward the deep pungency of star anise and Sichuan peppercorns - useful for the preparation of mutton and beef.

While the ubiquitous red-braised pork or hongshao rou is a household standard, northerners are very fond of braising cuts of mutton and beef in an intensely flavored liqueur.

Beef brisket, shin, tendon and ribs are steeped in five-spice, soy sauce, sugar and Chinese wine before they are drained and chilled. These will then become the cold cuts that are sold, ready-to-eat, in traditional markets and supermarkets. They are especially popular platters to go with bottles of erguotou, the northerners' favorite white spirits. You need meat to line the stomach against this more than 50 - proof of firewater.

Even farther north, where gigantic freshwater fish are braised in huge vats, five-spice is also added to the redolent brown sauce to whet the appetite and drown the muddy pungency of the fish.

Cornmeal patties, plastered to the side of the pan to cook, will be torn in pieces and dipped into the savory gravy in between bites of fish. Five-spice is also used in sweet pastries and cakes.

In my distant childhood, there were round yeast dough pancakes known as hum chim bang, xianjian bing. They were sold together with youtiao or dough fritters. The sweet dough cakes often had red bean paste inside as filling, but I preferred the slightly salty plain version, with its thin rings of five-spice powder vaguely visible in the dough.

In traditional cake shops in Chinatown, rice flour pastries were sweetened with powdered sugar and had a thin middle layer flavored with savory five-spice, an interesting mix of sweet and savory.

We also ate savory cakes made of taro and rice flour, always flavored with five-spice.

The traditional sweet pastries of Beijing, too, use plenty of five-spice powder. Niushe su, ox-tongue pastries, are long fried puffs sprinkled with a salty-sweet mix of five-spice, salt and sugar.

The fragrance of five-spice is unmistakable, and it is a particularly aromatic bouquet that every Chinese will recognize.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Fujianese five-spice meat rolls (Wuxiang)

2 large sheets dried bean curd skin

500g belly pork, diced and roughly minced

4-6 water chestnuts, peeled and minced

5 tablespoons sweet potato starch

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Clean the bean curd skin by wiping down with a damp cloth. Cut each sheet into four squares.

Place the meat, water chestnut, five-spice powder and sweet potato starch in a large bowl and mix. Add salt and sugar. Leave to marinate at least 15 minutes.

Divide the meat mixture into eight portions and roll up each portion in the bean curd skin. Make sure there are no air pockets. Leave some bean curd skin at the edges and gently press with your hands to shape the sausages.

Tuck the extra skin under each sausage, and place neatly in a steamer. Steam on high heat for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool, and pour away any juices so the sausages stay dry,

Just before serving, deep-fry to crisp the skin. The sausages are already cooked, so you just need to crisp the beancurd.

We serve the rolls cutup, with a sweet black soy sauce and chili dip.

Ah Gong's favorite belly pork

300g belly pork

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

1 teaspoon sugar

2-3 tablespoons good quality black soy sauce

Blanch the belly pork in boiling water and rinse. Slice into 1-centimeter-thick slices.

Place belly pork in a non-stick frying pan without any oil and allow the pork fat to slowly render. This needs a little patience, as you need medium to low heat to get the fat well rendered.

When you see the bottom of the pan coated in oil, add the minced garlic and raise the heat slightly to brown the garlic.

Add the black soy sauce, sprinkle sugar and five-spice and mix well. Simmer until pork is cooked and fragrant. Taste, and salt if necessary.

Excellent with hot rice or plain rice porridge. My grandfather's favorite supper dish.

Five-spiced eea eggs

2 tablespoons dark tea leaves, such as Pu'er

1.5 liters water

1 cup dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon five-spice powder

1 teaspoon sugar

10 hard-boiled eggs, shelled

Boil the water, and add soy sauce, sugar and five-spice powder.

Simmer for about 15 minutes, then add the tea leaves and remove from heat.

Place the eggs in the mixture and steep overnight.

You can add more hard-boiled eggs to the mixture if they finish too quickly. Just remember to heat up the stock before putting in the new batch of eggs.

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2018-04-22 12:22:30
<![CDATA[Reading between the leaves]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/22/content_36072194.htm

A new book accompanying a TV documentary series about the history of Chinese tea and its global cultural significance has just been published. Li Yingxue reports.

In the middle of 19th century, Scottish botanist and plant hunter Robert Fortune famously stole tea plants and seeds from China and took them to India, from where tea traveled to the rest of the world.

The tea Fortune purloined from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian province used to be known by the trade name Bohea in English, which is derived from the Fukienese pronunciation of "Wuyi".

 

A picture from the book Chinese Tea features a tea garden on Hainan Island. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

The history of Bohea tea was told in the first season of the documentary, Chinese Tea, which began airing on Jiangsu TV last August and contained more than 100 interviews with tea planters, tea makers, tea sellers and tea-culture buffs. "Every story, from tea to taste bud, is a story of people and emotions," says Liu Jia, chief director of the 10-episode documentary.

A book of the same name was published at the end of March, adding a wealth of background information to the series.

Liu, who is also the chief editor of the book, says that preparation for it started during the shooting of the documentary.

"The planning and shooting of the documentary took two years, and we had collected a large amount of material about Chinese tea," says Liu. "But the information included in the documentary is limited by its format, so I wanted to present this information in the form of a book."

Liu started researching and planning the series in 2016 and visited more than 10 provinces in China. The crew also shot sequences in Britain, Japan and Kenya.

"Chinese tea is actually an international cultural symbol, so we chose some countries that have been greatly influenced by Chinese tea," says Liu.

After graduating from Peking University in 1991, Liu worked for China Central Television and Xinhua News Agency. He realized that there were not many Chinese documentaries about tea. Most instead focused on China's culture and customs.

"I think it's because there are too many aspects of knowledge about tea. It's complicated to explain everything," Liu says.

In season one he decided to tell his audience about high-quality tea, answering the questions, 'What is high-quality tea, where is it made and how did it make its way around the world?'

Unlike food documentaries that show a variety of ingredients, locations and cooking skills, making an engaging series about tea proved more difficult, especially since the tea plants and tea making processes in different areas often appeared the same.

"Aerial footage of different tea gardens tended to look pretty similar, which sometimes even confused our editors. So we only chose footage that added a visual impact to the stories we were telling in the documentary instead of relying on them to show the full picture," Liu says.

"The limitations of the documentary format were made up for in the book. Since the book follows the same logical lines as the series, we were able to include much more background information."

Liu chose the China Light Industry Press to produce the book as it had already published a series of titles about tea and its team was knowledgeable on the subject.

"The editing process takes longer because you need to verify all the information and stories about tea. We found that some of the stories were actually made up by tea merchants," says Liu. "In retrospect, some of these should have been left out of the documentary."

As a tea lover, Liu learned a great deal during the documentary's production and the editing stages of the book.

"Planting and producing tea is actually heavy work, and not at all like the usual impression of pretty young women picking tea leaves in the mountains. So we wanted to show our audience it is really not easy to produce high-quality varieties of tea."

The documentary aired on Friday nights, a prime slot usually reserved for reality shows, and is now being shown on international routes by Air China.

For the second season, which is due to air in the second half of this year, Liu is planning to focus on the flavors of tea.

Liu Wei, former deputy chief editor of the Guangming Daily, says the book reminds him not only about the different flavors of tea, but also the stories he has enjoyed when drinking tea with people.

"The documentary is like a journey with tea ambassadors, like a modern Silk Road trip," says Liu. "The book will spread the journey farther and wider."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-22 12:22:30
<![CDATA[Female golfers putting on the style]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/22/content_36072193.htm

Personal fashion increasingly common among professionals

Golf, which is more protracted and less grueling than other ball games, is seen by many as an elegant sport that allows players, especially females, to be well groomed on the greens.

The past 10 years have seen personal fashion styles becoming increasingly common among professionals and amateurs on the China Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.

 

Sui Xiang, Chinese golf professional, is in the limelight now not only for her skills, but also for her appearance. Provided to China Daily

Rising Chinese golfer Sui Xiang is in the limelight now, not only for her playing skills, but also for her appearance. She made quite an impact at last year's Kumho Tire Ladies Open in Weihai, in Shandong province.

Speaking about how she grooms herself, Sui - a 19-year-old who started to care for her skin and figure earlier in her teens - says: "Sunscreen is a must for me during a game. And I like to wear short pants or shirts in dark colors, which might make me look slimmer."

Meanwhile, on the first day of the CTBC Ladies Open at the end of last month, Sui wore a white visor, a black T-shirt and red skirt with her hair swept back in a ponytail. This was keeping with the rule of wearing no more than three colors at a time.

To keep up with fashion trends, Sui follows nearly 100 beauty bloggers on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo website. With these resources she has learned how to choose suitable cosmetics.

"Normally, I spend half an hour on makeup in the morning," says Sui.

Shi Yuting, 20, has her own style reflected in her nickname, "China's golf sweetheart". Speaking about her look, she says,"I prefer bright-colored clothes, because I want to appear sweet and lovely in public."

She also features in videos by You-Tube beauty guru Pony and shares beauty tips with her peers on the China LPGA tour.

Speaking about how looking after her appearance helps her golf, Shi, who likes pigtails, cute earrings and pink fingernails, says: "As it takes five hours or so for a single round, gussying up could give me a lift during the game.

"Also, I think it's necessary for a professional to appear well-groomed and behave decently in public, as it adds glamour to the sport. Besides, fans can enjoy the sport without getting bored."

Appearance-conscious female golfers are a contrast to how things were in the past.

Reflecting on changing trends, Li Hong, the chairwoman of the China LPGA tour, says: "One of my friends once told me that it was easy to tell which player was from China because they didn't pay much attention to their clothes or appearance. But things have changed a lot since then. And now these Chinese players are keen on looking stylish."

Li says beautiful, talented golfers impress global golf fans, and this is conducive to promoting the Chinabased tour.

She says the tour also offers training to Chinese professionals, teaching them how to behave appropriately in front of sponsors, cameras and audiences. "They represent the image of our country on the international stage. That is why I focus on their appearance and ability."

xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-22 12:22:30
<![CDATA[Illustrations from China get global platform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/22/content_36072192.htm

In the main hall of the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy at end of last month, where China was the guest of honor, the Chinese Original Illustrations Exhibition, subtitled Dream, was on display for four days near the main stage, attracting interest from more than 20,000 fairgoers.

The illustrations either showed typical scenes from Chinese life or used traditional ink-and-wash skills to tell a contemporary story. Some works were avant-garde explorations of art and storytelling.

The exhibition, covering 300 square meters, featured 150 illustrations by 30 artists, selected from more than 1,000 works by 190 artists. The featured artists included the country's first illustrator to be shortlisted by the Hans Christian Andersen Awards, Xiong Liang, as well as Zhu Chengliang, Cai Gao and Yu Hongcheng.

 

An illustration created by Chinese illustrator Cai Gao. Provided to China Daily

The book fair, a key international platform in the children's and teenage reading market, offered a central stage for Chinese illustrators. Since China was the main guest country, it was able for the first time to take a large group of illustrators abroad.

Qin Nan, the founder of Ananas Illustration, a platform and agency for Chinese illustrators, says: "I felt obliged to take Chinese illustrators to greet the world, and to showcase their works on the beauty, harmony and inclusiveness of Chinese culture."

The fair also gave the 14 Ananas illustrators a future chance to work with the Peabody Essex Museum in the US state of Massachusetts and a Bolognese association.

At the event, illustrator and artist Mou Aili drew many to her handmade dolls, which will be featured in a picture book.

In China, the tradition of illustrations for books can be traced back 1,200 years. But contemporary children's books in China have typically emphasized the written word.

It is only recently that more illustrators' works have been seen in books, says Zhao Haiyun, an official with the administration that oversees the country's press and publication.

Speaking about the changing trend, Zhao says: "I remember 2006 as the starting point," attributing the development to the country's emphasis on educating the younger generation, greater global contacts and publishers' growing confidence.

Meanwhile, publishing professional Jiang Yanping said at a symposium during the book fair that the past 20 years have been a golden era for children's literature, and that in 2017, picture books and encyclopedias accounted for a major chunk of the sales in the children's book market.

This development has presented new opportunities for Chinese illustrators. So, after 11 years in the publishing business, Qin, the founder of Ananas, moved to launch an illustrators' community.

"In the Chinese value system, the notion of family is important, and I hope our illustrations send out the message of love, warmth and shared development," he says.

meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-22 12:22:30
<![CDATA[Drama in the capital]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/22/content_36072191.htm

A Dream of the Red Mansions was staged in Beijing as part of the Yueju Opera Festival

In February 1958, the Shanghai Yueju Opera Theater premiered a new production, A Dream of the Red Mansions, based on a Chinese novel of the same name written in the 18th century by Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) writer Cao Xueqin.

The production ran for more than 50 sold-out shows and then toured nationwide.

In 1959, the production made its debut in Beijing for the 10th anniversary celebrations of the founding of New China.

 

The Shanghai Yueju Opera Theater's show, A Dream of the Red Mansions, which was based on a Chinese novel with the same title written in the 18th century, premiered in 1958 and will launch a national tour this year to mark its 60th anniversary. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

And, in 1962, the production was made into a two-episode film featuring the same cast.

The two leading actresses, Wang Wenjuan and Xu Yulan, became national stars thanks to the performance in the capital, which was watched and highly praised by the late premier Zhou Enlai.

Speaking about the Beijing show, Wang, now 92, says: "We were all young actors then, and it was a very exciting moment in my career."

Now, to mark the 60th anniversary of the premiere of A Dream of the Red Mansions, a new tour has been launched by the Shanghai Yueju Opera Theater.

From April 14 to 17, the company staged the show at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

Speaking before the tour, Wang said:"During the past 60 years, the production has toured the world and now it's returning to the capital, which is like a reunion."

Yueju Opera is the second most popular Chinese opera form out of 348 opera genres in China, according to Liang Hongjun, the head of the Shanghai Yueju Opera Theater, which was founded in 1955.

The art form, which combines singing, dancing and acting, originated in Shengzhou, in Zhejiang province, in around 1906 and was mostly performed by male farmers.

It later became a popular art form in Zhejiang province and Shanghai. And in the 1920s, all-female Yueju Opera troupes began to appear in Shanghai.

Yueju Opera was incredibly popular in the 1930s and '40s.

The Shanghai Yueju Opera Theater's A Dream of the Red Mansions was also part of the Second NCPA Yueju Opera Festival.

In 2014, the NCPA held the first Yueju Opera Week and had Wang as its artistic consultant.

The event, which this year is running until May 5 at the NCPA, features eight Yueju Opera productions by four companies - the Shanghai Yueju Opera Theater; the Zhejiang Yueju Opera Theater; the Hangzhou Yueju Opera Theater; and the Fanghua Yueju Opera Theater of Fujian province.

Speaking about how the idea of the festival took shape, Wang Wei, the director of the performance department of the NCPA, says: "Four years ago, we launched NCPA Yueju Opera Week because Yueju Opera is popular with Chinese audiences.

"And we wanted to bring together top artists from around the country, showcasing their performances and the latest Yueju Opera works written and performed by young artists."

As for the highlights of the latest event, a new Yueju Opera production, A Traveler's Song, will debut at the NCPA on April 25 and 26.

The show, performed by actors of the Zhejiang Yueju Opera Theater, is inspired by a poem with the same title by Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet Meng Jiao.

It premiered at the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music in November last year.

Then from April 29 to May 1, the Hangzhou Yueju Opera Theater will stage three productions: Xianglian's Case, a tragic story adapted from a Peking Opera show of the same title; A Strand of Alien, a comic show first performed by the late Yueju Opera actresses Fan Ruijuan (1924-2017) and Yuan Xuefen (1922-2011) in the 1950s; and The Breeze Pavilion, which tells the story of an old couple adopting an abandoned child.

On May 5, fans will get to see Jade Dragonfly, which will be performed by national award-winning Yueju Opera actress Wang Jun'an, a student of the Yin school, one of the many genres of Yueju Opera.

The Yin school of Yueju Opera follows Yin Guifang (1919-2000), who was born in Xinchang county in Zhejiang province and founded the Fanghua Yueju Opera Theater in Shanghai in 1946. Jade Dragonfly was one of her favorite works.

Separately, viewers can also learn the history of Yueju Opera by visiting an exhibition at the NCPA during the event.

There, costumes, headgear, scripts and musical instruments used in Yueju Opera performances will be displayed.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-22 12:22:30
<![CDATA[SCENT of a WOMAN and her TIME]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/21/content_36070573.htm Imagine an aristocratic lady during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) more than a millennium ago. Exuberantly beautiful, a lush pile of hair spirals from the crown of her head like a pond snail. Dressed in a low-cut, bust-revealing gown with silken luster that accentuates her opulent beauty, she is glamorous and sensuous, and no doubt fully aware of her own allure.

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The ancient Silk Road had a profound influence on Tang Dynasty China, opening it up to the world

Imagine an aristocratic lady during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) more than a millennium ago. Exuberantly beautiful, a lush pile of hair spirals from the crown of her head like a pond snail. Dressed in a low-cut, bust-revealing gown with silken luster that accentuates her opulent beauty, she is glamorous and sensuous, and no doubt fully aware of her own allure.

She seeks to further enhance that charm, partly by immersing herself in an aromatic scent that, despite its origin in faraway lands, has become le parfum de l'epoque. Potent and hypnotizing, the aroma not only adds an edge of seduction to the indolence of this well-pampered lady, but also offers a metaphor for an era in Chinese history known for its prowess in nation-building and diplomacy.

The Famen Temple Museum, about 110 kilometers from presentday Xi'an - the temple's name means "a passage to the land of Buddhism" - was once the place of worship for Tang rulers. Its director, Jiang Jie, says: "For those in the know, this typical image of a Tang court lady is in itself a reflection of the exchanges between China and the land lying to its west, through the extending route known today as the Silk Road.

"The scent resulted from the burning of spices that came all the way from places including the Eurasian steppes, the Indian subcontinent and the shore of the Arabian Sea. The practice, apart from feeding a romantic need, also had a practical side: the strong smell acted to repel insects, mosquitoes for example, and to make sure that the ladies, while proudly exposing their glacial skin on a hot summer's day, did not have to lose their composure because of a gnawing bite.

"This is very important, because climate scientists now believe that the Tang Dynasty, especially the first half of it between the early seventh and mid-ninth centuries, lived through a general rise in temperatures that, in retrospect, aided the society's propensity for flimsy clothing and fragrant scents."

Even the fashion sense of the time, with a level of daring unrepeated by any subsequent Chinese dynasty, was formed partly due to this influence from the west, Jiang says. "It seems that the hot wind blowing from the Gobi Desert and beyond reached and tickled at the heart of the Chinese empire."

Stretching over vast areas of Eurasia in today's Mongolia and northwest China, the seemingly boundless Gobi Desert presided over the ancient Silk Road that cut through it. The road itself was first opened by a man named Zhang Qian, who, acting as an envoy for Emperor Wudi (156-87 BC) of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220), embarked on his westward journey from the city of Chang'an, the Han capital, in 139 BC. The aim was to seek a military alliance with the country of Dayuezhi, against their common foe - the throat-slaying Xiongnu horseman, a large confederation of nomads that dominated the steppe from the late third century BC to the late first century AD.

The mission eventually took 13 years and many twists, yet was never quite accomplished. Still reeling from their previous defeat by those ferocious marauders, the king of Dayuezhi was reluctant to join forces with the Han. But when Zhang Qian returned in 126 BC, he brought back with him the knowledge of a new route that could lead to both military allies and trading partners, and, hopefully, admirers.

For the next millennia, the road, named after Chinese silk, its most famous commodity, was explored by the ambitious and adventurous from both sides, until it became a fully developed transport network traversing Eurasia. At one end of it was the Chinese empire, and at the other end the Mediterranean countries and Rome. The road, with more than a few tributaries to reach the surrounding regions, cut through diverse terrains and disparate cultures.

The traffic on the road reached its peak with the rise of the Tang Empire, which put a lasting end to the four centuries of war and fragmentation that separated it from its equally great predecessor, the Empire of Han. The two golden eras in Chinese history hold up mirrors to each other, in social wealth and confidence, as well as a resulting willingness to know and be known.

And they shared the same capital: Chang'an (known today as Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province), from which Zhang Qian set out on his milestone mission, and toward which endless streams of caravans headed, laden with everything that might fascinate and reap a profit, in the centuries to come.

Spice was on top of that list, even before Tang. "During the Sui Dynasty (581-618), which directly preceded Tang, spice transported along the Silk Road was already arriving in China in huge quantities," Jiang says. "Such was the longing to be overwhelmed by the scent that large carts carrying the burning ashes of the spices were driven across the streets. The idea was to fill every corner and crevice with aroma."

The Sui Empire lasted for a mere 37 years, a lesson not to be missed.

"The early rulers of Tang indeed tried to cut the level of luxury they allowed to themselves and society in general." Jiang says. "But when immense social wealth soon started to accumulate, and when military triumphs pushed the borders of the empire outside, further strengthening safety on the Chinese section of the Silk Road, things started to take on a hedonistic aspect.

"The popularity of spice again soared. People would sit around long tables with big incense burners placed on top."

In another case, when the property of a corrupt high-level official was confiscated during the reign of the Tang emperor Daizong (727-779), more than a few chests of black pepper were discovered.

Ge Chengyong, a Chinese historian and archaeologist, wrote about the use of spice in Tang-period architecture. "People would probably be amused by the black pepper story, but back then, mixing black pepper with mud and using it as building material was de rigueur for wealthy elite."

Other uses of spice came in more discreet forms, but no less ingenious ones. Found in the underground crypt of the Famen Temple, a hollowed-out gilt silver ball with latticed flower-and-bird patterns is believed to have been a scent sachet. What is known today as the system of Cardan's suspension was set inside the ball, keeping it constantly horizontal and preventing the perfume powder from spilling when the sachet moves with the wearer.

"Although there is no visible flame, the powder is in a burning condition, turning the little sachets into mini-warmers that people carry in their sleeves, especially during winter," Ge says. "There were also bigger ones, ones for the cold winter night.

"In terms of spices and scents, what really set Tang apart from the eras that preceded it and followed it was a fever for something foreign that had effectively burnt through various layers of society. The sparks of enthusiasm also fell into many other areas, which, put together, signaled an openness more associated with Tang than any other period in Chinese history."

One example is Buddhism, another famous import along the Silk Road. In retrospect, it may not be entirely surprising that the spice culture and Buddhism fed each other during this time.

Most imported spice was turned into wafts of holy smoke during religious activities in Buddhist temples, including the Famen Temple. On the other hand, part of the few remaining scent-mixing recipes dating back to that era can be found today in Buddhist writings from the same time.

The vitality of these commercial and cultural exchanges can be glimpsed from the lines of the Tang Dynasty poet Nie Yizhong (837-884): "No horse ever stops to rest/and no night spent without the sound of rolling wheels filling the ear/There are fewer grasses underfoot/than grains of dust on the clothing."

The poem is titled The Road to Chang'an, and the dust-covered men who were constantly goading their horses forward were the Sodgians, middlemen who monopolized trade on the Silk Road between the forth and the eighth centuries. (Nie was one of the more than 3,000 Tang poets of his time who visited and wrote about the sprawling Tang capital. Chang'an, covering 84 million square meters, was six times the size of Rome and seven times that of Constantinople.)

As merchants and messengers (for the kingdoms they passed by en route), the Sogdians were not taken lightly by the Tang emperors, who set up specific departments within their government to handle their matters.

Rong Xinjiang, one of China's leading Silk Road experts, says it was common for the Sogdian merchants to come in the name of diplomatic envoys.

"Tang-era documents unearthed along the Silk Road show huge mission groups that could include up to a thousand people. Needless to say, only a few of them were real diplomats, although it is important to note that commerce and diplomacy were never quite separable. To trade in the name of paying tribute - since the opening of the Silk Road, this practice had allowed many businessmen smooth entree into China."

However, that does not mean the Tang court could be easily fooled when it came to money matters. All "tributes" - be it a gilt silver plate or a roaring lion - had to be strictly evaluated by a panel of experts to decide their value, Rong says. "Gifts" considered most precious would be sent directly to the emperors, who then would grant a reward accordingly.

"The reward often came in the form of Chinese silk, books, papers and copper mirrors, whose making engaged many imperial workshops. But of course, not all trade was aimed at the ruling elite. We have reason to believe that plenty of commercial activities went on at the grassroots level, although little of that was recorded by history."

Extensive exchanges aroused society's curiosity, which in turn fueled a sustained passion for things exotic. The resulting impact, Jiang of the Famen Temple Museum says, went far beyond the thoughtless embrace of luxury.

"It's true that the Tang Empire, especially its first one and a half centuries, is noted for a penchant for luxury and a taste that veered toward the glitzy and glamorous. From gem-embedded gold and gilt silver wares to widespread wine culture and the famous hot bath, a lot that evokes Tang could be traced back to that famous road."

Jiang was referring to Huaqingchi, or the Huaqing Pool, a hot spring-endowed imperial palace 30 km east of Chang'an. For more than a decade it was the winter resort for the Tang Emperor Xuanzong (685-762) and his beloved concubine Madam Yang.

Jiang believes that the bathing tradition hails from West Asia and beyond.

"But what went on the surface, including the upbeat mood and the freewheeling spirit, seeped deeper to form a quality that revolutionized society," he says.

One example involves the social status of women, considered having reached a historic high during the Tang era. This is not only evidenced by a fashion that celebrated femininity, fashion believed to have been influenced by the Persian style, but also by the fact the Tang witnessed the coronation of Empress Wu Zetian. Unlike other powerful women in the country's history, the empress ruled not from behind the curtain, but the throne of her own.

Emperor Taizong (598-649), the greatest of all Tang emperors to whom Wu was once a concubine, proclaimed himself "The Heavenly Khan". (Wu, who was remarkably younger than Taizong, later married his son and successor, Emperor Gaozong, mothered by Taizong's deceased wife. Her ascension to the throne took place in 690, seven years after Gaozong died.)

"The self-designation tells as much about the attitude of the emperor as it does about that of his people - they were ready to take the world under their wings," Jiang says.

"If there's one word to describe the Silk Road, it's fluidity. The constant influx of 'foreigners' into Chang'an and other major cities of Tang not only broadened locals' outlook but also instilled into the society a world vision, a vision that translated into a strong assimilating force.

"As a result, many who had come just to trade eventually stayed, long enough to start calling themselves the people of Tang."

zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A painting from 17th-century China depicting a lady with a duck-shaped incense burner and the accompanying incense cage under her long skirt. Photos Provided By Shanghai Museum

 

 

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2018-04-21 07:04:25
<![CDATA[Scents & sensibility]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/21/content_36070572.htm "Such was the continuity and wholeness of Chinese civilization that anything brought to it and considered foreign would ultimately be internalized once it was adopted," says Zhao Liya, a book editor turned historian who has just written for the catalog of an exhibition at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris titled the Perfumes of China - the Incense Culture of the Imperial Times. The exhibition is a joint effort of the French museum and the Shanghai Museum.

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Over the centuries China has shown itself ready to adopt new concepts, cultures and products and eventually make them all its own

"Such was the continuity and wholeness of Chinese civilization that anything brought to it and considered foreign would ultimately be internalized once it was adopted," says Zhao Liya, a book editor turned historian who has just written for the catalog of an exhibition at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris titled the Perfumes of China - the Incense Culture of the Imperial Times. The exhibition is a joint effort of the French museum and the Shanghai Museum.

"When foreign spices entered China in huge quantities during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) between the early seventh and the early 10th centuries, it smelled exoticism, and it was in this that their attraction mainly resided."

These spices included, most famously, musk, a strong-smelling reddish-brown substance secreted by the male musk deer. Another was ambergris, a solid, waxy, flammable substance that was dull gray or blackish, produced in the digestive system of sperm whale.

The former came largely from the Eurasian steppe, where the deer roamed, and the latter is believed to have been swept ashore by waves of the Arabian Sea. Both eventually arrived in Tang Dynasty China through the Silk Road, a winding route that threaded its way across Eurasia, connecting ancient China with cities as far-flung as Rome and Alexandria.

However, Zhao says, a little more than half a century after the demise of Tang, the Song Empire (960-1279), founded after a brief period of chaos and fragmentation, imbued the spice culture with new significance, a meaning rooted in the past and considered today as quintessentially Chinese.

"During the time of Song, incense-burning became an integral part of the life of the literati, whose traditions and values were celebrated by the whole of society, from the emperors down," Zhao says. "Consequently, the whiff of luxury previously associated with using expensive spice gradually faded, replaced by a more casual, relaxed attitude.

"Inhaling scent was supposed to nurture introspection, a state of being that ideally should form the daily reality of a culturally minded and inform poetry writing. Thereafter, pursuing novelty and flaunting wealth was deemed irrelevant.

"This new ideal spawned a whole new aesthetic, with golden or gilt silver incense burners featuring intricate decorative patterns giving way to pared-down designs, often realized in mutely colored (pale greenish blue, for example) porcelain."

This process of localization is inevitable, enabled by a tradition that had extended far back beyond the point of foreign spices' entry, Zhao says.

"Chinese used spice/incense long before the terrestrial Silk Road was opened." (In history, the terrestrial Silk Road was complemented and enhanced by what is known today as the maritime Silk Road, first formed around the first century BC but which only flourished when the waning fortunes of Tang led to intermittent interruption of the terrestrial route, around the ninth century.)

"In Chinese antiquity, that puff of smoke was believed to be able to facilitate communication between man and heaven," Zhao says.

"Later it was expected to infiltrate and purify the mind. In between, the Tang Dynasty represented a distinct chapter, full of color and spice, literally and metaphorically. But it was in no way the entire story, or its most enduring part."

Jiang Jie, director of the Famen Temple Museum, about 110 kilometers from present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi province, believes that as far as spice culture is concerned, internalization was a perennial process, even during the Tang era. From the temple's underground crypt, many Tang-dynasty incense burners and related wares have been unearthed, testifying to a populous culture that was a veritable phenomenon.

"Very often during the Tang era, spice for burning came in the form of little balls that mixed spice powder with honey," Jiang says. "This was very much informed by the making of traditional Chinese medicine, whereby different ingredients were ground and then kneaded into round pills, with honey serving both as bonding agent and sweetener."

"But of course, with spice pills there would not be too much honey, for fear that it became incombustible. And not unlike Chinese traditional pills, the spice ones were also coated in wax for storage."

In addition, the Tang people experimented and came up with their own recipes for mixing different spices, to complement the existing ones brought to China along the Silk Road.

In 1975 the discovery of a sunken ship by South Korean fishermen southwest of the Korean Peninsula yielded vast amounts of porcelain - more than 20,000 pieces in total. Many were incense burners.

"The ship and its load have been dated back to China's Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), an era that directly followed the Song," Jiang says. "It is clear that by that time China was already exporting its own spice culture and paraphernalia to other countries."

In fact, if you listen to Zhang Deshui, director of the Henan Provincial Museum in Central China, two-way or even multi-way exchanges are what lie at the origin and heart of the formation of all civilizations.

"People talk about Zhang Qian (164-114 BC), the Han Dynasty explorer and Silk Road opener who traveled from the Chinese heartland to West Asia and then back," Zhang says. "But close study has revealed that the exchanges, cultural and material between China and the vast Eurasian landmass lying to its west and northwest far precedes Zhang Qian's historic journey. In a sense, the ancient Silk Road existed long before its 'official' opening."

One example involves renowned bronze wares from China's Shang and Zhou dynasties (c. 16th century-221 BC). Coveted by museums and private collectors worldwide, these wares, with their bewilderingly intricate and wildly imaginative designs, represented a height in the development of ancient Chinese art.

"However, bronze smelting techniques first appeared in western Asia about 7,000 years ago, more than two millennia before its eastward move brought it to China, where it was influenced by Chinese pottery making," Zhang says.

"Such influence, combined with the invention of mold casting by the Chinese, led to profound changes. Bronze knives and swords beloved by the steppe people were replaced by containers of food and wine, some of giant size. Apart from serving as cooking utensils, many of them also performed a ritualistic function, one embedded in the spiritual realm of our ancestors. And that is how they entered the Chinese cultural vocabulary once and for all."

Two millennia on, Emperor Qianlong (1711-99) of Qing, China's last feudal dynasty, turned to ancient bronze wares in his effort to revive an aesthetic he considered classically Chinese. The emperor, a diehard jade lover, commissioned numerous pieces of green jade carvings, all meticulously rendered as patinaed bronze wares. (Jade was once an important commodity on the Silk Road, so famous that some scholars have suggested renaming the Silk Road the Jade Road.)

Other things that gradually spread from the west to ancient China included the cultivation of wheat and the raising of goats and horses. All that happened roughly along the Silk Road, but before its inauguration.

Rong Xinjiang, of the History Department of Peking University, whose research into the ancient Silk Road started in the mid-1990s, believes that there were also many cases of parallel development, along a route that enabled and expedited exchanges.

"Where funerary traditions are concerned, gold face covers have been discovered in a Tang Dynasty tomb site in Ningxia Hui autonomous region, northwestern China. The decorative sun and moon-shaped gold plate on the forehead of the tomb-owner indicates that he was an adherent of Zoroastrianism, a religion that originated in ancient Persia and was widely adopted by the Sogdian people, the dominating traders on the Silk Road. On the other hand, covering the face of the dead with pieces of jade was a common practice for the rich and powerful in China between the 12th century BC and the third century AD.

"Are there any connections between the two? More concrete proof is needed before we draw any conclusions. Sometimes I am more tempted to believe that by destiny or happenstance, members of different civilizations may have arrived at the same destination, via different routes. While we dust away the desert sand to reveal the spider's web that was the ancient Silk Road, it is equally important not to make forced links."

But it is always satisfying to be able to pick up two loose threads and reconnect them, says Jiang Jie of the Famen Temple Museum.

"While the spice culture took hold of people's imagination in China, with the import of Chinese paper, ancient Persian rulers were finally able to end the practice of perfuming their strong-smelling parchment, before sending their written edicts to different corners of the vast empire.

"It is commonly agreed that people who have taken up a meaty diet generally have stronger body odor than those who have not, and are consequently more reliant on scents. That explains why in ancient times many kinds of spices came from the northern steppe.

"It also explains why the use of spices mainly took on two different directions in the ensuing era: for Western people, they turned into liquid perfume, applied directly on the skin; for Chinese, they became incense for burning, whose aroma permeates the surroundings."

One typical form of incense burner from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) is the bo shan lu, or "Boshan Mountain burner". True to its name, the upper half of the burner rises from the cuplike base in a swirl of gold and silver, punctuated by pores from which plumes of smoke would emerge and rise.

"Most people believe that the burner evokes the sea-surrounding fairy mountain in ancient Chinese literature, a mountain upon which deities would descend during their earthly visits," Jiang says. "But others have suggested that the shape of the burner actually came from West Asia, with the mountain probably referring to those ones described in Buddhist scriptures.

"An indigenous creation or a Silk Road import? Debate is likely to rage forever. Either way, shrouded in the mist emanating from an ageless work of art is the landscape for mind's travel."

zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Boshan Mountain incense burner, popular during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), provided by Hebei Provincial Museum.

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2018-04-21 07:04:25
<![CDATA[Clash of China's finest to cue off Crucible action]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/21/content_36070571.htm Chinese snooker superstar Ding Junhui will face compatriot Xiao Guodong in an eye-catching first-round clash at the World Snooker Championship which gets underway on Saturday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.

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Superstar Ding draws Xiao in opening match

Chinese snooker superstar Ding Junhui will face compatriot Xiao Guodong in an eye-catching first-round clash at the World Snooker Championship which gets underway on Saturday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.

World No 3 Ding, whose 2016 championship final loss to Mark Selby attracted an audience of 42 million in China, is once again the favored challenger from Asia and faces a 29-year-old opponent who is ranked 25th and appearing in just his third world championship.

The 31-year-old Ding has not shown great form this season although he reached the World Grand Prix final, where he was beaten 10-3 by Ronnie O'Sullivan.

"There are tough times in snooker, I have had many struggles," he told The Independent newspaper.

"It happens for all top players - the difference with Ronnie O'Sullivan, for example, is that his bad times last at most two months. For others, it can be six months, a year, two years."

Ding's countryman Liang Wenbo, ranked 19th in the world, will face Welsh qualifier Jamie Jones, while there are certain to be two players from China in the second round as veteran Marco Fu from Hong Kong has been drawn against Lyu Haotian, the lowest ranked player in the draw at 68th in the world.

Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh has a mammoth task in progressing as he faces Scotland's four-time world champion John Higgins while Australia's 2010 champion Neil Robertson plays journeyman English cueman Robert Milkins.

Two-time defending champion Selby begins the defense of his title on Saturday against fellow Englishman Joe Perry.

The championship runs until May 7.

Ronnie confident

Crowd favorite O'Sullivan believes he can cap a fine season by winning a sixth world title but has named two-time defending champion Selby as the Crucible favorite.

'The Rocket' has not reached the final in Sheffield since 2014, when Selby won his first title, and is still seeking the elusive sixth crown that would put him level with Steve Davis and Ray Reardon in second place on the sport's professional-era list, behind only Stephen Hendry, who won seven times.

"I think Mark Selby is obviously (the favorite)," O'Sullivan told Eurosport ahead of the start of the tournament on Saturday.

"He's won it three times out of the last four. Great match player. If he gets it right every player in the tournament knows he's a proper handful. And obviously Judd Trump as well. If he gets it right he's a handful for anybody."

At the age of 42, O'Sullivan would be the oldest champion since Reardon lifted the world title at 45 in 1978 but says he is pacing himself as he targets Hendry's record.

"I'd like to win another two world titles in the next eight years before I get to 50," he said.

"I just try to enjoy my life now and to stay in good shape. I'm looking for longevity so I'm trying not to get sucked into every tournament like the other guys do."

O'Sullivan has a tough first-round encounter with Scotland's Stephen Maguire.

O'Sullivan, who has won five ranking titles this season including a record-equaling sixth UK Championship, is in a more upbeat mood about the world championship than he was in December, when he said in a Twitter question-and-answer session that the tournament was his "least fav event".

Agence France - presse

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2018-04-21 07:03:54
<![CDATA[Trading up for a writer's life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066143.htm Adam Williams believes it is wrong to impose the values of today on historical figures of the past.

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Adam Williams has had two remarkable careers: one as a prominent British business figure in China and another as a best-selling author of Chinese historical fiction. Andrew Moody reports.

Adam Williams believes it is wrong to impose the values of today on historical figures of the past.

The 64-year-old author and businessman argues that people are very much prisoners of their own times.

"I am a historical novelist. If I am writing about the 1100s, the people then were different. They thought in a different way. They had different standards and the society they lived in had different values," he says.

Williams, who was speaking in his expansive book-lined apartment off Upper East Street in Beijing, has combined two remarkable careers: he's both one of the most prominent British business figures in China and a bestselling Chinese historical fiction writer at the same time.

He says the current trend of accusing historical figures of being supporters of slavery, racist colonialists or of some other beliefs now deemed politically incorrect could render the very process of writing about the past impossible.

"If you villainize every slaver in the United States before the Civil War or in Europe or anywhere else, then the logic of that is that every Roman who ever lived was a villain. There becomes no virtue in anyone from the past," he says.

Williams remains best known for his trilogy, The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure, The Emperor's Bones and The Dragon's Tail, all published more than a decade ago and which fictionalize China's history from just before the Boxer Rebellion in the late 19th century to the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) and beyond. The novels, which feature Westerners living in China, partly reflect his own history since he is the fourth generation of his family to have lived in China, starting with his two maternal great grandfathers - one a railway engineer who came to China in 1893 and the other a medical missionary who arrived three years later.

"My grandmother used to tell tales of their lives here and I thought some of them could be shifted and shaped into authentic characters. I didn't tell their actual stories though. I made up my own. It is probably a good thing that none of them are alive to read the books though," he laughs.

The first one of the series sold 100,000 copies and in bookstores around the world they still hold their positions on the shelves of this narrow genre of Chinese historical fiction written by Westerners.

"China until recently has been rather sort of a specialist interest. There were quite a few writers in the 1920s. You have Robert Van Gulik with his Judge Dee historical mysteries in the 1930s. Various journalists have also written novels," he says.

Williams, who was born in Hong Kong but went to Radley College, the English public school, and then Oxford University, where he read English (where the lecturers there included Iris Murdoch and WH Auden), began his career as a journalist at the South China Morning Post in the late 1970s.

He quickly switched to business, however, finally ending up as group chief representative of Jardine Matheson, a company inextricably linked to China's history via its associations with the Opium Wars in the 19th century. He stood down in 2015 but remains an adviser.

"It has sort of moved on from firing people for not selling opium on a Sunday," he laughs. "It is a very modern company now, a services conglomerate now into real estate, insurance, hotels, retail and supermarkets. Many of Jardine's companies you know by their other names, like the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, for instance."

Williams, who still holds a number of other corporate positions, has had a ringside seat as China has emerged into a major economic power in the 40 years since Deng Xiaoping launched the reform and opening-up.

"After the recent (19th CPC National) Congress meeting, China in its new era is saying that it has world-class businesses, its own way of doing things and will take its place among the great nations of the world," he says.

Williams believes China's major initiatives such as the Belt and Road offer huge opportunities for the rest of the world to engage with the country.

"China is actually a stable state in the world compared to some others at the moment. There is a huge amount of investment coming out of China, even with the current capital controls," he says.

"I can only think how the Belt and Road could be good for Europe. China's door is open and I am surprised they (European governments) are not taking advantage of it."

Williams was also chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in China in the late 1990s and now sees huge opportunities for China and his own country, the UK, to do a free trade agreement based around services.

"I remember going to a meeting once with Wang Qishan (now China's vice-president) and he was praising the City of London as being the greatest port in the world, despite not having any ships, docking or cargo going through it. This was because it provides the laws, the insurance and the finance for the shipping industry around the world," he says.

Williams' other big China connection is being the husband of Hong Ying, a very famous Chinese author in her own right.

"We met at the birthday party of a foreign correspondent friend of mine. I'd just had my first novel published and someone told me this woman was interested in writing so I very kindly told her how to write a synopsis, letters to editors and how to get a book going and she listened very politely and then left," he recalls.

"Someone then told me she had written numerous books that had been published in 20 different languages. I just wondered what she might have thought of this upstart."

The couple, who live in Beijing but have other homes in Chongqing (where Hong Ying is from) and in Italy, says they have different approaches to writing.

"She is a much more private writer. When I write something, I want the world to hear my brilliant prose. She keeps it very much inside herself," he says.

"We sometimes discuss our work. She did a wonderful job with the Chinese editions of my books, polishing the translations. The Chinese versions are probably much better than the English ones."

Williams says it took five years to write his first book, which runs to more than 800 pages, at weekends and during holidays.

"I never did it in company time. I used to say that I don't play golf at the weekends so I needed something else to do," he says.

Williams, who has published one other book, apart from the trilogy, set around the Spanish Civil War, The Book of the Alchemist, is now working on another novel.

"It is a sort of medieval detective story using some of the back story of the Spanish Civil War book. I was struggling with it but now it is going well," he says.

"I need to be alone and have quiet to write. It is not so much about having the time available but getting into the space where the story is in your mind."

Contact the writer at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

Adam Williams has combined two remarkable careers: he's both one of the most prominent British business figures in China and a bestselling Chinese historical fiction writer at the same time. Zou Hong / China Daily

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[German novel bags top Chinese award for foreign books]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066142.htm It is a spur-of-the-moment trip. A man receives an uninvited visit to his reclusive cabin from an attractive woman, who, much like himself, has also lost her career and loved ones. Within hours, they decide to drive together, and the destination is all the way south. So begins the story of the German novel Widerfahrnis (Encounter).

As the name suggests, the book published in 2016, is about encounters. On the trip, the couple meets refugees and questions around their own European identity.

Penned by 70-year-old writer Bodo Kirchhoff, Widerfahrnis was announced as the top winner at the 21st Century Best Foreign Novel of the Year 2017 award ceremony in Beijing on April 13.

Co-sponsored by the China Publishing Group Corp, People's Literature Publishing House, the Chinese Association of Foreign Literature and the Taofen Foundation China, the award is the longest-running such honor in China for foreign books published in Chinese.

Commenting on Widerfahrnis, Nie Zhenning, chairman of the Taofen Foundation China and director of the judging panel for the award, says it is a story that readers across the world can relate to.

"We gave it the biggest prize not only because of its unflinching portrayal of reality of the refugee crisis in Europe, but also its ruminations on the difficulties of human communication," says Nie.

Nie likened the general vibe of Widerfahrnis to American writer Jack Kerouac's 1957 magnum opus On the Road.

Kirchhoff, who couldn't attend the ceremony to receive the award in person, says he is thrilled to have had his book published in China, in a video shot for the ceremony.

"I believe that readers in China will know about the current state of mind of Europeans once they read the book," says Kirchhoff in the video.

Kirchhoff was born in Hamburg, West Germany, in 1948. He studied pedagogy and psychology at Frankfurt University from 1972 to 1979 and completed his doctoral thesis. He is an award-winning fiction writer and has also written movie screenplays. In 2016, Widerfahrnis won the German Book Prize.

In his address to readers in the book's Chinese edition, Kirchhoff refers to himself as a writer "unheard of" in China, despite his fame in his home country.

"I hope I can come to China one day with my wife and talk to Chinese readers," writes Kirchhoff.

Three other novels by writers from France, Italy and Argentina were announced as winners in other categories of the Chinese award on April 13.

La noche de la Usina (The Night of the Heroic Losers), written by 51-year-old Argentine novelist Eduardo Sacheri, is set in a fictional small town on the Pampas. Coaxed out of all their money to start a business, the residents have no choice but to plan an elaborate heist to take back what is rightfully theirs.

"The novel is entertaining, highly visual and heart-trending. I think the smart, sensitive and curious Chinese reader will enjoy the book," says Juan Manuel Cortelletti, minister counselor for cultural affairs at the embassy of Argentina in China, who accepted the award on the writer's behalf.

Italian feminist writer Dacia Maraini, 72, narrates a missing-person investigation from a man's perspective in her book La bambina e il sognatore (The Girl and the Dreamer). The hero is a father who has lost his 8-year-old daughter to leukemia. As he embarks on a journey to find the missing girl, his tragic past begins to unravel.

In La Cheffe, roman d'une cuisiniere (The Chef, Story of a Cook), French novelist and playwright Marie NDiaye, 51, portrays a woman's rise to the peak of culinary art by hard work, dedication and talent. The story is narrated from the perspective of the heroine's assistant chef, a man.

The judging panel for the award, which consists of translators, scholars and publishing editors, considers new foreign novels each year based on merits, including literary value, social impact and significance to humanity, according to Xiao Liyuan, deputy chief editor of People's Literature Publishing house and a member of the judging panel.

"Chinese readers prefer foreign novels about love, death and war," says Xiao.

Young readers are more interested in shorter novels and stories from the developing world, she adds.

Since its commencement in 2001, the annual award has been given to 94 novels from 26 countries. Past winners include French writers Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio and Patrick Modiano, who went on to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 2008 and 2014, respectively.

The novels are published in Chinese by the People's Literature Publishing House under the series 21st Century Best Foreign Novel of the Year.

The four winning novels this year were published in Chinese in April.

Liu Yinglun contributed to the story

This year's four novels that win 21st Century Best Foreign Novel of the Year are published in Chinese by the People's Literature Publishing House in April. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[FOR TOURISTS, XI'AN'S GATES ARE ALWAYS OPEN]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066141.htm A grand entrance ceremony takes place at Xi'an's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) city walls every day, as the ancient capital of China opens its spectacularly preserved South Gate to the masses with great pomp and pageantry, as it would have done for VIPs in the olden days.

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China's ancient capital has long been a draw for snap-happy visitors, but the city's latest charm offensive is also attracting emerging industries. Camilla Tenn reports in Xi'an.

A grand entrance ceremony takes place at Xi'an's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) city walls every day, as the ancient capital of China opens its spectacularly preserved South Gate to the masses with great pomp and pageantry, as it would have done for VIPs in the olden days.

Hoards of performers stage a Tang Dynasty-style (618-907) welcome - the period in which the original walls were built - as they lead crowds of tourists armed with cameras through the park, over the bridge and into the city proper.

Unfortunately, when I was last in town, I arrived late to the event and had to watch from afar, clinging onto the park railings as I craned my neck to take in the proceedings, like a peasant of times past stretching for a glimpse of those lucky enough - or in this case punctual enough - to be treated to such an honorable reception.

But, my hapless position on the sidelines provided me with a glimpse of the radical change of the times that today everyone is welcomed and celebrated, especially in the last 40 years of opening-up.

Xi'an, a "natural museum" that served as China's capital for 1,100 years and is home to the world-renowned Terracotta Warriors, is already known as a "world-famous destination for traveling", according to the local tourism board's deputy head, Kang Lifeng. But there is still significant work underway to further open up the city to the world.

Xi'an has long been a leader in this regard, and, as Kang says, it was one of the first cities on the Chinese mainland to open its gates to international visitors. Ongoing initiatives include improving English-language signage, making the city's visa-free policy more competitive and easier to use, as well as organizing foreigner-focused activities that draw on and combine Western and Eastern cultural elements.

On this, my third trip to Xi'an, I noticed many new features since my last visit two years ago.

The city is more alive at night than ever, thanks to the bright lights that keep the shops and streets open until the early hours and illuminate the city's many architectural wonders.

As I wandered through the Muslim quarter that lies alongside the 600-year-old Drum Tower, the vast diversity of cuisine and culture was essentially floodlit, helping locals and visitors alike to navigate along the bustling alleyways and the vendors to achieve a roaring trade.

An army of cleaners and sweepers were out keeping the city in tip-top condition, so it always has its best foot forward for snap-happy tourists. I also noticed many more foreign visitors in the mix, a clearer sign than any of Xi'an's continuing opening-up.

You can feel the significance tourism plays by just walking through the city. Everywhere there are well-kept parks, beautified walkways, time-honored local brands and immaculately maintained relics from dynasties long-since overthrown.

Of course, these also improve the quality of life for local residents, who hit the streets in droves in the evenings, which meant I was hard pressed to find a route through all the dancing couples. Square dancing, as it is known, is a common sight in most Chinese cities, but the diversity of cultures and the sheer number of participants beat anything I'd ever seen.

Innovative new ideas, originally thought up to help tourists, are also improving local lifestyles. The tourism bureau is working with internet giant Baidu on a map app that shows the nearest toilets - the first of its kind in the country. Around 450 locations are already live on the app and another 650 or so are set to join in the next three months, with incentives offered for hotels to open up their facilities for passers-by.

Kang says that last year Xi'an housed, fed and entertained 180 million tourists both from home and abroad, and the city provides employment for 20,000 tour guides. Unsurprisingly then, the tourism industry makes up a healthy portion of the city's economy, contributing a hefty 8.6 percent to GDP last year. That's roughly equivalent to the amount generated by Chinese high-tech companies fueling the emerging industries sector.

And those numbers say a lot about the Xi'an of today. While it is the rich heritage that draws visitors, like me, in their hundreds of millions every year, the city's new innovative and creative sectors are propelling it toward becoming a modern global metropolis, a key self-set goal.

As a tourist in the city, it's becoming easier to see how these two central characteristics are blending to create a new Xi'an - harnessing an innovative spirit to preserve and popularize its historical roots.

Contact the writer at camilla@chinadaily.com.cn

Xi’an in Shaanxi province, known as a worldfamous destination for traveling, boasts such worldrenowned spots as the Terracotta Warriors. Photo provided to China Daily

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[History lover uses camera to save abandoned historical sites]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066140.htm The dilapidated buildings in the villages of North China's Shanxi province appear to have no future. But to Tang Dahua, 48, they are "dying friends", and he wants to save them.

His photos tell their stories: an old temple is now a sheepfold hemmed in by piles of dung; an ancestral hall is overrun with weeds; a centuries-old wooden pagoda rots away; a collapsed theater has only three walls standing; frescoes in a damaged temple are heavily eroded.

Some are listed as cultural relics at the county level, but some are unknown even to locals.

Tang posted the photos on social media, arguing the buildings are cultural relics that are worthy of preservation before "they perish in the wild".

"In front of these buildings, you feel the smallness of humanity and the cruelty of time. You think something should be done," says Tang.

Tang has been taking pictures since 2006. He usually spends half a year seeking, researching and photographing pagodas, temples and other old sites in Shanxi, which is home to 452 relic sites under State-level protection and more than 28,000 ancient architectural sites - among the most in all of China's provincial regions.

He has crossed hills and rivers, and braved freezing cold and extreme heat, driving hundreds of kilometers from his home in Shandong province.

He has visited and photographed more than 400 long-neglected sites. And his Weibo social network project, Snapshots of Historical Sites, features more than 200 ancient buildings on the verge of collapse.

Tang says most of the information he gets is provided by travelers, cyclists and villagers.

"They have one thing in common - they love history."

An internet entrepreneur, Tang started the project in 2011, after he posted a series of photos of a wooden temple built more than 110 years ago.

"The dilapidated site shocked people," recalls Tang, who saw his photos to draw tens of thousands of hits and reposts in a day.

The project brought him 350,000 followers and he hopes that more relics can be survived with public attention.

A notable success was a decaying temple Longtian, which he found in 2014 in Xilianghe village, 16 kilometers from Pingyao county, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997.

The temple had just a few wooden pillars standing.

And frescoes dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were weathered because of the poor condition of the roof.

Locals had no idea when the temple was built and abandoned. And they had no money to repair it.

But after Tang posted the pictures of the temple, it drew attention of hundreds of web users and other media, including the People's Daily, which published his pictures and called for protection of nearby relic sites.

Two months later, the local cultural relics bureau announced that restoration was underway.

In November 2015, a local told Tang the temple was restored and was hosting opera performances.

"Rural historical sites have regained respect and popularity," says Tang. "Historical sites are important because they are the platforms to display and protect intangible heritage, such as operas, temple fairs and ancient crafts. When historical buildings are saved, the culture revives."

More than 40 sites have been restored by local governments after Tang posted pictures. And he sometimes revisits places to see the restoration progress.

A major problem is that many historical buildings are not officially recognized as cultural relics. Some people or developers have dismantled, relocated or taken away parts of buildings to sell, without official approval.

"I hope our constant exposure of these crimes prompts local governments to intensify preservation efforts," says Tang.

Commenting on his work, a web user with the screen name "Jiandan" says: "I am touched by his passion. I hope more people join in to take care of the neglected historical sites."

Tang calls himself "Aiguta" online, which means "love pagoda".

His love for pagodas goes back 30 years to his high school days, when he read a book on Chinese pagodas.

But now, his passion covers more buildings.

Tang does not mind spending his money and time to save and study relics. "It's worth every moment," he says.

 

Tang Dahua visits and photographs long-neglected sites in Shanxi province and posts the photos on social media in order to arouse attention from local governments to preserve the old buildings. Photos By Wang Xuetao / Xinhua

(China Daily 04/20/2018 page19)

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[SE Asia growing global market for TCM]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066139.htm In recent years, traditional Chinese medicine has been gaining in popularity around the world, and nowhere more than in Southeast Asia, where many Chinese continue to use these ancient remedies.

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Traditional Chinese medicine is taking off in countries like Thailand and Indonesia, where emigrants are helping to popularize the ancient practice. Liu Xiangrui reports.

In recent years, traditional Chinese medicine has been gaining in popularity around the world, and nowhere more than in Southeast Asia, where many Chinese continue to use these ancient remedies.

Thida Pechsiri, a 25-year-old resident of Bangkok, is not a frequent user of TCM, but she still holds the 2,500 year-old medical practices in high regard like her mother, a descendant of Chinese emigrants.

According to Pechsiri, a tour that brought her to China 8 years ago changed her perspective on traditional Chinese medicine.

Pechsiri, who was then 17, was suffering serious stomach aches during her period, and her mother decided to seek a traditional remedy for her during their visit to China.

Their Chinese tour guide recommended a veteran TCM doctor to them, who took her pulse and diagnosed her before prescribing herbal concoctions. The doctor instructed a course of treatment lasting three months, but Pechsiri found her problem was gone half way through the course, and stopped the treatment to cut costs, which came to 10,000 baht ($320) per month.

"I was satisfied with the results, and became more confident about TCM after that," she says.

While traditional medicine is mostly popular among Chinese emigrants and their descendants in Thailand and most TCM stores in Bangkok are located in its China Town area, a number of cheap patented TCM herbal products have become everyday items used by Thai people in general. Such products include Yunnan Baiyao, which often applied to first-aid injuries, and Xiguashuang, watermelon frost throat lozenges, produced by Guilin Sanjin Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.

"They are not only sold in TCM stores, but can be easily found at regular drugstores," Pechsiri says.

In many cases, TCM is used together with Western and Thai medicines by local people as part of a more comprehensive form of therapy. More expensive herbal medicines like ginseng and caterpillar fungus are also popular with consumers in Thailand, she adds.

Victor Liu, a Singaporean who has been involved in the TCM product business for 9 years in Jakarta, has also observed a stronger presence of TCM in Indonesia in recent years.

According to Liu, a few years ago there were only Tongrentang, a renowned traditional Chinese medicine pharmaceuticals provider from Beijing, and Zhangzhou Pien Tze Huang Pharmaceutical operating as appointed agencies in Indonesia. But recently, more Chinese pharmaceutical producers such as Tasly from Tianjin, Yunnan Baiyao from Yunnan province and Dong'e Ejiao from Shandong province, have started to explore Indonesia's domestic market.

Liu operates a TCM trading company called Sky One Healthcare, and the first product he chose was Huoxiang Zhengqi Liquid, which is produced by the Chongqing-based Taiji Group.

The oral liquid product is one of the handiest medicines used by Chinese people, and it is often used to treat acute abdominal pains, summertime colds, dampness and other problems.

"I knew it was selling very well in China, and believed it would have good market in Indonesia, where the weather is hot all year round," says Liu.

Now his company is also importing other TCM products and their annual sales have grown to $20 million over the course of the past 9 years.

Like Thailand, people of Chinese origin make up the mainstay of consumers of TCM products in Indonesia, according to Liu.

Local people are familiar with a range of typical TCM products, such as Angong Niuhuang pills, which are commonly used to counter heat and toxins, and Pien Tze Huang, a herbal remedy that can be taken to reduce swelling.

"Chinese medicines that have entered the local market more recently still need time to cultivate a wider customer base," Liu explains, adding that the local people's understanding of Chinese medical therapies mostly revolve around acupuncture and manipulation.

As an agent, Liu says the greatest challenge for him is that in Indonesia, unlike in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, TCM is still assessed by regulators using the same standards as Western medicine, which results in a protracted registration process and advertising restrictions relating to their healing properties.

Domestically, producers like Taiji Group are also making efforts of their own to further promote their products overseas.

In 2017, the group was designated by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a demonstration base for promoting traditional patented Chinese medicine and services overseas.

According to Bai Lixi, president of Taiji, his company is seeking to further open up markets in Southeast Asia over the next few years.

"Compared with some pure chemical medicines, which may bring adverse reactions, many TCM products have a good curing effect at an affordable price," says Bai.

Bai cited his company's star product Huoxiang Zhengqi Liquid as an example. The product has developed from a traditional prescription, which dates back more than 1,000 years, and has been passed on for generations due to its positive curative effects.

According to Bai, TCM is the gem of ancient Chinese science, and it is also the key to unlocking the treasures of Chinese civilization.

Bai admits that while TCM's international popularity is growing at pace, there are still many challenges, such as the lack of statistical evidence of actual treatment cases due to its different assessment system from Western medicine.

So his company launched a large-scale research program on actual treatment cases of Huoxiang Zhengqi Liquid to prove its effectiveness and safety. The results and sample data will be released online for consumers worldwide in October.

"I am optimistic about TCM's future growth in Indonesia. Suitable TCM products will finally find their way here as long as we promote them in the right way," says Liu of Sky One.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Shop assistants weigh herbal medicines at a Chinese medicine store in Bandung, Indonesia. Traditional Chinese medicine is gaining popularity in Southeast Asia. China News Service

(China Daily 04/20/2018 page20)

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[Ensemble to perform music by Latin poet-composer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066138.htm

On April 20, the Basel-based ensemble, La Morra, will present a concert at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, with music by Latin poet-composer Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz, a name not very familiar to Chinese audiences.

"The programs are not even familiar to audiences in Europe," says Polish lutenist Michal Gondko, co-director of the ensemble.

"People come to our concerts and read the program. But they don't know the music."

According to Gondko, the discovery of the medieval composer is one of the most remarkable achievements of 20th-century Eastern European musicology.

In 1975, while working on a 15th-century polyphonic composition called Pneuma/Veni/Paraclito/Dator, Czech musicologist Jaromir Cerny noticed a name, Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz, in the text.

Since Cerny has previously seen similar works in Central European music manuscripts, he realized that many of them had a name "Petrus".

Little is known about the composer's life.

But Petrus Wilhelmi de Grudencz was born in 1392 in Poland and his father may have been a knight.

From 1418, he studied at the University of Krakow (in Poland) and in 1452 he traveled to Rome.

The ensemble, La Morra, has revisited Central European manuscripts of 15th-century music to create a program, which highlights the personality of this poet-composer, and places his works in a broader context of a music culture that nurtured his creativity.

"The significance of Petrus lies, above all, in the fact that he is one of the few Central European composers whose works survive (in large numbers)," says Gondko.

"Today, more than six centuries later, it is not easy to understand why and for whom Petrus Wilhelmi was writing his words and composing his melodies. But it seems probable that they were intended for literate people, who enjoyed poetic musical style.

"For the audience, the works of Petrus Wilhelmi - all of which are devotional in nature - could have been an eloquent way to pray. It may be the reason, why in certain parts of Central Europe, the works of Petrus were still sung in the 17th century."

During its concert in Beijing, the ensemble will perform with two medieval and Renaissance instruments: a clavicembalum (a kind of harpsichord) and plectrum lute.

With seven members: singers Doron Schleifer, Ivo Haun de Oliveira, Giacomo Schiavo and Sebastian Leon; and instrumentalists Corina Marti, Anna Danilevskaia and Gondko, the ensemble formed in 2000 has gained wide recognition for its interpretations of the late medieval and early Renaissance repertoire.

The ensemble has performed at some of the most prestigious early music events worldwide, including the Festival van Vlaanderen in Belgium; the Voix et Route Romane in France and the Tage alter Musik in Regensburg, Germany.

Currently, the ensemble is on its first China tour.

Before the concert in Beijing, the ensemble performed at the Tianjin Grand Theatre Concert Hall on April 19. And it will perform at the Qintai Concert Hall, in Wuhan, in Central China's Hubei province, on April 21.

The La Morra concert in Beijing will open the performance season of the Forbidden City Concert Hall, in which international musicians will gather at the venue to perform music by composers from the Middle Ages to the 17th and 18th centuries.

On May 6, French conductor and opera singer, Nathalie Stutzmann, who is renowned for her contralto voice, will make her first trip to China by leading her chamber orchestra, Orfeo 55, to perform works by composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, Antonio Caldara and Francesco Cavalli.

On May 27, the Amsterdam Baroque Choir will perform under the baton of Dutch conductor Ton Koopman, with Johann Sebastian Bach's Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225 (for two four-part choruses), Meine Freude, BWV 227 (for five-part chorus), and Johannes Brahms' Wechsellied zum Tanz (Exchanges At The Dance), Op.31 No.1, The Zigeunerlieder (Gypsy songs), Op. 103, and Der Abend (The Evening), Op. 64, No. 2.

If you go

7:30pm, April 20. Forbidden City Concert Hall, inside Zhongshan Park, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6559-8285

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 04/20/2018 page20)

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[Survey finds awards influence readers' choices when it comes to picking books]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/20/content_36066137.htm A recent survey shows that the Mao Dun Literature Prize, the Lu Xun Literature Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature are among the book awards most easily recognized by Chinese netizens.

The survey, conducted by Beijing Normal University during the last two months of 2017, covered 5,262 Chinese netizens' knowledge about 35 domestic and foreign book awards including the National Book Award of the United States, France's Prix Goncourt Prize and the British Man Booker Prize.

It also covered attitudes toward the book awards and their voting procedures.

"The recognition of the book awards will, to some extent, influence reading preferences," says Qin Yanhua, the project leader and a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of BNU.

According to the survey's results, the respondents were more familiar with domestic book awards than foreign ones, with the Mao Dun Literature Prize and the Lu Xun Literature Prize having the highest profile.

Meanwhile, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the American Pulitzer Prize are the three foreign book awards that respondents were most familiar with.

The survey results also showed that respondents aged between 46 to 55 had more knowledge about the book awards, as they had grown up when the national college entrance examinations started to bring China's higher education to a larger group of people.

The results matched statistics that showed a higher educational background contributed to a higher recognition of book awards.

Separately, the survey showed that respondents were also more willing to purchase prize-winning books, whether the prizes were foreign awards or market-oriented domestic awards like the ones organized by internet platforms JD and Sina.

Official awards from the government did not arouse the same kind of interest from survey respondents. And some of them said this was due to insufficient promotion.

Zhang Su, the deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said at the release of the survey report on Tuesday that it could lead to a rethink about the voting systems for official book awards.

Gender differences were also reflected in the survey.

Female respondents said domestic awards focused mainly on the quality of the books, while male ones said political value was the main consideration.

Also, women preferred literature titles while men were more willing to read books related to science and technology.

The survey found that how much respondents read also mattered. And the more a person read, the more positive he or she tended to be about book awards.

Those respondents who had not read much over the past year had the lowest scores when it came to their attitudes toward book awards.

One other finding was that a quarter of those surveyed took readers' recommendations and votes as their preferred way of choosing books.

However, the Mao Dun Literature Prize, the Lu Xun Literature Prize and those awards with the highest overall recognition were mainly used by professionals to recommend books.

Commenting on this finding, Wan Anlun, the assistant director of the School of Journalism and Communication of BNU, said involving the public more in the voting process could be one way to address this issue.

fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

Young people read books at the Xinhua Book Store in Chongqing's Shapingba district in early April. Wang Quanchao / Xinhua

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2018-04-20 08:03:58
<![CDATA[BEYOND CULTURAL BORDERS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/19/content_36058292.htm Feng Xiaogang's directorial comedy Big Shot's Funeral, a Sino-US film in 2000, marked the turning point for coproduction in Chinese cinema.

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Coproduction is a hot topic at the ongoing Beijing International Film Festival, with Chinese studios looking to invest more. Xu Fan reports.

Feng Xiaogang's directorial comedy Big Shot's Funeral, a Sino-US film in 2000, marked the turning point for coproduction in Chinese cinema.

Miao Xiaotian, general manager of the China Film Co-Production Group, says the movie led to the rise of Chinese filmmakers' status in international coproduction.

It was the first time the Chinese side took major control over a joint film's creation since China started to coproduce movies with foreign countries in 1979.

"In the past, most Chinese studios were unable to afford big-budget films and so their foreign collaborators had the final say. But that has changed a lot over the past two decades, thanks to the rapid expansion of the Chinese movie industry," Miao tells China Daily on the sidelines of the ongoing Beijing International Film Festival.

Last year, China had 63 coproductions, including The Foreigner, a Sino-British film starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan that was well received both at home and in overseas markets.

With the growth in box-office figures and the increased availability of high-tech screens, Chinese filmmakers are becoming more and more confident in teaming up with foreign players.

And coproduction is a hot topic at this year's Beijing festival, which is among the country's top annual cultural events.

Wang Zhonglei, executive president of film company Huayi Brothers, says language barriers and cultural differences are still major hurdles for coproduced movies.

"But China is totally different from what it was 20 years ago. It has become one of the most important markets in the world," says Wang at a forum discussing coproductions at the festival.

Huayi Brothers was a Chinese producer of Big Shot's Funeral that also had Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia as a producer.

"European and US film companies can research what Chinese audiences would like if they want to make a movie for the global market now," Wang adds.

According to mtime.com, China's annual box office was merely 1.4 billion yuan ($223 million) in 1998, with around 25 percent, or 360 million yuan, earned by James Cameron's disaster epic Titanic. But the yearly figure in 2017 rocketed to 56 billion yuan, and four of the top five grossers were Chinese movies.

The Motion Picture Association of America says seven Hollywood movies, including The Fate of the Furious and Kong: Skull Island, earned more in China than in North America in 2017.

With more young Chinese who are educated overseas working in the film industry, coproductions between China and Western countries should become easier, Wang says, but adds that it might take long before a successful formula to win markets in the country and abroad is found.

To date, the two highest-grossing Chinese films in North America are Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Zhang Yimou's Hero (2002), both martial arts sagas.

And the highest-grossing films in China are the military-themed Wolf Warrior 2 (2017) and Operation Red Sea.

Speaking about the different tastes in genres, Wang says martial arts movies, a big attraction for the Western audience, are no longer a mainstream genre in China.

But good stories will never be outdated even though the standard for popularity has changed, as most foreign veterans at the forum point out.

Stephen Odell, the general manager of Sony Columbia International, says Indian films such as Three Idiots, PK and Dangal, have won critical acclaim and commercial success in China.

All starring Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, the films deal with social messages of one kind or another that resonate with the Chinese audience.

Odell says the audience wants familiar but also fresh stories, and advises the new generation of filmmakers in China to be creative, stay true to themselves and then "talk about the global market".

Echoing a similar view, Hollywood director Reny Harlin says a successful coproduction "doesn't have to be about Chinese mythology or culture, but should be related to Chinese audiences and resonate with them".

He also suggests bilingual teams as a practical way to reduce misunderstandings in coproductions.

"If I were a young film student in Hollywood, I would study Mandarin right now," he says.

Animation is believed to be a genre that can easily cross cultural borders.

Rob Minkoff, famous for the 1994 Disney hit The Lion King, gives the instance of Coco, Pixar's highest-grossing film in China of all time, and says its key to success is storytelling. It isn't a movie made for the Mexican audience, but for all those who are curious about Mexican culture, he adds.

What's interesting about cinema is that it has a special power to bring culture from anywhere in the world and transport audiences to any culture that they want to know, Minkoff says.

In another movie event in the Chinese capital, director Matt Murphy said at the opening of the 9th New Zealand Film Festival in Beijing on Tuesday that the fundamental elements for a successful coproduction were good storytelling, relatable characters and being entertaining.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Jury members of the Beijing International Film Festival make their debut on the red carpet on Sunday. Fifteen films have been selected as finalists and await the jury's decision. Jiang Dong / China Daily

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2018-04-19 07:41:46
<![CDATA[Overseas online market a boon for Chinese content providers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/19/content_36058291.htm Over the past decade, many Chinese films that have earned massive amounts at the box-office records in the domestic market have often flopped in North America.

Wolf Warrior 2 - China's all-time box-office champion - earned 5.6 billion yuan ($891 million) in China, but its combined takings in the United States and Canada was merely $2.8 million.

To date, the best-performing Chinese movie in North America is Ang Lee's 2000 martial arts movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a 19th-century story about two generations of warriors.

Zhang Yimou's Hero, which opened in China in 2002 but was released to the North America two years later, follows Crouching Tiger as the second highest-grossing Chinese film in Hollywood's home market.

For domestic filmmakers, it has been a long struggle to promote their hits to a broader audience in the rest of the world.

Chris McGurk, a veteran who has worked in the US movie and television industries for more than 30 years, believes the success of Crouching Tiger and Hero "were not accidents and can be duplicated".

"Both the films told the sort of stories that Western audiences can relate to, with a clear progression from beginning to middle to end. They were linear in form and nonchaotic in presentation, which Western audiences are comfortable with," says McGurk, currently chairman and CEO of Cinedigm, one of the largest independent studios in the United States.

Besides, the two movies have directors who know Western storytelling sensibilities and have casts including top stars known to US audiences, such as Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh for Crouching Tiger, and Jet Li for Hero.

"Picking a right partner is also very important," adds McGurk, who believes the marketing and promotion Sony Classics did for Crouching Tiger and Miramax Films for Hero were effective to convince Americans to think the two are must-see movies.

Stephen Chow's The Mermaid is another case reflecting the partner issue.

China's highest-grossing film in 2016 was shown only on 35 screens in North America by the distributor Sony Pictures, according to the Forbes magazine.

Speaking about how partner choices can be crucial, McGurk, who was once in high positions in Disney, Universal and MGM, says: "I've worked in the top US studios, and I know their number one goal is to protect their own movies."

McGurk also says that with leading studios often more focused on their big-budget movies targeting global markets and small firms short of resources, medium-sized distributors are probably the best option for Chinese content makers seeking alliances.

Meanwhile, surveys show that Chinese content makers can expect growth beyond theaters.

The online market for streaming content has been approximately $22 billion a year in the United States for a couple of years now, says McGurk.

Supporting the view that the online market is a new opportunity, Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm's Entertainment Group, who was alongside McGurk at the ongoing Beijing International Film Festi-val, says: "It's a mistake to look at the American market as just box-office takings. The online market is almost twice the size of the theater market in the US.

"For a Chinese filmmaker, if you want to look at the potential of the American market, you need to look at the entirety. In the US, we have had theaters for a very long time. But now we are getting into the streaming world," he adds.

For now, Cinedigm plans to enter strategic alliances with six Chinese movie and television companies.

And so far, the Los Angeles-headquartered Cinedigm, which has a distribution net covering 60,000 digital and retail storefronts and over 93 percent of connected devices in North America, has already distributed more than 600 Chinese films and TV shows in North America, including Feng Xiaogang's Aftershock; the Ip Man franchise, starring Donnie Yen; and Shock Wave, starring Andy Lau.

Speaking about the deal and how Cinedigm can help, McGurk says: "By analyzing data from all of these (Cinedigm) sources, we have deep knowledge about what audiences want to see, and about when and where they want to see it. Now, we want to bring that expertise to the Chinese entertainment industry."

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2018-04-19 07:41:46
<![CDATA[AUTEUR OF ANIMATION]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/19/content_36058290.htm As one of the most influential directors in American cinema over the past two decades, Wes Anderson has returned to his passion for the stop motion technique with his new animated flick Isle of Dogs.

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Wes Anderson's stylish new film about a pack of stranded dogs draws inspiration from Japanese masters such as Akira Kurosawa. Xu Fan reports.

As one of the most influential directors in American cinema over the past two decades, Wes Anderson has returned to his passion for the stop motion technique with his new animated flick Isle of Dogs.

For Chinese fans, they will have more reasons to be cheerful for their idol's latest work, as 2018 marks the Year of Dog in the Chinese zodiac. Isle of Dogs is also Anderson's second stop-motion feature following 2009's Fantastic Mr Fox.

"It started with two ideas," says Anderson, who talked to China Daily during an online video interview on Friday. The movie will open in Chinese mainland theaters on Friday.

Appearing in the center of the computer screen, the director came into view sitting on a purple sofa set against a green wall adorned with elegant paintings - in true Wes Anderson style.

Known for his uniquely aesthetic sense for building cinematic worlds of his own - from The Darjeeling Limited (2007) to the Oscars-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) - Anderson prefers to set his characters in the middle of camera to form beautifully symmetric sequences.

Continuing his distinctive style, Isle of Dogs was inspired by his fondness for Japanese cinema and art, as well as a sequence he conceived in his mind about a pack of sad dogs stranded on an island garbage-dump.

With the two ideas, the movie is set in a near-future Japanese city, in which the cat-loving mayor banishes all the dogs to Trash Island. But the mayor's 12-year-old nephew embarks on a rescue mission to retrieve his dog Spots, his best friend and loyal guardian, which leads to a mass escape by the island's canine "prisoners".

"For us, the movie is like a dream that we want to illustrate. Sometimes I think it's very personal, as the boy is fighting for things that I would believe in," says the 49-year-old auteur.

All the dogs speak in English and the human characters speak in Japanese. Most of the human dialogue is deliberately not translated, as Anderson wanted the audience to concentrate more on the visual language of the film rather than focus on the subtitles.

"The movie is told from the perspective of dogs. Their barks are translated into different languages when the film is released in different countries. The dogs don't really understand human language. That's sort of a way to separate them too," explains Anderson.

In China, the Mandarin version sees actor Zhu Yawen and actress Song Jia cast as the voices of the two major canine roles, while the Japanese dialogue remains untranslated.

Speaking about the inspiration drawn from Japanese cinema, Anderson gives the names of the legendary Akira Kurosawa, and Hayao Miyazaki, known for a string of highest-grossing anime movies in Japan like Spirited Away (2001). He also cites the influence of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), two Japanese ukiyo-e artists, which Anderson has absorbed into the movie.

"When we are talking about Miyazaki, it's always about how nature is portrayed and the theme of protecting nature is always a part of his movies. Even though our set (in Isle of Dogs) is a garbage island, it's still related to nature," says Anderson of the symbolism.

