版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Chinese classic going strong as opera]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/24/content_34938692.htm As a Canadian classical music impresario, Wray Armstrong might cut an unlikely figure in the projection of China's soft power.

]]>
After successful staging in China of Dream of the Red Chamber, Canadian impresario plans to take it on a major tour of Europe. Andrew Moody reports.

As a Canadian classical music impresario, Wray Armstrong might cut an unlikely figure in the projection of China's soft power.

The 67-year-old, however, was the man behind the recent hugely successful staging in China of Dream of the Red Chamber, based on the classic Chinese novel.

And he plans to take it on a major tour of Europe in the summer of 2019.

He believes it is the sort of project that fits into the message about the importance of promoting Chinese culture sent out by President Xi Jinping in his report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October.

"President Xi has been very strong about culture and soft power, and following on from the congress we are looking at taking it to Europe," he says.

Armstrong, an imposingly tall figure, was sitting behind an enormous desk in his new office at the North Pingod Arts Community in Beijing.

The table is made out of a 100-year-old Chinese country house door, which is now encased in toughened glass.

"I had it made by a carpenter in the Gaobeidian district of Beijing where we get a lot of our props for historical dramas. They had to put it together in my office. It is a bit of an artistic statement," he laughs.

Armstrong is chairman of Armstrong Music and Arts, which he founded in the Chinese capital in 2009.

He represents a number of the world's leading classical music artists, including the Polish composer and conductor Krzyszt Penderecki, the pianist Helene Grimaud and violinist Joshua Bell. He also represented the Czech conductor Jiri Belohlavek until his death earlier this year.

Staging Dream of the Red Chamber in China though was his biggest success so far.

The production of the opera, composed by Chinese-American Bright Sheng and with a libretto by Sheng and Chinese-American scriptwriter David Henry Hwang, is not Chinese but that of the San Francisco Opera.

"It wasn't produced for the China market but by San Francisco Opera, which has a strong commissioning program and tends to commission something by a Chinese artist every five years or so.

"Its board of directors really hoped it would come to China and we were one of two or three agencies who bid on the project."

There were six performances in total, two each in Beijing, Wuhan and Changsha. The first performance at the last venue marked the opening of the Changsha Meixi Lake International Culture and Arts Center designed by the late British architect Zaha Hadid.

"In Changsha the acoustics were brilliant and the look is completely different and wonderful. The center looks like orchid blossoms when seen from above," he says.

Although it was a US production, many of the artists had to be hired in China.

"The San Francisco orchestra was in season and they don't have a double orchestra or chorus like, say, Vienna (Philharmonic and State Opera). So we auditioned with the composer and hired the best young Chinese singers. They had all trained in London or worked in Berlin," he says.

All the performances were a sell-out with Wuhan's being broadcast on local television; and now Armstrong is looking to stage the opera in Shanghai next year before heading for Europe the following year.

"If we could do between six and 10 centers that would be unbelievable. We would like to do the music festivals in Berlin and Amsterdam, the Proms in London, although the Royal Albert Hall (the main Proms venue) is not an opera house, and maybe the Edinburgh Festival and the Proms in Warsaw," he says.

He says San Francisco Opera prefers his company to stage a European tour even though it is outside China.

"They know and we also know it would require an incredible fund-raising effort, which would be easier inside China than organized from San Francisco. Both the Chinese Central Opera and the Hangzhou Philharmonic would be very interested in cooperating with us and we hope we might get some government support."

Armstrong was brought up in a musical family in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. His mother was a good amateur pianist and his father played an accordion and had a traditional dance band.

He studied languages at university and went on to be a translator for the Federal Translation Bureau in Ottawa.

"On the third day of the job as a translator I knew it wasn't going to work - just translating what people said with no viewpoint."

In the late 1970s he managed to get the job of assistant manager at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, where he eventually became managing director working alongside musical director Andrew Davis, now best known for his association with the Proms in London.

In the early 1990s, he became managing director of the London operations for the leading US arts management company ICM Artists, where he worked with Isaac Stern, who had made the film Mao to Mozart about classical music returning to China after the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

In 1999, he moved to IMG Artists, where he headed up the key classical music projects at the Beijing Olympics.

He has had a close working relationship with the famous Chinese conductor Yu Long since the late 1990s and was an adviser and consultant to the Beijing Music Festival.

It was when IMG wanted to set up a Beijing office that he decided to go it alone and set up his own agency.

"I had a serious discussion with the head of IMG and decided I wouldn't work for him and that I would work for myself. They wanted me to operate here how the New York office thought and that just wasn't right for China," he says.

Moving to China was a bold move for someone who was already in his late 50s but it has proved successful.

"What was important was to have Chinese business partners who know how to deal with Chinese business people. In the first few years I had a lot to learn," he says.

Bringing top orchestras to China can be a logistical nightmare, transporting artists and their instruments.

"The maestro always travels first class and the players in the top orchestras business class. This often means they have to travel over two days because there is not enough room for them all in the business class of a single airliner," he says.

He believes Chinese orchestras are now bridging the talent gap between themselves and major Western orchestras as Japanese orchestras have succeeded in doing.

"Chinese orchestras are doing rather well now. For them to be the equivalent of the Berlin or Czech Philharmonic we are probably still looking at 20 years from now," he says.

"The actual playing talent is strong everywhere. The only difference to me is the interpretation and the traditions of interpretation."

He says China suffers also from something of a brain drain of its musicians.

"Many Chinese youngsters go to the Curtis (Institute of Music in Philadelphia) or the Juilliard (School in New York) or the Royal Academy of Music in London and don't come back. There are top Chinese players in the Berlin and the New York philharmonic orchestras."

Armstrong says he continues to be impressed by the range of the sheer number of music events across China.

"There is an incredible range of orchestras, chamber music, dance and also musicals being brought here right across China. It is very exciting to be part of it all."

Contact the writer at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Wray Armstrong (below) is the man behind the recent successful staging in China of Dream of the Red Chamber, a San Francisco Opera production based on the classic Chinese novel by the same name.Photos By Wang Jing / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-24 07:21:00
<![CDATA[Book Boom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/24/content_34938691.htm The 5th China Shanghai International Children's Book Fair attested to growing interest in Chinese publications from local readers and international publishers alike.

]]>
Growing international interest in original content from China was apparent at a recent children's book fair in Shanghai. Zhang Kun reports.

The 5th China Shanghai International Children's Book Fair attested to growing interest in Chinese publications from local readers and international publishers alike.

The fair took place at the Shanghai Expo Exhibition Center from Nov 17-20, attracting more than 360 publishers and creative institutes. More than 1,000 authors, illustrators and industry professionals from 50 countries and regions participated in book readings, forums and other events.

The fair was established in 2013. It's the only one in the Asia-Pacific region that focuses solely on books for readers younger than 16 years old. This year, it occupied some 25,000 square meters of floor space, 12 percent more than the previous year, as the number of visitors increased.

Organizers didn't release specific numbers about copyright deals. But publishers were quick to note growing international interest in content from China.

Shanghai Century Publishing Group, the largest exhibitor, highlighted a series of new books featuring traditional Chinese folklore and classical literature.

"Books about ancient Chinese poetry, culture and science education have enjoyed great popularity with Chinese parents in the last few years," says Bi Sheng, head of the sales department at Century Publishing.

These titles have also attracted wide interest from overseas publishers and copyright agencies.

The Juvenile and Children's Publishing House affiliated with Century Publishing sold the copyrights of 266 books to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. The publisher made more deals involving electronic copyrights.

Beijing Dandelion Children's Book House has been a regular participant at the fair.

"Over the past four years, we have made continuing efforts to work on the production of original Chinese picture books," says Yan Xiaoli, chief editor of the private publishing company. Since 2014, Dandelion has been promoting its products to the world. They've been published in the United States, Canada and Japan. One of Dandelion's books, There Are Always Reasons to Eat a Steamed Bun, has won high praise in China and attracted publishers from Japan and the US.

Books featuring Chinese cuisine have proved popular with readers both at home and abroad, she says. "A powerful story travels far beyond borders."

Encouraged by the success and popularity of Chinese food, Dandelion is working on more stories "with a taste of China", Yan says. One title, Grandma Peach Blossom Fish, featuring a kindhearted witch and her secret recipe for cooking fish, was launched at the fair. "There are already foreign publishers expressing interest in the copyright," Yan says.

Lu Jun, deputy editor-in-chief of CITIC Publishing Group, believes 2015 marked the start of a "golden decade" of rapid development for China's children's books market.

In the past few years, China has introduced a large number of foreign books for children, which largely expanded the vision of China's parents and publishers. However, this has "to some degree suppressed the development of original Chinese creativity", Lu says.

Also, he attributed the underdevelopment of Chinese picture books to inefficient working practices among authors, illustrators, publishers and even printing factories.

"Things are beginning to change, and a growing number of outstanding books for children has been published".

British translator Helen Wang won the "special contribution" award at the Chen Bochui International Award for Children's Literature during the book fair.

"If there is a good story, let's share it, and let everyone share it," Wang says.

There are very few people who translate children's books from Chinese to English. When a friend invited her to translate Cao Wenxuan's Bronze and Sunflower, she took the job and went on to translate five more books by the author.

Thanks to the work of translators such as Wang, Cao has been published in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean. He won the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 2016.

Contact the writer at zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The 5th China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair, which took place at the Shanghai Expo Exhibition Center from Nov 1720, draws children and their parents for such events as book signings, meeting writers and earlyeducation forums. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

]]>
2017-11-24 07:21:00
<![CDATA[Toy museum gives play to fun over the centuries]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/24/content_34938690.htm The latest museum in Athens to open its doors to the public this autumn, the Benaki Museum of Toys, has already won the hearts of locals who flock there to enjoy a journey through childhood over the centuries.

Housed in a fairy-tale mansion resembling a castle, the Benaki museum was built in 1900 in a neo-Gothic style in the southern suburb of Faliron. It overlooks the Saronic Gulf and is home to thousands of toys, games and reconstructions dating from antiquity to the present day.

A wooden rocking horse that early 20th-century Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos had given to his grandson greets visitors at the entrance.

Wooden and tin mechanical toys made in Greece and around Europe in the 19th century, dolls from Africa and the United States, shadow-theater figures from the Mediterranean and puppets from Asia fill the halls of the mansion, which was donated by the family of late captain Athanassios Koulouras.

The museum's collection, which includes donations from toy collector Maria Argyriadis, comprises toys and books associated with childhood, literature and education from around the world, as well as photographs and archives.

The collection - which has around 20,000 exhibits - is ranked among the 10 best in Europe. It was donated in the 1990s by Argyriadis to the Benaki museum, which founded a special department for childhood, toys and games at the time.

Exhibits from Greece include handmade toys for infants and older children made between the 18th and 20th centuries, replicas of toys from ancient Greece, and toys made by retirees based on memories of their childhood games.

Objects from around Europe consist of popular toys from the same period, mainly from Britain, France and Germany.

Until 1991, the toys lay crowded inside Argyriadis' home and in boxes in her basement. "Something was missing. I would tell myself that it wasn't right that only my family were able to admire these toys. The toys should find their way outside, into the world, for all children to see," Argyriadis says.

She started collecting toys in the 1970s. "This is how I started the collection: from a yellow teddy bear I found thrown in the garbage. This was the start of the collection, because I remembered a similar teddy bear I had as a child," she says.

Her passion for preserving toys developed during childhood. "It all started when I was young, 5 or 6 years old. My parents could not afford to buy many toys for me at Christmas. Just one," she explains.

She remembers her mother making new dresses for her old dolls and placing them under the Christmas tree in brand-new boxes.

"My mother used to say: take care of your toys, hug them with love, be careful with them and never throw them away," Argyriadis recalls.

Asked to choose one toy out of the collection of 20,000, she starts making a long list. It is impossible, she says. Each one bears testimony to a period of history and the daily lives of children throughout the centuries.

Each one has a story to tell.

Argyriadis points to a set of small wooden sofas and chairs just put on display at the museum as a characteristic example.

"A miniature set of living room furniture made of cheap wood that a mother made for her daughter's birthday during the Nazi occupation (of Greece in the 1940s) ... She brought it to us herself and told its story. This toy has a special significance for us," she says.

 

A vintage rocking horse (above left) and terracotta dolls (above right) dating back to around 400 BC are among pieces on display at the Benaki Toy Museum in Athens, Greece.Reuters

]]>
2017-11-24 07:21:00
<![CDATA[Author Weir takes readers to the moon in Artemis]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/24/content_34938689.htm Andy Weir, author of The Martian, takes readers to another desolate world, but instead of the Red Planet it's the moon, in his new novel, Artemis.

Weir takes readers on an exploration of the colonization of Earth's nearest neighbor in outer space - which is not set too far into the future. Almost everything needed for the modules in the city of Artemis can be reasonably manufactured on the moon's surface, along with the occasional supply runs and tourist visits from home. Each living habitat is named after a prominent member of the original Apollo programs, but each area has distinct features associated with them, whether they are for the affluent or those barely able to scrape by and survive.

Living in the poorer end of Artemis is Jasmine Bashara, aka Jazz. She has talent and is intelligent, but chooses to skate by in life.

She works as a porter for tourists or local residents who need their packages from Earth handled discreetly. She blows a field test that would have landed her a job taking tourists to explore the area around the original landing site of Apollo 11. Upset and not thinking clearly, Jazz receives an offer that promises more money than she can imagine if she can successfully pull off the dangerous assignment. She has the skills and the knowledge, but does she have the luck and equipment necessary to keep her in the clear when damage control begins?

Jazz is a compelling character, both clever and sharp. Weir has created a realistic and fascinating future society on the moon, and every detail feels authentic and scientifically sound.

Weir knows how to make cutting-edge science sexy and relevant without losing the story.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-24 07:21:00
<![CDATA[Medicine man on a mission]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/24/content_34938688.htm Nicholas Lemoine says China's opportunities and challenges are its attraction.

]]>
From studying cancer to establishing a network of medical schools in China, Nicholas Lemoine is not one to give up. Liu Xiangrui reports.

Nicholas Lemoine says China's opportunities and challenges are its attraction.

The 60-year-old British medical expert has been the dean of the Academy of Medical Sciences at Zhengzhou University in the capital city of Central China's Henan province since 2015.

He's a renowned expert in molecular oncology, gene therapy, translational medicine and management of medical institutions. And Lemoine is a fellow of both the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Pathologists in the United Kingdom.

He also serves as the director of the Barts Cancer Institute in the UK.

Lemoine has published nearly 300 papers in various publications, which have won him more than 20 international academic awards.

He first visited China in 1989, when he was invited to give lectures at a few hospitals in Beijing. He didn't return until 2005, when one of his colleagues who had a connection with Zhengzhou invited him to visit.

He had a chance to meet with Henan's provincial governor and forged a good relationship with the president of Zhengzhou University, who was keen on developing international links.

Lemoine was soon invited to be a guest professor at the university. With his help, the university soon established the Sino-British Research Center for Molecular Oncology with Queen Mary University of London in 2006.

Lemoine has led the center in research in such areas as oncolytic virotherapy, individualized molecular diagnosis and treatment.

The center has garnered more than 16 million yuan ($2.4 million) in funding. It has published 25 high-level papers and has been granted three patents.

"It's more than 10 years old and has had some really exciting discoveries," Lemoine says.

In 2014, the center was approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology as a national-level joint research center for cell and gene therapy - the first in this field in China.

Lemoine is excited about his current work as the dean. He has had an opportunity to completely redesign the school by drawing from advanced international management systems.

"The management has been the exciting part of what the last two years have been about," he says.

The new system has different management and evaluation methods for research platforms and staffers, and he intends to help the university construct an international "talent zone".

He says progress has been much quicker than he imagined, and he is impressed by the speed of "making things happen" here.

But life is not without its challenges, he admits.

He has to deal with the management of human resources, particularly with the current quota system, which, he believes, makes it difficult to change people's working styles.

So he has made special efforts to bring in international faculty.

Also, he has brought several influential international medical experts, including Australian Nobel-Prize-winning physician Barry Marshall, to work for the academy's research centers.

The school has more than 1,000 international graduate and undergraduate students in medicine.

Such an international environment can help the faculty become more competitive and benefit the students by exposing them to different cultures, he believes.

He is happy that he has been able to assemble a good team of committed people to support his venture, and the university president has been very committed to the internationalization agenda.

"I'm two years into this now, and I am not going to give up," he says of the reforms.

"Other parts of the university are looking at this, and recognizing that this is a good thing."

His colleague Sun Xuelian appreciates the culture and ideas Lemoine is trying to spread among the co-workers.

Lemoine plays his role as a "serving leader" and has encouraged initiative among the employees, Sun says.

"He gives us no tasks, but a direction instead, and leaves the rest to us," Sun says, adding that he only gives them suggestions based on his experience.

Despite the challenges, Lemoine finds there are special advantages to undertaking research here.

His school has eight affiliated hospitals in Zhengzhou - and one is among the largest in the world.

"It's an enormous opportunity for me as a clinical researcher, with its huge amount of patients," he explains.

He says his priority is to understand and design new ways to prevent and treat some common cancers in the region and let the clinical application of their research results directly benefit the local people.

Lemoine has made special efforts to increase the university's international exposure, by helping it organize international conferences, such as the 2017 Esophagus Prevention International Conference held at the university. It brought together more than 300 medical professionals from China and abroad.

With his assistance, the university is collaborating with influential international counterparts, including Cambridge University.

In the past few years, he has helped Zhengzhou University arrange for about 10 young scientists and doctors to train in the UK.

In recognition of his contributions, Lemoine was given the Friendship Award by the Chinese government in October.

The award is the highest honor given to foreigners who have made significant contributions to the country's social and economic development. Lemoine spends more than half of the year in Zhengzhou and keeps a busy schedule.

He admits that the decision to divide his time between two sides of the world was not easy. "But I think it's the right decision. Most of the time, things work out fine when you are doing the things for the right reason and when you have a vision," he says.

His department has won four national science grants. It also received one international joint funding deal in 2017.

Meanwhile, its new international-level research platform for basic research and translational medicine, set up with an investment of nearly 200 million yuan, began operating recently.

And he intends to establish a network of medical schools in China to tackle the main challenges the nation faces in medicine.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-11-24 07:21:00
<![CDATA[Foreign translators speak of how they understand China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/24/content_34938687.htm Mustafa Mohamed Ahmed Yahia has lived in Beijing since 1995, witnessing the city's transformation, which he calls "stunning".

"When I first moved to Beijing, there was only Terminal One at the airport and only Line 2 on the subway. But within only 22 years, the city has transformed to become international," Yahia, who works for the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, an affiliate of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, recently told reporters in Beijing.

He was a journalist before entering the world of translation. He worked for 11 years with the Sudan News Agency in his home country and then for some time with China Radio International in Beijing.

Yahia graduated from the University of Khartoum. He joined the CCTB as an Arabic-language translator in August 2015.

He was on the team of foreign translators at the CCTB who translated the report presented by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 19th National Congress of the CPC in October.

The CCTB has dozens of Chinese staff members and 13 foreign translators who study Party documents and translate them into English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Arabic.

Yahia was responsible for the Arabic translation of Xi's report.

It was the first time since the start of China's reform and opening-up in 1978 that anyone other than Chinese experts had worked on such material, according to the State Council Information Office.

"I felt proud to be part of this historic event in China," says Yahia, 60, who won the Chinese Government Friendship Award in 2011.

"It took my Chinese colleagues about a month to translate, and I spent about 10 days working on the translation and polishing."

Yahia read Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, a book that features the president's speeches, conversations, instructions and letters in recent years, before translating the October report.

Yahia says the ideas of a new era and "a community with a shared future for mankind" impressed him the most.

"Language is a reflection of culture, so we cannot literally translate word by word. Our Chinese colleagues helped us to understand the report, and it was truly teamwork," he says.

In a group interview with the media, two of Yahia's other foreign colleagues - Spaniard Josep-Oriol Fortuny Carreras and Briton Holly Snape - were also present.

Carreras helped translate Xi's report into Spanish. Snape worked on the English version.

"I agree with Yahia. Teamwork was essential to the translation," says Carreras.

At times, if he found an expression hard to understand because of different cultural and linguistic contexts, he would consult his Chinese colleagues who would explain the meaning in many ways.

"We had lots of discussions," the 58-year-old adds.

Carreras, who was born in Barcelona, received his bachelor's degree in Spanish linguistics and a master's in teaching Spanish as a foreign language from the University of Barcelona.

He has lived in Beijing since 1996. He first worked as a linguistic consultant for China Today magazine and then with China Radio International.

He started working for the CCTB in November 2009.

Like Yahia, Carreras won the Friendship Award, the highest honor given by the Chinese government to foreigners for their contributions to the country's development.

Snape, who has a PhD in East Asian Studies from the University of Bristol, joined the CCTB in 2014.

She says she felt "a sense of responsibility to translate the report faithfully, fluently and accurately" and bring it to the international stage.

Snape came to China 10 years ago and started to learn the language, which she says is full of idiomatic expressions.

For example, he er bu tong, means "finding harmony in diversity".

"When Xi talks about respecting the diversity of different civilizations, it is a very strong and powerful line, which reflects traditional Chinese culture," she says.

The 35-year-old also speaks of theories in Chinese culture. "For example, the Chinese idiom ju an si wei means 'when things are going well, you should be mindful about the challenges'. It's very candid to talk about challenges and there is a sense of mission to address these problems."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-11-24 07:21:00
<![CDATA[Dong Chorus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/23/content_34896591.htm As night falls, a young man takes a wooden ladder and leans it against a closed window on the second floor of a house. Playing a guitar-like instrument, he sings romantic lyrics as his beloved looks on from the other side of the window.

]]>
New film exploring the culture of an ethnic group in Southwest China has gone on nationwide release. Xu Fan reports.

As night falls, a young man takes a wooden ladder and leans it against a closed window on the second floor of a house. Playing a guitar-like instrument, he sings romantic lyrics as his beloved looks on from the other side of the window.

This kind of wooing is not common in big cities, but for Dong people, an ethnic group that mainly lives in Southwest China's Guizhou province, it has been part of their life for centuries. And it now features in the new movie The Grand Song.

The 138-minute film, which opened across China on Nov 17, showcases Dong culture and lifestyle through a romantic story spanning several decades.

The movie is also the first of its kind to explore Dong culture since China launched a project to shoot at least one film for each of the country's 56 ethnic groups in 2014, says Niu Song, secretary-general of the China Ethnic Movies' Promotion Association.

With The Grand Song, the number of ethnic groups that have not had a movie made to record their culture has dropped to 17, says Niu.

As the main consultant on the movie, Niu believes it will help outsiders to learn more about the ethnic group, members of which are believed to be descendants of the Baiyue tribes who lived in areas south of the Yangtze River around 2,500 years ago.

The movie is named after one of the Dong ethnic group's most famous traditional art forms, a chorus performed without the aid of musical instruments.

