版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[REBIRTH of COOL]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732796.htm Chinese sports brand Li-Ning impressed fashionistas with its innovative and cutting-edge designs at its debut at the New York Fashion Week earlier this month.

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Domestic sportswear brand Li-Ning is looking to revive its fortunes and take on global players with its new street-savvy collection

Chinese sports brand Li-Ning impressed fashionistas with its innovative and cutting-edge designs at its debut at the New York Fashion Week earlier this month.

Inspired by Taoism, the brands' Wu Dao collection draws on the principles of the ancient Chinese philosophy to carry the spirit of self-examination, self-enlightenment and creativity.

By mixing its sports origins with a strong sense of Chinese culture and trending contemporary fashion, the 28-year-old brand is attempting to revitalize its image and demonstrate its ambitions to compete on the world stage.

The collection is made up of two ranges - one that celebrates the past, and one that explores the future.

For the first range, the craftsmanship of Suzhou embroidery was applied to innovative fabrics. "It was our original intention to carry forward our culture to New York," says designer Chen Lijie.

Images of Li Ning's winning gymnastics performances at the 1984 Olympics have been printed onto hoodies and T-shirts, while the Victor 001 motif has been reproduced with minor changes to its silhouette. The range also includes an update on the company's first range of sportswear worn by Chinese athletes and Li himself at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, a reappearance which has caused quite a stir. The red-and-yellow color scheme, which was once compared to scrambled egg and tomato, shows new possibilities when its matched with black cigarette pants or a pair of well-designed white sneakers.

The future section focuses on street fashion, the philosophy of mix-and-match and futurism. It blends the past with the future by juxtaposing historical Chinese detailing with Western silhouettes to create an individual modern style and function.

With this range, much visual stimuli comes to the fore. On some products, the original Li-Ning logo has been rendered much less eye-catching or has been totally replaced by the Chinese letters of the brand name with the prefix "China".

Square in shape, the new logos have been printed on the chest of hoodies or expanded to cover the entire back section. Reflective ripstop fabrics shine in silver and light up the darkness of black. Long red puffer jackets are swathed in transparent plastic to help keep out the wind and the cold. Work clothes with multiple pockets offer additional storage while buckles come in unique shapes.

Shoe designer Zhou Shijie says that creativity should follow industry developments and innovation at the same time.

With Chinese letters on the upper, ran ("burn" in English) sneakers are chunky and oversized and offer the option of non-matching shoes.

While Essence sock shoes provide comfort with knitted textiles and a toe-line in contrasting colors to the uppers, the Essence Ace shoes mix quilted suede, knits and polished leather to create a patchwork of textures, combined with a "Designed in Beijing" or a "Made in China" logo printed on the flank.

Li-Ning's iconic Butterfly trainers for 2018 carry on with the color-block motifs first seen in the early 1990s and applied to their Butterfly shoes in 2000. The new collection has attracted a lot of attention with its wider choice of color schemes. The Mix 2 shoe comprises four separate sections that can be taken apart and reassembled, revealing the brand's innovative approach to mix-and-match sportswear.

And to back up its global outlook, Li-Ning seem to have taken a fresh look at their pricing, offering T-shirts for 299 yuan ($47), Essence sock shoes for 699 yuan and sports pants for 599 yuan.

Five ranges of shoes sold out at Li-Ning's online stores shortly after making their runway debut, and only one range of T-shirts currently remains available.

Some critics have described the New York show as nothing short of a rebirth for the Li's brand which the Olympian set up in 1990 to support Chinese athletes with a national brand.

"Our brand carries the genes of an athlete," Li says.

Throughout its 28-year history, the company found it difficult to adapt to changing tastes and establish a niche market.

According to a report from Money.163.com, when the company shifted its focus away from mature customers to the post-90s generation in 2010 it targeted the wrong audience group.

It failed to transform itself into a high-end brand and lost its core customer base looking for value for money as Li-Ning raised its prices without refreshing its designs.

From 2012 to 2014, the brand suffered sustained losses totaling 3.1 billion yuan.

Back then, Li-Ning failed to win over the post-90s generation, but the designs of this latest collection have successfully attracted everyone's attention with their youthful and cool styling.

Talking about Li-Ning's future development, vice president Hong Yuru says the company aims to conduct more analysis and react to consumer consumption habits and shifting demands - down to their experience of product and how and where they purchase them - in order to enhance the value and influence of the brand.

As he says the brand is determined to supply fashionable products that continue to demonstrate China's national sports culture and spirit.

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2018-02-24 07:48:16
<![CDATA[Silk Road theme brings lots of design talent to Beijing fashion show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732795.htm "Humans are always traveling, trading and exchanging thoughts," says a voice in the background as a fashion show called the Night of Fashion Beijing starts at the Beijing Exhibition Center.

At the recent event based on the Silk Road, clothes from brands such Heaven Gaia, Zeng Fengfei, Nuoyi, Chu Yan, Hu Sheguang and Irakli Nasidze are showcased.

Nasidze, the Georgian fashion designer, is showing his clothes in Beijing for the first time.

Gaia Heaven, which was created by designer Xiong Ying, starts the show with a collection inspired by the four famous beauties of ancient China - Xishi, Diaochan, Yang Yuhuan and Wang Zhaojun.

Qin Wanyu, the creator of the brand Nuoyi, has been designing knitwear for around 15 years. For the show, she has a collection Dream Back to Rome that emphasizes the beauty of different types of lines.

Qin says that her brand is for independent women who are both simple and gracious, soft and full of energy, and who long for freedom.

Nasidze, the only designer from the West at the show, says he is drawn to Chinese culture, and is very influenced by the Chinese woman he has married to.

His collection called Butterfly Lover, a show of batik clothes that combine modern design and traditional craft are a highlight of the event.

It was specially developed for the event within 10 days. And 25 of his employees in 3 workshops worked on it.

For his clothes, Nasidze pays attention to the lining, as he fuses field gray jackets with orange or black lining.

He's also into oversize cutting and light clothing.

Nasidze was born in Georgia, a country between Europe and Asia, and smack in the middle of the Silk Road.

He remembers that when he was younger he witnessed the birth of a butterfly from a cocoon while visiting his grandmother.

Speaking about his source of inspiration, Nasidze says: "A lot of designers create using themes, but I design with feelings. Without feelings, there's no fashion."

In his opinion, the Silk Road is a major node of communication between cultures and business.

"Every culture has a unique story to tell. I believe in China because of its heritage and long history," he says.

Commenting on the show, the vice-president of the Fashion Beijing committee, Wang Chunlei, says that it was planned to support young designers, and also allow the creators to make money through turning batik artwork into commercial products.

Contact the writer at xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

1. A show of batik clothes that combine modern design and traditional craft. 2. Gaia Heaven shows the beauty of lotus. 3. Gaia Heaven - walking in the snow for plum blossom. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-02-24 07:48:16
<![CDATA[Huntington's 'Feeling Chinese' as it rings in Chinese new year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732794.htm LOS ANGELES - The lush, flower-filled gardens, exotic Chinese pavilions and spacious performance areas of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens located in Los Angeles County, California, were packed last weekend with thousands of American visitors and tourists from other lands who all came to enjoy the exciting activities of the famed cultural institution's Chinese New Year Festival.

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Capacity crowds flock to Los Angeles landmark to catch colorful lion dances and musical performances

LOS ANGELES - The lush, flower-filled gardens, exotic Chinese pavilions and spacious performance areas of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens located in Los Angeles County, California, were packed last weekend with thousands of American visitors and tourists from other lands who all came to enjoy the exciting activities of the famed cultural institution's Chinese New Year Festival.

Friends, couples and families - many with kids in tow and toddlers in strollers - had smiles on their faces as they flocked to see the exotic lion dancers, the mask-changing magician, or learn the steps of an ancient Tai Chi kata, or put brush to paper to try their hand at the art form of Chinese calligraphy.

Gail Weiss, a local Pasadena resident, told Xinhua last Sunday she came because, "Chinese culture is one of the most ancient living cultures in the world. I love coming to this festival to learn more about it."

Lisa Blackburn, senior editor and special projects manager at the Huntington told Xinhua: "We started the Chinese New Year Festival in 2005. It's now our largest weekend of the year. We drew 8,000 visitors on Saturday and likely the same amount on Sunday."

More than 16,000 visitors over the course of a single weekend is a huge number for any cultural institution, many of which have seen their attendance dwindled by competition from cinemas, sporting events and online activities.

In the Chinese Zodiac calendar, each year is represented by an animal and 2018 is the Year of the Dog.

The capacity crowds were notable in that, though many had anticipated a higher attendance by Chinese or Asian visitors familiar with Chinese New Year, instead the crowds have been split nearly 50/50 with Asians and non-Asians, as many Americans and visiting tourists came out to see something new.

And new it was: Aside from the always entertaining and colorful lion dancers who pranced their way across the sunlit lawn to cries of delight from scores of watching kids, there was also a traditional masked and elaborately costumed "mask changer" who magically changed his face six times at blinding speed with a sleight of hand Houdini, America's greatest magician, would have envied, plus a talented juggler who juggled hats, parasols, apples through the air and ended by pirouetting a fragile China teapot on the edge of a chopstick clamped between his teeth.

"How does he do that," gasped a mesmerized 8 year-old American boy, "Benji", from Van Nuys, while his 6 year-old, towheaded sister giggled, "I like the lions best."

The festivities also included well-received musical performances on a Chinese dizi flute and a zither type stringed instrument, called a guzheng, as well as a large, gold medal Tai Chi performance troupe that had the crowd enthralled.

Gladys Markham of Santa Monica said, "I've never seen Tai Chi set to music and I find it fascinating. I can see why it is so beloved."

Some performers were homegrown Californians while others were arranged through the Chinese Consulate with whom the Huntington maintains a cordial and productive relationship.

Philip Bloom, the new curator of the Chinese Garden at the Huntington, told Xinhua, "Americans can learn a lot from Chinese culture. We work closely with the Chinese Consulate General of Los Angeles to bring a variety of cultural programs to the Huntington."

Visitors also sat down to dip brush in ink to try ancient-style Chinese calligraphy which has a history of thousands of years.

Louise Merrit visiting from Upstate New York said, "I thought my son would like to try the calligraphy, since he enjoyed painting the Chinese masks so much. We hoped to learn more about Chinese culture. There's not much chance to do that where we live."

Curator Bloom told Xinhua, "Calligraphy is a kind of living history - the discursive heart of the Chinese people. It's remarkable that something 2000 years old still resonates with people today."

Many of the festivities took place in Huntington's beautiful Chinese Garden, part of a multimillion dollar, two-phase construction project still underway at the Huntington. The first phase, known as the Chinese Garden "Liu Fang Yuan" or "the Garden of Flowing Fragrance", is styled after historic imperial gardens in mainland China.

It was a joint international effort between American landscapers and contractors and Chinese designers and skilled artisans from Suzhou, the renowned garden city of southern China, designed to promote the rich traditions of Chinese culture.

"One of the significant things about Chinese gardens is that each pavilion, sculpted stone or bridge is named for a famous Chinese work of literature, poetry, philosophy or art," explained Curator Bloom.

"This makes Chinese gardens more symbolic and evocative of meaning, and provides deeper insight into the people who created it."

A Chinese garden, is like a scroll painting, presenting a series of carefully composed scenes. New vistas are revealed as one strolls along the pathways, with a number of key elements combining to create a sense of harmony and of beauty.

Ben Pitt, a Texan who moved to LA, told Xinhua. "I came today because I majored in Mandarin and spent a year in China teaching English and I miss the Chinese celebrations. Chinese cultural things like this garden and Tai Chi create a calm, meditative environment that really slows things down, so you can think about what really matters."

The blonde, blue-eyed Baker family with two youngsters in tow said, "We love the Chinese Gardens. We visit them regularly as a family. They are a special environment that is tranquil and inspiring. The design is stunning and the kids love exploring it."

Mickey Constansa from Burbank told Xinhua last Sunday, "It feels like this beautiful Chinese pavilion has come 'alive' during the festival. Usually when we walk through here, it's empty and we can only imagine how it was used. But to see it in action, used as intended by these performers, is pretty wonderful."

"We hope that people to come to the garden not just to relax or meditate, but to be inspired - to write poetry, play music, and create art," concluded Bloom, who hopes to showcase local artists in an Art Gallery to be built in the Chinese Garden during phase two this summer.

Xinhua

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2018-02-24 07:47:21
<![CDATA[Life beside ancient bridge]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732793.htm SHIJIAZHUANG - Li Zhengjie says people in his village were born "shouldered" with a nearby ancient bridge. In his eyes, the 1,400-year-old Zhaozhou Bridge they have been so proud of has become a reason for their falling behind China's urbanization drive.

"We can't find jobs in the neighborhood as there are no factories nearby. Property developers are not allowed to build apartments so as to preserve the bridge and landscape," says the 66-year-old.

Zhaozhou Bridge is in Zhaoxian County, North China's Hebei province, around 300 kilometers south of Beijing. Built in Sui Dynasty (581-618), it is the world's oldest single-arch bridge, with a span of 37 meters.

Local people call it "Dashiqiao", the great stone bridge. Li's hometown, Dashiqiao village, was named after the bridge.

Along with such world famous landmarks as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, the bridge was listed into China's first group of national cultural heritage protection sites in 1961.

While China aims for xiaokang, a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way by 2020, people living near the ancient bridge are trying to balance protection of the structure with their pursuit of a better life.

Li Jinshuan, former head of Zhaoxian county's cultural heritage protection department, said that a combination of location, design and excellent construction are the main reasons the bridge has withstood earthquake, flood and war for 1,400 years.

The bridge is located in the lower reaches of an S-shaped section of the Xiaohe River, which helps slow the water, he says.

"The four spandrel arches not only saved 700 tonnes of stone, but also reduced the bridge's weight as well as pressure by allowing floodwater to flow through," he says.

Villager Li recalls that when he was young, they often caught fish in river and climbed onto the small arches of the bridge to cool themselves in summer.

"We didn't have air conditioners or television sets back then, so the bridge was a kind of paradise of fun for us," he says.

Known for its snowflake pears, Zhaoxian is a major agricultural county. In the 1960s, people elsewhere who could not make ends meet often came to the village to give story-telling performances, drawing big audiences, Li Zhengjie recalls.

"They told stories every day beside the great stone bridge, sometimes taking two months to tell the tales of a historical figure," he says.

Instead of money, local villagers just fed the storytellers.

Since the opening-up and reform policy in late 1970s, rural China has witnessed great change. Electric appliances are no longer luxuries and the stone bridge has lost its charm among villagers, but instead, has become a tourist resort.

"People may not know Zhaoxian county, but they know Zhaozhou Bridge," Li says with a smile.

With a park built by the local government, the bridge attracts nearly 1 million tourists every year, bringing plenty of money into the village.

According to the county government, tourism revenue in the county is around 100 million yuan ($15 million) every year, with the entrance fees for Zhaozhou Bridge exceeding 10 million yuan.

Yao Chunxi, from a rural area of Anyang, Henan province, joined a travel agency for a tour of Zhaoxian county with around 100 others.

"It's my first time here. Very exciting," he said, adding more and more farmers with enough income are becoming tourists, especially in the slack winter season.

Kang Jiping, 32, takes photographs for tourists in the park. Over the past seven years, she made up to 6,000 yuan each month. The number of villager photographers has doubled. "As the number of visitors is rising, the income is fairly good."

Kang is optimistic about her prospects as Xiong'an New Area, a national strategic plan announced in April 2017, also in Hebei province, is expected to bring more tourists to Zhaoxian.

"More and more people from other places are coming to see the bridge, and I'm sure we will make more money still," she said.

Xinhua

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2018-02-24 07:47:21
<![CDATA[New gold dream]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732792.htm In 1056, when the Song Dynasty (960-1279) poets Su Shi and his younger brother Su Zhe traveled to the Daci Temple in Chengdu, Sichuan province, admired the mural works of Tang Dynasty (618-907) artist Lu Lengqie, calling them "sublime". There were once more than 15,500 Buddhist mural artworks held there, but unfortunately none survives today as the temple was destroyed by successive wars.

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Four unknown gold-paste masters are recreating some of the Buddhist murals lost from the Daci Temple in Chengdu

In 1056, when the Song Dynasty (960-1279) poets Su Shi and his younger brother Su Zhe traveled to the Daci Temple in Chengdu, Sichuan province, admired the mural works of Tang Dynasty (618-907) artist Lu Lengqie, calling them "sublime". There were once more than 15,500 Buddhist mural artworks held there, but unfortunately none survives today as the temple was destroyed by successive wars.

But now, 961 years later, four unknown gold-paste masters from Datong, Shanxi province, are recreating the murals. The first 4-meter-high Tianlong gold-plaster mural has already been completed. It is hard to believe that the four good-natured artisans were originally farmers.

One of the four, Kang Shouguang, has loved painting since childhood. One of his representative works, a 16-meter-high sculpture of Buddha, is currently China's highest indoor statue.

Gold paste is an ancient art form that is widely used in aristocratic ornaments and Buddhist statues. It is hard to imagine how artisans hammered gold bars into slivers of gold foil as thin as an onion skin, and how they attached them to objects.

The production process involves more than 10 procedures. One gram of gold can be made into about 0.5 square meters of pure gold foil, with a thickness of only 0.12 microns. It is lighter than a feather, thinner than an onion skin and softer than silk. These real gold foils can keep their luster for at least 70 years.

A special glue is needed to create the gold paste. The viscosity of the glue and its thickness are the key to its success. The humidity of the air determines the amount of time it takes to dry.

Photos By Tan Xi

Western China Metropolis Daily

 

Goldpaste master Kang Shouguang and his apprentices transform the walls of Daci Temple in Chengdu, Sichuan province into splendid artworks.

 

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2018-02-24 07:47:03
<![CDATA[Destination Cocoa]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732791.htm Although Indonesia is the world's third-largest cocoa producer after the Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, its beans have not traditionally been known for their quality. Bali, which harvests some 5,000 tonnes a year (about 3 percent of Indonesia's total production), was no exception - that is, until recently, when the Cuvee Bali chocolate by French brand Valrhona helped raise the bar.

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Cuvee Bali chocolate, launched in 2016 by Valrhona, has elevated the quality level of Balinese cocoa beans

Although Indonesia is the world's third-largest cocoa producer after the Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, its beans have not traditionally been known for their quality. Bali, which harvests some 5,000 tonnes a year (about 3 percent of Indonesia's total production), was no exception - that is, until recently, when the Cuvee Bali chocolate by French brand Valrhona helped raise the bar.

Far from the island's idyllic beaches and tattooed surfers, the Jembrana region produces 50 percent of Bali's cocoa. Until recently, the beans were sold raw, at low prices to middlemen working with agri-food and cosmetics industry giants.

But five years ago, Agung Widiastuti, the chairwoman of nongovernmental organization Kalimajari, and the 500 cocoa farmers of the Kerta Semaya Samaniya (KSS) cooperative decided to take up the quality challenge.

"When you talk about quality, you're talking about the process of fermenting the beans," says Widiastuti. "In 2012, I started helping the farmers of this cooperative to improve their production in order to find more upscale buyers." At the time, Valrhona was looking to create an Asian chocolate to address growing demand from its clients in the region. The company entered into a partnership with the cooperative and in 2016 bought its first container-load of the fermented, sun-dried, hand-sorted beans, paying double the usual market price. Valrhona then shipped the beans to France - and Cuvee Bali was soon launched.

"With a 68 percent cocoa-content chocolate and a good chocolate-to-acid balance, it's definitely going to appeal to lots of consumers and pastry chefs," says Pierre Tabarie, chief representative and area manager for Valrhona Asia Pacific.

Jean-Marc Gaucher, the executive pastry chef at The Mira Hong Kong, is also impressed - he makes it a point of principle to use quality local products such as organic honey from Hong Kong, and uses Cuvee Bali in a number of the desserts served at the hotel's Cafe Gourmand afternoon coffee hour. "I'm not going to say it's got this or it's got that, or that I can sense the sea breeze when I bite into it - that's not it," he says. "But it really has a character and a sophistication that I like."

With these developments, Bali can expect to raise its standing in the world market for quality cocoa. The outlook is positive: KSS fermented 100 tonnes of beans in 2017, doubling its annual production levels. Consumers will have to wait for Cuvee Bali to join the Valrhona Grands Crus collection in retail stores - but according to the company, this will happen soon. How sweet it is!

Read more: cdlifestylepremium.com

 

 

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2018-02-24 07:46:22
<![CDATA[Expert shares knowledge about a delicacy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732790.htm Q. What are the most popular types of mushrooms and what's the best season to gather them?

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French-based woodland mushroom company Borde was founded in 1920. Alain Bordes, who represents the third generation of the family-run concern, sheds light on the fungi

Q. What are the most popular types of mushrooms and what's the best season to gather them?

The most emblematic are porcini, chanterelle and morel. In France, morels start to grow in the spring, chanterelles from mid-June and porcini in the autumn. Depending on the country, the mushroom season ranges from spring until late autumn. In China, summer is porcini season, whereas in the Balkans you get them in late spring.

Q. Where do they grow best?

You can never be sure. For mushrooms to grow, you need a humid climate with some temperature variation, you need woodlands or prairies, and you need elevation. In the woodlands, there have to be particular species of trees. Some require deciduous trees like oak, ash and hazel to develop, while others prefer resinous species such as pine and spruce. Porcinis grow in most regions of France, in the Balkans, in Yunnan and in Mongolia. You get lots of morels in India, Pakistan, China and Turkey, and large quantities of chanterelles in the Balkans. Everywhere, growth increases when the phase of the moon changes.

Q. How are wild mushrooms different from cultivated ones?

The former grow naturally in forests, without any human intervention, and are gathered by hand. Quantities vary greatly from one season to the next - and from one location to the next. It's impossible to predict what the harvest will be.

While there's no difference between a wild mushroom and one cultivated from the same mycelium, most wild mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelles and black trumpets remain impossible to cultivate. The Chinese cultivate certain types, such as morels, and experiments are being done in France. However, there are so many factors that need to be controlled - temperature, moisture, proper mycelium development - that growing them is still a very uncertain and not necessarily economically worthwhile venture.

Q. What's the best way to preserve a mushroom after picking it?

The best "technology" to use depends on the type. Morels are best dried, chanterelles should be preserved in glass jars and freezing is best for porcinis.

Q. What's the best way to cook them and what are some ideal wine pairings?

Mushrooms can be cooked very simply by pan-frying them with garlic and parsley, or can be prepared in more sophisticated ways. Although recipes reflect a country's gastronomic traditions and culture, some are very similar from one to another. For example, in Yunnan, mushrooms are cooked with herbs and the recipes are very similar to French ones.

As for pairings, a chicken cooked in cream with morels is delicious when served with a Jura yellow wine. And you can't go wrong with a Bordeaux, especially the Pomerols, with their woodsy notes recalling the scent of mushrooms. A white Burgundy like chardonnay or a young Rhone such as a Condrieu goes marvelously well with sauteed chanterelles.

 

Photos By Eric Soudan / Borde

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2018-02-24 07:46:22
<![CDATA[How China cast its light on the west]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732789.htm In 1658 Martino Martini, an Italian Jesuit missionary who had spent time in China, published in Munich one of his four influential books about the country. Sinicae Historiae Decas Prima tells the history of China starting from antiquity and ending at 1BC, a year that falls under the reign of Emperor Aidi of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).

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Reports about China that Jesuit missionaries sent home had a profound influence in court and intellectual circles of Europe

In 1658 Martino Martini, an Italian Jesuit missionary who had spent time in China, published in Munich one of his four influential books about the country. Sinicae Historiae Decas Prima tells the history of China starting from antiquity and ending at 1BC, a year that falls under the reign of Emperor Aidi of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).

Trying to incorporate Chinese history into the system and chronology of European history telling, Martini, who was preoccupied with converting people, failed to gauge the impact his works would have on intellectuals in the West.

"It contradicts or even undermines the Bible," says Zhang Xiping, a leading scholar on cultural exchanges between China and the West.

"While identifying Fuxi as the first emperor in primordial China, Martini also noted that the coming to power of Fuxi took place 600 years before Noah's Ark was spared by God in the world-engulfing flood, as depicted in the Old Testament.

"And it became apparent that the birth of Jesus, which most scholars today believe to have been around the beginning of the first century, echoes China's Western Han Dynasty, an era marked by rapid social development and flourishing culture."

Voltaire, the French writer and philosopher who played a central role in defining the 18th-century Enlightenment, is believed to have been deeply impressed - and shocked - by the book. "What about if what Martini wrote is true?" Voltaire is believed to have said. "Then what should I do with the Bible?"

That question has no doubt taken Voltaire and those who came after him forever to answer.

Zhang says that many of the Jesuit missionaries who came to China between the 16th and 18th centuries later became what we would today call China hands, responsible for introducing - or in a sense reintroducing - the ancient country of the Orient to their contemporaries in the West.

But before that, most of them had to reconcile what they had had in mind with what was laid out in front of their own eyes.

"Until before the Second Opium War (1856-60), in which China suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Anglo-French troops, the country accounted for one third of the world's total GDP," Zhang says.

"When the first batch of Jesuit missionaries arrived in the late 16th century, China was affluent and prosperous, mature with its own guiding traditions and underlying philosophy.

"The West, for its part, was still in the throes of the Renaissance and Reformation, cultural, political and religious movements that would ultimately usher in the modern age. Scientifically, China may have started to lag behind; but culturally and economically it clearly showed its edge."

Some missionaries must have had their own moments of doubt, Zhang says.

"They socialized with members of Chinese high society, who dressed in luxurious fabrics and traveled in beautifully decorated sedans. It was a totally different experience from the one Western explorers had in other parts of the world, the Americas for example. And for them it always came back to the question: 'How is it that a place totally untouched by the message of God is blessed with such wealth and prosperity?' Such experience, humbling in many aspects, must have contributed to the flexibility they later demonstrated in their missionary work."

Matteo Ricci, believed to be the first Jesuit missionary to have set foot in Beijing, the Chinese capital for the previous 300 years, allowed his Chinese converts to continue their tradition of ancestral worship. As Christians, they could still kneel down to their parents, their emperors and of course their ancestors.

"Ricci and his like-minded fellow Jesuits tried to convince the Vatican that such tolerance was in line with Church tenets, since the kneeling and worship fell into the realm of tradition as opposed to religion," Zhang says.

However, there were some matters on which the missionaries were resolute, polygamy being one of them. While it was hard for some converts to forsake all their concubines, it must be noted that the Catholic Church is not at all unfamiliar with licentious popes who fathered illegitimate children.

In those days, when the perilous voyages between Europe and China often claimed a life or two, most Jesuit missionaries chose to send back what they saw and heard in writing. Many of them also translated, introducing Confucius classics - The Analects of Confucius, or The Words of Confucius, for example - to intellectuals in the West.

The publication in Europe of both scholarly and popular literature about China by these missionaries achieved effects both intended and unintended, Zhang says.

"They were prompted to write about China mainly by their own need to ensure continued support for the mission from the Church's central authorities, by creating favorable publicity for their activities. This was of utter importance, bearing in mind the controversies and debates the Jesuits' accommodating ways had aroused among their more conservative detractors, who eventually brought the case to the Vatican."

"How persuasive did such publications turn out to be? It's hard to say. But they did open a window for those who were searching for answers to rejuvenate their own society, to liberate it and themselves."

Confucius China as appears in the writings of the missionaries had a profound impact on Enlightenment thinkers including Voltaire, who tapped into Chinese philosophy as one of the main sources for the ideological fermentation of the movement, Zhang says.

In fact, decades before that, the aptly dubbed China fever had proven infectious enough to take over the European courts. Zhang, who has traveled widely in Europe, talks of coming across vestiges of this fever in the form of "the Chinese pagodas".

"They are everywhere - in France, Germany and Austria. It must have been considered very chic to have such a pagoda installed in the carefully designed royal gardens of the European monarchs. Trade, which took silk and porcelain to Europe, certainly provided plenty of images to fuel the imagination, but the writings of the Jesuit missionaries helped to feed the minds that wished to think deeper."

Louis XIV (1638-1715), the Sun King of France whose love of extravagance sometimes belied him as a man of depth, may have known better. The strongman, who embraced Chinoiseries - China style with a Western twist - in the designs of the Chateau of Versailles, sent some of his empire's most talented men to China, to the court of his contemporary, the great Qing emperor Kangxi.

"Joachim Bouvet and Jean Francois Gerbillon are regarded as among the top mathematicians of 17th and 18th century France, and Louis sent them to China," says Li Xiumei, a law professor in Beijing who has made the study of the Jesuit mission in China her hobby for the past decade.

"Historians criticize him because of that. One can't help feeling that the French ruler, who gave audience to missionaries who returned from China and read about the country, must have got himself involved into a kind of rivalry with an emperor he never expected to meet.

"He wanted to impress him at any cost."

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2018-02-24 07:51:45
<![CDATA[To preserve the past]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732788.htm For most people, the Chinese New Year is a period of family reunion and feasting. For Ma Dadong, the New Year of 2002 had another significance - it was life-changing.

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Traditional Chinese homes are quickly vanishing from the landscape as China's drive toward modernity gains pace, and experts say that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that heritage architectures do not go extinct

For most people, the Chinese New Year is a period of family reunion and feasting. For Ma Dadong, the New Year of 2002 had another significance - it was life-changing.

During his holiday back home in Jiangxi province, Ma - he was then living and working in Shanghai - learned from the locals that the authorities were planning to build a 15-square-kilometer reservoir in vicinity of the village where he was born in order to prevent flooding and generate electricity. The project would involve cutting down thousands of ancient camphor trees and removing hundreds of traditional residences.

"In Shanghai, buildings that date back to a century are listed as historical artifacts. These trees and houses that were about to disappear were much older than that," said Ma in a Discovery Channel documentary.

Such was his determination to preserve this piece of heritage that he sold his advertising agency in 2002 in order to fund the project to relocate some 10,000 trees and 50 houses from Jiangxi to Shanghai.

Along the way, Ma discovered that many people were chucking away their silkwood furniture when their old houses were demolished. He then decided to recycle these discarded products and manufacture furniture using recycled silkwood. The profits from this secondary business has since been used to support his main goal.

In 2009, Adrian Zecha, the founder of luxury hospitality brand Aman Resorts, learned about Ma's ambitious project and decided to partner with him to establish the brand's Shanghai outpost - Amanyangyun.

Earlier this January, Amanyangyun Shanghai - it means "nurturing the energy of the clouds" in Chinese - held its soft opening. The new hotel stands out in Aman's portfolio as the brand's largest project with 77 rooms. Aman hotels typically have no more than 55 rooms. Amanyangyun also stands out in terms of price point - with room rates ranging from 6,000 to 80,000 yuan per night ($950 to $12,700), it is the most expensive hotel in China.

The hotel's management team told China Daily USA that its occupancy rate has already been "exceptionally high". Most of the current occupants belong to Aman Junkie, an elite group of jetsetters who travel from one Aman resort to the other for their getaways.

"Shanghai, if not China as well, may be filled with outlets of literally every luxury brand in the world, but there is still little chance to stay in an antique Chinese house," said Tang Yu'en, chief architect of Shanghai Architectural Design and Research Institute, which is responsible for the restoration of the old houses that are part of the project.

Occupying 18 hectares in Shanghai's Maqiao Village, a suburban area where Ma first replanted the trees uprooted from his hometown, the estate comprises five restaurants and bars, nine tea rooms and 13 villas, each featuring four rooms split between an old house and a contemporary annex. The rest of the guest rooms are located in newly-built houses.

Several Chinese media have speculated that the decadelong project would have cost Ma a whopping 3.3 billion yuan. Neither Ma nor Aman have commented on the actual amount spent.

Besides raising eyebrows over the price of their rooms, Amanyangyun has also reignited debate over whether antique houses should be repurposed for commercial use.

"It's beyond question that traditional Chinese houses are rapidly vanishing. I don't think the process can be reversed or even stopped. The most critical task now is determining what we can do with those still left, and I think every proposed solution is worth a try," said Tang.

Today, China's urbanization drive has meant that old houses are quickly being replaced by modern high-rise apartment compounds. In Jiangxi province, one of the regions in China that has the highest density of traditional architecture, more than half of the registered old buildings have been demolished between the two nationwide cultural relics surveys in 1983 and 2012, according to Jiangxi Morning Daily.

In recent years, Chinese governments have hastened the pace at which dilapidated houses are preserved. In Shanghai, the municipal government is determined to add more houses to the list of protected heritage buildings by introducing "architecture census" to those that have been standing for more than 50 years.

While there is no official rule as to how old a traditional house has to be in order to be considered an antique, Zhang Kegui, a researcher with the Palace Museum's Research Institute, said that any building that is made of wood and dates back to 1911 - the year that the Republic of China was established - should be used as the benchmark.

Zhang noted that the central government had during the 11th five-year plan (2006-10) period increased the budget allocated to the preservation of houses from 2 billion yuan in 2006 to 20 billion yuan in 2010.

"Money should be the last concern when it comes to a conundrum like this. When we are talking about protecting and preserving antique houses, we are not only talking about the houses per se, but also the craftsmanship and skills of carpenters and handymen that make the preservation possible," said Zhang at a forum titled the Application and Preservation of China's Old Houses and Intangible Culture Heritages.

Organized by Qin Tongqian, the two-day forum gathered a dozen experts and scholars to explore the possibilities of reusing and recycling in a cost-effective manner.

Like Ma, Qin has turned his personal collection of antique houses and furniture into two luxury hotels by partnering with a professional hospitality management company. The business tycoon, who made his fortune by building villa gardens for wealthy individuals in Shanghai, boasts a collection of more than 600 old houses and more than 10,000 pieces of furniture. However, he lamented that most of his possessions have remained unused.

"I have devoted almost my entire life to the collection of these antiques, but my biggest worry now is that my collections are going to collect dust," said the 53-year-old, who added that the investment ploughed into his two hotels has already exhausted most of his fortune.

"The responsibilities of preserving old houses should never fall on one individual or institution. It involves every person living in the country and every government department," said Zhou Heping, former vice minister of culture, at the forum.

He elaborated on this point, saying the government can look into initiatives such as reducing taxes for corporations that are engaged in preservation projects, introducing this topic into the school syllabus, and providing owners of old houses with subsidies so that they can upgrade their living environment.

"I started collecting all this stuff without any idea about the importance of preserving or protecting them. I did it only because I like them," said Qin. "But I think my passion and fondness for them has a root - I grew up in them. In today's context, however, if we don't protect them, the younger generation won't even have a chance to be exposed to them, let alone like or preserve them."

One positive sign seen by his team is that people born after the 1980s make up 80 percent of the guests at both his hotels since they were opened in 2016.

"China should not only have the Forbidden City or Summer Palace that can stand out in the world. It also needs residences from the common people to reflect the ordinary side of extraordinary traditional Chinese life," said Qin.

xunjunqian@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-24 07:51:21
<![CDATA[Chinese wood carving experiencing a renaissance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732787.htm Hu Xianmin is in the midst of carving the scenes of a famous oil painting onto a piece of teakwood the length of a snooker cue.

The painting, titled Yu Gong Yi Shan, or "the foolish man who moved mountains", is based on a millennia-old Chinese fable of an old man who devoted his entire life to moving two mountains that prevented his family from accessing the outside world.

The 47-year-old wood carver could be said to share the same grit as the man in the painting. After all, the intricate craft of wood carving, which dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), is painstaking work. It took Hu one entire afternoon just to complete the facial expression of the man, which measured no larger than a matchbox.

"Just like stitching, wood carving requires great patience. You would also need to have the strength of a carpenter. We need to master these two aspects to be a good wood carver," said Hu.

An inheritor of the craft of Dongyang wood carving, which was in 2006 listed as a national intangible cultural heritage by the State Council, Hu is widely regarded as one of the best wood carvers in China. In a wood carving village built by the local government, he and a dozen other masters of the craft each have a museum displaying their wares.

While many of the craftsmen who have inherited intangible cultural heritages of China are facing the dilemma of being artistically recognized but financially challenged as there is little demand for their craft, wood carvers have in recent years been receiving too many orders to handle as the level of interest in the art form grows among wealthy Chinese.

Statistics from the local government show that the overall output of the wood carving industry in Dongyang, Zhejiang province, was 18 billion yuan ($2.86 billion) in 2016, up from 10 billion yuan in 2012. The number of craftsmen involved in the industry, not including those who have been relocated to other cities or countries, had also exceeded 30,000.

At the newly opened Shangri-La hotel in Yiwu, the city where Dongyang is located, a total of 594 pieces of wood carving are combined with the luxury hotel group's signature crystal chandeliers and floral painted wool carpets to reflect the local culture.

"I think it's in the genes of Chinese. There might be momentary interest or curiosity about Western-style villas or castles, but it's always the traditional Chinese pavilions and upturned-eaves on roofs that we find comfort in," said Hu, referring to the growing interest in wood carving.

The only son of a family that makes a living through farming, Hu became a wood carver immediately after he completed his mandatory education. While he was initially keen on becoming a painter, he eventually chose wood carving because he was told that it could provide a better livelihood. He later discovered that his painting skills allowed him to create more vivid creations on wood.

Today, Hu's studio is staffed by more than 30 people and 70 apprentices. Every year, they produce one to two large carving works that are typically taller than an average human. They also produce a score of smaller works that are usually used as decorations on beams and pillars of old houses that have been restored.

Hu noted that most of his clients are more interested in the quality and customization of his work than the price tag.

"In an era where everything can be 3-D printed, the value of hand-carved works would only be appreciated further," he said.

 

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2018-02-24 07:51:21
<![CDATA[When the men of confucius met the men of jesus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732786.htm Zhang Xiping opened a map in front of him. Against the pale blue background were blocks of whitish yellow, depicting land mass (or the continents, if you like). Mountains were suggested by dabs of brown, and there were black icons representing ships on the high seas, and depictions of animals, many of those on the lower part of the map having a grotesque appearance.

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The Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci may have had grand designs to convert China to Christianity, but things turned out to be infinitely less simple

Zhang Xiping opened a map in front of him. Against the pale blue background were blocks of whitish yellow, depicting land mass (or the continents, if you like). Mountains were suggested by dabs of brown, and there were black icons representing ships on the high seas, and depictions of animals, many of those on the lower part of the map having a grotesque appearance.

The ships bring to mind the Santa Maria of Christopher Columbus, but the animals, one featuring spiky wings like those of a pterosaur, seem to be a product of the cartographer's imagination.

"A map is an expression of a world view," says Zhang, a scholar at the Beijing Foreign Studies University who specializes in cross-cultural exchanges between China and the West.

"By drawing up this map, the author, the Italian Jesuit missionary-cum-adventurer Matteo Ricci, had expected to put China - and members of its elite society - into perspective."

If that is the case, then the Italian, who traveled to China around 1582 and is believed to have been the first Jesuit missionary to set foot in Beijing, in around 1601, succeeded to a certain extent.

The map probably had played a crucial role in the conversion of Xu Guangqi, a Chinese scientist and politican whom Ricci befriended and who saw the map.

"For this man, who was steeped in traditional Chinese teachings of literature and morality, the map must have greatly undermined many of his preconceptions. The belief he had held of 'a round Heaven and a square Earth' was shattered, together with all the sense of pride and superiority well-educated Chinese during the Ming time were taught to harbor toward their lesser mortals - the barbarians from outside the Middle Kingdom, Ricci included," Zhang said.

However, "converted" may not even be the right word, Zhang said at the same time.

"A Catholic Xu made no effort to relinquish his own cultural and ethical upbringing, an upbringing largely informed by Confucianism, the dominant philosophical thinking of Chinese society, even now," he said.

"In fact, the opposite was true: Xu was persuaded to join the fold because he saw no apparent contradiction between Catholicism and Confucianism," Zhang says.

"The picture Ricci revealed to him through the prism of Catholicism called to mind the one he already had in mind - the Chinese version of a utopia that people could arrive at one day guided by the good teachings of Confucianism."

If anything, the relationship formed between Ricci, whose footsteps other Jesuit missionaries followed between the early 17th century and late 19th century is telling.

"Added to the lasting friendship that ended only with Ricci's death in 1610 is a mixed dose of mutual attraction and admiration, compromise and - possibility - condescension. In a sense, the same words could be said of the entire Jesuit mission and its mixed reception during the two Chinese dynasties of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911).

Li Xiumei, an associate law professor at the Beijing Administration Institute, says that while Jesuit missionaries who were pragmatists demonstrated a high level of tolerance toward Chinese traditions and customs - a man needed not to banish his idols in order to convert - Chinese scholar-officials such as Xu also did their fair share of self-persuasion.

"Some succeeded in convincing themselves that becoming a Catholic in no way impinged on their core identity as a Confucian, since Christianity could be used to supplement Confucianism, and to restore to China what was originally theirs and their best," Li says.

Xu, who with Ricci translated the first six books of Euclid's Elements into Chinese in Beijing around 1607, a few years before Ricci died, made this observation in the preface he wrote for their co-effort.

"He's not making unfounded assertions," Li says. "Historical evidence shows that the ancient Chinese once gained certain scientific knowledge, which was lost by the end of the Ming Dynasty. One example involves the algebra that appeared around the first millennium, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). By the time the Jesuits arrived, certain writings concerning the topic still existed but were no longer understood in China, not even by its brightest brains."

In other words, from a Chinese perspective, Western learning, as often personally embodied by Ricci and his equally talented and determined followers, had an origin that is decidedly Chinese. By taking up their religion, Xu and his like-minded Chinese were trying actively to rediscover and recover what had belonged to their ancestors.

In part due to the fact that some of these Chinese occupied important positions at court, the same type of thinking inevitably seeped through the high walls of the royal palaces to reach men at the top.

Although the inner workings of Emperor Chongzhen, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, will forever remain unknown, it is believed he was on the verge of being converted to Christianity before having second thoughts. (But those who came after him did: after the fall of Ming and the suicide of Chongzhen in 1644, some royal descendants and their supporters fled to the country's south, where they set up the Southern Ming regime, which lasted for another 39 years. There were princes from Southern Ming who took up the religion).

After the founding of Qing, China's last feudal empire and one set up by the minority Manchu people (China's majority ethnic group is Han, to which the Ming emperors belonged), the Jesuit missionaries enjoyed a honeymoon period with the new rulers. Little wonder, Zhang says.

"The Qing emperors, coming from a culturally backward background and not so confident about ruling over their more sophisticated subjects, turned to the missionaries as a secret weapon - Emperor Kangxi of Qing did use the cannons designed by Jesuit missionaries to repel his foes. And remember, the key to retaining a secret weapon is to keep it secret. That explains the attitudes of several Qing rulers toward the missionaries: knowledge and services of these foreigners were appreciated and even employed to fulfill the fantasy and ambition of a few, but never adopted on large scale."

"Everything advanced - technology or anything else that the Western missionaries brought to China - did not get a chance to have a real, long-term impact," he said.

In 1792, on the 80th birthday of Emperor Qianlong, grandson of Emperor Kangxi, the British government sent out its first ever official envoy to China, led by George Macartney. "After the emperor bluntly refused his request for the Qing court to open its ports on the grounds that his empire had all and therefore had no need to trade, he envoy observed that the glory of the Middle Kingdom belonged to the past," Zhang says. "He was quite right".

Within no more than 50 years the Western powers were pounding on China's long-closed doors. The warfare and the resulting unequal treaties the crumbling Qing empire was forced to sign in effect turned the missionaries into agents for colonialism in people's imagination, which sometimes was true. They became objects of hate in a land their predecessors had come to preach in.

"Participants of the Boxer Rebellion destroyed the gravestones once set up for the earlier generations of missionaries," says Li, referring to the violent anti-colonial and anti-Christian uprising in China between 1899 and 1901.

These included gravestones that used to sit on the campus of Li's institute. Some of them still do today, although removed from their original location. There were 49 of them.

"From then until modern times the tombstones were also subjected to the turmoil of China's 'cultural revolution' (1966-76), when, as symbols of imperialism, they were smashed up or buried," she says, pointing to the deep cracks that ran through some of the stone monuments. "Many were lost forever, but what could be found were later restored and moved together on this specially designed lot in the late 1970s and early 80s."

On the barely visited corner of the campus the monuments stand, bathed in a kind of solitude quite uncharacteristic of their owners' eventful lives.

"If you look closely, you will notice that in some cases the base of a monument does not match the part that rises from it," Li says.

One of them belongs to Ricci.

"When he made that map during his stay in China around 1602 he drew up all those longitudinal and latitudinal lines that would later transform the millennia-old Chinese way of cartography," Zhang says. "And then he put the land mass that was mainly occupied by China in the center-left, highlighted in yellow."

"He was out there to convert and converse."

zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-24 07:49:57
<![CDATA[TIANJIN'S ARCHITECTURE TELLS OF LEGENDARY HISTORY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732780.htm Northern metropolis' past is preserved in its varied, impressive structures, Wang Xin reports.

Like an old man of great personal charisma who has many stories to tell, well-preserved buildings that have witnessed the ups and downs of the centuries shine through in a modern city and offer charm for visitors.

Just half an hour away from Beijing by high-speed train, Tianjin is home to architectural heritage that seems to take visitors back in time.

The historical buildings, either designed by overseas or Chinese architects, are like a stage, where different people come and go, leaving their own stories.

Legendary figures whose deeds have historical weight helped the buildings to become legendary themselves.

The Astor Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Tianjin, is a shining example, full of charm and character.

Founded by a British missionary in the summer of 1863, the property was originally an inn and warehouse, initially used to facilitate shipment.

Due to its foreign investment and close links with political dignitaries at the time, the hotel has since become a prime venue for upper-class social gatherings and diplomatic activities.

The British consulate used to hold most of its meetings there and the US consulate was first established within the hotel, not relocating until 1929. Several international treaties have been signed in the storied property.

Noted guests include pioneering Chinese revolutionary and political leader Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) and celebrated Peking Opera artist Mei Lanfang (1894-1961). Many historic figures have left their footprints in the hotel, according to a museum guide.

Li Hongzhang, a political heavyweight in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who tried to modernize China and was in charge of foreign af airs, was a regular visitor to the hotel. Thus, The Astor Hotel has long been connected with him.

Li, born in Anhui province, lived in the northern coastal municipality for three decades.

While Li has been a controversial figure for his involvement in China's foreign affairs, his efforts in introducing Western civilization to China was of far-reaching significance in shaping the city's development, Shang Keqiang, a professor at the school of history and culture at Tianjin Normal University, told Daily News, a Tianjin-based newspaper.

China's last emperor, Aisin-gioro Pu Yi (1906-1967), wrote in his autobiography From Emperor to Citizen that his most joyful period in his life was spent in Tianjin, when the young man who was forced to leave the imperial palace in Beijing seemed to find a new life there. He often joined parties and danced at the hotel. His former residence, Garden of Serenity, remains a major attraction in the city.

The hotel was where the young marshal Chang Hsueh-liang and his lover Zhao Yidi met for the first time. His former three-storied residence still stands in the city as a popular tourist destination, where female receptionists are dressed in the 1920s and 1930s style, and the original home appliances and furniture have been preserved as if their owners were still there.

About 15 minutes' drive away is another must-go tourism site famed for its well-preserved Western-style buildings, called the Five Great Avenues by local residents.

Situated in downtown Tianjin, they were designed by architects from different countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, with some building materials being especially imported.

Traveling in a horse-drawn carriage will provide a quick glimpse into their history.

Many of the buildings were the private residences of celebrities in the political, academic, business and entertainment circles in the first half of the last century. Nowadays they serve as public venues.

Another group of historical buildings in the city's Hebei district are mostly in the Italian architectural style. Many of them have turned into restaurants, cafes and bookstores.

Wandering along the busy alleys lined with glossy booths or food stalls, you might feel the sharp contrast between the solemn buildings and the bustling businesses.

Different from the Western-style buildings, Shi Family's Mansion on the outskirts of Tianjin represents a typical local notable family's dwelling built during the Qing Dynasty in North China. It is also packed with tourists, ready to capture the details of its design with their smartphone cameras.

Contact the writer at wangxin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-24 07:09:14
<![CDATA[Wuzhizhou Island, Hainan offers stress-free beach break]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/24/content_35732779.htm Wuzhizhou Island, a major surfing and underwater diving spot, welcomed more than 10,000 tourists a day during the 2018 Spring Festival holiday, drawing crowds with its diverse entertainment, activities and services.

China's Spring Festival - which fell on Feb 15 to 21 this year - is traditionally all about family reunion and relaxation. These days, Chinese people have a wide variety of choices if they wish to travel to and explore new places during the weeklong break.

Located off the coast of Sanya in South China's Hainan province, Wuzhizhou Island is known for its clean water from the South China Sea and warm temperatures that draw northern tourists in particular to escape the winter chill.

A man surnamed Kou, from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, said the first time he had seen the sea was during a trip to the island.

"I thought Tianchi Lake had the purest water in the world. I didn't expect to see such clean and beautiful seawater here," he said.

To celebrate Spring Festival, the Wuzhizhou Island authorities organized a range of activities, including a music fl ash mob and a party on Valentine's Day, and an ocean-sports-themed temple fair. Canadian entertainment group Cirque du Soleil performed on Lunar New Year's Eve.

Local officials have put significant effort into streamlining services on the island to improve tourists' holidays. Parking lots and scenic area entrances have been rearranged. More mobile toilets and large high-speed passenger ships have been introduced to help reduce waiting times, and to ensure order and safety during peak seasons.

The island also provides free drinking water, bread and pork sausages for tourists waiting in line or boarding ships.

"It's quite impressive that the island is so considerate of our needs," said a woman surnamed Wang, who traveled to Wuzhizhou Island with her child from East China's Shandong province this Spring Festival.

Some 3.36 million visitors traveled to Hainan province during the first four days of Spring Festival. More than 1.9 million people visited A-level attractions in the province during that period, data from the Hainan Tourism Development Commission show.

chenmeiling@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2018-02-24 07:09:14
<![CDATA[New focus on old age]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/23/content_35727263.htm When Uncle Xiao gets together with his peers to celebrate his 86th birthday, his live-in nurse Zhong Xiaoyang feels she is at an international summit - with simultaneous interpreters and earphones.

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Zhou Daxin's latest novel takes on a growing problem for Chinese society - and he deals with it in his inimitable style. Mei Jia reports.

When Uncle Xiao gets together with his peers to celebrate his 86th birthday, his live-in nurse Zhong Xiaoyang feels she is at an international summit - with simultaneous interpreters and earphones.

And, the old pals' top agenda is how to avoid wetting your trousers in the toilet.

Uncle Xiao, a retired court judge, has lost his only daughter, his hearing and even half of his eyesight, and he is confined to a wheelchair.

But the protagonist of the latest novel Getting Old Slowly by established writer Zhou Daxin, Xiao gradually realizes that he is not alone.

The novel, which is an intense story of realism, scientific vision and fantasies, is probably the first contemporary Chinese fiction that deals with the topic of aging people in the country.

"We're either already old, or will be old. It's an inevitable part of human life. I hope the book can offer some tips to people," Zhou said after the book's official release at the Beijing Book Fair recently.

"By looking directly at the issue through my writing, I feel my own fear of aging dispelled," he added.

The 66-year-old writer examines social reality with his unique take: realism with an avant-garde twist.

His focus on corruption of high-level officials through his eighth novel The Curtain Drops, The Man Stays, published in 2015, was acknowledged on Jan 13 with the Fourth Publishing Governmental Prize, an award given every three years.

It is based on the case of the former senior military official Gu Junshan, who was Zhou's neighbor.

The writer is a retired military official, and Gu's case was known to him.

Gu gained notoriety for building a "replica" of the Palace Museum in his hometown in Puyang, in Henan province.

"I was really shocked that a man could be so greedy to take so much from the people he was supposed to serve and guard," Zhou says.

In his latest novel, his ninth, Zhou features seven lectures in a park.

In the first four, Zhou talks about a robot nurse, an ecological nursing home, and re-experiencing youth through technology.

And in the next three, Zhong, the live-in nurse, focuses on Xiao from the age of 73 to 86.

Zhou says that by 2050, there will be one person above the age of 60 for every three Chinese.

"The aging population is becoming a problem. Currently we're relying on family members to deal with it, but society should be aware of the challenge, and provide more nursing organizations, community doctors and the like," Zhou adds.

Official data show that by the end of 2016, China had 230 million people older than 60, accounting for 16.7 percent of the total population. Of that number, about 150 million are older than 65.

"I witnessed the changes of my mother from the age of 90 to 92. She gradually seemed to recognize nobody close to her. And she could not recognize me," Zhou says.

The effects of Alzheimer's disease are often not spotted by caretakers in the early stages.

Zhou says he himself was struck by sudden hearing loss, as his protagonist experienced.

In the book, other issues like choosing wheelchairs, getting married, and seeking medicines for longevity are also featured, making it more like an "encyclopedia on senility".

Zhou says his pace of life has slowed down over the years due to personal setbacks.

In 2008, when he won the prestigious Mao Dun Literature Prize for View of the Lake and Hill about a rural girl, he lost his only son at the age of 29 to brain cancer.

"Then, I felt incapable of doing anything, seeing my son standing in front of me anywhere I went," he says.

"I decided to write something, but I soon found that re-telling the experience was even more heart-breaking."

He spent three years on his seventh novel Requiem, a dialogue between a father and a son who has passed away.

"Sometimes, I could only write a couple of hundreds words a day," Zhou says.

Commenting on Zhou's work, literary critic Li Jingze says: "Zhou's writing has kept up with his life, which is something easier said than done. He's not only creating novels, he's also exploring life's truths."

As for Zhou, he says: "Stepping out of middle age, sometimes you just feel lonely and full of pain, with people who surrounded you gradually scattered away. Actually, it's not only middle age. Every phase of life has its own pains and struggles."

Speaking about the response of publishers, he says: "Many were cautious about a book on growing old."

Ying Hong, an editor with the People's Literature Publishing House that publishes Zhou's works, says the novel is a prompt and in-depth look at the aging problem in the country.

Also, through the narrator, Zhou looks at migration workers in cities; and through Xiao's daughter, and her failed marriage, he focuses on patients suffering from depression.

Zhou even quoted Israeli bestselling writer Yuval Harari and his Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow in the book.

In Zhou's living room, there's a calligraphy work of his motto that reads: "Born in a farmer's house, grew up in the fields, I still cherish the memory of hard labor, and remember where my roots lie."

Zhou was born in 1952 into a rural family in Dengzhou, Henan province.

After completing high school, he joined the People's Liberation Army in 1970.

"I experienced famine at 8. I just wanted to escape the poverty and I knew I would get fed in the army," he says.

Zhou, who graduated from Xi'an Institute of Politics in 1985, started to publish his literary works in 1979.

So far, the author whose books have been translated into French, German, Spanish and other languages, has written 6 million words.

His novella The Fragrant Oil Mill by the Lake of Scented Souls has been turned into a movie - Woman Sesame Oil Maker - and won the Golden Bear prize at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival.

As for literary figures who inspire him, he says: "It is Russian writer Leo Tolstoy who leads me. His books show how love can support many things."

Critic Liang Hongying says: "He's hopeful, and he's sending out positive messages."

However, Zhou says: "I have my sense of mission and I'm working to boost the national spirit.

"Getting old is like the day's getting dark in the summer, slowly. Every heart needs to be lightened up by love and care."

Contact the writer at meijia@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

Writer Zhou Daxin deals with the issue of senility in his latest book Getting Old Slowly. Zhang Wei / China Daily

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2018-02-23 07:44:27
<![CDATA[Chinese collector decodes the Renaissance with new book]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/23/content_35727262.htm More Chinese now travel around Europe and see Renaissance masterpieces. Yet, they do not necessarily understand them - composition, colors, light and shadow, strokes - indeed, why they stand out.

For most Chinese, school education gave them a limited knowledge about fine arts. "It's a pity that we lack an art education to understand aesthetics better," says Yang Hao, a collector of old masters and an art history lecturer at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

Based on her lecture notes for the Renaissance art history classes for CAFA freshmen's visual foundation course, her new book Annabel's Short Renaissance Art History is a practical guide to the art world.

The Renaissance marks a social and cultural revolution in Europe between the 14th to the early 17th centuries.

Thanks to the economic and technological developments, there was a flourishing of cities and a revival of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy.

That trend led to and was reflected in a burst of literature and art creation.

Yang's book, which focuses on Renaissance art, gives a systematic introduction to the artistic achievements of the era.

It describes the three main styles divided by regions - the Florence School, the Venetian School and Northern Renaissance.

In her book, Yang showcases the features of each school through representative figures, not only giants as da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello, but also Botticelli, Tiziano, the Bruegels and some 30 others.

Besides the artists' life experiences, Yang also examines the art pieces, the techniques used and the metaphors in the images.

In the chapter on Jan van Eyck, one of the most distinguished painters from the Netherlands, and who was seen as the pioneer of the Northern Renaissance, details of his painting The Arnolfini Portrait are interpreted by the author, who says the two subjects' clothes, the Middle Eastern carpet on the floor and the imported oranges - a luxury at the time - all show immense wealth.

The characters, she says, also don't have much jewelry on, indicating that they were from a business family rather than nobility.

Two more people are reflected in the curved mirror on the wall, with one of them believed to be the painter himself. The 10 circular patterns on the wooden frame around the mirror - so small that are often neglected - are filled with 10 scenes of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Also, Yang uses historical documents and the 10 circular patterns, to unveil the characters' identity.

The painting was commissioned by the man in it in memory of his wife.

Interpretations like this provide the readers with practical methods of appreciating the artworks' appeal and connotations.

Wang Min'an, a philosopher and professor at Capital Normal University, says: "The Renaissance laid the foundation of 400 years' of European artistic tradition. The challenge to the Renaissance tradition did not arise until the later half of the 19th century, and it became the prelude to modern art. This book is a proper description to the foundation."

Yang, in her 30s, who got her master's degrees in art history from the University of St Andrews and art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art, partly attributes her understanding of the Renaissance to her old masters collection that includes works by artists like Giovanni Bellini, the Bruegels and David Teniers the Younger.

In November, the German embassy in China held an exhibition of 11 woodcuts of Albrecht Durer, a leading figure of the German Renaissance, and they all came from Yang's private collection.

"I can feel the real textures of the old masters through touching the paintings. The elimination of mystery and worship keeps me sensible and objective," Yang says.

In her book, Yang shows her preferences.

She likes Donatello's David sculpture more than Michelangelo's. And she also devotes much enthusiasm to the chapter on Tiziano.

Defending her preferences, she says: "Since Chinese and Western viewers are seeing the Renaissance based on the same evidence, we should be brave and more confident to put forward our viewpoints.

"I see the Renaissance as neither sacred nor secular. I can find myself in the Renaissance, like a mirror image. I hope readers can also find themselves somewhere in its history," she says.

fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-23 07:44:27
<![CDATA[History in bite-sized morsels]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/23/content_35727261.htm A documentary series called If National Treasures Could Talk is making waves with its bite-sized episodes helping viewers to learn more about China's rich history.

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A TV documentary showcasing rare Chinese artifacts is gaining wide popularity. Li Yingxue and Lin Qi report.

A documentary series called If National Treasures Could Talk is making waves with its bite-sized episodes helping viewers to learn more about China's rich history.

The documentary has received good reviews since its producer, China Central Television, began to air the first season of 25 episodes on Jan 1.

There will be 100 episodes over four seasons. And the first season is now being re-broadcast and can also be viewed online.

Each episode of five minutes concentrates on one object, and also mentions other items bearing similar motifs or having similar cultural implications.

The featured artifacts are from more than 16 museums and cultural institutions across the country.

The documentary is popular with all ages, but especially with the young.

It highlights the connections between artifacts and modern life and the universal values that are embodied by these objects, rather than delivering lectures on history and archaeology.

Director Xu Huan says one of the aims of the series is to focus on the human spirit which is at the heart of Chinese cultural traditions.

Below is a snapshot of some of the artifacts showcased in the series.

Human Head Pottery Jar

Collection: Banpo Museum, Xi'an

Period: Neolithic era

This head-shaped red clay jar dates from 6,000 to 6,500 years ago. It was a product of the Yangshao Culture that existed extensively along the Yellow River in China, made at the dawn of the Neolithic era, when humans began to polish stone, domesticate animals, farm and form tribes.

It's hard to tell the gender of the figure, but the up-turned lips suggest the innocence of a child. The jar's wide, round belly is also suggestive of the plumpness of a woman's form, and hints at her reproductive capability.

On the back is a spout, through which liquid could be poured inside. The eyes and mouth serve as outlets. They seem improbably narrow, but this may indicate that the jar served some special purpose.

When liquid flows out through the eyes, it resembles tears, perhaps telling the pain of childbirth.

Jiahu Bone Flute

Collection: Henan Provincial Museu

Period: Neolithic era

 

Some 9,000 years ago, a crane died. The carcass was collected by some villagers. Seeing this, the nearby cranes began a mournful wailing.

The villagers extracted the dead crane's wing bone, and carved it into a basic musical instrument.

The finger holes are uneven, and the carving around the mouthpiece is a little careless. But this simple instrument, the fruit of ancient creativity, has been continuously improved upon, and has evolved into the sophisticated flute we know today.

Musician Ding Xiaokui owns a copy of the crane bone flute.

The original, made between 7,800 and 9,000 years ago, was unearthed at the Jiahu Neolithic Site in Henan province. It was one of more than 20 such flutes found there in 1986 and 1987. They are the oldest musical instruments discovered in China.

The first bone flutes may have been used by hunters to mimic a bird's cry. Later, they may have provided music for celebrating a successful hunt. With time, as aesthetic appreciation became more developed, people may have demanded more complex music.

At Jiahu, the development from the older five-holed flutes to the later flutes with seven or eight holes, reveals how civilization progressed.

There used to be a widespread belief that traditional Chinese music had only five tones. The seven-tone scale, it was thought, was introduced from abroad. But the seven-holed bone flutes found at Jiahu have changed our understanding of China's ancient music.

Eagle-Shaped Pottery Ding

Collection: National Museum of China

Period: Neolithic era

Pottery is the art of bringing clay to life. Thrown, kneaded, fired ...Through a series of hardships, the clay is reborn as pottery, reincarnated in every manner of shape. Here, the clay is given life as a ding - a three-legged vessel.

This ding in the form of an eagle is among China's most unusual pieces of ancient pottery. It's 6,000 years old, originating in the Neolithic Yangshao Culture.

Most of the painted pottery vessels produced by the Yangshao Culture were for daily use. The eagle-shaped ding is the only piece from that period that's in the shape of a bird.

What was its purpose? Perhaps to store water, or grain? Or perhaps it was used in sacrificial rites? But why was it given the form of a bird? Such questions add to the fascination the ding evokes.

What it does tell us is that 6,000 years ago Chinese people were capable of integrating practicality and design into their utensils.

Longshan Eggshell Black Pottery Cup

Collection: Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

Period: Neolithic era

Some 4,000 years ago, on the banks of the Yellow River, the Longshan Culture brought the most rustic material and the most sophisticated craftsmanship together. Very few of these thin-sided black pottery cups have ever been unearthed.

Eggshell black pottery cups in various shapes have been found, suggesting that they were not part of a single batch.

The sophisticated manufacturing techniques were unique for their time. Even with the use of modern technology, it's hard to reproduce the extreme thinness of the original.

Pottery this thin will easily shatter on a fast-spinning wheel. Such small vessels place high demands on the wheel's precision and stability.

No kiln site associated with the time and place of these vessels' manufacture has been found, so we do not know what equipment was used 4,000 years ago.

Eggshell pottery was made from the fine silt deposited in rivers and lakes. Washing it and removing the impurities rendered this basic material strong enough to be made into thin but durable pottery.

The temperature in the kiln and the length of firing determined each vessel's fate.

The ancient potters used a unique sealed firing technique that allowed carbon to infiltrate the pores of the pottery. This produced a completely black surface, which was then glazed.

Hongshan Culture C-Shaped Jade Dragon

Collection: Ongniud Banner Museum

Period: Neolithic era

This mysterious work of jade art was discovered in Ongniud Banner in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The nose is upturned and the eyes slightly convex. The mane gives the impression of a creature in flight. The design is simple and elegant; the jade, fine and smooth.

A similar jade piece was discovered in the village of Sanxing Tala in Chifeng. Known as the "First Dragon of China", it is regarded as the archetypal ancient depiction of a dragon. Both jade dragons were discovered near the city of Chifeng. It was here, in the Liaohe River Basin that the Hongshan Culture originated around 5,000 years ago.

The image of the jade dragon-boar has become a symbol of the Hongshan Culture.

Yet, the boar and dragon-shaped pottery of Hongshan is predated by that of the Xinglongwa (6200-5400 BC), a Neolithic culture in northeastern China. And images of dragons and tigers made from shells have been found in graves of the Yangshao Culture.

These cultures flourished in areas geographically far apart. Yet all three present a common image of the dragon, as a combination of parts of several different creatures.

The dragon is the symbol of the Chinese nation: Every aspect of the life of every Chinese person is like a scale on the dragon's body. Together, these scales shape Chinese civilization.

The curled jade rings resembling a baby in the womb, appear to be the earliest form of a dragon.

Contact the writers through liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Crew members of If National Treasures Could Talk work on the production of the TV documentary. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-02-23 07:44:27
<![CDATA[African sculpture art on show in Shanghai]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/23/content_35727260.htm Art lovers can see sculptures from 20 African countries - most of which have never been displayed in China - at an ongoing exhibition at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center.

The exhibition, 2018 Exhibition of Sculpture Art from Twenty African Countries, which runs through April 15, features 150 traditional and modern sculptures, such as wood, stone and bronze carvings.

Photos of African scenery by Xiao Ge, a world-class wildlife photographer, are also being shown along with the sculptures.

"It is the most comprehensive exhibition to show African sculpture in China," says Hang Yan, curator of the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a drum from 1942 produced by a Zulu artist from African black walnut, according to Zhao Baopei, the owner of all the exhibits.

"It (the drum from South Africa) is one of just four in the world," says Zhao.

"Unlike normal African drums shaped like slender cylindrical containers, this one is relatively short and thick.

"Drums, hailed as the king of African musical instruments, can help visitors understand the soul of music in Africa," he says.

The other three drums are at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the London Royal Museum Greenwich and at the South African Museum, respectively, according to a certificate issued by the South African Museum.

The Sangoma mace used by Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, is another highlight of the exhibition.

The mace was presented to Mandela by the Zulu king in 1961, to show that the Zulu people hoped that Mandela would one day liberate the country.

"The mace is one of the two such items in existence. The other one is in the South African Museum," says Zhao.

Zhao lived in Africa from 1990 to 2015 and has collected more than 2,000 pieces of African art, which are stored in his warehouse in Shanghai.

"During my time in Africa, I was impressed by the African devotion to sculpture. They carve their works in the open, in temperatures of nearly 40 C wearing just a piece of cloth at the waist," says Zhao.

"They have no art schools or local teachers. All sculptures are based on their talent."

"Take the stone sculpture, The Thinker by Moder Zimbabwe. When compared with the famous bronze sculpture, The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin, this one demonstrates the rich imagination of African artists," he says.

"However, Chinese people know little about African art.

"I see my collection of African art as a chance to offer the Chinese an opportunity to learn about the art of Africa," says Zhao.

The artworks are classified into 20 groups based on their origins and there are introductions for each country along with its location on the map.

Abdulkadir M. Abbas, from the Nigerian consulate in Shanghai, says: "They are great works by brilliant artists, although most are not famous."

Biruktawit Kassahun Gaim, the consul for Ethiopia in Shanghai, says: "I hope every visitor also travels to Africa to see more sculptures."

Jing Ying, vice-president of the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, says: "The exhibition was opened (on Feb 8) before the recent Spring Festival holiday so that more people in Shanghai could learn about African culture."

caochen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-23 07:44:27
<![CDATA[Dreamers and doers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/23/content_35727259.htm It is now 21 years since Georges Andre Mantion, 71, first visited Urumqi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

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Thanks to help from a French expert, doctors in Northwest China are leading the fight against a hepatic disease. Fang Aiqing reports.

It is now 21 years since Georges Andre Mantion, 71, first visited Urumqi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The French surgeon, an academician at the French Academy of Medicine and a recent winner of the Chinese government's Friendship Award, is an expert in the treatment of digestive tumors, and he is a specialist in treating alveolar echinococcosis, or AE.

AE is a hepatic disease caused by a kind of parasite of one or two millimeters and is also known as "parasite cancer" as its symptoms and disease progression is similar to hepatic cancer.

According to 2016 statistics of the disease prevention and control bureau of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, echinococcosis is widespread mainly in pastoral areas of western China's 350 counties, threatening a population of about 50 million.

In some plateau areas, the incidence is 12 percent. And the 10-year case fatality rate of AE, if not treated in time, exceeds 90 percent.

For years, Mantion's footprints have been seen beyond Xinjiang, covering major echinococcosis-prevalent regions in China like Qinghai and Gansu provinces and the Ningxia Hui, Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions.

He has also worked in major hospitals in Beijing, Chongqing, Sichuan and Yunnan.

In 1997, Mantion, then on his first visit to Urumqi, performed the first anatomical liver resection surgery in Northwest China, which later drastically improved surgical techniques and management of hepatic AE as well as other hepato-pancreatic-biliary, or HPB cancers, at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University.

Before that, surgical resection in Northwest China was not so anatomic and precise.

Since his first visit, Mantion has kept returning to China every year.

Within three years of his first visit, the hospital's team of doctors that focuses on organ transplantation was built up, and Mantion's student Wen Hao, current director of the hospital, pioneered China's first successful liver transplantation for an endstaged AE patient in 2000, giving the patient a new lease of life.

Meanwhile, Mantion helps promote exchange programs that allow HPB surgeons, anesthetists, nephrologists and other specialists in organ transplantation from Xinjiang to visit his transplantation center in France.

The annual group training programs, which started in 2004 and are sponsored by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs in China, are of great help to the hospital team.

"With their help, our international visibility has improved," Wen says.

In 2016, WHO set up in Xinjiang its first Collaborating Center for Prevention and Care Management of Echinococcosis in Asia, which aims at providing methodological support and expert advice, especially for the Central Asian area.

But, the academic link between Mantion and Xinjiang was bridged years earlier. In 1986, the medical center at University of Franche-Comte, Besancon, France - the hospital Mantion works for - launched the world's first liver transplantation for AE patients.

Wen, then pursuing his doctorate in Britain, got to know about the technique from an international conference booklet in 1991 and the year after, receiving his degree, he went to the medical center at Besancon for further surgical training on liver transplantation.

"I studied there for one year as a visiting scholar, and then a few years later as a guest professor. The experience laid a solid foundation for my surgical innovation," says Wen.

Back in Xinjiang in late 1995, Wen started facilitating the international cooperation, and in 1997, Mantion and three of his colleagues were invited to China.

It was the first time since the reform and opening-up that a group of foreign surgeons had visited Xinjiang.

Speaking about Mantion, Wen says he is a highly sophisticated surgeon.

"Observing and learning from him is like watching a work of art," says Wen.

Mantion, now in his 70s, regularly takes part in meetings for doctors to discuss therapeutic regimens for complicated cases, during every visit to Xinjiang.

"Younger doctors would like to stress on techniques, but he is more considerate to the patients," Wen says.

During the past 21 years, Mantion has seen Xinjiang's leapfrog in developing medical care.

And he says: "They still ask me, but I believe they can do it by themselves. This was not the case 20 years ago."

One of the key developments happened in 2010, when Wen's team managed the world's first liver autotransplantation for treating an end-staged AE patient, during which the patient's whole liver was taken out, dissected, repaired and reimplanted.

It is now eight years since the surgery, and the patient is still alive.

According to Wen, 78 of the approximately 150 cases of liver autotransplantation worldwide were done in Xinjiang.

When Wen's team reported the first case in the English version of the Chinese Medical Journal, Mantion, in his editor's note, wrote: "We dreamed of it; they did it!"

Speaking about the achievement, Wen says: "We move forward by standing on the shoulders of our predecessors.

"He (Mantion) hopes to apply the technique back in France, and two cases are being discussed. Whether they come or we go there, we are working on it."

Mantion says he is proud that Chinese surgeons have grown from devout students to leaders in the field.

"When you are an academic surgeon and professor, you may do big things. But most important as a teacher is to help the younger generation accomplish more and be proud of them," he says.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-23 07:44:27
<![CDATA[Soprano gets rare teaching job in top Italian music school]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/23/content_35727258.htm Inside a baroque hall with golden leaf patterns, Zheng Nan is instructing Ciara Brandolini, a young Italian soprano, in singing the aria Quel guardo, il cavaliere by Gaetano Donizetti. As the coda approaches, Zheng holds the hands of Brandolini and joins in the singing. Their velvety voices interweave to the accompaniment of a piano, creating a scene of serenity and harmony.

Zheng was recently offered a tenure-track position by the Giacomo Puccini Conservatoire, becoming the first Chinese-born soprano to teach singing at an Italian national music academy.

Out of more than 100 applicants for the job, Zheng topped the rigorous screening process, an on-the-spot performance, an interview and a trial teaching session.

"I was very confident showing up for the interview. Indeed, I am very fortunate to be employed, but then, they are also very fortunate to have a teacher like me," says Zheng, 39, half-jokingly.

What makes Zheng, as a Chinese, stand out among native Italian singers in the birthplace of opera?

"I believe one of the reasons is my clear understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of teaching methods in the East and the West," she says in an interview on social media from Milan.

Brandolini, a student from Zheng's foundation course, says: "Zheng follows the traditional bel canto and can explain how to use parts of my body. I am able to acquire different techniques from studying with her."

With 11 years of study at Chinese music schools and seven years of advanced studies in Italy, Zheng has developed her own unique education philosophy - to offer students not only techniques but also the space for self-development.

Enrolling at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music with the highest marks for an entrance exam there in 1999, Zheng says she learned a lot from the conservatory's musicians.

Xu Qing, whose performance company worked with the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in staging The Marriage of Figaro in 2000, recalls: "Zheng, always at the top of her class, was naturally cast as the prima donna."

Ever since the first opera performance, Zheng has sought every opportunity to learn, perform and exchange ideas. This is also her advice for today's music students - "patience and accumulation are the fundamental things. Be brave, to communicate and to try".

With a scholarship, Zheng went to Italy and studied at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro, obtaining a master's degree in opera singing.

In 2006, she became the first Chinese singer to perform at the Rossini Opera Festival, an international music event that aims at reviving Rossini's operas.

Zheng also founded the Giuseppe Verdi Cultural Association with the aim of providing opportunities to Chinese students who want to study music in Italy and perform in the West.

According to Xu, Italian conservatories have been paying attention to the Chinese market, and more music students from China are becoming interested in studying in Italy.

In 2017, the Rossini Conservatory had asked Zheng's cultural association to recruit students for the International Singing Master Class with Jose Carreras.

"Zheng's new teaching job means even more opportunities for the Chinese market," says Xu. "Having gained a foothold in Italy, Zheng can help outstanding music students from China to study and perform in Italy and bring back their experiences to China."

So far, the cultural association has cooperated with music academies in China including the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in creating opportunities for cultural exchanges between Italy and China. In December, Zheng and her husband, Mauro Bonfanti, an Italian baritone, came to the Nanjing University of the Arts for a master class.

Zheng and Bonfanti, who first met at a concert performance in the Italian city of Pesaro, have supported each other for a long time.

"I am still moved by him giving up a performance conducted by Zubin Mehta because of my pregnancy. We always think of each other, and I guess this is the key to happiness," Zheng says.

Zheng has had nearly 10 singing teachers from China, Italy and Britain, but Bonfanti is among those who have most influenced her.

"He is a great vocal teacher who is good at singing, summarizing and listening. I have secretly learned a lot from him," Zheng says.

They are now a happy family with a daughter and a son. In parenting, Zheng also values the space for self-development. "We now have great facilities for music education, but my son is interested in sports. So be it."

 

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2018-02-23 07:44:27
<![CDATA[Mural Duty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/22/content_35720871.htm When Chang Shuhong arrived in Dunhuang in 1943 to prepare for the establishment of the Dunhuang Research Academy, he was welcomed by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), the maestro of traditional Chinese ink-brush painting.

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An artist with a genius for reproduction spent years capturing Dunhuang's cultural legacy. His work is now on display in Beijing. Lin Qi reports.

When Chang Shuhong arrived in Dunhuang in 1943 to prepare for the establishment of the Dunhuang Research Academy, he was welcomed by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), the maestro of traditional Chinese ink-brush painting.

Zhang had already been living in Dunhuang for nearly three years, copying murals at the Mogao and Yulin grottoes. The remote, desert-bound area in northwestern China's Gansu province was then a little-known treasure trove of Buddhist art, with several hundred caves housing a vast number of imposing murals and colored statues produced between the fourth and 14th centuries.

Chang's daughter, Chang Shana, who is now 86 and a prominent graphic designer, moved to Dunhuang with her father and lived with him there for six years. She says Zhang handed her father a roughly drawn map just before his departure.

"Zhang mapped out the paths to the woods around Dunhuang, and marked the spots where we could pick edible mushrooms, when they might be available and how many we might find growing there," Chang Shana says. "Zhang wrote on the map that mushrooms were one of the very few delicacies we would be able to find in Dunhuang due to the severe natural conditions."

Knowing of Chang Shuhong's decision to stay and work on the preservation of Dunhuang, Zhang told Chang what awaited would be like "serving a life sentence", but he encouraged him to persist and fulfill his duty nonetheless.

She says Zhang also left Chang Shuhong reams of documents recording his studies of cave art over the previous three years, which the Dunhuang Research Academy later based its research data on.

In the following years, Zhang exhibited 276 of his mural reproductions in Gansu's provincial capital Lanzhou, Xi'an in Shaanxi province, and his home province of Sichuan, as well as internationally in cities such as Tokyo and Paris.

These exhibitions proved a great success and helped to boost Zhang's fame and popularity. The audience were astounded by the mystery and brilliance of Dunhuang art, just as Zhang was when he first entered the caves in the spring of 1941.

When Zhang left the Chinese mainland in 1949, he brought many of the reproductions with him. As he traveled around the world, moving from one city to another before his death in 1983, these works found their way into the hands of private collectors and many public museums.

The remainder kept by his family later entered the collection of Sichuan Museum in Chengdu. A selection of these reproductions are currently on display at a major exhibition about Zhang's art at the National Museum of China.

This will be the first chance for Beijing audiences to gain a comprehensive overview of Zhang's reproduction oeuvre, which cover almost every subject seen in Dunhuang's murals. And through his eyes, it's easy to become immersed in the enduring charm of Dunhuang's cultural legacy.

Also on show in Beijing are many of Zhang's landscapes and figure paintings, and his collections of paintings ranging from works by ancient painters to contemporary artists.

Zhang had originally planned to stay in Dunhuang for three months. He came up with the idea in the 1930s when he heard friends in Chengdu talk about the murals at the Dunhuang grottoes.

Zhang invested a lot of time studying works of preceding painters, especially those during the Song (960-1279), Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. His genius for copying paintings by the old masters is widely acknowledged, and the quality of his reproductions successfully fooled classical painting experts of his time, and continue to do so today.

A number of murals in Dunhuang were painted by the great masters of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a peak era for Chinese art and Buddhism. This ignited an intense interest in Zhang who hoped to learn the classical methods of painting from these masters.

It took Zhang more than a month to travel from Chengdu to Dunhuang. He was accompanied by family members, helpers and student painters who took with them tons of supplies. They had to overcome transportation difficulties - their carts often broke down and they were forced to ride on camels for much of the trip - and they had to cross regions that were infested with bandits.

The fear and exhaustion were soon replaced by a sense of astonishment that overwhelmed Zhang and his group when they saw the murals illuminated with the lamps they had brought. He realized he would have to extend his trip and ended up staying two years and seven months.

Zhang worked with his two sons and his students to number the caves and begin to reproduce the murals. He also hired five lama thangka painters from the Ta'er Monastery in Qinghai province, who helped prepare special painting materials and mineral pigments, so that the recreations would retain as much of the glory of the originals as possible.

Chang Shana says Zhang asked his team to strictly follow the outlines of the patterns and figures, while he concentrated on trying to restore faded or oxidized colors, such as dark brown areas that needed to be returned to their original red pigment.

After copying murals from the caves in the Mogao Caves, they turned their attentions to recreating murals in Yulin located in an even more remote area, seizing every minute before they ran out of the supplies.

Zhang and his team often worked in the caves for 14 hours a day. At night they had to work holding a candle in one hand while they painted with the other.

Their sleeping quarters were often invaded by scorpions and they woke to the howls of wolves outside on occasion.

When these reproductions were finally put on display, the combination of their smooth outlines and rich palette, predominated by large areas of red and green, were hailed as a revival of the majestic splendor of Tang-era art.

His work on the Dunhuang murals had a profound influence on Zhang's other paintings, which most notably saw him use the motif of court ladies as a key recurring theme in his work.

Before Zhang visited Dunhuang, he inherited the continued approach of the Ming and Qing dynasties that highlighted a woman's slender body curves and frail gestures. But in the grottoes, he was arrested by the healthy and vigorous beauty of the female Buddhist believers and fairies depicted in the murals.

Zhang embraced the style: The court ladies under his brush no longer looked sickly but instead took on a demeanor of grace and dignity.

These developments are easy to spot at the ongoing exhibition when comparing Zhang's figure painting works from before the time of the Dunhuang reproductions with the works he created after.

The reproductions brought about a noticeable improvement in the appreciation and saleability of Zhang's art. And this influence is still apparent today, most often manifested in soaring auction prices for his works.

One of Zhang's Dunhuang reproductions which depicts a reclining Guanyin bodhisattva (Goddess of Mercy) and has pigments containing gold powder sold for 101 million yuan ($16 million) at a Beijing auction in December.

The painting was sold by a Chinese-American art collector and the ongoing national museum exhibition shows a reproduction of a similar composition.

Wei Xuefeng, a researcher at the Sichuan Museum, says the painting is a representative piece in Zhang's outputs depicting Guanyin. "It was heavily colored and drawn on traditional linen cloth of fine quality.

"The five lamas shared their vast experience of thangka painting with Zhang, such as the techniques to make vivid, long-lasting pigments. Therefore, the reproductions recreate the refined texture of the murals, and the colors still appear well-preserved to audiences today."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm, closed on Mondays, through March 4. 16 East

Chang'an Avenue, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6511-6400.

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2018-02-22 07:46:30
<![CDATA[Live ping-pong takes center stage at New York Philharmonic concert]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/22/content_35720870.htm It was the first time a ping-pong table had taken center stage at the David Geffen Hall in New York, as two US national table tennis champions played each other live as part of the New York Philharmonic's Chinese New Year annual concert at the Lincoln Center on Feb 20.

Ariel Hsing and Michael Landers, the youngest-ever US women's singles champion and US men's singles champion respectively, were featured as the ping-pong-playing soloists in Andy Akiho's energetic concerto, Ricochet, Concerto for Ping Pong, Violin, Percussion and Orchestra, under the baton of Chinese conductor Yu Long.

The performance used the sounds from an intense table tennis match alongside a full symphony orchestra, which saw the ping-pong players elevated at the back of the stage, like opera singers performing above an orchestra pit.

"We've never done anything with ping-pong before," says Bill Thomas, the executive director of the New York Philharmonic.

The piece was performed because the orchestra wanted to do "something new as a way to think about the future" at the time of Chinese New Year celebrations, he says.

The appearance of the work in a program of music from China - home to some of the world's greatest table tennis players and the global hub for Chinese New Year celebrations - also evoked China's ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970s, with the violin part serving as an intermediary between the percussive soloists and the orchestra.

"The piece originally had its world premiere in Shanghai and the soloist who performed it serves as the connection to the Philharmonic - our violinist Elizabeth Zeltser," says Thomas. "We kind of knew this would be interesting and then we had the idea of performing it in New York as part of our Chinese New Year Celebration. We're very excited about it."