"We were also influenced both by what we read in the history books and what were on the front pages of the newspapers when we were writing the story," he adds.

Since the movie was shot using stop-motion, the Isle of Dogs crew reportedly had to make around 2,200 puppets and 250 handcrafted miniature sets for the production.

"We didn't know how big it would be. It surprised us," recalls Anderson.

"With a movie like that, you have to create everything, from the trees to the architecture," he says.

"Stop-motion is entirely in-camera tricks that create an illusion. I've always found it very appealing and I love miniatures. Even though the characters' faces are very small, they are very well painted," says the director about his fascination with the technique dating to 1897.

A favorite at international festivals, the six-time Oscar-nominated Anderson recently won a Silver Bear for best director at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival for Isle of Dogs.

The movie was selected as the opening film for the Berlin event, becoming the first ever animation to open the long-established film gala.

Speaking about his future plans, Anderson says it takes a long time to direct an animated film.

"I will take a break. I think I will make at least another two live-action movies before I do a new animated film. It is a very involving process," he says.

"And I also wonder what will be the next animal (to be the new protagonist)," says the director, wearing a gentle smile.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-19 07:41:46
<![CDATA[Actor pays tribute to Shanghai with new TV series]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/19/content_36058289.htm Actor and director Chen Sicheng, who lived in Shanghai for three years, has always wanted to pay a cinematic tribute to the city, once described as the "Paris of the East".

And with his new television series, Great Expectations, he looks back on one of the most chaotic periods in the city's history.

Great Expectations, produced by and starring Chen in the lead role, is being aired on the provincial broadcaster Hunan TV, as well as five streaming sites: Tencent Video, iQiyi, Youku, mgtv.com, and le.com since April 1.

Chen named the 56-episode series to honor the work of his childhood hero, the British author Charles Dickens, whose novel Great Expectations was published in 1861.

The TV series, penned by Chen and four other scriptwriters is set in the 1920s and chronicles the rise of Hong Sanyuan, a street hooligan who is drawn into the feudal conflicts of powerful tycoons in Shanghai.

Speaking about the series, made with 350 million yuan ($55.5 million), Chen - the man behind the hit franchise Detective Chinatown - says he was always fascinated by stories of 1920s Shanghai, when numerous revolutionaries sacrificed their lives for the country.

Speaking about his own experiences, he says: "When I was 16, I left my hometown in Shenyang (the capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province) for Shanghai.

"The city has an allure and you can get immersed in its history just by taking a stroll in its alleys, especially when it rains."

In Shanghai, Chen studied at the Xie Jin Film and Television Art College of Shanghai Normal University from 1995 to 1997. He was dismissed by the college for getting involved in a brawl and being late for classes.

"Then, I felt I was banished and abandoned by the city," he says.

So, when he began to make the series he had mixed feelings and it could explain why he chose a survive-and-thrive story for the plot.

Separately, Chen says he is a a fan of Hong Kong martial arts novelist Louis Cha, William Shakespeare and Stephen Chow, a Hong Kong actor-director hailed as the "king of comedy", and that these masters have had a huge impact on his work.

Speaking about their influence, he says: "When I was studying stage performance at college, one of my teachers said there would be no one to surpass Shakespeare in theatricality."

HIs latest work can be seen as a homage, or imitation, or "whatever you want to call it".

"And you would find a number of theatrical conflicts if you watch Great Expectations (his series)," he says.

Giving details of how the idea of the series developed, Chen, who just turned 40, says he began thinking about the story in 2013, when he was in the postproduction phase of his directorial debut feature Beijing Love Story.

That movie, based on five couples, earned more than 400 million yuan in 2014.

Later, he got involved with Detective Chinatown, a crime comedy about an unlikely duo starring Wang Baoqiang and Liu Haoran.

The film, which has now become a franchise, is set in Thailand and grossed nearly 830 million yuan in 2015.

The second installment, with a bigger budget and a New York setting, recently overtook Stephen Chow's The Mermaid to become the third highest-grossing film in China of all time.

Detective Chinatown 2 was released in China, the United States and Europe on Feb 16, and has to date grossed nearly $2 million in overseas markets.

The third installment of the franchise will be out on the first day of the 2020 Spring Festival, Jan 25, according to Chen.

Typically, a movie debut is announced a few months ahead, so the confirmation of the release date - even before major work on the film has begun - is seen by most industry watchers as confidence in the film's potential.

Speaking about the future movie, Chen says: "I have some ideas and hope to start penning the script soon."

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-19 07:41:46
<![CDATA[Musical to reproduce sound of ancient flute at coming festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/19/content_36058288.htm SHANGHAI - Chinese musicians are rehearsing a musical to reproduce the sound of an ancient bone flute at the upcoming Shanghai Spring International Music Festival in May.

Chinese flute virtuoso Tang Junqiao and her team took a year to make the replica, which best resembles the sound of the Jiahu bone flute, thought to be 8,000 years old, which was unearthed in central China's Henan Province in 1980s. The multimedia musical, Flute: Sound of Nature, will premiere during the three-week music festival.

"The musical not only tells the legendary story of the Chinese flute, but also demonstrates many Chinese cultural and art elements," says Tang, who acts as the leading lady in the play.

Since the archeological find of more than 30 bone flutes from Jiahu village in Henan, Chinese flute master Zhao Songting has been invited to play music with the ancient instruments.

In 2016, Tang, a student of the late master Zhao, started a project to reproduce the sound of the ancient flutes. The project was supported by the China National Art Fund.

Her team has made more than 30 replica flutes, mostly with resin and bamboo, while two were made of bird bones.

The flutes originated in China, have six holes and were made of the ulna bones of red-crowned cranes.

Tang's team tried materials from bones to wood, bamboo and synthetics to find the right sound.

The sound of one of the replicas made with resin synthetic material and bitter bamboo is considered by musicians to be "very similar to the bone relic".

Tang, also a professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, says as compared with the previous recording of the flute master, the pitch of the replica to be played in the musical was more precise and the tone quality richer.

"About 4,000 years ago, the Chinese started to make flutes with bamboo instead of bird bone. And bamboo is highly symbolic in Chinese culture. So we produced the multimedia musical inspired by the replica," says Lin Zaiyong, dean of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and producer of the musical.

He says the production convened China's top artists for composing, scriptwriting and directing.

"To awaken the sound from over 8,000 years on stage is beautiful. But we are aiming for more than that," adds Lin.

He says the original musical would be among China's recommended music for international events.

Xinhua

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2018-04-19 07:41:46
<![CDATA[Dramatic improvement]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/18/content_36051705.htm Last year saw better quality online productions for an increasingly sophisticated audience. Wang Kaihao reports.

For China's TV audiences, the market for online drama series used to be infested with low-quality productions. However, 2017 witnessed an inflection point for this genre tailored specifically for the internet, which was hardly imaginable a few years ago.

Day and Night, a crime drama produced by streaming media platform Youku, scored 9.0 points out of 10 on Douban, a popular Chinese film rating platform. My Huckleberry Friends produced by the iQiyi platform was rated 8.5 out of 10, and the thrillers Burning Ice and Tientsin Mystic from iQiyi both achieved 8.2 points.

Some of the shows have been sold to the United States and have achieved global acclaim.

On April 10, Tientsin Mystic, which has a storyline set in the 1930s, gained a silver medal for special visual effects and a bronze medal for direction at the New York Festivals World's Best TV & Films competition, which selects winners among productions from about 50 countries and regions. Burning Ice was awarded a bronze medal for crime drama at the same event.

More key opinion leaders from both the film and internet industries are showing greater ambition as they rise from strength to strength. At least, that's how it appeared at a forum during the recent Beijing TV Program Market & Exhibition, the country's major trade fair for TV industry held twice a year.

"Although online drama series first appeared in 2012, last year was its true beginning as an art genre," says Hou Keming, a professor of the Beijing Film Academy. "It's just like film was born in 1895, but it wasn't until (D.W.) Griffith made epics like The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance about 20 years later, that it turned into an art form."

He cites online series in the United States which offer another broadcast channel other than TV, but no significant difference in content. However, the situation is completely different in China.

"China's online series have gone down a very different path from other countries around the world," he says. "While Chinese TV productions tend to focus on dialogue, their online counterparts place more emphasis on dramatic storylines and action sequences which lead to a faster pace."

Hou makes the comparison that a story told in 30 episodes on TV can usually be finished within 12 episodes by an online counterpart, which makes online drama series closer to filmmaking rather than the more orthodox TV industry.

As cinematic big shots like Han Sanping, a filmmaker famed for his epic productions and a former president of the China Film Group Corporation, chose to join Burning Ice last year as the executive producer, the online drama industry seemed to be reshaping itself.

"Online productions offer much more possibilities and wider spaces than two-hour-long movies for filmmakers to tell stories," Han says. "This will eventually become a bigger market than cinema."

Hou echoes that it was natural to have a fruitful 2017 as more talented young filmmakers are entering the internet industry in recent years and gradually set their own rules.

"Online series are made by the youth for the youth," he says. "Young viewers' needs are often neglected by TV series producers, and that's why they turn to cyberspace."

Hou also attributed the vast improvement in quality last year to the role of social media in reflecting popular opinion, and a new government policy aimed at marginalizing trashy content, which used to dominate the market.

When online drama series first became popular, producers would often exploit its more loose approval criteria than television to add eye-catching gimmicks, such as excessive violence, superstition and erotic content, to win more traffic online. In 2016, online regulators introduced the policy of using the same criteria as television when approving content tailored for cyberspace.

This also served as a reminder to the industry that excessive growth in the name of profit was not a sustainable model. According to data from internet industry analyst Guduo Media, 295 drama series went online in 2017, 15 percent fewer than in 2016, and a 22 percent drop compared to 2015 - the peak year for online shows in terms of volume.

Xia Fei, director of online video content with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, says more government support will be given to developing high-quality original online content.

"The need for a better environment pushes us to continue fighting vulgar content and protect intellectual property rights.

"This will allow good productions to grow faster. In turn, good productions will nurture better tastes. If producers always cater to what is popular, things will only get worse," he says.

Data from the bureau shows that China now has 565 million regular viewers of online video content - about 75 percent of the nation's web users.

Despite recent achievements, there is still a bottleneck in terms of the variety of drama series being shown online to satisfy demand from such a huge user base.

Although the productions in 2017 covered 23 genres, according to Guduo Media, about 70 percent of releases were categorized as comedy, romance, thrillers, campus-themed, and historical legend.

"Similar productions still flock together," Hou says.

"Many mainstream topics and social issues are rarely reflected in online series, and many are about so-called 'subculture'."

Hou also points out that Chinese online series today rely heavily on adapting internet novels, and sometimes tend to be "salads of jokes popular in cyberspace".

"What are popular in other forms do not necessarily work well when they are adapted into a drama series," he says.

"If we want to create a 'summit' for the industry, original creativity is a must."

And while some successful series appear to mimic established productions from the West, Hou thinks this situation will not last for long, since Chinese people have a different cultural background and aesthetics.

"When the same model is repeated a few times, young audiences looking for freshness will soon grow tired of it," he says.

Dai Ying, the general manager for developing online drama series with iQiyi, believes local topics in China will be in the spotlight in the future.

"Our surveys show that the generation born after the 1990s have a stronger interest in these subjects," she explains. "That means they have a very strong connection with our own culture."

She believes the industry also needs to include more themes about social responsibility into their productions.

"What young audiences watch online is what they will be," she says.

"It's unacceptable to give them something that rates 2 points on Douban."

And the era where celebrities propose a premise for productions seems to have passed.

For instance, in the hit film Tientsin Mystic, the cast is full of new faces. Bai Yicong, a director and screenwriter for online series, believes streaming media will give novice actors more chances.

However, the market still needs time to find a balance between popularity and quality.

Bai says that productions that rate around 6 points on Douban usually get the most traffic online.

"Young audiences will often view productions about the elite as emotionally detached." Bai says. "But that doesn't mean we should be satisfied by 6 points.

"We need to focus our efforts and try to hone our productions rather than worry too much about gaining huge popularity beforehand," he says.

"It's impossible to cater to everyone's tastes."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-18 07:22:49
<![CDATA[Stars on a bigger stage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/18/content_36051704.htm This year, two students from Wuhan University got their papers accepted and were invited to attend an international conference at the University of Sheffield. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Dressed in a white sweater and deep blue pants, 24-year-old Wuhan University student Lu Liuxing takes a deep breath before stepping up to the podium in a spacious lecture hall at the Diamond Library of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

This is the first time that Lu is presenting at an international conference.

In front of her are scholars and researchers from around the world.

She takes questions from them after the presentation.

"I was quite nervous," says the information and library science major.

"You usually don't expect many questions when making presentations in China, but here, the audience wanted to ask questions and engage in discussions."

The gathering Lu attended was the iConference, which took place at the University of Sheffield from March 25 to 28.

The theme of the event was Transforming Digital Worlds, where 466 delegates from academia, industry and NGOs shared their concerns and observations about critical information issues facing contemporary society.

This year, two students from Wuhan University - Lu and Library Science graduate student Cheng Lei - had their papers accepted and were invited to attend the iConference.

"I feel honored to be accepted," says Lu. "It's a great encouragement, which makes all my research efforts worthwhile."

Lu's research focuses on user's information behavior in navigation.

"Most related research focuses on car navigation, but only a few researchers examine pedestrian navigation," she says.

Inspired by Stanford professor Li Feifei's recent research on emotion in artificial intelligence, the paper analyzes a user's emotional changes in pedestrian navigation while using map apps.

"Users' emotions can significantly affect their perceptions toward apps and affect user behavior," she adds.

The research team finds that emotions of disgust and happiness are common in pedestrian navigation. And they hope to offer insights to app developers to promote emotional learning in artificial intelligence.

Lu also plans to find out what triggers negative emotions.

"I want to help users to find a happy road in my further research," she says.

Cheng's paper Predicting Search Performance from Mobile Touch Interactions on Cross-Device Search Engine Result Pages focuses on human-computer interaction and information retrieval, which examines how mobile touch interactions affect search performance in cross-device searches.

"If you search a topic on a smartphone, you see certain related information there," says the 24-year-old Library Science major.

"But when you switch to a different device, you might see information that hasn't appeared before."

Wu Dan, their professor at the School of Information Management at Wuhan University, says: "It's unusual for postgraduate students to present at such a high-level conference, and both of them feel honored to be participating.

"They faced multiple challenges including language and psychological barriers, but they made it. Such experience will be very beneficial for their future development."

This is the fourth time Wu has taken her students abroad for international conferences.

The conference offers researchers a platform to connect with other scholars through lectures and thought-provoking workshops.

"The conference allowed me to engage in discussion with scholars from around the world.

"And it also enabled me to see some emerging and cutting-edge research," says Lu.

Meanwhile, the two students made friends with students from other Chinese universities including Nanjing University and Tsinghua University.

"One of the positive aspects of attending such a conference is social networking. Students can build up networks and see what they can do together in the future.," says Wu Qunfang, a second-year PhD student from Syracuse University in the United States.

Wu and her professor Huang Yun won the Lee Dirks Award for Best Paper for their paper, which is the highest honor at this year's iConference.

Wu says that she is encouraging more Chinese students to attend international conferences.

"There are many new topics emerging from China and the US. And if they (researchers from the two countries) can work together, their collaboration is likely to yield positive outcomes."

The event, hosted by the iSchools organization, is an annual gathering dedicated to advancing the field of information technology and preparing students to meet new challenges.

The iConference is of a consortium of 91 information schools worldwide, including the University of Toronto, the University of Melbourne and the University of Washington.

"It's one of the top conferences covering research in library and information science," Wu says.

Last year, the iConference was held at Wuhan University, the first time it was held in China. And next year, the University of Maryland will host the event.

Meanwhile, Lu, who hopes to participate in next year's event, says: "I have learned to delve deeper and be more confident and articulate during my presentations. I want to attend next year's conference, not only to broaden my horizons, but also to gain inspiration for future research."

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-18 07:22:49
<![CDATA[New Zealand offers range of choices for students]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/18/content_36051703.htm Jason Docherty is doing makeup for a college student who is attending a dinner hosted by the Study in Wellington delegation in Beijing.

Two hours later, the director of the prosthetics and special makeup team at Weta Workshop has turned the student into a hobbit.

Weta Workshop is a design studio and manufacturing facility serving the world's entertainment and creative industries based in New Zealand. And it is best known for producing the sets, costumes, armor, weapons, creatures and miniatures for director Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, a job which earned it four Academy Awards.

Weta's success is just one example of how the creative industry is thriving in New Zealand.

And education institutions in New Zealand, especially its capital, Wellington, are quickly responding to the industry, by upgrading and setting up new majors.

The Study in Wellington delegation visited Beijing in March, with representatives from universities and the creative industry sector introducing programs to potential Chinese students.

The representatives came from the Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, Te Auaha New Zealand Institute of Creativity, Weta Workshop and the World of WearableArt.

Speaking about the opportunities available for foreign students, Zhu Lin, the international student recruitment manager at Massey University, says: "International student numbers in Wellington have increased a lot recently. Now, we have 5,200 international students and 2,900 of them are Chinese."

The College of Creative Arts at Massey University is a world-class art and design school based in Wellington, which was ranked the No 1 university in the Asia-Pacific by Red Dot, the international design awards agency last year.

As for the creative industry in the country, Zhu says: "It is really growing."

In 2014 the college expanded its range of offerings through its School of Music and Creative Media Production.

And, according to Zhu, Massey is launching a master of design program with its students taking a two-week internship at Weta Workshop.

Speaking about other opportunities on offer, Zhu says: "We have different types of internships on offer to international students. And although Wellington is small, it is a special city, as we collaborate with each other and support each other."

Meanwhile, World of Wear-able art, an annual international design competition held in Wellington, is also a partner of Massey University. And according to Ali Boswijk, the head of international and business development at WOW, they are collaborating with Massey students on an outdoor exhibition this year.

"We employ 400 people for the actual event each year, but we have about 120 designs on display - so there are a lot of areas for performance, technology, makeup and other things."

Also collaborating with WOW, the Victoria University of Wellington is providing a range of programs for students interested in design, theater and film.

Speaking about what Victoria University of Wellington offers, Matthew Eglinton, its associate director of international recruitment and business development, says: "We are expanding relationships in China and throughout the world."

And as part of this, Victoria University signed a memorandum of understanding and an agreement on training talent with the Beijing Film Academy.

"Now, students from the Beijing Film Academy can come to Victoria for one semester or two semesters and take that credit back to China," says Eglinton.

Li Ran, the dean of the International School at the Beijing Film Academy, says Victoria University is strong in film technology, so the two universities will focus on this area of collaboration.

"In future, students from both universities can collaborate and make films," says Li.

In 2017, Victoria University launched a new major, the Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice), which focuses on design, filmmaking, music and theater skills to prepare students for careers in the creative industries.

Zhang Huanhuan, a scriptwriter from China, is now pursuing an MFA degree in Wellington.

He learned scriptwriting in New Zealand in 2006, and after 10 years of work, has now decided to return to his studies.

"The program is a bit like an MBA for the film industry, and I can learn how to make a budget and run a film business," says Zhang, who is planning to bring New Zealand films to China after he graduates.

"New Zealand is open and equal, and if you want to be in a cultural environment like this, it's a good place to study," says Zhang.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-18 07:22:49
<![CDATA[Going for green]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/18/content_36051702.htm A Yemeni computer-science engineer and entrepreneur shares the story with Zhang Zefeng of how he became one of the first foreigners to get permanent residence through a pilot program in China's "Silicon Valley".

Yemeni Ahmed Alsayadi never imagined he'd join a rare species among expatriates in China when he decided to study in the country after graduating from high school in 2005 - that is, a Chinese "green-card" holder.

He knew little about the country before attending university in Hefei, East China's Anhui province, but had noticed the rising profile and was curious about its history.

"There are only a few ancient civilizations around the world, and one of them is China," he says. "I want to know more about it."

Alsayadi now works as a computer-science engineer and entrepreneur in Beijing.

He recalls giving a high five to the immigration officer when he received permanent residence in late January. The green card endows him with social and economic benefits equal to Chinese citizens.

His WeChat post about receiving residency received about 450 likes, and congratulations in Chinese, Arabic and English.

"Living in China for more than 12 years, I have never met any Chinese green-card holders," he says.

"In our imagination, it is very hard to obtain. It's like you have to have a Nobel Prize or invest a lot of money to qualify for that."

Only 7,356 expats have received permanent residence since the program was launched in 2004.

But China has been lowering the threshold to attract more talent. It granted 1,576 green cards in 2016 - over twice as many as the previous year.

Alsayadi says the Chinese language was the greatest challenge he faced after enrolling as a computer science major at the University of Science and Technology of China in 2006.

He was the only foreign student in the program. Despite a yearlong language-study experience at Anhui Normal University starting in 2005, he was overwhelmed by Chinese textbooks, especially the computer-science jargon.

"Chinese is really hard to learn," he says.

"I bought the textbooks for the first semester and then translated the books before studying the courses."

In the following semesters, he borrowed Chinese textbooks and studied them before the new semester started.

"I just wanted to understand my major because I like computer science," he says.

At the USTC, Alsayadi's life was mostly confined within the realm of classes, libraries, dormitories and soccer fields.

"Like other students, I didn't have a real life," he says.

"It's much easier when everyone around you lives like that."

Alsayadi says his undergraduate education at the USTC laid a solid foundation for his future development.

"It's very fundamental and theoretical," he says.

"When I work on a project, I see the basics and methodologies behind it."

He moved to Beijing and enrolled in Tsinghua University as a postgraduate student.

"Beijing is the tech hub in China, especially for the internet-based startups," he says.

He spent more than half of his time off campus studying technology ecosystems. He worked as a software engineer with the Chinese internet giant Baidu, developing the Arabic version of its search engine. At the same time, he launched his own tech startup.

In 2014, he partnered with an entertainment-industry professional and launched the data-analytics company ABD Entertainment.

"My partner has worked in entertainment for more than a decade, so he knows a lot about the industry. We tried to model his thinking as an algorithm," he says.

One of the company's services is movie-risk control, which uses machine-learning techniques to make box-office predictions for investors. The company has successfully predicted some big releases, including The Continent, Breakup Buddies and The Golden Era.

While working as an entrepreneur in Beijing's Zhongguancun Science Park, Alsayadi heard about a pilot project that enables foreign entrepreneurs or skilled professionals to apply for permanent residence in 2016.

The program is a merit-based system that accounts for such factors as education and professional experience. So, he and 44 other foreign candidates applied.

The whole process from collecting application materials to completing assessments took him around three months.

Zhongguancun management committee director Guo Hong says the program is a trial to pragmatically evaluate foreign talent.

Last March, Alsayadi founded his second startup, Sigma Technologies, which aims to use data analytics to recommend news to readers in the Middle East.

The Arabic content-distribution service to third parties has reached around 5 million readers. Its own news app, Sigma News, is available on Google Play and Apple's apps store.

"The main goal is to deliver high-quality content," he says.

"Arabic continent is not very well organized yet in the Middle East. We try to collect content from the internet and bring it to the users in an easy and smart way."

Alsayadi hopes he can help bridge the tech gap between China and Arab countries.

"In my view, Arab countries are one unit - the same culture and the same civilization," he says.

"The current Belt and Road Initiative is a very important project. I hope I can be a bridge in terms of technology cooperation and help foster mutual understanding between China and Arab countries."

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-18 07:22:49
<![CDATA[A modern mission to advance tradition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/18/content_36051701.htm The north branch of Beijing's Haidian District Library will host 25 cultural activities in April, as public interest in tradition has continued to grow in recent years, thanks in part to popular TV programs.

The activities promote guoxue, which is loosely defined as the study of ancient Chinese civilization - specifically, such realms as history, philosophy, literature and art.

Participants will learn about stone rubbing, incense, book binding and music.

The library has also staged an activity to recommend books about the integration of tradition into modern life.

 

A library visitor enjoys the delicate dough figurines which is a national intangible cultural heritage. Photos Provided to China Daily

It hosted an event attended by experts from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan on April 3 to discuss the integration of ancient culture into contemporary education.

Beijing-based historian and publisher Ren Deshan said at the event that studying tradition is important to building cultural confidence and identity.

"Essentially, guoxue assists individuals' comprehensive development. It ... serves as a foundation that helps young people learn other subjects," he says.

Calligrapher and culture expert Duan Junping says: "Chinese people were educated in the classics for thousands of years to become useful members of society. But we need new concepts and innovations to promote traditional culture amid the explosion of information in the digital age."

Studying tradition means more than wearing ancient attire and reciting texts, he says. More practical learning methods should be adopted, including those that use the internet, Duan believes.

He says social support, especially from the family, is key to cultivating culture.

Duan's grandfather, for instance, inspired him to become a calligrapher.

Zhu Anshun, a guest professor of the Chinese Culture Academy of Chongqing and director of the Zhonghua Book Co's classics-education center, says there are obstacles to promoting tradition among youth.

Most parents worry that their children's academic performance will suffer if they spend too much time on guoxue. And some parents enroll their children in classes about culture for purely practical reasons, such as helping their academic and career advancement.

"They're not confident enough in traditional culture. So they choose the short-term focus on exams over the long-term benefits of guoxue."

He believes society should become conducive to cultural studies and promote the idea that they offer comprehensive benefits.

There are many private institutions that teach traditional culture. But public schools are "the main battlefield", he believes. He has personally made efforts to promote guoxue in the public-education system, he says.

Zhu believes schools should change the way they teach traditional culture, which typically requires learning the classics by rote, to make lessons more interesting.

Publisher Li Ke, who also lectures on traditional culture, says a growing number of education officials and teachers have been making efforts to blend essential elements of traditional culture into current curriculums.

Some have staged successful experiments that balance guoxue and academic performance, he says.

"This is very meaningful," he says.

"It proves that learning traditional culture doesn't create conflict with exam scores."

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2018-04-18 07:22:49
<![CDATA[River as muse]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/17/content_36044497.htm A textile company funds a painting project that aims to present a modern view of the Yangtze's landscapes. Lin Qi reports.

The landscapes along the Yangtze, the world's third-longest river, have recurred as a motif in the works of Chinese painters for centuries.

Notable artists who have depicted the panoramic scenery include Xia Gui of the Song Dynasty (960-1279); Wang Hui, one of the four great mountain-and-water masters of the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911); and pioneers of modern art in China, such as Zhang Daqian and Wu Guanzhong.

Most of the earlier artists painted alone. But a recent project brought together some 50 painters to complete a new work depicting the river's scenery.

 

The 200-meter-long ink painting, Ten Thousand Li of Yangtze River, a collaboration of some 50 painters, is displayed at the National Museum of China in Beijing. The scroll features landscapes along the Yangtze River. Photos Provided to China Daily

Ten Thousand Li of Yangtze River, the 200-meter-long ink painting, was displayed at the National Museum of China in Beijing recently. The river flows for some 6,300 kilometers, and a li - as a traditional Chinese unit of distance - equals 500 meters.

The painting is expected to be on permanent display at the Heilan Group's headquarters in Jiangyin, Jiangsu province. The textile company had commissioned the project.

Traditionally, the production of a classic mountain-and-water painting has centered on the idea of wo you, which literally means "wondering while lying down". The expression suggests that painters depict scenery in a way that allows the audience to imagine traveling mentally through a canvas, surrounding themselves with nature, even when indoors.

For Ten Thousand Li of Yangtze River, the painters from the Society of Classic Chinese Painting in Beijing adopted a realistic approach since they began working on the scroll last year.

They intended to celebrate not only the river's scenic grandeur but also man-made symbols, such as dams, which have added elements to the Yangtze landscape, so that the audience is able to view changes brought about by the country's reform and opening-up over the past four decades.

Participating painters have traveled to the landmark spots along the Yangtze, such as the Three Georges Dam and picturesque towns along the river's lower stretches. When conceiving the painting's layout, they again visited some of these locations to brush up their knowledge of the economic and cultural developments, according to Liu Dawei, chairman of the China Artists Association, who participated in the painting project.

"Many places along the Yangtze seemed familiar to many of us, but we were still overwhelmed by such massive world-class projects as the Three Georges Dam," says Liu of the power station.

Shi Jiangcheng, another participating painter, says trying to blend the beauty of the Three Georges - a highlight of Ten Thousand Li of Yangtze River - with the natural landscape was a different process as the ancient masters didn't have to include the modern infrastructure in their works.

"We depicted the dam with carefree brushwork, instead of giving attention to all the details, so that it doesn't look like an industrial label but appears more natural in its surroundings," says Shi.

The painting deviates from the traditional tendency of presenting the Yangtze's landscape as extensive but the river solitary, according to Zhang Fuxing, another painter on the team. He says the painting shows a "rejoicing and vigorous" river as an indicator of the energy of the country it runs through.

Zhou Jianping, the founder of Heilan, says many painters involved in the creation are in their 70s and 60s.

"It (depicting the Yangtze) was a shared dream," he says, adding that his company wanted to share its admiration of Chinese culture by funding the painting project.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-17 07:29:14
<![CDATA[A visual tribute to an overseas Chinese legend]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/17/content_36044496.htm Once upon a time in the United States, he was an icon in China towns. Situ Meitang (1868-1955) was born in a small village in Kaiping, Guangdong province. However, he sponsored Sun Yat-sen's revolution to topple the Qing (1644-1911) court, befriended Franklin Roosevelt, who later became the US president, and led overseas Chinese against Japanese aggression.

When he returned to his motherland after seven decades abroad, he was invited to attend the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and later became a deputy to the first session of the National People's Congress standing committee.

Now, as the country marks the 150th anniversary of his birth, a special exhibition is on at the Overseas Chinese History Museum of China in Beijing.

There, dozens of artifacts, including manuscripts, personal belongings and published books, besides photos, give a glimpse of this legend's life.

Speaking about Situ, Qi Degui, vice-director of the museum, says: "He was a flag bearer among Chinese communities abroad.

"And this exhibition is to pay homage to overseas Chinese with patriotic hearts and strong emotional attachments to the homeland."

Kaiping was home to numerous emigrants to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There, the migrants often built diaolou - structures blending Chinese and Western styles - which are now inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Some yellowing blueprints of the diaolou are also on display at the exhibition.

Situ arrived in San Francisco at the age of 12 looking for job.

And describing his early years, Situ Yuegui, his grand-daughter, says: "He was insulted by white hooligans immediately after landing. Discrimination against Chinese immigrants was common at that time."

Then, from working at a restaurant, he became a butler, and later a chef in the US Navy, which gave him a chance to make friends with people from different social strata.

Besides, he joined Chee Kong Tong, the biggest organization bringing together overseas Chinese communities, which was also leading an anti-Qing campaign.

In 1904, Situ met revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen.

Sun lived with Situ when he was in San Francisco.

Later, when Sun could not make ends meet after failed uprisings against the Qing in 1911, Situ mortgaged four Chee Kong Tong properties in Canada to sponsor him.

Situ moved to New York City in 1905, and Franklin Roosevelt, then a young lawyer, was hired as his consultant.

"Roosevelt was a legal consultant for my grandfather for about a decade, and they had a close friendship at that time," says Situ Yuegui.

"Perhaps that explains why president Roosevelt actively campaigned to abolish the Chinese Exclusion Law in 1943."

In 1925, the Chee Kong Tong became the China Zhi Gong Party, and its headquarters was moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong.

Situ served as the head of the party branch in the Americas.

The Zhi Gong Party is now one of the eight non-Communist parties on the Chinese mainland. It's mainly composed of overseas Chinese returning to the motherland.

During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), he quit all his business positions to focus on fundraising in the Americas to support the fight to defend the motherland.

A donation check written by him during the war is on display at the exhibition, which runs until May 3.

In the later Chinese civil war, Situ chose to side with the Communist Party against Kuomintang rule.

Also on display at the exhibition is a coat presented to him by Premier Zhou Enlai, showing his close friendship with Communist leaders.

"Situ experienced many crucial moments in recent Chinese history. But he chose the progressive position each time and set an example for future generations," Qi says.

"We admire his contributions and overseas Chinese efforts will continue to contribute to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-17 07:29:14
<![CDATA[Racing against time with bamboo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/17/content_36044495.htm Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. Pauline D Loh writes.

The bamboo grove in our garden is enjoying the spring rain too much. It is sending up shoots faster than we can harvest. One day too late, and the slender shoots grow another 50 centimeters, turning fibrous and inedible.

If you catch them as they just emerge, the bamboo shoots are tender, juicy and full of flavor.

Bamboo grows all over China, and, despite its height, it is actually a grass. It is quick-growing and covers large tracts of land all over southern and southwestern China.

 

Bamboo shoots must be processed as soon as they are harvested, or they will quickly deteriorate once out of the ground.

 

It is a versatile material that is used in everything from whole houses to baskets as small as a cricket's cage. Bamboo is made into furniture, such as complete sets of tables and chairs, as well as ladders, hoes, trays and mats. Its uses are legion and sometimes unexpected.

In Sichuan, for example, a specialty is tiny, delicate and spoonlike contraptions that are designed to clean the inside of ears.

Apart from its vast range of utilitarian purposes, bamboo also produces bamboo shoots, a uniquely Chinese ingredient seldom seen in other cuisines.

Yes, Korean and Japanese cooking make use of bamboo shoots, but no one prepares them like the Chinese chef.

When the spring thunderstorms come, the bamboo forests wake. As the rain soaks into the earth, dormant squat shoots that have lain underground all winter start swelling and poking their tips through the ground.

Even before their tender tops can pierce through the surface, they are quickly spotted and harvested. These fat "winter shoots" are boiled to get rid of the white alkali residue in the center and stripped of their inedible outer leaves.

Lightly salted water will help them keep longer, and they are canned or bottled - ending up in homes and restaurants as the thin, cream-colored slices we all know.

Bamboo shoots must be processed as soon as they are harvested, or they will quickly deteriorate once out of the ground. In Southwest China, the mountains of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region produce slender bamboo shoots that are harvested when they are only about 10 centimeters long.

They are dug out in the hills and sent by a pulley system down to the valley, where a busy production line strips them of leaves and pickles them immediately.

This is the famous suansun, the tangy pickled bamboo shoots that go into every bowl of noodles in that region.

Nearer the area of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and Zhejiang province, equally tender shoots are pickled whole in sugar and salt for the famous "hand-stripped bamboo shoots", or shoubasun.

They are delicious eaten as a chilled snack or as an accompaniment to millet or bean porridge.

The Cantonese eat bamboo shoots all year round, from the fresh winter shoots to brined chunks to young fresh shoots cooked in a savory liqueur and served on a bed of shaved ice.

Bamboo shoots are finely diced and used in classic dumplings to add tactile crunch and sweetness. They are also widely used in Cantonese dim sum, playing a crucial background role.

My Cantonese grandmother's favorite bamboo dish was braised preserved bamboo with belly pork in a fermented red bean curd sauce.

The bamboo shoots were bought from Chinatown and resembled mummified pieces of an unknown object. It took days of repeated soaks to get rid of its strong ammonia scent. By the end of four days, maybe more, the bamboo shoots began to resemble their former selves.

These were dropped into boiling water for an hour and then drained for a final soak in cold water.

Fatty pork is seared in a wok to render the fat, and the bamboo shoot is added. Finally, a few pieces of fermented red bean curd are dissolved in Chinese wine and added to the braising pot.

This is when the alchemy happens. Bamboo shoots, fatty pork, wine and sauce cook down and emulsify into a mouth-watering mixture.

The pork melts away in the mouth, and the bamboo shoots retain their crunch but absorb all of the sweetness of the meat through a magical osmosis, and our whole family would polish off the entire platter in no time, aided by generous bowls of steamed white rice.

It is a time-consuming dish and takes a week from start to finish, but it is a dish that never tasted better.

Bamboo shoots are popular in Sichuan as well, where they are shredded and pickled in large jars topped with bright red chopped chili and chili oil. As a result, they are full of umami, and a little saucer will chase down a huge bowl of noodles, rice or porridge.

It takes an excellent chef to coax such flavors from the bland little bamboo shoot, but then the Chinese chef has always had talent for creating ambrosia out of the most ordinary ingredients.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Bamboo shoots and meatball in Chinese miso

(This is my childhood comfort food.)

500 g belly pork, minced 2 large pieces dongsun, winter shoots

300 g prawns, shelled and deveined

1/2 carrot, thinly shredded

3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon yellow bean paste, or use rough miso

Rough up the prawns and add to minced meat. Mix and season with salt and sesame oil.

Cut up the bamboo shoots by finely slicing, then cutting them into julienne. Add half the bamboo shoot and all the shredded carrot into meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of sesame oil. Dust a large spoonful of cornstarch over and mix very well. Refrigerate.

Heat up a large tablespoon of oil in a wok and fry the garlic until golden brown. Remove the crispy garlic and put aside. Add the miso/bean paste and fry until fragrant. Add 1.5 liters of hot water and allow the stock to boil.

Shape the meatballs and drop in to cook. Also add the rest of the bamboo shoots. If the meatballs are rough, with bits of bamboo shoots sticking out, you're on the right path,

Test the soup and adjust with salt, sugar or pepper. Garnish with lots of chopped coriander.

Oil-braised bamboo shoots

1 can of bamboo shoots, or 400 g fresh, cut into wedges 50 g of rock sugar

Soy sauce

If you are using fresh bamboo shoots, parboil them in salted water before cutting into wedges. This gets rid of any bitterness.

Heat up 1 cm of oil in the wok. Drop the sugar in to caramelize. Add the bamboo shoot wedges and fry over high heat so the edges will take on the sugar and caramelize.

If you prefer, drain the oil, then return the bamboo shoots to the pan. Season with dark soy sauce and a sprinkle of salt.

This is a deliciously simple vegetable dish that can be truly addictive.

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2018-04-17 07:29:14
<![CDATA[Field study]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/17/content_36044494.htm Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas hosts a marathon talk session on China's rural development as part of the 2018 Wuzhen International Architecture Forum. Deng Zhangyu reports.

After focusing on cities and skyscrapers for the past 40 years, Rem Koolhaas, the Pritzker Prize winner and one of the most important architects of his generation, has shifted his attention toward "the rural", a field he has repeatedly described as holding the key to the world's future.

To explore the subject more deeply, the 74-year-old held a six-hour talk on Thursday with 17 Chinese experts on rural issues. The Dutch architect says China highlights its countryside more than others in the world.

The dialogue titled Countryside Marathon, part of the Wuzhen International Architecture Forum 2018, saw Koolhaas hold discussions from his apartment in Amsterdam via the internet with scholars, officials, architects, artists, writers and independent musicians who actively take part in China's rural reconstruction, in Wuzhen, a water town in East China's Zhejiang province. The architect was unable to attend the forum in person due to health reasons.

Koolhaas says that he believes the impact of urbanization on rural areas is an issue that affects the entire world, not only China. But the architect also says he finds China's situation interesting, especially since the country's planners are putting it firmly at the top of their agenda.

The architect, who has designed many iconic buildings in major cities around the world, is perhaps best known in China for his design of the CCTV headquarters in Beijing, a landmark in the capital. When he visited China ahead of Spring Festival in February, he says he was impressed by how quick people were able to move from the cities to the countryside to celebrate Chinese New Year, leaving some cities almost empty.

In fact, Koolhaas began his engagement with China's rural regeneration last year by joining forces with the Central Academy of Fine Arts to set up a one-year course for 13 students working in areas related to rural development, including several architects and a city mayor.

Lyu Pinjing, the director of the academy's architecture school and a speaker at the Countryside Marathon forum, introduced the one-year course he developed with the help of several foreign experts including Koolhaas, explaining that its aim was not to teach students specific skills but instead to enlighten them with a global perspective.

"China is in great need of people who excel at rural development. But it's not as simple as just building or transforming houses in the countryside. It's about how to revitalize an entire village," says Lyu, who has devoted much of his time in rural development in Guizhou province, which is home to many ethnic groups.

Lyu has been involved in the rural reconstruction of at least three villages in Guizhou province, like many other architects who have worked in rural China to help design or redevelop rural areas.

In 2016, he repaired traditional houses, rebuilt village schools, set up weaving workshop and porcelain-making studio by transforming ruined houses in Banwan, a remote village surrounded by mountains that is inhabited by the ethnic Buyi people.

Lyu will showcase his architectural works at the village at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in May.

"It's more than just a job for an architect. I had to use all the resources I have to help them revitalize the village," Lyu says.

Last year, Lyu helped find college teachers to train more than 400 female village artisans who make their living from weaving and embroidery to adapt their homemade products to suit a wider market. He will return to another village in Guizhou later this month to help promote a healthier lifestyle through better hygiene and keeping their houses clean and tidy.

"As an architect, I spend my time more on communication rather than design. It's more important to change people's way of thinking and create sustainable development," he adds.

Every month, Lyu brings students and teachers from the CAFA's rural development course he co-founded with Koolhaas to tour the countryside and offer practical solutions to their problems, joining the new wave of urban intellectuals who are engaging in rural development in China.

Karl Ellefsen, a professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, who is also a teacher in Lyu's team, says: "Few people in Europe have noticed that China is experiencing huge changes in terms of rural development and how it is investing heavily in its countryside."

The Norwegian professor stays in China for a week every month and has traveled to several villages in remote rural areas. With these trips, he looks to draw comparisons between China's rural issues with those in Europe, where the problem of food security arising from the agricultural industrialization process is being faced by many.

Like Ellefsen, Koolhaas wants to undertake a comparative study, but expand its scope to cover the entire globe. Next year, he will present an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York titled Countryside: Future of the World, which will include videos and documents from the Wuzhen forum that saw Koolhaas discuss China's rural issues from cultural, architectural and economical perspectives with Chinese academics and practitioners.

The Wuzhen International Architecture Forum 2018 will hold another two forums later this year, discussing the concepts of home, and the countryside.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-17 07:29:14
<![CDATA[BRICS thread runs through art display]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/17/content_36044493.htm The late Indian landscape artist Bireswar Sen centered his creation on portraying the splendor of the Himalayas, although he approached it on a small scale. He composed a poem of colors by depicting the changing views of the mountain peaks, valleys and cascades of the mighty range in four seasons.

But he worked on a piece of paper that is no more than 10 centimeters in length and width.

When a collection of his miniature watercolors debuted at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing on April 12, the audience needed magnifying glasses to appreciate the Himalayan landscape that Sen hailed with dancing lines and rhythmic colors. The works are from the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.

Gallery head Adwaita Gadanayak says Sen's landscape artworks evoke a divine feeling for nature and that he often depicted a monk or a poet walking alone in the extensive mountains, which suggests his attempts to escape into a spiritual space from the chaos of the world and immerse himself in nature.

Gadanayak says that in India, people's thoughts are related to nature, as it is the universal root of all living on Earth, despite the differences in culture and history.

"As long as we connect our roots through artistic expressions, we can understand each other, ... and we can together face a common future, and stand up to the challenges," he says.

Gadanayak's words also define the motif of a current exhibition at the National Art Museum of China. Uniqueness and Convergence brings together 61 works of art, including Sen's landscapes, from several public and private collections in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the BRICS members.

The ongoing exhibition runs through Sunday.

The National Art Museum of China is presenting its own collection of Chinese ink-and-water paintings by 20th century masters, such as Qi Baishi and Pan Tianshou.

Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum, says the paintings, which are themed on the lotus flower, represent an important symbol of visual arts in China, while the Mandarin pronunciation of lotus, he, is similar to that for the word "peace", and the flower is also a metaphor in Chinese culture for innocence and integrity. That is why the museum picked these works for the exhibition, although they have been shown several times in earlier decades.

For the local audience, the exhibition unveils the variety and dynamism of the creation of unfamiliar artists in the other four BRICS countries.

Collections from the Iziko Museums of South Africa, an institution comprising of 11 museums and galleries, celebrate the diverse ancient traditions of South Africa, for example, a stone engraved with an ostrich dated back 2,000 years ago is on show, says the museum group's CEO Rooksana Omar.

She says meanwhile, these cultural aspects have inspired modern artists, and several works on display show how they have revised motifs from archaic rock paintings in paintings and wood cuts.

A cultural diversity because of the melting of immigrants from across the world defines the works loaned from Brazil's National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio. It shows seven artists who are now active both at home and in the international art community. Their works explore not only the links between Brazil and the West but also the influence of Asian migrants.

Alexander Sedov, director-general of the State Museum of Oriental Art of Russia, says its collection of paintings and sculptures on show display a rising interest among Russian artists in Asian cultures in the 20th century.

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-17 07:29:14
<![CDATA[Thematic show gives artists a comprehensive platform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/17/content_36044492.htm Many artists are not well understood through their works, says curator Lorand Hegyi, who got an idea four years ago to hold a series of thematic exhibitions to let their voices be heard.

Entitled The Artist's Voice, the first of the series of four exhibitions - to be held over two years - opened at Beijing's Parkview Museum on Sunday.

It features paintings, sculptures, installations, photos and videos by 29 established artists from 17 countries.

Speaking about the exhibition, its Hungarian curator and art historian, says: "Each artist has a vision of the world, life, history, values, fears, hopes and love. We should listen to them and understand the message."

At the entrance of the show hangs a photo by American artist Marina Abramovic taken in 1983 to document her performance work Soul of the World.

In it, a mother in red holds her dead son in white.

The artist's choice of rich colors to present the universal concept of life and death shows a "basic humanity", which is what Hegyi wants viewers to feel and understand.

The curator explains that contemporary art is not difficult to understand.

Just like literature, history and music, artworks send messages to viewers to explore basic emotions and values. And they also reflect how artists see the world, adds Hegyi.

In one room, all the works depict migrants.

There are images of migrants in Europe, migrant Chinese workers in Prato's Chinatown in Italy and homeless people depicted by artists such as Chinese oil painter Liu Xiaodong and Hungarian painter Laszlo Feher.

Explaining the idea behind the exhibition, Hegyi says that though we live in a very uncertain world now, confronting various problems, the basic values and subjects such as love and life do not change. That's why all the artworks focus on these subjects.

The four exhibitions over two years involve about 200 artists from across the world: Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

And when all the four shows are put together, it will cover the entire contemporary art world, says the curator.

Some of the works on show were provided by artists after discussions with the curator, and some are from Parkview Museum's own collection, a huge private art trove owned by Hong Kong collector George Wong, who passed away in December.

It's believed that Wong's collection includes 45 of Salvador Dali's works, dozens of Buddha statues and thousands of contemporary art pieces.

The idea of the exhibition was brought up by Wong four years ago with Hegyi. And the works will be displayed both at the Parkview Museum in Beijing and its branch in Singapore.

The second show will be about artists' manuscripts, for which the curator has spent the past four years visiting artists.

"It's a huge project, but it is worth it," Hegyi says.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-17 07:29:14
<![CDATA[Pitch perfect]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/16/content_36037949.htm This year's NCPA May Festival will see some of the world's most talented violinists take to the stage. Chen Nan reports.

As he slowly lifts two valuable violins from their cases, a 1734 violin made by Giuseppe Guarneri and a 1699 violin made by Antonio Stradivari, both famous Italian violin makers, Chinese violinist Lyu Siqing tries to avoid touching the glossily varnished wood on the bodies of the musical instruments.

"The lines on the wood are so beautiful, aren't they?" asks Lyu, turning the violins over.

Then the 48-year-old musician displays the versatile sounds of the violins by playing the tune Meditation from the opera Thais by French composer Jules Massenet.

"Music touches and influences our emotions. The violin has the magic to touch our most sensitive nerves," says Lyu. "Unlike the piano, which Chinese audience are quite familiar with, thanks to those great young Chinese pianists who have achieved international acclaim, such as Lang Lang, Li Yundi and Chen Sa, the violin still needs more exposure in China."

With the goal of popularizing the violin, promoting Chinese violinists and violin concertos by Chinese composers, Lyu is once again taking up the position of artistic director for the National Center for the Performing Arts May Festival.

The theme for the upcoming event, which runs from May 9 to 26, will pay tribute to the violin by staging 18 shows, gathering together nearly 20 violinists and orchestras from around the world.

"This is my fourth year in the role as artistic director for the NCPA May Festival and this is the first time that we are taking a musical instrument as the theme. I hope the audience will get a full picture of the violin during the festival," says Lyu at the NCPA.

With those two centuries-old violins, Lyu also will perform at the festival.

Two concerts will open the festival. On May 9, four Chinese violinists, Lyu, Ning Feng, Huang Mengla and Huang Bin, all winners of the prestigious Premio Paganini International Violin Competition, will share the stage by giving solo performances in the first half of the concert and teaming up in the second half to perform repertoires including J.S. Bach's Double Violin Concerto, Antonio Vivald's Concerto in B minor RV 580 for Four Violins and Niccolo Paganini's 24 Caprices.

Young Chinese violinists Chen Xi, who won the top prize at the 12th International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition in 2002, at the age of 17 - the youngest top prize winner in the history of the competition - and Liu Xiao, who graduated from the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris, with five solo albums under his belt, will join the concert.

On May 10, a concert will be held to pay tribute to Chinese composers. Established Chinese violinist, Liu Yuxi, will perform with the younger generation of Chinese violinists, including Lyu, Jiang Yiying and Jiang Zhenyi.

"I've seen the repertories for the upcoming concerts during the May Festival and I am very excited because many of the pieces are rarely performed. The audience will get the chance to see the vibrant scenes of Chinese violinists of different ages and many original concertos for violin by Chinese composers," says Liu, 80, who is teaching at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and is planning a tour of France later this year.

The legendary violinist comes from a musical family. His father, Liu Beimao (1903-1981), was a renowned composer and music educator. His uncles Liu Bannong (1891-1934) was a linguist and poet, and Liu Tianhua (1895-1932) was a musician and composer best known for his innovative work for the Chinese folk instrument, the erhu.

According to Liu Yuxi, the violin was among the first group of Western instruments that was brought to China by missionaries during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). During the 1920s and 1930s, a 16-member orchestra was founded at Peking University and his uncle, Liu Tianhua, was one of the members.

"My uncle Liu Tianhua learned violin before he picked up the erhu. The connection between the violin and erhu was very close for him as a musician and composer," says Liu Yuxi.

The first original Chinese violin composition was Difficult Road (Xinglu Nan), composed in 1919 by famous geologist Li Siguang, who was pursuing his studies at the University of Birmingham in Britain at that time.

Chinese composers are keen on writing works for the violin and among the pieces, The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto, which was written in 1959 by two Chinese composers, He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, then students at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, was one of the most well-known pieces of music of the time.

During the concert on May 10, Lyu will play The Butterfly Lovers.

"I can still remember that almost 40 years ago, Lyu, who was about 10 years old, came to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing from his hometown of Qingdao, Shandong province, accompanied by his father. The young boy displayed quite a talent when he played violin in front of us and since then he has become a star," says Liu Yuxi. "The training of young violinists has never stopped in China. With more and more children learning Western instruments, we've seen many child prodigies. They have a good balance between mastering the solid techniques and the private emotional interpretations required for individual pieces."

Four internationally acclaimed violinists will also join the May Festival, including Israeli-American violinist Pinchas Zukerman, US Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell, Italian violinist Fabio Biondi and the German violinist of South Korean descent, Clara-Jumi Kang.

In other highlights of the festival, the Leipzig String Quartet will perform a program of Joseph Haydn's most iconic works on May 16, such as String Quartet in D minor, Op. 103, Hob. III83, String Quartet in D major, Op. 64, No. 5, and The Seven Last Words.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will perform with Lyu with programs including Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26, on May 24.

According to Wang Luli, deputy director of the performance department at the NCPA, the annual festival started in 2009 and has become a major event for the NCPA, which focuses on chamber music.

So far, the festival has showcased more than 140 concerts, not only at the NCPA's concert halls, but also at public spaces in Beijing, such as subway stations, schools and museums.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-16 07:40:06
<![CDATA[NCPA opera being turned into film with new technology]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/16/content_36037948.htm While The Dawns Here Are Quiet, an original opera production by the National Center for the Performing Arts, is being staged at the NCPA through Monday, a film production team from Shanghai Media Group is shooting an opera film by using new ultra high-definition 4K resolution based on it.

According to the opera's director Wang Xiaoying, The Dawns Here Are Quiet made its debut at the NCPA in 2015, and is again being staged at the Beijing venue since Friday - its fourth round of performances.

The opera, composed by Tang Jianping with libretto by Wan Fang, is based on Russian writer Boris Vasilyev's novel of the same title. It tells the story of five female soldiers fighting German troops during World War II.

The opera was first staged to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Speaking about the film, Wang says: "This is a groundbreaking production that is part of the NCPA's opera film HD series. Those who have seen the live performances of opera singers, such as Liu Songhu and Zhang Yang, under the baton of Lyu Jia, can get a different experience."

Wang also says that unlike opera performances in theaters, the film production gives the opera a more "cinematic" look, which requires the actors to modify their performances, and look at the cameras rather than the conductors.

The costumes and stage sets have also been redone.

"We have made new wigs for actors, which look more natural," says Wang, adding that the NCPA initiated the opera film project in 2013 and of the 76 opera productions the NCPA has done since it opened in 2007, nearly 30 have been turned into opera films.

In 2017, the NCPA held an international opera film exhibition from August to October, which screened 14 such films in 10 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Teng Junjie, a renowned director from the Shanghai Media Group, is directing the latest opera film.

Teng is also the director of the first Chinese film using homegrown 3D technology to capture the Peking Opera, Farewell My Concubine, which premiered in Shanghai in May 2015.

The 3D adaptation, based on the classic love story between besieged warlord Xiang Yu and his beloved concubine Yu Ji, combines traditional Chinese culture and contemporary technology.

Speaking about the technology he is using for the film, Teng says 4K resolution is four times sharper than ordinary high definition, and is emerging as the new technology used by film companies worldwide. Also, unlike 3D, 4K technology does not require special glasses.

Speaking about the potential of the new medium, Teng, who was in New York as a team member when the Metropolitan Opera House broadcast its production of Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute, in 2007, says: "Theaters worldwide are using more alternative content, such as opera films, to appeal to customers. So, combining the latest technology with opera is a great way to attract audiences."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-16 07:40:06
<![CDATA[From maps to apps]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/16/content_36037947.htm A growing number of Chinese are using online tools to guide their travels. Xu Lin reports.

Chen Chen will travel to Japan this month. She used apps to book air tickets and hotels, read travel tips and make a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

The Beijing office worker plans to read novels on her phone while waiting for her flight, use a translation app to order food and ask for directions, and use another app to identify flowers.

"Such mobile apps make independent traveling convenient," Chen says.

 

Visitors take a selfie in flowering trees during the recent Qingming holiday in Daoxian county, Hunan province. He Hongfu / Xinhua

 

"But you shouldn't spend too much time on the apps. It's more important to truly experience the moment and local life."

She enjoys using aiPlants, which can identify over 10,000 common plants from photos taken by users with 85 percent accuracy. It also provides encyclopedic information on the plants from the database of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany. People often use the app at such attractions as scenic areas, botanical gardens, parks and nature reserves.

Chen is among a growing number of Chinese who increasingly use a growing number of apps to travel independently.

More than 85 percent of the subjects constantly use their phones while traveling - that is, an average of six hours a day, according to a recent report Chinese tourism website Mafengwo released with five app providers about how Chinese use apps during trips.

The results are based on data from about 3,500 subjects born in the 1980s and 1990s, 65 percent of whom are women.

"The report tells us about users' behaviors and preferences," Mafengwo's travel research center head Feng Rao says.

"For example, we can use big data to recommend museums, galleries, exhibitions and related products to users who enjoy culture and history."

The apps that most young Chinese use while traveling are for maps and transportation, tourism, photography, social networking, music, videos, reading, fitness and learning, the study found.

People often use apps to read when waiting for or taking transportation, before bed and during rests at such places as cafes and parks. The most popular books are novels, literature, tourism, history and biographies.

Outbound tourists often rely on dictionary and translation apps to communicate with locals, read menus and take transportation. Some use these apps before their trips to learn simple phrases and travel-related words.

Over half of the fitness-conscious continue to work out when traveling. The most popular sports are walking, running, yoga, aerobics, cycling and swimming.

Nearly one in five among this group diet while traveling. Nearly 60 percent will enjoy local dishes but avoid fried foods and desserts, while nearly a quarter don't worry about what they eat.

Half of the fitness-conscious prefer hotels with gyms and 41 percent prefer ones with swimming pools.

Li Weiliang uses apps to stay fit while traveling.

The 31-year-old, who works in advertising in Yunnan province, typically does two hours of strength training four or five times a week.

Li watches training videos on the app Keep to guide his resistance-band workouts if he doesn't hit the gym.

"Exercising while traveling improves your mood and experiences," he says.

Cheng Shi uses short-video apps to document and share his travel experiences.

The 35-year-old started filming his experiences on the road in 2014. He uses his mobile, a GoPro to shoot underwater and a drone for aerial filming.

Special moments he has captured include a romantic marriage proposal by a tourist at Chiang Mai's Water Splashing Festival and a giant whale swimming with its baby.

"I feel a great sense of accomplishment because those who appear in my short videos like them. Some of the people I've only met once. Some have become my friends. It feels more authentic than the likes I get from random netizens," says Cheng, who works in film and animation in Shanghai.

"It's easy for newbies to film and edit short videos using mobile apps, which offer many effects. It's great fun. They should learn to shoot from different distances and angles, and include transitions. If all the footage is just of one person introducing a site, it's more like a talk show."

For instance, if a user is making a short video about food, it's advisable to show such scenes as entering the restaurant and the action of serving the dishes to make the video more narrative, he says.

Indeed, it seems likely that even more Chinese will use more apps to guide their travels as developers race to answer growing demand.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-16 07:40:06
<![CDATA[In Kiev, borscht, Maidan and a side trip to Chernobyl]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/16/content_36037946.htm Through years of political upheaval and economic turmoil, Ukraine's capital city, Kiev, has remained a vibrant, engaging place to visit. For travelers, its food and culture rival the best of Europe at a fraction of the price.

Here's more on why this often overlooked destination should top your getaway list.

Landmarks

Maidan: This square was the site of deadly protests in 2014 that ushered in the country's pro-European revolution. It's now a bustling tourist hotspot surrounded by shops, restaurants, an evening fountain show, the towering Independence Monument and the Instagram-ready I Love Kyiv sign.

Saint Andrew's Church: This 18th-century Baroque stunner by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli is worth a visit. Afterward, head to the nearby Landscape Alley, a whimsical sculpture park and kids play area. I dare you not to snap a selfie with one of the massive mosaic creatures.

St Sophia's Cathedral: The gold- and green-domed UNESCO World Heritage Site offers an impressive collection of original 11th-century mosaics and frescoes.

The Motherland Monument: This tremendous 500-ton, 102-meter stainless-steel structure on the bank of the Dnieper River keeps a watchful eye over Kiev. The grand statue, a woman raising a shield in one hand a sword in the other, commemorates the Soviet Union's defeat of the Nazis during World War II. A Ukrainian war museum is located at its base.

Kiev cooking: borscht or bust

Puzata Hata: Get your fill of borscht, a hearty soup often made with beets or cabbage, and other Ukrainian dishes at this popular and cheap fast food chain. Don't skip the dessert line at this cafeteria-style gem. Sugar-sprinkled cherry pierogies, anyone?

Yaroslava: If looking to refuel between sites, stop by this historic Ukrainian restaurant and bakery for traditional treats including their famed cinnamon rolls. The cranberry cake is also worth a mention. Three yummy pastries and two fresh juices cost $3.

Chicken Kyiv: Where better to sample the famous dish than its namesake restaurant located near Maidan? You'll be transported to Soviet high society of the 1970s in the retro eatery, serving dozens of chicken dishes, inducing the famous Kiev with its breaded outside and herbed butter center. Dive into a lavish three courses for two for under $30.

Fashion forward finds

Corner Concept Store: Try on some wearable art by Ukrainian designers in this sparse, ultra-chic boutique.

Nadezhdina: Local designer Natella Nadezhdina's shop is lined with funky prints and feminine styles for a range of shapes and sizes.

Lesnaya market: If thrifting is your thing, head to Lesnaya flea market and journey between mountains of secondhand clothes and stalls of flowers, produce and knockoffs. The market is located outside Lisova metro station.

Atelier 1: If you can find the back-alley entrance of this industrial, underground concept store you'll be treated to an artsy mix of local and high-end brands like Comme des Garcons.

Chernobyl

Yes, you can visit the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, the Chernobyl disaster, which led to the evacuation of about 115,000 people. Armed with dosimeters, you'll traipse through abandoned towns, schools and an amusement park and check out the site of 1986 explosion that sent a radioactive cloud over Europe. Pripyat, a hastily evacuated city, was ravaged by looters and left as a modern-day ghost town.

Rest assured, though: The amount of radiation you'll receive on a Chernobyl tour - a day trip from Kiev - is less than your last dental X-ray.

Mezhyhirya

Marvel at the sprawling, opulent estate of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych located on Dnieper river, 24 kilometers north of Kiev. Many consider the impressive 142-hectare, once-secret, walled complex a sobering symbol of excess and corruption by the Ukrainian leader driven out during the 2014 protests.

You could lose an entire day wandering Mezhyhirya's manicured gardens, golf course and impressive classic car collection. Better to navigate the grounds with a hired golf cart ($5 per person.)

Getting around

You can hail a taxi, but be prepared to negotiate the rate. Ordering a cab by phone or online from an established company will ensure a better price.

Your best bet is the subway, which roars through Kiev's metro system with impressive efficiency. You can pick up single-ride tokens for around 15 US cents or buy multi-day passes.

Associated Press

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2018-04-16 07:40:06
<![CDATA[More Chinese opting for sharing-economy lodging]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/16/content_36037945.htm Zhou Chao prefers homestays to hotels.

Price is part of the appeal.

The Beijing resident booked a two-bedroom apartment in Osaka for 800 yuan ($127), which is about 200 or 300 yuan cheaper than the neighborhood's economy hotels.

"There's usually a kitchen and washing machine so I can cook and do laundry," he says.

Zhou believes sharing-economy accommodation also enables him to live like locals and interact with interesting people.

Chinese made over 130 million overseas trips last year, 7 percent more than in 2016. Visitors from the world's largest source of outbound travelers spent $115.2 billion, or 5 percent more than in 2016, the China Tourism Academy reports.

A growing number are staying in sharing-economy lodging.

Major Chinese travel-accommodation platform Tujia's trading volumes grew fivefold and available housing grew threefold last year, chief operating officer Yang Changle says.

The platform's overseas business has expanded to offer over 400,000 places to stay in more than 1,000 destinations. The company projects thirty-fold growth in its overseas business this year.

Over half of the 10 million Chinese guest arrivals recorded by United States-based home-sharing service provider Airbnb since 2008 took place last year.

The company also doubled its accommodations in China in 2017, when about 3.3 million inbound travelers used the service. Shanghai, Beijing and Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu, are the most popular destinations.

The trend is partly fueled by the large number of unoccupied dwellings.

China is estimated to have had 70 million unoccupied residences by 2016.

Platforms such as Tujia, Airbnb and Xiaozhu enable people to use these resources.

Sweetome, previously Tujia's offline business, is diversifying its apartment offerings.

It offers properties in cities as well as bungalows and farmsteads.

The platform also offers pickups, guides and cleaning services for guests and homeowners.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Sweetome, formerly the online business of the platform Tujia, diversifies its apartment offerings to satisfy different tourist needs. Photos Provided to China Daily

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2018-04-16 07:40:06
<![CDATA[Racing against time with bamboo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/15/content_36034129.htm Editor's note: Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. We explore the possibilities.

The bamboo grove in our garden is enjoying the spring rain too much. It is sending up shoots faster than we can harvest. One day too late, and the slender shoots grow another 50 centimeters, turning fibrous and inedible.

If you catch them as they just emerge, the bamboo shoots are tender, juicy and full of flavor.

From left: Shoubasun; Bamboo shoots must be processed as soon as they are harvested, or they will quickly deteriorate once out of the ground; Stir-fried suansun with meat strips. Photos Provided to China Daily

Bamboo grows all over China, and, despite its height, is actually a grass. It is quick-growing and covers large tracts of land all over southern and southwestern China.

It is a versatile material that is used in everything from whole houses to baskets as small as a cricket's cage. Bamboo is made into furniture, such as complete sets of tables and chairs, as well as ladders, hoes, trays and mats. Its uses are legion and sometimes unexpected.

In Sichuan, for example, a specialty is tiny, delicate and spoonlike contraptions that are designed to clean the inside of ears.

Apart from its vast range of utilitarian purposes, bamboo also produces bamboo shoots, a uniquely Chinese ingredient seldom seen in other cuisines.

Yes, Korean and Japanese cooking make use of bamboo shoots, but no one prepares them like the Chinese chef.

When the spring thunderstorms come, the bamboo forests wake. As the rain soaks into the earth, dormant squat shoots that have lain underground all winter start swelling and poking their tips through the ground.

Even before their tender tops can pierce through the surface, they are quickly spotted and harvested. These fat "winter shoots" are boiled to get rid of the white alkali residue in the center and stripped of their inedible outer leaves.

Lightly salted water will help them keep longer, and they are canned or bottled - ending up in homes and restaurants as the thin, cream-colored slices we all know.

Bamboo shoots must be processed as soon as they are harvested, or they will quickly deteriorate once out of the ground. In southwest China, the mountains of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region produce slender bamboo shoots that are harvested when they are only about 10 centimeters long.

They are dug out in the hills and sent by a pulley system down to the valley, where a busy production line strips them of leaves and pickles them immediately.

This is the famous suansun, the tangy pickled bamboo shoots that go into every bowl of noodles in that region.

Nearer the area of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and Zhejiang province, equally tender shoots are pickled whole in sugar and salt for the famous "hand-stripped bamboo shoots", or shoubasun.

They are delicious eaten as a chilled snack or as an accompaniment to millet or bean porridge.

The Cantonese eat bamboo shoots all year round, from the fresh winter shoots to brined chunks to young fresh shoots cooked in a savory liqueur and served on a bed of shaved ice.

Bamboo shoots are finely diced and used in classic dumplings to add tactile crunch and sweetness. They are also widely used in Cantonese dim sum, playing a crucial background role.

My Cantonese grandmother's favorite bamboo dish was braised preserved bamboo with belly pork in a fermented red bean curd sauce.

The bamboo shoots were bought from Chinatown and resembled mummified pieces of an unknown object. It took days of repeated soaks to get rid of its strong ammonia scent. By the end of four days, maybe more, the bamboo shoots began to resemble their former selves.

These were dropped into boiling water for an hour and then drained for a final soak in cold water.

Fatty pork is seared in a wok to render the fat, and the bamboo shoot is added. Finally, a few pieces of fermented red bean curd are dissolved in Chinese wine and added to the braising pot.

This is when the alchemy happens. Bamboo shoots, fatty pork, wine and sauce cook down and emulsify into a mouth-watering mixture.

The pork melts away in the mouth, and the bamboo shoots retain their crunch but absorb all of the sweetness of the meat through a magical osmosis, and our whole family would polish off the entire platter in no time, aided by generous bowls of steamed white rice.

It is a time-consuming dish and takes a week from start to finish, but it is a dish that never tasted better.

Bamboo shoots are popular in Sichuan as well, where they are shredded and pickled in large jars topped with bright red chopped chili and chili oil. As a result, they are full of umami, and a little saucer will chase down a huge bowl of noodles, rice or porridge.

It takes an excellent chef to coax such flavors from the bland little bamboo shoot, but then the Chinese chef has always had talent for creating ambrosia out of the most ordinary ingredients.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Bamboo shoots and meatball in Chinese miso

(This is my childhood comfort food.)

500 g belly pork, minced

2 large pieces dongsun, winter shoots

300g prawns, shelled and deveined

1/2 carrot, thinly shredded

3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon yellow bean paste, or use rough miso

Rough up the prawns and add to minced meat. Mix and season with salt and sesame oil.

Cut up the bamboo shoots by finely slicing, then cutting them into julienne. Add half the bamboo shoot and all the shredded carrot into meat mixture. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of sesame oil. Dust a large spoonful of cornstarch over and mix very well. Refrigerate.

Heat up a large tablespoon of oil in a wok and fry the garlic till golden brown. Remove the crispy garlic and put aside. Add the miso/bean paste and fry till fragrant. Add 1.5 liters of hot water and allow the stock to boil.

Shape the meatballs and drop in to cook. Also add the rest of the bamboo shoots. If the meatballs are rough, with bits of bamboo shoots sticking out, you're on the right path,

Test the soup and adjust with salt, sugar or pepper. Garnish with lots of chopped coriander.

Oil-braised bamboo shoots

1 can of bamboo shoots, or 400g fresh, cut into wedges

50 g rock sugar

Soy sauce

If you are using fresh bamboo shoots, parboil them in salted water before cutting into wedges. This gets rid of any bitterness.

Heat up 1 cm of oil in the wok. Drop the sugar in to caramelize. Add the bamboo shoot wedges and fry over high heat so the edges will take on the sugar and caramelize.

If you prefer, drain the oil, then return the bamboo shoots to the pan. Season with dark soy sauce and a sprinkle of salt.

This is a deliciously simple vegetable dish that can be truly addictive.

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2018-04-15 15:17:56
<![CDATA[Rare show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/15/content_36034128.htm The Palace Museum celebrates the late collector Zhang Boju's passion for ancient masterpieces. Wang Kaihao reports.

In AD 744, Li Bai, a poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), climbed Wangwu Mountain in today's Henan province. He wanted to meet one of his old friends, who lived in Yangtai Palace, a Taoist temple on the mountain. Unfortunately, when he arrived, Li found out that his friend had died. The poet then wrote the 25-character calligraphy piece - Ascending Mount Yangtai (Shang Yangtai Tie) - to convey his feelings for the departed.

Li, considered one of the best ancient Chinese poets, may have left numerous masterpieces behind, but this is the only known surviving calligraphy work inked by him.

An exhibition at the Palace Museum commemorating the 120th anniversary of antiques collector Zhang Boju's birth features ancient poet Li Bai's calligraphy piece Ascending Mount Yangtai (top center) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) painter Tang Yin's Palace Entertainers in the Kingdom of Shu, among other ancient Chinese painting and calligraphy works. Photos by Jiang Dong and Yao Ying / China Daily

Now, thanks to a donation by Zhang Boju (1898-1982), an antiques collector, the work is being displayed in public. Ascending Mount Yangtai and 30 other pieces highlighting ancient Chinese painting and calligraphy, which were collected by Zhang, are now on display at an exhibition at the Palace Museum in Beijing, China's former imperial palace (also known as the Forbidden City), to commemorate the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Born into a rich family, Zhang once served in an army for warlords, but later became a banker. Other than being an antiques collector, he was also known as a Peking Opera artist.

Other works displayed in the exhibition are from collections of the Palace Museum, the National Museum of China and the Jilin Provincial Museum, where Zhang worked in the 1960s.

"Zhang's devotion to the country was unwavering," says Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum. "In the years of social upheaval, he even sold his personal property to keep our national treasures at home."

Ascending Mount Yangtai was consecutively owned by royal courts since the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) until it left the Forbidden City, with the end of monarchy in China.

In 1937, during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), many precious treasures were sold abroad. But Zhang spent a huge sum of money to buy Ascending Mount Yangtai and several other works from another collector. Another exhibit, Palace Entertainers in the Kingdom of Shu, a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) painting by Tang Yin depicting court life in a 10th-century kingdom in today's Sichuan province, was among the works purchased by Zhang at the time.

"It has abundant color, but the painting doesn't lose its elegance for natural transition and comparison of the colors," Hao Yanfeng, an associate researcher of ancient calligraphy and painting at the Palace Museum, says while introducing the piece to visitors.

In the late 1940s, Zhang made plans for the Palace Museum to purchase some former royal collections and helped bargain to get them back at lower prices.

After the founding of New China in 1949, Zhang kept donating his collections to public institutions in the country. In 1956 alone, Zhang donated eight key calligraphy works and paintings to the Palace Museum. He gave Ascending Mount Yangtai to Chairman Mao Zedong's office, and Mao transferred it to the museum in 1958, bringing the lost treasure back to the Forbidden City's premises.

According to Shan, nearly 20,000 cultural relics were donated to the Palace Museum by 330 individuals in the 1950s. He says Zhang had set a good example.

Hao recommends several other key masterpieces among Zhang's donations in the 1950s, which are also on display in Beijing.

Personally Written Poetry is an album by Cai Xiang, one of the four most celebrated Northern Song calligraphers. The work, which records his monthslong journey from Fuzhou in today's Fujian province to the then national capital of Bianliang (today's Kaifeng, Henan), reflects his career peak.

"It was hailed as Cai's finest work by Zhang," Hao says. "It greatly influenced Zhang's own calligraphy as well."

Also on display is the scroll One Hundred Flowers, which is believed to have been painted by a female artist named Yang Jieyu from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), and portrays blooms, including those of lotuses, orchids and sunflowers, in 17 scenes. It is the only known painting by Yang.

Visitors are also able to view A Consoling Letter (Pingfu Tie) by Lu Ji of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), the oldest extant work of model calligraphy, and Spring Excursion, an early example of Chinese landscape painting attributed to Zhan Ziqian of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), through their replicas.

Rules of the Palace Museum demand that a paperwork collection should stay in its warehouse for at least three years before every public exhibition. Consequently, some listed works in the catalog are replaced by replicas if they have been displayed in recent years.

"This exhibition will remind today's private collectors of their social duty," says Lou Kaizhao, Zhang's grandson, who is co-curator of the exhibition. "If my grandfather had kept his collection in an attic, the general public would have little idea about such masterpieces."

Sharing such collections with more people will help Chinese society to build up its cultural confidence, he adds.

"What Zhang Boju represented is also the great characteristics of Chinese scholars," says Shan, the museum director. "Keeping the antiques is the way to prolong the life of our literary history."

Shan says 22 calligraphy works and paintings in the Palace Museum today were once collected by Zhang, which enriched the public institution's collection.

The ongoing Exhibition Commemorating the 120th Anniversary of Zhang Boju's Birth also marks the end of 13 years during which the Hall of Martial Valor (Wuying Dian) in the western wing of the Forbidden City was used to display calligraphy pieces and paintings. The new venue will be the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhua Dian) in the museum's eastern wing.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-15 15:17:56
<![CDATA[Marathon craze gaining more mileage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/15/content_36034127.htm Focus for long-distance events in China has shifted to improving the race-day experience

China's marathon boom shows no sign of abating but, spurred by new government guidelines, the industry's focus is now on providing runners with an improved raceday experience.

Even with a spring chill and intermittent smog in the air, Beijing's dedicated runners pack the tracks and trails of Olympic Forest Park on weekends.

"It's been part of my weekend routine," says Hao Liang, a regular runner at the park, where a 10-kilometer plastic runway encircles a lake, a legacy of the 2008 Olympics.

"If I missed the running exercise with my fellow club mates on Saturday, I would feel like I'd missed the whole weekend," says Hao, who has completed 22 marathons and is a co-founder of Beijing-based Maker Run club.

"It's not just about staying fit. It's more important to hang out with like-minded guys to escape from your life pressure at least for a while. It's addictive."

Hao is typical of the health-conscious urbanites who have caught the running bug in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

According to the Chinese Athletics Association, nearly 5 million people took part in 1,102 registered running events in China last year - almost 20 times the number in 2014.

On April 15, at least 40 races across the country will start at roughly the same time, indicating that the marathon calendar is becoming increasingly crowded.

Numbers game

Meeting the demand for race spots can be an issue, with online lotteries often used to determine the starting lists.

For the Wuxi Marathon on March 25 in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, 91,000 runners had signed up for the 30,000 spots two months before the starting gun.

Shui Tao, director of the CAA's marathon management office, hopes new races can help soak up the soaring demand.

"I don't think it's time to cool it off," Shui said at a launch event for the Fairy Coast International Marathon, which will be held on July 1 in Haiyang, Shandong province.

"All the events we are overseeing now only cover half of the cities in the country. We still have new territories to explore on the country's running map."

Figures in China still pale, however, in comparison with participation levels in countries such as the United States.

According to the annual report by race organizer Running USA, 1,100 marathons were held in the US in 2016 and were finished by 507,600 runners. The respective figures in China were only 173 and 268,900 last year.

The central government's call to expand its mass fitness campaign has simplified the approval procedure for hosting grassroots sporting events, allowing more races to be organized at the regional level, said Shui.

Accessible addiction

Running's accessibility, affordability and sociability are key to its popularity, according to experts.

"No other sport has a lower entry requirement than running," says Shi Chunjian, a former CAA official and now a race organizing consultant.