The songs, which range from themes as diverse as the group's history to the daily routine of their lives, were inscribed in UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage in 2009.

The film's director Ou Chouchou and her crew toured nearly 100 villages to interview folk song masters, collecting around 1,000 songs, around half of the group's existing total.

Twenty-four songs shortlisted from 48 are showcased in the movie, with artists from the China Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Center for the Performing Arts to add accompanying music.

Ou explains the folk songs were handled in this way to widen their appeal to a younger, contemporary audience.

"A local saying goes 'rice nourishes the body, while songs nourish the soul'. Music is part of their life and reflects their spirit. I hope their songs will be heard by more people," Ou says.

But the movie, which is based on a true story, may resonate more with young people searching for true love.

With a timeline spanning around 60 years, the movie centers on a gifted Dong singer, who wants to marry her childhood sweetheart but is instead forced to become the wife of a wealthy man. After a devastating fire claims the life of her first love, the woman suffers a breakdown and edges toward the brink of insanity. In the end, her husband's decades-long care for her finally cures her broken heart.

"I didn't conceive the story. I heard about it from people involved in the project," says Ou, speaking on the sidelines of a promotional event for the film in Beijing.

Ou worked on the project over the course of six years. During one visit to interview local people, she was introduced to an elderly singer known as one of the "five golden flowers" - a reference to the then most-celebrated female singers of the Dong ethnic group who performed for state leaders in the 1950s.

The elderly lady recalled her early years, involving an unforgettable love affair with a man who stayed single after the couple were forced apart.

"Her story touched me. It's impossible to imagine that someone nowadays will wait for an entire lifetime for a love that may never be returned," says the 34-year-old filmmaker.

As a native growing up in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture, Guizhou province, Ou was fascinated by local legends from a young age and in 2002 began to visit the remote villages scattered around the mountains there.

After she graduated from the Beijing Film Academy, Ou began to make movies about the Dong and Miao people, making her the first film director to come from either of the ethnic groups.

Her directorial debut Anayi, a 2006 movie about a Miao woman adept at embroidery, skillfully blends local customs with romance.

One of the movie's most acclaimed scenes features up to 1,000 Miao women dressed in local costume to celebrate their traditional Miao Sisters' Meal Festival, a local matchmaking event.

Close to the Sun - her second movie released in 2012 - praises the simplicity and kindness of the Miao people from the perspective of a French painter who suffers a serious illness but is rescued by the locals.

But the market for arthouse romances remains tough.

In the year leading up to its nationwide release, The Grand Song had more than 300 free screenings around Guizhou and was watched by more than 42,000 rural residents.

"We were short of financing for marketing and distribution back then. I didn't expect the movie to go on general release. It's great to see it arrive in theaters - I just hope it won't be labeled as an ethnic-themed feature," says Ou.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

The Grand Song, a new movie on the Dong ethnic group, has a lot of such scenes to demonstrate its members' musical art, which was inscribed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in 2009.Provided to China Daily

 

Top: Director Ou Chouchou (center) alongside actress Wang Jia (second left) promote the movie in Beijing. Above: Taking a wooden ladder to climb up to the beloved woman’s house — as featured in the movie — is a traditional wooing method of the Dong people. Photos By Feng Yongbin / China Daily And Provided To China Daily

(China Daily 11/23/2017 page19)

]]>
2017-11-23 07:06:15
<![CDATA[Buzz among film buffs as Chinese thriller shines at Tokyo festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/23/content_34896590.htm Director Dong Yue's first feature film, The Looming Storm, recently won two top awards - for best actor and best artistic contribution - at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival, leading to a buzz among crime noir fans.

On Friday, the two-hour feature arrived in Chinese theaters, and has so far scored 7.2 points out of 10 on the country's popular review website Douban.

But Dong is not intoxicated by the achievement.

"The reviews seem polarized. I will take a break to think more about how to balance market expectations and art," says Dong.

When Dong decided to quit his cinematographer job to become a director in 2010, his goal was clear: to make a serious movie that doesn't fool audiences.

He was looking for inspiration when in 2013 a report about a once abandoned town in northwestern China gripped his attention.

The industrial city of Yumen in Gansu province was once one of the country's largest oil production bases, but most of the locals left in the 1990s after drilling stopped.

"Only some of the elderly who were unwilling to leave insisted on staying in the desolate area. The atmosphere there sets the tune for my movie," says Dong in a telephone interview.

At the same time, Dong, a fan of crime-themed productions, had developed a strong interest in a serial killer case, which saw 10 Chinese women and an 8-year-old girl brutally killed in Baiyin, in Northwest China's Gansu province.

Dong had wanted to do a cinematic adaptation of the case, but he failed after a series of attempts, including contacting the first Chinese journalist who reported on the case in the 1990s, and flying to Baiyin himself to get first-hand information.

"I was a newcomer. Without enough resources and necessary authorization, I discovered that it would be impossible to do the adaptation," he explains.

But then there was a coincidence.

When Dong met Duan Yihong, the A-list actor who had won several acting awards for The Dead End, he heard that the Chinese police had arrested the Baiyin serial killer Gao Chengyong, also referred to as China's "Jack the Ripper".

"It was Aug 26, 2016. I clearly remember the details of that day. When I was discussing The Looming Storm's script with Duan (who later agreed to act in the movie), local police in Gansu were hunting for the murderer," says Dong.

The film, set in a rainy, unnamed town, is about a factory security chief's hunt for a serial killer, who kills young women.

Despite the storyline, Dong is not satisfied with merely making a crime thriller.

The American magazine, Hollywood Reporter, says that "China's competition entry (referring to The Looming Storm) at this year's Tokyo Film Festival is a think piece, thinly disguised as a murder mystery."

The movie doesn't focus on solving the puzzle to reveal who the killer is, as numerous genre whodunits do. Instead, it centers on exploring the humanity of those who were involved as well as a look at the era that the movie is set in.

"I was a college student in 1997 in Beijing. My uncle worked at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences back then. He told me about some of the huge changes happening then and how they influenced ordinary people. I was interested in depicting that era in my movie," Dong says.

The film was shot in Hengyang, Hunan province, as the city has a lot of structures built in the 1990s.

Besides Duan, the cast features actress Jiang Yiyan, known for her arthouse dramas, and actors Du Yuan and Zheng Wei.

Speaking about the domestic movie industry's demanding environment for young talent, Dong says moviemaking is a time-consuming job.

"I know many newcomers give up. You have to love it (cinema). A serious movie project needs at least three years," says Dong.

 

Left: Director Dong Yue (left) alongside actor Duan Yihong and actress Jiang Yiyan share behind-the-scenes stories of The Looming Storm with audiences at the film's Beijing premiere last week. Right: Duan and Jiang star in the Chinese film.Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-23 07:06:15
<![CDATA[American Melodies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/23/content_34896589.htm The Last of the Mohicans - the soundtrack of the 1992 film by the same title, starring Daniel Day-Lewis - was composed by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman.

]]>
Indigenous musician Alexandro Querevalu is set to stage third China tour. Chen Nan reports.

The Last of the Mohicans - the soundtrack of the 1992 film by the same title, starring Daniel Day-Lewis - was composed by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman.

The film is directed by Michael Mann and based on the 1826 novel by US writer James Fenimore Cooper. It's set in 1757 and portrays Native Americans against the backdrop of the French and Indian War. Many other films based on the same book have been made in Hollywood.

The 1992 movie and its music touched audiences worldwide, and Native American musician Alexandro Querevalu is one such fan.

He has adapted the music into his signature works, such as The Last of the Mohicans, El Condor Pasa and Yo Soy. He uses traditional wind instruments such as the quena (Andean flute) and zamponas (a type of panpipe).

Querevalu will embark on a China tour, visiting more than 20 cities from Dec 10 to Jan 26.

"I perform the theme song of the movie in my own style, showing my inner feelings. It almost sounds as if I'm crying," the musician says.

Querevalu has toured China twice since 2016.

His signature music, he says, transcends "the boundaries of this kind of music throughout the world and has a uniting effect on people of all races, nations, religions and cultures.

"In the past, not many people knew about Native American music or the instruments used to produce it. With the songs I play, I hope that people can now see and hear how a simple flute can touch the soul."

He portrays emotions such as sadness that have touched his own life.

Querevalu uses sounds of nature - water, rocks and birds - and creates more with nuts, whistles, rattles and paper.

"The instruments I play are ancient Andean instruments, which have existed since the dawn of the American civilization. They are very popular in the land of the ancient Inca Empire, which means 'the four sides of the sun'," says the 43-year-old musician.

Querevalu had a tough childhood in Lima in the 1980s and '90s. Peru was then hit by an economic crisis and the cholera epidemic, and many people lost their jobs and lives.

He was a teenager then, seeking peace in music while his parents struggled financially.

Querevalu's family has musical roots.

"My great-grandfather was a well-known Native American musician who played the Andean harp. My father and my uncles were singers. I always remember my father singing beautiful melodies at home. My mother's cousins also performed traditional music," he recalls.

At age 8, he started playing the recorder. Later, at school, he learned to play the Andean quena. He got the second prize for his performance at the Festival of Andean Music in Lima in 1989.

At 18, he left for Poland, where he joined bands and played with musicians from different countries, such as Sweden and Germany.

He started performing as a solo artist in 2010.

He does his own makeup for performances and he tries to portray a traditional Native American look, he says, by painting his face in battle colors.

Chinese fans of Querevalu launched an account on Sina Weibo to promote his music in 2016. The account now has about 50,000 followers.

Beijing-based music promoter Huang Rong discovered Querevalu's music on the Chinese micro blog.

"I didn't know his name and where he came from until then. I contacted him online and bought his CDs from Poland where he lives. After listening to all of his music, I invited him to tour China," says Huang.

"The music Querevalu plays contains lots of history and stories, which fans - despite differences in culture - can relate to and share."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Alexandro Querevalu will tour China from Dec 10 to Jan 26. The musician usually does his own makeup for performances and tries to portray a traditional Native American look. Photo Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-23 07:06:15
<![CDATA[Tencent funds digital library in Kenya]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/23/content_34896588.htm

NAIROBI - The National Museums of Kenya in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization launched an open digital library for indigenous games funded by the Chinese firm Tencent Holdings Ltd on Monday.

Kenyan officials say digitization of traditional games is part of a broader strategy to preserve the country's rich cultural heritage and disseminate it to future generations in an efficient way.

"This country has a huge repository of traditional games, which should be preserved in a digital format for easier reference by the next generation," says Mzalendo Kibunjia, director-general of the National Museums of Kenya.

The East African nation is the first on the continent to launch the Tencent-funded open digital library on traditional games project that has been successfully implemented in Brazil, Bangladesh, Greece and Mongolia. The project seeks to harness modern technology to preserve and showcase indigenous games that were integral to local communities' cultures.

"This crucial partnership with Tencent will help reverse loss of valuable information on traditional games. They are part of our cultural heritage and are key in promoting cohesion, inclusivity and intergenerational learning," says Kibunjia.

He says the creation of a digital library to store and disseminate information about sports played by Kenya's indigenous communities will help foster interethnic relations and boost tourism revenue.

Anne Therese Ndong Jatta, director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, says Kenya's digital library for traditional games will help convey values of solidarity, respect for diversity and inclusion.

"Digitization of indigenous games will create bridges across generations and among communities. It will contribute to cultural awareness, intergenerational learning and exchange," Jatta says.

The digitization of information and visual images of sports cherished by indigenous Kenyan communities is part of a global project launched by UNESCO's Beijing office in 2015.

Zeng Qingyi, an officer with the office's communication and information sector, says a digital repository of traditional games will enable Kenyan youth to appreciate the culture of their ancestors.

"This information on traditional games, when digitized, can be converted into learning materials," Zeng says.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-23 07:06:15
<![CDATA[Film on Barbra Streisand's 2016 tour shows more star than person]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/23/content_34896586.htm NEW YORK - The point of paying for a babysitter, fighting traffic and paying huge ticket prices to go see your favorite music act in the flesh is to see them working hard - to see them sweat.

But you'll never catch even a bead of perspiration in the new Barbra Streisand concert film.

An icy Babs efficiently runs through various hits in her vast catalog without a hint of strain or unscripted patter in the tedious Barbra: The Music... The Mem'ries ... The Magic! on Netflix.

Filmed in Miami, the last stop in her 2016 tour, we see Streisand often sitting on a chair and delivering her songs while staring in the middle distance or simply with her eyes closed.

The audience mostly sits reverentially.

She kicks it off with Memories and then goes down memory lane with such classics as Everything and Evergreen from A Star Is Born, No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), an overwrought Being at War With Each Other, You Don't Bring Me Flowers, Being Alive from Company and an alarmingly over-the-top Papa, Can You Hear Me? from Yentl.

After an intermission and a costume change it's on to Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and a video about how so many Hollywood stars were freaked out to be able to perform on her latest duets album.

There's also Losing My Mind from Follies, Isn't This Better from Funny Lady, then Don't Rain on My Parade and People. The concert gets progressively more drowsy until Jamie Foxx adds a jolt of pure electricity as its only special guest. He revs up the crowd and sings an awesome Climb Ev'ry Mountain with Streisand, delivering a seven-minute tour de force.

He's badly missed as soon as we're back to just Babs. She sings Jingle Bells and With One More Look at You. Her encore, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, comes after awkward patter.

Then we see her eat a post-concert dinner of crabs. Seriously.

It's all so very slick and calculated, right down to the digital petals that fall on a projection screen behind Streisand, the film montages or the elegant tea set on a side table with perfect flowers in a vase. Yes, her voice is superb, a perfectly calibrated sports car. But there's no soul. Her small fluffy dog has more charisma.

A self-serving Streisand likes to remind the crowd about her vast success, including a CD of Broadway tunes she insisted on recording despite contrary advice and a history of her No 1 albums over six decades. The audience roars at that, but Babs coolly responds: "It's OK. Didn't mean to have applause there. It's just a fact."

Over 100 minutes, Streisand manages to say nothing provocative, insightful or even very interesting. She insists old Broadway show tunes will never be out of date, and laments that climate change is real but her prescription is to make a wish and go into her mind to create the world the way she wants it to be.

"I've been blessed that so many of my dreams have come true," she says at one point. "So all you little girls out there, even if you want to be president of the United States, don't stop dreaming. Nothing's impossible."

At no point does Streisand really interact with the crowd. In fact, she barely listens to their shouted requests or adorations.

"I'm feeling the love," she tells them, but it feels like a lie. One suspects she'd perform exactly like this in a completely empty arena, a ballgowned, straight-haired superstar on pure autopilot. Give it to Barbra: She never lets you see her sweat.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-23 07:06:15
<![CDATA['Family' Help]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/22/content_34852437.htm Studying abroad was a long-standing dream of Ma Feng, but it seemed unattainable to a girl born in a remote village in Yuzhong county, Northwest China's Gansu province.

]]>
Tien Ching founded Educating Girls of Rural China in the belief that educating women is the key to a better society. Xing Wen reports.

Studying abroad was a long-standing dream of Ma Feng, but it seemed unattainable to a girl born in a remote village in Yuzhong county, Northwest China's Gansu province.

However, in 2008, after taking her college entrance exam, Ma was recommended to the organization Educating Girls of Rural China by her teacher and received 5,000 yuan ($760) annually from the organization for the next four years, enabling her to attend college and get a degree.

In the belief that educating women is the key to creating a better society, Chinese-Canadian Tien Ching founded EGRC in 2005, to help impoverished girls from western China gain higher education.

Generally, EGRC provides grants for students' living expenses. Tien holds that guaranteeing the basic necessities for the students enables them to fully enjoy university life.

"If they rush between classes and part-time jobs to make money to pay for their living expenses, they will be outsiders to the colorful life available on campus as they will not have any time left to join the student union or participate in clubs. Even worse, they might be distracted from their studies," says 65-year-old Tien.

After graduating from the China Women's University in Beijing in 2012, Ma worked at a private equity fund in Shanghai for five years, before applying for a loan from EGRC to fulfill her dream of overseas study by undertaking a postgraduate program in finance and investment management at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom in 2016.

Ma described EGRC as "a warm family" and Tien "the head of the family" who tries to utilize all the resources she has.

Tien guided Ma to participate in various activities, which helped her "broaden the horizon and become clear about her future".

Giving back

Many beneficiaries of EGRC are now looking for ways to give back to the organization. They actively volunteer in fundraising activities and help with updating its website and official WeChat account.

According to Ma, apart from an annual meeting at which the young women EGRC is helping meet Tien and extend their contracts for a year, they also have support groups in each city where those with same rural background share experiences, report school performances, and get advice and even used clothes from older ones.

Till now, about 700 girls have had the chance to receive education through the senior middle school sponsorship program and university sponsorship program of EGRC.

In 2012, EGRC began to sponsor female middle school graduates who cannot afford further studies. At that point, Tien launched a summer volunteer teaching program that attracts dozens of alumnae providing mentorship to young students.

Financial hardship takes priority when selecting candidates, rather than their school performance.

Nearly 85 percent of the senior middle school girls she sponsors failed the college entrance examination, according to Tien.

"The exam score is not the only criterion. I want to find other options for them," says Tien.

Tien's group now has offers from a restaurant franchise called Wagas, which gives these girls an opportunity to work and live in big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Many young rural women marry early and stay in their hometowns their whole lives. Tien believes that they should go to big cities, gain useful experience and lead an independent life, even though one day they may return to their hometowns.

She says women's independence has two aspects, the economic and the spiritual. The latter can be reached by widening one's knowledge and deepening one's insights.

Concerned that the women might suffer from self-abasement, a sense of frustration or other negative feelings toward city life, EGRC has an emotional support team of 10 teachers that helps the young women deal with daily life and work.

"We spare no effort in ensuring their growth and building up their confidence," says Tien. "We have turned to experts from Academy of Psychology and Behavior in Tianjing Normal University for professional help."

Over the past three years, volunteers who were born or have studied overseas have also joined Tien's group to provide free English lessons in Gansu and Guizhou provinces.

Liu Xiaochun, a graduate of the University of Queensland, has spent eight days in Yuzhong county, Gansu province, as part of an English program co-organized by EGRC and the Australia-China Youth Association.

"I told the girls how I made the life-changing decision to go to study in Australia, how I struggled to understand people when I first arrived in Australia, how I visited Vietnam, Thailand, the US and made friends with locals ... Every time when I shared the emotional moments in my life, I could tell from the girls' eyes that they were empowered, or inspired, and so was I," Liu wrote in a post on the group's WeChat official account about her experience in Gansu.

"Far beyond English teaching and learning, we went through a journey of discovering ourselves."

Future leaders

John McCallum, Canadian ambassador to China, applauds EGRC's focus on individual development. "The Chinese government has built up an overall framework for educating rural children, which has been getting better over the years. But there's still room for charity groups," he says.

As one of Tien's supporters, he has visited EGRC girls' families in Gansu and hosted charity dinners at the ambassador's residence.

"We are pursuing closer ties with China in many different ways. This is a part of that," he says.

Tien is now developing a scholarship program for rural girls who have potential to be future leaders.

"I will interview the candidates to assess their personal ability and know their expectations, then give those who are qualified the chance to study abroad."

She hopes that EGRC can flourish sustainably without her, so she is endeavoring to map out everything for the group and the girls.

Speaking of her 12 years' commitment to helping rural girls with their education, Tien says: "I feel so pleased when I witness their changes through being educated, which is the strongest driving force for me."

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-22 06:54:26
<![CDATA[China bolsters UNICEF Lebanon refugee education fund]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/22/content_34852436.htm BEIRUT - Within the context of its program to support vulnerable Lebanese communities and Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the United Nations Children's Fund is supporting the Lebanese public education system through funds from global donors, prioritizing the enrollment of Lebanese and non-Lebanese school-aged children into formal public education.

UNICEF notes that funds from the government of China have contributed to raising awareness of the importance of education and improving the quality of education through the provision of school supplies and teacher training.

Chinese-funded educational supplies were distributed in October to around 86,000 Syrian refugee students in Lebanon by Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian, who was joined by Lebanese Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh and UNICEF representative in Lebanon Tanya Chapuisat.

The donation was made through Lebanon's Reach All Children With Education campaign, an ongoing collaborative effort between the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the United Nations.

Wang says that the Chinese donation, which expressed China's sympathy and support for the Syrian refugees, was aimed at helping Lebanon deal with the refugee crisis.

"We truly wish for the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland with the acceleration of the political solution process in Syria so that these refugees can live in a secure, peaceful and prosperous atmosphere," the Chinese envoy says.

The Bar Elias Secondary School in Lebanon's Bekaa region was among the schools supported by UNICEF.

"If these schools did not exist, those children from the refugee camps would be left out in the streets. They are very poor and their families cannot afford an ordinary school education. These kinds of schools and programs are protecting these children from illiteracy and giving them the chance to study," says Sawsan Araji, the school's director.

Hedinn Halldorsson, communication specialist at UNICEF's Lebanon Country Office, says that UNICEF and the Lebanese Ministry of Education are providing free education for school-aged children all over the country.

"But the free schooling program is not enough to attract all the children to school, because there can be many issues hindering them from coming to school," Halldorsson says if a family is not able to secure basic food needs, many children may be forced to work instead of attending school.

"There are so many areas we need to look at. We need to look at healthcare, access to drinking water. We need to make sure that children are in good enough health to attend school," Halldorsson says.

He adds that for 2018, various donors and countries helping UNICEF and different ministries in Lebanon have pledged financial support to maintain aid for vulnerable Lebanese communities and Syrian refugees, but the funds are drying up due to a drop in donors and falling interest from the public.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-22 06:54:26
<![CDATA[Tsinghua expands international network]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/22/content_34852435.htm During a visit by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to China this February, President Xi Jinping and Mattarella witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation agreements aimed at deepening ties across various fields including culture, innovation, education and trade.

]]>
A new China-Italy research hub in Milan is a step further to embrace the world. Zhang Zefeng reports.

During a visit by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to China this February, President Xi Jinping and Mattarella witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation agreements aimed at deepening ties across various fields including culture, innovation, education and trade.

At the signing ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the China-Italy Design Innovation Hub in Milan was formally established as part of the strategy.

Fast forward to Nov 13, where influential politicians, scholars and entrepreneurs from both countries assembled at Tsinghua University to attend the inauguration ceremony of the China-Italy Design Innovation Hub and the launch of the Tsinghua Arts and Design Institute in Milan.

Based on a long-standing collaboration between Tsinghua University and Polytechnic University of Milan, the hub and the institution are expected to develop innovation in education and help bridge the gap between the design industries of the two nations.

The China-Italy Design Innovation Hub will be Tsinghua University's first educational and research base in Europe.

It is an important part of Tsinghua's global strategy, and will boost ties between the two countries in the fields of education, scientific research and the cultural industries, says Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua University.

The agreement was deemed as "historic" by Ferruccio Resta, president of the Polytechnic University of Milan. It fits with the process of the internationalization favored by the university, but also benefits students, enterprises, and beyond, he adds.