"Tonight's concert, of course, has Chinese characteristics, because this is what we planned to do," said Shirley Young, governor of the Committee of 100 and chair of the US-China Cultural Institute, which supports the Chinese New Year concert, ahead of the concert on Tuesday. "The content of the concert is to give American audiences a little taste of Chinese culture."

The concerto is related to Chinese culture and history, and the soloists were two champion ping-pong players, together with other soloists with the Philharmonic, said Young.

"So, this concert is obviously not a normal concert, it's definitely a great New York Philharmonic concert but with Chinese characteristics."

The performance also featured the Spring Festival Overture, a cheerful Chinese orchestral work composed by Li Huanzhi in the 1950s, Beethoven's grand Choral Fantasy by 13-year-old pianist Serena Wang and the Farmers' Chorus from Yunnan province, in their first appearance outside China.

"They are real farmers, and 50 of them have come all the way from Yunnan to perform for us," says Young.

Audiences were wowed by the performance. Amy Melman from upstate New York says she couldn't have imagined how the ping-pong was going to be played in time with the orchestra, remarking how well the players performed.

"The particular thing I liked most of all was how the ping-pong playing matched the rhythms of the orchestra. It was amazing," Melman says.

On the afternoon before the concert, traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances performed by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company wowed New Yorkers outside the Lincoln Center. Students from the National Dance Institute's performance of Chinese folk dances and a dog dressed up in traditional Chinese clothes also drew large crowds.

Zhou Wei contributed to the story.

ruinanzhang@chinadailyusa.com

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2018-02-22 07:46:30
<![CDATA[Hitting Rare notes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/22/content_35720869.htm The world premiere of seven musical pieces by Chinese composers was at the concert Music Contemporary From China 2018 at Alice Tully Hall of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York in late January. The composers are all faculty members of the Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music.

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A music teacher is working to make the ancient Chinese zither popular with young people. Chen Nan reports.

The world premiere of seven musical pieces by Chinese composers was at the concert Music Contemporary From China 2018 at Alice Tully Hall of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York in late January. The composers are all faculty members of the Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music.

The piece, also performed by musicians from the conservatory, featured both traditional Chinese instruments and Western instruments.

"The new works have different styles and guzheng (Chinese zither) is capable of making versatile sounds," says Ji Wei, a player of the instrument and an associate professor at the Central Conservatory of Music.

"I was very excited and couldn't wait to share the new music with the audience in the United States," Ji says of her preparations in Beijing before the concert of Jan 27.

Ji, 39, began to learn the ancient plucked instrument as a child and recalls how audiences were curious about guzheng when she first performed abroad in Japan and the United States in the early 1990s.

"Even while I was in an elevator with my guzheng placed next to me, people who entered the elevator would ask me about it," Ji says.

Now, she says more composers are interested in the instrument and are willing to write music for it, which has kept guzheng alive as well as expanded its repertoire in recent times.

Before the concert in New York, Ji had performed with the Vienna University Philharmonic at the Musikverein in Vienna on Dec 11 in a concert, which was the European premiere of composer Vijay Upadhyaya's new work, the 75-minute Chang'an Men. Upadhyaya, an Indian-born, Vienna-based composer was commissioned to produce the piece by the China National Symphony Orchestra.

Speaking about Ji, Upadhyaya says: "She is one of the most accomplished and professional guzheng players in China and the world. I was lucky to have her as a soloist in my composition. Actually, I needed to consult her sometimes regarding the technical details of the instrument while composing."

Meanwhile, the Chinese musician has been delving into traditional music as well as finding new sounds for her instrument.

Speaking about her work, Ji says: "What I want to do is to display the beauty of the instrument by playing classic guzheng pieces, such as A Moonlit Night on the Spring River, The Evening Song of Fishermen, High Mountain and Flowing Water, and to bring the modern side of the instrument to people, who may have ignored its potential."

In 2005, Ji made history when the classical recording label Deutsche Grammophon published its first-ever guzheng piece At Night on the Lake Beneath the Maple Bridge, featuring her performance with world-renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang. Ji has also recorded dozens of solo albums and has authored textbooks and played with top ensembles around the globe.

Born in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, Ji started to learn to play the instrument at the age of 5 at a local art training school as her working-class parents wanted their only child to receive art education. Then, the guzheng was not commonly seen in cities in China.

"The instrument was expensive and my mother drew the strings of guzheng on a piece of paper for me to practice at home. I could only play the real guzheng at the school," recalls Ji. "For me, a shy young girl then, the instrument was very expressive."

In 1992, she was admitted to the middle school attached to the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing and Wang Zhongshan, one of the best-known guzheng musicians, was her teacher. After graduation she obtained her master's degree from the Central Conservatory of Music in 2004 before starting to teach there.

Ji was interested in blending the traditional instrument with modern sounds even as a student.

"I am interested in working with musicians of different styles and that's the best way to promote guzheng as well as discovering the potential of the instrument through collaboration," says Ji, who has participated in workshops held by international conservatories.

Before her master's degree was complete, Ji was invited to perform in a concert with French electronic music artist Jean Michel Jarre at the Forbidden City in Beijing.

To popularize the instrument among the young, Ji initiated a guzheng ensemble in 2008, which has since gathered students from the Central Conservatory of Music and gives performances at venues like the National Centre for the Performing Arts and Beijing Concert Hall.

"I decided to become a teacher when I was a young student. I want to inspire my students, too. It can be very exciting to challenge them to find something new while remaining rooted in traditional Chinese music," she says.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-22 07:46:30
<![CDATA[Rain brings sunshine to village in Southwest China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/22/content_35720868.htm Zuo Wenxue, the Party chief of Tangyue village, will attend the National People's Congress in March to share the village's progress in development with other delegates at the annual meeting in Beijing.

Once an underdeveloped place in Guizhou province, Tangyue has become a model of rural reform in Southwest China.

Tangyue, which is under the administration of Anshun city, used to be home to elderly and children as most of the working-age people had migrated to the coastal cities for jobs.

But in 2014, a rainstorm changed things there.

"The village was severely damaged by floodwater, and more than 1,000 people who had left to work elsewhere rushed back to rebuild their houses," recalls Zuo.

"That gave us the opportunity to unite the villagers to find a way to get rid of poverty."

Zuo proposed taking advantage of the central government's land-use reforms to turn the village's resources into assets.

The residents became shareholders by setting up a cooperative for agricultural products and using the land that had been left unattended.

Before the flood, more than 30 percent of the village land was unused as most people were working outside.

The cooperative has since converted about 250 hectares of land to agricultural use.

You Chengying, a resident of Tangyue, transferred 1.2 hectares of land to the Golden Land Cooperative owned by the village at the end of 2015. She received about 11,510 yuan ($1,816) as a shareholder last year, she says.

Agricultural production has helped the development of related industries. A cold storage facility and a transport team were set up for sorting and packing vegetables and selling them in markets outside the village.

"More jobs are available now and many villagers who worked in cities are returning to the village. My son and even my elderly mother have found jobs," You says, adding that her family of four now has an annual income of 100,000 yuan.

Data shows that with the help of reform, the average annual income of villagers increased from less than 4,000 yuan in 2013 to 14,685 yuan in 2017.

The rapid increase in income is not the only change in the village.

A series of activities, including free health checks and distributing Spring Festival couplets, were held at the Tangyue Cultural Square ahead of Chinese New Year this year.

Huang Guoyuan, a teacher of Honghu Senior School near the village, came to write couplets for the residents along with nine other calligraphy amateurs. He says every year the Anshun Calligrapher Association sends its members to different villages in the area during Spring Festival.

He says he is surprised to see many young people returning to the village these days.

"I wrote 50 couplets for the villagers in two hours," Huang says.

As to the future development, the village officials are aiming even higher.

"By 2020, Tangyue's agricultural output value will increase from 5 million yuan to 20 million yuan and the per capita net income of the villagers will reach 20,000 yuan," Zuo says.

Agricultural development will also get a new look as the villagers plan to set up a system using automatic intelligence for watering and fertilization through big data, says Tang Congfu, the head of the Golden Land Cooperative.

"We are also building an e-commerce platform to increase sales channels for our agricultural products," Zuo says.

Zhao Yandi contributed to the story.

yangjun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-22 07:46:30
<![CDATA[Ongoing temple fair offers business and fun]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/22/content_35720867.htm The wish tree, candied haws, clay figurines and lantern art all bring back childhood memories of Spring Festival.

The monthlong Temple Fair and Lantern Show, which began on Jan 26 in Guanshanhu district of Guiyang, capital of Southwest China's Guizhou province, is therefore the place to visit while celebrating the Chinese New Year, which fell on Feb 16.

The events include the display of traditional customs, a food festival and cultural performances for different age groups.

Guanshanhu has hosted such events for the past eight years.

By taking part in the activities, visitors get the opportunity to know their culture better. For example, a special wooden hammer that is used to make ciba, a snack of glutinous rice, and is hardly seen in Chinese cities these days, can be viewed at the fair.

Also, the custom of making a wish and tying a red thread to a tree branch can be experienced.

More than 150 stalls from the mainland with food and beverages have been set up.

Speaking about the fair, Cui Shuzhi, a candy retailer from Heilongjiang province in Northeast China, says: "Guizhou is a potential market for our products."

Cui has been in the business for five years, and this is the first time she is selling her products outside Heilongjiang. Even though she has to pay a daily rent of 620 yuan ($98) for her stall at the fair, her candies fetch her nearly 4,000 yuan a day - a figure she didn't expect to reach, she says.

Guizhou has focused on the promotion of agricultural products in the past few years and launched a project called Qianhuo Chushan to help farmers in mountainous areas sell their products in cities. Data from the first half of 2017 shows the project generated a revenue of 3.7 billion yuan, an increase of 42 percent year-on-year.

With the fair, many locals are also able to access clients from outside the province.

And, other than food and customs, the fair has a large space for kids entertainment, where children can explore such activities as dancing, video games and virtual reality.

Chen Zhuo contributed to the story.

yangjun@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-22 07:46:30
<![CDATA[Links with heritage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716169.htm Chinese sausages are very different from the usual Western varieties. They are very firm, dense and intense, and closer to salami, pepperoni or chorizo.

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Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

Chinese sausages are very different from the usual Western varieties. They are very firm, dense and intense, and closer to salami, pepperoni or chorizo.

Depending on regions, they can be sweet and salty, like the wine-scented Cantonese sausages, or spicy and savory like the red peppered links of Sichuan and Yunnan.

But Chinese sausages are almost never eaten fresh.

Instead, they are hung up to dry thoroughly in the brisk north winds of winter until they are thoroughly cured and dried. Then they are sliced thinly, steamed or stir-fried to add much needed flavor to bland winter greens.

Sausage-making is most often done during the last month of the lunar calendar, la yue, the hunting month.

It is part of an annual food ritual in which sausages are filled and hung, and ducks, chickens and strips of belly pork or ribs are cured. The sight of rosy sausages and honey brown meats hanging outside to dry in courtyards all over China is indicative of how much these cured meats are loved.

My nanny tells me that, in the villages, pigs are slaughtered as winter arrives. That's when every part of the pig is used and nothing is wasted.

But to stretch the pork out for a whole year, the best way is to make sausages and salty cured pork from hocks and hams to strips of fatty belly.

Soy sauce, bean paste, salt, sugar and wine are the main preservatives.

In Guangdong province, plenty of yellow wine and lots of cane sugar convert the meat into deep red links. Fiery white spirits are added as an additional preservative.

Chinese cooking can be lavish, but it is also a cuisine that lauds frugality. Sausages are made deeply flavored so a little goes a long way. The dried links lend their intensity to the other ingredients they are cooked with, thus taking on the role of seasoning.

Whenever more intense flavoring is needed, sausages add an instant burst of sweet and savory.

Savory steamed rice cakes using radishes, yams or pumpkins, for instance, often hide nuggets of diced sausages, dried shrimps and dried shiitake mushrooms - that Chinese trinity of pure flavor.

The sausages are also excellent pantry basics, having a long shelf life.

Perhaps there is the beginning of a backlash against too much fast food and convenience foods because, in recent years, many Chinese households have started to go back to tradition.

Even if they cannot make their own, their friendly market butchers are offering sausage-making services.

As the weather cools, juicy links are being strung up to dry at butchers from Shanghai to Beijing.

You can choose your cut of meat, deciding how much or how little fat you want in your personalized links. Then you can choose what style of sausage you prefer.

There are the cumin and fennel scented savory sausages, sausages spiced with Sichuan peppercorns and chili flakes, heavily garlic-infused sausages or the classic Cantonese links scented with quality rice wine.

And if you want to attempt sausage-making yourself, you would simply be joining countless generations of home chefs in continuing a long-established culinary heritage.

Contact the writer at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-21 08:15:06
<![CDATA[How to make Chinese sausages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716168.htm Casings:

The best casings are animal intestines that have been cleaned, salted and dried. I get mine from China's mighty online marketplace. When you're ready to make sausages, you need to wash them and soak them to get rid of excess salt.

Cut of meat:

The meat must be fatty enough so that the sausages don't dry into rock-hard links. The best proportion is a 60-40 ratio of lean meat to fat. For that reason, I choose a well-marbled pork hock and add a generous strip of skinless fatty belly.

Marinade:

I prefer the fragrant marinades of wine and sugar. But I take care to choose which wines I use - a combination of the best Shaoxing yellow rice wine, and an intensely scented white liquor from Tianjin called Meiguilu, named after the city flower, the rose. That, together with top-grade soy sauce and the best raw cane sugar, produce the characteristic taste of Cantonese sausages.

But for my Beijing family, I also do garlic and chili sausages to cater to their more savory palates.

Ingredients:

Whole pork hock, skinned and boned (about 2 kg)

500g belly, skinned

3 meters sausage casings, soaked and drained

Marinade:

2 cups raw cane sugar

1 cup top-grade soy sauce

4 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons black pepper, freshly cracked

1.5 cup Shaoxing wine

1/2 cup Meiguilu, or any other Chinese white spirit

Marinade for garlic and chili sausages

1 cup top-grade soy sauce

4 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons black pepper, freshly cracked

1 cup chili flakes

1 bulb garlic, skinned and finely minced (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup Shaoxing wine

1/2 cup Meiguilu, or any other Chinese white spirit

Patiently dice the meat into 0.5-cm cubes. Hand cutting the meat is a good way to ensure your sausages have good texture. Mix the two cuts of meat well.

Pour the marinade ingredients over the meat and mix with your hands till all the liquid is absorbed. Cover the meat and leave aside to rest for two hours.

Prepare casing by running your hand over its length to check for major tears.

The easiest way to get the meat into the casings is to use a funnel. My ayi (helper) uses the top half of a mineral water bottle. The casing slips easily over the mouth, and it can be fastened with string to keep it from slipping off.

Spoon the meat into the funnel and push down with a chopstick.

The trick is to push the meat slowly and steadily so there are no large air pockets. Use your hands to help the meat travel down the casing.

I prefer to stop every meter or so to shape the links. That way, you can minimize damage should a tear or hole occur.

Twist off your desired length of sausage, and tie with cotton string. Keep in mind that the sausages will shrink by about 30 percent as they dry.

Then, check every link and use a needle to pop any air pockets.

Repeat the process until you finish meat and casing.

The next part really depends on where you are. If your area has cold, dry winters, find a shady spot out of direct sunlight and string up the sausages to dry. One word of caution: They will leak juices as they dry, so place some paper underneath to catch the drips.

If you are in a more sunny clime, you need to let them dry in a cool place in your home, preferably where there is good air flow. The refrigerator will work, but it will take a much longer time because of the humidity.

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2018-02-21 08:15:06
<![CDATA[Winter tourism makes Altay come alive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716167.htm Winter tourism has injected vitality into Altay in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which experiences temperatures of nearly minus 30 degrees Celsius in the coldest depths of the season. Ski resorts in Altay attract a large number of tourists.

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Locals' ingenious traditional fur skis help navigate the deep snow

Winter tourism has injected vitality into Altay in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which experiences temperatures of nearly minus 30 degrees Celsius in the coldest depths of the season. Ski resorts in Altay attract a large number of tourists.

Among the skiers sporting colorful goggles and ski suits, young men of Mongolian and Kazak ethnic groups catch the eye with their striking traditional clothes, wooden ski sticks and skis made of fur. This style of fur skis is believed to be among the oldest of their kind, according to rock paintings that show skiing scenes that were created about 12,000 years ago. Locals used to hunt with fur skis in winter hundreds of years ago, and now people still use fur skis to lead their herds to pasture in remote areas. In Hemu town of Altay, all the locals learn to travel across deep snow on skis.

Since then, regional ski competitions have gradually come into being. The local government has supported areas with fur skiing traditions, such as Hemu and Kanas, to establish traditional ski teams that attend more than 10 professional competitions annually. The competitions promote the tradition and have become a popular attraction in Altay, as part of a featured local winter tourism project. Tourists can also practice using and making fur skis by learning from those who have inherited the craft. They can also enjoy skiing performances during their trips.

 

Athletes compete in the Altay regional competition of traditional fur skiing in Altay, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Jan 24. Photos By Li Jing / Xinhua

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2018-02-21 08:14:23
<![CDATA[Coming of Age]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716166.htm The second-child market has become the new battlefield for companies in the infant-goods industry, especially when young Chinese parents are willing to provide their babies with the best, regardless of price.

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China's second-child policy and the e-commerce boom are revitalizing the infant-product industry as brands shift focus to quality, reports Yang Han in Hong Kong.

The second-child market has become the new battlefield for companies in the infant-goods industry, especially when young Chinese parents are willing to provide their babies with the best, regardless of price.

"Brand is the first priority for Chinese consumers when buying mother-infant products," said Vishal Bali, managing director of market research firm Nielsen China.

He cited milk powder as an example.

According to Nielsen's research, around 55 percent of consumers will first look at infant products' brand names before checking the suitable ages, ingredients and functions.

"Only 9 percent of consumers will check the price after deciding which brand to go for," he said, adding that over the past five years, consumers have been paying more attention to the health and safety of goods, especially those for infants.

Under the potential demographic dividend brought by China's second-child policy, this ongoing consumption shift is encouraging companies to compete for better brand images and bigger market share.

China introduced the universal second-child policy in January 2016, more than three decades after implementing the previous family-planning policy to rein in the country's population growth.

The number of births at hospitals in China was around 18.5 million in 2016, the highest since 2000, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Though the number dropped to 17.58 million last year, Xinhua reported that over half of the newborns were second children, which is a 5 percent increase compared with 2016.

The sales value of infant products in China reached 123.2 billion yuan ($19.2 billion) from September 2016 to August 2017, an increase of 11 percent, according to Nielsen's data. The sales values of key fast-moving consumer goods like infant food supplements, diapers and infant formula, have all recorded double-digit growth.

In another report jointly released by China e-commerce giant JD.com and a research institute under the 21st Century Business Herald in January, nearly 80 percent of people surveyed are willing to have a second child as long as they can afford to. The report says China's infant-goods market will continue to grow to exceed 4 trillion yuan by 2020.

Foreign brands remain major players, said Bali from Nielsen China. They accounted for up to 65 percent of China's total market share of offline sales of milk powder and diapers in 2016, according to Nielsen.

Consumers still trust them more than domestic brands, Bali said.

Bloom & Grow, a Hong Kong-based distributor of international baby, children's and maternity brands to Asia, now considers the Chinese mainland its "most important market" because of the huge business potential presented by growing families.

Founder Alexandra Dickson Leach said the company has been recording growth in almost all categories as Chinese parents search for products with a design edge or unique functionality, despite higher prices compared to local brands.

Among the company's best-sellers are baby carriers by American brand Ergobaby, which increased fivefold in online sales on Amazon China in 2016, the International Business Daily reported.

Toys R Us, the popular US toy retailer that operates more than 135 stores in China, plans to open more stores in the country despite the company's financial restructuring at home.

In May 2017, Roy Sammartino, managing director of Toys R Us China, said China is the company's fastest-growing market.

Local companies are making improvements in terms of innovation, development toward the high-end market and the expansion of distribution channels, Bali said.

Annil, a children's wear company based in the southern city of Shenzhen, targets the middle-and high-end markets with products that adhere to an environmentally friendly design philosophy. Last year, the company became the first of its kind to be listed on China's A-share market.

Even though the brand now ranks second in China's children's wear market, sharing the same ranking as foreign giant Adidas, both take only about 1 percent market share, according to Annil's annual report.

"The children's-wear market is still in a growth stage. It grows fast but is relatively fragmented," said Cao Zhang, chairman of Annil. He noted that more domestic and foreign companies are entering the market.

H&M from Sweden, Gap from the US, Zara from Spain, Uniqlo from Japan and luxury brands like Burberry, Dior and Armani, have all rolled out children's wear products in the Chinese market.

Last year, US toy manufacturing giant Mattel announced a strategic partnership with the Chinese clothing brand Three Gun Group, which will enable both companies to launch their first co-developed product line of clothing for newborns and infants.

Cao Chunxiang, deputy manager of Three Gun Group, said the company will be able to break new ground in the infant and toddler sectors.

Cao Zhang from Annil pointed out that domestic brands have yet to take a high market share at home, and competition will intensify as more foreign brands enter.

"For domestic brands, winning trust from consumers with high-quality products is of great importance. At the same time, we need to expand our distribution channels to improve brands' influence," he said.

With more than 1,400 stores nationwide, Annil also runs its own e-commerce center and online-service team while partnering with major e-commerce platforms in China like Taobao, Tmall, Vip.com and JD.com. In its annual report, online purchases account for about one-fourth of its total sales.

Online channels have become a key way for brands to reach consumers as nearly 80 percent of families purchase infant products online, according to the research company iResearch.

Wang Huainan, founder and CEO of the Chinese parenting website Babytree, said that along with the second-child policy, young mothers - whom he categorized as "network-generation" consumers - are driving the online-sales boom in the infant-goods industry.

"Mothers even haitao for quality products," said Wang, referring to the Chinese term for domestic consumers who shop overseas or pay third parties to buy products and ship them to China. Cross-border shopping is an important component for infant-products' e-commerce platforms.

The Nielsen report showed that over half of the surveyed mothers make purchases on overseas sites, since foreign products are believed to be of better quality.

According to Wang, millions of users visit Babytree every day to check for infant products, learn, exchange pregnancy and child care experiences, and document their children's growth, making it one of the best-known websites for Chinese mothers. The company has also announced monthly revenues of tens of millions of dollars since 2016.

"All consumers are more likely to trust big, experienced brands," said Wang.

Babytree has adopted a strategy grounded in community-based e-commerce to analyze what is being discussed on its online forum, to recommend suitable products from its e-commerce platform and to even develop goods in response to demand.

For instance, Babytree partnered with a local paper company to create baby wipes that replaced some common chemicals' functions with a weaving technique. That was after it noticed mothers in its online community discussing concerns about allergies to baby wipes.

"This product was greatly welcomed," said Wang.

Bali from Nielsen said demand for a better quality of life will be a strong industry trend going forward. This will see brands putting more emphasis on health, safety, convenience and innovation, he added.

Wang said that online and offline integration will gradually develop into "new retail" to help brands and companies answer this demand.

"Users can gain knowledge and communicate with others while enjoying personalized shopping recommendations supported by big data analyses. On the other hand, offline (stores) can provide experience-oriented and scenario-based membership-shopping services just like Amazon Go and Apple Stores," said Wang.

While companies expect more growth to stem from the second-child policy, Bali stressed that the potential demographic dividend will present a major challenge for the infant-products industry.

"Despite the boost from the second-child policy, changes in people's lifestyles caused by increasing living expenses may lead to a lower birth rate, which means a possible downturn for the industry," he said.

Contact the writer at kelly@chinadailyapac.com

 

The storefront of Annil, a children's wear company based in the southern city of Shenzhen. Even though the brand ranks second in China's children's wear market, it accounts for only about 1 percent of market share, reflecting the sector's intense competition.Provided to China Daily

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2018-02-21 08:14:11
<![CDATA[More Chinese seek IVF abroad]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716165.htm Prospective Chinese mothers are increasingly traveling abroad for in vitro fertilization and egg-freezing treatments.

More Chinese women are visiting fertility centers in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and even as far afield as the United States, as they look to start, or expand, their families.

A number of factors are contributing to Chinese women seeking IVF abroad. The most notable are China's family-planning policy's relaxation, women deciding to start families later, and a lack of sufficient fertility options and long wait times at centers in China.

IVF is the process of combining a female egg and male sperm in a laboratory dish and implanting the resulting embryo in the woman's uterus.

Paul McTaggart, CEO of Bangkok-based healthcare consultancy Medical Departures, told China Daily that "excess demand for IVF treatment, limited clinics available and months in waiting for consultation appointments" are among the factors driving Chinese women to seek programs abroad.

"The legality of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and gender selection are also reasons Chinese mothers don't go through IVF domestically," he said, referring to PGD, the genetic profiling of an embryo prior to implantation in the uterus.

He added that anecdotal evidence suggests that the success rates of IVF programs in China are about 10 percent lower than rates abroad.

According to McTaggart, the most common Asian countries in which Chinese mainland women seek IVF treatment are Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea.

The cost of such programs - which typically take four to six weeks per cycle - varies widely across the region.

According to Medical Departures, the cost of IVF in Thailand ranges from 48,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan ($7,400-$12,300). In Malaysia, it is from around 21,000 yuan to 31,000 yuan. And expenses in Singapore range from 40,000 yuan to 88,000 yuan.

Additional figures from Medical Departures indicate that the costs of IVF in China range from 16,500 yuan to 43,500 yuan, with the average hovering 30,000 yuan. While this generally compares favorably to overseas alternatives, cost is not the only factor involved. Timeliness and quality of service are also prime considerations.

Kyle Francis, CEO of the Southern California Reproduction Center, pointed to other factors that drive would-be Chinese mothers abroad.

"We are seeing a rise in medical tourism all across the world, but especially from families in China. The increasing volume is driven by strong Chinese cultural ties to extend the bloodline and a growing understanding and acceptance of fertility treatments," Francis said.

"In addition, (there are) the change in the (family-planning) policy, the increasing number of late marriages and women choosing to freeze their eggs. Fertility preservation is also a growing factor, due in part to the fact that people are waiting longer to get married, particularly as women's career opportunities have expanded."

Growing business

Egg freezing is another popular method among Chinese women. The process is forbidden for unmarried women in China but remains an attractive option abroad for those - typically educated and middle-class - women who seek to postpone having children until later in their careers.

"We are seeing patients in their early 30s to early 40s. Due to our advanced technology in our egg-freezing process, we have high survival rates of our oocytes (eggs) and they may be stored indefinitely," said Francis.

Frozen eggs can typically be stored for many years and remain viable.

"We have had patients be successful with eggs and embryos frozen over 10 years," he added.

"(Egg freezing) is a growing business area," Sammi Kwok, chief operations officer of Fertility & Surgical Associates of California, told the BBC.

While egg freezing is popular with Chinese women in other countries, such as Singapore, Cambodia and Australia, the US is the most popular destination.

Around 25 Chinese women have frozen their eggs at Fertility& Surgical Associates annually in recent years. Kwok said the numbers are rising.

However, egg freezing for Chinese will remain a niche treatment due to its cost.

The BBC reported that egg freezing in the US costs between around $15,000 and $20,000 - excluding flights and accommodation. Additional egg-storage fees are also required.

The news outlet also reported that while "it is difficult to estimate the number of Chinese women freezing their eggs overseas, it is an active topic on social media", with a WeChat group giving advice to unmarried Chinese women on how to have children through unconventional means, such as egg freezing and IVF.

While many prospective Chinese mothers may prefer to stay in their homeland for their IVF treatment, there is not always an easy option.

"More and more women are coming to ask to have their second child," Liu Jiaen, who runs a private hospital in Beijing treating infertility through IVF, told The Japan Times.

According to Liu, the numbers of Chinese women coming to him for IVF rose by 20 percent following the relaxation of the family-planning policy. Prior to that, the average age of his patients was about 35, he said, adding that most of the women now are over 40 and some are even close to 50.

But the supply of services on the Chinese mainland is no longer sufficient to meet demand.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission estimated that 90 million women became eligible to have another child following the relaxation of the family-planning policy.

"The main driver (of the increased demand for IVF) is the (policy change) �� in 2015, swiftly giving rise to an influx of Chinese couples seeking a second child, coupled with a dearth of reliable fertility facilities on the mainland," Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders, told China Daily.

For China Daily

 

Pregnant women practice yoga at a square in Wuhan, Hubei province. More Chinese women are visiting fertility centers abroad to start, or expand, their families. Imaginechina

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2018-02-21 08:14:11
<![CDATA[MASK CRAFTSMEN KEEP ANCIENT NUO OPERA ALIVE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/20/content_35714898.htm

Nuo Opera is a traditional drama popular in Xiangdong district of Pingxiang, Jiangxi province, which originates from ancient sacrificial ceremonies. In those days, performing Nuo Opera was thought to drive away plague and other epidemic diseases. Nowadays, it is a custom for local people to perform the opera during traditional festivals to pray for good luck.

The craft of creating masks that performers wear for the opera, which dates back more than 1,000 years, was recognized as national intangible cultural heritage in 2006.

Nuo Opera mask carving is classified into two categories in Xiangdong - the school of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the school of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Chen Quanfu is an inheritor of the Nuo Opera mask carving skills from the Tang Dynasty school in Xiangdong. He said, "The two schools share one thing in common, that they both emphasize innovation and meticulousness."

He added that what should be passed down to future generations is not only the mask-making procedure, but also the craftsmanship that features professional ethics and a meticulous spirit that ensures the constant improvement of the craft over the long term.

Chen first started to learn the craft from his father in his childhood, and has mastered the skills of carving masks for more than 400 figures.

Peng Guolong, an inheritor of the Song Dynasty mask carving school in Xiangdong, is skilled at innovating traditional masks' design.

"I like adding some characteristics or details to the figures' looks to make them more lively," he said.

Chen and Peng pass the skills on to their disciples, some of whom work in Guangdong and Fujian provinces as professional mask carvers.

 

A multiple exposure of Peng Guolong with masks he has made using the Song Dynasty carving method in Pingxiang, Jiangxi province, on Dec 28.Photos By Peng Zhaozhi / Xinhua

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2018-02-20 07:48:28
<![CDATA[FRIENDSHIP FORGED IN THE FURNACE OF TURMOIL]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/20/content_35714897.htm

They are little known and almost forgotten, but Canadian missionaries mostly from southern Ontario who traveled to China starting in the late 19th century played a crucial role in the history of Canada-China relations, reports Na Li in Toronto.

Inside the University of Toronto library, a black and white photo that is part of a photo exhibition shows two little girls petting a baby giant panda on a cane chair.

The photo is of Marion Walmsley Walker and her sister playing with the panda named Pandora in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in 1938.

"It has been 68 years since I left the home of my birth and the Canadian School that I loved," said 86-year-old Walker, who attended the photo exhibition last October with her family.

"How many memories are there: of learning, athletics, music, fun and growing up."

The exhibition of archived photographs on the library's eighth floor, Canadians in China: Old Photographs from Sichuan 1892-1952, documents the lives and contributions of Canadian missionary doctors in Sichuan during those eventful years.

In 1891 Walker's grandfather, Doctor O. L. Kilborn, went to Chengdu from Canada with his wife Jennie. In 1910, through joint efforts of missionary organizations of Canada, Britain and the United States, Kilborn and others founded West China Union University.

Walker's parents went to Sichuan from Canada in 1921. Her father, Lewis C. Walmsley, had a good knowledge of Chinese culture. He received a PhD in education from the University of Toronto in 1945. His dissertation was on the education system of classic Chinese literature. He translated the Collected Poems of Wang Wei, in collaboration with Chang Yin-nan.

Three generations of Kilborns served in China for a total of 72 years (61 years in the Chinese mainland and 11 years in Hong Kong), contributing to China's medical science and education. Their service ended with son Leslie Kilborn's retirement.

West China Hospital

"Different groups of specialists got involved in the West China Hospital founded by my grandfather and father, making the hospital quite large," said Doctor Robert Kilborn, the eldest grandson of Doctor O. L. Kilborn, who was born in Emei, Sichuan province, in 1923 and finished junior middle school at the Canadian School and returned to Canada for further education in 1941.

"It included three departments of Western medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. I have to give them a lot of credit for that. They carried on as missionaries to build a Chinese university. He left a legacy behind of a Chinese managed university, Chinese principles, Chinese professors and Chinese self-contained."

The Kilborn Memorial Visiting Professorship Endowment Fund was established by Robert Kilborn to build a continuing relationship between Canadian doctors and the West China Centre of Medical Sciences.

"Sichuan is my home," Kilborn said. "I was born there. I hope the fund can be a start to improve the cooperation between the two universities in medical research and exchange. The Chinese visiting professors can come to Canada back and forth. In reverse, we can choose Canadian students to go to China for research. This has been my dream and goal."

The Kilborn family is among about 500 Canadians who set sail into the uncharted waters of late 19th century China, which was experiencing social unrest at the time.

These missionaries witnessed history unfold, including the end of the last Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Japanese invasion in the early 1930s and the subsequent civil war and eventually the birth of the People's Republic in 1949.

The doctors trained by the missionaries became the backbone of a modern medical system in the country in the post-1949 era, said Karen Minden, a University of Manitoba professor who focuses on the missionaries in China between 1892 and 1951 in her book Bamboo Stone: The Evolution of a Chinese Medical Elite.

The Endicotts are another family who lived in Sichuan for three generations. James Gareth Endicott, who was widely known by his Chinese name Wen Youzhang, was born in Sichuan of Canadian missionary parents in 1898. After serving with the Canadian army in France and graduating from the University of Toronto he returned to China and settled in Chongqing in 1925, where he soon became fluent in Chinese.

He worked in Chongqing from 1925 to 1940 and made great contributions during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

In Canada he became chairman of the Canadian Peace Congress and vice-chair of the World Peace Council. During the Cold War and for more than 40 years he advocated understanding and friendship with the new revolutionary China. But that advocacy led to public controversy with his church and the Canadian government, which at one time considered putting him on trial for treason.

Before he died in 1993 the city of Toronto and York University recognized him as one of Canada's prophetic voices in coming to terms with the march of history in Asia and for promoting the possibility of peaceful coexistence between differing social systems.

Endicott was also honored by the Chinese government with the Peoples' Friendship Ambassador Medal, one of the highest awards given to foreigners, for his consistent support for the Chinese people's revolution and his dedication to the international peace movement.

On his death, Endicott wanted his ashes shared with his parents in Toronto and spread in the waters of the Dadu River at his birthplace, which witnessed the historic milestones of "the Long March", "the people's communes" and the "heroic struggles of the Chinese people".

Stephen Endicott, James' son, was born in Shanghai and grew up in China. He followed in his father's footsteps to devote his life to Sino-Canadian friendship and promote the understanding of China. As a senior scholar at York University he has written several books, including a biography of his father, James G. Endicott: Rebel Out of China.

Returns to Chongqing

In 2005 Stephen returned to Chongqing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory of China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

"I spent the first 13 years of my life in Chongqing, the city which I regard as my hometown," he told China Daily. "It has gone through dramatic changes during the past decades. I feel happy for my people."

Donald Willmott, son of the Canadian missionary Leslie Earl Willmott, a friend of James Endicott, was born in 1925 in Renshou, Sichuan.

During China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, Donald, whose Chinese name was Yun Da-le, worked in the intelligence branch of the US Army and took part in a secret left-wing discussion group along with his parents.

After the war he gained a PhD and taught sociology and Eastern studies in Canada, and he retired in 1995. He was a co-founder of the Toronto chapter of the Canada China Friendship Society, in which he was an active member for many years.

According to a study titled Memorial University's First Sociologist, Donald Willmott and his family's involvement in the social gospel movement, his childhood in China and his American education in sociology shaped his outlook on life and his approach to sociology.

"In his heart, China was always his home," the study said, "In all his life he has worked to carry on the Canada-China friendship to promote peace in the world."

Minden calls these Canadian men and women "scientific missionaries", their powerful vision being the revitalization of China and their legacy passed on to Chinese students being the essence of the collaboration between China and the West.

"The missionaries' story is about the foundation of Canada-China relations," she said.

Contact the writer at renali@chinadailyusa.com

 

Descendants of members of the Canadian School who spent time in China gathered with Chinese friends at the opening of Canadians in China: Old Photographs from Sichuan 1892-1952, held at the University of Toronto on Oct 23, 2017.

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2018-02-20 07:48:01
<![CDATA[Snacks for the pack]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/16/content_35707981.htm Editor's note: Spring Festival is all about feasting and celebrating with food. With the Spring Festival holiday in full swing, millions of Chinese kitchens all over the world have prepared for the Lunar New Year. We help you to understand some of the culinary traditions and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Spring Festival is a period for reunions among family and friends. Traditionally, this is also the time to relax and catch up with long overdue visits.

The Chinese home is an open house in the first week of the Lunar New Year, welcoming all who enter with lots of food and plenty of drinks. Special snacks are always prepared, as well as candy, mandarin oranges, melon seeds and groundnuts - all to wash down conversation and fellowship.

 

Peanut brittle and almond brittle (above) and tarts filled with pineapple jam (right) are good with Chinese tea. Photos Provided to China Daily

Different regions in China have different Lunar New Year tidbits.

In the northern wheat country, dainty buns in the shape of flowers and animals, fluffy pastries with sweet jujube puree, are proudly presented, and the famous candied wheat dough crullers, shaqima, appear on the table.

Peanut brittle, crisp crunchy and sweet, is good with Chinese tea. There is also sesame brittle, with its lingering fragrance in the mouth.

In my childhood, the kitchen would be busy churning out tubs of snacks for guests weeks in advance.

I remember sitting by the marble kitchen table, watching as nimble-fingered aunts rolled out tiny wafer-thin dough circles and filled them with a teaspoon of crushed peanuts and sesame seeds mixed with sugar.

The plump half-circles were then pleated shut, no bigger than a walnut half. These little pastries went into a waiting vat of hot oil and came out as crisp little puffs called kok zhai, or baby horns.

Another popular new year snack deep-fried in the vat of oil was vegetable crisps - made from thinly sliced arrowhead, sweet potatoes, potatoes and often little nests of shredded taro.

These were generously sprinkled with seasoned salt and were the children's number one favorite. We were given only a small ration each day, but we always managed to wheedle a little extra when guests came to visit.

We have a saying in the south, nianwan jiandui renyou woyou. This translates to "jiandui for New Year's Eve, everyone has some, and I must have one."

A jiandui is a large, deep - fried, crisp and chewy glutinous rice ball filled with candied peanuts, maltose and sesame seeds. It is difficult to cook and requires long, slow deep-frying to thoroughly dry out the glutinous dough and make it very crisp. But it is a must-have for the celebrations because its round, full shape symbolizes reunion and prosperity.

The saying is often applied to bachelors looking for a wife, as well.

When visitors arrive at the house, they are immediately ushered to a seat and drinks are served, usually festive orange squash or juice, tea or beer, and the occasional fiery white spirit, baijiu.

Next, a round platter with compartments filled with candy and melon seeds appears and the guests are expected to politely take a handful of melon seeds. This is to chouyin, or "extract silver", since the words for seeds and silver are homophonic.

As the adults crack melon seeds and groundnuts and exchange the latest gossip, the children will have their eyes locked on the candy tray.

There will be all sorts of white, frosted fruits and vegetables. These are Spring Festival specialties, rarely eaten out of season. They may include candied lotus root, lotus seeds, coconut strips, whole, pressed kumquats, winter melon batons and even slices of golden carrot.

Southern families also like pampering guests with fluffy golden egg rolls cooked like crepes and then deftly rolled up before they cool and harden. It used to be a hazard eating these, as they tend to crumble and disintegrate all over your brand new clothes.

The golden pineapple has special significance, especially in the province of Fujian and on Taiwan island. Here, it is known as onglai in the local dialect, which sounds exactly like "wealth beckons".

Cookies and tarts filled with pineapple jam are thus offered together with hearty wishes for wealth and health in the coming year.

Also from this region is a deep red pork jerky called bak kwa, which northerners nicknamed yingtaorou, or cherry meat. It has nothing to do with cherries, but is highly seasoned, sweetened pork that is first spread out, steamed to cook, then slowly grilled on the fire till it is fragrant and smoky.

It doesn't have to be rich or expensive. Inventive flavoring added to plain flour dough can make crispy snacks.

For example, a fermented red bean curd is used to season flour, which is then rolled and folded into curly whirls and deep-fried. These sweet-savory crisps are perfect beer food.

All over China, Spring Festival is the best time to indulge in the national pastime of eating well.

The one difference is, many double-income families may now choose to go online to order their new year delicacies rather than slave in the kitchen. These are the signs of progress.

aulined@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-16 12:14:51
<![CDATA[Hitting the right keys]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/16/content_35707980.htm At 82, accordion player Ren Shirong teaches the blind to play

It is 9 am on Wednesday on a cold and chilly winter morning in December in Beijing. Ren Shirong, 82, arrives at the China Braille Library near the Second Ring Road from his home near the city's Fourth Ring Road.

Using crutches, he hobbles slowly into a classroom.

Then, with the help of volunteers, he takes off his jacket, revealing a military uniform.

 

In a classroom on the fifth floor of the China Braille Library in Beijing, accordionist Ren Shirong and his visually impaired students play Shepherd Girl. Photos by Du Lianyi / China Daily

He then smiles, opening a music book and preparing for class.

In the classroom are more than 20 students, all with an accordion.

Their left hands fluently manipulate the bass buttons while their right hands press the black and white keys.

From Young Pines to Ah, Goodbye to My Friends, and from Shepherd Girl to February, they play the songs with confidence.

It is hard to believe that these tunes are being played by visually impaired people.

They are so good that they have appeared on stage, and have won many awards.

Their achievements are thanks to Ren, who was a first-class national accordionist at the Air Force Academy of Television Arts Center and the 2015 Beijing Model Winner.

He is one of China's "accordion champions" and is among the musicians who played before leaders like Chairman Mao Zedong.

Now he is devoted to teaching people who are visually impaired. Thanks to him, many of them have found happiness and confidence through playing music.

The accordion class, which now has more than 30 students, was founded in 2007.

Ren has been teaching the class from 9 to 11 am every Wednesday for the past 10 years.

During each class, Ren guides the students, and they then practice over and over.

The students cannot see the music scores or the keys. But from their expressions, you know they love music.

Ren's first encounter with visually impaired people was about 20 years ago.

It was the day when Hong Kong was handed over to the motherland in 1997.

At that time, Ren heard someone playing the accordion in Badachu Park in Beijing.

After listening for a while, he took the initiative and said to the visually impaired person: "I can teach you."

Unconvinced, the person said, "Show me your skills first."

After Ren's perfect solo of the Spanish Bullfighter, the person could tell that he must be a master.

However, the person did not take up Ren's offer.

Ten years later, at an accordion competition held in Beijing, Ren, who was a judge at the event, recognized the man, Chen Guoyue.

After the competition, Ren told Chen to bring together all of the visually impaired people who wanted to learn the accordion in Beijing, and promised that he would teach them for free.

The task was not easy. But Ren first converted the five-line spectrum staves into numbered music notations, and also devised the "touch teaching method".

He holds the students' hands to teach them, helping them to touch the keyboard and the bellows. And if the students do not grasp the pace, he presses his feet on theirs to help them keep time.

During the classes Ren's fingers jump countless times between the black and white keys, but despite the hard work he continues undaunted.

Many of the students were not born visually impaired and excelled in various fields. But blindness often makes them extremely depressed.

However, Ren's extraordinary belief and his understanding and love of the people have opened a window for them. Many consider the class as home. And the happiness they gain from playing the accordion gives them hope.

Ren cannot remember how many holidays he has spent with them over the years.

Now, every one of his students can play at least four or five songs completely, and some of them often accompany choirs.

His students Chen Guoyue and Li Xiaomei have also performed on China Central Television and Beijing Television.

Ren says these students are not just entertainers, because their confidence and dignity give a whole new meaning to their life.

Meanwhile, many volunteers have joined in to help provide assistance to the students. Among them is Rong Yueling, who is a vocal instructor, and taxi driver Yang Jianhua, who drives Ren to the library every Wednesday.

Ren's story with the accordion started when he was 14, when he joined the army. Now, 68 years later, it continues.

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2018-02-16 12:14:51
<![CDATA[Extreme goes mainstream]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/16/content_35707979.htm Trendy young thrill-seekers embracing new wave of hair-raising sports

No longer the preserve of risk-taking adrenaline junkies, extreme sports are shaking off their niche status to become increasingly popular lifestyle choices within China's fitness mainstream.

Whether it's scaling walls, skateboarding on halfpipes or dirt-jumping on bikes, China's fashion-conscious young urbanites are embracing the thrills and spills of extreme sports, many of which now come with an Olympic seal of approval as well as street kudos.

 

Seppe Smits of Belgium competes during the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle final on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang county in South Korea. Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

 

At Wanlong Ski Resort in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, hip-hop beats boom through the valley as a group of snowboarding enthusiasts practice their spectacular maneuvers - leaping over stumps, flipping from ledges and traveling through the trees.

As China promotes winter sports among the public in the buildup to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, snowboarding is witnessing a spike in participation rates as amateurs and pros alike flock to the resorts around Beijing and surrounding Hebei province to take to the slopes.

He Wei, a professional snowboarder and organizer of the group at Wanlong, describes the sport as "white opium" - a description somewhat in keeping with its edgy image.

"It's so addictive and contagious once you get into it," said He after competing at the Banana Open, a World Snowboard Federation slopestyle event, at Wanlong earlier this month.

"The sense of freedom you feel as you traverse the mountains and woods helps alleviate urbanites' pressure of working and living in concrete jungles.

"The outfits and gear are really cool, which draws people's attention and attracts newcomers," added He, dubbed "Tiger" by his friends for the bold moves he pulls off on the board.

The oohs and aahs of spectators transfixed by the high-flying tricks at the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup at Genting Ski Resort, a Beijing 2022 venue, in December were testament to the sport's aesthetic appeal.

"When I first started training in the early 2000s, snowboarding was considered an unorthodox event and almost nobody snowboarded at the resort where I trained," says Zhang Yiwei, a member of China's national halfpipe snowboard team.

"The video highlights of foreign boarders performing tricks in their stylish gear to pop music at the X Games really opened the eyes of my generation back then, and now it has become so popular that almost every resort hosts more boarders than skiers every day."

Olympic approval

Snowboarding's inexorable rise has also been boosted by the buildup to the 2022 Winter Olympics, but the International Olympic Committee's decision to increase the number of extreme sports events in the program of the Summer Games has caused an even bigger ripple in China.

The General Administration of Sport of China, the country's top sports governing body, has been running a talent-selection program with Beijing Sport University to draft and develop talents from around the world in surfing, climbing, skateboarding and BMX freestyle, four sports added by the IOC in August 2016 to the program of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

In a bid to fill a talent shortage in these sports, the program has targeted foreign athletes of Chinese ancestry and Chinese citizens living abroad to build teams to represent China in Tokyo. The initiative is being facilitated by stipends and policies to encourage changing nationality if necessary.

Plucked from auditions held from August to October, about 1,500 hopefuls have made it to the qualification tests this month, with an expert panel consisting of coaches, fitness trainers and psychologists to further assess the candidates.

Afficionados say the move is evidence of the national sports authority's changing attitude toward extreme sports.

"It shows the governing body's appreciation of these niche sports, which used to be considered 'underground' activities enjoyed by some extreme enthusiasts in a less-than-organized fashion," says Wang Wei, president of the Beijing Extreme Sports Association, a nongovernmental organization founded in June 2016.

In a country where Olympic success still carries major clout, extreme sports' recognition by official bodies should result in increased resources and funding for the sector, says Wang.

The quadrennial Chinese National Games has added climbing to its 2017 program to help the discipline gain more exposure and stimulate grassroots participation.

In front of a cheering crowd at Huayan Climbing Park in the Jiulongpo district of Chongqing, 126 amateurs and pros from 26 provincial teams put on a show of strength, endurance and precision on rock cliffs during a competition at a newly built permanent venue for the sport.

Zhong Qixin, a world champion in speed climbing from Jiangxi province, believes the official backing will make a big difference.

"Building upon the existing passion for the sport, the Olympic recognition will only make it more attractive," says Zhong, a four-time world champion between 2007 and 2012.

"More and more climbing parks and indoor clubs are now opening downtown in cities around the country. It's becoming more accessible, and more children have picked it up as a way to toughen up," says Zhong, who can scurry up a 15-meter-high wall in less than six seconds.

The height of fashion

The accessibility of venues and its appeal to fitness fanatics have paved the way for more urban Chinese to dip their toes into extreme sports from the relative safety of their entry levels.

Almost every day at 8 pm, an adrenaline-pumping rush hour begins at the O'le Climbing Gym in southwest Beijing's Sihui area, near the capital's Central Business District.

Urbanites ranging from students to office workers scale a 12.5-m-high artificial rock wall, wrenching themselves upward with harnesses as pop music blares in the background.

Xu Xiaonan, a half-year membership card holder of the club, which opened in 2008, has embraced the energy-sapping exercise as a way to toughen her mind and body after a long day at the office.

"It looks so masculine and difficult, but it's quite accessible from the beginner level, where you can start from doing strength exercises on the ground and then graduate to shorter walls," says Xu, who took up climbing in 2015.

Offering affordable fees of 65 yuan ($10; 8.4 euros; £7.4) for a one-day admission and 240 yuan for a one-on-one training session of 1.5 hours, the club has attracted over 500 regular members, and demand is soaring.

"I've noticed that this place is getting more crowded in peak hours and the club has opened a second gym in northeast downtown Beijing. More and more people seem to be taking up climbing," says Xu.

According to the mountaineering administrative center of the General Administration of Sport, there are at least 100,000 amateur climbers in the country now and 200 registered athletes.

Although the number pales in comparison to other mainstream sports like running and badminton, the governing body envisages a sharp increase, with more facilities being built in schools, fitness clubs, shopping malls and public parks around the country.

"The popularity will only go up as the public, young and old, look to more individual and fresh choices of fitness activities. Climbing caters to the growing need for accessible and affordable participation," says Li Guowei, an official from the center in charge of sport climbing.

Risky business

Despite the momentum, a lack of education in safety and insufficient facilities have hamstrung extreme sports in China, with one recent high-profile incident in particular exposing the risks.

Wu Yongning, known for climbing skyscrapers barehanded without safety equipment, died in November after slipping off a 62-story building in Changsha, Hunan province, while live-streaming his daredevil stunt.

Wu's camera, which he placed on another part of the building, captured the moment that he struggled to get back up on the ledge, lost his grip and plummeted 20 meters to his death. His body was later found by a window cleaner.

The video of the 26-year-old's fall went viral online, triggering a heated debate on the safety of some extreme sports such as roof-riding, parkour and wingsuit flying.

In April 2013, Wang Zijian, a parkour runner from Luzhou in Sichuan province, was killed when he apparently misjudged the height of a bridge as he jumped off it.

Parkour practitioners overcome obstacles, usually in urban spaces, by climbing, jumping, flipping and various other risky maneuvers to get from one point to another. The term is also known as "free running". In China, parkour is called pao ku, which literally translates as "running cool". Without designated facilities in urban areas for such activities, more training in risk prevention, first aid and equipment management is needed within China's young extreme-sports community, say insiders.

"My mom, she hates it that I do (extreme sports). She calls me every day, asking me to be careful or persuading me to do girls' stuff' like piano and ballet," says Chen Yanni, the sole female contender at a recent parkour contest in Beijing.

"But I like to be different, and this sport gives me a chance to be what I want to be. Still, it's risky and it's crucial to be prepared with safety precautions every time you run."

Beijing skateboarder Yu Yang used to practice regularly at St. Joseph's Church square near the capital's landmark Wangfujing shopping street. However, he and his friends have been forced to train elsewhere, and finding a new venue is proving problematic.

"We've been constantly coming up against square maintenance staff and others who find our activities annoying and dangerous. We are really in desperate need of safer training facilities," the 25-year-old says.

sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-16 12:14:51
<![CDATA[Rekindling a love affair with France]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/16/content_35707978.htm Travel by Chinese to the European country with a romantic reputation is recovering, following a slump attributed to terrorist attacks in recent years

Zhang Jiahe explains to several curious French onlookers, as she calligraphically renders the word on a red paper square, that the Chinese character fu means good fortune.

The 13-year-old also ties traditional Chinese knots, which are auspicious symbols in her own culture, at a stall on a flea market near the Saint Julian Cathedral in the city of Le Mans.

 

Clockwise from top left: The old quarter of Le Suquet in Cannes; seafood at a beachside restaurant in Cannes; Zhang Jiahe poses with a polar bear while visiting a zoo in France; two bikers at Cap Frehel in northern Brittany, France. Photos by Herve Fabre (top left and top center), Pierre Torset (above) and Provided to China Daily

A French vendor lets the Chinese teenager use the stall for the impromptu demonstration when she visits the country with her parents. The hawker also uses the calligraphy brush to write "Le Mans welcomes you" in French.

"The flea market was my favorite stop during the trip," Zhang says.

"I saw a lot of goods and met interesting people. Many passers-by were interested in Chinese culture and chatted with us."

The family has visited France several times.

Zhang's mother, Zhang Yonghong, posts updates about their travels on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. She has over 650,000 followers on the platform.

"Group tours offer only cursory glances," says the mother, who works for a Beijing-based company that focuses on outdoor activities for teenagers.

"You see several cities but in a limited time. I prefer to visit one or two places per trip. You can enjoy in-depth experiences and live like a local. I like to meet locals and learn about their lives."

She and her husband consider their daughter's preferences when they travel. The girl enjoys skiing in winter and water sports in the summer.

"Life is fast-paced in big cities like Beijing," Zhang Yonghong says.

"The three of us enjoy outdoor activities during holidays. We can escape from the pressure and get exercise."

Zhang's family is among 2.2 million Chinese who visited France last year.

That's compared with 1.8 million in 2016 and 2 million in 2015 - a year-on-year drop attributed largely to the terrorist attacks of 2015 and 2016.

Chinese are drawn to the country's romantic reputation, artistic legacy, celebrated gastronomy - including wonderful wine - and luxury shopping.

French authorities have been beefing up security. They've increased police patrols and installed more surveillance cameras. They've also recruited volunteers, especially during the holidays.

France has been working to court Chinese visitors.

It opened nine new visa application centers in such Chinese cities as Nanjing and Chongqing in 2016, bringing the total to 15.

The application procedure has been simplified and group tour participants can get visas within 48 hours.

A growing number of French tourism bureaus are opening accounts on the popular Chinese social-media platform WeChat. This enables Chinese to buy tickets for attractions before they start their trips.

In some shopping malls, such as Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris, Chinese customers can make purchases using UnionPay, WeChat Pay or Alipay.

Chinese visitors diversified last year, says Catherine Oden, director of Atout France (the France Tourism Development Agency) in China.

There were more independent and family travelers.

Atout France and its partners have been promoting tours with such themes as honeymoons, cultural heritage, outdoor activities and shopping to attract these demographics.

It has also introduced new themes, such as kids' activities, art and road trips.

French author Frederic Lepage, who is knowledgeable about China, recently published the book, Bonjour China. It's a guide customized for Chinese, with travel tips covering such areas as scenic spots, museums, Michelin-starred restaurants and shopping.

Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin writes in the book's translated preface: "The original content will arouse Chinese tourists' interest in visiting France ... It's rare that readers can feel the author's love for both France and China between the lines, and it will make the French learn again about their country in an open-minded way."

Early in the book, Lepage compares the two countries' histories on a timeline, marking major historical events in the same periods. For instance, it shows how the Avignon Papacy that started in 1309 overlapped with China's Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

He goes on to introduce French dining etiquette, customs and festivals.

Lepage advises those who hope to tap Paris' romantic appeal to attend a ballet performance at the Palais Garnier opera house, sip coffee at Cafe de Flore - a haunt of existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre and writer Simone de Beauvoir - and enjoy panoramic views of the city from a hot-air balloon launched in Andre Citroen Park.

"I like to relate the two countries' cultures and histories in the book with stories you may not hear from a tour guide," Lepage says, through a translator.

For instance, he writes about how Napoleon Bonaparte befriended Chinese laborers when the British exiled him on the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic between 1815 and 1821.

"France is a place where you can enjoy happy memories," Lepage says.

"You need to integrate into the history of France and cultivate your inner emotions. Besides Paris, you can explore other beautiful destinations, such as Rouen, Lyon and Marseille."

As the tourism recovery continues, it seems a growing number of Chinese are poised to do exactly that.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-16 12:14:51
<![CDATA[New spotlight on treasures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/16/content_35707977.htm Artists' re-creation of murals from tombs and the use of virtual reality are making grotto art much more accessible

How did aristocrats in fifth-century northern China treat guests at an outdoor feast?

For a start, there were colorful draperies that divided the dining and food preparation areas. The greater the number of hangings, and the longer they were, the wealthier the host family was deemed to be.

And while the guests enjoyed the food, they also watched performances that included dancing and acrobatics.

 

An artist works on a section of a reproduction of a Northern Wei Dynasty mural found in ancient tombs in Shanxi province. Photos Provided to China Daily

The kitchen had several divisions: Some dealt with the butchering and cooking of animal meat, some were used to make alcohol, some were used for boiling water, while another area housed a pestle and mortar for husking grains.

Such a scene was depicted on a mural inside a tomb of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534).

Over the past two years, the mural has been reproduced by artists and archaeologists and is now on display at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University. The original mural, abundant with vivid details, astonished archaeologists who excavated the tomb and 11 others nearby that belonged to the same period, in Shaling village near Datong, in North China's Shanxi province, in 2005.

Datong, then called Pingcheng, was the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty, before being replaced by Luoyang, in Central China's Henan province, in 439.

According to the inscriptions on broken lacquer pieces found in the tomb, the burial site dated from 435 and contained the remains of a woman surnamed Poduoluo, indicating she was from the Xianbei nomadic group. The group's Tuoba clan founded the Northern Wei Dynasty.

The inscriptions also said Poduoluo was the mother of a general and minister responsible for receiving the emperor's important guests.

As well as the feast painting, archaeologists also found inside the tomb nine other murals bearing different motifs. Lifesize reproductions of them are also on show at the Sackler museum, together with photos of the tomb and objects found there during excavation.

These murals are part of an exhibition, titled An Imaginative World of Afterlife, that showcases life nearly 1,600 years ago.

Zhang Zhuo, dean of the Datong-based Yungang Grottoes Research Academy, which manages the preservation of the Poduoluo tomb, says the exhibition title suggests that although the bulk of the murals depict how the Northern Wei's ruling class enjoyed a life of extravagance, some expressed a wish for continuing prosperity in the afterlife.

Zhang says an example of this wish for the afterlife are the three barns painted in the feast mural. He says it is unlikely that in real life there were three barns set up for an outdoor feast.

The Northern Wei Dynasty unified Northern China through assimilation and, according to Wang Yanqing, a researcher at the academy, it was short-lived but brilliant.

She says the Poduoluo tomb murals show that the Xianbei rulers adopted an all-embracing attitude toward other cultures.

She adds that while there were indications of the Xianbeis' customs, such as men and women wearing hats to keep warm, the arrangements of the feast and the riding troops, as well as the tomb's layout, showcased elements of Han culture. She also says that the depiction of people sitting with their legs crossed implied a growing influence of Buddhism.

"The Xianbei people came from the dense forests of the Greater Hinggan Mountains. And they fought hard for centuries to survive, eventually establishing their own dynasty," she says.

Wang says the group had its own spoken language but no written characters. As the Xianbei were surrounded by more advanced groups, they had to blend in by absorbing the essence of these cultures.

"Just imagine what a marvelous scene it must have been on the streets of Pingcheng," Wang says, referring to the blending of cultures.

"There would be people in various kinds of outfits, which indicated many ethnic backgrounds - the Han people and nomadic tribes and traders from central and west Asia."

The Poduoluo tomb was listed among the top 10 archaeological discoveries of China in 2005. The top 10 discoveries have been listed in an annual appraisal carried out since 1990 and supported by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Separately, Wang says studies of the dynasties established by nomadic tribes in northern China, like the Xianbei group, have made much progress in recent years.

She says that this is not only due to major archaeological discoveries like the Poduoluo tomb, but also thanks to the cooperation of artists who have copied ancient murals, and the introduction of computer technology that has helped archaeologists.

The reproduction of the Poduoluo tomb murals was undertaken by Wang's academy in collaboration with a muralist team led by Yao Zhiquan, an associate professor at Baotou Normal College in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, beginning in 2016.

Yao says his team uses pigments similar to those used by ancient painters, and thus was able to re-create a texture resembling the original murals.

Wang also says that, while working, the artists helped her team discover more details in the murals.

She adds that as Yao's painters re-created one of the murals on show, Traveling on Horses and Carriages, which depicts a grand scene of rows of horse-drawn carts, the archaeologists found that leading riders were also beating drums.

"We wouldn't have noticed this tiny detail if we had not worked with Yao's team," says Wang.

Speaking about the re-creation process, Zhang says that they did not fill in missing sections of the original murals if they could not find accurate academic references.

He adds that re-creation is an important element in the preservation of tomb murals, since it causes little direct damage compared with restoration, which is difficult and risky. And with the combined assistance of quality reproductions, photos and computer technology, stationary artifacts, such as murals and statues of great weight, can be seen by an audience hundreds of kilometers away.

The current exhibition also showcases artifacts and 3-D printed copies of Buddhist statues at the Yungang Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site of cave art from the fifth and sixth centuries. The artifacts have patterns and motifs similar to those found on murals and objects discovered in the Poduoluo tomb. And virtual reality allows viewers to see three large upright statues from cave 18.

A headset and a controller take the users to the cave: When they "look up", they can see a 15.5-meter-tall Buddha between two of his followers, standing 10 meters tall on either side.

Then, if a user presses buttons on the controller, he or she can "step forward" to see dozens of smaller figures in nearby niches and then "ascend" to the height of the Buddha's head and see a panoramic view of the cave art.

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-16 12:14:51
<![CDATA[Pop culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/16/content_35707976.htm There's a snap and crackle in the air when the popcorn man is in town

It's a childhood memory shared by the post-'80s generation - when the popcorn vendor arrived in the neighborhood and fired up his machine in the street. Everyone rushed home to fetch a bowl of rice or corn. Meanwhile, the vendor started slow-rolling his popcorn machine over the fire - a black, dangerous-looking metal vessel. A few minutes later, as a crowd watched nervously, a "ka-boom!" announced the arrival of sweet-smelling popcorn.

Popcorn-making used to be a thrilling spectacle, not like today's fast-food version involving microwaves and commercial breaks. With street vendors fast becoming a thing of the past and a new generation developing more diverse snacking habits, is there still a place for popcorn made the old way?

In 2013, Discovery Channel's Mythbusters set out to find the quickest way to make popcorn and tried out a Chinese machine, which they referred to as "mysterious Oriental ordnance". Video footage of the show's host wearing a bombproof suit, letting the popcorn explode all over the room instead of into a bag, was widely mocked in China. "Their methods are all wrong," tutted one viewer on Youku.com. Another commented: "Is there seriously the need to wear a bomb suit? It's an insult to the memories of the Chinese people."

Still, other commentators were glad to be reminded of one of their favorite childhood activities.

The "ordnance" is essentially a pressure vessel with a barometer. The device is rotated over high heat until the pressure reaches one megapascal, then lifted to open, with the container mouth attached to a bag or basket. The moment the pressure is released, the grain pops and bursts out of the cooker.

In the Wuchang district of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, photographer Zhang Demeng came upon the popcorn vendor pictured, who has stuck to the traditional method. He says that he does not have a fixed location in the city but drifts from spot to spot. The office buildings and construction sites that now populate his beat don't provide him with many customers. Perhaps in the near future, for him, too, the memory of his trade may be all that is left.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com

The World of Chinese

 

A popcorn vendor rolls the cooker over a fire to build up the pressure inside. Zhang Demeng / The World of Chinese

 

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2018-02-16 12:14:51
<![CDATA[For old time's sake]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705645.htm Bama county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region enjoys an enviable reputation as the home of longevity

Although it has been questioned whether the Japanese health organization that bestowed on Bama the title of "The Hometown of Longevity" in 1991 actually had the legitimacy to do so, there is no denying the county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has a high proportion of centenarians.

With 300,000 residents in total, the county has around 100 centenarians, nearly five times the United Nation's standard for a place of longevity, which is 7.5 per 100,000.

More important, the popula-tion in Bama over the age of 90 has been rising steadily, since the longevity of its residents first caught the attention of domestic researchers in the 1960s. Accord-ing to the county government, by the end of last year, Bama had nearly 800 people over 90 years old.

Many organizations from home and abroad have conduct-ed field researches in Bama since the 1990s, concluding the air is rich in negative oxygen ions, the soil and water contain healthy microelements and there is a strong geomagnetic field, all of which are good for health.

These inherent characteristics have turned Bama into a magnet for visiting senior citizens across the country. They flock to the county hoping to cure their high blood pressure, diabetes and asth-ma. There are even some with can-cer for whom the magical powers of Bama are a last ray of hope.

The government counts these people, whom the locals address as "migratory bird people", as travelers although they usually live in Bama for months, even years. It is estimated more than 100,000 of these "migratory birds" live in the houses of local farmers or the houses they helped the local farmers build.

In the morning and evening, hundreds of people dance and do exercises in front of Baimo Cave, a tourist spot that is believed to have the best air quality. Besides the cave is a deep valley through which the Panyang River flows where people line up to drink the water, which they believe to be the elixir of longevity.

Ten years ago, Bama received about 260,000 visitors. Last year, the number soared to about 5 million, and they accounted for more than half of the county's economy.

Concrete buildings dot the mountains. Almost all the fami-lies in the villages along the Panyang River, the core longevity region, manage homestays, eat-eries or specialty shops, selling local cereals, beans, corn and bar-becued pork.

Some villagers, who had gone to work in neighboring Guang-dong province, have returned to cater to the needs of tourists.

"The inflow of the travelers has changed the locals' lifestyle which had not changed for hundreds of years," says Liang Shaoen, a local civil servant.

Few young people work the land anymore, since running a small business catering to tour-ists makes them more money than farming.

However, for most of Bama's centenarians, most of whom are illiterate and have never left home, farming was their liveli-hood.

The centenarians have some-thing in common that even the locals today can't share, said Zhang Yuan, a photographer who has shot photos of 120 centenari-ans in Bama over the years.

"Aside from their simple lives, they invariably have simple minds. For most of their lives, they have lived a hand-to-mouth, but self-sufficient life. They enjoy singing folk songs, and have no desire for money and the other material comforts," Zhang said.

"It is a mentality that is hard to develop in the modern world," he added.

Some centenarians sit in the halls of the homestays or shops their offspring operate, acting as a form of advertising and rev-enue, visitors are expected to give them red envelopes con-taining cash when taking a pho-to with them and seeking their blessings.

However, not all attribute the longevity of Bama's residents to the external conditions, there are some who think it is in the local people's genes. Sun Liang, a genetic researcher at the Nation-al Gerontology Center, said that among the factors contributing to long life, genes contribute about 20 to 30 percent, and the living habits and medical care conditions account for 70 to 80 percent.

"How many years people can live after they reach 90 is mostly decided by their genes. Bama's longevity is in the first place determined by local people's genes," said Sun.

Studies by Yang Ze, deputy director of the Beijing Gerontolo-gy Institute, indicates that Bama people came from the Southeast Asia thousands of years ago, and the genes of Bama people are much purer than the modern average.

"The difficult transport condi-tions made Bama an isolated island for genes. Except during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when the genes of some new set-tlers from North China mingled with the genes of the local peo-ple," Yang said.

liyang@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Villagers of the Yao ethnic group perform a traditional bronze drum dance in the Zhuzhu Festival celebrations in Dongshan, Bama, in June. Huang Dayou / For China Daily

 

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2018-02-15 08:26:20
<![CDATA[Subterranean marvels]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705644.htm

The longevity of Bama people, to some extent, distracts the attention of visitors from its picturesque karst landscape, especially the caves.

The most popular one is Baimo Cave, or the Cave of a Hundred Dev-ils. Although rather than being the abode of malevolent spirits, it was home to serpents, bats and boars before it was discovered.

The cave is a sinkhole, a saucer-shaped surface depression pro-duced when underlying limestone dissolves, or when caves collapse. It is 80 meters high and 70 meters wide on average, and the tourist route within the sinkhole is more than 4 kilometers long.

The subterranean netherworld hosts dozens of types of karst for-mations, including crystalline sta-lagmites and stalactites, with the tallest standing nearly 40 meters high. The sands of time have fused some into hourglass-shaped pillars, and some are mirror images of each other. It's said water dripping from the ceiling adds one-fifth of a milli-meter to the stalagmites' tips each year. Their surfaces undulate with the accumulations of sedimentary minerals collected over hundreds of millennia.

What constitutes the cave's ani-ma is the jade-green subterrane-an water, which is the Panyang River, Bama's mother river, which meanders through a valley form-ing a huge Chinese character of ming, or life.

In the lower reaches of the river is Bainiaoyan Cave, or the Cave of Hundreds of Birds. The Panyang River flows into the cave and becomes a subterranean river again. The cave is more than 1,000 meters deep, 40 to 50 meters wide and about 16 meters high. The ceil-ing of the cave is like a dome above the river spiked with stalactites of various shapes. There are some openings in the ceiling in the mid-dle of the cave, like skylights.

Another cave not far from Baimo Cave is called Crystal Palace. The entrance to the cave is in the middle of the slope of a karst peak. The cave was not found until it was acci-dentally found by local residents in 2004.

The cave is more than 1,000 meters deep, 8 to 50 meters wide and 10 to 80 meters high. It boasts the largest group of crystal and translucent stalagmites and stalac-tites groups in China.

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2018-02-15 08:26:20
<![CDATA['Migratory birds' put an end to old ways]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705643.htm A small fish that locals catch in the subterranean rivers is regarded as a delicacy after being fried in its own fat.

The price has increased more than 10 times since my first visit to Bama in 2013, because it has almost vanished now.

I have been to Bama three times, and it was noisier and more crowd-ed on the second visit than it was on the first, and even more so on my third visit.

The coming of visitors, especially the "migratory birds", represents a stable source of rev-enue for the locals.

But a big con-cern of the longevi-ty villages, which are concentrated in the valley along the Panyang River, is how to dispose of the sewage and solid waste, which have increased rap-idly with the growing number of "migratory birds".

Although the county government arranges for trucks to carry the sol-id waste to a refuse processing plant in the town, some garbage is directly burned by local dustmen in the dustbins on the side of the road in the mountains. The pungent smoke is repulsive and can be smelled miles away from where it is being burned.

And some eateries and home-stays directly discharge waste into the simple sewer system that goes directly into the Panyang River.

Although locals admit the envi-ronmental concerns must be addressed as soon as possible, the visitors have made it impossible for the locals to return to the old way of life in the county.

Now almost all families are engaged in businesses related to tourism, which has seen their incomes increase over the past dec-ade.

Bama's popularity has attracted more than 60 billion yuan ($9.53 billion) in investments since 2016. Hopefully, some of that investment will be used for environmental pro-tection.

The county government should set a ceiling on the number of visi-tors each year based on carrying capacity of the local environment. This will benefit Bama in the long run.

Also, the commercial exploitation of the mineral water in Bama must be planned, if not controlled, care-fully.

There are already 13 bottled water companies in Bama, with an output of 1.23 billion yuan last year, up 10.8 percent year-on-year.

Once the groundwater lowers to a certain level, it is very difficult to recover and will trigger a chain reaction in the local ecosystem.

Contact the writer at liyang@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-15 08:26:20
<![CDATA[Guangzhou sees flower markets flourish]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705639.htm Tradition of buying plants ahead of Spring Festival gets a boost from rising living standards

Xiao Aiting, a doctor in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, buys a potted kumquat tree and flowers such as rhododendrons, chrysanthemums, narcissi and orchids before Spring Festival every year to create a festive floral corner in her home.

The word for kumquat in Cantonese sounds like the word for luck and Xiao sticks a red envelope on the pot of the tree to wish for abundant luck in the coming year.

 

A flower grower at Datian village in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, waters roses on sale in her shop. Provided to China Daily

 
 She spends 400 yuan to 600 yuan ($63-95) on her floral decorations, depending on the price of flowers each year.

To Lu Shaoqin, 25, who works in an internet company in Guangzhou, shopping for flowers in a nearby flower market has been an important family tradition since her childhood, without which Lunar New Year celebrations would be incomplete.

A kumquat tree and chrysanthemums, which also symbolize luck; Pachira macrocarpa, also known as the money tree; Dracaena sanderiana, or lucky bamboo; and Solanum mammosum, which is called five generations living under the same roof, are the blooms favored by Lu's family.

A mini peach blossom tree, signifying good luck in relations with the opposite sex, is also a must.

Other flowers popular at Lunar New Year in the city are cockscomb, dahlia, gladiolus and lily.

Ruan Lin, dean of the Guangzhou Institute of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, said most families in Guangzhou, buy flowers for Spring Festival.

The love of flowers by the people of Guangzhou, which is known as the "City of Flowers", was recorded in ancient writings as early as in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24).

Su Lisi, chairwoman of the Guangdong Floral Culture Club of the World Flower Council, said there is no official definition of the meanings of festival flowers, but rather customary understanding of local people.

All flowers are beautiful and offer hope for the future. But, positive connotations are sought during Spring Festival and so some flowers have become popular, Su said.

Peach blossom is a favorite of Su's family because it means love and prosperity. This is also why businesspeople prefer the flower, she said.

The tradition of shopping in the city's flower markets is due to its warm weather and great selection of flowers available, Su said.

Ye Chunsheng, a retired professor from the Sun Yat-sen University and a folk culture expert, said Guangzhou's flower trade can be traced back more than 1,000 years to the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960), when farmers sold flowers in what is now Zhuangtou village in Haizhu district to the south of the Pearl River.

Flower markets assumed their current form gradually between the 1860s and 1920s when visiting them became a Lunar New Year custom in the provincial capital, with bamboo frames built to display and sell flowers as well as arts and crafts in designated streets closed temporarily in the few days before Spring Festival, he said.

Abraham Morse, a doctor from the United States working at Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center, visited the flower market in Liwan district with his wife last year.

"It was busy and crowded with lots of activity and people of all ages. There was definitely a festive atmosphere. The entire wide avenue was closed off for a distance of about 1 kilometer.

"In the middle of the avenue were stalls mainly selling plants, flowers, pots, and other arts and crafts. Also some snack foods. The stores along the sidewalks of the street were also busy," Morse said.

The couple bought flowers, potted plants and decorative pots as well as snack foods.

"It is not hard to spend your money if you have a place to put what you can buy. We were primarily buying things to decorate the entrance to our apartment and in our apartment as well as the balcony. A few things were for gifts," Morse said.

"It would be a great place to visit to see many beautiful local products and get some sense of the culture of Chinese New Year."

Ye's family moved to Guangzhou when he was 16 and at that time jasmine was widely available in the flower markets.

Over the past 40 years, the varieties of flowers on offer have increased vastly and so have the prices, with balloons and toys also occupying the stalls now, Ye said.

"Folk culture comes from life and develops with life. The content has changed but the meaning of bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new by walking in the flower markets remains," Ye said.

With higher living standards, people now have more aesthetic demands with many families now pursuing artistic shapes and forms, Su said. "The flower markets in Guangzhou will surely become larger in the future, because living standards are higher and people's expectations have risen, hence the increased spending on festive flowers," Su said.

Official statistics indicate the flower markets in the 11 districts in Guangzhou drew 5.35 million visitors and generated revenue of 120 million yuan last year.

The flower markets marking the coming Year of the Dog started on Feb 12 in Guangzhou, with New Year's Eve falling on Feb 15.

Sheng Wuhan contributed to this story.

liwenfang@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-15 08:25:42
<![CDATA[Floral landscaping brings a riot of color to city's streets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705638.htm Drivers and pedestrians crossing overpasses and footbridges in Guangzhou in November could expect to see Bougainvillea glabra in full bloom against the backdrop of an azure autumn sky.

The flowers, which can range in color from purple, red and pink to white and yellow, cover the sides of 353 overpasses and footbridges measuring 330 kilometers in length in Guangzhou, bringing a riot of color to the cityscape.

Thirteen species have been selected out of a total of 150 to decorate the bridges together with some other plants. Careful management, means there are flowers in bloom all year round, up from two seasons in 2003 when the work began to beautify the bridges, said Ruan Lin, dean of the Guangzhou Institute of Forestry and Landscape Architecture.

 

From left: Colorful flowers adorn a public park on Ersha Island in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Flower beds bring color to a walkway beside the Pearl River. Visitors look at plants on display at the Guangzhou International Floral Art Exhibition held last year in Guangzhou. Photos Provided to China Daily

As well as looking attractive, the flowers also bring marked ecological benefits in terms of improvements to air quality and mitigation of urban heat island effect - where a metropolitan area is warmer than surrounding rural areas due to human activity.

Guangzhou has applied for a national habitat award for the project after winning the Guangdong provincial award last year, Ruan said, adding that the city's experts have helped a number of other cities on the southeast coast garnish their bridges.

The floral bridges are only part of authorities' efforts to enable the city live up to its nickname of the "city of flowers".

Last year, the city's forestry and gardening administration implemented a five-year floral landscape plan, Ruan said.

Through careful selection and placement of species and thanks to the warm climate, significant blooms are available year round. Kapok, peach blossom and pink Bauhinia adorn the city in spring; Delonix regia, or flame tree, and Lagerstroemia indica, also known as crepe myrtle, in summer; Ceiba speciosa, or silk floss tree, and red Bauhinia in autumn; and plum blossom in winter. Flower sightseeing tips are posted on the administration's website to allow residents to appreciate the displays.

Floral spots across the city have been upgraded since last year to show more aesthetic sense and efforts are being made to promote the love of flowers in Cantonese culture through activities such as floral exhibitions, promotion of floral science and support for the decoration of residents' balconies.

In September last year, as a highlight of the city's floral affairs, the Guangzhou International Floral Art Exhibition was held along with the annual conference of the World Flower Council in Guangzhou.

Floral artists from more than 32 countries and regions participated in the events, and over 400 international flower art works were displayed in the city.

In addition, experts from Guangzhou led a team with members from across the country in formulating a national standard on floral decoration along overpasses and footbridges, which has been approved, Ruan said.

liwenfang@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-15 08:25:42
<![CDATA[Reading for the masses]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705637.htm Self-service libraries pop up around Beijing's Chaoyang district

The government of Beijing's Chaoyang district had opened eight self-service libraries by the end of last year, forming the largest group of such public libraries in the capital city.

The eight libraries, which are mainly located in Chaoyang's commercial and cultural zones, have entered Beijing's public library service system. Readers can borrow books from and read books in these libraries for free. They are able to return their borrowed books at any of the eight libraries, as well as other public libraries in the district.

The libraries cover a combined area of more than 40,000 square meters and provide a total of 30,000 books, as well as simple reading areas.

One of them is in the Beijing Children's Hospital East Branch, the first public library to open in a hospital in China. Another at Zuojiazhuang is equipped with special facilities for visually impaired people.

Li Kai, curator of Chaoyang Library, said the self-service facilities allow people to take part in running them, and make it easier to borrow and return books.

"The city is lacking in public reading spaces. The purpose of building these libraries is to not only inspire but also gather the people," he said.

Li said that Chaoyang district will build more of these libraries and stock books according to readers' needs.

 

Liangyue self-service library in Langyuan Vintage residential community in Chaoyang district of Beijing is open to the public 24/7. Photos by Wang Jing / China Daily

 

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2018-02-15 08:25:17
<![CDATA[Traditional food for thought for Lunar New Year's Eve dinner]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705636.htm Catering companies are offering new stress-free ways of enjoying the most important meal of the year, as Wang Keju reports.

Su Qin was on the edge of losing her composure because her mother-in-law was coming from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, to spend Spring Festival with Su and her husband for the first time.

The 29-year-old Beijing resident had called six restaurants to book a table for dinner on Lunar New Year's Eve, but with no luck.

While that would not have been a problem last year, before Su got married, it is unacceptable now.

"I cannot afford to mess up the first family reunion dinner with my mother-in-law after my wedding. I want her to feel at home and have a perfect festival after traveling so far," she said.

The Lunar New Year's Eve dinner, also known as the Family Reunion Dinner, is the most important annual tradition in China. Irrespective of distance, family members travel home to be together for the event, whose significance is similar to Christmas Day in the West.

There is no way that Su - "a kitchen disaster", as she calls herself - could magically turn an empty table into a feast. That is despite the fact that she enjoys a sideline as an amateur magician.

Her seventh call was to a restaurant called The Jade Garden, a popular eatery for Huaiyang cuisine - one of the four classic styles of Chinese cookery - but unsurprisingly it was fully booked months ago.

A silver lining

However, the silver lining for Su is that she can order a partially prepared festival dinner of restaurant quality, most of which only needs to be cooked in the microwave for a few minutes.

She said the partially prepared dinner is an ingenious invention for a poor cook such as herself. The meat dishes are already fully cooked, while the vegetable dishes are all sliced and neatly packaged with the appropriate condiments. They only need to be fried quickly in a wok.

"This way, we can satisfy our appetites while enjoying the warmth and coziness of our own home at the same time, which will add a more traditional atmosphere to the dinner," she added.

The New Year's Eve dinner is at the heart of a proper Chinese New Year celebration, and like Su, many people are looking for new ways of preparing the family reunion dinner ahead of the special day.

For example, partially prepared dinners, like the one Su has chosen, have become increasingly popular.

More than 300 stores, including chain restaurants such as Shanghai Min and Meizhou Dongpo, are selling semi-finished products on Taobao, an e-commerce platform owned by Alibaba, ranging in price from less than 100 yuan to more than 3,000 yuan ($15.80 to $477).

According to taosj.com, a Taobao-targeted data platform, between Jan 1 and 15, the volume of trade for partially prepared meals on Taobao reached 1.46 million yuan, a rise of 230.55 percent on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

Liu Guiliang, manager of a branch of the Xinghuacun restaurant in Shanghai, said the outlet offers four different partially prepared festival dinner sets for varying numbers of diners, the cheapest of which consists of six dishes plus rice, and costs 598 yuan.

"More customers are choosing to have the New Year's Eve dinner at restaurants, and some booked more than six months ago. With a limited number of tables, more people - especially those from the post-80s and post-90s generations - have turned to our partially prepared festival dinners this year. We have sold 130 sets in the past month," he said.

Cultural content

Qin Yu, professor of hospitality management at Beijing International Studies University, said the New Year's Eve dinner is considered one of the most important family banquets, and eating it anywhere outside of the family home means losing the inherent cultural content and values.

"However, frankly speaking, restaurants do provide better-quality cuisine and save people a lot of trouble. So partially prepared products combine many advantages and enable customers to enjoy the traditional festival in a tasty way," he said.

The high demand in the catering market also spurs many restaurants to sign up for online food ordering platforms, such as Ele.me and Meituan-Dianping, to provide delivery and takeout services for partially prepared dinners for New Year's Eve.

Song Yi, manager in the South Memory restaurant in Beijing, said the festival dinner delivery market is seeing more opportunities as takeout food gradually becomes a mainstream way of dining in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, and as many families retain the tradition of eating at home.

"We have to consider the lack of staff members because many delivery drivers have also headed home, but we promise that our partially prepared festival dinners will be delivered one day ahead of New Year's Eve to ensure that customers will enjoy them on time," he said.

For those who do not want to dine out and have no faith in either partially prepared festival dinners or their own cooking abilities, many chefs are offering their services online, offering to cook in person at a customer's home on New Year's Eve. The lowest price online is about 2,888 yuan, rising to 5,888 yuan for the most expensive.