"All you need is a pair of running shoes and you can go hit the road, regardless of age or gender.

"There's a strong sense of accomplishment after finishing a run, whether it's a 5 km or a marathon, and that's proving highly contagious, thanks to social media. Once you take up running, it's easy to contact like-minded enthusiasts on social networking platforms such as WeChat or Weibo," says Shi.

Bragging about your latest marathon feat has become a thing on social media, as evidenced by the 100 million-plus views of photos and posts bearing the hashtag#Wuxi Marathon# on Weibo on the day of this year's race.

Meanwhile, local governments are using races, especially televised ones, to promote tourism in their respective areas.

"Nothing compares to a marathon in terms of showcasing the local landscape for as long as three hours on national TV, so no wonder more and more second-or third-tier cities are keen to land races," says Wu Hongtao, a senior executive at Infront China, a major sports organizing and promoting agency.

Challenges ahead

A number of embarrassing, and even deadly, incidents have underlined the importance of quality control.

After last year's Beijing Marathon, a photo of three runners with the same bib number went viral, exposing long-existing issues of people fabricating IDs or trading entry spots illegally to run without registration. All three runners have been banned from signing up for the race again.

Cheating can also have serious consequences.

During a half-marathon in Xiamen, Fujian province, in December 2015, a runner who was later found to be competing under someone else's name died of a heart attack after medical treatment, which was based on the original participant's information, failed to revive him.

Fearing a repeat incident, some elite races are now using face and fingerprint recognition technology to stamp out identity cheats.

Lax management and poor services can also pose problems.

During the 2013 Beijing Marathon, photos of competitors urinating on the walls of the Palace Museum (aka the Forbidden City) sparked an online furor.

The following year, organizers added another 160 mobile toilets around the start and finish areas to prevent a repeat.

Providing proper services, such as sufficient hydration, energy supplies and toilet facilities, is just as important as course design and traffic control, according to race consultant Shi.

In January, the General Administration of Sport of China, with support from 10 other ministries, issued a long-term guideline for marathon development, aimed at raising standards of race organization, services, security, medical support and logistics.

"We are still in the early stage of development. The lack of awareness and education in running and organizing races is still an issue to be addressed," said the CAA's Shui.

The CAA has worked with the Shanghai University of Sport to offer training programs and certificates for domestic organizers.

This year's first three-day workshop for marathon management and organization opened at the university on April 9.

The guideline report forecasts that by 2020, around 1,900 races will attract 10 million runners annually, while the distance-running industry is expected to generate revenue of 120 billion yuan ($19 billion; 15.5 billion euros; £13.5 billion) from running gear sales, training, broadcasting, endorsement and tourism.

sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-15 15:17:56
<![CDATA[Off the beaten track]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/15/content_36034126.htm Marathons are synonymous with cities, but more races are now being staged away from concrete jungles as natural beauty and remote cultural attractions increasingly become selling points for events.

From scenic beaches on China's eastern coast to ethnic villages near Lhasa on the country's southwestern Tibetan plateau, unique courses and local tourist attractions are helping events stand out from the competition.

"As marathons become much more accessible, it's up to the diverse attractions of races to cater to specific demographics and earn positive feedback," says Shi Chunjian, a marathon organizer and consultant with the Chinese Athletics Association.

"Distance, volunteers, rewards ... standard protocols are all the same for a certain type of race. What leaves a deep impression on participants will be what they see, experience and even eat in the host areas."

The Fairy Coast Haiyang International Marathon, held in Shandong province's coastal city of Haiyang, is a case in point.

The annual race, which will be held on July 1, features a back-and-forth route along 20 kilometers of coastline.

"Not necessarily every runner has to be a serious contender pushing for a personal best. Our race will appeal greatly to those who want to enjoy some sunshine and breeze on the beach while running for fun," says Lin Yutao, the major of Haiyang.

Meanwhile, the Huangyaguan Great Wall Marathon is extremely popular with overseas runners, who are prepared to endure the pain of an undulating route along the Huangyaguan section of the wall in Jixian, Tianjin, to take in views of one of the wonders of the world and the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape.

"At the end of the day, what runners tell each other and what keeps them returning to a race matter a lot for an event's reputation," says Shi. "Diversity is the key."

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2018-04-15 15:17:56
<![CDATA[Sea of gold floods 'Town of a Thousand Islands']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/15/content_36034125.htm A patchwork of shimmering rapeseed fields spliced by a network of meandering waterways presents a unique vista in Xinghua. Cang Wei reports from Nanjing.

Flooded by a sea of golden rapeseed flowers, the Qianduo scenic area in Xinghua, Jiangsu province, attracts millions of tourists from around the world every year.

The Qianduo Rapeseed Flower Scenic Area, which covers 4.3 square kilometers, is reputed to be one of the most beautiful spots to see such flowers in the country.

The scenic area, located in Dongwang village of Xinghua, is holding its 10th Rapeseed Flower Festival from late March to early May. With its unique scenery of a sea of golden rapeseed flowers set amid a network of lush green rivers and lakes, it attracted more than 2 million tourists last year.

Tourists enjoy the view of golden rape flowers by boat in the Qianduo scenic area in Xinghua, Jiangsu province. Provided to China Daily

 

The panorama of rivers and waterways winding through the rapeseed flower fields, or duotian, is unique in China. Duotian, which is the local term for "raised field", are small patches of fertile soil created to have easy access to water for growing crops.

In ancient times, local farmers living near these rivers and lakes dug up the soil up from the riverbeds and piled it high to form farmland where they could grow crops. Each duotian is divided into sections by these waterways, and farmers need to commute by boat to tend to their crops, without the use of agricultural machinery.

A lack of modern machinery and the practice of growing rapeseed crops turned out to be a distinctive ecological travel resource for the city. The thousands of fields at Qianduo differ in size and shape - the largest extend to around 2,000 square meters, while the smallest cover just 2 sq m.

Almost every raised field is surrounded by water. The area is also called the "Town of a Thousand Islands", and poets have been writing about the area's outstanding beauty since ancient times.

These days in Xinghua, tourists can not only meander through the vivid seas of flowers by boat or go fishing, but can also catch a glimpse of the local lifestyle and village culture and even get involved in harvesting farm products.

Thanks to its clean water and fertile environment, the region is also famous for its rice, crab and taro, which have become nationwide favorites since they were introduced in A Bite of China, a popular Chinese television food documentary.

Xinghua's duotian agrosystem was selected as one of the "globally important agricultural heritage systems" by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in April 2004 for its splendid landscapes and agricultural sustainability. "The city's ecological advantage is its precious treasure," says Li Weiguo, Party secretary of Xinghua. "The city and its people have been benefiting from the local ecology, and we will continue to protect the environment for sustainable development."

As a cultural city with a long history, Xinghua has been home to many famous people over the centuries, and earned the reputation as a "city of talent" as early as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Fan Zhongyan (989-1052), a politician, poet and military thinker, was once the county magistrate in Xinghua.

Shi Naian, the author of Water Margin, was born in Xinghua and returned to his hometown to finish the masterpiece, which is considered one of the most famous novels of ancient China. Shi's tomb, located in Xinduo township, is a cultural relic under the protection of the Jiangsu government.

Many novels from the Ming and Qing (1368-1911) dynasties were written by writers born in Xinghua, making it an important place related to the study of literature from that period.

Xinghua is also the hometown of many famous scholars, including Zheng Banqiao, Liu Xizai and Bi Feiyu. It was named as China's first "Home of Chinese Novels" in April 2012.

Bi, a writer and professor on the faculty of arts at Nanjing University, has been awarded both the Lu Xun and the Mao Dun literature prizes, China's top literature awards.

Several of Bi's works have been adapted into movies, including Blind Massage, a winner at Taiwan's 2014 Golden Horse Awards.

The city government has been making efforts to build a "cultural Xinghua", for which several literature prizes and institutes have been established and activities with literature themes have been held.

There are more than 240 cultural relic and historical sites in Xinghua. Some of the houses of former famous residents have now been protected at a provincial level. By 2014, there were 74 cultural relic units under protection.

Two local customs usually carried out around Tomb Sweeping Day - Maoshan haozi, a style of folk song performed to synchronized movements, with one person leading, and Maoshan boat racing, which is similar to the dragon boat racing held nationwide at Duanwu Festival, though the boats are not decorated as dragons - have also been added to the national list of intangible cultural heritage.

Liu Maomao contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at cangwei@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-15 15:17:56
<![CDATA[Migrant murals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/15/content_36034124.htm The writing is on the wall for old ways of life in Singapore - but one artist is working to record them

With a 44-meter mural (bì huà) in Singapore's Central Business District, artist Yip Yew-chong documents over 150 years of Chinese migration (yí mín). The mural spans the entire back wall of the historic Thian Hock Keng Temple, which philanthropist Tan Tock Seng - and Chinese laborers - built in 1839 to honor Ma Cho Po (mā zǔ), the goddess of the sea, for their safe voyage to Singapore.

Visited by hundreds of thousands of migrants who arrived, mainly from Fujian province, after a two-week boat journey, the Thian Hock Keng Temple was one of the earliest structures in the settlement that later became Singapore's Central Business District. Before land reclamation projects expanded the district, the temple was on the coast. An accountant by day and a self-taught artist by night, Yip began to paint murals in 2015. The Thian Hock Keng mural is the first to tell this migratory history (lì shǐ), narrating a tale that begins with indentured coolie laborers (kǔ lì) in the 1800s and moves on to the women from Sanshui, Guangdong province, who became construction workers for the first Housing and Development Board apartments in Singapore.

The mural also invokes the heritage and history of Yip, who grew up in Singapore's Chinatown near the Central Business District. "The Chinatown that I grew up in the '70s and early '80s was very raw, very authentic and cinematic," he says. Day to day, the neighborhood that Yip remembers was a "highly spirited" place with food stalls and open-air markets that are now hard to find in the modern city. Imitating the style of Chinese scrolls, Yip tries to preserve relevant history for the present-day city.

"History just repeats itself. The workers coming into Singapore today are the same as the coolies before," Yip reckons. We are sitting across from each other in the food court off the Dhoby Ghaut mass rapid transit station. Around us, Singaporeans getting off work are lining up at the mall's stalls, which offer a range of Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian cuisines. "This moment right here - us eating in this food court with this environment around us - I guarantee you, in 10 years will not be here. That's how fast this city is developing."

The ephemeral nature of our environment reflects how Yip sees his work. Though paintings chip away and weather over the years, Singapore is being constantly remade before it can grow old. In addition to Thian Hock Keng, Yip has painted lifesize murals across the city depicting ordinary life in a bygone Singapore, re-creating the roadside shops that used to line the sidewalks. He also pays tribute to history with his artwork of the kampongs (chuán tǒng mǎ lái bù luò), traditional Malay villages that have given way to skyscrapers today.

However, it's no easy task to etch history onto the cityscape. While the Thian Hock Keng mural was commissioned by the Singapore Hokkien Association, Yip has several projects and sketches he has yet to paint because he is still waiting for government permits. One planned project involves painting murals of traditional Chinese culture and lifestyles that migrants brought to Singapore.

Public murals around the world have become powerful tools for preserving history. In Malaysia, Russian artist Julia Volchkova was commissioned to paint a mural that pays homage to Chinese workers in the tin mines of Kuala Lumpur. Arturo Ho's History of Chinatown mural in Philadelphia documents the history of urban displacement in Chinatown as well as successful protests, including the victory in the campaign against construction of a new prison in the neighborhood. Together, these public artworks tell the story of immigrant labor and its contributions to growing metropolises, in an effort to make sure these histories are never forgotten.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

A visitor takes photo with Yip's mural in the Thian Hock Keng Temple. Yip's use of perspective on the mural allows passersby to feel they can step into the scene.

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2018-04-15 15:17:56
<![CDATA[H&M makes its presence felt with debut on Tmall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/14/content_36032052.htm After more than a decade in China, the world's second-largest fashion retailer, Hennes & Mauritz, has just launched its flagship store of its eponymous brand on Tmall.com.

This is also the first time the 71-year-old brand is selling its apparel through a third party.

This also means that four major global fashion groups (including Inditex, L Brand, and Gap) have now set up e-commerce stores on the world's most visited business-to-customer online shopping platform operated by Alibaba, which boasts 500 million users.

Speaking about the decision, Magnus Olsson, country manager of H&M Greater China, says:

"The time is right. We will soon be in China for 11 years. We have lots of physical stores and launched our own dotcom in 2014. And now we are ready."

The event to launch the store was held at the brand's physical flagship store in Shanghai, and was attended by Wang Yuan, a member of China's hottest boy band, TFBoys.

The 17-year-old - who, together with his two bandmates, has a combined fan following of over 100 million on social network Sina Weibo - was also named the brand ambassador.

Explaining how the decision was made, Olsson says: "The fashion industry and retail market here (in China) is constantly evolving and developing. We follow what's happening and noticed the success of Tmall. And our customers want us to be there. It's a natural progression."

However, other factors may also be responsible for the decision.

In 2017, the brand raked in 11 billion SEK ($1.3 billion) from its more than 400 stores in China, up 3 percent year on year.

Before 2016, the brand used to enjoy consecutive double-digit growth annually since it entered the market in 2007.

Also, globally, the group reported an unexpected 4-percent drop in sales in the fourth quarter of 2017, which was the first time in the past two decades, despite it having expanded a portfolio of seven labels including COS and & Other Stories.

Olsson also said that discussions to enter into partnership with Tmall were initiated late in 2017.

But a year before that other fast fashion brands like Uniqlo were celebrating record-breaking sales numbers at the "double eleven shopping extravaganza" created by Tmall.

Separately, Olsson said in an interview with the Chinese media that the company preferred building its own e-commerce channel for consistency and swifter reaction to local trends.

Meanwhile, Tang Xiaotang, an analyst with fashion watcher No Agency, says that Chinese e-commerce giants, either Alibaba or JD.com, have already built a strong presence and roots that consumers are more accustomed to buying from their platforms rather than the exclusive e-stores built by each brand.

As for the future, Olsson says that the company has "high expectations" for the Tmall store, given that it is one of the biggest on the platform and offers more than 10,000 items.

Exclusive products featured by the four opinion leaders and celebrity was also introduced on the site.

So far, feedback from the market seems good.

Within 24 hours of its launch, the e-store had a visitor ship of over 3 million and had attracted 1 million followers, according to figures provided by the company.

But it did not say how many of the visits had translated into sales.

Meanwhile, focusing on the online shopping trend in China, Olsson says: "I am fascinated with the mobile acceptance (in the country)," adding that consumers not only shop online, but also do "social shopping" which means they discuss what to buy and whether to buy more on social platforms.

Separately, the brand will continue to open more physical stores in China.

"If we see a good opportunity where customers want us, we will go, regardless of whether it's a Tier 3 or Tier 1 city," says Olsson on the choice of locations for new stores.

For now, the brand is present in 138 cities across China.

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2018-04-14 07:02:26
<![CDATA[Women golfers score big with fashion sense]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/14/content_36032051.htm Golf, which is more protract-ed and less grueling than other ball games, is seen as an elegant sport that allows players, especially female golfers, to be well groomed on the greens.

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Female Chinese players like to keep up with the latest trends and are adding a touch of glamour to the sport

Golf, which is more protract-ed and less grueling than other ball games, is seen as an elegant sport that allows players, especially female golfers, to be well groomed on the greens.

And the past 10 years has seen personal fashion styles becoming increasingly common among professionals and amateurs on the China Ladies Professional Golf Association tour.

Rising Chinese woman golfer Sui Xiang is in the limelight now not only for her skills but also her pretty face. And she made quite a splash at last year's Kumho Tire Ladies Open in Weihai, in Shandong province.

Speaking about how she grooms herself, Sui - a 19-year-old, who started to care for her skin and figure in her teens - says: "Sunscreen is a must for me during a game. And I like to wear short pants or shirts in dark colors, which might make me look slimmer."

Meanwhile, on the first day of the CTBC Ladies Open at the end of last month, Sui wore a white visor, a black T-shirt and red skirt with her hair swept back in a ponytail. And this was keeping with the rule of not wearing no more than 3 colors at a time.

To keep up with fashion trends, Sui follows nearly 100 beauty bloggers on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo. And with these resources she has learned how to choose suitable cosmetics.

"Normally, I spend half an hour on makeup in the morning." says Sui.

Shi Yuting, 20, has her own style reflected in her nick-name "China's golf sweetheart".

Speaking about her look, she says: "I prefer bright-colored clothes, because I want to appear sweet and lovely in public."

She also features in videos of YouTube beauty gurus Pony and shares beauty tips with her peers on the China LPGA tour.

Speaking about how looking after her appearance helps her golf, Shi, who likes pigtails, cute earrings and pink fingernails, says: "As it takes 5 hours or so for a single round, gussying up could give me a lift during the game.

"Also, I think it's necessary for a professional to appear well groomed and behave decently in public, as it adds glamour to the sport. Besides, fans can enjoy the sport without getting bored."

The appearance-conscious women golfers are a change from the past.

Reflecting on the new trend, Li Hong, the chairwoman of the China LPGA tour, says: "One of my friends once told me that it was easy to tell which player was from China because they didn't pay much attention to their clothes or appearance. But things have changed a lot since then. And now these Chinese players are keen on looking stylish."

Li says beautiful talented golfers impress global golf fans, and this is conducive to promoting the China-based tour.

She says the tour also offers training to Chinese professionals, teaching them how to behave appropriately in front of sponsors, cameras and audiences.

"They represent the image of our country on the international stage. That is why I focus on their appearance and ability."

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2018-04-14 07:02:26
<![CDATA[Peking Opera thrills students in Ottawa]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/14/content_36032050.htm OTTAWA - Zhao Qun attains high spirit and sense of achievement while juggling between high schools and colleges in Ottawa to familiarize her students with Peking Opera, a most prominent classical art in China.

"Vocal expression, as well as body and eyeball movements, can override the linguistic barrier and make known to all what the performance means," said Zhao, who came from China's Shanghai Theater Academy for Chinese culture proliferation under the arrangement of the Confucius Institute.

One-on-one session

Dozens of Canadian students are fascinated with her lectures which combine tactful solo of classical snippets with interactive duets.

Cultural background and story interpretation are provided, so that the junior learners can copy tones and gestures to the core of their original meaning.

"There are many students here. Most of the time I do one-on-one sessions. With more children, the job will be harder to deliver," said the 40-year-old Zhao in the class room of the Ashbury College, a leading independent coeducational school for 4th to 12th graders established in 1891.

Ottawa has been the latest overseas stop for Zhao, who once performed and lectured in over 15 countries including the United States, Britain, Denmark, Iran, Australia, Republic of Korea and Singapore.

Cultural difference

Another day with the sophomores majoring in Western opera at the Carleton University in Ottawa, Zhao has more sophisticated agendas to accomplish.

"I repeatedly tell them to slow down their tempo. Peking Opera soothes along. If you go up fast, it is not Peking Opera any more," said Zhao, who is dispatched here upon her capacity as Director of the Opera Performance Department of the Shanghai Theatre Academy.

For the Carleton sophomores, learning from the leading Peking Opera scholar and performer is all but a challenging task. Both language and artistry are holistically strange and hard to tackle.

"Mandarin is very different from Italian or English or German in the sense that it has specific intonations and that you have to use on certain words otherwise it changes the meaning," Rebecca Eagle told Xinhua.

"With the music specifically there are parts where you have to breathe in the middle of a word which as far as Western classical music is concerned is wrong," she added.

Though facing hurdles on the way, a very deep interest in Chinese culture and art has miraculously entangled young Canadians like Eagle with Zhao.

"In performing Peking Opera, reverberation is gained between the eyebrows, but not within head. Besides, its vocalization and rhythm are rooted in a pattern basically foreign to Western opera practitioners," said Zhao, who has been dedicated to the art since adolescence, working in succession in China's major cities like Shanghai and Tianjin.

Transcending powers

Peking Opera has been long deemed as one the ancient gems of Chinese culture. The government has enshrined many ways and channels to preserve its essence, embracing history and core episodes.

Introducing the art to overseas aficionados is one of the endeavors made by officially approved organizations like the Confucius Institute to help foreigners know better and more about its originating country.

To Zhao's surprise, her Carleton students are including their latest learning as one of the seven scenes in their upcoming work which explores man's relationship with technology.

"You see, opera has transcending powers," added Zhao.

Xinhua

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2018-04-14 07:02:26
<![CDATA[FOOD FOR THOUGHT]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027126.htm Chuang Tzu-i from Taiwan was studying anthropology in the United States about 12 years ago. One day the doctoral candidate came across Cambridge Cookery School in the neighborhood of her lodging. Watching through the window, she could see a busy class shrouded in steam.

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Discussions on restaurants, eating habits and cooking highlight Open Day events in Beijing, Yang Yang reports.

Chuang Tzu-i from Taiwan was studying anthropology in the United States about 12 years ago. One day the doctoral candidate came across Cambridge Cookery School in the neighborhood of her lodging. Watching through the window, she could see a busy class shrouded in steam.

It was the sixth year of her PhD program when she was preparing for her final dissertation.

In a surprise move, she quit university and registered as a student at the cookery school, a decision unimaginable for many Chinese, especially a decade or so ago.

Chuang eventually became a popular blogger, and her writings about the experience at the cookery school and her observations of kitchen operations at ritzy restaurants fascinated her online followers. In 2008, she published her first book, Anthropologist in the Kitchen.

She shared her stories with more than 200 audience members recently at Open Day, a series of events organized by Vistopia, a sister brand of the publishing brand Imaginist.

"I never regret my seemingly imprudent decision. ... In the last 10 years, what I did has gradually been understood and accepted by more people. I know now an increasing number of young Chinese people try to pursue the meaning of life according to their own will," Chuang says.

Writer Leung Man-tao, who plans the Open Day events, says they try to turn abstract ideas to real experiences.

At this year's events that ran through March, participants enjoyed a selection of food, music, film, coffee, tea and chats with people from the creative industry.

"One (goal) is how to improve people's humanistic education, including how to think more reasonably about life, society and the world," Leung says of the events.

"The second is about how to attain a more comprehensive and compassionate sensibility to feel the other's existence, and details in ordinary life that are worth digging into so as to enrich one's life."

Liu Ruilin, the founder of Imaginist, further explains that without a solid physical life as the foundation, spiritual products will appear pale and weak.

Chuang was invited to talk about the spirit of making delicious food and enjoying it with Leung and food critic Shu Qiao, since food and restaurants are an important part of an ideal life.

"Cooking is a very personal and relaxing experience, so I don't like cooking contests that try to judge a dish by a single standard," Shu says.

Shu has an opinion on restaurants, too. She says some restaurants "make cooking a show".

"It makes the food expensive because the charge includes the presentation," she says.

Leung says restaurants also should bear in mind the emotional health of chefs. "Otherwise, eating would become a suffering" for the customers, especially if they realize that the staff isn't happy. In such a case, cooking could become a way of social alienation even for professionals, the three speakers agree.

In the kitchens of some star-rated Western and Asian restaurants, chefs work like they're in an army, highly cooperative and efficient, but each person performs a single task, say, cutting fish, boiling rice or chopping onions, Chuang says.

In some restaurants, the employees are not allowed to talk to each other or listen to music, making the work environment unhappy, she adds.

That's not to mention, many cooks have to go to the gym to keep in shape, Shu says.

But professionalism in Western cooking has gradually influenced Chinese restaurants and cookery schools. Some cooks who graduate from professional schools still seem to add too many processed condiments in dishes, making them "strong in flavor, oily and often unhealthy", according to Chuang.

"It seems that in the last 30 years, Chinese people in general have started to like food with strong flavors - salty, oily and spicy, like Sichuan and Hunan cuisines, both of which are famous for being spicy," Leung says, adding that even Sichuan cuisine itself has grown stronger in flavor.

"People in different cities all like eating malatang (skewered meat, vegetables and tofu products boiled in spicy broth and cooked in a fiery sauce) as a nighttime snack," he says.

Shu agrees: "No matter which tourist spot around the country you go to, there are always foods like barbecued squid or Taiwan sausage. It's like all the ancient towns in China now have a similar look."

This is because strong-flavored dishes can be easily replicated everywhere, Chuang says.

Some major sauce makers also sponsor cookery schools and encourage trainers to use their condiments.

"Which means, as all the flavors are simplified, our tongues generally lose the sensitivity to different tastes. We are seeing the same kind of things and eating the same kind of food, which can make our thoughts simple in the long run," Leung says.

These days, many people like to go to popular restaurants and post photos on social media.

"Enjoying the food is not as important to them as taking photos and posting them online," Leung says.

Shu continues, "People say that it is a time when people are given diverse choices, but I don't see that."

People tend to go to the same places for food or sightseeing when they visit a city. Otherwise, they may feel they've missed out, she adds.

"That's why we emphasize sensitivity and diversity with our events," Leung says.

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

 

From left: Writer Leung Man-tao, Chuang Tzu-i and food critic Shu Qiao share their views about the spirit of making delicious food during the recent Open Day events in Beijing. Photos By Yang Ming / For China Daily

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[Hollywood, Bollywood top China holiday box office]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027125.htm A new box-office record was created during the recent Tomb Sweeping Day holiday in China, with more than 20 new movies contending for audiences' attention.

The traditional Chinese holiday to remember ancestors, which lasted from April 5 to 7 this year, raked in 684 million yuan ($109 million) - a surge of 17 percent from 586 million yuan in 2017 - at the box office. The figure marks a new high for the annual holiday, according to Entgroup, an entertainment-industry tracker.

As a result, Hollywood sci-fi movie Ready Player One has made nearly 1 billion yuan since it was released in China on March 30, making it Steven Spielberg's highest-grossing film in the country.

Bollywood's Hindi Medium soared as a sleeper hit to seize the second slot at the holiday box office. The movie is about a rich couple's crazy plan to get their 3-year-old daughter into a top school, because they believe it is a passport to an easier life when she grows up. The themes of education and parenting seem to have resonated with Chinese parents in particular.

The Chinese films Wrath of Silence, a crime noir directed by rising filmmaker Xin Yukun, and Light Chaser Animation's third feature, Cats and Peachtopia, recounting a kitten's dream, followed behind the foreign movies at the box office but were expected to do better in the remaining days of the month.

The former is an experimental thriller, and the latter shows the technical progress made by domestic animators.

Although faced by two powerful imported rivals, the following weeks could see a change for other Chinese movies, too.

Eighteen, or nearly 80 percent of the 23 new movies to hit mainland theaters by the end of April, have been produced by domestic studios.

With the 37th Hong Kong Film Awards set to unveil its winners on April 15, people are already talking about Tomorrow Is Another Day, because of its four nominations at the awards. Aside from Teresa Mo's nomination for the best actress, the movie has been nominated for best actor, best new performer and best new director.

The directorial debut of scriptwriter-turned-filmmaker Chan Tai-lee is based on a true story - a woman's struggles while taking care of her son who has autism and finds her husband cheating on her with a young mistress. Tomorrow Is Another Day will be released on the mainland on April 20.

Taiwan singer-actress Liu Jo-ying, also known as Rene Liu, will appear on the big screen for the first time as a director. Us and Them will be released on April 28. The movie starring pop idols Jing Boran and Zhou Dongyu tells a bittersweet love story about two people over the course of a decade.

On Friday, the highly anticipated movies to be released are Dwayne Johnson's sci-fi adventure Rampage and Natalie Portman's Annihilation. Japanese animation Mary and The Witch's Flower by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, once a major creator at the prestigious Studio Ghibli, will hit Chinese theaters on April 28.

The rest of April will be a battleground for domestic films, which currently outnumber foreign movies.

"April is a bit special as it is in the middle of two lucrative box-office seasons - the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday and the May Day holiday," says Jiang Yong, a Beijing-based trade analyst, adding that more market potential for domestic films will be created in coming days.

But Gao Yitian, a veteran film producer, still has concerns about the Chinese box office.

"Many good low-budget movies still find it hard to earn enough screenings at theaters, which means audiences can't easily buy tickets for such films, even if they want to watch them," Gao says.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Us and Them (left), starring actor Jing Boran, and Tomorrow Is Another Day (right), featuring Teresa Mo and Ray Lui, are among the new movies produced by domestic studios to be released later this month in mainland theaters. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[Reading between the leaves]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027124.htm In the middle of 19th century, Scottish botanist and plant hunter Robert Fortune famously stole tea plants and seeds from China and took them to India, from where they traveled to the rest of the world.

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A new book accompanying a documentary series about the history of Chinese tea and its global cultural significance has just been published. Li Yingxue reports.

In the middle of 19th century, Scottish botanist and plant hunter Robert Fortune famously stole tea plants and seeds from China and took them to India, from where they traveled to the rest of the world.

The tea Fortune purloined from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian province used to be known by the trade name Bohea in English, which is a derivation from the Fukienese pronunciation of "Wuyi".

The history of Bohea tea was told in the first season of the documentary, Chinese Tea, which began airing on Jiangsu TV in August and contains more than 100 interviews with tea planters, tea makers, tea sellers and tea-culture buffs.

"Every story from tea to taste bud is a story of people and emotions," says Liu Jia, chief director of the 10-episode documentary.

A book of the same name was published at the end of March, adding a wealth of background information to the documentary series.

Liu, who is also the chief editor of the book, says that preparation for the book started during the shooting of the documentary.

"The planning and shooting of the documentary took two years, and we had collected a large amount of material about Chinese tea," says Liu. "But the information included in the documentary is limited by its format, so I wanted to present this information in the form of a book."

Liu started researching and planning the series in 2016, and had visited more than 10 provinces in China. The crew also shot sequences in Britain, Japan and Kenya.

"Chinese tea is actually an international cultural symbol, so we chose some countries that have been greatly influenced by Chinese tea," says Liu.

Graduating from Peking University in 1991, Liu later worked for China Central Television and Xinhua News Agency. He realized that there were not many Chinese documentaries about tea. Most instead focus on China's culture and customs.

"I think because there are too many aspects of knowledge about tea, it's complicated to explain everything," Liu says. He then decided to tell his audience about high-quality tea in season one - What is high-quality tea? Where is it made, and how did it make its way around the world?

Unlike food documentaries that show a variety of ingredients, locations and cooking skills, making an engaging series about tea proved more difficult - especially since the tea plants and tea making processes in different areas often appeared the same.

"Aerial footage of different tea gardens tended to look pretty similar, which sometimes even confused our editors. So we only chose footage that added a visual impact to the stories we were telling in the documentary instead of relying on them to show the full picture," Liu says.

"The limitations of the documentary format were made up for in the book. Since the book follows the same logical lines as the series, we were able to include much more background information in the publication."

Liu chose the China Light Industry Press to produce the book as they had already published a series of titles about tea, and their team was knowledgeable on the subject. "The editing process takes longer because you need to verify all the information and stories about tea. We found that some of the stories were actually made up by tea merchants," says Liu. "In retrospect, some of these should have been left out of the documentary."

As a tea lover, Liu learned a great deal about tea during the documentary's production and the editing stages of the book. "Planting and producing tea is actually a heavy work, and not at all like the usual impression of pretty young women picking tea leaves in the mountains. So we wanted to show our audience it is really not easy to produce high-quality varieties of tea."

The documentary has been airing on Friday nights, a prime slot usually reserved for reality shows, and is now being aired on international routes by Air China.

For the second season of Chinese Tea, which is due to air in the second half of the year, Liu is planning to focus on the flavors of tea.

Liu Wei, former deputy chief editor of the Guangming Daily, says the book reminds him not only about the different flavors of tea, but also the stories he enjoyed when drinking tea with people.

"The documentary is like a journey with tea ambassadors, like a modern Silk Road trip," says Liu. "The book will spread the journey farther and wider."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027123.htm Star chef returns

Three-star Michelin chef Curtis Duffy is back in town after he wowed Beijing foodies last April with his culinary magic. Duffy is bringing a six-course dinner at Flames Grill from April 11 to 14, with caviar, crab, scallops, duck leg, wagyu and a strawberry dessert.

8 Wangfujing East Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-5812-8888.

No limits for Tola

Social media celebrity chef Marco Tola is coming to host a delectable four-day culinary feast with his artistic creations on a plate from April 11 to 14 at the Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin. The four-day event will feature different Italian delicacies and themes each day. Tola will also be on hand to explain his culinary aesthetics to his customers in person.

167 Dagubei Road, Heping district, Tianjin. 022-5809-5123.

Tea with Delvaux

Rosewood Beijing celebrates leather luxury goods company Delvaux with the maison's 2018 spring/summer collection and an exquisite afternoon tea at Bistrot B Lounge Bar this month. Pastry chef Florian Couteau and his team have created sweet and savory delights for an afternoon tea that echoes Delvaux's collection.

Jingguang Center, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-6536-0066.

China Daily

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[Rocky road to success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027122.htm The Gangneung Curling Centre was packed out for the final game of wheelchair curling at the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games on the afternoon of March 17.

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After clinching gold in the 2018 Winter Paralympics, China's curling team share the story of their hard-fought path to victory. Li Yingxue reports.

The Gangneung Curling Centre was packed out for the final game of wheelchair curling at the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games on the afternoon of March 17.

Lights off. Music on. Then the ice was illuminated with the images of the national flags of Norway and China, the finalists in the event, with both teams hoping to clinch their first-ever Paralympic wheelchair curling title.

And for China, it would be its first Winter Paralympics medal of any color, even though China has ended top of the medals table for four consecutive Summer Paralympics, winning a staggering 239 medals including 107 gold, 81 silver and 51 bronze at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

China's lead curler Wang Meng, second Liu Wei, third Chen Jianxin, and skipper Wang Haitao were introduced to the spectators in turn. They looked relaxed on camera.

Half an hour earlier outside the stadium, the team members were spinning their wheelchairs to popular tunes as a warm-up with alternative Zhang Qiang. When the music stopped, Wang Meng sang aloud instead.

Despite their smiles, they were nervous by the time they took to the ice. By the close of the first end, Wang Haitao's last draw was light, and didn't make to the house, or target. His last rocks in the second and third end also failed.

Of all the 13 matches of this Paralympic Games, Wang played his best performances during the first 12 matches.

In the semifinal the previous day, China beat three times Paralympic defending champions Canada 4-3 in a nail-biting game, thanks to Wang Haitao's accurate last shot.

Four years ago, Wang Haitao faced the same situation in Sochi, where his last shot decided whether Canada or China would join the final, but he didn't make it. Then China squandered a 3-0 lead to lose to Britain in the bronze final, and lost its chance to climb the podium.

This time, Wang Haitao was given the hammer again and he had a tough shot to beat Canada.

"I'm mentally stronger than I was four years ago. I used to play rashly when our scores started to fall behind, and it would affect my teammates. But now I'm getting better, and we trust and encourage each other during games," says Wang Haitao.

After beating Canada in the semifinal in the afternoon, Wang Haitao and his teammates continued training well into the evening in preparation for the final - the only team to do so at that stage.

Before Wang Haitao took the shot in the fourth end in the final, Wang Meng wiped the rock, picked up his captain's stick and handed it to him.

Curling is all about detail. In the 2009 World Championship in Vancouver, Canada, China lost a game because a hair on the ice suddenly changed the track of the last rock Wang Haitao played, which looked set to score.

Wang Haitao played a takeout and made the score 3-3. Zhang Qiang clapped loudly for each successful shot, sitting next to coaches Yue Qingshuang and Li Jianrui.

Yue used to be in the China women's curling team, winning the world championship as a team member in 2009. She stepped in as head coach for the national wheelchair team in November.

The team assembled 19 athletes last July, and the five-person team was not selected until early February. "The athletes who were not competing in Pyeongchang but were part of the team also trained really hard," says Yue.

Chen, 26, who had a traffic accident at the age of 18, started wheelchair curling four years ago. The youngest curler of Team China is currently the deputy skipper of the team.

In the fifth end, Chen played a nice takeout - a stone that hits another stone and removes it from play. His teammates shouted at the stone as the rock slid toward the target. "Hurry up! Hurry up!" said Wang Meng.

Of all the teams competing in the Paralympic Games, China's shouting was the loudest. It's a trait they picked up from the Olympic team during training and is meant to encourage the sweepers.

"There is no sweeping in wheelchair curling, but the technique isn't as simple as it looks. The athletes have to think it through before they take a shot, and account for all the possible lines and errors."

"So they have the habit of shouting when the stone looks it's heading in the right direction, it's like they are 'sweeping it by thought'. It also improves morale," says Li.

In the seventh end, Wang Haitao missed a three score again with his last stone, like the first end, and only scored two. His teammates all came together to cheer him up before the next end.

After eight seesaw ends, China and Norway tied at 5-5, which led to an extra tiebreaker to decide the winner.

After Chen Jianxin's last stone landed almost bang in the center of the house, Norwegian skipper Rune Lorentsen failed to knock out Chen's stone with the final shot of the match - handing China the gold medal.

The win sent Team China into a frenzy, and saw the team members hug each other with tears in their eyes, while also beaming from ear to ear.

Kate Caithness, president of the World Curling Federation, presented the gold medals to Team China members.

Wang Haitao said after the match that he was too nervous during the final, and thanked his team for leading them to victory.

When Wang Haitao was asked about his mistake in the seventh end, Chen Jianxin came to his skipper's rescue, "We did that on purpose, it was part of our plan."

Wang Haitao was the flag bearer for the Chinese delegation during the closing ceremony of the Winter Paralympics. Two days after the final, the team flew back to Beijing and were greeted by a group from the Beijing National Aquatics Center, bearing flowers.

The aquatics center, or Water Cube, will be the venue for curling and wheelchair curling events during the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Li and his team train three to four months each year. When the team is not training, Li and his athletes have to find their own ways of making a living. Liu Wei will continue working as a taxi driver and Wang Haitao will return home to his family's farm. Li used to deliver takeaways, and he even set up a street stall selling small goods.

Despite all the difficulties, Li still wants to continue coaching the team, "We've been through the most difficult days, and now we are getting better, so I will insist on competing in 2022."

The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will take place in Beijing, which is also teammate Chen's hometown. "I want to be on the podium again in 2022 in my hometown, and maybe hear the national anthem again," he says.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[A moment to cherish for coach]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027121.htm The wheelchair curling final at the Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games was live on China Central Television, when one familiar face often came up on the screen.

Yue Qingshuang, the women's curling world champion, was on the bench as the head coach of Team China at the Gangneung Curling Centre in Gangneung, South Korea.

The stadium is where Yue achieved her first world champion title 9 years ago as an athlete, and now it was witness to her first wheelchair curling gold medal as a coach.

Yue, 32, stepped in as head coach of China's wheelchair curling team in November, training 19 athletes for the 2018 Paralympics.

"I wanted to share all my experience and knowledge of curling (a sport in which players slide rocks on a sheet of ice toward a target area that is segmented into four concentric circles) with the athletes," says Yue, who took the team to train and compete in Canada before Spring Festival, and didn't take any holiday for five months.

Yue even postponed plans of having a baby after taking up the coaching job.

"I discussed this with my husband, and he understood and supported me."

Li Jianrui, Yue's colleague, who has been coaching the team since 2007, says Yue gives her all to the athletes.

Yue made two major changes to the team - one was to hire a psychological consultant and the other was to enhance the athletes' overall strength.

Spiritual maturity is what Yue thinks a curler needs.

"When you make a mistake, or when you have a huge lead, how do you adjust? I thought we needed a psychological consultant to help."

China's skipper Wang Haitao used to have difficulty in adjusting himself when the team was behind, and now has learned abdominal respiration to calm himself during competition.

"Yue is my idol, and she is always telling us stories about how she dealt with different situations," says Wang.

Yue also has a physical trainer to help the team improve their upper body strength as wheelchair curling is all about control.

At the Paralympic Games, when China asked for a timeout, Yue was always telling her athletes to focus mentally.

"If you make one mistake, you need to let it go and focus on the line and strength of your next shot," says Yue. "I also told them not to think it's the Paralympics, but take it as two and a half hours of training."

"No matter who is your competitor, you just stare at them as if you are a pack of wolves."

China won the final 6-5 against Norway, clinching its first gold medal.

Yue gave two national flags to the athletes, and had tears in her eyes when celebrating.

It was the third time she was spotted shedding tears.

The first time was when she was asked by journalists why she took the job of coaching the wheelchair curling team.

She says she felt sympathy when she first met the athletes, but now she feels like she is one of them.

"I think it's a team, no matter what the circumstances," says Yue.

The second time was when China beat the United States in the seventh game in the round-robin session. The team had lost to Canada in the earlier match, the first loss for China after five consecutive wins.

Yue was teaching curling at Harbin Sports University. And with the Paralympics done Yue is going back to her classroom.

Speaking about the sport, Yue says: "I think the charm of curling is when you push the rock out. My love for curling makes me want to go on."

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[The victory and a raised shoe that witnessed many games]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/13/content_36027120.htm When Wang Haitao's last rock sent China into the final of the wheelchair curling event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympics, every Chinese at the Gangneung Curling Centre was celebrating.

But unlike the others who were hugging and giving high-fives, coach Li Jianrui held up a shoe with pride in his eyes.

A Chinese photographer captured the moment, even though the photo is a bit out of focus.

The photographer was excited as the win ensured China a sliver medal, making it the country's first medal at the Winter Paralympics.

Li explained why he raised one of his shoes after the match.

"Every time our team got a medal in world-class competitions, I was wearing this pair of shoes."

In 2012, China won a bronze medal at the wheelchair curling world championship in Chuncheon, South Korea, its first in world-class competitions for people with disabilities, since the home team was formed in 2007.

A year later, China overcame three consecutive losses in the first three games at the world championship in Sochi, Russia, and won a bronze medal again, where Li was wearing the same shoes.

When competing in the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games, Li was not wearing his "lucky" pair of shoes. Then, China lost to Canada in the semifinal, and lost to Britain in the game for the bronze medal, one step away from the podium.

In 2015, Li wore the same shoes to the world championship in Lohja, Finland.

"We ended up with a sliver medal," says Li.

"So this time, even though our delegation was provided with new shoes, I carried my lucky pair with me."

"Actually the shoes were not with me when we were training for the Paralympics in Beijing, but Liu Wei urged me to carry the shoes to Pyeongchang."

Li then told his wife to send the shoes to Beijing before they headed to Pyeongchang. When the team secured its position for the semifinal in the round-robin session, Li and his athletes made a deal that if they won the semifinal then he would raise one shoe of the pair.

On the day of the semifinal, Li didn't wear the shoes, but put them in a bag.

"I didn't want to put pressure on the team," says Li.

The win came and Li took out his shoe as planned.

"It is not so much about the shoe but about trust and faith," says Li.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-13 07:32:40
<![CDATA[ANIMATION SENSATION]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/12/content_36019303.htm With rapeseed flowers blooming in vast fields and mountains covered by lush trees, the village of Xiajiang in East China's Zhejiang province looks like an exquisite scroll eulogizing the beauty of spring in the eyes of cartoonist Murong Yindao.

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Hangzhou will soon host this year's China International Cartoon and Animation Festival, an annual event that has become the largest of its kind in the country. Xu Fan and Ma Zhenhuan report.

With rapeseed flowers blooming in vast fields and mountains covered by lush trees, the village of Xiajiang in East China's Zhejiang province looks like an exquisite scroll eulogizing the beauty of spring in the eyes of cartoonist Murong Yindao.

But the artist, who shot to fame with his iconic comic puppet Daodao (knife), met with a pleasant surprise during his visit there on March 24.

A young girl from a local elementary school cautiously presented him with a cup of green tea, a traditional ceremony in China to establish a master-apprentice relationship.

Two other top Chinese cartoonists joined the ceremony to accept two other apprentices, which acted as a warm-up event to promote the upcoming 14th China International Cartoon and Animation Festival.

The ceremony also marked the launch of a government-backed project to promote cartoon and animation culture in the province's rural areas.

As a frequent participant in the festival, the leading one of its kind in China, Murong says he has seen it change quite substantially over the past decade.

"The festival is becoming more relevant to local people. I always believe the best comic works come from life and should return to life," he says.

"The festival is also a precious opportunity for local fans to see prestigious animators from around the world," adds Murong.

As one of the largest festivals for fans of animation, the event will be held from April 26 to May 1 in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang.

And the event has attracted a large number of participants from 85 countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, France, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.

"The annual festival is now the largest and most popular exposition about cartoon and animation in China," says Zhuo Chao, secretary general of the festival committee.

Last year, the festival attracted more than 15 million visitors, around 1.5 times the residential population of Hangzhou. Besides, the contracts and intentions for cooperation signed during the festival had an estimated total value of 128.5 billion yuan ($20.4 billion).

"The 14th event will be at a higher-level, more international and more fun," says Zhuo.

Lee Unkrich, the US director of this year's Oscar-winning best animated feature award, Coco, will take part in the festival, and will be joined by other creators behind Loving Vincent and Blade Runner 2049.

Inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, Coco crushed Pixar Animation's previous box-office records to become the studio's top-grossing movie in China.

The animated biography examining Vincent van Gogh's complex life and his unusual death, Loving Vincent, was nominated for best animated feature both at the Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Awards this year.

Blade Runner 2049, an acclaimed sequel to Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi masterpiece, won the best cinematography award at the year's Oscars. The movie's visual effects creator Mike Stillwell will also be attending the festival, according to Zhu Xiaoting, an international liaison officer with the festival's exhibition office.

She says the filmmakers will share their experience in master classes on April 27 and 28, and the two animators behind Loving Vincent will create a painting of 4 meters long by 2 meters wide for local people.

Hiroyuki Ito, the creator of Japan's digital pop idol Hatsune Miku and chief executive officer of Crypton Future Media will also join the festival.

A barometer of the festival's popularity, the Golden Monkey King Award - the festival's top honor - has so far received more than 600 submissions, including the Irish animated hit The Breadwinner, which was nominated for best animated feature at this year's Oscars, and the Chinese blockbuster Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink, which grossed more than 600 million yuan earlier this year.

For domestic animation producers, the Hangzhou festival is also a good platform to meet with overseas industry players.

More than 80 broadcasters and distributors, as well as around 1,500 companies with nearly 170 franchises of animated productions or games, have submitted to join the festival's trade market.

Such franchises include French video game publisher Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, which fictionalizes the rivalry between two ancient secret societies, and The King's Avatar, a popular Chinese online comic series about a group of genius game players.

A summit will also be held to discuss how to build the brand of an influential animation event, gathering together the heads of more than 10 top animation festivals, such as the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, and the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Coinciding with the Xiajiang village event on March 24, the China Comic and Animation Museum in Hangzhou has unveiled its collection of historical animation and cartoon pieces gathered from all around the world toward the end of the festival.

So far, the 30,000-square-meter museum nestled in Baima Lake Animation Square, the main venue for the festival, has received more than 1,600 display submissions, including a monkey-themed painting by the pioneering animator Wan Laiming, the set drafts of 1937 Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and some celluloid sheets of the iconic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck animated series produced in the 1950s.

Contact the writers at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-12 08:19:20
<![CDATA[Culture gives new meaning to life in city]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/12/content_36019302.htm Culture is helping Hangzhou, the provincial capital of East China's Zhejiang province, improve its residents' lives.

In 2014, Hangzhou's public library system joined a model scheme to reach out to people. For almost a decade, Hangzhou Library has been allowing ragpickers and wanderers to stop by with their belongings, read in the air-conditioned rooms, charge their mobile phones and get drinking water.

Hangzhou Grand Theater, another example of using culture to improve quality of life, has had thousands of shows from around the globe going on stage, including the Broadway classic The Sound of Music and Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project.

And among the around 200 performances the theater hosts annually, half are public service performances that are dedicated to cultivating arts appreciation among ordinary people.

Now, with a series of modern facilities, the residents of Hangzhou have libraries, museums, youth or senior citizen centers within walking distance from home.

Next to the Gongchen Bridge on the Grand Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the Qiaoxi block, where the largest number of museums in Hangzhou is located.

The block has museums for craft arts such as umbrellas, fans, knives, scissors and swords.

The museums were built on the sites of old factories to meet the need for space, says Yan Jianqiang, the director of the cultural heritage and museology department of Zhejiang University.

This is just one of the many examples of striking a balance between preserving the old town and building the new city. Also, by developing the block, the waterscape, local opera sites, traditional markets and temple fairs are being preserved.

Such protection measures have also helped the restoration of more than 100 natural and cultural features around the West Lake.

Hangzhou's many cultural events have led to increased citizen participation, too.

Festivals inspired by the culture of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and the Qiantang River have integrated traditional activities including tea competitions, arts exhibitions and poetry recitation.

Between 2007 and 2017, Hangzhou has seen growth in value addition in the cultural and creative sectors, from 43.28 billion yuan ($6.87 billion) to 304.1 billion yuan. And the contribution of these sectors to the city's GDP has grown from 10.5 percent to 24.2 percent.

One of the highlights of the cultural sector is the emerging digital content industry, which contributed 187 billion yuan in 2017 to the total output from the cultural and creative sectors, an increase of 28.5 percent year-on-year, accounting for 14.9 percent of the city's GDP.

Separately, the Hangzhou Contemporary Theatre Festival has brought in 59 popular plays from around the world in the past six years, including ones from the Avignon Festival of France, the Edinburgh Festival from the United Kingdom, the Holland Festival and Japan's BeSeTo Theatre Festival.

Hangzhou's cultural events have also made their way to the countryside.

Du Chuanfu, in his 70s, uses Xiao Re Hun, a folk rap that mixes speech and song, to tell stories every Wednesday in the community he lives in.

Xiao Re Hun is one among 44 items on the national intangible cultural heritage list from Zhejiang province. There are another 167 items on the provincial intangible cultural heritage list.

Besides there are three items from the province on the UNESCO world intangible cultural heritage list.

Among the other activities in the province are Spring Festival activities which have been going on for the past decade.

This is when art troupes from Hangzhou give performances at rural venues, based on local requests. As a result, these galas of singing, dancing, local operas and short comic dramas have become a custom in these areas.

fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-12 08:19:20
<![CDATA[Digital reading conference to focus on developments]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/12/content_36019301.htm The Digital Reading Conference China 2018 will be held in April in Hangzhou, the capital of East China's Zhejiang province.

At the conference, announcements will include names of the top 10 digital works and projects of 2017 as well as the 10 cities with the most number of digital readers and highest number of reading activities for last year.

Around 1,200 people from the publishing world, business leaders, writers and scholars are expected to attend the opening ceremony on April 13. At the event, issues, including the fusion of paper and digital publishing and the application of artificial intelligence in digital publishing, will be discussed.

An exposition featuring digital reading development and technology will open to the public, with more than 100 enterprises from digital publishing, online literature, audio reading and allied industries like smart hardware and artificial intelligence in attendance.

In addition, a summit on copyright will feature a list of works that are perceived as having market potential for film and TV productions.

The Digital Reading Conference China 2018, themed New Era, New Reading, New Expectations, is co-hosted by the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association and the local government of Hangzhou.

The conference is dedicated to building up platforms for communication between the government, industry and users, to promote digital reading and the fusion of paper and digital publishing.

Hundreds of volunteers and services, including shuttle buses and live streaming, are expected to be available for the conference.

fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-12 08:19:20
<![CDATA[A new way to learn english]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/11/content_36012310.htm Apps are replacing teachers as technology plays a bigger role in language education. Jiang Yijing reports.

Ma Ruining has been studying English for a long time, but her teachers are not in the classroom - they're in the palms of her hands.

Ma has several English learning apps, which cater to users who want to improve their English proficiency, from listening to speaking, loaded onto her smartphone.

Although she's tired from eight hours' office work, Ma, who is a product manager at the Xinjiang branch of the China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, does not spend her leisure time just relaxing watching TV dramas as she used to.

She takes out her mobile phone and begins to practice her spoken English with an app called Liulishuo ("speaking fluently" in English), which offers solutions to people looking to improve their competency in spoken English.

A 10-second audio clip by native speakers is then played on the app as Ma starts her lesson, after which the app asks her to imitate the piece. The app then evaluates her performance on a scale from 1 to 100 and gives feedback on her weaknesses to allow her to make improvements.

"If you score more than 90, it means your pronunciation is good," says Ma, who has been practicing colloquial English every day on the phone for the past six months.

"At first, I usually only get a score of 70 as I often mispronounce," adds Ma, 26. "I graduated two years ago, but I wanted to improve my spoken English to study or travel abroad some day in the future."

Ma first heard about Liulishuo from an article shared on WeChat in August. She paid 499 yuan ($78) for the complete course which lasted for six months. The advertisement said if the student completes the course with an overall score of 90 or over, they will be fully reimbursed the fee.

"I planned to buy another course with the reimbursement," Ma says.

"It seems to be an indispensable part of my daily life to practice English with my phone. As my study hours gradually accumulated, I've become more confident in speaking English."

It's show time

English is one of the most highly emphasized subjects both in school and at home in China, and, a good mastery of English is highly valued by employers in the country's job market.

Ma is just one of the many young Chinese who have switched from studying English in the classroom to the palms of their hands, an emerging trend created by various apps such as Liulishuo and Baicizhan.

Among the education apps in Apple's app store in China, English learning apps make up half of the slots of top 10 paid-for apps, and four slots in the list of top 20 free apps.

Baicizhan, which helps people remember words, is the most popular free app in the Apple store, receiving 15,800 comments from users, followed by Liulishuo, which has 5,600 comments.

Wang Yi, CEO of Liulishuo, claims that almost 1 million people are using their advanced auto-scoring engine of spoken English developed in Silicon Valley, half of whom are from the post-1990's generation.

Wang, a former product manager at Google who returned to China in 2012, found that despite Chinese students' ability to achieve high grades in written tests, most of them could not match the equivalent score when it came to tests in spoken English.

"This presents a problem," says Wang. "It is mainly caused by the traditional teaching methodology in which a single teacher faces a class of at least 30 students, making it impossible for teachers to give professional advice to every student. And the expense of having a private teacher is too high for most families."

So, Wang and his partners began to work on a smartphone app that uses artificial intelligence to provide self-paced mobile language courses that cater to a wide range of users, from beginners to advanced learners.

In July 2016, Liulishuo introduced the app - an AI English teacher - to its users, with charges ranging between 99 and 966 yuan.

Peer motivation

Just as the traditional classroom environment helps creates peer pressure among students, the English-teaching apps tried to recreate similar motivations by encouraging people to share their progress on social networks.

"I intended to enhance my English proficiency for a long time. But it was not until I saw more people begin to share their learning experiences on WeChat that I began to take any action," says Sheng Qian, a postgraduate student of journalism at Peking University.

One day she noticed several of her friends sharing their English-learning app experiences on the popular social networking platform. One of her friends said he has been reading English novels on Mint Reading for 19 days, finishing 19,876 words in total. And the next day, she found that his reading word count had again increased.

"It seems everyone is making progress day by day. I don't want to be left behind," says the 24-year-old.

Influenced by her peers who began to study English on various smartphone apps, she jumped on the bandwagon in December.

She spent 628 yuan to purchase courses on both Liulishuo and Mint Reading, a small program installed on WeChat by Baicizhan, which promises to help users to finish reading three English novels within a hundred days.

The novels are mostly English classics, such as Jane Eyre and The Call of the Wild. Reading unabridged English versions of those books may sound daunting to many Chinese students, but the course divides them into short episodes of around 10-minute segments of daily reading.

Another online English-course app popular among Sheng and her friends is Cheese Pie Listening, which focuses on enhancing people's listening skills by studying English movies without subtitles. Courses are also split into small segments, which can be finished in less than 20 minutes and delivered to users every morning, making it convenient for them to make full use of their fragmented time.

As long as users finish their assignments every day and share the results with friends on the social platform, the companies will send them gifts, including the original English books.

"It is good to practice every day," says Sheng, adding that she found herself becoming more generous toward different types of English courses.

Even Chinese internet users who are accustomed to free content and normally reluctant to pay for things online, now find themselves paying for English learning apps.

Fun incentives

Consulting agency for the mobile internet sector, iiMedia Research, published a report on the paid knowledge market in China in December 2017, estimating that 188 million Chinese users were paying for online learning services by the end of 2017.

Leading internet startup service provider, 36 Kr, estimated in May 2017 that the business volume for the Chinese knowledge sector would exceed 30 billion yuan for the year.

And English-language learning accounted for a large percentage of that total.

"It is obvious that some English learning apps have gained popularity by providing users with an enjoyable learning experience and a satisfying learning outcome," says Ye Hua, an associate professor at the department of sociology and social work at Sun Yat-sen University.

"It is becoming a trend among young Chinese people to study English using apps," Ye says.

Zhai Xuesong, a postdoctoral researcher at the school of educational technology at Beijing Normal University, says that when people learn in fragmented time slots, they usually prefer to use "infotainment" platforms. The majority of apps therefore provide users with interactive learning materials such as movies, novels, and other entertainment-based learning models such as voice-recognition, which stimulate people's interest and keep them engaged.

Besides offering incentives, Mint Reading and Cheese Pie Listening both use online chat groups for students to communicate with their teachers and ask questions - adding another level of interactivity into the passive learning process.

"The teachers always respond to our questions very quickly," says Shen Qi, a student in tourism, hotel and event management at the University of Queensland, Australia, who uses learning apps for both listening and reading courses. She recently paid Mint Reading for a second 100-day reading course.

Passing her language exams last June, however, the 24-year-old Hangzhou native found that to learn English properly, she still had a long way to go before she could fully understand what her professors were teaching in class.

And despite her English-speaking learning environment, Shen often felt embarrassed to ask her peers questions about language. Instead she found she could more easily understand grammar issues using the Chinese explanations provided to her by her online teacher.

"I pretty much enjoy the atmosphere these online courses create for us," she says.

"Every time you raise a question in the group chat, not only the teacher will explain it clearly, but my classmates will also join the discussion. What you learn is always beyond your expectations."

Shen also enjoys sharing her new skills with friends and family on WeChat, where she draws inspiration from people's encouragement.

"Learners who share their learning outcomes with family and friends online find it enhances their productivity," says Zhai.

He believes that the online learning community is helpful for fragmented learning, one of his findings from his years of studying the phenomenon of "ubiquitous learning".

A supporting role

Unlike traditional teaching methods, online community learning creates a "flipped classroom" model, where learners discuss their questions and experiences. Teachers are no longer the knowledge deliverers, but instead they play the role of instructive organizers who deal with students' ideas.

"With the improvement of educational technology, we are encouraging students to complete their basic learning using a variety of multimedia resources by themselves, and bring their questions to the classroom for further investigation," says Zhai.

"This decentralized approach to learning helps students to improve their problem-solving abilities, sharpens their critical thinking and promotes innovation. Moreover, the online community makes it easier for students to overcome shyness and participate in discussions more actively."

While Zhang Xiaodong, an English teacher at Beijing Foreign Studies University, welcomes the advantages mobile apps bring to learning, she still has concerns over what sideeffects apps might bring in the long run.

"English learning apps make it convenient for people to study English in fragmented time slots, but it can at best serve as a supplement to classroom-based studies rather than be used as a substitute," Zhang says.

"Sometimes, even though the situations are similar, there are subtle differences between the use of English, which can neither be distinguished or explained clearly by apps or online teachers."

Zhang also emphasizes the importance of face-to-face oral practice, pointing out that an overreliance on the virtual situations provided by apps may hamper practical communication in people's daily lives.

Contact the writer at jiangyijing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-11 07:49:38
<![CDATA[Creating a new mix]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/11/content_36012309.htm Through a program of improved funding, support and infrastructure, China is investing heavily in interdisciplinary scientific collaboration. Guo Ying reports.

Fu Haohuan and his team are using the world's fastest supercomputer to forge ahead with China's research on Earth-system science.

With a strong academic background in computer science, Fu joined the Department of Earth Science Systems at Tsinghua University in 2010 and has been conducting interdisciplinary research in the two areas.

"I think research across disciplines may prompt new ideas and has great potential to generate revolutionary technological innovation," Fu says.

 

Students from the Department of Earth Science Systems at Tsinghua University conduct research with the world's fastest supercomputer, Sunway TaihuLight. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

In 2017, Fu's team used the world's fastest supercomputer, Sunway TaihuLight, to simulate the Tangshan earthquake of 1976. They achieved great efficiency in performing simulations and creating 3-D visualizations of China's most devastating earthquake, which will help improve earthquake modeling and future preparedness.

Their research won the 2017 ACM Gordon Bell Prize, nicknamed the "Nobel Prize" of supercomputing applications.

Fu's team is now using the supercomputer to conduct a simulation of the Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008, which he believes is "a more challenging research problem" considering the more complex geological structure and the landslides the earthquake caused.

"This calls for more interdisciplinary research and expertise from the intersections of dynamics, geology and engineering," Fu says.

China implements national strategies for innovation-driven development, and interdisciplinary research has become an important path for obtaining high-level results.

In January, the State Council issued guidance on intensifying basic research, encouraging interdisciplinary research, and balanced and coordinated development of basic and applied disciplines.

"China will promote the construction of national centers of interdisciplinary research," the guidance says.

More platforms

More interdisciplinary-research platforms and projects have been launched across China's universities, institutions and enterprises.

In December 2017, Tsinghua University established the Tsinghua Laboratory of Brain and Intelligence and the Future Laboratory, both platforms to promote interdisciplinary research.

Wang Xiaoqin, director of the THBI, says brain science is a discipline where engineering and life sciences intersect to a high degree.

"The THBI will make the most of Tsinghua's advantages in these subjects to explore the complex issues at the frontier of brain science and to promote fundamental research in AI," Wang says.

Peking University set up an interdisciplinary research center for medical studies and information science in January.

Zhan Qimin, vice-president of Peking University, says medical science can be a platform where a variety of cutting-edge disciplines intersect.

Fu, who is also the deputy director of the National Supercomputing Center where Sunway TaihuLight is located, believes that the supercomputer is itself a platform for interdisciplinary research.

"Scientists from different disciplines may harness the computational resources to advance their research. More than 100 institutions have used Sunway TaihuLight in more than 60 research domains," Fu says.

Nurturing talent

He Conghui, a PhD student at Tsinghua, is also a member of the research team that won the 2017 ACM Gordon Bell Prize. He is devoted to the intersection of Earth-system modeling and high-performance computing.

He says that interdisciplinary research does not simply mean researchers from different disciplines work together to solve a problem.

"Only when you have mastered the knowledge of different disciplines can you put up constructive ideas and develop the ability for critical thinking," He says.

As a computer science major, He stepped out of his "comfort zone" and began to study Earth-system science.

"I also benefited a lot from the open seminars that drew together experts from different countries and different disciplines. The brainstorming sessions generated a lot of inspiration and the culture of collaboration will be vital for developing interdisciplinary research," He says.

Fu compares expertise in interdisciplinary research to babies growing up in a multilingual environment.

"They may have difficulties at the beginning but they will have more potential to master different languages," Fu says.

Fu believes that China has a large talent pool for interdisciplinary research.

"China abounds in talent with a solid knowledge of mathematics and physics. Some experts are open-minded and willing to broaden their academic horizons," Fu says.

Institutional reform

Fu says conducting interdisciplinary research means choosing a different path and researchers may face institutional challenges as well as academic risks.

"Sometimes we feel that we are caught between different departments and we don't know where to apply for research funds," Fu says.

Tsinghua University has rolled out measures to improve the management, organization, cultural environment and support systems for interdisciplinary research.

According to Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua, the university has set up a working committee to promote interdepartmental cooperation and leverage university resources to support interdisciplinary research projects. It has also secured funding for this purpose.

"We allow teachers to work part-time in different departments and schools. In addition, we have also set up an interdisciplinary degree system," Qiu says.

These institutional reforms have reassured Fu. "We are greatly inspired as we have been given more support and space in conducting interdisciplinary research," Fu says.

China Features

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2018-04-11 07:49:38
<![CDATA[Standing up for the world with a Rhodes Scholarship]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/11/content_36012308.htm Cecil Rhodes created the Rhodes Scholarship in 1903, with a view to seeing his scholars "esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim".

One of the oldest international scholarship programs, it took more than a century to come to China. Since 2015, the Rhodes Scholarship has selected 12 Chinese students to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Charles Conn, CEO of the Rhodes Trust, visited China between March 19 and 23, looking to attract new applicants from cities and regions around the country.

"We have had the pleasure of welcoming 12 courageous young Chinese Rhodes scholars in recent years and witness their commitment to making a positive impact on the world," Conn says.

"I sincerely hope that the Rhodes Trust will be able to expand the number of Chinese scholarships we can award each year, creating opportunities for more young people from all across China to join our global community of Rhodes scholars."

The first cohort of four Chinese Rhodes scholars attended the University of Oxford in 2016, each winning a scholar-ship of 50,000 pounds ($71,100). Zhang Wanyu was one of them.

Zhang graduated from Peking University with a bachelor's degree in law, and is now working toward a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford university.

Her aim is to better understand the theoretical underpinnings of social justice to make the law more meaningful for marginalized populations.

"I think for law school students, we need to train our legal thinking and watch closely law development," Zhang says. "Politics and economics can solve the problems before the need for a lawsuit ever happens, and philosophy can help guide both these areas."

After she graduates from Oxford this summer, Zhang plans to attend Stanford Law School to pursue a doctorate as a Knight Hennessy scholar.

"I've learned a lot theoretical knowledge, and now I'm like a medical student without a scalpel," Zhang says. "I think going back to be a law school student, will be like being handed a real scalpel to solve the problems in practical ways."

Oxford University places a great deal of emphasis on self-learning and writing, and Zhang had to read between 10 and 20 articles or books and write two 2,000-word essays each week. "At first I thought it would be hard, but then I realized that we need to learn how to research and filter information efficiently."

Zhang is grateful for the opportunity to become a Rhodes scholar, as it helped her improve not only academically, but also developed her confidence and honed her way of thinking.

"Being in this community is just incredibly inspiring. I have Rhodes friends here who care deeply about the environment, equality, healthcare and politics - almost every important issue in our lives."

When Zhang was in high school in Chengdu, Sichuan province, she never thought she would be able to attend Oxford, especially since it seemed financially out of reach.

"I applied to the Rhodes Scholarship because it would allow me to study at Oxford," Zhang says. "I was also drawn to the Rhodes motto of 'standing up for the world'."

Zhang remembers that for the final round of the selection process, she joined 15 other applicants to attend a dinner with the selection panel, which included retired NBA player Yao Ming and investor Xu Xiaoping.

"I was nervous and I had to prepare to use a fork and knife before the dinner, but when I saw there were chopsticks, I felt more relaxed," Zhang says.

Zhang received the scholarship offer just as she was planning a gap year trip to Cambodia.

As to how to become a Rhodes scholar, Zhang thinks the first step is to "reflect deeply upon who we are and how we became who we are, what we care deeply about and what we want to contribute to the world".

"Thinking about it is not enough. We need to take the initiative, take action and really be the change we want to see in the world," Zhang says.

Conn visited Zhang's high school, Chengdu Experimental Foreign Language School, during his visit to China, and was impressed by the students there.

Stepping in as the CEO of the Rhodes Trust in 2012, Conn is also a Rhodes scholar, who earned a first-class honors degree in philosophy, politics and economics while at Oxford.

Since then, he has been pushing the trust toward greater global expansion, including China, with a view to deepening the world scholarship experience and extending the scope of the fellowship.

"Our scholars receive more than just an academic experience. They also learn what it means to be a leader, why we serve others and how we develop our virtues of character," Conn says.

Nicknamed "the Nobel Prize for 23-year-olds", the Rhodes Scholarship attracts more than 12,000 applicants from over 60 countries and regions pursuing 100 scholarships every year.

"We were looking for a special kind of spark, energy, courage and authenticity," Conn says.

Although the selection process for the scholarships is very demanding, once the applicants are awarded the scholarship and a place at Oxford, they will enjoy a series of events when they enroll, including intergenerational forums, mentorships, retreats, talks and discussions on topics of community interest.

"Cecil Rhodes said that he hoped that the scholarship program would help reduce conflict around the world and increase global cooperation," Conn says.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-11 07:49:38
<![CDATA[Keeping it real]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/11/content_36012307.htm Actor Zhang Yishan engages in ordinary life to stay atop his game. Xing Wen reports.

Clad in an orange T-shirt bearing the words "master chemist" on the chest and sleeves, actor Zhang Yishan appears energetically dressed in the clothes of the fashion label he launched at the end of last year.

Speaking in the Beijing dialect, the 26-year-old describes his experience posing for his first photo album, which was published on Tuesday.

"These photos were shot during my trip to Italy. I look natural and relaxed, rather than tired," Zhang says.

 

Zhang Yishan releases his first photo album. Jiang Dong / China Daily

The album title, Shan Wai You Shan (Mountains Beyond Mountains), is derived from a Chinese saying that roughly translates as "there's always someone better than you".

The name is intended to convey Zhang's philosophy of life - that is, to stay humble.

"Talented newcomers often emerge in China's entertainment circles. I won't push myself to tower over young actors," Zhang says.

"I'm not that ambitious. I like acting, and I can earn money from acting to support my family. How wonderful is that?"

He has learned to stay down to earth because he has experienced many ups and downs during his years in the entertainment industry.

The actor rose to fame after playing a mischievous boy named Liu Xing in the sitcom Home with Kids (2003). He spent the following years starring or playing guest roles that failed to make a splash.

That is, until the summer of 2016, when he performed in the hit online crime-thriller series Yu Zui. The series earned 8.2 out of 10 points on Douban, China's leading TV and film rating website.

"Zhang is no longer a child star ... He's actually a low-key but promising actor," a netizen posted on Zhihu, a Chinese question-and-answer website, after watching the drama.

He became a hot topic on social media last year after co-starring with actress Zhou Dongyu in the romance series Shall I Compare You to a Spring Day.

Zhang has over 20 million followers on Sina Weibo and averages around 500,000 likes for every recent selfie.

He says he enjoys the surge of fame, which may bring opportunities.

"But the happiness of being popular with audiences is greater when I visit remote villages for charity, and the young and old people know my name and the roles I've played," he says, grinning.

He gives his performances scores that take viewers' feedback into account.

"My job is to entertain people, to help them unwind after busy workdays," he says.

"I like to select scripts that have mass appeal. I won't limit myself to certain types of roles."

Zhang has played a wide range of characters, including a basketball player, a soldier, a gangster and a person living with schizophrenia.

He knows he lacks life experience as a young actor, but he has a method to compensate.

"I often ride around on a bike, or go shopping in the supermarket or enjoy barbecues, where I can observe how people dress and walk, and their facial expressions," says Zhang.

He particularly enjoys observing commuters returning from work.

"For all I know, people may be wearing masks to conceal their real feelings in the office, but they freely show their emotions after work."

He applies the lessons he learns from observing people to his work.

"Being in the spotlight all the time and not experiencing real life will quickly ruin an actor's career," Zhang says.

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-11 07:49:38
<![CDATA[The Re-blooms of Spring]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/11/content_36012306.htm What do you do with an orchid after the petals have fallen off? Unless you're an expert on growing these exotic plants, you may have found that they never bloom for you again. I still love these flowers, and when anyone who's coming over asks what to bring, I always say, "An orchid, and whatever you like to drink." It usually gets a laugh, but on my last birthday, it also got me several flowers. They bloomed for a few months - in fact, we were amazed at how long they lasted - but just as with most things rare and beautiful, they didn't last forever. It's always a little sad when the petals fall.

I can't stand just throwing out orchids. Sooner or later, I usually put the green leafed plants outside, and I've even tried putting them in the ground a couple of times, but with no luck. They've never rebloomed. This year, however, my lovely wife had other ideas. A few of the plants were moved to a table in the living room, and some others were placed on the kitchen windowsill. I was given strict instructions to leave them alone - to stop throwing an ice cube in them every Saturday. Not being the botanist in this relationship, I happily gave up wondering what to do with my flowerless orchids and let Mrs. Goldsmith take over trying to help them along.

At some points in life, even the most magnificent events come to an end. Life and love are only the two most obvious, but everything you have ever created or gotten involved with has had its own life cycle, right? So, it shouldn't have been a surprise that the orchid purchased at Trader Joe's was not going to outlast the frozen chicken breasts. Still, when you are a seeker of truth and beauty, it's almost always a little tough to live through an ending. As long as we are alive, things around us are going to, as therapists like to say, "transition".

Now this experience happens to all of us in one way or another, but it can be followed by healing and sometimes another bloom. Sure, you can give up hope. It was easy to believe that those orchids would never flower again. I'd just watch them wither in the atrium, as I did for so many years. That is, it was easy until my wife decided she needed to come to their (and my) rescue.

Most of the current plants are at least a year old now. But they're still green, and that's a good sign. I mean, I'd rather be green and growing than ripe and rotting any day. The flower lady kept moving them around the house, looking for the right light, like Ansel Adams in Yosemite, and her efforts were rewarded. A tiny new stem grew from one of the old ones that she hadn't let me cut off. Then another one grew, and another plant, and now nearly all are flowering!

Yes, you can lose everything you think is important - your beauty, your wealth, even your family - but as long as you are alive, you can find new life within the one you thought was never going to bloom again.

Tribune News Servic

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2018-04-11 07:49:38
<![CDATA[Current quotes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/11/content_36012305.htm

“我想要通过微小的事情,让人们意识到什么是病痛、什么是饥饿、什么是恐惧,让人们走进战争。”

--理查德·弗兰纳根,布克奖得主

"Through small things, I want people to realize what's illness, what's hunger, what's fear, and to walk into the war."

- Richard Flanagan, Man Booker Prize winner

来自澳大利亚的作家理查德·弗兰纳根曾凭借《深入北方的小路》一书获得当代英语小说界的最高奖项--布克文学奖。以理查德父亲的亲身经历为原型,这本书娓娓道来了一个在第二次世界大战中沦为日军俘虏的澳大利亚医生的故事。

在今年3月他的中国之行中,他表示每个地方、每种阶层都应该有自己的故事,并且毫不相对“低等”或“缺失”。

"Only when the parents' are (mentally) healthier, the kid will be, too."

- Yi Chunli, Autism therapist from Peking University

“只有父母更健康的时候,孩子才会更健康。”

--易春丽,北京大学自闭症治疗专家

4月2日是国际自闭症日。自闭症又称孤独症,是一种广泛性发育障碍的代表性疾病,主要症状为语言障碍、社会交往障碍、兴趣范围狭窄和刻板的行为模式以及智能障碍。

易春丽总结了自己十多年的治疗经验,发现当孩子患病时,父母的情绪压力会影响孩子的心理健康状态。她呼吁父母直面自己的情绪,并且通过无害的方式进行自我疏通或寻求专业指导,并且对孩子抱有充分的耐心,更不要因为训练而损害亲子关系。

(China Daily 04/11/2018 page20)

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2018-04-11 07:49:38
<![CDATA[Rare show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/10/content_36004604.htm The Palace Museum celebrates the late collector Zhang Boju's passion for ancient masterpieces. Wang Kaihao reports.

In 744 AD, Li Bai, a poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), climbed the Wangwu Mountain in today's Henan province. He wanted to meet one of his old friends, who lived in Yangtai Palace, a Taoist temple on that mountain. Unfortunately, when he arrived, Li found out that his friend had died. The poet then wrote the 25-character calligraphy piece - Ascending Mount Yangtai (Shang Yangtai Tie) - to convey his feelings for the departed.

Li, considered one of the best ancient Chinese poets, may have left numerous masterpieces behind, but this is the only known surviving calligraphy work inked by him.  

 

An exhibition at the Palace Museum commemorating the 120th anniversary of antique collector Zhang Boju's birth features ancient poet Li Bai's calligraphy piece Ascending Mount Yangtai (top center) and Ming Dynasty painter Tang Yin's Palace Entertainers in the Kingdom of Shu (top right), among other ancient Chinese painting and calligraphy works. Photos by Jiang Dong and Yao Ying / China Daily

Now, thanks to a donation by Zhang Boju (1898-1982), an antique collector, the work is being displayed in public. Ascending Mount Yangtai and 30 other pieces, highlighting ancient Chinese painting and calligraphy, which were collected by Zhang, are on show at the ongoing exhibition commemorating the 120th anniversary of his birth at the Palace Museum in Beijing, China's former imperial palace that is also known as the Forbidden City.

Born in a rich family, Zhang once served in an army for warlords, but later became a banker. Other than being an antique collector, he was also known as a Peking Opera artist.

More displayed works at the exhibition are from collections of the Palace Museum, the National Museum of China and the Jilin Provincial Museum, where Zhang worked in the 1960s.

"Zhang's devotion to the country was unwavering," Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum, says. "In the years of social upheaval, he even sold his personal property to keep our national treasures at home."

Ascending Mount Yangtai was consecutively owned by royal courts since the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) until it left the Forbidden City, with the end of monarchy in China.