Cultural cooperation

According to Lu Xiaobo, the dean of Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University, the institution will launch dual master's programs in areas including fashion design, intelligent manufacturing, environmental design for sustainable growth, as well as the restoration of cultural heritage.

"China has been facing numerous tasks in terms of cultural heritage preservation and restoration, but still lacks the experience in terms of nurturing relevant talented professionals," says Lu.

"Italy has abundant expertise we can tap into when it comes to restoring ancient sculptures, paintings and architecture."

Lu says through the Tsinghua Arts and Design Institute in Milan, faculty members can collaborate with enterprises in innovation projects and conduct the relevant research in Europe, while students will be given the opportunity to engage in academic endeavor and cultural exchange activities in a global setting.

The institution is also expected to collaborate with other schools and departments to develop cross-disciplinary cooperation.

"We try to educate future global leaders while tackling global challenges through design thinking and innovative solutions by crossing disciplinary, cultural, academic and industry boundaries," says Gao Hong, vice-provost and director of the Office of International Education at Tsinghua University.

Going global

Apart from launching the innovation hub, the university has been increasing its efforts to internationalize the scope of its education over the past few years to help its students improve global competence - the capability to learn, work and live with others from different cultural backgrounds - and embrace future opportunities.

"We all live in an interconnected and interdependent world full of uncertainties and challenges," says Gao.

"Students need new skills to thrive, and globalizing our education system is one of the best ways to build such platforms."

Meanwhile, Tsinghua, in collaboration with the Shenzhen government and UC Berkeley, established the Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute in 2014.

The institute, which is supervised by faculties from both universities, tackles global challenges including new energy technology, data science, precision medicine and healthcare.

Separately, a highly interdisciplinary dual master's degree engineering program has been set up by both universities. The institute also established an international academic industry advisory board to develop industry connections.

In 2016, Tsinghua welcomed the first batch of students in the Schwartzman College with three academic tracks - economics and management, public policy, and international studies - with the aim of equipping the next generation of global leaders.

The program invites leaders from different sectors to mentor students in developing their leadership skills. And students from around the world can take field trips around China to see more of the country and better understand its culture.

This autumn, Tsinghua University celebrated the opening of GIX (global innovation exchange) institute building in Seattle, focusing on technology innovation.

The first dual master's degree program there, Connected Devices, integrates design thinking, information technology and entrepreneurial skills to train students integrating resources and leveraging the innovation ecosystem to change the world.

"This is a process to introduce faculty and students to globalization and the ecosystem of global knowledge and global study," says Gao. "We also want to contribute to the internationalization of higher education."

While offering students overseas experience and resources, the university has also been encouraging international institutions across the globe to diversify their campuses.

With more than 3,000 international students from 116 countries and regions on campus, Tsinghua also offers 20 graduate programs taught in English and invites scholars from around China and abroad to give lectures.

In recent years, Tsinghua University has signed more than 280 agreements with universities from 49 countries and regions around the world.

"Eventually, we want to prepare our students to be responsible citizens in an everchanging world," says Gao.

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Friends socialize at the opening ceremony of the GIX building in Seattle in the United States.Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-22 06:54:26
<![CDATA[Art draws the Singer's attention]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/22/content_34852434.htm About two years ago, Singaporean singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun picked up painting. It was part of the national movement, called SkillsFuture, which provides Singaporeans aged 25 and above with an initial $500 of SkillsFuture Credit to develop their potential.

]]>
Painting has inspired Singaporean singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun to look at music in a different way. And in her new album, A Dancing Van Gogh, Sun focuses on the Dutch painter. Chen Nan reports.

About two years ago, Singaporean singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun picked up painting. It was part of the national movement, called SkillsFuture, which provides Singaporeans aged 25 and above with an initial $500 of SkillsFuture Credit to develop their potential.

Sun went to study painting at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and has not stopped since then.

"Painting is like meditation. When you finish something pretty, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Music is a kind of audio art, but I am a very visual person. When I listen to a song, I think of pictures and colors," says Sun, 39.

Painting also inspired her to look at music in a different way. In her new album, A Dancing Van Gogh, Sun focuses on the Dutch painter.

"He had a dramatic life, cutting off his left ear, shooting himself and was little known to the art world until the time of his death," says Sun in Beijing while promoting her new album.

"He was crazy but his unswerving devotion to his art made him one of the greatest heroes of the art world."

In the title song, A Dancing Van Gogh, Sun portrays a world of darkness with her firm voice to the accompaniment of symphony orchestra, which is not a typical music style for her.

In her 17-year-long career, the singer has released 13 full-length albums and built up a large fan base in Asia thanks to her heartfelt love ballads.

"A Dancing Van Gogh is considered as a departure of me because of the different music style and my way of singing. But everyone has a darker side, although we are always encouraged to pursue the bright side in our lives," says Sun.

She also wrote lyrics for the last song in the album, titled Immense Beauty, in which she sings "finally we get together in the wheat field, immense beauty and celebration".

"I dedicate this song to Van Gogh's Wheat Field series. I felt like it's beautiful to sing these lyrics, which are not only about darkness but also hope. It's a sense of closure for the album," says Sun.

The singer, who was born in Singapore and started learning piano at 5, wrote her first song, Someone, while studying at Nanyang Technological University.

She then joined a music school founded by brothers Paul and Peter Lee, both Taiwan-based songwriters and producers. In 2000, she released her self-titled album, which was an instant success.

At a recent news conference in Beijing, Paul and Peter Lee showed up, which made Sun cry.

"I remember that first time we met in the school and she was just a young girl. Now, she is all grown up and clearly knows what she wants," says Paul Lee.

Sun says: "They have been my mentors for about 20 years and it's really touching to have them with me for so many years." The brothers are the producers of Sun's new album.

"Looking back, it's quite like a dream. I am a little bit overwhelmed. Music has always been a big part of my life. I have been doing concerts in my bathroom since I was young, envisioning everything I have now," says Sun. "And as long as I enjoy the process, I will go for it. Music is food for soul."

In 2011, Sun married her Dutch-Indonesian boyfriend, Nadim van der Ros, and one year later, she gave birth to a son.

She then kept a low profile until returning to the limelight with her album, Kepler, in 2014, which was followed by an 18-month-long tour.

"Motherhood changed me. When you are single, you have all the time in the world but now you have to take care of him," says Sun. "I do sing for him before bedtime and sneak out after he falls asleep."

The song, Rainbow Bot, which released in 2016, was dedicated to her son.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Singaporean singer-songwriter Stefanie Sun at the recent launch of her new album in Beijing, inspired by the visual arts.Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-22 06:54:26
<![CDATA[Ridley makes her mark in Christie's film remake]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/22/content_34852433.htm CHICAGO - British director Kenneth Branagh had a brilliant twist for a pivotal Murder on the Orient Express scene in which British actress Daisy Ridley, as beautiful Mary Debenham, confronts obnoxious fellow passenger Gerhard Hardman (played by US actor Willem Dafoe).

The director thought space age for the moment with Star Wars breakout Ridley on the opulent 1930s train.

"I said to Daisy that she could certainly pull out a lightsaber and toast him where it hurts," Branagh recalls.

Ridley, 25, says she was too nervous to truly appreciate that humor early in the remake of the 1974 mystery movie based on British author Agatha Christie's beloved crime novel.

Murder on the Orient Express was only Ridley's second major movie role after exploding to universal fame in her film debut, as Rey in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

That confrontation was Ridley's first scene in front of an acting ensemble that included Branagh (as Christie's famed detective Hercule Poirot), Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi (both from the UK) as fellow Orient Express passengers (and murder suspects).

"I honestly had no room for jokes in my mind that day. I was so freaking nervous," says Ridley. "My hands were fully shaking, I thought, 'I cannot do this in scene with everyone around.'"

Not to worry; Branagh knew Ridley could handle it. To ensure that Ridley had the force beyond Star Wars, he had asked her to audition for the part in person.

The actress only found out much later that fellow stars like US actors Leslie Odom Jr. and Josh Gad had bypassed that vetting. But Ridley understood.

"I mean, obviously, I had done only one thing. I had to prove myself to be part of anything like this. So I was happy to (audition)," says Ridley. "I know I'm a real newbie."

She navigated the audition the way Rey handled the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens. "She had this intelligence and a twinkle in her eye," says Branagh.

Ridley became an integral part of the famous train crew, hanging with Dench ("I made a video for her grandson," in character as Rey) and playing along as Gad grills her for Star Wars spoilers in a series of videos he shot and shared during filming.

In between scenes, she listened to the drama legends swap stories. "I had nothing to offer. I was just a lucky girl who got a lucky break," says Ridley, modestly. "I mainly kept still."

Experience won't be an issue again as Ridley picks up her lightsaber for real in her third major film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This time she'll be acting alongside the original Jedi, Mark Hamill, after Rey finds Luke Skywalker.

Ridley has also completed the title role in the drama Ophelia (expected in 2018) and zipped back to Montreal after Orient Express premiere in London to resume work on the dystopian drama Chaos Walking (2019).

"I've realized that I'm really tired, I haven't stopped working," she says. "Now I'm genuinely excited to sleep before flying around the world talking Star Wars."

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-11-22 06:54:26
<![CDATA[British Scrabble body bans player]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/22/content_34852432.htm LONDON - The Association of British Scrabble players banned one of its star players for three years after an independent investigation concluded that he had broken rules in the popular word game.

Allan Simmons has authored books on Scrabble and contributed game coverage to The Times newspaper, which first reported his ban from competition. The London-based newspaper says it will no longer use him as a contributor.

A committee member for the association, Elie Dangoor, said on Nov 13 that three independent witnesses saw Simmons put a hand with freshly drawn letter tiles back into a bag to draw more tiles - contrary to the rules.

"The natural conclusion had been that he had been cheating," Dangoor said.

There were four instances dating back to 2016, and the committee conducted an independent probe which was concluded a few weeks ago. The matter came to larger public attention only recently, and was discussed during the world championships of the game that ended earlier this month.

Simmons told the Times he denied cheating, and that he had suffered the same "untimely bad luck from the bag as anyone else".

"You have to remember that at the top level, games can be quite intense and there's a lot going through one's mind let alone remembering to religiously ensure tile-drawing rules are followed meticulously," Simmons was quoted by the Times as saying. "From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process."

Dangoor said that Simmons had been "a huge part of the game's development" and that there was "great disappointment", as he is a liked and respected part of the Scrabble community. But action had to be taken.

"There's no one person bigger than the game," Dangoor said.

Efforts to reach Simmons were unsuccessful. The Times quoted him as saying he planned to concentrate on "more important things in life".

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-22 06:54:26
<![CDATA[Ripe for return]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809791.htm In 2000, a spherical 16th-century polychrome jar which once adorned a Chinese emperors' palace sold for HK$44 million ($5.64 million) at a Hong Kong auction, establishing a world record for Chinese porcelain at the time. The jar had sound provenance, being once owned by Hu Huichun, an eminent Shanghai connoisseur of Chinese art during the 20th century. The victorious bidder was Robert Tsao, a Taiwan entrepreneur and noted collector of Chinese art. The bidding was fierce and Tsao's competitors included London-based Guiseppe Eskenazi, one of the most important Chinese art dealers in the world.

]]>
Ming Dynasty porcelain jar that sold for record amount in 2000 is back on the block in Hong Kong. Lin Qi reports.

In 2000, a spherical 16th-century polychrome jar which once adorned a Chinese emperors' palace sold for HK$44 million ($5.64 million) at a Hong Kong auction, establishing a world record for Chinese porcelain at the time. The jar had sound provenance, being once owned by Hu Huichun, an eminent Shanghai connoisseur of Chinese art during the 20th century. The victorious bidder was Robert Tsao, a Taiwan entrepreneur and noted collector of Chinese art. The bidding was fierce and Tsao's competitors included London-based Guiseppe Eskenazi, one of the most important Chinese art dealers in the world.

Tsao says what he likes the most about the porcelain jar is the lively depiction of fish swimming in a pond, and the attractive weeds that surround them. He says the scene is so vivid that it looks like a real fish tank from a distance.

The fish jar, which has been kept in Tsao's Le Cong Tang collection since then, will go under the hammer on Nov 27, as part of Christie's weeklong autumn auctions in Hong Kong.

A total of 13 imperial Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) objects from the collection, including the fish jar, will be auctioned there.

Other highlight lots include a qinghua (cobalt blue-and-white) basin of the early 15th century and a yellow-enameled bowl made between 1426 and 1435.

In October, a rare porcelain brush washer also from Tsao's collection fetched HK$294 million ($37.7 million) at a Hong Kong auction. It was produced at the Ru kiln, one of the five great kilns of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The fish jar about to be auctioned demonstrates the maturity of wucai (five enamels) porcelain ware during the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1521-66).

Artisans at the imperial kiln fired the jar at least three times. They painted the patterns first with an under-glazed coating of qinghua cobalt blue and fired it. Then over this layer, they applied other popular colors including yellow, red and green.

The jar was one of the earliest examples of this technical breakthrough, says Chen Liang-lin from the Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Department at Christie's in Hong Kong.

"Imperial kilns prior to the rule of Emperor Jiajing largely produced small, delicate objects that were suitable for handling and appreciation in the hand," she says.

Fine examples of this style included the porcelain chicken cups produced during Chenghua's reign (1464-87). Standing about 8 centimeters tall, one such cup from a private collection made $36 million at a Hong Kong auction in 2014.

Chen says when Emperor Jiajing was on the throne, porcelain makers improved their skills and developed kilns capable of firing larger wares in more vivid colors such as the fish jar, which stands at 46 centimeters.

The primary artistic radiance of this jar lies in how the artisans found ways to make the fish look so true to life.

"In real life, red carp would have an undertone of yellow, especially when they swim and reflect the light," says Lyu Chenglong, a porcelain expert at Beijing's Palace Museum.

Artisans applied a layer of yellow enamel and above it, another layer of iron red enamel.

Lyu says the artisans needed to be very careful when applying the color and firing, to prevent the two colors from covering each other entirely.

"The eight fish are harmoniously arranged in a simple composition. And people always see a delightful scene when looking at the jar from different angles," he adds.

"Artisans didn't paint water or waves. It wasn't necessary, because the fish and the weeds look so lively."

Chen says the complex blend of red and yellow enamels also carry an auspicious message that "the emperor's good fortune is as vast as the heavens".

She adds that the pattern also relates to Jiajing's religious beliefs as a devout Taoist.

"Fish often represent an ideal state of being in Taoism. Plus, the emperor claimed himself 'a fisherman of the heavenly pond'."

She adds that the use of complementary colors is evident on the jar - the contrasts between red and green and between organic hues and blue - recalling a similar technique adopted by Western artists such as Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

The spherical shape and the rich palette used in the fish jar required not only excellence in technique but sometimes, a bit of good luck.

"A major difficulty of porcelain making is the firing process, which is not determined by man's will," says Lyu.

He says that no matter how well-designed an object's pattern and shape are, unpredictable changes will occur after it is sent into the kiln for firing. This is why a refined porcelain ware such as the fish jar becomes so sought-after among collectors.

He says dozens of similar fish jars are held in art museum collections both at home and abroad, including the Palace Museum, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the British Museum in London.

Lyu adds that the production of fish jars reflects the economic boom that began in the mid-Ming period, and an accumulation of wealth motivated a pursuit of luxury and exquisite artworks.

He says the fish jar is a fine example of the simple beauty representing the pinnacle of Chinese philosophy and aesthetics of the time.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA[Painter places lacquer at heart of his creations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809790.htm Lacquer was for centuries an important material used to craft artistic objects in the daily lives of the ancient Chinese. A coating of the material brings a shiny finish to an object that has already been carved, painted or inlaid with decorative materials.

In today's highly industrialized world, intricate lacquer work has mostly been replaced by faster, more convenient production processes.

But one artist, who has lived with the deep tradition of lacquer craft for years, has devoted himself to regaining the glory of traditional lacquer but within a more modern context - by adding a very contemporary, abstract touch.

Shen Kelong, 53, studied mural painting at art college in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, where he hails from. After graduation, he moved to live and teach in Fuzhou, Fujian province, a city that boasts a long-standing history of lacquer craft.

Through this, he found a new direction for his painting. He puts lacquer at the center of his creations as a means to explore to what extent the cultural temperament of the East has been retained.

Magnificent and Changeful, Shen's solo exhibition currently running at Asia Art Center's space in Beijing, brings to the audience more than 20 of the artist's more recent paintings. The exhibition is designed to communicate the thoughts he has accumulated over the past 30 years on the nature and character of lacquer, and its relationship with Chinese culture.

"For a long time I studied the traditional way of making of lacquer work. But I didn't want to be just another artisan repeating exactly what his predecessors did," Shen says.

"The cultural DNA that has been preserved in our ancestors' interaction with lacquer over the centuries is what I'm truly interested in, but I want to transform it and give it a more contemporary feeling that makes a visual impact on people today."

The paintings on show are often 1 or 2 meters in height. Shen frees lacquer from being seen as purely an ancilliary material to one of realistic depiction. The lacquer itself forms the subject of Shen's work, as the artist presents its smooth textures and soft, reflective luster as the focus.

"Lacquer is very often difficult to control, given its nature. Sometimes you can't totally predict how it will finally set and present itself on the canvas.

"That is why people doing lacquer work are often called 'dancers moving with chains'. But it's the troublesome side of working with lacquer that actually fascinates me so much."

Shen says painting with lacquer is not a battle where either his hands or the material ultimately vie to take control of the other, but more of a negotiation in which the two sides encounter, progress and compromise until they both find a sense of comfort.

He says it is the same process of finding harmony that humans seek to achieve with nature in Chinese philosophy.

He adds that his works not only bring an imposing visual sense of composure and momentum, but they also recall the closeness of nature and the warmth of human handicraft.

If you go

10 am-6 pm, through Sunday. 798 Art District, 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Beijing. 010-5978-9709.

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA[Over 200 artists create street paintings in Houston]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809789.htm HOUSTON - More than 200 artists from around the world took part in this year's Houston Via Colori, one of the largest and most well-known art festivals in the city in the US state of Texas. Now in its 12th year, Via Colori saw an attendance of around 30,000 people, three stages of live music, an array of local food and beverage vendors, and award-winning street painters.

Chinese artist Wu Yingde participated in the festival for the first time.

And, inspired by the scenes of people helping each other during Hurricane Harvey, Wu did a piece on the topic.

"During Hurricane Harvey, I could feel the power of people helping each other. I was deeply moved," Wu says.

Wu, who is used to working in a private studio, says street painting is really enjoyable.

"Here, you can see the whole process, and you can better communicate and exchange views with other artists," he says.

Art teacher Kevin Richert, who has been attending the event for eight years, says: "It's a wonderful get-together for the community. Because if you notice the crowd, it just gets bigger and bigger.

"We as artists get exposed to different things, from film stars to philosophy," he says.

Young artist Brenda Melgar says she took part in a contest to participate in the event for the first time as a high school student several years ago.

"It's great for young people. But besides it's benefiting the Center for Hearing and Speech, which is one of the biggest and probably the only center in Houston that helps kids with hearing impairment to live a life without using sign language. So it's really for a great cause," she says.

The festival, promoted by the Center for Hearing and Speech, aims to fund critical health and educational services for local children with mild to profound hearing loss.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA[Master of the big picture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809788.htm Pan Gongkai, 70, the son of modern ink painting master Pan Tianshou (1897-1971) is a busy man these days.

]]>
Even in retirement, Pan Gongkai continues to be a painter, an architect, a writer and a theorist. And he is now preparing for a solo show in Hong Kong. Deng Zhangyu reports.

Pan Gongkai, 70, the son of modern ink painting master Pan Tianshou (1897-1971) is a busy man these days.

The only person that has been president of China's top two art colleges - the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (2001-14) and the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou (1996-2001), is probably working harder now than when he was younger.

Even in his retirement, he continues to be a painter, an architect, a writer and a theorist.

Pan is now preparing for his solo show to be held in Hong Kong on Nov 25.

It will feature 30 works mainly produced in the last three years, including a 6-meter long multimedia installation Melt.

The installation was first exhibited at the Venice Biennial in 2011, and depicts snowflakes composed of Roman letters falling and melting on water lily painted using Chinese ink.

The bulk of ink paintings to be displayed focus on the lotus, and are presented in freehand brushwork style, typical of Pan.

The ink painter is adept at producing large-size scrolls, with some of them reaching up to 9 meters.

"I usually paint at one go without any corrections. But it is a challenge for me to control the pace when painting a big picture," says Pan.

Explaining his preference for large-scale paintings, Pan says that while on one hand it relates to his way of macro thinking - which can also be seen in his books on art and his design of buildings - on the other hand, it goes with the change in exhibition spaces.

"When art museums are bigger, works to be shown in these spacious rooms must be big enough to achieve a good visual effect," says Pan at his new studio in Beijing, a complex he designed on his own.

The painting room has a high ceiling and is very long.

Pan's studio is more like an art center, with a museum-like exhibition hall, a spacious garden filled with different kinds of trees and a building which looks like a traditional Chinese garden.

Yang Jie, Pan's student and a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, says Pan is versatile and energetic despite his age.

Pan, Yang says, is now working on the designs of three projects: an art museum, a theater and a campus, all located in Pan's hometown of Ninghai, in Zhejiang province.

The 70-year-old is expected to finish the designs of the three projects on his own before the Spring Festival (in February).

"I'm very busy. But I do like all my work, the writing, the lecturing at universities, the designing and the painting," Pan says.

Another "huge project" Pan is passionate about is his ambition to explain the culture and ideology behind Chinese ink and brush painting through a series of books. The project involves cooperating with the Philosophy School of Fudan University in Shanghai.

The first book of the series Brush and Ink in Chinese Painting was published earlier this year in both Chinese and English.

"My painting is a kind of practice for my research on the ideology behind ink and brush painting," he says.

Pan's paintings focus on flowers and birds, a genre developed from literati painting, which dates back to more than 1,000 years and was mainly done by scholar-painters.

For hundreds of years, works by scholar-painters were a way to show their erudition emotions, or in other words, a way for self cultivation. They (the works) are different from those painted by craftsman or full-time painters funded by royal families, says Pan.

"That's the reason why many foreigners don't understand Chinese ink painting," he says.

The artist says that ink painting will be never done by robots or artificial intelligence because robots can't experience self-cultivation.

Pan admits that his dream as a child was to become a scientist rather than a painter. He still buys science magazines and pays much attention to quantum physics.

As a youngster, he got full marks in maths, science and physics. He even made himself a valve receiver, ship and plane models and an ammeter.

As he was good at painting, Pan says it was hard for him to decide if he wanted to be an artist or a scientist.

Finally, he followed his father.

His father Pan Tianshou was one of the most important modern ink painters in China and good at painting flowers and birds.

Pan's father was also an educator, the former president of the China Academy of Art.

"My father never interfered with my studies. But what I got from him was a deep knowledge of Chinese culture," says Pan.