"With the biggest problem of the New Year's Eve dinner having been solved, I now have nothing to worry about but worry itself," Su said.

Contact the writer at wangkeju@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-15 08:25:02
<![CDATA[Expats find new ways to enjoy the holiday period]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/15/content_35705635.htm

As Lunar New Year becomes increasingly recognized across the world, expats who spend the traditional festival in China are discovering a wide range of enjoyable pursuits.

Huda Mohammed, a doctoral student at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, is looking forward to spending her third Spring Festival in China. "My favorite part of Lunar New Year is the fireworks," the Yemen national said. "I went out with my friends to the street at 11pm on New Year's Eve in 2016 to see the fireworks. It was so nice."

She said her friends even searched online to check locations where fireworks could be seen, and we visited them to enjoy the displays.

"After the stunning fireworks, we returned to the campus and had some dumplings made by my Chinese friends," she said.

She also had fun with the online red envelope games on WeChat. People can give and receive digital red envelopes, or hongbao, containing real money, on their phones.

"We just kept receiving and giving red envelopes, which was really fun," she said.

For Huda, the best thing about spending Spring Festival in Beijing is the lack of passengers on public transportation, which she called "super good".

According to data from the city's department of statistics, as many as 8 million people of Beijing's population of 21 million are from other parts of China, which means that about 40 percent of the city's residents may return to their hometowns to spend the traditional festival with their families.

In addition, a large number of people choose to travel abroad during the holiday, meaning traffic congestion is not an issue during the festival period.

For expats who stay in the capital, it's a good time to travel around and enjoy the city. "I like Beijing during Spring Festival. Many people leave the city and it's really easy to get around," said Bill Siggins, 60, an editor from Canada.

Siggins' wife hails from Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

He said he goes to Miaohui - a type of fair held during Spring Festival - where people can enjoy traditional food and cultural shows in public parks.

"I'll eat some weird traditional Beijing food - duck intestines or some other organ - and buy a Chinese New Year symbol to hang on the door," he said.

He often travels to his wife's hometown to spend the festival with her family.

"It's always good to see my mother-and father-in-law, and we always have a great time on New Year's Eve. We eat way too much food, have too much fun watching the TV gala and then get way too crazy with fireworks at midnight," he said.

This year, he plans to drive to Xi'an for the coming holiday.

Newcomers always have a good time during Spring Festival.

Gopolang Molale, a 24-year-old master's student at UIBE, will be celebrating his first Spring Festival in China.

"I'm excited that I'm going to experience this festival in China and be part of it," the South African national said. "I know some of the traditions about this festival such as people going back home and getting together. I wonder if it's like Christmas for Westerners? The Beijing municipal government has invited us to a traditional concert. I'm very much looking forward to it."

He also plans to travel to Shanghai during the holiday and visit the Disneyland resort there, the sixth in the world, which opened in 2016. According to the theme park, cartoon characters will dress in traditional Chinese costumes during the holiday period.

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2018-02-15 08:25:02
<![CDATA[Clash of the robots]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702722.htm Machine battle reality show set to make debut. Wang Kaihao reports.

The fighting arena weighs up to 230 tons, boasting bulletproof glass that can withstand the blast of a bazooka and reinforced steel protective plates.

Visitors are repeatedly reminded not to take photos, adding to the secretive nature of the surroundings.

But this is not a military base or sci-fi movie set - the studio on the southern outskirts of Beijing is actually the site of Clash Bots, an upcoming reality show featuring battles between robot combatants.

More than 30 teams of up to four people each from home and abroad are gathering for the program by iQiyi.com, one of China's major video-streaming media platforms.

While the show is set to go online in March, its producers are still keeping most of the details under wraps. But there are clear similarities with US TV series BattleBots, in which competitors design and operate remote-controlled armed and armored machines to be top gun in battles lasting three minutes.

Still, Chen Wei, vice-president of iQiyi and chief producer of Clash Bots, wants to develop something new for Chinese audiences, many of whom have little knowledge of what the games are like.

The Chinese arena, for one, is said to be larger than its US counterpart.

"I'm only a few months earlier than the general public in China to really know what robot combat competition is about," Chen says, smiling. "But it's worthwhile to have a shot because the game can help showcase young people's struggles and their energy."

In April 2017, when Chen's team first contacted the US side to express interest in the show, those in the West had their doubts. "Do you have robot combat in China?" one of them asked.

Chen himself was surprised to find out there were already dozens of teams ready for robot combat all over China.

"Robot combat may have decades of history in the United States and Britain," Chen admits. "But we don't want to copy others' established models."

BattleBots in the US premiered in 2000 but it was suspended in 2002 after five seasons amid changes in audience tastes. But when its sixth season returned in 2015, Chen says its audience ratings rocketed and revived huge interest in the sport again.

Gearing up

IQiyi is not the only one to ride the revival. Zhejiang TV first aired a similar show, King of Bots, in January. Youku.com, another main Chinese video-streaming media provider, is also set to roll out its This Is Bots program later this year.

King of Bots has a format close to the US show. Its crew has invited action superstar Jet Li as the guest and Huang Jianxiang, one of China's best-known sports anchors, as the commentator.

The first episode of the show, which offers a quick pace and fierce fighting scenes, received a modest 0.3 percent audience rating, according to statistics from media research group CSM.

"Women still dominate Chinese audiences in variety shows," Yang Zhifan, a Beijing-based TV commentator, wrote in an article in January.

"It'll take time for female audiences to get used to combat robots in China."

Yang considers Kings of Bots to be a "good beginning" and he expects upcoming shows like Clash Bots to develop more diverse and expressive formats.

Chen from iQiyi is certainly confident of creating new genres for Chinese variety shows.

"It's easier to organize a competition," he says. "But a reality show needs more stories, which can also be the more interesting part."

Chen reveals that cameras in Clash Bots will also be placed in competitors' room to offer a closer look at how they design machines, draw up combat strategies and size up opponents. The players are like the characters in storylines who take on different roles so that people can become more attached to them, he says.

To better attract young viewers, the show is also banking on some star attractions - actors Li Chen, Lin Gengxin and Sheng Yilun; as well as actress and fashion icon Angelababy, also known as Yang Ying, will be invited to join the teams.

While the four celebrities are all fans of computer games, they are new to the machines, which weigh at least 110 kilograms each. Unlike the privileged position of coach or judge offered in other reality shows, they will have to rely significantly on other players for help to control the robots.

"When you control a robot, it's like adopting a child," Lin says. "Emotional links have to be nurtured between me and the robot. I can only play better after that."

"Some people may think that playing with these robots is only for men," Angelababy adds. "I don't think so. Gender doesn't matter and I've met many talented female players here.

"It's more about brains and agility than physical strength. We're at the same starting line."

In the flesh

The production team also wants to give equal play to ordinary competitors, to allow them to tell their stories. Most of them are simply interested in machinery - students, blue-collar workers or farmers - who became diehard fans of robot combat.

Zhao Lixin, a veteran actor for both stage and cinema, is the anchor for Clash Bots. He cites the Welsh team Princess of Wales, comprising a 12-year-old girl and her father, as an example. The girl, the youngest participant of Clash Bots, showed great creativity and talent by designing a pink, dragon-shaped shell for her robot, he says.

Combating a robot called Atomic Bomb, Princess of Wales was soundly beaten and the girl was devastated. But Atomic Bomb circled around the "pink dragon" and chose not to give it a final death blow.

Zhao asked the player controlling Atomic Bomb later why he stopped attacking his opponent.

"The player told me that because he found the father comforting his daughter, it would seem too cruel to topple it (Princess of Wales)," Zhao recalls. "He felt that participating in the game was like a gift given by the girl to her father, and she deserved some space to keep her dignity.

"At that moment, I understood what robot combat was about. Not just about fierce fights, but also the warmth and gentleness from kind hearts," says Zhao.

Yang, the TV commentator, considers the program to be a good attempt at broadening the appeal of combat robots, by adding more content that draws out people's emotions and to understand the competitors through their personal stories.

But focusing on the battles is still key, he says, because the robots are the main stars of the arena.

A robot must fight up to 19 game sets before it can win top spot but the machines will almost certainly not get through more than five sets before it needs major repairs, or be totally remade, he says.

"That will definitely add to the challenge," Chen says.

A smartphone game, online drama series, movie and theme park will also be developed from Clash Bots soon, he adds.

Perhaps even a machine hero like the tenacious boxer Atom in Real Steel, a 2011 Hollywood film starring Hugh Jackman, will rise in Chinese cyberspace later this year.

The producer also expects his upcoming show to trigger young people's aspirations for Chinese manufacturing. While the custom-made steel in robot combat can be produced in China, Chen confesses that many competitors prefer foreign electric engines for better stability and control.

"China is still lagging in some industry sectors," he says. "If the game becomes popular and more people get inspired by it, our technology will probably also improve."

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Rural education: A bane or a boost?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702721.htm Every year, especially during school breaks, many university students in China opt to take part in "rural education aid", a program that sends students and volunteers into impoverished and remote rural areas to teach at local schools.

In a survey conducted by the China Youth Daily last summer, of the 1,994 respondents, 63.3 percent expected the program to last at least six months. However, in reality, most students only stayed for a short period of time, usually a few weeks or months, before returning home.

Some respondents also believed short-term education aid programs did students and schools in rural areas more harm than good, partly because they disrupted regular school lessons without providing systematic and consistent improvement, and partly because of the sense of culture shock the programs created among rural students.

Of course, there are also many who defend these types of programs. Some media reports cite studies showing that rural children and schools welcome the programs, however short they may be. So, are short-term education aid programs beneficial to children in underdeveloped areas?

YES

Short programs can benefit rural children.

1. The programs allow schools in rural areas to diversify their education. To college students, the programs are more about teaching children about the outside world and new ideas, not improving the quality of education.

2. In many ways, young college students and volunteers from big cities serve as role models to children in rural areas and demonstrate the opportunities that education can bring them. The programs provide them with new motives to stay in school.

3. Participants in the aid programs are mostly highly dedicated, responsible and smart, young people. They try their best to bring as much positive change to rural children's lives as possible.

NO

After the initial excitement, the short-term programs have little to offer.

1. College students in big cities know little about the reality of education in rural areas, especially the elementary and middle schools to which they are sent. As a result they can't put their academic strengths to use.

2. The short period that volunteers spend in rural areas gives them little chance to execute their plans to help local children. After they leave, everything will simply go back to the way it was before.

3. The new environment in rural areas takes a while for city volunteers to get used to. They can't devote their full energy to helping local children while they are still adapting to local life themselves.

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Flying higher with needed support]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702720.htm

Young Angolan says Chinese vocational school improved life

Taking to the stage at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, Jose Lourenco and his students ignited the passion of the audience with their performance of Angolan traditional dance on Jan 29.

Few would have expected that the young man would one day escape his impoverished upbringing in Angola to take to the stage to join his school's annual gala in China.

Four years ago, when Lourenco was forced to drop out of school to help support his struggling family, he spent his days selling cheap goods on the roadside to supplement his family's income.

Despite being an outstanding student at junior school, he had no professional skills and seemed destined to a hardscrabble life.

Then something happened that the 25-year-old Angolan says changed his destiny.

In 2014, Premier Li Keqiang visited Angola as part of his four-nation visit to Africa, where he inaugurated the opening of the BN Vocational School in that nation's capital, Luanda.

Founded in Beijing in 2005 as a nonprofit school to teach skills to the children of migrant workers, BNVS today has nine branches in China and one school in Angola, BNVS Angola, which is both financed by authorities in China and Angola.

Lourenco joined the school on a one-year training course that helped him become computer proficient and raised his confidence.

As one of the first graduates from the school in Luanda, his outstanding performance in studies and other fields lead him to become a computer teacher there.

Versatile in singing and dancing, Lourenco has showcased his talent both individually and collectively at several annual BNVS galas in Beijing as a representative of BNVS Angola.

"I never dreamed of being able to have a decent job like this in such a respected school," Lourenco says.

With his salary of $4,200 a year, he can help his parents and six siblings live a better life. Despite being the seventh largest country in Africa and boasting vast oil and mineral reserves, Angola's gross national income per capita stood at just $3,450 in 2016, according to the World Bank.

"A job means hope," the Chinese premier told Angolan students at the official opening of the charitable school. On that day, nearly 70 Angolan youngsters from low-income families - who would later be trained to become electricians, stone masons and machine operators, including Lourenco - were infused with hope for a better future.

So far, around 300 local students have graduated from the school, with over 70 percent of them finding jobs.

Yao Li, the founder of BNVS, says that the school's goal is to help young people find employment through vocational education and realize their targets for poverty alleviation.

In this context, China has a rich experience. The government's targeted poverty alleviation strategy has been focusing on providing education to help the impoverished build up their capacity for self-development.

And the BNVS is a prime example of that strategy. China's first tuition-free, nonprofit senior secondary-level vocational school has helped nearly 6,000 young people in China to earn their own living and contribute to society in different ways.

In the past five years, over 65 million new jobs have been created in China and more than 60 million people have been lifted out of poverty.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says that China has lifted in total over 800 million people out of poverty, describing it as "one of the greatest stories in human history".

Lourenco, one of the beneficiaries of the BNVS model, is a vivid example of how China is helping to alleviate poverty abroad through vocational development, as part of its vision for the world as a community of shared futures, and its efforts in pursuing common development.

"BNVS Angola not only provided me with the vocational skills needed in the employment market but also inspired my mind. I know the difference between survival and living a life now," Lourenco says.

Currently, he is studying computer engineering at night college and hopes to gain a university degree. He has thought of studying in China some day. Lourenco loves the song that made Chinese rock singer Wang Feng a star in 2004 - Flying Higher.

He hums from it, "Reality is like a pair of shackles, chaining me ... I know the happiness I seek, lies in the higher skies. I want to fly higher, fly higher."

Xinhua

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[China's cancer researcher wins 2018 Sjoberg Prize with French scientists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702719.htm

STOCKHOLM - China's cancer researcher Chen Zhu won the Sjoberg Prize, along with French researchers Anne Dejean and Hugues de The, for the unique treatment that cures a once fatal cancer, announced the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Feb 5.

According to a statement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the prize was awarded to them "for the clarification of molecular mechanisms and the development of a revolutionary treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia".

This year's Sjoberg laureates developed a new and targeted treatment for a specific form of blood cancer called acute promyelocytic leukemia.

It was once one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but it is now possible to cure nine out of 10 patients with the new treatment, the statement said.

The treatment is unique because it is the first standard treatment for acute leukemia that does not include chemotherapy. Instead, a combination treatment is used, which consists of a form of vitamin A, "all-trans retinoic acid", also called ATRA, along with arsenic trioxide.

The idea of using arsenic comes from traditional medicine, but this method has been scientifically tested and proven in this form. The laureates have made this revolutionary development possible by methodically mapping the molecular mechanisms responsible for the disease.

Chen was quoted by the statement as saying that he was honored to share the prize, "which recognizes important contributions to cancer research", with De The and Dejean.

"This prize means not only the glory, but even more importantly a responsibility, a responsibility for me, my team and our collaborators to continue efforts in the understanding of disease mechanisms of other types of hematological malignancies and to develop innovative, effective therapeutic strategies against those diseases through collaboration with other partners," says Chen, 65, who is a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and is funded by the Sjoberg Foundation with a donation of 2 billion Swedish krona (about $248 million).

The prize is an annual international prize in cancer research awarded to individual researchers or groups. The prize amounts to $1 million, of which $100,000 is the prize sum and $900,000 is funding for future research. Laureates are expected to conduct the official Sjoberg Prize Lecture at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm on April 12.

Xinhua

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Big spurt in China-UK educational links]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702718.htm LONDON - The year 2017 was a year of thriving exchanges and cooperation in education between China and Britain, said Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming.

At a grand gala on Feb 7 attended by nearly 2,000 people, including Chinese students, scholars and heads from British universities, to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, Liu compared China-UK educational exchanges and cooperation to a symphony.

He said, first, the "main theme" of the symphony is loud and clear: Such cooperation enjoys full government backing from both countries.

In 2017, the fifth China-UK High-Level People-to-People Dialogue was a huge success, and the two countries also held the 10th China-UK Education Summit, he said.

With flourishing exchanges on all fronts, this "symphony" offers delightful "chords", the ambassador noted.

For example, the Oxford Institute of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was established in the University of Oxford in 2017. This is the first time in its 800-year history that Oxford has let a foreign university set up a research unit on its campus.

And the Peking University HSBC Business School opened a new campus in Britain. This is a pioneering effort by a Chinese university to run a school in a developed country.

The cooperation on scientific research between universities of the two countries also has been greatly advanced by the establishment of joint research centers.

Also, for the first time, the publisher HarperCollins translated and published Chinese maths textbooks for use in primary and secondary schools in the UK.

And as of now, over 500 maths teachers from the two countries have been on exchange visits through the China-UK maths teacher exchange program, said the ambassador.

The "symphony" of educational exchanges and cooperation presents a "rich harmony" of mutual learning of language and culture, Liu stressed.

Currently, Britain has the largest Chinese student community in Europe, with over 170,000 Chinese students and scholars studying in Britain, while the number of British students in China is also increasing to nearly 9,000.

Xinhua

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Budding bands]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702717.htm Young Chinese musicians are finding platforms to perform together. Chen Nan reports.

For more than six hours, the grounds of the Beijing Midi Music School were filled with guitars riffing and drums rumbling.

It was no ordinary day in class - the musicians were vying for top honors at the Nov 4 finals of the annual Midi School Bands Contest.

In the evening, Beijing-based indie band Gentle Grape was crowned champion.

 

Shenyang-based rock band Noble Man won the second place during the contest. Most of the members graduated from Shenyang Conservatory of Music. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 

"It was awesome and I cried out at that moment," recalls its lead vocalist Li Xuezhen.

The 23-year-old, who is pursuing his master's degree in mineral engineering at the China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing, says the band celebrated with a barbecue and beers.

Gentle Grape stood out among the 12 finalists. Its performances during the contest attracted more than 1,000 viewers on site and more than 850,000 viewers online.

Launched in 2011 by the school, the contest caters to young Chinese bands, with each group required to have at least one member who is a college student.

According to Yin Long, CEO of Beijing Midi Music Media, a new branch company under the school aimed at promoting young Chinese bands, auditions started in May 2017. They attracted more than 300 bands from 500 colleges across China, with more than 770 original songs submitted online.

"The bands are very young and dynamic. It's exciting to find out that they don't just perform rock but also other music types, such as electronic dance, blues and punk," says Yin, adding that the number of bands applying to the contest grows every year because of the school's reputation and its popular Midi Music Festival. The champions of the contest also get the opportunity to perform on the main stage of the festival.

The company will launch music festivals at Chinese colleges this year and roll out plans to support bands on the campuses, says Yin.

Growing talent

The Beijing Midi Music School, founded in 1993, is one of the first contemporary music schools in China. It has produced many of the country's rock stars, including the bands Miserable Faith and Escape Plan. In 2000, school president Zhang Fan launched the first Midi Music Festival in Beijing, where it became the first outdoor music festival of its kind in the country. The festival has since expanded into one of China's largest outdoor music events.

"Many band members started out as teenagers. It's always cool and popular to perform as a band on campus," says Yin, who formed his band in 1997 while studying at Beijing Midi Music School.

Gentle Grape reminds Yin of The Flowers, or Hua'er, the former Beijing-based pop punk band, which was formed in 1998 and became famous as one of the first teenage bands in the country.

"Their earnest attempt to deliver the message of pursuing their dreams as a young band touched the judges," Yin says of Gentle Grape.

The band's Li, who was born and grew up in Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, learned classical guitar and piano in his childhood. He fell in love with rock music in high school.

The song, titled Mi Tu Wei Fan, ("headstrong") which the band performed during the contest, was written by Li in 2013 when he was a freshman. He set up the band with his schoolmate, drummer Chen Bohan, that year.

The song talks about the summer after Li took the national college entrance exam in 2013.

"I was full of passion after I founded the band. But my mother, a primary school teacher, was not very supportive and we had no opportunity to perform. I was very lost but didn't want to give up my dream. Then I wrote the song in two hours during an afternoon in my dormitory," says Li.

Despite the tough beginning, the band kept on producing original works. Influenced by US rock band Blink-182 and Canadian rock band Sum 41, Gentle Grape has gained a growing fan base with its pop, fastpaced melodies and upbeat lyrics.

Center stage

Many young Chinese bands are also engaging more fans with the growing popularity of social media platforms.

In 2015, Gentle Grape band released an EP, including six original songs, through online crowdfunding. It planned to collect about 5,000 yuan ($800) in two or three months. More than 7,000 yuan was collected in four hours.

On May 9, 2016, the band performed in a concert commemorating the 30th anniversary of China's rock music - Chinese rock fans mark the date because rocker Cui Jian, then 24, sang Nothing to My Name at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium in 1986.

Held at the same venue, the 2016 concert drew established Chinese rock stars and bands, including rock singer-songwriter Zheng Jun and rock band Tang Dynasty.

"My dream is to turn my passion for the band into a full-time job. If not, I'll find stable work to support my dream," says Li.

Liang Qian, 26, lead singer of Mint Green, a pop band based in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, says: "The contest is like the Olympics, with the battle of the bands. Qualifying for the final itself is a great prize."

The band won third place for its original pop song, Sheep, which Liang wrote for her ex-boyfriend.

"It promotes real music played by real bands, not just some karaoke contest," says rock singer-songwriter Wang Jiayi, based in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province.

Wang's band, Noble Man, clinched second place at the 2017 Midi School Bands Contest. All the members of the band graduated from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music.

Pursuing passion

Jazz singer-songwriter Zhang Ying, one of the judges of the 2017 contest, says she was impressed by the young bands' diversity and their wide musical influences.

Unlike traditional rock bands, which are known for pouring out their anger and sharp views on social issues through their music, the young bands embrace themes of personal emotion as a way of addressing their authenticity and musical style, says Zhang, who is teaching in the music department of the Communication University of China.

"Earning a living as a rock band used to be a challenge. But it's no longer a problem now," says Liu Yujie, lead vocalist of pop-rock band, Monkey Legion, based in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. The band won the contest in 2012.

In 2016, Monkey Legion performed on the stage of Japan's Summer Sonic music festival, the largest event of its kind in Asia. Last September, the band signed a contract with Beijing Midi Music Media and it is ready to release a debut album this year.

"We are open to various options and music is one of them," says Liu, 31, who learned martial arts as a child and graduated from Chengdu Sports Institute. His father bought him a guitar when Liu fell in love with rock music in middle school and he practiced for an hour before heading to school every morning.

The other band members, including guitarist Chang Xiangyu and drummer Yang Rui, all graduated from the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and have other jobs, such as opening a music training school and practicing architecture. Liu himself owns a martial arts training school in Chengdu.

"For us, forming a band in college was about our passion. The process of writing a song and performing it onstage is still very exciting," says Liu.

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Meal for your lover should taste as lovely as it looks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702716.htm Red is the color of love.

It's the color of the heart. It's the color of blood. But most important, it's the color of passion.

So it is fitting that for Valentine's Day, we are making food that is all red. A meal for your lover should taste as lovely as it looks.

There are plenty of options for red foods, but now is not the best time of year for most of them. Cherries and rhubarb are not available at all; strawberries and tomatoes are available, but only in bland and pallid versions of their midsummer glory. You can find raspberries, but they are expensive, and I don't like pomegranates.

That basically leaves us with beets and red peppers - and red food coloring.

Don't scoff at red food coloring. Without it, Red Velvet Cake is just Velvet Cake. And Red Velvet Cake is the ultimate Valentine's Day dessert because it combines two of the day's most essential elements, the color red and chocolate.

Plus, there is a third element: It is a little harder to make than some other cakes. So when you present it on Valentine's Day, your sweetheart will know you made it with love.

Red Velvet Cake is gorgeous (it takes one full ounce of coloring, which is why it is so delectably vibrant) and luscious, but what makes this version stand out the most is its frosting. Most recipes call for a cream cheese frosting, or perhaps one with buttermilk.

This cake uses an ermine frosting, an old-fashioned recipe that, some say, was the original topping for Red Velvet Cake. First, you cook and reduce a mixture of flour and milk. Add a little vanilla, and then you beat it into creamed butter and sugar. The result is fluffy and sweet, like whipped cream without the fragility.

For a red appetizer, I turned to Italy and made Roasted Red Pepper Involtini. These are roasted red peppers (bright red) wrapped around a mixture of ricotta cheese, chives and bits of a plum tomato.

With the contrast between the sturdy, lightly smoky peppers and the smooth, creamy cheese, they taste like heaven. Best of all, they are a terrific finger food, and every Valentine's Day meal should include finger food.

What is more romantic than feeding your loved one something with your fingers?

Perhaps the reddest red of all came from a dish of Penne Pasta in a Roasted Beet Sauce. This one is a brilliant blending of flavors - who knew that beets go so well with pasta? But they do, their slightly sweet earthiness bringing out the best in the penne as well as any tomato sauce. The hot pasta absorbs both the flavor and the spectacular color of the beets, which are modestly tempered by a shot of balsamic vinegar, a dash of vermouth and a couple of splashes of milk.

It's a hearty dish and deeply satisfying. You'll want to eat it any day of the year.

Tribune News Service

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702715.htm Game

Gorogoa

Part of what makes a good puzzle game is the inevitable "ah-ha" moment - the sense of accomplishment you get as you fit all the pieces together. Gorogoa is replete with these satisfying moments, enhanced by gorgeous hand-drawn visuals that pull you into its surreal world.

The game-play of Gorogoa involves shifting a series of images around on a four-tile panel, zooming in and out of each scene to line up the illustrations in unique ways. The puzzles in the game start off relatively easy, increasing in complexity as the player progresses. The game starts off with a scene depicting a young boy who becomes obsessed with a strange creature he spots through the window. Your overarching goal is to collect a series of fruit, which all tie back to that strange, colorful creature. Gorogoa is a work of optical illusion at its finest. It forces the player to pay attention to every detail of every hand-drawn image, because everything is both a part of the bigger picture and its own bigger picture.

Monster hunter

In Monster Hunter: World, the latest series of its franchise, the game developer eliminated some longtime elements and streamlined others to create an experience that's easier to pick up, but remains challenging.

To coincide with the fresh approach, the team crafted a new locale and storyline. Players create a hero who is part of the Fifth Fleet, a band of hunters who travel to the New World following Zorah Magdaros, an elder dragon. They're the cavalry after previous fleets establish a beachhead on the continent. As players venture deeper into areas such as Rotten Vale and Wildspire Wastes, they'll uncover secrets of the uncharted land and discover why the older dragons crossed to the New World. With a tool called the Slinger, players have more ways to interact with the world. The Slinger can attach to Wedge Beetles so hunters can swing across chasms. Monster Hunter: World looks stunning. Those who have spent a few years on handheld systems will find the series has got a tremendous face-lift.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Dragon Ball FighterZ is precisely a game that balances fan service and fighting game brilliance. FighterZ is an electric, fullfledged fighting game that charts its own course. Alongside the nuanced fighting systems of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter V and Injustice 2, FighterZ remains somewhat simplistic, leaving spammers with opportunities, and retaining some easy specials.

But developer Arc System Works makes this work in FighterZ, mixing in other mechanics to keep players off-balance and reward the skilled fighter. For all the button-mashing, a well-timed block can stave off the supers. And much like Capcom's Marvel vs. Capcom series, players are controlling three characters in this fighter, juggling opportunities to hit and key moves. The result isn't pure buttonmashing mayhem; players' wits and skills will help them survive. The game is more than a mere series of battles culminating in a tough one. Instead, The Arcade Mode offer players a grade based on proficiency after each victory, and that grade determines their next opponent.

China Daily - Agencies

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[Video 'gaming disorder' to be officially labeled as a disease]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702714.htm It was only a matter of time before health officials diagnosed video game characters such as Mario and Super Mario as addictive, as the World Health Organization basically will do when it adds "gaming disorder" to its disease list this year.

The decision is cause for celebration in mental-health circles, with therapist Jef Reiland saying, "I'm excited about it - not that I'm looking for more labels. ... We've been dancing around this for a decade."

The addictive nature of video gaming has been a matter of conjecture, and the WHO designation affirms it as a mental-health issue, says Reiland, a child and family therapist at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, who also teaches a class on addictive behaviors at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

His students have been studying the issue of video games' addictiveness for six years, Reiland says.

Also hailing the designation is Amber Sherman, addiction treatment supervisor at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, who says, "I think that is a big step forward in treatment. We see that type of addiction, and hopefully that will help."

The draft of WHO's 11th update of its International Classification of Diseases defines gaming disorder as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior ('digital gaming' or 'video-gaming'), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline".

Indications of the disorder that WHO lists include:

*Impaired control over gaming, such as frequency, intensity and ability to quit;

*Giving increasing attention to gaming to the extent that it takes precedence over other interests and daily activities;

*And "continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences".

The specification of video gaming as a disorder is expected to prompt insurance companies to cover it in their health plans, an industry observer says.

"A lot of people will be confused that it isn't tied to something ingested," Reiland says, adding that the message here really is that "the brain is affected by video gaming" in a fashion similar to that of alcohol and other drugs.

"It is the same neurons, the same nerves ... the same rush for gambling or reaching the next level of a video game," he says. "An addiction is not defined by the substance", but by the compulsion to do something.

Sherman also mentions video gaming's similarity to the risk or reward rush of gambling, adding that "it's also related with the flashing lights".

People addicted to video gaming might lie about it, hide it or use it to avoid situations or "might forsake things they have to do", just as those afflicted with substance abuse do, Reiland says.

People don't develop addictions of any sort voluntarily, he says.

Most do it to escape the pain of life they might be experiencing, he says.

"This is not to say all video gaming is addictive, but its target is younger people with developing brains," he says.

Preoccupation with video games and playing them virtually nonstop short-circuits young brains' ability to develop problem-solving and coping skills, as well as strategies to navigate through life, he says.

"It's like drinking - the younger they start, the harder it is to stop, because it's hard-wired into the brain," Reiland says.

Evidence of that might occur if a parent suddenly took away a child's gaming system without warning, and the child experienced a meltdown, he says.

Reiland suggests rather than just say get of, a parent could say "here's what we do first", then list daily activities such as going to school, doing homework, visiting family and friends and otherwise interacting with people.

"It's better than if they get up, fired up to get to their game", and put off interacting with family or doing things they should accomplish "because they're in the middle of a really cool game", he says.

Instead, limiting screen time to one or two hours a day "if it's like dessert of the work, at the end of the day", it is likely to be less addictive, he says.

Tribune News Service

电子“游戏障碍”将被正式确定为一种疾病

世界卫生组织今年将“游戏障碍”列入了疾病名单,因此,健康官员将电子游戏人物,如马里奥和超级马里奥,诊断为具有致瘾性质只是时间问题。

这一决定在心理健康领域引起欢呼雀跃,正如心理治疗师杰夫·雷兰德所说,“我非常激动,不是因为我想到处贴标签……过去十年我们一直在围绕这个问题打转。”

电子游戏的致瘾性质一直是一种猜想,世界卫生组织将其列入疾病名单确认了它是一种心理健康问题,雷兰德说道。他是美国威斯康辛州拉克罗斯市冈德森医疗系统的儿童和家庭心理治疗师,同时还在威斯康辛大学拉克罗斯分校教授关于成瘾行为的课程。

雷兰德表示,过去六年,他的学生们一直在研究电子游戏成瘾的问题。

对世卫组织的认定表示称赞的还有梅奥诊所医疗系统方济各会医疗的成瘾治疗主管安布尔·谢尔曼,她表示,“我认为这是成瘾治疗向前迈进的一大步,人们开始正视这类成瘾问题,希望会有所帮助。”

世卫组织第11版《国际疾病分类》草案中,将游戏障碍定义为“一种在线(即通过互联网)或者离线的持续或周期性游戏(‘电子游戏’或‘视频游戏’)行为模式”。

世卫组织列示的游戏障碍症状包括:

对游戏控制力的减退,例如对参与游戏的频次、强度和能否终止游戏的控制力的减退;

对游戏的关注程度持续增长,超过了对其他兴趣和日常活动的关注程度;

以及“尽管出现负面结果,仍然继续或增加游戏活动”。

明确提出电子游戏是种成瘾症,有望促使保险公司将其纳入健康计划内,一位行业观察人士说道。

“很多人会感到困惑,游戏成瘾并不是因为摄入某物引发的”,雷兰德说,并补充道,这里要传递的信息是,“大脑受电子游戏影响”的方式,与酒精和其他药物影响的方式类似。

“都是同样的神经细胞,同样的神经……同样的有想要去赌博或闯关的冲动”,他说道。“成瘾不是由摄入物定义的”,而是由想要做某事的冲动所决定。

谢尔曼还提到,电子游戏和赌博冒险或回报的冲动类似,并且认为“电子游戏上瘾还与闪烁的光源有关”。

游戏成瘾的人可能会否认、隐瞒病情,或借此逃避面对一些情境,“或者可能放弃一些必须做的事情”,与药物滥用的人的症状一模一样,雷兰德说道。

他认为,人们不会自发地对什么东西成瘾。

大部分人这样做是为了逃避他们可能正在经历的生活中的痛苦,他说道。

“这并不是说所有的电子游戏都会让人上瘾,但其目标是大脑正在发育的更年轻的人群,”他说道。

沉迷且毫无节制地打游戏,会阻断年轻的头脑培养解决和应对问题的技能,以及进行人生战略把控的能力,他说道。

“正如饮酒,越早开始,越难戒掉,因为它在大脑中早已根深蒂固,”雷兰德指出。

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

雷兰德建议,与其粗暴剥夺,父母可以这样说“我们先做下面这些事”,然后列出日常活动,比如上学、做作业、探亲访友、与人交往等等。

“这样总好过他们一起床,就火急火燎地开始玩游戏”,而不去与家人交流或做其他该做的事,“因为他们正沉浸在一款相当有趣的游戏中”,他说道。

相反,将每天打游戏的时间限制到一或两小时,“当一天结束时,打游戏就像工作甜点”,这样就可能降低上瘾程度,他说道。

翻译高手:请将灰框标注内容翻译为中文,在2月26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、所在城市、联系方式(电邮或电话)。最佳翻译提供者将获得精美礼品一份,并在周三本报公众号中发布。

上期获奖者:江苏苏州 苏州供电公司 许荣

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[如何找到一份你真心喜欢的工作?年轻人都该看看!]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/14/content_35702713.htm 中国日报双语新闻

相信很多上班族都有以下症状:早上发现自己“被床困住”,动弹不得;对周末打来的电话小心翼翼,用颤抖的声音问道:“是加班么?”到底是什么抹杀了我们对工作的热情?是工作太令人疲惫?还是工作太无聊?斯科特·丁斯莫尔(Scott Dinsmore)在TED演讲上向我们讲述了“怎么找到你喜欢的工作(How to find work you love)”,或许可以帮助你答疑解惑。

很多人都有这样的烦恼:“你说我是做一份看起来高大上但不喜欢的工作,还是找一个我喜欢但看起来平凡的工作?”无论是对初出茅庐的毕业生,还是久经职场的老手来说,这都是一个令人头疼的问题。

丁斯莫尔坦言自己曾收到过一份最糟糕的职业建议:

Don't worry about how much you like the work you're doing right now. It's all about just building your resume.

不要想你有多喜欢现在的工作,只要它能增添你的履历就好。

为了这份建议,丁斯莫尔到了每天10点只想做一件事:

I had this strange urge to want to slam my head through the monitor of my computer.

我就有一种奇怪的冲动,想用头撞穿电脑屏。

如果你都不知道自己想要追求什么,又何谈“找到”二字。

And so the first step of our compass is finding what our unique strengths are. What are the things that we wake up loving to do no matter what, whether they are paid or not paid.

我们人生的指南针首先要找到的是自己的优势,知道到底有什么事情是我们早上一醒来就想做的,无论有无报酬。

And next, what's our framework or our hierarchy for making decisions? We have to figure out what it is to make these decisions, so we know what our soul is made of, so that we don't go selling it to some cause we don't give a shit about.

第二点,我们做决定背后的价值体系和优先级是什么?我们要知道是什么原因让我们做出了现在的决定,这样我们才能够认清自己的心,不会为我们不屑一顾的事情出卖自己的灵魂。

We learn things every day, every minute about what we love, what we hate, what we are good at, what we are terrible at. Over time we have this repository of things that we can use to apply to our life and have a more passionate existence and make a better impact.

我们无时无刻都在了解自己喜欢什么、讨厌什么、擅长什么、不擅长什么。久而久之,我们就形成了一个关于自己的信息库,这一信息库可以运用到生活中,可以让我们生活得更有激情、更有意义。

We end up in the situation-we have that scripted life that everybody seems to be living going up this ladder to nowhere.

我们最后会是这种情况:按照生活既定的剧本,和别人一样地爬梯子,却不知它通向何方。

在丁斯莫尔看来,你迟迟无作为的原因无非有两个:

One is they tell themselves they can't do them, or people around them tell them they can't do them. Either way, we start to believe it. Either we give up, or we never start in the first place.

第一种是我们告诉自己做不到,第二种则是别人告诉我们做不到。不管是哪种原因,我们一旦相信了这种观点,要么就放弃,要么压根就没打算开始。

Doing the impossible and pushing our limits, just your own impossibilities, to accomplish those, and it starts with little bitty steps.

挑战自己的极限,完成不可能。想要完成这些,需要从一小步一小步开始。甘地曾经说过一句名言:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

起初他们忽视你,继而嘲笑你,然后对抗你,最后,你就赢了。

And the best way to do this is to surround yourself with passionate people. The fastest thing to do things you don't think can be done is to surround yourself with people already doing them.

最好的办法就是和富有激情的人们呆在一起。超越自身极限最快捷的方式就是置身于已经超越了自身极限的人们当中。

商业哲学家吉米·罗恩(Jim Rohn)曾经说过:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

你是你最常接触的5个人的平均值。

What is the work you can't not do? Discover that, live it, because that is what starts to change the world. What is the work you can't not do?

好好想想,什么工作你非做不可?发现它并为之奋斗,因为改变世界的起点就在于此。仔细想想,什么工作是你非做不可的?

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2018-02-14 07:43:55
<![CDATA[From Xi'an to Liverpool, the march of priceless treasures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698351.htm Relics from an emperor's world 2,200 years ago now appear in a UK museum. Bo Leung reports in London.

Holding an exhibition that features genuine Terracotta Warriors is, as you might expect, far from a straightforward process. A museum in the British city of Liverpool has become the latest institution to find out just how complicated it is to ship priceless and fragile ancient artifacts half way around the world, after having been loaned some of the famous figures from China.

Curators from National Museums Liverpool and a team from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Center worked together on the project to bring 10 2,200-year-old clay figures to Liverpool, including a terracotta cavalry horse and more than 180 smaller artifacts. They traveled all the way from Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

 

This exquisite kneeling figure is believed to represent an archer. [Photo by Lei Xiaoxun / China Daily]

 

The move followed years of preparations and planning by both parties before the relics could leave home.

The preparations to transport cultural relics overseas for such an exhibition usually begin at least three years before the show is set to open, according to the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center.

"It took a long time negotiating the details of the exhibition. We started talking to colleagues in China at the end of 2015," says Fiona Philpott, director of exhibitions at National Museums Liverpool. "We made more than six trips to China."

Philpott says she gave her Chinese counterparts a request detailing the items the museum in Liverpool was interested in displaying, which then needed approval from China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Back and forth discussions meant there were many changes to the original plans. Sometimes, a specific object could not be loaned out because it was already on loan to another museum.

Once the plan was approved, experts from Liverpool traveled to China to examine the relics.

"We sent our own curators out to China in early January for last checks," Philpott says. "It is a remarkable achievement that the material can travel more than 5,000 miles between continents so well. That's really all credit to the skill of the staff who pack and prepare this material for transport."

Before the handover of the items, condition checks were carried out in Xi'an.

Experts from both sides carried out detailed inspections of the relics, looking out for things such as cracks and stains.

The details were recorded, signed, pictures were taken and a bilingual copy of the results made. The process can take several hours for each piece, depending on the object.

Experts examined each relic carefully again when they arrived on site at Liverpool's World Museum and, after the exhibition ends in October, the objects will go through the same process before they are returned to China.

Wu Haiyun, project manager at the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, said loaning its national treasures to overseas institutions is something that is taken very seriously.

"For our part, in order to loan our cultural relics, we have repeatedly negotiated with the British side," Wu says. "Especially in insurance and safe transportation, we have made a lot of safety requirements to carry out the exhibition smoothly."

The traveling objects are packed according to their shape and size; some figures can weigh up to 300 kilograms.

They are packed by skilled handlers who use acid-free paper and are then put into specially-constructed crates that have a material lining to absorb shock and prevent moisture. Special plastic wrap is used to seal each container.

The vehicles used to transport the historical items have dampening devices and are not allowed to travel faster than 80 kilometers per hour. The vehicles' journeys are recorded by China's Ministry of Public Security.

"Clearly, with material that's more than 2,000 years old, it's all going to be difficult to transport," says Philpott. "So, everything has to be very carefully created. Everything is conditionally checked before it's packed and transported." Other things that had to be done before the Terracotta Warriors could be sent to Liverpool included the upgrading of the museum's security system and the installation of additional security cameras. The relics arrived in late January by plane and the installation of the Terracotta Warriors for the exhibition took a further two weeks.

Wu says the exhibition was made possible through joint efforts between the United Kingdom and China, and was thanks to the work of thousands of people.

"From both the UK and China, we have four restoration experts, professional experts in cultural relics, a specialized company that packs and ships relics, a company that specializes in special artifacts, and companies that specialize in lighting, temperature and humidity," he says.

The discovery of the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an in 1974 by farmers digging a well led to one of the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century.

Since then, archaeologists have uncovered three large pits of life-size Terracotta Warriors to the east of the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang, each with their own individual clothing, hairstyle, and facial features, along with horses and war chariots.

More than 2,000 figures of warriors and horses, as well as other objects, including chariots and weapons, have been unearthed. Experts believe there is likely around 8,000 figures in total.

The Terracotta Warriors were assembled more than 2,200 years ago for China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang, because it was believed the army would protect him in the afterlife. The emperor's mausoleum remains unopened.

Philpott says the whole experience of bringing some of the Terracotta Warriors to Liverpool was positive. And she says there could be future collaborations with China.

"I know there's interest in the possibility of perhaps touring our own collections in China in the future," she says. "That would be something we would really like to do."

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, says: "The Terracotta Warriors are an iconic cultural treasure produced by ancient China. Bringing them to Liverpool is a real coup and testament to the strength of the UK-China cultural relationship."

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Museum expects 400,000 visitors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698350.htm When some of the Terracotta Warriors were put on display at the British Museum in 2007, it was the biggest exhibition of its kind that Britain had ever seen, and the most important since artifacts from Tutankhamun's tomb were shown in 1972.

The Terracotta Warriors exhibition of 2007 drew 850,000 visitors to the museum, making it the second-most-visited exhibition in the museum's history.

Some of the Terracotta Warriors were displayed in the UK in 1985, at a much smaller exhibition at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh.

In London, at the British Museum, 20 Terracotta Warriors and horses, and 100 other relics from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), were displayed in the Reading Room, which was transformed into a gallery for what was then the largest exhibition of Terracotta Warriors ever held overseas.

At the time, The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army, broke records for advance tickets sales.

More than 48,900 tickets had been sold with around a month to go before the exhibition opened.

Liverpool is hoping for the same sort of success as London had.

The World Museum says more than 140,000 advance tickets have been sold for China's First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.

The museum is expecting more than 400,000 visitors between now and the close of the show on Oct 28.

Sharon Granville, executive director of collections and estate at National Museums Liverpool, says: "The team has been working very closely with our museum colleagues in China to bring this collection of Warriors and many other significant discoveries to the UK ... I urge everyone to attend this 'must see' show - the highlight of Liverpool's 10th anniversary celebrations as European Capital of Culture in 2018."

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Bilbao to Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698349.htm Eneko Atxa is transporting the authentic flavors of his three-star Michelin restaurant in Spain to the Chinese capital - lock, stock and barrel. Li Yingxue reports.

Chef Eneko Atxa is carefully placing two petals on the fried pork to add the finishing touch to the plating, as his fellow chefs busy themselves with other preparations.

One chef is squeezing a herb sauce onto the blank plates before another paints the sauce with a knife. Two other chefs are taking over the work of placing the pork and drizzling it with meat broth.

 

Eneko Atxa (right) leads a team of chefs from Spain to prepare for a gala dinner in Beijing as part of the ongoing Taste the World events. [Photo by Zhang Zefeng / China Daily]

Under the sous chef's supervision, each of the 60 ready-to-go plates are served.

This fluent teamwork is not being demonstrated at Atxa's own 3-star Michelin restaurant, Azurmendi, in Bilbao in northern Spain, but is actually taking place in Beijing.

To prepare for this gala dinner in Beijing, Atxa closed his three restaurants in Spain and the United Kingdom and flew his entire team, fresh ingredients and all, to the Chinese capital to serve up the authentic flavors of Spanish food and wine.

It's the opening night of a series of Taste the World events hosted by Wine & Wine, the Faustino Group and Atxa, which are aimed at uniting Spanish gastronomy with the country's flagship wine region. The event will continue in Spain and the UK over the coming months.

Born in 1977 in the Basque Country of Spain, Atxa started his culinary career at the Catering College of Leoia at the age of 15. He opened his own restaurant, Azurmendi, in Bilbao in 2005. Since then he has won dozens of awards, including several "best chef" titles from local, national and international culinary bodies.

"At first, I just wanted my restaurant to be full. After achieving that, I wanted to see people waiting to get in. Then I aimed for one Michelin star, then two, then three," Atxa says, describing how he achieved his goals step by step.

Having opened his fourth restaurant in Tokyo in September 2017, Atxa now has an eye on expanding his culinary concept across the world. Beijing also features in his future plans, he says.

A keen environmentalist, Atxa has built a garden next to his restaurant where he grows organic fruit, vegetables and herbs to use in his restaurant.

For the gala dinner in Beijing, Atxa aims to present each authentic Spanish dish with an individual topping of herbs brought from his garden in Spain.

Atxa says he has a great deal of respect for Chinese ingredients but needs to learn more about them. "I'm interested in Chinese ingredients and I'll use them once I get more familiar with them."

Atxa's stylish dinner is matched with wines from the Faustino group, a Spanish wine brand based in the Alavesa region of Rioja in northern Spain.

Atxa is pairing the slightly spicy fried pork and basil with FautinoI Gran Reserva 2004 as "both of them take a long time to make and have flavors that will highlight each other," says Atxa.

The last wine paired with the dessert of the dinner has no label. The mystery bottle is actually a special limited edition wine coproduced by Atxa and Faustino. Atxa was named ambassador for the Faustino group in 2017, and is co-host for the Taste the World events.

Lourdes Martinez Zabala, a fourth generation member of the Faustino family and owner of the Faustino Group, is visiting Beijing with Atxa for the first time, bringing with her exquisite wines from all seven of the family's wineries.

The Faustino family has lived in and around vineyards, cellars and wine since 1861, when Zabala's great-grandfather founded the group. In 1930, her grandfather began marketing their bottled wine and exporting it to Austria for the first time.

Faustino wine was first brought to China by Spain's King, Felipe VI (then Spain's Crown Prince) in 2006 when he visited China, and the Spanish wine has been well received by Chinese wine lovers ever since.

Last year, more than 2 million bottles of Faustino wines were sold to China, accounting for around 10 percent of Faustino's worldwide sales.

"The China market has been growing rapidly over the last three years," says Zabala. "They seem to prefer the stronger flavors of imported wines."

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Baijiu, a handy guide for beginners seeking adventure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698348.htm My fellow foreigner friends in China typically fall into two categories when it comes to baijiu, or white spirit. The large majority think all baijiu tastes the same - bad - and associate it with high-paced ganbei (bottoms up) sessions followed by highly painful hangovers. The minority know the different styles and appreciate that, as with wine, beer and whiskey, the world of baijiu is diverse.

Given baijiu is the planet's most popular spirit, with more than 10 billion bottles sold per year, and that Chinese New Year is nigh, most of us will be facing this beverage in the coming weeks. Here are a few suggestions for those who loathe the stuff and wonder if there is some way to develop a taste for it.

The best way to underscore baijiu's diversity is comparative tasting. A dozen shots of Red Star are unlikely to prove enlightening. But trying different baijiu varieties side by side reveals contrasts, just as it does with single malts or gins. A good place to start is with the three major categories.

The funkiest category of baijiu is known as sauce aroma. It is best typified by Kweichou Moutai from Guizhou province, which is not only China's most famous booze company but also, as of last year, the world's most valuable. (Kweichou Moutai leapfrogged Diageo, which includes the whisky brand Johnnie Walker in its portfolio.)

A baijiu-like Moutai is made with sorghum, requires an intense process with nine distillations, and undergoes several years of aging. Such baijiu tends to have aromas like soy sauce, sesame oil and fermented paste. (Those might sound odd but some wines have exotic descriptions like graphite or horse saddle, while some single malts are seen as having an iodine or rubber character.) A good introduction to sauce aroma baijiu is Kweichou Moutai Prince, typically priced between 150 yuan ($24) to 200 yuan for 500 milliliters.

A second category is "strong aroma". These baijiu use one or several grains, such as sorghum, wheat, rice and corn, and are fermented in mud pits, some in them in use for centuries. While aficionados use words like "fruity" and "sweet" for these baijiu, first-timers are often overwhelmed by the sharp character and high alcohol level. They are more likely to describe them as having a solvent or paint thinner aroma.

Strong aroma baijiu such as the well-known Wuliangye are a bit like peaty single malt whiskies from Islay in Scotland: their taste is intense and foreign to many newcomers and, thus, are an acquired taste. Luzhou Laojiao, a producer that claims mud fermentation pits dating back to 1573, has some options that cost from 100 yuan to around 200 yuan for the Tequ brand.

The third category is arguably the most accessible. "Light aroma" baijiu are sorghum-based, fermented in clay pots, and common throughout northern China. The erguotou style is popular in Beijing and Hebei province, and known best through brands like Red Star and Niulanshan, while the neighboring province of Shanxi is home to the fenjiu style. While still highly potent, light aroma baijiu are more neutral than their strong or sauce aroma counterparts and, in turn, tend to be the easiest to use in cocktails.

Red Star and Niulanshan are cheap go-tos while Yidanliang is less well-known but has a pleasant plummy character and is available from 15 yuan. Fenjiu tend to be more refined and are also worth a try, with options from around 50 yuan. While baijiu aficionados will protest that some cheaper products also include neutral spirits, these brands are nevertheless good starting points. Once you have your three or four samples, simply pour a shot of each side by side, and taste away - at your own pace - and see which style you like best. Once you're done, you can start to explore brands within that style.

For those who can't hack baijiu the traditional way - served straight, at room temperature, with a 52 percent alcohol kick - here are a few additional ideas.

First, go for less potency: many baijiu brands have versions containing around 40 percent alcohol. Second, try drinking baijiu cold, as fellow clear spirit vodka is often enjoyed, in order to temper the aroma. Fenjiu works well with one of the ice balls commonly used in whiskey bars.

Mixers can also make baijiu more palatable. I've found many people enjoy a sweet element, such as caramel liqueur or Kahlua. Try mixing it fifty-fifty with a light-aroma baijiu. You can get a bit more sophisticated by experimenting with cocktails. I've seen baijiu used successfully in the equivalent of a whiskey sour as well as in a Long Island iced tea.

Finally, try infusing baijiu with fruits, herbs and other ingredients. Pomelo skin, hawthorne and plums tend to be fun fits. Some people like to use items associated with traditional medicine, such as goji (wolf) berries, while others spice things up with ginger or chili peppers. Given that entry-level baijiu is relatively inexpensive, this is a low-risk way to personalize baijiu. And once you come up with a palatable infusion, you can then force everyone else to ganbei with it.

The author is a Beijing-based consultant and founder of the annual World Baijiu Day in Beijing.

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Eat Beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698347.htm Enjoy casually romantic pizza

Pizza View is a brand-new take on a "casual authentic Italian food spot" originating from Rome. The restaurant specializes in creative, handcrafted pizzas and other healthy-yet-delicious Italian dishes under the direction of chef Marino D'Antonio of Opera Bombana, and is the perfect combination of stylish surroundings and relaxing ambience. The 218 yuan ($35) Valentine's Day Menu will be a four-course meal including a special lover's dessert and a glass of prosecco.

2F, Parkview Green, 9 Dongdaqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5690-7005.

Valentine's Day at George's

It's a contemporary restaurant and bar offering intuitive service and a range of tapas, accompanied by deliciously crafted cocktails. As the embodiment of the Luxury of Art/Art of Luxury concept, George's Restaurant is offering creative Mediterranean menu that centered around local ingredients and a wide range of wines, including selections from private chateaus. Chen Lei, executive chef of Hotel Eclat Beijing, is preparing a five-course Valentine's dinner set for lovers.

2F, Hotel Eclat Beijing, 9, Dongdaqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8561-2888.

Classic New Year dinner treat

Made in China, one of Elite Traveler's Top 100 Restaurants in the World in 2017, is noted for its northern Chinese cuisine and selection of fine ingredients from all around the country. Chef Jin Qiang is preparing a special Beijing-style Chinese New Year set dinner menu featuring Peking duck from the wood fired oven served with pancakes with minced beef, classic condiments and tender leeks.

Grand Hyatt Beijing at Oriental Plaza, 1 East Chang'an Avenue, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6510-9024.

Family-friendly Cantonese

Qi features Cantonese sumptuous cuisine and hand-painted Chinoiserie wall coverings, pleasing both the senses and the palate. Chef Chan Po Sang, a Cantonese cuisine master, is providing three tailor-made Chinese New Year set menus which will make family gatherings all the more special with their selection of gourmet holiday dishes.

The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street, 1 Jin Cheng Fang Street East Financial Street, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6629-6999.

China Daily

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Cool Choir]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698346.htm Miao musicians from Yunnan province will perform with the New York Philharmonic during Spring Festival. Chen Jie reports.

Zhang Molyu was driving home on Sunday morning with purchases for Spring Festival that falls later this week.

In Xiaoshuijing, Fumin county, Southwest China's Yunnan province, his fellow villagers, most from the Miao ethnic community, were also busy with preparations for the Chinese New Year.

Zhang Qiongxian, his neighbor, was cleaning and decorating her house over the weekend.

Xiaoshuijing Farmers' Choir (right) will perform at the Chinese New Year concert under the baton of Yu Long (left) in New York on Feb 20. [Photo provided to China Daily]

This is a special time for both Zhangs as they will be spending a part of Spring Festival away from home for the first time.

On Feb 20, they will join the prestigious New York Philharmonic to perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at a special concert to celebrate the traditional New Year.

"It will be our first performance outside China. So I am very excited but feel the pressure as well," Zhang Molyu, 34, the lead singer of the Xiaoshuijing Farmers' Choir, tells China Daily by phone.

"My grandma said we must sing well, because we are representing the Miao people and we are also representing China."

Zhang Molyu was sent to learn singing in church at the age of 14, because his parents wanted him to learn more after school.

"Nobody from our village has been out of China. I feel so lucky and appreciate the opportunity," said Zhang Qiongxian, 31.

Fumin county lies in the mountains 32 kilometers north of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. British missionary Samuel Pollard (1864-1915) arrived there to promote Christianity. He found the local Miao people's style of group singing in dialogues a natural fit for a choir. He translated some hymns in English into the Miao language or Mandarin and taught the villagers to sing.

The tradition has been passed down for generations. Now about 80 percent of the 500 or so residents of the village follow Christianity.

Long Guangyuan, 48, conductor of the choir, says young people about 14 or 15 years old have started to learn choir singing. They practice every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the evenings and sing at the local church every weekend.

"We used to sing as a way to relax or entertain ourselves after working in our fields. Around 2002, artists from outside found us and started to invite us to perform in Kunming, Guangzhou (Guangdong province) and Beijing," says Long.

Yu Long, who will conduct the concert in the United States, says: "I was deeply impressed by their voice. It was incredible that a group of farmers were singing hymns in the Miao language."

Last year, Yu invited the choir to perform at the closing gala of the Beijing Music Festival with the China Philharmonic Orchestra and Maxim Vengerov. On Dec 31, they also joined the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra to perform the New Year concert under the baton of Yu.

In New York, they will sing Beethoven's grand Choral Fantasy and Chinese folk song Flowing Stream.

Besides the farmers' choir, the Chinese New Year concert in New York will include another interesting work, Ricochet, featuring pingpong champions, violinists and percussionists.

Composed by American composer Andy Akiho, 38, the Pingpong Concerto premiered in Shanghai in 2015. It is a piece that commemorates the pingpong diplomacy between the US and China in the early 1970s that paved the way for then-US president Richard Nixon's visit to Beijing.

At the upcoming concert, New York Philharmonic violinist Elizabeth Zeltser and two real pingpong players, Michael Landers and Ariel Hsing, will stage Ricochet.

It is the seventh year that Yu is conducting the New York Philharmonic to play at a Spring Festival concert at the Lincoln Center. Yu has introduced a Chinese flavor each year: Pianist Lang Lang, boy and girl bands from the Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions, Peking Opera artist Wang Yan, Yo-Yo Ma, and contemporary composers such as Tan Dun.

"It has been an unusual experience to celebrate Spring Festival with Chinese artists and New York Philharmonic in New York for the last seven years. As a musician I feel honored and believe that it's meaningful to play with world-renowned orchestras," Yu says.

"Music goes beyond boundaries to help people communicate with each other. It's my way to promote Chinese culture," he adds.

Before New York, Yu will conduct the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra at a concert in Zurich on Feb 15, featuring Chinese composer Li Huanzhi's Spring Festival Overture, the best-known Chinese violin concerto Butterfly Lovers and Peking Opera symphony The Drunk Concubine.

After New York, he will visit London for a concert with the British Philharmonic Orchestra on March 1. The Xiaoshuijing Farmers' Choir will also sing at the London concert.

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[US city marks Year of the Dog]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698345.htm

SAN FRANCISCO - Tens of thousands of residents from the local Chinese community in San Francisco and tourists packed a small downtown street for the dragon dance that would herald the celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The celebration of the Year of the Dog in Chinese culture, which falls on Feb 16, began on Saturday with a mini-procession that included lion dancers, giant walking puppets, costumed stilt walkers and drummers.

The drumming performance excited the audience on both sides of the 400-meterlong street decorated in traditional bright red that symbolizes happiness in Chinese culture.

Their faces glowing, the revelers bustled among the more than 120 street stalls at the Flower Market Fair, which featured fresh flowers, tangerines and sweets.

The Flower Market Fair, which is usually held on the weekend before Spring Festival, is where local residents and tourists flock to purchase fresh flowers, fruits, candy and supplies.

It also offers an opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy performances by traditional Chinese magicians, acrobats and folk dancers.

Mike Tony, a native San Franciscan, says he attends the Chinatown celebrations every year to enjoy the Lunar New Year festivities.

He says he learned about China in recent years through the internet, and admires its progress.

"I'm hoping to go to China sometime in the future," he says.

May Huang, an 18-year-old high school student, who is wearing a trademark bright red costume to portray the "Goddess of Wealth", distributes free red rolled-calendars with a huge portrait of the God of Wealth along the street.

"In traditional Chinese culture there is only a God of Wealth, but you have to call me 'Goddess of Wealth' because I'm a girl," she says.

She says she migrated to the United States 13 years ago, and has attended the market fair every year.

"The Goddess of Wealth brings good fortune to the Chinese, especially at Spring Festival," says Huang.

"The atmosphere of festival warms your heart and electrifies your senses," she adds.

This year's celebrations also featured a mini-parade sponsored by Southwest Airlines.

Xinhua

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Chinese ink painter turns to rock as new medium of expression]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/13/content_35698344.htm When Hao Shiming started to paint on stone two years ago, he thought the shift from painting on paper and silk to rocks was a whim that would pass.

But rooted in traditional Chinese culture, he became more passionate about painting and carving on stone - a medium that allows him to communicate with nature.

Hao's latest exhibition, which is ongoing at the Hadrien de Montferrand gallery in Beijing, displays the stone works and ink paintings in his signature abstract style derived from Chinese calligraphy. His Daguan series is inspired by the book Notes of Daguan Period that collected many works by well-known calligraphers such as Wang Xizhi of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420).

Hao has painted the rocks in abstract patterns, which are formed by using strokes from Chinese characters. 

Practicing calligraphy is a daily routine for the ink painter who graduated from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 2000. He says calligraphy has been a way for Chinese artists to explore the relationship between humans and the larger world since ancient times.

"It's a kind of spiritual experience for me to get connected with our traditions," says Hao, 41.

Talking about his painting on stone, he says it's as natural as primitive men carving on walls in caves. In Chinese art history, many were interested in rocks. Some liked to make lake stone sculptures and many, especially the literati artists who are adept at painting, calligraphy and poetry, usually depicted stones in their paintings to express their opinions about nature.

"Just like silk scroll and rice paper, stone is another kind of medium for me to communicate with nature," says Hao.

His artwork involves highlighting the beauty of rock shapes by carving on them. He collects rocks from nature such as rivers. In fact, Hao says, finding stones in rivers has become his top priority now. Whenever he visits a place, the first thing he asks locals is the direction of a nearby river if there's one.

When Hao came to Beijing for the opening of his show in January from the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, where he lives, he went to find rocks. His several hours of looking around a stream in suburban Beijing led a security guard from the neighborhood to stop him and inquire about his motives. He has faced similar questions in other places, he says.

Sometimes, he finds nothing even after a whole day's search along a river, while at other times, he finds several pieces quickly. He often stays at a riverside for days to select his ideal rocks.

To some people, many rocks may look the same.

"It needs a great deal of practice and an aesthetic instinct to tell which rocks are good for my art," says Hao.

A man of few words, he says he likes tea, classical music and reading, especially Chinese philosophy.

He says being a Chinese ink painter doesn't mean he is out of the contemporary art scene. What he represents is an exploration of Chinese art's integration with contemporary art. 

Li Mengmeng, a staff member at HDM gallery in Beijing, says when they present Hao's work at art fairs outside China, it draws foreign buyers because they can understand the abstract patterns while being impressed by the traditional art form.

Hao's works have previously been exhibited at the National Museum of China, the Shanghai Museum and Today Art Museum in Beijing.

Hao Shiming's ink paintings and stone works, now on display in Beijing, show the artist's exploration in fusing calligraphy, Chinese ink painting and modern art. [Photo provided to China Daily]

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2018-02-13 07:30:34
<![CDATA[Circus county]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/12/content_35691604.htm Wuqiao, considered to be the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics, is also a big draw for talent from abroad. Chen Nan reports.

Houng Pa Sith Yang first arrived in Wuqiao, a county in North China's Hebei province, in the summer of 2016 to receive training at the Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School.

The school, which is surrounded by farmlands and narrow lanes, is different from Yang's home in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Yet, she was full of excitement.

"Everything I learned here in China is new, especially the acrobatic techniques," says the 26-year-old, who started practicing acrobatic moves at 9 years old under the guidance of her aunt, a former acrobat who taught at acrobatics schools in Vientiane.

"I also learned Chinese for two years."

Yang has been an acrobat with the Laos International Circus since 2012.

Her studies in Wuqiao will end in August and she will return to Laos and continue to tour with the troupe internationally.

One of the things Yang learned at the Chinese school is performing with hula hoops.

Starting from scratch, Yang practiced five hours a day for three months.

Now, Yang, who weighs 45 kilograms, can perform with 100 hula hoops orbiting her body at once, she says.

The other things she learned include ropewalking and plate spinning.

Yang is one of the 35 foreign students currently studying at Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School.

According to Mu Hongyuan, the deputy-director of international exchange program at the school, the students are from Laos, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania and will graduate in August.

Wuqiao is considered to be the birthplace of Chinese acrobatics.

Yang Shuangji, the former director of the Wuqiao County Cultural Relics Protection and Management Institution, says acrobatics in the county dates back to the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550).

And the art form reached its peak during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Now, the county not only trains acrobats but also functions as a platform for international exchanges.

Since its founding in 1987, the China Wuqiao International Circus Festival has staged over 600 performances with acrobats from more than 50 countries.

Also, the Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School, founded in 1985, has not only trained Chinese acrobats but more than 400 foreign students from developing countries as part of a cultural exchange program that was launched by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce in 2002.

The foreign students usually start training at 8 am with exercises to build flexibility and practice basic skills of somersaulting and handstands.

Then, after a one-hour lunch break, the afternoon is devoted to practicing different circus acts.

By 5 pm, they complete a day of training.

In between, they also learn Chinese taught by teachers of Hebei University.

"After the whole day of training, I like eating hotpot and barbecue with my classmates," says Laotian student Yang.

"Some of the young girls cried a little when they began training here, but now we don't feel homesick anymore."

While the Chinese students have gone off for their winter vacations, the foreign students are at the school and, along with their Chinese teachers, will celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 16 this year.

Speaking about the foreign students' progress, Ma Shumin, who has been teaching foreign students at Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School since 2012, says: "By the summer of 2018, they will be ready for public performances.

"Acrobatics is a form of art that demands hard work. Most of these foreign students started from zero but they work very hard."

Ma, who was born and grew up in Wuqiao, is the youngest child of her family and was sent to study acrobatics at age 10. Later, she joined an acrobat troupe in Wuqiao county and in 1995, she started teaching at the Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School.

"When I was a child, the training was very tough. I did handstands for at least 30 minutes and hundreds of somersaults each day," recalls Ma, 52.

"The training is much more scientific now. We design different programs for foreign students based on their physical condition and their interests.

"Acrobats depend on the art form to make a living, so they develop an extraordinary willpower, learn to be hardworking and bear hardships.

"Six is a proper age to start training as an acrobat. And those who make it through the hard training can look forward to jobs."

But older students too give acrobatics a go.

Hikma Baharu, 16, from Ethiopia arrived at the school six months ago and she was surprised to see the moves of the Chinese students.

"It's much easier to watch them performing and then practice the techniques," says Baharu, who joined a circus group in Ethiopia called Circus Dolphin, before coming to China.

"I will tour with Circus Dolphin, performing programs I learn from China. I like the circus and when I get older, I will work as an administrator, dressmaker or a set designer."

Near the Hebei Wuqiao Acrobatic Art School is the Wuqiao Acrobatic World, a tourist site presenting the county's history of acrobatics.

According to Yan Wenru, vice-manager of Wuqiao Acrobatic World, the venue opened in 1993 and attracts about 500,000 tourists every year.

With two big theaters - one for acrobatic shows and the other for magic shows, the site also has outdoor tents, which have shows every day from 9 am to 5 pm.

"Tourism is the main industry in Wuqiao," says Yan.

According to Yang Xingming, the deputy-director of the Wuqiao county tourism bureau, Chinese circus acrobats are now regarded among the best in the world and Wuqiao trains talent from across the country.

As of now, there are more than 70 private acrobatic troupes and one government-supported troupe in Wuqiao. And they stage about 200 shows across the country every year.

The average income of each troupe is 2 million yuan ($316,300), Yang Xingming says, adding that China's economic development and growing tourism industry has brought prosperity to the traditional art form.

However, like many traditional Chinese art forms, acrobatics is facing challenges, such as the shortage of young artists.

"It's not just a challenge for Wuqiao but also for troupes around the country," Yang Xingming says.

So, efforts, such as recruiting students from outside Wuqiao, lowering school fees and popularizing the art from among primary school students in Wuqiao, are being implemented to change the situation, he says.

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2018-02-12 07:59:45
<![CDATA[Cultures of China tour begins in Hong Kong]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/12/content_35691603.htm Art troupes, organized by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, staged a variety of performances at the Hong Kong Coliseum over Feb 4-5.

Ahead of this year's Chinese New Year that falls on Feb 16, the shows marked the debut of the tour - Cultures of China, Festival of Spring - for 2018.

The annual event, held for the past 10 years, is a platform that promotes Chinese culture and seeks to embrace overseas Chinese on the occasion of Spring Festival, the traditional Chinese New Year holiday.

The shows staged in Hong Kong included folk dances from different ethnic groups, traditional acrobatics and pop songs.

Teachers and students from Beijing Dance Academy, who had presented seven performances out of a total 15 programs, seemed to be the main force of the shows.

Guo Lei, headmaster of the academy, says this is the first time his team is playing a leading role at the annual cultural event of the State Council, China's Cabinet.

"It's a great opportunity to carry forward our traditions. And, the multiethnic culture of the country is on display through the achievements and artworks of our academy," says Guo.

The coliseum, where around 12,000 audience members were present, hummed with joy and activity after the performances.

The tour will end in March after shows in 16 countries and regions around the world, including Thailand, Malaysia and the United States, according to Tan Tianxing, deputy-director of the State Council's Overseas Chinese Affairs Office.

This year, six art troupes will travel abroad for the shows.

Over the past decade, 69 art troupes have performed in 303 cities in the world, attracting more than 6 million in audiences, Tan says.

The tour has already become a Spring Festival gala not only for overseas Chinese but also for mainstream society in some foreign countries, which is conducive to promoting the friendship between China and other nations, he says.

Wang Baoyu, a secretary in the same office, has traveled with different troupes for the annual tour for years. This time, he is accompanying the troupes to Macao after Hong Kong.

"We have been preparing for the shows since September," says Wang.

He says they try to combine Chinese culture and local features in the shows, fully considering audience interest.

And the tour sometimes also welcomes overseas Chinese to stage performances of their own.

"Last year, some overseas Chinese provided three programs during our show in France," Wang says.

"We want to help strengthen the identity of overseas Chinese and also overcome their homesickness."

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2018-02-12 07:59:45
<![CDATA[Road trips a route to prosperity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/12/content_35691602.htm The growing number of travelers who drive through Xinjiang is providing new poverty-alleviation opportunities to villagers. Yang Feiyue reports.

The trend in which more Chinese travelers are driving to their destinations is paving the way for poverty alleviation in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Two road-trip routes in the region were recently listed among western China's top-10 driving itineraries by the China National Tourism Administration and the State Council's Poverty Relief Office.

 

Travelers drive themselves to see the autumn scene in the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, which has long been popular with travelers for its remarkable landscapes and ethnic culture. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The list is intended to encourage travelers to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and create livelihood opportunities along the way.

Xinjiang has long been popular with travelers who take the wheel themselves. They enjoy its remarkable landscapes and ethnic culture.

One of the listed Xinjiang routes runs 1,800 kilometers through Korla, Aksu, Kashgar and Hotan.

Drivers visit the Kuqa Grand Canyon, Kizil Grottoes and the Taklimakan Desert.

The other covers part of the Hexi Silk Road corridor between Gansu province and Xinjiang's far west. It spans over 2,000 km, covering Turpan, Urumqi, Narat and Horgos. Highlights include Tianchi Lake, Urumqi's Grand Bazaar and the Narat Grassland.

More travelers in Xinjiang are driving themselves, says the Xinjiang road-trip association's secretary-general Li Xiaohu.

Hundreds have driven across the Taklimakan Desert through bookings with CYTS Xinjiang International Travel Agency since 2010.

The company claims to have been the first to offer driving tours through the autonomous region.

All but 5 percent of drivers who booked trips in Xinjiang last year were from outside the region, Ma Li, a manager with the agency, tells local news portal ts.cn.

Drivers from outside Xinjiang were previously a minority, he says.

The local government has been constructing such infrastructure as camping sites.

Plans call for the establishment of a tourism-product association to work with the regional government to launch more driving routes.

The concept is to lead travelers to villages among major attractions. Rural residents can offer such services as dining and local specialties, which in turn offer them new income opportunities.

Chujiawan village resident Liu Jun runs a rural guesthouse near Tianchi Lake.

"We've had business year-round since Tianchi opened a ski resort," he tells China Tourism News.

"Many skiers who drive here eat at our restaurant."

Business was brisk for Liu in January, which was previously a slow month for local tourism because of the cold.

His place is located along the "golden travel belt" around the Tianshan Mountains.

"Many tourists buy our chickens and eggs after enjoying our dapanji (sauteed spicy chicken)," says Liu.

He earned a meager income from crops seven years ago, he says.

Visitors also buy the flat peaches his neighbors grow in the summer.

Tourists who drive themselves have also boosted sales of agricultural and forest products in Xinjiang's Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture, Hami and Turpan.

Xinjiang's tourism development commission and poverty-alleviation authorities have selected over 600 villages that are suitable for tourism development since 2016.

Most are near major roads or cities and are easily accessible to drivers. Many drivers consume local farmers' chickens, mutton, eggs and fruit, a tourism development commission official says. They also enjoy seeing how locals live.

Bayanbulak's Baxilike village previously fell under the local government's official poverty line.

The settlement is only an hour's drive from the Dushanzi-Korla Highway, which is known for its beautiful scenery.

Baxilike became more prosperous after several local government departments launched products near highway driving routes in August 2017.

Many drivers visit to enjoy local fare and milk tea.

To date, 17 households have opened dining businesses. Some rake in 50,000 yuan ($7,940) a year.

Xinjiang will set up special teams to promote tourism-based poverty alleviation.

Agritourism, online sales of rural products, skiing and handicrafts are means to improve residents' livelihoods, the region's poverty-alleviation authority says.

Xinjiang welcomed a record 107 million tourists last year, a year-on-year increase of a third, Xinjiang regional government chairman Shohrat Zakir says.

Tourism spending increased by 30 percent to 182 billion yuan.

Local governments have deemed tourism as a pillar industry offering the greatest growth potential among sectors, a recent government work report says.

The report sets 30 percent growth as the goal for 2018.

Many of those who arrive in these locations and accelerate rural travel, indeed, will be drivers who seek adventure behind the wheel.

]]>
2018-02-12 07:59:45
<![CDATA[Bali beckons again, following volcanic eruptions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/12/content_35691601.htm The dust - more precisely, ash - has settled around Mount Agung.

And Indonesia's Bali Island is ready to greet Chinese visitors during the upcoming Spring Festival, following the volcanic peak's eruptions at the end of last year.

The area around Mount Agung experienced earthquakes and eruptions from September through December. Residents and tourists were forced to evacuate in November.

"In spite of Mount Agung's earlier eruptions, Bali Island's safety for travel is under control and we welcome Chinese tourists," Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya recently told a news conference in Beijing.

The consulate general of China in Denpasar announced in early January that Chinese travelers should carefully plan their itineraries and monitor the volcano's status and consulate notices. It advised against visiting dangerous locations near Mount Agung.

Indonesian authorities have been taking action to prepare for such events as new eruptions and promise to take precautions to ensure Chinese visitors' safety.

Bali's government has announced it's safe to visit, Chinese media platform New Lvjie reported recently. Only the area within 6 kilometers around Mount Agung is closed to the public.

Ngurah Rai International Airport was only closed for two and a half days at the end of November due to ash and has since operated normally, Bali's government says. Even if it's temporarily closed in the future, tourists can use other international airports in Surabaya or Banyuwangi.

The government promises to offer a free night of accommodation and transport to Surabaya or Banyuwangi if Ngurah Rai closes in the near future.

Mount Agung is still active but is about 70 kilometers from Ngurah Rai International Airport and the main tourism area, so it shouldn't affect normal travel, Yahya says.

Some Chinese tourists have been traveling to the island since the eruptions.

Yang Fan, director of Beijing-based bespoke online travel agency 6renyou.com's short-itinerary business, recently visited the island.

She noticed many five-star hotels provided updated information about the volcano in the lobby every day.

"Most airlines between Chinese cities and Bali have reopened since January, and Chinese travel agencies have started to send travel groups to Bali," Yang says.

"However, it will take time for Bali's tourism to return to normal."

Few group travelers visit Mount Agung because it's far from the main tourism area.

"Those who want to enjoy magnificent volcano views can visit other volcanoes on the island, such as Mount Batur," she says.

Many of 6renyou.com's customers are middle-class families who prefer to stay in five-star hotels and visit such sites as Bali Safari and Marine Park, and Waterbom Park. They also enjoy snorkeling, buying local folk arts and appreciating such experiences as learning how to cook local food.

About 2 million Chinese visited Indonesia last year, accounting for about 15 percent of inbound tourists, Xinhua News Agency reports. Nearly 1.4 million Chinese visited Bali in 2017, accounting for the biggest inbound group.

Chinese visitors especially enjoy Indonesia's coastlines, islands, beaches and diving, Yahya says.

The country is planning to train more Chinese-speaking guides and open a tourism-information center that offers Chinese-language services.

Indonesia's tourism ministry is also developing 10 priority destinations including Toba Lake and Tanjung Lesung Peninsula, through its "New Bali" plan.

It's constructing such infrastructure as roads and airports to place these destinations higher on visitors' itineraries. New direct flights will open to these emerging attractions.

Jakarta and Palembang will host the 18th Asian Games from Aug 18 to Sept 2. Indonesia views this as an opportunity to attract Chinese sports enthusiasts and for them to travel around the country.

"It's convenient for Chinese to fly to Jakarta to witness the excellent performances of Chinese athletes," Yahya says.

"They can also enjoy picturesque views and the cultural heritage of Indonesia."

Tourism authorities have developed travel packages from Jakarta and Palembang to other destinations in anticipation on the visitor influx, he adds.

It seems likely many Chinese will be visiting Bali then - and before and after.

]]>
2018-02-12 07:59:45
<![CDATA[Guizhou's snow is a reason to visit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/12/content_35691600.htm Drought-prone Guizhou province, known for its cutting karst formations, doesn't naturally sire snowy slopes for skiing.

It's dry. Its peaks tend to be sheer.

You'd fall off, rather than glide down, most inclines.

Yet the Yushe Snow Resort, or the Yushe National Forest Park, in Liupanshui city has created a winter wonderland where there was none.

The resort has purchased 60 snow machines to transform a swathe of a national forest park into a place to go to enjoy snow in Guizhou.

The mountains, which average around 2,250 meters, seldom experience snowfall but are coated with freezing rain in winter.

This, in every sense, put a chill on tourism during the season.

It was a great disparity throughout the year for a place that's hailed as a summer hot spot.

"Few travelers visit the conventional sites in winter," the resort's manger Gao Song says.

"So, we developed new opportunities."

It has hosted such competitions and events as the 2017 Summer International Marathon and World Snow Day.

The resort receives 20,000 visitors daily on average during the winter season, Gao says.

Yushe invested 200 million yuan ($31.8 million) to expand its snowfields from 500 to 100,000 square meters in the past few years.

It offers ski ranges of various difficulty levels and snowmobiling.

"It's wonderful to ski here, even though the snow isn't deep enough," says veteran skier Luo Yongming, who was visiting from Chongqing.

"The scenery is stunning." Nearly a third of visitors come from outside the province.

Yushe received 180,000 winter tourists in 2016 and 2017, compared with 65,000 in 2015. It generated 30 million yuan in the 2015-16 period.

Liupanshui received 300 million visits that generated 20 billion yuan in 2017. That's more than a 60 percent increase in revenue and a nearly 58 percent increase in visits year-on-year.

Tourism has assisted poverty alleviation.

Relocated villager Nie Sanwen works as a driver of the tourism electric cart. The 46-year-old earns 4,000 yuan a month. And his family has moved into a new modern apartment provided by the government.

"I'm happy," he says.

"I'm fairly well off."

Snow may be a new ingredient that extends the allure of Guizhou's tourism charm year-round.

Chen Zhuo contributed to the story.

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2018-02-12 07:59:45
<![CDATA[What's in a name?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/11/content_35685733.htm Editor's Note: The countdown to Spring Festival has begun for millions of Chinese kitchens all over the world as they prepare for the new lunar year. We help you to understand some of the culinary traditions and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

The all-important reunion dinner is why millions of Chinese move heaven and earth in their efforts to get home by Lunar New Year's Eve.

Tickets for trains, buses and flights are booked months ahead to make sure the journey back is smooth and uninterrupted.

 

Reunion meal is the last dinner for the family before Spring Festival is ushered in. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 

The tuanyuan fan, or reunion meal, is the last dinner for the family before the Spring Festival is ushered in. It is to celebrate a good year gone by and to herald an even better year ahead.

That is why every dish served will have special significance.

Jinyin manwu (House full of silver and gold)

Money bags. Springroll wrappers are used to gather up a savory stir-fry of seafood and vegetables. The little bundles can be steamed or deep-fried.

Water chestnuts, sugar snap peas, carrots, bamboo shoots and juicy black mushrooms are stir-fried with scallops and prawns. The colorful mixture represents the jewels, gold and silver that the family can expect to accumulate in the coming year.

Niannian youyu (Abundance every year)

There must be fish, which is homophonic with "plenty", and it is often the centerpiece on the table. In the south, where fresh sea fish are easily available, the fish is steamed whole, for good luck. Keeping the head and tail intact signifies excellent beginnings and endings. Brightly colored garnishes of spring onions, coriander and chili add to the flavor and ambiance.

In northern regions, where fish is more likely to be from rivers or lakes, it is often fried, then braised in a rich, highly spiced sauce to help mask the natural muskiness of freshwater fish.

Sixi wanzi (Four balls of happiness)

This is a must-have on Beijing tables during the reunion meal. The huge meatballs are first deep-fried and then braised. The generous round mounds of meat are seen as an indication of good times, and they can get as big as a grown man's fist.

They are very similar to the famous lion's head meatball or shizhi tou, with just a change of name to suit the occasion.

Haoshi shengcai (Good markets, great wealth)

A dish of richly flavored braised dried oysters on a bed of fresh lettuce means that the family is in business. Dried oysters are known as haochi which sounds like haoshi, or a "friendly marketplace", and shengcai or lettuce resembles the words for "generating wealth".

Needless to say, dried seafood is also a luxurious addition to the menu, and is indicative of the family's improved spending power.

Hengcai jiushou (Luck and wealth at your fingertips)

More luck will come to the family if there's a pig trotter on the table. Jiushou means a "lucky hand", and that's always good to have if you are indulging in a game of cards or mahjong with friends and family during the holidays.

The trotter is usually braised whole in an oyster sauce, with mushrooms or chestnuts. Sometimes, a rare and expensive black moss is added because it is named facai, homophonic with "sudden prosperity".

Longma jingshen (Spirited exuberance)

Both the dragon (long) and horse (ma) represent "high spirits" in Chinese, and so the lobster, known as "dragon prawn" or longxia, is a popular dish during the Lunar New Year meals.

Of course, it is an expensive ingredient as well, and that in itself makes it an auspicious addition to the festive menu

The Cantonese like it as beautifully presented sashimi, or steamed with plenty of minced garlic and spring onions on a bed of glass noodles to catch the sweet juices.

Another popular way is to coat the lobster pieces with golden bread crumbs and deep-fry them. Then, a rich red tomato and chili gravy is poured over the seafood, making it an even more visually vibrant dish.

Zhanchi gaofei (Wings of success)

No celebratory meal is complete without a chicken. Its wings represent the ability to fly high, and families with students or ambitious young professionals will feature this on their tables prominently.

The Chinese way is to cook the chicken with bones, and it is cut and reassembled so it keeps its shape. The lyrical name for the chicken is phoenix, after the mythical bird of good fortune. It is either steamed or white cooked, or roasted so it has a delicious crispy skin and juicy meat.

Babao ya (Eight treasures duck)

The name says it all. A nice plump duck is deboned, then stuffed with a delicious glutinous rice studded with ham, pine nuts, dried scallops, Chinese sausages, cubed abalone, sweet corn and green peas. The jewel-like ingredients may vary, but the lucky number is always eight.

In some parts of China, the chefs will shape the boneless duck by tying a string around its middle. The result is a bottle-gourd-shaped bird. It goes without saying that the hulu, or gourd, is another symbol of prosperity.

Xiha daxiao (Laughter all around)

Prawns are known as har in Cantonese, so a platter of ha ha is a must for the new year, because laughter brings more luck.

The prawns are served whole, simply stir-fried in an aromatic mixture of ginger and leeks and flavored with vinegar and sugar. Or they are artfully folded back on themselves to open up like butterflies.