In 1937, during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), many precious treasures were sold abroad. But Zhang spent a huge sum of money to buy Ascending Mount Yangtai and several other works from another collector. Another exhibit, Palace Entertainers in the Kingdom of Shu, a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) painting by Tang Yin depicting court life in a 10th-century kingdom in today's Sichuan province, was among the works purchased by Zhang at the time.

"It has abundant color, but the painting doesn't lose its elegance for natural transition and comparison of the colors," Hao Yanfeng, an associate researcher of ancient calligraphy and painting at the Palace Museum, says while introducing the piece to visitors.

In the late 1940s, Zhang made plans for the Palace Museum to purchase some former royal collections, and helped bargain to get them back at lower prices.

After the founding of New China in 1949, Zhang kept donating his collections to public institutions in the country. In 1956 alone, Zhang donated eight key calligraphy works and paintings to the Palace Museum. He gave Ascending Mount Yangtai to Chairman Mao Zedong's office, and Mao transferred it to the museum in 1958, bringing the lost treasure back to the Forbidden City's premises.

According to Shan, nearly 20,000 cultural relics were donated to the Palace Museum by 330 individuals in the 1950s. He says Zhang had set a good example.

Hao recommends several other key masterpieces among Zhang's donations in the 1950s, which are also on display in Beijing.

Personally Written Poetry is an album by Cai Xiang, one of four most celebrated Northern Song calligraphers. The work, which records his monthslong journey from Fuzhou in today's Fujian province to the national capital city of Bianliang (today's Kaifeng, Henan) reflects his career peak.

"It was hailed as Cai's finest work by Zhang," Hao says. "It greatly influenced Zhang's own calligraphy as well."

Also on show is the scroll, One Hundred Flowers, which is believed to have been painted by a female artist named Yang Jieyu from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), and portrays blooms, including those of lotuses, orchids and sun-flowers in 17 scenes. It is the only known painting by Yang.

Nevertheless, rules of the Palace Museum demand that a paperwork collection should stay in its warehouse for at least three years before every public exhibition. Consequently, some listed works in the catalog are replaced by replicas if they have been displayed once in recent years.

Visitors are also able to view A Consoling Letter (Pingfu Tie) by Lu Ji of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), the oldest extant work of model calligraphy, and Spring Excursion, an early example of Chinese landscape painting attributed to Zhan Ziqian of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), through their replicas.

"This exhibition will remind today's private collectors of their social duty," says Lou Kaizhao, Zhang's grandson, who's co-curator of the exhibition. "If my grandfather had kept his collection in an attic, the general public would have little idea about such masterpieces."

Sharing such collections with more people will help Chinese society to build up its cultural confidence, he adds.

"What Zhang Boju represented is also the great characteristics of Chinese scholars," Shan, the museum director, says. "Keeping the antiques is the way to prolong the life of our literary history."

Shan says 22 calligraphy works and paintings in the Palace Museum today were once collected by Zhang, which enriched the public institution's collection.

The ongoing Exhibition Commemorating the 120th Anniversary of Zhang Boju's Birth also marks the end of 13 years when the Hall of Martial Valor (Wuying Dian) in the western wing of the Forbidden City was used to display calligraphy pieces and paintings. The new venue will be the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenhua Dian) in the museum's eastern wing.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-10 07:32:06
<![CDATA[Taking a deeper look to peer beyond the beauty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/10/content_36004603.htm Chinese artist Chen Chunmu uses various media to express thoughts and reflections on such social issues as environmental protection, urbanization and social development - and he wants viewers to look beyond the beauty of his works.

His solo show, Look Beyond What We See, at Beijing's Hongkun Museum of Fine Art, displays over 20 works he has produced in the past three years, including oil paintings, installations and mixed-media works.

"We're attracted to beautiful things. But we seldom explore what's beneath the beauty," the Beijing-based artist says.

In his Classic of Grasses and Woods, Chen paints brightly colored flowers and worms on three bed boards to portray migrant workers' dreams.

Their wishes all come true when they're dreaming. But they're far away when they awake to live in cities where they struggle, says Chen, who moved to Beijing in 2007.

Chen was born in a village in Fuji-an province's Anxi, where farmers made their livings growing tea.

Most people have moved to cities, leaving the elderly, children and tumbledown houses.

Chen often weaves village life into his works. Mushrooms, flowers and worms appear frequently in his art. He spent his childhood picking mushrooms and playing in the woods.

His installation My Weapon deploys fire spears people in his hometown use during celebrations. Villagers fill the tips with gunpowder to create loud bangs to beseech the gods.

Chen views the tradition as a waste of money and a source of air pollution.

"People waste lots of money on it, and it makes no sense. They still believe in it. It's very sad," the 37-year-old says.

Critic Huang Du says Chen finds his own style in the fertile soil and folk art of his hometown, combining plants, animals, wildness and simplicity into his paintings.

"It's difficult to define what kind of artist he is. He uses various elements in his works, such as tea stains, bed sheets, neon lights and wood," says Zhao Mengyuan, executive director of Hongkun Museum of Fine Art, a private museum focusing on works by modern and contemporary Chinese artists.

Zhao is a longtime friend of Chen. She says he's a man of few words. But Chen expresses himself in his works. Most of Chen's pieces are accompanied by essay-like poems, either displayed separately or incorporated into his works.

He often writes prose that pops to his head. Sometimes the words read like modern poetry. Sometimes they're nonsense, he explains.

This also goes for the titles of his works, such as Beyond a Relationship With You and Spring Follows Winter.

"What I paint and what I write is not important. It's the audiences' interpretations that matter," he says.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-10 07:32:06
<![CDATA[A world of sounds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/10/content_36004602.htm A recent festival highlights world music's growing popularity among Chinese. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Two giant stages stand in the center of a 6,670-hectare orchard of blooming pear trees. Performers clad in ethnic attire sing and dance under colorful lights.

This is a scene from the Water and Pear Blossoms World Music Festival in Shandong province's Yangxin county from April 5 to 7. Twenty-six bands from nine countries and regions performed.

The festival was organized by the band Hanggai, which is known for combining Mongolian folk music with modern styles.

 

Singers from the band Kawa (left) from Yunnan province and Rid (right) from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region perform at Yangxin's world-music festival. Photos by Zou Hong / China Daily

 

"This is probably one of the few festivals in China devoted to world music," says Ilchi, Hanggai's vocalist and tobshuur (two-stringed lute) player.

"It's an activity with diverse cultural concepts."

World music encompasses several styles, including traditional and neo-traditional music, as well as music that contains more than one cultural tradition.

It has been gaining momentum in China, as performers often appear on mainstream domestic talent shows.

Notable world-music bands and performers include Hanggai, ethnic Yi folk singer Jike Junyi, ethnic Uygur rocker Perhat Khaliq and indie folk band Shanren from Yunnan province. They claimed stardom through hit TV shows like Sing My Song and The Voice of China.

"World-music performers have become an important part of mainstream music platforms," says Ilchi.

This year's music festival brought a diverse range of bands and singers, including Japanese tribal punk band Turtle Island, Japanese musician OKI and western Chinese contemporary folk band Travelers.

"Turtle Island aspires to integrate traditional and modern Japanese culture into their music so that people pay more attention to the past," Ilchi says.

"China hosts various ethnic cultures. Many young Chinese musicians have been working to preserve traditional folk music. We want to show them some successful foreign counterparts through the festival."

The festival is not only a place for music exchanges but also a platform for emerging performers to showcase their talents.

The five-member band Marmota has been devoted to discovering and preserving Mongolian folk music since 2009. Its lyrics are in Mongolian and Tuvan.

"I got to know some excellent world-music performers here," the lead singer Danpel says.

"It's a great platform to discover world-music talent in China and promote the county's ethnic music."

Chinese musician Dangih Nurlan from the Kazak ethnic group performed a solo show on the first day.

Dangih Nurlan hails from Tacheng in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and plays ethnic Kazak music that has been passed down over centuries.

"My music depicts traditional nomadic herders' lives and such natural splendors as grasslands, mountains and bodies of water," Dangih Nurlan says.

"The world-music festival is a place where different ethnic-music genres can coexist."

Dangih Nurlan makes his living in Beijing playing Spanish music in restaurants as this kind of music is more suitable for these settings.

"The music festival provides me with a platform to play the music I truly love," he says.

"Kazak music is the music of my ethnicity, which is very important to me."

Hanggai, the Mongolian word for a place with beautiful pastures, mountains and rivers, is considered a "Chinese representative" of world music. The group developed the idea for the Water and Pear Blossoms World Music Festival from observations it made while touring overseas.

"There are many music festivals overseas - a great variety. What makes a music festival stand out is its unique characteristics and attitude," Ilchi says.

"Here, we want people to be immersed in nature and experience diverse cultures through music."

And the event benefits the county.

The venue was a garbage dump before the event was first staged last year, Yangxin's mayor Liu Jinyi says.

"The music festival brings travelers and boosts the local economy," Liu says.

"Local people get to enjoy high-quality world music in their hometown. It cultivates their musical tastes and enriches their lives."

Yangxin resident Ge Yongling, who also participated in last year's festival, says the event is popular among locals.

"There's a surge of people joining," she says.

"This festival showcases musical styles from China and the world. I feel extremely proud that we are holding this event."

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-10 07:32:06
<![CDATA[A show of creativity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/10/content_36004601.htm All roads lead to the capital in May for the 18th Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, which is set to take on a distinctly Italian flavor this year. Chen Nan reports.

The capital's largest annual celebration of dance, music, drama and art, the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, will bring nearly 800 artists from 44 performing arts groups from 19 countries and regions to Beijing.

With 130 performances, three art exhibitions and a number of public-art education activities, the festival - which is now in its 18th year - will kick off on April 27 and run through May 31. It will provide audiences with a lavish and diverse choice of events.

Italy will be the guest country of honor at this year's festival, the organizers announced on April 3. Picking a main guest country each year has been a festival tradition since it started in 2000.

This year, the opening show will be held on April 27 at the National Center for the Performing Arts, which will see the Beijing Symphony Orchestra play tunes from classic Italian operas and Chinese songs, including Overture to Il Barbiere di Sivigli by Gioacchino Rossini and excerpts from Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi under the baton of Chinese conductor Tan Lihua and Italian composer and conductor Andrea Molino. Well-known Chinese violinist Lyu Siqing and Italian singers mezzo-soprano Daniela Pini and soprano Anna Roberta Sorbo will join the concert.

"This is the first time that Italy will be the main guest country during the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival and we will bring a series of Italian artists, some of whom will be making their debut performances in the capital," says Franco Amadei, cultural counselor of the Italian embassy in China.

One of the highlights will be TeoTronico, a pianist robot invented by Italian classical pianist Roberto Prosseda in 2012. TeoTronico, who performed with Chinese pianist Lang Lang on CCTV in 2017, will play with his "father" at the Beijing Concert Hall on May 31 and June 1.

Italian musicians, including the Nous Quartet, pianist Axel Trolese and pianist Leonora Armellini, will also perform shows during the festival.

The piano, which evolved from the harpsichord in the early 1700s, was first invented by Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori. An exhibition titled The Italian Keyboard: From Cristofori to Modern Times, which will run from May 15 to June 2 at the China Millennium Monument Hall of Modern Arts, will display keyboards made in Italy between the 1700s and the 1950s, and instrument makers will be on hand to demonstrate the process of making keyboards.

Two other exhibitions, Art, Culture and Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, which will run from March 26 to June 22 at the Capital Museum, and Double Screen: A Survey of Artists' Film and Video in Italy, which runs from May 19 to 20 at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, will showcase the development of Italian culture and art with a display of precious fine-art pieces from more than 10 institutions, including the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

Li Jinsheng, president of the China Arts and Entertainment Group, the festival's organizer, says that since 2000, the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival has attracted over 30,000 artists from 120 countries and regions. More than 4.2 million audience members have attended over the years.

Li also notes that 2018 marks the fifth year of the Belt and Road Initiative, which was first proposed by China in 2013, with the aim of building an economic and cultural network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.

Besides Italy, which "is an important country along the Silk Road", Li says, the festival will also feature international artists from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland and Greece.

Among the many programs at the festival, five-time Grammy Award-winning group, The Swingle Singers, which was formed in 1962 by US vocalist and jazz musician Ward Lamar Swingle, will perform at the Beijing Concert Hall on May 19. String performance group the Black Velvet String Quartet, which features four young US musicians, will perform at the National Library Arts Center on May 11.

To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the modern European circus, French performance company Cheptel Aleikoum and its musical offspring, Circa Tsuica, will bring their new circus show, Opus 7, on May 13 to the Mong Man Wai Concert Hall at Tsinghua University.

Art troupes from China will also share the stage with international artists. The Beijing People's Art Theater will stage three plays, The Lawyer, The Gin Game and Li Bai, at the Capital Theater.

Four young Peking Opera actresses - Li Li, Jiang Xiaoyue, Yang Xiaoyang and Yin Chanjuan - will give a show at Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center on May 6. As the students of Zhang Huoding, one of the country's best known Peking Opera stars, these actresses will interpret classic Peking Opera roles once performed by Zhang, such as Bai Suzhen from The Legend of White Snake and Zhu Yingtai from Butterfly Lovers.

To mark the conclusion of this year's Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, the dance drama, Confucius, which will be produced and performed by the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater, will be staged at Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center from May 29 to 31.

Directed and choreographed by Kong Dexin, a 77th-generation direct descendent of Confucius, the dance drama follows the legendary scholar's journey. Premiered in 2013, the show was staged at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in the US last year. In 2018, the dance drama will tour 15 Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, Shanghai and Chongqing.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-10 07:32:06
<![CDATA[NCPA festival to stage 26 opera shows this year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/10/content_36004600.htm Richard Wagner's only comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg - a coproduction of China's National Center for the Performing Arts, the Royal Opera House and Convent Garden from London and Opera Australia - will headline the NCPA Opera Festival.

The opera will be staged in Beijing from May 31 to June 7.

The joint production is directed by Kasper Holten and choreographed by Signe Fabricius. It will feature the NCPA Orchestra and NCPA Chorus under the baton of Chinese conductor Lyu Jia.

Composed between 1845 and 1867 and first staged at the National Theatre Munich in 1868, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is based on the life of German poet and composer Hans Sachs. The opera also helped to reflect Wagner's reforming of German arts.

According to Lyu, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is the fifth Wagner operatic production by the National Center for the Performing Arts. It's the second opera to be produced by the NCPA in collaboration with the Royal Opera House. Italian composer Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chenier, which was staged in 2015, was the first.

Lyu, who is also the opera director of the NCPA and principal conductor of the in-house orchestra, notes that in its 10th year, the NCPA Opera Festival, which will be held from April 13 to July 26, will showcase 26 performances of nine opera productions, mostly from China.

From July 18 to 22, the NCPA will premier its new production of the five-act French romantic opera, Romeo et Juliette, by French composer Charles-Francois Gounod to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.

"There is a growing energy around opera as an art form despite the fact that it was imported to China from the West. Since the opening of the NCPA in 2007, we have been devoted to promoting opera among Chinese audiences and producing original operas as well as Western classics," says Lyu, adding that the NCPA has produced about 60 operas.

The NCPA's original opera production, The Dawns Here Are Quiet, will open this year's opera festival. It debuted at the NCPA in 2015. The opera, composed by Tang Jianping, with libretto by Wan Fang, is based on Russian writer Boris Vasilyev's novel of the same title. It tells the story of five female soldiers fighting German troops during World War II.

The opera was staged on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, and it has been presented at the NCPA around five times. A film related to the opera will be shown at the upcoming festival, with the aim of further popularizing opera in China.

Besides the operas produced by the NCPA, four Chinese opera companies will stage their productions during the festival, including the China National Opera House's Manas, which is based on the Kyrgyz epic Manas, a folk masterpiece; the Ningbo Performing Arts Group's Tu Youyou, based on the story of Tu Youyou, the Chinese Nobel laureate in medicine; The China Opera and Dance Drama Theatre's Liu Sanjie, which is about a folk singer of the Zhuang ethnic group; and the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theater's historical piece, King Zhuang of Kingdom Chu.

Apart from the performances at the NCPA, 11 opera films will be screened at universities in Beijing and NCPA opera consultant Giuseppe Cuccia will give lectures.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-10 07:32:06
<![CDATA[A new home for the past]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/09/content_35997608.htm The Shanghai History Museum has reopened in two historical buildings to display many items related to the city's legacy for the first time. Zhang Kun reports in Shanghai.

The Shanghai History Museum's (Shanghai Revolution Museum's) most important exhibits are the buildings that house it, director Hu Jiang says.

The museum, which officially opened downtown on March 26, consists of two structures built in the 1920s and '30s as the Shanghai Race Club in the former international settlement.

The race courses in People's Square have been replaced by high-rise buildings and public institutions over the decades. But the two buildings have survived and are recognized among the city's important cultural relics.

"My grandma used to live nearby, and we used to walk by the gate all the time," recalls Zhang Beifen, a woman in her 50s who was among the museum's first visitors on the opening day.

"I've witnessed it become the Shanghai Library, the Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Art Museum and now the Shanghai History Museum."

The buildings became public assets after Shanghai was liberated in 1949.

The mayor at the time, Chen Yi (1901-72), decided to repurpose them as the Shanghai Library and Shanghai Museum. The Shanghai Museum moved away 1959, and the Shanghai Library relocated in 1997.

The buildings became home to the Shanghai Art Museum until 2012, when it moved to the former Chinese pavilion at the World Expo 2010.

The Shanghai History Museum dates back to the 1950s. It was initially located on Huqiu Road and later moved to several different locations.

The two-year restoration of the buildings started in 2015, when the municipality decided to move the history museum to the site.

Workers used the same materials as the original structure.

Visitors to the newly opened Shanghai History Museum start from the east wing, where permanent exhibitions portray the city's history.

An elaborately decorated sedan chair commissioned by a merchant from nearby Zhejiang province greets them in the lobby.

He hired 10 experienced wood carvers, who took 10 years to complete the piece. It features hundreds of traditional Chinese opera characters rendered in wood, painted glass, lacquer and embroidery. It was then the showpiece of his Wuhua Leasing Shop for Wedding and Funeral Articles.

Many of the craftsmanship genres used to make the chair have been lost amid rapid modernization.

The ground floor exhibition hall features a giant LED screen as well as interactive electronic games that visitors can play to learn about Shanghai's past.

Two bronze lions created by British artist Henry Poole occupy the central space in front of the big screen. They were commissioned to adorn the Bund-facing entrance of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp in 1923, when the financial institution opened its new Shanghai office. The creatures guarded the bank until 1966, when the Shanghai History Museum added them to its collection.

A 77-year-old visitor, who only gave his surname, Tang, recalls seeing the lions when he played on the Bund as a child.

"Every edge, crack and corner on the lions is so familiar to me," he says.

"This is the museum of our own city's history. Lots of tourists will come. We locals should, too."

The upstairs area's displays chronicle Shanghai's changes, starting with relics from 6,000 years ago. It features a cannon used in the first Opium War (1840-42). Other displays reveal the development of art, culture and industrialization over the centuries. About four-fifths of the items are on public display for the first time.

The west wing's exhibits open with over 50 displays about the former mayor Chen, donated by his children.

"My father spent the happiest years of his career in Shanghai," his son Chen Danhuai says.

On show are the piano, desk, gramophone and other objects Chen Yi and his wife, Zhang Qian, used during their stay in the city.

He later served as China's foreign minister. The qipao dresses made by Shanghai's Hongxiang Fashion Co that she wore for official overseas visits are also displayed.

The museum is also hosting two temporary exhibitions that will run until June 24. One is about how The Communist Manifesto ignited the Chinese revolution, while the other details the history of the museum buildings.

Contact the writer at zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-09 07:29:46
<![CDATA[Mogan's magic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/09/content_35997607.htm Natural splendors and historical legacies endow a slice of the Tianmu Mountains with wild and man-made allure, Owen Fishwick discovers.

"Keep your back straight and clench your buttocks," says Tintin, my Filipino horse guide whom I was allotted just 30 seconds earlier.

It's the first time I have ever ridden a horse and my director tells me to "relax" and look "more professional" as I deliver my lines to a camera some 50 meters away.

 

From top: An aerial view of a hydro-electric power plant in the Tianmu mountain range; mist covers Mogan Mountain in the early morning; Naked Castle commands spectacular views of the landscape. Photos Provided to China Daily

We're at Mogan Mountain, outside the city of Huzhou in East China's Zhejiang province, to shoot a film about how eco-tourism is rejuvenating local communities. This mountain is a place where people come to chill out and forget about their worries, but horse riding isn't really my relaxing cup of tea.

But the scenery is.

Deep within the mountains, I am embraced in a sea of bamboo that stretches to mist-covered peaks. The air is cool and fresh with the earthy smell of nature.

Dotted about the green landscape are small villas, some with distinctly Western architecture, more and more of which have been converted into homestays or nongjiale.

Located 200 kilometers from Shanghai and about 60 km from the provincial capital, Hangzhou, Mogan Mountain forms part of the greater Tianmu mountain range and has for years been a place where city folk come to unwind.

There are numerous hiking and biking trails that meander through the bamboo, strafe streams and wander past waterfalls.

As I walk along these rising and falling paths, I, too, begin to forget my city problems - the work commute combat and putting out the bins.

As well as being endowed with natural beauty, Mogan Mountain has more than its fair share of history. It's said that in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), China's most gifted sword smith, Ganjiang, cast a pair of unique swords here for Emperor Wu. Sword Pond is one of the mountain's must-see attractions.

More recently, Mogan Mountain has been home to a villa owned by Chiang Kai-shek, and Mao Zedong once took a nap here.

Foreign businesspeople, missionaries and customs officials have been coming to Mogan Mountain for its pristine views and fresh air since the 1880s.

Their influence can be seen in the many European-style guesthouses, villas and restaurants that peek out above the tree line to survey the landscape.

Today, these buildings are now characteristic homestays run by local families for both Chinese and overseas tourists.

The combination of residing in a quaint European villa, complete with a wonderfully ornate oak spiral staircase, overlooking a towering mountain range, and eating noodles and a steamed bun seems a little strange at first, but I soon get used to it.

Cheng Zhilan, a homestay owner in Mogan Mountain, says that the most popular time for tourists to visit is during spring and summer, when the cool mountain air and canopy of bamboo provides welcome respite for those from the sweltering cities nearby.

We're here in early March a week after considerable snowfall, but the sun is out, there is warmth in the air and the mountain is coming to life.

Mogan's more recent rejuvenation in the past 10 years has been spearheaded by South African entrepreneur Grant Horsfield, who fell in love with the area after getting lost among the bamboo in the early 2000s.

He has built a series of luxury resorts and hotels in the area under his Naked brand.

Grant says Naked's whole concept is to be sustainable and have as little impact on the environment as possible. He describes to me in great detail about how he built his first villa himself, digging the earth by hand and refusing to use any heavy machinery.

Grant is passionate about sustainability and has a unique outlook on the local area.

"If the local community is not part of your development, you'll fail," he says.

"Or at least you are only winning for yourself, and that's not a success. Success is if everyone can benefit and be improved."

It's the pioneering work of the plucky South African. His resorts and approach to the environment have inspired almost a thousand smaller homestays to pop up all over the mountain. The tourism industry here has never been better.

Our driver, with the skill of a mountain goat, takes us from one breathtaking view to another. Natural beauty abounds. A shimmering emerald lake here, followed by wondrous rock formations contorted by nature and time. We are tracked constantly by the wavering ridge line of the mountain, which looks a little like my heart rate on a cardiograph.

There is a saying in Chinese that roughly translates as "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets". Having spent some time at Mogan Mountain, with everything it has to offer, I couldn't agree more.

Contact the writer at owenfishwick@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-09 07:29:46
<![CDATA[Micronesia: Scenic island-hopping and a lesson in letting go]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/09/content_35997606.htm POHNPEI STATE, Micronesia - I'm panicked and soaked as smiling locals fish me out of the bay on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia. "Trip of a lifetime", I sarcastically thought as we made our way back to land with an upside-down kayak, our cameras and cellphone ruined.

How did I end up drenched, emotionally drained and out a few thousand dollars in electronics in this remote island nation, one might ask? More importantly, here's why it was totally worth it.

Majuro

My husband and I traveled to Micronesia on United's Island Hopper route from Honolulu to Guam. First stop, four and a half hours from Hawaii: Majuro, a coral atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

We shopped for groceries for a stay on a nearby private island but ended up mostly with items like pasta and cereal; fresh produce was scarce and overpriced. After a 30-minute boat ride to Eneko Island, we spent a few days completely alone, kayaking and chasing colorful fish through turquoise water. Evenings offered breathtaking sunsets, stargazing and cooking our carbohydrate-rich meals.

Highlights of Majuro included the tiny Alele Museum featuring Marshallese folk art, history and stick charts used for nautical navigation.

Handicraft stores downtown sell intricately traditional woven baskets and bags. Hotel Robert Reimers offers decent restaurant and accommodation starting from $45.

For a pampered vacation, the private Bikendrik Island offers two charming bungalows stocked with cognac and Grand Marnier, three-course meals and occasional visits from the lagoon pet, Oscar the octopus. Rates start at $570.

Pohnpei

A short flight west took us to Pohnpei, a lush, mountainous island and one of four states making up the Federated States of Micronesia.

Pohnpei's capital, Kolonia, has souvenir shops, remnants of a historic Spanish wall and a helpful tourism office. Don't leave without a colorful floral skirt, an island fashion staple.

An hour's drive took us to Pohnpei's crown jewel: the ancient city of Nan Madol. Picture 13th-century ruins rivaling the splendor and lore of Cambodia's Angkor Wat or Peru's Machu Picchu, minus the crowds. As with most of this trip, we were the only tourists.

Kepirohi Waterfall is a gorgeous cascading pyramid near Nan Madol. A hard-to-spot sign on Circle Island road marks a turn-off where you pay a $3 entrance fee.

The waterfront Mangrove Bay Hotel has scenic views and a restaurant serving exclusively sushi and chicken wings. The onsite Pohnpei Surf Club can arrange water excursions and guided tours of Nan Madol.

To reach some of the 100-plus man-made islets, you can pay local families a few dollars per person to cross their land. But we opted to navigate Nan Madol's shallow channels by kayak. After winding through dense mangroves for about 30 minutes, the dark, twisty jungle opened out into the vast, clear-blue ocean. Massive shadows darted around our wobbling vessel - stingrays from a nearby sanctuary.

At this point, I noticed the kayak inching lower into the sea. But we were by then an hour from the marine institute that runs the small boat rental business. We had no choice but to carry on.

On shore we found walls of stacked basalt columns, an engineering feat still shrouded in mystery. We traipsed through megalithic ruins by foot for a few hours before starting our doomed return to civilization. The hull of our punctured kayak was slowly flooding.

My panic grew exponentially after nearly capsizing a few times. My husband paddled gently as I clutched the phone, drone and fancy camera we purchased a few days earlier.

The water was calm and we are both fine swimmers. But I was upset: This was not the plan.

With the dock in sight, the boat's sway became unmanageable. In the blink of an eye, we were underwater.

Chuuk

If Pohnpei was an exercise in rolling with the punches, Chuuk State was a master class in relinquishing control.

Another hour on the Island Hopper gets you to this large atoll known for world-class wreck diving. The US sank more than 50 Japanese ships here during World War II and most remain preserved in its shallow lagoon.

None of our stops offered much tourist infrastructure, but Chuuk was the most challenging. The handful of tour companies claimed to be fully booked. The hotel had lost our reservation. We couldn't get answers to questions like "can we take this tour?" or "do you have a hotel shuttle?" Infrequent taxis stopped running at 5 pm.

I quickly realized you have to show up in person and keep asking until you get what you need. When we finally reached the Blue Lagoon Resort dive shop, the previously unavailable wreck trips were miraculously available and, it turned out, well worth the effort.

Chuuk's underwater world is simply incredible. We swam through massive schools of tropical fish to find a sunken Momi-class destroyer and coral-encrusted cargo ship.

There's plenty for non-divers to see, too, like a downed Mitsubishi Zero fighter and a 1937 coastal freighter nearly 3 meters down. We spent an afternoon on the private Jeep Island with unbelievable coral reef snorkeling and shark spotting.

The airport-adjacent L5 Hotel offers the newest accommodation, but the Blue Lagoon and Truk Stop Hotel are the best bets for arranging wreck tours.

As we boarded the plane for our final stop in Guam, sunburnt and still reeling from our adventures, my boat-flipping hysteria was a distant memory.

It was a small price to pay for an unplugged, truly unpredictable journey and a much-needed lesson in letting go.

Associated Press

 

Left: The thin strip of coral atolls separates the ocean from the lagoon in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Right: Colorful floral skirts are for sale in Pohnpei's capital city of Kolonia in Micronesia. The skirts are a fashion staple throughout the island. AP Photos

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2018-04-09 07:29:46
<![CDATA[Nature's springtime gifts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/08/content_35990002.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.

Outside our backyard in Beijing there is a mist of green slowly covering the hard grey ground. On the trees, tender young leaves appear almost overnight, sharing space with tight round buds that promise to bloom.

The yanghuai, or locust tree, will soon be heavy with clusters of creamy white buds, pendulous and scented with honey. There will be many hawkeyed predators waiting for the buds to get large enough, and they will come in the dead of night, armed with their knives and scissors.

 

Stir-fried eggs with locust buds (above); green balls (below right), a sweet snack made from rice flour mixed with mugwort juice. Photos Provided to China Daily

The locust buds are a beloved food in spring, rinsed off in salt water and tossed in cornmeal before being steamed. They are a delicious gift from nature.

The flowers are also steamed on their own, and chopped up as a fragrant filling for dumplings and pancakes. In our house, the flower clusters also get deep-fried as tempura, which is excellent beer food.

The Chinese violet cress, eryuelan, is also out now. These little wild violalike herbs are enjoyed for their flowers but harvested for their tender young, mustardlike leaves. Our nanny (ayi) loves them tossed in a salad with a light dressing of vinegar and sesame oil.

But it is the shepherd's purse that is most prized of all the wild herbs of spring, and our ayi will forage far and wide, by the river and in the little wood nearby, for this tasty vegetable with its unique rosette of leaves.

She's not alone.

Jicai is most famously used in boiled dumplings, or jiaozi. Ayi will carefully wash the jicai she has gathered, making sure all of the dust is cleaned off with repeated rinsing.

The jicai will next be blanched in boiling water and then thoroughly drained before being finely chopped. Mixed with ground pork, it will soon become delicious dumpling filling.

Ayi is from Henan province, and the shepherd's purse is a taste of home. In fact, jicai dumplings are so popular that they are one of the best-selling dumplings in the supermarket chillers.

There are other spring plants, such as the hao, or wild chrysanthemum, with its jagged leaves and distinctive pungent fragrance, and the mugwort, used in infusions to ward off the harmful elements during Tomb Sweeping Festival - Qingming - just gone by.

During the Qingming period, when families remember their ancestors and tidy the family graves, bunches of mugwort are hung up on doorways to repel pests and pestilence. The weed is also pounded and its juice extracted.

The dark liquid is mixed into glutinous rice flour for the seasonal qingtuanzi, or green balls. This seasonal sweet snack is especially popular in places south of the Yangtze, such as Shanghai, Suzhou and Yangzhou.

In the warmer climates where spring comes earlier, jasmine buds, telosma - the flowers of the Chinese cowslip vine - and tender cassia blossoms are also popular. These slightly sweet flowers are often mixed into an omelette or made into a delicately scented egg drop soup.

In spring, wherever an elm tree grows, people living nearby will look forward to the tender seed pods, the elm "coins". They are harvested and cooked for a special pancake.

The Chinese find spring greens fascinating after the long hard winter, and even the freshly sprouted shoots of willow are foraged. Are they edible? Yes. Do they taste good? That's debatable.

But these are the rituals of spring for many Chinese who have gone through the hard times, or are not so far removed from their agrarian roots. Nature helped with her gifts in times when food was scarce, and enjoying them is a grateful memorial to such times.

My favorite spring vegetable has to be the toon shoots from our two trees. The Chinese toon is pretty widespread, found the length and breadth of China. It is a tall, lanky tree with dull green leaves that grow undisturbed at the bottom of most gardens.

Perhaps if you brush against it you may get a hint of its special pungency,

It sheds its leaves in winter and, when the sap begins to run in the spring, it puts out clusters of deep maroon shoots. This is what we've been waiting for.

These shoots are delicious when lightly blanched and chopped and generously scattered over soft tofu, dressed with a light soy sauce and sesame dressing.

Or they can be dredged through a light tempura batter, deep-fried and served as beer food. Another favorite way to serve it is to chop it up and cook it in an omelette.

Why the fascination with toon?

It has a very distinctive fragrance, which some describe as a mixed bouquet of allium flavors such as leeks, garlic or chives ... but not quite. For those who like the taste, it can be addictive and having a platter of xiangchun on the table is a sure sign that spring has finally arrived.

Fortunately, the xiangchun or toon tree is very fast-growing, despite losing most of its shoots every year, and it is prolific in most cities in the north.

There are many more spring plants that are popular with certain ethnicities in China but are considered weeds in other communities. In the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, for example, the tender shoots of nettles are harvested as a vegetable.

These are blanched to get rid of the sting, then dressed in garlic juice. Dandelion greens, known as kucai or bitter vegetables, are eaten in a similar way.

Weeds, herbs, flowers, shoots ... did someone say that the Chinese will eat anything? Well, not quite. They certainly eat only the freshest.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Shepherd's purse dumplings

1kg shepherd's purse (or fresh spinach or amaranth)

500g minced pork 1 teaspoon ginger juice

1 teaspoon hot chili oil (optional)

1 tablespoon oil, plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Soy sauce, salt and pepper

50-80 dumpling or gyoza skins

Wash and rinse the vegetables, then drop them into boiling water for two minutes. Drain, cool and chop. Squeeze out all the water with your hands. If there is too much water in the filling, your dumpling skins will break.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat mixture, ginger juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Mix in the chopped vegetables, then add the tablespoon of oil and teaspoon of sesame oil.

Mix well and set aside to rest for five to 10 minutes.

Place a large spoonful of filling and seal the edges. For the potstickers or fried dumplings, crimp or pleat the edges of one side to get the concave shapes so they will stand in the frying pan.

For boiled dumplings, just make sure the edges are sealed tight with a smudge of water.

Fry the dumplings for five minutes over medium heat to crisp the bottom, then add boiling water to the pan and cover and cook another 10 minutes. Allow the water to evaporate, uncover and cook till bottoms are golden brown.

Boil a big pot of water and add dumplings. When the pot comes back to a boil, add half a cup of water to calm it down. When it boils again and the dumplings float, they are done.

Chop up some garlic and ginger shreds and place in vinegar and soy sauce for a dip.

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2018-04-08 11:05:39
<![CDATA[German cuisine: it's not just pork and sausages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/08/content_35990001.htm A man who has taught the Chinese to appreciate bread puts more of his nation's food on the table

"Marriage is like visiting a restaurant: You always think you chose the best until you see what your neighbor got."

This wonderful morsel of thought can be found on a wall in Bodensee Kitchen, a restaurant in Beijing that offers rustic and European fare that is usually hard to find in these parts.

 

Bodensee Kitchen on Lucky Street in Beijing.

Bodensee Kitchen is on Lucky Street and shares an entrance with one of the first German bread makers in China, South German Bakery, which has been around for 12 years. Thanks to its German founder, Michael Paingt, these hard, dense and salty German breads, which most Chinese were either ignorant of or disliked, have gradually won wide appreciation.

Now Paingt has opened a full-fledged German restaurant in the place where he first started trading in Beijing 12 years ago, on the second floor of the bakery. Here you can enjoy German food, specifically German-Austrian-Swiss cuisine from his hometown of Bodensee (Lake Constance), located where Germany, Austria and Switzerland meet.

"The perspective of German food in China is a little bit boring," Paingt says. "Most people think what we eat every day is pork knuckle and sausage."

Of course, these two are quintessential dishes, and a dozen German restaurants in Beijing serve them, but Bodensee Kitchen tries to go further, he says.

At a media tasting lunch, when we were invited to try a German pizza, it was difficult to know what to expect - but any expectations I did have were low, given the pictures on the menu, whose subjects looked anything but appetizing. What a surprise, then, when the "flammkuchen pizza" proved to be much more delicious than regular pizza, which can sometimes be bland.

We were served pizza with a paper-thin, crisp and blistered crust, topped with a layer of homemade sour cream and then bacon, onions and chives. The sour cream created a mildly tart, creamy contrast to the crust's crispness.

Paingt calls the dish Schwarzwald (Black Forest) pizza, because it comes from the region of southern Germany adjacent to the Alsace region of France.

Venison goulash with poached pear, cranberry sauce and spaetzle (handmade noodles) is another regional dish served by Bodensee Kitchen. The venison didn't quite cut it for me, but the hearty accompaniment of bouncy, soft egg noodles, which I had never eaten before, won me over.

Bodensee Kitchen does a good job of presenting a wide choice of traditional German fare, and it would be failing its duty if it did not serve sausages and pork knuckle.

"To many Germans, sausages represent a taste of home," Paingt says.

"Walk into a butcher's in Germany and you'll see 50 to 100 different sausages. Raw, boiled, air-dried, smoked, and so on, and with different spices. Every butcher has his own little secret recipe."

Bodensee Kitchen's sausage platter includes Nuernberger, Frankfurter, cheesekrainer and engadin sausages, as well as meatloaf, homemade sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzel dumplings and gravy.

Paingt talks about the meticulous process of making a classic roast pork knuckle. From start to finish, he says, this dish takes more than 36 hours to prepare, including brining for one day, then boiling for about five to six hours, until the meat is tender, and roasting until the skin is so crisp that it breaks into pieces at the cut of a knife with a little force. Inside, the flavorsome and tender meat simply falls off the bone.

The golden, crispy skin is sure to elicit crunches of delight.

Quality restaurants offering Western food are difficult to find in China, Paingt says.

"If you are looking at restaurants that offer homey European dishes, they are few and far between, apart from the high-end ones in the five-star hotels. Including drinks, I'd say the average cost per person here is 75 yuan ($12; 10 euros; 8.5) for breakfast, 80 yuan for lunch, and 150 yuan for dinner. That is about on a par with the price of a similar family-style restaurant in Germany."

Over the past 10 years, he says, he has worked on a number of food and beverage projects in Beijing and Shanghai, including consulting for successful brands such as O'Steak, Amandine, Enoterra and April Gourmet.

Bodensee Kitchen boasts an extensive menu. For drinks, there is a judiciously chosen selection of wines from Germany and Austria; German beer such as Bitburger draft beer, Weihenstephan wheat beer and Schofferhofer. For vegetarians, there are Schlutzkrapfen, Austrian dumplings that are stuffed with chopped spinach, garlic and a coating of nutty parmesan. There is also a menu for children.

Finally, I should mention the ample size of the dishes - which means that this cozy, brauhaus-style eatery is well suited to families and friends dining together.

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2018-04-08 11:05:39
<![CDATA[Art unites ancient civilizations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/08/content_35990000.htm Masterpieces of traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting go on display among antiquities in Greek capital

Two artists from the Shanghai Museum introduced visitors and residents in Greece's capital to the traditional Chinese arts of calligraphy and painting. Yuan Qiming and Yan Xiaojun treated the Acropolis Museum in Athens as their own private studio as they gave the demonstration.

Yuan is a calligrapher, exhibition designer and associate curator, while Yan is a painter and assistant curator of painting and calligraphy

 

A basin lid with a Dionysian scene (350-325 BC) from the Acropolis Museum in Athens. In the framework of cooperation between China and Greece, two treasures from the Greek museum are on display at the Shanghai Museum. Photos by Xinhua and Provided to China Daily

The Athens Acropolis Museum hosted a workshop from March 22 to 25, following the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between the two museums and the 2017 Greece-China Year of Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation in Creative Industries.

"I think visitors are very interested in the Chinese techniques of calligraphy and painting," said the museum's president, Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis.

Two treasures from the Shanghai Museum are also on display at the Acropolis Museum in an exhibition which will last until April 30.

They are a bronze pan of Zi Zhong Jiang, which dates back to the seventh century BC (Early Spring and Autumn Period), and the hand scroll painting Traveling Along the Clear River, created by artist Wu Hong in the 17th century.

"We have brought to the Acropolis Museum two exhibits, that is a bronze pan and a hand scroll of Chinese painting, that represent ancient Chinese art. We are going to paint a landscape and I will show you the calligraphy of the Chinese in ancient times, the clerical script of Chinese," Yuan told visitors.

He presented major script types of calligraphy, one of the trademarks of Chinese culture.

"I am surprised when I am writing. Some of the visitors know so much about Chinese culture and they can tell what I am writing. It is amazing," he said.

Yan improvised in his painting with freehand skill and ink wash, just as the Chinese literati painters did, with various subjects such as colored landscapes and flowers.

"I have done paintings similar to the ones exhibited here in the museum. Yesterday, I did a landscape of southern China, and I will paint another of northern China. They have similarities, but you can see the differences between the landscapes of the north and south. I used special techniques to depict different kinds of rocks in the landscape," Yan explained.

Chinese painting is an art with a deep-rooted tradition and a unique style, employing a "dots and lines" structure, and the writing brush, ink stick, silk and xuan paper as the main tools.

In the spirit of exchange, two exquisite objects from the Acropolis Museum are being exhibited at the Shanghai museum until April 8.

They are a marble statue of a Kore (520-510 BC), or Greek maiden, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved sculptures of the Acropolis, which retains traces of its original colors, and a basin lid with a Dionysian scene (350-325 BC).

"We have sent to Shanghai two masterpieces from the Acropolis Museum, and we also sent two conservators to give a presentation there on the way the ancient Greeks worked with marble, how they made sculptures. This was a great success," Pantermalis said.

"In the future, we will prepare a major exhibition with a special theme, with some very personal objects of the Emperor Qianlong (1736-96). They are now in the Forbidden City, and we will present these pieces in the fall this year in the Acropolis Museum," he said.

Xinhua

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2018-04-08 11:05:39
<![CDATA[Long and winding road]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/08/content_35989999.htm A new documentary about the Beatles' influence in China is coinciding with a Beijing exhibition to mark the 55th anniversary of the band's first album

On March 22, 1963, the Beatles released their debut album, Please Please Me. Recorded in EMI's Abbey Road studio, it reached the top of the British album charts in May of that year and remained there for 30 weeks before being replaced by their second album, With the Beatles. It also started the journey of arguably the most legendary and revolutionary rock bands of all time, brought into being by its four members - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - in the northern English city of Liverpool in 1960.

Fifty-five years later - starting on March 22, 2018 - 28 famous Beatles albums, including Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles 1962-1966, have been made available on major Chinese streaming services QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo.

To mark the 55th anniversary of the release of the band's debut album, a Chinese documentary titled Here Comes the Beatles has been launched on three online streaming music services under Tencent Music Entertainment Group-QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo. With one episode being streamed online each week, the documentary, which has five episodes, has veteran Chinese singer-songwriters and music critics sharing their memories of the Beatles and discussing the band's enduring influence.

An exhibition titled The Beatles, Tomorrow is underway at the Today Art Museum in Beijing. Kicking off on March 24 and running until May 27, the exhibition displays posters, newspaper articles, album cover art, famous quotes, videos, audio clips and more than 100 photos of the Beatles, from behind-the-scenes shots to live shows, spanning from 1963 to 1972 and shot by photographers from Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper.

"The first time I read about the Beatles was in a youth magazine in the 1980s, when I was a student at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing," renowned music critic Zhang Youdai recalled in Beijing at the exhibition's opening ceremony. "Their name was literally translated into Chinese as jia ke chong. The article said the band influenced a whole generation of young people in the 1960s, and I was curious about them and their music."

Zhang had asked one of his classmates, a Japanese student, to buy him a cassette during a trip to Hong Kong at that time. Unfortunately, his classmate bought a cassette by a band from the Philippines covering Beatles' songs.

"When my Japanese classmate finally bought me the legal recording of the Beatles, I listened to their songs and realized why they influenced so many people," said Zhang. "They invented a new sound for a rock band. I particular enjoyed their impeccable vocal harmonies."

As he grew up, Zhang became a big fan of the Beatles and bought the band's albums on his travels around the world. One of his favorite songs from the band is Carry That Weight, which was written by Lennon and McCartney and was released as a single from their album Abbey Road in 1969.

"I particularly like the lyrics: 'Boy, you're gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time'. When I listened to that song in my 20s, I was overwhelmed then and I am overwhelmed even today," said Zhang. "Undoubtedly, they are one of the greatest bands in the world, and their legacy can still be felt today around the world."

The Beatles have also been a great inspiration for Chinese singer-song-writers.

Beijing-based indie band The Life Journey traveled to London to record their new album, Always Be There, at Abbey Road Studios last year, as a tribute to the Beatles. They have collaborated with Scottish musician and producer Howard Bernstein, professionally known as Howie B, who has worked with such artists as U2.

The four members of the band also had a picture taken outside the studio, imitating the cover photo of the Beatles' Abbey Road album, which is regarded as one of the most iconic images in pop history.

"There were lots of tourists taking photos on the road. Because of the Beatles, people make the pilgrimage to London to follow in their footsteps. We were deeply impressed," says Kong Yang, the band's lead vocalist.

Band guitarist Huang Zijun says: "When we were working in Abbey Road Studio, we felt close to not only the Beatles but also to George Martin, who produced many of the Beatles' classic albums. Producing an album is like doing an experiment in a lab. It's the achievement of all four members of the Beatles and George Martin."

The band was founded by Kong and Huang when they were about 16 years old. In 2005, they moved from their hometown, Liuzhou, in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to the capital to pursue their music dream. So far, they have released eight studio albums.

"We admire the Beatles' creative songwriting, which evolved along with their personal growth. It's amazing to think that 50 years later, we are looking back on their music, which is still vibrant and pioneering," says Kong.

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2018-04-08 11:05:39
<![CDATA[Scenes from the city]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/08/content_35989998.htm New show by British artist Sarah Morris will feature a film shot during the 2008 Beijing Olympics that's never been screened in the city before. Deng Zhangyu reports.

As Beijing grabbed the global spotlight with the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games, British artist Sarah Morris began to shoot a movie detailing scenes from local life during the event, which was later screened in many cities outside China. Ten years on, her film Beijing is finally coming to the capital for its first screening in the city.

"It's very strange that I never showed Beijing in Beijing. But I think it's the best time now," says Morris, a New York-based painter and filmmaker.

 

British artist Sarah Morris' first retrospective show at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing showcases a comprehensive selection of her works, including films, paintings, drawings and photos. Photos Provided to China Daily

The 50-year-old's first retrospective show, Odysseus Factor in China, which opened on March 24 at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art and runs through May 27, showcases a comprehensive selection of her works, which includes films, paintings, drawings and photos. Most of the 14 films in the exhibition focus on some of the world's biggest cities and took Morris two decades to complete. Her next film concentrates on a city in Japan, but the artist insists on keeping its location a secret until she has finished shooting.

Talking about returning to the city where Beijing was produced, Morris says: "I like the fact there's been a delay of 10 years. I like the number 10; it's a good number." She says the pause will help raise audience expectations and give a new perspective of the city they live in. This follows the pattern of her 2016 film Abu Dhabi, which was also first screened outside of the city.

With a running time of about 85 minutes, Beijing is a fusion of fragmented scenes condensed into one work, showing a broad range of scenes, including people on the street watching the fireworks during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, movie star Jackie Chan giving a speech at an Olympic forum and women rehearsing ribbon-spinning in a public square.

It shows Beijing and the Olympics from a variety of aspects, as well as in more detailed ways, during the summer of 2008.

"Most people look at my film and think it must have taken me several months to shoot. When I tell them it only took one month, they think I'm crazy," Morris says.

In fact, the work took her just two and half a weeks to shoot. However, the process of obtaining filming permits and persuading people to appear in the film cost her a great deal more time and energy.

To get permission to gain entry into Olympic Stadium to shoot an artistic film, Morris traveled to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, in an effort to persuade officials there in person rather than relying on email.

"I enjoy having conversations and persuading people. It's an interesting process. My work is about the power of art. I believe art has the power to open doors and bring very different people together, " she says.

Being a film producer means that Morris, whose list of recent contacts has grown to around 30,000 people, has to reach out to lots of new faces and ask for help when she takes on a new project.

Sticking to the style of Beijing, most of Morris' later films follow a similarly fragmented approach, with scenes changing quickly with little apparent connection. It's her way, she says, to place viewers in a visual framework that represents a much larger entity and to allow audiences to feel like "they are on the inside".

Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, says Morris uses the theme of being on the inside in all of her works. Tinari sees this as a reflection of wider society, where situations often arise that people fail to see, or think are out of their control.

While visitors might not be able to sit through all 14 films at the show, they will be able to dip into any of the works and get a flavor of the cities or people in focus and gain a fresh perspective.

Morris' paintings follow a similar concept. In this show, she and her team have done an on-site wall painting that measures 58 meters long, covering one entire wall of the exhibition hall.

For Morris, her films and paintings are "two sides of the same coin". The films are fast and dynamic, while the paintings are slow and static. The artist also has two sides to her personality. On one hand, she is impatient and always thinking about her next project. On the other, she uses paintings to force herself to slow down and concentrate.

Since 1998, when she produced her first film, Midtown, which is about New York City, Morris has devoted herself to portraying either individuals or cities. And the cities that she has chosen as subject matter, such as Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Paris and Beijing, are all aligned with each other in terms of their economy or culture. But Morris says her films are not documentaries, because her works are more surreal, sometimes like a dream, sometimes like a nightmare.

"It's an investigation with no ending, no answer and even no truth - only perspectives open for interpretation," she says.

Having filmed in many of the world's major cities, the artist says she finds the future of urban living a little worrisome, especially the increasing use of surveillance by technology companies.

"It's a contradiction. I use all these products and then worry about my privacy," she says, adding that it's also the contradictions in cities that are the focus for her films.

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2018-04-08 11:05:39
<![CDATA[Character that stays fresh through the ages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/08/content_35989997.htm For countless generations, there has been one very good way for the Chinese to describe the new generation

"On the Yangtze River, each wave pushes the one that came before - so will the new always push the old", goes a Chinese idiom. The fresh faces of the post-'90s generation are gradually taking the center stage of society as young workers, government officials and parents. In their honor, our character of the day is fresh, or 鲜 (xiān).

Among today's "artistic youths" (文艺青年, wén yì qīng nián), Yue Yun, the eldest son of the 12th-century general Yue Fei, is held up as an inspiration. The young general said young people ought to enjoy life, but youth was also a time to strive for a greater purpose, which, at his time, was to take northern China back from the Jurchen invaders. His description of youth was 鲜衣怒马(xiān yī nù mǎ), to be dressed in fine clothes and riding on well-groomed horses. Tragically, the young general was falsely accused of treason and executed, along with his famous father, at 23, making him forever an icon to the young and idealistic.

In its original meaning, 鲜referred to a particular item, "fresh fish". The bronze script of the character, developed 3,000 years ago, had a pictorial form consisting of a "goat" radical, 羊 (yáng), on top and a "fish" radical, 鱼 (yú), below. The goat radical stood for the meaning "delicious".

In the Tao Te Ching, one of the fundamental Taoist texts, the sage Laozi compared administrating a large state with cooking a small fresh fish: 治大国若烹小鲜 (zhì dàguó ruò pēng xiǎo xiān). There were many interpretations to the metaphor; one, proposed by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, was that a fish breaks apart if it's flipped too frequently while being fried. Thus, a state ought to be governed carefully: The ruler must maintain stable laws and regulations and keep the citizens undisturbed.

Today, xian can still refer to aquatic food, as in 海鲜 (hǎi xiān, seafood). When used as a adjective, it has the meaning of "new" and "fresh", as in the word 新鲜 (xīn xiān). 新鲜水果(xīn xiān shuǐ guǒ, fresh fruit) and 新鲜空气 (xīn xiān kōng qì, fresh air) are among our necessities of life. Some people also can't live without 新鲜事儿 (xīn xiān shìr), interesting news, so they might ask you for the latest gossip with: 最近发生了哪些新鲜事儿? (Zuì jìn fā shēng le nǎ xiē xīn xiān shìr?) People also can be fresh, as in 新鲜人 (xīn xiān rénr, "fresh people"), young adults who have just graduated from college and started working.

When paired with a noun, 新鲜 can be shortened into just 鲜, as in 鲜花 (xiān huā, fresh flowers), 鲜啤 (xiān pí, draft beer) and 鲜肉 (xiān ròu, fresh meat). In pop culture, "little fresh meat" or 小鲜肉refers to baby-faced male idols. Another term, 鲜血 (xiān xuè, fresh blood) is "new blood", or new members of a group. For instance, 九零后员工给公司补充了新鲜血液. (Jiǔ líng hòu yuán gōng gěi gōng sī bǔ chōng le xīn xiān xuè yè. The post-'90s staff added new blood to the company.)

Sometimes, the fresh and new will fade over time. The word 新鲜劲儿 (xīn xiān jìnr) describes a novel, superficial interest. For instance, 再好的玩具, 新鲜劲儿一过, 他就随手丢了. (Zài hǎo de wán jù, xīn xiān jìnr yí guò, tā jiù suí shǒu diū le. No matter how fun the toy is, after the initial interest passes, he will just chuck it.)

In order to maintain interest, you may need to preserve freshness, which is 保鲜 (bǎo xiān). A trip to the supermarket will reveal more uses of xian, as in the 生鲜 (shēng xiān, fresh produce) section, and the counter serving freshly pressed juice, or 鲜榨果汁(xiān zhà guǒ zhī). For fine cuisine and beverages, freshly harvested ingredients are essential. Tasting an early batch of a seasonal delicacy - like Longjing tea in the spring, or hairy crabs in the autumn - is called 尝鲜 (cháng xiān, taste freshness). Metaphorically, it can also mean trying new things. Naturally, things that are 鲜 are delicious, as in 鲜美 (xiān měi) or 鲜嫩 (xiān nèn, fresh and tender).

As with Yue Yun's fine clothes, freshness is associated with things that are vivid; therefore, xian can also mean "bright", "brightly colored", and "beautiful". To describe flowers with vibrant colors, use 鲜艳 (xiān yàn); to describe flashy fashions, use 光鲜(guāng xiān). Xian also applies to abstract things; an original, well-defined opinion is said to be 鲜明 (xiān míng); A lively and vibrant attitude is 鲜活(xiān huó, fresh and lively).

Xian has one other meaning - "rare". The idiom 屡见不鲜(lǚ jiàn bù xiān), meaning "commonly seen and not rare", is used for occurrences too ordinary to be 新鲜事儿.

Another insightful phrase, 靡不有初, 鲜克有终 (mí bùyǒu chū, xiǎn kè yǒu zhōng), means "everything is good at first, but stay so till the last". This is a warning against the passing of 新鲜劲儿, stressing the importance of seeing one's goals through to the end. It's an apt motto for today's fresh-faced youths amid all the unprecedented, unusual challenges they face - will they preserve their vivid idealism and change the world? Only time will tell.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

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2018-04-08 11:05:39
<![CDATA[Sea of gold floods 'town of a thousand islands']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/07/content_35986744.htm A patchwork of shimmering rapeseed fields spliced by a network of meandering green waterways presents a unique vista in Xinghua. Cang Wei reports in Nanjing.

Flooded in a sea of golden rape flowers, the Qianduo scenic area in Xinghua, Jiangsu province, attracts millions of tourists from around the world every year.

The scenic area, also called the Qiandao Rape Flower Scenic Area, covers an area of 4.3 square kilometers. It is reputed to be one of the most beautiful spots to see rape flowers in the country.

 

Tourists enjoy the view of golden rape flowers by boat in the Qianduo scenic area in Xinghua, Jiangsu province. Provided to China Daily

 

Located in Dongwang village in Xinghua, the scenic area is holding its 10th Rape Flower Festival from late March to early May. With its unique scenery of a sea of golden rape flowers set amid a network of lush green rivers and lakes, it attracted more than 2 million tourists in 2017.

The panorama of the rivers and waterways winding through the fields of rape flower duotian are unique in China. Duotian, which is the local name for "raised field", are small patches of fertile soil created to have easy access to water for growing crops.

In ancient times, local farmers living near these rivers and lakes dug up the soil up from the riverbeds and piled the soil high to form farmland where they could grow crops. Each duotian is divided into sections by these waterways, and farmers need to commute by boats to tend to their crops, without the use of agricultural machinery.

A lack of modern machinery and the practice of growing rape crops turned out to be a distinctive ecological travel resource for the city. The thousands of fields at Qiandao differ in size and shape, with the largest ones extending to around 2,000 square meters, while the smallest ones cover just 2 square meters.

Almost every raised field is surrounded by water. The area is also called the "Town of a Thousand Islands", and poets have been writing about the area's outstanding beauty since ancient times.

These days in Xinghua, tourists can not only meander through the vivid seas of flowers by boat or go fishing, they can also catch a glimpse of the local lifestyle and village culture, and even get involved in harvesting farming products.

Thanks to its clean water and fertile environment, the region is also famous for its rice, crab and taro, which have become nationwide favorites since they were introduced in A Bite of China, a popular Chinese food documentary.

Xinghua's duotian agrosystem was selected as one of the "globally important agricultural heritage systems" by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in April 2004 for its splendid landscapes and agricultural sustainability.

"The city's ecological advantage is its precious treasure," said Li Weiguo, Party secretary of Xinghua. "The city and its people have been benefiting from the local ecology, and we will continue to protect the environment for sustainable development."

As a cultural city with a long history, Xinghua has been home to many famous people over the centuries and earned the reputation as a "city of talent" as early as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Fan Zhongyan (989-1052), a politician, poet and military thinker, was once the county magistrate in Xinghua.

Shi Naian, author of The Water Margin, was also born in Xinghua and returned to his hometown to finish the masterpiece, which is considered one of the most famous novels of ancient China. Shi's tomb, located in Xinduo township, is a cultural relic under the protection of the Jiangsu government.

Many novels from the Ming and Qing (1368-1911) dynasties were written by writers born in Xinghua, making it an important place related to the study of literature from that period.

Xinghua is also the hometown of many famous scholars, including Zheng Banqiao, Liu Xizai and Bi Feiyu. It was named as China's first "Home of Chinese Novels" in April 2012.

Bi Feiyu, a writer and professor at the Faculty of Arts at Nanjing University, has been awarded both the Lu Xun Literature Prize and Mao Dun Literature Prize, China's top literature awards, on several occasions.

Several of Bi's works have been adapted into movies, including Blind Massage, a winner at Taiwan's 2014 Golden Horse Awards.

The city government has been making efforts to build a "cultural Xinghua", for which several literature prizes and institutes have been established and activities themed on literature have been held.

There are more than 240 cultural relic and historical sites in Xinghua. Some of the houses of former famous residents have now been protected at a provincial level.

By 2014, there were 74 cultural relic units under protection.

Two local customs usually carried out around Tomb Sweeping Day - Maoshan haozi, a style of folk song performed to synchronized movements, with one person leading, and Maoshan boat racing, which is similar to the dragon boat racing held nationwide at Duanwu Festival, only the boats are not decorated as dragons - have also been added to the national list of intangible cultural heritage.

Liu Maomao contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at cangwei@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-07 07:35:33
<![CDATA[Adrenaline Junkies: Chinese becoming more adventurous]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/07/content_35986742.htm Outdoor activities, especially those that get the heart pumping, are drawing increasing attention in the country's tourism sector

While many love traveling abroad to go shopping or to experience exotic cultures, history and food, a growing number of Chinese tourists are looking for an adrenaline rush via extreme sports, whether soaring through the sky in Vietnam or exploring the ocean in Thailand, or any of a host of opportunities becoming evermore available.

Sport-oriented tourism has become the next big thing. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism predicted that Chinese people will make 1 billion trips for sport between 2017 and 2020, 15 percent of total travel in the period, creating a trillion-yuan ($159.5 billion) market. The country is also seeing more tourists heading aboard to experience or receive professional training for extreme sports.

 

A tourist scuba dives under the sea around Saipan, the northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Provided to China Daily

"With people's incomes rising, they are looking for more diversified travel experiences abroad," said Peng Liang, director of public relations at Ctrip, the country's biggest online travel agency. "Generally, extreme sports institutions and infrastructure are more professional overseas, with more options and sometimes lower prices."

Take for example Open Water Diver, an entry-level diver certification. In China, only in Hainan province or some indoor institutions in Shanghai and Beijing can one receive training for scuba diving, costing up to 10,000 yuan. But one can obtain the certificate in Southeast Asia, in better waters and with more professional training, for less than half the price, Peng said.

"I started diving in 2012 and it cost me $700 to get an Open Water certificate. I have been diving in Tanzania, Thailand, Australia and the Seychelles," said Lin Yating, a 25-year-old student in Australia.

Peng said more tourists, like Lin, are no longer satisfied with one-off experiences such as diving or sky-diving. They crave repeated experiences and professional training.

The most popular packages Ctrip sells that include activities for certified divers are in the Philippines and the Caribbean, costing 17,980 yuan and 32,900 yuan, respectively.

Other popular activities include mountain skiing, cycling and marathons, according to Peng.

"In the future we will focus on those products that combine outdoor sports and tourism. With the number of tourists growing, we believe outdoor sports packages will have more fans," he said.

Some popular global destinations famous for extreme sports have witnessed an increase in Chinese tourists year-on-year.

"Last year 97,271 Chinese visitors came to South Africa," said Bradley Brouwer, president of South African Tourism's Asia-Pacific branch. "The number of Chinese visitors who experience outdoor activities has increased every year. We have found that more and more Chinese travelers are becoming more adventurous and like outdoor activities in wide open spaces."

South Africa is known as an ideal holiday destination for outdoor adventures of all kinds, ranging from surfing, skydiving and bungee jumping, to safaris and even shark cage diving.

Brouwer said he has noticed that Chinese riders participated in the Cape Epic race in March, one of the most televised eight-day mountain bike race events in the world.

"With China's millennial generation increasingly looking for more unique and immersive experiences that others might not yet have tried, South African Tourism hopes to strike this chord with a new focus on authentic cultural and people-to-people experiences, which makes our Rainbow Nation so uniquely warm and welcoming," he added.

Peng said a significant reason behind Chinese tourists going abroad for extreme sports is that other countries might be more competitive in those fields.

Although it started later than some countries, China does not lack the necessary natural resources, and the domestic market will catch up as investment flows into the industry, according An Fuxiu, founder of Sportbank, a Beijing-based sport-related investment consultancy.

"Most extreme sports are related to tourism products and the country has a wide range of activities on offer, from ice sports to water sports and even safari," An said. "But the entire sports industry started later than many mature markets, which is why extreme sports have also fallen behind."

The market is of great potential," she said. "The sport industry has been placed under the spotlight in recent years and with investment coming in, infrastructure improving and professional staff being trained, although it is currently just getting started, the industry will catch up in a very short time."

Liu Yukun contributed to the story.

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2018-04-07 07:35:07
<![CDATA[Extreme sports market on right track]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/07/content_35986741.htm The extreme sports market in China is gaining favor in the capital and experts believe the industry will mature quickly.

"Although it started late, the domestic extreme sports market is on the right track," said An Fuxiu, founder of Sportbank, a Beijing-based sport-related investment consultancy.

"A growing number of companies and governments have put a lot of effort into adding an extreme sports element to the design of characteristic towns," she said.

Characteristic towns are those that use a special theme - such as tourism, logistics, manufacturing, technology or culture - to drive the local economy. The country is planning to create 1,000 such towns by 2020.

"One successful case is Wuzhizhou Island in Hainan province, which has an annual revenue of more than 1 billion yuan ($159 million)," she said. "The major business there is diving. The island is also equipped with a number of extreme sports activities such as hot air ballooning."

An said that during her last visit in November, considered an off-peak season for diving, the spot was still packed with tourists and divers.

"One significant feature of extreme sports is that they are addictive. If you try once, you want to try again. And that is why the travel site needs to introduce extreme sports contests every year," she said. "You may only want to visit a place once in your life, but if there is an annual contest, then you have to go every year."

Extreme sport is a promising trend for characteristic towns, and sport-oriented characteristic towns will be an important part of the business."

An also explained the major obstacles in developing extreme sports in China.

"The fundamental problem is we don't have enough people participating in sports activities in China, let alone extreme sports," she said. "Compared to mature markets overseas where people grow up surfing, diving or skating."

An said a lack of infrastructure in the domestic industry was also a major obstacle to developing such a business.

"Another problem comes from the infrastructure side when developing such sports. One significant feature of the extreme sports market is that it requires a longer industrial chain, including land, equipment manufacturers and third-party service providers," she said.

Promotion of such sports is also facing technical hurdles as livestreaming, photography and filming all require high cinematographic skills and professional gear.

"It is a shame if an exciting contest fails to be presented to the audience properly, and the ventures are looking to acquire professional teams overseas," An added.

 

A man riding a bicycle tries to jump over part of the Donghu Lake in Wuhan, Hubei province. Provided to China Daily

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2018-04-07 07:35:07
<![CDATA[Olympic inclusion gives rock climbing a boost]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/07/content_35986740.htm The announcement that rock climbing will be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has given the climbing business in China a boost, with the sport becoming a new fashionable workout for Chinese youngsters.

In 2017, about 100 new rock climbing clubs were started in the country, taking the total number to about 350, according to Sohu.com. The number of coaches has also increased by 52 percent in 2017, compared with 2016.

"We conducted detailed research before we started the rock climbing club. Our research showed us there was a surging market as the number of similar clubs doubled in Beijing last year, and sales of climbing shoes rose by 20 percent," said Wei Junjie, who established his own rock climbing club Rock Hour in Beijing last year and was one of the first to practice and promote the sport.

"We saw great potential in the rock climbing field and decided to jump in," Wei added. "As more people are becoming interested and a growing number of those are becoming more professional, the existing rock climbing clubs in Beijing could no longer meet their demands."

The rising number of rock climbing clubs is only one aspect of the growing business.

Kailas, a China-based outdoor wear brand, now aims to integrate new technology into its manufacturing and production for lighter, safer and more durable equipment to meet the growing need from its customers.

Xie Weicheng, a Kailas-contracted sportsman and rock climbing route setter, said that he is confident of continued market growth as the amount of an individual's total expenses used for basic living expenses is falling, leaving people with more money to spend on recreational activities.

"Not only rock climbing, but also parkour, sky diving, and other extreme sports are seeing market opportunities. What is happening now is that people want something new and more exciting," Xie added.

According to Xie, traveling to experience extreme sports is now becoming a trend. "My friends and I travel abroad for contests in rock climbing and other activities, and some people just want to enjoy the scenery and the sport with people who share the same interests," Xie said.

Rock climbing has also now come to schools and camps. In 2017, the Chinese Mountaineering Association gave awards to 22 elementary and middle schools in China for their outstanding efforts in promoting rock climbing and setting up related programs.

"We need more professionals and experts to promote the sport to a wider audience," Xie said.

liuyukun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-07 07:35:07
<![CDATA[Time-honored brands trying new ideas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984057.htm China's time-honored brands, known as laozihao, are adopting fresh operation modes to catch the eyes of the country's increasingly sophisticated consumers.

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Traditional firms using retail outlets to compete in more sophisticated market

China's time-honored brands, known as laozihao, are adopting fresh operation modes to catch the eyes of the country's increasingly sophisticated consumers.

Recently, traditional Chinese herbal tea producer Guangzhou Wanglaoji Pharmaceutical Co Ltd launched four outlets, called 1828 Wanglaoji, in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, bringing handmade herbal tea to physical stores.

Unlike conventional herbal tea, which is usually sold in cans in supermarkets, the handmade teas are now being served in physical stores, where clerks offer customized herbal drinks for the consumers.

"I ordered a classical one. Customers can choose herbs to add to their drinks, such as orange peel, goji berry and licorice. Compared with Wanglaoji's herbal tea sold in cans, I think the handmade one has a heavier taste of Chinese medicine," said Jackie Chen, 25, a Guangzhou resident.

Three of the new 1828 Wanglaoji outlets are in shopping malls, and consumers find them a great combination with adjacent restaurants.

"I feel great to have a herbal tea after having a spicy meal in the Sichuan restaurant nearby," Chen said.

"Because the climate in Guangdong is usually damp and hot, we often suffer from excessive internal heat. In order to repel internal humidity and heat, we are fond of drinking herbal tea," he added.

Industry insiders said that currently, the two leading Chinese herbal tea makers, Guangzhou-based Wanglaoji and Hong Kong-based JDB Group, take up more than 80 percent of the market share. Both the density and the scope of the distribution channels have reached a saturated level, and all categories of the products of the time-honored brands have reached maturity, making it difficult to find new market growth points.

As a result, they said, it is reasonable for those time-honored brands to extend their product categories and establish their own distribution channels.

Recent years have witnessed earthshaking changes in China's catering market. Consumers are aware of an increasing number of diversified food and drinks, and those time-honored brands that mainly rely on traditional operation modes face severe challenges.

Meanwhile, the market for instant food and beverages is continuously growing. Official statistics show that by the end of 2017, the market volume of instant drinks had reached more than 50 billion yuan ($7.94 billion) per year, and the figure is still rising.

"People's taste is randomly changing. In the market where competition is so fierce, physical stores with no distinguishing features are doomed to be knocked out," researcher He Liting of Zero Power Intelligence Group, a research institution headquartered in Shenzhen, told China Industrial and Economic News.

Huo Liren, deputy manager of Wanglaoji, said in a media conference that the company opened four physical stores simultaneously to meet consumers' rising consumption demands for herbal teas.

"In 2018, we will continue to explore the market in Guangdong, and we plan to enter East China in the fourth quarter of the year," Huo added.

Other time-honored brands are taking similar steps. Recently, Chinese snack and candy maker Hsu Fu Chi International Ltd opened its exclusive offline shop in Dongguan, Guangdong province.

The traditional pineapple cake maker is trying its hand at what's called "experiential consumption", or consumption driven by the desire for memorable experiences, by offering hand-made pastries.

The well-decorated shop, opened in a shopping mall in Dongguan, offers handmade pineapple cakes in a variety of flavors, including original taste, Japanese-style matcha and cranberry. It provides both eat-in and take-away services, and all the pineapple cakes it sells are beautifully packaged.

Zhao Yue, an analyst at Beijing-based market research firm Analysys, said "against the backdrop of 'new retail', more and more conventional enterprises are attempting to open offline experience stores, where they can have the closest encounter with the consumers, bringing brand values to them."

"However, the difficulties lie in how to cater to consumers' personalized and diversified consumption demands in the new era. They need to figure out more crossover marketing strategies, based on the brands' own advantages and conditions," Zhao said.

At present, there are 1,128 time-honored brands registered at the Ministry of Commerce, with the brands enjoying an average history of 160 years. Among them, more than 60 percent are in the catering and medicine sector.

Last year, the MOC, together with 15 government authorities, jointly issued a guideline to protect these time-honored brands, by promoting online and offline integration, calling for stronger intellectual property protection and offering additional favorable governmental policies.

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2018-04-06 08:23:51
<![CDATA[Yili bakes up Western recipe for success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984056.htm For a good example of how China's time-honored brands are embracing new retail channels, consider Century Yili, a bakery that's long been famous for its delicious pastries and breads.

Finding itself up against competition with new brands selling Western-style cakes, Yili is now offering its products in brick-and-mortar cafes, including one in Shuangjing, the southeastern part of Beijing, that wouldn't be out of place in, say, Europe or North America.

The 150-square-meter cafe encompasses both Western and Chinese style delicacies, including cakes, light refreshments, fast food and salads. Its brand elements can be found everywhere, including the logo of Beibingyang soda - a white bear - printed on wall hangings.

"This is our first chain store with Western style, and we plan to launch more such chain stores in Beijing in the future," said Ma Chunying, director of Beijing Century Yili Grocery Co Ltd of Beijing Yiqing Group.

The new outlet is one of more than 120 chain stores across Beijing, and the growth rate of its annual sales revenue is greater than 20 percent. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), Beijing Yiqing Group plans to launch a total of 300 Yili chain stores.

The new direction for Yili is already winning raves from customers.

"In the past, we could only buy Yili bread in supermarkets, and the category was quite limited. Now, physical stores offer a variety of selections, both Chinese and Western, and the quality and taste is just the same as I had in my childhood," said Zhang Min, a consumer from Beijing who had just visited the chain store.

Apart from launching chain stores, to realize operating transformation, Century Yili also invites consumers to visit its bread factory, where it offers lessons in making breads and cakes.

At the Yili factory in the Daxing district in Beijing, visitors can learn about the time-honored brand, which enjoys a history of 112 years. Walking down the corridor of the factory, with old pictures hanging on the wall, consumers gain a better understanding of the brand's origin, and how the company evolved over time.

"Not only kids, but adults and the elderly are attracted to the factory to experience the charm of the time-honored brand. Especially during festivals, numerous visitors come to our factory. During the busy season, we get more than 1,000 arrivals per day," said Li Qi, general manager of Beijing Yiqing Group.

In addition, Yili is embracing the 'new retail' era by joining hands with many e-commerce platforms, such as Tmall.com, JD, missfresh.cn and Womai.com, further expanding its distribution channel.

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2018-04-06 08:23:51
<![CDATA[Digital era helps old foodmaker in delivery, expansion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/06/content_35984055.htm For Lu Nan, a 35-year-old Beijing resident, waiting in line for some conventional delicacies has been a holiday tradition.

He never celebrates Spring Festival, Lantern Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival without first picking up some freshly made seasonal delicacies from Daoxiangcun, a time-honored brand that's been a favorite of Beijing residents since it opened in 1895.

They've been such a favorite, in fact, that purchasing them before a holiday has meant waiting in line - sometimes for up to two hours - at one of the company's physical branches in Beijing.

"I've always come to Daoxiangcun since I was a kid," Lu said. "I never go to other shops to buy snacks and cakes. It has become a habit for me. I trust the quality of the brand, and the price is fairly reasonable."

Today, however, Lu no longer has to wait in line. Daoxiangcun, like other time-honored brands, has embraced the digital era, which means that its signature yuanxiao (rice dumpings) are just a few computer clicks away.

In 2014, Daoxiangcun established its flagship stores on Alibaba's e-commerce platform Tmall.com and China's leading online retailer JD. It also teamed up with online food-delivery platforms Baidu Waimai and JD Daojia, a step toward exploring the O2O retail mode of time-honored bakeries.

Last year, Daoxiangcun signed a strategic partnership with JD, and now, as long as consumers make their order before 3 pm, they can get fresh rice dumplings on the same day.

Daoxiangcun's teaming up with e-commerce platforms quickly proved to be a success. According to statistics from JD, last year, consumers ordering Daoxiangcun commodities from its platform expanded by 4.1 times compared with 2016. The sales revenues in 2017 surged rapidly, with a tenfold increase from 2016.

The digital era has also expanded the company's reach far beyond Beijing. Going online means Daoxiangcun can deliver its products nationwide, including small cities.

From JD's data, in 2017, from first to sixth-tier cities, subscribers to Daoxiangcun on its platform grew by five to 10 times, and the growth rates in the fifth and sixth-tier cities were the most obvious, reaching eight times and 10 times respectively.

"The fast-developing e-commerce retail industry in China has injected new growth points into the time-honored brand," said Cheng Wenhua, deputy general manager of Beijing Daoxiangcun Foodstuff Co Ltd.

"Back in 1985, we used old-fashioned scales to weigh the pastry, and consumers lined up outside the store during peak hour.

"Now, with the online platforms, consumers can enjoy the delicacies more easily, and many of the young generation have become our fans. We see tremendous room for development," she said.

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2018-04-06 08:23:51
<![CDATA[Chinese embrace the business of fear]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982238.htm Escape games with horror themes are becoming popular with young people as calls for the introduction of an age-based classification system grow

Chen Yiwei says that, growing up, she felt different to most girls because she was more interested in cerebral, stimulating puzzles than fashion or cosmetics.

The 29-year-old from Shanghai likes all kinds of puzzle games and admits to enjoying the thrill of a slight scare. She played her first "room escape" game in 2012 and many more in the years since, going on in July to set up the Escape Game Player Union, which helps members find new games to play.

Chen Yiwei (far left) and her friends enjoy a Harry Potter-themed escape game in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Provided to China Daily

 

Running the union, whose 13,000 or so members have explored 604 room escape games in 11 cities across China, prompted her to quit her job as a customer service operator at a financial company and become a full-time game player.

"Through the world created by the games, players can solve puzzles, rescue people in danger, help the unfortunate and enjoy the experience of being in different scenarios with others," Chen said.

She said room escape games can have different themes, but many of the most impressive ones are related to horror or scary experiences.