Like his father, Pan is a firm advocate of traditional Chinese culture. He says that Western culture and Chinese culture are not competitors, and both need you to devote time and energy to research them.

"I spend lots of time on research every year. I try to resolve the problem by focusing on the study of the ideology behind Chinese ink and brush painting, " he says.

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

10 am-6:30 pm, through Jan 24. Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, 20 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong. 852-2580-0058.

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA['Art makes our lives interesting']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809787.htm What is the role of ink painting in your daily life?

Ink painting plays a small part in my life. It was never my whole life. I have had lots of interests since childhood. Although my father was a master ink painter, he never taught me how to do ink paintings. But he did push me to learn about Chinese culture and literature. Painting is not only about skills. Whether a person can be a great artist depends on his knowledge, his understanding of life and his view of the relationship between humans and nature.

What do you think of creativity in art?

If we don't inherit what we have in our culture there's no room for creativity and innovation. As for art, innovation is not the top priority. Art is to enhance people's eye for beauty and improve their ability to enjoy life. As for pieces created by old masters, people still like them. This is because while technology must be innovative and useful for people's lives, art is useless in terms of function. But it makes our lives interesting.

How did your father influence your childhood and teenage years?

In fact, my father knew little about my studies at school. I really appreciated my father's little intervention in my interests and study. A child should try a lot of things before focusing on particular interests. I recommend parents not to limit your children's possibilities when they are 7 or 8 years old. For those who want to learn art, do not start learning sketching in childhood. But children's painting is good for the imagination.

You write books, design buildings and paint in ink. How do you see the trend of people doing crossover works?

I spend lots of time on ink painting and architecture. But finally I find that both these fields have something similar. The internet makes knowledge easy for us to access, but I suggest that young people don't start crossovers unless they have become experts in one field. Or else, their work will be very superficial and shallow.

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA[Monitors of change]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809786.htm For those who can afford it, owning expensive works of art is often viewed as a showcase for their wealth and an investment that may bring enormous returns.

]]>
Beauty in the New Era, an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, displays works from the modernist revolution in Chinese art. Lin Qi reports.

For those who can afford it, owning expensive works of art is often viewed as a showcase for their wealth and an investment that may bring enormous returns.

On Wednesday, the price of the world's most expensive artwork soared to $450 million at a New York auction. This staggering sum was paid for Salvator Mundi, a painting attributed to the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci.

The buzz created by this will die down, and people will again focus on the eternal charm of art and the uncommon spirit of artists, which are what appeal to most people rather than the monetary value of an artist's work.

This is the sentiment that has motivated Beauty in the New Era, an exhibition on at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, through Sunday.

On display are more than 200 paintings and calligraphic works from the museum's collection, through which one can look back on the modernist revolution of Chinese art. This began in the late 19th century and proceeded throughout the 20th century.

And it is a masters' show. The 14 artists featured at the exhibition made progressive endeavors to rejuvenate Chinese painting during the clash of Eastern and Western cultures. Each of them generates pages in any book on the history of modern Chinese art.

Some of them demonstrate their creativity through the traditional Chinese medium of ink paintings. These include He Shaoji who is recognized as the top calligrapher of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and Zhao Zhiqian whose artistic style anticipated the establishment of the Haipai (or Shanghai) School of Painting. Works by the school's forerunners such as Ren Bonian and Wu Changshuo are also exhibited.

Their works are an exploration of how to modernize Chinese art traditions, so they embrace the diverse interests of the emerging middle-class in the city at that time.

Works on display include paintings by Qi Baishi, Fu Baoshi and Li Keran, which mark their breakthroughs in integrating Western styles in the three major genres of classical Chinese ink painting - flower and bird, mountain and water, and figures.

Other artists, such as Lin Fengmian and Xu Beihong, represent a generation who studied in Europe, were exposed to contemporary vanguard movements and brought an avant-garde view back to China. They were adept at both ink and oil paintings.

Some of the works are being shown for the first time, such as Geese, an ink painting by Xu Beihong who heralded the realism school in 20th-century Chinese art.

Xu is long admired for his depiction of horses, symbolizing the national spirit. The 1935 work, Geese, shows another subject Xu excelled at - one that he is less well-known for. His relaxed lines and shading lend grace and charm to a group of commonly seen domestic fowl in this work.

The exhibition occupies six halls at the National Art Museum of China. One of them is dedicated to the works that were once in the joint collection of Lao She (1899-1966), a significant novelist and dramatist, and his wife, Hu Jieqing.

They were donated to the museum, along with dozens of other paintings and calligraphic pieces, by their children two years ago.

The couple befriended several painters shown at the exhibition.

"Lao She not only collected, but also commented on art," says his son, Shu Yi.

"He wrote a series of articles critiquing almost every great painter of his time. He spoke highly of their achievements but also pointed out their shortcomings."

The couple often hung their collection on one wall of their sitting room. And they invited friends to come and appreciate them. From time to time, they would rotate the paintings. People called the wall, the "Lao She Gallery".

Now the National Art Museum of China has re-created the "Lao She Gallery", and people can share the writer's cultural tastes and also pay tribute to a true connoisseur.

The best works of the best artists are both precious and rare and therefore very expensive in a booming art market, says Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum of China.

"After seeing these masterpieces, some people will stop me and ask, 'How much are they worth?' I can only answer, they are priceless," he says.

"These artists do not get their share when their works fetch high prices at market. They worked because of their sense of responsibility to their art and the people. And it is our responsibility to pay them respect by sharing their art with as many people as possible.

"They are the peaks that generations will continue to look up to and admire."

An Yuanyuan, the museum's deputy director, says the works will continue to be shown in rotation on the sixth floor, as part of the museum's permanent display.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm, through Sunday. 1 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6400-1476.

 

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA[Local opera takes to a new stage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/21/content_34809785.htm As an oil painter who is also a fan of Ganju Opera, Yu Xiaofei reveals the charm of Chinese traditional culture using Western painting techniques.

His solo art exhibition is on at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing through Thursday, featuring over 20 oil paintings and some color drafts on the opera.

Yu has donated one of his paintings, titled Xiju Rensheng: Xunyan (Drama Life: Tour) to the center.

Another painting, Xiju Rensheng (Drama Life) won the gold prize at an oil painting exhibition in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, organized by the Chinese Artists Association in 2012.

Commenting on Yu's Xiju Rensheng, Ding Ning, vice-president of School of Art at Peking University, says: "Everything seems to be flat but with great waves. The scene seems like a play but also a situation in life. It seems like everything has been left alone and nothing has been pushed around, but something is heavier than the play itself."

Ding says he also sees other meanings.

Yu, 55, an associate professor at Shangrao Normal University for almost two decades, was born and raised in Shangrao city in Jiangxi province.

He grew up near a cultural center among professional art designers and painters. At 12, he was attracted by the artists' works and picked up the brush.

Professionals and teachers in primary school recognized his talent.

He joined the school's painting group as an extracurricular activity and took part in poster creation for the school and the center, and many children's art exhibitions.

Praise and encouragement led him to develop painting as a hobby, but what really drove Yu was his inner passion.

"I was not driven by the benefit in the college entrance examination, or any possible financial gains, but only pure personal interest," he says.

Yu did not come from a rich family and painting meant an extra expense.

Speaking about how he developed as an artist, Yu, who studied art at Shangrao Normal University from 1979 to 1981, says: "I considered myself already skilled at that time, but my taste and judgment had not been fully developed.

"It was very hard for Chinese to learn about oil paintings, because most people didn't get the chance to appreciate exhibitions overseas, not even good prints."

He was grateful for his one-year study experience at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, later in 1996, where he met many helpful tutors, including Wang Chengyi, who shared what they learned from the West.

Since 1996, Yu has been spending weeks in Wuyuan, a county near Shangrao, almost every year, where he stays with local residents in their houses, and paints still life. He paints whatever he sees - ancestral shrines, kitchens, fish and vegetables.

One of his paintings, Laolao De Zuci (Grandmother's Ancestral Shrine), inspired by his stay in Wuyuan, won an award of excellence at a national oil painting competition organized by Chinese Artists Association in Shanghai in 2006.

During his visits, Yu came across Ganju Opera troupes in the county many times.

"People love the opera. They await the troupes like fans waiting for their idols to appear," Yu says.

"They bring stools from home, sitting and chatting in front of the stage long before the performance."

After years of observing this phenomenon, Yu started to paint backstage scenes in 2012.

Yu describes himself as a painter who is directly connected with his subjects, so he spent a large amount of time painting backstage.

Yu says that although painting in private studios allows deliberation, he prefers creating art on the spot.

"I believe that painting is closely tied with emotions," says Yu, adding that he often gains unexpected inspiration while painting at the scene.

He says he remembers an actor who didn't have a settled address.

"He had only the address of the troupe's headquarters when I wanted to send some photos to him," says Yu.

He also talks about a young performer he cannot forget. When they met for the second time, she recognized Yu but she was hiding from him. Yu wondered why until he discovered that she had pimples on her face. "She was allergic to the makeup that she has to put on every day."

Although Yu has spent years focusing on the traditional opera, he is still exploring.

He wants to paint bigger scenes such as the troupes moving and outdoor performances.

If you go

9 am-5 pm, through Thursday. 2 Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng district, Beijing. 010-6520-2577.

xuhaoyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-21 07:21:14
<![CDATA[Sky-high ambition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/20/content_34769693.htm An astronomer's dream of creating a radio telescope to unlock the secrets of the universe came to fruition just before his death. Li Yingxue reports.

A bold idea came to Nan Rendong's mind in the early 1990s, and it took him more than two decades to fulfill his "unreachable" dream.

The idea was to build a radio telescope measuring 500 meters in diameter, even though the biggest one in China at that time was less than 30 meters across.

Nan introduced the idea at the International Union of Radio Science General Assembly and Scientific Symposium in Japan in 1993. After more than two decades of development, the project finally came to fruition when China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope opened in 2016.

 

FAST's 500-meter-wide dish is as large as 30 soccer fields. It was created with the objective of searching for pulsars, identifying neutral hydrogen, interstellar molecules and signals from extraterrestrial life.

Nan, chief scientist of the FAST project, witnessed the completion of the radio telescope on site, despite the fact he had already been diagnosed with lung cancer by then.

FAST is able to receive electromagnetic signals from 10 billion light years away, and with it Nan hoped "to discover the origins of the universe, the origins of celestial bodies, and the origins of life".

"The reason humans finally stand out after having evolved from much lower forms of life to what we are now - a developed human civilization - is because we've always kept alive the spirit of exploring the unknown," Nan said.

FAST, also known as the Sky Eye, had just started to "watch" the edge of the universe, while the founding father of the project closed his eyes for the last time. On Sept 15, just 10 days before the first anniversary of FAST, Nan passed away at the age of 72, leaving the chance to other Chinese astronomers to make a breakthrough discovery.

Born in 1945, Nan was the top-scorer in the college entrance exam in his native Jilin province before he enrolled in the department of radio electronics at Tsinghua University in 1963.

Nan was working as a visiting professor at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in the 1990s when he decided to try and realize his ambition. Giving up the well-paid position at one of the world's top scientific research institutes, Nan returned to China in 1994 to lead the FAST project.

The first challenge Nan and his team met with was to identify a suitable location - a problem that took the astronomer 12 years to resolve.

Finally, when Nan discovered a large crater hidden away in a mountainous area of Pingtang county, Guizhou province, he knew immediately he had found what he was looking for.

The depression was a 45-million-year-old basin, with its karst geology providing natural protection for the telescope.

"This location was the best out of over 300 candidate sites," Nan said at the time.

In March 2011, construction of the giant telescope began. As the chief scientist and chief engineer, Nan had to deal with some tough civil engineering problems.

"For the telescope, we had to conduct research into the topography, construction and hydrogeology of the site," Nan said.

Nan had to climb up and down 100-meter-tall towers via narrow stairways countless times and assess the firmness of the subsoil with his own feet.

From calculating the length of each cable to the precise installation of each reflective panel, Nan took care of numerous technical details.

Jiang Peng, Nan's assistant, says most of the scientists working with the FAST project specialize in different fields, such as astronomy, mechanics and radio technology.

"But Nan knew everything," Jiang says. "This giant complicated radio telescope project was made for him."

The cable-net construction of the inverted dome of the telescope was another challenge thrown at Nan - the structure was made up of a network of more than 10,000 cables that held together 4,450 individual reflective panels.

When it came to problem solving, Nan and his team had no reference points to turn to, and nowhere to ask for help.

Nan was always at the forefront of trials during the construction process. "During every failure, Nan was there, trying to find out a solution," Jiang says.

Often dressed in jeans and sporting a neat mustache, Nan didn't look much like a scientist on site. And the down-to-earth scientist also had a soft heart.

When Nan first visited the FAST location, he met some local children with big smiles dressed in worn-out clothes. He started to give them money to help support their lives.

After finding out that many of the construction workers were from impoverished mountainous areas, Nan also bought clothes for them.

Nan always wore a blue helmet with his name on it when he was working at the construction site. Every villager, and even a local dog, knew him.

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-20 07:51:21
<![CDATA[Festival shines spotlight on accordion music]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/20/content_34769692.htm When accordion player Klaudiusz Baran, the rector of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, premiered Polish composer Marcin Blazewicz's Concerto for Accordion and String Orchestra in Beijing along with the symphony orchestra of the Central Conservatory of Music and its conductor Yu Feng, they received long ovation from the audience.

"This is not only the piece's premiere in China but also the first time that we played together, which is a great celebration of the instrument," says Baran, referring to his cooperation with Yu and the Chinese students at the concert during the third International Accordion Festival on Nov 14.

The festival, initiated by the Central Conservatory of Music, which ended on Sunday, brought together musicians from around the world, including Finland, Germany and Spain.

The event, which is held every three years, premieres works by Western composers commissioned by Cao Xiaoqing, the director of the accordion department at the Central Conservatory of Music.

A concert, titled Composers Talk About Chinese Elements, was held at the school on Friday, featuring pieces, including My Motherland by Finnish composer and accordion player Petri Makkonen and Great Wall by Spanish composer and accordion player Gorka Hermosa.

Speaking about his piece, Makkonen says: "I used to compose based on my homeland. So, this is the first time that I have composed for a different country."

Makkonen was born in Iisalmi, central Finland, and started to play folk music using a piano and accordion at the age of 8. He graduated from the Sibelius Academy in accordion playing and composition and teaches at Kuopio Conservatoire in Finland.

"When Cao gave me the Chinese version of My Motherland, I was impressed by its smooth melody. Since the accordion is such a versatile instrument, I tried to tell stories with this melody."

Veteran Chinese-Australian composer and pianist Chu Wanghua also had his accordion concerto, Song of Life, perform at the festival.

"Compared with the piano and the violin, there are few original pieces written for the accordion, which is a pity for the instrument. So, audiences are not aware of the potential of this instrument," Chu says. "I hope more Chinese composers will write for it."

Song of Life features Chinese folk songs. The piece had its world premiere in Australia in June when it was performed by Chinese accordion player Xu Xiaonan, who teaches at the Central Conservatory of Music.

According to Cao, the Central Conservatory of Music launched its accordion major in 2004.

This year, four of Cao's students stood out among 78 competitors at the 54th Klingenthal International Accordion Competition, which was held in May in Germany.

"Their success not only brings China attention but also encourages more young Chinese to learn the accordion. It's a revival for the instrument," says Cao.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-20 07:51:21
<![CDATA[Malacca set to showcase its history with China-style outdoor show]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/20/content_34769691.htm KUALA LUMPUR - Boo Kuang Loon, a Malacca-born businessman, had always wanted to contribute to the Malaysian city's cultural richness. But he never thought that a letter to Zhang Yimou, a renowned Chinese director, would make his dream come true.

In early 2013, when traveling in China, Boo was stunned by Impression Liu Sanjie, an outdoor show directed by Zhang held in Yangshuo, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

He then wrote to the director, who is well known for films such as Hero and The Great Wall, expressing his hope that Malacca, a historical state in southern Malaysia, could have a similar show to tell its story to the world.

Two months later, Boo got a reply from Zhang.

The director visited Malacca and told Boo he also loved the historical state.

So, they decided to replicate the successful cultural show in Malacca.

After more than four years, Impression Melaka, made at a total cost of 300 million ringgit ($72 million), is on track to have its premiere in the first quarter of 2018.

"I remembered that when I saw the impression series in Guangxi I was impressed with how the show was done, and its effect on the audience," says Boo, the chief executive officer of the cultural and tourism firm Yong Tai, which owns Impression Melaka.

Boo is confident that the show will receive an overwhelming response as it is in line with international standards.

"(It's true) that there are a lot of cultural performances in Malaysia that have not done well. But if we do it according to international standards, I don't think we will fail. That's why we brought in Zhang who is a director who conducted the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies," says Boo.

He also sees the show as an Asian way to showcase Malacca's culture and story.

"The people of Malacca are looking forward to it," says Boo, adding that it can fill a gap as not many nighttime cultural activities are available in the state.

Boo says the builder is topping off the theater now, and he has started the process of recruiting performers.

"Directors and technicians from China will come next month to begin training and trial performances," says Boo. The first show is expected to be held in March.

Yong Tai is also in negotiations with several travel agencies, including those in China, to promote ticket sales. Some deals are expected to be realized next month.

"The feedback has been positive so far. We are close to meeting our target," says Boo.

The group forecast the outdoor theme production in Malacca could attract as many as 1.4 million visitors per year.

He estimates that 40 percent of tourists will come from China, while those from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries and Malaysia will account for 20 and 30 percent, respectively. The rest will come from the United States and Europe.

The good relations between Malaysia and China has put Malacca in a better position to compete with other regions when it comes to tourism.

This is especially evident as the state has been recognized as a key development state under the Belt and Road Initiative, with more Chinese investments coming in, says Boo.

Should the show be a success in Malacca, Boo and director Zhang may replicate it in other Southeast Asian countries.

"We are looking at Indonesia and Thailand, which have great potential," says Boo.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-20 07:51:21
<![CDATA[A 'monkey king' atop an ice cap]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/20/content_34769690.htm The Tibetan macaques blast toward the confetti of corn kernels flying from Zheng Yungui's fingertips like an explosion chasing sparks.

The primates screech and lunge to snap up the food. Babies cling to mother's bellies.

The 45-year-old staffer of the Dagu Glacier Scenic Area is better known by his local nickname, "the monkey king", referencing the Journey to the West, known as one of China's "four great novels".

He has been feeding Dagu's monkeys for over a decade.

"They're old friends," he says.

"They never harm me or others. Interacting with them has become an important part of my life."

Tourists enjoy feeding and snapping photos of the creatures.

Zheng joins colleagues on a weekly two-day patrol.

They bring their own food and water to camp while patrolling to monitor wildlife and check for fires.

He feeds the monkeys about 50 kilograms of corn, fruits and vegetables a day.

And Zheng speaks their language.

He summons them by mimicking their calls in the morning. They answer.

They often arrive between 8 am and 10 am and leave at sunset.

It took him about six years to win their trust. Their population has grown from about 70 to 200.

The monkeys previously lived on top of a mountain.

He moved the feeding place further from the peak every few months until they started coming to the current location.

During the first two years, they'd grab the food and hide. Some would stand guard while the others ate.

By 2011, monkeys would knock on his office windows if he was late.

He reads books about Tibetan macaques. He learned they generally sleep in caves or trees.

He learned how to identify a leader. It's the strong male who feasts in the center of a circle of food that nobody dares disturb.

Zheng believes he has identified the next leader. He worries the monkeys may not return to him after the usurpation.

"I like to watch their behavior," he says. "They're adorable. And smart."

He recalls watching the monkeys mourn a dead member of their community.

They buried it, he says.

Indeed, it seems we can learn a lot about ourselves by watching our evolutionary relatives.

]]>
2017-11-20 07:51:21
<![CDATA[Chinese flock Down Under to catch glimpse of whale migration]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/20/content_34769689.htm SYDNEY - As Australia's whale-watching season comes to a close, thousands of tourists are scrambling to get a last glimpse of the majestic creatures.

From April to November, whales leave their food-rich habitats in Antarctica's Southern Ocean to head north in search of warmer waters to find mates and give birth.

The spectacle, always popular with local Aussie tourists, has over the past decade been drawing a huge number of visitors from around the world, and has seen tourism operators thrive.

General manager Matt Cross of the hugely successful Dolphin Watch Cruises says he's been chasing the spectacular animals in Jervis Bay (200 kilometers south of Sydney) for almost three decades.

"Traditionally, 15 years ago it was 100 percent domestic (tourists)," he says.

But now an influx of visitors from "North Asia and the Chinese mainland" has provided a huge windfall for the local whale-watching industry.

Overall, the launch of the China-Australia Year of Tourism by both governments at the beginning of 2017 has lifted the number of Chinese visitors Down Under, and, according to Cross, many of them are eager for a chance to encounter marine life in the wild.

"China has some magnificent rivers and some really big mountains," he says.

"But China doesn't have the dolphins and the whales that Jervis Bay has every day and the mixture of the blue sky, crystal clear water and wildlife. Jervis Bay is a fantastic tourism recipe for the people of China.

"Coming from the big cities of Asia ... the moment the whale jumps into the sky is like 'oh my god!'. It's amazing!"

Xinhua

 

Tourists watch from a deck as a Southern Right Whale and calf swim in the ocean at the Head of Bight whale-watching center in Nullarbor, Australia. Getty Images

]]>
2017-11-20 07:51:21
<![CDATA[Melting pot of cultures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728316.htm City's dazzling history and impressive architecture make it a fascinating destination for visitors to Russia

Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia, is a place where you can enjoy the integration of cultures, unique architecture and retrace the steps of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Russian Communist Party and leader of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

It's only a one-and-a-half hour flight from Moscow, and it has been dubbed "the sports capital of Russia".

The city, which will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is also home to the Kazan Kremlin, the best place to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Kazanka River, a tributary of the Volga.

In 2000, the Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It consists of buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, with Eastern Orthodox churches and mosques.

The Khanate of Kazan, with Kazan as its capital, was one of the successor states of the Golden Horde, originally a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate established in the 13th century. It originated as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire in the early 15th century.

The Siege of Kazan in 1552 was a turning point for the city. It was then that Ivan the Terrible, the first to proclaim himself Czar of Russia, conquered the state and ordered the building of the Kazan Kremlin.

Adjacent to the river bank are the Governor's Palace and the 58-meter-high red brick leaning Suyumbike Tower. The tower's name is linked to the last queen of the Khanate of Kazan, Suyumbike. On the gate of the tower are symbols of a golden sun and crescent, and nearby are the mausoleums of and monuments to the Kazan khans.

Nearby, built from local white sandstone, is the Annunciation Cathedral, which boasts magnificent icons and frescoes. One of them is Our Lady of Kazan, which depicts the Virgin Mary as the city's protector.

A little distance away is the white and blue Kul Sharif Mosque, which was rebuilt in 2005. It's a new landmark in Kazan and one of the largest mosques in Europe.