A popular new flavor is with a sauce made with steamed salted egg yolks, which also give the dish a golden gleam.

The list goes on, as the ingredients get richer, and the chefs get inventive, but it's just the Chinese way of celebrating, with well wishes, greetings, and food.

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2018-02-11 14:40:26
<![CDATA[Wings of desire]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/11/content_35685732.htm Once consigned to the realm of fantasy, flying cars are quickly making sci-fi dreams a reality

You pull out of your driveway, drop the kids off at school, and then hit the takeoff button and soar to your first business meeting of the day, 400 miles away.

It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but the race is on to produce the first commercially available flying car, with Slovak manufacturer AeroMobil taking orders for delivery in 2020.

 

The Terrafugia TF-X is by the Zhejiang Geely-owned company, based in Massachusetts. [Photo provided to China Daily]

 

US automotive tycoon Henry Ford predicted in 1940 that "a combination of airplane and motorcar is coming", but until now his vision has failed to become reality. As Harry tells Ron when they're flying Arthur Weasley's Flying Ford Anglia to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: "Most Muggles aren't exactly accustomed to seeing a flying car."

But it might soon be time for Harry to rethink that stance. Tech startups and established giants, including Uber and Toyota, are getting involved in the business, despite the daunting challenges of regulatory red tape and safety concerns. Uber outlined its plans for flying electric-powered taxis when it held its first Elevation Summit in Dallas last year, with chief product officer Jeff Holden saying: "Flying cars have been promised for decades, but are arriving now." He remarked that electric-powered versions would be much quieter and safer than helicopters for flights across urban areas. Uber hopes to launch demo models of its vertical takeoff electric flying taxis in Dubai and Dallas in 2020. The vehicles would take off from a network of "vertiports".

Toyota has invested in the Japanese startup Cartivator, which is developing a flying car it hopes will be used to light the Olympic flame in Tokyo in 2020. The Zhejiang Geely-owned, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia (meaning "escape the earth") says its Transition VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) car has received FAA approval, with aims to start deliveries in the next three years. And Munich-based Lilium has successfully tested its two-seater electric-powered Eagle prototype, and is now developing a five-seater version designed for air-taxi and ride-sharing services. It envisages a future in which travelers can call up a flying taxi on an Uber-style app. "A flight from Manhattan to New York's JFK Airport will take around five minutes, compared to the 55 minutes it would take you by car," according to the company.

Having a flying car may sound cool, but why would anybody actually buy one? They provide the "convenience and speed of air travel with the door-to-door flexibility and comfort of a private car," says Juraj Vaculik, co-founder and CEO of AeroMobil. "There are several scenarios for using this type of vehicle: supercommuting, weekend travel, business or just recreational flying."

In road mode, the AeroMobil can reach 160 kilometers per hour. It's powered by a two-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that on the ground generates electrical power that drives the front wheels. In the air, it can reach 360 km/h and has a range of 756 km. Vaculik says the AeroMobil has a perfectly aerodynamic teardrop shape, with the appearance of "petals opening" as the wings gradually extend.

The two-seater AeroMobil can convert from road to flying mode (and vice versa) in just three minutes, with the wings tucking away so it can fit into a regular parking space. Vaculik says AeroMobil's potential customers come from a range of backgrounds and markets, including supercar buyers and aviation enthusiasts.

"The newest AeroMobil is purposefully designed as a breathtaking, highly desirable, truly niche high-technology luxury vehicle," says Vaculik. Beyond the convenience and novelty factor, he believes that flying cars could be the answer to relieving the worsening congestion in transportation systems. "They will be a natural extension of the set of cars, airplanes and helicopters we use today."

It's a view shared by Uber and other major players aiming to enter the market. The main technologies available - carbon fiber and lightweight materials - and the power output of the new generation of engines are allowing designers to develop an entirely new type of vehicle.

Vaculik, a self-confessed technology buff, says he became involved with AeroMobil in 2010 and funded the project out of his own pocket until 2015, when the company began to receive money from private investors and the Slovak government. He's confident that regulatory and other potential obstacles won't stop the development of flying cars, despite the current debates over the use of drones and driverless cars. "In Asia, markets such as China are undertaking significant investment in airport infrastructure, creating opportunities for transport innovation," he says.

AeroMobil's goal is to build a flying car that's ready for customers to use without requiring a "significant reworking of existing infrastructure and regulatory environments all over the world". The AeroMobil team reflects the innovation's hybrid nature - the 40 staff members come from both the aviation and automobile industries.

They've applied their expertise in employing the latest composite, weight-saving technology drawn from both motorsport and advanced aircraft design to make the Aero-Mobil as light and strong as possible.

With the first production scheduled for 2020, the initial AeroMobil run is planned as a limited series of 500 units, with the first 25 labeled a Founders Edition with an "expanded benefits package", says Vaculik. If you can afford the price tag of 1.2 million euros ($1.5 million; £1.1 million), and hold both a driver's and a pilot's license, then the dream of being able to drive and fly may soon no longer be pie in the sky.

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2018-02-11 14:40:26
<![CDATA[Nations united in animation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/11/content_35685731.htm Chinese and British companies join forces to introduce Asian giant's superheroes to audiences around the world

A 1 billion yuan ($159.8 million; 127.6 million euros; £112.5 million) deal to coproduce animated films, signed between companies from China and the United Kingdom, will introduce Chinese superheroes to Western audiences.

The agreement, which was signed on Feb 1, during British Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to China, is between Chinese animation production company DeZerlin and London-based Zycon Media.

 

Zhang Lin (right), CEO and founder of DeZerlin, and Mohammed Khalid (left), CEO of Zycon media, signed a 1 billion yuan deal for animation cooperation on Feb 1 during British Prime Minister Theresa May's visit to China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Twenty animation films and TV series are set to be made over a period of eight years in a deal worth 1 billion yuan. The companies say that all the productions are expected to be distributed through mainstream studios and distribution companies globally.

The stories will all be "made in China", according to Zhang Lin, founder and CEO of DeZerlin, who says his company owns all intellectual property - or IP - rights and the UK partner will be engaged in cofinancing and coproduction.

"Traditionally in the animation industry, for many years, IP has been created in the West, and Chinese companies have been sought out for finance and production services," says Zhang, adding that this cooperation with the UK is seen as a "breakthrough", since "all the stories are told by us".

The 10 stories created by DeZerlin in this deal include a quirky comedy-fantasy called Wanhoo, inspired by Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) fictional character Wan Hu, who has been described as the "world's first astronaut" for being lifted by rockets into outer space. Another of the stories is Thor and the Monkey King, telling the anecdotes of teenage hammer-wielding god of thunder Thor and the mythological figure Sun Wukong, from the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West. All are scripted by the Chinese partners and will be further developed by the two sides into movies, TV series and games.

Zhang, who founded DeZerlin in 2010 in his hometown of Qingdao, Shandong province, says he has been an "animation maniac" since he was a child.

"When I was a kid, I read a lot of Japanese manga as well as Detective Comics and Marvel superhero stories," he says.

Although the company started out with only one employee in a 52-square-meter flat, from the very beginning Zhang had the European and US markets in his sights.

"People told me the market in Europe and America was already a 'red ocean' (a saturated market), where a small startup company from China could merely strive to survive. But I think few of the Western production companies can produce stories that not only attract audiences but also convey the real essence of Chinese culture," Zhang says.

Zhang's view is echoed by Mark Byers, an American Emmy-nominated producer and scriptwriter who has committed himself to communicating between the Chinese and international communities. Byers believes many animations featuring China have failed to attract Western audiences because of poor storytelling.

"It's not the story you tell, it's how you tell it," Byers says. He stresses that to win audiences' hearts, no matter where the they come from, the key is to build up a "story structure" that suits the local culture.

With the goal of making Chinese stories known to Western audiences, Zhang and Byers decided to work together. Their first superhero story, Dragon Resurrection, was released in the United States in 2013 by Dark Horse Comics, the third-largest comics and animation company in the United States. It was the first time a Chinese superhero tale had been launched by the Chinese animation company.

Like most superhero stories, Dragon Resurrection has its main character as the savior, but this time the heroes are from Qingdao, Shandong province, and the fictional enemy is the US Army. The story also involves a Chinese dragon, DNA codes and Hulk-like transformation.

Mohammed Khalid, who is the CEO of Zycon media, thinks that DeZerlin is always forward thinking, saying: "Their philosophy of developing internal IP to reach a wider global market is refreshing to me. Their core competency is their ability to create fresh, innovative, original stories that appeal to family audiences everywhere."

Khalid adds that the design work and strong story structure of their work hold "universal appeal".

As a content creator as well as an animation fan, Zhang says he wants non-Chinese audiences to read Chinese comics and watch Chinese animation. However, he admits that this might not happen soon and has to be achieved by learning from previous successful examples.

"For example, all our works are united in the same cinematic universe, in exactly the same way as Marvel found success. In our products we have a world named 'DeVerse', which makes all our stories cohesive."

According to China's National Bureau of Statistics, animation exports from the country were worth 36 million yuan in 2016. In Japan, 1.9 billion yuan was earned from selling animations to foreign markets, according to the Association of Japanese Animation, which says the Chinese market accounts for more than half of the Japanese animation exports.

Fu Xiaoguang, associate professor of media studies at Communication University of China, says that about 70 percent of the movies with the highest box office in the world are intellectual properties adapted from animation. Each year, Hollywood-made superhero movie series account for only 10 percent of film releases but create 80 percent of the profits.

"In these circumstances, Chinese animation companies must have the ability ito create their own IPs to be capable of competing with Japan, Europe, the US and other companies on the same stage," Fu says.

Zhang says that, though DeZerlin has stepped into the Western market, there is still "a long way to go" for Chinese animation companies.

"The Belt and Road Initiative is catalyzing international cooperation in culture and helping startup companies like DeZerlin to look further," Zhang says, adding that "going out" in cultural sectors is important, since it enables mutual communication and learning.

Khalid agrees with Zhang, saying that since the "golden era" between China and the UK kicked off, more co-operation between the two countries in innovative industries has been accomplished.

During Theresa May's first visit to China since she took office as prime minister in 2016, China and Britain signed deals in areas including trade, finance, healthcare and culture, pledging to further promote strategic partnership

According to a Xinhua report, a total package for cultural cooperation worth 2.1 billion yuan was signed.

May said during the visit that China and the UK had achieved a great deal in enhancing people and trade links.

President Xi Jinping said China would like to make joint efforts with the UK to push bilateral relations to develop in a healthy and steady way in the new era, thus bringing happiness to people on both sides and peace to the world.

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2018-02-11 14:40:26
<![CDATA[Acrobat recalls leap into unknown]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/11/content_35685730.htm Renowned Sudanese athlete, sent to train in China when he was a teenager, developed a deep love for the country

Veteran Sudanese athlete Mudawi Omer Alibilal recalls his early days training in China and his family's enduring love for "this magic land".

"The first time I set foot in China, in 1971, I had a hunch my life was doomed to be changed thanks to this magic land," says Mudawi Omer Alibilal, director of the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe.

Born on Jan 1, 1958, in Wau, a southern city in Sudan, the acrobat was sent to Central China's Wuhan, Hubei province, in October 1971 and became one in the first group of trainees from his country to learn Chinese acrobatics.

 

Chinese Cultural Minister Luo Shugang presents a gift to Mudawi Omer Alibilal, director of the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe, in Beijing on Nov 21, 2017. [Photo/China Daily]

 

"I still remember my first day in China, and it is a bittersweet memory for me as a 13-year-old boy then," says Alibilal. "Wuhan's winter is so cold and wet, and I was chilled to the bone. I often laid awake all night, looking at the ceiling, wondering why I was here and how I was about to live here for the next three years," he recalls, laughing.

In the 1970s, the Sudanese people had no idea about acrobatics, since they had never seen or heard of it before, and Alibilal was no exception.

Luckily for him, he met his "Chinese mother" - Yao Jinmei, an experienced acrobatics coach who worked at the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe - and tried to learn the secrets of acrobatics and adapt to life in China as well.

"Yao Mama (Mother Yao) treats me like her own son, and I am grateful for what she has done for me. I was a stubborn and self-contemptuous boy then and lost my temper from time to time for doing a bad job in the daily exercises. But she always showed the utmost patience," Alibilal says. "Meanwhile, each time I felt exhausted after a tough day's training, I expected her to cook the traditional Wuhan food, hot dry noodles, for me."

Under Yao's care and guidance, Alibilal made great strides in mastering acrobatics.

"At first, I thought courage determines all. If you dare to try something unbelievable, you can win the hearts of more people. However, I was totally wrong. Yao often told me to strike a balance between strength and skills in the training, and that's the essence of being a standard acrobat," he says.

That first year of hard work meant much to Alibilal, as he gradually mastered the fundamentals of acrobatics, which laid a solid foundation for future specialized training.

In 1972, Alibilal decided to focus more on collective trick-cycling and Chinese wushu, or martial arts.

"Mudawi Omer Alibilal had a flexible body and a strong sense of balance. Also, he was a little leader in the first group of trainees then and good at teaming up with others," says 80-year-old Yao. "I still remember Bruce Lee was his idol, and Alibilal often did a pretty good imitation of him in those years. And to study wushu well, he suffered a lot."

Actually, Bruce Lee is just one aspect of the acrobat's fondness for Chinese culture. After Alibilal returned to Sudan in 1974, he served as instructor for the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe, which was founded that same year.

He tells China Daily he was a true believer in the advice of Chinese educator Confucius: "Teach each student in accordance with their aptitude." He considers it the basic teaching principle in his daily work.

He encourages all of his family members to connect with Chinese culture. For instance, they are loyal fans of Chinese TV dramas.

"The fantasy drama Journey to the West is my favorite, and I have watched it three times," he says. "But my wife's cup of tea is the 36-episode TV drama A Beautiful Daughter-in-Law Era.

"My wife is delighted to see that the tension between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law also exists in China. The drama is a good way to know young Chinese people's state of mind in modern times."

In 2009, the first Confucius Institute was founded at the University of Khartoum in Sudan. Alibilal saw it as a rare chance for his children to get a comprehensive understanding of China. Shortly thereafter, he sent his four sons to study there.

"My fourth son, Elisr, even mastered basic Chinese at the institute. Now he is 16 years old and studying at the prestigious Nanjing University in East China's Jiangsu province," Alibilal says. "He majored in Chinese language in his freshman year, as he is fond of exploring Chinese characters and he wants to find a job in Beijing after graduation."

Alibilal shares his son's appreciation for the capital city.

"Beijing is the capital of China and a city filled with a strong art atmosphere and golden business opportunities. To be honest, I truly support his decision and feel proud of him," he says. Laughing, he adds, "In the future, I also would like to send my little girl to study in China if possible."

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2018-02-11 14:40:26
<![CDATA[Crafty move to quench thirst for Ale]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/11/content_35685729.htm A new brewery based in Wuhan aims to tap into China's growing demand for specialized brews

Even during the freezing winter months, nothing seems to stop Chinese beer lovers from grabbing a cold brew from the fridge while enjoying a spicy hotpot or barbecue dinner with friends.

China has grown to become the world's largest consumer market for beer, and people nowadays have more choices than ever to quench their ever-growing tastes. Whether you fancy a glass of the Chinese staple, Tsingtao, or prefer a flavored India Pale Ale imported from Britain, there are always pubs, bars and online stores offering a multitude of beer options.

A new brewery in China by Anheuser-Busch InBev looks set to bring the art of craft beer making even closer to Chinese consumers.

The central city of Wuhan, Hubei province, was selected by the world's largest brewer as the site for its new brewery dedicated solely to making craft beer, the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.

ZX Ventures, the craft beer division of AB InBev, recently opened the doors of the new facility in Wuhan, producing three of its leading products - Goose Island, Boxing Cat and Kaiba. The classic Goose IPA is an American take on a traditional British IPA, described as fuller-flavored with bright citrus aromas and a bold hop finish. Hop bitterness is said to be balanced out by biscuity malts, while retaining a smooth and light body.

At the newly launched brewery, the pleasant aroma of malt mixing with a range of natural flavorings is enough to whet the appetite of any beer lover. With fully automated brewing machines imported from Germany, the giant shiny fermenting tanks crank into action.

During the brewing process, a professional team from the Belgium-based multinational will be on hand to provide guidance throughout the process to ensure that quality is strictly maintained.

"The ZX Ventures craft brewery has been tailored to meet demand for the small-scale production of high-quality beer," says Pedro Aidar, head of specialties at ZX Ventures APAC North.

"Drinking craft beer is a developing trend in China. We chose to set up the brewery in Wuhan because we have had over 30 years' experience selling beer in the city, and we have noticed that consumer preferences have switched from traditional beer to craft beer."

Although the market share of craft beer remains relatively small, sales have witnessed a huge increase in China in recent years.

According to industry research website Chinairn.com, the market share for premium beer is around 4 percent compared with traditional beer. But this share accounts for more than 18 percent of profits in the industry, while the market is expanding at the rate of 40 percent a year.

Eyeing the growing market, Wang Deliang, brewery research director at the China National Research Institute of Food & Fermentation Industries, says that investment in the craft beer sector has been expanding in recent years as beer makers chase profits of up to 30 percent.

"Limited supply, unique flavors, a distinct experience and high-end branding all appeal to the younger generation of consumers who like to try something different," says Michael To, marketing specialist with Shanghai-based Focus Strategy consultancy.

AB InBev also recognizes the potential of China's craft beer market.

"In recent years we have seen consumer preferences switching to a more diverse range of premium products, and this market share has continued to see strong growth," says Aidar. "So, setting up a brewery to meet the demand for top-notch products was an easy choice."

With demand for craft beer on the rise in China, they soon realized that the appetite of Chinese consumers could not be met by relying on imported beers alone, as some of the flavor and taste can be lost during long-haul transportation. With this in mind, the Wuhan brewery has been tasked with the mission of creating locally produced craft beers of the highest quality.

"With their strict quality-control measures, the team will ensure that the crispness, color and alcohol content comply with the requirements of the original recipes and ensure each drop of bottled craft beer achieves its full flavor potential," says Aidar.

"All the beers are guaranteed to be fresh because they are made locally," he says. "We will also put more energy into attending trade fairs, putting on events and visiting bars to promote our products."

To further explore regional markets, Aidar says the key lies in continuous innovation to develop localized recipes.

"The charm of craft beer lies in innovation," Aidar says. "China's deep history and culture will become an endless source of inspiration for the brewery."

He says the company has already promoted a special craft beer combining signature elements from the Goose Island and Shangri-La Highland Craft breweries.

Last month, ZX Ventures also released its first local craft beer, Han Yang Zao, which drew inspiration from the long history of Wuhan.

Besides the brewery, ZX Ventures has also teamed up with Hubei Light Industry Technology Institute & Brewing Technologies Academy, a Wuhan-based academy specializing in beer brewing, to help cultivate future industry experts. Titled the New Brewing Generation, a program jointly launched by ZX Ventures and BTA aims to combine industry with academia.

Xu Bing, president of the Hubei Light Industry Technology Institute, says: "Through a high-standard platform like the New Brewing Generation, our students will be able to access more advanced and comprehensive teaching methods and practices. We are confident that they will be able to add value to China's craft brewing industry and help China's own craft beer recipes shine around the world."

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2018-02-11 14:40:26
<![CDATA[Fate, play, love]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/11/content_35685728.htm A musician went looking for Xiamen - and found herself (and a puppy)

I had always imagined myself, as one born in Hong Kong, arriving on the Chinese mainland for the first time and fitting in straightaway. In all my fantasies, my Cantonese slid naturally into perfectly intelligible Mandarin, and everyone I met became my brother or sister.

Last spring, a four-week music residency in Xiamen, Fujian province, gave me a chance to test that theory. Arriving on a steamy April day, I was taken to Gulangyu (鼓浪屿, gǔ làng yǔ), a small, picturesque island next to the metropolis, where I would be given a space to set up a studio. The residency was part of the British Council and PRS Foundation's Musicians in Residence China program.

 

Approximately 6 kilometers from downtown Xiamen, Gulangyu is a famous resort and a World Heritage site. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Gulangyu is a remarkable site, known for its unique colonial architecture, left over from Xiamen's days as a British treaty port. Despite its tiny size of two square kilometers, the island plays host to up to 65,000 tourists daily. As I took my first steps on the mainland, I fought through those crowds, dragging my equipment and sweating monstrously. Did I mention there are no cars allowed on Gulangyu? Dreaming of my first step there, I hadn't imagined it would take 5,000 of them just to get to my hotel.

All around me was the landscape I'd longed to discover, but instead of instantly clicking, it felt utterly foreign. Mandarin was not, as I'd assumed, just two degrees north of Cantonese. I didn't understand what people were saying. On arrival at my studio, I hungrily switched on my phone, only to discover an entirely different internet. When I asked for a glass of water to cool down, it arrived hot, and in a thimble.

I felt stranded, marooned. I'd made a huge mistake.

As I ate my first meal of boiled lettuce and white rice, the only options for a vegetarian on Gulangyu, I gave myself a pep talk. I'd been told that the city was filled with musicians, drawn to the region by the ocean air, cheap rent and musical reputation of Gulangyu. My residency plan was to interview local people and use their stories to write songs, pulling on threads to try to discover the essence of Xiamen. This method of inquiry, I believed, would also lead me to local musicians with whom I could collaborate.

I tried cheering myself up by looking for those people, and saw a bride stepping around a corner in a white dress. Another bride came around another corner, followed by a groom. The romantic architecture of Gulangyu, it turned out, drew young couples to the place for their pre-wedding photos, which they would later display at their actual ceremonies. Suddenly I was surrounded by dozens of women in white dresses. It was a fever dream.

That night, at a welcome party thrown by my hosts, I locked myself in the toilet, misreading the instructions for the lock. And greeting the guests as they arrived, I had mistakenly asked them to "leave" instead of "have a drink," my Cantonese accent mixing up the two sounds.

But the guests came back, and one by one, the musicians among them performed songs. There was a Hawaiian-guitar band, local to the island, all of whom were in their 70s. There was 南音乐队 (nán yīn yuè duì), playing Fujianese folk music, which is known as a "living fossil," its origins traceable to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). And there was Mr Guo, a Xiamen-based songwriter and professor, who sang a cover of Teresa Teng's The Moon Represents My Heart, a song that I had listened to, alone in my room, for years. He handed me the microphone, asking me to sing with him.

That might have been the turning point for my time in Xiamen. Or it could have been getting lost in the curiosities of the culture around me, or logging on to Instagram and finding a yoga festival, or getting drunk in the rain one night with friends and being dragged into a hawker's kitchen at 3 am to help him cook up an order.

Whatever it was, the Chinese mainland opened up to me eventually, and when it did, I discovered 缘分 (yuán fèn, destiny).

By the time someone told me that 缘分 was a karmic force, akin to synchronicity, that brought people together at the right time, I had already experienced it without knowing.

Coincidences began happening to me so frequently that I grew to expect them. It seemed to me that 缘分 was like a current, and my translator Iris and I were being carried upon it. We had no control over where it would take us, but it seemed benevolent in intent.

Everywhere we went, we met the musicians I sought for my project. A quick conversation outside an art gallery led to improvisations with a sound artist called Carp, and the yoga festival led to songwriting sessions with a pop singer called Feinix, who had lived on Gulangyu before the tourist boom of recent years that made it commercialized and crowded.

缘分 trained me to be open-minded and ready to talk to anyone. Somehow muddling through the language barriers, I began to create a community in Xiamen, taking as my base a bar in the "Shapowei Art Zone" called Thank You Cafe.

Thank You is owned by a DJ called Dfu, a committed Buddhist and record collector who changed my musical perspective with his eclectic archives of spiritual folk and jazz.

I had begun visiting the Guanyin Temple, drawn in by the vegetarian food and the many colorful depictions of the "goddess of mercy".

In the 观音寺 (guān yīn sì, Guanyin Temple), there was no binary code of good and evil, no judgment from above. Instead, I felt a great connection to the Earth, and to all the people on it. I later wrote a song called Guanyin Si, describing the strange mix of emotions the first time I stood in front of the altar.

Over the course of my month in Xiamen, I interviewed 20 brides, judged a surreal singing competition at the university and became aware of a local fashion designer named Ms Min. I also wrote and performed with musicians for the album that will come out of the residency.

At the end of my last performance, a young girl wandered in, holding a puppy that I had secretly named Gulangyu Puppy. I had wanted to go see it one more time before I left, but could not find the alleyway where it lived. I should have known that 缘分 would deliver it directly to me.

The next day, before I left Xiamen, I bought a secondhand book from a Buddhist bookstore, a memento of my trip. When I arrived home, a friend had sent me her memoir. The epigraph was from Surfacing by Margaret Atwood - the book I'd bought in Xiamen.

I took this as a symbol of a bridge from my life in Xiamen to my life back home, a note from 缘分 that I could travel across it again, and I will.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

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2018-02-11 14:40:26
<![CDATA[Tailor-made Travel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681758.htm A new type of travel market is opening up where business enterprises are looking for customized trips for team building and because of the specific requirements of their executives.

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Customized trips - both for businesses and individuals - are rapidly gaining ground and tour operators are racing to meet the demand

A new type of travel market is opening up where business enterprises are looking for customized trips for team building and because of the specific requirements of their executives.

Speaking about what these kinds of customers are looking for, Duan Bin, the general manager at Suzhou Youxing International Travel Service Co, says: "Business customers typically don't have specific destinations in mind but are looking for multiple plans for reference.

"Also, the big numbers involved, make resource control and trip coordination challenging," he adds.

Duan's travel agency launched its business customization service in 2015, and since then it has worked with more than 2,000 enterprises of different sizes, including Baidu, Lenovo, Tencent, Alibaba and General Electric.

Now, the Youxing agency has more than 100 trained customizers, and rakes in 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) in annual revenue.

Speaking about how the business works, he says a company usually arranges for one or two group trips for its employees a year.

"For example, we arrange a fruit picking trip in spring and a rafting one in summer."

For senior officials, special transportation and hotel arrangements have to be considered and planned accordingly, he says.

As for how the trips are planned, he says: "Our customizers narrow down the choices by asking customers such questions as the places they've been to, the travel duration and the travelers' age range."

Then, several solutions are presented to the client. And per capita spending usually is around 3,000-6,000 yuan for long-haul domestic trips or those abroad, says Duan.

Meanwhile, China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip launched a business trip customization platform on Jan 18.

Speaking about the platform, Xu Zhiyun, the CEO of Ctrip's tailored tour services, says: "We found demand for business (trip) customization growing in the second half of last year. So, we felt it necessary to develop an independent platform to run it."

Ctrip's company trip customization platform generated 1 billion yuan in 2017, and Xu expects the number to quadruple in 2018.

"Company (tour) customization has big potential, and it won't take long before it takes up half of the customization market," says Xu.

As of now, more than 2,000 business trip suppliers and 4,000 professional customizers are available on Ctrip's platform, and offer business trips to destinations worldwide, based on corporate customers' specific needs.

The tour operators are placed in groups based on their strengths and experience. And, once an order is placed, it's up for grabs among qualified suppliers.

Now, a return call from suppliers to customers is ensured within minutes, according to Xu.

As of now, more than 100,000 companies have booked such trips through suppliers on Ctrip.

Speaking about Ctrip's plans for the platform, Xu says: "We are trying to formulate relevant industry standards, so operational efficiency can be raised and costs brought down."

As for the prospects for Ctrip's platform, Xu says business trips are taking the form of team-building exercises, exhibitions, year-end meetings and business studies, and the market could grow to 250 billion yuan annually.

As far as catering to individual requirements goes, Ctrip began its trip customization service in 2016, and the number of tailored trips for individual travelers is now 120,000 a month, the agency says.

These trips are not necessarily expensive, and sometimes end up being cheaper than mass-planned trips, considering the time spent on research and making your own itinerary, says Xu.

A key difference when it comes company customers - as compared to individual travelers - is that while they are not too price sensitive, they have more complex requirements.

"To them, time is very valuable, and they don't have time to make trip arrangements or sort out glitches," says Xu.

So, to help business travelers, Ctrip also helps with administrative requirements for reimbursement, like price comparisons, contracts and invoices.

Giving details of the kinds of requests Ctrip receives, Liu Zheng, a product manager with Ctrip, says company tours often have specific aims liking increasing internal cohesion, which requires customizers to plan trips to realize those purposes.

"So, a company might want to make a trip to Japan to show its employees the Japanese service philosophy or management. So, trip suppliers have to know how to meet the demand."

In 2017, 60 percent of company tours were domestic and 40 percent were overseas.

Speaking about the kinds of skills trip suppliers need to have, Liu says the ability to source resources to accommodate relatively big groups of business travelers is important

"For example, you have to make sure the hotels and restaurants have adequate capacity," he says.

For now, roughly 91 percent of business customization orders can have their requirements met by suppliers on Ctrip. And all costs are broken down into hotel, flight ticket and other expenses to ensure transparency, so customers could make an informed choice.

Artificial intelligence is also being used to monitor negotiations between tour supplier and corporate customers.

"And we intervene only if the customer dissatisfaction reaches a tipping point," says Liu, who is now working to extend the use of AI to itinerary recommendation and price comparison.

Luo Shanshan, the sales director of Beijing Baina International Travel Service Co is very optimistic about the trip customization business.

Luo, whose company has arranged trips for Siemens and Daikin, says: "Corporate clients are more likely to purchase services from you again once you become their supplier."

She says that usually a company stays with her agency for four to five years.

"This is because communication improves, as we better understand their preferences."

Corporate customization business now makes up more than 65 percent of her agency's business transactions.

Speaking about the future, she says: "We believe that traditional travel products, including group travel, will no longer satisfy the needs of travelers, who are those born in the 1980s and 90s, so tour customization will gain more ground."

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[Chinese animations make debut in Nigeria]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681757.htm ABUJA - Hundreds of Nigerian kids and their Chinese friends gathered at a garden in the capital city of Abuja last Saturday to witness the first public showing of Chinese animations in Africa.

The debut screening, organized by StarTimes, a Chinese firm which offers a direct-to-home pay-TV service, was held as part of the activities marking the 2018 Chinese Spring Festival.

Thereafter, StarTimes, which has a presence in more than 20 countries in Africa, will broadcast excellent Chinese animated content every day, at prime time, on the StarTimes KungFu channel.

At least seven top Chinese animation companies are in Nigeria to promote the entertainment brand.

Their mission is to explore the African animation industry and promote its development, starting with Nigeria which proves to have a huge market potential.

The Chinese animation festival reached a crescendo as the Nigerian kids and their Chinese friends jointly participated in mask painting and bead making, among other interesting activities held to further promote the cultural exchange between China and Nigeria.

Another highlight of the event was the performance of the Chinese traditional lion dance by students of a government secondary school in Abuja.

Speaking to Xinhua, 10-year-old Farid Gebbery and his friend Faizer Folayan, said the colorful Chinese Animation Spring Festival has stimulated their interests in the animation industry.

"I like animations a lot. I watch them at home. But here I've seen that the Chinese are very artistic and their animations are very different from others," said the young Gebbery.

Folayan, claiming to have seen many Chinese animations before, said he thinks "they (the Chinese) are very artistic people and smart."

"I have seen plenty animations but my favorites are the kung fu animations," he said.

The lads expressed their desires to see local Nigerian characters in animations and cartoons in the future.

Most Nigerian children are exposed to television at a relatively young age, and almost every child is fascinated by video animations, especially cartoons.

In an earlier interview, Huang Jingtian, the marketing director of Huangzhou Minglang Films and TV Production Company Limited, told Xinhua that the desire to make more African kids see the Chinese animation was her firm's top priority in Africa.

"I really think we can work together (with African film producers and directors) and I believe that we can create a lot of animation films together with Nigerian talents, for Nigerian kids," Huang said.

The Chinese animation expert said her visit to Africa for the first time has made her realize that most Nigerian kids would love to have Nigerian characters, and not Disney characters, in animation films.

"I will do my best to make it come true. It cannot be done only by the Chinese part. We can offer the technology and our experience but it will all be about Nigerian historical and adventure stories. We want the kids to have what they will really enjoy," she added.

Before rounding off their visit to Nigeria, representatives of the Chinese animation companies here will make a trip to Lagos, Nigeria's main city and entertainment hub, to facilitate more fruitful collaborations with local animation companies.

Li Xuda, the director of China Cultural Center in Abuja, described the Chinese Animation Spring Festival last Saturday as "very significant and meaningful", as it provided the right platform for China and Nigeria's animation producers, directors and experts to learn from each other and promote the development of the animation industry of both China and Nigeria.

"This year, we've had a big beginning. So, next year we will cooperate with each other to make the carnival happen once again," Li said, noting that the Chinese government ha been encouraging the animation companies to invest in Nigeria.

"Both countries can work together for a better future in the animation industry," he added.

Xinhua

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[A ladle goes a long way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681753.htm It took me a long time to warm to hotpot. Although it's arguably China's most popular - if not simplest - form of dining, I just didn't get it at first. I'd ask myself: Why would someone want to go to a restaurant where you're required to do your own cooking?

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The five simple rules that helped change my mind about Chinese hotpot

It took me a long time to warm to hotpot. Although it's arguably China's most popular - if not simplest - form of dining, I just didn't get it at first. I'd ask myself: Why would someone want to go to a restaurant where you're required to do your own cooking?

Isn't that the point of eating out, to avoid the hassle of actually making a meal? To spend an evening being waited on, as opposed to spending an evening waiting for water to boil so you can slip in some noodles and get dinner over with?

As you can probably tell, I'm no gourmet. As a younger man, I tended to eat for fuel more than pleasure, and I certainly had no time for cooking.

A long time ago, a group of friends invited me to dinner at a Korean barbeque. It was one of the most frustrating nights of my life. I would place slices of potato or meat on the grill and wait patiently for them to cook, only to see someone else swoop in and gobble them up in the blink of an eye - like a frog catching a fly. After this happened a few times, I laid down my chopsticks in protest and decided to just grab a kebab on the way home.

Based on that experience, when I arrived as a tourist in China in late 2008, hotpot - another shared cook-it-yourself experience - was not something I was particularly keen on trying. As far as I could tell, eating hotpot seemed to involve a large metal pot, lots of boiling soup, mountains of raw ingredients, and a likely trip to a hospital burns unit.

I first indulged with some people I'd met in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province. It was chaos. No one took charge of what was going into the boiling pot, and far too much alcohol was consumed for anyone to confidently be able to tell when the food was ready. In the end, I became stuffed on raw vegetables and uncooked meat. The only way the meal could have gone worse is if the waitress had asked me to do the washing up, too.

My feelings for hotpot changed after I met the woman who would become my wife. To call her a foodie would be an understatement, and I was impressed by the way she would take charge of any hotpot situation. She grips that ladle and keeps order like a sergeant-major drilling a squad of marines.

Slowly but surely I fell in love ...with hotpot. Before long I'd gone from adverse to addicted. I was trying as many styles as I could, as well as similar dishes, such as mala-xiangguo, a super-spicy, hassle-free "dry hotpot" from southwestern China.

Yet despite my conversion, I still have five simple rules to ensure a happy hotpot experience:

1 No more than four people around a table.

Any more diners and you risk culinary carnage. You all begin fighting over those quick-to-cook meatballs, and people start randomly throwing in ingredients in the wrong order, like putting in the lettuce first, which is madness, as it cooks in a flash and gums up the ladle - an essential tool for scooping out the meat and broken bits of potato that drop to the bottom of the pot.

Plus, if you have novices adding the ingredients, expect tears. Imagine a child "bombing" at a public swimming pool and splashing everyone. Now imagine if the water was 85 C.

2 It's no shame to use a spoon.

Yes, being a master at chopstickery (not a real word, but it should be) makes it easier to navigate the pot, but mealtimes shouldn't be a battle of wills. I've watched someone fight with a quail's egg for about two minutes before they surrendered and, in a fit of anger, attempted to skewer it with a single chopstick. I admire the ingenuity, but they missed out on all the meatballs. Spoon it; no one will think less of you.

3 Your bowl is your best friend.

There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. But to avoid having at a dinner table covered in more soup than the wall of a Warhol gallery, bowls should be taken to the pot to fetch the food at all times.

4 Know your limit.

As a Westerner, I grew up eating the portions of food that were put in front of me. You know where you are and how much you've eaten. With the shared pot style of cooking in China it can be hard to keep track. A good hotpot can feel like a bottomless pit of pleasure, and before you know it you've consumed the equivalent of a small cow and a pensioner's vegetable patch.

After one such meal in Shanghai, I had to be pulled up the restaurant's steps by fellow diners to reach the exit because my legs were unable to carry the extra weight I'd taken on.

Having to undo your belt or the top button of your trousers is perhaps a warning sign that you're reaching peak meatball, so stop. Alternatively, to slow your consumption, use toothpicks instead of chopsticks - although if you do, you should probably also wear those gloves firefighters use.

5 Ultimately, have fun with it.

A good hotpot can be heaven, and it's a great way to get to know new friends - even if you do risk a few burns in the process.

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[Paintings on rice paper from China star souvenirs in Havana]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681752.htm HAVANA - Visitors to the bustling Havana International Book Fair this year are leaving toting books - and delicate Chinese paintings that have become a popular souvenir item.

Printed with the latest digital technology, exquisite paintings on Chinese xuan paper, a kind of traditional paper made from rice for painting and Chinese calligraphy, have been selling like hot cakes at this year's fair, where China is the guest country.

The Chinese pavilion is one of the most visited by Cubans and foreigners alike, who hope to learn more about China's rich culture.

To satisfy their curiosity, China has brought some 3,000 academic and literary texts in Spanish, English and Mandarin, as well as other expressions of Chinese culture to the fair.

Among the attractions, a large roll of fine paper with beautiful reproduction of traditional Chinese paintings is making the biggest splash. The roll contains around 22 different scenes and rapidly thinned out in the first few days of the fair as visitors lined up to acquire their keepsake from China.

Sisters Dayana and Leydis Lopez bought four paintings to decorate their house, and their favorite is a lotus flower painting they plan to keep in their bedroom.

"China has not only brought books but other items that are representative of its culture. I really like the variety of colors they use in these paintings. The soft material and the quality is impressive," Leydis Lopez told Xinhua.

Buying a traditional painting, Dayana Lopez said, is not only a way to take home a piece of Chinese art, but also to display the delicacy, beauty and strength of the nation.

They were surprised to learn that the paintings were done on rice paper.

"I already loved the paintings, but when I found out the paper was made of rice it dazzled me even more because that is one of China's signature products. Now it has double value and meaning for me," Dayana Lopez said.

Cubans have also been surprised by a more contemporary aspect of these rice paper paintings: the use of an innovative digital printing technology called Printing on Demand.

An initiative of China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Corporation, the paintings spotlight the capacity to create high-quality digital prints for publishing and artwork.

Cuban painter Ruben Rivero said learning about the properties of the paper was his greatest discovery at the fair, as it is an ideal material for absorbing ink and he would love to try it in his work.

"Rice paper could only come from a culture in which rice is a way of life," Rivero said.

"I was fascinated by the idea because I didn't know about it. Today I learned of its existence and how long the Chinese had their own methods of printing before the invention of printing press," he said.

Xinhua

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[Cuban book fair pays homage to Chinese community newspaper]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681751.htm HAVANA - Havana's 27th International Book Fair, which features China as a guest country, paid homage to "Kwong Wah Po", a Chinese-language newspaper catering to the local Chinese community.

"It's a publication that represents the interests of the Chinese immigrant community in Cuba," Maria Teresa Montes de Oca Choi, a professor who leads studies on China's migrants in Cuba, told Xinhua.

"It presents the cultural, political and active life of these migrants within Cuban society," Montes de Oca said.

A martial arts presentation by students from the Cuban Wushu School kicked off the ceremony in honor of the newspaper, which this year marks its 90th anniversary.

A special edition spotlights the contribution that China's migrants have made to Cuban culture since 1847, when the first 200 workers, or coolies, arrived in search of a better life.

Following the Japanese aggression against China in 1937, the newspaper changed its name to "Salvation of the Homeland", and became a monthly publication due to rising costs. Shortly after, it closed.

The following year, a Chinese daily printed in the United States, "Wah Kiu", donated equipment and printing machinery to get the enterprise going again, this time from Santiago de Cuba, a city located on the easternmost tip of the island country.

It was not until 1944 that the publication adopted its current name, though its criticism of Chiang Kai-shek's government following the end of World War II led the Cuban government to crack down on it, and the daily went underground.

After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the publication was gradually revived. Today it is a four-page tabloid that includes a page in Spanish.

The newspaper is now sponsored by the local Chinese Center of Art and Traditions and the Chung Wah Casino Federation.

Some 600 copies are printed monthly with news on national and international events, and features that promote Cuba-China ties and friendship.

"The fraternal ties go beyond any trade agreement or cultural accord. They are above all, because the cultural symbiosis and fraternity that developed between the Chinese and Cubans was fed by the blood of our liberators and that remains," said Montes de Oca.

The special edition of the publication is being featured at the fair alongside some 300 Chinese book titles by leading authors.

The fair runs through Feb 11 in Havana, before touring the country and concluding in Santiago de Cuba in May.

Xinhua

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[The coming of age of generation I]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681750.htm On a freezing evening in late January, Han Dan and a female friend jumped into a taxi in Beijing.

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They are marrying later or not marrying at all and seem to be having the time of their lives. So are they independent or simply self-indulgent?

On a freezing evening in late January, Han Dan and a female friend jumped into a taxi in Beijing.

Han sat in the back, and before long a conversation between her female friend in the front and the driver turned to the subject of marriage.

The driver was a middle-aged man from Yuncheng, Shanxi province, a medium-sized city whose main claim to fame is that it is where Chinese civilization is said to have originated.

"In my hometown, if a woman doesn't marry before she's 27 or 28, we reckon she must have a screw loose," the taxi driver said.

The female friend turned to Han, 31, in the back and laughed.

"Did you hear that? 'She must have a screw loose.'"

Han shrugged.

Han, 30, a cartoonist born and bred in Beijing, says she cannot envisage a day when she will get married.

"Whether you're married or single, they're just different lifestyles," she says.

Although traditional ideas about marriage and what it means continue to hold great sway over Chinese society, delaying marriage, or declaring one's intention not to marry at all, is becoming more common as material well-being improves, Han says, echoing the opinions of experts.

"It's also because women are becoming more economically independent," she says.

In 2015 there were more than 200 million single adults in the country, the National Bureau of Statistics says, and the proportion of the population living alone had risen from 6 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2014, or more than 58 million people.

A survey by the market research company Euromonitor International in 2016 reckoned that the number of single adults between 20 and 39 years old in China had reached more than 50 million.

The great bulk of them live in cities of comparatively advanced social and economic status such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen, the survey found.

One reason for the increasing trend of young people to remain single is changed attitudes to marriage and its meaning for life, so many tend to pay more attention to their growth as individuals, says Gong Lanyun, 29, of Beijing.

"There are a lot of problems that marriage cannot solve. Originally men and women got married for economic reasons or to have children, not to satisfy two people's emotional needs. Generally marriage cannot meet a couple's emotional needs. In modern society, it can't meet material needs either because many women earn more than men."

Gong, who has her own house in Beijing and has recently quit her job with an IT company to pursue her dream of working in the literature and arts, says she is sticking to her lofty ideals about love and marriage, "as impractical as those in South Korean TV plays, in which one can die for his or her beloved", she says.

It may be one reason why she has never had a serious romantic relationship, neither at Peking University where she studied psychology, nor in the United States, where she continued her studies for four years.

"There was a time in the US when I quite enjoyed dressing up, dating guys and dancing with them, but for me it was still not the good way to find Mr Right.

"I am expecting someone who can grow together with me, both as a lover and a good friend, a highly matched soul mate, so it's very difficult. If it cannot be like that, what's the point of getting married?"

As society advances, the values and views of life that the two sexes hold are becoming more disparate, says Chen Hao which is why it is so hard for modern men and women, especially those living in first-tier cities, to find the right partner.

Chen, 32, a computer programmer who has lived in Beijing for more than five years, says that since breaking up with his last girlfriend more than a year ago he has lived with a couple in a rented apartment.

"Things are heading in the right direction, but society should be more tolerant toward different models of relationships between the two sexes," he says, adding that "I always believe that urban life to some extent will break family units down to lonely individuals who will pursue their freedom."

Apart from his onerous duties with an online education company, Chen spends a lot of his free time watching performances such as plays, symphonies and ballets, movies, attending reading clubs, traveling and trying well-rated restaurants.

"However, I don't really enjoy being alone. I have to fill my time with things or just sleep," he says. So he has been expecting a new romantic relationship.

But Chen says that it is difficult to find Miss Right because he has high requirements: good looking, well built and emotionally matched.

"Another reason is that I don't want anything to upset the apple cart."

Despite the downsides of being lonely, being single means you are free to do whatever you like without considering a girlfriend's or boyfriend's opinions, he says. On the other hand there is no one to turn to as you face the pressures of city living life and the irritants that work throws up. Another bad thing is having no regular sex life, he says.

Apart from having problems finding the ideal person, Chen also attributes delaying getting married to practical problems.

"I'm 33, I don't own a car, and I don't own a house, so I have few chips in the marriage market."

Li Yinhe, a sociologist, says staying single is as much a trend in North America, Europe, and East Asia as it is in China and people in this country are delaying marrying because of "the very high price of divorcing, mentally and financially".

"So many people would rather simply live together and not get married. There are so many responsibilities in marriage, especially when couples bear children. For that you have to sacrifice a lot, and in the main single people have an easier life.

"In addition, the social status of women has improved, so they have jobs with which they can pay their way, which is one important reason why they can delay getting married or just stay single.

In Shanghai the average age for women to first get married was 27 in 2012, and 30 in 2016, Euromonitor International says.

Han in Beijing says she enjoys being single. As a cartoonist, she spends her free time doing her art, watching movies, reading books, exercising, meeting friends, or going for walks, which adds up to "so many things I can do".

"So I don't want a man to undermine my happiness, not to mention getting married or having children. We are the generation of the one-child policy, and we are so used to being alone. For me, living alone is a normal state."

Although they live interesting lives at the moment Chen and Gong acknowledge that they fear aging.

Gong says she once lived through a period of depression after returning from the US in 2014. Unable to work, she had to go back to her hometown in Guizhou province and lived with her parents.

"At the time, I realized how terrible it is to face sickness and death alone," she says.

Chen says: "The biggest worry is my parents. They are getting old and they want me to have children. Then there is the fear of being sick and of dying alone."

However, Li says that as China gradually ages, the aged-care industry is developing. As it grows, worries that single people have about aging will diminish, which means more people can choose to stay single, she says.

 

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[Stars 'n' gripes as flag row engulfs US team]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/10/content_35681744.htm

American speed skater Shani Davis did not march at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony after losing out on a coin toss to carry his country's flag, a US spokesman said on Friday.

Davis had called the method to decide the role "dishonorable" in a tweet on Thursday when Luger Erin Hamlin was selected to carry the Stars and Stripes instead.

A US speed skating spokesman said Davis had not originally planned to march in the parade of nations later on Friday, but would have made an exception if he had been chosen as flag-bearer.

"Shani won't march in the parade. It was never part of his plans. He is fully focused on his first race and is concentrating on that," the spokesman said.

Davis, who qualified for his fifth Olympics in South Korea, was one of eight athletes in contention to carry the flag, but lost out to Hamlin.

The flag-bearer is chosen by a vote of the eight US winter sports federations but the vote was tied 4-4 between Hamlin and Davis, and a coin was used to break the tie, in keeping with USOC rules.

In his tweet, Davis added the hashtag "BlackHistory-Month2018", suggesting racial bias was involved.

"I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event," Davis tweeted shortly after the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced its decision on Thursday.

"@TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #Pyeong-Chang2018."

Davis, who has won two Olympic golds and two silvers, became the first black athlete to claim an individual Winter Olympics gold medal in 2006.

Reuters

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2018-02-10 15:04:13
<![CDATA[Wood carving experiencing a renaissance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35676953.htm Hu Xianmin is in the midst of carving the scenes of a famous oil painting onto a piece of teakwood the length of a snooker cue.

The painting, titled Yu Gong Yi Shan, or "the foolish man who moved mountains", is based on a millennia-old Chinese fable of an old man who devoted his entire life to moving two mountains that prevented his family from accessing the outside world.

The 47-year-old wood carver could be said to share the same grit as the man in the painting. After all, the intricate craft of wood carving, which dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), is painstaking work. It took Hu one entire afternoon just to complete the facial expression of the man, which measured no larger than a matchbox.

"Just like stitching, wood carving requires great patience. You would also need to have the strength of a carpenter. We need to master these two aspects to be a good wood carver," said Hu.

An inheritor of the craft of Dongyang wood carving, which was in 2006 listed as a national intangible cultural heritage by the State Council, Hu is widely regarded as one of the best wood carvers in China. In a wood carving village built by the local government, he and a dozen other masters of the craft each have a museum displaying their wares.

While many of the craftsmen who have inherited intangible cultural heritages of China are facing the dilemma of being artistically recognized but fi nancially challenged as there is little demand for their craft, wood carvers have in recent years been receiving too many orders to handle as the level of interest in the art form grows among wealthy Chinese.

Statistics from the local government show that the overall output of the wood carving industry in Dongyang, Zhejiang province, was 18 billion yuan ($2.86 billion) in 2016, up from 10 billion yuan in 2012. The number of craftsmen involved in the industry, not including those who have been relocated to other cities or countries, had also exceeded 30,000.

At the newly opened Shangri-La hotel in Yiwu, the city where Dongyang is located, a total of 594 pieces of wood carving are combined with the luxury hotel group's signature crystal chandeliers and floral painted wool carpets to refl ect the local culture.

"I think it's in the genes of Chinese. There might be momentary interest or curiosity about Western-style villas or castles, but it's always the traditional Chinese pavilions and upturned-eaves on roofs that we find comfort in," said Hu, referring to the growing interest in wood carving.

The only son of a family that makes a living through farming, Hu became a wood carver immediately after he completed his mandatory education. While he was initially keen on becoming a painter, he eventually chose wood carving because he was told that it could provide a better livelihood. He later discovered that his painting skills allowed him to create more vivid creations on wood.

Today, Hu's studio is staffed by more than 30 people and 70 apprentices. Every year,they produce one to two large carving works that are typically taller than an average human. They also produce a score of smaller works that are usually used as decorations on beams and pillars of old houses that have been restored.

Hu noted that most of his clients are more interested in the quality and customization of his work than the price tag.

"In an era where everything can be 3D printed, the value of hand-carved works would only be appreciated further," he said.

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2018-02-09 12:49:33
<![CDATA[To preserve the past]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35676952.htm For most people, the Chinese New Year is a period of family reunion and feasting. For Ma Dadong, the New Year of 2002 had another signifi - cance - it was life-changing.

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Amanyangyun Shanghai features old houses and trees transplanted from Jiangxi province. The hotel has the most expensive rooms in China, ranging from $950 to $12,700 per night.Photos By Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Traditional Chinese homes are quickly vanishing from the landscape as China's drive toward modernity gains pace, and experts say that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that heritage architectures do not go extinct

For most people, the Chinese New Year is a period of family reunion and feasting. For Ma Dadong, the New Year of 2002 had another signifi - cance - it was life-changing.

During his holiday back home in Jiangxi province, Ma - he was then living and working in Shanghai - learned from the locals that the authorities were planning to build a 15-square-kilometer reservoir in vicinity of the village where he was born in order to prevent fl ooding and generate electricity. The project would involve cutting down thousands of ancient camphor trees and removing hundreds of traditional residences.

"In Shanghai, buildings that date back to a century are listed as historical artifacts. These trees and houses that were about to disappear were much older than that," said Ma in a Discovery Channel documentary about him.

Such was his determination to preserve this piece of heritage that he sold his advertising agency in 2002 in order to fund the project to relocate some 10,000 trees and 50 houses from Jiangxi to Shanghai.

Along the way, Ma discovered that many people were chucking away their silkwood furniture when their old houses were demolished. He then decided to recycle these discarded products and manufacture furniture using recycled silkwood. The profi ts from this secondary business has since been used to support his main goal.

In 2009, Adrian Zecha, the founder of luxury hospitality brand Aman Resorts, learned about Ma's ambitious project and decided to partner with him to establish the brand's Shanghai outpost - Amanyangyun.

Earlier this January, Amanyangyun Shanghai - it means "nurturing the energy of the clouds" in Chinese - held its soft opening. The new hotel stands out in Aman's portfolio as the brand's largest project with 77 rooms. Aman hotels typically have no more than 55 rooms. Amanyangyun also stands out in terms of price point - with room rates ranging from 6,000 to 80,000 yuan per night ($950 to $12,700), it is the most expensive hotel in China.

The hotel's management team told China Daily USA that its occupancy rate has already been "exceptionally high". Most of the current occupants belong to Aman Junkie, an elite group of jetsetters who travel from one Aman resort to the other for their getaways.

"Shanghai, if not China as well, may be fi lled with outlets of literally every luxury brand in the world, but there is still little chance to stay in an antique Chinese house," said Tang Yu'en, chief architect of Shanghai Architectural Design and Research Institute, which is responsible for the restoration of the old houses that are part

of the project.

Occupying 18 hectares in Shanghai's Maqiao Village, a suburban area where Ma fi rst replanted the trees uprooted from his hometown, the estate comprises five restaurants and bars, nine tea rooms and 13 villas, each featuring four rooms split between an old house and a contemporary annex. The rest of the guest rooms are located in newly-built houses.

Several Chinese media have speculated that the decade-long project would have cost Ma a whopping 3.3 billion yuan. Neither Ma nor Aman have commented on the actual amount spent.

Besides raising eyebrows over the price of their rooms, Amanyangyun has also reignited debate over whether antique houses should be repurposed for commercial use.

"It's beyond question that traditional Chinese houses are rapidly vanishing. I don't think the process can be reversed or even stopped. The most critical task now is determining what we can do with those still left, and I think every proposed solution is worth a try," said Tang.

Today, China's urbanization drive has meant that old houses are quickly being replaced by modern high-rise apartment compounds. In Jiangxi province, one of the regions in China that has the highest density of traditional architecture, more than half of the registered old buildings have been demolished between the two nationwide cultural relics surveys in 1983 and 2012, according to Jiangxi Morning Daily.

In recent years, Chinese governments have hastened the pace at which dilapidated houses are preserved. In Shanghai, the municipal government is determined to add more houses to the list of protected heritage buildings by introducing "architecture census" to those that have been standing for more than 50 years.

While there is no official rule as to how old a traditional house has to be in order to be considered an antique, Zhang Kegui, a researcher with the Palace Museum's Research

Institute, said that any building that is made of wood and dates back to 1911 - the year that the Republic of China was established - should be used as the benchmark.

Zhang noted that the central government had during the 11th fi ve-year plan (2006- 10) period increased the budget allocated to the preservation of houses from 2 billion yuan in 2006 to 20 billion yuan in 2010.

"Money should be the last concern when it comes to a conundrum like this. When we are talking about protecting and preserving antique houses, we are not only talking about the houses per se, but also the craftsmanship and skills of carpenters and handymen that make the preservation possible," said Zhang at a forum titled the Application and Preservation of China's Old Houses and Intangible Culture Heritages.

Organized by Qin Tongqian, the two-day forum gathered a dozen experts and scholars to explore the possibilities of reusing and recycling in a cost-eff ective manner.

Like Ma, Qin has turned his personal collection of antique houses and furniture into two luxury hotels by partnering with a professional hospitality management company. The business tycoon, who made his fortune by building villa gardens for wealthy individuals in Shanghai, boasts a collection of more than 600 old houses and more than 10,000 pieces of furniture. However, he lamented that most of his possessions have remained unused.

"I have devoted almost my entire life to the collection of these antiques, but my biggest worry now is that my collections are going to collect dust," said the 53-year-old, who added that the investment ploughed into his two hotels has already exhausted most of his fortune.

"The responsibilities of preserving old houses should never fall on one individual or institution. It involves every person living in the country and every government department," said Zhou Heping, former vice minister of culture, at the forum.

He elaborated on this point, saying the government can look into initiatives such as reducing taxes for corporations that are engaged in preservation projects, introducing this topic into the school syllabus, and providing owners of old houses with subsidies so that they can upgrade their living environment.

"I started collecting all this stuff without any idea about the importance of preserving or protecting them. I did it only because I like them," said Qin. "But I think

my passion and fondness for them has a root - I grew up in them. In today's context, however, if we don't protect them, the younger generation won't even have a chance to be exposed to them, let alone like or preserve them."

One positive sign seen by his team is that people born after the 1980s make up 80 percent of the guests at both his hotels since they were opened in 2016.

"China should not only have the Forbidden City or Summer Palace that can stand out in the world. It also needs residences from the common people to refl ect the ordinary side of extraordinary traditional Chinese life," said Qin.

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2018-02-09 12:49:33
<![CDATA[Auction Hero]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677034.htm The streets of Hong Kong in 1948 witnessed an influx of people from the mainland who were escaping the chaos of the Chinese civil war. Among them was Robert Chang, a Shanghai native in his 20s who arrived with just a suitcase and $24 in his pocket.

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A legend in the art world, Robert Chang's new biography charts his rise from Hong Kong street-sleeper to leading international dealer in Chinese antiquities. Lin Qi reports.

The streets of Hong Kong in 1948 witnessed an influx of people from the mainland who were escaping the chaos of the Chinese civil war. Among them was Robert Chang, a Shanghai native in his 20s who arrived with just a suitcase and $24 in his pocket.

He survived on two meals a day. Sometimes when he couldn't afford lodgings, he spent the night on the streets, sleeping on used newspapers. He spoke no Cantonese and had poor English and found it difficult to find a job. He saw a bleak future ahead of him.

But today, in the world of Chinese art collection, Robert Chang is considered a legendary figure. The 90-year-old has been a leading art dealer and collector of Chinese antiquities for decades. His collections have sold for tens of millions of dollars at auction.

He helped introduce art auctions to Hong Kong and actively promoted the city as a top trading center for Chinese art. He was also one of the main advisers when the Chinese mainland adopted auctioning, and he made bids at many of the first art auctions on the mainland.

Chang's life is all about how a middle-school dropout who sought refuge on the streets of Hong Kong became an icon of the Chinese art world. And a new book narrates all the dramatic scenarios in his life you might want to know about.

Robert Chang: Life of Collection, recently published by Beijing's Guardian Art Center and written by Li Changwei, a freelance writer, is more than a biographical review of Chang's personal achievements. It is a personal account of the history and his experiences of the Chinese art-collection industry in the 20th century.

"It's my first book," Chang said when he visited Beijing last month to promote the title.

"But I never consider myself a great person. I'm just someone who runs a small business."

That was why he declined the idea of the book more than 10 years ago, when it was put forward by Kou Qin, one of the mainland's earliest auctioneers and general manger of the Guardian Art Center.

"It's not a book filled with laudatory expressions," Kou says.

"It's a collection of lively anecdotes and precious life lessons about genuine connoisseurship, built upon wisdom, hardships and credibility, which still matters a lot to the art world today."

The son of a well-off antiques store owner, Chang's recollections of his childhood and early years reflect how antique dealers in Shanghai profited from a booming market from the late 1920s to the 1930s.

The period saw an important transition: declining aristocrats and court officials of the overturned Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), who favored classical Chinese paintings and calligraphy, gradually lost their predominance in art collection to a growing group of wealthy bankers. Chang says the latter group preferred imperial ceramics crafted at official kilns to paintings.

The rising demand also generated a rise of influential antique dealers, several of whom became business acquaintances of Chang's family, such as Qiu Yanzhi.

The prosperous art market of Shanghai was then gradually replaced by Hong Kong, as many rich people moved there in the 1940s, and the city developed into the financial center of Asia. The chapters of Chang's life after arriving in Hong Kong are an inspirational story typical to many people arriving in Hong Kong forced to start their careers from scratch.

Chang worked as antiques dealer with the support of his family's long-standing clients who had relocated to Hong Kong and abroad. He ran five antiques and curiosity stores at one time.

He first attended an auction in London in the late 1960s, and was impressed by the openness, convenience and inclusiveness of auctions. He began to bid at auctions in Europe and the United States.

And he felt the model should be introduced into Hong Kong, anticipating a time where art auctions would become a major stakeholder in the art market. When Sotheby's staged its first auctions in Hong Kong in the 1970s, he consigned his collections and actively made bids. He also introduced his clients to the auction house.

He shared his knowledge and contacts in auctioning, when the Chinese mainland also considered adopting the model. He was present at the first art auctions held in Shanghai and Beijing in the early 1990s.

Over the past two decades, Chang has been a regular bidder in mainland salesrooms. And he is always easy to spot: He always sits in the front row, wearing a colored suit and a Panama hat. His fashion style reminds people of the laokele, a word in the Shanghai dialect for "old clerk", which refers to people who dress in the neat, stylish manner of the 1920s and'30s.

But the people whom he competes with in the bidding race have changed dramatically. There are now an increasing number of deep-pocketed, homegrown entrepreneurs-turned-collectors who are active players in the market.

"There are so many rich people these days," Chang says. "They no longer go to the salesroom but bid on the phone or online.

"It's very difficult for dealers to buy something good at a relatively low price."

He says he never imagined that the art market in China would grow into the big, extensive network it is today. "Objects that could fetch tens of millions used to be rare, but now, the price often exceeds the 100 million yuan threshold.

"I want to see how the market (for Chinese art) will evolve. There will be even greater changes over the next 50 years."

But however the times may have changed, Chang believes a true collector always pursues items that are genuine, topnotch and well-preserved.

"I tell people to buy nothing but antiques. You think of them from time to time. You take them out and appreciate them, and that makes you joyful."

When Chang was in Beijing for the promotional event, he was asked by an audience member about what he dreams about accomplishing at his age.

"My dream? To name all the museums in the world after me!" jokes Chang.

A self-taught connoisseur, Chang says his best teacher had been museums, which taught him what museum-quality objects should look like. He made two donations from his collections to the Suzhou Museum in the 1990s.

"I will leave my collection to the public," he says. "That is, to the museums and galleries."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[Library offers calligraphy treat for New Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677033.htm You can now spend Chinese New Year holiday practicing calligraphy by copying pages from one of the world's oldest and largest encyclopedias.

The National Library of China has just announced that parts from Yongle Dadian - the Great Encyclopedia of Yongle - are on display until March 2. And the public is invited to view and copy the works on display.

The encyclopedia was commissioned by Emperor Yongle in 1403. And thousands of scholars spent four years collecting nearly 8,000 kinds of books available at that time and compiled the 22,877-scroll, or 11,095-volume, encyclopedia.

Regarded as a national treasure, the book covers a wide range of subjects. However, the original and most of the copied manuscripts were lost, partly during the invasion of Western powers at the beginning of the 20th century.

The national library houses about 220 out of the 400 known existing volumes.

The works that will be on show during the 2018 Chinese New Year holiday, according to the library, consist of a volume found in rural Shandong province in 1983 and one donated by a Canadian Chinese in 2007.

The Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dog - begins on Feb 16. And most Chinese have a week off starting from New Year's eve, while children have a longer holiday because of the school winter break.

Practicing calligraphy is a favored traditional pastime for the Chinese.

Xinhua

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[The Erhu capital of China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677032.htm It is one of the art and cultural centers in China's Jiangnan region (the area south of the Yangtze River). So, it comes as little surprise that Wuxi's most famous product - the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument) - is related to the field music

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Wuxi's most famous product is one that bears a stark contrast to its sweet cuisine - a traditional Chinese music instrument that is loved for its sorrowful, melancholic sound. Alywin Chew reports in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

It is one of the art and cultural centers in China's Jiangnan region (the area south of the Yangtze River). So, it comes as little surprise that Wuxi's most famous product - the erhu (a two-stringed bowed instrument) - is related to the field music

Such is the city's reputation for crafting the instruments that it was officially recognized as the "Land of the Erhu in China" by the Chinese Musicians Association in October 2011.

Also known as the Chinese violin in the West, the erhu comprises a long neck with two tuning pegs located at the top and a sound box partially covered with snake skin at the bottom.

Typically made with either redwood, rosewood or black sandalwood, the erhu produces a hauntingly beautiful sound that typically evokes a sense of melancholy among listeners.

Indeed, some of the most famous tunes played on the erhu, such as Moon Reflected in the Second Spring by China's most famous erhu player, Hua Yanjun, depict this mood.

Hua, more commonly known as A Bing, was born in Wuxi in 1893, and learned how to play a variety of Chinese instruments, including the erhu, when he was a child.

He would then play these instruments as his father, who was a Taoist priest, performed religious rites.

Hua's life took a downward spiral following his father's death, and he fell prey to an opium addiction and lost sight in both his eyes after contracting syphilis.

Homeless and penniless, he took to the streets as an itinerant erhu performer, and this was ironically how he eventually came into fame.

But the erhu is more than just a local product - it is the way of life in Wuxi, at least among older folks.

Since 2013, famous erhu players from around the country have been invited to perform at the city's New Year concerts at the Wuxi Grand Theater as well as on other occasions at the Meicun Erhu Cultural Park.

One can also spot statues of A Bing and hear erhu tunes at various tourist destinations in Wuxi.

But Zhou Sujiang, a music teacher at the Wuxi Arts and Culture Institute, says that while many Chinese are captivated by the heart-wrenching and poignant sounds of the erhu, children and young adults are slow to warm to the instrument.

"There is no other instrument that can produce as melancholic and bittersweet a sound as the erhu. But young people today don't like such music. They prefer more upbeat and edgy tunes. Interest in erhu classes at the institute is dwindling," says Zhou.

Most erhu makers in Wuxi are based in Meicun, a quiet town northeast of the city center that is said to have more than 3,200 years of history as a vibrant arts-and-culture hub.

According to officials, the town's links with the erhu date back to 1965 when the first folk-music workshop was founded there.

Chen Shasha, a prominent young erhu player from Meicun, says there are now about 20 erhu makers in the town who produce a combined total of about 50,000 instruments every year, accounting for between 25 and 30 percent of the market share in China.

In December 2010, the town was given the title of "Land of Erhu Craft in Jiangsu Province" by the Jiangsu Folk Literature and Art Association. The next year, Meicun's erhu-making process was included on Jiangsu province's list of intangible cultural heritage.

Gu Yue is one of the best-known companies making the instrument in China. And the company - founded by Wan Qixing more than 60 years ago - has a factory in Meicun, which is home to dozens of middle-aged artisans who painstakingly assemble each erhu by hand.

There is no high-tech production line here, just rudimentary tools such as sewing machines, drills, saws and disc sanders.

But the rustic environment is hardly indicative of the quality of the product.

While the company sells basic erhu instruments for a few hundred yuan, it is better known for its exquisite masterpieces that fetch small fortunes.

Bu Guangjun, Wan's son-in-law, has been working as a supervisor in the factory for the past few decades. He says that one of Gu Yue's erhu sold for 180,000 yuan ($28,112) at an auction a few years ago.

According to Bu, about 40 percent of the company's instruments are sold abroad in Asian countries such as Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, while the rest are sold to domestic customers.

Asked why Gu Yue's erhu are considered to be in a league of their own, Bu cited his father-in-law's passion and dedication to the craft.

"He's been doing this for more than 60 years. When you've been doing the same thing for so long, you naturally become a master in the craft. He is also a perfectionist and someone who has a keen ear for music," says the 44-year-old.

"To craft a good erhu, you need more than just technical knowledge - you must also have a feel for the sound."

This "feel" that Bu mentions also extends to certain processes in the workshop.

For example, the manner in which the snake skin is treated and attached to the sound box is crucial in determining the sound quality, and this step of the crafting process can only be handled by an expert.

"I can determine what type of erhu I can make just by holding a piece of snake skin. It's all down to the feel. Every piece of snake skin is different. Some are tauter than others. The weather also plays a big role in determining how each piece should be treated. It's hard to program a machine to identify all these factors," he says.

"Because of instances such as this, it is almost impossible to completely automate the manufacturing process."

Gu Yue currently produces about 10,000 instruments per year. Bu notes that production volume peaked in 2012 but has plateaued since. However, he expects domestic demand to pick up again in the coming years.

"The government is now pushing for schools to focus more on arts and culture. The erhu is one of the most famous traditional Chinese musical instruments. So there is bound to be increased interest in it when schools align their curriculums with the government directives," he says.

Contact the writer at alywin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[A place where treats are truly sweet]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677031.htm The one feature of Wuxi food that distinguishes it from other cuisines in the Yangtze River Delta region is its sweetness.

According to Zhou Guoliang, vice-president of the Wuxi Food and Beverage Industry Association, this unique feature could be due to a variety of reasons, including people's belief that adding sugar helps to enhance the taste of local specialties such as braised pork ribs, deep-fried crispy eel and fried gluten. He notes that as Wuxi sees frequent rainfall, locals also like seeking comfort in a bowl of hot, sweet soup.

"No one knows the exact reason behind this sweetness in our food, but I'm guessing that it is partly because people traditionally view the consumption of sugar as a means to recover energy after a long day of work," says Zhou, who has been working in the culinary industry since 1978.

"In the past, only rich families could afford to consume sugar, so sweetness also represents property in our culinary culture. Sweetness in Chinese culture also signifies happiness, so these could all be reasons."

The main characteristic of regional cuisine is that it is always closely related to an area's climate and geography, adds Zhou. As a place that has many waterways, freshwater aquaculture, such as the famous "three whites" - white shrimp, white fish and silver fish - are a staple in Wuxi cuisine.

Zhou, who is also a master chef and the inheritor of Wuxi cuisine, always seeks to highlight the freshness and taste of the ingredients by avoiding the addition of too much seasoning.

"We usually stew and steam as these cooking methods allow us to retain the original flavors of the three types of aquaculture. The only things we add are salt, rice liquor and scallions," says Zhou, who is the executive chef of Wuxi Grand Hotel.

Zhou's signature dishes at the hotel's Chinese restaurant include steamed white fish with liquor and ham, dumplings using the "three whites" and fried shrimp. Aquaculture aside, his Wuxi pork ribs and steamed dumplings (Wuxi xiaolongbao), which taste much sweeter than their Shanghai counterparts, are also popular among customers.

Born into a family of chefs in Wuxi, Zhou this year celebrated the 40th anniversary of his illustrious culinary career. Today, he typically spends 12 hours every day at the hotel mentoring young chefs, experimenting and seeking inspiration for new dishes. Despite being in the industry for four decades, Zhou says he is still able to find new things to learn.

"Cooking is an art form that requires lifelong exploration. The more I cook, the more I am interested in the culinary arts. I'm never bored," he says.

In light of the increasing competition presented by the slew of Sichuan and Cantonese restaurants opening in the city, chefs have to be innovative in order to stay relevant with younger diners. Despite this need to come up with modern versions of Wuxi cuisine, Zhou says that his focus is always on ensuring that the authentic flavor of the food is retained.

Apart from restaurants, another popular venue for Wuxi diners is on boats on Taihu Lake. But though the food served on board has its own name - boat cuisine - it's actually just dishes made with aquaculture.

Boat cuisine is believed to have first emerged more than a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when government officials and aristocrats would indulge in lavish feasts on boats so that they could savor the picturesque surroundings. Located on the boundary between Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, the lake is one of the largest freshwater bodies in China and is famed for being a famous scenic spot that features 72 peaks and peninsulas. One of the most popular places to take in the views of the lake is from Xihui Park in western Wuxi.

Apart from the "three whites", Taihu Lake is also where an increasing number of restaurants are getting their hairy crabs, a seasonal delicacy in China. Due to the limited supply at Yangcheng Lake in Suzhou, which is considered to be the best breeding ground for these crustaceans, many farmers have entered the business in the Taihu region over the past few years.

xuxiaomin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[A novel solution born from adversity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677030.htm In the summer of 2007, large quantities of foul-smelling blue-green algae contaminated the famous Taihu Lake in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, affecting the water supply of more than 1.5 million residents.

The incident, which was caused by industrial waste produced by local factories, sparked widespread panic as residents rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water.

"When we turned on the tap, the water that came out was very foul-smelling," recalls Wuxi resident Ji Beilei, 33. "The small river that passes through our neighborhood turned deep green and emitted an odor. We had no choice but to leave our windows shut during this period."

But this unfortunate event did come with a silver lining. Liu Xia, deputy mayor of Wuxi, says that the city's officials and residents have become more aware of environmental issues following this episode and that a water-protection system has been created to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.

Today, government officials are assigned to take charge of protecting a specific waterway in their area. The names, contact details and responsibilities of these "river chiefs" are even printed on signs set up along the waters. Liu herself is the designated river chief for Lihu Lake, which is connected to Taihu Lake. Her duties include inspecting the water every week.

Since the establishment of the water-protection system, the average water quality in Taihu Lake has risen from below Grade 5, the lowest level, to Grade 4. More than half of the lake's 22 major feeder streams have attained Grade 3, according to the Taihu Basin Authority.

Wuxi's water-protection system has been deemed to be so effective that it is now being used as a model for other cities to follow. In December 2016, the central government ordered the system to be adopted nationwide by the end of 2018.

Other measures that local authorities have taken include shutting down factories that fail to meet environmental standards, building more water-treatment plants and initiating projects to rectify problems in river ecology.

In 2015, the city's Xin'an algae treatment center upgraded its capacity, allowing it to separate 3,000 metric tons of algae from water every day. Meanwhile, an ecology project in Lihu Lake that involved closing down fish farms, introducing aquatic plants and clearing mud from the riverbed has helped to enlarge the lake's area from 5.6 to 9.1 square kilometers and improve water visibility from 20 centimeters to 1 meter.

Zhang Haiquan, director of Wuxi's water resources bureau, says that the city is currently working on developing more water-treatment innovations.

"New materials, such as graphene, have been used in making purification and filtration devices. We will also build water-quality monitoring networks so that river chiefs will be able to inspect the condition of water using their smartphones in the future," he says.

xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[Helping Hand]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677029.htm Philosophers have for centuries debated whether humans are naturally good or evil.

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Peter Stanleigh poses with members of his English Corner at Maancat cafe in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.Photos By Alywin Chew

A Canadian man has taken to volunteer work to help local residents in one eastern Chinese city. Alywin Chew reports from Wuxi, Jiangsu.

Philosophers have for centuries debated whether humans are naturally good or evil.

Few would disagree that Peter Stanleigh, who has spent most of his life in the service of others, is a living embodiment of the former.

Throughout the past 17 years of living in his adopted home of Wuxi, Jiangsu province, the Canadian has participated in a variety of community service activities in the city.

His contribution has not gone unnoticed. In 2010, Stanleigh was named among the top 100 volunteers in China as well as the most influential person in Wuxi.

The next year, he was presented with the Wuxi Teacher of the Year award.

Such is his image that locals describe him as the foreign version of Lei Feng, a legendary Chinese hero known for his selfless acts.

Stanleigh's connection with the Chinese community, however, is one that existed even before he arrived in China.

Back home in Toronto, Stanleigh used to volunteer with community-based policing, helping Chinese residents there connect with local law enforcement agencies to prevent crime.

"When I came to Wuxi, it was about continuing what has always been an important part of my life, which is helping other people," says Stanleigh, 72.

Born into a big family - Stanleigh is the fifth child among 13 - he cites his father as one of the greatest motivations behind his volunteer work. Stanleigh recalls that whenever his school was in need of parent volunteers, his father would always be among the first to offer help.

Stanleigh was only a high school student when he was featured on national television for his charitable efforts. He had organized a blood donation drive at his school in Canada, a rarity then.

"I wanted to donate blood but I realized that the clinics were only open on weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. It was impossible for me to do so because I was in school. And that's when I decided to bring blood donation clinics to the school instead. We had 300 blood donors that day," he recalls.

During his time running his own insurance company, Stanleigh also had the chance to do a part-time teaching job at a local college in Canada.

Little did he know that this would eventually become his calling in life.

In 1990, when his company's clientele grew to almost 1,000, he had to decide if he would sell the business, bring in a partner or keep going by himself.

Realizing that he had "become a slave to his business", Stanleigh picked the first option and went on to become a full-time teacher.

"No matter what I was doing, my business was always on my mind," he says. "My phone never stopped ringing." Sometimes he worked through holidays such as Christmas.

"I used to make a lot of money but it didn't make my family happy. Many people chase money and they lose sight of their family and friends and life purpose," he adds.

Having spent so much time interacting with the Chinese community in Toronto, Stanleigh did not hesitate in coming to China when he found the opportunity to work as an academic coordinator in a Chinese city.

He arrived in 2001, bringing along his passion for helping others by volunteering in the city's English Corner - informal gatherings for English-learners to improve their oral skills.

Stanleigh also joined the Wuxi Health College as an English teacher and met Hu Linghan, a Wuxi native who was working as an English teacher. They married two years later.

In 2003, Stanleigh also started his own English Corner to help locals improve their English. He still hosts the group chats every Thursday at a cozy cafe called Maancat Coffee.

Apart from teaching English, Stanleigh also helps out with other community initiatives including visiting retirement homes and orphanages, picking up garbage from the streets and even taking to the roads as a traffic coordinator.

"When I tell pedestrians to stop, they stop. That's because they usually don't know what to say or how to react to a laowai (foreigner) who is volunteering as a traffic coordinator," he says, laughing.

Stanleigh says his life in Wuxi is a lot more modest than the one he led back in Toronto.

He is currently living off his pension from Canada, while his wife earns money from her teaching job. He keeps himself occupied with volunteer work.

"I think that a person is judged not by what he does but by what he does for others. My life is better because someone else's life is better," Stanleigh says.

Contact the writer at alywin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[Local woman makes life easy for foreigners]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677028.htm Ask any expatriate living in Changjiang Community who Wu Yanheng is and they will likely reply with a smile.

After all, the 58-year-old is a well-known figure in the housing community, having helped many of her foreign counterparts settle into their new lives in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

Wu also lives in the residential compound, which is home to about 600 foreign families. According to city officials, there are presently about 10,000 foreigners living and working in Wuxi.

Wu, who speaks fluent English, was one of a handful of Chinese volunteers responsible for helping foreigners a decade ago. Today, there are about 30 volunteers like her.

Wu says her desire to help others stemmed from her own experience of living in a foreign land.

Wu followed her husband, Zhou Weidong, to the Philippines in 1988 when he was assigned to the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank in Manila as a Chinese agricultural expert.

"I was treated very kindly by the local people and the spouses of the international staff at ADB," Wu says. "Besides telling us where to buy items of daily necessities, they also taught me much about local culture and etiquette."

To give back to the Filipino community, Wu later participated in charity events, including a bazaar organized by ADB where she sold traditional Wuxi handicrafts such as clay figurines and tea pots. She donated all her takings to a fund that supported local students.

Wu returned to Wuxi in 2006 and chose the newly built international neighborhood as her home. Inspired by the warmth of her Filipino hosts, Wu decided to help foreigners in her hometown.

She says volunteering is also a way to set an example for her daughter.

Wu, a full-time housewife, spent much of her spare time in volunteering, which includes helping foreigners translate Chinese materials and teaching them how to go about paying their bills. Occasionally, she also goes above and beyond her usual job scope.

When a Malaysian family was facing problems finding bilingual education for their daughter, she accompanied them on visits to various schools.

When a Turkish family needed to go to the hospital, Wu drove them so that she could communicate with the local doctor about their health.

Wu also actively participates in the organization of cultural events. During the Dragon Boat Festival last year, she invited foreigners to make the traditional zongzi, or glutinous rice dumplings, snacks that Chinese eat then.

In the past, she put on an international fashion show that showcased the traditional attire of the countries her expatriate friends come from.

In 2008, Wu founded the volunteer group You & Me that comprises many foreign volunteers. The group has since organized charity sales to support local students, donate books and school supplies to students in Yunnan province, as well as visit local orphanages.

For her efforts, Wu was given the Wuxi Good Samaritan Award in 2017.

Xie Yao, a community worker in the neighborhood, says Wu is so liked that she even has a nickname given by the local volunteers - "the diplomat".

Wu keeps one vacant room in her apartment for foreigners who are in Wuxi for short visits. The room is offered free of charge to foreigners who are referred by her friends, she says.

"I just want to make their lives in China easier and make them feel at home."

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[City aims to attract top talent from around the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/09/content_35677027.htm When Huang Wei-lung first arrived in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in 2004, he was impressed with the green trees, clear water and friendly people.

Huang, who was then a fresh doctoral graduate from Taiwan's Cheng Kung University, was visiting his company's factory in the city.

A decade later, when Huang was deciding where to open his own company, Wuxi eventually became his city of choice.

"People are naturally drawn by green plants and water, and Wuxi has both," says Huang, 45.

His company, Mesh Tech, which produces next generation touch-screen panels, is situated in Wuxi's Huishan economic development zone. In contrast to many other touch screens available on the market that are made using indium tin oxide, Huang's products are created using a new technology called metal mesh, which improves the sensitivity of the screen, he says.

"Any screen made of indium tin oxide that measures more than 61 centimeters cannot respond accurately to human touch," says Huang. "But with metal mesh, we can make touch screens as large as 200 centimeters."

Huang is among hundreds of professionals who have made their way to Wuxi in recent times - a result of the city's increasing efforts to attract top talent from home and abroad.

The city government initiated the Taihu Talent Program in 2016 to lure experts from six industries, including business management, technology and advanced manufacturing.

The program provides funds of up to 100 million yuan ($15.91 million) to those who can bring key projects with significant economic and social benefits to the city.

Huang, who is the general manager and chief technology officer of Mesh Tech, was chosen as a "pioneer talent" in Huishan district and received 1 million yuan in sponsorship in 2017.

Other benefits he has received because of Wuxi's talent program include favorable rental rates for his 10,000-square-meter factory and dormitories for his employees.

Some of the other high-level experts Wuxi has attracted over the years include Liang Guochun and Zheng Weiguo, both of whom graduated from universities in the United States.

Zheng, who studied at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and graduated with a doctoral degree in organic chemistry, arrived in Wuxi in 2006 and founded AGCU ScienTech.

The company provides nucleic acid detection products and technical services for genetic testing, and holds more than 30 national patents, it says.

Liang, a doctoral graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, set up Pivotone Communication Technologies in 2009.

Pivotone specializes in manufacturing radio and microwave communication modules used for the internet of things. The company raked in 160 million yuan in revenue in 2016, it says.

"Talents are a strategic resource vital to the city's innovation drive. We have spared no effort in trying to attract top talent who can help push our industries to a higher level," says Shen Xiaoping, deputy director of Wuxi government's talent services department.

In 2017, the department's projects included hosting job fairs at top universities and research institutions in the US to showcase the city and its opportunities.

The same year, Shen and his team also organized 17 roadshows in Wuxi to attract investments for projects based in the city.

Thirty of the 100 companies that were featured in the roadshows have since acquired a combined total of 650 million yuan in investments, according to Shen.

"Favorable policies attract talent. Good services make them stay. Besides providing financial support, we are also working on building a big data platform for companies to find the talent they need," says Shen.

"We also provide top professionals support with their children's education and healthcare."

xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-09 08:54:38
<![CDATA[Big-screen battle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/08/content_35668172.htm With the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday break around the corner, a number of films are set to hit the big screen on the mainland.

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Six films on the mainland are in the race for glory at the box office during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays. Xu Fan reports.

With the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday break around the corner, a number of films are set to hit the big screen on the mainland.

The latest online ticket-sales figures from the box-office tracker Maoyan show that the six titles set to open on the first day of Spring Festival, which falls on Feb 16, have already brought in 240 million yuan ($38 million) for that day.

Meanwhile, according to the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association, nine movies - with three being released on Feb 16, 17 and 20 - will be unveiled during the holiday period, which will run through Feb 22.

Significantly, the six titles being released on Feb 16 - Monster Hunt 2, Detective Chinatown 2, The Monkey 3, Operation Red Sea, Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink and The Face of My Gene - kicked off advance sales online around one month ahead their release dates.