"As a professional player, I have to try all different types," Chen said. "I have to admit that conquering your fear can give you an extremely high sense of achievement."

Horror as business

Zhao Yijie is one of the co-founders of Shanghai's Pulupulu, the operator of China's biggest themed game space, covering 5,000 square meters.

"Elements including horror, thrills and mystery that can arouse excitement are widely applied in our theme design and settings," Zhao said.

Pulupulu has welcomed about 300,000 players a year since opening its doors in September 2013. Its most successful game was the scary Horrible Hospital, which closed after welcoming 500,000 people in two years from July 2014.

"Financial and information technology professionals are the top two occupations playing our games, and most of them are in their 20s and 30s," Zhao said. "I think they have a need to release work pressure and fulfill a social need. In a setting with extreme scenes, players can easily forget who they are in reality and enjoy the fun."

Cao Zhenshu, vice-president of room escape games chain Mr X, which operates in 22 Chinese cities, said most players are age 12 to 35 and preferences vary, although many like horror environments and features.

"Especially in the inland Chinese cities of Chongqing, Chengdu, Changsha and Wuhan, players prefer horror themes than any other kind," he said.

"The spread of internet-based social activity among youngsters leaves little chance for them to communicate with each other offline," Cao said, adding that Mr X was founded in 2012 as an effort to remind youngsters of the fun of playing games in the real world.

Chen said up to 70 percent of the games tried by union members in Chongqing had a scary horror theme.

But Cao said players in larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai are less interested in horror themes. "This may have to do with their more diversified choices for entertainment," he said, adding that good design of the experience is more important than its scariness.

However, offering thrills and scares is becoming profitable, with horror films being watched by an increasing number of young people, like Zheng Zongqin, who works in Shanghai's financial sector.

"Horror movies are the best choice for people looking for a scary experience but not brave enough to see it in real life," said Zheng, whose favorite horror movie is the Japanese film The Grudge.

Need for excitement

A survey by the National Retail Federation in the United States found that one in five US citizens is planning to visit a horror-themed attraction, according to a Los Angeles Times report. Meanwhile, Americans are estimated to have spent $8.4 billion on Halloween candy, costumes and parties in 2016, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Although China is still at an early stage in the horror business, many young people are willing to pay to be scared.

"By adapting new technologies into a game or a 3-D movie, players or audiences can enjoy the experience - horror, scares, thrills - in a more authentic way," sociology professor Yu Hai of Fudan University said. "Feelings of excitement have long been sought after by humans, ever since ancient times.

"When people have spare time from work, there comes the need for excitement, such as the creation of the ancient Roman Colosseum, the popularity of movies like Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express among young Chinese two decades ago, and the eagerness for all kinds of stimulation among those born in the '90s and 2000s."

Lei Kaichun, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the richness of material life and the tedium of daily life were driving people to find an outlet for their passions and hormones.

"The experience of all kinds of feelings, including horror, thrills and scares, can bring about great business opportunities - maybe even greater than you can imagine," Lei said.

Safe form of danger

Huang Weiping, co-founder of a 4-D "death experience" space in Shanghai, said he was dumbfounded when he heard complaints from players who mistakenly thought it was a haunted house game, and that it was not scary enough.

"Though it's not what we're trying to do, I do see a demand for getting scared, as people are eager for excitement," Huang said.

The United Kingdom's Merlin Entertainments has announced that Shanghai will become the location of its first dungeon-themed attraction in Asia, and the 10th in the world, this fall.

To have broader appeal, Benjamin Sweet, the company's director for new openings in the Asia-Pacific region, said it will stick to scary fun in Shanghai, with the right mixture of scariness and fun across 10 themes based on the city's stories and legends.

"We don't believe that horror is truly an enjoyable experience on its own, and there has got to be a balance for our guests of being on a knife-edge, having that thrill, and having that level of humor," Sweet said. "Sometimes it is very easy to do it all horror, ... but you can either like it or not."

He said China represents a huge opportunity for growth and for Merlin, and the company has seen the entertainment sector develop rapidly.

"The Chinese are really spearheading the need for immersive attractions," Sweet said. "London is No 1 in terms of visitors, but we have great expectations for the (Shanghai) Dungeon."

Yu suggests it might be better to introduce horror elements in a moderate way, and it would be even better with a classification and supervision system, because many players are minors.

Countries including the US and UK have classification and rating systems based on the maturity of different age groups for entertainment like movies and games.

"It would be good to introduce a classification system in China together with proper supervision, because the exposure to too much violence or sex would pose a very negative influence to children," professor Yu said.

The recent hit movie Operation Red Sea raked in 3.5 billion yuan ($556.5 million) at the box office, but also generated many online comments that while it was a good movie, it was too violent for young viewers.

Pulupulu's Zhao said game designers are sometimes troubled by the lack of a classification system for games.

"To make sure the game can be played by younger audiences, designers have to make the games less scary, or less violent," he said, although he conceded that could also make the games less fun.

"Skillfully introducing a little bit of horror or scary elements will make the games more attractive, but designers should not play it up too much, especially because there is no rating system in China for games."

Gong Qianqi contributed to this story.

wang_ying@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-05 07:49:01
<![CDATA['Death game' operator ponders own demise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982237.htm For Xinglai, the operator of the first 4-D "death experience" game in Shanghai, to be, or not to be, is no longer the question.

As it celebrates its second anniversary on Tomb Sweeping Day, which falls on Thursday, it will also begin the one-year countdown to its own demise.

Xinglai, which means "wake up" in Chinese, occupies an area of just under 260 square meters in Shanghai's Huangpu district, and has been designed to make people think seriously about life and death.

It does so via three and a half hours of psychological games in a darkened room, in which 12 people discuss, debate and vote. At the end of each round, the player that receives the most votes enters the "door of impermanence" and walks along the "way of death" to arrive at a simulated incinerator, before returning to zero and waking up reborn.

One of its founders, Huang Weiping, said the unprofitable project is closing for two reasons. It is running out of money but also wants to make a statement about its own mortality.

The project opened in 2016 and was a hit in the first three months, welcoming 24 visitors a day, meaning it was operating at full capacity.

It has since received about 4,500 visitors, but its co-founders have decided it is unsustainable despite positive feedback and its 444 yuan ($70) admission fee, deliberately chosen because it sounds like the word "death" in Chinese.

In the past two years, the project has drained all the 4 million yuan invested by its three founders as well as 400,000 yuan raised from crowdfunding. But Huang, 48, and his partners still regard it as a success and say making the project available for another year will let more people try it.

"Memorial ceremonies nowadays are formalistic and short," he said. "Xinglai wants to be a place for people to place their sorrow when they have nowhere else to put it."

The idea for the project came to Huang in 2012, four years after a life-changing experience in Sichuan province. He had been working as a volunteer offering psychological assistance to survivors of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, which killed more than 60,000 people, when he realized that although death is a topic most people try to avoid in daily life, it is one that everybody will have to face some day.

"We did a free life-education session in a public space by placing a coffin on the ground and welcoming people to try it out," said Huang, who established China's first nonprofit hospice care NGO in his hometown of Shanghai in 2008.

A third of people tried to avoid the coffin and less than one-fifth opted to lie in it, mostly for laughs, he recalled.

"Toward death, people usually have some romantic or heroic notion," Huang said. "The truth is that death exists. If people don't have the right attitude toward it, they will panic when it arrives."

He said the experience at Xinglai is similar to performance art, with people immersing themselves in the topic and acting out death and rebirth. "Although the project will come to an end in a year, we're trying to bring it back to life by launching a stage play based on the experiences and stories of its 4,500 visitors," he said.

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2018-04-05 07:49:01
<![CDATA[Peking opera treat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982236.htm A show at Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center slated for May 6 - part of the 18th Meet in Beijing Arts Festival - promises to be a feast for fans of the ancient art. Chen Nan reports

With delicate makeup, exquisite costumes and headwear, four young Peking Opera actresses - Li Li, Jiang Xiaoyue, Yang Xiaoyang and Yin Chanjuan - showcase their talents playing four classic Peking Opera female roles at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts in Beijing, offering a glimpse of a show at Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center slated for May 6.

Among the audience is Zhang Huoding, one of the country's best known Peking Opera stars, who has been teaching the four female students for about a year.

Students of Zhang Huoding perform at the the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts in Beijing. Zou Hong / China Daily

 

During her long career, the 47-year-old Zhang has interpreted those four classic roles, including that Bai Suzhen from The Legend of White Snake and Zhu Yingtai from the Butterfly Lovers.

Speaking about the actresses, Zhang says: "They are so diligent and devoted to this art form. I am glad to see that they have taken their performance to another level over the past year, which is not easy.

"It takes solitude and years of hard training to learn Peking Opera. You have to concentrate," she adds.

Zhang, a former actress from the China National Peking Opera Company, has performed in sellout shows across the country, including a solo show at the Great Hall of the People in 2007.

Now, she teaches at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, one of the top academies of traditional Chinese opera, especially the 200-year-old Peking Opera, which is known as jingju in Chinese. And, over the past 10 years, since she became a mother, she has spent much of her time with her students at the school.

In 2016, the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts launched a project which enabled Zhang to mentor young female Peking Opera students.

So far, about 10 young female Peking Opera actresses have worked with Zhang.

One of Zhang's students, Li Li, who will perform the role Princess Tiejing from the classic Peking Opera Yang Silang Visits His Mother in the show, says of Zhang: "Although she rarely appears in public, she is like a pop star and many of her fans are young people like us."

The 29-year-old Li started her Peking Opera training in her hometown of Tianjin at the age of 7, before moving on to graduate with a master's degree from the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts.

For Li, who now works with the Beijing Peking Opera Theater, the years before she studied under Zhang were a struggle, and she even considered quitting her job as a jingju actress.

Then, in 2014, Li watched a performance by Zhang at Beijing's Chang'an Grand Theater. The long standing ovation and enthusiastic response Zhang received from her fans restored Li's faith in the art.

Explaining how Zhang influenced her, Li says: "I used to be restless but now I am very calm. What touches me is not only her solid technique onstage, but also her attitude toward this old art."

The upcoming show is part of the 18th Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, one of the capital's biggest cultural events.

Separately, on June 16 and 17, more of Zhang's students will perform shows at the Chang'an Grand Theater.

Paying tribute to Zhang, Ba Tu, the president of the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, says: "She left the stage at the peak of her career and devoted herself to teaching the younger generation. And our goal is to keep the tradition alive while training a new generation of Peking Opera performers."

Zhang, who was born in Baicheng, a city in Northeast China's Jilin province, was first exposed to the stage when her father, a veteran performer of Pingju Opera, which is popular in northern China, began to teach her about the art form when she was 9 years old.

And she started to learn about Peking Opera when she heard pieces from the opera on cassettes brought to her by her elder brother Zhang Huoqian, who was then studying the art form in Jilin.

At the age of 10, Zhang Huoding auditioned for a Peking Opera training school but failed. And by the time she was 15, she had failed four annual auditions. However, she did not give up and her father took her to Beijing to study Peking Opera with the performer Wang Lanxiang.

By the age of 16, Zhang was enrolled to study Peking Opera at an art school in Tianjin.

Then, before her graduation, she decided to devote herself to the Cheng School of Peking Opera, a performing style founded by Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58), one of the great Peking Opera masters of the 20th century.

Like famous Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), Cheng mastered the techniques of playing female roles, which is called nandan.

The Cheng School is known for interpreting tragic female roles with frequent changes in rhythm.

In 2015, Zhang Huoding made her debut in the United States, and caused a sensation by performing two famous Peking Opera pieces, The Legend of the White Snake and The Jewelry Pouch, at the Lincoln Center in New York.

At that time, Zhang Huoding's US debut was compared by the media to a performance by Mei Lanfang, who appeared in New York in 1930.

Speaking about that performance, Wang Xiuqin, the general manager of the China Performing Arts Agency, which organized the show, says: "I can still recall the devoted fans at the venue welcoming her, since she rarely performs in public now,"

In 2016, Zhang Huoding performed The Legend of the White Snake, marking the end of the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival for that year.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-05 07:48:21
<![CDATA[Chinese acupuncture cures patients in rural Tunisia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982235.htm TUNIS - Fatima Kehila, a retired Tunisian teacher who used to suffer from leg arthritis for years, felt very lucky that she has been cured after receiving free acupuncture treatment from a Chinese medical team.

Living in Sidi Thabet, a rural town in the northern suburbs of Tunisian capital Tunis, Kehila received the treatment at home every week by the Chinese doctors on a medical assistance mission in Tunis.

Every week, the team of five crosses a distance of around 30 kilometers to provide free acupuncture therapy to local residents of this small town.

"These patients mainly suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, cervical and lumbar spondylosis," explained He Shuiyong, head of the Chinese medical team.

He attributed the diseases largely to the cold winter and humidity of the local weather along the coast of the Mediterranean.

Kehila told Xinhua that the town was located in less-developed areas and it is expensive for local residents to get access to medical treatment in hospitals.

"For years, Chinese doctors treated local residents for free and I decided to thank them in my way," Kehila said.

In November 2016, Kehila transformed her home into a place especially for Chinese doctors to work in Sidi Thabet.

She turned two living rooms of her house, covering nearly 50 square meters, into a clinic. The small place was always full of people every Saturday afternoon when the doctors come.

"Every time, there will be around 50 to 60 patients waiting here," said Kehila. "I prepared chairs, beds and sofa for the convenience of the treatment."

Men and women patients were separated in two rooms. After Chinese doctors gently apply tiny needles into the patient's skin as part of the treatment, the patients would start chatting with each other to relax.

Samira Seffa, 55, who has been suffering from rheumatism, was introduced to the Chinese team for treatment by her relatives. She began the acupuncture treatment three months ago, and the effect is obvious.

"I'm allergic to some chemical drugs, but Chinese acupuncture is a natural treatment with no chemical ingredients involved," Seffa said.

This weekend, Seffa's 26-year-old son came with her.

"At home, my mom always talks about the effectiveness of acupuncture. I come to relieve the pain of my knee today," said Seffa's son Mrmarwan. "At first, I thought the needles would hurt, but I feel OK after trying."

Acupuncture is a major form of treatment in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which has been practiced for over 2,500 years. TCM is widely used in China and has won increasing recognition in other parts of the world.

Chinese acupuncture was introduced to Tunisia in the 1970s and has become increasingly popular. "Besides curing diseases, acupuncture is also widely used to treat obesity," said He.

Amel Youssef, 45, successfully lost nearly 30 kg of weight after receiving acupuncture treatment for two years.

"The outcome is satisfying. I feel healthy and happy," Youssef laughed.

Ahmed Nouira, a 70-year-old retired gardener, volunteered to be the translator between the Chinese doctors and local patients during the treatment process, as local residents rarely speak English or French.

"The Chinese medical team helped our poor residents get rid of their health problems. They are our true friends," said Nouira. "It is not only a therapy, but a friendship bridge between peoples of Tunisia and China."

Each time, the free acupuncture treatment lasts for two hours. Kehila usually prepares mint tea and local desserts for the Chinese doctors to have a brief rest.

"My family members all support my decision," Kehila said. "I feel honored to have Chinese doctors at my home."

China started to send medical teams to Tunisia in 1974 as part of its medical aid efforts. Around 1,000 Chinese doctors have worked in the North African country ever since.

Xinhua

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2018-04-05 07:48:21
<![CDATA[Growing influence of Earth Hour]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977459.htm Celebrities push for environmental protection, seeking greater action on climate change. Yan Dongjie reports.

The Beijing National Stadium, or Bird's Nest, switched off its lights on the evening on March 24, the first of more than 3,100 buildings in over 200 cities around China in support of Earth Hour, a global event started by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

"It's not only about switching off the lights for one hour, it's about lighting up people's awareness of environmental protection and calling on people to shoulder their responsibilities," says Chinese film star Li Bingbing.

Li is one of the ambassadors for the event, adding that the annual event encourages individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off nonessential electricity use for one hour.

According to the WWF, more than 250 ambassadors and influencers joined the movement around the world this year, including Li who has also appeared in Hollywood movies such as 7 Guardians of The Tomb and Transformers: Age of Extinction.

She was joined by Wang Junkai, a member of the popular Chinese band TFBoys, and Zhang Zetian, JD founder Liu Qiangdong's wife who became famous after a photo of her holding a milk tea at high school went viral online, and Wang Shi, founder of real estate giant China Vanke.

Thanks to the backing of celebrities, Earth Hour was observed worldwide, with more than 17,900 landmarks monuments switching off their lights.

When it started in Sydney in 2007, about two million people participated in the first Earth Hour event. The electricity saved then was enough to power 50,000 electrical cars for one hour.

Eleven years later, hundreds of millions of people now switch off their lights around the world from 8:30 to 9:30 pm local time on the last Saturday evening of March to show their commitment to environmental protection and urge greater action on climate change. Earth Hour is considered to be the largest global event relating to environmental issues.

As an Earth Hour ambassador for the past 10 years, Li knows how gradually the movement has progressed. She revealed some of the difficulties and misunderstandings she has faced over the years when helping to promote the event during an exclusive interview with China Daily.

"Some people don't understand why we do this," she says. "They ask, how much energy can you save by turning off the lights for one hour? They think it's not as much as the waste that promoting the event causes."

Li says that she didn't give the event much thought when she decided to join Earth Hour in 2009, but she knew that environment and climate change were important issues. Buildings account for about one-third of the carbon emissions that scientists say will raise average global temperatures by 1.4 degrees Celsius and more this century, bringing floods and famines and putting millions of lives at risk.

Organizers of Earth Hour say that while switching off a light for one hour would have little impact on carbon emissions, the fact that so many people were taking part shows the interest and concern over the current climate crisis.

"When I return to the Bird's Nest, where Earth Hour started in China (in 2009), pictures of what we witnessed over the past 10 years keep running in my head, and I feel empowered to keep on going with it," Li says.

While the numbers of cities and people participating in Earth Hour has grown over the years, what has changed is Li's life and career.

She started a philanthropic operation called LOVE, which cooperates with the International Organization for Climate Change to plant industrial crops in rural areas that are better for the environment and the lives of farmers. Her outfit also calls for the reduction in the use of paper napkins at restaurants and promotes green commuting, encouraging people to walk, cycle or take buses to work instead of driving.

"More and more people understand that we should all undertake environmental protection work, and this is the reason I promote these ideas as an actress," says Li, adding that she felt encouraged by this.

Wang Shi, founder of China Vanke, one of China's major real estate enterprises, also joined Earth Hour as an ambassador. He says in a promotional video that he has quit using disposable bottled water and tableware. He brings his own slippers to hotels to avoid using disposable ones, and encourages Vanke employees to resist using similar items.

He says that about 58 billion disposable cups are used around the world every year. These single-use articles cost about 3.2 million mature trees and 100 billion liters of purified water during their manufacturing process.

"Half of the plastics that we use are single-use only, which is enjoyed by people for a short period of time, but takes the Earth hundreds of years to digest," he says.

In addition to the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and the National Swimming Center, Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor also turned dark on March 24. Known for its stunning nighttime scenes, most of the famous landmarks on both sides of Hong Kong harbor, including the International Finance Center and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, had turned their lights off.

Global landmarks such as the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta, the Acropolis in Athens, the Chain Bridge and Royal Palace in Budapest, and the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca had switched their lights off to mark the Earth Hour event.

Contact the writer at yandongjie@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Garbage recycling picks up among students in Chengdu]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977458.htm When Wang Jianchao was a child, he used to pick up discarded metal cans from the streets and sell them for money to buy snacks. His father, from time to time, then used to caution him, saying: "You need to study hard, or you will be left with no choice but to pick up garbage when you grow up."

Wang, born in 1980, then went on to become an engineer working for Microsoft in 2005. But this did not prevent his father's prophecy from coming true.

After quitting his job at Microsoft five years later, Wang started to deal with garbage.

He launched a technology-based garbage recycling unit called Aobag in March 2017 in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, to encourage recycling.

His company now collects recyclable garbage from its members and sells it to paper mills and manufacturers of milk cartons. A portion of the money made from the sales is then transferred to the trash provider.

So far, Aobag has more than 2,000 members, including not only adults but also students from kindergartens, primary and secondary schools.

Aobag established a relationship with the Experimental Primary School of Sichuan Normal University in September.

Speaking about the link, Gao Tao, the school's vice-principal, says: "Our communities have not done well in garbage recycling, so, we hope that by teaching children about this, we can make a difference."

According to a research by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences from 2015, one-third of Chinese residents do not separate recyclable trash. Consequently, this leads to the low recycling of municipal waste as garbage companies have to burn or bury recyclable garbage along with the content that cannot be recycled.

Last year, the State Council, China's cabinet, announced a plan that sets the goal of recycling 35 percent of all garbage by 2020.

Wang felt he could contribute to this. So he designed a rubbish bag to collect recyclable garbage.

Each bag his company provides comes with a distinct QR code. And by scanning the code, users can register for such an item on WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app.

When a bag from the company is returned to Aobag, its owner will know the weight of the trash and get a share of the money earned from it on WeChat.

Now, each class at the Experimental Primary School of Sichuan Normal University has an account.

So far, the 2,500 students at the school have made 16,500 yuan ($2,600) from 16,300 kilograms of trash, mostly paper and plastic, according to Aobag.

Recycling this amount of garbage means saving 250 trees or reducing the emission of carbon dioxide by 28 tons, says Aobag.

One heartening feature of the recycling exercise is the enthusiasm of the students' community.

Many of the students in boarding schools involved in the program now cut open used milk cartons, wash them clean and then air-dry them in their classrooms.

As for the other students, they influence their families.

So, most of them bring paper boxes from home, ensuring that they are recycled instead of just being thrown away.

While Wang has found success in schools, his efforts are still developing in Chengdu's universities, mainly due to financial reasons. The cost of buying Aobag bags and building collection points for the entire university will be huge.

Interestingly, an environmental protection project known as the Sustainable Urban System Program at Sichuan University hopes that the money they collect from selling recyclable garbage could be used to help poverty-stricken students in the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture of the province.

The university's program stipulates that if all 40,000 students on campus take part in this recycling activity, the money generated could be used to set up a scholarship fund, supporting 70 to 100 students over their nine-year compulsory education, covering primary school and junior middle school.

The team is now working on another plan so that the university can afford the price, says Wang Yueyue, a junior student at Sichuan University, who is also the leader of the project.

Besides students, Aobag is also working with shopping malls in Chengdu.

The supermarket Ito Yokado is expected to open a recycling station at its mall where people can buy Aobag bags and hand in recyclable garbage.

Cleaners at Ito Yokado have already started using such bags for recyclable trash. And they exchange the garbage for money as individual users.

Earlier this year, Aobag launched a branch office in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

Speaking about his plans, Wang says: "Effective garbage recycling is the new trend. And as more modern cities develop, the demand for recycling will get stronger."

Zhang Boning contributed to the story.

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Reviving the ancient art of 'pot casting']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977457.htm A virtual reality project of UNESCO, supported by Chinese tech giant Tencent, aims to promote traditional Chinese games.

At upscale parties during ancient China's Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), the host would often invite his guests to a game of "pot casting" where, between drinks and ad-libbed lines of poetry, they would take turns to try and throw arrows by hand into a long-necked pot from afar.

By the end of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), this traditional Chinese game that had been popular for around 2,000 years had all but disappeared from existence. To revive this lost art, a team of six students from the Communication University of China have reinvented this ancient game of artistry and precision using virtual reality.

 

A player wearing a VR headset can throw arrows into six different pots in a virtual wooden chamber.

   
In January, the game was showcased at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris as part of its Open Digital Library on Traditional Games project.

Renamed hu, which was inspired by the pitch arc of the arrows, the game renders the wooden interior of an ancient Chinese chamber.

Strapping on the VR headsets, players will find themselves in the carpeted center of the chamber, surrounded by the furniture of olden times - a writing desk, a high-backed chair, a sword, a Chinese zither, a tea stand and two stools - as works of calligraphy adorn the walls.

"We based our design on historical grounds, particularly those of the Qing Dynasty," says Liu Ting, 22, one of the VR game's art designers.

Liu says they took screenshots of indoor scenes from the 2010 TV series rendition of Cao Xueqin's epic novel, The Dream of the Red Mansions, and used it as a model for their interior designs.

In the VR game, there are six pots of different colors, appearing to be made of bronze, gilded or wooden materials positioned across the chamber. Every time an arrow lands in a pot, a lamp lights up, revealing a portion of the chamber's interior. When the player succeeds in scoring all six shots, he or she will gain the full set of pots, which will fully illuminate the room.

The team wants players to relive the ancient Chinese way of life and revel in the gameplay.

"It's much harder to throw an arrow into the cast pot with a game pad than with your bare hands," says Feng Weiwei, 21, one of the project's programmers who is studying game design.

To improve the gameplay in a VR setting, the team has designed the pots to look wider and shorter than the original ones. They have also programmed the gameplay so that the arrows leave a trail of their trajectory behind for a few seconds to help players make adjustments between shots.

"This was my first time designing an ancient Chinese-themed game," Liu says." I was able to learn more about China's traditional games."

The Open Digital Library on Traditional Games project was first launched in 2015 by UNESCO with help from Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, aiming to safeguard and promote traditional sports and games in an effort to pass them down to future generations.

"Preserving China's traditional games certainly helps with reviving Chinese culture," says Gao Jinyan, an art teacher from the Communication University of China who has been studying Chinese traditional games for more than a decade. Gao pitched the idea of recreating pot game to Feng Weiwei and Liu Ting's team because it appeared to be "VR-friendly".

In her book titled Traditional Folk Games, now a text book for Chinese students majoring in games design, Gao defines traditional games as "the gaming and leisure-related activities and behaviors that are spread and passed down generations by word-of-mouth".

In China, traditional games range from athletic events such as wrestling and dragon boat racing to tabletop games including Chinese chess and Go, not to mention word games like lantern riddles and rhyming couplets.

"Games do carry distinctive cultural genes. The same game played in different cultures would look different," Gao says.

Gao cites early prototypes of the now popular board game Aeroplane Chess as an example. While similar games were played around the world, the Chinese version called sheng guan tu (literally "rank promotion road map"), which first appeared in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), employed a unique Chinese printing technique for the game board, and each space was designated with the title of an official government position at the time.

Gao says reviving Chinese traditional games like "pot casting" does not just help to bring back the inherent cultural value of the games, but also helps people revitalize other Chinese cultural gems such as poetry and the 24 Solar Terms.

"Games are the epitome of a civilization," she says. "To play is human nature."

Apart from the Communication University of China, the Open Digital Library for Traditional Games project has attracted students from more than 10 universities from home and abroad, including Tsinghua University, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Students from these institutions engage in using information and communications technology to collect and store records of people playing traditional games in countries and regions around the world. All the data collected can be accessed for free on the project's official library platform.

"Young people have already started taking action to learn and safeguard the knowledge of traditional games and sports, from conducting research to exploring innovative ways to transform materials stored in the open digital library into creative content," says Marielza Oliveira, the director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Beijing.

This year, they are working on researching and recovering traditional games portrayed in the Dunhuang Frescoes, according to Li Xiaoxiao, director of the Open Digital Library for Traditional Games project at Tencent.

The project will continue to encourage young people from China and outside to lend their creativity and insight into rejuvenating traditional games, Li adds.

Liu Yinglun contributed to the story.

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Volunteers share stories from the 2018 Paralympics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977456.htm The extra end of the wheelchair curling final is underway at the Gangneung Curling Centre, where China is competing against Norway in its bid to clinch its first-ever gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games.

Valeriia Bokhan-Cherepanova is standing with some photographers in the photo area, while Hwang Dong-pil and Wang Jie are sitting in the spectators stand with the Chinese delegation cheering on Team China.

They were just three of the 5,180 volunteers involved in the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Winter Games, who helped to organize the national teams, venues, the media, transportation - and a host of other tasks.

 

Clockwise from top: Volunteers for the Pyeongchang Olympics Winter Games celebrate Chinese New Year; members of the Chinese delegation cheer on Team China at the final of wheelchair curling at the Gangneung Curling Centre in South Korea; and Wang Jie helps with transportation at the Paralympic Village during the 2018 Paralympics. Photos Provided to China Daily

Cherepanova served at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro specializing in engineering work, her major at college. This time, she chose to be a volunteer for Pyeongchang. "I wanted to do something good for society," says the 23-year-old Russian.

Cherepanova missed her first Skype interview after she filled in the online application to become a volunteer last year, because she forgot about the time difference. She had to reschedule the interview for 4 am. "They asked me if I'm afraid of the cold," says Cherepanova. "I said, 'Come on, I'm from Russia'."

Cherepanova helped at the ticket office during the Olympics and Paralympics, before serving as a photo assistant at the curling center with around 20 other volunteers, the most international team of all the volunteers.

At the beginning of the Paralympics, Cherepanova caught a cold, yet she was warmed by the care and support shown to her by fellow volunteers.

During her day off, Cherepanova would visit the seaside or watch the games. "My friend is a Paralympic sportsman for the Norway ice hockey team who I met in Sochi, so I came to watch him and support his game".

She left South Korea the day after the closing ceremony, but says she didn't feel sad about it. "For me, endings are good, because later on you will have these great memories and when I return home, I will share them with all my friends."

Cherepanova has decided to continue her volunteer experience at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as has Hwang Dong-pil, a Korean volunteer who helped the Chinese delegation during the Paralympics in South Korea.

During the Winter Olympics, Hwang was assigned to help the Lithuanian delegation with arranging their accommodation, transport and other requirements.

In 2014, Hwang volunteered for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, but this was the first time that the 25-year-old had joined a Paralympic event. Hwang was touched by the skills of the Paralympic athletes.

"I don't ski so well. They are disabled, but they can ski very well, even though it's harder for them."

Hwang's cousin has a hearing impairment, and this volunteer experience made him understand more about people with disabilities.

"I learned that it's not polite to help the athletes without asking them first. They will ask if they need help," says Hwang. "Actually, they are just the same as everyone else."

After having spent a year learning Chinese at Qingdao University in 2016, Hwang felt more involved with the Chinese delegation. He joined the delegation to cheer on China during the semifinals and finals of the wheelchair curling games, and watched China win the gold medal.

"As a member of Team China, I'm so glad the Chinese team won the gold medal," says Hwang.

"I heard it was the first medal in the history of the Chinese Winter Paralympics. I'm very proud of them and I'm glad that I was part of that history." Hwang obtained his bachelor's degree in political diplomacy in February and has started to look for a job. Working in China is one option he is considering.

Wang Jie met Hwang during the final of the wheelchair curling games, where they were seated next to each other, cheering for China. She took time off from her job of organizing transportation at the Paralympic village to support China on the day of the finals.

Wang is in the final year of her Master of Interpreting and Translation course at the Central South University of Forestry and Technology in Changsha, Hunan province. Besides taking on volunteer work at the Paralympics, she also had to work on her thesis for the degree.

Volunteering is nothing new to Wang, as she had joined her local volunteer federation in her freshman year. Having missed out on applying for the Rio Olympics, Wang was determined to volunteer for Pyeongchang. She started the application process at the end of 2016 and after a written test and interview, she finally received her offer in September.

"I feel so lucky to have experienced all this volunteer work," Wang says. "Seeing all these athletes doing sports makes me realize that any difficulties I meet in the future, I will be able to overcome."

Wang made friends with many other volunteers and enjoyed hearing their stories. One of her roommates was a 65-year-old Korean elementary school teacher, who treated her like a daughter.

"She wasn't married, but she treats all children as her kids."

Another volunteer Wang knows fell in love with an ice hockey player when she was helping him interpret sign language at a run-up event. Wang would watch the ice hockey game with her friend and cheer on her boyfriend's team.

She also has her own Pyongchang love story to tell - she met her boyfriend, who is also a volunteer from Wuhan, during a training session.

"The Olympics have given me a boyfriend," says Wang. "Both of us are into volunteer work, that connects us."

Wang was selected by her manager, Jeong Eui-ho, to join the transportation team, as Jeong was a fan of Chinese culture.

Jeong has been reading classic Chinese literature The Romance of the Three Kingdoms since he was a boy, and he became a huge fan of the main characters like Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. He is also teaching himself Chinese.

Most of the volunteers who worked with Jeong at the Paralympics were Korean, and he is happy to have had Wang on his team.

"I was a bit worried about her at first because all her colleagues were Korean, but she fitted in very well and we made a lovely team," says Jeong.

"Thanks to all the international volunteers, they helped us make a success of the Paralympics."

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Lessons from the villages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977455.htm A US-returned student is taking city-bred youngsters to rural areas to give them a taste of the countryside. Chen Nan reports.

Wang Xingyu's first trip to the village of Jinlong last August was one of discovery. The 26-year-old Wang drove about 20 hours from Shanghai to observe and study the small, remote and isolated village in Huayuan county, in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture in Central China's Hunan province, which has about 600 ethnic Miao people.

And what Wang saw there - the mountains, rivers, narrow lanes and wooden houses - was in sharp contrast to New York, where he lived from 2015 to 2017 while studying for his master's degree in international relations at New York University.

 

Clockwise from top: US-returned Shanghai native Wang Xingyu starts his project, Beyond the City, in the summer of 2017, to take young Chinese city residents to the country's rural areas. By learning about local culture, working on the farmland and selling agriculture products, young Chinese students from big cities are able to get a glimpse of the life in China's rural areas. Photos Provided to China Daily

"When I was abroad, people would ask me questions about China, such as 'What is China like?' I realized then that I could think only of big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. But that's not the whole picture of China because the population of rural areas is quite large. So, I wanted to see what China was really like," says Wang.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, by the end of 2016, the total population of the Chinese on the mainland was almost 1.4 billion, an increase of 8.09 million from the end of 2015.

Of this total, urban permanent residents numbered 792.98 million, accounting for 57.35 percent of the total population, which means the residents of rural areas comprise almost half of the country's population.

The statistics also showed that the annual per capita income in rural areas was about 2,300 yuan ($366) in 2016, and the population living below the poverty line was estimated to be 43.35 million.

Rewarding trip

Wang's trip to the village of Jinlong was part of his project called Beyond the City, which he initiated and started running after he returned to China in the summer of 2017.

The project, which went online on Nov 3, 2017, aims to educate young Chinese students about the country's rural areas by taking them to visit remote villages.

And, between Jan 26 and Feb 11, 41 students - 27 city students from around the country and 14 students sponsored by the Guangzhou Yuren Foundation - visited villages in Xiangxi, in the western part of Hunan province, including the village of Jinlong as part of the program.

The students, who woke up at 7 am and went to bed at 11 pm every day, lived with the villagers and learned about local culture, worked on the farmland and sold agriculture products.

Speaking about the project, Wang says: "Many parents take their children abroad with an eye on learning about new cultures, but going to rural areas of China offers young students a fresh perspective about their own country, which is a more intellectually rewarding experience.

"And though we have many people from rural areas working in big cities nowadays, there is still a gap between residents of cities and villages.

"You don't really understand rural areas until you go to the villages," he adds.

Zhang Jiayue is one of the students who joined the trip to Xiangxi.

The 15-year-old Shanghai native, who is studying at Shanghai No 3 Girls' High School, typically spends school vacations traveling with her parents.

And, she has been to China's northwestern regions like the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and traveled abroad to the United States and Japan.

However, for the winter vacation, she told her mother to cancel the flight tickets and hotel bookings for Guangzhou, their scheduled trip destination, and instead headed for Xiangxi.

The Xiangxi trip was the first time Zhang traveled without her parents, and also the first time she had visited China's rural areas.

Speaking about the trip, she says: "Compared with all my other travels, which revolved only around eating, shopping and sightseeing, the trip to Xiangxi was so different.

"I had never been to China's rural areas before. Everything was so new for me, such as the heavy snow, the delicious chili dishes and living on the river."

Learning by example

Zhang's interest in China's rural areas was fueled by Wang, who spoke about the Beyond the City project at Zhang's school in December.

Referring to Wang's speech, Zhang says: "I was impressed by his ambition and vision. He introduced a new world to me, which I had never seen. I was curious and keen to gain more insight and knowledge about the villages."

Commenting on Zhang's visit to his village, Zhao Huanying, 55, a resident of Yanziji, in Huaihua city, in Hunan province, says: "When the young people arrived in the village, which is surrounded by rivers, they were very interested and eager to learn everything.

"Wang has visited my village, which has a population of 1,000, four times and he has stayed in my house.

"The young man, unlike some of the young people, who have been pampered by their parents and grandparents, is humble and independent," says Zhao.

"When my grandson grows up, I will send him to join Wang and his team."

Wang, also a Shanghai native, gained his bachelor's degree in international relations at Fudan University in 2015.

Later, as an exchange student, he spent about eight months at the University of Helsinki, Finland, from 2013 to 2014.

And soon after he returned to Shanghai in June 2017, Wang joined in a nonprofit organization, Serve for China, which recruits Chinese university graduates to work in villages.

The organization, set up by a group of Chinese graduates, helps rural producers sell local agricultural products through e-commerce platforms.

For Wang, rural areas are not a mystery since he grew up in Nanhui, a suburb of Shanghai, with his grandparents.

He moved to Shanghai's downtown with his parents when he was 8 years old, but he still visits his grandparents in Nanhui every week.

Speaking about his fondness for rural areas, he says: "I understand the transition of life from an underdeveloped region to a metropolitan city. People's mindsets change when their environments change. So, when I meet people, I love to listen to their stories."

Wang, who had volunteered to teach in remote villages in provinces such as Yunnan and Guizhou as a college student. says he found that life in Shanghai's suburban villages was much different from the village he worked in.

"These villages are isolated from the outside world. And the local culture of each village is unique," he says.

For example, he says that when he took the students to Xiangxi, they watched Nuoxi, a thousand-year-old local folk opera popular in southern China, where performers wear heavy costumes and thick masks to symbolize the gods.

Nuoxi was once widely performed in China as a ritual to end natural disasters, the spread of disease, or to encourage good harvests and longevity.

Common goals

Wang's goal is to take 1,000 Chinese students to rural villages over the space of two years.

This summer, he plans to take students to the villages of Heze, in East China's Shandong province.

"Heze is famous for folk operas, such as Liuzi Opera. And one of the courses the students will take is to learn to sing Liuzi Opera," says Wang.

His vision is shared by two of his friends - Jin Yifei, his schoolmate at Fudan University, and Huang Weihua, a primary school classmate, who are both project partners now.

Both Jin and Huang quit stable jobs to join Wang's team.

Speaking about his decision, Jin, 26, who was born in Shanghai and graduated from Fudan University with a bachelor's degree in political science, before becoming a civil servant, says: "When Xingyu called me about his project last August, I was very interested and impressed because it takes young Chinese students to rural areas, something that is not normally available to them."

Like Wang, Jin is keen on education, poverty alleviation and teaching in rural areas.

Speaking about his experiences so far, Jin says: "When we first arrived in the small village of Xiangxi in mid-August last year, the villagers were very welcoming. They offered us accommodation and trusted us.

"The natural scenery was also breathtaking, which you can never see in big cities."

In 2016, the versatile Wang took part in Jiangsu Satellite TV Station show called Who is Still Standing, the Chinese version of the American TV show with the same title.

And he won first prize.

Now, Wang has about 100,000 followers on his Sina Weibo account.

Speaking about his plans, Wang says: "I want to further my studies. But before that I want to devote myself more to this project, and to have a genuine understanding of the villages and the people there."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977454.htm Hindi Medium

The latest Indian film to be imported to China, Hindi Medium has a theme that will resonate with Chinese parents who want the best education for their children.

A remake of the 2015 Malayalam-language film Salt Mango Tree, the film is about a businessman Raj and his wife Mita who try every means to send their 3-year-old daughter to a top-ranked school.

The film stars Indian actor Irfan Khan - known for Jurrassic World and Inferno - and the movie is set to be released on April 4.

Wrath of Silence

The Coffin in the Mountain director Xin Yukun's new film Wrath of Silence, starring Jiang Wu, will hit Chinese mainland theaters on April 4.

The crime drama focuses on the struggle between miner Zhang Baomin, lawyer Xu Wenjie and mine owner Chang Wannian in an isolated mining town in northern China. Zhang and Xu's fates are entangled with Chang's in the course of finding their lost children.

The film was shot in 66 days. According to director Xin, the bleak winter setting of the story is meant to reflect the mindset of the characters.

Xin's debut feature The Coffin in the Mountain won widespread critical acclaim, scoring 8.6 on Douban with ratings from 170,000 users.

The Trough

Nick Cheung, a two-time winner of Hong Kong Film Awards' best actor, will see his third directorial feature The Trough open on April 28. The movie centers on an undercover police agent. Cheung previously directed two horror films, Ghost Rituals in 2014 and Keeper of Darkness in 2015. But The Trough marks his first directorial feature to get a general release on the Chinese mainland.

The film also features Cheung in an acting role, A-list actress Xu Jinglei and television host-actor He Jiong.

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs, the first animated feature selected as the opening night movie for this year's Berlin International Film Festival, will hit Chinese mainland theaters on April 20.

The movie won US director Wes Anderson the Silver Bear for best director at the festival. Featuring Anderson's simple yet in-depth style, the story is set in a near-future world where dogs are exiled to a vast garbage dump called Trash Island.

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Health professionals offer ways to overcome barriers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977453.htm With the stress of day to day life, it is often hard to find the time or the drive to get up of the couch after a long day at the office and trek over to a crowded gym.

Whatever the reason adults lack interest in a regular exercise routine, health professionals are available to help overcome barriers.

"Exercise increases the overall quality of life," said Amie Burns, exercise physiologist at Halifax Health. "It will keep the joints elastic, reduce the risk of injury and will keep your heart healthy."

"The benefits are just and overall well being," said Annabell Torres, family medicine physician for Florida Hospital Fish Memorial. "It helps to prevent disease and treat high blood pressure.

The national standard of exercise is 150 minutes a week of cardiovascular activity.

"This is moderate activity such as swimming, walking or biking," Burns said. "In addition to that you should also do two sessions per week of weight training."

Burns recommends splitting it up into three sessions of cardio and one of weight training a week when starting out. "You can work up to that 150 minutes, just keep increasing your time," Burns said.

And it is OK to start small. "Take baby steps and get an awareness of what you want long term and that will help you get there," Torres said. She recommends starting with 20 minutes of exercise twice a week to get started. "Just make sure that what you are doing is done safely and appropriately," Torres said. "It's not just about exercise; it's about making a lifestyle change."

For individuals who have ability limitations there are still ways to get the needed exercise.

"To start, we encourage them that some activity is better than no activity," Burns said. "You can be seated and still be active."

Burns recommends those with limitations to see a physician and fitness professional to help them find what works for them.

For those who want to give an alternative exercise a try because of mobility issues, chair yoga is a great place to start.

"Chair yoga keeps you moving and helps to reduce stress," said Mardi Williams, yoga instructor.

Chair yoga consists of poses that can be done while sitting down or leaning on the chair.

Williams says that when doing yoga of any kind the rules are to move slowly to see how the body responds, to not just twist with the back but with the full hip and to keep the back as flat as possible.

"The most important thing though is that if something hurts don't do it," Williams said.

This exercise is something that anyone can do regardless of age or ability.

"It's a good exercise for those who can't get up and down well and have bad balance," Williams said. "It helps improve balance and circulation."

Tribune News Service

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Current quotes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/04/content_35977452.htm "Hm.com might not be famous in China, but a lot of people are using Tmall, it is important for consumers to reach H&M products first."

- Magnus Olsson, general manager of H&M Greater China Region

“Hm.com在中国可能不是很出名,但是很多人用天猫,所以先让更多的消费者接触到H&M的产品是很重要的。”

-- Magnus Olsson, H&M大中华区总经理

3月21日,来自瑞典的快时尚巨头H&M及家居品牌H&M Home正式开张了天猫旗舰店。在一天之内,配合着优惠活动,店铺收获了一百多万粉丝以及两万多件的男士T恤销量。相比在2009至2014年间入驻天猫的其他快时尚品牌,如优衣库、Forever 21、Zara和TOPSHOP等,H&M与中国电商巨头的合作姗姗来迟。

"There's a price for gas, not one for life."

- China Eastern Airlines

“燃油有价,生命无价。”

-- 中国东方航空公司

3月25日,在东航MU587从上海飞往纽约的航班上,一名旅客突然感到身体不适,出现呼吸困难,一度抽搐昏迷。机组人员为尽快让乘客获得专业医疗救助,空中放油30吨,紧急备降阿拉斯加安克雷奇。目前旅客与家人都已平安抵达家中,身体状况也有所好转。东航此举付出的不仅是燃油成本,还有人工、时间以及其他附加的费用成本。

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2018-04-04 07:40:25
<![CDATA[Scenes from the city]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969711.htm A show by British artist Sarah Morris features a film shot during the 2008 Beijing Olympics that's never been screened in the capital before. Deng Zhangyu reports.

As Beijing grabbed the global spotlight with the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games, British artist Sarah Morris began to shoot a movie detailing scenes from local life during the event, which was later screened in many cities outside China. Ten years on, her film Beijing is finally coming to the capital for its first screening in the city.

"It's very strange that I never showed Beijing in Beijing. But I think it's the best time now," says Morris, a New York-based painter and filmmaker.

 

British artist Sarah Morris' first retrospective show at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing showcases a comprehensive selection of her works, including films, paintings, drawings and photos. Photos Provided to China Daily

The 50-year-old's first retrospective show, Odysseus Factor, which opened on March 24 at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art and runs through June 17, is showcasing a comprehensive selection of her works, including films, paintings, drawings and photos. Most of the 14 films in the exhibition focus on some of the world's biggest cities, and took Morris two decades to complete. Her next film concentrates on a city in Japan, but the artist insists on keeping its location a secret until she has finished shooting.

Talking about returning to the city where Beijing was produced, the artist says: "I like the fact there's been a delay of 10 years. I like the number 10. It's a good number." She explains that the pause will help raise the audiences' expectations and give a new perspective of the city they live in. This follows the pattern of her 2016 film Abu Dhabi, which was also first screened outside of the city.

With a running time of about 85 minutes, Beijing is a fusion of fragmented scenes condensed into one work, showing a broad range of scenes from people on the street watching the fireworks during the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympics, to movie star Jackie Chan giving a speech at an Olympic forum, to women rehearsing ribbon-spinning in a public square.

It shows Beijing and the Olympics from a variety of perspectives, as well as in more detailed ways, during the exceptional summer of 2008.

"Most people look at my film and think it must have taken me several months to shoot. When I told them it only took one hour, they think I'm crazy," Morris says.

In fact, the work took her just two and half a weeks to shoot. However, the process of obtaining filming permits and persuading people to appear in the film cost her a great deal more time and energy.

To secure permission to gain entry into the Olympic stadiums to shoot an artistic film, Morris traveled to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, to try and persuade officials there in person rather than relying on email.

"I enjoy having conversations and persuading people. It's an interesting process. My work is about the power of art. I believe art has the power to open doors and bring very different people together," she says.

With her list of recent contacts running to 30,000 people, being a film producer means that Morris has to reach out to lots of new faces and ask for help when she takes on a new project.

Sticking to the style of Beijing, most of Morris' later films followed a similarly fragmented approach, with scenes changing quickly with little apparent connection. It's her way, says the artist, to place viewers in a visual framework that represents a much larger entity and allow audiences to feel like they are on the inside.

Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, says Morris uses the theme of being on the inside in all her works. Tinari sees this as a reflection of wider society, where situations often arise that people fail to see or think that are out of their control.

While visitors might not be able to sit through all 14 films at the show, they will be able to dip into any of the works and get a flavor of the cities or people in focus and gain a fresh perspective.

Morris' paintings follow a similar concept. In this show, she and her team have painted an on-site wall painting that measures 58 meters long, covering one entire wall of the exhibition hall.

For Morris, her films and paintings are "two sides of the same coin". The former is fast and dynamic, while the latter is slow and static. The artist also has two sides to her personality. On the one hand, she is impatient and is always thinking about her next project. On the other, she uses paintings to force herself to slow down and concentrate, read books and meditate.

Since 1998, when she produced her first film Midtown about New York, Morris has devoted herself to portraying either individuals or cities. And the cities she has chosen as subjects, such as Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Paris and Beijing, are all aligned with each other in terms of their economy or culture. But Morris says her films are not documentaries, because her works are more surreal, sometimes like a dream, sometimes like a nightmare.

"It's an investigation with no ending, no answer and even no truth - only perspectives open for interpretation," she says.

Having filmed in many of the world's major cities, the artist says she finds the future of urban living a little worrying, especially the increasing power of surveillance used by tech companies.

"It's a contradiction. I use all these products and then worry about my privacy," she says, adding that it's also the contradictions in cities that are the focus of her films.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA[Chairs used in presidential debate, first Bond film go on display]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969710.htm In 1960, when John Kennedy and Richard Nixon participated in one of their televised presidential debates, two chairs present in the recording studio wasn't of much value to the viewers.

But a year ago, the same chairs designed by Hans Wegner were hailed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York as among the best designs of the 20th century. Denmark-born Wegner, who died in 2007, was a leading figure in the world of furniture design. He had once said: "A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles."

The chairs Wegner designed reflected his words. The one used in the Kennedy-Nixon debate has been considered by many art historians as being perfect. It is made of teak and can be easily lifted with one hand. Its back, seat and legs are connected by mortise and tenon joints.

 

From left: Metropolitan Chair (1959); Valet Chair (1953); and Chieftain Chair (1949). Photos Provided to China Daily

Chairs constitute a notable part of Wegner's oeuvre. A selection of his designs from the 1940s and '50s, including the Kennedy-Nixon debate chair that was designed in 1950, are on display at The Art of the Chair, an ongoing exhibition at the Danish Cultural Center, in the 798 art area of Beijing.

The exhibition, which runs through April 22, also displays many other vintage chairs designed by nine prominent Danish artists. The theme centers on a continuous, mind-racking task - seeking new combinations for simple elements, such as the legs, arms, seats and back of chairs.

The Danish Cultural Center's director Eric Messerschmidt tells China Daily that the shown chairs were tailor-made for royal families earlier or had belonged to artists and company executives. Over recent years, they have been transferred through auctions to private collectors in East Asia.

The exhibition brings together many classic designs that offer a glimpse of how Danish furniture design gradually became an ambassador of Danish culture after World War II, and promoted Denmark's art and culture internationally.

Featured artists at the Beijing show include the late architect and designer Finn Juhl, known to have heralded the emergence of "Danish design" in the 1940s.

His designs on display include the Cheiftain Chair, which is often referred to as the "Mona Lisa chair" because of its breathtaking beauty; the Spade Chair, which is so popular that it appeared in Dr. No (1962), the first James Bond film; and the Elizabeth Chair, named after the British monarch who bought it as part of a furniture set while visiting Denmark in 1958.

Messerschmidt says modern Danish designers have attempted to free furniture designs from rigid traditions. They believe the designs of articles such as chairs should be creative and functional, so that they both enliven people's daily lives and are useful.

When his parents married, Messerschmidt says, they went to designers for a customized collection of furniture, which he enjoyed during his youth. It is not uncommon in Denmark for people, not just the rich but even middle-class families, to acquire furniture and pass them down over generations.

He says people can say Danish design celebrates the beauty of simplicity, but an object as common as a chair can be an assembly of smart ideas.

The exhibition also displays Wegner's Valet Chair, the back of which was crafted into the shape of a hanger and the seat can be used as a container. His Chinese Chair is also displayed. Wegner borrowed the elements of classic Ming-style furniture, such as the broad, arched back of chairs.

The chairs on display in Beijing are placed on wooden shelves.

"It shows the audience an interesting comparison between wood as a raw material and the possibilities it can achieve," Messerschmidt says.

The exhibits have the names of both designers and artisans, conveying a message that a quality product can not be made without the concerted effort of creative and skilled people.

Messerschmidt says one reason for the rise of Danish design is the equal respect it pays to artisans.

Several artists shown at the exhibition were first trained as woodworkers or hail from artisan families. Messerschmidt says the audience and collectors value the contribution, too.

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA[Where cabbage is king]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969709.htm Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. Pauline D Loh writes.

An emperor and his favorite consort used to admire a delicately carved ornament made of jade that was probably part of her dowry. It is a miniature head of humble cabbage, with a crisp white base and translucent frilled green leaves with two tiny insects resting on the vegetable.

The emperor was Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and this famous piece of jade is called the Jade Cabbage, currently one of the main exhibits of the Palace Museum in Taipei. It was taken from Yonghe Palace in the Forbidden City, the imperial quarters of the consort Jinfei.

 

Stir-fried cabbage with vinegar and dried pepper. Photos Provided to China Daily

This exquisite and valuable piece of art lauds one of the most common vegetables in China, while representing wishes for good harvests and fertility.

The Chinese cabbage is planted all over China, in all seasons, but it is in the cold northeastern provinces that it grows large and sweet and tender, and plays a starring role in the cuisine.

Whole cabbages are bought and stored for the long winter months, piled outside in courtyards and on balconies. Together with the huge Shandong leeks, it is one of the vegetables that will fill the winter larder.

Huge truckloads of white cabbages roll into Beijing around October and November, plentiful and cheap. So cheap, in fact, that "as affordable as white cabbages" has become a popular term for a great bargain.

Wise housewives load their shopping trolleys full of huge cabbages, often topped with a super huge bunch of leeks.

The vegetables are carted home and neatly arranged on the balcony, or in a sheltered part of the garden. Sometimes an old blanket is thrown over the pile to deter open thievery by either the two-legged or four-legged.

This has been a winter ritual for a very long time, from when times were hard and logistics were limited.

Sometimes, cabbages are pickled.

They are soaked in brine and fermented in huge vats as suancai, the "sour vegetables" that Dongbei (Northeast) cuisine revolves around. This is especially common in Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces.

The yingcai or "hard dishes" of the Northeast are hearty offerings such as thick slices of fatty pork belly stewed with roughly shredded pickled cabbage, or huge pots of sweet potato noodles cooked with more fermented cabbage.

In our Beijing household, traditions die hard, and the pile of cabbages in the yard is slowly reduced by daily soups and stir-fries. I have succeeded in sneaking in carrots and tomatoes to add some color to the winter diet.

The dabaicai cabbage is amazingly versatile.

It can be finely sliced and tossed with vinegar, sesame oil and a pinch of sugar for a crisp and refreshing salad. A bunch of blanched mung-bean noodles provide the tactile contrast. This is especially appreciated deep in winter, when fresh salads are hard to come by.

Cut into chunks and cooked with carrots in a bone-marrow stock, it turns into a tender vegetable stew to please the toothless old lady in the house, and is enjoyed just as much by those with a full set of teeth. Stewed cabbage retains its sweetness and is one of the few leafy vegetables that can withstand long cooking without losing color and taste.

The spouse's favorite is to have a pile of blanched cabbage with his zhajiangmian, dry-tossed noodles with hot bean sauce. The blanched vegetables lighten the heavy, savory noodles and make the dish a healthier option.

Sometimes, I remember my southern Chinese roots and cook a vegetarian special with a base of braised cabbage, with mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, lotus seeds, peas and carrots on top.

Another dish is tender braised cabbage hearts in thick chicken stock and top of milk or cream. This is straight from the imperial kitchens, and only the sweetest, most tender hearts of the cabbage are used.

It is sweet on sweet, with the natural flavor of the cabbage accentuated by the chicken stock and shredded dried scallops. That touch of cream gives the dish a velvety smoothness that takes it to another level. I also like making Russian-inspired cabbage rolls with Chinese cabbage instead of round cabbages. For one thing, the leaves are larger and more pliable, and they do not melt into nothingness.

Chinese cabbage is also known as Napa cabbage in the West, after migrant Asian farmers introduced this vegetable to the San Francisco farmers' markets from their farms in Napa Valley across the Bay.

All very well, but I do think it's about time we reclaim the name, in recognition of Chinese cabbage's unique contribution to the Middle Kingdom's cuisines all these thousands of years.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Vegetarian cabbage wraps

1 large head of cabbage

200 g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

1 can bamboo shoots, shredded

1 can or eight freshly peeled water chestnuts, minced

1 tablespoon yellow fermented bean sauce, huangdoujiang

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt and a bit of sugar to taste

1 liter mushroom stock

Blanch the whole cabbage and carefully remove the large outer leaves. Take out the short tender heart of cabbage and finely chop it up.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan and add the yellow fermented bean sauce. Fry until fragrant, then add sliced mushrooms, minced water chestnuts, shredded bamboo shoots and carrot. When the mixture is well seasoned, add the chopped cabbage. Season with sesame oil, salt and sugar to taste.

Fry the ingredients until the mixture is relatively dry and the vegetable juices are reabsorbed. Cool.

Spread out each large cabbage leaf and place a generous spoon of fried ingredients on the stem end. Roll up like an envelope and place the roll at the bottom of a shallow nonstick pot. Continue to pack the rolls into the pot until the cabbage leaves and ingredients are used up.

Pour the liter of mushroom stock into the pot and slowly let it simmer for an hour.

Braised Chinese cabbage with Chinese ham

1/2 a head of Chinese cabbage, about 1 kg

100 g Jinhua ham, shredded

100 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

2-3 thin slices ginger, slivered

1 liter chicken stock

Cut the Chinese cabbage into 5-cm chunks, rinse and drain.

Heat up two tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the ginger julienne. Fry until fragrant, then add the shredded ham.

Add the sliced mushrooms. Add the cabbage chunk and give them a good toss so the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Allow to rapidly boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pan.

When the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are tender, check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

This is a great dish to serve the same day, but the flavors will mature and bloom even better the next day.

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA[When it comes to wine, we should adapt, not adopt]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969708.htm During the explosion of trade between Britain and East Asian countries in the 17th century, tea was introduced to the country and rapidly superseded coffee as the national drink, albeit with the novel addition of a dash of milk and some sugar.

And just as Britain adopted, then adapted, tea to suit local tastes to make it the country's most popular beverage, China is witnessing a similar revolution in its relationship with wine.

Although wine production has a long history in China, it has never been the country's tipple of choice - even to the present day. The increasing consumption of wine in China may be largely due to the country's opening-up, where improving standards of living have gradually brought wine into Chinese people's lives.

Locally produced wine as well as the imported products from Sino-foreign joint ventures made up the vast majority of sales during the initial stages of the country's wine development, where it was regarded as an alternative form of alcohol to domestic baijiu (white spirits).

In the late 20th century, as imports of wine increased and large amounts of luxury wine flooded the market, wine was regarded as more of an extravagance. Wine producers like France used a variety of methods to promote sales of their wine and an awareness of its wine culture.

Similar to tea and coffee, wine is not a necessity, and it is not unreasonable for consumers to still regard it as a luxury, especially when the influence of traditional Chinese culture is taken into account.

Originally, the most popular drink in China was rice wine, which was later replaced by a trend for drinking baijiu. What's more, the tradition of emptying a glass in one as a sign of respect to your companion dictates that spirit glasses are usually small. Wineglasses are by comparison much larger, and less suitable for this tradition.

Other than this, Chinese food has an enduring impact on wine consumption. Instead of eating dishes one by one, as in the European tradition, Chinese dishes are always served together - so how can European wine match with this tradition?

When tea was imported into Britain, British people developed their own way of drinking it, and tea-producing countries embraced the trend. When wine is imported into China, why can't Chinese people invent their own way of enjoying it according to their personal habits?

The author is an associate professor of Wine Tasting and Enology in Beijing University of Agriculture and invited teacher at ESA Angers, France.

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA[Imagination and the art of innocence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969707.htm Beijing's Inside-Out Art Museum is holding its sixth annual exhibition showcasing the expressive and colorful works of painters with autism. Lin Qi reports.

Pablo Picasso once said, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael (the Italian Renaissance painter), but a lifetime to draw like a child", and "All Children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up".

In these frequently mentioned quotes, the Spanish master artist, whose paintings are among the most expensive works of art in the world, noted that a child's genuine, carefree approach to painting is rarely found in the adult art world and yet is essential to artistic creation.

Compared to sophistication in skill, this innocence without pretense is even more precious, especially when it is demonstrated by artists living with autism.

This is the main reason why Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum has focused on the art of people with autism, often referred to as "the innocent" in China, for past eight years.

The museum opened its sixth annual exhibition of paintings by people with autism on Sunday, to observe World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on April 2 every year.

The United Nations recognized the first World Autism Awareness Day in 2008, calling for more attention to the day-to-day hurdles that people living with autism have to face.

The exhibition, titled Images of Innocence, features painters from all around China. Most are in their teens. Several of the artists have appeared in exhibitions in previous years.

The works show no indication that they were created by someone on the spectrum; they are as expressive and colorful as those by other young painters without the condition who have received formal training.

The exhibition's organizers hope to create a wider public understanding of the impact autism has on families, rather than focus on the prodigious artistic capacity of children with autism.

Chen Jiayi, the assistant dean of Tsinghua University Schwarzman College, who attended the exhibition's opening, says he is quite impressed by two paintings in particular: Terrified Daddy, which is reminiscent of Edvard Munch's The Scream, and another titled A Family of Artists, which was drawn using intensive line work.

He says the exhibited works are exuberant with imaginative perspectives that are free from the limitations of day-to-day experiences; and they ask the audience to communicate with these painters in a "fair" manner, rather than out of pity.

"They (the painters) speak out their values on their own, through their works," he says.

Standing in front of those lively, vivid paintings on show, one can't help but wonder about the future of the families living with autism, and to ponder whether society will become more inclusive and supportive of them.

"Children with autism live in an innocent world of their own. These painters at the exhibition might no longer paint one day, but their work brings great hope to their parents," says Zhang Gan, a professor at Tsinghua University's art and design department.

"But what if their parents die? How would they live on, and how could they communicate with the world? It is not only about art. It's a serious question we need to think about."

Lu Yinghua, director of the Inside-Out Art Museum, says the work of artists with autism overturns people's stereotypes of art as proper and perfect; their works reflect the complexities of the human mind and body, and the challenges they live with remind people of the social and scientific boundaries that need to broken down.

"Maybe we are far away from resolving these questions right now. But we should move on from being burdened with these problems," she says.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA[Odes to Qingming chime down years]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969706.htm Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping Day, is one of the most important traditional festivals in Chinese culture, and it's not surprising that this day - either the sorrows of mourning the dead, or the joys brought about by the vibrant atmosphere of springtime - inspired numerous ancient poetic souls.

Many poems related to this special day were created during the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, when the art of poetry was at its peak in China. Many of these poems have survived the test of time, and some of them have become oft-quoted and widely beloved.

If you ask any Chinese person about poetry related to the day, they are most likely to cite the famous ode written by the ninth-century poet Du Mu. His short piece, simply titled Qingming, provides a perfect description of the festival's typical mood.

"A drizzling rain falls like tears on Mourning Day. The mourner's heart is breaking on his way. Where can a wine house be found to drown his sadness? A cowherd points to Apricot Flower (Xing Hua) Village in the distance."

Believed by historians to have originated over 2,500 years ago, Qingming Day is traditionally a time to remember and honor ancestors, and is a sign that family values still play an important part in Chinese culture.

On this day, families bring flowers, food and alcohol to the graves of their ancestors. Some burn joss paper for the dead. Afterward, they sweep the tombs and cherish the memories of their departed family members.

In fact, Du's poem Qingming had become so well-known that the name "Xinghua Village" mentioned in his poem has gradually come to symbolize a refuge, or simply a place that sells good booze. Today, there are more than 30 places in China that bear the name.

Another poem by Song poet Gao Zhu that is also titled Qingming deals more directly with the tomb-sweeping scene: "Many graveyards on hilltops, where people are all busy sacrificing and renovating the tombs. There the ashes from burnt joss papers are flying as white butterflies, and the azaleas are so red as if dyed with the tears and blood of the heartbroken."

For those who found themselves far from home, the occasion of Qingming must have been a hard time because it often evoked feelings of sentimentality or homesickness in verse.

Many poems were dedicated to these sentiments, such as the piece named Written on the Day After Qingming in Yiyang by the Tang poet Quan Deyu.

"I sigh silently because I am so far away from home during Qingming Day. The long Gexi River in my hometown should be covered with fallen tung blossoms now, and I imagine my family must be holding the newlyset fire, only to light up the lonely lamp in an empty room."

While Qingming has been frequently mentioned in Chinese literature, it is not always associated with the heavy mood of the day.

The season is also when Chinese people enjoy gardening and outdoor activities, and families often gather together to go on outing.

Clues about this phenomenon can be found in many other poems.

A short poem by the Song poet Wu Weixin, which is titled Qingming Scene on Su Causeway on West Lake, reads: "The pear blossoms are dancing in the wind, and here comes the Qingming Day. Almost half of the young people were out of town to enjoy spring. The playing and singing finally came to an end at dusk. And warblers flying about now reclaim the numerous lakeside willow trees."

The piece vividly describes the spring scene at the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and the popularity of outings during the festival then.

Historians found that the tradition for outings during Qingming started in the Tang Dynasty and became very popular in the Song era.

Besides outings, there were many traditional activities related to Qingming, such as playing on swings, playing cuju - an ancient Chinese style of soccer - and tree planting.

According to Wang Wei, the deputy director of the Academy of Chinese Studies, ancient poetry is closely connected to, and an important element of, traditional Chinese days of observance like Qingming.

"Through studying these poems, we can better understand and inherit these traditions in modern times."

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA[Each culture has the ability to see the world in a very specific way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/03/content_35969705.htm LONDON - Every culture has its uniqueness. The challenge for the British Museum to be an encyclopedic one is to showcase not only the exclusiveness of cultures but the coherent interconnectivity among them, says the British Museum's director Hartwig Fischer.

"What we are looking at is the incredible diversity ... And at the same time we look at that common ground, the shared humanity, and these two things need to be brought to light and have to be made accessible," Fischer says.

The British Museum has unveiled a 10-year and beyond transformation plan which includes bringing back its Reading Room and major refurbishments of galleries in a bid to take the museum to "the next level".

"I think each culture has a possibility to see the world in a very specific way and one is not necessarily better than the other. It's different.

"What we have to do is rethink the display of our collection, to stress how cultures have grown into what they are ... The China gallery is the first big step," Fischer says.

The China and South Asia Gallery is described by Fischer as the "most imposing room" in the British Museum. Built by King Edward VII in the early 20th century, the gallery distinguishes itself with its bold and noble features with gilding, strong pillars and plaster decorations.

As part of the Museum's renovation project, the China gallery fully reopened to the public last December after a two-year refurbishment.

The museum has upgraded the floor, lighting and exhibition structure of the China gallery in a bid to improve visibility and understanding for the museum's 7 million annual visitors.

In addition to the iconic Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) blue-and-white porcelain and exquisite Tang Dynasty (618-907) tomb figurines, the gallery has also incorporated various rotating light-sensitive objects such as paintings, prints and textiles to present Chinese history from 5,000 BC.

Notably, some of the modern artworks are on display for the first time in this gallery as the museum seeks to present a glimpse of present China.

"Nobody has ever enough to present the history of China. That is impossible. It is too vast, too varied. It's too layered. So what we can do in such a place is to offer routes of access and confront you with the most stunning achievements," Fischer says.

The China gallery, together with a separate gallery of Chinese ceramics, offers visitors many ways of engaging with China's history and cultures, he says.

Fischer says the efforts to incorporate modern artworks into the display is to demonstrate "a huge and rich phenomena" in which present-day China relates to its past.

"Looking at the way present China relates to its past, you understand that culture is actually at the heart of resilience, the possibility to survive and to develop and to thrive."

Fischer describes the museum world in China as "extremely dynamic", as "it is looking not only on the great past but also the great future". The British Museum is working closely with Chinese counterparts on joint projects and on the long-term basis in both Britain and China for study and exhibitions, says Fischer.

"The key is people meeting and people working together. There is always space to do more, to explore our collections, to explore history, to explore through the exhibition, through research projects," he says.

The British Museum is "very keen" to share its exhibitions and collections with Chinese audiences, who are the biggest single foreign group of visitors to the museum, says the director.

Xinhua

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2018-04-03 07:36:51
<![CDATA['Sleeping beauties' see the light of day]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/02/content_35962275.htm Beijing is hosting an exhibition of rare Italian Renaissance art, where most of the works have never been seen outside of the country, let alone Asia. Wang Kaihao reports.

An array of rare artifacts that once lay neglected in the storerooms of Italian museums, were finally given the chance to say "ciao" to the world at their global debut at the Capital Museum in Beijing last week.

These "sleeping beauties" were unveiled to the public on March 27 at the exhibition, Art, Culture and Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, which features 102 artworks and artifacts from 17 Italian institutions, including the Uffizi Gallery and Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

Ushering viewers back to the world of Renaissance art from the 14th to the 16th centuries, the pieces combine to form a fresh perspective on an era that is widely regarded as the cultural peak of world art.

According to Manuel Roberto Guido, directorate general of museums at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism of Italy, the exhibition is a key achievement under the framework of the Sino-Italian agreement on cultural heritage cooperation that began in 2010, and is a major move toward improving Chinese people's recognition of Italian culture.

Since 2015, the ministry has operated their Sleeping Beauty program, which has established a database including lesser-known but important collections from all over Italy. More than 3,000 artifacts from 250 museums within a broad time spectrum - from ancient Rome to the modern era - have been registered with the program.

All the exhibits in the Beijing exhibition were sourced from this list.

"Except for a very few items, the vast majority of them had never left Italy before," Guido adds.

As the best known Renaissance art form, paintings dominate this collection - and this exhibition includes some of the biggest names in art history.

For example, Federica Zalabra, the Italian curator of the exhibition, recommends two paintings on display in particular, which were both created by Titian's workshop in the 16th century.

Titian painted Portrait of Charles V in Armor for the Holy Roman Emperor in 1548. Due to its popularity, Cosimo I de' Medici, the wealthy Italian banker who sponsored many of the top artists during the Renaissance, as well as other European nobles later ordered facsimiles of this portrait to be made.

The original work and all the other replicas were lost to history, barring one survivor. The facsimile currently on display, which was ordered by Medici, is the only remaining portrait in existence. Restoration of the painting was completed just before it was shipped to China for the exhibition.

In the other painting from Titian's workshop, an unnamed man's inner world and emotions are vividly reflected in his facial expressions.

A special section named Men and Women has been created at the exhibition, Zalabra explains, to reflect the focus on humanitarianism during the Renaissance era. While some paintings of the time portray aristocrats such as members of the House of Medici, many more depict ordinary people and scenes from their daily lives.

To better explain a painting depicting a wedding between Eleanor de Medici and a duke, a set of costumes appearing in the work were also included in the exhibition.

"We wanted to display not only artworks but also a panorama of the time," she says. "Everyday articles from the Renaissance era were often neglected in previous exhibitions."

Still, Christianity remains a major theme throughout the highlighted oil paintings, like Madonna with Child painted on canvas by Francesco Morone and Maria's Nativity by Girolamo di Benvenuto rendered on wood panel. And, the oil-on-canvas work The Procession to Calvary is even believed to have been created by master painter Sandro Botticelli's workshop.

Rarely seen half-completed works by Federico Barocci, a late 16th century painter, are also on display in an attempt to show how Renaissance oil paintings were created.

Separately, several sculptures from ancient Rome and a few paintings from the Byzantine era are also exhibited to provide a reference for visitors about the origins of the Renaissance.

Although the Capital Museum is known for the intimate design of its galleries' interiors, Huang Xueyin, Chinese curator of the exhibition, switched to a simple, decorative style for this show to give visitors more room to view the paintings from a distance, without distractions.

"Exhibitions on Renaissance Italy have been held in China many times," Huang says. "But most of these were displays of fine art, and there was little emphasis on helping viewers understand why these works were created in the first place."

The Chinese team spent more than a year choosing the artifacts from the Sleeping Beauty list and drafting explanations on the works using background information.

"Context is important," she says. "We had to select works that would be accessible to the Chinese public, and also provide them with a glimpse into people's daily lives at that time."

The experience feels less like a visit to an art gallery, and more like a presentation on the social history of the Renaissance.

As the artifacts on display are a combination of functionality and high art, Guido also explains that they represent the early prototypes for what is known as modern Italian design today.

"This exhibition will trigger more collaboration in the cultural industry between China and Italy," Guido says. "It will build up a platform for a new Silk Road, which is about sharing knowledge, increasing dialogue and sustainable development."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-02 07:34:40
<![CDATA[NCPA to stage Chinese adaptation of Greek play]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/02/content_35962274.htm The Birds, a comedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, which has been adapted into a Chinese play of the same name, will make its debut at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on April 26. Running through May 2, the play is the NCPA's first in-house production of an ancient Greek comedy and will be directed by dramatist Luo Jinlin.

Luo, 80, who graduated from the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing in 1961, has been researching ancient Greek plays and adapting them into Chinese since the 1980s.

His father, the late Luo Niansheng, who studied in the United States and at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, started translating ancient Greek literature in 1933.

The NCPA production of The Birds is based on Luo Niansheng's translation.

In 1954, Luo Niansheng released Works of Aristophanes, in which he translated four of the Greek master's works, including The Birds.

Written by the "father of comedy" and first performed in 414 BC, The Birds revolves around two friends, Peisthetaerus and Euelpides, who leave the city and go in search of the fabled kingdom of birds.

Luo Jinlin says ancient Greek dramas, both comedic and tragic, had been introduced to China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by missionaries.

"When I was invited by the NCPA to direct an ancient Greek drama, I chose comedy because ancient Greek comedies have rarely been performed in China," he says.

"The storyline of The Birds is simple - witty, idealistic and satirical."

He adds that comedies inspire the audience with hilarious stories.

The bird is an ancient Greek symbol, which is associated with astrology. It's considered to be a bridge between heaven and the world of humans since most can fly and some live on the ground.

"In the play, birds represent nature and hardworking humans," Luo Jinlin says.

To give the comedy a contemporary flavor, translator Luo Tong, Luo Jinlin's daughter, who is also the co-director of the Chinese play, has used more conversational language in it.

"For example, we have changed the long names of the characters into shorter ones, especially the names of ancient Greek gods," says Luo Hong.

As a third-generation researcher and translator of Greek dramas, Luo Tong grew up listening to her grandfather, Luo Niansheng, reading books aloud in English, Greek and Latin. "It was my grandfather's wish to promote ancient Greek plays among the Chinese audience. By understanding a different culture, we can take a broader view of the whole world," Luo Tong says.

For the NCPA adaptation of The Birds, the play's set designer Zhang Kunpeng is going to cover the stage with paper and fold up the edges. He is also using traditional paper-cutting techniques to design objects such as trees and pillars.

Luo Jinlin says since ancient Greek drama is an important theatrical culture with a long and rich history, research in this field is ongoing. However, ancient Greek drama is rarely staged in China and the translation of such plays also needs to be developed in the country.

In 1985, Luo Jinlin directed the Chinese play, Oedipus the King, based on Sophocles' play of the same title, which was translated by Luo Niansheng. It was the first time that an ancient Greek play was performed in the country as a local production.

During the past three decades, Luo Jinlin has not only adapted ancient Greek plays into Chinese but has also mixed Greek drama and Chinese opera. For example, he has combined Sophocles' play Antigone with Hebei's bangzi opera, a popular art form in northern China.

"My father gave a lot of lectures on ancient Greek plays to his students and the general audience. After I became a director, I have continued his tradition of sharing the history of ancient Greek plays with others," says Luo Jinlin.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-02 07:34:40
<![CDATA[Ancient Chinese exhibits shine in Bologna]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/02/content_35962273.htm As Chinese publishers, writers and illustrators attend the 55th Bologna Children's Book Fair as guests of honor for the first time, besides the original titles they brought with them, they are also offering the residents of the northern Italian city a glimpse of Chinese culture and life.

At Bologna City Hall, an exhibition, titled Chinese Ancient Illustrations Art Exhibition, held over March 25-29, attracted many of the local Bolognese as well as tourists.

It is said that the illustrations were a form of ancient Chinese art, whose origins can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). One item in the precious collection is from The Diamond Sutra, one of the earliest illustrated of books in China.

The organizers spent more than two years collecting and preparing for the exhibition. The book depicts Bodhisattvas, supernatural beings, wise men such as Confucius and Lao-tzu, plants, animals, rivers, and mountains, as well as customs and rites for weddings and funerals, science and weaponry, and astrological predictions for farming and personal life.

Key scenes and figures from classical literature are also portrayed, such as the Monkey King from Journey to the West, the Grand View Garden from Dream of the Red Chamber, and Zhuge Liang from Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Deputy mayor of the city Marco Lombardo said at the opening ceremony of the exhibition on March 25: "This is a wonderful chance for our citizens to learn about Chinese illustration and its long history, and to enjoy its charm, and get to know a friendly country better."

meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-02 07:34:40
<![CDATA[Miniature magic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/02/content_35962272.htm A forthcoming attraction that mixes small-scale models of Beijing's icons with special effects and interactive elements may become a huge draw. Xu Lin reports.