It is painted white and blue inside and has an exquisite blue crystal lantern hanging from its golden ceiling.

The first floor of the mosque has a miniature of the structure, which is named in honor of the statesman and imam Seid Kul Sharif.

During the Siege of Kazan, the imam and his pupils were killed while defending Kazan from Ivan the Terrible.

When in Kazan, you can also visit the Lenin House Museum, which was opened in 1937 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Lenin's family rented the house in 1888 but only stayed for nine months.

At the museum, visitors can learn about the family's daily life from the modestly furnished rooms.

Lenin studied law at Kazan Federal University but was expelled because he joined the students' protest against the czar's government in 1887.

At the university, visitors can sit in Lenin's seat in the classroom.

Near the university is a statue of Lenin in his student years.

If you want to enjoy Kazan - which means "cooking pot" in the Turkic language - hop onto a double-decker city tour bus to see the streets.

Incidentally, the marriage registry office building in the city looks like a giant cooking pot. Situated on the other bank of the Kazanka River, the building is surrounded by sculptures of legendary animals.

Tatarstan's Ministry of Agriculture and Food building in the city is Gothic in style, with a 20-meter-high iron tree forming part of its gate.

The building is also decorated with winged snow leopards, a symbol of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The building is near a street lined with restaurants and shops.

Some of Kazan's streets are named after famous Russians such as Maxim Gorky. At the age of 19, Gorky attempted suicide near the river but the bullet he fired missed his heart. He survived, left Kazan and became a well-known writer.

Bauman Street is the city's main pedestrian street. On sunny days, the square with a fountain attracts pigeons.

The city also has a soft spot for cats. Besides a stone sculpture of the Kazan Cat, you will find all kinds of souvenirs related to cats, such as refrigerator magnets and small porcelain sculptures.

Legend has it that during the Siege of Kazan, the Kazan Cat warned the Khan of the Russian troops who were tunneling underneath the fortress.

In 1745, Empress Elizabeth ordered 30 cats brought from Kazan to St. Petersburg to catch mice in the Winter Palace.

One of the other attractions in Kazan is the Soviet Lifestyle Museum, which has a large collection of daily necessities from Soviet times, ranging from children's toys and cosmetics to badges with Lenin's picture on them.

Visiting the museum is like traveling back in time. You can select different army uniforms and hats and dress up as a soldier.

The museum also has dolls and small sculptures of Misha - the Russian Bear mascot of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Among the other interesting exhibits are a metal mold for baking pancakes in the shape of Misha, and an electronic postcard with lights.

xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Clockwise from top: The Lenin House Museum demonstrates the family's daily life in its modestly furnished rooms; a metal mold to bake pancakes in the shape of Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow; the marriage registry office building in the city looks like a giant cooking pot. Photos by Xu Lin / China Daily

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[A bellyful of warmth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728315.htm Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

When the temperatures drop and the central heating has only just kicked in, it's time for a warming pot of well-brewed soup.

Soup in Chinese cuisine is a major category on the menu and ranges from the lightest consomme to hearty rich broths that are thick with meat and vegetables.

 

Trotters and peanut soup is rich and milky and scented with the unmistakable aroma of the nuts. Provided to China Daily

Of course, no one places more emphasis on soups than the Cantonese, so I will tap into that aspect of my culinary heritage for the classic recipes.

The wok is an important piece of equipment in every Chinese kitchen, but in the Cantonese home, another item holds equal importance: the soup pot.

Normally made of earthenware for its heat-conducting properties, this should be a tall pot with a raised lip that closely cradles the tight fitting lid.

It should comfortably hold at least four liters of liquid so the soup can slowly reduce. The raised lip helps to keep the lid from rattling and holds in the air pressure that builds up in the long, slow brewing.

Sometimes, more than one soup pot is found in the same kitchen, with a smaller one reserved for a different kind of brew - the medicinal soups so beloved by the Cantonese matriarch.

Not all soups are made in the claypot. Some of the lighter everyday soups are quickly made, often in the wok.

These are the light soups, made with a few slices of meat for flavor and plenty of vegetables. Mustard greens and lean pork, for example, or even an egg drop soup with coriander added at the last minute.

But the art of making soup reaches its pinnacle with those that are simmered long and slow.

I remember trotters and peanut soup. The broth was rich and milky and scented with the unmistakable aroma of the nuts. The nuts are thrown into the soup with the skins on, and these tinge the soup slightly pink. The trotters, reduced to a gelatinous tenderness, would be plated and served as part of the meal, together with a little saucer of soy sauce. I remember draining the bowl and happily picking at the soft, soft nuts.

Funnily enough, the alchemy of peanuts and trotters means that you hardly taste the porkiness of the pig's feet, only a nutty fragrance that is accentuated by the addition of a handful of dried Chinese jujubes.

And here you have the classic anatomy of a Cantonese soup.

First, you have the meat - which can be pork, beef, mutton or fish. Then you have the complementary ingredients, which can be root vegetables such as radishes, carrots or lotus root, or beans or dried leafy vegetables. And finally, there will always be dried jujubes, dates, ginger, dried citrus peel or any of a vast variety of Chinese herbs.

Every ingredient has a purpose.

The meat will either strengthen or cool the body. The root or leafy vegetables will play supporting roles for flavor or for health. Herbs or aromatics will neutralize certain undesirable effects - like ginger taking away the pungency of fish or pork, and dried jujubes adding sweetness where it is needed.

The long, slow simmering melds the flavors of the various ingredients and allows them to come together in the soup bowl.

Unlike Western soups, the treasured end product is the liquid, the soup, and not the ingredients that first went into the pot. These soup dregs, or tangzha as we call them, are often discarded. In fact, after three hours of simmering, almost all of the flavor has already been extracted.

And there are soups for every purpose.

The Cantonese grandmother's idea of chicken soup is to double boil a minced chicken breast. The result is a clear consomme that will tempt even the most recalcitrant invalid.

There are soups that will make you bright-eyed and clear-brained for those examination days, soups to revive flagging appetites, broths to boost energy after a hard day's workout, and a whole cookbook of soups for the new mother recovering from childbirth.

Soups are flash-boiled, simmered, steamed and double-boiled. There are also soups that resemble the stews of other provinces, but the Cantonese differentiate them by calling these geng, or thick broths.

The most famous, of course, is the infamous shark's fin soup but, with the ban on shark fins in most Chinese cities, this looks like a thing of the past. Instead, a vegetable called shark's fin melon is now very popular. This is very much like spaghetti squash and takes well to the cooking with shredded chicken, crabs and mushrooms to produce a tasty substitute.

In Shunde county, the Cantonese chefs like producing a thick broth that features the local fish, which is first fried and then deboned before being added to the broth with aromatic mushrooms.

The importance of soup to the Cantonese can be seen in the description of their daily meals. For an average family, sancai yitang, three dishes and a soup, sums it up.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Mustard green and sliced pork soup

A bunch of mustard green, choy sum or caixin

100g lean pork, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon sesame oil, salt and a little cornstarch

1 slice ginger

Mix the sliced pork with sesame oil, salt and cornstarch. Massage the seasoning into the meat. This velveting process will make the lean meat tastier.

Wash the vegetable well, separating the leaves. Cut them up, separating the green tips from the stems.

Heat up a little oil in a wok and fry the ginger. Add the meat and toss till cooked. Add two to three cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the mustard green stems, and when they change color, add the leaves. When the soup comes to a boil, remove from heat, season and serve.

Peanut soup with trotters and tail

1 lower trotter, cleaned and chopped

1 pig's tail, cleaned and chopped 300g raw peanuts

4-5 dried Chinese jujubes

1 5-cm piece ginger, flattened with the back of a cleaver

Wash trotter and tail. Check to see that all gristle is removed and blanch in boiling water. Drain, wash in running water and drain again.

Wash peanuts. Keep the skin on.

Heat up three liters of water in a large stockpot, and when the water is boiling, add trotter and tail pieces and peanuts, ginger and dried Chinese jujubes.

Bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep the lid covered and slowly cook for at least an hour. Do not salt until you are ready to serve.

Fish out the tender trotters and tail and serve them with platters of soy sauce. Serve the peanuts with the soup.

If you don't like trotters or tail, substitute with a pork hock.

Cantonese granny's chicken essence

1 chicken breast, skin removed Pinch of salt

Wash the breast clean, dry and then finely mince. Sprinkle the salt over the minced chicken.

Invert a rice bowl and place it in a large soup bowl. Plaster the chicken over the top of the inverted bowl.

Steam the whole assembly in a steamer over constant high heat for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for five minutes. Remove the meat from the top of the rice bowl. Carefully lift it. You will find the chicken essence under the rice bowl.

Serve immediately. This is a recipe that never ceases to amaze me with its masterly application of physics.

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[Ma makes movie debut]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728314.htm The Alibaba founder, also a martial arts buff, appears in a 20-minute clip to coincide with mega shopping event

One of the richest men in China, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, is also a martial arts fan. And now he has made his debut in Gong Shou Dao (the art of attack and defense), a 20-minute movie.

An eight-minute clip from the film was screened at the Tmall Double 11 Night Carnival, a TV gala by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Nov 10.

The TV gala, an annual promotional event set up in 2015 by Alibaba for Nov 11 - China's biggest online shopping day since 2009 - aired on satellite channels in Beijing and Shenzhen, Guangdong province, as well as Zhejiang province, and on several video-streaming sites like Taobaolive and Youku.

 

Gong Shou Dao features some of the country's top kung fu stars and action choreographers. Photos Provided to China Daily

On this year's Singles Day on Nov 11, Alibaba's platforms tallied total sales of 168.2 billion yuan (21.7 billion euros, 19.3 billion), up 39.3 percent from last year.

Also in the film, pop diva Faye Wong, who has taken a break for a year now, teamed up with Ma to sing the movie's theme song, Feng Qingyang.

Ma, 53, widely known as a fan of martial arts, is fascinated with Louis Cha's wuxia (martial arts) novels and has been practicing tai chi for over 30 years.

He even tells employees to use fictional warriors' names from literature classics as their nicknames at work.

Thanks to Ma's love of tai chi - the 400-year-old martial art rooted in Confucianism and Taoism - Alibaba has hired five national champions to train the group's employees.

When Irish President Michael Higgins visited the headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou during his state visit to China in 2014, Ma arranged for four staff members to perform tai chi for him.

The movie had three top Hong Kong action choreographers: Yuen Wooping from The Matrix and Kill Bill franchises; Sammo Hung, famous for the Ip Man movies; and Ching Siutung, known for Swordsman.

The cast includes top action stars such as Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Wu Jing and Tony Jaa from Thailand, as well as A-list actors like Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Li Chen.

Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming and retired Mongolian sumo champion Asashoryu Akinori also are featured in the film.

Ma was inspired to make the movie in 2009 when he met Li, the Chinese kung fu giant who is known for Zhang Yimou's Hero.

They then co-founded a company to promote tai chi in 2011 and decided to make a film to realize their goal.

For the film, a number of scripts were sent to Ma, but he finally plumped for a tale penned by actor-turned-director Wen Zhang, who shot to fame with the 2007 hit TV series Struggle.

In the movie, Ma plays a master of tai chi, while Li plays a Buddhist monk. Speaking about the movie and its impact on the Alibaba founder, a source close to Ma says: "Ma has a young heart. He loves art and culture. And martial arts has played an important role in shaping him."

Separately, the publicity division of Alibaba says the complete version of Gong Shou Dao will be streamed on Youku, the online video provider affiliated with Alibaba, in addition to being screened in movie theaters.

As for the cinema screenings, an Alibaba statement says: "As the movie aims to popularize and spread Chinese culture, the theater screenings will not have tickets. Instead, people will be invited to watch the film for free."

Giving details of Ma's commitment to the film, Li says the tycoon spent 12 hours each day for 12 days on the project. During this time, Ma only excused himself once, for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's visit to the Alibaba headquarters in September.

"I appreciate Ma for devoting his time to the film and also providing a wonderful platform (the Double 11 gala) to demonstrate Chinese martial arts to the world," says Li.

Last year, up to 200 million viewers, domestic and foreign, watched the gala, with Alibaba's online sales reaching 120.7 billion yuan on Nov 11.As for the movie critics, most of them see the short movie as more of a promotional stunt for the Double 11 shopping day.

Jiang Yong, a Beijing-based critic, says that a 20-minute film is too short to evaluate, and the release date made it more like a marketing ploy for Double 11.

But Fei Yuliang, the vice-president of the Netherlands-based International Health Qigong Association, says the movie can help raise the profile of martial arts in the West, thanks to Ma's reputation and the cast's star power.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[Not afraid to run blind]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728313.htm After completing 14 full marathons in two years, Yan Wei, a visually impaired runner, just wants to keep going. Fang Aiqing reports.

Yan Wei, a 30-year-old blind man from Gaomi, Shandong province, is thrilled. He has just covered the 42.2-kilometer distance in a marathon in Longkou, a coastal city in Shandong province, beating his personal record, with a new time of 3 hours, 15 minutes and 58 seconds.

While running, he heard the sound of the sea as the race route hugged the coast.

He had two guides - to whom he was tethered with a safety rope - to help him.

 

It was Yan's 14th full marathon.

Yan is also known as the first blind runner from the Chinese mainland to finish the Boston Marathon in the United States, the world's oldest annual marathon and one of the six major marathon events in the world.

Yan, who lost his sight when he was a few months old due to a tumor, started running two years ago, after learning that volunteers were available to assist visually impaired runners at the 2015 Beijing Marathon.

When he started training with the help of his sister and parents, he could run only for 2 or 3 km at a time.

But soon he improved so much that his sister had to ride a bike to stay ahead of him and guide him during training.

It took him just four months to be ready for his first full marathon.

Yan attributes his quick progress to the physical strength gained through a daily exercise regimen that included more than 10,000 jump rope repetitions.

Since then, he has increased his pace.

According to Yan, ideally, he would like to run 200 km per month.

"I feel uncomfortable if I do not run for two days in a row," says Yan.

But his training is subject to the availability of running guides. And it is becoming harder for him to find running guides for marathons, because there are few guides who can run faster than he can.

They typically need to be in better physical condition than he is and have faster personal times.

Shu Hao, an experienced marathon runner, was one of Yan's running guides for this year's Beijing Marathon.

Speaking of how they paired up for the Beijing event, Shu says: "I first met Yan during the Boston Marathon (in April)."

As for Yan, instead of trying to prove himself every time he runs, he now enjoys the process.

He now smiles more often, since he enjoys the process of running, and this is reflected in the media coverage he receives.

In September, Yan completed his third Beijing Marathon in 3 hours 40 minutes, despite being tripped up during the race.

Yan thought he could have done better, but admitted that he had eaten too much the night before and was also suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort.

As for breaking boundaries, Yan is finding ways to make it more comfortable for him to run, while ignoring conventional norms followed by other visually impaired runners.

Speaking about Yan's other strengths, Shu says he is impressed not only by his confidence and determination to train, but also the proficiency with which Yan operates his mobile phone.

The internet is a key channel for Yan to learn about the world, and the new technologies he uses greatly facilitate his daily life.

Yan has installed screen readers on his phone and computer. He also shops online and buys most of his running gear on the e-commerce platform Taobao. Yan also takes screenshots of his race and training data and sends them to his friends.

In addition, he is able to fix most of the problems that occur on his computer.

In recent years, Yan has turned his attention from books on social sciences, nonfiction and traditional Chinese culture to philosophy.

From masterpieces by great philosophers like Plato, Immanuel Kant and Feng Youlan, he has learned to live his life more positively.

Cheng Yi, a volunteer with Running in the Dark - a nonprofit running group that provides professional running training for the visually impaired - has guided Yan in four marathon races. He is impressed with Yan's mindset.

"He is very optimistic and rarely thinks negatively," says Cheng.

Yan earns his living as a masseur.

And after seven years of working in Hangzhou and Beijing, he returned to his hometown, Gaomi, and opened his own massage parlor.

He considers persistence to be crucial.

"I am keen on improving myself in things that really matter to me."

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[Nations in harmony]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728312.htm Visiting musicians help nurture a closer and more emotional relationship between two different cultures

In the eyes of Li Zhixiang, who is the delegation head of China's National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra, one of the orchestra's most famous strategic partners, the Philadelphia Orchestra, carries special weight for him and his team.

"The Philadelphia Orchestra was the first Western musical body to come to China since 1949 - that was in 1973 when the United States and China did not yet have diplomatic relations - and performed Western classical pieces for the Chinese audience," Li says. "Neither of us can forget that page of our history and friendship."

 

The National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra makes its debut at Carnegie Hall, New York, on Oct 30. Photos by Wang Ying / Xinhua

Frequent exchanges between the two leading orchestras since then have led to a sense of intimacy on both sides, evident when NCPAO artists went to local grassroots communities and streets in Philadelphia to play music before their grand performance on Nov 1.

"It is not a special arrangement, actually, to perform high art to ordinary people," Li says. "There is a shared sense of responsibility for the NCPAO and the Philadelphia Orchestra, to boost music in our cities, to make it more accessible to grassroots communities."

But more important is the hope of both sides to give US citizens access to young Chinese artists playing their own music as well as works from the Western world, according to Allison Vulgamore, head of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

"These young men and women are generally in their 30s, and that is quite something - something awesome," she says. "Our Philadelphia people can listen to the works of Brahms, Mozart and Tchaikovsky as much as they like, but most of them have no access to Chinese composers and their work."

As part of the booming cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States, the NCPAO performed in Chicago and New York before coming to Philadelphia, but the musicians had special treats for Philadelphia.

Earlier in the day, eight young musicians played both Chinese and Western classical music at Liberty Place, a shopping mall. Their skilled performance of Jerry Bock's Fiddler on the Roof and Johann Strauss' Tritsch Tratsch Polka attracted dozens of shoppers, who then enjoyed some beautiful Chinese folk songs.

Maria Andriasova, 82, from Russia, was there and says the music played by the young Chinese musicians was amazing.

"The music they played was reminiscent of my days in Russia," she says. "Our people also like sad rhythms, but the Chinese have to have a heart to play things so emotionally."

Not far from Liberty Place was the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where 75 students in the school band were rehearsing the theme songs from E.T. and The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring, under the instruction of NCPAO Assistant Conductor Yuan Ding.

To 16-year-old Agnes Williams, the teacher from across the Pacific Ocean was admirable. "The Chinese teacher made a very good impression on our band and myself as well. He was very instructional. He knows how to teach us. It is a very good experience to get to know some other teacher than your regular American teacher. But I definitely hope to be able to go to China one day and play Chinese instruments there."

Brand Ewing, teacher and band director, didn't shy away from complimenting his Chinese counterpart. "He was fantastic and amazing. The students enjoyed it very much. And he was lovely with the students, very kind, very gentle. They played very well under his instruction. I was very impressed by his teaching and I was very inspired by his communication with students. He was a very capable, talented and charismatic conductor."

For his part, Yuan had a very good impression of his US students. "They are more outgoing compared with their Chinese peers, but students from both countries are passionate about music. I think they conveyed their feelings and their aspirations through each and every note they played."

The US trip was not just rewarding for Yuan and the students but for the young orchestra musicians on both sides as well.

"We got closer and closer as our performance went to different destinations. My counterpart in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ms Vulgamore, said China is like their second home. It's the same for us with the US. The historical, business and emotional connections are priceless," says NCPAO's Li.

"Besides bringing music to ordinary people, the NCPAO wanted the Americans to have access to the best works of famous Chinese composers, and that was what we were pursuing. The Philadelphia people can listen to Johannes Brahms as often and as much as they like, but that isn't the case if they want to try Chinese music," he says.

At the formal performance on Nov 1, in the presence of hundreds of people, the NCPAO performed Violin Concerto No 1 and Reflect D'un Temps Disparu, created respectively by Chinese composers Zhao Jiping and Chen Qigang, as well as Brahms' Symphony No 4, receiving lengthy applause and cheers from the audience.

According to Walter Douglas, deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy and for regional and security policy at the US State Department, it was good to see Chinese and American people connect on a personal level.

To Nick Platt, a diplomatic veteran who went to China in 1973 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and has witnessed China's dramatic development ever since, there was something deeper.

"Cultural exchanges play a very steadying role in our bilateral relations. They keep our relationship on track. Everybody understands the language of music. We have a long tradition going back to the very beginnings of US-China relations. The exchanges between our musicians are what keep it alive," he said.

"The US and China... have been partners and competitors - I don't think that will change. But I think the general positive part of our relations will last, because we have been so intertwined. We have no other alternatives," says Platt.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[The honest truth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728311.htm One morning in 350 BC, citizens of the capital of Qin State - then based in Xianyang, Shaanxi province - gathered at the south gate of a market, murmuring at a 10-meter-tall block of wood that had been erected overnight.

]]>
Since ancient times, building credibility by keeping promises has been foundation of relationships

One morning in 350 BC, citizens of the capital of Qin State - then based in Xianyang, Shaanxi province - gathered at the south gate of a market, murmuring at a 10-meter-tall block of wood that had been erected overnight.

Beside the wood was an announcement from an official, stating that anyone who could carry the block to the city's north gate would be awarded 10 pieces of gold. The crowd couldn't believe such a simple task could receive so rich a reward. They all hesitated to make a move. Soon, the reward was raised to 50 pieces of gold, a sum high enough to finally tempt one man to step forward, load the wood onto his back and march to the north gate. As the crowd watched, the man, to his own evident astonishment, was immediately presented with the 50 gold pieces as promised.

The point was: There was no catch. The whole exercise was to measure and establish the idea of "credibility" among the public, to prepare them for a new law in the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), masterminded by renowned Qin statesman Shang Yang (商鞅).

Shang was responsible for many of the reforms that ultimately led the Qin to transform a disparate collection of warring states into China's first unified empire. The tale of the wood is called 立木取信 (lìmù qǔxìn, "erect wood to win trust"), and is now one of China's most famous historical fables. Whether in ancient times or the modern day, trust and credibility essentially form the fabric of society. The Chinese character for "credibility" is 信(xìn). Its form is rather self-explanatory: On the left is亻, the "people" radical, and on the right is言(yán), meaning "words" - together, they suggest a person speaking honest words.

The original meaning of 信 is "honest" or "truthful". An early example was the idiom 信誓旦旦 (xìnshìdàndàn), which means "to pledge or promise in all sincerity and seriousness." First used in the Classic of Poetry ( 诗经), the idiom describes an abused woman recalling how her husband of three years had vowed solemnly to love her before their wedding. Still in use today, this idiom is usually applied in the negative, with the connotation that such promises were not kept.

Pretty words are not always truthful; indeed, the truth can often be ugly, as stated in the saying from the classic Taoist text, Daodejing《道德经》: "信言不美, 美言不信" (xìn yán bù měi, měi yán bùxìn; "truthful words are unpleasant, while pleasant words are not truthful").