This is much earlier than previous Spring Festival releases.

Yu Chao, deputy general manager of Capital Cinema, which has been around since the 1940s, says that, in previous years, ticket sales began around two weeks before.

"This year, Chinese audiences will have more options," Yu says. "As Spring Festival holidays often create new records, the season is significant to collectively demonstrate the skills of domestic filmmakers."

Besides, the rapid expansion of the Chinese movie market - which now has more than 50,000 screens - has made the cinema a major entertainment option during the festival which reunites families, he says.

The most popular film, going by the sales figures, is Monster Hunt 2. The comedy sequel of the 2015 smash hit Monster Hunt has brought in 116 million yuan, or nearly 50 percent, of the revenue on the first day of the Year of the Dog, thanks possibly to its family-friendly features like its cute animated monsters.

The first Monster Hunt movie earned 2.44 billion yuan in 2015 to become that year's box-office champion, and also made history as it marked the first time that a domestic movie had topped the mainland's box-office charts.

The new film, picking up from where the first one ends, takes off with Wuba, a cute monster king shaped like a white turnip.

The movie, which had a budget of around 700 million yuan, has 1,800 visual-effect shots and new characters played by award-wining Hong Kong veteran Tony Leung as well as singer-actress Li Yuchun.

Raman Hui, the Hong Kong director of the Monster Hunt franchise, says: "I did not expect the first movie to be so successful. And I usually don't think about box-office figures. I believe in making audiences happy."

Raman, who is a Dream-Works Animation veteran, avoids violent or bloody scenes in his films, making Monster Hunt a family-friendly franchise.

The other five holiday films target adults. Leading that pack is director Chen Sicheng's Detective Chinatown 2, which is followed by fantasy epic The Monkey King 3.

Detective Chinatown 2, a Chinese take on Sherlock Holmes, sees the return of amateur detectives played by Wang Baoqiang and Liu Haoran.

And The Monkey King 3, based on the 16th-century novel Journey to the West, is the third installment of Film-Ko Film's franchise about the superhero, who escorts his monk master Tang Seng alongside two fellow apprentices to search for valuable Buddhist scriptures in the remote West.

In the film, Hong Kong star Aaron Kwok reprises his role of Monkey King while Feng Shaofeng again plays the monk. But the major attraction of the movie is actress Zhao Liying, starring as the ruler of an all-women country.

Typically, Monkey King movies attract a family audience, but the new film may not do so as the story is about a restrained, bittersweet love affair, says Jiang Yong, a Beijing-based industry analyst.

As for which films he thinks will do well this year, he says: "Monster Hunt 2 may surpass the record held by The Mermaid (Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow's smash hit in 2016) to become the champion of this Spring Festival, as all its rivals are not family-friendly enough to appeal an all-age audience."

Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink, the fifth installment of the popular Boonie Bears franchise, has the fifth slot in the holiday box-office stakes for now.

While the story is about the two talking bear brothers, and the franchise is popular with children, the film does not seem to be too popular with parents looking for a movie which straddles the generations.

For comedy fans, The Face of My Gene, comedian Guo Degang's directorial debut, is the film to see.

The movie, now in the sixth slot of the charts, has a cast of more than 30 veteran actors, including Wolf Warrior franchise filmmaker-actor Wu Jing and Finding Mr Right's lead Wu Xiubo.

It's still an open question about who will be the final winner when the world's second-largest movie market is celebrating its most valued festival. But one thing is clear: the "battle" for big screen has broken out.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

From top: Monster Hunt 2 stars Hong Kong veteran Tony Leung and singeractress Li Yuchun; The Monkey King 3 with a starstudded cast, including Aaron Kwok as the Monkey King and Feng Shaofeng as the monk Tang Seng; and Detective Chinatown 2, featuring Wang Baoqiang and Liu Haoran as the main roles. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-02-08 07:34:08
<![CDATA[Get smart with your phone, film director urges]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/08/content_35668171.htm How can ordinary youngsters realize their dreams of becoming film directors?

One winner of multiple best director awards at the top two Chinese-language film awards - the Hong Kong Film Awards and Taiwan's Golden Horse Film Festival - Peter Chan offers a simple answer: use a smartphone.

In what might be a surprise to fans following his two sports blockbusters about tennis legend Li Na and the Chinese women's national volleyball team, Chan has returned to the spotlight with his short film, Three Minutes.

The mass-migration-themed tale set during Spring Festival, which actually spans seven minutes and six seconds, soon went viral online and racked up more than 28 million clicks since it began to air on the video-streaming site Youku on Feb 1.

Adapted from a true story, the movie tells the tale of a brief reunion during Spring Festival between a railway attendant and her 6-year-old son, as the long-distance train makes a scheduled three-minute stopover at a station in Kaili, Guizhou province.

Shot entirely using an Apple smartphone, Chan demonstrates his veteran skills for storytelling and use of innovative shooting angles. He used a drone to capture the aerial shots.

As the title suggests, the story is told in a countdown format. The boy is initially seen squeezing through crowds as he tries to find his mother at the station. This sense of detachment continues after the two are reunited, and the boy recites a multiplication table his mother asked him to remember to help him get into primary school.

Despite the movie actually being shot as a promotional video for the Apple iPhone X, which was used in the filming, Chan managed to strike an emotional chord with many viewers.

"I'm not a professional in shooting advertisements, but I have been interested in making a movie about Spring Festival, reunions and mass migration for a long time," Chan says at a news conference on Feb 1.

The 55-year-old filmmaker, best known for emotionally engaging hits such as the 1996 award-winning romance Comrades: Almost a Love Story, says Apple gave him several scripts, among which Three Minutes quickly captured his heart.

In the digital era where most people can shoot video clips using their smartphones, Chan says he believes technology has lowered the threshold for becoming a director.

"It's a good thing. The most important part of filming is not the technique but the idea," he says.

Chan says using a smartphone is "more convenient", as it allows filmmakers to shoot in narrower spaces than traditional movie cameras can.

But, as some viewers discovered in behind-the-scenes footage presented on Youku alongside the movie, even Chan made use of supporting facilities.

"You cannot become Peter Chan just with an iPhone X. It's still a dream," one netizen teases.

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2018-02-08 07:34:08
<![CDATA[Nineteen films to compete at the 68th Berlinale]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/08/content_35668170.htm BERLIN - The Competition section of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, will feature 24 films, 19 of which will be competing for the Golden Bear and Silver Bear awards, according to a news conference held by the festival on Tuesday.

"This year's Berlinale competition reflects the world the way it really is, and that the world is complex, layered and exciting," the festival's director Dieter Kosslick told the news conference.

He said four German films have entered the competition, which is quite rare for the Berlinale, including a film about refugees, Transit.

The 68th Berlinale will open on Feb 15 with Wes Anderson's animated film Isle of Dogs. The festival will run until Feb 25.

It was also announced that the Berlinale is dedicating this year's Homage to American film and theater actor Willem Dafoe and presenting him with an Honorary Golden Bear in recognition of his life's work.

"To honor him, we will show a film in which he is alone on screen for 90 minutes, namely The Hunter," says Kosslick, adding that the film is about a man paid to hunt a rare tiger in Tasmania.

The theme of sexual misconduct that led to the #MeToo movement will also be presented at the Berlinale 2018. Events on this subject, including a panel discussion on sexual harassment in the film, television and theater industries, will be held during the festival.

At the same time, under the title of "NO to Discrimination!", the Berlinale will provide free and anonymous counseling for those affected, according to the news conference.

Xinhua

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2018-02-08 07:34:08
<![CDATA[Tibetan Treasures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/08/content_35668169.htm The Capital Museum in Beijing is all set to hold one of the year's most anticipated exhibitions.

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Capital Museum in Beijing is to start its Chinese New Year celebrations with a major display. Wang Kaihao reports.

The Capital Museum in Beijing is all set to hold one of the year's most anticipated exhibitions.

Cultural relics from museums and temples in the Tibet autonomous region and four other provinces have been borrowed for the Tibetan History and Culture display that will run from Feb 27 to July 22.

The show will provide a view of the rich culture, long history and aspects of daily life in Tibet, in addition to Tibetan Buddhism, which has been the main focus of such exhibitions in the past.

"The exhibition will help people from the rest of China to know more about Tibetan culture," says Han Zhanming, director, Capital Museum.

"It will also help people understand how the country's different ethnic groups get united with diversity."

While the exhibition catalog has yet to be released, a glimpse of several selected items at the museum's warehouse, opened to media on Monday, showed that it will be full of surprises.

For example, a statuette of Gautam Buddha from the 8th century shows Tibet's communication with other civilizations.

The statuette is from the early age when Buddhism was established as the dominant religion in Tibet, and shows the typical art style of Gandhara, an Indo-Aryan area in ancient South Asia, says Zhang Jie, curator of the exhibition.

"And, it showcases artistic styles from India's Gupta period," Zhang says. "Lines on the Buddha's face also show Greek influence."

Two other exhibits from the third century - a gold mask and a piece of silk - showcase the lesser-known Zhangzhung kingdom in today's Ngari prefecture in Tibet.

The piece of silk features Chinese characters wang hou (prince and marquis), which Zhang says shows a close link between Tibet and other places in China at the time.

Both exhibits are from archaeological discoveries in recent years.

Zhang also says there are exhibits that have never been shown publicly before, like the earliest tea leaves in China, and some documents showing how the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors helped locals in Tibet to construct infrastructure, fight against foreign invaders and improve livelihoods.

"Some people have a wrong idea that Tibet was a relatively inaccessible place due to the high altitude and harsh geographic conditions," he says.

"These exhibits can correct the misunderstanding to indicate an ancient Silk Road route on the plateau."

A silver kettle from Lhasa's Jokhang Temple has been borrowed for the exhibition. The kettle has left Tibet for the first time, but Zhang says it will be displayed at the Capital Museum only for a month because of its holy status among pilgrims.

"Many items from temples in Tibet, which have never been publicly displayed, will be shown this time," Zhang adds.

The Tibetan History and Culture exhibition is one part of big plans of the Capital Museum this year.

Another exhibition, Best Wishes from the Auspicious Dog, opens on Thursday to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Year of the Dog, with cultural relics from the museum's own collections.

This exhibition, running through March 18, will provide information about Chinese zodiac signs and show the importance of dogs in Chinese culture and society.

The exhibits have a wide time span from Han Dynasty (202BC-220) pottery figurines of dogs to Qing Dynasty jade pieces and paintings with canine images.

"They reflect the merits of dogs like loyalty and responsibility as well as their harmony with human life," says Tian Xinyou, curator of the exhibition.

"The exhibition is also designed to nurture people's consciousness to better protect animals."

Tongzhou, a district in eastern Beijing, will be the focus of a special exhibition from April to July.

The district was a significant hub of the Grand Canal, an ancient artery waterway linking Beijing and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.

A major archaeological investigation in 2016 unveiled the ruins of an ancient city from the Han Dynasty in the district, and the latest findings will be presented at the exhibition.

The Capital Museum also attaches importance to bringing more exhibitions from overseas.

So, 102 Italian art pieces, costumes and daily items from the Renaissance will be brought to the museum in late March for a three-month display.

The exhibits were chosen from collections of 14 museums in Italy, and Han says most of them have never left that country before.

Another display to show 18th century urban life in Edo (today's Tokyo) is scheduled to open in August, showing collections borrowed from Edo-Tokyo Museum in Japan.

Some contemporaneous cultural relics from the Capital Museum's own collection will also be on display alongside Japanese exhibits at the same show.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm daily, Mondays closed. Entry ticket is free of charge but online reservation is needed. Capital Museum, 16 Fuxingmenwai Avenue, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6339-3339.

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2018-02-08 07:34:08
<![CDATA[Spanish pilgrimage route soon in Baidu encyclopedia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/08/content_35668168.htm The Camino de Santiago (also known as the Way of Saint James), which is a legendry pilgrimage route in Spain, will be included in Baidu Baike, China's major online encyclopedia.

The encyclopedia, managed by tech giant Baidu Inc, will have an entry in its museums' section on the roads in northern Spain that lead to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

An agreement was reached between Baidu and Barcelona-based Gaudi Project in the Spanish embassy in Beijing on Tuesday.

This year also marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain.

The digital project on the Camilo de Santiago, which covers information on hundreds of towns, churches, castles and museums, will be available on Baidu Baike later this year. High-definition pictures of architecture facades, interiors and cultural relics will be uploaded to better display this pilgrimage route in cyberspace.

Camino de Santiago got its UNESCO World Heritage status in 1993, and is one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites since medieval times.

Carlos Canals Roura, co-founder of Gaudi Project, calls it the "Silk Road in Spain".

"Astorga, a town which is one of the pearls of the route, will be the first Spanish city (being digitally recorded) on Baidu Baike," he says.

The display will include details such as colorful glass in a church and patterns on broken pieces of cultural relics at a local museum.

Jin Xiaping, a manager with the digital museum program of Baidu Baike, says the program will enable its users to enjoy audio explanations, virtual-reality simulation and 3-D exhibitions.

"The route is a bond that links emotions of European countries and the Chinese people should get a chance to know more about it," she says.

"Also, people who don't physically visit such sites can enjoy the beauty of the Camino de Santiago in detail at home."

Baidu Baike and Gaudi Project set up the Gaudi Digital Museum in December, with the aim of promoting works of architect Antoni Gaudi in particular and Spanish cultural heritage in general.

The first achievement was a digital display of Sagrada Familia online, which uses 7.2-billion-pixel pictures covering corners of the Spanish church designed by Gaudi. Scholars were also invited to record video clips to explain the background information. The project will continue to cover more such world heritage sites designed by the late Spanish architect.

Jin says the digitization program will be expanded to the huge artworks collection of Prado Museum in Madrid, and other possible candidates for the next step of cooperation, including the historical city of Toledo, El Escorial, and La Granja, both former royal residences of Spanish kings.

So far, Baidu Baike operates 235 online museums, including on key Chinese heritage sites such as the Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang in Shaanxi province, the National Museum of China in Beijing and Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi province.

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2018-02-08 07:34:08
<![CDATA[Turkey to celebrate the 'Year of Troy']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/08/content_35668167.htm ANKARA - Turkey's tourism industry has launched impressive plans to rely on the rising popularity of the ancient and enigmatic city of Troy to lure more tourists. In January, the Turkish government declared 2018 the "Year of Troy" in honor of the 20th anniversary of the ancient city's recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The name Troy refers both to a place in legend and a real-life archaeological site.

In legend, Troy is a city that was besieged for 10 years and eventually conquered by a Greek army led by King Agamemnon, while as a real ancient city located on the northwestern coast of Turkey, Troy has been widely identified as its famous namesake in legend since antiquity.

The new Troia Museum in Turkey's Canakkale province is expected to draw 1 million tourists in its inaugural year.

The authorities have invited several Hollywood celebrities to promote the place dating back to classical antiquity as Asia Minor through an international meeting.

The 10,000-square-meter museum will showcase archaeological findings of the ancient city, including 24 gold pieces known as the treasures of Helen of Troy, which were returned to Turkey from the United States after 125 years.

Hollywood actors starring in the 2004 blockbuster Troy, such as Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom, have been invited to visit the museum by Turkey's Tourism and Culture Ministry. The ministry has planned multiple events to mark the "Year of Troy", including symposiums and performances.

The International Troy Games are expected to draw athletes from around the world to compete in multiple events at the site before domestic and foreign spectators.

The ancient city of Troy was declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1998.

It is the setting of the Greek Trojan War, described in Homer's epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey.

In 1915, Ottoman troops defeated the British and French intruders in the battle of Gallipoli during World War I. Both battle sites in Turkey's Canakkale, located around the Dardanelles Straits, draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, especially descendants of the ANZAC corps, the Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in the battle.

Turkey's tourism revenues jumped nearly 20 percent to $26 billion in 2017, boosted by a fivefold surge in the number of Russian tourists, data showed in January.

"There is a 70 percent increase in the number of bookings from foreign travel agencies for this year. We expect a record in numbers in 2018," Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus says.

China has declared 2018 as Turkey Tourism Year, a move expected to boost ties between the two countries.

Xinhua

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2018-02-08 07:34:08
<![CDATA[Arsenic and old nails]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660842.htm Students from the Rural International Student Exchange program at Tsinghua University are helping villagers in Shanxi province purify drinking water. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Even in his childhood, Liang Honggang had the impression the water quality in his village was poor. However, he didn't fully realize how bad it was until he attended high school in the nearby city of Pingyao and had access to tap water.

"The water just tastes different," says Liang, now a 23-year-old graduate of Taiyuan University of Technology. "Back home, the water is smelly, especially during summer."

This is not that surprising since the water in the small village of Liangjiabu in Shanxi province is primarily untreated groundwater from two wells.

But aside from having the odor and sediment, the water is also contaminated with arsenic.

Last summer a team of 13 students from Rural International Student Exchange at Tsinghua University, a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving rural environmental problems in China, visited the village and tested the water.

According to the test result of the RISE team, the main well in Liangjiabu had an arsenic concentration of over 200 micrograms per liter, far exceeding the World Health Organization safety standard of 10 micrograms per liter.

Cao Yining, a 21-year-old environmental engineering major of Tsinghua University, is the current team leader. While visiting the village, she was astounded by the quality of local drinking water.

"I feel powerless as there is little we can do," she said.

The arsenic is the result of the local geological conditions, the Taiyuan and Datong basins in Shanxi have arsenic, and the area also has the natural conditions for arsenic to enter the groundwater.

Among the regions and provinces in China, 20 have water naturally contaminated with arsenic. Apart from Shanxi, certain areas among regions including the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Jilin province suffer from severe contamination, says Zhang Fang, assistant professor, School of Environment, Tsinghua University.

The greatest threat to public health from arsenic originates from contaminated groundwater. Long-term exposure to arsenic through drinking-water and food can lead to skin cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to WHO.

Research endeavor

Starting in early 2015, students from RISE have been going back and forth between Beijing and Pingyao working on ways to reduce the arsenic level in the local drinking water.

To come up with a low-cost arsenic removal technique, Kate Smith, an Australian PhD candidate at Tsinghua's School of Environment, spent days experimenting with different filters.

In total, she and her colleagues tested seven versions of sand-iron filters trying to identify which was the cheapest and most effective at removing arsenic.

"We thought that we were building a filter that was really good," says Smith. "But it didn't work."

"The best results were from a filter with nails in the sand which we didn't expect," she says.

Last summer, if you happened to visit Liangjiabu, you would have probably encountered the 13 students squatting in the sun cleaning the simple water purifiers, which are essentially buckets containing different layers of sand and rocks with five kilograms of iron nails on the top.

Rust from the iron adsorbs the arsenic and when the arsenic sticks to the rust, it is removed from the water, says Smith.

But good as that sounds, while removing the arsenic, the filter also produces rust, which directly affects the water quality, so they had to add another bucket to filter out the rust.

"Solving problems makes new problems," she says. "And you have to make the water purification equipment accessible both in terms of price and maintenance."

In the first five months of the experiment, they successfully reduced the arsenic to below 50 micrograms per liter at the cost of 136 yuan ($22) per filter.

The results were later turned into a research paper published by Chemosphere, a peer-reviewed international scientific journal.

"Our aim was always to find where there's a problem and provide a solution," says Smith. "We've had a lot of results, so I thought we should work it into a paper, as that might help others."

Altogether the group has installed about 70 filters, directly benefiting over 280 people in the area.

Liang has been assisting with the program since its beginning. He says the program solved a very practical issue for villagers.

"For poorer people, the filter offers them access to better drinking water," he says.

On the other hand, the project also brought attention and spread awareness of water safety among villagers. In the past years, Liang has been seeing an increasing number of households buy water purifiers including commercial ones to clean their drinking water.

"Arsenic is not something that you can see, smell or taste. Only if someone tells you it's there, (then) can you know it's there," says Smith.

Li Zhenyu, an associate professor at School of Environment of Tsinghua University, appreciates the efforts taken by RISE.

"The research program, participated in by both international and domestic students, focuses on improving the living standard of the rural residents," says Li. "The topic, the research methods they employed and their aspirations should be recognized."

Li also suggests RISE should continue standardizing the arsenic removal project and work on areas including solid waste treatment so that the concentrated arsenic won't cause secondary pollution.

This year, a new central water supply project covering three local towns and 56 villages including Liangjiabu will be constructed, according to Li Ansheng, a local governmental official in Pingyao.

The project, which is scheduled to start in March, is expected to benefit nearly 80,000 local people and fundamentally solve the arsenic contamination issue.

Beyond the experiment

Sam Lee, a former member of the RISE program from the University of Michigan, took a field trip to Pingyao, which, he says, enabled him to see a different part of China.

"It was nice to learn more about the local people and culture," he says.

While for Muhammad Khan, a Pakistani student, being a part of the arsenic removal program has inspired him to solve similar issues back home.

He grew up in Lahore in eastern Pakistan, where the levels of arsenic in the groundwater are also very high. A study in the journal Science Advances found that 50 to 60 million people in the country use groundwater with likely over 50 micrograms per liter arsenic contamination.

"This is the problem we are facing in my country," he says. "RISE has conducted and implemented the project in Shanxi province, which was very successful."

Khan once organized a medical camp offering free medication to poor people, and says most people who asked for medicine were sick due to the arsenic contamination of the water.

"The core problem is the water. It's not the disease," says the PhD candidate from Tsinghua's School of Environment. "We have to target the primary cause instead of spending money on medicine."

This year, Khan plans to work with other RISE members on a research project in Pakistan among arsenic concentrated areas like Lahore and Tharparkar.

"I will definitely involve the students in my country from different universities to collaborate with the RISE program to make a joint group for helping people who are drinking contaminated water," he says.

"It will bring a positive change and improve the lives of the poor people who don't have enough money to support themselves."

Prior to the project in Pingyao, the RISE team worked on water-related projects in Gansu province and in Ningxia.

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Are internships still relevant?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660841.htm What is an intern supposed to do? Almost all college graduates have worked as interns at one point or another. Many still remember learning things from scratch, some of which were not related to their academic majors, such as sorting through documents or delivering the mail.

Nowadays, when college students in China, especially those pursuing "hot" majors such as finance and business, look for internships or part-time jobs, their wish list contains mostly multinational companies or top government agencies. It is as if they see internship as a test run for landing a dream job. They consider part-time jobs involving manual tasks as demeaning and a waste of time.

So what happened to learning basic skills, such as teamwork, and gaining "social experience"? Are today's young people particularly ambitious, or has school already furnished them with all the basic skills they need to move onto more advanced tasks?

Many employers seem to disagree. They complain that a lot of the top graduates are ambition-rich and skill-poor. Even if they have gained in-depth knowledge and advanced skills in particular areas, many young people are socially inept, which could in turn hamper their career growth in the future.

Do today's young people still need to look for "basic" internships in small businesses or even take on more manual jobs before they can go out to conquer the world?

YES

Young people can only learn social skills in the real world.

1. Even though basic jobs don't require rich knowledge or advanced skills, they can teach young people how to work with other people and find their place in society. This is the most important foundation for starting a successful career.

2. Most employers prefer people with previous work experience, especially those with strong social and team-working skills. Lots of basic jobs, even if only manual work, can provide such experience and qualities.

3. Only very few students can get internships at top firms or government agencies. Most students, in order to gain real-life experience and develop deeper social skills, still have to look for internship opportunities in small businesses or even take up manual jobs.

NO

The economic and social conditions are different now.

1. With a surfeit of migrant workers and as China shifts toward the service sector from heavy industry, there are fewer labor-oriented jobs available to young people today, even if they want to look for internships or jobs in that sector.

2. Colleges and universities have become a lot more socially inclusive than in the days when higher education was considered an elite privilege, and they are now capable of equipping students with good social and interpersonal skills. Students no longer need jobs to fulfill this need.

3. There are many entry-level internship opportunities available these days with big companies and high-profile organizations, and not all of them require advanced professional skills. They can enable young people to better prepare for the future.

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Cambridge choir performs Chinese songs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660840.htm

Social media accounts on mainland platforms to promote music album

LONDON - The choir of King's College, Cambridge, released its new album in late January containing songs performed in Chinese for the first time. The album contains 19 songs, with two of them sung in Mandarin.

One of the songs is Second Farewell to Cambridge, a poem originally written by Chinese poet and King's College alumnus Xu Zhimo, a famous early 20th-century Chinese poet. The other song is Jasmine Flower, a Chinese folk song.

This is the first time in its more than 500-year history that the King's College choir has released and recorded songs in Chinese.

The track listing of this album has been carefully selected to best represent the nearly 100-year-old bond that King's College shares with China.

Both the name of the album and its lead song, Second Farewell to Cambridge, celebrates the legacy of Xu's poetry.

The young poet studied at King's College in 1921 and 1922, and wrote this poem in 1928 when he revisited King's. It paints an idyllic portrait of the college, and is now a compulsory text on Chinese literature syllabuses, learned by millions at schools across the country every year. It has also attracted numerous Chinese tourists to visit Cambridge.

While Second Farewell to Cambridge has already been adapted into several pop songs, this release marks its first mainstream classical interpretation, and features a new arrangement by acclaimed English composer John Rutter.

And for the second piece, the choir displays their impressively accurate grasp of Chinese pronunciation in Stephen Cleobury's new arrangement of the 18th century folk song Jasmine Flower.

And the cover image of the album, a Chinese jasmine flower, was painted by Yu Hui, a well-known artist from Jiangsu province in East China, who specializes in painting flowers and birds.

The choir of King's College is planning to host events later this year to mark the album, including an event during the annual Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival to be held there this summer.

During the festival, King's College will also host a small ceremony to mark the opening of the Xu Zhimo Friendship Garden at the college, which will be the first Chinese garden built at the University of Cambridge.

In addition, the choir will also launch social media accounts on Chinese platforms in conjunction with the albums release to better reach Chinese audiences.

The King's College choir, which comprises 16 male students from King's and 16 choristers from the nearby King's College School, is one of the most accomplished and renowned in the world. Every year on Christmas Eve, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast from the chapel to millions of listeners worldwide.

This new album also includes popular classics by Mozart, Faure and Durufle. The album ends with the ever-popular King's Men singing a more contemporary collection of a cappella music. A selection of famous festive pieces are also featured, which the choir performed to the delight of audiences during their most recent tour of China.

King's College was founded in 1441 by Henry VI, and is one of the oldest colleges in Cambridge.

Xinhua

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Tech boom drawing more graduates back]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660839.htm

Chinese graduates from foreign universities are returning home in bigger numbers than ever before, as the strength of the Chinese economy and the technology industry in particular being cited among a number of significant factors, Forbes has reported.

China is attracting back more "sea turtles", Chinese students returning home after completing their education abroad, with the fast growth of the technology industry proving the biggest draw in recent years, the report said.

Large tech companies such as Tencent and Alibaba are expanding "exponentially", while venture capital investments in smaller tech startups are growing at a fast speed, the report noted.

Citing government figures from 2011 to 2016, the report pointed out a significant increase in the percentage of students studying abroad, while noting an even larger increase in the percentage of those returning to China.

According to data from the Ministry of Education, 544,500 people from China went overseas to study in 2016, while 432,500 graduates returned home the same year, an increase of 5.72 percent from 2015.

The Forbes report also highlighted favorable pay packages and benefits for returnees, the career ceiling for Chinese graduates who work abroad and the sense of home as other main factors that continue to draw graduates back in greater numbers.

Another study shows that in 2017, Chinese students with foreign degrees were being paid 17.2 percent more than those graduating from domestic universities, according to a previous report in the South China Morning Post.

Xinhua

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Mythical beasts come alive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660838.htm Shi Lin, a Chinese artist born in 1989, uses an ancient classic, his knowledge of animal anatomy and his imagination to feed the imagination. Guo Ying reports.

What did China's mythical beasts look like? A recently published book offers a glimpse.

Mythic Beasts, illustrated by Shi Lin, a Chinese artist born in 1989, contains more than 30 pictures of mythical beasts, such as the nine-tail fox as well as a horse-like animal with a horn on its head and a dog-like nine-headed animal.

Shi's inspiration comes from the ancient Chinese classic Shan Hai Jing (Classic of Mountains and Seas), which dates back 2,200 years.

Shan Hai Jing has both a cultural and geographical account of China before the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). And it contains geography, folklore, legends and fairy tales.

It is a major source of Chinese mythology, including the tales of Kuafu Chasing After the Sun and Nyu Wa Patches up the Sky, which have been passed down the generations in China.

Shi was interested in reading ancient Chinese literature and drawing animals since a young age.

When Shi was studying at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, he received a collection of different versions of the Shan Hai Jing from his mentor and was fascinated by it, especially the descriptions of mythical beasts.

"I appreciated the wisdom and romanticism of our ancestors through the book. And although the description of the mythical beasts is limited, I got a vivid picture in my mind making me eager to offer my take on these unique creatures," says Shi.

Shi, who painted 16 pictures of mythical beasts in 2012 as part of his graduation project, used the classic, his knowledge of animal anatomy and his imagination to get the job done.

He then shared the pictures online, and they attracted wide attention.

Now, with the increasing popularity of fantasy-themed literature and games in China, some companies want to cash in on his pictures, but he wants to maintain the integrity of his work.

Earlier, he visited zoos to observe animals, including their joints, facial expressions and movements.

However, he gradually realized the limitations of a strictly realistic painting style.

"The caged animals lack movement and an animal spirit. So, how can they be compared with unfettered and powerful mythical beasts," says Shi.

A trip to Dunhuang in Gansu province also inspired Shi. When he visited the Mogao Grottoes, a shrine containing Buddhist art treasures in Dunhuang, he was deeply moved by the supernatural and spiritual scenes depicted in the frescoes and the statues.

When Shi was painting his mythical beasts he retreated from city life and the internet to create his art.

Then, he went to live in Yunnan province to see animals and plants in the wild, including the animal totems of ethnic groups.

Ma Changyi, an expert on Chinese mythology and the Shan Hai Jing, says that mythology is the spiritual force of national vitality.

Meanwhile, Shi hopes his book offers a way to decode the classic that is suited to a modern audience, especially children, who tend to absorb information through pictures.

Speaking about how his art can help, Shi says: "The Shan Hai Jing has more than 31,000 words and the myths are scattered through it. So, modern readers may feel at a loss if they read it for the first time."

Referring to his book, Shi is happy that children appreciate the details in the pictures, such as swirling clouds.

Separately, Shi is also surprised that his book has found fans abroad. But he adds that: "Shan Hai Jing not only records the geography of China, but also penguins in the Antarctic as well as many species from South America.

"The images of mermaids and unicorns in Western literature are described in Shan Hai Jing. And images of human-faced birds and human-headed snakes are also found in Western mythology."

Besides Shan Hai Jing, Shi is also fascinated by other ancient Chinese literary works and art forms.

And he hopes that he can find creative ways to depict this traditional culture.

"China's traditional culture is a tremendous treasure, and I hope more people can enjoy it," he says.

China Features

 

From left: An ancient beast with an eagle-shaped head in the book Mythic Beasts; a horse-like animal with a horn, similar to unicorn in Western mythology; a nine-tail fox. Photos Provided to China Daily

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Tired of fitness regimes - try the couch potato club]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660837.htm BERLIN - It's that time of the year to fulfill those ambitious New Year's resolutions again: More vegetables, less alcohol, sign up for the gym.

But not for Torben Bertram. Fed up with colleagues who kept pressuring him to join workout sessions during his lunch break, the 39-year-old Berliner founded Germany's first couch potato club.

Bertram says his Sofa Sports Association is proudly geared toward the non-vegan, non-overachieving, non-career-obsessed masses.

"I just didn't like this constant pressure to improve myself," Bertram says, adding that he is the antithesis of many young people in Berlin: skinny, well-groomed but stressed.

Club activities include swaying back and forth, like in a beer hall; the "Tarzan yell" - beating your chest with your fists and yelling; and the potato chip competition, consisting of eating a plastic cup full of chips without using one's hands - a favorite among the club's child members.

The club has been meeting for about a year at bars and pubs in the German capital and now boasts 25 members from 8 to 64 years old. Men, women and children are all welcome. Bertram's wife initially thought sofa sports was "nonsense" - but she joined anyway, Bertram says with a smug smile.

The father of two, who works in political communications, sports a goatee and has a penchant for cycling shirts that are too tight around the belly. He speaks with eyes full of mischief, suggesting one shouldn't take everything he says at face value.

Lounging on a worn-out couch at one of his favorite bars in Berlin, Bertram says the club only meets in bars with sofas, where everyone is encouraged to participate in the club's unique fitness program.

The association's "sofa exercises" aren't just bar games, Bertram says with a deadpan expression. Some strengthen back and arm muscles, or burn calories. The beer-hall sway, for example, is said to combine popular German traditions with eastern-Asian forms of body awareness including elements from the Chinese qigong system of body coordination.

"We are no regular couch potatoes because we're not idling away our time in front of the TV," he says. "We've put some serious thought into this."

It was the traditional beermug hoisting that convinced Patricia Bernreuther to join the club.

"It's really just a variety of what we've been doing in Bavaria for generations," the 28-year-old parliamentary aide says while holding a heavy glass of beer in her outstretched hand with ease. "It makes me feel like I'm back home."

Unlike southern Germans, who competitively carry more than 20 mugs at the same time, the Berliners are satisfied to exercise with one glass at a time, at a slothlike speed. Most importantly, sessions are fun.

Norbert Buddendick, a 50-year-old lobbyist, says the couch potato meetings are much more fulfilling than his previous gym workouts.

"I like the whole-body approach," he says, tongue-in-cheek, as he orders another glass of wheat beer. "And it's really great to mingle with like-minded people."

It's not just fun and games - the club wouldn't be German without some serious rules and order. Bertram has taken out accident insurance for the group, registered it with fiscal authorities and applied for membership in the regional sports association.

And the couch potatoes have their own ambitions, too.

"We are convinced that we will grow and expand across country borders," Bertram says. "For 2019, we envision a European championship in sofa sport exercises."

Associated Press

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660836.htm Music

Uku Peng releases album

Hong Kong singer-songwriter Uku Peng has released an album, Arclight, in which she has written 10 songs, including Rain Drops, Seventeen and Crossroad.

The 10 songs were written over the past 10 years, and feature different music styles, from blues and rock, to love ballads and traditional Chinese folk sounds. Before Arclight, Peng had released two albums - Missing You in 2000 and Rhapsody in 2001.

Peng, who was born into a family of musicians in Hong Kong, studied piano and accordion as a child. In 2001, she graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, majoring in piano and vocal performance.

Her debut songwriting piece, Cantonese song, titled Lonely Man, was performed by Hong Kong pop icon Jackie Cheung and released in 1999.

Hanggai has treat for fans

Hanggai, a Chinese band comprising ethnic Mongolian musicians, has just released its album Homeland. which features adaptations of six traditional Mongolian folk songs and five original ones, as well as an American folk song, Dink's Song. The album saw collaboration between Hanggai and Canadian rock producer Bob Ezrin, who is known for working with Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Deep Purple. The album is the band's second collaboration after Horse of Colors, which was released in May 2016.

The band, comprising eight members, includes the vocalist and tobshuur (two-stringed lute) player Ilchi; throat-singing vocalist and morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) player Batubagen and vocalist and guitarist Yilalata.

Hanggai, whose name in Mongolian refers to a scenic place with beautiful pastures, mountains and rivers, was formed in Beijing in 2004, and has performed in more than 70 countries.

Qu Wanting back with new offering

Singer-songwriter Qu Wanting has turned her stories of love and heartbreak into 11 songs - 10 in English and one in Chinese - for a new album called LLL, which stands for love, loss and latitude. The album, recorded in Los Angeles a year ago, is her first collaboration with US-based producer Justin Gray, who has worked with John Legend, Mariah Carey and Joss Stone. The Harbin-born, Vancouver-based Qu is the first Asian artist signed by Nettwerk in 2009, Canada's largest independent record label, which helped establish stars like Avril Lavigne. Her debut album, Everything in the World, achieved multiplatinum status in China within weeks of its release in 2012. In 2013, she released her second album, Say the Words, in which she participated in the whole production process, from writing to producing.

China Daily

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[5 strategies to manage time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660835.htm Growing up is dangerous business for your dreams. As the commitments, meetings and deadlines start to flood in, ambitions can quickly drown in a sea of demands. Although we actively seek out responsibilities as we get older, they come at a cost: There's no time for anything.

Despite that, we can't give up on our aspirations when life gets hectic. We all have the same 24 hours in every day, and what you get out of life comes down to what you do with those hours. If you can get a handle on your priorities and time management, you can still achieve awesome things, even when you're completely overwhelmed by everything you have to do on a day-to-day basis.

If you have found something you genuinely want to achieve, you can't simply dodge your goals because they're inconvenient. When you leave ambition alone, that unfulfilled ambition turns into regret, and regret eats away at you.

But how do you figure out which dreams you should really prioritize? And how do you deal with that feeling of just having no time? Here are some of the principles that have helped me work toward my goals.

1. Learn when procrastination can be good

There's a massive downside to not following your dreams, but that doesn't mean you should follow every impulse you have. Not all of your ideas are worth pursuing - that's true for anyone. Which is why procrastination can be so great: The things you truly want to accomplish will stick in your mind like your first true love. Those are the ideas you have to do something about.

2. Start scheduling out what you want to achieve

If you want to accomplish something, you have to plan what you need to do and schedule time to accomplish those things. Unfortunately, the education system is designed to produce people who thrive within an organization, instead of educating people who can get things done on their own.

Skills like scheduling are essential to succeed at any individual undertaking, but they don't tend to be taught in school until college - at which point, habits have already been formed. The skill of scheduling isn't what requires so much training; it's the habit that requires training.

3. Make the timing right

"The timing isn't right" is one of the most common excuses to avoid taking on a big project. It sounds like a reasonable excuse to yourself and those around you, and in many cases, you can even look at your schedule and point to the absolute lack of free time.

Unfortunately, waiting for good timing is nothing but an advanced form of the most lethal type of procrastination. You have to find a way to shake out some free time in your schedule: You might have to sleep an hour less, work on the weekend and find ways to combine activities.

If you wait for the "right time" to do something, you'll never do it. You can't put your dreams off until later, because there will always be more and more demands on your time.

4. Act fast

When you've decided to do something, you have to act quickly. Successful people are obsessed with speed.

Achieving a goal you really want means setting plans in motion as soon as you commit to them. There's no three-year deliberation, the intricate plan with 500 dependencies, the clauses that requires a three-hour block of time to work on a project.

5. Don't rush the results

While acting fast is absolutely vital, you can't expect to hit your destination right away, or that you won't hit some bumps along the way. When you're taking on big projects, you'll face all kinds of obstacles.

Whatever you're trying to do, you're guaranteed to struggle with some aspect of it, and you're also guaranteed to mess up. It doesn't matter, just keep hammering away. Whatever your problems, just keep at it - even if you neglect what you're doing for three weeks. Just pick it back up.

Tribune News Service

5个时间管理策略

成长对你的梦想来说是件危险的事儿。当各种责任、会议和任务截止日期开始充斥于生活时,我们的雄心壮志很快就会淹没在各种需求的海洋中。虽然我们随着年龄的增长会去积极地承担责任,但这样做也有代价:做任何事都没有时间。

尽管如此,哪怕生活忙乱不堪,我们也不能放弃理想。我们每天都有同样的24小时,而能实现怎样的人生目标就取决于你如何利用时间。如果你能分清轻重缓急,学会时间管理,即便你为各种日常事务包围,你仍然能够有所成就。

如果你已找到自己真心想做成的事,那就不要因为各种困难而轻易放弃目标。当你丢掉理想,那个未曾实现的雄心壮志就会转变成悔恨,而悔恨会使你蹉跎一生。

那么如何确定该把哪个梦想放在优先位置呢?我们该如何应对就是没有时间的感觉呢?下面是我的一些经验,它们曾帮助我向目标迈进。

1. 懂得拖延也有好的一面

放弃对梦想的追求自然是不可取,但这并不意味着你要去跟进每一次灵光一闪的想法。不是所有的想法都值得追求 - - 对任何人都是如此。这就是拖延的积极一面:那些你真正想做成的事会像初恋一样刻骨铭心,那些才是你要为之行动的想法。

2. 开始规划自己想成就的事

如果想有所成就,那么你必须计划自己需要做的事,然后规划时间去完成它们。遗憾的是,现在的教育体制都是培养能在团体机构内发展的人,而非造就那些能够独当一面的人。

无论做任何事情,像时间规划这样的技能是成功的基本条件,但这样的技能一般要到大学才会有人教 - - 而到那时,习惯已经养成。时间规划的技能其实并不需要太多培训,需要培训的是习惯的养成。

3. 找准时机

“时机不对”是逃避接受一个大项目的最常见的借口之一。这话对你自己和你身边的人来说貌似合理,而且在很多情况下,你甚至可以看着日程表,表明自己确实没有空闲时间。

很遗憾,所谓等待合适的时机,不过是最糟糕的拖延症的一种高级形式。你必须设法在你的时间表上挤出时间来:你也许要少睡一小时,周末加班,或者想办法合并一些活动。

如果要等待“合适的时机”去做某事,那么你永远都不会做。你不能往后推迟你的梦想,因为总会有越来越多的需求挤占你的时间。

4. 行动要快

一旦你决定做某事,你就必须迅速行动。成功的人无不痴迷于速度。

去实现你真心渴望的目标,意味着一旦决定投入其中,就要将计划付诸行动。没有什么三年时间去深思熟虑,没有带着500个附属事项的复杂计划,也没有需要三小时来制定的项目条款。

5. 不要急于求成

虽然迅速行动至关重要,但你也不能指望目标可以马上达成,或者一路顺畅无阻。承接大项目时,你会面临各种各样的困难。

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

翻译高手:请将灰框标注内容翻译为中文,在2月12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、所在城市、联系方式(电邮或电话)。最佳翻译提供者将获得精美礼品一份,并在周三本报公众号中发布。

上期获奖者: 广东省珠海市 暨南大学 温玉媚

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[BBC这部“吸猫”纪录片萌出天际!推荐几部高分大自然纪录片,感受生灵之美!]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660834.htm 中国日报双语新闻

最近,BBC一部新纪录片很吸引眼球,就是大型“云吸猫”纪录片《大猫》(Big Cats)。两年多的时间,《大猫》团队前往14个不同国家,拍摄了40个猫科物种中的31个 - - 比其他任何一部制作团队做的都要多。刚播出两集的时候,豆瓣的分数就开始飙升了,而现已经达到了9.6分的高分。

不仅如此,这部纪录片也是各种“声控”以及“英音控”的福利。纪录片配音博迪·卡维尔(Bertie Carvel)到目前已经和BBC合作了超过50台广播剧,还出演过《神探夏洛克》(Sherlock)中的那位年轻有为的银行家塞巴斯蒂安·维尔克斯(Sebastian Wilkes)。

纪录片一开场,在猎豹的奔跑中,一个充满磁性的英音开始介绍纪录片的故事:

Cheetahs are the fastest animals on land. Just one of a remarkable family. One family, 40 different faces. From the fastest to the strongest, the smallest to the biggest. These are the cats.

猎豹是世界上最快的动物。它属于一个了不起的家族。同一个家族,40个不同的面孔。有的风驰电掣;有的力大无穷;有的小巧玲珑;有的健硕无比。他们就是猫科动物。

最关键的是,这部纪录片还捧出了一个萌物界的新晋网红,就是下面这位自拍狂魔……

它的名字叫锈斑豹猫(rusty-spotted cat),纪录片中这样介绍它:

Hiding in this Sri Lankan jungle is a cat so rare, few have ever seen it. Exploring the world beyond his den for the first time, is a miniature predator, the smallest feline in the world - a rusty-spotted cat.

有一种珍稀的猫科动物,栖身于这片斯里兰卡雨林中,很少有人见过它。这只小巧玲珑的掠食动物第一次探索巢穴以外的世界。它就是世界上最小的猫科动物,一只锈斑豹猫。

实际上,还有不少关于大自然圣灵的纪录片都值得看!今天,就来为你推荐几部。

Born in China

《我们诞生在中国》

《我们诞生在中国》于2017年4月在全球上映,是一部精美的纪录片电影,由陆川执导,迪士尼自然团队历时3年打造。

影片对动物生灵的刻画极其细致,淋漓尽致地展现出它们未被驯化的天性,来看外媒《荧屏日报》(Screen Daily)的描述:

Born In China is a feast for the eyes while also being an irritant for the ears. Chronicling the Asian nation's diverse wildlife over the course of a year, this Disney nature documentary boasts an immersive, meditative tone which is undermined by aggressive adorableness that seeks to anthropomorphize its untamed creatures until they're as harmless as moppets.

《我们诞生在中国》是一场视觉盛宴,也搅动了人们的听觉神经。影片以时间顺序记录了这个亚洲国家一年四季里各种各样的野生动物,迪士尼自然团队出品的这部纪录片给人以沉浸式的观感,并时常让人陷入沉思;但这些都不敌动物们咄咄逼人的萌感,影片以人性化的方式展现出生灵们未被驯化的天性,它们如婴儿一般没有伤害力。

Planet Earth

《地球脉动》

BBC的自然纪录片《地球脉动》(Planet Earth)被称为是最好的生态纪录片。早在2006年,第一季播出时就轰动全球,被无数纪录片迷封为“神作”。

《地球脉动》第二季播出时,该片的执行制片人迈克尔·冈顿(Mike Gunton)说:

Ten years after Planet Earth first brought the wonders of the natural world to viewers in HD, Planet Earth II is another game-changer. Shot in UHD, the epic scale and ambition of this series is second to none.

十年前,《地球脉动》首次以高清模式(HD)将大自然的神奇呈献给观众,十年后,它的续集又一次开创了先河。第二季以超清技术(UHD)拍摄,其史诗般的规模和野心独一无二。

It will be a truly immersive experience, providing audiences with a unique perspective on the most extraordinary places and animals on our planet.

它将为观众带来切实的沉浸式观感,以独特的视角带你认识地球上最绝妙非凡的角落和动物。

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Current quotes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/07/content_35660833.htm "Sports can bring people many things, and cultivate a tough character. I hope to pass on the power of sports to people."

- Hui Ruoqi, former captain of China women's national volleyball team

“运动能让人得到更多,能培养人坚强的品格,我希望能够把运动的力量传递给大家。”

-- 惠若琪,前中国女排队长

2月3日,前中国女排队长惠若琪正式宣布退役,与她征战十二载的排球赛场挥手告别,昔日球场上的元气少女也开启了人生的下一局。

作为一名排球运动员,惠若琪的职业生涯起点颇高。2007年,年仅16岁时的惠若琪就首次入选中国女排国家一队,并在2010年成为中国女排的主力选手。2013年,22岁的惠若琪成为中国女排历史上第15任队长。

里约奥运会结束后,惠若琪逐渐淡出赛场,去年年初,惠若琪拿出了自己50万元的奥运奖金,与江苏省发展体育基金会一道成立了以自己名字命名的慈善基金--惠若琪女排发展基金,她还去青海参加支教活动,走访了当地6所中小学。

“生病(抑郁症)是一个客观的事情,我们可以用它练习和困难同行。”

-- 张春,中国作家

"Getting sick (depression) is an objective thing, and we could use it to practice how to live with troubles."

- Zhang Chun, Chinese writer

2018年1月,“中国影响力图书”得主张春出版了散文新作《在另一个宇宙的1003天》,这本书收录了张春3年来关于自己抑郁症的真实记录。

2015年,张春出版的第一本书《一生里的某一刻》摘得了豆瓣读书年度文学图书的奖项,还入围了广电总局最受大众欢迎的50种图书。书名里的“另一个宇宙”有两层含义,一是把患有抑郁症,或者在困难中生活比喻成像是到了另外一个宇宙,每个人都有可能去到那里,也可能回来;二是把病症、困难看做是一个平行世界,从这个角度出发,能够增加我们与困难同行的勇气和韧性。

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2018-02-07 07:51:33
<![CDATA[Inspiring artists and fans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653386.htm An ongoing exhibition at the National Museum of China showcases works from the French Revolution to the early 20th century. Lin Qi reports.

The Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts has had far-reaching influence on the 20th-century Chinese art. The 370-year-old Parisian national art school nurtured China's first generation of oil painters and sculptors, some of whom later became headmasters and professors at China's prestigious art schools, such as Xu Beihong and Lin Fengmian. There were also former director of the national art museum, Liu Kaiqu, and renowned artists such as Wu Guanzhong.

The Chinese alumni of the school, also called Beaux-Arts de Paris, also included Chang Shuhong and his first wife and sculptor, Chen Zhixiu, who lived in Paris in the 1930s.

 

Clockwise from top: Paul Landowski's sculpture David Prepares to Launch a Sling; artist Xu Beihong (front left) and other members of the Association of Chinese Artists in France in 1933; and Nursery School by Henri Jules Jean Geoffroy. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

Chang is often called the "patron saint of Dunhuang" for his 50 years' devotion to the preservation of Dunhuang artworks in Gansu province.

Chang, who gave up the prospect of being an oil painter, won many awards at salon exhibitions in Paris when he was a student there.

A painting in which Chang depicts a sick Chen Zhixiu was purchased by France's Centre national des arts plastiques, or the National Centre for Visual Arts, also called CNAP, in 1935.

Since then, the painting titled Feverishly Sick has been on display at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon.

Now, the portrait is being shown in the country where its creator was born.

Feverishly Sick is among more than 40 artworks from CNAP's collection, which are displayed at Academy and Salon, an exhibition through May 6 at the National Museum of China. The show concentrates on art and social development in France from the French Revolution to the early 20th century.

The exhibition also features around 60 paintings and sculptures from Chang's alma mater Beaux-Arts de Paris, which has collected more than 450,000 artworks since it was founded in 1648 by Louis XIV.

Pan Qing, a senior curator of the National Museum of China, says the ongoing show is the inclusive display of art from Beaux-Arts de Paris' collection in the country.

The exhibition will travel to Kunming, Yunnan province, and be there from June 8 to Sept 9.

Philippe Cinquini, the exhibition's French curator, says it is rare for two Parisian institutions to come together for an event like this.

The exhibition also marks the China debut of three important paintings by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) - Male Torso, The Envoys of Agamemnon and Jupiter and Thetis.

Ingres, a French neoclassic painter, is famed for painting portraits, especially nudes.

The first two pieces are from Beaux-Arts de Paris' collection and were both exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris. while the third one is from CNAP and has been on display since 1835 at the Musee Granet in the southern city-commune Aix-en-Provence.

In another significant departure from the norm where paintings at exhibitions are typically displayed separately, the ongoing show has some of the works placed unevenly in two or three decks, which Cinquini says was the way that paintings were arranged in salons of 19th-century Paris. It is still how works are exhibited at the Beaux-Arts de Paris today.

Cinquini also says important artists of the 19th-century like Ingres are at the heart of this exhibition.

"The 19th century was a century of art," Cinquini says. "Also it was a century of advancing science and democracy, which was mirrored in artistic creation."

Among the other significant works on show is Andre Brouillet's A Clinical Lesson at the Salpetriere Hospital from the CNAP collection.

The work is a tableau portrait of a neurologist giving a demonstration.

The piece is widely considered one of the best known artistic depictions of medicine, and Cinquini says it shows the interaction between science and art, as among the participants in the lesson is Paul Richer, an anatomist and sculptor.

Ricer was a professor of artistic anatomy at Beaux-Arts de Paris whose class was attended by Chang Shuhong.

The exhibition also focuses on how art academies, competitions and public collections piloted creation and supported artists, by showcasing works which were winners of the Grand Prix de Roma.

The prize and scholarship established in the 17th century allowed promising artists to stay in Rome for three to five years at state expense.

The exhibition also highlights the role of CNAP in collecting art.

Anne-Sophie de Bellegarde, general secretary of CNAP, says the institution was founded in 1791 during the French Revolution, when France established a system of public purchase and collection of art.

She says CNAP manages a holding of artworks that is "without a fence".

CNAP first bought works of living French artists and then, in the 19th century, it started to include foreign artists who lived in France and "exuded an artistic life", says Bellegarde.

She says the collection now holds more than 102,000 works, and it grows every year by acquiring two or three works representing different styles.

The first Chinese artwork that entered the CNAP collection was a painting depicting Luxembourg in the snow by painter Liu Haisu (1896-1994), in 1931.

Liu was then traveling in Europe and had held a solo exhibition in Paris.

In 1952, CNAP purchased Qiantang River, a landscape by Chinese artist Fang Junbi, which is exhibited at the ongoing event.

Fang was admitted to Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1919, becoming the first Chinese woman to study at the academy.

CNAP does not have a regular venue for display but loans its works to museums and institutions.

Bellegarde says around 2,000 artworks from this collection are shown in France and around the world, while others decorate public spaces including the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French president.

Artworks from CNAP's collection at the Academy and Salon exhibition come from different museums and exhibition venues all over France.

And they include the city hall of Chinon where Eugene Delacroix's Portrait of Rabelais has been on display since 1834; the Calvet Museum in Avignon that has featured Camille Corot's Site of Italy since 1842 and the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts where Jules-Alexandre Grun's Friday at French Artists' Salon has been on display since 1932.

Pan from the National Museum of China says several of the paintings are huge and created difficulties in transportation.

Grun's Friday at French Artists' Salon stands at 3.6 meters and extends to 6 meters. The painting had to be removed from its original frame and rolled up for transportation. It was put back into its frame after arriving in Beijing.

The CNAP had a restoration expert working in Beijing to oversee the re-framing process.

Bellegarde says the tour has extended the influence of CNAP, and they hope to bring its works to more Chinese museums in the future.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Living in the moment, pushing boundaries]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653385.htm When asked why he is fascinated with setting fire to chairs during live performances, leading British performance artist Nigel Rolfe said in all seriousness that he has hated chairs after being injured by one several years ago.

He set two chairs ablaze last week in Beijing - a child's high chair and a traditional wooden Chinese one - as part of his first solo show in China held at the Red Brick Art Museum.

The show looked back at the artistic practices of Rolfe's most important works of performance art through site-specific photos and videos recording.

 

Bound in ropes, British performance artist Nigel Rolfe appears at his first solo show in China held at the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

In fact, the hard-working artist staged four pieces of performance art during his short stay in Beijing. The performance for his opening show on Jan 31 attracted hundreds of visitors. Bound in ropes, Rolfe blew off clouds of colored powder around his head to create billowing clouds floating in the air, a common theme seen in many of his works.

"It's all about resistance. I'm a body artist. I love to touch everything and get close to the materials I use in my art," says Rolfe, 68, who began putting on physical art shows in 1969 before the term "performance art" had even been invented.

He sees his body as "sculpture in motion" and a painting tool to interact directly with elements such as water, fire, air, earth and other raw materials like flour and wood to reveal the fragility of life by challenging his limits.

Jonas Stampe, curator of the show and a longtime friend of Rolfe, says the artist's choice of materials often bear symbolic meanings. For instance, the chair represents authority and power. Even simple actions like standing, falling, walking and even breathing take on new meaning.

"To experience a live-action sequence by Rolfe is to live in a unique moment. He seizes the moment in movements and stillness, inventing sensible images of beauty and meaning," adds Stampe.

The exhibition is entitled The Time Is Now, echoing the artist's concept of what makes good performance art.

"It is happening right now, right before your eyes, and you witness it", he says, stressing the importance of audience engagement.

His audiences at his shows provide constant feedback to let him know if he is on track, and the sounds of clicks and flashes from hundreds of cameras show Rolfe that he has everyone's attention. But this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone understands his performances. During one performance three years ago, he stood motionless on a snowy street in a Swedish city for six hours. A man drove past him and then returned, shocked by his stillness, repeatedly asking him what he was doing.

"Sometimes they think I am insane or simply a fool. But I have to be confident and concentrate on my work," says Dublin-based Rolfe, who is a professor at the Royal College of Art in London.

The artist explains that he gains strong emotional power from his performances. He often enters a meditative state where he forgets about everything else other than his art. One of his longest shows lasted nine consecutive nights.

Having practiced performance art for nearly half a century, Rolfe has faced many challenging situations, some of which have even proved life-threatening. On one occasion he fractured his spine, nearly leading to permanent paralysis. After suffering from broken ribs, Rolfe would often bind his chest to make his endurance of the pain as part of the performance.

After he injured his back, he performed several pieces about falling over, which could have led to severe, if not fatal, consequences if he hadn't executed them correctly.

"I have to take risks and try new challenges. The most dangerous things are usually unseen, such as the bacteria that carry diseases," he says.

So far, Rolfe has taken his performance art shows to more than 40 countries across the world. He produces about 20 art pieces every year, as much of his time is taken up by teaching.

As one of the few performing artists to still practice the art at an elderly stage, he admits that he won't do many of the things he used to in the past just to avoid injury. But he still enjoys the process of performing.

He loves to use colored flour, which brings back childhood memories of helping his mother make desserts in his hometown on the Isle of Wight in England. He loves the phrase from the Bible that says: "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

"It's about life and death, and transformation," Rolfe says.

Talking about his near half-century in performance art, Stampe says that Rolfe's works have always been about "right now", and so every time he performs, he is marking a turning point during a period of uncertainty.

And it has been these uncertainties that have driven Rolfe to continue performing throughout his life.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Fairy-tale blending]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653384.htm From Blufish's pink undersea world to the florally accentuated Tomacado, a whimsical approach to dining is sweeping Beijing's restaurants. Li Yingxue reports.

From pink ceilings to pink chairs, as soon as you walk into Blufish, the little girl trapped inside of you is readily summoned.

And you can't resist whipping out your phone, and sharing photos of this strange, pink world with your friends on WeChat and Weibo, and you're sure to get dozens of likes.

 

Clockwise from top: Blufish, a newly opened restaurant featuring pink decorations and delicate, brightly-colored food in the Wangfujing area of Beijing; dishes featuring edible flowers and fresh vegetables are regularly on the menu of Tomacado. Photos Provided to China Daily

Blufish is a newly opened restaurant featuring pink decorations and delicate, brightly-colored food in the Wangfujing area of Beijing. In the past year, several new restaurants aimed at attracting female customers have popped up, presenting a fine dining environment for "besties".

Designed by SODA Architects, the interior space of Blufish is predominantly white in color but intertwined with pink designs partially covering the ceilings and extending down to the floor to create a fluid and ethereal underwater world.

The curved surfaces in the middle of the restaurant divides the space into four separate "submarine caves" which house dining areas.

The designers used hand-drawn fairytale patterns featuring coral, aquatic plants and fish joined to mesh that hugs the curved white surfaces to create a magnificently translucent and submerged visual effect.

"People will feel relaxed as if they are experiencing a Mediterranean breeze from Southern France here," says Alex Wang, owner of Blufish.

Blufish has set out to provide French cuisine in an American style. Wang aims to create an "effortless eating" reputation for Blufish as he believes that high quality food can be presented in a simple way.

"People living a fast-paced modern lifestyle can enjoy a range of healthy, delicious, delicate and creative dishes," says Wang, who owns three cafes named Someday in Tianjin.

"Croissant pizza" is one dish that represents this approach, combining as it does a typical French pastry with American style toppings - the crisp crust and different types of meat give it a rich taste, while the small size of the croissant means it only needs two bites to finish.

Balancing rich flavors with low calories for their dishes, Blufish also serve salads, snacks, soup, pasta, egg benedicts and paella.

According to Wang, they are testing brand-new "pink dishes" and plan to update the menu in March.

Just across the street from Blufish, the second restaurant by Tomacado opened in January, offering an upgraded mix of flowers and food.

Floristry and cooking were once the two favorite hobbies of Kong Jie, owner of Tomacado. She took it one step further in 2015 and quit her job in finance and to open her first Tomacado restaurant in Beijing's Sanlitun area, which soon became popular on the internet because of its floral dining environment.

"I didn't just copy the first one to create the second restaurant. I changed the style a little bit. If the first Tomacado looks like a young girl, then the second one is more like a mature woman," says Kong.

The new Tomacado is divided into several areas by different floral arrangements. "The girlfriend zone is mainly decorated in pink, while the gentleman's zone looks like a jungle with palms and ferns," says Kong.

"Tomacado" comes from the words tomato and avocado, two ingredients that Kong uses most when she cooks for her daughter, and also the most common on Tomacado's menu.

Every dish Tomacado creates uses edible flowers, and fresh vegetables are also regularly on the menu. Kong often draws inspiration for dishes from life and then adds them to her menu. "To use chili powder from my hometown in Guizhou province as a dip for roast chicken was my father's suggestion - and it turned out to be one of the most popular dishes here," say the 35-year-old.

Besides managing her restaurants, Kong also designs peripheral products for female customers, such as her latest design that she recently had printed - a pink notebook.

Flowers are everywhere in Tomacado, and in the entrance Kong has a small florist's shop. She not only hopes that men will buy flowers for their girlfriends or wives, but also that women will buy a beautiful bouquet to please themselves.

Opened last year, Blanko Mini Market is another popular site for online besties at Joy City in Beijing's Chaoyang district. It's a coffee-and-dessert shop combined with a furnishing, magazine and arts store.

From Danish furnishing brand Hay's toothbrush and Italian pop art Seletti's plates to tapes and notebooks, each element at Blanko Mini Market has proved a hit with customers, especially the younger ones.

Yin Yu, founder and CEO of Blanko, also works as CMO of Woo Space, an integrated office space in Beijing. She opened her first cafe in Woo Space, and has now updated Blanko into a place where people can rest and find their inner peace.

"I picked all the brands that sell products in Blanko. They are all good quality and I've asked for permission to sell the products," says Yin, who studied in Singapore and New York.

Blanko means blank in German, and both its coffee and desserts can help their customers shake off their troubles and achieve a balanced state of mind. Bai Miao, dessert chef at Blanko has been working for months to make this happen.

She leads an all-female team of five kitchen chefs to create innovative French-style desserts, including jasmine tea mousse, black forest gateaux, lemon tarts and macaroons.

She adds Chinese seasonings like Sichuan pepper to her desserts, as well as oolong tea and jasmine tea.

Bai recently designed a two-layer afternoon tea set for two to three girlfriends to share. "I make each dessert a smaller size so that the women won't to be burdened with eating too much sugar," says the 26-year-old.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Moleskine sketches out plan for new Beijing cafe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653383.htm When it comes to luxury notebooks, Moleskine would be certainly among the most recognizable and popular brands around the world, but when it comes to cafe culture, the name may not yet ring a bell.

The Italian retailer actually opened its first cafe in the heart of Milan's thriving Brera district in 2016, creating a space that is part cafe, art gallery and retail store.

Now the first Moleskine Cafe in Asia has opened its doors to the public in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, a stunning open-concept space that plays on natural elements, dedicated spaces for creative expression and a minimalistic style.

The cafe takes the Moleskine store concept one step further - light wood, bright-white walls and warm colored furniture contrasted by black-and-white monochrome accents.

Roberto Bodoni, chief marketing officer of Moleskine, says the purpose of their cafes are to help support cultural exchanges and encourage self expression and inspiration.

"We see our cafe as a three-dimension version of our notebook - our blank space is where you can fill in the details of your imagination and thoughts," says Bodoni.

The concept drew inspiration from the literary cafes of late-19th century Europe, and Paris in particular, where artists, painters and writers used to chat together and exchange thoughts about life and the future.

In this age of connectivity, Moleskine intends to extend this concept to create a place where people can enjoy coffee and food, but "at the same time, they can share, study, or listen to great content in this place", says Bodoni.

Unlike the historical setting for their Milan cafe, the Beijing outlet is set in the capital's bustling Sanlitun area. The 150-square-meter space was designed by Kokai Studios in Shanghai, which were founded by Italian architects Filippo Gabbiani and Andrea Destefanis.

Bodoni says the Moleskine Cafe in Beijing will be a place to promote Chinese artists and designers as they plan to host events, talks and exhibitions there.

"Our purpose is not about making money. We want to be relevant to people and preserve and protect our cultural possessions so they will last for centuries and beyond," says Bodoni.

Moleskine Cafe held its opening party on Jan 24 and hosted a debate about how to drive creativity to have a meaningful cultural impact on China.

Today Art Museum director Gao Peng, founder and principal partner of MAD Architects Ma Yansong and Sheng Shidong, principal dancer with China National Ballet, were all invited to join the conversation. An exhibition by Ma titled Shanshui City is also being held at the cafe.

All the types of coffee served at Moleskine are authentic Italian brands, and the desserts have been co-designed by local and Italian team. Moleskine coffee beans and other coffee-making equipment can also be purchased there.

Moleskine CEO Lorenzo Viglione says the Beijing cafe represents a milestone for the company. "It presents our idea of creating a new platform for a creative lifestyle," says Viglione.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Eat Beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653382.htm Onyasai makes China debut

In January, leading Japanese shabu-shabu brand Onyasai opened a new restaurant in Beijing, its first outlet on the Chinese mainland. Since it opened its first restaurant in Toyko back in 2000, Onyasai now has more than 350 branches across Japan. Selected beef short ribs have to be ordered individually while Matsusaka pork shoulder, mutton, Australian beef brisket and other quality meats are all presented as buffet options, together with dozens of vegetables and snacks.

5th Floor, Century Golden Shopping Mall. No 1 Yuanda Road, Haidian district, Beijing. 010-8846-9710.

Retro Hong Kong dining

Hong Kong style catering Rouge restaurant is a great choice for winter dining in the capital. Shitangzui, the Mandarin name of the restaurant is named after Hong Kong's Shek Tong Tsui district, and it's decorated like a Hong Kong canteen from the 1990s. The Cantonese rendition of hotpot with chicken or mutton as a base served in a clay pot on a gas stove, leaves each cut of meat coated with the rich, tasty broth. Dim sum is another example of Rouge's attention to authentic Hong Kong flavors.

Building 10, Electric Research Institute. Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8587-6866.

Chengdu hotpot

Dongwaixiaoguan serves authentic Chengdu chuanchuanxiang, a popular street food like hotpot where customers rinse ingredients on sticks. The base soup is made with beef tallow mixed with colza (rapeseed) oil, which is shipped in from Sichuan province daily, as are the other traditional Sichuan ingredients such as beef tripe and fresh chilies. Sichuan laoying tea is also added to the broth to balance out the spicy flavors. Besides hotpot, traditional spicy Sichuan dishes can also be found here.

1/F, Building 6. 6 Shizipo Dongli, Shizipo Jie, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6461-7202

Tasty moments in Parkview

Located between office buildings in Parkview Green, Taoyuan Village's sister restaurant Tasting Moments is providing a fresh minimalist dining environment for white-collar workers with its all-white decor. It serves light meals, soy milk, tea, and snacks in handy take-away packages. Soy based drinks have ingredients like crushed walnuts, coconut flakes and sorghum added to them, which create a mellow blend of flavors. The drinks go well with either crispy rolls or rice rolls, and also the fried doughnuts with cheese and sausage.

L1-AB1, 1F, Parkview Green, 9 Dongdaqiao Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing.

China Daily

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Wild-angle shots]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653381.htm Award-winning Chinese photographer presents an intimate look at nature's wonders. Li Yingxue reports.

The dragonfly lands on a leaf. Yuan Minghui crawls toward the insect, carefully not to startle it.

He stops moving just under the leaf, where the dragonfly remains undisturbed.

Yuan is highly attuned to the dragonfly's movements - a slight twitch of its wings and he knows what it will do next - so he finds the best angle for his target.

With a click of the shutter, Yuan takes his shot - and it becomes another beautiful image of nature's wonders.

Yuan is a macro photographer, or someone who specializes in closeup photography, from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. He focuses on the natural environment, plants and insects.

His work, which appears on postcards, calendars, books and other products across the globe, expresses his passion for the natural world.

"Both animals and plants have emotions, and I want to show their beauty and dignity, no matter how tiny they are," says the 46-year-old.

For the past five years, Yuan has won numerous awards in international photography competitions, including the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature's Best Photography and International Garden Photographer of the Year - he is the first Chinese photographer to receive that honor.

Photography was just a hobby for Yuan when he worked in a pharmaceutical factory in the 1990s. In 1999, he decided to study artistic photography after many of his co-workers were laid off when the factory faced financial difficulties.

"I thought of opening a studio if I was laid off, but my friends and colleagues didn't think it would work," says Yuan.

In 2001, Yuan obtained his first camera lens for macro photography. When he saw how China's pioneering wildlife photographer and conservationist Xi Zhinong won Wildlife Photographer of the Year with images of the elusive snub-nosed monkey of Yunnan province, he was inspired to look at the natural world around him as well.

"There is magic in nature. The same place would look totally different after days and weeks," says Yuan.

Insects are also easily disturbed. But Yuan possesses the patience needed to study them and he takes years to observe the various habits of different species, such as their reactions to the slightest movement of the air around them.

Insects mating is one of the major subjects in his field. It is also one of the most challenging ones. Yuan once tried to shoot a certain type of dragonfly mating, which lasts for just a few seconds. It took him more than two years to finally capture the moment properly.

Plants can be just as daunting. When a pair of plants caught his eye for the way they were entwined - it took him three years before he shot satisfying photos of them "hugging" each other.

Most of Yuan's images of flora and fauna are taken on the outskirts of Wuhan. When he was still working at the factory, it would take him just five minutes' walk to get to his subjects.

"I don't care whether the species is rare or not. If the subject touches me, I'll record the moment," he says.

He says his journey of discovery is not to find a new world, but to see it with "fresh eyes".

Yuan certainly enjoys searching for those moments.

Once, he took a photograph of a frog sitting on the edge of a lotus leaf. It was staring at the drop of dew at the center of its chosen pedestal, seemingly waiting for insects daring enough to drink at the spot.

"He was like a gourmet waiting to be served, so I titled it Waiting for Dinner," says Yuan. "It's fun to 'combine' nature with human behavior that way."

On one autumn afternoon, Yuan noticed some twisting, wild vines against the light after a downpour. The coiled tendrils began to remind him of treble clef musical symbols.

"I like to take pictures wearing headphones, listening to music," says Yuan. "The symbols sparked my imagination."

After about 100 takes, Yuan was satisfied with one photo showing the natural elements of plant, water and light, combined in perfect harmony. He named the photo Natural Harmony, which made him a finalist of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the plants and fungi category in 2014.

At a ceremony for the award, Yuan met his idol, acclaimed Dutch nature photographer Frans Lanting.

When Yuan showed Lanting his winning photo, the Dutchman said to him with a thumbs-up: "You are shooting better than me."

Yuan's photo is part of the permanent collection at the British Natural History Museum.

The photographer also likes what he calls the "simple style" of Chinese ink master Qi Baishi (1864-1957), who inspires him to combine Chinese painting with his own work.

At the end of 2015, Yuan became a professional photographer and started to teach at Wild China Film, a Beijing-based NGO founded by Xi Zhinong that aims to record and protect the country's endangered flora and fauna.

Xi believes the mission of wildlife photographers is to record the beauty and trauma of nature. To that effect, he sees artistry in Yuan's photos - his shot of a frog sitting on a water lily looks like the creature is wearing a little red bow tie.

"What's more valuable is that Yuan's work is not shot in untraversed valleys, but around his home," says Xi, adding that "the magic of nature happens around us and all you need to do is to find it".

In October, Yuan published his first book, Fairy Tales of Microcosmic World, in Chinese, which presents about 160 of his photos, including all his award-winning ones. It took him a year to select the photos and write descriptions for each one of them.

Whether it is the camera, its aperture, the shutter speed or light sensitivity, Yuan says he wants to help other photographers understand the various factors behind shooting that perfect image. At the same time, he wants them to know that he is just using a "normal camera and lens, without anything fancy".

That is also because knowing how to use the equipment properly will not guarantee a good shot - the key is one's "feeling of nature", he says.

Yuan is justifiably proud of his international achievements.

"I hope more Chinese photographers are able to shine through the contests and show the natural beauty of China."

Yuan says he will stay steeped in nature because that helps him find his "inner peace".

"The images can help protect the natural environment. It's not only a respect for life, but also a return to human nature."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Chinese look at game for travel tips]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/06/content_35653380.htm Travel Frog gamers in China are keen to visit Japan after seeing photos the virtual animal brought back from that country.

China's biggest online travel agency, Ctrip, reported a 150 percent growth in the number of searches on its website for Japan since the mobile game craze hit the Chinese mainland in January.

To date, individual travel bookings through Ctrip to Nagoya in February have more than doubled month-on-month, and bookings for Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe surged by 80 percent, while those for Kagoshima and Fukuoka grew by 50 percent.

Despite China's own gaming industry, Travel Frog, designed by Japanese company Hit-Point, has become unexpectedly popular in the country, especially among young working adults who want to relax while having fun.

So far, Travel Frog has seen approximately 20 million downloads at the Apple Store, the company said. Chinese contributed to about 96 percent of global downloads for the game.

Players get to prepare their frog for travel by purchasing food and camping supplies, and in return, the animal will come back with travel photos featuring authentic natural scenery and tourism hot spots in Japan, as well as local specialties.

The virtual frog has made its way to Kusatsu Onsen, one of Japan's best known hot spring resorts, and Zenkoji Temple, which is the country's third-biggest wooden structure dating back to 1,400 years ago. The city of Nagoya, rebuilt after World War II, offers magnificent buildings and rich museum collections, which appeal to potential travelers.

Other highlights include Oirase Mountain Stream, a lighthouse in Kagoshima and Amanohashidate, which boasts one of the best natural views in Kyoto.

Travel Frog now offers photos featuring 10 locations in Japan and plans to cover more sites across the country soon, according to the game developer Hit-Point.

The idea of "travel on a whim", the frog's approach, appeals to a wide section between the ages of 10 and 30.

Osaka turns out to be the most popular "frog destination" among Chinese travelers at the moment, followed by Tokyo, Nagoya, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Kyoto, Aomori, Kumamoto, Kobe and Kansai, according to Ctrip.

The Chinese have been the biggest force in Japan's tourism market for last three consecutive years.

Last year, travelers from the Chinese mainland paid 7.36 million visits to Japan, up 15.4 percent over the previous year, the Japanese Kyodo News reported. They spent 1.69 trillion yen ($15.4 billion).

After Thailand, Japan is the second most popular outbound destination for Chinese tourists for this year's upcoming Spring Festival, according to Ctrip.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-06 07:51:03
<![CDATA[Philosopher's guide]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/05/content_35647165.htm Canadian scholar and advocate of Confucianism Daniel A. Bell receives the Huilin Cultural Award. Wang Kaihao reports.

His Chinese name is Bei Danning, which is based on the pronunciation of his English name, but it also indicates "simplicity and tranquility" in Mandarin, paying homage to ancient Chinese sages.

Daniel A. Bell is the dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University in Jinan, a rare post on the Chinese mainland for foreigners.

Still, the Canadian political theorist and philosopher, who's best known for his studies on China, wants to be treated by locals as a "Chinese". Not to mention that he is married to one.

"It's about culture, not race," Bell, 54, says in Mandarin during a recent visit to Beijing Normal University.

"If foreigners who are not of Chinese ethnicity can come to appreciate that learning about Chinese culture is not just a hobby or a skill to help in business, but a matter of identity," he says, "then it can enrich our minds and fundamentally change the way we lead our lives."

In late January, he received the Huilin Cultural Award, an annual prize of Beijing Normal University given to both Chinese and foreign scholars who make extraordinary contributions to Sino-foreign cultural communication.

"That (shared culture) was a traditional understanding of what it means to be a Chinese," Bell says. "It will be healthy for both China and the rest of the world to revive it and reinterpret it in modern times."

He credits the open-mindedness to history - China embraced people from overseas as early as in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

"Some of the values in mainstream Chinese culture had been deliberately marginalized since the 19th century for bad reasons," he explains. "It was just because China then didn't have as much economic and political power as Western countries, and these values were viewed (by the West) as maverick," he says.

"But they should be promoted for social and philosophical reasons as China's economic and political power is rising nowadays."

Born in Montreal and educated at McGill and Oxford, Bell, an advocate of Confucianism, has continued research on that ancient Chinese philosophy in the past 20 years or so by visiting and teaching at institutions such as Princeton University in the United States, Tsinghua University in Beijing, the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong.

In 2016, he accepted the invitation from the university in Shandong province, the original center of Confucianism.

The province's Qufu city was the birthplace of Confucius, a philosopher and educator of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

Bell says while there has been a growing interest among foreigners in learning the Chinese language, most of them are doing so for business. And, now, when China is making efforts to revitalize its cultural self-confidence, he wants to help people more comprehensively understand this country.

"As a known Canadian philosopher on comparative politics, he has focused on the studies of Confucianism and has written many treatises on Chinese culture and social politics," says Wang Song, deputy director of the education, science, culture and healthcare department at the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.

Wang attended the award ceremony at Beijing Normal University in January.

According to Wang, Bell's works have been published in 23 languages.

"He has sincere emotions about Chinese culture," Wang says. "His in-depth studies have made an extraordinary contribution to help our culture go global."

Bell says he does not know if he deserved the prize but adds that a lot of work remains to be done in this field. He points to the difficulties of promoting Chinese culture overseas.

"Promotion of sophisticated forms of Chinese culture is a long-term project," he says. "If it becomes vulgarized and homogenized, we will have failed at our task."

Bell does not want to scratch the surface. So he has picked an angle, which is less metaphysical but probably more challenging as well.

In his book, The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, which was first published in 2015, he favors China's meritocracy, which echoes ideas in Confucianism, over the one-person one-vote system in selecting a country's political leaders. He has faced criticism from some Western scholars, probably because his statement differs from what they have taken for granted.

"I think it's a problematic view to think there is only one legitimate way to select political leaders," Bell says.

"There are different possibilities, decided by the country's size, history and the public's needs.

"Meritocracy is where mainstream political culture is in China, which is large and complex."

Consequently, he emphasizes the importance for the modern world to "respect the differences".

"I don't think any philosophy per se can solve problem," he says. "But values in Confucian traditions are helpful to think of issues more efficiently."

For example, according to traditional Confucianism, social relations should be in a form of peaceful order, and diversity coexists with harmony. He believes these ideas can resonate among many cultures. He hails China's efforts to cut poverty and improve this kind of harmony.

And, for foreigners who want to know fundamentals of Chinese politics today, he still recommends "classics" first.

"Most of the greatest works were done in the Spring and Autumn Period," he says. "It's important to read (Confucian) classics starting with Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi."

Both Mencius and Xunzi were followers of Confucianism in the later Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

"But it should also include their critics like the so-called legalists as well as other mainstream schools. The books are still on the subjects we need today."

Separately, speaking of the revival of traditional culture in China in recent years, which has led to Confucian institutions and academies mushrooming all over the country, Bell thinks the trend is positive as long as "there are different interpretations".

"It will be bad to say 'This is what Confucianism means, and other interpretations are disallowed'," Bell says. "It's a good thing if there are more diverse expressions of Confucianism and other Chinese philosophies flowering all over China."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-05 07:49:46
<![CDATA[Lanterns light up Spring Festival cheer globally]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/05/content_35647164.htm Soon after the Christmas lights were removed from Stroget, the main shopping street in Copenhagen, Denmark, the night there was aglow again on Jan 20 with hundreds of lanterns hanging above the street.

These colorful lanterns of varied shapes are characterized by traditional Chinese patterns such as Peking Opera masks.

And a large dog-shaped lantern stands on the street, with a big smile on its face and its paws holding a Spring Festival scroll that reads "Wishing you all the best" in Chinese.

The lantern fair called "Lighten Copenhagen" is being held by China's embassy in Denmark as a part of the 2018 Chinese New Year celebrations to usher in the Year of the Dog.

During the fair, people can also watch lion dance performances and paint lanterns in a pop-up workshop.

Liu Dong, the cultural counselor of the embassy, says the fair is a win-win project for China and Denmark.

"Now, it gets dark by 4 pm in Denmark," says Liu. "So, the light of the lanterns warm up the long nights, and decorate the longest shopping street in Europe."

He says the event is a good opportunity to spark Danish interest in Chinese lanterns and Chinese culture, and get overseas Chinese immersed in the atmosphere of the upcoming Spring Festival in their homeland.

"We want to make use of various resources to further develop China's relationship with Denmark, and let the world know more about China through cultural exchanges," says Liu.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Denmark. In addition to the lantern show that ends on Monday, a series of recreational activities and celebrations will take place across Denmark.

All the lanterns on show have been made by designers and craftsmen from Zigong Haitian Culture Co in Zigong, Sichuan province.

According to Zeng Zheng, the director of the international business department of the company, it took the company nearly a month to make all the lanterns, and another month to ship them to Copenhagen.

Meanwhile, the company plans to hold global lantern exhibitions in Los Angeles, Sydney, Auckland, Cairo and five other cities during Spring Festival.

The lanterns for the upcoming events have been designed to keep the respective cities in mind.

For instance, the dog-shaped lantern displayed in Sydney will be placed near a Sydney Opera House-shaped lantern.

Luo Rui, deputy general manager of Zigong Haitian Culture Co, says the exhibitions are oriented toward the mainstream societies of the foreign countries, to boost the influence of China's intangible cultural heritage.

The company is seeking to work with Chinese companies, such as liquor suppliers and smartphone producers.

"This is the first year for our global lantern tour. But we intend to develop it into a platform for typical Chinese brands," says Luo.

xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-05 07:49:46
<![CDATA[Chinese dancers showcase traditional arts and crafts in Europe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/05/content_35647163.htm Traditional Chinese arts and crafts are being presented through a dance drama by the Beijing Dance Academy that is now touring Europe.

Fen Mo (When Painting Comes Alive), the dance drama, is being staged in nine cities in five countries from Jan 17 at venues ranging from the National Theater of Novi Sad, Serbia, to the Palace of Arts (MUPA) of Budapest in Hungary.

The dance drama premiered at the Tianqiao Theater in Beijing in 2009. It features 31 students from the Beijing dance school, all of whom major in traditional Chinese dance.

The Europe tour ends on Tuesday.

Consisting of five chapters, Fen Mo has borrowed elements from traditional Chinese culture, such as Peking Opera, ink painting, paper art and tai chi, to display the beauty of Chinese paintings in particular.

So far, the dance drama has attracted more than 5,000 audience members during its ongoing tour.

According to Pang Dan, director of the traditional Chinese dance department at the Beijing Dance Academy, the tour is the school's first such large-scale presentation in Europe.

"We are trying to break with conventional storytelling in dance dramas. With Fen Mo, we use symbols that represent traditional Chinese culture to communicate with the audience," says Pang, who is also one of the choreographers of the dance drama.

Fen Mo was revised in 2016 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the dance school.

Pang says traditional Chinese dance was set up as a subject to research and teach at the school more than 60 years ago.

The evolution of traditional Chinese dance has been a major subject there.

Fen Mo was born as an attempt to show its direction.

Dong Jiaming performs one of the five chapters, titled Dan. In the chapter, he finishes a pas de deux with a female dancer, portraying a rain scene with paper umbrellas.

"Chinese elements are displayed in the dance in an abstract way. We use our movements, especially our breathing, to showcase traditional Chinese painting, which is poetic and rhythmical," says Dong.

The 21-year-old will graduate from the Beijing Dance Academy this summer.

He was born and grew up in Jiaozuo, Henan province, and was enrolled in the affiliated school of the Beijing Dance Academy at 11 years old.

The European tour of the dance drama is part of the official Happy Chinese New Year program.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture in 2010, the program covers about 400 cities in 130 countries.

Spring Festival, which is celebrated as China's biggest annual holiday, is being embraced by more countries as an occasion to participate in festivities and as a way to experience Chinese culture in general.

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2018-02-05 07:49:46
<![CDATA[The renewed romance of France]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/05/content_35647162.htm Chinese travel to the European country is recovering, following a slump attributed to terrorist attacks in recent years. Xu Lin reports.

Zhang Jiahe explained that the Chinese character fu means good fortune to several curious French onlookers as she calligraphically rendered the word on a red paper square.

The 13-year-old also tied traditional Chinese knots, which are also auspicious symbols in her home culture, at a stall in a flea market near the Saint Julian Cathedral in Le Mans city.