Figurines of guards play traditional instruments in front of a miniature model of the Temple of Heaven, against a holographic background of ancient buildings and dark storm clouds.

The display portrays an annual ceremony staged by emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties to beseech the gods for a good harvest.

 

A small replica of the Temple of Heaven (left) portraying an imperial ceremony is part of Little Big City Beijing, an interactive miniaturized attraction mixing physical models and special effects that will open on Qianmen Street this summer. The small replicas will include such local architectural icons (clockwise from top) as the Great Wall, the Palace Museum and traditional alleyways. Photos Provided to China Daily

The ceremony, in fact, is the primary reason the temple was constructed in the first place.

United Kingdom-based Merlin Entertainments Plc unveiled the exhibition at a news conference in Beijing recently. The company operates over 120 attractions, including Madame Tussauds, 15 hotels and six holiday villages, around the world.

The new display is part of Little Big City Beijing - an interactive miniaturized attraction mixing physical models and special effects that will open on the capital's historical Qianmen Street this summer.

The exhibition will present small replicas of local architectural icons, such as the Palace Museum - the former imperial residence that's also known as the Forbidden City - and the capital's zigzagging hutong (traditional alleyways).

Such structures are inhabited by about 6,000 figurines-"residents" from all walks of life that feature vivid facial expressions.

And 3-D models, holograms and projection maps are also used to depict Beijing's history.

It will be the second Little Big City, after the first opened in Berlin last summer.

"The attraction targets the general public, especially families, because it contains education through entertainment," Little Big City Beijing's general manager Wang Rui says.

"Beijingers will be able to conjure their memories of the city. And tourists can immerse themselves in the city's history in a way that's akin to time travel."

Merlin's new openings director for the Asia-Pacific region, Benjamin Sweet, says: "It's exciting to bring the beautiful Little Big City to Beijing. Asia presents a huge opportunity in entertainment ... And China has a need for more immersive attractions."

He reveals that Merlin is also looking for a suitable location on the Chinese mainland to open an interactive Legoland theme park.

Merlin conducted research involving Beijing families and Chinese travelers from outside the capital to develop the attraction, Sweet says.

The company's creative team from the UK has worked with Chinese historians and culture experts, model builders and special-effects artists.

Sweet says he particularly enjoys a display of the Great Wall that simulates assaults on the bulwark during ancient times.

"Our department is responsible for taking the stories and expertise from the Chinese history and culture experts, and turning those into an engaging (experience)," says Darren Ward, models-delivery manager of Merlin Magic Making Production Delivery Department.

He says the products were created in consultation with Chinese experts to ensure they're enjoyable to visitors from around the country.

"To make experience interactive, we have to look closely at details of stories and figure out what part of the stories we can tell in an audiovisual or model-making way ... We experiment and try new things to push the boundaries with technology because we feel that it's the technology - especially here in China - that engages our guests."

He says the most challenging part of developing the attraction has been creating miniatures of the buildings, given the significant differences between traditional Chinese and Western architectural styles.

"We have to pay close attention to a lot of details and speak with Chinese cultural experts and Chinese model-making experts to make sure that it's done in the correct way."

Indeed, if successful, the collection of miniature models may become a big attraction in the mega city that it depicts.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-02 07:34:40
<![CDATA[Black Panther fans can find glimpses of Wakanda in Africa]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/02/content_35962271.htm JOHANNESBURG - Want to go to Wakanda? The blockbuster success of Black Panther has created a new, compelling vision of Africa as a continent of smart, technologically savvy people with cool clothes living in a futuristic city amid stunning landscapes.

The hidden, high-tech kingdom is fictional, of course. But the movie successfully weaves together many different aspects of the continent to depict Wakanda. For fans who long to visit, there are many real places to consider.

"The movie references a lot of different African cultures and tribes," says Meruschka Govender, a Black Panther fan who blogs about travel at MzansiGirl.com and calls herself an "African travel activist".

 

Left: Johannesburg's skyline under the clouds in South Africa. The blockbuster film Black Panther has created a new compelling vision of Africa as a continent of smart, technologically savvy people with cool clothes living in a futuristic city amid stunning landscapes. Right: Local Ethiopian farmers and their camels walk past the Obelisk steles area in Axum. AP Photos

"I loved the Afro-futurist costumes, production and black-consciousness themes. I really hope that it changes the narrative of African travel and inspires people to travel more the continent," she adds.

Johannesburg

In South Africa, Johannesburg is a good place to start. "Joburg" is a dynamic, cosmopolitan African city, full of commerce, high-rise architecture and nightlife that is redolent of Wakanda.

The high-speed Gautrain can whisk you from O.R. Tambo International Airport to Johannesburg's shiny financial center Sandton, with its modern skyscrapers. The train is quick, clean and pleasant.

Joburg's Braamfontein district is hip, edgy and fun. University students and hipsters frequent the coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques. By night there are fun bars and jazz clubs.

The striking Nelson Mandela suspension bridge leads to gritty downtown Johannesburg. Braamfontein has come up in the past 10 years from a derelict, dangerous spot to a great place to visit.

Rocky Street in Yeoville is a bustling, hustling strip full of people selling their wares. South Africans, as well as Zimbabweans, Congolese and people from all parts of Africa are there.

Security is a concern in Johannesburg, but if you are alert and careful - don't flash your phone or cash - it can be a manageable city.

Lesotho

Black Panther highlights the contrast between Africa's cityscapes and the landscapes of the countryside.

The tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho has that rural, traditional, spiritual side of Africa, where the Border Tribe in Black Panther resided. Lesotho has dramatic mountain scenery and picturesque rondavels, the round, thatched dwellings where many rural families live.

Most distinctive are the woven, cone-shaped hats and the brightly colored Basotho blankets worn over the shoulders of many in Lesotho. Those blankets feature prominently in the movie.

Ethiopia

With historic towers and churches dating back to the fourth century, Ethiopia has many sites that suggest Wakanda. The country was never colonized and its people are very proud of that, just as the people of Wakanda are proud of their history of independence.

The obelisks of Axum and the churches of Lalibela, carved out of rock, speak of ancient traditions.

Ethiopians wear flowing embroidered cotton robes and also like their reputation as the place where coffee was first grown and served, which you can appreciate with an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

Victoria Falls, Kenya and more

Victoria Falls, where the Zambezi River spectacularly plummets over 100 meters to make one of the world's largest waterfalls, is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The awe-inspiring falls throw up a perpetual mist that supports a lush rainforest.

The indigenous Tonga people called the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya which means "Smoke That Thunders". It's a fabulous place to visit and may bring to mind the waterfall fight scene from the movie.

Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is another city that is reminiscent of Black Panther. Perhaps the place that best captures the juxtaposition of modern and rural Africa is Nairobi National Park, just 6.4 kilometers from the city, where you can see rhinos, giraffes and elephants, and look over their shoulders to see the office towers of the city in the background.

East Africa's expansive savannas, with flat-top acacia trees, seen in Maasai Mara park and Tanzania's Serengeti park, look like they are right out of a sweeping movie scene.

But maybe the best place to get that Wakanda feeling is the Wits University campus in Johannesburg. To be surrounded by smart, opinionated, articulate students, fashionably dressed in colorful, sharp clothes, full of hope and plans for themselves, their country and their continent is to feel the heart of the Afro-optimism of Black Panther.

Associated Press

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2018-04-02 07:34:40
<![CDATA[Where cabbage is king]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956986.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.

An emperor and his favorite consort used to admire a delicately carved ornament made of jade that was probably part of her dowry. It is a miniature head of humble cabbage, with a crisp white base and translucent frilled green leaves with two tiny insects resting on the vegetable.

The emperor was Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and this famous piece of jade is called the Jade Cabbage, currently one of the main exhibits of the Palace Museum in Taipei. It was taken from Yonghe Palace in the Forbidden City, the imperial quarters of the consort Jinfei.

 

Stir-fried cabbage with vinegar and dried pepper. Provided to China Daily

 

This exquisite and valuable piece of art lauds one of the most common vegetables in China, while representing wishes for good harvests and fertility.

The Chinese cabbage is planted all over China, in all seasons, but it is in the cold northeastern provinces that it grows large and sweet and tender, and plays a starring role in the cuisine.

Whole cabbages are bought and stored for the long winter months, piled outside in courtyards and on balconies. Together with the huge Shandong leeks, it is one of the vegetables that will fill the winter larder.

Huge truckloads of white cabbages roll into Beijing around October and November, plentiful and cheap. So cheap, in fact, that "as affordable as white cabbages" has become a popular term for a great bargain.

Wise housewives load their shopping trolleys full of huge cabbages, often topped with a super huge bunch of leeks.

The vegetables are carted home and neatly arranged on the balcony, or in a sheltered part of the garden. Sometimes an old blanket is thrown over the pile to deter open thievery by either the two-legged or four-legged.

This has been a winter ritual for a very long time, from when times were hard and logistics were limited.

Sometimes, cabbages are pickled.

They are soaked in brine and fermented in huge vats as suancai, the "sour vegetables" that dongbei cuisine revolves around. This is especially common in Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces.

The yingcai or "hard dishes" of the northeast are hearty offerings such as thick slices of fatty pork belly stewed with roughly shredded pickled cabbage, or huge pots of sweet potato noodles cooked with more fermented cabbage.

In our Beijing household, traditions die hard, and the pile of cabbages in the yard is slowly reduced by daily soups and stir-fries. I have succeeded in sneaking in carrots and tomatoes to add some color to the winter diet.

The dabaicai cabbage is amazingly versatile.

It can be finely sliced and tossed with vinegar, sesame oil and a pinch of sugar for a crisp and refreshing salad. A bunch of blanched mung bean noodles provide the tactile contrast. This is especially appreciated deep in winter, when fresh salads are hard to come by.

Cut into chunks and cooked with carrots in a bone marrow stock, it turns into a tender vegetable stew to please the toothless old lady in the house, and is enjoyed just as much by those with a full set of teeth. Stewed cabbage retains its sweetness and is one of the few leafy vegetables that can withstand long cooking without losing color and taste.

The spouse's favorite is to have a pile of blanched cabbage with his zhajiangmian, dry-tossed noodles with hot bean sauce. The blanched vegetables lighten the heavy, savory noodles and make the dish a healthier option.

Sometimes, I remember my southern Chinese roots and cook a vegetarian special with a base of braised cabbage, with mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, lotus seeds, peas and carrots on top.

Another dish is tender braised cabbage hearts in thick chicken stock and top of milk or cream. This is straight from the imperial kitchens, and only the sweetest, most tender hearts of the cabbage are used.

It is sweet on sweet, with the natural flavor of the cabbage accentuated by the chicken stock and shredded dried scallops. That touch of cream gives the dish a velvety smoothness that takes it to another level.

I also like making Russian-inspired cabbage rolls with Chinese cabbage instead of round cabbages. For one thing, the leaves are larger and more pliable, and they do not melt into nothingness.

Chinese cabbage is also known as Napa cabbage in the West, after migrant Asian farmers introduced this vegetable to the San Francisco farmers' markets from their farms in Napa Valley across the Bay.

All very well, but I do think it's about time we reclaim the name, in recognition of Chinese cabbage's unique contribution to the Middle Kingdom's cuisines all these thousands of years.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Recipe

Vegetarian cabbage wraps

1 large head of cabbage

200 g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced

1 carrot, peeled and shredded 1 can bamboo shoots, shredded

1 can or eight freshly peeled water chestnuts, minced

1 tablespoon yellow fermented bean sauce, huangdoujiang

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt and a bit of sugar to taste

1 liter mushroom stock

Blanch the whole cabbage and carefully remove the large outer leaves. Take out the short tender heart of cabbage and finely chop it up.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan and add the yellow fermented bean sauce. Fry till fragrant, then add sliced mushrooms, minced water chestnuts, shredded bamboo shoots and carrot. When the mixture is well seasoned, add the chopped cabbage. Season with sesame oil, salt and sugar to taste .

Fry the ingredients until the mixture is relatively dry and the vegetable juices are reabsorbed. Cool.

Spread out each large cabbage leaf and place a generous spoon of fried ingredients on the stem end. Roll up like an envelope and place the roll at the bottom of a shallow nonstick pot. Continue to pack the rolls into the pot until the cabbage leaves and ingredients are used up.

Pour the liter of mushroom stock into the pot and slowly let it simmer for an hour. This is a delicious vegetable dish with so much sweetness and bite, you won't miss the meat.

Braised Chinese cabbage with Chinese ham

1/2 a head of Chinese cabbage, about 1 kg

100 g Chinese ham from Jinhua, shredded

100 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

2-3 thin slices ginger, slivered 1 liter chicken stock

Cut the Chinese cabbage into 5-cm chunks, rinse and drain.

Heat up two tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the ginger julienne. Fry till fragrant, then add the shredded Chinese ham.

Add the sliced mushroom next. Add the cabbage chunk and give them a good toss so the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Allow to rapidly boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pan

When the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are tender, check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

This is a great dish to serve the same day, but the flavors will mature and bloom even better the next day.

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[Designing the homes of the future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956985.htm Architects are using the Dutch experience as a template for sustainable development in China

The Beijing branch of Sino-Dutch architecture company Next Architects was in the news recently when its office in a former state printing plant was visited by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

The company, which has been operating in China and Europe since 1999, focuses on sustainable urban development and employs about 100 architects dealing with building design, interior design, landscaping and planning.

 

Implanting "the breathing house" to give a rebirth to old buildings. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

Jiang Xiaofei, the co-head of the Beijing office, says that China and the Netherlands face similar issues in sustainable urban development. He describes the recent development of China as "transformative", citing the movement of half a billion people from the countryside to cities within 30 years.

He says he thinks China's priority now should be maintaining and improving existing buildings, because the construction stage is largely complete.

He says the demand for renovation will surpass that for construction by 2020, a situation similar to one the Netherlands faced a few decades ago.

As for pressing issues facing the mainland, Jiang is concerned about the lack of adequate focus on urban planning.

"As it (the real estate sector in China) is a buyer's market, a large number of Chinese designers cater to current social and economic conditions. The bad thing about this is that the buildings will soon be outdated."

For him, the challenge is to get older buildings ready for a new era driven by technology and to focus on sustainable development.

As an example of sustainable development, he points to structures in Henan province keep the PM2.5 air pollution levels under a comparatively safe level of 50 using green technology.

He adds that, though a majority in the real estate sector may not be ready to spend more for things like better air quality, they will ultimately have to do so.

The company calls its plan to transform the country's urban fabric the Breathing House Plan. Instead of completely tearing down old structures, the intention is to preserve "permanent" elements including the basic structure and vertical transportation systems.

However, the "temporary" elements, such as nonload-bearing walls, are dismantled or altered.

New prefabricated units are inserted into the structure to add more functionality.

Modern materials are used to reduce PM2.5 particles, and photovoltaic power generation is used.

In a bid to bring in more green elements, rainwater collection technology is introduced.

Technology is used in the floors to transform kinetic energy - expended by people walking - into electrical power. Also, the internet of things - which connects equipment to the internet - is offered.

Climatic variations in China are also being taken into consideration as buildings are renovated.

For instance, the new structures are designed to be better ventilated in the southern part of the country, integrated with equipment like air conditioners.

When it comes to dealing with high-density housing conditions in urban areas, each unit is designed to be small, but big enough for living or working.

Through its work, Next Architects aims to improve the living conditions of what it calls the "ant tribe"-talented young people who are just starting their careers in a location that is new to them.

Jiang expects the forward-looking company to turn its design concept into a mature product within two years.

Speaking about how the product can help real estate developers, Jiang says: "Architecture can easily lose touch with the times, but we have a way to help them to catch up."

Speaking about how architects are viewed in China and elsewhere, Jiang says the profession is highly regarded in the West.

Even the street cleaners in Basel, Switzerland, know the location of the Swiss company founded by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. In China, however, it is a different matter.

Referring to the high regard in which architects have been held historically, he mentions Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raffaello Santi and Leonardo da Vinci, who were still introduced as architects even after they had become famous as painters and sculptors.

Referring to the ideal qualities architects should have, he says: "A good designer should strike a balance between economics, environment and society. We are not performing our social responsibility when we only focus on economics."

xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[Chinese village ensemble enthralls audiences]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956984.htm Musicians delight crowds in United States with unusual sound and enthusiastic playing

With their wild, energetic music that is centuries old, a farmers' ensemble from Northwest China has delivered one surprising moment after another to audiences during its ongoing tour of the United States.

Led by pipa virtuoso Wu Man, the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, which comprises eight farmers from Huayin county, Shaanxi province, recently showcased a little-known Chinese folk music called lao qiang, which is roughly translated as "old tune", at an event hosted by the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

New York City was the group's 10th stop of a 12-city tour of the US that concluded on March 25.

From the moment the band took the stage with a vigorous and boastful cry from Zhang Ximin, a senior artist of lao qiang, the eight predominantly elderly men were never less than 100 percent committed to raising the roof with their singing and sometimes raucous shouting.

"It's really an exciting thing," said Robert Martin, director of the Bard College Conservatory of Music in New York, after the show. "The passion, the energy of their music is amazing."

Theodore Levin, professor of music at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, agreed.

"It's very sophisticated; it's got rock power. They are masters," Levin said. "That (wood) bench is unique - it involves a lot of expertise."

Levin was referring to a unique percussion instrument - a long bench pounded with a wooden block by a band member.

The bench, which was brought from the farmer's home, was among a variety of Chinese folk music instruments like the yueqin (a banjo-like instrument with four-strings), the erhu (a two-stringed, bowed instrument) and the lute and fiddle the band members used to tell lively stories of rural life in sounds rarely heard in the West.

Lao qiang, an energetic folk music whose roots are more than 2,000 years old, has been described as the ancient rock 'n' roll of the East. It features high-pitched singing, accompanied by a band of traditional Chinese instruments in dynamic rhythms and beats. Traditionally, lao qiang musicians would accompany a puppeteer, who would tell stories from behind the screen.

The band's show would not be so entertaining without a lot of help from Wu, whose informative, interesting narrations in English before and after the farmers' performances provided historical and cultural context little known to even a Chinese audience.

Wu, who moved to the US in 1990, has carved out a career as a soloist, educator and composer as well as a leader of cross-cultural exchanges. She was named Musical America's 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, marking the first time this award was bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.

Wu first met the farmer musicians around a decade ago at one of Huayin's fishing and farming villages at the foot of Huashan Mountain near the Yellow River. At that time, she was traveling in China's remote regions to uncover ancient musical traditions that are in danger of being lost.

For more than 300 years, members of the group, formerly known as the Zhang Family Band, have toured the countryside, taking their shadow puppet plays - which bring to life the mythical heroes and gods of the oral folk culture of Shaanxi, often evoking famous battles of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) - to temple fairs and rituals.

"Their music is so raw and real, very different from the polished concerts we typically see in the concert hall," says Wu. "I want to share this with audiences across our country and bring awareness to this music that is still being performed today in the remote villages of Northern China."

After her initial visit with the village ensemble, Wu brought them along with several other groups - none of which had been seen in the West - to Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2009. Then Wu decided to return to China to make a documentary about her experience, Discovering a Musical Heartland, which inspired her to bring the shadow puppet band back to the West again.

This time, Wu was excited to see the Chinese village band greeted with more cheers and applause.

"We have so many different cultures on this Earth," she says. "We learn from each other - and it makes us stronger."

Xinhua

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[The bare bones of life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956983.htm Female scientist honored for work that answered key questions about the early ancestors of humans

'My work explores fundamental questions about who we are and where we came from," says Professor Meemann Chang who, in a long career examining fish fossils, has discovered some of our earliest ancestors.

"To be able to figure out what a new fossil is, how it is related to other organisms, how it lived, and what it can tell us about the ancient environment" is truly enlightening, she says.

 

Professor Meemann Chang (right), an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been recognized for her pioneering work on fossil records that led to insights on how aquatic vertebrates adapted to live on land. Provided to China Daily

On March 22, Chang - an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences - was honored with a L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science award for the insights she has provided, one of which showed that lungfish were not, as previously thought, the evolutionary link between marine life and mammals - including humans - and that the distinction actually belongs to the sarcopterygian lobe-finned fish, a marine life form dating back 400 million years.

"On this occasion it is impossible for me not to reflect on my career in vertebrate paleontology," Chang said at the awards ceremony, held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. "I started to study paleontology some 60 years ago when I was a student at Moscow State University."

But the choice of career was not her own. "At that time it was arranged much like an arranged marriage," she said.

Her speech also revealed some of the sacrifices she was forced to make over the years. When she thanked her family for their support, she gave special thanks to her daughter, "as I had to leave her with her grandmother when she was one month old. When she came back to me she was 10. But she never complained."

Chang, now 82, was one of five laureates, each from a different continent, honored at the awards ceremony, which marked the 20th anniversary of the successful partnership between the L'Oreal Foundation and UNESCO to support female scientists and address a gender bias in science.

"For 20 years, UNESCO and the L'Or éal Foundation have been working side by side to support women scientists," says Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general. "Some 3,124 women scientists from around the world have been celebrated for their outstanding achievements, and each laureate has been recognized for excellence in her respective field of expertise."

Over the past two decades, the percentage of women working in science has increased by about 12 percent, but less than 30 percent of researchers are women.

A glass ceiling is still evident for women in science. Only 3 percent of Nobel prizes for science have been awarded to women and only one woman has been awarded the Fields Medal for Mathematics since its creation in 1936.

"It is in the interests of everyone to change their mindsets," says Jean Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L'Oreal and chairman of the L'Oreal Foundation. "Women and men both have a role to play."

That is why an initiative was launched at the March 22 event aimed at mobilizing men within the scientific community to actively engage in efforts to promote gender equality in science.

In China, the Young Women in Science Fellowships were created 15 years ago. These have rewarded and spotlighted a group of young female scientists "who are showing that women are just as capable of changing the world with the power of science as men," says L'Oreal China CEO Stephane Rinderknech.

lindsayandrews@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[More women are needed in world of science]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956982.htm While these last few months will undoubtedly remain in our collective history as those of the global liberation of women's voices in the world of cinema and in politics, the not-for-profit sector and even business, there is a sector where women's voices have remained astonishingly silent: science. This is the case despite the fact that science faces the kind of disparity about which we should all, as a society, be concerned.

If the proportion of women engaged in scientific careers has grown, albeit too slowly, many of them still come up against obstacles in accomplishing long and flourishing careers, achieving positions of responsibility or gaining access to funding. As a result, in the European Union, for example, only 11 percent of senior roles in academic institutions are currently held by women. Fewer than 30 percent of researchers are women, and only 3 percent of Nobel Prizes for Science have ever been awarded to female scientists.

How can we explain that, after years of fighting for gender equality, the underrepresentation of women in science should still be so glaring and, above all, what are the consequences for our world?

They are numerous and we must collectively seek to understand them, as much for the society that we want to build, as for the advance of scientific progress and knowledge, which is crucial to solving the great challenges of our time.

The absence of women has had, and will have, major consequences. Let's take two fields of scientific application.

First, in the area of health, there are multiple examples. Have we truly realized, for example, that, for a long time, the idea that cardiovascular illnesses were a male issue prevailed? The principal clinical trials on reducing risk factors were led exclusively by men. Even in 1999, it was observed that doctors undertook half as many examinations of cardiac illnesses among women as among men. The landmark study on aspirin as a means of reducing the risk of cardiac arrest encompassed more than 22,000 men and not one woman. Very sadly, this led to inappropriate treatment for women.

The second field, which is just as concerning, is men's control of the digital revolution, and the subsequent implications for women. In the early stages of voice recognition, there was no doubt about male bias in software development. Consequently, not all that long ago, the number of transcription errors when women used voice recognition applications was considerably higher than among their male counterparts, since the applications had been designed from the outset by men. In the domain of artificial intelligence, which will have a definitive effect on our future, studies have also shown that image banks associate women with domestic tasks and men with sports, and image recognition software does not only reproduce these prejudices, it amplifies them. In contrast with humans, algorithms cannot consciously fight acquired prejudices. As artificial intelligence gradually invades our lives, the issues will only increase. If robots are used to model the world in the near future, it is vital that they should be programmed by men and women.

The idea is clearly not to say that women would be better scientists than men, but rather to become conscious that we need a more balanced scientific community in terms of gender representation, so as not to deprive ourselves of everyone's creativity and talent, and to design, through scientific progress, a more inclusive society. Creating coalitions for a more inclusive science is urgent, in order to best address the challenges facing the world, while advancing knowledge for the benefit of all.

The world needs science, and science, more than ever, needs women.

The author is executive vice-president of the L'Oreal Foundation. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[The bamboo way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956981.htm Musician to showcase his unique crusade at Beijing concert

In 1991, Beijing-based musician Wang Wei went on a tour with the China Oriental Performing Arts Group as bassist. During the tour, he became fascinated by the shakuhachi, a kind of Japanese bamboo flute. Later, he found out that the shakuhachi, which was called chi ba in Chinese, was introduced to Japan during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Wang, as a professional musician, was astonished and ashamed of how he was ignorant of the country's rich musical tradition, so he began learning about and researching Chinese instruments made of bamboo.

 

More than 100 bamboo musical instruments are on display in an exhibition curated by Wang Wei in Beijing. Photos by Wang Jing / China Daily

   
He has found that among the 90 wind instruments identified by the Chinese Music Dictionary, 47 are made of bamboo. The earliest bamboo instruments found so far in China were flutes discovered in 1978 alongside bronze chimes from a tomb of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) in Suixian county of Central China's Hubei province.

During the past three decades, the versatile musician traveled around the country to find the finest materials for making bamboo instruments. The small balcony at his home in Beijing has become his studio for making the instruments.

In 1999, Wang got a patent for his bamboo marimba from the State Intellectual Property Office and, so far, five of his bamboo instruments have been patented by the office.

He also gathered a group of musicians to form the country's first bamboo orchestra, which now has more than 20 members, most of whom have at least a master's degree in music. Together they've released five CDs.

On April 22, the 70-year-old will lead the orchestra in a show at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing, interpreting Western classics such as Pizzicato Polka by Johann Strauss II, as well as original Chinese works.

Audiences will see bamboo instruments of various sizes, shapes and designs, from the longest (a 3.3-meter tube) to the smallest (a 4.6-centimeter flute mouthpiece that can produce a wider range of sounds than piano key frequencies).

"Though the orchestra was officially registered in 2007, we had prepared for it for decades. I want to set up a pure bamboo orchestra. All the instruments are made of bamboo, and the music we play is not modified by electronic music, so as to present the rich culture of Chinese bamboo instruments and Chinese music," says Wang.

Besides live performances, he is also the curator of an ongoing exhibition in which more than 100 bamboo instruments are on display in Beijing. In 2014, Wang held a similar bamboo instruments exhibition at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

"Compared with Western classical music, Chinese audiences pay less attention to traditional Chinese instruments. But once you take the ancient instruments seriously, and look at them carefully, you will be fascinated and start to appreciate their beauty," Wang says.

He also notes that the country boasts more than 500 kinds of bamboo, which is a main material for Chinese ethnic groups from the south, such as in Yunnan, Guizhou and Hainan provinces, to make instruments. Wang has collected a variety of those instruments and visited ethnic musicians, some of whom are inheritors of instruments that are on the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

"Those instruments are rarely seen by urban audiences. To popularize these instruments, we tried to adapt some world-famous pieces," says Wang.

One of Wang's supporters and helpers is established Chinese composer and percussionist Chen Wei, who is a member of the China Oriental Performing Arts Group.

As Chen recalls, he was overwhelmed by seeing a handmade, marimbalike instrument at Wang's home in 1995. The unique sound of the instrument attracted Chen and, since then, he has written and adapted more than 30 melodies for bamboo instruments.

"We try to pick the most suitable elements for bamboo instruments, whose sound is mild and bright," says Chen, whose compositional pieces, such as Bamboo Sound in Beijing and Mountain Song, will be performed during the upcoming concert.

"Bamboo music is still a new genre, which gives us a large space to grow," Chen says.

Shang Lei, 38, who learned percussion from the age of 4 with the famous percussionist Liu Guangxi, a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, joined Wang's orchestra as a college student.

"I was impressed by his instruments, which occupied his home," Shang recalls of her first visit to Wang's home. "One of the biggest challenges of making those bamboo instruments is to solve the problem of cracking, since the temperature is quite different in the south and north."

Shang adds that, since bamboo instruments are not as popular as other traditional Chinese instruments, few composers write music for bamboo instruments, which hinders their popularity.

While fulfilling his vision, Wang is also proud that the orchestra's birth and development are also an effort to protect the environment.

Traditionally, makers have relied on hardwoods such as mahogany, cedar and rosewood to produce instruments. But those slow-growing trees can take half a century or more to reach maturity. Large consumption has caused some species to disappear.

Since bamboo is among the fastest-growing plants on Earth - gaining 1.2 meters each day under appropriate conditions - the State Forestry Administration has been trying to replace the use of wood with bamboo to protect the environment.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[Hit 'em up]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/01/content_35956980.htm 'Solid hammer' refers to a photo, voice chat, screenshot or video that confirms celebrity rumors

Celebrity gossip is bread and butter to internet users everywhere: From dating to births, engagements, weddings, breakups, divorce and death, every detail of a celebrity's life can become a trending topic.

Once caught in scandals, the celebrities will quickly find themselves the subject of an online carnival. As idle netizens feast on the flesh of the fallen, a weak but angry voice, usually from still-loyal fans, can be heard pleading:

It's just a rumor! There's no solid hammer at all!

Zhè dōu shì yáo yán, gēn běn méi yǒu shí chuí!

这都是谣言,根本没有实锤!

Don't be confused: You don't need to carry heavy tools to gossip. "Solid hammer" (实锤shí chuí) is web slang for "ironclad evidence". No hammer, no cry, say the diehard fans.

Though its origin seems almost untraceable, this expression is simple to understand, because inarguable proof of a wrongdoing can smash the reputation and even career of a celebrity, just like a strong hammer. In an era dominated by the web, "solid hammer" usually refers to a photograph, voice chat, screenshot or video that confirms the rumor. If you don't have any of these, you will be labeled a黑子 (hēi zi, anti-fan, someone who defames others on purpose), who literally 黑 (hēi, "blacken") or slanders a celebrity. Fans may defend their controversial idol by saying:

Those anti-fans have no solid hammer at all. They are just randomly blackening his name!

Hēi zi men gēn běn méi yǒu shí chuí, wán quán shì zài luàn hēi.

黑子们根本没有实锤,完全是在乱黑。

Usually, fans and heizi belong to rival camps. However, a fan's defense of an idol can backfire. In September last year, a woman named Li Yutong, who claimed to be singer Xue Zhiqian's ex-girlfriend, accused Xue not only of swindling her out of money but of cheating on his wife. Xue's fans were outraged: They demanded Li post "solid hammers". Li was happy to comply. In the next week, she drip-fed fans a series of damning evidence, including bank transfer records, voice messages, and even a photocopy of their business contract - hammers so solid that Xue's reputation was irreversibly destroyed.

This story generated a whole new expression to describe the fate of Xue's fans: 求锤得锤 (qiú chuí dé chuí, seek hammer and receive it), derived from the Confucian saying 求仁得仁 (qiú rén dé rén, seek virtue and receive it).

In many cases, though, fans believe that anti-fans are not just ordinary netizens, but professionals hired by people to vilify their beloved star. These mercenaries, or 水军 (shuǐ jūn), literally "water army", not only make money from blackening celebrities but also accept payment for hyping them. Paid shills are called 职粉 (zhí fěn), short for 职业粉丝(zhí yè fěn sī, professional fans). In contrast, impartial netizens who have no particular ax to grind are known as 路人 (lù rén, passersby). Among fans, the saying goes: "Once you join the discussion, you are no longer a passer-by". Underneath an article relating bad news about a star, one can frequently see loyal fans firing back at someone who leaves negative comments:

You are obviously the water army. Why are you pretending to be a passer-by?

Nǐ yī kàn jiù shì shuǐ jūn, zhuāng shén me lù rén a?

你一看就是水军,装什么路人啊?

The effect of solid hammers is overwhelming, but they can't smash everything, at least not the strong faith and love of particularly crazed fans. A minority of worshipful fans - similar to Western-style "beliebers" (fans of Justin Beiber) or Beyonce's "Beyhive" - believe their idols can do no wrong and find excuses for any and all misbehavior. Such an unreasonable attitude has won these diehards a derogatory title - 脑残粉 (nǎo cán fěn, brain-damaged fans), indicating that they lose all critical thinking skills where their idol is concerned. Their defense of a "guilty" celebrity is called 洗白 (xǐ bái, whitewash). When this happens, a heizi or righteous passer-by might point a finger and say:

These brain-damaged fans have come to whitewash again!

Zhè xiē nǎo cán fěn yòu lái xǐ bái le!

这些脑残粉又来洗白了!

One thing is clear: When you take part in any discussion of a celebrity scandal, your identity will always be questioned. Blame the star, you are a heizi; defend them, you are a brain-damaged fan or greedy water army. And if you try to be an impartial passer-by? No way, you must be a liar!

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

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2018-04-01 14:29:08
<![CDATA[TRADITIONAL CHINESE ARTS INTRODUCED TO VISITORS OF ATHENS ACROPOLIS MUSEUM]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/31/content_35954551.htm ATHENS - Two artists from the Shanghai Museum initiated visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens into the traditional Chinese arts of calligraphy and painting.

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Masterpieces of traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting go on show in the Greek capital

ATHENS - Two artists from the Shanghai Museum initiated visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens into the traditional Chinese arts of calligraphy and painting.

Calligrapher and exhibition designer and associate curator Yuan Qiming and painter and assistant curator of painting and calligraphy Yan Xiaojun worked before visitors, as if they were in their own private studios.

The Athens Acropolis Museum hosted a four-day workshop from March 22-25 in the context of a memorandum of cooperation signed between the two museums and the 2017 Greece-China Year of Cultural Exchanges and Cooperation in Creative Industries.

"I think visitors are very interested in the Chinese techniques of calligraphy and painting," President of the Acropolis Museum Professor Dimitris Pantermalis told Xinhua.

In the framework of cooperation between the two museums, two treasures from Shanghai Museum are on display at the Acropolis Museum for an exhibition which will last until April 30.

The two masterpieces are the bronze pan of Zi Zhong Jiang which dates back to the 7th century BC (Early Spring and Autumn Period), and the hand scroll painting Traveling along the Clear River created by artist Wu Hong in the 17th century.

"We have brought to the Acropolis museum two pieces of exhibits that is a bronze pan and a hand scroll of Chinese painting that represent the ancient Chinese art. We are going to paint a landscape and I will show you the calligraphy of Chinese in ancient times, the clerical script of Chinese," Yuan said.

He presented major script types of Chinese calligraphy, one of the trademarks of Chinese culture.

"I am surprised when I am writing, some of the visitors know so much about Chinese culture and they can tell what I am writing. It is amazing," he said.

For his part, Yan improvised in his painting with free hand skill and ink-wash just as the literati painters did, with various subjects such as colored landscape and flowers.

"I have performed similar paintings just like we have here exhibited on display in the museum. I depicted yesterday a landscape of China and I will paint another landscape in north China. They have similarities, but you can see the differences between the landscapes from the north and south. I used special techniques to depict different kind of rocks in the landscape," Yan explained.

Chinese painting is an art, which has a deep-rooted tradition and a unique style, employing a "dots and lines" structure and the writing brush, ink stick, silk and xuan paper as the main tools.

In the spirit of exchange, two exquisite objects from the Acropolis Museum are being exhibited at the Shanghai museum up until April 8.

The two antiquities loaned are a marble statue of a Kore (520-510 BC), one of the most beautiful and well-preserved sculptures of the Acropolis, which retains traces of its archaic colors, and a red-figure basin lid with a Dionysian scene (350-325 BC).

"We have sent to Shanghai two masterpieces from the Acropolis Museum and we sent also two conservators to present there the way the ancient Greeks worked with marble, how they made sculptures. This was realized with great success," Pantermalis said.

"In the future we prepare a major exhibition with a special theme with some very personal objects of the Emperor Qianlong (1736-96). They are now in the Forbidden City and we will present these pieces in the fall this year in the Acropolis Museum," he said.

Xinhua

 

A red-figure basin lid with a Dionysian scene (350-325 BC) from the Acropolis Museum in Athens. In the framework of cooperation between China and Greece, two treasures from the Greek museum are on display at the Shanghai Museum. Photos By Xinhua and provided to China Daily

 

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2018-03-31 07:58:54
<![CDATA[Charity bike ride in Hangzhou looks to blossom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/31/content_35954550.htm The 2018 Trek 100 Qiantang River (Hangzhou) Charity Bike Tour ended last Saturday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. More than 1,000 cycling enthusiasts competed in two groups - the 92 km and 63 km cycle challenge.

The Trek 100 Charity Bike Tour was founded in 1990, and has been successfully held for the past 28 years. The annual charity bike ride was jointly established by Trek Cycling and the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Foundation and attracts now around 1,000 participants every year.

The Trek 100 has a riding distance of around 100 kilometers, and aims to promote a healthy and active lifestyle and contribute to the public well-being through the power of cycling.

The 2018 Trek 100 Qiantang River (Hangzhou) Charity Bike Tour kicked off at a sports center in Hangzhou's Jianggan district. Riders who participated in the charity ride started from Qianjiang New City, before heading toward Xiasha via the Qiantang River, and then returned along the riverside back to Jianggan district.

In the season when the peach trees blossom, the riders enjoyed picturesque scenery on both banks of the river as they happily sweated their way through the race.

The United States ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, also took part in the event. At the site, he shared his riding experiences: "Cycling is a wonderful sport that can solve many complex problems, such as health, traffic congestion, etc., I hope more people will participate in the future. Riding in the spring is a very good experience, I hope you will all enjoy the ride."

The bike tour is the opening challenge of the 2018 Trek 100 series, where the US cycle brand Trek has teamed up with FAW-Volkswagen's C-Trek model to bring a variety of cycling experiences to bike enthusiasts around China. The event attracted cyclists from Hangzhou, Shanghai, Wuxi, Ningbo and Jiaxing, as well as riders from abroad.

This year, Trek 100 will donate the enrollment fees from the charity ride to support the China University Student Sports Association's cycling branch to help promote and popularize the cycling movement among colleges and universities across the country.

zhanglei@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The 2018 Trek 100 Qiantang River (Hangzhou) Charity Bike Tour ended last Saturday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-03-31 07:58:54
<![CDATA[GLOBAL RESET]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948680.htm Kerry Brown believes China is now a global player in a way that it has never been before.

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A new book by a leading UK academic says President Xi Jinping's focus on foreign policy has transformed China's international standing. Andrew Moody reports in London.

Kerry Brown believes China is now a global player in a way that it has never been before.

The 50-year-old academic, who is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in the West about Chinese politics, says there has been a transformation over the past five years with the emphasis President Xi Jinping has given to foreign policy.

"China is now a central force. Its importance is no longer just about its economy. It has gone beyond that," he says.

Brown, director of the Lau Institute at King's College London, a leading China studies center in the United Kingdom, examines what sort of role China wants to carve out in the world in his latest book, China's World: What Does China Want?.

A prolific writer, the book is his 15th sole authored work in 12 years, but the first to focus directly on China's foreign policy.

"I noticed there were some very good books on specific aspects of Chinese foreign policy, the history of it and, in particular, bilateral relations such as China-Africa and China's relationship with the rest of Asia. But there was nothing that put it altogether that was accessible," he says.

Brown was speaking over coffee in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel at London's St Pancras station, a key rail gateway to the continent.

The location was perhaps fitting since it was where the reception was held to celebrate the arrival of the first freight train from China to London - an event that symbolized the ambition of China's Belt and Road Initiative - in January 2017.

"I was talking to someone the other day who was working in Leicester (a city in the UK's East Midlands) and he said the Belt and Road had reached there now after they sent a delegation to China. Certainly people are starting to think how to engage with this," he says.

Brown, who is also a leading commentator on China for newspapers including The Guardian and The New York Times and also for media outlets like CNN, the BBC and Al-Jazeera, says China's foreign policy matters because it is now one of the world's only "truly global countries".

"China has reached a point where its domestic politics are very intimately linked to its international politics now. Never before have you had to make that connection, but now what happens in China is global, just like it is with America," he says.

"They are the only two truly global countries because their domestic policies provide a kind of map to the rest of the world. Most other countries are a bit more marginal."

Brown, who is also chief editor of the Dictionary of Chinese Biography, published by Berkshire Publishing in the United States, had an unconventional route into academia and becoming an authority on China.

He studied English literature at Cambridge University and only made his first visit to China in 1991 while he was working as a secondary school teacher in Japan.

This sparked an interest in the country and Brown returned to the UK to do a one-year postgraduate diploma in Mandarin at Thames Valley University in London.

After that, he lectured in English for two years in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and became a business manager for a UK company trading in China.

This translated into a diplomatic career when he became head of the China section at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London before being sent out to be first secretary at the British embassy in Beijing in 2000.

After returning to London, he became head of the Asia program at Chatham House, Europe's largest foreign policy think tank, in 2005, where he cemented a reputation as a leading thinker on this part of the world.

Following his success there he was recruited to become director of the China Studies Centre at Sydney University, which has a major international reputation for research on China.

In late 2015, Brown returned to the UK to work as the director of the Lau Institute at King's College London.

"London is a major financial center and also the center of the UK government, so we are particularly focused on policy. Our research is in such areas as the environment, governance in China, the political economy and investment," he says.

In China's World: What Does China Want? Brown puts China's relationship with the rest of the world into zones. Zone one is with the United States, which he describes as the "ultimate love-hate relationship". Zone two is with the rest of Asia, zone three the European Union and zone four the rest of the world, including Africa and the Middle East.

"China is a newly emerging country that is looking for a role in the world and these are the sort of zones it is operating in."

A recent book by the US political scientist Graham Allison, Destined for War, argued that the US-China relationship was caught in the Thucydides Trap, the classic point where one power is about to challenge and take over from another. The last time this led to conflict was a century ago when imperial Germany challenged the British, resulting in World War I.

"The Chinese have looked at all these power transitions. There have been 12 major global power transitions in history - five were relatively peaceful, but seven were not," says Brown.

The academic does not believe Thucydides properly characterizes the current situation.

"There's a spectrum. At one end there is China as a threat, which I think is a caricature of Chinese power, and at the other end there is China as a sort of pussycat that is going to love everyone. And then there is space in the middle, which is where the reality lies."

Brown says, however, that Xi Jinping has reshaped Chinese foreign policy over the past five years, with major initiatives such as the Belt and Road and high-profile international engagement, which has seen him visit more than 50 countries.

"In the 2000s, the Americans and others all said that China should be more of a stakeholder," he says.

"Since 2012, Xi Jinping has made this specific demand that there needs to a proactive emphasis on foreign policy, and that is what has happened. China has been much more vociferous because it feels as the world's second-largest economy it should be. You can't hide an elephant. It is just too big."

Brown says China's new high profile is becoming evident around the world.

"In all the 20 countries I visited last year the most common thing that I saw was the Huawei (Chinese telecoms giant) logo. I saw it at Rome airport going into the city and in Brazil, Canada, Greece and the Philippines. It is another way in which China is becoming much more visible than ever before," he says.

Brown is set to publish two further books this year, The World According to Xi: Everything You Need to Know About the New China and China's Dreaming, which will look at the culture of the Communist Party of China.

Brown believes Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, which was enshrined in the country's Constitution at a meeting of the National People's Congress on March 11, is a very real and important concept.

"It is a vision of historic progress. It is not abstract, it is not fanciful, it is real. People can feel it and see it in not just the economy but also in China's status in the world," he says.

 

Kerry Brown says China's foreign policy matters because it is now one of the world's only "truly global countries". Nick J.b. Moore/for China Daily

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[CRISPY, CRUNCHY JELLYFISH]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948679.htm You would not want to meet a jellyfish while swimming in the sea, and some would definitely balk at a close encounter with this creature on the dining table.

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Well prepared, the delicacy is a tactile delight, with a toothsomeness seldom found in other foods, Pauline D Loh writes.

You would not want to meet a jellyfish while swimming in the sea, and some would definitely balk at a close encounter with this creature on the dining table.

But not the Chinese, who have effectively reduced the jellyfish, despite its fearsome reputation, to nothing more than a crispy crunchy delicacy popular as an appetizer.

Well prepared, the jellyfish is a tactile delight, with a toothsomeness seldom found in other foods. Those who love it describe the texture as smooth, crisp, crunchy and bouncy.

Others think it tastes like rubber bands.

Not all jellyfish are edible, of course, and even the voracious Chinese would leave the fearsome Portuguese man-ofwar pretty much alone. But the variety of sand jellyfish (rhopilema esculenta Kishinouye) abundant in Bohai, off the northeastern coast of China, is eagerly harvested, processed and eaten in both China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The jellyfish is harvested and quickly brought to shore, where a waiting army of gloved workers process it as soon as possible. It is quickly cured, blanched and brined and then dried, with the salt forming a protective crust on the final product.

It is not an easy process, and the jellyfish need several weeks of dehydration before they're ready for sale. But consumers are prepared to wait.

The bell of the jellyfish, or haizhepi, is a thin, crisp layer that can be cut into thin strips and cold-tossed in salads. This is immensely popular as a starter in almost all formal Chinese banquets, and is often the star attraction in the cold platter that starts the feasting.

In places like Thailand and Vietnam, jellyfish "noodles" are a favorite street food. In Japan, one of the most popular items on the sushi conveyor belt is the spicy marinated jellyfish sushi.

Jellyfish itself is relatively tasteless, but it does soak up the dressing of vinegar, salt, sugar and toasted sesame seeds. Chilling the dish well emphasizes its pleasant crunch in the mouth.

The tentacles of the jellyfish, or haizhetou, are also enjoyed in China. These chunky "oral arms" that shovel food into its waiting mouth are a lot thicker, and the Chinese enjoy cutting them up and marinating them in vinegar, minced garlic and chili oil before serving them piled up on shredded cucumbers as a popular beer food.

Where I come from, they are also added to sliced raw fish, shredded radishes and carrots for a magnificent colorful cold salad that is served during the Lunar New Year, especially on the seventh day, which is designated the Birthday of Man. This is the raw fish salad of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong called yusheng.

There was a time when jellyfish could only be prepared in a professional kitchen.

The salted sheets of dried jellyfish had to be repeatedly washed in many changes of water to get rid of the crusted salt. It was a troublesome and time-consuming process that would tax the everyday home kitchen.

These days, market stalls have ready-soaked jellyfish, and you simply buy as much as you need for a meal.

Even better still, the mighty online marketplace in China sells packs of ready-to-eat jellyfish, with accompanying sachets of dressing and toasted sesame seeds. All it takes is a quick rinse and you just need to add your own shredded cucumbers.

Improved packaging and logistics mean jellyfish is now a commonly accessible food.

How about sustainability? So far, there's no danger of jellyfish disappearing from the seas around China. In fact, the warming seas seemed to have encouraged a bloom, and the industry is thriving. However, fisheries and agricultural authorities in China are already starting research on the cultivation of jellyfish larvae, in preparation for higher demand.

Jellyfish may be tasteless, but it is a food low in fat and relatively rich in protein and collagen. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that regular consumption promotes good joint health.

Edible jellyfish also has protein, calcium, iodine and trace minerals and vitamins. TCM uses it to "clear heat" in the body, especially in the last days of summer, believing that it helps to expel phlegm, acts as a diuretic and aids hypertension.

However, all good things must be taken in moderation, and because alum is used in the processing, it is best to eat jellyfish occasionally rather than regularly.

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[How to prepare jellyfish]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948678.htm If the jellyfish you bought are the dehydrated sheets, you need to brush off as much salt as you can. Rinse off the grains, and then cut the jellyfish into large squares that can later be shredded.

Soak the squares in plenty of water to both dilute the salt and hydrate the jellyfish. Change the water every two hours. By the end of the day, the jellyfish should have plumped up.

Drain the squares and squeeze hard, before putting the jellyfish in more clean water.

Finally, taste a little of the water. If it's no longer salty, your jellyfish is ready.

Cut the plumped up squares into thin noodles. Soak them in clean water. They are now ready to use.

Cold-Tossed Jellyfish Appetizer

500 g prepared jellyfish, shredded

1 large cucumber

1/2 carrot

1 bunch coriander leaves

3 tablespoons quality black vinegar

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili oil/hot oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Prepare the salad by cutting the cucumber and carrot into fine julienne. No need to skin the cucumber, but you may want to remove any watery core.

Drain the jellyfish and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Place the julienned cucumber and carrot on a plate and pile the jellyfish on top.

Now mix the vinegar, salt and sugar, sesame oil, garlic and hot oil together. Shake well to form an emulsified dressing.

Pour over the jellyfish salad and top with chopped coriander leaves and toasted sesame. This tastes better well-chilled.

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[Good things come to those who wait in this long line]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948677.htm For six months I have withstood the urge to join the snaking lines in Beijing's trendy Sanlitun, to become one of the many lining up to sip from the holy grail of all cream teas, or so they think.

Popular Guangdong-based milk tea maker, Hey Tea, opened its doors in the capital in September and from that day and every day forth, there have been seriously long waiting times. Rumor has it that if you wanted a cup of tea or three (three being the maximum order at any one time), you'd be lining up for about the same time as it takes to watch Operation Red Sea (138 minutes).

Hey Tea first opened in 2012 in the city of Jiangmen, Guangdong province. Its specialty? Cold tea topped with a frothy layer of a creamy mousse-like substance which is both sweet and salty. Some call it "cheese", but it clearly isn't.

Since late last year, the brand has spread like a wildfire northwards, its fame fanned by social media posts of the winding lines and frothing bright creamy cups of tea, following it wherever it went - whetting the insatiable appetite of the Weibo generation.

Milk tea is somewhat of a national obsession in China, but this kind of viral marketing is the stuff that money can't buy for any business. Unless of course Hey Tea is actually paying people to line up and post pictures to social media, as some speculate, but I saw no sign of it myself.

In true entrepreneurial spirit, a side economy has emerged in Hey Tea's wake with people touting themselves outside its outlets to line up for you for a little extra on top.

For weeks I walked past the long lines and attempted to ignore the social media buzz. The last time I had to line up for two hours for something was to go on a rollercoaster called "Dinoconda" at an amusement park and I felt like emptying my stomach afterwards.

However, six months on I am finally broken. Curiosity may not have killed the cat in this case, but with all the hype, this cat wants to finally get the cream tea.

So, here I am, standing in wait, one among many captured in the line. We sad souls were drawn in, trapped and enveloped by the all-alluring mystery of the line, like naive insects into the waiting jaws of a Venus' flytrap.

I look around, expecting to see a legion of war-weary faces who've seen it all, and just want to finally make it to the holy land. I am, of course, mistaken. Despite the prospect of propping up a spot in the queue for a potential 120 minutes or more, my fellow line languishers are surprisingly chirpy. One says, "I can't wait to see if it is as good as they say!" Another opines, "It is. I came here last week."

Time ticks on. The wind picks up. It's cold out here in early March with nothing but what is left of your dignity and thirst for company.

Despite the bleak outlook, none abandon their plight. Their resolve remains strong, unflappable, fuelled by the frequent sight of victorious comrades clutching their quarry - tea held aloft (to get the best angle), before the climactic crescendo - a tea-themed selfie.

From what others say, Hey Tea's tea is of a fine quality and it uses all of the ingredients it needs to. The price point is more expensive than most other milk tea brands, but then, do those brands have such a long line? My fellow line-up lads and ladies inform me that the wait and higher price are "totally worth it".

As with any great cuisine there are special ways in which you should consume Hey Tea within polite society.

One must avail themself of the caviar spoon while dining on said delicacy, or employ the multi-pronged cake breaker while serving pudding at parties. At Hey Tea it is recommended to do away with the straw on entry, uncap your cup and dive in lip first, thus encouraging an equal amount of cream and tea to accompany each other down your gullet.

As the line inches closer, orders are taken and numbers are given - this is a well-oiled machine. Excitement levels begin to rise.

I edge closer and closer until I am at the very counter itself - I have reached the peak of the mountain. My big moment has arrived and my palms begin to sweat. This is it. What I have been waiting for all this time. I say my number, "138", in a way that only a true champion can.

And finally, after waiting only 44 minutes (half an episode of Street Dance of China), a thin plastic cup filled with chilled and creamy tea is presented to me like an Olympic medal. I raise it aloft like baby Simba. I have done it. I have defeated the unending line of parchedness to achieve ownership of a rarified cup of Hey Tea. Now I can truly soak in my infused glory for the entire world to see.

I clutch my cup steadfast, pop the lid and raise the tea to my lips and...Snap.

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[Walnut producer smells chance in coffee]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948676.htm

KUNMING - Zhou Feng runs a walnut-processing factory in Southwest China's Yunnan province. The walnut milk from his factory is popular, but he has always been anxious to explore more processed-walnut products to take his business to the next level.

Recently, the launch of a new kind of instant coffee offered a new opportunity to the walnut industry.

Last weekend, a local coffee maker in Yunnan, Hogood Coffee, launched a style of instant coffee that uses walnut protein powder instead of non-dairy creamer.

Non-dairy creamers contain trans-fatty acids, an unsaturated fat that has been widely used in the food industry since the 1950s. It is believed to increase the risk of heart disease. Many countries have introduced regulations on trans-fatty acids.

However, the walnut-protein powder, made by a freeze-drying process, contains 15 grams of protein for every 100 grams of the powder, six times more than non-diary creamers. Most importantly, it contains no trans-fatty acids.

"The new walnut protein powder blends better with instant coffee powder. It has the potential to be widely used as a regular food additive in many kinds of food products," says Xiong Xiangren, CEO of Hogood Coffee. "It's a healthier choice."

Yunnan is the biggest coffee-producing region in China. With a planting area of more than 120,000 hectares, the annual coffee output has reached 150,000 tons. The coffee products from Yunnan make up more than 98 percent of the national total.

According to statistics from the Coffee Association of Yunnan, instant coffee makes up about 70 percent of the coffee market in China.

Zhou traveled to Mangshi, an important coffee producing area, to witness the manufacturing process of the instant coffee himself and realized the huge opportunity for the walnut industry.

Yunnan has more than 800 years of history of growing walnuts. At the end of 2017, more than 90 percent of the cities and counties in Yunnan grew walnuts. With a planting area of more than 2.86 million hectares, the annual output has reached 1.16 million tons. It is expected to surge to 3 million tons in the near future.

"If the walnut-protein powder could be widely used in instant coffee across the country, 1.8 million tons of the powder would be required, which would require nearly 3 million tons of walnuts," says Xiong.

"The walnut industry has been struggling to expand the variety of their products," says Chen Zhonggeng, chief economist at the provincial commission of industry and information technology.

"This is a great opportunity."

Zhou is excited about the walnut-protein powder. "I can taste a little walnut flavor in the background in this kind of instant coffee," he says.

"If the coffee is welcomed by the market, it will boost the value of walnuts at the same time."

Xinhua

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[New literary prize inspires young writers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948675.htm A new literary prize of 300,000 yuan ($47,700) has been set up to encourage talented Chinese writers under the age of 45 to become established and successful writers.

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Established Chinese authors share their thoughts on how and what it takes to become a successful novelist. Fang Aiqing reports.

A new literary prize of 300,000 yuan ($47,700) has been set up to encourage talented Chinese writers under the age of 45 to become established and successful writers.

Young authors with novels or short stories published in simplified Chinese on the Chinese mainland between January 2017 and next month are eligible to participate.

Entries should be submitted before May 31 and the winning entry will be announced in September.

"We want to hold a festival for those people who are writing and publishing in obscurity. They need to be seen, not only because they have written great works, but also to show them that their careers will improve," says Liang Wendao, a renowned writer and TV commentator.

He was in Beijing on March 24 to host the opening ceremony of the Blancpain-Imaginist Literary Prize 2018, which was co-founded by the Swiss watchmaker Blancpain and Imaginist, a publishing brand in China.

During the ceremony, five judges, including well-known and experienced writers, critics, editors and scholars, recalled their early days of writing.

In response to the central question of whether writers regret their early work, the panel offered suggestions on how the younger generation should develop their approach to writing novels.

Yan Lianke, 60, a Chinese writer who has won several major Chinese and international literature prizes and who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize on three occasions, looked back upon his first short story, titled The Story of Gastrodia Elata, which was published in 1979. According to Yan, his descriptions of landscapes impressed the editor more than the story itself.

His own harshest critic, Yan described 80 percent of his works as "rubbish" and thought that only 20 percent of writing showed enough vitality to last his lifetime. He also "blamed" himself for not starting to read foreign literature until the age of 20.

"I have been writing in regret my entire life. The only thing I don't regret is the fact that I'm fairly diligent. Even so, the sense of regret I've felt about my novels is still overpowering," Yan says.

Xu Zidong, 64, a cultural critic and professor of Chinese literature at Hong Kong Lingnan University, first became aware that it was possible to write a novel after reading one of Mao Dun's early works, Disillusion. But at the age of 15, he was too young to understand the value of the work by one of China's most acclaimed modern novelists and cultural commentators. However, Xu's dream of becoming a writer soon brought him disillusionment when he refused to modify his drafts and conform to the mainstream discourses of the time.

"One may tell lies in many circumstances, yet he cannot tell lies in his own creations when he knows them to be fake," says Xu, adding that although his books are few in number, he believes they will stand the test of time.

Jin Yucheng, 66, a Shanghai-based writer and the executive editor of the magazine Shanghai Literature, talked about his formative years in Heihe in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

Although he had discussed the possibility of writing novels with a friend through letters, he didn't start writing until he was in his thirties.

"The eight years in Heihe turned me into a northeasterner in terms of writing," says Jin, who wrote several stories in his early years that featured funeral customs, the daily routine of work and the struggle to find food at that time.

"However, it was only recently that I realized I didn't touch upon the real nature of the Chinese countryside," Jin continued, adding that the illusion of setting down roots in the Northeast finally reminded him of what he had forgotten - his childhood in Shanghai, the early life that he was most familiar with.

Based on civilian life in Shanghai and written in the local dialect, Fan Hua (Blossoms), which he wrote in his sixties, finally won him one of China's highest literary honors, the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2015.

One question often brought up in literary circles is that whether it is suitable to look at the maturity of an author's writings using a biological model, which can often lead to speculation of the immature nature of a writer's early works.

"I think literary writing is not a career for the precocious," says Tang Nuo, 60, a prizewinning writer and cultural critic from Taiwan. "I see literature as a profession, which requires the long process of learning and practice."

In Tang's opinion, to write a novel, a writer should put in the time and effort, run with the crowd - to discover, experience, acquire, confirm and understand - the world around them before reaching their literary prime in later life.

"Do not expect to be able to bring out the one great work that can define your life by the age of 45," Liang warns.

Echoing Tang's words, Gao Xiaosong, 49, a genre-defying intellectual whose music has made its way into literary recognition, made a further interpretation: "Art consists of two parts. One is the profession that Tang has mentioned, and the other is the artists' inner world."

Gao compares the process as opening a door, and the inner world as the "demons" behind the door. As some writers were growing up, the tiny "demons" - especially those of love and adolescent blues - break out when the door opens just a little, and on occasion they are able to accomplish works of genius. However, as the door opens wider and wider as people grow older, and when the "demons" no longer possess the vigor to squeeze out, some writers find it painful to discover that there are no major demons at all - the ones that could have lead them to success.

Comfort may bring happiness, yet it may not help create good literature. As Tang has pointed out, writers in the mainland may now have a better fortune than their peers worldwide, but they also face deeper difficulties in digging up stories that can still touch hearts.

Every generation has their "demons", according to Xu. "Writing literature is to face one's life and dignity, and thus confront the essence of human nature. And there are demons, the demons that I understand."

As Liang concludes, we still have collective experiences and the narratives of our times. "If a whole generation is rushing to acquire cars and houses, it is a great collective experience and a story that is worthy of being told."

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[Amazon doing its bit to boost e-reading sector in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/30/content_35948674.htm This is the best time for the development of the e-reading industry in China, says Liu Shu, vice-president of Kindle Content at Amazon China. "And in the recent years, the government has been encouraging people to read more. Also, members of the growing middle-class in China are more willing to read," she says.

"So, what we need to do is to make reading more convenient, without the constraints of time and space."

In February 2016, Amazon China started a Kindle Unlimited service to access books from the Amazon library.

Speaking about reading habits, she says: "Chinese users' choices are pretty high-class. And, in general, Chinese users love classics and educational books."

Liu's comments are based on Amazon China's statistics on the top 10 most borrowed books through the Kindle Unlimited service.

Meanwhile, in the last two years, China has grown to be the world's third largest Kindle Unlimited market after the United States and the Great Britain.

The current users of KU are 60 percent more compared with March 2017.

The library has also expanded from the original 44,000 book titles to more than 100,000, which is nearly one-fifth of the total e-books Amazon China provides, covering literature, finance and management, social sciences, children's books and about 10,000 books in English for learners.

The number of publishers that have joined the KU service has grown from 40 two years ago to more than 200. Among the top 100 bestselling titles at Amazon Kindle, 60 are available on the KU service, and they include Ferryman by Claire McFall, and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

At the moment, among the most borrowed books on the KU service is The Three-Body Problem trilogy by Liu Cixin.

Statistics also show that first-tier cities in China - Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou - are the ones where KU users borrowed the most books in the last two years, followed by second-tier cities like Hangzhou, Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan, Suzhou and Tianjin.

Users in developed coastal cities borrowed more books on average. And Fuzhou in Fujian province is the city where KU users most read the books they borrowed.

Separately, Amazon China, which launched its online e-book store in 2012, now has more than 500,000 titles. To cater to Chinese tastes, Amazon Kindle China has 40,000 titles of online literature.

Speaking about the selection on offer, Li Shuangtian, content demand director for Kindle China, says: "We pick popular works that have not been published."

By working with the leading online literature platform, China Read and Gumi Read, Amazon China aims to give its readers more choices, he says.

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2018-03-30 07:54:36
<![CDATA[Age no bar]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/29/content_35940701.htm Liam Neeson speaks of his China connection during a recent visit for his latest film, The Commuter. Xu Fan reports.

Hollywood star Liam Neeson's popularity isn't falling with age. It is the opposite.

After the English-language French action thriller Taken became a sleeper hit in 2008, he saw his fame grow at the age of 56. The movie, starring him as a former CIA operative who seeks to rescue his kidnapped daughter, reshaped his career, bringing Neeson a dozen similar roles in films such as Non-Stop and The Commuter.

During a recent visit to Beijing to promote The Commuter, which will be released in Chinese mainland theaters on Friday, Neeson said it was China that changed his professional life.

Neeson, now 65, went to the annual Shanghai International Film Festival in 2006 to support his late wife Natasha Richardson's film The White Countess, which is an epic romance set in 1930s Shanghai. The 135-minute feature also starring Neeson's friend, British actor Ralph Fiennes, is a coproduction of China and the United Kingdom, and was selected as the festival's opening film.

Richardson passed away after suffering serious injuries in a ski accident in 2009.

"I had read the script of Taken before (touring Shanghai). The story is very cool. My agent found that Luc Besson was there. I think, 'Great! I would get the chance to ask him: Can you think of me to be a part of this movie?'" he recalls, with a smile.

As a prestigious French filmmaker, Besson is known for his independent works as well as internationally popular hits such as the Transporter series and Lucy. That year in Shanghai, he presided over the jury of the festival's Golden Goblet Award. Neeson recommended himself, saying he had been part of action-packed movies such as Excalibur (1981) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005), in both of which he fought with swords.

Taken, which cost around $25 million to make, earned more than $145 million worldwide, generating two sequels and lifting Neeson to the ranks of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood.

"If I hadn't been for Shanghai, I might not have got the film," says the star while holding a green mug.

Returning to China's big screen, Neeson will again step into a familiar zone to play an unlikely hero to face off with the villains.

In The Commuter, which also casts Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Jonathan Banks, an insurance salesman, played by Neeson, suffers a midlife financial crisis after getting fired. When he, the protagonist, who is also a former policeman, rides a train, during a daily commute that he has taken over the past 10 years, a mysterious woman offers him a $100,000 job to find a passenger, which traps him in an extremely dangerous situation.

"My character is an average guy who gets himself into a situation that the audience would identify with," says Neeson, adding that the story is complex.

"He is certainly not a superhero. He has been sacked in his job. No money is coming. He has got mortgages and his son is going to college, which will cost a lot."

The movie also marks Neeson's fourth collaboration with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, who worked with Neeson in the feature films Unknown (2011), Non-Stop (2014) and Run All Night (2015).

Speaking about his longtime friendship with Collet-Serra, Neeson says: "We are like dancing partners. Each time, the chemistry gets stronger. He makes my job easier."

But to most fans who are familiar with Neeson, he has the talent to skillfully interpret diverse roles.

He actually shot to fame through Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film, Schindler's List (1993), and gained more stardom from the historical biopic, Michael Collins (1996).

Neeson has also starred in Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) and Batman Begins (2005).

The star, who will turn 66 years old in June, says, "To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of all these superhero movies. I admire the expertise."

But for art-house films, the real problem is to get the money to make them, he adds.

Neeson says he is a supporter of film festivals. He says they demonstrate the diversity of cinematic art and attract audiences to theaters.

When his assistant reminds him to leave at the end of the interview, he still lingers and asks about the opening dates of the two forthcoming international festivals in Beijing and Shanghai.

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2018-03-29 07:56:37
<![CDATA[Comedy great's comeback film set for April release]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/29/content_35940700.htm Xu Zheng has been missing from the big screen for nearly three years.

Now the actor-director, who has reshaped Chinese comedy films with Lost in Thailand and Lost in Hong Kong, is set to return to cinemas on April 28, when the suspense thriller A or B will be released.

Other than acting in the film, Xu is its executive producer. The thriller will aim to make the most of the holiday box-office around May 1.

The film centers on a top player in the stock market, who is drawn into a crisis after discovering a huge amount of unidentified gold valued at 2 billion yuan ($318.6 million) or so.

Xu shot to fame from the 2000 hit television series Sunny Piggy, and has shifted his career focus to directing since his first feature film Lost in Thailand became popular in 2013. The movie about an unlikely duo's adventure in Thailand was the highest-grossing Chinese film that year, followed by the more successful sequel Lost in Hong Kong in 2015. The hits paved the way for Xu's rise to the top ranks in China's movie industry.

Film director Ren Pengyuan says he felt like he had "won a lottery" when Xu agreed to lead the cast for A or B. Ren had directed a few low-profile films earlier.

"The script hooked me. I read until the last page without stopping," says Xu, during a promotional event in Beijing this week.

Xu, who will turn 46 in April, says the story reminds him of Taiwan director Leste Chan's suspense thriller The Great Hypnotist, a 2014 hit packed with many psychological sequences. In the film, Xu played an arrogant and suspicious hypnotist, and the role had won him acclaim from a number of critics and fans.

He says such roles are challenging to perform but fulfilling. "I didn't think about the box office. I just want to do the best I can do," he adds.

He believes the movie will provide more diversity in the domestic movie industry, which has quickly expanded in annual box-office totals but doesn't have many genres.

The film's cast includes Wang Likun, known for her 2014 romance Somewhere Only We Know, and veteran actors Wang Yanhui, Duan Bowen, Yu Hewei and Hong Kong star Simon Yam.

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2018-03-29 07:56:37
<![CDATA[Documentary continues to shine at the box office]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/29/content_35940699.htm The recently released documentary feature Amazing China has earned more than 400 million yuan ($63.9 million) as of March 26.

The 90-minute film, jointly produced by China Central Television and China Film Co Ltd, records the country's social and economic achievements over the past five years.

The movie will be translated into 35 dialects and 17 ethnic languages, a first for Chinese cinema, according to China Film Co, also one of the distributors.

The movie has so far attracted more than 13 million moviegoers and obtained 9.6 points out of 10 on Maoyan, an online researcher and ratings tracker.

Besides, internet posts discussing the documentary on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo, a barometer of popularity, have been read over 950 million times, generating more than 4.15 million reviews.

The movie has also attracted appreciation from expats in China.

Daniel Martin, a Frenchman who recently watched the movie in Beijing, says he was impressed by the sequences of the country's fight against desertification in northern China.

He says the movie is good in the sense that it presents every aspect of China's progress, including infrastructure, environmental protection and the country's efforts to develop the countryside.

"It gives a comprehensive view of the rapid improvement of Chinese lives," says Martin, who works for a Beijing-based nongovernmental environmental-protection organization.

Amazing China opened on March 2, and overtook Twenty Two - a 2017 documentary about women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II - to top the all-time box-office charts of documentary films in China in just nine days.

The box-office total for the first quarter had soared to 19.7 billion yuan ($3.13 billion) by Tuesday, up nearly 37 percent year-on-year, according to Maoyan. The momentum exemplifies the fast expansion of China's movie market, which has recently produced more quality mainstream films.

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2018-03-29 07:56:37
<![CDATA[From bravery to mystery]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/29/content_35940698.htm Competition is hotting up for the China Film Directors' Guild Awards, with closely contested nominations across five categories. Xu Fan reports.

After his arthouse hit I Am Not Madame Bovary took home the highest prize at the China Film Directors' Guild Awards last year, Feng Xiaogang has again become the favorite at this year's event.

As a top honor for Chinese filmmakers, the guild's annual awards have been running since 2005. For its latest and ninth edition, the guild released its shortlist of nominations across five categories in Beijing on March 22. Prestigious filmmaker Han Sanping won the annual achievement award.

Feng's directorial hit Youth, a nostalgic tale centering on a Chinese military art troupe that bagged the nominations for best picture, director, actor and actress, has come out as a front-runner for the awards this year.

Also with nominations for best picture, director, actress and a comparatively lighter-weight entry for best scriptwriter, director Vivian Qu's drama Angels Wear White follows a close second. The story about two schoolgirls being sexually assaulted by a middle-aged man won Qu the award for best director at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards in 2017.

Following closely behind are Taiwan actress-director Sylvia Chang's Love Education, and Zhou Ziyang's directorial debut Old Beast, which both picked up three nominations.

Also starring Chang, Love Education is a warm yet funny look at the different attitudes of three generations toward love.

Set in Ordos in the Inner Mongolian autonomous region, Old Beast looks into the complexity of humanity through a dark story about a ruthless father who would rather squander money on his mistress than save his ailing wife. The low-budget movie emerged as a dark horse at the 54th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, winning two awards for best actor and best original screenplay.

For foreigners interested in learning more about Chinese cinema, the Guild's best picture award may provide a useful guide.

Shortlisted from 27 first-round candidates selected from nearly 800 Chinese movies produced in 2017, the nominations have gone to Wolf Warrior 2, Legend of the Demon Cat, Soul of a String, Youth and Angels Wear White.

A milestone hit that raked in an unprecedented box office total of nearly 5.7 billion yuan ($902 million), Wolf Warrior 2 has stirred worldwide interest in the future market potential of Chinese cinema. The action-packed story follows a former Chinese Special Forces operative's evacuation of Chinese citizens from a war-torn African country.

Widely recognized as one of director Chen Kaige's best films, Legend of the Demon Cat is a fantasy epic that recreates the spectacle of Tang Dynasty (618-907) in its heyday. It interweaves storylines about royal romance and an uprising to create a supernatural mystery.

Inspired by Tibetan author Tashi Dawa's novels Tibet, A Soul Knotted on a Leather Thong and On the Road to Lhasa, Zhang Yang's new directorial work Soul on a String is about a hunter's adventurous journey to redemption.

For Li Shaohong, president of the China Film Directors' Guild, the diversity of nominations exemplifies the growing momentum of China's film industry.

"The rapid expansion of the Chinese movie industry has been miraculous. When we held the first edition of the awards in 2005, it was hard to even pick out 20 movies to shortlist for five categories. The annual output then was low, and most of the entries were arthouse films," she says.

"Now China is producing nearly 800 movies a year. The genres are rich. I think we can learn from the Academy Awards and add more categories, such as best animated work and best documentary," adds Li.

Li also highlights the rise of young talent, predicting that they will reshape China's movie industry.

"In the past, directors usually established themselves only after shooting at least two or three features. But in recent years, we have seen many young directors quickly rise to fame after their first feature. It shows that the Chinese movie industry is evolving quickly," she says.

Zhang Yimou, one of China's most prestigious filmmakers, will head the jury panel to decide the winners in around one month's time.

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2018-03-29 07:56:37
<![CDATA[Australian film stars appeal for help]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/29/content_35940697.htm CANBERRA - Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett is leading a campaign to protect Australia's film and television industry from proposed government budget cuts.

Melbourne-born Blanchett joined other Australian actors including Rose Byrne and Richard Roxburgh, and directors Gillian Armstrong and Peter Weir, in signing an open letter to the government, appealing for help in preserving opportunities for local film and TV creators.

Tuesday's open letter was delivered to the federal government during the final parliamentary sitting week before the budget is handed down in May.

The letter, also signed by other eminent figures in the entertainment industry including Ben Elton, Yael Stone, Fred Schepisi, Kate Mulvany, David Williamson and Deborah Mailman, reads: "Our ability to keep telling Australian stories on screen is at risk, and if our nation's stories aren't told, they die."

The letter is the latest move from the "Make it Australian" campaign, an alliance of the Australian Directors' Guild; the Australian Writers' Guild; the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance; and Screen Producers Australia.

Australian "free-to-air" commercial TV networks Seven, Nine and Ten, have called for local content quotas to be relaxed and for the children's content quota to be removed altogether, because it is so expensive to produce local programs.

But the "Make it Australian" letter suggests that more than 40 percent of drama hours, A$125 million ($96.7 million) in budgets, and 3,500 jobs would have been lost if the reduced quota proposal had been in place since 2016.

The alliance, which has been lobbying Arts Minister Mitch Fifield since September 2017, is seeking increased tax incentives that could lure more international productions to Australia.

Australia currently has a 16.5 percent tax offset for international film productions, compared with 25 percent in New Zealand.

"Make it Australian" is calling for that offset to be increased to 30 percent.

Xinhua

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2018-03-29 07:56:37
<![CDATA[US author tweaks Great Wall story about love]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/29/content_35940696.htm American novelist John Shors, 49, has seven novels under his belt, and all of them are set in Asia.

His latest novel Unbound is a love story that takes place on the Great Wall.

Unbound is based on an ancient Chinese folk tale about Lady Meng Jiang.

Shors fleshed out the original story with fictional side characters and subplots.

While the folk tale ends with the tragic deaths of Meng and her husband Fan Xiliang, Shors concluded his version on an upbeat note.

Christine Branstad, the wife of the US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, has read Unbound and recommended it to friends and family, both in China and in the United States.

Commenting on the book, she says in an email: "My husband and I have both read it and loved the beauty of the story and that portion of the history of the Great Wall. It is a true gift to be able to share that story with the world."

Speaking about his work at an event at Beijing's Bookworm store on March 14, Shors said: "In the West, there are so many novels written, especially within historical fiction, from a sort of European standpoint. And I think there's an amazing part of the world, Asia, that's really underrepresented in Western literature."

The tall, slim and soft-spoken author backpacked across 10 Asian countries when he was 24. And, in 1999, when he was backpacking again in Asia with his wife Allison, Shors discovered the love story behind India's Taj Mahal that inspired his first novel, Beneath a Marble Sky.

Since then he has written stories set in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Japan.

Shors has always had a keen interest in the ancient Wonders of the World.

He has written about the Taj Mahal, Cambodia's Ankgor Wat and now China's Great Wall, by which he has been captivated for almost 10 years.

"I wanted to see the Great Wall, I wanted to walk it, I wanted to understand it, and of course, I wanted to write a book about it," says Shors.

To create an accurate portrayal of Chinese culture for the book, Shors spent four months researching before putting pen to paper in 2014, including a two-week trip to Beijing in 2013.

Then, he walked along the Great Wall for almost a week and felt the texture of the bricks, in an effort to imagine spending time on it from the perspectives of his characters in the book.

"My time on the Great Wall allowed me to see its beauty," says Shors.

"This is a graceful, elaborate structure that is far more than a never-ending pile of stacked stones."

Shors admits to his limitations of having to rely on English translations of Chinese historical accounts.

"But I try to get as original source material as possible," says Shors.

At home in Boulder, Colorado, Shors kept an English translation of Stories to Enlighten the World, a collection of short stories compiled and edited by Feng Menglong during the Ming Dynasty.

During the two-year writing process, he consulted about six experts on Chinese culture and history, including a few from the University of Colorado and one from China.