Those who speak truthfully and always keep their promises are able to maintain credibility among their audience. Thus, 信 later took on the meaning of "credibility." Keeping your promise is 守信 (shǒu xìn, "keep credibility"), while breaking faith is 失信 (shī xìn], "lose credibility"). When it comes to the importance of being honest and honorable, one can expect a lecture from the likes of Confucius, who offers wisdom such as "Always keep your promises among friends" (与朋友交, 言而有信 yǔ péngyǒu jiāo, yánér yǒu xìn), and "Promises must be kept, and action must be resolute" (言必信, 行必果 yán bì xìn, xíng bì guǒ).

In the modern day, we could hardly operate without 信用 (xìn yòng, credit, credibility), especially in the financial world: We have credit cards (信用卡 xìnyòngkǎ), credit unions (信用社 xìn yòngshè), credit loans (信贷 xìn dài), and trusts (信托 xìntuō). Business has to be built on reputation and prestige, 信誉 (xìn yù). Credibility engenders trust, therefore, 信 can also mean "trust, believe," as in the verb 信任 (xìn rèn, "trust") and 相信 (xiāng xìn, "to believe"). Religious faith is 信仰(xìn yǎng), while superstitions are 迷信 (mí xìn), which means "confused belief." On the other hand, confidence, which is to believe in yourself, is 自信 (zì xìn).

The character 信 can also be a token of trust, or a form of credential. Letters are sometimes referred to as 信, because they carry trusted messages from one person to another (such as the confidential memos sent to emperors). Along this line, 信 can also refer to messages, news and information, which is 信息(xìnxī).

Living in the Information Age, in the midst of a boom in the IT industry (信息产业 xìn xī chǎn yè), credibility and trust are more important than ever. Technology constantly changes the way we conduct everyday activities, from making a simple purchase to managing our personal finances. So it's perhaps a good time to keep in mind one last meaning of 信: "casually, at will", as in 信口开河 (xìn kǒu kāi hé, "talk irresponsibly") and 信马由缰 (xìn mǎ yóu jiāng, "to ride a horse with lax reins and let the horse go where it pleases"). This speaks of the consequences of blind trust.

From a piece of wood that helped bring ancient China together to the modern building blocks of our society, 信 is a character that is more meaningful today than ever.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[Online sales are rural hit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728255.htm Huang Bin and his wife show how the internet is changing lives, even in villages of China

Huang Bin, a 29-year-old man with cerebral palsy, from Baishenmiao, a town in Shucheng county in Anhui province, started to run a small shop in his village after he finished junior high school.

In 2010, Huang opened an online shop on Taobao to sell clothing.

In 2013, Huang met He Linqiong, of Sichuan province online, and his cleverness and sincerity won the girl's heart.

Soon they got married.

With the help of his wife, Huang Bin completed training in 2015 to become a partner of the Village Taobao program to facilitate online shopping and delivery in rural areas.

Since then, the couple have done a lot of work online and offline to help villagers understand the convenience and benefits of online transactions.

In 2015, the number of online shopping orders that Huang received was 4,516, worth 763,000 yuan ($114,800; 98,570 euros; 87,960).

Huang's online shop is getting more popular by the day as an increasing number of people in rural areas gain access to the internet.  

 

He Linqiong, Huang Bin's wife delivers express mail to villagers working in the fields. Photos by Tao Ming / Xinhua

 
]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[Big picture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/19/content_34728254.htm

 

Tasty: Yushan village in Hangzhou, a major food production district of Zhejiang province, kicked off a harvest festival on Nov 11, with sports games in the rice fields and food appreciation attractions. Li Zhong / For China Daily

 

]]>
2017-11-19 15:15:49
<![CDATA[French connection]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683521.htm Christian Dior is reaching for the stars with its stylish new Shanghai flagship boutique

French fashion house Christian Dior opened its new flagship boutique at Plaza 66 in downtown Shanghai on Oct 18, its first flagship store in China that combines womenswear with menswear.

The three-floor boutique in Shanghai is very similar in style to the renowned Dior fashion house on 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, which showcases art, design and creativity. Each floor features installations and pieces by world-famous artists and designers.

Women's collections are located on the first and second floors, while Dior Homme occupies the lower ground floor featuring a window decorated with mirrors. There are also VIP rooms for their custom-tailor service.

 

 

From left: Angelababy, Wang Likun, Huang Xuan and Zhao Liying attend the opening ceremony of Christian Dior's new flagship boutique in Shanghai. Photos Provided to China Daily

"I'm very happy to connect women's and men's fashion in one store and to be able to display all our product ranges from fine jewelry, shoes, ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories," Sidney Toledano, Dior's CEO tells China Daily in Shanghai.

He is especially satisfied with the huge space that "should make clients feel comfortable."

"And with the women's and men's sections connected, you can buy gifts for boyfriends or husbands as you shop for yourself," Toledano says.

With the opening of the boutique, Dior also launched exclusive products for China including handbags, scarves, earrings, watches and a series of men's products.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Christian Dior. In 2017, Dior ranked 234 on the Fortune Global 500, and remains the only luxury fashion company still making the list. It is also the second event the French fashion house has undertaken in Shanghai this year. In June, they launched the "I Feel Blue" event to promote the 2017 autumn/winter ready-to-wear collection by womenswear artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

"Since 1994 (when Dior opened their first boutique in Shanghai), we have believed from the very beginning that China was going to be not only an important market, but a super-high-quality market, so we needed to show excellence in our boutiques, their location, and the teams," says the CEO.

"The market is really good. I'm always optimistic about China, even when people say China is slowing down in terms of economic growth. But you are still growing faster than Europe. It's a growing market, and it's kind of dynamic. People like to spend."

"It is not only in China. Chinese people travel around the world. In their home country, we must provide the best experience in our boutiques. This is the key market for me."

According to a Shanghai-based RTG Consulting Group, China's millennials choose Dior as their most loved luxury brand.

The brand named Chinese actresses Angelababy and Zhao Liying as their ambassador in China in May and September this year respectively, which raised heated debate on social media.

Many Chinese don't think that Angelababy, who has 84 million fans on her Sina Weibo account and 5 million on Instagram, and Zhao, with 56 million fans on Sina Weibo matched the brand's image of elegance, sophistication and luxury. Some said Dior compromised itself to attract young Chinese customers.

But Toledano does not agree.

He said that although Dior is not regarded as a youth brand, he hopes it is a brand that young people will aspire to. "Angelababy is not a young girl. She is a mother and a sophisticated lady with charisma," says the CEO.

"We've been in the business for years. I've witnessed the evolution of our Japanese and American customers, and our customers in Eastern Europe, and it's interesting to see how fast our Chinese customers understand fashion and luxury," Toledano says.

"They started less than 20 years ago and the past decade has been impressive. They demand high quality and innovation, and the digital generation wants even more. Chinese customers are the most advanced in the digital world."

Toledano said that his Chinese teams recommended that he use WeChat about two years ago, and he was initially reluctant to do so. But after they launched a pop-up store on WeChat, they found that their products sold out almost immediately.

When fans of the brand saw celebrities and fashion bloggers posing in certain Dior products on social media, they first checked the online pop-up store for stock, before turning to local stores. Within a few weeks, these products were sold out across Europe too, as people traveled abroad to buy them.

However, Toledano maintains that social media is tool for communication, and it was not Christian Dior's intention to sell their products online at this point.

"The message we communicate is the values. We don't change the content of what we say, we just use a new media. The message of value, excellence and history continues."

"We must be unique in everything we do. We will not use e-commerce as others think it should be done. If you want to order a product, that continues the design and dream behind Dior. It's not about technology, it's about architecture. Future e-commerce stores must mirror our boutiques in every detail," he said.

Toledano emphasizes that Dior will be opening stores in a "very careful" manner and when only there is a sound business plan in place. Next year, the luxury brand plans to open a boutique in Xi'an, Shaanxi province and Changsha, Hunan province.

chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:57:05
<![CDATA[The ducks have flown to the West]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683505.htm In New York they will soon be enjoying Beijing's most famous dish, presented with a poetic touch

Perhaps never before has the opening of a Chinese restaurant in the US made such a buzz.

It is owned by one of China's most influential chefs, Dong Zhenxiang, who has attained celebrity status.

It has been a big name in China among both Chinese and expatriates, and it is where the family of the US former first lady Michelle Obama chose to dine when she and her children were in Beijing in 2014 at the invitation of Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan.

 

Clockwise from top left: Da Dong's subuni roast duck is far less fatty than duck cooked by traditional methods; a set of sweet bean sauce, steamed pancakes and fresh vegetables to go with the meat; eight-treasure rice with game duck; tender chicken fillets with white truffles. Photos Provided to China Daily

It is Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant, which will open its first overseas restaurant in New York, just west of Times Square, in December.

As opening day draws near, I talked to Dong Zhenxiang, 56, founder and chef-owner of Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant, whose 1.93 m stature makes him an imposing presence, hence his nickname Da Dong, literally Big Dong.

The US outlet covers 1,700 square meters and will seat about 400 people on two floors, including on a large outdoor terrace on the second floor. The ground (first) floor serves only as the entrance to the second-floor dining room, which offers an a la carte menu. The third floor, with additional, but smaller, outdoor space, offers a prix fixe menu.

Dong Zhenxiang declares proudly that the restaurant has been able to bring in five of its own chefs.

"They are the core of the chef's team at our US restaurant. That's a breakthrough. In going abroad it's paramount for Da Dong to have our own chefs.

This is a far cry from many other Chinese restaurants, mostly located in the Chinatowns of the world, that recruit local chefs who are probably Chinese migrants and who are likely to be out of touch with authentic Chinese cuisine.

Diners in the New York outlet will taste the same dishes that Da Dong serves in its 14 restaurants in China.

"We are trying to transplant authentic Da Dong dishes to the US," Dong says. "The only difference is that ingredients will be locally sourced in the US."

For the New York menu, 50 dishes have been chosen from Da Dong's more than 200 dishes in China, he says.

In terms of flavor, he says, there may be a few slight changes in certain dishes to cater to local palates.

The target customers in the US are both ethnic Chinese and Westerners, he says.

Sea cucumber, one of the most sought-after ingredients in China, will be on the menu in New York, even if it sounds bizarre to many Westerners.

Dong's braised sea cucumber is one of Da Dong's signature dishes.

"I am so glad that overseas diners will be able to enjoy this Chinese gourmet icon, which is such a high-quality and healthy Chinese ingredient," Dong says.

In New York, Da Dong's speciality, subuni (crispy, not greasy) roast duck, will sell for $98, and half a duck for $58.

Other dishes that will be served in New York include: kung pao shrimp; braised eggplant; truffle braised whole abalone with Chinese iron yam; tofu with saffron sauce; soy sauce fried rice; pan-fried dumplings and crystal vegetable buns; and cold avocado noodles with spicy Sichuan sauce.

Beverages will include not only fine wines from the West, but also Chinese baijiu, yellow rice wine and tea, some for pairing with dishes.

Da Dong was founded in Beijing in 1985 and now has 10 outlets in the capital and four in Shanghai. Last year when the French culinary bible Michelin published its guide for Shanghai, the first it has put out for a Chinese city, two of Da Dong's branches in the city made the list with one star each, an honor they have retained this year.

What gave rise to Da Dong was Dong Zhenxiang's realizing the importance of developing healthy fare, an idea with which he was years ahead of many other Chinese restaurants.

In 1995 he set out to reinvent the techniques of duck roasting and introduced subuni roast duck, which is far less fatty than duck cooked by traditional methods, but which is still delectable.

Today this duck is regarded as the benchmark in healthy and delicious roast duck. Dip its crisp skin in the sugar and savor it as it melts on your tongue. It's not greasy, just succulent.

Of course, the 600-year-old Peking roast duck has many variants, available in restaurants the world over that offer Beijing fare, and each may fairly be claimed to be unique in some way, but one thing that sets Da Dong apart is that it offers what it calls "an artistic conception of Chinese cuisine" known as yijing cuisine that is unparalleled.

Da Dong's yijing cuisine borrows aesthetics and elements from Chinese poetry, literature, painting and bonsai grooming, giving an exquisite Chinese cultural interpretation to culinary creations.

Dining at Da Dong, you will see on the menu that each main dish is illustrated with a line of Chinese poems or prose. Every dish seems to be a paean to traditional Chinese art and culture, and comes out beautifully, and well-conceived, just like works of art.

"It's very difficult to explain yijing cuisine to Westerners, in particular the profound poetry, and stories depicting each dish on the menu," Dong says.

"Rather than taking up space translating lines of verse into English on the menu, and at the same time risking losing the original meaning and artistic conception, they are better left in the original Chinese characters."

Dong says he started scouting for an overseas location for his chain eight years ago, but he soon came up against the problem that ducks cannot be exported from China, cooked or uncooked.

He thus began searching overseas for locally produced ducks that could meet the standards for making Da Dong's subuni roast duck.

He finally chose White Pekin ducks, which have a tender, less gamy flavor, raised by Maple Leaf Farms, a duck producer in the US.

"The ducks from Maple Leaf Farms are not perfect for roasting Peking ducks, but they are the best we have found in the US to substitute for the ones we use in China."

Da Dong's big New York opening has been long in the making. In fact it shipped some of its patented electric stoves designed specifically for roasting ducks to the city two years ago.

Talking of his vision of promoting Chinese cuisine overseas, Dong says: "Dining mirrors the economic status of society. Historically Chinese restaurants have been perceived as low-quality, low-cost operations with poor service. That is mainly because of the social conditions that prevailed in China at the time.

"But these days, with China's rise as a global economic power and the growing status of Chinese overseas, Chinese food and culture have begun to gain popularity worldwide. It's high time that Da Dong brought Chinese culinary arts and culture to foreigners via our New York eatery."

The potential for fine Chinese restaurants abroad is huge, he says.

"Going abroad is the trend for companies that want to globalize. It is market forces that are driving us."

Dong is philosophical about his chain's prospects in the US.

"It's up to the market. Fortunately we have signed a lease for 15 years in New York. That's enough time for Da Dong to be successful there."

dongfangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:56:48
<![CDATA[Grilled beef that simply melts in the mouth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683504.htm A Japanese chef unlocks the secrets to locking in the flavor of a wagyu cut

Wagyu, one of the world's most sought-after meats, often comes in the form of a steak. Chef Kinase Takashi is now using a traditional Japanese grilling method to cook the meat produced by the breed of cattle native to Japan.

This is taking place in a newly opened restaurant called Midorikawa Siyan in the Sanlitun area of Beijing.

Midorikawa Siyan is a sister restaurant of the longtime popular sushi restaurant Midorikawa, but the newcomer features Japanese grilling in a style called kappo, meaning a more refined and interactive eating experience where you can chat with the chefs and watch meals being prepared right in front you. My recent visit to Midorikawa Siyan made for an incredibly satisfying bit of grilled wagyu, and discovering the secret of Japanese grilling in an interactive dining experience with Takashi as the showman and instructor.

 

Binchotan seared wagyu by Chef Kinase Takashi. Provided to China Daily

"An enjoyable way to eat wagyu is to cook it on a grill fueled by binchotan," Takashi says, pointing to the Japanese charcoal of that name that emanates from oak. "This is the best fuel for grilling."

Binchotan burns cleanly without smoke and at a high steady heat exceeding 800 C.

"The burning binchotan quickly seals in the meat's moisture, enhancing the flavor in a way that other charcoals can't," Takashi says.

He has developed this method since when he became a chef 30 years ago, he says, and it takes him about 30 minutes to cook a 250g, 2 cm thick wagyu sirloin cut.

A smidgen of rock salt is sprinkled onto the meat during grilling, he said.

The grilling itself is undertaken with meticulous care. I watched Takashi first cook the sirloin for one or two minutes and then remove it from the grill to allow it to rest for several minutes. Then he returned it to the grill and continued cooking it, and repeated this process four more times.

While grilling, he adjusted the heat of the charcoal manually, constantly waving a fan over the meat.

When the cut of meat was finally taken off the grill he wrapped it in foil.

"This helps it hold the juices as well as its heat," he says.

At the same time, the internal temperature of the core of the meat after cooking should be somewhere between 56 C and 58 C.

The meat is served in slices, with rock salt or fresh wasabi as the dipping sauce. As I bit, I was taken aback by how fine the texture was, exceeding any wagyu steaks I had had before. The flesh was extraordinarily tender, melting on the tongue in a velvety rather than greasy way and delighting the taste buds. It was so juicy as to be mouth-filling, bursting with full-bodied delectable fattiness.

If you have a lot of the binchotan seared wagyu in thick slices by themselves you may find it all rather rich and fatty.

Balance the beefy flavor with rice. For a sukiyaki donburi, Takashi cuts a paper-thin slice of wagyu of about 2 mm and cooks it in a traditional Japanese way using suet to grease the sukiyaki pot first, and dipping in raw egg before serving.

Apart from wagyu, the chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard) with foie gras and St. George's Mushrooms salad were also delightful.

]]>
2017-11-18 07:56:48
<![CDATA[Reunion with a difference]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683457.htm On a chilly autumn night in Beijing, Ye Bei and a group of musician friends meet to celebrate Ye's latest album with a concert

In 1994, Ye Bei, a freshman from the China Conservatory of Music, planned to work her way through college. The Beijing native, who was born to a pianist mother and an engineer father, then played the piano in hotel lobbies and also sang at pubs.

One day, she was approached at a pub by Gao Xiaosong, the songwriter of the pop hit, My Desk Mate, which was then sweeping the country.

"I was impressed by her voice. Though there was no customers in the pub that day, she still sang seriously," says Gao, a dropout from Tsinghua University, who later went on to become the chairman of the Alibaba Music Group, a music company under China's internet giant, Alibaba.

 

From left: Chinese rock singer-songwriter Xu Wei performs with Ye Bei during her recent concert at Blue Note Beijing; Chinese singer Lao Lang and Ye Bei perform together in Ye's recent concert in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

Ye says she remembers him as having thin, messy hair and pimples.

About a month after the meeting, Gao invited Ye to record some demos, which later became some of the biggest hits in the country. The songs included No Regrets For Our Youth, Flying White Dress and Rain After B Minor.

The life-changing cooperation with Gao also introduced Ye to some of the biggest names of the country's music scene, including Lao Lang, Xiao Ke and Pu Shu.

These people, including Ye, are known as the pioneers of the golden days of China's "campus folk music" in the 1990s.

China's campus folk music is characterized as being driven by acoustic guitar and piano with lyrics about campus romances, university life and youth.

Now, decades later, on a chilly autumn night, these people meet again to celebrate Ye's latest album, In Love While Floating, at Blue Note Beijing.

The show sold out quickly and audiences embarked on a journey through time, not just because of the pop hits she performed that night, but also thanks to the musician friends who share the stage with her.

"It's good to have them with me after 20 years. They've witnessed my growth and I am so lucky that we can still sing together," says Ye, a day after the concert.

In Love While Floating is Ye's fifth full-length album, which sees her return after a nine-year hiatus. This is her first album, where all the songs - 10 of them - are written and coproduced by her.

With her story-like lyrics and smooth melodies, the audience detect a transition.

In 2008, after releasing her album, I Want My Freedom, Ye slowed down and withdrew from the limelight.

"When fame came, I was young ... But being a public figure made me feel anxious. I wanted to live a real life, like buying food at supermarkets and going to cinemas. So I opted out," says Ye.

For the past nine years, Ye has lived the life she wanted. However, music has always been a big part of her life. Time did not dull her edge and passion for music. She listens to music and writes music every day.

In 2014, she decided to release an album, viewing life like a movie.

"I have the habit of writing down about events in my life. Music is also a way to document life," she says. "It's a kind of departure for me. Each song contains different colors, like the movies."

Then, instead of turning to friends, Ye invited Zhao Zhao to be the producer.

"He didn't know me. We started from scratch," says Ye.

The title song of the album is performed by Ye and rock singer-songwriter Xu Wei.

In a message Xu sent to Ye after the concert, he says: "Whenever I sing with you, I feel warm and happy like a child."

Xu and Ye go back a long way. It was Xu who produced Ye's second album, Pisces, 15 years ago, and wrote a song for her, called Rainbow.

Speaking about the recent concert, she says: "He (Xu) gave me a big yes when I invited him to sing with me," adding that Pisces is the only album that he produced. "I really feel proud about that, you know."

Meanwhile, the latest album also has songs, such as Growing Old Together, which Ye wrote to remember her past relationships; To My Dearest, which she dedicates to her late grandfather, and Red Dragonfly, which is a birthday gift she gave to her friend.

Speaking about her work, music producer Long Long, who produced Ye's third album, The Source of Happiness, in 2004, says: "She is a versatile singer and she has tried many different music styles besides folk music. But what makes her unique is her pursuit of beauty in music. Instead of following any trend, she knows what she wants to say."

Asked about her plans, Ye says she doesn't want to get too busy as she usually does when releasing a new album.

"I feel relieved after singing the songs at the concert. I don't want to set a goal for myself, like another album or tour, but one thing is for sure. I enjoy music and the process of making it.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:56:30
<![CDATA[China's music market now marching to a new beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683456.htm For years, China's music industry was seen as chaotic with record companies seemingly unable to come up with digital business models which could fight online piracy.

However, the Chinese music market is now seen as having enormous untapped potential, thanks to the country's online user base of more than 650 million people and a growing number of licensed digital services.

"It's clear that China's music industry is on the road to recovery after years of battling rampant piracy," says, Xu Wentong, the vice-minister and chief executive of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, at the China Music Industry Forum, an annual music event, which is jointly organized by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the Communication University of China and the Music Industry Promotion Committee.

 

From left: Taylor Swift's new album, Reputation, was released via QQ Music online; Ariana Grande made her debut tour in China for the first time this August. Photos Provided to China Daily

A recent report released at the forum, the China Music Industry Report 2017, says that the total size of China's music industry exceeded 320.5 billion yuan ($48.33 billion) in 2016, growing by nearly 8 percent year on year.

It is the first annual official music industry report in China, covering 10 branches, including the physical record industry, the digital music industry, the music performance industry and music copyright. It says that the total revenue from music copyright was 184 million yuan based on statistics from the Music Copyright Society of China, an increase of 8.2 percent year on year.

Separately, the total revenue from music and video copyright was 183 million yuan based on figures from the China Audio-Video Copyright Association, an increase of 18.06 percent year on year.

Meanwhile, the report says: "Of all the emerging markets, where licensed streaming services are engaging fans and growing the legitimate industry, China tops the list for record companies."

It also notes that recorded music revenue grew 20.3 percent in China last year, driven by a 30.6 percent rise in streaming.

One of the main driving forces in the market taking a turn for the better is Tencent Music Entertainment, China's leading online music streaming platform, which brought music streaming providers KuGou and Kuwo under its banner QQ Music.

Now, QQ Music has more than 100 million active users daily.

Since 2013, Tencent Music Entertainment has worked out partnerships with more than 200 music labels, including major companies such as Warner Music, Sony Music and Universal Music, as well as independent labels, according to Andy Ng, the vice-president of China's leading streaming platform.