 

Clockwise from top: The old quarter of Le Suquet in Cannes; Chinese girl Zhang Jiahe poses with a polar bear while visiting a zoo in France; seafood at a beachside restaurant in Cannes; two bikers at Cap Frehel, in northern Brittany, France. Photos by Herve Fabre (top and above), Pierre Torset (above left) and Provided to China Daily

A French vendor let the Chinese teenager use the table for the impromptu activity when she visited the country with her parents. The hawker also used the calligraphy brush to write "Le Mans welcomes you" in French.

"The flea market was my favorite stop during the trip," Zhang says.

"I saw a lot of goods, and met interesting people. Many passers-by were interested in Chinese culture and chatted with us."

The family has visited France several times.

Zhang's mother, Zhang Yonghong, posts updates about their travels on Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. She has over 650,000 followers on the platform.

"Group tours offer only cursory glances," says the mother, who works for a Beijing-based company that focuses on outdoor activities for teenagers.

"You see several cities but in a limited time. I prefer to visit one or two places per trip. You can enjoy in-depth experiences and live like a local. I like to meet locals and learn about their lives."

She and her husband consider their daughter's preferences when they travel. The girl enjoys skiing in winter and water sports in the summer.

"Life is fast-paced in big cities like Beijing," Zhang Yonghong says.

"The three of us enjoy outdoor activities during holidays, where we can escape from the pressure and get exercise."

Zhang's family is among 2.2 million Chinese who visited France last year. That's compared with 1.8 million in 2016 and 2 million in 2015 - a year-on-year drop attributed largely to the terrorist attacks of 2015 and 2016.

Chinese are drawn to the country's romantic reputation, artistic legacy, celebrated gastronomy - including wonderful wine - and luxury shopping.

French authorities have been beefing up security. They've increased police patrols and installed more surveillance cameras. They've also recruited volunteers, especially during the holidays.

France has also been working to court Chinese visitors.

It opened nine new visa-application centers in such Chinese cities as Nanjing and Chongqing in 2016, bringing the total up to 15.

The application procedure has been simplified, and group-tour participants can get visas within 48 hours.

A growing number of French tourism bureaus are opening accounts on the popular Chinese social-media platform, WeChat. This enables Chinese to buy tickets for attractions before they start their trips.

In some shopping malls, such as Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris, Chinese customers can make purchases using UnionPay, WeChat Pay or Alipay.

Chinese visitors diversified last year, says Catherine Oden, director of Atout France (the France Tourism Development Agency) in Greater China.

There were more independent and family travelers.

Atout France and its partners have been promoting tours with such themes as honeymoons, cultural heritage, outdoor activities and shopping to attract these demographics.

It has also introduced new themes, such as kids' activities, art and road trips.

French author Frederic Lepage, who's knowledgeable about China, recently published the book, Bonjour China. It's a guide customized for Chinese with travel tips covering such areas as scenic spots, museums, Michelin-starred restaurants and shopping.

Former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin writes in the book's translated preface: "The original content will arouse Chinese tourists' interest in visiting France ... It's rare that readers can feel the author's love for both France and China between the lines, and it will make French learn again about their country in an open-minded way."

Early in the book, Lepage compares the two countries' histories on a timeline, marking major historical events in the same periods. For instance, it shows how the Avignon Papacy that started in 1309 overlapped with China's Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

He goes on to introduce French dining etiquette, customs and festivals.

Lepage advises those who hope to tap Paris' romantic appeal to attend a ballet performance at the Palais Garnier opera house, sip coffee at Cafe de Flore - a haunt of existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre and writer Simone de Beauvoir - and enjoy panoramic views of the city from a hot-air balloon launched in Andre Citroen Park.

"I like to relate the two countries' cultures and histories in the book, with stories you may not hear from a tour guide," Lepage says, through a translator.

For instance, he writes about how Napoleon Bonaparte befriended Chinese laborers when the British exiled him on the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic between 1815 and 1821.

"France is a place where you can enjoy happy memories," Lepage says.

"You need to integrate into the history of France and cultivate your inner emotions. Besides Paris, you can explore other beautiful destinations, such as Ruen, Lyon and Marseille."

As the French tourism recovery continues, it seems a growing number of Chinese are poised to do exactly that.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-05 07:49:46
<![CDATA[Thinking about trying a cruise? Advice for first-timers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/05/content_35647161.htm ABOARD CELEBRITY EQUINOX - Honeymooners Zach and Alyssa Bynum of Louisville, Kentucky, had never been on an ocean cruise until last summer when they sailed aboard the Celebrity Equinox.

They were immediately enamored with this shiny ship and impressed by the overall experience. They likely will cruise again.

"We enjoyed the atmosphere and experience, including the excursions and onboard activities," says Zach Bynum. "We have definitely talked about doing another."

 

A Celebrity Equinox cruise ship stops at a dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during a trip. The ship features a variety of onboard amenities, including a real grass lawn, a sky observation lounge and specialty restaurants. Joe Kafka via AP

After all, what's not to like about cruising? Ocean views, exotic ports and beautiful ships with fine food, abundant activities and great entertainment.

Today's ships are like floating cities, carrying thousands of passengers, and each year, new and bigger vessels are launched with ever more unique features. New ships offer everything from menus designed by celebrity chefs to sophisticated fitness centers and spas, kids' clubs and recreation ranging from basketball to waterslides to laser-tag games. Entertainment includes cabaret, dance clubs, blues clubs, Broadway shows, comedy and circus acts.

The Bynums booked their trip after talking with Zach's grandmother, who'd cruised before. First-timers often book on the advice of family or friends, says Peter Giorgi, Celebrity Cruises' chief marketing officer, and those first-timers frequently come back. "For someone to enjoy something so much that they can't help but recommend it to their friends, family and loved ones is the greatest endorsement of all," Giorgi says. "No amount of advertising dollars can buy that."

Another Equinox passenger, Aaron Humphrey of Columbus, Ohio, was on his first cruise, too. "I was surprised by how much there is to do on the ship," he said while basking on deck in the warm Caribbean sunshine during a lazy sailing day between ports. "I was hooked on the cruise within the first couple of hours." His wife Megan, who'd cruised before, says they picked the trip because "we wanted to chill and eat some local food in places we hadn't seen before, and we decided that a cruise was the best of both worlds".

But if you've never done it, the idea of a cruise might be daunting. Here are some tips for first-timers.

Booking

Choose cabins according to your finances. Inside cabins are the cheapest, followed by ocean view cabins, then rooms with a balcony, and most expensive of all, suites. If you are prone to motion sickness, lower decks and cabins closest to the ship's center are the most stable. Peruse layouts online before picking a cabin and to familiarize yourself with the ship's features.

Every cruise line has a different style. To book the right ship for you, experts recommend using a travel agent. It doesn't cost extra and might save money, because agents often have access to deals.

Packing, departure and boarding

Plan your wardrobe carefully, depending on itinerary and expected weather. Laundry and dry cleaning onboard are expensive.

The days of required formal wear - jackets, ties and evening gowns - at dinner are long gone, although some passengers may dress up.

Pack a multi-socket power adapter as most cabins have only one or two outlets. Shampoo and soap are provided but you may bring your own and there's no baggage limit like there is for flying.

If you're flying to your departure port, arrive a day ahead. If your flight is canceled or delayed, you might miss the sailing.

Have reservation documents in hand when checking in at the terminal, along with required identification such as a driver's license or passport. Lines can be long as departure time nears.

A mandatory muster drill where everyone reports to a deck for a safety and evacuation briefing is held shortly after departure.

It takes a few hours for luggage to be delivered to cabins.

Smoking on ships is restricted to certain areas and not allowed in cabins.

What's free, what's not

No need for cash onboard. Cruises provide plastic cards (like credit cards) to charge purchases to your account and also as ID for exiting and reboarding the ship at ports.

Meals in dining rooms, buffets and poolside are included with the cruise fare, and you may order more than one main course or dessert. Specialty restaurants charge extra and often get booked up, so make reservations ahead.

Water, coffee, tea, juice and milk are free. Alcohol and soda are not, except for the most upscale cruise lines. Cruises sell daily or weeklong alcohol and soft drink packages that may save you money, depending on your drinking habits.

Shows, gyms, water parks and many other facilities and activities are free. Some fitness classes are free, some are not. Spa services are extra. On a budget? Avoid the casino and gift shops.

Using smartphones at sea, if there is a service available, is costly. Consider turning phones to airplane mode. Most ships offer Wi-Fi packages but they're pricey, so you might want to wait to go online when you reach port.

On top of your cruise fare, cruise lines usually suggest an amount to tip the staff, or automatically add daily tips to your bill for distribution among room stewards, waiting staff and others. Tips are automatically added to alcohol.

Excursions

Shore excursions may be booked through the cruise line, or you can go off on your own in port or hire independent tour guides. Booking through the ship guarantees you will not be left behind if your tour is delayed for some reason. If you go off on your own and return late, the ship will leave without you.

Associated Press

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2018-02-05 07:49:46
<![CDATA[An abundance of buns]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/04/content_35642200.htm Editor's note: The countdown to Spring Festival has begun for millions of Chinese kitchens all over the world as they prepare for the new lunar year. We help you to understand some of the culinary traditions and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

All through the year, the humble mantou, or Chinese bread, is a nondescript staple on northern Chinese tables. It is just part of another pile of buns to satisfy hunger.

Come Spring Festival, it shakes off its dowdy image and takes on bright new clothes to match the red and gold decor favored during this time.

 

It is a tradition to have dumplings during the Spring Festival in China's northern regions. Photos Provided to China Daily

It is so important to the festivities that a whole day is devoted to its rising and steaming in the final lunar month.

"On the 28th, wake the yeast and knead the dough," a folk ditty merrily reminds the cooks.

On that day, home chefs in most kitchens north of the Yangtze will be busy kneading and resting their dough. Over the next 48 hours, these crafty hands will be shaping breads and buns of all shapes and sizes, stuffed with all sorts of delicious pastes and puree.

The miraculous rising of the dough is symbolic of the improving good fortune everyone expects in the coming year. So these special breads will be given specific names.

Flower cakes, huagao, will be mantou dough delicately molded into peonies and chrysanthemums, often stuffed with auspicious red Chinese jujubes and filled with sweet red bean or jujube paste.

They can be shaped into a flat bouquet or stacked up like a pyramid of blooms. Once steamed, they are stored in a cool place before being taken out as offerings to the gods on the eve of the new year.

Often, the intricate buns will be topped with a fresh flame-red pomegranate flower to complete the tribute. This is the same flower many senior matriarchs will tuck into their hair as part of their Spring Festival ensemble.

The mantou dough is also artfully manipulated into various other shapes, including barnyard animals and mythical beasts. Dragons, phoenixes, bunnies, cows and pigs will all be skillfully cut and plaited from the dough.

The dog is next year's zodiac animal, and many buns will adopt floppy ears and little black noses.

In our home, we also use scissors to snip the dough to form quills for our hedgehog buns. Hedgehog shapes are very popular, since farmers regard the bug-eating animals as their friends.

My nanny comes from Henan, in the Central Plains, the heart of noodle-making country and the cradle of China's wheat cultivation belt. She grew up making buns that turn into flowers with a few dexterous twists of her fingers, and she always tucks a nice red Chinese jujube in the center of her creations.

These are the plain mantou. There are also the stuffed mantou, otherwise known as baozi.

Spring Festival baozi are mostly sweet, to augur better beginnings and a smoother path ahead.

The most popular fillings are red bean paste, followed by fragrant jujube puree and lotus seed paste. Sometimes, candied fruits such as dates, citrus peel or even firm salted egg yolks are stuffed in the center.

These mantou and baozi will be eaten slowly throughout the 15 days of festivities, and when it's time for the workers to return to the big cities, they will have some in the luggage to assuage hunger and homesickness on their way back.

Another tradition is to prepare lots of dumplings, or jiaozi.

On New Year's Eve, after the reunion meal is done, the whole family will gather for dumpling making. It is part of the all-night vigil that most families will keep, to ensure that their senior members have a long and healthy life.

While some family members take charge of kneading and rolling out the dough and wrappers, others will add the final touches of seasoning to the meat and vegetable fillings.

Then, everyone sits down to form a production line, wrapping the dumplings and placing them on large round reed trays to dry out. Everyone will probably be working with one eye on the television, where most channels will be broadcasting the annual national Spring Festival variety show, or chunwan, as it is popularly known.

In some families, it is the custom to place little surprises in the dumplings - a dried jujube, a little silver coin and a cooked chestnut.

This custom probably parallels the Western tradition of the lucky sixpence in the Christmas pudding.

In China, the fortunate bachelor who gets the jujube in his dumpling can expect to have a new sweetheart before the year is over. The chestnut means there will be a new baby in the family, and the silver coin signifies good luck and prosperity for the person who bites into it.

The prepared dumplings will be eaten as the first meal of the New Year. The first hour of the day, the hour of the Rat, begins at 11 pm, so it's not too long to wait.

Eating and cooking have always been the pinnacle of any celebration in China, and it is never more true than during Spring Festival.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2018-02-04 16:00:00
<![CDATA[New horizon]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/04/content_35642199.htm Ten young female scientists are honored in China for their pursuit of academic excellence

In early January, 10 women from around China were honored with the 2017 China Young Women in Science Fellowships in a ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

The annual awards, organized by the China Association for Science and Technology, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and L'Oreal China, were set up 14 years ago to recognize the outstanding achievements of young female scholars in various fields of scientific research.

 

From top: Zhang Yan, professor, College of Life Sciences at Peking University; Xu Qi, researcher, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Yang Li, professor, Peking University Hospital, are among the 10 Chinese women to be given the 2017 China Young Women in Science Fellowships for their outstanding performance in their fields of research. Photos Provided to China Daily

While the pursuit of academic excellence can often be hampered by the pressures of balancing family life with work commitments, the experience of top female scientists shows that with determination, a tolerant environment and a flexible approach, it is possible to realize their ambitions.

Zhang Yan, a 43-year-old professor from the College of Life Sciences at Peking University, was one of the winners this year.

As one of the world's leading scientists in her area of research, she has been investigating neurodegenerative diseases - and Alzheimer's disease in particular - for over a decade, in an attempt to unravel their pathogenic mechanisms.

"Women in China inevitably have to contribute greatly to their families. This award is a form of encouragement for female scientists. And it also acts as an example to young female students that women can excel in scientific research like men, while also successfully raising a family," Zhang says.

Like many female Chinese scholars, she observes that while female students, whether they are undergraduates or graduates, perform exceptionally, academic circles in China are still largely dominated by men.

"Where have all the women gone? Why don't they continue with their studies?" Zhang asks.

After giving birth to her second child last year, Zhang says she seldom needs to work overtime.

"It's not as difficult as many young female students may imagine. I work quite efficiently during the day. In the morning, I concentrate on my work 100 percent, with my phone in silent mode," she says.

"Actually, within the space of just four hours you can achieve a lot. In the afternoon, I deal with other work. My role as a mother and a wife is also very important, and I enjoy it quite a lot.

"It's a pity that a lot of female students just give up without trying," she says.

Waiting in the green room ahead of the awards ceremony, Zhang agrees with two of the other winners, Xu Qi and Yang Li, who said they never suffered gender discrimination during their education and in the field of scientific research - which is a world where academics prove their ability through the strength of their research papers.

Xu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been studying the pathogenesis of severe neuropathy, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and depression.

Yang, a professor at Peking University Hospital, is a top expert in the clinical prevention and treatment of acute kidney injury and its pathogenic mechanisms.

Both in their early 40s, Xu and Yang, were roommates when they studied at the Peking University Health Science Center two decades ago.

"I didn't feel gender discrimination as a student. When I started to run my own lab, I realized women actually have an advantage in the male-dominated world of science," Zhang says.

Yang agrees, "Yes, it's often easier for female teachers to communicate with students in the lab."

Xu's case is unique. She started studying at Peking University at the age of 14, where she was the youngest student in her class.

"Being female has always been an advantage for me since a young age. Many male colleagues joked that if they were a woman, they could have been as successful as me," she says. "I grew up in an environment that was very tolerant toward women."

Zhang agrees. A tolerant atmosphere of gender equality is beneficial for the growth of women in any field, she says.

However, being a woman still means they have to make more of a contribution to their families than most men, Yang says.

"If you want to be equally successful as men, you have to work harder."

Despite this, Yang admits that when she recruits doctors, even she prefers to hire men because "female doctors will take maternity leave once on average, sometimes twice if they have a second child. This puts a lot of pressure on their colleagues and presents a very practical problem for hospitals in China".

Although they may have to work harder than their male counterparts, female scientists remain passionate about their work, driven by the hope of becoming the first in their field to find solutions to problems that may have stumped scientists around the world for decades.

"It's funny that when I was younger, the first thing I would do when I woke up in the morning was to search the global database for new papers on my research topic published overnight," Xu says.

Xu worked for the international Human Genome Project for six months as a graduate student in the 1990s, and her eyes light up when she talks about that experience.

"It was just as important a project in the 20th century as the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb, or the Apollo moon landing program. I am very honored for having been a part of it," she says.

Zhang says: "I seldom think about how great my work is, but it's such great fun to be the first to discover something previously unknown to the world. I have always enjoyed this aspect."

Yang says she is an enthusiastic inquirer, which she describes as a necessary characteristic for a researcher.

"First of all, you must have the desire to ask questions and find the answers to them, no matter how big, small, deep or shallow those questions are," she says.

Xu agrees, adding that holding on to the curiosity each person was born with is an important attribute. Besides undertaking research, she also supervises students.

"I'm confident that my students will hold on to their tenacity and curiosity about scientific research after they complete their five years of study. As a teacher, the most important thing is to safeguard every student's curiosity and confidence," Xu says.

"If I could start my life over, I would not choose clinical medicine as my major, but would directly go to the field of research I am working in now," she says.

yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-04 16:00:00
<![CDATA[A forgotten class]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/04/content_35642198.htm Kindergarten teachers are poorly paid and largely unrecognized, but this may be starting to change. Guo Ying and Pan Xu report.

Being a kindergarten teacher is not an easy job for Zhang Wei, 22, who works for a private institution in Beijing's Chaoyang district.

She arrives at the kindergarten before 7:30 am and has a tight schedule every day. Besides teaching classes and organizing outdoor activities for nearly 30 children, she also prepares teaching plans, attends meetings and deals with all kinds of inquiries from parents.

 

Children at a kindergarten in Jiangsu province play a game of "standing spring eggs" with their teacher at Spring Equinox. Zhang Kaihu / Xinhua

Zhang has to maintain constant vigilance to ensure the safety of the lively children who are prone to injury and minor accidents, which leads to a lot of psychological pressure.

"Sometimes I wake up from a nightmare in which a boy strikes his head on the edge of a table, and I am scolded by the headmaster and the boy's parents," says Zhang.

Recent child abuse scandals in kindergartens in Beijing and Shanghai have caused widespread public outrage.

And preschool educators, especially teachers in private kindergartens, have faced harsh criticism from society.

Zhang is also feeling the tide of public opinion turn against her.

"More parents are demanding that our kindergarten install surveillance cameras. And many parents question their children about whether they have been maltreated by their teachers. I feel that sometimes we are treated as 'potential enemies'," says Zhang.

According to Zhang, this distrust by parents has left many kindergarten teachers feeling distressed. Failing to gain understanding and respect, some of Zhang's colleagues have quit their jobs and chosen different career paths. A high turnover is now common among kindergarten teachers.

Salaries for kindergarten teachers in China are generally low. In bigger cities like Beijing, kindergarten teachers are paid between 3,000 yuan ($470; 378 euros; £332) and 5,000 yuan a month, even less than the wages paid to babysitters. The average monthly salary in Beijing was 9,942 yuan in 2017.

Kindergarten teachers in the public education system earn less than their primary school equivalents. And they also have fewer avenues for advancement.

According to the Ministry of Education, of the 2.5 million kindergarten teachers and headmasters working in China in 2016, 73 percent were not granted any professional title.

At a recent teacher recruitment fair, 58 kindergartens from Shanghai's Jiading district were planning to recruit 281 teachers, but they only received 70 qualified applicants.

Li Yan, the director of the Preschool Education Department of Shanghai Normal University, says that Shanghai adds nearly 3,000 preschool teacher jobs each year, while the number of preschool education university graduates in Shanghai is far from adequate.

"Preschool education graduates are in short supply and students are booked long before graduation. It is common for 200 kindergartens to compete for only 100 preschool education graduates," says Li.

The lack of kindergarten teachers is a major constraint on the development of China's preschool education sector.

According to a report from the Center for Education Policy of Southwest University, China's implementation of the second-child policy in 2016 will see the demand for preschool education resources increase from 2019 and hit a peak in 2021.

The report estimates that the shortfall of kindergarten teachers in China will reach 2 million by then.

Meanwhile, thanks to the scarcity of professional kindergarten teachers, many institutions have lowered their standards when it comes to hiring.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Education, in 2016 the highest education level of the majority of kindergarten teachers in China was junior college, with 56.37 percent holding the qualification, while 22.4 percent of kindergarten teachers held senior high school diplomas or lesser credentials. Only 61 percent of current kindergarten teachers had preschool education qualifications.

According to Yu Yongping, the director of the China National Society of Early Childhood Education, China has seen growing investment in preschool education in recent years. As a percentage of China's education budget, preschool education spending increased from 1.67 percent in 2010 to 3.88 percent in 2015.

Yu says China's investment in preschool education is still insufficient to ensure a quality education, and he estimates that preschool education spending should account for more than 6 percent of the education budget. He says measures should be taken to ensure better treatment of teachers.

"The income and status of kindergarten teachers must be boosted, as that will help attract and retain qualified teachers."

Chinese parents greatly value early education for children, and they have high expectations of kindergarten teachers. They also want the teachers to be versatile and have a professional understanding of children's growth.

As for Zhang, she says: "Kindergarten teachers are crucial for a child's growth. I want to gain more knowledge and professional training to become more competent."

China Features

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2018-02-04 16:00:00
<![CDATA[Toilet upgrade to woo tourists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/04/content_35642197.htm Pleasant experiences can improve living standards as well as have significant impact on the travel industry, experts say

In order to achieve its goal of becoming an internationally recognized travel destination, Shanghai has embarked on a number of tourism projects, such as Disneyland.

But its efforts do not just include high-profile venues - the city has also preened itself in other areas closely related to daily life.

 

The Wangjiangyi No 001 toilet located in the Lujiazui area of Shanghai stands out as a tourist attraction. It has a leisure space where people can enjoy the scenery of the nearby river side region. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

 

Toilets, for instance, are an integral part of the city's strategy to draw tourists.

For the past three years, Shanghai's authorities have been going to great lengths to improve the state of the city's public toilets. According to the Shanghai Working Committee on Children and Women, there were 8,700 public toilets in operation in the city as of the end of last year, among which 2,600 were rated as environmentally friendly.

In a public commentary by Wan Zhe, chief economist at the International Cooperation Center, which is affiliated with the National Development and Reform Commission, toilets were said to have a significant impact on the tourism economy.

The move to create better spaces for people to relieve themselves is in line with the central government's call for a "toilet revolution" in the country. During a meeting with the country's tourism administrators and companies in late November, President Xi Jinping applauded their efforts in improving the state of public toilets all over the country, stressing that poorly maintained restrooms can impair the standard of living.

In Shanghai, some of the public restrooms have even been turned into tourist attractions. For example, the panda-themed toilet at Shanghai Zoo was widely recognized last year as one of the best in the city. The move to include information about pandas on the walls of the restroom was applauded by children and their parents.

Meanwhile, the Duolun Road public toilet, which is located at the east entrance of Luxun Park in northeastern Shanghai, was rated as the most beautiful toilet in the city for three consecutive years since 2014. The 38-square-meter space features a special ceiling that helps to ventilate the area naturally, and it even provides commonly available medications, reading glasses and umbrellas for users.

There are even public toilets in Shanghai that are equipped with electronic screens that show how long a person has been inside a cubicle. Besides informing other users whether a cubicle is currently being used, this system allows staff to check on those who have been in the cubicle for unusually long periods of time.

But administrators are still not quite satisfied with the current state of Shanghai's toilets. Zhang Feng, director of Shanghai's environmental quality monitoring center, says that one of the major goals in the next three years will be to significantly increase the number of unisex toilets. There are currently only about 250 of them.

He says that such toilets will be able to cut down on the waiting time at women's toilets and be beneficial to families with senior citizens and underage children who require assistance.

Wu Jianguo, inspector at the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration, said during a government meeting at the beginning of December that the city should look to increase the number of public toilets and improve user experiences over the next three years.

Improving the standard of public restrooms, enhancing management and services, adopting technology and educating users were also cited as priorities.

Shanghai is not the first to emphasize the upgrading of public toilets. Hans Wall, the founder of Berlin-based outdoor advertiser Wall AG, has been infusing color into toilets in Germany since the early 1990s, turning many of them into landmarks. Some of these restrooms have become so renowned internationally that major companies such as Apple, Samsung and Chanel have featured them in their commercials.

It is estimated that such toilets in five European cities, including Berlin and Frankfurt, generate at least 30 million euros ($35 million; £26 million) in profit every year.

The Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China has also echoed the fact that well-designed toilets represent a worthwhile investment.

In a 2014 report, the bureau pointed out that the profit gained from renovating a public toilet in the country, especially in rural areas, was five times the cost. Toilets generally earn income through entrance fees and leasing of advertising space.

In light of this, the General Office of the State Council released a guideline to increase tourist investment and consumption last August. One of the main objectives was the establishment of more public toilets in tourist destinations around the country.

By the end of August last year, about 29,500 tourist-friendly toilets in such locations were built or renovated.

Companies such as China Everbright Real Estate, Jiangsu Huahong New Energy Co and Beijing Landwasher Technology Development have since jumped at this opportunity.

For instance, Landwasher Technology is involved in a toilet renovation project in Tibet that started in 2016. The company's flush-free technology is said to be ideal for such regions where the plumbing system is poor.

Wu Hao, general manager of Landwasher, says that the launch of the "toilet revolution" has resulted in a 50 percent increase in the company's sales. He adds that the national initiative has been a boon for small companies like his.

"Currently, small privately owned technology companies are the major contributors to innovation in environmental protection technology and toilet renovation in China. They have helped to optimize the industrial structure," he says.

"The value chain related to public toilets is larger than most of us can see. First of all, it can help to boost revenue at tourist attractions by more than 10 billion yuan. Furthermore, the living standards in the rural areas in China can be improved," he adds.

shijing@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-04 16:00:00
<![CDATA[Square shuffle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/04/content_35642196.htm Long considered a potential gold mine for tech entrepreneurs, the seniors' dance market seems to have reached a plateau

They're either health-conscious seniors or public nuisances, depending on whom you ask. But for years, to many 互联网企业家 (hù lián wǎng qǐ yè jiā, internet entrepreneurs), China's "square-dancing dama" 广场舞大妈 (guǎng chǎng wǔ dà mā, middle-aged ladies fond of exercising to ear-piercing music), have represented millions of potential consumers.

Now, however, change is afoot.

The dama, found dancing in formation in the evening in any reasonably open space across China-public squares, parks, plazas, even basketball courts-are already known for their economic clout. A 2015 study by Fang Hui, founder of a square-dancing startup, said there are 80 to 100 million square dancers and more than 2 million square-dance teachers in China.

Facing an early retirement age, grown-up single children and rising disposable incomes, these women developed a reputation for "speculating gold" in 2013, once buying over 300 tons in just 10 days. The close-knit congregations of empty-nesters are also hotbeds for P2P lending programs, stock trading and startup investment using funds pooled together by dancing troupes. These stats have attracted entrepreneurs to make money from the dama market in a more systematic way. Chinese media dubbed 2015 "The First Year of Square Dance Entrepreneurship." Since then, more than 60 apps have been launched targeting regular square dancers, who usually control the purse strings in their families, according to Beijing Daily.

Cai Rongci, a 58-year-old leading dancer of a square-dance group in Wuhan, Hubei province, is a loyal user of these apps. Responsible for teaching moves to over 20 dancers in her group, Cai relies on the videos provided by these apps to learn new choreography. "We have no teachers, but there are so many apps where you can find thousands of dances. I learn first and then teach others," says Cai.

However, after a short boom in 2015, there are not as many such apps left on the market. In 2017, Beijing Daily reported that most square-dance apps had already shifted target or shut down. "In the past two years, more than 60 square-dance apps have been launched, but now only three or four survive," the newspaper reported. "The square-dancing dama are still there, but it's more and more difficult to earn money from them."

Fan Zhaoyin, who founded the app Jiu Ai Square Dance (就爱广场舞 jiù ài guǎng chǎng wǔ, just love square dance) in 2015, was even less optimistic. "There are only two or three companies left in this market," he says. Though his own company is doing relatively well, Fan admits that the whole industry is experiencing a reshuffle.

In 2012, when Fan was still working for an internet company, he began to think about starting his own business. He and a few friends founded an online square-dance themed forum and organized dozens of QQ instant messaging groups for square-dance lovers to communicate. In less than two years, their registered users reached more than 100,000. By 2015, Fan felt it was time to become a full-time square-dance entrepreneur.

Fan was not the only player in the square-dancing market at that time. CBNData, in cooperation with Alibaba, released a statistical report in 2015 stating that on average, a square dancer spends 437 yuan ($69; 56 euros; £49) on dancing, including 62 yuan for dancing shoes, 90 yuan for outfits, 151 yuan for costumes and 50 yuan for accessories.

In Fang Hui's report, the size of the market for dancing clothes and loudspeakers was already estimated at over 2 billion yuan annually.

However, Fang became one of the first victims of the difficulties of conquering this audience. Targeting dama who may need mobile devices to learn dances, Fang and his team founded a company called Dafoo, which developed a tablet especially for elders to use to watch square-dance videos. However, with a price of 699 yuan each, sales of Dafoo tablets were only around 2,000 in total. The project failed just 18 months after it started.

Other entrepreneurs tried different approaches. In September 2016, 直播平台 (zhí bō píng tái, live-streaming platform) Youban was launched, aiming to build up a mobile-streaming community for the middle-aged and elderly. Youban provided videos of square dances to attract elderly users, but has seemingly stopped updating since February last year. Another startup, 99 Square Dance, raised tens of millions in funding from Yingke, a major livestreaming platform, but its live broadcasts ceased in April last year.

It seems the engagement of dama with these apps and their purchasing power had been seriously overestimated, and that an interest in square dancing doesn't equate to a demand for apps. "Generally, only leading dancers use these apps; the others just follow us to dance," says Cai. "For these apps, we only care about if they are 方便的 (fāng biàn de, convenient) or not."

Compared with those vanished apps, Fan's Jiu Ai Square Dance was lucky. Though just one of the few surviving players in this industry, it currently has more than 5 million users, Fan says. He believes the key is more than just accumulating users. "The most important thing is that we have found an effective channel for turning our user traffic into profits," he says. "Square dancing is just an entry point; you can use it to attract users, but should try to make money in other areas."

By other areas, Fan mainly refers to e-commerce business. Jiu Ai Square Dance's in-app and WeChat online stores provide not only square-dance-related commodities, but articles of everyday use, including clothes, food and household items preferred by their user demographic. By now, e-commerce has become the main resource of their revenues, and Fan says the rise of mobile payment is a contributing factor.

Paid content is another trend in the internet industry. But Fan doesn't think it's the right time for square dance apps to charge for their content. "It's exactly these free videos that attract dama, and there are so many free videos online. If you start charging, you are driving them away," he says.

In addition, the 热情 (rè qíng, enthusiasm) for square dancing seems to have reached a plateau. Many dama have found alternative ways to exercise. "Now we play ping-pong or badminton everyday; sometimes we go to kick shuttlecock in the fitness center," says a former dancer surnamed Tian from Liaoning province.

Nonetheless, Fan says that although it's hard to see another boom in dance, it won't be hard for the square dance market to maintain a certain scale at least for a few years. "I don't think square dance will come to the end in the near future, because old people will continue to work out in the square."

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

 

A square-dance performance at the opening ceremony of a seniors' sports meeting held in Shaoyang, Hunan province. Provided to China Daily

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2018-02-04 16:00:00
<![CDATA[A true fan of chinese culture, The story of a renowned sudanese acrobat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639392.htm "The first time I set foot in China in 1971, I had a hunch my life was doomed to be changed thanks to this magic land," says Mudawi Omer Alibilal, director of the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe.

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Mudawi Omer Alibilal, director of the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe. In the above right photo, China’s Cultural Minister Luo Shugang, left, presents a gift to him in Beijing on Nov 21, 2017. Photos provided to China Daily

Veteran Sudanese athlete Mudawi Omer Alibilal recounts his early days training in the mainland and his family's enduring love for 'this magic land'

"The first time I set foot in China in 1971, I had a hunch my life was doomed to be changed thanks to this magic land," says Mudawi Omer Alibilal, director of the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe.

Born Jan 1, 1958 in Wau, a southern city of the Republic of the Sudan, the acrobat was sent to Central China's Wuhan city in October 1971 and became one in the first batch of trainees from Sudan to learn Chinese acrobatics.

"I still remember my first day in China, and it is a bittersweet memory for the 13-year-old boy then," says Alibilal. "Wuhan's winter is so cold and wet, and I was chilled to the bone. I often laid awake all night, looking at the ceiling, wondering why I was here and how I was about to live here for the next three years," he recalled, laughing.

In the 1970s, the Sudanese people had no idea about acrobatics, since they had never seen or heard of it before, and Mudawi Omer Alibilal was no exception.

Luckily for him, he met his "Chinese mother" - Yao Jinmei, an experienced acrobatics coach who worked at the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe - and tried to learn the secrets of acrobatics and adapt to life in China as well.

"Yao Mama (Mother Yao) treats me like her own son, and I am grateful for what she has done for me. I was a stubborn and self-contemptuous boy then and lost my temper from time to time for doing a bad job in the daily exercises. But she always showed the utmost patience," Alibilal says. "Meanwhile, each time I felt exhausted after a tough day's training, I expected her to cook the traditional Wuhan food, hot dry noodles for me."

Under Yao's care and guidance, Alibilal has made strides in mastering acrobatics.

"At first, I thought courage determines all. If you dare to try something unbelievable, you can win the hearts of more people. However, I was totally wrong. Yao often told me to strike a balance between strength and skills in the training, and that's the essence of being a standard acrobat," he says.

That first year of hard work meant much to Alibilal, as he gradually mastered the fundamentals of acrobatics, which laid a solid foundation for future specialized training.

In 1972, Mudawi Omer Alibilal decided to focus more on collective trick-cycling and Chinese wushu, or martial arts.

"Mudawi Omer Alibilal had a flexible body, and a strong sense of balance. Also, he was a little leader in the first batch of trainees then and good at teaming up with others," says the 80-year-old Yao Jinmei. "I still remember Bruce Lee was his idol, and Alibilal often did a pretty good imitation of him in those years. And to study wushu well, he suffered a lot."

Actually, Bruce Lee is just one aspect of the acrobat's fondness for Chinese culture.

After Alibilal came back to Sudan in 1974, he served as instructor for the Sudan National Acrobatic Troupe, which was founded that same year.

He told China Daily he was a true believer in the Chinese educator Confucius' motto: "Teaching each student in accordance with their aptitudes." And he considers it the basic teaching principle in his daily work.

He encourages all his family members to connect with Chinese culture. For instance, they are loyal fans of Chinese TV dramas.

"The fantasy drama Journey to the West is my favorite, and I have watched it three times," he says. "But my wife's cup of tea is the 36-episode TV drama A Beautiful Daughter-in-law Era.

"My wife is delighted to see the tension between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law also exists in China. The drama is a good way to know young Chinese people's state of mind in modern times."

In 2009, the first Confucius Institute was founded at the University of Khartoum in Sudan. Alibilal saw it as a rare chance for his children to get a comprehensive understanding of China. Shortly thereafter, he sent his four sons to study there.

"My fourth son Elisr even mastered basic Chinese language in the institute. Now, he is 16 years old and studying at the prestigious Nanjing University in East China's Jiangsu province," Alibilal says. "He majored in Chinese language freshman year, as he is fond of exploring Chinese characters and he wants to find a job in Beijing after graduation."

Alibilal shares his son's appreciation for the capital city, as well.

"Beijing is the capital of China and a city filled with a strong art atmosphere and golden business opportunities. To be honest, I truly support his decision and feel proud of him," he said. Laughing, he added, "In the future, I also would like to send my little girl to study in China if possible."

zhangxingjian@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-03 06:41:32
<![CDATA[Spring Festival celebrations kick off in Ukraine with promotion of Chinese culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639391.htm KIEV - Celebrations for the upcoming Spring Festival started in Ukraine with a ceremonial reception in Kiev last Tuesday, bringing Chinese and Ukrainian officials and businessmen together.

The event organized by the Chinese Commercial Association (CCA) featured an ensemble of captivating performances in a ballroom of a hotel, which was decorated with bright red lanterns to welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The festivity kicked off with a tantalizing show of Chinese and Ukrainian martial arts, with Ukrainian masters performing kung fu and fighting gopak.

The students of Kiev Gymnasium of Oriental Languages staged a dragon dance and a graceful dance with fans and umbrellas.

Among the other highlights of the dinner-show, were classical Chinese songs, the performance of Chinese traditional music instrument Guzheng and the legendary Chinese Opera masks performance.

An extensive dinner banquet was organized to introduce the huge variety of traditional Chinese cuisine to Ukrainians.

Speaking to Xinhua correspondent during the ceremonial reception, Zhou Weijian, the president of the CCA, said that the event is aimed at sharing Chinese culture and traditions with other countries under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

"Given the intensification of Chinese enterprises' activities abroad, their influence in foreign countries is increasing. Therefore, I think it is important to promote Chinese culture overseas. The Chinese culture can boost the 'soft power' of Chinese companies abroad," said Zhou.

About 250 guests attended this ceremonial reception, including Chinese Ambassador to Ukraine Du Wei, chief executive officers of Chinese and Ukrainian companies, and Ukrainian government officials.

Olga Trofimtseva, Ukraine's Deputy Agriculture Minister, said that for her the Spring Festival means the opportunity to celebrate the Lunar New Year, one of her favorite holidays, for the second time.

Trofimtseva described the event organized by the CCA as a good opportunity to promote understanding between the people of China and Ukraine, as well as to boost business ties between the two countries.

"It is a great chance to discuss partnership in an informal atmosphere, and to make an update on our joint projects and cooperation. I just had several brief talks with our partners and we have outlined the next steps for implementing joint projects," Trofimtseva told Xinhua.

Other guests of the event also expressed their delight with the ceremonial reception and their admiration for the charm of Chinese culture.

Marina Skrypnik, an adviser to Ukraine's deputy infrastructure minister, said that she, like many Ukrainians, knows about the Lunar New Year, but have not had an opportunity before to celebrate it.

"I am participating for the first time in such an event. I really like the program and the approach. Everything is very interesting and well-organized. This event will undoubtedly have a positive impact on relations between Ukraine and China," Skrypnik told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Tkachuk, a senior employee at the Ukrainian Economic Development and Trade Ministry, said he had learned a lot about the Spring Festival traditions and became inspired to visit China during the Lunar New Year holiday.

"I really enjoyed the event! It is really difficult to say which performance I liked most. Everything was wonderful and great. I would like to visit China for the Chinese New Year celebrations," said Tkachuk.

The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 16 this year.

Before that time, the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and other cities in the country will host cultural events to celebrate the holiday.

Major celebrations will be held in Ukraine's western city of Lviv from Feb. 14 to Feb. 21, featuring Chinese traditional singing, dancing, arts and crafts, kung fu workshops and Chinese food fair in the center of the city.

Xinhua

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2018-02-03 06:41:32
<![CDATA[Quenching the nation's new found thirst for ale]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639379.htm Even during the freezing winter months, nothing seems to stop Chinese beer lovers from grabbing cold brew from the fridge and enjoying a spicy hot pot or barbecue dinner with friends.

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ZX Ventures, the craft beer division of AB InBev, opened the doors to the new facility in Wuhan last week, where it began to produce tipples from three of its leading breweries - Goose Island, Boxing Cat and Kaiba.Photos provided to China Daily

A new brewery based in Wuhan dedicated to craft beer-making aims to tap into China's growing demand for bespoke brews

Even during the freezing winter months, nothing seems to stop Chinese beer lovers from grabbing cold brew from the fridge and enjoying a spicy hot pot or barbecue dinner with friends.

China has grown to become the world's largest consumer market for beer, and people nowadays have more diversity than ever to meet their ever-growing tastes. Whether you fancy a glass of the Chinese staple, Tsingtao, or prefer a flavored Indian Pale Ale imported from Britain, there are always pubs, bars and online stores offering a multitude of different beer options.

And last week, a new brewery opened in China by Anheuser-Busch InBev looks set to bring the art of craft beer making even closer to Chinese consumers.

The central city of Wuhan, Hubei province, was selected by the world's largest brewer as the site for its new brewery dedicated solely to making craft beer, the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.

ZX Ventures, the craft beer division of AB InBev, opened the doors to the new facility in Wuhan last week, where it began to produce tipples from three of its leading breweries - Goose Island, Boxing Cat and Kaiba. The classic Goose IPA is an American take on a traditional English IPA, fuller-flavored with bright citrus aromas and a bold hop finish. Hop bitterness is balanced out by biscuity malts, while retaining a smooth and light body.

At the newly-launched brewery, the pleasant aroma of malt mixing with a range of natural flavorings are enough to whet the appetite of any beer lover. With the fully automated brewing machines imported from Germany, the giant shiny fermenting tanks crank into action.

During the brewing process, a professional team from the Belgium-based multinational will be on hand to provide guidance throughout the process to ensure that quality is strictly maintained.

"The ZX Ventures craft brewery has been tailored to meet the demand for the small-scale production of high-quality beer," says Pedro Aidar, head of specialties ZX Ventures APAC North.

"Drinking craft beer is a developing trend in China. We chose to set up the brewery in Wuhan because we have had over 30 years' experience selling beer in the city, and we have noticed that consumer preferences have switched from traditional beer to craft beer," says Aidar.

Although the market share of craft beer remains relatively small, sales have witnessed a huge increase in China in recent years.

According to industry research website Chinairn.com, the market share for premium beer is around 4 percent compared to traditional beer. But this share accounts for more than 18 percent of profits in the industry, while the market is expanding at the rate of 40 percent a year.

Eyeing the growing market, Wang Deliang, brewery research director at the China National Research Institute of Food & Fermentation Industries, says that investment in the craft beer sector has been expanding in recent years as beer makers chase profits of up to 30 percent.

"Limited supply, unique flavors, a distinct experience and high-end branding all appeal to the younger generation of consumers who like to try something different," says Michael To, marketing specialist with Shanghai-based Focus Strategy consultancy.

AB InBev also recognize the potential of China's craft beer market.

"In recent years we have seen consumer preferences switching to a more diverse range of premium products, and this market share has continued to see strong growth," says Aidar. "So, setting up a brewery to meet the demand for top-notch products was an easy choice."

With demand for craft beer on the rise in China, they soon realized that the appetite of Chinese consumers could not be met by relying on imported beers alone, where some of the flavor and taste can be lost during long-haul transportation. With this in mind, the Wuhan brewery has been tasked with the mission of creating locally-produced craft beers of the highest quality.

"With their strict quality control measures, the team will ensure the crispness, color and alcohol content will comply with the requirements of the original recipes and ensure each drop of bottled craft beer will achieve its full flavor potential," says Aidar.

"All the beers are guaranteed to be fresh because they are made locally," he says. "We will also put more energy into attending trade fairs, putting on events and visiting bars to promote our products."

To further explore regional markets, Aidar says the key lies in continuous innovation to develop localized recipes.

"The charm of craft beer lies in innovation," Aidar says. "China's deep history and culture will become an endless source of inspiration for the brewery."

He says the company has already promoted a special craft beer combining signature elements from the Goose Island and the Shangri-La Highland Craft breweries.

This January, ZX Ventures also released its first local craft beer, Han Yang Zao, which drew inspiration from the long history of Wuhan.

Beside the brewery, ZX Ventures has also teamed up with Hubei Light Industry Technology Institute& Brewing Technologies Academy, a Wuhan-based academy specializing in beer brewing to help cultivate future industry experts. Titled the New Brewing Generation, the program jointly launched by ZX Ventures and BTA aims to combine industry with academia.

Xu Bing, president of the Hubei Light Industry Technology Institute, says: "Through a high-standard platform like the New Brewing Generation, our students will be able to access more advanced and comprehensive teaching methods and practices. We are confident that they will be able to add value to China's craft brewing industry, and help China's own craft beer recipes shine around the world."

zhanglei@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-03 06:40:32
<![CDATA[An artist's lifelong devotion to Chinese New Year paintings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639378.htm JINAN - A cherubic child holding a big fish, a giant tree bearing golden coins as fruit, or delicate woodblock paintings are all often hung at homes during the Chinese Lunar New Year. For many Chinese, bright-colored woodblock paintings, which are hung at almost every door, windows and walls for festival decorations, are quite time-limited. As soon as the parties come to an end, these print works are at once thrown away.

However, these short-lived New Year paintings require a year of hard work by the artists, many of whom have devoted their entire life to this traditional folk art.

Yang Luoshu, a 92-year-old man from Weifang, Shandong province, is among those who have had great passion for the Chinese Lunar New Year woodblock prints. Yang has worked as a craftsman for 77 years, and has kept polishing his carving skills with every piece of work.

"When I was young, I often saw my father carving, and I remember being so curious about it," Yang says. "One day my father was gone for a while. I quickly grasped his knife and carved on the woodblock. That was the very first day of my carving experience."

Yangjiabu New Year woodblock paintings, which Yang has fallen in love with, emerged in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) around 600 years ago. As a national intangible cultural heritage, it is now one of China's three representatives of traditional folk paintings for the New Year, together with Tianjin's Yangliuqing and Suzhou's Taohuawu.

Each made-up painting requires five steps: sketching outlines, engraving the woodblock, printing, painting and mounting, all done by hand.

Running a centuries-old folk art family workshop named Tongshunde, Yang has carved all kinds of motifs, including flowers, birds, mountains, rivers, and traditional Chinese gods, and was named a "master of folk arts" by UNESCO in 2001.

"Though engraving is hard in general, carving gods is especially difficult, with all the armor and vivid facial expressions. Still, I can manage it," Yang says.

Being the 19th generation of the painting family, Yang is now working with a dozen experienced craftsmen, and makes around 150,000 New Year paintings every year, which are not only sold in China, but also in countries such as the United States, Singapore and Japan.

For him, the next thing to do is to find qualified successors to make sure the skills are passed to younger generations.

"There are now dozens of local workshops making woodblock paintings," Yang says. "However, compared with the prime time 200 years ago, which had around 300 workshops, the number has declined drastically."

Besides holding exhibitions and seminars home and abroad, Yang has also taken several apprentices, among whom is his elder son Yang Fujiang, who has carved for 42 years.

"I had thought about finding another job when I was young," the young Yang says. "However, my father told me about the status quo of woodblock paintings. As his son, I felt the responsibility on my shoulders."

His father was very strict.

"I work eight to nine hours per day," the young Yang says.

To the Yang family, although modern printing techniques have boosted efficiency, the traditional craft and the spirit are beyond comparison.

"The craft is sacred to me," says Yang Luoshu.

Nevertheless, the old Yang realizes that something must be changed to ensure handmade New Year paintings live on.

"We are now thinking about development, allowing the prints to be more creative," he says.

Apart from making wall calendars and thread-bound booklets, they have also put local stories in their work.

"We have dug out traditional fairy tales and put them in our paintings, so that our Chinese culture could also be appreciated," the father said.

"The craft will live on. Of that I'm pretty sure," says the son.

Xinhua

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2018-02-03 06:40:32
<![CDATA[Adding crunch to the winter table]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639377.htm Our garden has gone gray and silent. The first frosts have arrived, and our trees have been stripped bare by the gusty north winds. Only the wintergreen hedge is still dark green, although even the foliage has been dulled by the cold.

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Jars of pickles by Liubiju, a Beijing pickle maker that is more than 400 years old.Provided to China Daily

When the first frosts arrive and the garden turns bare, it's time to get all in a pickle

Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

Our garden has gone gray and silent. The first frosts have arrived, and our trees have been stripped bare by the gusty north winds. Only the wintergreen hedge is still dark green, although even the foliage has been dulled by the cold.

In a hidden corner, the last radishes are braving the weather, but they, too, will be harvested almost immediately.

My husband has gone to the neighborhood market and come back with a good haul of vegetables for pickles. Every year, we make huge vats of pickles - crisp crunchy varieties that will see us through the entire season.

They are perfect as side dishes for mutton hotpots or table barbecues, and are good palate cleansers after too much meat.

Earlier, our ayi had already put aside a big urn of salted brown mustard greens, a slightly tart pickle called xuelihong. This is delicious cooked with lean meat and noodles, and great for when ayi makes her hand-cut noodles.

We buy about 10 kilograms of the fresh vegetables because they shrink during pickling and in the dehydration process.

Ayi hangs them out to dry on the clothesline for a day or two before sprinkling salt on them and stuffing them into the jar.

Xuelihong keeps its bright green color even after pickling and is a wonderful addition to our winter diet when glasshouse greens are so expensive.

My husband likes preserving radishes as well, and he also makes Sichuan-style pickles.

The radishes are large, fat and very sweet right about now. Apart from the common white radish or daikon, there are also green fruit radishes and rotund watermelon radishes.

Beijingers love raw radishes, lightly skinned and cut into chunks. These are dipped into the sweet bean sauce normally associated with Peking duck and eaten like fruit.

Radish pickles are simply radishes salted to get rid of excess water, then macerated in vinegar and sugar and flavored with cloves of garlic and a few red peppers.

My favorite is the delightfully named watermelon radish, a large, green-skinned root the size of a small football with a lovely magenta center. It is named xinlimei in Chinese - "beautiful heart".

Pickled in apple cider vinegar with raw sugar and crushed garlic, it can be really addictive.

My spouse likes the green outer skin, which is very crisp when pickled. The secret is to cut the radish so that every slice includes a little strip of rind.

The other pickle we like making in winter is the Sichuan paocai, seasoned with red peppers and prickly ash berries. There is no vinegar in this pickle, which depends purely on natural fermentation.

We use an assortment of hand-torn Beijing cabbage, sliced carrots, beans, celery stems and radishes. These are placed in a glass jar, and cooled boiled water is poured in to completely cover the vegetables.

Ginger slices, garlic, red peppers and Sichuan peppercorns also go in, and the jar is covered and placed next to the radiator to hasten the process. A few days later, when tiny bubbles appear inside the jar, we know the pickling process has started. It takes about a week more for the flavors to fully develop.

After that, the pickle jar goes outdoors so the cold will keep it fresh.

Sichuan pickles are tart and spicy, but it is the texture that makes them so good. The cabbage chunks squeak when you bite into them, and the carrots and celery stalks stay crisp while retaining their natural flavors.

Korean-style kimchi is also popular in our house. This makes use of the giant Napa cabbages that are dirt-cheap in winter, as well as garlic chives, radishes and carrots. I like kimchi because it can be eaten at all stages.

Fresh, it has a crisp crunch that allows you to enjoy the sweetness of the vegetables. Matured, the fullness of flavor from the fermenting vegetables combines with the spicy chili flakes to make it an appetizing treat.

Old kimchi, too tart to eat on its own, is beautiful cooked in soups and stews.

Just one whole cabbage can last us all winter.

Winter pickles are a Beijing tradition that stems from the frugality of the past, when food was scarce and housewives scrambled to make the best of what they had.

Often, the best they had was what they planted in pots in the hutong or cheap vegetables when enjoying a glut. It is a disappearing tradition, as living standards escalate and modern logistics and horticultural practices improve.

But pickles are both delicious and healthy, and the art of making them should definitely be preserved.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-03 06:39:47
<![CDATA[Pickled Delights]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639376.htm Watermelon radish pickles

Ingredients

1 large watermelon radish (or substitute 1 white radish)

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 liter white vinegar

300g rock sugar, crushed

1-2 chili peppers, optional

6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

Directions

Lightly peel the watermelon radish. Keep as much of the green skin on as you can. Cut into half, then into quarters. Cut each quarter into two wedges, then use a rolling cut to slice off pieces so each has a thin green rind attached.

Salt the cut watermelon radish and leave to drain. Rinse off with cold boiled water after 15 minutes.

While the salted radish is draining, combine the vinegar and rock sugar and warm till sugar melts. Cool.

Place watermelon radishes, chili and garlic into a large glass jar and pour the cooled pickling liquid over it. Cap and keep in the refrigerator. It will be ready to eat after 24 hours.

Northern Chinese kimchi

Ingredients

1 napa cabbage, cut into four, hard core removed

Pickling mix:

1 small radish, two carrots, shredded

1 apple, grated

1 Chinese pear, grated

1 bunch chives, cut into 2-cm lengths

1 cup chili flakes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 tablespoons fish sauce

Directions

Soak the napa cabbage quarters in salted water. The water should taste like seawater. Weigh down the cabbages so they stay submerged for a day.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the pickling mix.

Drain the cabbage wedges thoroughly. Use a salad spinner to help get rid of excess water. Otherwise, lay them on a sieve to drain thoroughly.

Cover the cabbage leaves with pickling mix, making sure to get in between every leaf. When you finish with one quarter, roll it up tightly into a ball, using the large outer leaves to secure it. Tuck it into a glass jar or a deep plastic tub.

Repeat until you finish all the wedges. If there is extra pickling mix, pour it into the tub or jar. Allow to mature three days in a warm environment or one week in the refrigerator.

Fresh kimchi can be eaten the same day, but it will taste more like a spicy salad. As for kimchi that has been forgotten too long, try adding it to soups, stews or even a bowl of noodles and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

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2018-02-03 06:39:47
<![CDATA[Eat Beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639375.htm 1 Authentic Japanese yakiniku

Kobe Arkato, a restaurant that features authentic Japanese yakiniku, or barbecue, has opened in Gemdale Plaza in the Central Business District of Beijing.

Yakiniku differs to other styles of barbecue in that the meat is not marinated beforehand. Rather, it is freshly cut and coated with a special sauce just before it is served. Some parts of the meat are only seasoned by a pinch of salt to highlight the natural flavor of fresh meat.

Kobe Arkato says it imports whole chunks of Australian wagyu beef and selects only the high rib part where the flesh is tender and juicy, and the fat and lean tissues are intermixed in a perfect balance, so that each cut reveals clear-patterned beautiful marbling. Before serving, the meat is coated with a special sauce made from Japanese soy sauce, then grilled to medium-well done, making the meat slightly burnt on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Kobe Arkato offers buffet-style yakiniku with unlimited meat and seafood such as marble steak, beef tongue, streaky beef, pork neck, prawn grilled with salt and a variety of side dishes with free refill such as seaweed, sea matsutake, tamagoyaki, grilled shishamo and even sushi platters, as well as daily limited six-share grilled salmon head.

All the above costs 128 yuan ($20) per person for lunch and 168 yuan per person for dinner.

Kobe Arkado Yakiniku Restaurant L309, third floor, 91, Gemdale Plaza, Chaoyang district, Beijing 010-8571-2337

2 Aye by Meeting Someone

Bizarre and quirky, artistic and full of wow factors, all these descriptions apply to the second branch of the restaurant Meeting Someone, which goes by the name "Aye by Meeting Someone".

The first venue near Qianmen that opened barely 12 months ago is still humming along, and on any day there you are bound to spot people waiting in a long line for tables. Aye by Meeting Someone, in its soft opening, is in Langyuan Vintage Creative Art Zone, in the Central Business District of Beijing. A visit to this restaurant is an eye-opener, the exterior and interior designs are likely to enthrall you even before your taste buds are tingled.

From the alien facade: a brick-wall is sculpted in a shape resembling waves on a lake, and the spherical black door made of glass and metal that sits in the center of the front brick wall is made to look like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland that takes you from reality to illusion; or else it can be associated with the stone that sets off waves on the lake.

Inside is a surprisingly large two-level dining space, the first floor looking to be a hidden speakeasy-style eatery in the United States during the Prohibition era. The second floor features an opera house ambience for the main dining area. On this floor, too, three private rooms are decked out in a tagine shape in three colors: pink, blue and red.

Novelty is found not only in the decor but the dishes as well. Aye by Meeting Someone features creative Italian and Spanish cuisine. Its bacon and chocolate pizza (88 yuan) won me over, heart and stomach. The marriage of bacon and chocolate on the pizza brings an enchantingly luscious taste and texture. The pastries are outstanding. Try the traditional salted butter cake (68 yuan), the ultra-flaky and crisp Napolean cake (68 yuan). We hear that the pastry chef used to be at the Ritz-Carlton Beijing, so it is little wonder the confectioneries are especially good.

Daily 11 am-2.30 pm; 5.30-10 pm

15 Langyuan Vintage, 6 Langjiayuan, Chaoyang District

010-8589-2655

3 Spring Festival special menu

To celebrate the Year of the Dog, two special menus have been prepared at the modern Chinese restaurant Huang Ting from Feb 15 to 20 with the Ji Xiang menu priced at 988 yuan per person, and the Ru Yi menu priced at 1,588 yuan per person. Both packages include free flow of imported red wine, Chinese wine, local beer and soft drinks. This restaurant is decorated like a traditional noble's house in a courtyard-style setting that adds to the experience for a traditional family get-together at festive season. To tease the taste buds, there will be appetizers such as roasted suckling pig, baked river eel in osmanthus sauce and drunken chicken with huandiao wine. Main dishes will include abalone soup, fish maw, steamed garoupa fish with soy sauce and bird's nest in sweetened almond cream. For dessert, there will be deep-fried sesame balls with custard paste or sweetened black sesame dumplings.

Feb 15-20, serving dinner only, 6-10 pm

LL2, 8 Goldfish Lane, Wangfujing, Beijing

010-6510-6757

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2018-02-03 06:39:47
<![CDATA[Grains, leaves & the power of humor]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639374.htm Wearing black-framed glasses, a T-shirt and jeans, Shi Laoban comes across as the boy next door, the one you run into on the street who is full of curiosity about life and keen to tell you about his latest discoveries - whether you want to hear about them or not.

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With a mindset that favors the reserved thinking of the collective, some reckon that Chinese have traditionally found it difficult to laugh at themselves. Four decades after the country began opening up to the world, that seems to have changed

Wearing black-framed glasses, a T-shirt and jeans, Shi Laoban comes across as the boy next door, the one you run into on the street who is full of curiosity about life and keen to tell you about his latest discoveries - whether you want to hear about them or not.

"My WeChat Moments are flooded with two things," he tells the audience.

"One is kids and the other is about selling foreign products. So to grab everyone's attention I'm planning on selling kids."

After Shi delivers the punchline, the audience is rolling in the aisles. He pauses and waits for the laughter to die down.

That humor may not quite be your cup of tea, but it seems to have done no harm to Shi, one of a growing number of Chinese comics riding the wave of stand-up mania in China, headlined in an hour-long show last year.

He won first prize in the China International Comedy Festival in 2016, giving him attention and fame on which he has since been able to trade. As a result he quit what most people would consider a desirable job in finance and founded Danliren, a stand-up comedy club in Beijing.

"I've done sketches, crosstalk and drama, but eventually realized that stand-up comedy was my thing," Shi says. "In sketches and drama you play other people, and crosstalk has fixed scripts and routines, whereas with stand-up comedy you can really express yourself to the hilt.

"You draw inspiration from personal observations of life and then create jokes. It's very free. Every point of view is true to you. On stage the idea is just to be yourself."

Nearly 40 years after the country began opening up to the world, Chinese have become increasingly open to other kinds of art and entertainment, too, and humor is no exception. Stand-up comedy captured the national imagination in 2010 on the back of the success of Mr Zhou Live Show, a Chinese television live show hosted by stand-up comedian Zhou Libo, and the performance by the Jilin-born humorist Joe Wong at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington.

A couple of years later the Tonight 80's Talk Show began airing on Dragon TV. Since then, a comic style that at first seemed rather alien to the country has grown roots and now seems more like a part of the natural landscape.

As a result, television comedy shows such as Jin Xing Show and online comedy shows such as Roast have not only won over a legion of hard-bitten fans but have maintained high viewer ratings as well.

Shi, now wearing his "Serious" cap, says: "Although stand-up comedy was born in the West, I reckon that was by pure accident. For example, when it was decided to add taste to water, Westerners added grains while we added leaves. That's why they prefer beer and we love tea. It's like crosstalk and stand-up comedy. The form of humor is randomly picked.

"However, Chinese stand-up comedy is different to its Western counterpart. The humor really is different. Chinese love playing with words while Americans go for twists of logic. But personal style is still paramount. I am unlike anyone, be they American, Chinese or anyone else."

As more and more Chinese take to stand-up comedy, either doing it or watching it, Shi is one of the fortunate few talented enough to be able to make a living from it. However, waiting in the wings are many others who, even if they cannot give up their day jobs yet, are good enough to put on performances that can leave audiences in stitches.

One of them is Xiao Wu, 27, one of the few women in Beijing's expanding stand-up comedy circuit, who continues to practice comedy on the side. Much of the serious part of her life takes place in the office of finance at a university, where she works as an accountant, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Over the past three years she has done more than 100 public shows at venues including bars, pubs and colleges. These shows usually attract an audience of between 50 and 70 people, whom she regales with her take on university life and the life of a single person.

She puts on two shows a week, from each of which she will earn between 200 yuan and 300 yuan (about $38).

"Obviously you cannot live on that kind of money, so I cannot afford to quit my job," she says. "Another reason is the pressure from my parents and peers. My parents have the highest expectations of me and want me to lead a stable, decent life."

However, because she cannot give fulltime attention to her humor, she says, she is unable to refine her jokes to the extent that she would like, or even create new ones. This means that she only infrequently updates her content, and formulating and refining a really good joke can take months, she says.

But finding the time to come up with big jokes may be the least of Xiao's problems. Chinese culture has long favored the collective and common effort to the individual and competition, which means that airing personal perspectives, particularly heartfelt ones, does not come naturally or easily. However, under the influence of the stand-up comedians, that may be slowly changing.

Xi Jiangyue, founder of the capital's biggest stand-up comedy club, Beijing Talk Show Club, says: "While many do comedy on the side, the rapidly expanding audiences for it suggest that many see stand-up as an outlet for self-expression, in the same way that social media is.

"We Chinese were not in the habit of expressing ourselves much.

"We all have a desire to express ourselves, and I think comedy has become so popular in China because it gives voice to those who were once voiceless."

Contact the writer at sashatsui@ruc.edu.cn

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2018-02-03 06:39:25
<![CDATA[The secret life of a shadow in the spotlight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639373.htm Quiet, introverted and timid in front of strangers, twice a week she decides to hop out of her cozy cocoon, and the person who emerges, commanding center stage, is a performer named Xiao Wu, a rare woman in the tough world of Beijing stand-up comedy.

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An accountant who twice a week sheds her own persona and becomes someone else

Quiet, introverted and timid in front of strangers, twice a week she decides to hop out of her cozy cocoon, and the person who emerges, commanding center stage, is a performer named Xiao Wu, a rare woman in the tough world of Beijing stand-up comedy.

"I don't force people to understand this part-time job," Xiao says. "I just want to do what I like and keep it low key."

Xiao, 27, who holds down a nine-to-five job as an accountant for a university, is a graduate of China's leading university of finance and economics, Central University of Finance and Economics. Several years ago she took up the university post, a job offering an urban Beijing hukou (household registration certificate), good salary and ideally loose schedule.

"You may well discover that in your job you are not realizing your true potential," Xiao says, adding that she has long yearned for something more meaningful than a desk job.

"It may end up being a lot different to what you imagined when you graduated from school."

She reckons she is more humorous than her peers, whom she always makes laugh.

So she decided that with her humor she should start getting serious, and her first plan was to be a gag writer.

"When the Chinese sketch comedy series Diors Man went viral, I thought it would be cool to write jokes for a comedy like that," she says.

However, a campus comedy tour changed her mind.

"Like most Chinese people, I confused stand-up comedy with talk shows, and I went to see the show." There were 14 stand-up comedians, including Dashan, China's most Mandarin-fluent foreigner. The show was such a success that she decided to try doing a routine herself, signing up for an open mic event in early 2015.

The one-week preparation and five-minute debut ended up as an utter flop, with deafening silence from the audience, but she decided to press on.

"I gave myself 10 tries, which was a lot."

She honed the materials, and her second performance was better. Some people laughed. By the third time, almost every gag worked out, and she then received an invitation to perform from Beijing Talk Show Club.

Since then she has done more than 100 commercial shows at various venues, including bars, pubs and colleges. There is usually an audience of 50 to 70 people who come and listen to her observations on life.

"I'm after meaningful lines. Laughing is a physical reaction but I hope those in the audience laugh out loud in a heartfelt way."

As one of the few women in the lineup in Beijing she now has three years' experience, but her quiet reserve means that her onstage antics are unknown to many of those who are closest to her.

"Few of my friends know I'm a comic actress, and in fact my parents don't even know."

She is jealous of her privacy, requesting that for this article only her stage name be used, and asks show hosts not to reveal the identity of her employer, for fear that someone from the university will be in the audience and her secret will be exposed.

"In her, quietness and humor walk side-by-side," says Xi Jiangyue, founder of Beijing Talk Show Club. "That's her edge. She cracks great jokes and calmly waits for the reaction."

Xiao herself believes that her reserved nature may be a powerful ingredient that contributes to her success.

"Perhaps timidity enables me to observe life more deeply," she says.

However, as with most live performers in any genre, nervousness is a constant in her routine.

"I've performed more than 100 times, and I still get nervous at times."

An audience member once complimented her on her smooth delivery and the power of her jokes, "but you are just too nervous", he said.

"Making an audience laugh is not like doing sports," Xiao says. "It isn't relaxing; it's challenging."

Asked if she would like to be a full-time comedian and paid quite a bit more, she replies that she definitely would. The earnings from each gig she does now are modest, between 200 yuan and 300 yuan (about $38), and Xiao has her feet firmly on the ground, saying she never dreams of fame and fortune.

"I am happy doing what I am interested in, and that's enough."

For the moment comedy "just makes life a little more precious".

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2018-02-03 06:39:25
<![CDATA[When laughter is no laughing matter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639372.htm Xi Jiangyue has one of the hardest jobs of the evening. As show host he has to break the ice with what may be a demanding audience, lulling them into the right mood for the comedians who will appear later. After the pleasantries come the inevitable gags.

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A comedian reflects on how his craft is faring in China, and he is not amused

Xi Jiangyue has one of the hardest jobs of the evening. As show host he has to break the ice with what may be a demanding audience, lulling them into the right mood for the comedians who will appear later. After the pleasantries come the inevitable gags.

"I went to this barber once. He said to me, 'Giving you a trim is exhausting work. It's like mowing grass in the desert. I run all over the place, but anywhere I look I can't find a single patch of growth. I'm having a hell of a hard job.'"

As the laughter dies down, a shallow smile settles on bald Xi's face, and from the front row you can almost hear his eyes, shouting out that he really is not enjoying this.

"I don't want to do stand-up comedy myself and I don't want to try other forms of comedy," Xi, a well-known comedian and founder of Beijing Talk Show Club, the biggest stand-up comedy club in Beijing, says later.

"For me comedy has become a bore, which is why I now only host shows.

"A lot of money has poured into stand-up comedy in the past few years, and now comedians don't think the way they used to. In fact, the best performers seem to have disappeared."

Xi sees 2013 as a watershed year, one in which comedians dazzled the Chinese performing world with their brand-new content and completely different style.

Like these new arrivals, Xi saw bright lights on the horizon. After graduating from a university in Gansu province he started businesses in the wholesaling, decorating and logistics industries.

One after another, his companies went bankrupt, and he eventually decided to do something completely different. Since his days as a high school student he had been an admirer of stand-up comedy, and in 2010 he traveled to Beijing aiming to pour his enthusiasm into a new enterprise.

He and a partner founded the club, which would eventually have 48 screenwriters and 60 performers and organize more than 4,000 gigs, sometimes as many as five a week, over seven years.

"I'll engage all kinds of comics, polite or rude, decent or obscene, as long as they can make people laugh," Xi says. "One of the club's principles is originality. Comics aren't allowed to lift stuff from the internet."

However, from a commercial perspective coming up with new material can be problematic, he says.

"There are some people in an audience who don't like new jokes because there's little resonance, and they just don't work. At times we comedians have become a bunch of oddballs rabbiting on about inconsequential guff that nobody really cares about."

As if Xi thinks you have not cottoned on to the fact that he is disillusioned, he then gripes about how Chinese stand-up comedy has become distorted in the way it has grown because money has become more important than performances and many of those in the industry have become greedy.

"The industry really has not come of age. I have not seen one Chinese performer who has hit the mark."

Chinese stand-up comedians lag their foreign competitors by at least 10 years, he says.

"Our performers are tied up making money rather than honing their craft, let alone creating new jokes."

Xi also attributes the poverty of Chinese stand-up comedy to culture, saying that in a country in which the collective spirit prevails, it is difficult for a one-person show to prosper.

He cites the roast, a form of stand-up comedy, as an example.

"The roast, as a forum for critiquing and poking fun at people, does not sit well in China because our culture is that of the gentleman rather than the critic."

Then, as if to convince you that he really is not having fun, Xi says:

"Stand-up comedy in China is meaningless. It's just something to help people relax."

Xi's often somber view of his industry contrasts sharply with the bouncy optimism of one of his rivals, the highly successful comedian Shi Laoban, with whom he often crosses paths as they sell their wares.

"I'm really upbeat," Shi says.

"I reckon this business will soon be turning a good profit."

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2018-02-03 06:39:25
<![CDATA[Belichick and Brady just keep rolling]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/02/content_35634784.htm MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Only two months had passed, so there was no way Bill Belichick had already forgotten the Patriots had hoisted their second Lombardi Trophy in three years when New England opened minicamp in April.

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'Non-human' coach and ageless quarterback have Patriots primed

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - Only two months had passed, so there was no way Bill Belichick had already forgotten the Patriots had hoisted their second Lombardi Trophy in three years when New England opened minicamp in April.

"You would have thought we went 2-14," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said of the edge with which Belichick facilitated the team's first practice together after winning the Super Bowl over the Atlanta Falcons last February. "He was ripping us apart."

Accountability drives the bus in New England, and Belichick has his foot on the gas pedal.

The 65-year-old coach hands out position-specific checklists corresponding to his game plan. Players are quizzed in position meetings and in front of the team if Belichick gets the urge.

Game week is as much academic as anything.

Every alignment the Patriots might use in Sunday's Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles and the team's propensity to run certain plays from that set will be engrained in New England's defense well before the team takes a group photo at US Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Belichick's preparation defines the Patriots.

"He takes nothing for granted," said wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who is in his first season with the Patriots after an offseason trade from the New Orleans Saints.

"I've got a lot of respect for coach Belichick. He prepares for every game like it's his last."

McCourty, a team captain since his second season in the NFL, said there is never a fear Belichick will leave well enough alone.

There's no such thing as a perfect game. And you won't have to ask Belichick to be told as much if you're one of his 53 players.

"He keeps our sense of urgency high," McCourty said. "A lot of it, that's just him. The love for the game."

Is human nature not a factor for Belichick?

"I think he's non-human," McCourty quipped. "I don't know what tests we need to run, but he's probably not."

Belichick gently rolled back multiple questions on Wednesday afternoon.

Typical responses, such as "I'm not giving away our game plan" and "my focus is on Sunday night," dominated his monotone.

Media might be sensitive to Belichick's stance in the sessions, but his players see a pretty similar posture.

McCourty said the treatment in the captain's meetings, where he joins 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady and 32-year-old receiver Matthew Slate, is no different than it would be for a room full of rookies.

Former and current assistants rave, but fail to put into words and context, Belichick's genius.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who broke into the NFL as an assistant and scout under Belichick with the Cleveland Browns in 1993, said on Wednesday it was "an absolute total football education".

Schwartz said Belichick "coaches everyone - every single person - in the building".

Every granular detail has importance, and Belichick demands of every staff member to make sure the coach gets to determine the significance of each item.

"Everyone understood - get on the same page, there is only one direction. And Bill set that direction," Schwartz said. "He makes it clear with his philosophy."

Twenty-five years later, Belichick is still dictating as scouts chart the width of offensive line splits, asking them to equate the information to play selection.

Even if the Patriots add a sixth Lombardi Trophy since 2002 on Sunday night, McCourty knows the celebration can only last so long around Belichick.

"Bill says it all the time," McCourty said. "There's a lot of hot air outside the building but if you want the truth, come to the 8 am meeting."

Do the math

Meanwhile, three days before Super Bowl LII, Brady faces a challenge that has nothing to do with the Eagles.

The five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback has a math problem.

With the game in Minnesota - where Brady's mom hails from and several other relatives reside - he's received more game-day ticket requests than ever before.

"It's very special. Every time I've been back to Minnesota, I've had such great support from my family," Brady said on Thursday.

"I'm trying to accommodate everybody. Some of my greatest memories as a kid were coming here and hanging out, milking cows with my grandpa ... shooting his .22 in the backyard, catching sunfish with my uncle."

But Brady said he'll be completely dialed in by the time he's handed the ball against the Eagles on Sunday.

"This isn't a week for me to go out and do much else other than football," Brady said, noting he has changed the way he prepares in this his eighth Super Bowl appearance.

"I definitely think it's different than even a few years ago. I'm much more efficient. I know what I need to do in order to get myself mentally prepared.

"Now, I don't think there are any wasted moments in the day. I spend a lot of time watching film. If it's physical, I know how to prepare myself."

Brady referred to the Eagles as the best team New England has faced all season. The Pats were on the practice field earlier in the day and had a final workout scheduled for Friday.

Brady was gloveless in practice and did not cover his right hand at the media conference.

The look was a departure for Brady, who has covered his throwing hand since sustaining a laceration four days before the AFC Championship Game. The injury required 12 stitches.

Brady said he was "just trying to protect it the best way I can. It's obviously an important part of my body as a quarterback." One topic he hasn't spent energy on this week is the notion he might soon retire.

"Why does everyone want me to retire so bad? I don't get it. I'm still having a lot of fun," he said.

"The team's winning. I know I'm a little bit older than most of the guys. This has been obviously a dream come true many times over.

"I've always wanted to play to my mid-40s. We'll see.

"This is such a physical sport. Every game could be your last game."

Associated Press

 

 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick will be gunning for their sixth NFL championship together when the Pats square off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]

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2018-02-02 07:25:40
<![CDATA[Long looks past big paychecks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/02/content_35634783.htm

Chris Long spent the NFL season playing for nothing - but a second Super Bowl ring in as many seasons would be more than adequate compensation for the hulking Philadelphia Eagles defensive end.

The 32-year-old veteran made headlines this year by giving away his entire $1 million salary to worthy causes, a way of expressing gratitude for a decade in the bruising front lines of the NFL.

The articulate 6-foot-3 lineman is back in the Super Bowl for a second straight year, 12 months after winning the title with the New England Patriots, who he will line up against on Sunday. As well as his salary giveaway, Long has also been a vocal supporter of Eagles teammates who have protested against social injustice this season.

Just as he did last year following the Patriots win, he has already vowed not to attend a White House reception should the Eagles win, in protest of President Donald Trump.

"Everybody wants to improve their country," Long told reporters in Minneapolis on Wednesday. "And athletes have a big platform, so at the end of the day I think we have a responsibility.

"I've been lucky, played 10 years and made a lot of money. So I make no bones about it. I'm not the first guy to give away a million dollars to a cause. There's a lot of charitable guys in the league, and a lot of charitable guys outside the league.

"But the cool thing is that with social media I have a unique opportunity to get more people involved, and that's what I did this year. I doubled my investment through fans, businesses."

Topped up by matching donations, Long has raised just under $2 million for charities. His first six game checks went towards creating two scholarships at a private school in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The money will provide two students with seven years of all-expenses-paid tuition.

AFP

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2018-02-02 07:25:40
<![CDATA[Forum preps women for career opportunities in gridiron]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/02/content_35634782.htm ORLANDO, Florida - Phoebe Schecter struck gold at the Women's Careers in Football Forum last year as one of 22 women who found jobs or internships in American football, which is often viewed as a notoriously macho world.

Now, she returns to Florida for the second edition of the two-day event, set up by Canadian Samantha Rapoport, a former women's pro quarterback with ambitions to hold a coaching position with an NFL franchise in England.

The forum was created by Rapoport to level the playing field and open doors for qualified women to enter the workforce of the most popular pro sport in America.

Schecter, who coaches men's and women's tackle football in Britain, works with youth programs and captains the national team, emerged from last year's inaugural forum with a training camp coaching internship with the Buffalo Bills that led to a season coaching at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

Now working to grow the game for NFL UK, Connecticut native Schecter wants to continue to advance in coaching and dreams of an NFL franchise in London, with British players and a homegrown female coach working on the sidelines.

"That would be incredible. Shall we just slide in the resume now? We can all dream," Schecter said at the NFL-sponsored forum on Friday.

"There's lot going on in American football over there, especially the huge deal with Tottenham (Hotspur) having the three (NFL) games consecutively there. The sport is about to explode."

Rapoport, now NFL director of football development, has spent much of her career dedicated to getting more women involved in the game.

"We wanted to create a bridge between females who have a strong passion for football but don't have the same connections to football that men have," she said.

"Have them interact with executives that strongly believe in the power of diversity and who believe that if you can help me win, I don't care what you look like or who you are."

Encouraging dreams

For a league challenged by falling TV ratings, concerns over players' health, safety and behavior, and the controversy over those kneeling during the US national anthem, encouraging women to pursue their football dreams sounds a positive note.

This year's event included high-profile speakers such as NFL Human Resources chief Tara Wood, NFL senior vice-president of football operations Dave Gardi, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli and Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren.

Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie and Toronto Argonauts director of football operations Catherine Raiche also participated, along with Stanford University head coach David Shaw and Bryant University's James Perry.

Nine candidates had international connections including two from Britain, four Canadians and one each from Germany, Panama and Australia.

Any worries over entering an inhospitable macho world were dispelled by the natural meritocracy of the gridiron, the women said.

"I was expecting it to be overwhelming but it wasn't," Ohio's Stephanie Balochko, a defensive coordinator and player for the US women's national team, said about her coaching internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I worked with the defensive line and eventually I ran some film sessions.

"Football is football. All the players have been wonderful. I didn't run into any attitudes."

Misconception

Rapoport disputed the notion that the NFL is a bastion of male chauvinists.

"There is a misconception about the attitudes of people on our clubs," she said.

"Executives believe in the best person for the job. Forty-five percent of our fan base are women. Women love the sport here. Why in the world would they not work in it?"

While numerous women have thrived in business positions with clubs, they have been under-represented on the sidelines, Rapoport said.

"There are so many women in this country who know football. We're opening the door a little wider."

Other pro sports leagues have taken notice.

"We've had many conversations with Major League Baseball, the Canadian Football League and off-the-cuff conversations with all the major leagues," Rapoport said.

"We're working very closely with MLB to combine efforts to start to change the culture in sports in America."

Reuters

 

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2018-02-02 07:25:40
<![CDATA[Michele knows the score when it comes to sideline preparation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/02/content_35634781.htm

In 1993, Michele Tafoya was a 28-year-old sports talk radio host in the heart of US college basketball country.

A propensity for fearlessly forecasting game results earned her a devoted following, and before long she gained a reputation as one of the best-prepared hosts in the business.

Making sure she knows what she's talking about has been the driving force behind Tafoya's rise to sideline reporter for NBC at Sunday's Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in Minnesota.

Tafoya hails from the Twin Cities area, and still calls it home with her husband, a 12-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter.

"Michele usually knows a lot more about what's going on more than we do, because she talks with so many different players through the course of the week," NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said.

"You can tell by the level of respect that the players and coaches have for her. It's a difficult job."

Asking questions of coaches and players in real time on the field amid the intense NFL atmosphere with millions of viewers critiquing word choice, speaking style and wardrobe is a daunting assignment.

As is working in the professional sports environment as a woman - a glass ceiling that Tafoya has helped smash with predecessors such as Lesley Visser and contemporaries such as Suzy Kolber.

"I don't think I have to fight it anymore. I've been doing this long enough," Tafoya said on Wednesday in Bloomington. "You do this long enough, and people start to trust you. It was tough for quite a while the first few years, but that's why I always felt like I had to prepare like crazy.

"I've never been one of those 'I am woman, hear me roar' kind of people. I'm more about being a professional. I'm going to do my job. I'm going to do it to the best of my ability.

"I don't care if you're a man or a woman. Just do the job."

Associated Press

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2018-02-02 07:25:40
<![CDATA[Recording the changes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/01/content_35626840.htm When you talk about China's contributions to human development, the first response of many is gunpowder and paper. Or, maybe mobile payment channels and high-speed trains in the modern age. But is that all?

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Top and above: The 500meter aperture spherical radio telescope, or the FAST, installed in Qiannan, Guizhou province, and a factory making ultrathin sheet glass for digital devices in Anhui province, are among many examples from the recent documentary China Reinvents Itself that shows the country’s innovation in science and technology. Photos provided to China Daily

The six-episode TV documentary China Reinvents Itself is a panoramic exploration of the country's evolving technology scene. Wang Kaihao reports.

When you talk about China's contributions to human development, the first response of many is gunpowder and paper. Or, maybe mobile payment channels and high-speed trains in the modern age. But is that all?

How do Chinese engineers, technicians and scientists make daily life better today?

After filming for one and a half years, a six-episode TV documentary China Reinvents Itself, which was premiered by China Central Television on Jan 22, tries to provide answers through a panoramic exploration of the country's technology scene.

Each episode of the series, which is also being aired through China's major online video platforms like Tencent and iQiyi, is 50 minutes long.

And the coproduction, made by the documentary channel of China Central Television and Shenzhen TV, focuses on six aspects: information technology, energy, manufacturing, bio-technology, space and marine exploration, as well as expectations for the future.

It is rated as high as 9.3 points of total 10 on douban.com, China's major TV and film critic website.

Shi Yan, the director, says: "Viewers may think that this is a scientific technology-themed documentary full of jargon, which is difficult to understand. But when we approach the frontline of scientific research, we follow individual stories, and trace how these researches are accepted by the market."

The documentary is about people's daily routines - from leading scientists of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to couriers who learn how to use delivery drones.

Referring to the people featured in the series, Shi says: "A country looking for scientific achievements and creativity is reflected in these faces, which are full of courage and passion. They pursue their dreams."

Some scenes are rarely seen by the public - like work on the development of an upcoming lunar probe Chang'e V at the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing; the installation of Hualong One (a nuclear reactor in Fujian province), and the "super microscope" in the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, are featured in the documentary.

Explaining the rationale for the documentary, Shi says: "Some people think that China is making products to cater to others' needs, while the United States is creating new trends for others to follow. So, we now want to show the world that China is also reinventing itself."

Cheng Bushi, an 88-year-old aerospace engineer, says the documentary will help change some stereotypes.

Cheng, who is on the expert panel designing the C919, China's homegrown narrow-body passenger jetliner, says: "We used to nurture good students like docile sheep. But as people endeavor to boost creativity - which is part of human nature - we are getting more dynamic."

The documentary also provides a snapshot of how the country has changed as China gears up to mark the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up.

One of the segments in the documentary is on Shenzhen, a metropolis in southern Guangdong province, which is probably the best reflection of the change.

Shenzhen grew from a small town near Hong Kong in 1978 to the third largest economy on the Chinese mainland last year, behind Shanghai and Beijing.

Stories of entrepreneurs from this city, including gene researchers, designers of robots and artificial intelligence engineers, are shown in the documentary.

The series also follows the entrepreneurs' journeys of achieving their goals while overcoming difficulties.