Referring to Shors' efforts to get the details right, Jeremiah Jenne, a Chinese history teacher at IES Abroad in Beijing, says: "The research John did on material culture is really strong, like some of the descriptions of the clothing, weapons and food."

The book is titled Unbound because its heroine, Meng, has unbound feet and what Shors calls an "unbound spirit".

Women's empowerment is an important subject in the story. As Shors sees it, Chinese women in the Ming Dynasty pushed boundaries in very subtle ways, for instance, in writing good poetry and getting out of home to travel.

So, Shors wanted his heroine Meng to reflect the powerful roles women played in China's history.

"I think there's a concept in the West that historically women in Asia were powerless. I just don't think that's accurate," says Shors.

"I wanted to show women as they truly were, perhaps repressed but yet powerful in their own way."

Women of modern China perpetuate Shors' notion.

For his side business, Shors organizes annual trips for small groups of readers to the Asian settings of his books.

In a 2016 tour to China, five of the six tour guides in Shors' group of 10, were female.

"They were super strong. If I had a problem, I would just say, please fix this problem, and they would fix it," says Shors, smacking the back of his hand on his other palm.

Meanwhile, Shors is looking for opportunities for Unbound to be published in China.

And he doesn't expect there to be more criticism coming from Chinese readers than from other parts of the world.

"I think they'll understand that as an American, I've done my best," says Shors.

"The vast majority of the book is historically and culturally accurate."

Speaking about the book, Huang Jiakun, Shors' agent in China, says: "He has probably set an example for Chinese writers on how to tell China stories."

Huang, who also worked with Shors when the Chinese version of his fourth book The Wishing Trees was published in China in 2011, says she considers Unbound a "faithful, interesting and innovative approach" to Chinese traditional folk tales that will appeal to readers beyond China.

Liu Yinglun contributed to this story.

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2018-03-29 07:56:37
<![CDATA[Striking the right balance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932734.htm A boom in online pay-by-credit services may be helping to fuel growth in China's consumer sector, but the system is not without its pitfalls. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Sun Yukun finally put the lock back on the Pandora's box she had opened after an impulsive shopping spree, which landed her in debt and deprived her of financial freedom for more than six months.

It all started when she used a pay-by-credit service, a virtual credit card that gives users a consumption quota to fulfill their spending impulses.

Last summer, Sun received from her mother a pair of cream-colored Puma sneakers designed by singer Rihanna as a gift. She loved them, but she also longed to own a pair in black so that she could wear both colors on her college campus.

"I shop for instant gratification," says the 20-year-old Chinese language and literature major at Northwest University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

Reluctant to ask her mother for money, Sun resorted to trying Huabei, or Ant Credit Pay, a loan and installment service that is affiliated to the top Chinese Alibaba Group. She splurged about 800 yuan ($126) to fulfill her desire.

Unlike previous generations, who are more used to tapping into their savings, the younger generation is increasingly jumping onto the buy-now-pay-later bandwagon. They are a large group in China's burgeoning consumer-credit landscape.

"People born in the 1990s constitute 47.3 percent of our platform's registered users," Hu Tao, Ant Financial's vice-president tells China Daily. "That translates to 45 million young adults using the 'money of tomorrow' to pay for discretionary purchases."

Sun thought she could pay the money back without much effort. Unexpectedly, she set Huabei as her primary method of payment and continued to make daily purchases as well as buying expensive products, including a Sony noise-cancelling headset via the virtual credit. In a visit to Beijing from her hometown, she emptied her 3,000 yuan savings account and borrowed 1,000 yuan from Huabei to buy food and drinks in the city.

"Ant Credit Pay is convenient, as it allows buyers to purchase a variety of things both online and in physical shops," she says. "Plus, I don't need to pay the interest in the following month."

Lacking self-restraint, the cost of using this kind of service turned out to be painful. For seven consecutive months, Sun had to spend about 1,000 yuan - half her monthly living costs supplied by her parents - to cover the Ant Credit bill.

"It was a vicious circle," she says about the online purchases. "After paying the bill, I didn't have much left, which drove me to deficit spending for long."

Sun says it compromised her living standards and put her under immense pressure. She continued to keep the debt a secret from her parents. She thought about finding a part-time job to cover the debt, but as a senior student, her busy school life pre-vented her from doing that.

"I never imagined a pair of shoes could lead me to such a situation," she says. "The only way to end this vicious circle, in my view, was to stop using the credit option."

After Spring Festival, Sun used some of her "lucky money" to clear the debt. She then disabled all her pay-by-credit services.

"I will never live beyond my means again," Sun says. "For people like me who don't have an income or a sense of self-control, and lack financial management skills, these types of services really are like opening up a Pandora's box."

Timely help

Over the past few years, China has witnessed a surge of mobile payment users with the number exceeding 520 million, according to Ant Financial. In the second quarter of 2017, Chinese banks dealt with 8.6 billion payments from mobile services, a 40.5 percent increase from the previous year, according to the People's Bank of China.

Since 2014, Chinese tech giants started to focus their attention on millennials. Alibaba and JD launched their pay-by-credit services Huabei and Baitiao in 2014 and 2015 respectively. One in four of those aged between 18 and 27 in China use credit services offered by Ant Financial, according to the company.

Zeng Gang, director of banking research at the Institute of Finance and Banking under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says the development of technology and financial services in the country has been reshaping people's concept of consumption. The pay-by-credit service has been widely embraced by consumers, especially the younger generations.

"The younger generations are no longer satisfied with traditional consumption patterns," he says.

"They tend to be more open-minded toward online credit services."

Younger people are used to online shopping and usually don't meet the minimum wage requirements to apply for credit cards. These service can help see them through the rainy days.

Even though three years have passed, Li Wei remembers how pay-by-credit services helped him with his budding media business in 2015.

The 24-year-old graduate from the University of International Business and Economics has been an entrepreneur. In his freshman year, he opened an online shop, and later became the owner of an e-commerce business and a gaming studio.

"What's interesting about being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to solve challenging issues," he says.

Li mastered his English skills by watching TV shows from the United States. In his senior year, he spotted the English language learning values behind such shows, so he decided to launch a startup recommending high-quality US dramas on Chinese social media.

But then, Li's gaming business went bankrupt, which left him almost penniless. As a student, Li found it difficult to get a credit card. However, he ruled out borrowing money from his parents through his desire to remain financially independent or cause them any worry.

Unlike traditional credit lines, where Li would have needed a series of documents to support his financial status, to qualify for Huabei, he was only required to present a good record of his financial activity on Alipay.

This record mainly depended on Li's Sesame Credit (Ant Financial's credit-scoring system) ranking, which includes his credit history, social network and ability to abide by the contract in general. Users can spend up to 50,000 yuan over 41 days with the option to pay it back over a period of three to 12 months at different interest rates.

In May 2015, Li was granted 7,000 yuan by Huabei. He used the money to turn a basement into an office space. The most expensive item he purchased was a 2,000 yuan wooden table, to provide his team members with a good environment to work. He relied on his virtual credit for about three months to help support the startup.

With a surge of followers in a few months, Li's media business turned out to be a big success. In December, his startup was acquired by Shanghai Liulishuo Information Technology Ltd, an "artificial intelligence plus education" company. Li joined the company as a product manager.

Li says for young people who have entrepreneurial dreams but face financial hurdles, such pay-by-credit services can be crucial in helping their new businesses to take off.

"It brought me opportunities," says Li. "Without Ant Credit Pay, I really don't know how I would have secured my startup funding."

Consumption upgrade

According to Beijing-based iResearch Consulting Group, the size of China's online consumer finance market surged from 6 billion to 437 billion yuan over 2013-16.

Credit loan products that offer deferred interest-free payments for a certain period of time have been attracting more young consumers to the shopping frenzy, which in turn has contributed to the nation's consumption upgrade.

From 2015 to 2016, credit loan product sales surged by an average of 41 percent per client after a number of retailers adopted Huabei, Zou Liang, vice-president of the Alipay Business Unit at Ant Financial says.

The company has also been offering incentives such as raising temporary credit limits for most of its users to encourage more spending during shopping festivals.

JD's Baitiao, which offers loans of up to 15,000 yuan has witnessed a surge in customers. The number of people who used Baitiao during the 2015 Singles Day online shopping event increased by 800 percent compared to the previous year.

In the past two years, Huabei and Baitiao have been the main credit loan products for Lu Kefei to upgrade his lifestyle. He spends most of the money on entertainment, healthcare and technology products rather than using the loan to purchase daily necessities.

During China's Singles Day sales in 2017, Lu's regular credit was raised from 25,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan. He spent 9,800 yuan on a nasal ventilator and the latest GoPro camera.

He found deals that allowed him to pay for his GoPro and ventilator over a year without charging interest. These incentives allow him to pay off the bill by spending just a few hundred yuan every month.

He uses the camera to capture his travels and diving trips, while the purchase of the ventilator was prompted by Lu's concern about the quality of his sleep. He has been using other kinds of products such as a fitness band to monitor his sleep patterns as well.

"Unlike our parents' generation who spent most of their income on daily necessities, we are more likely to buy things to improve the quality of our lives," says Lu. "The credit loan service has significantly improved my living standards."

Lu also says since technology products are upgraded almost every year, he would have no option but to rent these devices if he didn't have access to pay-by-credit services.

At the same time, business owners also find that credit loan products help them boost sales.

In August, US luxury brand Michael Kors entered into a partnership with Huabei to allow customers to book preorders and make purchases at its online boutique using Huabei's installment plan.

From Aug 15 to 18, the fashion house offered consumers the option to reserve via Huabei its new range of Selma handbags inspired by global skylines like New York. As a result, 150 bags were sold within the first 300 seconds of the promotional event, according to Vogue China.

Zeng says internet loan and installment services fit in with the trends of mass consumption in China and are in line with the growing demand for diversified financial products. Such services are adding to economic growth.

On the other hand, consumers should also be aware of its drawbacks. For some individuals, these kinds of services can also fuel excessive borrowing due to irrational consumption, he adds.

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2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[Forging bonds across the straits]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932733.htm For Taiwan students, life on the mainland not only offers them opportunities, but also helps them develop a deeper sense of identity. Xing Wen reports.

Ready to share its own development opportunities with compatriots from Taiwan, the Chinese mainland has been attracting young people from Taiwan to come to study, work or launch a startup in cities far away from their hometowns.

Yang Chia-yun, a postgraduate at Renmin University of China, says studying in the university was a dream she has had since she joined a two-week summer school program there in 2014.

 

Students from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao at Renmin University of China at the Great Wall in Beijing in a cultural experience event. Photos Provided to China Daily

"I was impressed by my peers at RUC, especially their perseverance and diligence in their studies," recalls Yang, who at that time was a German language major at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan.

"Now my experience at RUC can also serve as a lead-up to my future career in Beijing," says the 25-year-old who is determined to gain the competitive edge over the huge pool of talent in the Chinese capital.

Yang's schoolmate Chiu Tzufang, a junior majoring in finance, shares her determination.

Chiu helped organize activities for the International Development and Exchange Association and the Model United Nations Association during her first year at RUC.

In the following year, she took three internships one after another, in a management consulting firm, a State-owned investment corporation and a securities institute.

That, from Chiu's perspective, has enriched her university life and helped her become acquainted with the world of work in advance before entering the job market.

"I've met so many studious contemporaries here, which spurs me on all the time," says the 21-year-old. "Contrary to what I had thought about a State-owned company before the second internship, the staff members there were passionate and patient, and far from spiritless."

Tsai Tsung-yu, 23, a senior in the Department of Chemical Engineering of Tsinghua University, launched his new materials company with a mainland classmate last year.

His startup was also a registered project with Tsinghua x-lab, a university-based education platform that offers students a wide range of resources and support for fueling creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, where he received useful information about financial management, raising capital and intellectual property.

"In the context of the mainland's industrial upgrading, innovative startups will take advantage of the large emerging market, adventurous investors, relatively low labor costs, and favorable policies issued by the government," Tsai says, listing the positive stimuli for his company which is based in North China's Hebei province.

Tsai says: "Where can people from Taiwan find another land of opportunity like the Chinese mainland, which shares the same language and a similar culture with us?"

Although he enjoys the fruits of China's development, he has also found that there are drawbacks to being a Taiwan entrepreneur.

"As I was born and grew up in Taiwan, I have weaker connections to the society and people here compared to local residents," says Tsai, adding that normally they choose to run a business with local partners.

Although the registration for their business proved to be time-consuming, Tsai teamed up with a couple local friends, and managed to finally obtain the licence.

"I am piggybacking on the economic strides of the mainland's opening up, and of course the government has given us Taiwan students preferential treatment," says Tsai, "but I would really like to be on a similar footing as my mainland counterparts."

Helpful new measures

Yang also found her identity as a Taiwan student brought her some inconvenience when she was job hunting during the nationwide campus recruitment season last autumn.

"Most of the HR personnel I talked to seemed confused about how to recruit staff from Taiwan, or flinched at the complexities of the procedures needed to hire me," says Yang, who later signed with a Sino-foreign joint venture familiar with how to hire employees outside the Chinese mainland.

Yang now hopes to be treated equally as Chinese mainland residents following the introduction of 31 new measures issued by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council on Feb 28, aimed at promoting cross-Straits economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation.

The measures cover a wide range of fields, including taxation, entrepreneurship, employment, education and healthcare.

Chen Wen-cheng, 29, a doctorate candidate at Beijing Sport University, says the measures will allow him to apply for projects in the national key research and development plan.

And some of his friends studying at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine are allowed to take qualification exams to permit them to practice their profession in the mainland now.

Although he was brought up in Changhua, Taiwan, for the first 22 years of his life, Chen decided to stay in Beijing for the past few years, not only because he married a woman from Central China's Henan province last year, but also because he has witnessed a surge in demand by local consumers for sport products since he first arrived in 2011.

"I aspire to apply my knowledge and experience of advanced sports management I acquired in Taiwan to the large niche market here," says Chen.

He aims to organize various sports contests across the Straits, in an effort to narrow the gap between young people from both sides, in every sense.

Chen felt increasingly responsible for developing mutual understanding between the two sides after he was voted as the leader of the youth department in the Cross-Straits Exchange Association, an NGO registered in Taiwan.

The youth department involves more than 3,000 students from 25 or so universities in Beijing, according to Chen.

The association regularly offers Taiwan students opportunities to visit the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council where they speak about the problems they face, so that the government can find solutions to the problems.

School support network

The government is working to address a broad range of situations Taiwan students are often confronted with, while in the meantime, the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan affairs offices in universities take care of their specific everyday needs.

Xiao Dan, who has worked with the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan affairs office in RUC for four years, says the office offers strong support to Taiwan students from their initial orientation period through to their graduation.

"We have organized activities like leadership training, reading salons and social events for them," says Xiao. "And in recent years, we have started custom-made maths courses to help students catch up, since the maths course at Taiwan high schools are often easier than those found in the mainland."

The burgeoning economy, beneficial policies and the hospitality of helpful teachers and peers in the mainland have been attracting Taiwan students for years, while their growing understanding of what it means to live in such a diverse society has reawakened their sense of cultural identity.

Yin Min-chi, 19, a sophomore at the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University, has already volunteered at a school in Northwest China, investigated a poverty alleviation program in a remote village in East China's Fujian province, and filmed a documentary about a retired miner at an abandoned mine in the Mentougou district of Beijing.

She now has a better grasp of mainland society thanks to her experiences and observations.

"Now I think the policies the government has developed to tackle social problems do make good sense," Yin says.

She says some of her friends in Taiwan doubted whether it was a wise choice to study journalism in the mainland, but she looks at it from a different perspective.

"I'm inspired by my classmates who aim to speak up for vulnerable groups," says Yin. "They are motivated by the desire to contribute to society instead of self-interest."

She says her teachers encouraged them to set aside any suppositions they may have had before digging deep into the subject matter.

"Similarly, only when students in Taiwan put aside stereotypes of the mainland, and then come here to live, to observe, and experience it for a long period of time, can they actually understand the mainland's development and the barriers needed to be overcome," Yin says.

"That's the ideal cross-Straits communication between young people in my mind."

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2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[Innovative ideas for a new genre]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932732.htm Director Chen Wei, who has just launched his latest online series Hot Blood Dance Crew, tells about what it takes to stay ahead of the competition and win young netizens' hearts. Wang Kaihao reports.

When veteran director Chen Wei proposed to make a talent show called The Rap of China, he was repeatedly asked: "Is there rap in China?" But the veteran director, who is also the vice-president of iQiyi - one of the biggest online streaming platforms in China with nearly 51 million members - carried on undaunted.

The Rap of China was a cultural phenomenon last summer, attracting 3 billion online views within three months of its premiere in June, and some rapper jargon even became buzzwords for Chinese netizens.

   

 

Hong Kong actor William Chan performs in Hot Blood Dance Crew.

While many may think that Chen at 42 is lucky to have a job which lets him interact with the young, they may not realize that he spends many a sleepless night trying to devise online variety shows that millions of young people will enjoy.

As the interview for this story is being conducted at a studio on the outskirts in Beijing, Chen is working on a scene for Clash Bots, an upcoming reality show featuring battles between remote-controlled armed robot combatants. The show will go online through iQiyi on March 29.

Speaking about how he comes up with ideas for new shows, he says: "Often, you don't have data to support your idea. But, as Chinese living standards improve and approach those of developed countries, I think that things they used to find difficult to understand will become more easily accepted."

And the success of The Rap of China has given him the confidence to make more "drama-like reality shows".

A fierce competitive atmosphere pervades Chen's productions as he believes pressure is a key way to stir participants' true emotions.

For instance, in Clash Bots, though stars like actress Angelababy and actor Li Chen are featured, Chen says they are there only to introduce the audience to robot fighting.

"They do not get any special treatment.

"And while they may laugh and joke at first, just like in any other entertainment show, they have to become serious and display teamwork."

For his shows, he also likes expansive backdrops.

So, for Hot Blood Dance Crew, another reality show produced by him, featuring street dance, which went online on March 17, the production team set up a futuristic city neighborhood set in Shanghai.

And, in the pilot episode, given his penchant for treating celebrities like ordinary mortals, the four stars who turn up thinking they have to tutor the participants like in other shows suddenly find that they have to perform and be rated by the audience first.

Speaking about his unusual format, he says: "Typically street dancing programs are more like talent shows. So, we decided to go for a more complex structure."

And, in another unconventional move, some storylines will be added later according to viewer response. So, by the time the pilot episode was released, the last four episodes had not yet been recorded.

Chen, who does not like being restricted by established models, is not a native of the internet industry.

The director, who was once a senior program producer at Zhejiang TV in Hangzhou, was, however, responsible for creating The Voice of China, a four-season singing competition reality show, based on The Voice of Holland, a Dutch reality television competition.

In 2015, Chen quit the TV station to join iQiyi, an arm of internet giant Baidu. And that was when Chinese online shows began to take off.

Meanwhile, Chen says that you need a different mindset to make a reality show for cyberspace.

"When you put things made by TV stations on internet platforms, they are not online shows," he says. "For streaming media, purchasing intellectual property rights from TV is only one part. You have to make your own shows."

Chen also says that an online show needs more interaction with users.

"This is because unlike watching TV, netizens can click 'pause' and switch to check whatever information they need online when enjoying a show," he says.

"They prefer to look for answers rather than being given too many explanations."

In a related development, Chen's former employer Zhejiang TV has made King of Bots, a show on the same theme as Clash Bots, but which focuses on the battles.

For now, the public response to his rival program seems to be lukewarm. Chen says viewers' tastes have become more diverse.

In Clash Bots, fans will be able to enjoy a combat-only version, or a longer version with more stories about the celebrities.

As Chen says: "Today's industry is about super-size reality shows, and high quality. And the budgets will keep growing to compete with first-tier provincial TV stations."

Chen also says offline activities are needed to draw fans.

For The Rap of China and Hot Blood Dance Crew, fashion brands were created. And, for Clash Bots, robot combat competitions and related toys will follow.

Variety shows tailored for the internet are a growing trend on the mainland. And, according to iQiyi, in 2017, more than one-third of the world's variety shows tailored for the internet were made in China, but 80 percent of them were adapted on programs from overseas.

However, Chen says the trend of using overseas shows for inspiration will change with time.

"The Voice of Holland was sold to more than 50 countries and regions, and China needs such an influential brand, which can be taken to Europe and the United States," he says.

For now, Chen's team has prepared what he refers to as "bibles" for his shows, recording the development and production operations of each episode in detail.

"Such experiences are very valuable," he says. And Chen is confident that his "bibles" for Hot Blood Dance Crew and Clash Bots can be hawked abroad.

"I think my identity will change from 'buyer' to 'seller' the next time I go to Cannes (for MIPTV, a key global fair for entertainment content)."

]]>
2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[Date night is the right time for escape-room or killer-hunting games]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932731.htm This magnifying glass was supposed to be for decorative purposes only - a $5 Home-Goods find that looks cute stacked atop the oldest books on my shelf.

Yet here I am, on a Saturday night, squinting through its dusty lens in the hope that I'll spot a well-hidden clue on the piece of paper in my other hand. One couch cushion over, my boyfriend frantically types random letters we found on another piece of paper into Google Translate, hoping they turn into real words in another language.

I sigh. Maybe we're overthinking this. But what if we're not? What if these little details are how we end up catching a murderer?

We're working on a "Hunt a Killer" mystery, something best described as a mashup between subscription boxes and escape rooms. This is the second of six boxes in a series, and we're attempting to crack new clues while also building upon "aha" moments from the first box, which we solved on a similar night about a week back.

But, for the moment, we're wheel-spinning.

"I don't know if you can overthink the boxes," Hunt a Killer co-founder Derrick Smith tells me a couple days later. "If by overthinking you're receiving that enjoyment of playing the game, then that's something. You get out of it what you put into it."

I laugh and tell him I must be getting a lot out of it.

Smith and his co-founder, Ryan Hogan, first launched the game in 2016. They began with a live-action event, in which they gathered 600 murder-mystery and true-crime fans in a 81-hectare Maryland campground scattered with clues, and watched as the amateur Agatha Christies competed to solve the mystery first.

"We had entertainment, food, beverages and people camped out afterward," Smith says. "It was successful. But ... we weren't going to scale up through live events."

Instead, to create a viable business that taps into the wealth of true-crime lovers in our post-Serial society, Smith turned to the world of subscription boxes, a market that saw an 800 percent growth between 2014 and 2017, and reaches millions of Americans.

"We discovered it would be a lot easier for us to package the experience and deliver it to everyone, instead of bringing everyone to a central location," he says. "So this concept of telling a compelling story, but also making it interactive led to the idea of a monthly box."

When they first began sending out boxes, the team wrote simple mysteries that were solved in one self-contained box. Then they thought bigger.

"Three or four boxes in, we decided that if those were the TV show, let's do the movie," Smith says. Now, the lead writer creates a sweeping murder mystery, which subscribers solve over the course of six boxes, delivered to their doors every month. Some clues are easily cracked. Other nuggets may need knowledge acquired through several boxes.

A little more than a year after its launch, Hunt a Killer now reaches about 28,000 monthly subscribers. Most fans are in the United States, while there're a small following in Australia.

Smith isn't surprised by his company's success. Not now, when subscription boxes and true crime are so hot in the cultural manifest.

Add that to the fact that millennials are known to choose experiences over material possessions, and a box stuffed full of an interactive experience just made sense.

"I think people enjoy having tangible items to play with, instead of things being flat on a screen," Smith says. "There are plenty of apps you can play online, where you can escape the room, or solve something. But I think there's a real value when people are actually holding the clues and there's things to learn about how the paper is folded, or there's invisible ink or something."

Plus, who doesn't love that code-cracking moment?

When I happened to solve the first cryptic clue through quick logic, math and reasoning, I felt like a genius. And, honestly, that was enough for me and my ego to keep going.

Tribune News Media

]]>
2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932730.htm Art

Painting auction

Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan, a scroll painting depicting 10 magnificent views of Tiantai Mountain in Zhejiang province by Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Emperor Qianlong's court painter Qian Weicheng, will be auctioned on April 3 at Sotheby's in Hong Kong. The scroll also features 10 poems by the emperor about the artist who always accompanied him on official inspection tours of southern China.

The painting, which originally hung in the Forbidden City, was taken out of the palace complex by the last Emperor Pu Yi in the 1920s.

It is estimated that it will fetch more than $10 million at the auction.

Rice paper works

Artist Zhu Jinshi's ongoing show, The Ship of Time, at Tang Contemporary Art in Beijing features large-scale installations of rice paper, bamboo and cotton thread.

The installation comprises more than 14,000 sheets of rice paper and 1,800 pieces of bamboo collected from villages on the Yellow Mountain in East China's Anhui province last summer.

It took Zhu several months to create the 7-meter-high installation.

The Beijing-based artist started making rice-paper installations in 1988.

And the largest one he has made was about four floors high, which he produced for a show in Vancouver in 1997.

The Beijing show will run through April 30.

China Daily

]]>
2018-03-28 07:47:08
<![CDATA[Ditch 'what happens here, stays here' this spring break]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932729.htm An opportunity to retreat to a sunny, warm place that is much happier than the last few cold months is here in the form of spring break.

Whether you're planning to galavant overseas or soak up some sun down South or out West, the "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" mindset can creep in as you attempt to fully get away from your day-to-day concerns.

But to be a "visitor of integrity," psychologist and behavior specialist Dr Mary Alvord says the Vegas mindset is the one thing you should leave at home.

"When you prepare to go to a different city, state or foreign country," she says, "it is crucial to look at the cultural and behavioral norms, and expectations. This makes for respecting the place and people you're visiting."

Alvord, who also is an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, says this "in the moment" thinking can be caused by mindlessness, coming from an individualized culture, and abusing substances that reduce impulse control.

"When a group gets together, a group norm can be set up. People can start doing what they think is a silly thing, but because they are unaware of the culture, it turns into an offensive, harmful thing."

Westerners who recently visited Cambodia know this all too well.

In late January, Cambodian National Police arrested a group of foreigners for "singing and dancing pornographically", near the country's notable Angkor Wat temple complex.

Ninety travelers were detained, and all but three have been released. This small group could face up to 12 months in Cambodian prison.

To avoid spending a year in a foreign prison because of bad behavior on vacation, Alvord says to "learn about and respect other cultures." She offers the following tips:

- Be culturally competent. "You need to be aware and respectful of the cultures and customs of the people you're around; don't make assumptions. Learn what attire is appropriate for the street, the evenings or sacred sights. Consider body language, too, like personal space, handshakes, hugs, kissing and eye contact."

- Get familiar with the language. "Know the basics, like 'hello', 'goodbye' and 'thank you'. Yes, English may be considered the 'international language', but if you go to some countries outside the major cities, they do not speak English, so you need to make an attempt."

- Understand police behavior.

"Find out the protocols regarding police and what getting help is like. Know when and how to seek help, when to not seek help, and who you should seek help from."

- Beware of social media. "Fifty years ago, if you misbehaved badly, it would just be a local thing, and maybe your family would be the only ones who knew. But now, it's instantaneously shared by millions all over the world. Not only that, it's there forever. Nothing is really private; you can go viral in a second."

- Study the area. "Know which places are safe to walk around late at night."

Tribune News Service

这个春假,丢掉“在这里发生的事情,留在这里”的心态

有这样一个机会,可以跑到阳光明媚温暖和煦,比过去几个寒冷冬月更让人愉快的地方,这便是春假。

无论是计划去海外闲逛,还是南下或西行汲取阳光,当你想完全摆脱平时的烦心事时,“旅行时发生的事只在旅行中算数”的想法就会偷偷钻入你的头脑。

但为了做一名“正直的游客”,心理学家和行为专家玛丽·阿尔沃德博士表示,大家一定要把“旅行时发生的事只在旅行中算数”的想法留在家里。

“当你准备去一个不同的城市、州或者国家时”,她说道,“看看当地文化和行为准则,了解当地人的预期,这至关重要,因为这样做能让你尊重旅游地和那儿的人们。”

阿尔沃德也是乔治·华盛顿大学医学和健康科学学院精神病学和行为科学方面的兼任副教授。她表示这种“旅行时为所欲为”的想法可能是由对周遭不经心引起的,它产生于一种个性化的文化,以及对能减少冲动控制药物的滥用。

“当一群人聚在一起,就可能建立一个群体规范。人们会做一些他们认为很愚蠢的事,但因为不了解旅游地的文化,就会被视为冒犯和有害。”

最近到柬埔寨游玩的西方人想必对这一点深有感触。

一月末,柬埔寨国家警察以在柬埔寨著名景点吴哥窟附近“色情地演唱和跳舞”为名,逮捕了一群外国人。

90名游客被拘留,只有3人释放。这群人可能面临在柬埔寨监狱长达12个月的刑罚。

为了避免因度假时的不当行为而在国外监狱待上一年,阿尔沃德表示,“要学习和尊重他国文化”。她还给出了以下建议:

- - 补足文化常识。“要了解和尊重旅游地当地人的文化和习俗,不要想当然。了解哪些服饰适合上街,哪些适合在晚上穿,哪些适合在神圣景点穿。也要注意自己的身体语言,比如个人空间、握手、拥抱、亲吻和眼神交流。”

- - 熟悉当地语言。“了解基本用语,如‘你好',‘再见'和‘谢谢'。的确,英语可能被视为“国际通用语言”,但如果你去一些大城市外的乡村,那里的人不会说英语,这就需要你提前学点简单对话。”

- - 弄清警察行为的意思。

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

- - 谨防社交媒体。“50年前,如果你行为不当,可能只是本地新闻,或许只有你家里人才知道。但是现在,马上会被数百万人分享到全世界。不仅如此,它还会永远存在。没有什么是私密的,一瞬间你就火遍网络。”

- - 研究当地环境。“弄清哪些地方在深夜散步是安全的。”

翻译高手:请将灰框标注内容译成中文,在4月2日中午12点前发送至youth@chinadaily.com.cn 或“中国日报读者俱乐部”公众服务号,请注明姓名、学校及所在城市。最佳翻译提供者将获得礼品一份,并在本报公众号中发布,请与“读者俱乐部”客服联系领取奖品。

上期获奖者:广东财经大学 佛山校区 李洁明

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2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[“要幸福就要奋斗!” 习主席这十句提气的话用英语这样说!]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932728.htm 双语君 中国日报双语新闻

3月20日上午,第十三届全国人大一次会议在北京人民大会堂举行闭幕会,国家主席习近平发表重要讲话。

双语君整理出了习主席重要讲话中十句掷地有声、振奋人心的金句,一起来学习!

把人民放在心中最高的位置

一切国家机关工作人员,无论身居多高的职位,都必须牢记我们的共和国是中华人民共和国,始终要把人民放在心中最高的位置,始终全心全意为人民服务,始终为人民利益和幸福而努力工作。

No matter how high a position one holds, all personnel of state organs should keep firmly in mind that our republic is the People's Republic of China, and we should always put the people in the most prominent place in our hearts, always serve the people wholeheartedly, and always work hard for the people's interests and happiness.

人民是真正的英雄

人民是历史的创造者,人民是真正的英雄。 (People are the creators of history. They are the real heroes.)

中华民族迎来了从站起来、富起来到强起来的伟大飞跃是中国人民奋斗出来的!

The development of the Chinese nation, from standing up for itself, to enriching itself, to getting stronger, is made possible because of the Chinese people.

要幸福就要奋斗

中国人民自古就明白,世界上没有坐享其成的好事,要幸福就要奋斗。

Since ancient times, the Chinese people have realized that in the world there is no such thing as sitting idle and enjoying all the benefits. Happiness comes out of arduous work.

四分五裂的国家不可能发展进步

中国人民从亲身经历中深刻认识到,团结就是力量,团结才能前进,一个四分五裂的国家不可能发展进步。

From our own experience, the Chinese people have come to realize that unity is power, and unity will take us forward. A fragmented nation will never enjoy development.

路再长,走下去,定能到达

中国人民相信,山再高,往上攀,总能登顶;路再长,走下去,定能到达。

The Chinese people believe that however high the mountain is, if you keep climbing, you will come to the summit. However long the journey is, if you keep walking, you will certainly arrive at your destination.

把人民拥护不拥护作为衡量一切工作得失的根本标准

把人民拥护不拥护、赞成不赞成、高兴不高兴、答应不答应作为衡量一切工作得失的根本标准,着力解决好人民最关心最直接最现实的利益问题,让全体中国人民和中华儿女在实现中华民族伟大复兴的历史进程中共享幸福和荣光!

What the people advocate, what the people approve and accept must be the sole measurement of all of our work. We must be committed to addressing the most direct and realistic interests of the people that they are most concerned about. So that all the Chinese people and the generations to come in China will enjoy happiness and glory from such a process of realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

一切分裂祖国的行径和伎俩注定要失败

一切分裂祖国的行径和伎俩都是注定要失败的,都会受到人民的谴责和历史的惩罚!

Any actions and tricks to split China are doomed to fail. And these separatists' actions will be met with the condemnation of the people and the punishment of history.

中国人民和中华民族有一个共同信念,这就是:我们伟大祖国的每一寸领土都绝对不能也绝对不可能从中国分割出去!

The Chinese people and the Chinese nation have a shared conviction: not one single inch of our land will be and can be seceded from China.

人间自有公道在!

只有那些习惯于威胁他人的人,才会把所有人都看成是威胁。对中国人民为人类和平与发展作贡献的真诚愿望和实际行动,任何人都不应该误读,更不应该曲解。人间自有公道在!

Only those who are given to threatening other people will perceive other people as a threat. The Chinese people's aspiration and sincerity in actions to contribute to mankind's peace and development should not be misinterpreted, much less be distorted by anyone. Justice will finally prevail.

新时代属于每一个人

新时代属于每一个人,每一个人都是新时代的见证者、开创者、建设者。只要精诚团结、共同奋斗,就没有任何力量能够阻挡中国人民实现梦想的步伐!

The new era belongs to each and every one of us, and everyone is part of the new era, witnessing, blazing new trails and building this new era. As long as we remain united, work hard together, nothing can stop us Chinese people from achieving the Chinese dream.

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2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[Current quotes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/28/content_35932727.htm "We are very sad, sorry and worried for the future of a project which is intended to save lives."

- Marta Hall, president of Velodyne Lidar

“我们非常悲伤和抱歉,并且对这个本该用于拯救生命的项目的未来而感到忧虑。"

--玛塔·霍尔,Velodyne Lidar总裁

美国时间3月18日晚10点,一辆使用Velodyne Lidar传感器的优步(Uber)无人驾驶汽车在美国亚利桑那州坦佩市撞死一名49岁的妇女Elaine Herzberg。 Herzberg当时并没有走人行道,而是推着自行车从马路上横穿而过。

据警方透露,在事故发生时,涉事车辆行驶时速为40英里(64公里),超过了该路段35英里(56公里)的限速。随车司机目光低垂,并未及时注意到。

这是全球首例自动驾驶汽车在公共道路上发生的致死事故。

"We both know what memories can bring. They bring diamonds and rust."

- Joan Baez, US folk singer

“我们都明白回忆能带来什么。它们给了我们钻石与铁锈。”

--琼·贝兹,美国民谣歌手

3月2日,77岁的美国歌手琼·贝兹(Joan Baez)发布新专辑《微风轻哨》(Whistle Down the Wind),她的谢幕巡演日期也随之公布。巡演将于3月到11月在全美及部分欧洲国家举行。

贝兹出生在一个会因肤色而不受欢迎的年代。作为英格兰和墨西哥混血儿,肤色偏黑的她用一把吉他在一场民谣音乐节上惊艳全场,也拨开了一些偏见的迷雾。

一炮而红的她在1960年发布了第一张专辑,举办了首场个人演唱会,也遇见了当时并不出名的鲍勃·迪伦(Bob Dylan),从惺惺相惜到陷入爱情。现如今,她属于自己,但自得其乐。

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2018-03-28 07:34:31
<![CDATA[Natural effects]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/27/content_35925537.htm Popular artist Olafur Eliasson seeks to persuade audiences to 'feel' his works rather than just see them through phone cameras, Deng Zhangyu reports.

The reflection of a ring on a large mirror attracts groups of visitors, who take out their phones and click many photos that will later be shared on social media.

Olafur Eliasson, who has created the artwork for his first show in Beijing, is getting used to Chinese audiences.

 

Olafur Eliasson (below right), an Icelandic-Danish artist, is presenting more than 30 immersive installations, sculptures and paintings at the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

At the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing, the Icelandic-Danish artist is presenting more than 30 immersive installations, sculptures and paintings.

At the opening of the show, entitled Unspeakable Openness of Things, on March 23, large crowds came to the museum.

Eliasson says he wants people to enjoy his show through physical experience, such as feeling and smelling instead of only seeing it through phone cameras.

The 51-year-old is known for his use of such elements as lights, water, fog and shadow to create natural effects of waterfalls and rainbows. His installation Weather Project that recreated a sun at Tate Modern Museum in London reportedly attracted 2 million visitors within six months in 2003.

"I won't ban phones. I encourage people to put down their phones and feel my work in a more physical way. Go under the water and feel the rainbow," says Eliasson, referring to his large-scale installation Rainbow Assembly, a circular "curtain of mist" that has shimmering rainbows on its inward-facing side.

The artist says, sometimes, he too takes photos of his own works first and shares them on Instagram. But he hopes viewers feel more and sense more.

Tomorrow Resonator and Yesterday Resonator is an installation he has made for the Beijing show that uses optical instruments to create bands of colors on the walls. For instance, visitors can see blue but once they close their eyes, they will feel as if they'd just seen purple.

"It's like reading poetry. Read more and you will go deeper, instead of staying on the surface," he says.

Eliasson was born in Copenhagen and spent his holidays with family in Iceland in his teenage years, when he watched the northern lights, glaciers and polar days and nights.

Lots of his work focuses on natural elements, exploring people's relationship with nature. He says his artworks are a kind of amplifier of nature to allow people to feel it in a detailed way.

"Lights, water - we always take these things for granted. My works allow people to reconsider their relationship with the world.

"When I was a child, I thought the world would look after me. But now I understand that I have to look after the world, which is being ruined by us," says Eliasson, adding that he cares about climate change.

Yan Shijie, founder of the Red Brick Art Museum and a collector of Eliasson's artworks, says the artist cares about the environment and problems facing humans.

Yan started collecting Eliasson's works nearly a decade ago. He visited the artist's studio in Germany several times and was impressed by his work attitude.

Eliasson takes advice from scientists, architects and engineers when working on his art projects.

It took him two years to prepare for the Beijing show. The artist and his team, according to Yan, had set up a miniature space like the museum in Beijing to work on the show before it began.

"Many describe him as a 'scientist artist'. I think science is a kind of language for him to realize his artistic ideas," says Yan.

While in Beijing, the artist carries around a solar-powered lamp to promote his social business Little Sun, a project to provide these lamps to people living in areas that have a shortage of electricity like Ethiopia. He hopes to attract more Chinese people by his art to join in the project to help those in need.

Talking about his involvement in social business, the career artist says his art is a kind of motivation to drive people's participation in issues like climate change and environmental protection. Although he encourages people to put down their phones and experience his works, he thanks social media for getting young people to his show.

He has about 267,000 followers on Instagram.

The photos shared by him and his followers bring people to his shows, which, in turn, he says, helps to motivate more people to care about the environment.

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2018-03-27 08:02:51
<![CDATA[Beijing gallery hosts a group exhibition of artists from New York City]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/27/content_35925536.htm New York-based artist Spencer Sweeney is in Beijing on his debut visit but he's far from lonely.

He participated in the opening of the New York By Night exhibition in the Chinese capital on Friday.

The ongoing group show of works by him and 16 other artists based in New York at the HdM gallery displays paintings and installations by Sweeney and the other artists he met in the past two decades. The show presents the artists' ties to the city.

It's like a diary that gives people "a sense of the art community in New York, the energy and creativity", Sweeney says.

He has curated the show using his personal encounters in New York's art circle as the compass.

Elizabeth Peyton's portrait of Sweeney at the entrance of the Beijing show was drawn when they first met, when Sweeney was playing for a band. Peyton, who was a renowned painter by then, asked whether Sweeney could sit down for a portrait and later became friends with him.

Paintings by members of his art-rock band, Lizzie Bougatsos and Sadie Laska, together with Sweeney's, are placed on the walls at the exhibition. The band often gets invitations to perform on openings of art exhibitions.

This is also the first time he has curated an art show that has included a lot of his friends. To organize the show, he spent two days visiting their studios in New York. They used to party together many years ago but now do their own art separately, so it was quite an "emotional experience", says Sweeney, who is also a musician, a former club owner and DJ.

 

When he asked his artist friends whether they'd like to be presented in Beijing, they said they were excited.

Hadrien de Montferrand, founder of HdM gallery, says members of the art community led by Sweeney have personal takes to offer about their lives in New York, and Sweeney came up with the idea of presenting a group show when asked about the energy and creativity of the city.

"I can feel the energy from him, his guitar, his band, his club, his drums. He is at the center of the creative community of New York," Montferrand says.

Sweeney is now running an experimental project in New York at his studio. Every Sunday night, he holds a jazz party, and offers drinks, food and music to anyone interested. People whom he has never seen before drop by and artists draw at the venue. Painters usually paint alone, but Sweeney's parties allow people to watch the process of creating art.

"It's a new way of strengthening the art community," he says.

 

Left: Pink, a portrait of Spencer Sweeney by Elizabeth Peyton. Right: Off the Grid by Pleter Schoolwerth. Photos Provided to China Daily

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2018-03-27 08:02:51
<![CDATA[High five]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/27/content_35925535.htm "My work explores fundamental questions about who we are and where we came from," says Professor Meemann Chang, who in a long career examining fish fossils has discovered some of our earliest ancestors.

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A Chinese paleontologist was one of the women scientists whose work was recognized at the 20th L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards on March 22.

"My work explores fundamental questions about who we are and where we came from," says Professor Meemann Chang, who in a long career examining fish fossils has discovered some of our earliest ancestors.

"To be able to figure out what a new fossil is, how it is related to other organisms, how it lived, and what it can tell us about the ancient environment" is truly enlightening, she says.

 

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay (tenth from right) and Chairman and CEO of L'Oréal and Chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation Jean Paul Agon (eighth from right) present the 20th L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science awards and fellowships to outstanding women scientists during a ceremony held on March 22 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

On Thursday evening, Chang was honored with a L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award for the insights she has had, one of which was showing that lungfish were not, as previously thought, the evolutionary link between marine life and mammals - including humans - and that the distinction belonged to the sarcopterygian lobe-finned fish, a marine life form dating back 400 million years.

"On this occasion it is impossible for me not to reflect on my career in vertebrate paleontology,' Chang said at the awards ceremony held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. "I started to study paleontology some 60 years ago when I was a student at Moscow State University."

But the choice of career was not her own, "at that time it was arranged much like an arranged marriage".

Her speech also revealed some of the sacrifices she was forced to make over the years, for when she thanked her family for their support, she gave special thanks to her daughter, "as I had to leave her with her grandmother when she was one month old. When she came back to me she was 10. But she never complained."

Chang, now 82, was one of five laureates, each from a different continent, honored at the awards ceremony, which marked the 20th anniversary of the successful partnership between the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO to support women scientists and address the gender bias in science.

"For 20 years, UNESCO and the L'Oréal Foundation have been working side by side to support women scientists," says Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general. "Some 3,124 women scientists from around the world have been celebrated for their outstanding achievements, and each laureate has been recognized for excellence in her respective field of expertise."

Over the past two decades, the percentage of women working in science has increased by about 12 percent, but even so, less than 30 percent of researchers are women. And a glass ceiling still exists for women in science. Only 3 percent of Nobel prizes for science have ever been awarded to women, and only one woman has been awarded the Fields Medal for Mathematics since its creation in 1936. This under-representation of women impacts the very quality of scientific research.

"It is in the interests of everyone to change their mindsets," says Jean Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L'Oréal and chairman of the L'Oréal Foundation. "Women and men both have a role to play."

That is why a new initiative was launched at Thursday's event aimed at mobilizing men within the scientific community to actively engage in efforts to promote gender equality in science.

In China, the Young Women in Science Fellowships were created 15 years ago. These have rewarded and spotlighted a group of young women scientists "who are showing that women are just as capable of changing the world with the power of science as men," as L'Oréal China CEO Stephane Rinderknech says.

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2018-03-27 08:02:51
<![CDATA[The world needs science, and science needs women]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/27/content_35925534.htm While these last few months will undoubtedly remain in our collective history as those of the global liberation of women's voices in the world of cinema, in politics, the non-for profit sector and even business, there is a sector where women's voices have remained astonishingly silent: science. This is the case despite the fact that science faces the kind of disparity about which we should all, as a society, be concerned.

If the proportion of women engaged in scientific careers has grown, albeit too slowly, many of them still come up against obstacles in accomplishing long and flourishing careers, achieving positions of responsibility or gaining access to funding. As a result, in European Union for example, only 11 percent of senior roles in academic institutions are currently held by women. Less than 30 percent of researchers are women and only 3 percent of Nobel Prizes for Science have ever been awarded to women scientists.

How can we explain that after years of fighting for gender equality, the under representation of women in science should still be so glaring, and above all, what are the consequences for our world?

They are numerous and we must collectively seek to understand them, as much for the society that we want to build, as for the advance of scientific progress and knowledge, which are critical to solving the great challenges of our time.

The absence of women has had and will have major consequences. Let's take two fields of scientific application.

Firstly, in the area of health, there are multiple examples. Have we truly realized, for example, that for a long time, the idea that cardiovascular illnesses were a masculine issue prevailed? The principle clinical trials on reducing risk factors were led exclusively by men. Even in 1999, it was observed that doctors undertook half as many examinations of cardiac illnesses among women than among men. The landmark study on aspirin as a means of reducing the risk of cardiac arrest encompassed more than 22,000 men and not a single woman. Very sadly, this led to inappropriate treatment for women.

The second field, which is just as concerning, is men's control of the digital revolution, and the subsequent implications for women. In the early stages of voice recognition, there was no doubt over male bias in software development. Consequently, not all that long ago, the number of transcription errors when women used voice recognition applications was considerably higher than among their male counterparts, as the applications had been designed from the outset by men. In the domain of artificial intelligence, which will have a definitive effect on our future, studies have also shown that image banks associate women with domestic tasks and men with sport, and that image recognition software does not only reproduce these prejudices, it amplifies them. In contrast with humans, algorithms cannot fight consciously against acquired prejudices. As artificial intelligence gradually invades our lives, the issues will only increase. If robots are used to model the world in the near future, it is vital that they should be programmed by men and women.

The idea is clearly not to say that women would be better scientists than men, but rather to become conscious that we need a more balanced scientific community in terms of gender representation, so as not to deprive ourselves of everyone's creativity and talent, and to design, through scientific progress, a more inclusive society. Creating coalitions for a more inclusive science is urgent, in order to best address the challenges facing the world, while advancing knowledge for the benefit of all.

The world needs science, and science, more than ever, needs women.

The author is executive vice-president of the L'Oréal Foundation.

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2018-03-27 08:02:51
<![CDATA[Honor in Bologna]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/27/content_35925533.htm China is the main guest country at the book fair that runs from March 26 to 29. Mei Jia reports.

China is featured as guest of honor of the 2018 Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy from March 26 to 29.

Two years ago, at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, Cao Wenxuan was named the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for writers making him the first Chinese to claim the honor.

This year, China is the guest of honor at the fair which runs from March 26 to 29.

And Chinese publishers have a 300-member delegation from 90 publishing organizations at the event, including 50 writers and illustrators, says veteran publisher Li Xueqian, from the organizing committee.

Cao as well as writer Qin Wenjun and illustrator Xiong Liang are among the artists who will be involved in events there.

Separately, Chinese publishers will feature 4,000 titles at the fair, 40 percent of which are in foreign languages.

All the books, if only in Chinese, will be presented with a girdle written in English to offer a brief insight into their contents.

The guest-of-honor logo focuses on the theme of "dreams", showing the image of a child and a panda reading together.

And the design for the China pavilion is inspired by lanterns and classical stories.

Li, who is also the president of the China Children's Press and Publication Group, says this year's Bologna event will be remembered as a landmark for Chinese publishing, especially for children's publishing.

"We were onlookers at the fair a few years ago and now we're active participants. The business earlier was all about introducing foreign titles, but now we have 600 Chinese publishers (of children's books)," he says.

Children's publishing, one of the fastest growing segments of the business, grew at 29 per cent in 2016, and at 22 per cent in 2017.

As for China, industry expert Hai Fei says China annually publishes 44,000 types of children's books, adding that the number of total titles currently available is more than 300,000.

"We have a market of 367 million readers, making it a business worth at least 14 billion yuan ($2.2 billion), " says Hai.

Li says that international cooperation and a large overseas market for Chinese titles is pushing the country to produce more original books.

Bologna is also evidence of how Chinese children's publishing has changed in the past decade.

Li says that in 2007, Chinese publishers couldn't do much business there.

"You have to buy and sell to make a trade happen. And then Chinese publishers just had little to sell."

But 10 years later, both Cao Wenxuan's and Yang Hongying's books were bestsellers.

Cao's Bronze and Sunflower was The New York Times' best children's read for 2017, for "featuring an unlikely pair of friends, one mute, one orphaned, who help each other through tough times in rural China".

In another development, illustrator Xiong Liang was on the shortlist for the 2018 Andersen award for illustrator, the first Chinese to be nominated.

Speaking about how Chinese children's publishing has changed, Li says: "The Chinese are now creating children's books which the international market wants."

Speaking about his own publishing house, Li says that while in 2013 his press sold 37 copyrights, last year the figure was 418.

And he predicts that the ongoing Bologna fair will create a new record.

"But we still need to work hard," says Li.

Contact the writer at meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

Some of the highlights at the 2018 Bologna Children's Book Fair

Exhibitions: Chinese Ancient Illustration Art Exhibition

March 25-29

City Hall

The exhibition shows some of the ancient classics.

Dream - Chinese Original Illustrations Exhibition

March 26-29

Outstanding Children's Books from China

March 26-29

The exhibition features 108 works for children.

Centenary Retrospective of Children's Publishing in China

March 26-29

Picture Books Created by Chinese Children - World in Children's Eyes

March 28

Salaborsa Library

Events: Opening ceremony

March 26

The trend report of China children's book market development

March 26

Launch of the English edition of These are the 24 Solar Terms and related products

March 26

Dialogue & Growth: Forum of Think Like a Great Mind series

March 26

University of Bologna Library

Macmillan/21st Century contract signing ceremony for Summer written by Cao Wenxuan and illustrated by Yu Rong

March 26

Similarity, Distinction and Integration - International Salon of Young Illustrators

March 27

New trends in children's books cooperation

March 27

Roger Mello and Chinese illustrators talk about picture book

March 27

Illustration call for entries for Monsters in the Forbidden City

March 27

The Boundary and Infinite of Children's Literature - International Symposium of Cao Wenxuan's Works

March 27

Childlike heart, literature and the world

March 28

Confucius Institute of Bologna University

Book launch: A New Classic of Mountains and Seas

March 28

Awards:

The fifth Silent Books (wordless picture books) program gave a special award to Zhang Leping, the creator of the San Mao series for his contributions on March 26; 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Awards went to Japanese writer Eiko Kadono and Russian illustrator Igor Oleynikov on March 26.

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2018-03-27 08:02:51
<![CDATA[Rare Qing Dynasty enamel bowl set for auction in April]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/27/content_35925532.htm The three consecutive emperors of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Kangxi, his son Yongzheng and grandson Qianlong, were known as keen art patrons and connoisseurs who through decades built an imperial assemblage of immensity in categories and sophistication in quality. Objects that they once personally appreciated often trigger bidding races when they appear at auctions now.

Two such works of art dating to the 18th century will be auctioned on April 3 in Hong Kong.

One is an falangcai, or enameled porcelain bowl produced at imperial workshops, under the watchful eyes of Emperor Kangxi, in the late 1710s and early 1720s.

It will go under the hammer during Sotheby's major spring sales.

Fanglangcai refers to the porcelain items made using the enameling technique imported from the West in the 17th century. Nicolas Chow, the chairman of Sotheby's Asia, tells China Daily that "falangcai objects represent the last major development in the long and rich history of Chinese ceramics in China".

The bowl to be sold features a rarely-seen soft pink ground, on which various floral kinds were painted on four five-lobed, azure panels.

Few bowls with the similar pastel pink and turquoise grounds are found in existence.

Chow says a closely related example decorated with identical colored grounds is now housed at the Palace Museum in Taipei, but it is painted with a different combination of floral sprays.

He says the two bowls would have been painted using the very same batch of subtly shaded colors, and it was nearly impossible to replicate at a later time.

The bowl to be auctioned also shows Emperor Kangxi's keen interest in Western knowledge and techniques so much that he established enameling workshops inside the Forbidden City. He wanted the first-hand observations of artisans experimenting with the technical procedures, even though the undertaking would not only generate noise, smells and dirt but also pose fire risks.

The bowl was first fired plain at the imperial factories in Jingdezhen, hailed as the "porcelain capital" in East China's Jiangxi province. It was then carted off to the court workshops in Beijing for the second stage of processing, enameling and firing to completion.

Chows says the choice of floral patterns suggests a possibility that the bowl was painted by Christian missionaries, who at the time served in the court and spread Western knowledge of science and art.

According to Chow, the combination of daffodils with roses, hibiscus and buttercups, Turk's cap lilies and poppies on the bowl exhibits more of a Western flair, while a classical Chinese manner favors flowers with auspicious implications, and they should be arranged in the order of seasons.

The bowl to be auctioned has been transited among major collectors.

It has been kept for 30 years by the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Tokyo, which was built in the 1960s to house and display the collection of Japanese petroleum entrepreneur Sazo Idemitsu (1885-1981).

Before entering Idemitsu Museum's storage, the bowl once belonged to Henry M. Knight. Chow says Knight was a discerning collector who from the 1930s assembled a major collection of Chinese ceramics and other works of art.

He says Knight focused mainly on porcelains of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties; he bought largely from the London-based antique firm Bluett & Sons, including the bowl which he acquired in 1938 and owned until his death in 1971.

Roger Bluett (1925-2000), an influential antique dealer whose grandfather co-founded Bluett & Sons, once estimated that Knight accumulated perhaps the "best" collection of 18th-century porcelain items in Europe.

Bluett wrote that Knight "was fond of telling how it was my late father who told him to buy 'Chinese taste' porcelains. Their time would come, my father used to say, and how right he was."

Another heirloom in the formal collection of Qing court is a scroll comprised of 10 mountain-and-water ink paintings by Qian Weicheng (1720-72), a high-ranking official during Qianlong's reign and also, a favorite painter of the emperor.

The colored scroll, titled Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Mount Taishan, is now in a private European collection and will also be auctioned by Sotheby's Hong Kong.

It depicts in each section a different view of the Tiantai Mountain in East China's Zhejiang province. Qian once served as the education commissioner in Zhejiang.

It boasts a varied brushwork and a mellow color scheme, according to Steven Zuo, head of Sotheby's classical Chinese paintings department.

He says people can see "the passion and dedication invested by Qian" in the scroll.

Qian presented the scroll as a gift to Emperor Qianlong, who himself appreciated classical ink paintings and Qian's artistic attainment, and who wrote on each landscape a poem.

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2018-03-27 08:02:51
<![CDATA[Mongolian melody in France]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/26/content_35917677.htm An orchestra comprising traditional vocalists and instrument players charms foreign audience. Chen Nan reports.

Chinese Mongolian musicians clad in long colorful robes and leather boots performed at the Basilica of Notre-Dame du Port in Nice, France, on March 11, producing sounds which are alien to the Romanesque basilica - a UNESCO World Heritage site dating to the 6th century.

And using the morin khuur (the horse-head fiddle) and such other such instruments, the musicians performed both Western classics - pieces from Czech composer Bed ich Smetana's comic opera, The Bartered Bride and Carmen Overture by French composer Georges Bizet - as well as nomadic melodies, such as Thousands of Horses Galloping by Chiborag, a composer from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

During the one-hour concert, the orchestra from Inner Mongolia gave the 500-strong audience a glimpse of the grasslands through its music.

The Orchestre d' Harmonie de Nice also joined in the performance.

The Uxin Matouqin Symphony Orchestra from Uxin Banner, in Southwestern Inner Mongolia, which was formed in 2010, was in Nice over March 10-14. And it is the only symphony orchestra in China, which features morin khuur players and vocal performers who use the traditional khoomei (throat-singing) technique.

The orchestra was in Nice as part of the 2018 China-EU Tourism Year and for the Happy Chinese New Year events organized by China's Ministry of Culture.

On March 12, the orchestra performed at the Conservatory of Nice.

When the orchestra's show at the Conservatory of Nice ended, Andre Chauvet, the mayor of Nice, walked onto the stage, saying that he was impressed by the orchestra and the traditional Mongolian instruments, especially the morin khuur, according to Chagan.

The conductor then gave a morin khuur and his baton to the mayor.

Chagan, 57, who grew up in Uxin Banner, started learning to play Western instruments, such as the oboe and the piano, as a child. But he says the morin khuur is his favorite instrument.

"The morin khuur is magical with a profound history, which deserves to be known by more people. Though it has just two strings, it can produce a wide range of sounds," says Chagan, adding that it represents the identity of the Mongolian ethnic group.

Recounting how he got involved with the orchestra, Chagan says he was the conductor of the Singing and Dancing Troupe of Inner Mongolia in 2010, when he was asked by the local government to launch the Uxin Matouqin Symphony Orchestra.

Initially, Chagan found the job challenging as the morin khuur had never been used as a main instrument for a symphony orchestra.

But Chagan, who is now based in Beijing and has composed music for more than 40 films and TV series, says the most difficult part is rearranging Western classical music for the orchestra.

Speaking about his current mission, he says: "Now, we want to take the instrument to an international audience, but the core is to keep the culture alive and focus on the morin khuur."

To achieve his goal, the composer has rearranged folk songs from Northwest China, including Shan Dan Dan Hua Kai Hong Yan Yan (Red Morningstar Lilies are in Blossom), for the morin khuur, to showcase the versatility of the instrument.

Separately, around 25 original works for the morin khuur have been written by Chagan and other composers, reflecting the lives of people from the Mongolian ethnic group.

Also, since the orchestra's birth, the musicians have developed more than 80 repertories, comprising both Western classical music and works inspired by Mongolian ethnic culture.

In 2014, the orchestra made its debut at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. And the same year, it gave more than 20 shows across Inner Mongolia.

Speaking about the orchestra, Yilaletu, 45, the orchestra's director and also a morin khuur player, says: "Though the orchestra plays Western classical music, we also draw inspiration from our folk tales about love, brotherhood and courage. They are our wealth."

Yilaletu says more than 10,000 people from Uxin Banner's 130,000 residents play the morin khuur.

"The number proves the popularity of the instrument," he says.

The shows in Nice marked the start of exchange programs under the Silk Road International League of Theaters, launched in 2016 by the China Arts and Entertainment Group.

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2018-03-26 07:29:12
<![CDATA[Hedge fund guru shares mantra of 'radical transparency']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/26/content_35917676.htm When American investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio first visited China in 1984, the nation was in the early stages of the reform and opening-up process which set in motion a period of high economic growth - and a very different proposition to the country he finds today.

He has returned to the country dozens of times since then. He has sent his son to study in China, established charitable foundations, and has built personal relationships with some of the nation's most significant regulatory officials, as an informal adviser.

Thirty-four years later, as he visited Beijing and Shanghai earlier this month to promote the Chinese edition of his book Principles, it is clear that he has become a very popular figure. Many star-struck readers attended the events, keen to hear his insights into the Chinese economy, the 2008 financial crisis, and how he came to lead the world's best performing hedge fund.

In his weeklong tour of China, Dalio pushed for what he called "radical transparency", a key principle he has developed over his career, and a guiding principle which has helped drive the success of his company.

At Bridgewater Associates, he created a culture where employees are encouraged to have "thoughtful disagreements", exchange controversial ideas open-mindedly, and discuss new propositions, no matter how hard to digest they first appear.

He said he developed the approach through the process of learning from painful mistakes.

"That (making mistakes) gave me humility and a fear of being wrong. I find that the most painful experiences can be beneficial experiences," he said. "Pain can be a signal of something going wrong and reflection can be a source of learning how to change and improve."

In the book, he reduced complex scenarios, summarized them and came up with a five-step procedure that helped him achieve success: set goals, identify mistakes, understand why they occurred, fix them, and push ahead with the results in mind.

As interesting and worthwhile as these principles were, the audience was mainly interested in Dalio's opinions about the shape of the country's economy.

Some foreign institutions have raised concerns that the economy may be heading toward a financial crisis due to rising debt levels, but this did not seem to bother Dalio.

"China is making progress in cutting leverage in the economy," he said, adding that China does not appear to have systemic risks.

He regarded China's ongoing deleveraging process as "benign", which means it would not haunt the overall economy.

He said this was because China's central bank has a relative healthy balance sheet and the debt is mainly in the country's own currency.

When asked about his suggestions on how to reduce China's mounting debt levels, he said the government needed to strike a balance between deflation and inflation by triggering the four ways that any economy can deleverage, as he summarizes in the book - cutting spending, restructuring the debt, using fiscal policy measures to redistribute wealth, and printing new money.

Dalio emphasized that the debt risks in China seemed manageable, and he said he believed in the capacity of Chinese policymakers to manage the debt problem overall.

On the other hand, he expressed his concerns over the economy in the United States.

"We have to realize that we are approaching an end of business cycle that will probably happen before the next presidential election. The biggest economic issue is the gap between the rich and the poor, because the majority of people are not benefiting as much as wealthy people," he said.

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2018-03-26 07:29:12
<![CDATA[Second edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing on for longer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/26/content_35917675.htm The changes in the ongoing second edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing reflect its organizers' support of the capital's home-grown galleries and a strong desire to engage with the ordinary audience among whom they are seeking the country's next-generation collectors and patrons of contemporary art.

Launched in 2017, the annual Gallery Weekend events provide experiences in addition to art fairs for galleries, dealers, artists and collectors.

Exhibitions are held at top galleries and art institutions in the city's 798 and Caochangdi art areas, so that all stake holders in the art market can have detailed conversations, which is usually not the case at art fairs where decisions to buy or not need to be made quicker.

This year, Gallery Weekend Beijing has prolonged its duration to a full week that started on Friday. Besides exhibitions, a series of talks and workshops are being held at participating galleries. The extension in duration is to attract elites from the international art industry to visit the city before they head to Basel Hong Kong, a top art fair, which is set to open on Tuesday.

The first Gallery Weekend last year saw the attendance of top gallerists, artists, dealers and directors of world-class museums from New York and London, among other places.

Wang Yifei, the director of Gallery Weekend Beijing, tells China Daily that they hope to show to these influential figures the creativity of Chinese artists and domestic art institutions.

Gallery Weekend Beijing this year has been brought together not only international galleries' spaces in Beijing, including Pace Beijing and Galerie Urs Meile, which have been operating in the city for many years and participated in the first edition, but also local galleries, such as Ginkgo Space and Triumph Gallery, which reflects a continuous development of home-grown art patrons.

Tang Xin, the director of Taikang Space who has participated since the first edition, says Beijing still boasts rich art resources, although it has felt over the recent years the pressure from Shanghai, a rising star in the art market, and other places such as Guangdong and Hubei provinces.

She adds that though Beijing is home to the bulk of contemporary artists in China, and it is one of the world's most populated places for art institutions, she feels that the city needs more vibrant activities like the Gallery Weekend to boost its art landscape.

Wang, the director of the events, says what the organizers wish for is to build a platform not only to export to the world the excellence of Chinese artists and art patrons but also to "prove that Beijing is an open and globalized center for international artists and galleries to hold exhibitions".

She further says the latest edition of Gallery Weekend Beijing is to bring collectors closer to "the roots" from which the contemporary art scene in China has sprouted.

According to her, while Chinese contemporary art has evolved over three decades, it is still rudimentary when compared to other countries. So, she says that it is likely that many Chinese collectors will be confused by what they have collected.

The main reason for the confusion, she says, is a lack of communication with the artists whose works they have bought, and with the galleries and curators who know these artists well.

"So, it is of great necessity to develop a growing number of serious collectors, who will maintain a long, stable relationship with artists, galleries and curators," says Wang.

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2018-03-26 07:29:12
<![CDATA[Rural revival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/26/content_35917674.htm Increased investment in rural tourism to alleviate poverty not only benefits locals but also offers a wealth of new opportunities for travelers, especially in western China. Yang Feiyue reports.

Pristine environments, simple living and distinctive folk customs are drawing an increasing number of travelers to rural areas across the country.

Countryside destinations in western China's Tibet autonomous region, and Gansu and Yunnan provinces, have received large numbers of travelers since the recent Spring Festival holiday.

Over 100 villagers sang and danced for visitors in Laodabao village in Yunnan's Lancang county in early February.

 

A village in Tibet autonomous region's Nyingchi set among snowcaps and Batsom Lake. Visitors are drawn to the area for its picturesque landscape, pastoral views and traditional architecture. Wu Jiande / For China Daily

 

Laodabao is a predominantly ethnic Lahu settlement, where half of the locals are skilled in music. The village founded a performance company in 2013 to lure more travelers. It worked.

It also improved infrastructure, building performance facilities and paving roads to the settlement.

Residents have staged over 400 shows for more than 100,000 viewers, generating 5 million yuan ($791,700) in tourism revenue, official Peng Na'er says.

Last year's revenues alone exceeded 1 million yuan.

Farmers earned a little over 1,000 yuan per capita in 2006.

Many households now earn an additional 5,000 yuan to 6,000 yuan from performing, Peng told Xinhua News Agency.

Villagers farm during the day and rehearse at night.

"We're busy but happy," resident Li Naluo says.

A considerable number of residents in Laodabao have also opened grocery stores selling local specialties or farmhouses offering dining services to cater to the needs of the increasing number of tourists.

The Tibet autonomous region has developed favorable policies on flights and accommodation for travelers from February to April.

Also, major attractions, such as the Potala Palace in Lhasa, are offering free entry.

The region received over 210,000 visits from Feb 15 to 18, an increase of 30 percent compared with the same period last year, Tibet's tourism development committee reports. Tourism income approached 160 million yuan, a nearly 15 percent increase.

Even remote destinations like Dadong village, which is tucked in a valley in Tibet's southwestern mountains, have been rapidly developing as destinations.

Visitors are drawn to the settlement's ancient temple, pastoral views and traditional dwellings.

Dadong has opened hotels and a hot spring resort, and has developed a venue for staging real-life versions of the videogame Counter Strike since it was designated a national-level "beautiful leisure village" in 2016.

It received more than 100,000 visits in 2017, which has created hundreds of job opportunities, village official Duo Ji says.

Tibet's Weiba village, which is 7 kilometers from downtown Lhasa, experienced a peak in tourist numbers during the past winter.

"The Tibetan New Year has a lot of customs that are different from other parts of the mainland, and many tourists are quite interested in them," De Ji, a private inn operator, tells The Economic Information Daily.

The 25-year-old converted her yard into a hotel four years ago.

She offers lodging, food and introductions to Tibetan culture.

Her business received nearly 100 tourists on the first day of the recent Lunar New Year.

She received over 800 people in 2017, generating over 50,000 yuan in income.

Lhasa's tourism bureau has also helped Weiba village to develop a museum displaying Buddha statues and adobe pagodas, and sightseeing parks in recent years.

Northwestern China's Gansu province is also experiencing a surge in rural tourism.

The Yuquan Mountain Villa in Gansu's Dingyuan town had 200 tables of diners during the recent Lunar New Year holiday. Visitors also participated in such activities as making noodles and watching donkeys grind flour.

Gansu recently enacted policies to develop rural leisure, catering, accommodation, sightseeing and farm visits.

And it has improved infrastructure, such as toilets.

The province is striving to attract 100 million visits to generate 30 billion yuan by 2020.

Gansu plans to develop 10 counties for agritourism and village experiences.

It also plans to open 20,000 rural guesthouses that will employ half a million people.

China's increasing investment in rural tourism to alleviate poverty will not only benefit villagers but also will provide a new wealth of opportunities for travelers.

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2018-03-26 07:29:12
<![CDATA[Direct flights to link Ireland and Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/26/content_35917673.htm The forthcoming first direct flight connecting the Chinese mainland and Ireland is expected to boost bilateral tourism.

The Hainan Airlines flight between Beijing and Dublin is scheduled to start operating on June 12. It'll also stop over in Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, for roughly two hours.

This first-ever direct route to the Chinese mainland and the first Irish destination in Hainan Airlines' network is a major achievement, which will prove transformational to the bilateral relationship between China and Ireland, according to Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney.

The growing numbers of Irish tourists, students, businesspeople and other travelers living and spending time in China will not only benefit from the nonstop service to Beijing but also from the numerous connections that Hainan Airlines offers throughout China and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

About 70,000 Chinese visited Ireland in 2017. The new flight and favorable visa policy are expected to attract more visits in future.

"We look forward to welcoming greater numbers of Chinese visitors who can enjoy travel throughout the island and in Great Britain on a single visa using the British-Irish visa scheme," Coveney adds.

The Irish and British ambassadors to China launched the British-Irish Visa Scheme at the British embassy in Beijing in October 2014.

The plan calls for allowing some Chinese short-stay-visa holders to Ireland to travel onward to the United Kingdom and for some Chinese UK-visitor visa holders to travel onward to Ireland.

Ireland will offer three-year multi-entry visas to eligible Chinese tourists and five-year visas to those who have ongoing business concerns in Ireland, Coveney says.

The island of Ireland has a significant Chinese population and a wide variety of Chinese restaurants.

Tourism Ireland has advised local hotels and bed and breakfasts targeting Chinese visitors to offer free Wi-Fi, green tea, toiletries and slippers.

It has also suggested providing Chinese visitors with information on how to claim tax refunds. A brochure with information on Unique Irish Shopping brands has been produced and will soon be printed in Chinese.

Tourism Ireland and partners are currently working on a China Ready training program. Several Irish tourism providers have already completed similar training programs to learn about the Chinese language, culture, cuisine and specific requirements and needs, Ireland's tourism authority says.

The island has fantastic coastlines and stunning scenery that have been used in blockbuster movies and TV series, including Star Wars. The Wild Atlantic Way along the West coast has been drawing an increasing number of tourists who drive themselves.

About 65,000 passengers flew between Beijing and Edinburgh in 2017, a 13 percent year-on-year increase, Beijing's international airport reports.

The new flight service will enable Chinese visitors to enjoy the Scottish highlands, sample distinctive whiskey and play golf on some of the world's oldest and most famous courses.

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2018-03-26 07:29:12
<![CDATA[Wearing heritage on their sleeves]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913131.htm One Sunday afternoon a little more than 16 years ago, 17 men and three women who stood in a row at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum were given worldwide fanfare - and it was as much what they were wearing as what they had been talking about that grabbed the world's attention.

People's Daily reported that each wore "a satin jacket featuring Chinese-style cotton buttons and round flower patterns, with peonies surrounding the four letters of APEC, and a white silk shirt". They came in six colors - scarlet, blue, olive green, brown, burgundy and black.

The people wearing the jackets on Oct 21, 2001, were the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum economies, holding their annual meeting in China for the first time since its founding 12 years earlier.

 

Main illustration for the third Hanfu Cultural Festival in Xitang in 2015: Men in feiyufu clothes worn by the imperial guards of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

It had become the custom for the leaders to don the traditional clothes of the host country on the final day of the forum, and speculation about what form this would take had become a popular guessing game. However, in China that guessing took a serious turn, with earnest debate about what, in this context, the term "traditional Chinese" could possibly mean.

The result was the tangzhuang, a hybrid based on Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) clothing and other, more modern, elements. A little more than 20 years after China began to open up to the world, and just three weeks before it became a member of the World Trade Organization, the aim of the forum organizers was apparently to highlight not only the country's traditions but its modernity as well.

Zhao Jianhua, in his book The Chinese Fashion Industry: An Ethnographic Approach, says that the tangzhuang became extremely popular after the APEC meeting but that, in essence, it was a fad that lasted for little more than a couple of years, even if the garment has become a set piece in the Chinese wardrobe.

However, the creation of the tangzhuang and the debate surrounding it appear to have been the genesis of a movement whose members show no sign of being content for their preferred garb to be merely filling space in a wardrobe. These are the aficionados of traditional clothing based on that worn by the country's ethnic majority, the Han, 5,000 years ago.

Though the term tangzhuang was deployed to describe the APEC jacket, there was no Chinese word in the early 2000s to describe clothing from the Han Dynasty, and the term eventually coined was hanfu (Han clothing). The irony is that what has led to a revival in this centuries-old style of clothing and that keeps the flame flickering is 21st-century technology - the internet and social networking.

One aficionado of hanfu is Wang Tianjiao, 26, of Shandong province.

"Tieba is where I first learned about hanfu 11 years ago," says Wang, referring to the community online forum Baidu Tieba.

"I was absolutely spellbound by this time-honored clothing."

She realized that few of her acquaintances had heard of hanfu, and all the information she got about it came from Baidu Tieba and the website hanchc.com, where a movement to rejuvenate hanfu germinated.

The clothing on which contemporary hanfu clothing is based appeared as far back as 5,000 years ago and prevailed through different dynasties in Chinese history until the Manchu established the Qing Dynasty in 1644. The Qing regime banned the wearing of Han clothes and, for the masses, the custom of dressing in such clothing gradually disappeared.

Four years after Wang came across the Baidu Tieba group, she attended a hair-pinning ceremony - a traditional rite that marks Han girls' passage into adulthood - at the Jinan Fuxue Confucius Temple, built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and restored as a tribute to Confucius in 2005.

Such activities have frequently been organized by hanfu aficionados in recent years to promote the traditional culture and clothes of Han people.

Regional hanfu organizations have sprung up across the country. The annual Hanfu Cultural Festival, held in the ancient scenic town of Xitang, Zhejiang province, draws more than 150,000 visitors. The event is streamed live by the online broadcasting platform Yingke, and in November is said to have attracted 167,000 viewers over four days.

Wang herself founded a hanfu club after enrolling at the University of Jinan in Shandong province in 2014. In preparation for its opening, she and some friends donned quju, a type of hanfu with its right lapel wrapped around the body, and performed a dance for the university's art festival. The background music was Chong Hui Han Tang ("Dating back to the Han and Tang dynasties"), the theme song sung by a singer named Sun Yi for the hanfu movement.

Wang says she encourages club members to wear hanfu on traditional Chinese festivals. For example, on every 12th of the second lunar month, or "flower festival" - which, according to Chinese folklore, is the birthday of flowers - she holds ceremonies with her friends at Daming Lake in Jinan dressed, of course, in hanfu.

"I want to wear it in public so those who are curious about it, or the traditional etiquette behind it, can learn about it. The revival of hanfu is not about turning back the clock or about cosplay. It's about passing down the culture of the largest ethnic group in China, which runs from way back to ancient times."

One aspect of passing on that message is making the most of the technology at her disposal, and Wang says she often takes photographs when dressed in hanfu and posts them on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. She has nearly 70,000 followers there.

A pioneer in promoting hanfu on the internet was the website hanfuhui.cn, which Liu Yinhong, 27, set up four years ago and is now said to have more than 200,000 registered users.

Liu, of Shenzhen, was well placed to make the marriage between hanfu and new technology work, having earlier been a programmer for a software developer and having coded web pages in his spare time.

"At that time, Tieba was the largest online community for those who love hanfu and there was no website for it. I wanted to design a platform on which tongpao (a nickname for hanfu lovers) could share pictures, organize online activities and post articles, all about hanfu."

The site soon branched out into an online discussion board and shopping guide for all things hanfu. About 80 percent of the users 18 to 28 years old, Liu says.

"The term hanfu extends beyond clothes, covering other cultural treasures such as tea art, archery and the zither."

There are, of course, more traditional ways of propagating the hanfu lifestyle, such as on paper.

Chen Suyue, in a comic book called Jiao Ni Xue Guiju ("Teach yourself social etiquette"), has characters dressed in hanfu discuss in a humorous way how to behave appropriately on certain occasions, especially by adopting traditional social niceties that most people are unaware of.

Weaving culture and clothing into these stories makes them more interesting for people of different ages, Chen says.

She says she started working with the third Hanfu Cultural Festival in Xitang in 2015 and needed to learn about the standard shapes and structures of Han attire.

"I thought designing and painting the cartoon posters for the festival would be a cinch, but the organizers saw things completely differently."

Just how difficult her job was became clear to her when she prepared the main illustration for the festival: 16 men in feiyufu, clothes worn by the imperial guards of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

"There was so much detailed stuff I had to learn. The hats, the collars, the patterns. ... I revised them again and again, based on instructions from three hanfu experts."