The move allowed the company to become these labels' sole distributor in the Chinese market and helped them fight piracy.

In 2014, Tencent Music Entertainment began working with record labels to release digital albums, and within 18 months its revenues hit 100 million yuan.

For starters, it released Taiwan pop icon Jay Chou's album, Aiyo, Not Bad, in December 2014.

And, so far, it has released digital albums by many Chinese singers, including Dou Jingtong and Lu Han, as well as South Korean boy group Big Bang, and Western artists such as Adele, Rihanna and Taylor Swift.

As for how Tencent Music Entertainment has managed with foreign stars, you have look at 2016 when it released the digital album of Anti, the eighth studio album by Barbadian singer Rihanna.

The album sold 160,000 copies and topped the Asian music market then.

Later, the same year, American singer Ariana Grande's third studio album, Dangerous Woman, which sold in the digital format via Tencent Music Entertainment's online music streaming companies, went platinum within 48 hours.

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift's latest album, Reputation, sold 750,000 yuan in 24 hours on QQ Music.

While Tencent Music Entertainment has played a big role in reviving the music industry, official regulation has also played a part.

The 2015 China's National Copyright Administration notice that online music-delivery platforms had to remove all unauthorized songs by July 31 that year, is also seen as a major move in the fight against rampant piracy in the industry.

As for how international music companies see the future in China, Universal Music Group's Senior Vice-President Jonathan Dworkin, says: "We already have a long-standing investment in Chinese repertoires, and we want to see a great platform for our international artists.

"I think that the ability to communicate and kind of engage consumers across multiple touch points in the Tencent ecosystem is remarkable. And we are seeing this explosion of interest in streaming music and an explosion of consumption of legal music."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:56:30
<![CDATA[Night belongs to the young - and so does the sound]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683417.htm Ten years ago just 10 music festivals were held in China. How things have changed

Ask any Chinese fan of the Dutch DJ Lvndscape what he means to them and just watch their pupils dilate. It was his first time doing live music in China at the Corona SunSets Festival in Shanghai on Nov 4 to 5, yet the young artist seemed to be unstoppable.

On his new record Stay Away he proves he has much to say with his lyrics that tackle issues of social identity in an ever-changing world.

So what does the music scene in China - one that can attract a fresh young DJ from so far away - look like? You may well find the answer at midnight on a Friday in a hangout in some of the oldest streets in cities like Beijing. Yugong Yishan, a tiny live house adjoining a parking lot across from Beijing Workers' Stadium in the Dongsi area, explodes with electronic beats for restless night-crawling hipsters.

 

The music scenes at the Corona SunSets Festival in Shanghai on Nov 4 to 5. Photos Provided to China Daily

It is one of many, with venues such as Dada Club and Mao Livehouse springing up all over the city, not only reflecting changes in musical tastes but fueling them as well.

That is happening as local and international bands and party labels are invited regularly to challenge the mega nightclubs that generally restrict themselves to playing pop songs.

"I like metal and electronic," says Li Meiyue, 24, a night owl who brands her music taste as self-styled.

"Here (at Yugong Yishan) I can have a good laugh and enjoy new independent bands and DJs. I'm just not into this Billboard candyfloss stuff."

The idea of defining people by the music they listen to is debatable, but there is no doubt that diverse genres of music have forged a presence in Chinese society and that through them young people are taking the initiative to reflect on or even create their own social scenes.

This diversification has also prompted a surge of outdoor music festivals in China that seem to have evolved into a ceaseless gala that attracts ever growing throngs of young people. Since the May Day holiday and on to November, many music festivals, including the Strawberry Music Festival, the Midi Music Festival, the Zhangbei Music Festival, the Storm Electronic Music Festival and the Corona SunSets Festival have kept these young people enthralled.

Music festivals essentially used to be a preserve of rock music fans, but these events have become much more broad-based in their appeal.

The two-day Corona SunSets Festival in Shanghai is a case in point. Under the banner "This is living", organizers created a full-scale immersive experience by timing events to coincide with sunset, and everything took place on a man-made sand beach. All that and the good music could be washed down with refreshing beer, with a light breeze that added to the holiday feel. "We encourage people to go outdoors and enjoy life, and hope that more people will be inspired by the sunset power through our festival," says Rebecca Kuo, director of public relations at Anheuser-Busch InBev, APAC North.

The same-themed festival took place in Xiamen, Fujian province last November, featuring a more local cast, including the DJ Ben Huang, one of the pioneers of clubbing in China. His mixing work for artists such as Faye Wong makes him one of the most in-demand DJs in China.

An increasing number of domestic DJs and bands at music festivals is helping the Chinese local music scene to grow.

"There's been a big shift from the days when the best domestic bands were simply copycats of the big Western names," says He Jingtong, a professor of business marketing at Nankai University in Tianjin.

"Chinese bands are now really finding their own voice. I think they have a certain confidence that they can lead instead of follow."

With the decline of the traditional record industry in recent years, music companies have shifted their attention to live music performances, especially the festival market.

In addition, the fast pace of city life makes listening to music outdoors an attractive way to slow down and relax. At the same time, the rise of young consumers, mostly the 1990s generation, has played a catalytic role in reshaping the music industry.

According to iResearch's China online music industry research report, this demographic group has become the main driver behind pay music in China, being more willing to cough up for music and allied forms of entertainment.

The strong potential of the festival market has also given birth to more music festival brands. A report by the Slightly Cultural Industry Research Center, a music data provider in Beijing, says that 10 years ago there were only 24 music festivals in China, but then in 2014 a total of 148 music festivals were held. Last year 202 were held, with ticket receipts totaling 483 million yuan ($73 million), 42.5 percent more than in 2015.

However, a successful music festival should not simply look to pulling power that simply relies on celebrities," He Jingtong says. "It should focus on core content, that is to provide the most core music and cultural experience, and to lead a new lifestyle."

zhanglei@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:56:13
<![CDATA[Screen treats ahead for English stage-production fans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683416.htm The National Theater Live is returning to China in 2018, with more screenings of sellout English stage productions.

Launched in the United Kingdom in 2009, National Theater Live, an initiative that broadcasts British theater productions to cinemas around the world, has brought works featuring film actors, such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston to Beijing and Shanghai since 2012.

Among the eight productions, the National Theater Live will bring the hit musical, Follies, starring Imelda Staunton, Janie Dee and Philip Quast; Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove's new work Obsession, starring Jude Law; a critically-acclaimed version of Edward Ablee's classic, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and a new production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night featuring Tamsin Greig.

 

A new production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night featuring an all-male cast. Provided to China Daily

Besides, the highly-praised productions, One Man, Two Guvnors and Skylight, will return a third time to Chinese cinemas thanks to its popularity and positive reviews.

According to co-organizer, Beijing-based ATW Culture Media Ltd, the sole distributor of National Theater Live in China, 28 new productions will be screened in cinemas and 16 productions will be streamed online, in the first half of 2018.

Besides working with National Theater Live, ATW Culture Media, in collaboration with UK distribution company Trafalgar Releasing will also bring theater content on screen in China from the Royal Shakespeare Company's Live from Stratford-upon-Avon, Almeida Theater Live and Branagh Theater Live.

Following the success of the King and Country series of Shakespeare history plays, the Royal Shakespeare Company's Live from Stratford-upon-Avon will return with two productions, Julius Caesar, one of the most famous historical tragedies written by William Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus, one of Shakespeare's most violent plays that is rarely performed on stage.

Separately, American distribution company BroadwayHD will present two new Tony Award-winning productions, Indecent and Present Laughter.

The Russian company, Stage Russia HD, will bring The Seagull, a classic play by Anton Chekhov.

A new live brand, More2Screen, will bring two more screening categories - dance and exhibitions - to China, including English choreographer Matthew Bourne's revivals of three classic ballets, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Car Man, and the exhibition of Hokusai: Mitsubishi by British Museum, alongside David Bowie Is by Victoria and Albert Museum.

According to Li Chongzhou, the CEO of ATW Culture, since 2015 the company has distributed and promoted 39 theater productions on screen from seven major brands worldwide.

And with over 1,400 screenings, theater productions in the form of cinema screenings have reached more than 200,000 people across 24 Chinese cities.

"For Chinese theatergoers, this is a rare opportunity to experience world-class theater productions at home," says Li.

"New content and new categories will shorten the distance between China and world's top theater productions, and enable more Chinese to enjoy the finest shows from all over the world."

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:56:13
<![CDATA[How great thou art]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683378.htm Rich business people with a taste for the likes of a Picasso or a Van Gogh are ensuring that their expensive collections are available to the masses

For some it may be hard to believe that this used to be a stud farm. Now, where the best of the equine world once produced their progeny, it is fine art that holds sway.

This is the latest addition to Beijing's art world, a gallery on the capital's northeastern outskirts, on land on which 60 horses used to roam and breed, now a long stretch of lawn on which stands a two-storey white row building and 199 pine trees.

Inside the building, visitors have access to a display of nearly 80 oil paintings, sculptures and photos of modern Chinese and Western master artists. They are from a private collection that has been pulled together over more than 20 years, bought at auctions and art fairs all over the world.

 

From left: Song Art, a gallery on Beijing's northeastern outskirts; Vase with Daisies and Poppies, Vincent van Gogh. Photos Provided to China Daily

 
The museum housing this collection is just one of many that have sprung up around China over the past seven years heralding what seems to be a golden era for Chinese private art collections.

Since a test run at the end of September, the Beijing gallery, Song Art, has been hailed as a small, elegant weekend retreat and as one of the most beautiful private museums in China. In the gallery's name those impressive pines outside find their reflection, song being Chinese for pine.

Just as two souls can argue about whether a painting is a masterpiece or just a mess, it seems the gallery's bucolic setting is not everyone's cup of tea. Some complain that it is just too far removed from the city center, and others gripe that the periodic roar of aircraft taking off or landing at the nearby Beijing Capital Airport is a huge distraction.

Entry is not cheap either, at 180 yuan ($27) for adult, much more expensive than you will pay to get into most public museums in Beijing.

However, the gallery's founder, Wang Zhongjun, says the price is appropriate given the quality of the works in this "serious palace of art". Premium prices also ensure that the gallery is not too crowded, he says. For him a museum inundated by people who are only there to take photos or to use the toilet brings itself into disrepute.

Wang, 57, is the chairman of Huayi Brothers Media, one of China's biggest entertainment companies, and over the past decade the Beijing native has not only done fabulously well financially, but has also amassed great respect in the world of art and auctions.

A regular bidder, he spends millions at auctions to bag Western art, including on works of Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Alberto Giacometti that are now on show at Song Art. Last year he co-established an art auction house in Shanghai.

However, Wang is not just an admirer of art but a doer as well. He is a productive producer of oil works, which are shown at exhibitions and fairs and are auctioned. At Song Art, a room is dedicated to his works.

Song Art officially opened on Nov 2, and a week later Wang received at the gallery the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award, given out each year by the German luxury goods maker in recognition of those who make art and culture more accessible to a wider public. He was among 17 winners worldwide.

"Art is part of my life," Wang says. "And the decision to open a museum was driven by a sudden impulse. Song is not the largest museum there is, but I dare say that it is one of the most inventive artistically."

Fan Di'an, dean of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, says Wang's effort to make his private holding of art accessible to the public is commendable, and it is a part of "social responsibility" that should be promoted as a way to diversify the public's art education.

Private museums and art foundations first appeared in the West in the 1920s, he says, but it has not been until recent years that private museums have been given a boost in the mainland, marking a new phase of what he sees as China's cultural progress.

Song Art's opening has not only given Beijing a new landmark but has also created a new platform for international exchanges in culture, he says.

Fan, who was director of the National Art Museum of China in Beijing from 2005 to 2014, says rising prices of artworks everywhere have put many well beyond the reach of public museums.

"The rise of entrepreneur-turned-collectors has compensated in this field as these people share their artistic assets with the public.

"There are a considerable number of these collections, but more importantly they are gradually building a systematic hierarchy of international art that is absent in the public collections. That is a significant contribution to the broadening of people's vision of global art."

Other new art initiatives of Chinese entrepreneur collectors include How Art Museum in Shanghai, opened in September by Zheng Hao, a hotelier who owns another gallery in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, and Powerlong Museum in Shanghai, which opens on Nov 18, and which is built on the collection of Xu Jiankang, chairman of the real estate company Powerlong Group, and who hails from Fujian province.

Myriam and Guy Ullens, a Belgian couple who are keen art collectors, sponsored the building of the country's first nonprofit, privately funded art museum, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, in the 798 Art District in Beijing, which opened in 2007. From its founding it set an example to Chinese art collectors, whose ranks were being swelled by wealthy entrepreneurs, on how to manage a private cultural institution.

Many private museums were built and opened after 2010, mostly in Beijing and Shanghai, the mainland's two major art centers. Behind this wave stand several deep-pocketed collectors who have been successful in business such as Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, the couple who founded Long Museum in Shanghai, and Budi Tek a Chinese Indonesian who opened the Yuz Museum in the city, thus demonstrating his support for contemporary Chinese art.

The art market boom in China after 2010 allowed such wealthy local collectors to scale up and diversify their collections, which have extended from Chinese art and antiques to modern and contemporary Western art.

These collectors have been keen to present their bulging treasure troves to the public in a decent way, and that has been a driving force in the establishment of private museums, says Guan Yu, director of the Art Market Monitor of Atron in Beijing, which is part of the Atron Art Group in Shenzhen.

Owners of the private museums are largely rich and young collectors from well-off families, she says, and they draw great satisfaction in sharing their collections and being able to express their personal tastes in art at the same time.

A report on global private art museums in 2015 jointly compiled by Larry's List, a Hong Kong company that monitors the art market, and Art Market Monitor of Atron, said Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are home to more than 70 percent of China's private museums.

The museums reflect their founders' preferences in collecting art, the report said, they focus on modern and contemporary Chinese art, and oil paintings account for 85 percent of their collections.

Public exposure of works held in a collection is among the top concerns of these museums, so they put on as many exhibitions as possible. China's private museums each put on more than 10 shows a year, so about once a month on average, which is much more than that of many private museums elsewhere, the report said.

Besides rotating the works of their owners that are put on display, these museums have also served as a launchpad for emerging Chinese artists and a platform for international artists.

The second exhibition of an art project called Shanghai Galaxy is now on at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, featuring works through which the metropolis' development in art is explored, something that the museum's managers hope will enhance its ties with local residents.

The Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing, owned by the real estate developer and collector Yan Shijie, now features two solo exhibitions of the US artists Dan Graham and Andres Serrano.

In fact, private museums have become the main venues of leading international artists' debut shows in China. Featured artists recently have included the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, the British artist Antony Gormley and the US artist James Turrell.

However, mounting these grand exhibitions has also put huge financial pressures on museums, which rely heavily on funding from founders as well as donations.

A museum as large as Long in Shanghai and the UCCA cost $5 million a year to run, and making money is something most museums can only dream of, the global private art museum report said.

In addition to revenue from ticket sales, gift shops, cafes and restaurants, some museums looking to cover their costs or do even better put on educational programs for children and adults for which they levy a fee.

Guan of Art Market Monitor of Atron says that about 85 percent of private museums it interviewed said they hope for more help from the government, such as tax breaks and well-thought-out rules on the establishment of art foundations.

Du Jingwei, deputy director of Long Museum, says private museums also need to explore new development patterns so they can make profits.

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:55:33
<![CDATA[When the paint is as thick as blood]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/18/content_34683377.htm For the US writer and collector Kenny Schachter, art has become a family affair

Private collecting has thrived in the mainland over the past 30 years. More people are buying artworks for cultural appreciation, to showcase their wealth and social ranks and as a financial investment.

However, there is another important role art plays to which few collectors give attention: as a common language among family members and a glue that keeps them together.

"Art is beyond a thing to hang, but rather ... a shared physical and mental means of communications between us," says the US art writer, dealer and collector Kenny Schachter.

 

A Schachter family photo. Photos by Leon Chew

"The family that arts together stays forever."

That is from a foreword Schachter wrote for Nuclear Family, a show at ART021, a contemporary art fair in Shanghai, held this year from Nov 8 to 12.

On display were selected works from Schatchter's collection that has accompanied him, his wife and their four sons for years. Featured artists included Vito Acconoci of the United States, Sigmar Polke of Germany and the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.

"I choose the artists that most prominently figured in my career, my life; art and artists that I have long studied, admired, loved, collected, written and taught about," Schachter says.

There were also works by family members. Schatchter's wife Ilona is an artist in her own right, his two oldest boys study at The School of Visual Arts in New York, and they all exhibit internationally.

The exhibition was to provide a sample of how a family collection could be built and expanded and gradually become the heart of a family's culture and legacy.

Schatchter says he tries to buy works every few weeks or so, at least every month, although he says he has not calculated how many works there are in his family collection for a long time.

"Sure, I have inventories of my possessions, although even that is not complete. I can still tally up the beads of the abacus by looking at how much my storage has expanded versus the previous years."

For him collecting is not only a "materialistic compulsion" but also "a way to engage with the aesthetics of culture and partake in the creative society" of the time, he says.

His collection will be a legacy for his family, "not for any type of private museum or preservation of my participation in the art world and market, but it constitutes the majority of their inheritance from me".

Schatchter compares his family life to "a built-in studio critique session in an art university". Members argue about everything, he says, but when it comes to art, they mostly come to the same conclusion.

"We criticize, question, debate, discuss all, and from time to time one member sways another member to adjust their position. Art is open ended, constantly evolving, changing and transforming. Art is a window into conceptual thoughts and visualizations.

"We are all hyper opinionated, but of course I am the only one constantly right! I am joking.

"Art is like living with books being read aloud each and every day. Art unifies and focuses us, It's a family enterprise in as much as a good portion of our assets are in art."

And those who decide to make art so integral to their life need to be prepared to invest in "decades of dedication, care and thought", Schatchter says, because art is "a slow burning".

"What I love most about the process is the fact that art is never ending, always evolving each day."

linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-18 07:55:33
<![CDATA[Aiming for the stars]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649272.htm When 39-year-old Chen Dongni was studying cosmology in Shanghai more than 10 years ago, she could not have imagined that one day her knowledge of the cosmos would help farmers and herdsmen from the Hui, Tibetan and Uygur ethnic groups in China's remote western regions.

]]>
There is a growing interest in astronomy and the exploration of outer space in China. Yang Yang reports.

When 39-year-old Chen Dongni was studying cosmology in Shanghai more than 10 years ago, she could not have imagined that one day her knowledge of the cosmos would help farmers and herdsmen from the Hui, Tibetan and Uygur ethnic groups in China's remote western regions.

As the deputy director of the Beijing Planetarium, Chen now often travels to the Xinjiang Uygur and Tibet autonomous regions to give lectures to farmers and herdsmen.

"When you look at the history of astronomy - a new science subject compared with maths or physics - you realize that it has been around for a long time, used by stargazers, fortune-tellers and theologians to tell people who we are, where we are from and where we are going. It's also like a religion," she says.

"After I deliver lectures about our view of the cosmos, people are excited about a different view of how the world works. Some of them believe that the world is held up by cattle, and the sun is pulled by cattle. But whether they accept our view or not at least they know that there is more than one opinion," she says.

The lectures also teach many people a scientific way of thinking, which is also important, she says.

In recent years, Chinese have become increasingly interested in astronomy and the exploration of outer space, she says, thanks to the country's successes in space with Tiangong-1, China's first space lab, and spaceships like Shenzhou X.

The popularity of sci-fi fiction like Liu Cixin's Three-Body Problem and Hollywood movies like Gravity and Interstellar, have also helped, she adds.

Zhu Jin, director of the Beijing Planetarium, says that in the last five years, the number of visitors to the planetarium has grown by 20 percent year-on-year.

"One of the reasons is that a lot of domestic research results have come out recently, which is also drawing a lot of people to the planetarium," he says. "It's a good thing for the development of both this discipline and our country."

It also gives children other choices besides dance, piano and painting.

Zhu, who has worked at the planetarium for 15 years, has helped organize national astronomy competitions for primary and middle school students over the past years.

"The competition, which is different from other contests like the Math Olympiad, is for children who love astronomy. And, many of them have started working in this field," he says.

Last year, about 820,000 people visited Beijing Planetarium. Although the numbers are expected to rise in the future, Zhu says that compared with the more than 20 million population of Beijing, this is a small number.

In order to have more children learn about the cosmos, Zhu has been promoting a program to hold astronomy lessons in primary and middle schools around the country. As of now, 30 primary and middle schools in Beijing have astronomy lessons.

"Five years ago, we started working with the planetarium in Delingha, Qinghai province. Now, all the primary school students in Delingha have astronomy lessons. It's really great," says Zhu.

Since Sept 1, dozens of primary and middle schools in Pingtang county of the Qiannan autonomous prefecture in Guizhou province have astronomy lessons. And soon, such lessons will be held in the whole prefecture.

"We hope that with the joint effort of the planetarium and education departments, we can have more primary and middle schools start astronomy lessons," says Zhu.

"Besides China, many other countries are now promoting astronomy education," he says.

"With such lessons, we hope more top talents will choose to study astronomy, instead of artificial intelligence or finance," he says.

Besides astronomy lessons for children, China's social media is also paying a lot of attention to the subject.

Some channels on Weibo and Zhihu explain astronomy discoveries such as gravitational waves, says Li Ran of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.

Top Chinese astronomers such as Li are also spreading awareness about the subject.

Li is also a popular blogger with more than 50,000 followers on Zhihu.

He says he chose astronomy as his major at university because he was inspired by US astronomer Carl Sagan and physicist Kip Thorne.

"My blogging on Zhihu is more like a summary of my research. I do not think about readers when I write, but I use simple words, so it may help other people," he says.

With the increasing popularity of astronomy in China, publishers are also jumping on the bandwagon.

In 2015, Li worked with two translators to translate Thorne's The Science of Interstellar, which won a book award in China. And, in May, he published his own book Roaming the Universe.

Recently the Chinese version of Sagan's Cosmos translated by Chen has been published in China.

Speaking about the book, Chen says: "Carl Sagan is a very popular name in the United States and he was very successful in popularizing the subject among common people. But few Chinese know about him. If this book helps them learn about him and the cosmos, it will be great."

Wu Yishan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development, a fan of Sagan, says that the book can be used as a textbook to teach young people.

"When you learn about the human position in the magnificent cosmos, you will have a very different view of our behavior on Earth," he says.

Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[The art of cultivating science personalities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649267.htm His eyes blast lasers, while his catchphrase "billions" blazes across multicolored starbursts.

In another GIF, he placidly reclines and blows dried dandelion seeds into the air like a flotilla of parasols.

And in yet another, identical image of his own face blow out of his mouth like expanding bubbles.

Those are just some of about a dozen stickers of Carl Sagan I have on my phone.

Sagan is a household name in the West. Yet my son is, as far as I know, the only person with Sagan as a given name.

A shared interest in astronomer Carl Sagan helped me determine that my wife was the one. We agreed, after watching his Cosmos TV series repeatedly, that if we got married and had a son, we'd name him Sagan.