As for artificial intelligence, the documentary uses it to remember a deceased dubbing artist, according to Wang Tong, the sound producer of China Reinvents Itself.

The late Li Yi's voice was commonly heard in Chinese documentaries and he also contributed his voice to the Chinese version of many BBC documentaries.

Li, who died in 2013, was also famed for his Chinese dubbing for Squidward Tentacles in the American animated series SpongeBob SquarePants.

For the series, the producers worked with iFlyTech, an artificial intelligence company in Anhui province, to create Li's voice for the documentary.

It took three months to do the digital dubbing and postproduction, and the work was completed just two days before the premiere.

Speaking about the voice project, Wang says: "I think it is the best way to explain the phrase 'China reinvents itself'. And, it is also the best way to remember Li, my teacher."

According to Zhang Tongdao, a media professor at Beijing Normal University, China Reinvents Itself has done well to capture "facial expressions of this period".

Zhang adds: "The people, who help the advancement of society, give us new mindsets, and change our lifestyles, have the most representative facial expressions of our time. It's the duty of documentary producers to record them.

"It's not right for us to enjoy the convenience of technology, but forget how many difficulties are overcome by scientists.

"More productions like this should follow, to let the heroes be known to the public."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-01 07:59:43
<![CDATA[New Boonie Bears movie out this Spring Festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/01/content_35626839.htm

Boonie Bears, one of China's most successful animation franchises, is seeking to expand in overseas markets.

Its fifth feature-length installment, Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink, will be released in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and some other countries after Spring Festival.

The 90-minute comedy adventure movie is set to hit Chinese mainland theaters on the first day of the Chinese New Year, which will fall on Feb 16 this year.

Besides, American actress Beth Behrs, known to Chinese fans for the hit sitcom series 2 Broke Girls, will "play" a foreign biology enthusiast and voice her role in the movie's English version.

Chinese animators have used software to analyze her facial and body characteristics, creating an animated character who looks like her, according to the film's producers.

"I've heard about the Boonie Bears from my friends in China and how big the TV series is here. I have been really excited to play a role that cares about the environment," says Behrs, during a tour to promote the upcoming film in Beijing last week.

The original TV series on which the film is based is about two bears and a lumberjack.

The 32-year-old actress reveals the role is that of a brave woman who aims to stop a garbage dump into a river, and it echoes her own support to environmental protection.

The TV series, Boonie Bears, has been running on the country's largest broadcaster China Central Television since 2012. It has become one of the highest-rated children's shows in the country and has been developed into a popular franchise comprising the nine-season series, five movies and three stage shows.

Box-office statistics show the previous four movies have totally grossed 1.4 billion yuan ($221.5 million), and some parts of the TV series have been exported to more than 50 countries and regions, such as the United States, Turkey, South Korea, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, according to the news portal Sina.

Despite the franchise's popularity, it was once criticized by some Chinese viewers for showing violence and the use of dirty words by the main characters.

But the new movie seems to be attempting to shake off such criticism, with a shift from its previous focus on conflicts between the talking bears and their longtime human rival Vick, to one of reconciliation between the two sides.

Unfolding with an unexpected visit by Vick's father, who appears on the big screen for the first time, the new story is about how the father wants to compensate for his poor parenting earlier. But despite his best intentions, a series of misunderstandings ruin his relationship with Vick, who and the two bears then embark on a new adventure after they are actually shrunk by a machine.

Ding Liang, who has co-directed the movie with Lin Huida, says they hope the new movie would not only make the audience laugh, but also raise environmental awareness among parents.

In addition, Ding says, most Chinese fathers usually leave the parenting job to mothers. "We also want them to understand the significance of a father's role in a child's growing up."

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2018-02-01 07:59:43
<![CDATA[Animating the future of kid's cartoons]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/01/content_35626838.htm

As the father of an 8-year-old boy, Wang Lei has often sat alongside his son as he watched television cartoon programs.

But Wang, director of the Beijing-based animated studio Escape Velocity, was disappointed to discover that many domestic cartoons featured confrontational or violent sequences that seemed unfit for children and inappropriate for teenage audiences.

With a wish to tailor a heartwarming, healthy production for primary school students like his son, Wang began to conceive a script for a new animation in 2016.

Influenced by children's literature classics such as the Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and English writer Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Wang believes a children's story should be larger than life as well as reflecting the joys and sorrows of their daily routines.

"When I was penning the draft, my son had become fascinated with prehistoric creatures like the dinosaurs, and often asked me to read to him about them from encyclopedias," recalls the 40-year-old.

Those giant reptiles which once dominated the Earth but disappeared around 65 million years ago become the lead characters in Escape Velocity's upcoming animated series, Kim and Jim's Wormhole, which is aimed at viewers aged between 6 and 11 years old.

The first 22-minute installment of the 26-part animated sci-fi comedy series was highlighted at a recent event unveiling the lineup of forthcoming animated series by Escape Velocity and its parent company Jetavana Entertainment, a Beijing-based company with links to Hollywood.

Set in a northern Chinese city, Kim and Jim's Wormhole follows the daily lives of an 11-year-old sister and her 6-year-old brother, who discover a time-travel tunnel that sucks in a dozen prehistoric animals including a Tyrannosaurus rex and a mamenchisaurus to the present day.

But the story doesn't unfold as a thrilling adventure where the children try to send them back to the past, but instead centers on the joy and surprise that the unexpected arrivals bring to the children's daily lives.

The series was entered at several international festivals looking to elicit awards for best new concept, and was shortlisted by the 41st Ottawa International Animation Festival and at the animation competition at Singapore's Asian TV Film Forum & Market in 2017.

Unlike the majority of domestic titles that usually add English subtitles during postproduction, Kim and Jim's Wormhole employed a different approach to try and win a wider share of the domestic and overseas markets.

Top scriptwriting duo Dan and Nuria Wicksman, the couple behind the hit British animated series Thomas and Friends, were invited to be the story editors and screenwriters for the English version of the series.

"When we finish one story, we send the script to the English writers. If there are some local sequences that seem confusing to foreign audiences, we discuss them with the scriptwriters and make revisions until the storyline makes perfect sense," explains Wang.

Having taught animation as an associate professor at the Communication University of China for many years, Wang says foreign audiences are becoming increasingly interested in Chinese animation.

"They want to find out what is happening in modern China, and better understand its culture, food and landscapes," adds Wang.

The first season of Kim and Jim's Wormhole will wrap up production this fall, and is scheduled to air on television channels and major videostreaming websites in the winter.

South Korean character designer Kim Sung-jae is in charge of creating the animals' cartoon images, while Taiwan singer-songwriter Patrick Brasca, who sang the theme song for Kung Fu Panda 3 with Jay Chou, writes and performs the series' theme song, I Wanna Be with You.

Jetavana's founder Ivy Zhong, says the company - which also has subsidiaries in literature, stage shows and merchandising - will help develop the series into an enduring franchise.

"At present, the domestic animation industry has enjoyed great momentum in its development. Data shows that China has more than 200 million infants and children under the age of 14 years old. China represents a large and stable market for children's entertainment," says Zhong.

Besides Kim and Jim's Wormhole, Escape Velocity is also working on several animated series aimed at different age groups, including Wool Wool Town for children aged between 3 and 6, and superhero tale Panda Squad which is pitched at teenagers.

"We have a young team. Some of our animators are young parents. They not only want to make quality productions, but they also want to change the culture of cliche and bias," says Wang.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-01 07:59:43
<![CDATA[Mishu Magic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/01/content_35626837.htm Aamir Khan was in China last week to promote his latest Hindi film Secret Superstar. During his weeklong stay, first in Shanghai and then in Beijing, the Indian actor also found out that he has become a major celebrity in a country where Bollywood's reach has been traditionally limited.

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Above: Aamir Khan performs dance with Chinese actor Huang Bo at a Beijing event to promote his new movie Secret Superstar. Center: The Bollywood actor plays a supporting role as a quirky pop musician in Secret Superstar. Top: Khan’s Dangal is among the top movies of all time at the Chinese box office. Photos provided to China Daily

Indian actor Aamir Khan is sealing his major-celebrity status in China with cinema of social relevance. Satarupa Bhattacharjya reports.

Aamir Khan was in China last week to promote his latest Hindi film Secret Superstar. During his weeklong stay, first in Shanghai and then in Beijing, the Indian actor also found out that he has become a major celebrity in a country where Bollywood's reach has been traditionally limited.

Some local analysts compare his stardom in China to that of Hollywood actors Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Others wonder if Khan is an activist actor. Still others describe him as a feminist. The Chinese media seem to have settled for Mishu, or Uncle Aamir.

The surprising rise in popularity of the 52-year-old Bollywood star is owing to his cinema of social relevance that Chinese moviegoers don't get enough of from their own industry as well as his savvy marketing and China outreach. At more than 1 million, Khan has the most followers for an Indian on Sina Weibo, the country's Twitter-like platform.

Secret Superstar, a rare Indian film to be screened on a revenue-sharing basis in the world's second-largest movie market, had made more than 400 million yuan ($63 million) earlier this week. The story of a teenage Muslim girl's fight against ugly patriarchy to realize her dreams was released in China on Jan 19.

"This story is really about that struggle of achieving your dreams and never giving up on them," Khan said at an event for the film in Beijing on Jan 23.

Last year, his film Dangal, inspired by the real journey of an Indian wrestler through a conservative landscape to turn his daughters into world-class athletes, had made nearly 1.3 billion yuan.

Khan, who was born in the western Indian city of Mumbai, where Bollywood studios are located, began his career as a child actor in 1973.

"When I fall in love with the story" is how he gets drawn to a film script, Khan said at the same Beijing event.

Wearing a nose pin and ear rings while on his third China visit, his fans also caught a glimpse of Khan's look for his next venture, Thugs of Hindostan, which is expected to be released in November. The Hindi film is based on a book by an English author about a band of bandits challenging British rule in India in the 19th century.

The actor's local publicists did not respond to China Daily's request for an interview.

In 2011, Khan's work first got major attention from Chinese moviegoers with Three Idiots, which was released in India much earlier. A statement on India's orthodox education system, with parallels in China, the Hindi film resonated with the local audience. Film critics and fans alike recommended it to their friends.

The film also triggered an interest in China for Khan's youth-centric cinema.

Some film critics say the education systems, gender discrimination and domestic violence (that Secret Superstar shows) are among perceived similarities of social issues in India and China.

Chinese films have addressed social issues, too.

A Simple Life (2011) by Hong Kong director and actress Ann Hui on aging is critically acclaimed, as is Dearest (2014), on child kidnapping by her fellow filmmaker Peter Chan.

Last year, Vivian Qu's Angels Wear White, a film on sexual assault, made the international festival circuits from the mainland.

But some other socially relevant Chinese films have been "too literary", according to Jiang Yong, a Beijing-based film critic.

"Aamir Khan's films are more entertaining," Jiang says in the context of the genre.

"Chinese audiences appreciate his social responsibility as a filmmaker," he adds.

A series of "masterpieces" have made Khan an effective brand in China, in addition to his savvy marketing and film distribution.

The audience is also getting a bit bored with Hollywood films shown in China, according to Tan Fei, a filmmaker and film critic, who also lives in Beijing.

While it's still early to estimate if Hollywood's influence on the Chinese market is on the wane, the local audience's appetite for diverse cinema is definitely growing and that is helping Khan.

In future an upward revision of the annual 34-film quota for foreign cinema in China might help make domestic films more competitive, Tan says.

Khan's success is also significant from the standpoint of Sino-Indian relations that are often constrained by the longtime border dispute.

The two analysts see him as a key cultural link.

"He is the best choice for goodwill ambassador," Tan says.

But will China's affinity for Khan translate to more Indian films making it big at the box office?

"It may not be easy to actually open the market for Indian cinema, because Aamir Khan is by far the only exception," Jiang says.

Contact the writer at satarupa@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-01 07:59:43
<![CDATA[Domingo returns to Beijing stage with Thais]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/01/content_35626836.htm

"I rarely shave, except during my holidays. But for this role, it's perfect to keep my beard," Placido Domingo says at a recent interview at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

He's talking about his role as a monk named Athanael in the three-act opera, Thais, the first operatic production to be staged by the NCPA in 2018, running from Feb 2 to 6 at the venue.

"Athanael keeps walking through the harsh desert and I guess he has no way to shave," adds Domingo, who arrived in the capital in the early hours of Jan 27, before joining rehearsals later that same day.

Written by French composer Jules Massenet, and with the libretto adapted by fellow Frenchman and dramatist Louis Gallet, the opera was inspired by an old French novel by Anatole France, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1921.

The opera premiered in 1894 in Paris, and the story follows the journey of Athanael, who lives in 4th-century Alexandria, Egypt, and tries to convert a courtesan called Thais to Christianity, only to find himself succumbing to her charms.

This will be the fourth NCPA opera that Domingo has joined. The veteran Spanish singer has been performing in NCPA opera productions since 2010, including Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco and Macbeth.

"While expanding my repertoire, I have performed operas by composers from all around the world, such as Italian, Russian and German composers. Operas by French composers are among my favorites and Thais is one of the best operas in the world. It has some of the most beautiful arias," says 77-year-old Domingo, who is often described on the international stage as "the King of Opera" and has sung 148 roles in more than 3,900 performances.

Domingo, who has switched from tenor to baritone roles in the past few years, says that Athanael is a great role for baritone. That's why he loves performing the role again and again.

In 2014, he performed the role in the Los Angeles Opera's production of Thais. Later, he performed the role in other versions of Thais at the Salzburg Festival in 2016 and at the Barcelona opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, in 2017.

Patrick Fournillier, a Massenet specialist, who conducted the Los Angeles Opera's production of Thais in 2014, will take the baton for the NCPA production in Beijing by performing with the NCPA orchestra and chorus.

"For a long time, Thais was one of the most popular operas. But from the middle of the 20th century, it slowly sank into oblivion," said NCPA opera consultant Giuseppe Cuccia in an earlier interview with China Daily.

But in recent years, the work has witnessed a revival, with many major opera houses including it in their repertoire once again.

In the NCPA version, two sopranos - Ermonela Jaho from Albania and Davinia Rodriguez from Spain - will play the role of Thais. Both have collaborated with Domingo in other operatic productions.

"This is our first collaboration on Thais and every time I perform with Domingo, it's a magical moment. I have learned a lot from him, whether I'm singing or not," says Rodriguez at the NCPA.

The creative force behind the NCPA's version of Thais is Argentine director Hugo de Ana, who is also the production's set and costume designer. Chinese singers Li Yi, Zhang Wenwei and Dong Fang will also perform in the opera.

In 2012, Domingo also collaborated with the NCPA in the 20th edition of Operalia in Beijing, an annual international voice competition founded by Domingo in 1993 as a platform to help launch the careers of many of today's opera stars. Among its winners are Chinese soprano Sun Xiuwei and mezzo-soprano Yang Guang.

Speaking about the NCPA, Domingo says: "I want to salute the efforts and achievements that the NCPA have made over the past 10 years. As a young company, it has produced a wide repertoire with over 50 operas, which is amazing."

He also recalls that he performed in China about three decades ago and he was impressed by the regard the audiences held for music.

While working with major record companies, the singer also devotes his time to combating music piracy. Since 2011, he has been the honorary chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

"Now, the recording industry is facing many challenges, but they still mainly come from piracy. I hope China, with its huge audience and its love for music, will become a major power in the fight against global piracy in music," he says.

If you go

7 pm, Feb 2-6. 2 West Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6655-0000.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-01 07:59:43
<![CDATA[Gamers jump to Travel Frog]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620477.htm

A mobile game about an amphibian's wanderlust has become wildly popular among young Chinese. Xu Lin reports.

Zhou Xiaoli stares into her phone's screen and gently tells the frog it's bedtime.

"How long have you been reading this book?" she asks the amphibian.

"It's time to sleep."

Soon, Zhou's mother enters the room.

Mom, in turn, tells the girl "it's time to sleep".

The frog is a digital character from the Japanese mobile game Tabi Kaeru, or Travel Frog.

The game has been extremely popular among young Chinese, drawing comparisons to the sensational Pokemon Go and Tamagotchi phenomena of previous years.

"It's so much fun that I rush to put my frog to bed when my mom does the same to me," says the 28-year-old, who works in a foreign company in Beijing.

"It makes me feel like a mother, myself."

The game was released by Hit-Point Co Ltd, which also produced Neko Atsume:

Kitty Collector, a mobile game that became popular in China and the West in 2015.

Nearly 3.35 million Chinese had Travel Frog on their phones between Jan 10 and Jan 22, data company Jiguang.cn reports. It was downloaded 402,000 times in China on Jan 22 alone.

The frog is anthropomorphized.

He carries luggage as he tours Japan and snaps photos of scenic spots such as hot springs and brings back local delicacies like strawberries and milk.

Players collect clovers that serve as currency to buy food, camping supplies and magical amulets for the frog. They can wait for new clovers to grow or purchase them for between 6 yuan and 25 yuan (95 US cents and $3.95).

Zhou spent 50 yuan to purchase all the gear. So, her frog can experience more adventures, such as boating in a bowl. Zhou doesn't typically play games but fell for Travel Frog instantly.

The frog sometimes hangs out at home, reading, eating or making wooden handicrafts. Players never know when he'll set out again.

He may travel for a few hours or for up to four days. Gamers can only wait and pack his luggage. The only clues they have about his trips are the photos he sends from the road.

"The uncertainty (about what the frog will do) interests me," Zhou says.

"Even if in the same trip about one particular site, the photos are slightly different. For instance, sometimes, he's facing the camera. Sometimes, the shot is of the back of his head."

Zhou - like many players - worries about the frog when he travels for long periods of time. She often checks to see if he has returned or at least sent photos.

Her frog recently made a friend, to her delight. Two recent photos show the amphibian staring at a giant tree with a mouse.

"He's a cool frog," she explains.

"You can't control him. He has his own ideas and does whatever he likes. You can only pack his bags and observe him from afar. When I have a child, I'll treat him like this. I'll respect him as an individual and encourage him to make his own decisions.

"The frog is just like me. Playing the game is like viewing a reflection of part of myself."

Zhou enjoys traveling and often takes trips on her own.

She also decides to hit the road spontaneously. And she often buys postcards and local specialties.

Zhou felt a connection with the frog when she purchased postcards and snacks while visiting Fujian province's Xiamen recently.

She plans to visit the same Japanese destinations as her frog and take similar photos.

Players often share experiences.

"I want to know where the frog has been and what kind of photos he has sent back," 32-year-old Xiao Lixin says.

"I'll discuss it with friends. I've become that kind of so-called annoying mother, comparing my frog with others'. I worry when he travels. But when he's home, I wonder why he doesn't go out to have fun."

Players often see themselves in their frogs, she points out. For instance, hers likes delicious food.

Pan Jing, who studied in Japan for a year and now lives in Beijing, says: "It reflects the Japanese philosophy of living your own life and not bothering others. The frog isn't at all fussy. He can travel with whatever you pack and enjoy the pretty views along the way."

The 30-year-old, who has a 4-year-old daughter, points out many players don't have kids.

"They say it's like having a child," she says.

"A child younger than 5 wants to be with their parents constantly. The frog is more like an adolescent. He's rarely home and doesn't like to talk with his parents. So, you can only pack luggage."

Travel Frog appeals to people who rarely play games, Sina Games' former chief editor Zhou Wei says.

Those who've played Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector will be interested in the company's new game, he says.

Travel Frog is currently only available in Japanese. So, some Chinese players have been voluntarily translating it into Chinese. They also share tips online, such as how to get photos of the frog with other animals, Zhou Wei says.

These translations and social-media interactions are crucial to the game's success, he believes. Some netizens download it after seeing such memes as cartoons and chat stickers with the frog as their motif.

"Most players are female ... and they even call the frog 'son'. It's like raising a pet," he says.

"Unlike earlier popular mobile games, such as King of Glory (a multiplayer online battle game), Travel Frog doesn't require much time. It's a new experience for gamers. But the novelty may soon fade. The kitty's popularity only lasted about a month."

The Beijing News recently reported the rumor that Hit-Point Co Ltd developed the game to test whether people were willing to have children in the future.

Mayuko Uemura from the company told the newspaper the game targets females as young as 10 up to those in their 20s.

In the game, the frog leads a free and relaxing life - it often travels spontaneously - which is probably one of reasons for its popularity among the young people who are busy and stressed, according to Uemura.

"It's relaxing since it's not competitive," says Deng Xiquan, head of the Youth Research Institute of the China Youth and Children Research Center.

"Players feel empathy. Most are undergoing life transitions and can learn about parenthood. It may also remind them of their childhoods.

"You know the frog will return. But you don't know when. That creates a kind of happiness."

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[Gizmos at CES offer kids a chance to learn and play]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620476.htm

LAS VEGAS - The children's section at the giant Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month touted "innovations that enable 21st century kids to learn and play smarter than ever".

The timing may have been unfortunate following revived concerns of the dangers of too much technology for young children.

But as the debate swirled, exhibitors at the Las Vegas extravaganza sought to showcase devices aimed at health, education and entertainment for youngsters, including educational robots.

Pai Technology introduced its interactive storybooks for children, which use virtual reality and according to its website "encourages a love of reading" and offers "thoughtful stories".

Amy Braun, marketing director for the group, acknowledges concerns about kids and technology but says these devices still have value.

"Technology is here to stay, and it's important to expose our children to technology but in beneficial ways," she says.

"We really focus on making sure that the time that we put it in front of our children is all about learning and development. And it's not either or."

Braun says parents must decide on appropriate limits for screen exposure and other technology usage.

Chinese startup Dragon Touch unveiled its colorful tablet computer aimed at kids between 3 and 6 years old, with educational apps and parental controls.

Dragon Touch's Lei Guo says the tablets may be valuable but also suggests parents supervise their use.

"I really don't want my kids to spend too much time on the internet," he says.

"So that's why we also have the parent control mode, so that the parents can set a time, for example maybe 30 minutes per day."

An augmented reality toothbrush meanwhile introduced by French startup Kolibree allows children to look at a smartphone or tablet screen to motivate and educate them about oral hygiene.

"With image analysis, the application detects the brushing motion," says Kolibree's Leonie Williamson.

The device makes brushing a game, enabling kids to earn points by holding and using the toothbrush correctly.

Williamson says the toothbrush would not be a big contributor to too much screen time for kids: "It's just three brushings of two minutes each day."

The electronics show has long featured devices for children, and exhibitors typically plan their displays and products many months in advance.

But the show opened just amid fresh fears that too much technology may be harmful for children.

In the United States, the nonprofit group Common Sense Media found 95 percent of US households have a mobile device in the home. Screen time has been shifting, the group says, from television to mobile devices.

Recently, two large shareholders urged Apple to study whether iPhones are proving addictive for children and if intensive use of the smartphones may be bad for their mental health.

The investors cite a recent study suggesting children are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom.

Apple, which is not present at CES but whose system is used by many app developers, says in a statement it "has always looked out for kids, and we work hard to create powerful products that inspire, entertain, and educate children while also helping parents protect them online".

At CES, Ahren Hoffmann of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, says determining how much technology to use for kids is "all about balance".

"We want to make sure that our kids today are both getting outside and play, and that they are playing with traditional toys, that they're playing board games, but they're also using iPads and tech toys, and learning about coding and other things that are happening in the world around us today," she says.

Agence France-presse

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[Sino-Vietnamese arts show a success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620475.htm Performers help raise the roof in Hanoi to mark 68 years of diplomatic ties

Dressed in a traditional long robe and wearing a large belt, the muscular man from China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region looks more like a wrestler as he appears on stage, that is until his resounding voice renders the Vietnamese audience packed into the auditorium speechless.

The man with a crew-cut hairstyle was performing traditional Mongolian throat-singing at an arts program performed by Chinese and Vietnamese singers and dancers recently at the Vietnam-China Friendship Palace in Hanoi, which was built with Chinese aid and first opened its doors in 2017.

Throat-singing was inscribed on the UNESCO list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, under the name of the Mongolian art of singing, khoomei.

Khoomei is a style of singing in which a single performer produces a diversified harmony of multiple vocal elements, including a continued bass note produced in the throat.

The vocal form is reserved for special events and group activities such as horse races, archery and wrestling tournaments, large banquets and sacrificial rituals.

"I was deeply impressed by his khoomei performance, which was very special and unique. This is the first time I've heard this specialized form of singing," says Hoang Ngoc Nguyen Hong, a lecturer at the People's Police Academy in Hanoi.

The lecturer, holder of a doctoral degree, was dressed in an elegant purple ao dai (a traditional Vietnamese dress for women).

"I felt like I was flying up from a vast prairie when I was listening to their music and watching their dance performances," she says.

Another Vietnamese audience member was also bewitched by the performance.

"I could not believe that humans could make music like this just using their throats," says Vu Hai Nam, a freshman at the National Academy of Public Administration.

Hailing from Vietnam's northern Quang Ninh province on the border with China, the student says he was also impressed by the Chinese dances which "were graceful and gentle one minute, and then wild and intense the next".

"When watching the dance named Horsehead Fiddle, I could feel the strength and freedom of the horse in the vast prairie," he says.

But it wasn't just the performers from Inner Mongolia who brought down the house in Hanoi - the Vietnamese artists also sparked applause from the audience.

Do To Hoa, dubbed "The Nightingale" by her fans, sings in both Vietnamese and Chinese, showing off both her soprano voice and command of the Chinese language.

"It's an honor to perform to celebrate the 68th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Vietnam and China," says the young woman who is currently studying for a master's degree in folk music in Beijing.

Hoa has graduated in Vietnam with a major in classical music.

Hoa hopes that the Chinese embassy in Vietnam and other agencies will organize such cultural programs more frequently as the exchanges of music, dance and martial arts help to enrich people's knowledge and bring them closer.

Many Vietnamese expressed similar hopes.

Ha Van Thinh, an official from Hanoi's rural Dong Anh district, says he wants more Chinese TV series and feature films to be screened in Vietnam, and would like to see Chinese actors like Donnie Yen and Jet Li visit the country more often.

"I was also really excited when we heard the theme song from the famous Journey to the West series. Generations of Vietnamese grew up watching this series. The song reminds us of our childhood," Thinh says.

Xinhua

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[Beijing authorities to train more teachers for elementary education]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620474.htm

Beijing plans to train more teachers to tackle a shortage, especially in elementary education, according to local educational authorities. An additional 1,000 students will be recruited every year by three major universities - Capital Normal University, Teachers' College of Beijing Union University, and Capital University of Physical Education and Sports - in Beijing from 2018 to 2022, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission says.

Majors in music, fine art and art education will be encouraged in four other Beijing universities to become teachers, the commission says in a guideline.

Vocational colleges in Beijing will expand enrollment of students majoring in elementary education, the commission says. Government funds will be allocated to pay part of their tuition fees and other expenses.

An additional 1,000 teachers will also be hired nationwide to teach history, geography, politics and biology at primary and middle schools between 2018 and 2020, to tackle the shortage of teachers in these areas.

China allowed couples to have two children from 2016 in response to the nation's aging population, but the number of teachers has not kept pace with the number of newborn children.

Official statistics show that there were 17.23 million babies born in 2017.

A report from the Center for Education Policy of Southwest University shows that demand for preschool education will see a sharp increase from 2019 before reaching a peak in 2021.

The report says there will be a shortfall of 3 million kindergarten teachers nationwide by 2021.

The State Council has issued a plan on educational development for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), with the aim of making the country's preschool education more inclusive.

Xinhua

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[USTB, Birmingham University unveil two new programs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620473.htm

The University of Birmingham signed an agreement with the University of Science and Technology Beijing on Jan 18 to create two new education programs for Chinese students.

The new programs include the Master of Science program in thermal energy and power engineering and an undergraduate program in mechanical engineering.

"We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at USTB to develop education opportunities that benefit students in China and allow the University of Birmingham to make a contribution to Chinese society," says Sir David Eastwood, the vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham.

"As a global 'civic' university in the 21st century, our responsibilities include contributing to enriching the life of both our home city and the wider world."

Both programs are under the Center for Energy & Environment Research and Education, a joint research center established by both universities in 2015 that aims to drive new technologies and train the next generation of engineers.

Since its inception, the center has taken part in staff and student exchanges, joint grants applications and joint research publications, as well as the development of student degree programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

According to the University of Birmingham, the Chinese government last year granted funding to send eight PhD students each year from the USTB to work on projects in energy storage technologies and materials at the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage.

"We have achieved many successes since we first began our formal collaboration in 2015," says Zhang Xinxin, president of the University of Science and Technology Beijing.

"We have seen close academic exchanges between staff and joint research publications to help maintain a close relationship between both universities."

Founded in 1952, the University of Science and Technology Beijing has been gaining influence globally in recent years. It has established partnerships and collaborations with more than 80 renowned universities and research institutions, including the University of Oxford, Germany's RWTH Aachen University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States.

Speaking about the overseas links, Zhang says: "It brings us great joy to find new friends both at home and abroad, and even more so to work with them for our mutual benefit."

"It is for that reason we have been most proud to count the University of Birmingham as one of our closest partner universities, having built a strong friendship in such a short time."

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[More than music]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620472.htm

 

The show, Yin-Trend Music Night, on Jan 13 in Guangzhou offers audiences an evening of audiovisual delight that saw musicians from both home and abroad collaborate with interactive projects, robots and avant-garde artworks. The musicians include Li Yuchun (top), Hua Chenyu (middle), Pu Shu (above left), Leah Dou (above right) and Karen Mok(below). Photos Provided to China Daily

Yin-Trend Music Night in Guangzhou brought together popular performers and avant-garde art and technology to wow a live and online audience. Chen Nan reports.

The Yin-Trend Music Night in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, offered the audience more than just music as there were also interactive projections, high-tech robots and artworks by avant-garde artists presented on the same stage with some of the country's biggest pop stars.

During the event on Jan 13, Chinese pop singer-songwriter Li Yuchun performed her latest hits along with a video created by Iranian artist Ali Momeni.

And a robot band, called Compressorhead, which plays on real electronic instruments made by Berlin-based artist Frank Barnes and collaborators Markus Kolb and Stock Plum, performed alongside Chinese pop singer-songwriter Hua Chenyu.

Portuguese twin brothers Oskar & Gaspar used a dress worn by Hong Kong singer-actress Karen Mok as the canvas for their projections, transforming the dress into moving images while Mok was singing.

German digital artist and designer Tobias Gremmler captured the movements of Chinese singer-songwriter Dou Jingtong, or Leah Dou, while she was performing her song Whistler's Riddle and transformed her movements into visualized images through projection.

Yin-Trend Music Night, launched by the Music Center of Tencent Video, a Chinese video streaming website owned by the country's internet giant Tencent, presented about 10 collaborations that combined music, dance, artworks and technology.

According to Deng Linhai, director of the Music Center of Tencent Video, the show in Guangzhou attracted a live audience of more than 6,000 people and about 10 million viewers, who watched the online streaming of the show.

"The concept of Yin-Trend Music Night was like that of the Victoria's Secret fashion shows, which combine live music by leading entertainers, set designs with different themes along with the company's lingerie. We wanted to create a music show, which was beyond music," says Deng.

The idea of launching Yin-Trend Music Night was based on the annual year-end music gala, which is popular among young audiences, and online video streaming that also targets young consumers.

Deng says that in 2017, the company had more than 100 livestreaming programs, such as concerts and outdoor music festivals, which attracted more than 20 million followers. The play count is about 1 billion views.

"It's apparent that watching online streaming shows has become a habit for young Chinese people. When we decided to stage a music show, we did our research to identify who were the most popular pop stars in 2017 and what was the most avant-garde art and technology. We put them together because young people are open to various kinds of arts and they embrace the idea of a 'larger culture'," says Deng.

Yin-Trend Music Night's producer is Long Danni, a veteran director and producer, who is known as the "godmother of Chinese talent shows".

In 2003, she created the country's first male beauty pageant show titled Absolute Men, and a year later, she produced Star Campus, which later became Hunan Satellite TV's mega phenomenon reality show, Super Girl. In 2006, she brought in the BBC's singing competition, Just the Two of Us.

After she directed Hunan Satellite TV's variety show, Happy Boys, in 2007, she was appointed as EE-Media record label's general manager, as many contestants were becoming pop stars, including the 2005 Super Girl winner Li Yuchun, who is now one of the country's biggest stars.

"The Yin-Trend Music Night was a fresh idea. So it was hard to predict beforehand how the audience would react," says Long. "The results were beyond our expectations. The audience, mostly people younger than 30, got our idea instantly once they watched the show."

She says that the entertainment industry in China is going in two directions nowadays: "One is like fast food, which means you have it today and forget about it very fast. The other is like a fine meal, with high-quality food, which you want to have again."

"We hope to make Yin-Trend Music Night a brand, presenting all the most popular and pioneering music, arts and technology of the year in one show," she says.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[First female cinematographer wins Oscar nomination]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/31/content_35620471.htm

LOS ANGELES - Mudbound cinematographer Rachel Morrison can tell you that making history isn't always glamorous.

The 39-year-old was waiting in line at the airport and cradling a sleeping 3-year-old when she became the first woman ever nominated for the cinematography Academy Award in the Oscars' 90-year history.

"I'm still very much in shock," Morrison said after arriving in Park City, Utah, where she's serving as a juror for the Sundance Film Festival's dramatic competition.

In Mudbound, which is set in the Jim Crow South, Morrison's camerawork creates a bucolic setting for the story's ugly racism. She turns her lens on leafy woods, light-dappled buildings and watercolor sunsets across enormous skies, as well as intimate moments shared by the two families at its heart.

Morrison's photography is up against Roger Deakins, who earned his 14th Oscar nomination for Blade Runner 2049; Bruno Delbonnel (Darkest Hour); Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk) and Dan Laustsen (The Shape of Water). All five were also nominated for the American Society of Cinematographers' award, which will be awarded on Feb 16.

Morrison says it's ironic that there aren't more female directors of photography, known on sets as DPs, because women are "very inherently qualified" for the work.

"It's a job that basically is combining empathy with channeling emotion into visual imagery. It's everything women do well, I think," she says. "I could never quite understand why there aren't more of us."

Despite being outnumbered by men, Morrison says she's felt supported throughout her career by male and female colleagues. She worked with Rick Famuyiwa on 2015's Dope and the HBO film Confirmation. She collaborated with Ryan Coogler on Fruitvale Station and the hotly-anticipated Black Panther, in theaters next month.

More women are pursuing cinematography so she says things are slowly changing.

"I just hope that they're patient and persistent. So when we get to the next level, you'll see just as many women DPs and as there are men. And maybe someday we can stop referring to them as women DPs because they'll be closer to a 50-50 representation."

Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood says Morrison's Oscar nod will open the door for more female photographers.

"We're all really tired of having to still accomplish the first," Silverstein says. "But every time a milestone is reached, it paves the way for the next one and the next one."

Which means Morrison will have to get used to a new level of visibility.

"One of the things I think is pretty common for most cinematographers is we like to fade into the background. We're behind the camera for a reason," she says. "So I've had to get over my fear of public speaking and accept that I'm going to have terrible pictures of me all over the internet and be OK with it."

Dressing up for the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4 will present another challenge for this self-described "jeans and T-shirt girl".

"I think the scariest thing for me about the Oscars is what the hell am I going to wear," she says.

Winning is another story. She's already made history.

Associated Press

(China Daily 01/31/2018 page19)

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2018-01-31 08:00:26
<![CDATA[Art with a message]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/30/content_35611671.htm

 

A visitor stands in front of Xu Beihong's masterpiece, Yugong Yishan, at the ongoing show at the National Art Museum of China. Jiang Dong / China Daily

An exhibition of works by Xu Beihong (1895-1953) celebrates his life and how he encouraged people to strive for independence and righteousness. Lin Qi reports.

Master artist Xu Beihong (1895-1953) did two paintings in 1940 illustrating the Chinese fable of Yugong Yishan about a man attempting to move mountains. They are recognized as the best-known pieces in his oeuvre.

The story of Yugong Yishan, first mentioned in the fourth-century BC Taoist text Liezi, has been told for generations in Chinese households.

It hails the tenacity of an old man who endeavors to remove mountains that block the path in front of his house. Despite being considered a fool, he firmly believes that his offspring will continue the efforts after he dies.

Xu produced two paintings - an oil work and a classic Chinese ink work - using Indian men as models, during a year's stint in India.

And he didn't place the grey-haired man Yugong in the center, but depicted him turning to one side and talking to a woman. Rather, he highlighted several almost naked, muscular men digging on the mountains in the middle of the painting.

The two works, both titled Yugong Yishan, are now on show at Nation and Era, an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China through March 4 that celebrates Xu's life and how he encouraged people to strive for independence and righteousness.

The men doing the digging in the paintings do not look Chinese: They have darker skin tones, thick, hairy eyebrows and short, curly hair, while men in ancient China normally had long hair.

When Xu was in India, he was invited by Rabindranath Tagore to exhibit and lecture at the Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, which the Nobel laureate had established in 1922.

And students and staff members of the Visva-Bharati University offered to help when they heard that Xu needed models to paint.

Sketches of these Indian models are also on show at the NAMOC exhibition, as are portraits Xu did for Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, besides Indian landscapes.

In the paintings, Xu also added elephants as carriers of materials, rather than cattle, which were more common in China at that time.

Explaining why he used Indian models, Xu said: "Both the Indians and the Chinese work industriously. We may have different looks but we share the same beliefs."

Xu said the idea to do a work on Yugong Yishan had been in his mind for two decades, but he was motivated to start working on the project by the construction of the Burma Road in the late 1930s.

The road linking Myanmar and Southwest China's Yunnan province was of strategic importance to convey supplies to China during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

Then, tens of thousands of Chinese workers and engineers participated in the project, using primitive tools, and many lost their lives because of the hazardous terrain.

Xu completed the paintings to pay tribute to the builders whom he hailed as "modern-day Yugong".

Heroism and romanticism are recurring themes in Xu's major works, which he developed during his studies at the National High School of Fine Arts in Paris and while traveling in Europe in the 1920s.

The director of the NAMOC, Wu Weishan, says Xu adopted the grand-narrative approach of classic European paintings to depict the gallantry of figures in ancient China. He sparked patriotic feelings among fellow Chinese and asked them not to give in to invaders and oppressors.

Besides the Yugong Yishan works, Xu also painted Tian Heng and His 500 Retainers and Xi Wo Hou, two oil works both based on ancient literature. And the two works are also on show at the NAMOC exhibition.

While the former work is about a nobleman named Tian Heng mentioned in Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian), whose suicide drove his people to take their lives, the latter is about suffering under the tyrannical rule of the Xia Dynasty, as described in Shangshu (The Book of Documents).

The four paintings all measure more than 3 meters in length, and they are from the collection of the Xu Beihong Memorial Hall in Beijing, which was built from a family donation of artworks and documents after Xu died.

Wu says the show is the first time that the four paintings are being displayed together.

Xu Beihong's son, 72-year-old Xu Qingping, says the paintings were in a critical condition in the late 1970s, with pigment falling off, but government support allowed the memorial hall to bring in a French restoration team.

"My father would be quite happy if he could see these works now," he says.

The current NAMOC exhibition also has other major pieces from Xu's repertoire. Most are on loan from the Xu Beihong Memorial Hall.

One notable work is Baren Jishui (People in Chongqing Drawing Water), a 3-meter-long ink painting produced in 1937. It shows people in Chongqing, a mountainous city, climbing flights of stairs to fetch water from rivers.

Wu says the work reveals the humane side of Xu, who came from a humble background, growing up in rural Jiangsu province in East China.

The painting was first displayed at an exhibition in Chongqing in 1938. Xu's wife, Liao Jingwen (1923-2015), recalled that it moved many in the audience including an Indian diplomat who wished to buy it.

Since the painting was inscribed with "a gift to my beloved wife", Xu painted an identical piece for the diplomat.

The painting fetched 171 million yuan ($26 million) at a Beijing auction in 2010.

In his works, Xu portrayed not only ancient heroes but also animals.

His depiction of galloping horses is a familiar scene to many Chinese.

Hua Tianxue, a researcher with Beijing's Chinese National Academy of the Arts, says that, unlike in many other paintings, most horses in Xu's works are standing or running, looking like warriors.

The paintings at the NAMOC exhibition also feature flying eagles, roaring lions, vultures searching for prey and roosters standing atop rocks.

"His works are a testimony to what he often said: 'People may have no pride, but cannot live without integrity'," Wu says.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-30 07:39:03
<![CDATA[Italian painter's work for Chinese emperor inspires sculptures of dogs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/30/content_35611670.htm In the 18th century, Italian missionary Giuseppe Castiglione, who was an artist for three emperors in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), drew a series called The Ten Prized Dogs for emperor Qianlong, who had lots of hunting hounds.

The dogs from the paintings are now sculpted into a porcelain work to mark the Year of the Dog of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Sculptor Chou Hanyu designed the work featuring the dogs for Franz Collection, a Taiwan-based porcelain brand.

The 10 dogs, including a Tibetan mastiff, were sculpted as if they were in the paintings and placed on a field against mountains and trees.

It took Chou and his team eight months to finish the artwork, and 100 limited editions have been produced.

"It was a big project to put all these dogs together," says Chou, explaining that to decrease the failure rate they have to do the dogs' tails and ears separately.

Each dog in the work has a collar with a bell - the bells helped the emperor find the prey.

Chou was inspired to do the sculpture when he saw the Ten Prized Dogs series at the Palace Museum in Taipei.

The dogs were painted 200 years ago by Castiglione, who created lots of well-known pieces by infusing European and Chinese painting styles during his tenure with the emperors.

Nine of the 10 dogs are hounds with long and thin legs and bodies, while the last one is a gigantic Tibetan mastiff.

Many of the dogs were named after mythical beasts. There was yellow leopard, mottled tiger and even black dragon. The mastiff was called heavenly lion.

Chou says he has a special connection with canines, as he was born in the Year of the Dog in 1970.

Although he was bitten by a dog when he was a child, he still loves the animals.

But he does not own one.

His friends love to leave their dogs with him when going out on trips. And it is common for him to take many dogs for a walk at the same time.

The current project is not the first time that Chou and his team from Franz have taken inspiration from traditional Chinese paintings to turn them into sculptures.

Last year, one of Castiglione's paintings featuring eight horses was made into a sculpture. And the well-known Qingming Shang He Tu (Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival) by Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) artist Zhang Zeduan depicting life in a city was also recreated as a porcelain work.

Lee Kuangyuh, a designer and Chou's colleague, says porcelain is a traditional medium to promote Chinese culture. They find inspiration from history and combine it with their own thoughts to create new works.

Meanwhile, Lee's work featuring dragons is based on a classical painting at the Taipei Palace Museum.

In the work, he combines the painting with a concept from sci-fi writer Liu Cixin's Three-Body Problem.

The three dragons represent the past, present and future.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-30 07:39:03
<![CDATA[Total immersion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/30/content_35611669.htm One of China's finest oil painters has made her first foray into virtual-reality art, a digital debut that has proved to be as painstaking as it was rewarding. Deng Zhangyu reports.

The darkness is broken by a sharp light. All of a sudden, a newborn baby is brought into the world, kicking and screaming. The doctor holds the baby in her arms, walking toward a set of scales.

Everyone in the delivery room - the mother lying on the bed, the doctors in attendance and the infant herself - can be viewed from every angle, just as in the real world. However, these are not actual three-dimensional characters - they have been meticulously painted in oil, and yet can only be viewed in virtual reality.

 

Top: Visitors watch VR artworks at Faurschou Foundation gallery in Beijing where a series of VR art exhibitions are held, including the ongoing show of oil painter Yu Hong's hand-painted VR work. Above: The delivery room in Yu's VR work She's Already Gone (left) and the bedroom where Yu spent her childhood in her work's second scene (right). Photos Provided to China Daily

This is the first scene in artist Yu Hong's virtual-reality work She's Already Gone, which is being exhibited at Beijing's Faurschou Foundation gallery, in what is reportedly the first hand-painted virtual reality work in the world. In it, the Beijing-based artist paints four scenes depicting the four stages of life, from birth to burial.

"Virtual reality allows viewers to immerse themselves in an imaginary world, something that literature, film and traditional painting have been trying to achieve for a long time," says Yu, 52, at her studio in Beijing.

With imagery, sound and music, the eight-minute VR artwork provides the viewer with an immersive experience that bears witness to the four phases of a woman's life, set in different eras of time: a newborn baby in the 1990s; a girl looking out of her bedroom window in the 1970s; a woman from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) unfolding the cloth that had bound her feet since childhood; and a priestess singing at a funeral ritual in the Neolithic era, nearly 5,000 years ago.

Viewers can walk into each of the individually created rooms and view the work from whatever angle they choose.

It took Yu almost a year to finish the work. She had to plan and paint countless details to create each character, from their faces and skin down to locks of their hair. She had to complete more than 60 individual oil paintings to finish the artwork.

Working closely with a virtual-reality art company based in Denmark, she was in constant touch with the tech team in Copenhagen, emailing them on a daily basis. As she painted, she scanned the images and sent them to the team to "put clothes on the naked virtual figures.

"I did my best to push the boundaries of my imagination. It's difficult to transform oil paintings into three-dimensional works," Yu says of her yearlong collaboration with Khora Contemporary, the Danish team specializing in virtual-reality art.

At the opening ceremony on Jan 6, many of Yu's artist friends came to experience the work, and they seemed impressed. Oil painter Su Xinping says he could feel the pain when he watched the woman from the Ming Dynasty remove the strips of cloth binding her feet. He also expressed an interest in making a VR artwork.

Yu says her peers from the art world were impressed by the visual interaction of the work, and described the future trend of combining art with technology as both inevitable and unpredictable.

She described the Beijing art space showing her work as a "hospital with many cubicles housing people wearing headsets" and a totally different experience from traditional exhibition halls with art pieces mounted on the walls.

"I don't know how art will be presented in the future. But I do know that art gives cold tech a warm hue," Yu says.

In She's Already Gone, Yu focuses on women and explores their social status and experiences, a recurring topic for the artist, who is one of the most important oil painters in China.

"The priestess in the Neolithic era enjoyed the highest social class in a matriarchal society," Yu says.

The three other scenes reflect Yu's own life experiences: Her grandmother was forced to bind her feet from childhood; the girl sitting on a windowsill watching a parade was Yu at the age of 6 in 1972 during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76); and the opening scene depicts her giving birth to her daughter in the 1990s.

One of the artist's own paintings appears on the wall in the second scene of the work, which depicts Yu's childhood. The work is part of her ongoing Witness to Growth series, an annual biographical series where she produces a self-portrait and pairs it with an image from a news article recording a key event that year. Another work from the series depicting the year of 1992 was exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum's Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World.

In the 1992 painting, Yu is seen cutting her hair in a portrait taken from her movie The Days, the debut by filmmaker Wang Xiaoshuai. Yu and her husband, Liu Xiaodong, who's also a famous oil painter, played the lead roles as an artist couple in the movie.

"Every year, I paint a work to record my life, often just to document common things or interesting moments that I think deserve to be remembered," explains Yu.

Yu gained fame early on. When she was still a freshman at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, one of her sketches was selected as a painting for an educational art book aimed at teenagers. After graduation, she became an art teacher at the academy, where she still works.

Painting has become an important part in Yu's life - one she regards as a refuge from the rapidly evolving technological world outside.

And while her first foray into virtual reality has proved to be an interesting experience, it's unlikely she will pursue the emerging technology as her career. Oil painting is, after all, her life's work.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-30 07:39:03
<![CDATA[Car factory plays host to designer's fashion show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/30/content_35611668.htm Walking into a carmaking factory in Northeast China's Shenyang, fashion designer Sara Yun feels like she has entered into some sort of futuristic world depicted in a sci-fi movie - hundreds of huge orange robotic arms are busy connecting, painting and assembling car parts while driverless vehicles deliver parts precisely to their intended locations.

It's hard to see the workers in the huge factory, which is the size of several football fields - only the robots are visible, and the sounds they make fill the space.

The fashion designer was invited to hold a special show on Jan 16 at the BMW Brilliant Plant Tiexi in an industrial park in Shenyang, Liaoning province. She designed four ranges of clothes inspired by her experience visiting the factory, mainly featuring the colors of silver, orange and a reflective white.

 

Models present futuristic clothes at a show in a car factory that houses hundreds of robotic arms and unmanned vehicles in Shenyang, Liaoning province. Photos Provided to China Daily

"When I stood in the factory, I was impressed by the robots. The style, the materials and colors of the clothes are inspired by it," Yun says, adding that she wanted to give her designs a futuristic feeling.

She explains that orange represents the color of the more than 1,000 giant robots at the manufacturing facility, while the silver comes from the factory itself. Models dressed in the new outfits stood motionless in front of the robots and production lines, making the audience wonder whether they were also automatons.

It's not the first time that the carmaker has worked with artists to combine art with industry. Last year, multimedia artist Cao Fei visited the Tiexi plant and created the 18th BMW art car (a continuing series inviting leading artists from around the world to reinterpret BMW racecars) by using augmented reality and virtual reality. To accompany the art car, Cao made a short film showing how the future could be influenced by VR and artificial intelligence.

Cao tells China Daily that she was shocked by the highly robotized factory and impressed with its artistic elements. Designer Sara Yun agrees.

"The factory is art," says Yun.

Inside the plant, there are dozens of artworks on display, including sculptures and paintings shown through cooperation with the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang and the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. Office space is also integrated into the factory, where workers can see new cars float past their eyes, suspended on conveyor belts.

The plant opened its doors to the public in February of last year and was listed as a 4A tourist attraction. According to Yang Meihong, vice-president of BMW Brilliant, the number of visitors to the factory has since reached more than 10,000.

In January, the factory unveiled its mascot, designed by a young Chinese artist named He Zifei. He created a cartoon figure inspired by a sculpture in the shape of the Chinese character ren (meaning people) that was installed in the factory. The mascot sports a pair of intelligent glasses and has orange hands, to represent the robotic arms used in the factory.

In the future, the Tiexi plant plans to host more art events and cultural activities to make it one of the most state-of-art facilities in China, says Yang.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-30 07:39:03
<![CDATA[Cultural assets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/30/content_35611667.htm

 

The show Affections Toward His Nation displays 120 artifacts collected by Zhang Naiqi, which have been donated to the National Museum of China. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily

Late minister Zhang Naiqi's collection of antiquities are on display in Beijing. Lin Qi reports.

Historian Zhang Lifan recalls his childhood home in a siheyuan, the traditional quadrangle-style courtyard house of Beijing, being decorated with hardwood furniture made in the classical Chinese style and the many antiquities that his late father Zhang Naiqi, an economist and food minister, had collected over decades.

Zhang Lifan, 68, says he used to ask his father about where and when the objects came from.

He says one day his father showed him a bronze dagger that sparkled with rays and was patterned all over with grid motifs.

In a note on the dagger, Zhang Naiqi wrote, "A bronze sword from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), sharp as a razor ... a rare example for the study of smelting and decorating technologies."

The sword was later among more than 1,000 antique objects in Zhang Naiqi's collection donated to State museums, including the Palace Museum and the National Museum of China.

Now a selection of 120 artifacts from that donation to the National Museum of China, including the sword, are up for public viewing at a permanent exhibition titled Affections Toward His Nation, which marks the 120th anniversary of Zhang Naiqi's birth.

Zhang Naiqi was known as an influential banker, and one of the seven leaders of a national salvation alliance who were arrested in 1936 by the Kuomintang-led government for criticizing its policy of nonresistance against Japanese aggression.

What is less known to people is that his interest in collecting antiquities had intensified over the years.

The exhibition shows a connoisseur whose collection hierarchy covers almost every category of Chinese artworks, and who believed his cultural assets should ultimately be shared with the public.

The objects on display include sophisticated bronze ware dating to the Shang (c. 16th century-11th century BC) and Zhou (c. 11th century-256 BC) dynasties, ceramics, bronze mirrors that feature beautiful carvings on the back and jade artifacts, the earliest of which can be traced back to Neolithic times.

Zhang Naiqi donated his collections twice to the Palace Museum in the 1950s and 1960s.

His family made a third donation to the National Museum of China in the 1980s.

Zhang Naiqi was a frequent customer at antique stores in the Longfu Temple and Liulichang areas in Beijing, and he was also a regular visitor to street vendors.

Zhang Lifan says his father told him that the streets of Beijing were awash with cultural objects, but the good and the bad, the real and the fake were all mixed together.

"He said because he was not a well-trained professional for authenticating cultural relics, he bought real and quality items, but sometimes he was cheated."

The way Zhang Naiqi became discerning was to learn from historians, scholars and senior collectors, such as Sun Yingzhou and Zhang Boju.

His exchanges with them in return helped enrich his collection.

He also befriended reliable antique dealers who would contact him when they found quality goods.

Zhang Lifan says his father ordered a lot of boxes to store the objects and together with them, he attached a note of the basic information, his views and sometimes the appraisal opinions of other collectors.

Zhang Naiqi once said: "These antiquities constitute an indispensable part of my spiritual life. They are the incarnations of Chinese art and culture. They are good teachers who help me improve cultural attainment."

Zhang Lifan says collecting is a process where people own something once, but not for ever.

"If you are lucky to have antique objects, you gain great pleasure in handling them, and that's all a collector can ask for."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-30 07:39:03
<![CDATA[SOAS teacher seeks to make calligraphy easy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/30/content_35611666.htm

While calligraphy is often hard even for average Chinese people to appreciate, Zhao Yizhou has taken up the challenge of making the age-old writing style an "international language" through the combination of tradition and innovation.

Having lived in the United Kingdom for nearly 20 years, Zhao, 59, has been a calligraphy teacher at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, since 1998. And he has given calligraphy lessons at the British Museum.

Zhao has been described by The Times newspaper as the finest contemporary Chinese calligrapher living in the UK.

He has also held a couple of solo exhibitions of his calligraphy in the UK over the past few years, and some of his works have been collected by British museums or private collectors.

More than 20 pieces of Zhao's works are currently being showcased in Beijing. The exhibition, entitled Chasing the Unseen, opened on Jan 16 and runs through March 2.

Zhao has been exploring new ways to change viewers' perceptions about calligraphy and used Chinese writing as a carrier of Chinese culture in cross-cultural exchanges.

Zhao believes that calligraphy is one of China's most important traditional art forms, yet it is not as popular worldwide as other traditional Chinese art forms.

"For foreigners who cannot read Chinese, the door to shufa (calligraphy) is closed. But I am always thinking how we can turn shufa into an international art category like painting, music and dance," says Zhao, who advocates that the art should be called shufa instead of calligraphy to dismiss any misunderstanding around it, including merely taking it as "beautiful writing".

Zhao has loved calligraphy since he was a child and trained himself in the art form.

Zhao believes that calligraphy, like other arts, should reflect the "spirit of the age". His own experience of living for years in a foreign environment allowed him to approach the issue with a unique perspective.

He finally brought in his idea of letting the "body language" - meaning the images of characters - do the talking.

His works often come with exaggerated shapes and formations to create a unique vitality, and sometimes borrow concepts from paintings, such as the colors and backgrounds.

He also adopts new methods and media in his calligraphy.

For example, some of his works were written with candle wax instead of ink, and sometimes he mixed wine with ink to create unique textures and effects on the paper.

Zhao's calligraphy is still based on the traditional principles of Chinese calligraphy, but are not restrained by them, according to Yun Ping, vice-chairman of Henan provincial committee for calligraphers.

Many of his single-character pieces display his capability in employing Western aesthetic features, Yun says.

"That allows him to expand the expressions of Chinese calligraphy to allow Westerners to have a taste of Chinese calligraphy."

Zhao says he is not surprised to see that his works are well-received by foreign visitors, because most foreign viewers don't speak Chinese, so they are not stuck with individual characters, and view the work as a whole instead.

"If I assumed my work was a forest, they would first see the whole forest rather than each tree, so they can enjoy the beauty of my shufa more easily," he explains.

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-30 07:39:03
<![CDATA[Emotional waves]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/29/content_35603476.htm Chen Shu stars as the lighthouse-keeper's daughter Ellida in a Chinese remake of Ibsen's play The Lady from the Sea. Chen Nan reports.

Chen Shu saw the sea for the first time when she visited Vietnam in 1992, as a dancer with the Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble, China's leading performing troupe.

She was 15, and it was her first trip abroad.

"I grew up in a city far away from the sea, so it was an exciting moment," recalls Chen, who later became an actress, appearing in TV dramas, movies and plays. "But it was just the sea, and I didn't have any special feeling for it."

Chinese actress Chen Shu (top) plays the lead role in an adaptation of The Lady from the Sea, which is now on its second round of a national tour in China. Photo Provided to China Daily

That is until she performed in a Chinese play, titled The Lady from the Sea, based on a play written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in 1888, which tells the story of a lighthouse-keeper's daughter named Ellida, who has to decide whether to stay on land with her husband, a successful doctor, or leave her stable life for a sailor she loves.

"Ellida loves the sea. She grows up near it with her father. After her father dies, she moves to the mainland with her husband but she never stops loving the sea and wants to return to it," Chen says in Beijing.

Once she decided to accept the role, Chen recalled her experience of watching a ballet in London, which helped her understand the deep emotion the sea stirs in Ellida.

It was in 2015 and Chen spent a week in London going to the theater, watching five shows. Among the shows, she was impressed by the Royal Ballet's ballet triptych, titled Woolf Works, inspired by the books Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves by the English writer Virginia Woolf.

In the show, The Waves, dancers performed against a video backdrop of a slow-moving sea, which caught Chen's attention.

"In the beginning, I thought it was just a picture of the sea. But when I looked at the screen, I found out that it was moving very slowly," recalls Chen.

"The dance followed an excerpt from Woolf's suicide note to her husband. I was overwhelmed by the choreography and how the dance piece was presented onstage.

"The sea looked lonely, mysterious and accompanied the dancers onstage."

She embodies that feeling in her portrayal of Ellida, who she says is "troubled, but spiritually independent".

Independent spirit

Before Ellida, Chen played Chen Bailu, an alluring courtesan, in the play Sunrise, which was adapted from a play by renowned Chinese playwright Cao Yu (1910-96), in 2008, and the following year Jane Eyre in an eponymous Chinese play based on a novel by the English writer Charlotte Bronte.

"It's been almost 10 years since I performed in a play. I was waiting for a role, which was imaginative and challenging, and Ellida was the one," says Chen.

Ellida is regarded as "one of Ibsen's most complex creations", who struggles between her duty to her husband and the honesty she has to herself.

However, Chen's decision to play the role was not supported by people around her, such as her colleagues and peers.

It's apparent that performing in a play is not a "clever choice" compared to starring in a TV drama or a film, for those who value the financial returns and exposure. Even in theater, the play is not considered exceptional.

Compared with Ibsen's other masterpieces, such as A Doll's House, which established the playwright as "the father of realism", The Lady from the Sea is not performed frequently and few adaptations have received positive reviews.

But Chen did not hesitate to take the role.

"When Ibsen wrote The Lady from the Sea, he was 60 years old. During his exile in Germany and Italy he longed for the sea," she says.

In his preliminary notes for the play, Ibsen wrote: "The sea has a power of attraction over me. I long for the sea. I am bound by the sea and dependent on it. I must return to it."

At the age of 40, Chen says it seems to be the right time for her to play the role.

"As an actress, I have tried various roles. Now, I am interested in those that break the traditional images of women - 'weak and obedient'. Ellida, for example, is spiritually strong," she says.

Chen was born in Huanggang, Hubei province. Her father was a renowned dancer, her mother played the flute and piano, and her elder brother is a composer.

Chen learned traditional Chinese dance from a young age and later came to Beijing to study at the Beijing Dance Academy.

After seven years of dancing with the Oriental Song and Dance Ensemble, she was enrolled to study at the Central Academy of Drama, where she graduated in 2001 with a major in acting. The same year, she started working at the National Theater of China.

Artistic freedom

"Chen was our first choice for the role after we decided to stage The Lady from the Sea," says Wang Yuanyuan, the director, who has known Chen for long. "As an actress, she is versatile and doesn't set limits for herself."

As the founder and director of Beijing Dance Theater, which is China's premier contemporary dance troupe, Wang has choreographed dance pieces based on classic literary works, including Wild Grass, based on Lu Xun's 1927 prose poem collection, and The Banquet, an adaptation of Hamlet. The Lady from the Sea, however, is Wang's first play as a director.

Wang founded Beijing Dance Theater with veteran lighting director Han Jiang and set designer Tan Shaoyuan in 2008. The same year, she did the choreography for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, collaborating with director Zhang Yimou, with whom she had worked on a ballet version of the Chinese film Raise the Red Lantern in 2001.

The Lady from the Sea is the first play by Beijing Repertory Theater, which was founded by Wang, Han and Tan in June 2017.

"When we founded the dance troupe 10 years ago, we wanted to look for artistic freedom. We have the same wish for Beijing Repertory Theater," says Wang. "The Lady from the Sea, though written in 1888, does not constrain itself with any region or year. It's a play that surpasses any particular time."

The play premiered in Shanghai in September and toured Hangzhou, Nanjing and Beijing last year. It has launched its second national tour and will be staged in Beijing from Jan 31 to Feb 3.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-29 08:09:02
<![CDATA[Cao Yu's classic Peking Man returns to capital]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/29/content_35603475.htm In 1980, Stan Lai Shengchuan, then a 26-year-old student from Taiwan, who was pursuing his PhD in dramatic arts at the University of California, Berkeley, attended a talk by Chinese playwright Cao Yu (1910-96) about Chinese theater at the school.

Cao Yu, whose real name is Wan Jiabao, the founding member and first president of the Beijing People's Art Theater, was accompanied by Ying Ruocheng (1929-2003), the famous actor, director and translator who would later become China's vice-minister of culture. Lai had the chance to talk to them and got to know more about the work of the Beijing People's Art Theater.

"It was a lifelong influence on me," recalls Lai. "I was not so sure about my future in theater, since most of my friends in Taiwan studied science and technology. They didn't understand why I wanted to learn drama. But Cao said in his speech that theater was like a language without borders. He also shared his experiences of writing for contemporary Chinese theater, which were very inspiring."

In 1983, Lai received his PhD and returned to Taiwan, where he founded a performance workshop along with his wife, Ding Nai-chu, where they explored the boundaries of theater. Lai developed from this to become a renowned playwright and stage director, with more than 30 original plays, including A Dream Like A Dream, That Evening, We Performed Cross-talk and Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land.

Now, aged 64, Lai will direct the play Peking Man, which is based on Cao Yu's famous play of the same title. The play, produced by Beijing-based company Magnificent Culture, will make its debut on March 30 at the Capital Theater in Beijing.

"This will be the first time I have directed a play by Cao Yu, which is an honor and a chance to reconnect with this great dramatist," Lai says in Beijing. "It reminds me of my early days in theater, and I will present the writer's ideas authentically."

Peking Man is Lai's favorite work by Cao Yu and is generally regarded in theater circles as the dramatist's best play.

The play premiered at the Beijing People's Art Theater in 1957 and was restaged in 1987. In 2006, theater director Li Liuyi was commissioned to stage the play once again to mark the 10th anniversary of Cao Yu's death.

Written in 1941, the four-act play set in Beijing, dramatizes the conflicts in a declining feudal family during the 1930s. The patriarch Zeng Hao spends his days recalling the glorious years of the past. His eldest son, Wenqing, does nothing all day and lives off his father. Wenqing's wife, Siyi, is the boss of the house, while Zeng's son-in-law is a playboy. Sufang, Zeng's niece, is the only member of the family who appears reliable but she falls in love with Wenqing. She remains single for Wenqing and finally leaves the family for freedom and a new life.

"Peking Man reminds me of my mother. The character, Sufang, bears some similarities with my mother, who was hardworking, good-hearted and forbearing," says playwright Wan Fang, daughter of Cao Yu.

"The character is a typical traditional Chinese woman, and my father loved the role very much."

Sufang will be played by award-winning actress Ju Xue. The cast also includes actress Kong Wei who plays the role of Siyi, and actor Yan Nan who plays Wenqing.

"All the characters in the play are dissatisfied with their lives and are looking for something better. But against the backdrop of feudalism, they put up with the situation, and none of them ever find happiness," says Yan, 36. 

Wan Fang says that her father was heavily influenced by the dramatic world of the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, whose plays have been frequently staged in China.

"The connection with Cao Yu continues through my work with Wan Fang. We want to carry on the great playwright's legacy and keep his works alive by performing them for today's audiences, especially younger people," says Lai.

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2018-01-29 08:09:02
<![CDATA[A village inhabited by silence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/29/content_35603474.htm The largely abandoned remote hamlet of Jieshi offers peace and tranquility - and much more. Erik Nilsson explores the little-known destination.

The sudden sound startled me.

I jumped.

It was just a leaf. But the dead leaf seemed to noisily scrape the ground as it rolled across the courtyard in the breeze.

Jieshi village in the mountains of Beijing's Mentougou district offers peace and a genuine rural experience. Photos by Erik Nilsson / China Daily

It sounded so loud because Jieshi village was so quiet. That is, so silent that a skittering leaf seemed to resound.

The only noise we heard was "mad-dog granny" barking.

We'd traveled to the jumble of stone and brick homes that plugs the cracks between a knot of mountains in Beijing's Mentougou district, near the border with Hebei province.

Jieshi offers a genuine rural experience.

The hamlet is a huddle of houses from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties that line flagstone streets.

They show their age. Structures are textured by scabby paint, crumbly stone and splintered boards.

Grass fleeces many ceramic-tile rooftops.

Few residents remain in these dwellings. Most who do are themselves of advanced age.

And they're delightful.

We made friends with "mad-dog granny", as we nicknamed her, soon after our arrival.

When a pair of pups started growling at our 2-year-old, the woman, who appeared to be in her 90s - her back was bent like a cane and she had a single tooth - snarled at them, stomping her feet.

The canines skittered away.

She cackled with glee. We laughed with her.

Another elderly woman invited us to her home.

It was furnished with little more than a kang - a traditional bed heated by burning coal underneath - and two old ground stoves.

My son stepped in one of the pits. Fortunately, it wasn't lit.

But we had to leave to prevent him from spreading ashes around her house.

We returned to the silence outside.

We only saw - or heard - a handful of vehicles over three days during the Western New Year holiday - a peak time for all tourism destinations.

And we also only encountered a trickle of visitors. The few travelers, like us, stayed in private courtyards offered by the hamlet's only hotel.

It was in our courtyard that the leaf startled me.

The thing is, there's hardly anyone around to make any noise in Jieshi. So most sounds come from things.

There's no convenience store - residents instead buy basics from the back of a van parked on the main road. The owner kindly gave my kids a bag of oranges as a gift.

That's exactly when and where the mongrels and "mad-dog granny" showed up.

Jieshi was once known for an abundance of wells that pock its terrain and gave rise to its original population.

But they dried out long ago.

No water means no agriculture. And no agriculture means no livelihoods.

So, most people left the remote settlement.

Trees have reclaimed the mountainside terraces that once hosted crops. The painstaking landscaping of the past has eroded into bumps that rib the slopes rather than sharp stair steps that jutted when they still supported harvests.

The river that frames in the hamlet and the pond in front of an abandoned red-walled temple also evaporated long ago.

Heaps of boulders that fill the desiccated pool bear paintings with such motifs as "the fairy's house", "immortal locust trees" and "magic plants".

(Great spot for hide-and-seek, by the way.)

Two locust trees nearby are said to be enchanted guardians of the village. Local lore holds that one caught fire yet survived in the 1980s.

Most arrivals to Jieshi are hikers.

They often use the settlement as a starting point for the 20-kilometer trek to nearby Lingshui village.

Lingshui lures more travelers because it's celebrated as the home of 22 scholars who passed the imperial exam, ancient trees and the Dragon King Temple.

We didn't walk this route. But we spent much of our time schlepping up the peaks and arriving in such unexpected places as Jieshi's overgrown hillside graveyard.

It was silent. The saying "quiet as a grave" came to mind.

We later surmounted the highest summit flanking the village to discover another abandoned red temple in the forest by the road by the village's gate.

Its paint flaked off in sheets if touched, like sunburnt skin. We left as soon as our toddler figured that out, to prevent him from damaging the isolated structure.

We walked back, soaking in the silence - aside from our footsteps, which sounded like giants'.

Then, we headed home to the loud sounds of the city.

Contact the writer at erik_nilsson@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-29 08:09:02
<![CDATA[Real places in Oscar-nominated films from Dunkirk to Toronto]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/29/content_35603473.htm New York - From the beaches of France where Dunkirk took place to a historic Toronto theater where Shape of Water was filmed, fans can visit many of the real-world destinations depicted in this year's Oscar-nominated movies.

Call Me by Your Name

For the Italy depicted in Call Me By Your Name, head to the town of Crema, about an hour from Milan in the northern Lombardy region. Actor Michael Stuhlbarg says the setting was "exquisitely beautiful. ... It was a character in the film."

Darkest Hour

At London's Churchill War Rooms museum, visitors can see the map room, cabinet room, Winston Churchill's bedroom and other locations depicted in the movie about Churchill's early days as prime minister during wartime. The museum was even visited by the movie's stars, Gary Oldman, who portrayed Churchill, and Lily James, who played his secretary. An exhibit called Undercover: Life in Churchill's Bunker shows how typists like James' character sometimes lived and worked there around the clock. The museum on King Charles Street is open daily.

Dunkirk

The movie Dunkirk was filmed on location in the northern French port city where Allied soldiers were evacuated from the beaches in 1940 by a flotilla of more than 800 ships. Guided tours include sites like the beaches, the East Mole breakwater where most evacuations took place and the cemetery where some 800 soldiers are buried. Visitors may also tour the Musee Dunkerque 1940 when it reopens in April following renovations, or have tea on the Princess Elizabeth, a paddle steamer that made four trips as a rescue ship and is now a floating restaurant.

I, Tonya

Tonya Harding is from Portland, Oregon, but the movie about her ill-fated skating career was shot mostly in Georgia, including at a rink where the public can skate: Duluth Ice Forum.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird is set in Sacramento, California, hometown of director Greta Gerwig. Most of the interiors were filmed in Los Angeles, but The Sacramento Bee says Gerwig put some of her favorite Sacramento spots in the movie, including the McKinley Park rose garden, Fabulous 40s neighborhood and the river walk near Tower Bridge.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Where can you find the oceanic planet Ahch-To from Star Wars: The Last Jedi? On a remote island off Ireland's west coast, Skellig Michael. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site where an ancient Christian monastic order built stone beehive-shaped huts. Other Star Wars scenes were shot in Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal; Loop Head in County Clare; Ballyferriter in County Kerry; and Brow Head near Crookhaven, County Cork.

The Post

The movie about The Washington Post's coverage of the Pentagon Papers was mostly filmed outside of Washington. A building in White Plains, New York, stood in for the newspaper building, and Brooklyn, New York, subbed for some shots of Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, according to Destination DC, Washington's tourism agency. You can, of course, see the US Supreme Court building in Washington, and you can see the exterior of the American Stock Exchange building in New York, though it's no longer in use. You can also stay in the room where the actual Watergate break-in took place, known as Scandal Room 214 at the Watergate Hotel. The movie's final scene depicts the discovery of the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters there, which led to the Watergate scandal.

The Shape of Water

The old movie theater featured in The Shape of Water is in Toronto. Auditorium scenes were filmed at the Elgin, a theater that opened in 1913 and is today part of a Canadian National Historic Site.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Ebbing is a fictional place. The movie was shot in North Carolina, and North Carolina is promoting a three-day itinerary to filming locations in Sylva, Dillsboro, Black Mountain, Asheville and Maggie Valley in the western part of the state.

Etcetera

A few other locations for film connoisseurs:

Get Out was filmed in Fairhope, Alabama.

Parts of Mudbound were filmed in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

Locations for All the Money in the World included, among other places, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, which stood in as J. Paul Getty's residence, and Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome and Bracciano, outside Rome, according to tourism representatives for those countries. Rome's Capitoline museum is mentioned in a pivotal scene where Michelle Williams' character seeks to sell a figurine. None of the film was shot at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California, according to a spokeswoman, but various objects collected by Getty are on view there.

The Florida Project, about a spunky little girl growing up amid impoverished families at a motel in the shadow of Disney World, probably won't lead too many visitors to stay at the Magic Castle Inn and Suites in Kissimmee, Florida.

Associated Press

Left: A man runs with his dog on the river walk along the Sacramento River, used in the movie Lady Bird. The location is among a number of real places featured in this year's Oscar-nominated films. Right: The historical Elgin Theater in Toronto, Canada, where scenes from the movie The Shape of Water were filmed. AP Photos

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2018-01-29 08:09:02
<![CDATA[Memories of her youth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597829.htm An ongoing photographic exhibition by the French-born wife of a Chinese actor showcases the lives and times of a pioneering group of Beijing-based folk singer-songwriters

She is now known as the wife of Chinese actor Liu Ye and a mother of two adorable kids, who have gained lots of fans after appearing in the popular TV show Where Are We Going, Dad? But, beyond that, she is a photographer.

Anais Martane, born into a Jewish family in Nice, France, began learning Chinese at age 14 and continued to study the language at the French National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations.

 

French photographer Anais Martane.

In 2001, she arrived in China as a foreign student at Beijing Normal University and started taking photographs as a hobby.

The same year, she met some Beijing-based folk singer-songwriters and started photographing them on and off the stage.

The photos, taken from 2002 to 2004, have been on display in her photo exhibition, titled Warm-up - Anais Martane's Photography Solo Exhibition, at Beijing's Three Shadow +3 Gallery, since Oct 28.

The exhibition runs until Feb 27.

Rong Rong, the exhibition's curator, who was touched by Martane's photos when she first saw them in early 2017, says: "This is a series of works brimming with warmth and authenticity. These scenes are now gone forever, but photography documents them with sincerity."

Martane also gave a concert at the gallery on Jan 12, performing along with some of those indie musicians, such as Guo Long, Xiao He and Wan Xiaoli, who are considered pioneers of the country's indie music scene,

At the concert, Martane performed about 15 songs, including It's Not My Name, written by Xiao He, and Lonely Bird, written by Wan, as well as Coo Coo Dove, a Mexican folk song written by Tomas Mendez, and a French song, Cafe Du Canal, by Pierre Perret.

"The concert and the photo exhibition are closely connected, as I became friends with these musicians about 15 years ago," Martane says: "We've had some great times together, and now we are all grown up."

"It feels warm to get back together with them and sing.

"Xiao He and I initiated the idea of the concert together. I used to sing a few songs at their shows in small bars in the 2000s, but I had never done a concert before."

She says she started performing with the musicians at a bar in the capital's Sanlitun area in 2001.

The performers there were a band called Wild Children, from Lanzhou in China's northwestern Gansu province.

The band, known for its fusion of local folk songs played on Western instruments, was founded in 1995 by Suo Wenjun - who died in 2004 at age 34 - and Zhang Quan.

"My friend talked with the band after the show and learned that they had a bar on the same street. 'Come!' they said, and that was how I became a fan of their music," says Martane.

"I had never listened to such music before. They had found freedom in their passion and their hard work."

Separately, Martane also listened to Chinese songs, such as those by rock musician Xu Wei, to learn Chinese.

Singer-songwriter Zhang Weiwei says of Martane: "We were about the same age, poor and far away from home. So we soon became friends."

Martane called the series of photographs Them from the moment she started the project in 2002.

"Now we all have kids and our own lives. But when we meet, the emotion of our shared youth is still and always will be alive," she says.

Martane later went on to work as a press photographer for several French and foreign publications like Liberation, Le Monde, Telerama, Elle and Marie Claire.

In 2004, she started to work for Time magazine, which led to her first book, Chinese Portraits, published in both French and English and distributed worldwide, in which she documented Chinese society and people from all walks of life.

In 2009, she married actor Liu Ye, and in 2010 and 2014, she gave birth to her son and daughter, respectively.

Now she works as a movie producer and in theater.

"In France, it is rare to hear Chinese songs. So I want to promote those songs. But I plan to translate them into French first," says Martane.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Cakes with a lofty aim]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597828.htm Editor's Note: The countdown to the Spring Festival has begun for millions of Chinese kitchens all over the world as they prepare for the new lunar year. We help you to understand some of the culinary traditions and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

In the weeks before Spring Festival, the busiest room in the Chinese household is always the kitchen. There must be an abundance of food in the larder and on the table to welcome the new year.

This is the biggest festival on the calendar, and the one time in the year when family members scattered in the big cities return home for the annual reunion. It is also often the only time when migrant workers of all strata can relax at home, catch up with family and friends, rest and make merry.

 

Golden fishes made of glutinous rice flour. Provided to China Daily

You cannot make merry without good food and drinks, and no one knows that better than the Chinese cook.

There is a long list of dishes and snacks to prepare, all with suitably auspicious names or meanings to make sure every bit of luck is captured.

Take the making of sweet and savory cakes, or gao, the name of which is homophonic with "high" or "heights" and symbolic of the ambitions for the next 12 months.

One of the best known is nian gao, the sweet sticky glutinous rice flour cakes that are a must for the celebrations.

Made with red or brown sugar, these sticky cakes will be offered to the Kitchen God a week before New Year's Eve, just as he returns to Heaven to make his annual report to the Jade Emperor.

The crafty housewives hope that his jaws will be so busy chewing on the sweet cakes that he won't have time to file a bad report.

Of course, humans enjoy niangao just as much, and they have developed many different variations, ranging from red raw sugar cakes in the shape of the golden carp, to coconut milk flavored cakes dotted with sweet red beans, to plain white and brown ones that will be sliced and coated with an egg batter and fried.

There are also niangao scented with osmanthus, and plain white, unsweetened niangao.

In the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, including Shanghai, steamed glutinous rice is laboriously pounded until it becomes a smooth sticky dough, which is molded into ingots and stamped with red for good luck. These are then dried.

When the time comes to cook these, they are sliced and fried with pork and cabbage for the first feasts of spring.

Where there is sweet, there will be savory, and no one prepares the savory cakes for New Year better than the Cantonese, using fat white Chinese radishes, large purple yams and golden pumpkins.

A traditional new year greeting in the south is bubu gaosheng - "may your every step bring you to higher ground" - often uttered while encouraging guests to have additional helpings of luobo gao, yutougao or jinguagao.

Radish, yam or pumpkin are really variations on the same theme. The base is always a slurry of rice flour, enriched with plenty of shredded root vegetables and flavored with diced cured meats, dried shrimp or cuttlefish and plenty of diced dried shiitake mushrooms.

The garnishes are just as colorful, using a mixture of spring onions and diced red chili peppers.

For dessert, guests in Cantonese households would be offered a translucent jelly made with water chestnuts, a refreshing matigao that is sweet and crunchy.

Just a little north of Guangzhou, near where Guangdong province meets Fujian, the Chaoshan people are known for their new year pastries called guo.

Often with sticky, chewy wrappers, these are formed in beautifully carved wooden molds that have been listed as an intangible cultural heritage in China.

Angkukuih, bright red tortoise cakes in the shape of that celestial reptile, are filled with sweet mung bean paste, or a mixture of crushed peanuts and sugar. No festivity is complete without these traditional temple offerings.

The pragmatic people of Chaoshan also make peach cakes or png kuih, also called tor kuih, molded in the shape of longevity peaches and filled with savory glutinous rice.

Another popular cake is the soon kuih, a pastry made with wheat starch and filled with shredded bamboo, yam bean or jicama, minced pork and dried prawns.

It is every Chinese housewife's lofty ambition that her family never goes hungry, especially during Spring Festival, and she is prepared to galvanize the whole household before the festivities begin. The countdown has only just started.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Heirloom radish cake (luobogao)

Ingredients:

4-6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked overnight

1 cup dried shrimps, soaked overnight

4 Chinese sausages, quartered lengthwise, then diced

50g Yunnan ham, finely diced

4-6 dried scallops, soaked overnight

1 cup chopped spring onions

Oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon

Soy sauce, two tablespoons

Fish sauce, 1 teaspoon

Cake batter:

500g rice flour (nonglutinous)

100g corn or potato starch

1 cup water

1.5 kg white radish (daikon), roughly shredded

Garnishes:

Fried garlic

Fried shallots

Chopped spring onions

Finely diced red chili peppers

Chopped coriander

Dice the shiitake mushrooms into 0.5 cm cubes.

Drain the scallops and dried shrimps, reserving the water.

Shred the scallops and chop the dried shrimps.

Cut up the sausages and Chinese ham into little cubes.

Heat up three tablespoons of oil and fry the chopped spring onions till fragrant. Add the sausages, ham and shiitake mushrooms. Next, added the shredded scallops and shrimps, followed by the seasoning mix of oyster and soy sauces and the fish sauce. Add pepper. Toss till well mixed, then set the fried ingredients aside.

Pile the shredded radish into a large frying pan and cook till water seeps out and radishes turn translucent, about 30 to 45 minutes on low, then medium heat.

Combine the scallop and shrimp liquid with 1 cup water. Stir in the rice flour and corn starch to form a slurry.

When the radishes are cooked, add the slurry, stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. It may seem too thin at first because the radishes will give out liquid. Keep stirring until the batter thickens.

Fold the stir-fried ingredients into the thickening batter, making sure the nuggets are well distributed. Turn the fire down low and continue cooking another five minutes or so.

Prepare the largest baking tray with deep sides that you have and line with double thickness of parchment paper. Heat up a steamer to a rolling boil. Have a boiling kettle on standby.

Pour the batter into the prepared tray and smooth out the surface with a wet wooden spoon. Place in the steamer and cook for an hour, covered. Replenish the hot water when necessary

Test the radish cake with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Allow it to cool thoroughly. Sprinkle the top with the garnishes. Keep in the refrigerator until required.

Traditionally, this radish cake is sliced and then fried on demand.

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Monk and the rose]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597827.htm Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts will present the French opera Thais as its first production of the year. Chen Nan reports.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing will stage Thais as its first opera of the year.

The three-act opera, to be performed from Feb 2 to 6, was composed by Jules Massenet, with the libretto by fellow Frenchman Louis Gallet.

 

The opera Thais features spectacular sets of symbolic elements, such as the statue of the Roman goddess Venus. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

The opera was inspired by an old French novel by Anatole France, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1921.

Premiered in 1894 in Paris, the opera's story follows that of the book - the journey of a monk named Athanael who lives in 4th century Alexandria, Egypt, and tries to convert a courtesan called Thais to Christianity, only to find himself succumbing to her charm.

"For a long time, Thais was one of the most popular operas. But from the middle of the 20th century, it slowly sank into oblivion," says NCPA opera consultant Giuseppe Cuccia.

But in recent years the work has seen a revival, with many major opera houses including it in their repertoire once again.

"It is hard to imagine an opera that is more in line with the times, with its hunger for luxury, striving for beauty and longing for eternal youth on the one hand, and its religious asceticism and fanaticism on the other hand," Cuccia says.

The creative force behind the NCPA's version of Thais is Argentine director Hugo de Ana, who is also the set and costume designer.

Known for his spectacular sets and a regular guest at the world's most prestigious opera houses, De Ana has previously directed other NCPA productions such as Giuseppe Verdi's opera Macbeth and Antonin Dvorak's opera Rusalka.

He uses symbolic elements such as the statue of the Roman goddess Venus with a broken face, a crown hanging in the air and a sloping section of stage made up of broken pieces of wood.

"The opera follows the monk's journey. So we use multimedia to show the moving scenery," says the director. "For the audience, watching the opera is also like experiencing a journey (both) about the salvation of the soul and earthly lust."

De Ana says the music of the opera is "extraordinarily beautiful, whether depicting religious austerity or the inner struggles of the characters".

Meditation for solo violin and orchestra, the most famous piece from the score, is also often performed by individual musicians at concerts.

Placido Domingo, the famed veteran tenor from Spain, will play the lead role of Athanael.

He has performed in NCPA productions since 2010, including Verdi's operas Nabucco and Macbeth.