Chen says the organizers' and experts' scrupulousness about every detail of hanfu impressed her, and she put hours into researching hanfu and putting it to practical effect.

"I used to care only about whether the piece fitted me well or not. I couldn't name its type and didn't know anything about its cultural background. Three years of working with hanfu has turned me from a hanfu layperson into a real tongpao."

She is now a member of the organizing committee of the hanfu cultural festival and says it is a great opportunity to bring greater cohesion to the tongpao group nationwide.

"I have really been encouraged to see so many people who share my passion get together to dress in hanfu. Some tongpao traveled thousands of kilometers to take part. Some came with their parents and children, and some worked as volunteers day and night, all because of the hanfu and its glamour."

Sometimes when Chen travels she wears her hanfu attire and once, when she went to Japan, some of the locals mistook her garb for traditional Korean traditional clothing, she says.

"In my view, hanfu should be developed into a Chinese cultural symbol that can be given currency worldwide."

xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-25 15:47:00
<![CDATA[Singing the praises of hanfu]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913130.htm Cultural ambassador for ancient clothing waxes lyrical over the appeal of apparel

Sun Yi reckons that nostalgia runs in his blood. He enjoys composing long, soppy songs about lost youth.

"I like listening to traditional folk songs and classical music, which has affected my work to a large extent," says Sun, 44.

When he was a student at Sichuan University in the 1990s, he tended to express his emotions through melodies and lyrics after teaching himself to play the guitar, he says.

So who better to be an ambassador for that ultimate walk down memory lane, the hanyu movement?

Sun is well known among tongpao, aficionados of Han traditional clothing, for having produced a series of hanfu-themed songs and being a pioneer in opening stores selling hanfu in China.

However, 15 years ago, he was a little more mainstream, coming to wide public notice by composing and singing Xiao San He Xian ("Minor Triad"), a song that became popular online in China, and then landing a contract with a record company.

Though the reserved young man often seemed self-conscious in public, he says he actually found it easy to be in the public eye. His first songs, performed in talent shows, had won him popularity at his university and he used to sing part-time in bars.

After he graduated, he landed what many would have regarded as a highly desirable job with a State-owned company, but he threw that in a couple of years later to devote himself to singing and composing.

In 2004, after his success with Xiao San He Xian and signing the recording contract, he came across discussions about Han clothing on the online forum hanchc.com.

At the time, there was a debate in China about the need for a traditional garment embodying the uniqueness and antiquity of Chinese culture, in the same way that the kimono does in Japan and the hanbok in Korea.

People started to use the term hanfu to distinguish the traditional clothes of the Han from other ethnic groups and to discuss online the history and cultural connotations of hanfu.

"It sparked my interest in traditional stuff," Sun says. "As Han people, I felt we had responsibility to restore it."

One day he saw a poem by a forum participant that impressed him, and he adapted it into lyrics and composed a hanfu-themed song.

For hanfu aficionados, that song, Chong Hui Han Tang ("Dating back to the Han and Tang dynasties"), a paean to their culture, became a hit.

Later he composed a series of songs related to hanfu that also struck a responsive chord with hanfu lovers.

Sun now insists on dressing in hanfu when he performs onstage, saying the attire bears the spirit and civilization of Han people.

His wife, Lyu Xiaowei, has also become a tongpao, and they opened a hanfu shop, called Chong Hui Han Tang, in Chengdu in 2006. It is believed to have been the first physical hanfu store in China.

Playing music is now a hobby, he says, while developing hanfu is "my inescapable duty".

The couple now own 18 stores across China and an online store on tmall.com, and last year the value of sales of 10 hanfu stores on the online shopping platform Taobao totaled 100 million yuan ($18 million; 14 million euros; £12 million), Sun says.

"I am very happy to have seen these changes over the past 10 years. As the government highlights the need for China to bolster its confidence in its culture and traditions, now is a good time to further develop hanfu."

xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-25 15:47:00
<![CDATA[A perfect fit for modern life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913129.htm Enthusiasts adapt ancient styles to make them practical for contemporary living

For at least three connoisseurs of Han attire, wearing hanyuansu, a type of modern dress in hanfu style, is an acceptable choice for daily life.

The hanyuansu dress was designed to adapt the traditional hanfu to modern living by applying the main characteristics of hanfu in modern clothes, which has raised the profile of hanfu and expanded its influence.

"For me, dressing up in a traditional hanfu outfit with wide sleeves is not that practical or comfortable," says Liu Yinhong, founder of the website hanfuhui.cn. However, he says he insists on wearing standard hanfu on formal occasions, such as traditional festivals and weddings.

"Hanyuansu is a more practical and fashionable choice for casual wear."

Wang Tianjiao of Shandong province, who is an aficionado of hanfu, and Chen Suyue, who has produced a comic book whose characters are dressed in hanfu, largely share Liu's view.

Xu Hui, founder of the hanfu brand Han Ke Si Lu, is well known among hanfu lovers for making exquisite clothes of the type that were prevalent during the Ming Dynasty.

Choosing hanfu as wedding garb has become popular among hanfu lovers, so the best-sellers in his shop on Taobao.com are red.

Xu, 41, graduated from the Zhejiang Institute of Silk Textile, now known as Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, and has run his own business in the textile industry for nearly 20 years.

His love for hanfu comes from his passion for analyzing traditional textile techniques, he says.

When he studied, he specialized in textiles and design and became engrossed in archaeological reports of the tombs of emperors and nobles in ancient China, especially the Ming tombs.

"I was captivated by the fineness of the brocade in the Ming Dynasty. What I wanted to do was to try to get closer to the beauty of our national dress."

As he had jacquard looms in his workshop, he tried to restore Ming Dynasty hanfu and started his own brand.

The patterns on the fabrics of hanfu during the Ming Dynasty varied among different social classes, he says, and he strictly follows the patterns in the replicas he makes.

"However, it's hard to weave a garment exactly the same as the relics, because the machines we use today are different from the ancient ones."

His business is both a driver and a beneficiary of the increasing popularity of hanfu fashion.

Chu Yan, chief designer of costumes for leaders at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders' meeting in Beijing, studied traditional culture for many years and has created stylish clothes with a fusion of characteristics from traditional Chinese costume.

"Costume is one of the carriers of our culture, especially on some international occasions," she says.

In the context of consolidating Chinese people's cultural confidence, Han people are seeking an identity for their culture and the public is trying to find a visible cultural symbol to show the country's uniqueness, she says. That could partly explain the hanfu renaissance.

"The elegance and beauty embodied in the fabrics, pattern designs and colors of hanfu cannot be replaced by fast fashion. We should take advantage of it instead of just following Western fashion trends."

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2018-03-25 15:47:00
<![CDATA[An indispensable flavoring]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913157.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 is an ancient herb, an allium native to Central Asia, and it has been used in Chinese cooking for thousands of years. In fact, any Chinese chef would be severely handicapped if he didn't have garlic in his mise en place.

Garlic bulbs, garlic shoots and garlic flowers are all generously used in the cuisines of China, as an indispensable seasoning, a seasonal vegetable and preserves, pickles and relishes.

 

Dutousuan is a unique species of garlic that does not split into cloves but grows as a single bulb.

In Yunnan, a southwestern province, there is a unique species of garlic that does not split into cloves but grows as a single bulb, the famous dutousuan, or "single-head garlic".

It is milder but beloved by Yunnan chefs because of its slightly sweet flavor after cooking. It is used in vast quantities in the local cuisine and is an important ingredient when cooking mushrooms, for which Yunnan is equally famous.

Garlic normally grows as whole bulbs, with the size of the cloves varying according to cultivars. They are generally divided into hard-neck and soft-neck varieties.

Chinese garlic, which accounts for 80 percent of the world's total production, is of the large-cloved, hard-neck variety. It simply means they have more robust scapes (green shoots), which grow erect and do not flop over easily.

An example of soft-neck garlic will be the tiny, tightly packed cloves of those native to Thailand. These take patience to peel, and the cloves are often used whole in the spicy dishes of Thailand.

Garlic is relatively easy to grow from individual cloves and, because it has anti-bacterial properties, is generally pest-free. It is, however, susceptible to fungus attacks.

In northern China, the garlic is planted after the autumn harvests. The soil is turned and the cloves are buried about 5 centimeters deep, to protect the garlic from the coming winter frosts. By spring, the shoots poke out from the soil, and just a little later in the year, bulbs will mature, ready for harvest.

Garlic is easily planted at home, as long as you have a good deep pot of friable soil. Choose nice fat cloves and place them so they are spaced 4 to 5 cms apart. It will give you a pot of decorative edible greenery for your kitchen.

The culinary uses of garlic are legion. Let's just look at garlic in the Chinese kitchen.

It is an important aromatic in any stir-fry, and minced garlic is added to oil so the fat is thoroughly infused with its fragrance. Any vegetable or meat added to the pan is then flavored with its pungency.

Finely cut garlic is also deep-fried to a lovely golden brown and used as a garnish for steamed fish, stewed pork, fried rice or noodles and any other dish that needs the stimulus of crunch and flavor.

In country kitchens in northern China, raw garlic is pounded to a mush and used as a dressing for blanched green vegetables. Lettuce stalks, wild amaranth, longevity spinach, beans and raw radish julienne all benefit from a few spoonfuls of mashed garlic and a sprinkle of salt.

It is potent stuff, however, so the uninitiated should proceed with caution.

Also in the north, where sturdy dumplings are staples, cooks are fond of pickling whole garlic in brown vinegar and sugar. These tangsuan are prepared in spring, using the purple-tinged new season's bulbs that are still soft and tender, and whose skins have not yet turned papery.

After a week or so, the bulbs will be well-seasoned and ready to eat. They are fished out of the pickling crock whole and served during a dumpling feast.

The garlic bulbs are peeled and the cloves eaten whole, in between mouthfuls of dumplings. They are sweet, crunchy with just a little bite left and are believed to aid digestion of the heavy dough. In the south of China, garlic is also widely used in cooking, but the cloves tend to be more gently braised or slow-cooked to bring out the natural sweetness, avoiding its overwhelming raw pungency.

Garlic is used to create some signature sauces. It is finely chopped with chili peppers and green onions for a fiery red sauce that covers steamed seafood and meat.

It is minced and added to salted black beans for another classic Cantonese sauce that smothers soft-boned pork ribs, or is added to a stirfry of bitter melons.

Whole garlic cloves are sauteed to a spotted golden brown in a classic soy-based stew of trotters and bean curd. By the time the dish is cooked, the garlic will have melted to nothing, having sacrificed itself to the aromatic gravy.

Whole garlic cloves are also quickly deep-fried to caramelize and then added to Chinese amaranth blanched in chicken stock. The vegetables become fragrant and melt in the mouth, and the garlic cloves are tasty amber nuggets hidden in the green.

Whole steamed fish are covered with garlic in a two-step process. Chopped garlic with a few red chili peppers is generously spread over a freshly dressed fish. This is steamed until just done, and then golden fried garlic is spooned over the whole fish.

The result is a purely tactile dance in the mouth. The sweet, flaky fish is flavored with the cooked white garlic tinged with red, while the crispy, crunchy fried garlic adds more fragrance and texture.

The health benefits of garlic are well known but for the Chinese, who regard all food as medicine, it is the garlic's culinary possibilities that have made it an enduring favorite.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Golden deep-fried garlic

This is a very useful garnish that will give the finishing touch to any vegetable or meat dish, or even as a topping for a bowl of noodles. Keep the deep-fried garlic in an air-tight container and use the garlic-infused oil for stir-fries.

500g garlic, peeled

500 ml vegetable oil

Cut off the hard ends of the clove before thinly slicing, and then dicing, the garlic. Do not mince the garlic or use a blender. The garlic needs to cleanly retain its shape.

Soak the garlic in cold water. This gets rid of some of the juices that will make the garlic clump together when deep-frying.

Drain the garlic and spread it out on paper towels to thoroughly dry - another important step if you don't want the garlic to splatter in the oil.

Heat up the oil to about 150 to 160 C and add the garlic. Keep stirring to help it stay free and not clump together. Keep stirring until the garlic just starts to change color, then watch carefully so you get a light golden brown.

Remove the garlic immediately. It will continue browning with the residual heat. If you wait too long, it will turn black and bitter.

Cool and store the garlic. Keep the oil in a separate crock and use for stir-frying.

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2018-03-25 15:46:29
<![CDATA[Himalayan task]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913156.htm Richard Daniel Harris, a WWII veteran, recalls the time when he flew with supplies for Chinese and US troops. Linda Deng and Zhang Yuan report from Seattle

At Richard Daniel Harris' apartment in West Seattle in the United States, the 96-year-old former pilot describes his joy at hearing about Japan's surrender in World War II while he was in midair, at about 16,000 feet.

When you open his logbook and see the details of the treacherous trips he made over "the hump," or the Himalayas, you realize how adventurous his life has been.

 

Richard Daniel Harris holds a photo of himself, taken in 1942, at his apartment in West Seattle during an interview with China Daily. Zhang Yuan / China Daily

Between February and October 1945, Harris flew military transport aircraft from India to China in support of the allied war effort against Japan.

The US Army Air Force's Air Transport Command pilots, such as Harris, flew from bases in India's northeastern Assam state to Kunming in China's southwestern province of Yunnan - a trip of about 500 miles - which helped Chinese and American troops after Japan took control of Burma (now Myanmar) and its land routes during WWII.

"When Pearl Harbor happened, there was a call to arms," Harris says. "When we were invaded by a foreign country; when they were at the table, trying to negotiate peace, they attacked and bombed our ships in Honolulu."

Harris volunteered to join the US Army. He served from July 3, 1942, to March 18, 1946, going in as a private and being discharged as a flight officer.

"I didn't expect to go in. ... I had a friend who was interested in it. I had a car and I drove him down. We both went in and took the physical (exam). He didn't pass (but) I did," Harris recalls.

When Harris flew solo for the first time during military training in Lewiston, Idaho, he considered himself a real pilot.

And later, when he flew back and forth over the Himalayas, the Japanese planes trailing them left the US planes alone, because of the mountains, he says.

"The conditions were too bad for the Japanese bombers to fight. If they did anything, they dropped bombs on the runways we were going to use in China. So we could not land, and we would have to throw our loads out because we could not make it back over the higher altitude," Harris says.

But the task was very risky because the round trip meant heavy winds, subzero temperatures, thunderstorms and mountain peaks rising up to 18,000 feet.

The pilots had no choice but to navigate the obstacles in overloaded C-46 aircraft built specially for the task. They nicknamed the C-46 "flying coffin" because of the high casualty rates, "probably one in four, and some never came home".

"We had to use oxygen masks all the time because of the pressure," he says.

"We used them at night from the time we took off to the time we landed. In the daytime, we wouldn't put them on until we got to over 10,000 feet.

"You'd listen for a signal on the radio, but in bad weather you couldn't hear the signal. So you had to rely on what they called a gyrocompass."

Despite the harsh conditions, Harris himself went over and back 72 times, he says.

"We would load our gas tank full and not refuel on the other side and come back. It was important to carry as much as we could and still take off in India," Harris says.

"We carried tons of materials, like bombs, gasoline, ammunition, food, medical supplies, but mainly gasoline and bombs."

The "hump pilots" transported 650,000 tons of material to China at great cost - both in terms of people and aircraft - over 42 months during the last phase of the war.

"I was 21 years old. You don't have any fear when you are 21," Harris says.

There were all kinds of life-threatening moments. Once he blew a tire when he was fully loaded with pipes for building a gasoline pipeline to China.

He flew mostly by compass and landed using calculations based on flying time. Harris, a Catholic, carried rosary beads with him on every trip.

Sometimes, he flew Chinese troops as well.

"They just sat on the floor (of the aircraft) and they had no oxygen masks. We got up to altitudes of 10,000 feet. The conversation in the back just sort of stopped. A lot of them went to sleep," Harris says.

"It was not a pleasant journey for them."

He was a member of the The Hump Pilot Association, which held its first meeting in 1947. After nearly 60 years of activities, the association's board of directors voted on Sept 28, 2005, in Nashville, Tennessee, to dissolve the body at the end of that year due to the advancing age of its members.

In April, Harris flew to Washington, DC, with the Honor Flight program and attended WWII memorials.

When the war was over, Harris flew from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to Shanghai in eastern China, which he said was quite an experience.

Discharged from the Army, Harris studied law and became a lawyer and served as an assistant US attorney in Seattle.

He was a special deputy prosecutor for the county and subsequently served as a judge for three years in Seattle Municipal Court. He practiced law for 52 years.

His son Tracy Harris says his father seldom speaks of his war experiences, as is typical of his generation.

Harris says, "Thanks to the Lord, I have (had) 73 years and more of a good marriage, wonderful children - two sons and three daughters."

Today, he can still drive his car. "But I am not sure if I can fly an airplane again," he says.

Contact the writers through lindadeng@chinadailyusa.com.cn

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2018-03-25 15:46:29
<![CDATA[The sign of a great teacher]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913155.htm Special education enters the spotlight as NPC deputy uses her hands to communicate in the language of the hearing-impaired

Dressed in a purple gown, she moves her hands and fingers in a manner that almost mesmerizes. What she is doing is using sign language to say, "I will study hard, work hard and live a full life."

The deputy who started her speech at the National People's Congress meeting in Beijing on March 6 with sign language is Shi Huifen, a special education teacher at a county-level school in Wuchuan, Guizhou province.

 

Shi Huifen (right) teaches at the Wuchuan County Special Education School in China's southwestern Guizhou province. Photos Provided to China Daily

Speaking about her background, Shi says, "I come from an unusual family that gave priority to girls' education."

Shi, born in 1981, is the youngest of three children from a rural family in Daozhen, Guizhou province.

Her father wanted good education for the two girls in the family, sending them to specialized normal schools. Shi's sister is a primary school math teacher.

With the special education skills she acquired at school, Shi has been teaching hearing-impaired children since she was 19.

She now teaches at the Wuchuan County Special Education School in the southwestern province.

The school has 32 teachers and 121 students in 10 classes, from the first grade to the ninth.

There are five classes for mentally-challenged children, one for autistic children, and Shi heads one of the four classes for the hearing-impaired.

She is proud of her students. "They have pure souls because they are free from worldly distractions," she says.

Shi's main task at the school is to help the children acquire basic social skills. So she often takes her nine students on trips to grocery stores where the sixth-graders do their own shopping and haggling.

Similar visits are made to banks, libraries and hospitals.

"I want them to be exposed to different social settings, so that they can feel confident when interacting in society," says Shi.

Her work seems to be paying off as, according to Ran Runquan, the mother of one of Shi's nine students, her son has been transformed from a "lazybones" into mom's little helper within two years of Shi's training.

Now, the boy volunteers to do things around the house, whether it is mopping the floor, cleaning the table or washing dishes, because, "Miss will be very happy if I do so".

"She is more than a teacher to the students. She is like their mother," says Ran.

The students reciprocate Shi's love with touching gestures.

Hu Linyu, a student from Shi's 2015 class, refers to her as "mother".

Now a high school senior in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou, Hu visits Shi every time she has a break from school.

Speaking about Shi's commitment, Hu's father says: "I trust her (Shi) completely, because I see the bond between Shi and my daughter."

But, despite the praise, Shi still feels inadequate. She admits that she occasionally fails to understand her students' sign language because they are constantly making up new signs and shaking up the "grammar" in much the same way that other kids devise texting slang.

"That's one of the reasons why I still have so much to learn," says Shi, whose idea of a perfect teacher is one who has command over every conceivable situation in the classroom.

To fulfill that dream, Shi has stepped down from being vice-president of the school to focus on honing her teaching skills.

She now spends long hours talking to her students and, whenever she has the time, she devours books and periodicals on new teaching techniques.

Besides her bid to be a better teacher, one thing that weighs on her mind is employment opportunities for the children.

She feels that, given adequate training, the children can be gainfully employed when they grow up. "I hope we can find ways to allow them to make a living," she says.

Liu Yinglun contributed to this story.

yangjun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-25 15:46:29
<![CDATA[Movie magic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913154.htm Remarkable success at Oscars brings big boost to Chinese company

LOS ANGELES - Perfect World's world just got a little more perfect.

Three movies that the Chinese gaming powerhouse cofinanced waltzed home with Oscars - Hollywood's highest honors - after nabbing a total of 14 Academy Award nominations.

That's a remarkable achievement for a foreign company that only got its foot in Hollywood's door via a studio cofinancing deal in 2016.

 

The partnership between Perfect World Pictures & Universal Studios nabbed a staggering 14 Oscar nominations and waltzed home with three Oscar wins.

"Of course, we couldn't be happier to have so many nominations and wins this year, in only our second year of collaboration with Universal/Focus Features," says Perfect World Vice-President Chen Rong in an exclusive interview.

Perfect World, a hugely successful Chinese gaming company founded in 2004, is the third-largest gaming company in China and the 21st-largest worldwide. It also launched its TV and film business in 2008, and Perfect World Pictures has since become one of the powerhouses of premium TV productions in China, consistently ranked in the top five in the country by revenue.

Perfect World Games and Perfect World Pictures merged in 2016 and earned $1.25 billion (1.01 billion euros; £880 million) in annual revenues in 2017. The company has a market cap of $7 billion now.

Looking to further grow its feature film business and expand worldwide, Perfect World Pictures snapped up a coveted partnership with one of the six major Hollywood studios: Universal Pictures.

"The China film industry and Hollywood are increasingly interconnected. Hollywood pays a lot of attention to what is happening in China, and the China film industry also watches closely what is happening in Hollywood," says Chen.

So Perfect World entered into a $500 million, 50-picture, five-year cofinancing deal with Universal Pictures Studios and its specialty division, Focus Features.

Little did the partners know how successful they would be right out of the gate.

One of the first films produced under their partnership with Universal was Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as British wartime leader Winston Churchill.

It went on get six Oscar nominations, nine British Academy of Film and Theater Arts Award nominations, two Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award nominations and one Screen Actor's Guild Award nomination.

Those resulted in two Oscar wins - Best Actor for Gary Oldman and Best Makeup for Kazuhiro Tsuji and crew - as well as two BAFTA wins and one each from AACTA and SAG.

Costing just $30 million to make, it has grossed $139 million worldwide so far.

Another one of the Universal/PW films, Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson's ode to couture fashion, starring Daniel Day Lewis giving his farewell performance, has garnered six Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe Best Actor nomination for Lewis, an AACTA Best Actor nomination and three BAFTA nominations.

It sewed up an Oscar and a BAFTA win for best costumes.

Their third picture, Victoria & Abdul, was also well received, pulling in two Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe best actress nomination for Judi Dench as well as nominations from SAG and BAFTA.

In contrast, while Universal/Focus Features hauled in a total of 18 Oscar nominations, MGM and Paramount netted zero, and Lionsgate, just two.

Perfect World said it had opted to back Universal because in-house analysis had shown that investing across a range of studio projects, which allows it to reap cross-collateralized profits across the board, would result in higher returns than cherry-picking individual projects to invest in.

"(Universal/Focus Features is) a great partner, and we look forward to many more successes ahead with them," says Chen.

"Over the years, Hollywood has proved itself to be the most far-reaching source of entertainment content in the world," Chen adds. "From a business perspective, having access to the largest market is always important; and from a creative perspective, having access to the most audiences in the world is important."

Perfect World's overnight Oscar success will definitely lead to greater influence and brand recognition in Hollywood and around the world, says producer Jeff Most. "These kinds of wins are what make producers like me sit up and pay attention."

Chen says: "Perfect World has always strived to be a global brand, and these Oscar wins and quality films could potentially enable Perfect World to make its mark in the global marketplace and tell its stories to a worldwide audience.

"(Academy Awards are) recognized worldwide and, therefore, being associated with an Oscar and the making of quality films could potentially make Perfect World more recognized in the Chinese mainland market."

Xinhua

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2018-03-25 15:46:29
<![CDATA[Heping offers visitors an authentic rural experience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913153.htm Farm project enables boss to quit the pressures of city life - and cultivates welcome job opportunities for the rural poor

Towering trees and rolling farmlands unfold when you arrive at Heping Farm. Dogs run around, playing with each other in the wide open spaces, roosters strut around searching for food and there are horses in the stable.

The farm, at the entrance of the ancient town of Heping in Fujian province, was developed by Wei Zhicheng four years ago after he moved back to his hometown.

Explaining the move, Wei, who is in his 40s, says, "I grew up in a farm family and have farming in my veins."

Wei, who had been in the movie backstage business in Beijing since graduating from Fujian Normal University in 1997, used to make around 1 million yuan ($157,950; 128,518 euros; £113,075) a year before he gave it all up to return home.

"The money was good, but the late hours and the traffic were killing me," he says.

Wei used to spend two hours taking his daughter to school and picking her up each day.

That's why he jumped at the opportunity to return home when one of his closest friends, Tie Qi, called him and told him about the farm project.

The project was part of the Heping government's plan to develop the town and improve livelihoods.

Wei was given four-year, rent-free use of the 40 hectares of land.

"We built everything basically from scratch," he says. "It was lots of work, but it was fun".

The farm now features a 1,500-square-meter restaurant, a 20-hectare herb plantation and a 7-hectare forest park.

Visitors can ride horses, practice archery, pick fruit, go fishing and see the sights, as well as enjoy the distinctive local cuisine.

The farm receives more than 60,000 visitors annually and has a turnover of more than 5 million yuan, according to Wei. The farm has become a popular place for team-building activities and school military drills, and Wei's business has created jobs for more than 120 locals.

Most of them work flexible hours, planting seeds, pulling weeds and helping with harvests at the farm when they don't have farmwork on their own plots of land.

A dozen people currently work full-time on the farm. One of them, Zhang Yingfa, has been taking care of feeding the horses and cleaning at the farm for the past three years.

"It (the farm) is close to my home and the work here is good," the 52-year-old local man says.

Zhang gets paid around 3,200 yuan a month, an amount he used to typically earn in a year.

Earlier, he could barely feed his family by cultivating a paddy.

But now, Zhang and more than 200 others like him who used to live below the poverty line have been lifted out of poverty - thanks to projects like the farm.

Speaking about the farm, Huang Zongping, the deputy head of Heping, says, "We'll continue giving support to similar projects to improve livelihoods."

Five such enterprises have been set up to offer employment opportunities to poor households in the town.

In addition, while jobs have been offered to those who can work, relief is provided to those who are ill, says Huang.

Also, more than 50 households are being encouraged to cultivate paddies and moso bamboo, or to set up shops selling local specialties.

The goal is to ensure that all households have a steady source of income, says Huang.

Meanwhile, Wei plans to develop agricultural product e-commerce, a logistics system and leisure tourism to help the locals prosper.

Camping facilities for youngsters are also being planned, he says.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Heping farm has become a popular place for team-building activities and school military drills. Provided to China Daily

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2018-03-25 15:46:29
<![CDATA[Pride in prejudice]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/25/content_35913152.htm "Where are you from?" can be a dangerous question. From the crafty image of coastal southerners to northerners' reputation as yokels, social interaction in China is rife with regional prejudice.

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Turning the tables on regional stereotypes and bias

"Where are you from?" can be a dangerous question. From the crafty image of coastal southerners to northerners' reputation as yokels, social interaction in China is rife with regional prejudice.

The habit of stereotyping people by geography is called “地域黑” (dì tú hēi, regional slander) or more evocatively, “地图炮” (dì tú pào, map cannon). Whether food or clothing, housing or traveling habits, no aspect of life is out of bounds for the bigot brigade. But rather than arguing or reasoning with their slanderers, some people have found 自黑 (zì hēi, self-slander) to be an effective and humorous weapon against bias.

Take Guangdong province, whose people are said to consume anything that moves, flies or swims. Cantonese cuisine incorporates ingredients like organs, chicken feet, duck tongue, frog legs, snake, snail - even wild or endangered animals - and, if you believe the auto-complete function on Baidu's search engine, "cats" or "rats".

This stereotype is neither true nor a compliment. But, rather than deny it, Cantonese often add fuel to the fire by invoking another phrase - 广东人吃福建人 (guǎng dōng rén chī fú jiàn rén, Cantonese people eat Fujianese people). This meme started during the 2017 Spring Festival season, when the following chat thread between a Fujianese and his Cantonese friend went viral:

A: I heard that you Cantonese people ...

Tīng shuō nǐ men guǎng dōng rén……

听说你们广东人……

B: Particularly love to eat Fujianese people.

Tè bié ài chī fú jiàn rén.

特别爱吃福建人。

Other Cantonese jumped on the bandwagon.

People ask me what's the most famous dish in Cantonese cuisine; I say, Fujianese people.

Yǒu rén wèn wǒ, yuè cài lǐ shén me zuì yǒu míng?wǒ shuō, fú jiàn rén.

有人问我,粤菜里什么最有名?我说,福建人。

Once, I went to Fujian and my mouth didn't stop watering!

Wǒ yǒu yī cì qù le fú jiàn, zhēn shì rěn bú zhù liúkǒu shuǐ!

我有一次去了福建,真是忍不住流口水!

The edible Fujianese are themselves targets of geographic mockery, thanks to their accent. Influenced by local dialects, the stereotypical Fujian natives mix up their f's and h's when speaking Mandarin. The Fujianese take it in their stride, though, jokingly calling themselves “胡建人” (hú jiàn rén, Hujianese):

When we Hujianese laugh, we go "fafafa".

Wǒ men hú jiàn rén xiào qǐ lái dōu shì"fāfāfā"de.

我们胡建人笑起来都是“发发发”的。

People from Dongbei (东北, dōng běi, Northeast China), shorthand for the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, are considered uncouth barbarians. Their eating habits are deemed unhealthy - barbecue meat for every meal - and fashion sense restricted to furs and gold chains. You may want to keep your mouth shut about all that, though, as a wrong remark or askance look could spark a fight with the reputedly violent Dongbei native. But one of the northeasterners' traits is grudgingly admired by other Chinese: their tolerance for alcohol. When dinner guests from other regions are already flat on their face, those from the north may find their baijiu cups being topped up:

You are from Dongbei, you must be good at drinking!

Nǐ shì dōng běi rén, kěn dìng hěn néng hē!

你是东北人,肯定很能喝!

What should a poor Dongbei nondrinker do? Use another stereotype as a shield:

I don't dare get drunk, or my wife will beat me to death.

Wǒ kě bù gǎn hē duō, yào bù rán wǒ lǎo po huì dǎ sǐ wǒ.

我可不敢喝多,要不然我老婆会打死我。

Similar views are directed at the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, romanticized as a vast grassland populated by nomads. Residents sick of explaining their housing conditions (apartments), means of transportation (not horseback) and economy (quite modern) to outsiders would rather say:

I have lived in a yurt since I was a kid and never seen a building; I ride a horse to school every day, grazing dairy cows on the way; if I run out of money, I knit sweaters to sell.

Wǒ cóng xiǎo zhù měng gǔ bāo, méi jiàn guò lóu fáng; měi tiān shàng xué dōu shì qí mǎ qù, shùn biàn fàng yī xià nǎi niú; yào shi méi qián le, jiù zhī diǎnr yáng máo shān qù mài.

我从小住蒙古包,没见过楼房;每天上学都是骑马去,顺便放一下奶牛;要是没钱了,就织点儿羊毛衫去卖。

People in Gansu may sympathize; their province is typically imagined as a barren, lifeless desert. Their rejoinder?

That's right. We bathe only once a year and our only means of transportation is the camel.

Méi cuò, wǒ men yī nián zhǐ xǐ yī cì zǎo, wéi yī de jiāo tōng gōng jù shì luò tuo.

没错,我们一年只洗一次澡,唯一的交通工具是骆驼。

Not far off, the northwestern province of Shanxi is one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. However, Shanxi is also known for its rich coal deposits, which has made the fortune of many a crooked “煤老板” (méi lǎo bǎn, mine boss). According to stereotype, these vulgar, poorly educated nouveau riche have a penchant for buying luxury handbags. Shanxi folks are often asked: “你家里有矿吗?” (Nǐjiā lǐ yǒu kuàng ma? Does your family own a coal mine?) Here's an effective reply:

Too many! Even the wind in our backyard is black!

Nà kě tài duō le! Wǒ men jiā lián hòu yuàn de fēng dōu shì hēi de!

那可太多了!我们家连后院的风都是黑的!

By contrast, Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, is believed to be filled with wealthy entrepreneurs. The people there are known as self-starters and envelope-pushers, but are also blamed for overspeculation and driving up real estate prices. Faced with accusing glares from those who can't afford to buy a house, what's a Wenzhou native to do? Why, humblebrag, of course:

We, the people of Wenzhou, have decided to take half the responsibility for the nation's skyrocketing housing prices.

Wǒ men wēn zhōu rén jué dìng wèi quán guó fáng jià shàng zhǎng fù yī bàn zé rèn.

我们温州人决定为全国房价上涨负一半责任。

Still, arguably the most maligned province of China is none of the above: step forward, Henan. Its natives once had a reputation for being "honest, frank and rule-abiding", at least according to an academic survey in the 1960s.

But within three decades, a series of health and other scandals had badly damaged the populous province's reputation. In addition, agricultural Henan has had an unusually high proportion of internal migrants, earning the easy scorn of urbanites all over China. For some reason, the theft of manhole covers is associated with the Henanese, who might self-deprecatingly claim:

The manhole cover is our provincial currency. When we turn 18, we need to steal 18 covers or we aren't considered adults.

Jǐng gài shì wǒ men de liú tōng huò bì. Wǒ men shíbā suì de shí hou děi tōu shí bā gè jǐng gài, yào bù rán bù suàn chéng nián.

井盖是我们省的流通货币。我们十八岁的时候得偷十八个井盖,要不然不算成年。

It's in southwestern Yunnan, though, that out-of-towners might surreptitiously approach the locals about another "currency":

Is it really easy to buy drugs in your hometown?

Zài nǐ men jiā nàr mǎi dú pǐn zhēn de hěn róng yì ma?

在你们家那儿买毒品真的很容易吗?

It's not only smugglers and cartel kings who live near the "Golden Triangle" - but others don't have to know that:

Of course, you can even order them for takeout!

Dāng rán, hái kě yǐ jiào wài mài ne!

当然,还可以叫外卖呢!

It almost appears that no province is without flaw, but at least we're all as good or bad as one other. So the next time you're asked "Where are you from?" maybe just mutter:

I make my home wherever I am.

Wǒ sì hǎi wéi jiā.

我四海为家。

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

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2018-03-25 15:46:29
<![CDATA[Hyatt to expand Chinese presence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/24/content_35910570.htm Strategic partnership to establish upscale hotels in second and third-tier cities

Tianfu Minyoun Hospitality and Hyatt Hotels Corp have announced a strategic partnership to expand Hyatt's brand presence in China.

In cooperation with Chinese investors, Tianfu Minyoun, headquartered in Chengdu, Sichuan province in Southwest China, has been authorized to develop 50 Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels in the country over the next five years.

The first three Hyatt branded properties, as part of the deal - with two located in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin province, and one in Nanchong, Sichuan province - will be operated and managed by Tianfu Minyoun as a franchise.

As the first authorized third-party management company for franchised Hyatt hotels in China, Tianfu Minyoun has picked up a good deal of professional expertise along the way, with years of experience in the hospitality industry, said Zhang Jianming, the company's board chairman, at a launch ceremony in Shanghai on Tuesday.

"This is all-around cooperation," Zhang said. "Rather than just focusing on branding collaboration, the partnership will expand along the entire value chain, ranging from planning and design to construction and operation, as well as financial service."

The innovative cooperation model helps to ensure product consistency and efficient delivery, Zhang said. "We will combine local features in our operations with Hyatt's product quality and service philosophy to create new experiences for guests."

Asia Pacific Group President of Hyatt Hotels Corp, David Udell, said that behind the partnership is the two companies' shared values and commitment to brand growth.

"Hyatt has a strong brand reputation among business and leisure guests in hospitality worldwide," he said. "Tianfu Minyoun has profound insights into the Chinese market and has gained crucial financial support to power our collaboration with them."

Tianfu Minyoun has secured a credit line of 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) from Sichuan Tianfu Bank, which would be used as loans to hotel owners for construction and renovation projects under the agreement.

Tianfu Minyoun has also teamed up with Road King Investment Group to establish a 10 billion yuan industrial fund to support the deal.

"With our combined efforts, we look forward to creating distinguished guest experiences that exceed expectations in the dynamic and highly competitive China market," Udell said.

Another two brands - Hyatt Centric and The Unbound Collection by Hyatt - are also included in the international cooperation plan. They will be launched in cooperation with investors in the Chinese market, Tianfu Minyoun Chairman Zhang said.

The chairman added that while Hyatt's presence in first-tier cities is strong, there was still work to be done in second and third-tier cities.

With urbanization expansion in China, second and third-tier cities are becoming increasingly important, which are attracting more attention from Hyatt management, said Udell, adding that Tianfu Minyoun has rich experience in operating in such areas.

In addition to the partnership with Hyatt, Tianfu Minyoun has its own proprietary brand portfolio to run.

"The partnership with Hyatt will help us to expand in China, yet quality assurance is a prerequisite for the expansion," Zhang said. "Cooperating overseas is also part of our plan."

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2018-03-24 07:18:23
<![CDATA[Autograph Collection in Sanya marks 1st anniversary]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/24/content_35910569.htm The Shanhaitian Resort Sanya, the first Autograph Collection hotel in China, and the 118th worldwide, celebrated its first anniversary on March 18.

Over the past 12 months, the luxury lifestyle resort has become a fashionable destination in Sanya, Hainan province, and a web-hit hotel attracting guests from around the country as well as elsewhere.

There have been hundreds of recommendations for the resort on Xiaohongshu, the most popular user-generated content app among young Chinese women today, with many users giving it a thumbs-up for being good value for money. One widely shared post described the hotel as "the best value for a five-star experience in Sanya".

Other netizens highlighted the quality of the hotel's facilities and service, with some saying it made them feel so laid back they were "too lazy to leave the hotel during their stay".

Many Trip Advisor reviews have been equally glowing - "an excellent hotel at a great location" that offers a "first-class service".

Located on Hainan Island, which enjoys the reputation of being the "Hawaii of the East", the hotel is close to downtown Sanya but nestled beside the seaside on the beautiful shoreline of Dadonghai Bay.

As China Daily's own reviewer said, "Lying on the hotel's bed in a sea view room, it's easy to feel that the pristine white sand is a pillow and the crystal clear water is a quilt."

Designed by P49 Deesign, a Thai interior design practice, the guest rooms are inspired by high fashion and reference the color palettes of iconic designers, resulting in an eclectic collection of rooms that embody the style of Italian Elegance, French Chic, British Fabulous and American Classic.

The hotel's fun and friendly resort vibe is enhanced by what it describes as a glamorous, fashion-forward aesthetic, something that has appealed to many of its online fans who have commented favorably on its distinctive architecture and the way the hotel is laid out.

The heart and soul of the resort is The Podium on the third level, which comprises a collection of facilities including an infinity pool with unparalleled views of Dadonghai Bay, a state-of-the-art glass-walled gym, the spa, and an open-air dining venue. Younger guests can enjoy leisure playtime at the Kids Club, which is decked in cheerful colors.

State-of-the-art indoor and outdoor venues are also available to accommodate private events of all sizes, from intimate weddings to industry showcases.

The Autograph Collection by Marriott are boutique hotels that it calls "a guide to the extraordinary, a gateway to the unconventional, and a beacon of good taste".

lindsayandrews@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-24 07:18:23
<![CDATA[INHERITING MEMORIES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/23/content_35905798.htm At the heart of Kaitlin Solimine's lyrical debut novel Empire of Glass are relationships she first forged over two decades ago with her Chinese homestay family in Beijing.

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Empire of Glass is based on the stories of a Chinese family, who had hosted the novel's American author. Jocelyn Eikenburg reports.

At the heart of Kaitlin Solimine's lyrical debut novel Empire of Glass are relationships she first forged over two decades ago with her Chinese homestay family in Beijing.

"I hadn't married into this family. Really, there was nothing except the happenstance of having been assigned to them. But we were very, very close," says Solimine, who spent a high school semester living with them in 1996.

"My family was very American middle class, which meant something very different compared to what was Chinese middle class in the 1990s. Yet I was taken in. It wasn't like, 'Oh you're American, how special you are.' It was really, 'Hey, you're family now.'"

That intimacy deepened after a death in the family.

Just weeks into her first year in college, Solimine received a letter from her host family with a photo of a gravestone bearing the name of its matriarch Liming (her given name).

"I was shocked. It wasn't at all what I was expecting - my Chinese sister writing to me, in both English and Chinese, saying that my Chinese host mother had been sick and passed away."

During that summer after her freshman year, she came to China as a travel guide researcher and first visited the family in Beijing, where she learned what had happened and mourned the loss of Liming with them.

"As a result of experiencing that grief together, I grew even closer to my host sister and father in ways I never expected."

When she visited Liming's grave for the first time, the widower said, in a message for Liming, that Solimine would take care of their daughter after his death.

The family apartment in Beijing became a second home to Solimine, and she often stayed there during her summers in college and, later, graduate school.

"I felt like there was something so compelling about being so close to this family," Solimine says, adding that it meant being privileged to hear threads of family stories from Liming's husband.

So when she discovered the creative track of the Fulbright program, she applied for - and ultimately received - a grant to fund an entire year in China, recording the family stories and exploring her place in the family.

"I wanted to spend time with the family and understand their history and think more critically about my relationship with them," she says.

The intention was to craft a nonfiction work.

"A lot of time had passed, but I had access to these vivid, beautiful memories," she says of the family's old stories.

But as she began writing the book, Solimine found herself drawn to fiction instead.

"What I was really investigating through the process of writing this, was what it meant to be an outsider carrying a lot of historical, cultural constraints. I was thinking a lot about what it meant that in many ways I inherited this family's story - what it meant that I wanted to write it and that I wanted to fictionalize it."

This thought process led her to frame the novel as a translation by an American named Lao K, who was also an actor in the story, translating something she was responsible for.

"I wanted it to be clear that translation can be very fraught. There's a personal piece to that - every translation is going to be owned by the translator. It's all about your own perspective and how you interpret those words."

At the same time, the translated work at the center of Empire of Glass - a story first told by the mother and later by the father - reflects Solimine's thoughtful fascination with the many layers of memories she encountered in the process of exploring the family's history.

"I had such a short period of time talking to Liming, inheriting Liming's stories directly from her. Then I had this added layer of inheriting them from her husband, and my own memory of her and what I wanted to believe that she was. When we rewrite other people's histories, what does that mean in terms of how they are told?"

Solimine is grateful for the recognition Empire of Glass has received, including being short listed for the 2017 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, an annual award presented by The Center for Fiction, a nonprofit organization in New York City, for the best debut novel.

As she brings her novel to audiences in China, including over March 24-25 at the Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing, Solimine also looks forward to seeing her former host family - and passing on her special connection to China.

"Personally, this is my first visit to China with my daughter. I'm really, really excited about that. It's such a meaningful experience for us."

Contact the writer at jocelyn@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Above: Kaitlin Solimine has dinner with her Chinese homestay family at their apartment in Beijing in 1996. Top right: Empire of Glass, a novel by Solimine about her relationships with the Chinese family. Right: Solimine will bring her novel to audiences in China this week at the Bookworm Literary Festival in Beijing. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-03-23 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Richard Flanagan and Yu Hua discuss writing and inspiration]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/23/content_35905797.htm It is Saturday, when Australian writer Richard Flanagan meets Yu Hua for the first time during an event at a Beijing bookstore. They seem to find a lot in common and any third person is unnecessary in their exchanges. They just know the right questions to ask one another.

Yu, the author of the Chinese novels To Live and Brothers, speaks of the many things that made him the writer he is today. He is neither reluctant to praise Flanagan's Man Booker-winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, saying that, from its rhythm, he knows how well the story is told and structured.

The authors have been inspired by William Faulkner and Franz Kafka.

"Yu Hua, Faulkner and I are all southerners," Flanagan says.

The Tasmania-born writer has read Yu's books, and he says some of his works seem to be "simple telling of very small stories, dealing with small things. But through these small stories, you gain a picture of this extraordinary country and its extraordinary transformations over the last 50 years".

Yu, born in Zhejiang province, tells Flanagan during the same conversation that Faulkner is his third "teacher", the first being Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata, followed by Kafka.

"At different phases in my writing career, I encountered different problems. Faulkner taught me about ways to depict mental activities," Yu says.

Because of sharply contrasting writing styles - one delicate and gentle, and one straightforward and sometimes decorated with coarse language - Yu says Japanese reporters are surprised that he has read Kawabata's books.

"I was so fascinated by him that I would buy a book by him even if there was only one story in the book that I hadn't read," Yu says.

Kafka occurred to Yu at the right time in 1986. Kafka's A Country Doctor inspired him to believe that through writing, the writers should set themselves free and not be fettered by literary skills.

Flanagan's literary influences include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, many Russian writers and his father.

"Writers are people from Europe and the United States, not from here (his hometown)," he says.

"Even in 2014, when I visited the US, I was introduced as an award-winning French writer to the audience," he jokes.

He was lucky to have his father, who loves poetry, and believes in the power and beauty of the written word. His love for words started at the age of 3, and he received his education at the University of Tasmania and later at Worcester College of Oxford.

His father's experiences and survival along the "death railway" in Myanmar during World War II pushed him to finish writing The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a story about an army doctor who was captured by the Japanese, just like his father.

"I spent 12 years and I wrote five drafts," he recalls. "I want to dedicate the book to my father."

He says he knew that if he hadn't finished the book before his father died, he wouldn't finish it at all. He finished the book in 2013, the same year his father died, age 98, but his late father didn't have the opportunity to know about the book's award-winning ability.

Whereas for Yu, who had been assigned to be a dentist in 1978 under the old employment system, the path of becoming a writer was different.

"I was not trained to be a dentist, and on my first day, I was taught a bit and asked to pull out patients' teeth," Yu says.

"I worked eight hours a day and I was really jealous of those who worked at the cultural bureau - who earned as much as me but had more leisure time," he says.

"I wanted a job transfer and the only way was to write stories and try to get them published."

He says prominent Chinese authors such as Mo Yan and Wang Shuo are said to have started writing to improve their livelihoods.

Wu Qi, with the One Way Space Bookstore, the venue for the conversation between Flanagan and Yu, says "it's like we've had this wonderful literature class".

Yu says inspiration arrives to a writer occasionally.

"It only appears once or twice in your life. So your chance of becoming a writer is bigger when you sit there for three to four hours a day writing and make that last for a whole year," Yu says.

Flanagan compares writing to fishing: "Everyday you must go out fishing in order to catch something."

meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-23 07:41:42
<![CDATA[FEROCIOUS FAVORITE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/23/content_35905796.htm Traditional and fusion cooking styles, regional and international ingredients and a new awareness of healthy eating are all factors contributing to an exciting time for Chinese cuisine. Pauline D Loh explores the possibilities.

The hairtail is no beauty. This fish's sinuous body can grow more than a meter in length, and its huge wolflike head and jaws make it an efficient eating machine. It preys on krill, baby squid and other small fish, and it hunts at night in imposing schools.

This ribbon fish is pretty high up on the underwater food chain - but it reckoned without humans. Or, more precisely, the Chinese.

From north to south and east to west, the hairtail is one of the most popular fishes on the Chinese table. Sectioned, it is deep-fried and shallow sauteed, braised or red cooked.

My husband remembers it as being a special treat in his childhood when he first returned to Beijing in the late 1950s. Those were very hard years and fish, any fish, on the table was considered a little luxury.

The hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus), known to the Chinese as daiyu - or the fish that looks like a belt - was especially valued because it was a saltwater fish.

Western cooks tend to look down their noses on the hairtail, considering it a poor quality fish, but Asian cooks have no such hang-ups and it is a prominent ingredient in both Chinese and Korean cuisines.

The hairtail is caught by the school and quickly put on ice so it stays fresh for market. In the era when ice was not readily available, fishermen would salt it slightly to help keep it from spoiling.

It is a ferocious fighter and will use its fanglike teeth against nets and fishermen alike, twisting and writhing its snakelike body as it is hauled out of the water.

Fresh hairtail is an attractive electric blue when caught, but the color quickly fades to a silvery grey as it dies. It does not have prominent scales but its skin is coated with a fine, powdery glitter.

Freshly caught, the fish are laid out in rows at the fishmonger's, lengthy ribbons that resemble rather flat eels. Once, in a seafood market in Xiamen, we saw freshly caught hairtail glittering in the sun and they were an unforgettable sight.

These days, hairtails are more often than not sold flash-frozen, already processed and cut into much shorter sections.

It is a member of the cutlassfish family, with double rows of fins running down both sides. It lacks a traditional fish tail and the side fins taper to a thin thread at the tip.

The transparent side fins are attached to long, thin, comb-like bones that pierce the sides, and these have to be carefully removed before eating.

Otherwise, the hairtail has few other fine bones, unlike the slim forked bones of most Chinese freshwater fish.

For this reason, the hairtail is appreciated, and also for the sweetness of its flesh. It helps that this species of fish has always been in abundant supply in the seas around China, enough to feed the mighty masses.

Hairtail, beltfish, ribbon fish, knife fish - its English names are many, but the Chinese know it generally as daiyu, one of the few instances when the country is linguistically united.

It is a fish that is easy to cook.

The most common way is to shallow fry it to a crisp, so that the thin edges can be crunched up while the flesh inside remains sweet and tender.

The fried fish can be processed one more step, by braising in a savory brown sauce that varies in different regions. Sometimes, Welsh onions or scallions are added and the fish and herbs become a topping for noodles.

In the northern regions, they like to douse the fried hairtail with an appetite-whetting brown vinegar and sugar gravy, which also helps repel any lingering pungency.

The fish is often red-cooked until tender, with plenty of thinly sliced brown onions and shredded ginger. It can also be cooked with tangy tomatoes.

The Chinese appreciate this fish for its high fat content, and it is believed that it's a food that can reduce cholesterol. There is also something in its silver coating that some believe is anti-carcinogenic.

There is no doubt, however, that it is a nutritious fish that is easily available and affordable.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-23 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Restaurants on wheels cater to rural banquets in Jiangxi]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/23/content_35905795.htm

NANCHANG - Mobile restaurants are now a big hit in East China's Jiangxi province.

Liu Shaojun, a former carpenter in Jiangxi, is well known for his venture.

"My restaurant has wheels," says Liu. "I drive it to wherever I am needed."

"All the customers have to do is tell me what they want and the number of guests," says Liu. "We offer everything, from setting up tables to cleaning up afterwards."

Rural people often hold banquets, but preparing for such feasts can be quite frustrating.

Traditionally, hosts have to ask others for help in buying food, cooking, serving, washing up, and even for tables, chairs, bowls and chopsticks.

"The process is time-consuming and labor-intensive," says Liu. "But my restaurant makes things easy."

If a customer wants to use Liu's tables, chairs, bowls and chopsticks for a banquet, the fee is only 300 yuan ($47).

"We also offer suggestions on the amount of food based on the number of people attending, which can prevent food from being wasted," he says.

In Xinyu, in Jiangxi province, such restaurants are now quite common.

Hu Yougen from the Luofang township held two banquets last year. And mobile restaurants catered for each banquet of 30 tables.

The banquets saved Hu a lot of money and were praised by the guests.

Fu Xin, a local government official, lauded the concept, saying that they can reduce waste.

As for Hu, he says: "I would definitely choose such a service again."

Xinhua

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2018-03-23 07:41:42
<![CDATA[A TRULY NOVEL APPROACH]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/23/content_35905794.htm Ken Liu dislikes being tagged as a Chinese-American writer and the over-interpretation that connects his writings with his cross-cultural identity, saying that he just wants to write something original that he wants to read.

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With its cross-cultural themes, the first Chinese edition of fantasy writer Ken Liu's genre-defying Dandelion Dynasty series looks set to beguile mainland readers. Yang Yang reports.

Ken Liu dislikes being tagged as a Chinese-American writer and the over-interpretation that connects his writings with his cross-cultural identity, saying that he just wants to write something original that he wants to read.

Since 2002, he has published more than 100 short stories and two novels of the Dandelion Dynasty series in English. He is now working on the third installment.

Liu is famous for his translation of Chinese sci-fis, including Liu Cixin's Three-Body Problem and Death's End, and Hao Jingfang's Folding Beijing. Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015 and Folding Beijing won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2016.

An immigrant who moved to the United States at the age of 11 from Lanzhou, Gansu province, Liu studied English, computer science and law at Harvard University, and his cross-cultural experiences inspired him to write fiction that seeks to transcend the boundaries of geography, culture and genre.

In 2004, US journalist and historian Iris Chang committed suicide after being harangued by pro-Japan nationalists for her book The Rape of Nanking, the first work of its kind that introduced the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) to a Western readership.

Rather than admitting the historical significance and the truth in Chang's work, her attackers instead hid behind the mask of academic discourse to dissect and skew Chang's words, before finally cutting her, her book and the truth to pieces, Liu writes in the foreword of a collection of his short stories, When the Light Fails.

Chang's death inspired him to write the sci-fi story Documentary: The Man Who Ended History. Published in 2011, the book features a character who believes that people should be responsible for history, should remember the victims of past atrocities, and feel obliged to verify instances of forgotten or betrayed history, as he puts it in the foreword.

The story is based on the heavy historical background of Unit 731, the Japanese Imperial Army's covert biological-warfare research and development division based in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin. It was later nominated for the Nebula, Hugo and Theodore Sturgeon awards for best short story.

Inspired by Chinese writer Yan Geling's Little Aunt Crane and the accounts written by mail-order brides about their experiences, Liu wrote The Paper Menagerie, which was published in 2011.

The short piece, which tells the touching story of a Chinese-American boy Jack and his Chinese mother, a mail-order bride from Hong Kong. The mother speaks very little English and excels at making origami animals that she can bring to life with magic.

The story focuses on their struggles between two cultures. Sensing the prejudice toward Asians, young Jack tried to sever himself from his Chinese heritage, so much so that he stopped talking to his mother until her premature death.

US writer and editor Geoff Hart says in his review of the story, that "the real magic lies in the simple, quintessential beauty of his characters (often Chinese) and how he can make us feel their pain, even if we're not Chinese."

Moving many readers, the story won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards for best short story in 2012.

When Liu was planning his first novel, he made a list of his favorite stories he'd written.

"I noticed that there were consistent themes: cross-cultural identities, switching between different languages, societies and ways of thinking, dismantling a literary work in one frame of reference, and assembling the parts in another," he says.

Both Liu and his wife Liza Tang Liu grew up listening to Chinese historical romances, and in Liu's writings, there had often been echoes of those stories. So Liza suggested he breathe new life into these old tales.

Then the story of the Chu-Han Contention, the civil war that followed the collapse of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), came to mind.

"I want to reimagine the stories about the contention," he says.

More than 2,200 years ago, 15 years after China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang united the seven states, the tyrannical rule of his son led to uprisings all over the country that finally pulled the precarious dynasty apart.

As different insurrectionary factions wrestled for power, two leaders finally emerged: Xiang Yu, a strong and brave descendant of aristocracy, and Liu Bang, a shrewd bandit well versed in tactical fighting. The ensuing battles between them have become the stuff of household legend in China.

Based on this historical period, Liu created the fictional archipelago kingdom of Dara, which was initially divided into seven states but had been united by Emperor Mapidere when the story starts in The Grace of Kings. It is the first book of the Dandelion Dynasty series published in 2015 and was followed up with The Wall of Storms in 2016. The Chinese edition of the first installment has just been published.

Liu, who studied English in university, found it has been long a tradition in Western literature to reinterpret and reimagine the ancient classics "such as James Joyce did to Homer, modern dramas to Shakespeare and even John Milton's Paradise Lost, which can be seen as a new Christian epic based on the ancient Greek and Latin historical epics," he says.

He chose not to reimagine the story in the style that JRR Tolkien adopted for the Lord of Rings, but instead set the book in an entirely fictional location and era unrelated to China or its history.

"For a long time, dating back to Marco Polo, the depiction of China in Western literature has been limited to colonialism with a dash of Oriental color. So, I couldn't go on continuing to represent a 'magical China'," he says.

That is why he created a completely new kingdom to convey the Chu-Han contention, which in the fiction has accordingly become the conflict between Mata Zyndu, a stern, fearless aristocrat, and Kuni Garu, a clever bandit.

With the existing fictional flesh, Liu built a framework for the narrative by mixing the styles of ancient Greek and Latin epics, Anglo-Saxon poetry, John Milton's poems, Chinese martial-arts fantasy, novels from China's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the modern time-travel fiction "so as to create a narrative style that people (in both East and West) will feel both familiar and strange," he says.

Another invention in Liu's novel is the concept of "silk punk". To better present the fantasy elements, he created machines built ingeniously with silk, paper, bamboo and beef tendon from East Asia, and other organic materials from the Pacific maritime culture such as shells, feathers, coconuts, coral and obsidian - a naturally occurring form of volcanic glass.

"Basically, I am a technician, so even in a fantasy epic, I still want to incorporate fantastic machines and amazing inventions," he says.

"I want these mechanical devices to look like they have come from ancient Chinese block prints, following the mechanical principles created by ancient Chinese engineers such as Lu Ban and Zhuge Liang. The former created reconnaissance kites, while the latter invented flying lights made from bamboo and paper," Liu says.

With this in mind, he created a variety of mechanical devices for his novels, such as a large kite a warrior wore to fly, as well as an airship and a submersible boat.

He is so enthusiastic about machines that for him "there is only one method to create a novel, that is to play an engineer in the world that I imagine", he says.

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2018-03-23 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Women's issues in focus at session with Spanish writer Rosa Montero]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/23/content_35905793.htm The challenges faced by modern women was the subject of a public discussion recently between Spanish writer Rosa Montero and Chinese writer Zhang Yueran at the Cervantes Institute in Beijing.

Giving her take, Montero says that any step forward in the advancement of women's social status is also a big step forward for humankind.

Montero, 67, who has been a journalist since 1970, has published dozens of novels, biographies, short stories and children tales since then. And her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

In 2017, Montero was awarded the National Prize for Spanish Literature. And she is one of just five female writers who have won the prize since its launch in 1984.

Two of Montero's books - the biography, Stories of Women, and the novel, The Heart of the Tartar, have been translated into Chinese.

Among the issues, what Montero spoke about at the event was sexual abuse.

She says she still remembers that as a child when she had to commute four times a day between school and home, she was often touched inappropriately on the subway.

She even says that once she and her friend both slapped an attacker, but it was them who later felt ashamed and terrified.

"No passengers stood up for us. We felt alone and sheepish. But things are much better now and women are moving forward," says Montero.

Meanwhile, Zhang sees the improvement of women's social status through a different perspective, noting that China's family planning policy between 1978 and 2016 to some extent provided her generation of women with opportunities.

Montero sees herself as a promoter of women's rights, but not as a feminist writer, because she says the word feminist has "put women on the opposite side of men", which she thinks is not appropriate.

Speaking about her work, she says: "Literature is about seeking the true meaning of life and existence. It goes beyond women's rights."

One of Montero's books that was discussed was about Marie Curie, the physicist, chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner.

Speaking about the work, she says she was inspired to write the book after reading Curie's diary about her husband, who died in a carriage crash in 1906.

Montero also had a personal reason for doing the book as she, too, had lost her husband.

Among the questions she deals with in the book are: Is it possible to adapt to the loss of your beloved? Can you ignore the patriarchy or the thoughts that make you stressed? Is it possible to have an independent vision not imposed by your family?

Explaining why she used Curie's diary as the peg for the work, she says: "I thought that using the experiences of a great woman to respond to these questions would be a good idea, although some issues could not be resolved."

Speaking about the response to the book, she says that readers through letters and email told her that the book had inspired them to be positive and look beyond their sadness and fear.

Although Montero has been writing books for around four decades, she refuses to compromise to produce what the market demands, because she says the market and readers' tastes are fickle.

"I avoid feeling self-conscious when writing," says Montero, adding that young writers should accept the imperfections in their works and be confident about the future.

fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-23 07:41:42
<![CDATA[FAMILIAR TERRITORY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/22/content_35898494.htm When Steven S. DeKnight was young, he often went to cinemas to watch Hong Kong action movies by the iconic Shaw Brothers studio. And one of his favorites was Jimmy Wang Yu's martial-arts classic, Master of the Flying Guillotine.

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The upcoming Pacific Rim sequel takes influences from Hong Kong cinema, features Chinese actors and was partly shot in Qingdao. Xu Fan reports.

When Steven S. DeKnight was young, he often went to cinemas to watch Hong Kong action movies by the iconic Shaw Brothers studio. And one of his favorites was Jimmy Wang Yu's martial-arts classic, Master of the Flying Guillotine.

During the American director's recent Beijing tour to promote his upcoming sci-fi film, Pacific Rim Uprising, he says Chinese audiences will see the influence of Hong Kong cinema in the movie.

The special-effects-studded movie will simultaneously open in China and North America on March 23.

The new film takes up the story 10 years after the end of the first movie, Pacific Rim (2013), by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, director of The Shape of Water (the Oscars' Best Picture for 2018).

The latest 110-minute installment is about a new generation of Jaeger (a kind of robot) pilots who fight alien invaders from the deep sea.

For sci-fi fans, the Pacific Rim franchise is a combination of Transformers and Godzilla.

DeKnight says: "We wanted each creature to be loosely based on an animal you can find in real life. We wanted every monster to be clearly different."

He also says that he and the visual-effects team studied a lot of Chinese and Japanese mythology and researched animals, such as the rhinoceros, to seek inspiration while creating the monsters.

DeKnight, who is known for his work on hit television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Spartacus, says his experience in the TV industry helped him when he was making the big-budget movie.

"For the television shows, we always had a writers' room where all the writers worked together to 'break' the story. 'Breaking' means figuring out everything. And I did the same thing for this movie."

Despite this, the path to approval for the script was not smooth.

When Pacific Rim lead actor Charlie Hunnam left the project and joined the remake of the 1974 biographical movie Papillon, DeKnight had to dump his original story.

Thanks to a suggestion from del Toro, who is Pacific Rim Uprising's producer, DeKnight made the sequel with John Boyega starring as Jake, the son of Stacker Pentecost, the commander of the pilot team, a role played by English actor Idris Elba in the first movie.

In the sequel, Jake is a hooligan who realizes the error of his ways and goes on to lead a new generation of pilots.

Scott Eastwood, the youngest son of Academy Award-winning actor-director Clint Eastwood, also appears.

The 31-year-old American actor stars as Nate Lambert, a pilot who fights alongside Jake.

Eastwood, who was with DeKnight and Chinese actress Jing Tian in Beijing to promote the film last week, says: "I was a fan of monster movies while growing up. And the first time I saw Godzilla, I was around 10 years old. It was my first experience of the monster cinematic universe. It was something really cool."

The $150 million movie, jointly produced by Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures and the Shenzhen-based Shanwei Film Industry, also has other Chinese stars like action star Zhang Jin, known for Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster, as well as Huang Kaijie, Ji Li, Lan Yingying, Yu Xiaowei and Chen Zitong.

Speaking about his impressions of Shandong province's Qingdao, where the film was partly shot, Eastwood says the sets were "incredible".

"It (Qingdao) is full of history. They (Wanda Studios, the largest of its kind in China) built some amazing sets. We shot a lot of the indoor sequences there," he says.

The filming at the studio began with a typical Chinese ceremony with DeKnight alongside Boyega and other actors. They held burning incense and prayed for a success. The ceremony was followed by fireworks.

"I loved it. It (the ceremony) felt special," DeKnight says.

So, will the Chinese "magic" secure the film's box-office success in the world's second-largest market?

When the first Pacific Rim was released in 2013, it was a flop in the West, but surprisingly earned around 700 million yuan ($110.6 million) on the Chinese mainland, making it the first Hollywood movie to earn more in China than it did in North America.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

The new sci-fi film, Pacific Rim Uprising, about a new generation of Jaeger pilots who fight alien invaders from the deep sea, will hit Chinese cinemas on Friday. Photos provided to China Daily 

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2018-03-22 07:57:10
<![CDATA[Survey shows Chinese movies gain ground in North America]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/22/content_35898493.htm North America is increasingly taking to Chinese movies, but kung fu films - which were once popular - are now losing ground, says a report recently released by Beijing Normal University.

According to the report, which is based on 1,520 responses in the United States and Canada, the interviewees were least interested in upcoming Chinese kung fu movies.

In the survey, they were asked about eight types of films, including romance, fantasy and sci-fi.

The report was part of an annual survey on the global influence of Chinese cinema, and has been done by the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture affiliated with Beijing Normal University since 2011.

Commenting on the finding, Huang Huilin, a professor at Beijing Normal University who was part of the survey, says: "Kung fu movies used to be an iconic genre for Chinese cinema and one recognized by overseas audiences. But there is a lack of new kung fu stars with international influence now.

"The number and quality of traditional kung fu movies have been shrinking in recent years. The result may be unexpected, but it makes sense."

Huang says that many kung fu actors are now switching to other genres like fantasy and sci-fi.

"Also, kung fu elements are actually now being featured in other Chinese film genres, replacing orthodox kung fu productions."

The survey also shows 79 percent of those interviewed had watched Chinese films in the past three years. And 43 percent had watched five Chinese movies or more within that time, with 10.5 percent having watched more than 15.

Looking at the numbers, Huang says this shows Chinese films are now commonly accepted by North American filmgoers. But she says Chinese films still comprise a small portion.

"Chinese filmmakers have much room to improve, as Hollywood still rules," she says.

The survey showed that about 61 percent of the interviewees say they have watched more Hollywood productions than all other films combined.

North American viewers between the ages of 25 and 34 show the strongest interest among all age groups when it comes to Chinese films, the survey says. Black North Americans show more interest in Chinese movies.

Meanwhile, Huang says the survey shows that the more people watch Chinese films, the more positive the view they have of China.

"People who watched more than 15 Chinese films in the past three years have a much more positive image of China compared with other groups," the professor says. "This proves that Chinese films portray a positive image of China."

The survey also shows that films are the most common medium for North Americans to understand China - that is, more so than social media and TV.

Dai Yuanchu, a media analyst with a research institute under Global Times, says: "Due to ideological differences, other media are often labeled with stereotypes in the West. Vivid storytelling and figures in films are more appealing to the general public, and the information in them is more easily accepted."

He says this finding can help Chinese filmmakers target overseas markets in a better way.

The survey also points to problems faced by Chinese films in the Northern American market.

For instance, it focuses on distribution, promotion and the translation of subtitles and dialogues.

Dai says: "We often think that Chinese values are the main issue for North American audiences. But the biggest hurdles may be technical."

He hopes Huang's team can do more follow-up interviews based on the survey's findings.

wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-22 07:57:10
<![CDATA[CASHING IN]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/22/content_35898492.htm Sun Zhonghuai and his colleagues from China's Tencent Holdings Ltd were once curious about the economics of HBO's hit television series Westworld, a sci-fi thriller depicting rebellious androids.

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Tencent is making its own series and purchasing copyrights for TV dramas for exclusive streaming. Xu Fan reports.

Sun Zhonghuai and his colleagues from China's Tencent Holdings Ltd were once curious about the economics of HBO's hit television series Westworld, a sci-fi thriller depicting rebellious androids.

Based on their experience of investing in TV shows, it would have been difficult for the big-budget series - with 10 episodes reportedly costing about $100 million to make - to earn back the money.

But HBO told them it was made for a reason: To produce a hit beyond expectations so that the broadcaster would be able to retain its paying viewers.

Westworld, which bagged five awards at the Emmy Awards last year and earned 8.8 points out of 10 on the popularity barometer IMDb, is such a hit.

"It (Westworld) was inspirational. But we too have invested in some good projects that might not be profitable. And although none of them is as good as Westworld, I hope our team or others in the entertainment industry will produce a world-class production in the future," says Sun, the vice-president of Tencent and chief executive officer of Tencent Penguin Pictures, the online content producing arm of the parent company.

To achieve the goal, Tencent has been making popular series and purchasing the copyright of expensive television dramas to be exclusively streamed on its video platform.

On Sunday, Tencent Video, the streaming subsidiary of Tencent, announced its paid subscriptions had reached 62.59 million as of Feb 28, enhancing its status as the largest video site in China.

According to industry researcher Vlinkage, Tencent Video broadcast 80 percent of the most popular 20 television series online in 2017, topping the charts in this field.

And the user number of video-streaming sites reached 565 million, or 75.2 percent of China's total netizen population by July, China Netcasting Services Association says in its latest report.

The numbers show that the Chinese have become used to paying for online series, music, novels and animation, says Sun.

He says the online market for paid content has become mature as Chinese netizens are now willing to pay for quality content and are comfortable paying online.

And, television series are the top choice for internet viewers, followed by movies and variety shows.

The fans' enthusiasm for popular series has made producers greenlight their sequels, generating successful franchises and raising subscription levels.

"For example, Rural Love Story now has 10 seasons. The length is rare for domestic television series," says Sun.

Created by comedian Zhao Benshan, the series centers on a group of farmers and their love stories in a fictional village located in northeastern China. The drama was first aired on China Central Television in 2010 and quickly became one of the highest-rated television series. Its lat-est two seasons, starting from the ninth season, have been produced by Penguin Pictures and Zhao's production firm, Benshan Media Group.

The popular online series Candle in the Tomb, adapted from author Zhang Muye's best-selling novel of the same title, is another example. The story about three explorers' adventure in a desert in northwestern China, the series' first and second seasons, respectively, gained 3.1 billion "clicks" in 2016 and 2.7 billion views in 2017. The third and fourth seasons are being produced.

While speaking about big data, which was once reckoned as a significant index to research what audiences want, Sun says he thinks it won't work if a production is built on just digital analysis.

"The process of making a series is long. You cannot guarantee a hot topic will still be attractive after two years," he says.

Besides television series, documentaries are also being welcomed by Chinese viewers.

And working with top producers, Tencent Video has joined the production of BBC's classic nature documentaries such as Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II - which have won acclaim in China after being streamed online. Separately, they have announced plans to team up with Chen Xiaoqing, the producer of the hit Chinese documentary A Bite of China, to produce Savoring China, a documentary franchise about gourmet food.

But the main challenge for video-streaming sites is still profit. And with the rapid rise of copyright fees and production budgets in recent years, Sun says most players in China's online market are still facing financial losses.

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2018-03-22 07:57:10
<![CDATA[Black Panther clings to lead, close to record]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/22/content_35898491.htm

LOS ANGELES - Digging in its claws, Black Panther has clung to its box-office lead for a fifth straight weekend, taking in an estimated $27 million in North American theaters while fending off two new films, website Exhibitor Relations said on Sunday.

The Disney/Marvel superhero film has now earned a domestic total of just over $600 million while becoming the first film since Avatar in 2009 to hold the top spot for five straight weekends.

Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman as the superhero king of a utopian African country, has almost single-handedly kept the year's box office total slightly above the same period last year. It is only days away from overtaking another Marvel film, The Avengers, as the all-time top-grossing superhero film in North America, Variety reported.

It easily fended off a challenge from Warner Bros Pictures' newly released Tomb Raider, an adventure reboot starring Swedish actress Alicia Vikander as the fearless and ferocious Lara Croft. The movie, also starring Dominic West and Kristin Scott Thomas, netted $23.5 million for the three-day weekend.

In something of a surprise, third place went to a low-budget, faith-based drama, I Can Only Imagine, which took in $17.1 million - the biggest net ever for a film from Roadside Attractions.

Made for a modest $7 million, the movie stars J. Michael Finley as the lead singer of a popular Christian band. Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman also star.

In fourth, down two spots from last week, was Disney's science fantasy adventure A Wrinkle in Time, at $16.6 million, a 50 percent drop from last weekend. The story of a girl's search through time and space for a missing father, stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine.

And in fifth place was new Fox release Love, Simon, at $11.5 million. The film stars Nick Robinson in what would be a classic love story - except that it is said to be the first romantic comedy from a mainstream studio to be told from a gay teen's perspective.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

Game Night ($5.6 million)

Peter Rabbit ($5.2 million)

Strangers: Prey at Night ($4.8 million)

Red Sparrow ($4.5 million)

Death Wish ($3.4 million)

Agence France - presse

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2018-03-22 07:57:10
<![CDATA[Concert in tribute to Hong Kong cinema coming to Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/22/content_35898490.htm Yao Shuo can still recall the time he first watched the Hong Kong movie, A Chinese Ghost Story, in his university dormitory along with classmates. He was impressed by the comic horror story, the performance of the leading actors, Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong, and one of the songs from the film by the same name and performed by Cheung, has become one of his favorites.

Since then, he has become a big fan of Hong Kong films, such as Once Upon a Time in China series, which is based on the stories of Cantonese martial artist Wong Fei-hung.

Now, the 38-year-old Yao has brought all his memories about Hong Kong films into his latest musical project, entitled A Musical Night of Hong Kong Cinema, which premiered in November in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, and will be staged at Beijing's Tianqiao Performing Arts Center on April 1.

The audiences can enjoy film scores from 12 classic Hong Kong films, including director Stanley Kwan's movies, Center Stage (1992), starring Maggie Cheung, who won the best actress award at Berlin International Film Festival of that year for portraying the famous Chinese actress Ruan Lingyu (1910-1935); Rouge (1988), starring Anita Mu and Leslie Cheung; and The Legend of the Swordsman (1992), directed by Ching Siu-tung and starring Jet Li and Brigitte Lin.

"For Chinese audiences, especially those who were born in the 1970s and 1980s, Hong Kong films were a big part of their youth," says Yao. "From the feedback of the audience, who attended the premiere of the concert in Zhuhai, we were convinced that the audience shares this nostalgic mood and the music conjures up memories."

Yao started planning the concert last year, which marked the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China. And he invited the China Film Orchestra to perform the film scores.

Then, along with the musicians, he narrowed down the 100 Hong Kong films on their list to about 20.

He later traveled back and forth between Beijing and Hong Kong to acquire permission from film companies, who hold copyrights for the Hong Kong films, since his vision for the concert was not only about performing music but also covering the footage of the films.

"We don't just play the films on screen. We re-edit them to match the music, which has been rearranged by 10 composers," says Yao.

According to Fan Tao, the conductor of China Film Orchestra, which has a history of 67 years, he is also a big fan of Hong Kong films, especially the martial arts films.

And one of his favorite Hong Kong actors is Leslie Cheung (1956-2003), the award-winning singer-actor.

"The Beijing concert will pay tribute to this great actor," says Fan. And he adds that as he has composed for movies and TV dramas, this has enabled him to understand the importance of music for films.

"The idea of hearing these memorable scores in a concert hall is exciting," he says.

Speaking about the public response, Yao Liang, the principal violinist of China Film Orchestra, says: "I remember vividly that the audience in Zhuhai sang along with our performance because they are very familiar with these film scores.

"So, by adapting film scores, we gave the audience a chance to enjoy classical music."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-03-22 07:57:10
<![CDATA[Aerial artistry]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/21/content_35891494.htm As applications for drones seem virtually limitless, a new breed of photographers are adopting the technology to take to the skies. Fang Aiqing reports.

In 1858, the French photographer and balloonist Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, known as Nadar, took the first aerial photo from a balloon over Paris.

His photos may not have survived, yet his successors over the decades continued to practice aerial photography using balloons, blimps and dirigibles, helicopters and rockets.

 

A view of Tasmania, Australia, shot by Liu Xiaoxiao. Photos Provided to China Daily

And it wasn't until recently that aerial photography remained a minority pursuit, as the current crop of consumer drones - smaller, more affordable and easier to operate - drew people in.

Operating a drone in person and seeing the panoramic view from high above arouses not only users' pleasure, but also the boundless creativity of human nature.

Indeed, the last few years have witnessed a boom in the consumer-drone market.

Luo Zhenhua, president of Shenzhen-based DJI, the world's largest commercial drone-maker, at Geekpark Innovation Festival 2018 on Jan 20, said the company's sales revenue for the past year had reached 18 billion yuan ($2.85 billion), an increase of 80 percent from the year before.

And according to Xie Tiandi, DJI's director of communications, most of the growth is being driven by the consumer market.

This is accompanied by the growing popularity of competitive photo contests.

The number of qualified entries for the annual drone photography contest held by online news portal Sohu grew from 2,160 in 2015 to 9,887 in 2017, including 652 short videos, according to Niu Ge, chief editor of Sohu UAV.

DJI's 2017 Skypixel Photo Contest attracted more than 40,000 entries from 141 countries and regions.

A recent review on aerial photography released by DJI's skypixel.com shows that in 2017, sunrises, sunsets and natural landscapes including beaches, m