In 2012, Operalia, an annual international voice competition, which was founded by Domingo in 1993 as a platform to help launch the careers of many of today's opera stars, held its 20th edition at the NCPA in Beijing. Among its winners were Chinese soprano Sun Xiuwei and mezzo-soprano Yang Guang.

"Now over 70 years old, Domingo is still pursuing new challenges and we are excited to have him in Thais," says Zhu He, head of program production at the NCPA.

Besides Domingo, the main cast members include Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho and soprano Davinia Rodriguez, who was born in Las Palmas, Spain. Chinese singers Li Yi, Zhang Wenwei and Dong Fang will also perform in the opera. French conductor Patrick Fournillier will take the baton, collaborating with the NCPA's in-house orchestra and chorus.

Since it was established a decade ago, the NCPA has produced 58 operas, including original works.

Thais is the fourth French opera production by the NCPA after Carmen by Georges Bizet, The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach and Samson and Delila by Camille Saint-Saens.

This year, the NCPA will produce another French opera - Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Journey back in time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597826.htm New online documentary shows Chinese restorer working at the Cartier workshop to bring old timepieces back to life. Wang Kaihao reports.

After the three-episode TV documentary Masters in the Forbidden City was broadcast in 2016, Wang Jin, an antique-clock restorer at the Palace Museum in Beijing, became a celebrity.

Many visitors to the museum have since asked to take selfies with him.

 

Wang Jin (left) and his apprentice, Qi Haonan, work on a joint project of the Palace Museum and Swiss watchmaker Cartier. Photos Provided to China Daily

And now, a documentary film has recorded his recent tour of Switzerland.

Huanxing Shijiande Jiyi (Reviving the Memory of Timepieces), which is directed by filmmaker Li Shaohong, was released last week on Tencent, one of China's major streaming sites.

Wang was only one of the "masters" in the previous TV production, but he is indisputably in the lead role this time.

The online documentary, coproduced by the Palace Museum and Swiss watchmaking company Cartier, records the collaboration between artisans from China and Switzerland as they set out to restore six antique timepiece movements from the muse-um in the Chinese capital.

"I really admire Swiss artisans' diligent attitude," Wang says, recalling his two-month stay at the Cartier workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds last year. "The basic techniques of both sides are quite similar. It's an interesting dialogue between the two cultures."

Wang jokes that he had little to do in rural Switzerland's Jura Mountains other than being fully emerged in work.

Through this documentary film, Li says she hopes to "showcase the craftsmanship represented by watchmaking artisans as they revive the spirit and historical memory of antique timepieces". The Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, was imperial China's seat of power from 1420 to 1911. Several emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were big fans of Western clocks and watches. Consequently, many luxurious timepieces were ordered from Europe, mainly Britain and France.

The museum, which houses more than 1,500 antique timepieces, is generally considered to have the world's best timepiece collection from the 18th to 19th centuries.

The six timepiece movements taken to La Chaux-de-Fonds - all of British origin - belong to two pairs of clocks and two pocket watches.

Wang, 57, who has worked at the Palace Museum for about 40 years, says every detail needed scrutiny. To guarantee the operation of movements, some old parts had to be duplicated. Even so, these newly added parts would be polished to ensure the overall aesthetic consistency. But one timepiece that lost its dial hands almost halted the joint restoration.

Wang disagreed that they should use newly made hands, which he thought would affect the timepiece's originality.

So Swiss technicians rummaged through documents in La Chaux-de-Fonds museums and finally found a set of backup dial hands made in 19th-century Britain.

Wang says this is the first time antique-clock restorers from his museum have undertaken a joint project with Switzerland. Qi Haonan, Wang's apprentice at the Palace Museum, also participated in the program.

"Switzerland has training schools for timepiece restoration, but we don't have that in China," Wang says. "There are still many areas for cooperation in the future."

The documentary crew traveled across China and Switzerland to shoot the film, and also made a video log of the program until the movements were assembled back in Beijing during the summer.

The Palace Museum first reached an agreement to work with Cartier in 2014.

Wang says there might be potential for other timepiece exhibitions in the future.

Cyrille Vigneron, CEO of Cartier International, says the timepiece collection at the Palace Museum is as famous as its jade and porcelain treasures, and is made of "grand creations".

"With the delicate restoration of the imperial collections, our workshop has experienced a great human and cultural journey, nurtured by curiosity and mutual inspiration," Vigneron says.

Calling the documentary a "rare testimony", he says it is a result of the collaboration between master watchmakers from the East and West.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Star artist's Chinese roots]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597825.htm His parents came in search of a better life - and their son won international acclaim

Stanley Chow's Manchester design studio is cluttered and cool in a way that only a celebrated illustrator's workspace could be.

Lining the wall are pictures of famous people rendered through what might be described as the artist's unique "Chow-gorithm" - the resulting "vector geometric" digital images that have become his trademark.

 

Stanley Chow, illustrator, has held exhibitions at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester and raised money for the homeless by selling the works. Provided to China Daily

Subjects include Manchester United's legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson and current manager Jose Mourinho, and the entire current United first team.

There are musicians Bob Dylan and Prince, movie stars and political figures including United States President Donald Trump, who didn't take kindly to a portrait Chow created of him for The New York Times Magazine when he was running for president.

Chow is surrounded by art materials and Apple Macs, technology that allows him to ply his trade across the world, earning commissions from the likes of Manchester United to Apple itself.

And he is proud to have been chosen as a global "Mbassador" for his birth city of Manchester, where his parents settled after meeting in Hong Kong. He credits them with kick-starting his career from their Chinese takeaway food business in the Manchester suburb of Altrincham.

"I realized that art was my thing probably around the age of 4 or 5," says Chow, who would doodle while his mother and father peeled and cooked. "My parents literally gave me a whole roll of chip wrapping paper and said, 'fill your boots'. I don't remember having anything else as entertainment really. I started out learning how to draw cats and fish, then went on to drawing people."

After studying art, Chow worked as a DJ in what would become Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter, supplementing his income designing club flyers and posters. Illustration work took over as his reputation grew, and he secured work with multinational companies, including Vodafone and BT.

But it was a bootleg poster for a tour by American rock duo The White Stripes that really marked his arrival as a portrait artist. While the poster technically breached copyright, band members Jack and Meg White loved it.

"So they gave me a slap on the wrist, but they said they wanted to work with me, which was nice," he says. "As an artist, I felt that I needed a reputation boost as opposed to a bigger bank balance, and that's where The White Stripes came in."

He still works as a commercial illustrator but is better known now as a portrait artist.

"Initially, I was picking people randomly," he adds. "Wayne Rooney had just joined Manchester United, so I did Wayne Rooney. I was looking at newspapers to see who was in the news. I'd seen Ocean's Eleven, so I did a picture of George Clooney. I put the picture of Wayne Rooney on Twitter and the footballer Edgar Davids saw it, and he said he wanted one of him. It just snowballed from there. I recently did one of Gary Neville and it's now the avatar on his Twitter profile."

And what about Donald Trump, whose image, drawn as though it was on the side of an inflated helium balloon, sparked controversy? "Oh Donald Trump ... he loved me," Chow says sarcastically. "I drew Donald Trump for The New York Times Magazine. What I didn't expect was that the day after he'd be talking about it in the Washington Post. He didn't like it. Then the week after that he moaned about it in GQ magazine."

Chow's work as an Mbassador for tourism and investment body Marketing Manchester includes a new video, showcasing Manchester's creativity, for the BBC World channel, allowing him to spread the word about his hometown to people across the globe.

It highlights the creative hub that has helped to make Manchester a world-class city, with collaboration between artists and designers, coders and technologists. "When I started I felt that I was the only illustrator in Manchester," he adds.

"That was in the 1990s. Now there are lots of illustrators and creatives. Everyone is having a go at starting their own companies and I think that's really good. Everyone helps each other as well, and that helps the city creatively."

While he's thoroughly Mancunian - the name given to people from Manchester - he acknowledges the influence of Chinese culture on his life and work. He has fond early memories of visiting the restaurants in Manchester's famous Chinatown - the second biggest in the UK - to eat dim sum with his parents at weekends.

He has held exhibitions at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester and raised money for the homeless by selling the works.

He also credits the Chinese magazines his parents bought with influencing his artistic style.

"In some of the magazines that they bought there were certain characters that I really liked and that I used to copy while I was learning to draw," he adds.

Food has provided another link to China, he says: "Initially, Chinese culture wasn't that important to my parents. They wanted me to integrate into British society more. They pushed me to have more white friends.

"They didn't really teach me about Chinese culture. I learned about it through food. Even though we owned the chippie, we didn't eat traditional English fish and chips. We had all this strange food, offal and noodles, and strange vegetables. When we were poor we were given Chinese herbal remedies as opposed to Western medicine. In that sense, we weren't directly taught about Chinese culture, but it was part of my growing up."

He regularly takes his own children to eat Chinese food in Manchester's Chinatown and is honored to have been asked to provide illustrations to promote Manchester's Chinese New Year celebrations for the last four years.

"I'm from Manchester, I'm Chinese. I guess I'm the only person they could have asked, who was slightly famous, who would like to do the posters. I was really proud," he adds

Chow's parents met in Hong Kong while his late father was on a trip back to the island in the 1970s. His father originally left Hong Kong seeking opportunity in the 1950s, arriving in London by air, then heading north to Manchester and working in kitchens.

He adds: "He used to tell me that he landed in London, he had five quid ( 5) in his pocket. They stuck him on a bus and the bus when up north, and that's where he stayed. Since then he'd been working in restaurants and then eventually he bought his first chippie in Altrincham in the '70s with my mum.

"Because my parents worked so hard, and it looked like such hard work, it taught me that was what I didn't want to do. Hard work was ingrained in me, but it taught me that I didn't want to work in the catering business. From a young age, I knew I needed to find a way out. My parents fully understood that. It was paramount to them that me and my sister got a good education."

Chow supports Manchester United - the most popular soccer team online in China, according to Red Card 2017 - but is also fond of Manchester City, a club that has attracted hundreds of millions of pounds in Chinese investment. Not only has the investment helped to make Manchester City Football Club a winning side, it has supported regeneration of vast swaths of Manchester.

Chinese investors have also supported the forest of fashionable new apartment blocks that have sprung up in the city, many of them home to the thousands of Chinese students at Manchester's universities.

Chow thinks that decades of overseas investment have reassured people that Manchester is a place where it's possible to invest safely, bringing major benefits for the city he calls home.

"The fact that it didn't feel like a risk made it attractive, and also the fact that you didn't have to invest as much as in other places, like London," he adds.

Direct flights between Beijing and Manchester were launched by Hainan Airlines in 2016 and are proving popular. Chow is excited that more Chinese visitors are coming to Manchester and is proud to show it off.

"I think Manchester is an important city and has the world looking on it. We have two of the biggest football clubs in the world. The rest of us also have to represent. We can't just have great football club. We need great restaurants to support the fact that we have a great football clubs. Everything else needs to be great as well.

"I'm really proud of the way Manchester is today. Manchester has the infrastructure now to support people who want to be successful and build careers. When I started out, all I wanted was to draw pictures. But when Apple, Man United and major league soccer are calling, it makes me feel proud. I'm still in shock, really. I don't know what I did to achieve this. I keep saying I'm lucky, but it's a combination of luck, hard work and maybe just being persistent and a bit cheeky here and there, but also getting to know the right people. I'm over the moon. It's mind-blowing."

For China Daily

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Life's a game]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597824.htm The chatter of the online gaming community has become part of popular Chinese culture

China is already one of the world's largest and most rapidly growing online gaming markets. According to Statista, a market research and business intelligence portal, the country's online gaming sector was worth 216 billion yuan ($33 billion; 27 billion euros; £24 billion) in 2017 and is estimated to reach 324 billion yuan by 2020.

Whether PC or mobile games, people are increasingly turning on fantasy role-playing hits such as Honor of Kings or South Korea's gory "battle royale" phenomenon Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, now widely considered to be the world's hottest video game.

In the process, many gaming terms and jargon have begun to embed themselves in Chinese popular culture and language (much like "Easter egg," "pwn," "noob," "frag," and other terms have in English). For example, during this year's Black Friday, phrases like the following were repeated ad nauseum on online banner ads:

Black Friday promotion: all products seckilling for 50 percent off!

Hēi wǔ cùxiāo: Suǒyǒu shāngpǐn wǔ zhé miǎoshā

黑五促销:所有商品五折秒杀!

The word “秒杀 (miǎoshā, second killing) is a common term in online gaming, meaning to kill an "enemy" within seconds. In this context, it's intended to stimulate the consumer to "click" or buy quickly, lest the discounted goods sell out. But miaosha can also be used to mean "outclass" in different areas. For example, when reviewing a film, one can comment on the actors' performance by saying:

That veteran actor totally "seckilled" those "little fresh meat" (young, handsome idols).

Zhè wèi lǎo xì gǔ wánquán miǎoshā nàxiē xiǎo xiān ròu

这位老戏骨完全秒杀那些小鲜肉。

A similar phrase is 碾压 (niǎn yā), literally meaning to "roll over." In World of Warcraft, if an enemy monster is three or more levels higher than the player, the damage it wreaks will increase by 50 percent. Such an overwhelming advantage means it's easy for high-level characters to kill lowlevel ones, or "steamroll" them. In daily conversation, nianya thus refers to a wide gap in performance, ability or talent:

Since I entered this top university, I feel my intelligence has been steamrolled by my classmates everywhere.

Zìcóng wǒ jìnle zhè suǒ dǐngjí dàxué, jiù gǎnjué zhìshāng chùchù bèi tóngxué niǎn yā.

自从我进了这所顶级大学,就感觉智商处处被同学碾压。

In online gaming, miaosha and nianya often happen in the process of "PK" - short for "player killing". PK refers to the act of two or more players fighting each other ("PvP" in English gaming slang). But it has been used so widely that these origins have been largely forgotten. In 2004, the hit American Idol-style singing contest Super Girls had a weekly knockout round, in which the two weakest contestants would face off in front of the judges and audience in a round called "PK". Almost overnight, the term went viral, and individuals and even mainstream media began using it as a general expression for "compete with" or "fight against":

In order to win this election, you need to PK against two other candidates.

Yào xiǎng yíngdé zhè cì xuǎnjǔ, nǐ bìxū hé qítā liǎng wèi hòuxuǎn rén jìnxíng PK.

要想赢得这次选举,你必须和其他两位候选人进行PK。

In multiplayer gaming, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It's human nature for those defeated to shift blame. Teammates are always the first to take the brunt, known as 猪队友 (zhū duì yǒu, pig teammate), especially anyone whose performance dragged down the whole team. A "pig" is stupid, inefficient and useless. In the real world, when one's progress is seriously hindered by a co-worker or partner, he or she may lament:

It's not a godlike opponent I'm afraid of, but a piglike teammate.

Bùpà shén yīyàng de duìshǒu, jiù pà zhū yīyàng de duìyǒu.

不怕神一样的对手,就怕猪一样的队友。

But when you are the pig, you can't shift the blame onto your teammates anymore. In which case, the strength of one's rivals serves as another excuse - you can't compete against their 神操作 (shén cāozuò), literally, "godlike move". In daily conversation, though, this phrase doesn't always indicate admiration, but instead refers to unreasonable or ridiculous behavior. For example:

This company declined my job application just because I am a Virgo. What a godlike move!

Zhè jiā gōngsī jùjuéle wǒ de qiúzhí shēnqǐng, jiù yīnwèi wǒ shì chǔnǚ zuò. Zhēnshi shén cāozuò!

这家公司拒绝了我的求职申请,就因为我是处女座。真是神操作!

Not everyone has the grace to admire their rivals. Some accuse their opponents of cheating. In Chinese, using "cheats" (mods or codes used to illicitly boost your own powers) is called 开挂 (kāiguà), with 挂(guà) meaning "cheating programs". Such an accusation can serve as a compliment in real life. For example, when people saw Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt break the 100-meter world record, many applauded, while some wondered:

He is so fast! He must be using cheating programs!

Tā pǎo dé tài kuàile! Kāi guàle ba!

他跑得太快了!开挂了吧!

They didn't mean to suggest he was doping - merely that Bolt's athleticism was like he'd received a "power-up". Of course, luck can also determine the result of a game. Here, the expression "RP," short for "Random Point", is useful. It's used in the game Ever Quest. When a team slays a monster, the system will assign a random number to each member of the team - the one who gets the biggest "Random Point" can be rewarded with special equipment. Later, some Ever Quest players, noting that RP happens to be the initials of the Chinese word 人品 (rén pǐn, personality, moral quality), started using 人品 as a byword for luck, (though there are other accounts of how this word came about).

In conversation, 人品好 (rén pǐn hǎo, good personality) means lucky, and 人品不好 (rén pǐn bù hǎo, bad personality) means unlucky. A frequently seen term is 人品问题 (rén pǐn wèntí, a personality issue), which is used by young people to explain everything: Lost your purse? Got ill? Failed an exam? They're all personality issues!

You missed the last bus? That's totally a personality issue.

Nǐ cuòguòle mòbānchē? Nà chúncuì shì rén pǐn wèntí.

你错过了末班车?那纯粹是人品问题。

If this expression can teach us anything, it is that "better" people will naturally have better "luck". Actually, everyone can learn lessons from games. Honor of Kings generated two popular lines that were jokingly put together as a couplet. The first line is: Develop humbly, don't act rashly! Wěisuǒ fāyù, bié làng! 猥琐发育,别浪!

During the game, the line is used to warn teammates to keep a cool head, not put themselves in danger or challenge an enemy too strong for them. In daily life, it's used to remind people not to make a rash decision; it even has a famous historical antecedent in the chengyu 韬光养晦 (tāo guāng yǎng huì), often translated as "hide your brightness". The second line of the couplet is:

Hold on! We can win!

Wěn zhù, wǒmen néng yíng!

稳住, 我们能赢!

This is usually used to boost morale - though in most cases, it's just a white lie - when your team is in critical condition. But it can be used to cheer people up in many situations. For example, if your friend has been chasing a girl for a long time without any "random points", one can encourage him by saying: Hold on, dude! We can win! Xiōngdì, wěn zhù! Wǒmen néng yíng! 兄弟,稳住!我们能赢!

Or maybe he just has "personality issues"? Either way, life is a game: either it seckills you or you roll over it. Just hold on - you can win!

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Historic monkey business]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597801.htm Shaoju Opera widely known for playful performances

Shaoju is a regional opera originating from Shaoxing, East China's Zhejiang province. With a history dating back nearly 400 years, Shaoju has had more than 400 play programs and is widely known for the performance of the monkey character.

China's monkey plays can be categorized by region and defined as southern and northern styles. The northern style is represented by Peking Opera, while Shaoju is the best-known southern style monkey play.

Shaoju performing masters Zhang Zongyi and Zhang Zongxin, whose stage names are Liulingtong and Qilingtong, respectively, introduced the monkey character into the performance of Shaoju in the 1940s. Zhang Jinlai, better known as Liuxiaolingtong, created a sensation by playing the role of the Monkey King in the popular TV series Journey to the West in 1986.

In 2008, Shaoju was listed as an national intangible cultural heritage. Liu Jianyang is a successor to the great performers and has been hailed as the "New Monkey King of Jiangnan". Under his leadership, the Shaoju Art Research Institute of Zhejiang stages nearly 100 Monkey King plays every year.

lijing2009@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Liu wears make-up backstage during a performance in Dashanxi village of Shaoxing in East China's Zhejiang province on Jan 19.

 
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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Big picture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/28/content_35597800.htm

 

FOREST OF FACTS: A library with a collection of more than 100,000 books has been set up at Tieshan Temple Forest Park, a tourist spot in Xuyi, Jiangsu province. Zhou Haijun / Xinhua

 

CUT ABOVE: Residents of Shandong province's Yiyuan county show off Chinese New Year paper-cutting designs. The county is known for the making of the Chinese traditional decorations. Zhao Dongshan / Xinhua

 

BIG CHILL: A street scene after snow swept into Yantai, Shandong province, on Jan 22. Tang Ke / Xinhua

 

SEASONAL TASTE: Foreign students attending Jiangsu University sample laba rice porridge at a community in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province on Jan 22. The 12th lunar month in Chinese is called la yue, and the eighth day of the month is la yue chu ba, or laba. Shi Yucheng / Xinhua

 

YOUNG READERS: Two girls read books at a village library in Kala village of Longquan town, Danzhai county, in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture of Guizhou province. Beginning this winter, children's books have been added to libraries in more than 100 villages. Huang Xiaohai / Xinhua

 

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2018-01-28 13:30:06
<![CDATA[Kung pao chicken and the art of patience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595356.htm It was no big deal for chef Wei Jinting of the old Beijing Hotel when he stir-fried about 100 portions of kung pao chicken together using a shovel-like spatula in a massive wok for a State banquet in the late 1960s.

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At least two chefs reckon that if you want to get that recipe right you need to try it a thousand times

It was no big deal for chef Wei Jinting of the old Beijing Hotel when he stir-fried about 100 portions of kung pao chicken together using a shovel-like spatula in a massive wok for a State banquet in the late 1960s.

When another chef, Wu Zhen, his son-in-law, asked him how to measure the amount of salt and other condiments that he quickly scooped out of the buckets at that time, Wei says: "Trust your instincts."

"You have to cook kung pao chicken a thousand times before you know how to get it just right."

Wu Zhen did just that, and now his version of this well-known Sichuan dish is served at his own restaurant called Zen in Qianmen Street, Dongcheng district, one of the best known pedestrian streets in Beijing.

In Beijing's restaurant scene, where global dishes or dishes with all kinds of global influences are served, Zen flies its own colors, sticking to only the most traditional Chinese recipes.

The cooking philosophy at this restaurant is "soft fire makes sweet malt". Most of the dishes served are kung fu dishes, ones that call for meticulous care, lengthy preparation and sophisticated skills.

It is an eatery that tries to preserve dishes from old State banquets under the guidance of Wei Jinting, in his 80s, who still visits the restaurant once or twice a week to impart traditional cooking skills and recipes to novice chefs including his son-in-law Wu Zhen.

"We see an increasing loss of tradition in the food we eat today," Wu says. "Some of the old cooking skills are dying out."

Whenever Wei talks about this, he looks sad, Wu says.

"So my wife and I were motivated to open our own restaurant, and the initial thought was to show filial piety."

Wu used to be a designer and an amateur chef.

Kung pao chicken is given the nostalgic treatment at Zen, something that may overturn what you expect in this dish.

Sweet-and-sour, spicy, gloopy - none of these descriptions applies to the dish here.

In Wu's way, the burning sensation of the red chilies is removed, and the chilies turn a crispy texture, and display a brownish red color and are easily edible.

"A mild charred-and-spicy flavor with just a smidgen of a fruity litchi taste is what we do for kung pao chicken," Wu says.

"We use the whole sanhuang chicken (a small bird breed with brown feathers). Then we debone the whole chicken and dice the meat."

To get rid of a gooey sauce while maintaining super tender chunks of meat, Wu says, a critical cooking skill is ran zhi, which means to toss the entire contents of a wok into the air and let it all fall into the wok while catching flames inside the receptacle.

"It must be cooked fast enough, within 35 to 40 seconds, once the chicken is added. Only in this way can we develop the flavors while simultaneously retaining a crisp, fresh crunch of chilies and juicy meat."

This quick-cooking skill requires sophistication.

"It's hard to manage the time and the strength of flames, and achieve a good wok-hay flavor," Wu says.

"Some diners complain that we tone down the spiciness too much. But we still stick to the traditional way of cooking this dish as it was enjoyed at the State banquets in the 60s and 70s.

"Some have a deep love for what we do, and some dislike it. We don't cater to all customers. If people crave for the very spicy type of Sichuan food, we may not be the right place."

For me the kung pao chicken at Wu's place is luscious.

In these stressful times, Wu's eatery tries to offer an ambience of tranquillity and relaxation, and harmony with a Zen-like interior in natural wood colors and soft tone, giving it an atmosphere that is anything but swanky.

Pork tripe stuffed with meat is cooked by primitive, complicated methods that involve filling the tripe with prepared soup stock, lean meat, peas and water chestnuts, steaming, and cooling down to serve as a cold dish.

One dish that you may not find elsewhere is Marshal chicken hotpot, named after Marshal Chen Yi (1900-72), one of the nation's founding fathers. The dish is devised from a Sichuan dish called lantern chicken with radiant spicy soup in a pot with a lid that resembles a lantern.

"In the early 1970s lantern chicken cooked by my father-in-law Wei Jinting at the old Beijing Hotel was one of Marshal Chen's favorites," Wu says. Later on, Wei renamed it Marshal chicken hotpot and has imparted his recipe to Wu Zhen.

Yu xiang rou si (fish-flavored shredded pork), is another featured Chinese dish given the traditional treatment at Restaurant Zen.

"A most critical ingredient of this dish is yu la zi, traditional Sichuan pickled chilies fermented in a sealed container with fish inside for a year," Wu Zhen says. "So there is a fish taste in that yu la zi chili sauce."

However, this traditional method of making the fish-flavored chili sauce is rarely seen in restaurants today because of the slow and complicated procedures; and people use spicy bean paste instead.

But Wu sticks to the original method, and his dish well proofs the "fish fragrance" although there's actually no fish involved in the dish.

At Zen, I also had a most healing Chinese dessert, walnut puree, an exquisite dessert soup of old Beijing-style delicacy. Rich and creamy even though there is no dairy added, this soupy dessert brings out an enchanting fragrance and aftertaste of walnuts and jujubes, the two main ingredients.

The dessert is such a wonder because not only does it delight your tastes bud, but also does good for your health, if you believe the widely held belief in China that walnuts help nourish the brain.

"These days many people want something new in their dining some creative dishes, but we look back in terms of recipes, trying to preserve the most authentic ones," Wu says.

"In a marketing sense we are bucking the trend, and it's hard to say whether what we are doing is a good thing. But one thing is certain: we feel honor bound to pass on the most precious culinary traditions to the next generations."

If you go

Zhi Can (Restaurant Zen)

Tuesday to Sunday: 11 am to 2 pm; 5:30 pm to 9 pm.

Third floor, 97 Qianmen Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing

010-8861-5783

dongfangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

Clockwise from top: Chef Wei Jinting; poached beef with hot chili; sliced cold chicken with baijiu flavor. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-01-27 06:44:56
<![CDATA[A path to enchantment by breaking rules]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595355.htm Beijing's homegrown restaurant chain brand Tiago invited a celebrity Italian guest chef, Federico Zanellato, to bring to it his innovative and original Western dishes with a distinctly Asian aesthetic.

Zanellato's enchanting dishes broke any culinary rules I am aware of in all sorts of delicious ways in a trial of his menu at Combal by Tiago. All courses introduced different layers of flavors with different textures, even though they looked to be a simple Nordic style.

As East meets West in a culinary sense, Zanellato interprets this marriage with fine balance.

When I mention fusion cuisine, Zanellato says: "As you do fusion you get to be very careful not to make it confusion."

To him, the term fusion has become dated.

"The philosophy of Asian cuisine has been used in Western cuisine for the past 20 years. It shouldn't be called fusion anymore. It's just a globalization of flavors and techniques. Fusion is what people used to do in the 80s, mixing up food from different countries and cultures by the early immigrants.

"These days people are more open to all sorts of information; chefs travel much more often; food bloggers have access to anything that is happening around the world instantly. I would say our dishes are enhanced and influenced by one another."

Zanellato's philosophy is to try to use classic techniques in the dishes, and swap different flavors. For example, in the chawanmushi, a typical Japanese egg custard dish we tasted, instead of using Japanese kombu seaweed in the custard, Zanellato used Parmesan cheese.

Another dish on his guest menu, porcini agnolotti in rye dashi, brings a very similar texture of the running broth as Chinese steamed bun xiaolongbao.

The young Italian chef Federico Zanellato, 38, bears a shining curriculum vitae of rich experience at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants including La Pergola in Rome, Noma in Copenhagen. He and his wife moved to Sydney in 2010 and opened the restaurant LuMi in 2014, now an increasing glamorous eatery that was awarded two Chefs Hat by The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide last year. LuMi was also ranked 19 in the Australian Top 100 restaurants of 2016 by The Australian Financial Review.

Zanellato says he has been to a few countries in Southeast Asia and received training in Ryugin, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tokyo, but it was the first time he had been to China.

"I have traveled a lot around in Asia, but I never had connections or friends in China. I always prefer to go a place if I know someone."

He and Katie Li, the owner of Tiago, met last year when she dined at LuMi in Sydney.

The gist of Zanellato's cooking philosophy is to use seasonal and local produce.

"We try to highlight the produce as much as possible, with very low manipulation of food," he says.

"My first ever short stint in China as a guest chef has been very difficult and tricky because I am not familiar with the produce here.

"At the moment in Sydney we are working in a hot summer with a refreshing menu. Here in Beijing I cannot use my light and refreshing dishes. I went back to my winter menu and started to see if we could get the produce and ingredients in Beijing."

Some special ingredients he brought from Sydney included lime kosho, eucalyptus oil, which is native to Australia, and dry fennel pollen.

He later found that "Beijing's produce is great".

"The language is the hardest thing. To get myself understood about how the food should be seasoned, how the textures and the temperature are very difficult. The menu requires more attention to details."

What surprised him most when he explored authentic Chinese food in Beijing for the first time was the sophistication of flavors and textures.

"The sticky texture, and the sweet-and-sour flavor of the Chinese dish squirrel fish impressed me. There must be a lot of techniques and skills."

He was also fascinated by the Cantonese claypot rice in which "the crunchy and crispy layers of rice associate with something similar to paella and risotto".

Asia has approaches to food similar to those of Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Spain, Zanellato says. "The love of food that Chinese people have is incredible. Having a meal is still a very important part of the day. People are obsessed with food, the same as in Italy. I don't find the same in Anglo-Saxon countries, like the UK and Canada."

Federico Zanellato returned to Sydney this week. But his menu of modern Italian food with Asian twists is still available at Combal, or his own LuMi restaurant in Sydney.

If you go

Combal by Tiago

Monday to Sunday: 11:30 am-2 pm; 5:30 pm-9:30 pm

127-129, 1st floor, tower C, COFCO Plaza, 8 Jianguomennei Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing

010-6528-2280

LuMi

Lunch: Friday to Sunday from 12 pm

Dinner: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6:30 pm; Friday and Saturday from 6 pm

56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont, 2009 NSW, Australia

+61 2 9571 1999

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2018-01-27 06:44:56
<![CDATA[With voids, win many trump tricks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595354.htm Ronald Reagan said, "The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

Bridge players' economies may improve with a well-placed short suit. If you have a good trump fit, a singleton opposite only the ace, or a void opposite low cards, you will win more tricks than your combined point-count would suggest.

In contrast, it is usually bad news to have singletons and voids opposite lots of honors. However, diagnosing the position may be problematic.

In today's crazy deal, how do you think the auction should proceed?

North's four-spade raise is preemptive, known as a weak freak in some quarters. It shows lots of trumps and offensive, not defensive, values. Since a weak freak usually contains a singleton or void, South hoped it would be in hearts. So, he control-bid five clubs. Then, when North could control-bid in hearts, South should have settled for six spades. However, he control-bid in diamonds and, after North confirmed a heart void (or bare ace), South jumped ambitiously to seven spades.

After West led the heart king, how did South play?

Declarer had 10 tricks available with a red-suit crossruff. But he also needed three club tricks. When planning a crossruff, always cash your side-suit winners first. So South, after ruffing at trick one, took those three club tricks. Then he merrily crossruffed home to his grand slam, leaving West to rue that he had not held a trump to lead.

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2018-01-27 06:44:27
<![CDATA[Master chef cooking up a food feast for Macao]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595353.htm World-acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse recently announced that he will open two new restaurants and a bar in May at the upcoming Morpheus Hotel at City of Dreams resort, Macao.

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Alain Ducasse, who recently announced that he will open two new restaurants and a bar at an upcoming hotel in Asia, reveals some of the things guests can expect

World-acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse recently announced that he will open two new restaurants and a bar in May at the upcoming Morpheus Hotel at City of Dreams resort, Macao.

An entire floor will be dedicated to the project, and City of Dreams will become the first resort in Asia to have two Ducasse restaurants and a bar.

"Projects of such a broad scope and high ambition are not that numerous in the world today. It is a great honor for me to be part of it," says Ducasse.

"I always create and never duplicate - each of my venues is different and reflects the mood of its location."

"We shared the same passion to make dining more innovative ...This place will be the thing of dreams. It'll become an icon of the new Macao," says Lawrence Ho, chairman and CEO of Melco Resorts and Entertainments Ltd, which owns City of Dreams.

Called the "godfather" of French cuisine, Ducasse has a total of 21 Michelin stars spanning his 26 restaurants in France, Monaco, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan.

In early 2017, the legendary chef opened the French seafood restaurant Rech by Alain Ducasse at the InterContinental Hong Kong, his first restaurant in China.

It was his 25th restaurant, and also the first outpost of the Rech restaurant outside France.

"My two restaurants in Macao are distinguished, and they resonate with the location and the people. Guests will feel like they're dining in France. It's a combination of many factors, especially the cutting-edge inner design and the artistic architecture of Morpheus Hotel," says Ducasse, 61.

For the Macao project, Alain Ducasse at Morpheus will serve contemporary French haute cuisine - his signature dishes from Paris and Monaco. And its design will pay tribute to traditional Chinese gardens.

"It's of the same level as my restaurants in Paris and Monaco, offering authentic French food and a comfortable dining environment," he says.

According to him, the new restaurant will follow the rule of his current focus on cooking - to reduce the amount of salt, sugar, fat and animal protein and use more fish and seafood.

"With less of such ingredients, you need to have expertise so as to maintain the quality of dishes and rethink how to protect the resources on earth," he says.

Voyages by Alain Ducasse is customized for City of Dreams, with Asian cuisine inspired by his culinary travels over the past three decades. Its decor features solid wood, stone and lacquer, with inspiration from traditional Chinese elements.

While Ducasse admits there are no Chinese dishes in the Voyages restaurant, he says he likes Cantonese cuisine.

Speaking about the Macao food scene, Ducasse who has been there several times says he finds that the competition there is heating up.

"So, the uniqueness of the menu and design help you stand out in the market," he says.

Meanwhile, in The Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macao 2018, there are a total of 227 restaurants in Hong Kong and 65 in Macao.

As for establishments with three stars in the guide, there are six in Hong Kong and two in Macao.

All the restaurants with three stars have retained their positions from the previous edition.

Commenting on the guide, Ducasse says he's glad to see more Chinese restaurants gaining Michelin stars.

Also, it's good news that more French chefs are opening restaurants in China, especially in places such as Shanghai.

Asked about opening a restaurant on the mainland, his answer is "maybe".

Ducasse operates a cooking school in downtown Paris, which offers workshops to the general public.

As for China, he's planning to open a cooking school in Shanghai within one or two years, but he doesn't reveal more details.

The French-born Monegasque started training to be a chef when he was 16.

And at 33, he was the head chef at Le Louis XV in Monaco - the first hotel restaurant awarded three Michelin stars.

In 1998, he became the first six-starred chef with three more Michelin stars for Alain Ducasse in Paris.

Speaking about his ingredients for success, he says it is curiosity, observing the competition and working on new ideas and dishes for customers.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

Alain Ducasse is a Frenchborn Monegasque chef. He operates a number of restaurants including Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester Hotel in London which holds three stars in the Michelin Guide. Provided to China Daily

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2018-01-27 06:43:46
<![CDATA[Paul Bocuse, globe-trotting master of French cuisine, dies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595352.htm PARIS - Paul Bocuse, the master chef who defined French cuisine for more than a half-century and put it on tables around the world, has died. He was 91.

Often referred to as the "pope of French cuisine", Bocuse was a tireless pioneer, the first chef to blend the art of cooking with savvy business tactics - branding his cuisine and his image to create an empire of restaurants around the globe.

Bocuse died last Saturday at Collonges-au-Mont-d'or, the place where he was born and had his restaurant.

"French gastronomy loses a mythical figure," French President Emmanuel Macron said. "The chefs cry in their kitchens, at the Elysee (presidential palace) and everywhere in France."

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb tweeted that "Mister Paul was France. Simplicity and generosity. Excellence and art de vivre."

Bocuse, who underwent a triple heart bypass in 2005, had also been suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Bocuse's temple to French gastronomy, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, outside the city of Lyon in southeastern France, has held three stars - without interruption - since 1965 in the Michelin guide, the bible of gastronomes.

In 1982, Bocuse opened a restaurant in the France Pavilion in Walt Disney World's Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, headed by his son Jerome, also a chef. In recent years, Bocuse even dabbled in fast food with two outlets in his home base of Lyon.

"He has been a leader. He took the cook out of the kitchen," celebrity French chef Alain Ducasse said at a 2013 gathering to honor Bocuse.

"Monsieur Paul," as he was known, was placed right in the center of 2013 cover of the newsweekly Le Point that exemplified "The French Genius". Shown in his trademark pose - arms folded over his crisp white apron, a tall chef's hat, or "toque", atop his head - he was winged by Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur and Coco Chanel, among other French luminaries.

While excelling in the business of cooking, Bocuse never flagged in his devotion to his first love, creating a top class, quintessentially French meal. He eschewed the fads and experiments that captivated many other top chefs.

"In cooking, there are those who are rap and those who are concerto," he told the French newsmagazine L'Express before his 2005 biography, adding that he tended toward the concerto.

Born into a family of cooks that he dates to the 1700s, Bocuse stood guard over the kitchen of his world-famous restaurant even in retirement. In a 2011 interview with The Associated Press, Bocuse said he slept in the room where he was born above the dining rooms.

"But I changed the sheets," he added with characteristic wry humor.

Born on Feb 11, 1926, Bocuse entered his first apprenticeship at 16. He worked at the famed La Mere Brazier in Lyon, then spent eight years with one of his culinary idols, Fernand Point, whose cooking was a precursor to France's nouvelle cuisine movement, with lighter sauces and lightly cooked fresh vegetables.

Bocuse's career in the kitchen traversed the ages. He went from apprenticeships and cooking "brigades", as kitchen teams are known, when stoves were coal-fired and chefs also served as scullery maids, to the ultramodern kitchen of his Auberge.

"There was rigor," Bocuse told the AP. "(At La Mere Brazier) you had to wake up early and milk the cows, feed the pigs, do the laundry and cook ... It was a very tough school of hard knocks."

"Today, the profession has changed enormously. There's no more coal. You push a button and you have heat," he said.

The gastronomic offerings at Bocuse's L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges are rooted in the French culinary tradition: simple, authentic food that was "identifiable" in its nature.

Emblematic of that was a crock of truffle soup topped with a golden bubble of pastry he created in 1975 for then-French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, which is served to this day. Another classic is fricassee of Bresse chicken - from France's Bresse region, which is famed for its poultry - served in cream with morilles, a spring mushroom.

And his favorite ingredient? Butter.

"(It's a) magical product," he said during a visit to the Culinary Institute of America. "Nothing replaces butter."

Three other cooking must-haves, according to the chef, are fresh produce (his was from his own garden), good, trusted kitchen staff and happy diners.

"It's the client who runs the house," Bocuse said in the AP interview.

While Bocuse's kitchens were meticulously in order, his personal life was on the unorthodox side. He acknowledged in a 2005 biography that he had been quietly sharing his life with three women - simultaneously - each with a pivotal role in his life.

"I think cuisine and sex have lots of common points," Bocuse said before publication of Paul Bocuse: The Sacred Fire. "Even if it seems a bit macho, I love women."

He is survived by his wife Raymonde, their daughter Francoise and a son, Jerome.

Associated Press

Clockwise from top: Paul Bocuse at the international culinary competition of the Bocuse d’Or in 2007; Jerome Bocuse (right) adjusting the hat of his father Paul Bocuse; French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing (right) awarding Paul Bocuse at the Elysee Palace in Paris in 1975. Photos By Agence Francepresse

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2018-01-27 06:43:46
<![CDATA[A helping hand]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595351.htm In May 2017, the first unit of China-Pakistan Emergency Medical Corridor, the PRCRCSC Fraternity Emergency Care Center, opened in Gwadar, Pakistan. The emergency center is equipped with vehicles, medical teams and a modern information system.

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The China-Pakistan Emergency Medical Corridor built under the Belt and Road Initiative aims to address disaster relief and humanitarian needs

In May 2017, the first unit of China-Pakistan Emergency Medical Corridor, the PRCRCSC Fraternity Emergency Care Center, opened in Gwadar, Pakistan. The emergency center is equipped with vehicles, medical teams and a modern information system.

As the Pakistani Red Crescent Society does not have the ability to run the emergency center for now, the Chinese Red Cross Society is dispatching medical teams from China to run the facility. The center will be handed over to Pakistan for independent operations after a two-year period.

The Chinese team at the Pakistan facility marks the first time a medical team has been sent abroad by the China Red Cross Society, and the first long-term foreign assignment for a medical team from China to a country outside Africa.

In September 2017, 12 medical personnel from Huashan Hospital, which is affiliated to Fudan University, the Beijing Red Cross Emergency Rescue Center and the China Red Cross Foundation arrived in Gwadar Port, Pakistan, to provide free medical services to the local people there and Chinese who work at the site.

In the past four months, the medical team has treated nearly 700 patients from Pakistan and China.

Also, around 100 primary school students have also been treated under the free medical checkup program for local schools.

Separately, in cooperation with Pakistan's State Health Planning Commission, cataract screening and treatment is being done.

Gwadar Port is located in Baluchistan, a region in Pakistan with a serious separatist problem.

So, for safety reasons, the emergency center is situated near the Gwadar Port.

The China-Pakistan Emergency Medical Corridor is co-sponsored by the Red Cross units of the two countries under the Belt and Road Initiative, and aims to address disaster relief and humanitarian needs.

Photos By Wang Jing

China Daily

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2018-01-27 06:42:49
<![CDATA[Arts in focus at capital's cultural fiesta]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595350.htm Naomi Chung first watched Cantonese Opera as a child along with her parents in Hong Kong. But she can still recall the music performed with traditional Chinese instruments - such as cymbals, drums, the erhu and the bangzi - besides the actors' elaborate makeup, costumes and acrobatic techniques.

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The upcoming Spring For Chinese Arts, an annual arts festival by the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing has a wide variety of musicals, concerts, and dance shows on offer

Naomi Chung first watched Cantonese Opera as a child along with her parents in Hong Kong. But she can still recall the music performed with traditional Chinese instruments - such as cymbals, drums, the erhu and the bangzi - besides the actors' elaborate makeup, costumes and acrobatic techniques.

Recalling those days, she says: "Though Hong Kong is often associated with the image of a metropolitan city. Cantonese Opera has a large and stable fan base."

Now, the head of Xiqu, Performing Arts of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong, Chung was in Beijing recently to participate in events linked to the upcoming Spring For Chinese Arts, an annual arts festival by the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center.

The festival, now in its third year, will feature 29 performances, including musicals, concerts, and dance, as well as one forum and 10 public workshops on weekends, from April 1 to June 3.

An original Cantonese Opera show, Farewell My Concubine, performed by the Xiqu Center of West Kowloon Cultural District and produced by Chung, will be staged from April 20 and 21 at Tianqiao Performing Arts Center as part of the festival.

The show, featuring young Hong Kong-based Cantonese Opera actors, including Keith Lai as Xiang Yu and Janet Wong as Yu Ji, is adapted from a classic story set against the backdrop of the Han-Chu conflict in the final years of the Qin Dynasty (206-202 BC).

In the story, Xiang Yu, the King of Chu, falls to the forces of Liu Bang, the King of Han.

And, then, Xiang Yu and his beloved concubine Yu Ji meet for the last time.

The show, combining traditional Cantonese opera techniques and contemporary stage and lighting design, showcases Cantonese Opera using different dialects, such as Guanhua, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

Cantonese Opera, like many traditional Chinese operas, combines singing, martial arts and acting. And it attained a peak in the 1950s and 1960s.

Now, Cantonese Opera is performed mainly in the Cantonese dialect and is popular mostly in Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macao.

In September 2009, UNESCO listed Cantonese Opera as oral and intangible heritage.

The idea of adapting Farewell My Concubine into a Cantonese Opera show took shape in 2016 as Chung was preparing to lead a group of young Cantonese Opera actors to participate in a theater festival in Shanghai, where the show was premiered.

The show was later staged in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Speaking about the show, Chung says: "Traditionally, Cantonese Opera pieces are very long, and could be 4 hours or more. But for the Shanghai festival, we trimmed the piece to 90 minutes, which prompted good feedback from the audiences, especially young.

"The feedback was beyond our expectations, as our goal was only to experiment our ideas about Cantonese Opera and offer an opportunity to young Cantonese Opera actors."

Meanwhile, the Xiqu Center of West Kowloon Cultural District along with the Shanghai Center of Chinese Operas, which is home to Shanghai-based traditional Chinese opera troupes, launched a festival in Hong Kong last year, which showcased performances by traditional Chinese opera artists from Shanghai and Hong Kong, including Peking Opera artist Wang Peiyu.

Farewell My Concubine was also staged during the festival.

In a related development, Chung says that a new venue for staging traditional Chinese operas is scheduled to open in a year in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor.

As for Chung's background and links with Cantonese Opera, she has very impressive credentials.

Chung, who graduated from the California Institute of arts in 1997 with a master's degree in fine arts, majoring in theater lighting design, has worked with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra - the only professional, full-sized Chinese orchestra in Hong Kong founded in 1977 - for nearly 10 years. And she learned Cantonese Opera from Law Karying, 71, a veteran Hong Kong actor, who was originally a Cantonese Opera artist.

Law has acted in nearly 100 movies since the 1990s, such as Crime Story in 1993 along with Jackie Chan and Future X-Cops with Andy Lau in 2010, but he says that his aspirations are rooted in Cantonese Opera.

As for the other highlights of the Spring For Chinese Arts festival, there will be a concert, in which the China Film Orchestra will perform music from Hong Kong films on April 1; a show by Peking Opera artists of the Zhang Huoding Arts of the Cheng School Inheritance Center on May 6 and three contemporary dance pieces - Dreams of Zen, The Tea Spell and Escaping From The Temple - performed and choreographed by Zhao Liang over April 4 to 15.

Speaking about the festival, Li Jing, vice director of Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, says: "Every spring, we have artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland to share the stage. It's a great opportunity for them to meet and communicate."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

Above and top right: Cantonese Opera Farewell My Concubine. Bottom right: Chinese folk band, Xiao Juan and Residents From the Valley. Photo provided to China Daily

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2018-01-27 06:42:33
<![CDATA[Choreographer-dancer to showcase her moves in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595349.htm Three contemporary dance pieces set to light up the stage at annual arts festival

Three contemporary dance pieces by choreographer-dancer Xie Xin and her theater will be staged over May 11-13 at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center as part of the annual arts festival - Spring For Chinese Arts.

Speaking about the works, Xie, 32, who has worked with contemporary dance theaters, including Guangdong Modern Dance Company, Jin Xing Dance Theater and Beijing Dance LDTX, and later founded her own theater in 2014, says: "All my works come from within. I am influenced by the outside, such as a book I read, a film I watch or a person I talk to. Then I digest and turn those influences into my choreography."

The first piece, titled From In, an award-winning piece at the 29th Germany Hannover International Choreography Competition, was born from an idea that "as human beings, we share memories with each other when we meet at the same moment and in the same space, which creates a special link", says Xie.

In the work, Xie and her dancers interpret the Chinese word, ren, or person, with dance moves.

The piece, which premiered at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing in 2015, has also been staged at the 48th Kuopio Dance Festival in Northern Savonia, Finland, in early 2017.

Speaking about the piece, Kuopio Dance Festival artistic director Jorma Uotinen says: "In Xie Xin's style, I see features that you might not find in European contemporary dance."

The second piece, Unknown, is a collaboration between Xie and Eyal Dadon, the choreographer of the Israeli Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

The piece, which was premiered in 2016 at the NCPA, is an exploration and innovation with time.

In its upcoming performance, audiences will see a new version of Unknown, which is a 80-minute-long piece containing two parts: Later and Layers.

The third piece to be staged in Beijing is the latest choreographic work by Xie, titled Obsession, and is based on physical movements and dramas.

Speaking about the piece, Xie says: "After three years of dealing with my own theater I want to say with my works that the body doesn't simply mean actions. It's the creation of different strengths. And imagination comes first, of course."

Xie, who was born in 1985 in Ji'an, Jiangxi province, learned traditional Chinese dance from her dancer mother.

Initially, she didn't intend to become a dancer, but was later drawn to the idea of expressing herself with her body movements.

"My mother was against the idea of me becoming a professional dancer because it's not considered as a stable job. But I have a strong will to do things I love. I was so persistent," she says.

So, in 2004, she graduated as a contemporary dancer from the Guangdong Dance School.

And from then on she was keen on experimenting with her ideas while dancing.

As a dancer-choreographer, she is not afraid to take risks and always keeps her mind open.

Xie has won a number of awards as a choreographer, including the gold award at the 14th Italy Rome International Dance Competition in 2015, and the gold award at the Seoul International Dance Competition in 2016.

Separately, every August, she invites international choreographers to give master classes and workshops to her young dancers.

Speaking about the project, she says: "As a dancer, I've seen my limitations and I want my dancers to widen their horizons."

Before the Beijing performance, Xie will take two of her two works, Unknown and From In to Shanghai, on March 23 and 24.

If you go

7:30 pm, May 11 to 13. Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, 9 Tianqiao Nandajie, Xicheng district, Beijing. 400-635-3355

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2018-01-27 06:42:33
<![CDATA[Global treasures on the Chinese stage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595348.htm During the first weekend after the exhibition History of the World in 100 Objects opened in Beijing last March, the temperature inside the crowded exhibition hall was temporarily out of control.

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As China shows its historic artifacts to the world, other countries are returning the favor

During the first weekend after the exhibition History of the World in 100 Objects opened in Beijing last March, the temperature inside the crowded exhibition hall was temporarily out of control.

"We had monitors placed inside the exhibition hall as well as every glass case for exhibits, so we were constantly in touch with what was happening on the ground," says Yan Zhi of the National Museum of China, where the British Museum exhibition was on display until May.

"When audiences, each of whom could be compared with a mini-heater, started flooding in on Saturday morning, we experienced a little bit of an emergency."

Later everything was put right, but if you listen to Yan, the incident was a telltale sign of the enthusiasm that could be amassed by culturally minded Chinese museum-goers.

"You felt the heat, quite literally. And it is just a typical example of an increasing number of imported exhibitions that have proven big with the Chinese audiences over the past few years."

However, some issues do exist that need to be solved before such long-distance cultural exchanges can take place, Yan says.

"Take the 100 Objects exhibition for example. Before coming to the Chinese mainland, where it was on display first at the National Museum and then at the Shanghai Museum, the show had visited Australia, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan. That journey, over years, with each stop blessed with its own unique and drastically different climate, had caused immense stress on the protection of the exhibits. Consequently, some had to make a homebound trip en route for maintenance and were replaced by others."

Another two items that were previously featured in the exhibition but failed to come to Beijing were a piece of brocaded fabric taken by the Hungarian-British Marc Aurel Stein from Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in northwestern China and a carved jade disc the British Museum believes dates to the reign of the Qing Dynasty emperor Qianlong, in the 18th century.

"Both cases involve sensitive issues," Yan says. "Some Chinese experts believe that the jade disk might originally have come from the Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace, the sumptuous royal garden-cum-residence burnt to the ground by the Anglo-French Army during the Second Opium War, in 1860.

"The problem with the fabric is that although Stein is a world-famous archaeologist and explorer, what he did - taking many relics, books and manuscripts away from the Dunhuang caves - still makes him a highly controversial figure in China today."

The 100 Objects exhibition, born out of a popular joint program of BBC Radio and the British Museum, was envisioned as a commercial show, Yan says.

"I believe that other museums (apart from the Chinese ones) have paid handsomely for it. We didn't because the showing at the two Chinese museums went ahead at the initiation of the Chinese and British governments, when the two countries commemorated the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2017."

Although intergovernmental collaboration still accounts for a sizable proportion of imported exhibitions, especially the high-profile ones, there are exceptions. Between August 2016 and January 2017 the exhibition Pharaohs and Kings - the Stories of the Ancient Egypt and China's Han Dynasty, was held at the Nanjing Museum. Visitors paid 30 yuan ($4.70) each for a show that juxtaposes treasures belonging to two of the world's most ancient civilizations and dating back to roughly the same era.

Wang Zhen of the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou, 200 kilometers from Nanjing, says the Nanjing Museum reaped enough in ticket sales to cover the huge expense, including paying for exhibits from Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

"The exhibition has set an example for other Chinese museums, so used to having shows funded by the government. You can also choose to have one that is engaging enough and turn in a profit."

Another exception is the exhibition Afghanistan: Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, an exhibition that cost a small fortune for its host, the Palace Museum in Beijing, to organize when it went on display last year.

"The museum paid for all the exhibits, transport and installation, and the staff from the Afghanistan side who were here throughout the show, from March to June," says Ma Shengnan of the Palace Museum.

"Why did we pay? Because our museum is committed to protecting cultural heritage not only of China but of the world. With Afghanistan deep in war and strife, there's no place safer for the treasures, including many gold accessories and wares dating back to two to three millennia ago, then on the road. So they toured several countries, including Britain and South Korea, before arriving in China. And we did our utmost to provide them with a temporary home and to help raise their stature."

Later last year the treasures also visited the Dunhuang Grotto Museum.

The Afghanistan exhibition is neither the first nor the last to arrive at the Palace Museum, whose beforelife as the royal residence for Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties has given it a halo unattainable for almost all other Chinese museums.

"Last year we had an exhibition about Qing emperors at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco and are expecting one from them showcasing their own royal heritage," says Ma, who is closely involved in the project.

"I'm sure that some people here have heard about Grace Kelly, the Hollywood actress-turned Princess of Monaco, but apart from that, very little is known about the principality. As a result, they are very adamant about mounting this (coming) show in China, in a venue they consider could further enhance what the place is always known for: royal glamour."

Ni Yi, of Zhejiang Provincial Museum, says there is an increasing tendency among museum curators to forge ties that tap into the common history of China and other countries.

"This approach often enables us a perspective and a narrative that would be impossible otherwise," she says, referring to an exhibition she co-curated with counterparts from the Jeju National Museum in South Korea. Inspired by a Korean who traveled for more than four months in China in the 15th century, the exhibition, on display at the Zhejiang Museum early last year, pulled together antiques from the two countries that drew vivid comparison between two historically related cultures.

"Compared with shows that parachute into our museums, joint efforts that tap into an overlapped history - however brief they are - may strike a deeper chord with local audiences," she says.

Qian Wei of Art Exhibitions China, a governmental organization responsible for introducing to the country some high-profile foreign exhibitions over the past years, said incoming shows now constitute a trend.

"It must be admitted that with the world financial crisis still going on, many cash-strapped foreign museums are eyeing China. We are approached by both foreign museums and independent curators. This is in sharp contrast with what happened in the 1980s, 1990s and even 2000s, when Western museums were spending big to bring to their audience a condensed version of Chinese history," Qian says.

"In 2006 Art Exhibitions China brought a foreign exhibition to China for the first time, one about Indian culture. Last year we were involved in about 20 exhibitions. Twenty percent of them were incoming ones. In 2016 China held 36 exhibitions on cultural relics abroad, while hosting the same number of such shows from overseas.

"One way for Chinese museums to share expenses and save money is to team up with one another for foreign shows that travel to several cities."

Yan, of the National Museum, says the 100 Objects exhibition in fact featured a 101st exhibit.

"By requesting that every participating museum add one more item of their own, the curator wanted to allow the show, which traces the trajectory of human development, an open ending. The choice of our museum was a pen, used to sign China into the World Trade Organization in 2001, and the one by the Shanghai Museum was a two-dimensional code, composed by the micro images of all exhibits. Visitors could swipe their mobiles against the code to view detailed information about the show.

"And both were winking at what the National Museum of Australia in Canberra chose to show when the exhibition was there: a wireless transmitter, an Australian invention and the first one in human history. Together, they sent out a clear message: the globe is going global."

Clockwise from top: Treasures from Afghanistan’s National Museum in Kabul on show at Beijing’s Palace Museum last year. Jiang Dong / China Daily; British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects exhibition at Beijing’s National Museum last year; shadowplay figurines from Java, Indonesia at the 100 Objects exhibition. Photos By Hong En / For China Daily; the exhibition Pharaohs and Kings at the Nanjing Museum in August, 2016.Liu Jianhua / For China Daily; Yan Zhi from Beijing’s National Museum of China.Provided To China Daily; a mummy at the exhibition Pharaohs and Kings. Yang Bo / China News Service

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2018-01-27 06:41:43
<![CDATA[Precious best placed into the safest hands]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595347.htm Qian Wei of Art Exhibitions China, who was closely involved in the blockbuster show Age of Empires at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last year, says that throughout the show she was more impressed by the installation and withdrawal of the exhibits than by anything else.

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Those who put China's historic treasures on display have a delicate task as they prepare them to be exhibited

Qian Wei of Art Exhibitions China, who was closely involved in the blockbuster show Age of Empires at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last year, says that throughout the show she was more impressed by the installation and withdrawal of the exhibits than by anything else.

"For me, those are the parts where the professionalism of the Met staff crystallized," she says, referring to the show that put on view nearly 300 pieces of unearthed treasures from the Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC-220 AD). It drew more than 355,000 visitors between April and July.

"Unlike the many other museums we have worked with, the Met doesn't require the service of a transport company after the exhibits land in the US. Instead they rely on their own team whose members can only be called specialists.

Qian has been with Art Exhibitions China for 27 years, a job with the official Chinese organization that entails helping organize star shows overseas that highlight the country's lustrous cultural heritage.

"I still have the image of a Met worker in my mind," she says.

"He came close to one of the exhibits, a bronze pot from more than two millennia ago in this case. Instead of getting down to work as I had expected, he bent down and walked around it, examined every crack carefully. That's when he started asking us questions about the pot's condition, its weak points, whether it had been repaired ...basically everything he needed to know before putting his hands on this precious piece of history.

"Their movements were always tentative, and filled with a thoughtfulness that could only be informed by a heartfelt reverence for history."

Jason Sun (Sun Zhixin), curator of the Met's Asia Art Department who is behind the exhibition, says "the Met's excellent reputation for caring for and conserving works of art has always made it possible to request loans that require special treatment".

"A pottery lamp with three tiers and multiple branches, for example, was one of the most fragile among the loans in the exhibition. The Met installation team spent several days creating a stand with a central pole and three separate trays to provide full support to keep the object safe throughout the display."

Sun, who graduated from Princeton University with a doctoral degree in Chinese art history and archaeology, and who hails from Beijing, saw his entire career coinciding, or being propelled by, the steadily increasing cultural exchanges between China and his adopted home. In fact, his resume over the past 15 years covers all of the three major exhibitions that were the result of close collaboration between the Met and Art Exhibitions China. They were China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 A.D. (2004-05), The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty (2010-11) and the latest, the Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties.

"There's always a six-year interval between consecutive exhibitions," Qian says. How come it has taken so long? Well, you wouldn't be surprised if you were familiar with the effort needed to put together a milestone show like one of the three," Qian says.

According to her, the nearly 300 exhibits came from 32 museums and cultural institutions in 13 Chinese provinces.

"It was a mammoth task to convince every one of them to part for six months with what in many cases are their most-treasured exhibits in their collections," says Qian, who, with Sun, visited many of the contributing museums in 2014 and 2015.

While most of the museums approached were delighted that they would be showing at such a prestigious venue - Some who were unable to take part expressed regret, Qian says - others were reluctant upon hearing that it was only a few items among their collection that the Met was interested in showing. "They wanted to have the spotlight on themselves," she says.

In fact, Qian believes that one of the biggest factors behind the successful mounting of the exhibition is the strong support at government level.

"Art Exhibitions China is directly under the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, a governmental organization that has the final say over all matters concerning any antique, including its departure from the country.

"The fact that the Chinese Cultural Minister Luo Shugang attended the opening ceremony of the Met show in itself says a lot. It may also be worth mentioning that Henry Kissinger, national security adviser and secretary of state under president Richard Nixon, and who played a vital role in normalizing relations between China and the US, is a trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum."

Sun joined Qian in emphasizing state-level collaboration.

"The US-China Consultation on People to People Exchanges, co-sponsored by the US State Department and China's State Council, lent tremendous support to the exhibition," he says.

According to Sun, in 2013, Cai Wu, then Chinese minister of culture, observed that the Metropolitan Museum had held more exhibitions from China than any other institution in the world.

"Without Art Exhibitions China's indispensable assistance with communication, coordination and assembling the art works, none of the exhibitions would have been possible," says the curator who joined the Met in 1999, and who is adamant about his own role.

"The underlying exhibition concept and the selection of artworks to realize that conception belong to the curator and the curatorial team," he says.

Qian, for her part, believes that the Art Exhibitions China team also put its stamp on the final show. "For one reason or another, nearly one third of the exhibits appearing in the initial list the Met gave us had to be changed. Some objects were too fragile or too precious to leave the country, and others were being studied by historians and conservationists and were thus unavailable.

"One example involves two groups of bronze chime bells known as bianzhong. The Met had initially wanted a set that had been on permanent display in a museum in East China but was refused. So we suggested another set unearthed in a major archaeological discovery in southwestern China in 2015. It was accepted. One way we made our contribution was by making suggestions for replacements based on our knowledge about what we had and our understanding of the show's motif. Sometimes what we finally came up with proved a better choice than what was originally asked for."

Since 1980, the year of the Met's first major exhibition with Chinese institutions, the Great Bronze Age of China, the museum has not only mounted 18 exhibitions with works from China but has also taken part in eight exhibitions in China by lending to Chinese museums, Sun says.

"This is undoubtedly a result of China's rapid development as well as the increasing willingness of both sides to work together."

Sun says he believes the Met show is about China and more.

"It helps audiences to compare and understand by placing China's history of civilization in the larger context of the world's history of civilization. The contact between China and the rest of the world, especially the connections and interactions between the Qin and Han dynasties and the Greco-Roman world, helps bring the exhibition close to the audience. China of the Qin and Han times is no longer a remote and unknown land but an integral part of the entire world, and has inextricable ties with the West in many ways."

Echoing Sun, Qian also mentions the "pottery lamp with three tiers and multiple branches".

"A whole team of about 20 people spent an entire morning dismantling and packing this one item after the exhibition ended. If I remember rightly, three of them were responsible for opening the glass cabinet where the lamp had been showing, followed by a few others who did the dismantling. Every single part taken down was quickly handed to another person who put it on a tray that could be wheeled around on the specially designed cart.

"The whole process reminded me of a scene in an operating theater, with the scalpel being passed between doctor and nurse, who have developed a tremendous deal of tacit understanding with one another other.

"In a sense, they were all narrators of a Chinese story."

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2018-01-27 06:41:43
<![CDATA[Treasures on the global stage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595346.htm Set off by the dark tone inside the exhibition hall, the glitter and glamour of the gold accessories announced their regal existence, in a way their owners must have done half a millennium ago.

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Wherever you are on the planet, chances are that one of these days you'll be able to admire the regalia of China's kings and queens on your own doorstep

Set off by the dark tone inside the exhibition hall, the glitter and glamour of the gold accessories announced their regal existence, in a way their owners must have done half a millennium ago.

They once belonged to the vassal kings and queens who lived in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a time when the privileged class flaunted its immense wealth, through something that was shamelessly pretentious yet unabashedly beautiful: gold.

However, what the spoiled kings and queens probably never imagined was that one day the treasures they had prepared to remain with them in their eternal resting place would end up for public gaze on the other side of the Earth. Most of the visitors who saw the gold crowns, hairpins and other hair and clothing decorations, for both men and women, that were displayed there had never had contact with luxury as defined by ancient Chinese. Many were left gasping.

"It was a visual feast that made people dream," says Duan Taotao, director of the Qichun Museum in Hubei province, which boasts among its collection one of China's best batch of Ming Dynasty gold accessories.

In 2015 and 2016, the cream of the Qichun Museum collection was on view at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, before traveling to the University of Southern California Pacific Art Museum in Los Angeles.

"Back even five years ago, it would have been unthinkable (for the gold accessories to be shown in a foreign country)."

Such exhibitions have become more prevalent in recent years, a reflection of the government's desire to strengthen cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world.

For 27 years Qian Wei has worked with Art Exhibitions China, a governmental body whose task, among other things, is to organize exhibitions that put Chinese archaeological and cultural heritage under the spotlight overseas.

"It's a long story that started in 1973, when, at the proposal of a renowned Chinese historian, the central government decided to put together an exhibition that amounted to a grand showcase of Chinese civilization," Qian, 50, says.

It was with that exhibition that Arts Exhibitions China was founded.

"It was an ambitious goal, but people involved, whose names constituted a who's who of the Chinese archaeological world, managed to tell the story with about 200 exhibits, all national treasures unearthed from every corner of the country.

"And it was made clear from the beginning that the target audience would be foreigners. Between 1973 and 1978 the exhibition traveled to 16 countries in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

The exhibition's first stop was the Petit Palais in Paris, Qin says. It was also shown in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, a country that was friendly with the People's Republic of China, founded in 1949, when there was still a lot of hostility around.

There were three stops for the show in the United States: the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the Asian Art Museum in Los Angeles, a city with a high Chinese American population.

"The relationship between China and the US, which reached freezing point in the 50s and 60s, started to thaw in the early 1970s," Qian says.

"What was dubbed as ping-pong diplomacy, the exchange of table tennis players between the two countries, contributed to this warming-up, and it was hoped that the exhibition could do the same."

Today the exhibition, titled Treasures of China, is still on the road, the last two stops being in Latvia and Lithuania, the first two Baltic Sea countries it has been to, in late 2016 and early 2017. There are plans for it go to Saudi Arabia around September.

The exhibits have undergone repeated changes, thanks mostly to the many archaeological discoveries made since the 1970s, but the mission is unchanged, Qian says.

"These days we are trying to reach those places with little previous contact with Chinese culture. It's hoped that the display becomes something of an initiation for the locals."

If the Treasures of China exhibition has summoned up some of the best from the entire country, then there is one Chinese museum that can mount monumental shows drawing solely upon its own collection. That is the Palace Museum in Beijing, also known as the Forbidden City Museum. Royal residences for successive emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), the sprawling 720,000 square meters is home to numerous treasures amassed down the centuries by men who ruled over one of the world's largest empires.

"Thanks to this enviable collection, we were eyed by museums and art institutions across the world," says Ma Shengnan, a museum researcher who specializes in palace life and rituals.

"From all of them we pick the most renowned for cooperation."

These have included the Royal Ontario Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada, both stops for a grand 2014 display. With a total of 414 exhibits, the show presented a comprehensive review of court life during the Ming and Qing era and was the largest exhibition the Palace Museum had ever held in North America.

Another one was the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, where, between March and June 2015, an exhibition focusing on the life and rule of the longest-reigning Qing emperor Qianlong was held.

And it is not just a one-way street, Ma says.

"On many occasions we are engaged in exchange shows with a foreign museum, whereby we send out an exhibition featuring part of our own collection and get one in return. The themes of the two exhibitions share a certain relevancy, which often means a royal connection."

Between October 2014 and January 2015 more than 100 pieces of treasure, all collected or commissioned by Chinese emperors, were on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. The US museum's collection of Faberge eggs and decorative art works, once owned by Nicholas II of Russia, were guests at the Palace Museum between April and July 2016.

The Palace Museum cites many forms of collaboration that have culminated with an exhibition. Starting from 2002, the museum linked with the World Monuments Fund in New York, a private, nonprofit international organization dedicated to preserving historic architecture and cultural heritage sites worldwide.

For the next six years the two worked together to preserve the interior decorations of a Qing Dynasty building inside the Forbidden City. The building, named Juan Qin Zhai, or Room of Respite, is in a corner of the retirement garden Emperor Qianlong built for himself in the late 18th century.

Then, in 2009, upon the completion of the Juan Qin Zhai project, the museum and the World Monuments Fund unveiled the second phase of their cooperation - this time on the protection and conservation of the entire Qianlong garden, a project due to come to fruition in 2020.

"Based on what we had accomplished together, the Palace Museum organized the exhibition The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City, which toured three US Museums (the Peabody Essex Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum) between 2010 and 2011," the museum says.

Most of the time, the installation work was done by the Chinese staff.

"There are very few foreign museums with staff experienced enough to handle Chinese antiques, especially delicate ones, paintings for example," Ma says.

Qian of Art Exhibitions China believes that a comparative study can help draw audiences.

"In 2009 and 2010 we teamed up with the cultural ministry of Italy for an exhibition that simultaneously looked into ancient Roman civilization and the one formed in China during the Qin and Han period (221 BC-220 AD).

"With Roman marbles standing right beside the terra cotta warriors, the entire exhibition hall appeared to me like an echo chamber.

"The audience was propelled to break into new territory by what they already knew, and at the same time prompted by the unfamiliar to re-examine what they thought they had known," Qian says.

"This explains the success of the exhibition, which was first shown in Beijing and Luoyang, Henan province, and then in Milan and Rome."

In 2013 Qian went to Bucharest with the Treasures of China exhibition, which were in the Romanian capital for the second time, following the visit in 1973.

"At the opening, the curator of the National Museum of Romania, who was about to retire, came up to me and said, 'Having this show here, right now, is personally significant.'

"Through the glass wall of the exhibition cases, I could see not only familiar exhibits, but also that young, fascinated archaeology student who had been there 40 years earlier."

zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-27 06:41:26
<![CDATA[Sanya Shangri-La hosts honored teachers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595341.htm Luxurious resort in Hainan is the venue for awards ceremony for the Jack Ma Foundation, Liu Xiaoli reports.

Sitting in the plush lobby of Shangri-La' s Sanya Resort & Spa - after having taken in the magic of the surrounding sea, and felt the sea breezes and gentle rhythms of the coconut trees outside - Ma Yulan is truly content.

The 55-year-old teacher at a village school in Hunan province never dreamed she could visit the resort city, let alone experience this kind of ultra luxury hotel.

Ma has been teaching at the Hanglai rural school in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture in Hunan for 20 years, since she became its only substitute teacher in 1998.

A 4-kilometer commute to work is a set routine in her life.

Without any colleagues, Ma also works as a housekeeper, cleaner, chef and even repairman. But then she became a prizewinner in a campaign launched by e-commerce giant Alibaba to reward rural teachers nationwide.

That's what gave her the chance to take the flight and reside for a while in the luxury hotel in Sanya. It has been a life-changing experience: she had never seen the sea before.

The Jack Ma Foundation hosted the awards ceremony at Shangri-La' s Sanya Resort & Spa, Hainan, on Jan 21. It was the third year that the foundation held the event.

A total of 100 rural teachers from 28 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China were given awards at the ceremony, for their contributions to education in rural China last year.

Besides Ma Yulan, the award winners included those from Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

The educators each received a cash prize of 100,000 yuan ($15,500) and will start three years of professional skills training provided by the foundation.

The billionaire businessman, a former English teacher in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, launched the program in 2015 to support rural education, and pledged to donate 10 million yuan annually to carry out the plan.

The Jack Ma Foundation announced a new plan in late 2017 to invest at least 300 million yuan to encourage graduates of teaching colleges, called normal schools, to educate in rural areas over the next decade.

Like Ma Yulan, some of the awarded rural teachers also saw the sea for the first time and experienced the unimaginable services of a luxury resort.

It was the third time for the resort to host the event, as its exclusive hotel partner.

Considering that most of the rural teachers were from areas where Chinese dialects are predominantly spoken, the resort set up a volunteer team with 100 employees to make teachers feel at home.

"The caring service provided by the hotel and the volunteer team eased my anxiety over being far away from home," Ma Yulan said.

Rudolf Gimmi, general manager of Shangri-La's Sanya Resort & Spa, Hainan said: "We all cherish this opportunity and regard it as a good occasion to develop our staff's sense of social responsibility by learning from the rural teachers and their giving spirit."

Since 2016, the resort has set up a support program to help the students in Bingcun Primary School in Haitang Bay in Sanya. Of the students, 31 were from villages near the hotel.

The resort staff has donated more than 200 books, and organized fundraising for charity groups. The donations were used to build a library in the school.

In addition, the hotel delivers a free nutritious breakfast specially made for the students at the school once a month.

The hotel's volunteers also want to help sharpen the teachers' educational skills. The hotel gave the school a number of second-hand computers and offered teachers training to help give the students better access to the outside world.

The resort's volunteers also helped the teachers to give students English lectures and training, as well as information about the environmental protection and natural resources.

To improve guests' awareness about the protect of Hainan gibbons, the resort created a mascot called Loo Hoo, based on the ape's image.

Hainan gibbons, found only on Hainan island, have been identified as a critically endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

An education center has been established in the resort where guests can learn more about the animal.

Shangri-La's Sanya Resort& Spa, Hainan, has received thousands of guests since it opened its doors to visitors in 2014.

Its facilities include an adventure zone, a water park, pools, a zoo, archery, a Funventure Boot Camp and a 9,000-square-meter lawn.

Contact the writer at liuxiaoli@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-27 06:54:33
<![CDATA[Macao's benchmark tourism index goes back on the rise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595340.htm Macao's tourist price index for 2017 rose 0.77 percent year-on-year to 131.87 after two years of decline, the special administrative region's statistics department announced earlier in January.

The latest report was issued by the Statistics and Census Service, also known as the DSEC.

It indicated that the increase in 2017 was mainly attributable to rising charges for hotel accommodation and restaurant services, and higher prices of local Chinese food products.

Meanwhile falling prices of clothing and handbags, as well as lower airfares, tapered off part of the increase.

Analyzed by goods and services, the price indices for restaurant services and accommodation grew 5.11 percent and 4.97 percent respectively year-on-year.

In contrast, those for clothing and footwear, transport and communications fell 7.16 percent and 6.52 percent respectively.

The DSEC report added that the general tourist price index for the fourth quarter of 2017 increased 5.59 percent year-on-year to 142.51, due to higher charges for hotel accommodation and restaurant services.

Among the various sections of goods and services, the accommodation price index recorded notable 20.84 percent growth. The transport and communications index gained 6.83 percent year-on-year, while the restaurant services measure was up 4.09 percent.

Meanwhile, the clothing and footwear price index registered a decrease of 4.84 percent.

Xinhua

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2018-01-27 06:54:33
<![CDATA[Roundup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/27/content_35595339.htm BIG THRILL

Two Shangri-La hotels in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province in Northeast China, are together offering a seasonal package priced at 3,199 yuan ($510) to attract more visitors to explore the ice-covered region. The package includes a two-night stay in either or both of Shangri-La Hotel Harbin and Songbei Shangri-La Harbin, a breakfast for a couple, a 400 yuan dining credit and shuttle services linking the hotels to local attractions. 0451-8485-8888 or 0451-5862-9999

NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

In celebration of Chinese New Year, Park Hyatt Beijing is cooperating with luxury magazine Robb Report's Chinese edition and Beijing-based oil painter Shen Shubin to present "Art at the Park" charity red packets. Each set of red packets, designed by Shen, will be sold for 100 yuan ($20) at the hotel's front desk, restaurants and WeChat shop. All the proceeds will be donated to the Beijing office of the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

ROMANTIC OFFERINGS

Swissotel Beijing Hong Kong Macao Center's culinary team has prepared a five-course Western set menu to celebrate the upcoming Valentine's Day at Cafe Swiss, priced at 520 yuan ($82) per couple. Other themed offerings at the hotel include a heart-shaped chocolate box and heart-shaped cake. 010-6553-2288 Ext 2127

Fairmont Beijing will offer an inspired gourmet dinner, created especially for loving couples on Valentine's Day. The Cut, its award-winning grillroom, is partnering with renowned jeweler Asulikeit to create a glittering backdrop to the Feb 14 celebration, with lucky draw prizes adding to the fun. 010-8511-7777

The Ritz-Carlton Guangzhou in Guangdong province, in partnership with jewelry brand APM Monaco, has launched a Valentine's Daythemed accommodation package priced at 5,200 yuan ($820). The offering includes a one-night stay in the 150-square-meter executive city view suite, a set of Fevrier jewelry pieces, a two-hour spa for two people and limousine service. 020-3813-6898

Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, has launched package designed for this year's Valentine's Day celebration, with prices starting from 2,488 patacas ($310).

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2018-01-27 06:54:33
<![CDATA[New Horizon]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/26/content_35589376.htm In early January, 10 women from around China were honored with the 2017 China Young Women in Science Fellowships in a ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

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Ten young female scientists are honored in China for their pursuit of academic excellence. Yang Yang reports.

In early January, 10 women from around China were honored with the 2017 China Young Women in Science Fellowships in a ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

The annual awards, organized by the China Association for Science and Technology, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and L'Oreal China, were set up 14 years ago to recognize the outstanding achievements of young female scholars in various fields of scientific research.

While the pursuit of academic excellence can often be hampered by the pressures of balancing family life with work commitments, the experience of top female scientists shows that with determination, a tolerant environment and a flexible approach, it is possible to realize their ambitions.

Zhang Yan, a 43-year-old professor from the College of Life Sciences at Peking University, is one of the winners this year.

As one of the world's leading scientists in her area of research, she has been investigating neurodegenerative diseases, and Alzheimer's disease in particular for over a decade, in an attempt to unravel their pathogenic mechanisms.

"Women in China inevitably have to contribute greatly to their families. So, this award is a form of encouragement for female scientists. And it also acts as an example to young female students that women can excel in scientific research like men, while also successfully raising a family," Zhang says.

Like many female Chinese scholars, she observes that while female students, whether they are undergraduates or graduates, are extremely exceptional, academic circles in China are still largely dominated by men.

"Where have all the women gone? Why don't they continue with their studies?" Zhang asks.

After giving birth to her second child last year, Zhang says she seldom needs to work overtime.

"It's not as difficult as many young female students may imagine. I work quite efficiently during the day. In the morning, I concentrate on my work one hundred percent, with my phone in silence mode," she says.

"Actually within the space of just four hours, you can achieve a lot. In the afternoon, I deal with other work. My role as a mother and a wife is also very important, and I enjoy it quite a lot."

"It's a pity that a lot of female students just give up without trying," she says.

Waiting in the greenroom ahead of the ceremony, Zhang agrees with two of the other award winners, Xu Qi and Yang Li, that they never suffered gender discrimination during their education and in the field of scientific research - which is a world where academics prove their ability through the strength of their research papers.

Xu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been studying the pathogenesis of severe neuropathy, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and depression.

Yang, a professor with the Peking University Hospital, is a top expert in the clinical prevention and treatment of acute kidney injury and its pathogenic mechanisms.

Both in their early 40s, Xu and Yang, were roommates when they studied at the Peking University Health Science Center two decades ago.

"I didn't feel gender discrimination as a student. When I started to run my own lab, I realized women actually have an advantage in the male-dominated world of science," Zhang says.

Yang agrees: "Yes, it's often easier for female teachers to communicate with students in the lab."

Xu's case is even more unique. She started studying at Peking University at the age of 14, where she was the youngest student in her class.

"Being female has always been an advantage for me since a young age. Many male colleagues joked that if they were a woman, they could have been as successful as me," she says. Xu adds: "I grew up in an environment which was very tolerant toward women."

Zhang agrees. A tolerant atmosphere of gender equality is beneficial for the growth of women in any field, she says.

However, being a woman still means they have to make more of a contribution to their families than most men, Yang says.

"If you want to be equally successful as men, you have to work harder."

Despite this, Yang admits that when she recruits doctors, even she prefers to hire men because "female doctors will take maternity leave once on average, sometimes twice, if they have a second child. This puts a lot of pressure on their colleagues, and presents a very practical problem for hospitals in China".

Although they may have to work harder than their male counterparts, female scientists remain passionate about their work, driven by the hope of becoming the first in their field to find solutions to problems that may have stumped scientists around the world for decades.

"It's funny that when I was younger, the first thing I would do when I woke up in the morning was to search the global database for new papers on my research topic published overnight," Xu says.

Xu worked for the international Human Genome Project for six months as a graduate student in the 1990s, and her eyes light up when she talks about that experience.

"It was just as an important project in the 20th century as the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb, or the Apollo moonlanding program. I am very honored for having been a part of it," she says. But Zhang says: "I seldom think about how great my work is, but it's such great fun to be the first to discover something previously unknown to the world. I have always enjoyed this aspect."

Yang says that she is an enthusiastic inquirer, which is a necessary characteristic of a researcher.

"First of all, you must have the desire to ask questions and find the answers to them, no matter how big, small, deep or shallow those questions are," she says.

Xu agrees, adding that holding onto the curiosity each person was born with is an important attribute. Besides undertaking research, she also supervises students.

"I'm confident that my students will hold on to their tenacity and curiosity about scientific research after they complete their five years of study. As a teacher, the most important thing is to safeguard every student's curiosity and confidence," Xu says.

"If I could start my life over, I would not choose clinical medicine as my major, but would directly go to the field of research I am working in now," she says.

 

 

 

 

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2018-01-26 08:23:02
<![CDATA[Winter Treats]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/26/content_35589375.htm The steam rises, warming faces and hands. The table is piled high with raw slices of meat and platters of vegetables. Every diner is cradling a bowl of sauce in front of him, ready to dip the freshly cooked ingredients.

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China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. And its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to an unending banquet of flavors, says Pauline D Loh.

The steam rises, warming faces and hands. The table is piled high with raw slices of meat and platters of vegetables. Every diner is cradling a bowl of sauce in front of him, ready to dip the freshly cooked ingredients.

All over China, hotpot is the most popular meal in winter. And although the range of ingredients may differ from east to west and north to south, the concept is generally similar.

Bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables are cooked at the table in a simmering pot of stock.

It is often the first cooking that college kids experiment with, using nothing more than a rice cooker.

Most food historians agree that the hotpot came in with the Mongolians during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Apparently, the soldiers traveled light, so they boiled water in their helmets and cooked pieces of meat in them.

But it was Muslim chefs who had settled in the Forbidden City who refined it into an art, with lamb and beef and Silk Road spices such as chili, fennel and cumin, and fermented wild chive flowers from the northern grasslands.

They also introduced the tall copper pots with funnels that have become a Beijing icon.

These early chefs set the template for the hotpots so popular north of the Yangtze River, with their preference for gamey lamb, strong sauces and winter cabbage.

In the past, there was little or no seafood available, and the fish that were used were freshwater varieties such as carp.

For seafood hotpots, we need to go much farther south to the coastal communities in Fujian, Chaoshan and other parts of Guangdong province.

Here, fresh fish, shellfish and processed products such as fish balls feature prominently in a hotpot meal. There are also lots more greens, with mustard shoots, cabbage hearts and garland chrysanthemum vegetables necessary in every hotpot meal.

The other difference is in the stock. You can almost immediately tell which region the chef is from by looking at the stock that comes to the table.

In Beijing, the stock is clear, almost tasteless. You are expected to flavor it as you cook the meat. No one takes a sip until the meal is halfway through. There is another northern version where lamb shanks are cooked in a spicy thick broth. This is known as "scorpion bones", yangxiezi. Tofu, meatballs and other products are dunked in to cook as the broth bubbles away. This hearty hotpot is a grassroots favorite and especially popular in the hutong restaurants, where regular diners prefer heavily seasoned dishes.

But if you are talking about spicy soup stocks, nothing beats the Chongqing or Chengdu hotpots. Spadefuls of fiery chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns are fried up with other spices in plenty of rendered beef fat and poured onto a light stock.

This creates a 3-centimeter-thick layer of oil and chili on top of the stock in a simmering cauldron of spicy lava. A quick dip into that quickly cooks the meat, or whatever innards the Sichuan gourmets are so fond of.

One of the most famous hotpot brand names to come out of Sichuan is the Haidilao franchise. The chain has perfected the hotpot formula, with excellent and showy service and comfortable holding areas while you wait for your table.

But when it comes to trendsetting hotpots, you have to hand it to the Hong Kong foodies.

It first started with humble steamboat stalls that popped up in t