We did.

Fast-forward over a decade in space-time.

It was an honor to pose three questions as a panelist of the Carl Sagan Forum at the National Astronomical Observatory of China last week, focusing on popular-science communication.

First, why is Sagan such an enduringly popular figure in the West?

Second, why is he less known in China?

And, third, why has China yet to produce its own Sagan - that is, an internationally acclaimed popular-science communicator who has become a household name internationally?

The forum celebrated the release of the Chinese-language version of Cosmos - first published nearly four decades ago.

It's a book about science in which the "latest" discoveries are outdated. Yet it remains relevant.

Neil deGrasse Tyson remade the Cosmos TV series a few years ago to update the science.

For instance, black holes were theoretical when Cosmos came out. Now, we know there's one at the center of many galaxies - including a supermassive black hole around which our Milky Way curls.

But Sagan's particular personal popularity persists.

The smartphone stickers were created a few years ago and shared by people born long after he died. Why?

Largely it's because Sagan's scientific worldview survives beyond his life. It quests beyond updating our knowledge to the root of how we gain knowledge.

"Science is more than a body of knowledge. It's a way of thinking," he declared.

Mainstream Chinese society seems to agree. Then, why isn't Sagan a household name among Chinese? Why don't Chinese share Sagan memes with their friends on social media?

The translation of Cosmos is indeed a great stride forward, toward overcoming the historical, cultural and, especially, linguistic gaps.

This brings us to the third question - and its follow up - why hasn't China produced its own Carl Sagan - a popularscience communicator celebrated throughout the country and world? And how can it?

I believe it can. And should.

China has produced many world-class scientists.

But they have yet to accrue such worldwide celebrity as communicators.

Part of the reason, arguably, is they haven't actively engaged in personality-based science popularization via mass media.

They haven't become public figures - with their own TV shows, popular social-media feeds and books. China should work to actively cultivate such icons. And it can.

To this end, China may have to purposefully foster certain scientists' images not only as individual geniuses but also as public personalities.

I recently hosted a widely viewed short documentary about Chinese scientist Huang Danian. It racked up millions of hits in the country and abroad. The video was shown throughout Beijing's subway system.

However, it was perhaps only in Huang's passing that he received such public recognition. And he was celebrated more for his dedication to his projects and students than for promoting science among the public.

Surely, China's science can speak in new ways to all of what Sagan called "the pale blue dot".

Sagan likely never envisioned that internet memes of him would be shared after his death - since the internet itself was embryonic when he passed away.

China today needs to promote its showman scientists on social media.

Then, the country's breakthroughs can enthrall the imagination of "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam" - that is, the planet we share, Earth.

And we, as a species, may share funny stickers of Chinese scientists on our phones.

erik_nilsson@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[Consuming passion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649266.htm Some traditional Shanghai dishes can often be difficult to find at restaurants even in Shanghai, but luckily they are enjoying something of a renaissance at one restaurant in Beijing.

]]>
A Beijing restaurant specializing in old Shanghai cuisine is reviving interest in disappearing dishes deemed too difficult to prepare. Li Yingxue reports.

Some traditional Shanghai dishes can often be difficult to find at restaurants even in Shanghai, but luckily they are enjoying something of a renaissance at one restaurant in Beijing.

"Wulixiang", a phrase in the local Shanghai dialect which means home, is exactly what founder and chef Zhu Haifeng has called his restaurant.

With more than 20 years' experience in the kitchen, the Shanghai chef started Wulixiang as a private kitchen in Xiezuo Hutong four years ago, to bring a taste of the lanes and alleyways of authentic old Shanghai to Beijing.

With only one waitress to help with serving, Zhu took care of the entire cooking process, from shopping at markets to developing the menus. His meticulous selection of ingredients and precise cooking skills soon garnered him many fans.

"I was happy to be busy cooking all day, but then I realized that my dream of reviving Shanghai cuisine would hardly come true if I continued running a small kitchen," Zhu says.

In August this year, Wulixiang restaurant opened on the ground floor of Pacific Century Place, in the center of Sanlitun. The new restaurant, with a 40-seat dining room, is equipped with three private dining rooms, along with a dedicated bar and wine cellar.

"In the face of so much creativity and innovation in today's restaurant scene, many old dishes are being forgotten," says the 45-year-old.

"I want to make sure that these dishes are passed down to the next generation, no matter how intricate the cooking methods are, or how specific the ingredients."

Now with a cooking team handpicked by Zhu, he has more time to focus on researching and experimenting with old Shanghai dishes.

Stuffed river snails is a traditional delicacy at Wulixiang, but it's getting hard to find even in Shanghai because the dish is so time-consuming to prepare.

It's a complex dish where the snail meat is removed from the shell, diced, and mixed with minced pork leg and seasonings, before being returned to the shell and then gently steamed.

Eight treasures stuffed duck is another traditional dish that used to appear on Shanghai dinner tables. Wulixiang's version uses the most traditional Shanghai-style cooking method - a whole deboned duck stuffed with a mixture of eight high-quality ingredients, including sticky rice, lotus seeds, ham, chicken, dried scallops, dried shiitake mushrooms, and bamboo shoots - is first roasted before it's steamed.

The complicated boning, stuffing and steaming process can take three to four hours, but the gamy scent of the roasted duck and the rich, savory smells of the stuffing ingredients make it worth the wait.

The duck dish has to be pre-ordered because it takes so much time to prepare, as do many other dishes like deboned pig trotters, steamed crab scented with rice wine, and fish head soup in a clay pot.

Some dishes on the regular menu also show Zhu's skill and love for home-cooked Shanghai cuisine.

Sizzling eel is always the signature dish of dinner at Wulixiang, as the oil sizzles with fragrance as it is poured onto the freshly cooked strips of wild-caught eel. It is rich but not oily, as the oil merely coats the eel.

Hairy crab, which Zhu gets from Taihu Lake in Jiangsu province, can be cooked in a variety of ways in the chef's hands, but steaming is the best way to preserve its natural flavor. But flour-coated or stuffed-and-fried crab dishes both have rich flavors, Zhu says.

Soup with shredded chicken, ham and bamboo is a test of any chef 's knife skills, as each of the ingredients has to be sliced into equally-sized thin strips. Also, the light but richly flavored broth is another test of the chef's patience.

"We use hens over three years old, duck, pork leg and pork ribs and cook them together for eight hours," Zhu says. "And then we put minced chicken into the soup for another two to three hours to make the soup clear."

"I believe we could adjust the cooking methods used in traditional dishes a little, but we have to retain the original techniques. No single step can be missed out," says Zhu.

To make the dishes authentically Shanghai-flavored, Zhu purchases the ham and shrimp roes from Shanghai, and some ingredients and vegetables chosen for his Beijing menu are also transported from his hometown.

On Oct 28, Zhu organized a culinary course at Wulixiang to teach his customers how to cook two signature dishes in Shanghai cuisine - scallion oil noodles and drunken chicken.

"I want to present to our customers the culture of traditional Chinese food," he says.

Feng Yiran, 24, a Shanghai cuisine lover, joined Zhu's class. "I've tried to make scallion oil noodles at home, but I failed," Feng says. "After chef Zhu showed us how to properly boil the noodles and create the scallion oil, I think I will be able to nail it next time."

"The trick is to get the right proportion between the scallions and the oil."

Feng also tried Zhu's signature dishes. "The dishes and the environment at Wulixiang remind me of what I ate and experienced in Shanghai," Feng says.

Shanghai cuisine has not entered the mainstream in the capital's dining scene, but Zhu believes there is no need to alter the flavor to appeal to northern tastes. "Good food isn't separated by region. If you cook it the right way, everyone will enjoy it."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Wulixiang Restaurant's signature dishes include (clockwise from top left) eight treasures stuffed duck, drunken chicken, stuffed-and-fried crab, and scallion oil noodles.Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[Truffles change the fortunes of Istrian peninsula]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649265.htm In the center of the Istrian peninsula, there is a forest known for its "black diamonds", that make this region the truffle capital of the world.

The unique fragrance of the "royal mushroom" was known to the Mesopotamian rulers 4,000 years ago. It was enjoyed by ancient Greeks and Roman emperors and today, truffles are still among the most highly-prized gourmet specialties.

Known to the French as the "black diamonds of gastronomy", Truffles grow under the ground in symbiosis with tree roots, and are therefore very difficult to find. They are rare and grow only in a few locations in Europe - in parts of Italy, France, Spain and Croatia.

Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula whose biggest portion lies within Croatia, is home to white and black truffles.

In late autumn, at the top of the season for white truffles, the Istrian forests are full of trained dogs running, sniffing and searching for the rare mushroom. When the dogs smell truffles and excitedly start digging, the truffle hunters rein-in the animals and dig the truffles out with a dagger-shaped trowel.

Ivica Kalcic has been a truffle hunter for almost 15 years. He has two English cocker spaniels that help him in the hunt. The older dog is trained and is always successful in finding truffles. For the younger one, this is just the first semester at school.

But one day it will be as useful as its mother. "We always go on the hunt with dogs. One is sniffing and searching for truffles, while the other is there to learn the process," Kalcic says.

In the olden days, pigs were used instead of dogs for truffle hunting. But this tradition is now died out - pigs like truffles so much they usually eat them on the spot.

During truffle season, Kalcic takes visitors to the forest to show them a truffle hunt. It is one of the most scenic tourist attractions in central Istria.

Visitors from around the world go there to experience a truffle hunt and then taste the gourmet specialties. It is an organized and well-directed attraction where hunters hide truffles under the ground beforehand for the dogs. And in just 20 minutes, dogs bark and dig when they find a white truffle.

"The best time for the search is at night when the air is cleaner, so dogs can smell a truffle more easily. The downside is that dogs can easily get lost in the dark," Kalcic says.

On Nov 2, 1999, the biggest white truffle in the world was found in this forest. The lucky finder was Giancarlo Zigante. With the help of his German pointer Diana, he found a tuber weighing 1.31 kilograms in the Motovun forest near Livade.

It was, and still is, the world's biggest white truffle, a mushroom that has earned its place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

It was a breakthrough for Zigante whose name became a synonym for the Istrian truffle. Today, he runs a famous truffle restaurant in Livade and organizes Zigante Truffle Days, a 10-weekend long festival of truffles.

"People from around the world come to Livade to taste the best truffles. Istria is best known for white truffles. They are the most expensive truffles in the world. Unlike black truffles that can be dried, frozen and preserved, white truffles are special because they cannot be conserved. You have to eat them within a week," says Morena Borovecki, the marketing manager for Restaurant Zigante and Zigante Truffle Days.

The price, she says, varies from season to season. "It all depends on the offer. This season, the price of a white truffle can reach 5,000 euros ($5,835) per kilo."

Nevertheless, visitors to the festival never ask the price. Thousands of them come each year simply to enjoy the noble mushroom.

"The best way to consume truffles is to slice fresh truffles directly on the food. It could be a pasta, potatoes or eggs because these foods have a neutral taste and allow you to better taste the flavor of the truffle," Borovocki explains.

Livade is not the only Istrian village that celebrates truffles. In October and November, there are exhibitions and fairs throughout the peninsula. Istria even has "the city of truffles" in the form of Buzet.

Beautiful nature and delicious food has transformed the fortunes of the central Istrian region, which is now often described as "the new Tuscany".

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[Eating variety of nuts linked to lower heart disease risk]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649264.htm WASHINGTON - People who regularly snack on a variety of nuts may face a lower risk of heart disease than people who don't, says the largest study of its kind, which was released this week.

Eating five weekly servings of walnuts, peanuts or other kinds of tree nuts was linked to a 14 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and a 20 percent lower risk of fatal complications due to hardened arteries, says the report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Walnuts appeared to be the healthiest option, according to the findings, based on more than 210,000 people who answered regular surveys as part of a nurses' study that spanned 32 years.

"After looking at individual nut consumption, eating walnuts one or more times per week was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease," says the report.

People who ate peanuts two or more times per week had a 13 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who ate none.

Those who ate tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, chestnuts and pistachios, had a 15 percent lower risk of heart disease.

"Our findings support recommendations of increasing the intake of a variety of nuts, as part of healthy dietary patterns, to reduce the risk of chronic disease in the general population," says lead author Marta Guasch-Ferre, a research fellow at the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Many past studies have examined the role of eating nuts on people's health.

Researchers say this one stands out due to its size and the way it looked at the association between specific types of nuts and major cardiovascular events.

However, because it was an observational study based on self-reported questionnaire responses, it was unable to prove cause-and-effect.

"Ideally, further investigations should test the effects of the long-term consumption of nuts supplemented into the usual diet on hard cardiometabolic events," says an accompanying editorial by Emilio Ros, a doctor at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

"In the meantime, raw nuts, if possible unpeeled and otherwise unprocessed, may be considered as natural health capsules that can be easily incorporated into any heart-protective diet to further cardiovascular well-being and promote healthy aging."

Aagence France - presse

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[Prescient author now rules the roost]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649263.htm Martin Jacques, the journalist and academic, is now seen by many as the man of the moment in China.

]]>
The writer who predicted the rise of China as a global power argues the country has proved its model of governance works. Andrew Moody reports.

Martin Jacques, the journalist and academic, is now seen by many as the man of the moment in China.

Eight years ago, his seminal and best-selling work, When China Rules The World - which was one of the first to seriously examine the implications of the rise of the former Middle Kingdom - was widely criticized when it was published. It was even dismissed by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten as "silly".

With a newly self-confident China striding into a "new era" after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last month, his ideas are very much in vogue.

Jacques, a youthful 72, perhaps not unnaturally, feels slightly vindicated.

"I have spent a lifetime thinking deeply about a lot of political and cultural questions and I didn't find it difficult to see that China was rising and the West was declining. If you look at a lot of China writers, however, they never got it," he says.

Jacques, who was a sought-after guest on Chinese and international television channels during the meeting, was speaking at the Shaoyuan Hotel on the Peking University campus, where he was lecturing.

Also visiting professor at the China Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai, he believes the congress, during which Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was enshrined in the Party's Constitution, was a defining moment.

"Xi wanted to underscore the fact that the Chinese economy is not gravitating toward capitalism. It is not going to end up as a Western-style economy or a Western-style polity and that it is going to remain profoundly different. And, in that sense, it remains firmly in a socialist rather than capitalist tradition."

Jacques believes the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 began to herald a change in the world which he believes has been followed by what he sees as a governance crisis in the West, providing the backdrop for a resurgent China.

"The United States has been plunged into an era of self-doubt and weakening influence in the world, which I think is now widely recognized. You cannot say the referendum (on EU membership) in the UK was a great experiment in democracy and you have got countries like Italy which have been frozen for more than 10 years because its party system is unstable."

The British journalist sees China as having moved into a new historical period of its own after the election of Xi as general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC in November 2012.

"He has been successful in broadening the perspective about China and moved it away from defining itself in narrow economic terms, which I think had been the case after Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s.

"He has emphasized the Chinese Dream and national rejuvenation as well as being more proactive on the global stage with initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."

The academic argues where this matters most is in the developing world, particularly in Africa, which sees China as a role model.

"The great axis that has changed is that between China and the developing world. The United States cannot relate to it in the way that China can. China is a developing country and can understand the problems of development in a totally different way."

Jacques, who is a well-known left-wing thinker in the UK, was born in Coventry in England almost immediately after World War II to parents who were members of the British Communist Party.

After studying at Manchester University, where he took a first class honors in economics, he was one of the youngest-ever executive members of the party in the UK at 22.

He was very much in the European Communist tradition of Antonio Gramsci than the faction of the party that remained admirers of the former Soviet Union.

Jacques rose to prominence as editor of Marxism Today for 14 years from the late 1970s onward.

He turned it from an obscure left-wing political magazine to one that contained views and opinions from across the political spectrum as Margaret Thatcher rose to power.

Its contributors included the late Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who Jacques regarded as a mentor.

Jacques went on to be deputy editor of The Independent newspaper in the mid-1990s and combines being a high-profile columnist with lecturing around the world.

He says his late wife, Harinder Veriah, a Malaysian-Indian lawyer he met on holiday on the island of Tioman off the east coast of Malaysia in 1993, inspired him to write his seminal book, which has now sold more than 400,000 copies and has been translated into 15 languages.

"She taught me to see the world from a non-Western perspective. If you are always with someone of the same culture you are an insider and never looking from the outside. She helped me see my country from an outsider's perspective," he says.

"I also learned about racism. Most white liberals see it almost as an intellectual construct but it is never at the forefront of your mind."

The book, which took almost eight years to write, predicted China would become a bigger economy than the US by 2027.

It also argued that China's governance system was an effective alternative to Western liberal democracy and represented a new form of modernity. It also introduced the concept for the first time to many Western readers that China was more a civilization state than a nation state.

"China's view of itself was tian xia, or all the land under heaven, and there were no frontiers or borders and no essential differences between peoples," he says.

The book received a very critical reaction from Western Sinologists, in particular, who regarded Jacques as an interloper on their territory.

"I wasn't a Sinologist in any shape or form. My studies had all been about the West but I think I had a sensitivity to other cultures.

"I have always had a lot of respect for Sinologists who have spent years at the coalface trying to understand China. Some have a silo mentality though. They dig deep but very narrowly. Many American Sinologists, in particular, also believe in American exceptionalism and that the US is the example to follow."

Contrasts have been made between Jacques' book and US political scientist Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man, which was published in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and argued that Western liberalism had triumphed over other systems.

"I like Francis. He is a very interesting man. He, however, got that catastrophically wrong."

Jacques' views, particularly after the CPC congress, are, however, now on the ascendant. His Ted Talk video alone has attracted 2.4 million views.

"Most people in the West could not conceive of the West not occupying the position of dominance it has for the past 200 years.

"I am a historian professionally and you get great periods of change throughout history and this, in my view, is one."

Contact the writer at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

Martin Jacques, British author of When China Rules The World, says that China has moved into a new historical period. Zou Hong / China Daily

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[Chinese IT's 'alpha wolf ' releases new book with insights into his life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/17/content_34649262.htm A collaborative autobiography by Zhou Hongyi, founder of the Chinese internet security company Qihoo 360, features anecdotes from the entrepreneur's life and his business choices.

Dian Fu Zhe (The Game Changer) was released on Nov 7, days after his company acquired a domestic company listed on Shanghai's A-share market for 50.4 billion yuan ($7.6 billion), marking his company's return to the Chinese stock market from the New York Stock Exchange.

The book has been co-authored by journalist-turned-biographer Fan Haitao who did a master's degree in oral history at Columbia University.

"It was a mark of success for a Chinese technology company to be listed in the United States, so many people were curious to know why we returned after five years," Zhou, 47, writes in his book.

"The (Edward) Snowden incident made me think about the grave challenges in cybersecurity faced by a nation," he continues.

"As a cybersecurity company, we need to stand in line with national interests, especially when many government organizations and banks are using our services."

In an email interview, Zhou says he thinks that competition in the IT industry has entered its second stage, with artificial intelligence and the internet of things being two major trends.

The first stage was more about using internet services to increase connectivity in society.

"With internet access becoming an indispensable public service like electricity and water, cybersecurity will influence offline security as well," he says, citing the WannaCry ransomware incident in May that affected many banks, hospitals and universities worldwide.

This is not the first time that Zhou has surprised the industry with his unconventional moves, and the title of the new book seems to echo that.

Zhou was born in the small county of Qichun in Hubei province in 1970. But his family moved to Zhengzhou, Henan province, where Zhou spent most of his childhood. He was a "headache" for his teachers, the authors write.

Zhou talked to classmates while his classes were going on and drew caricatures of teachers for fun.

But Zhou became engrossed with computers after his first computer lesson in 1985.

He subscribed to the country's first newspaper on computers, Children Computer Newspaper, and kept reading it through his high school years.

The computer was still a technological novelty back then. IBM created the first personal computer in 1981 and Apple sold its first Macintosh in 1984.

Zhou was determined that being a programmer would be his career.

He once announced his ambition to his high school classmates, saying: "I will be a computer developer and create things that will change the world."

In 1988, Zhou was admitted by Xi'an Jiaotong University to major in computer science. He graduated from the university with a master's degree in system engineering in 1995. After that, he worked at Founder, an early Chinese IT company, for three years before starting his own company, Beijing 3721 Technology.

The company provided a Chinese domain name service so that early internet users in the country could visit sites by typing the Chinese names without needing to remember their English address.

The service was a success after its launch in 1998, and the company was acquired by Yahoo China in 2004.

Zhou founded Qihoo 360 in 2006. At a time when most anti-virus software came with a big price, he started to offer it free of charge.

"It changed the existing business model in the industry," writes Zhou. "It was like declaring war on everyone in this field."

Zhou's company also challenged Chinese tech giant Tencent in 2010 by claiming that the latter's instant-messaging tool QQ "stole" users' private data. Tencent denied the charge, took Qihoo 360 to court and won the case. Qihoo 360 had to make a public apology and pay for damages to Tencent's image.

During the quarrel, Tencent had also asked its users to choose between QQ and the 360 anti-virus software.

Zhou was dubbed an "alpha wolf" and a "maverick" by some in China's IT industry as a result.

"I like to challenge established rules and practices," Zhou writes in the book.

"If one day I become complacent, dispirited and compromise reality, I hope energetic young people come and defeat me."

xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-17 08:57:44
<![CDATA[Seeking to collaborate]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/16/content_34604988.htm Over the past few years, Australian filmmaker Tony Coombs has toured Yunnan province in southwestern China many times. He went there as he was fascinated by the ethnic Yi fable of Ashima, a beautiful young woman who rejects an evil lord son's proposal, to pursue her true love.

]]>
Australian movie and TV producers unveil projects combining Chinese and Australian elements. Xu Fan reports.

Over the past few years, Australian filmmaker Tony Coombs has toured Yunnan province in southwestern China many times. He went there as he was fascinated by the ethnic Yi fable of Ashima, a beautiful young woman who rejects an evil lord son's proposal, to pursue her true love.

Believing that the story could easily be made accessible to an international audience with a well-developed storyline, Coombs did research on the local history, watched the 1964 Chinese movie Ashima, and wrote a script for an animated feature called Girl of Ashima.

Now, he is seeking Chinese partners to work on the project, and says he hopes to bring the Chinese story to a broader, younger audience, internationally.

Last week, at a forum at the China Australia International Film Season held in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, Coombs alongside his partner David Redman promoted the movie.

They were among a nearly 40-member team from the Australian film industry who were in China to seek opportunities in collaboration.

The Chinese film industry's rapid rise in recent years has made the country one of the world's most alluring markets for foreign players.

Despite having a long history of working with Hollywood, Australian filmmakers are now shifting their focus to China, the world's second-largest movie market.

The Wuhan event, held over Nov 7-9, is a follow-up event to the fourth China Australia International Film Festival, which is backed by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television to promote cinematic exchanges between China and Australia.

The Wuhan show was hosted by the publicity department of the Wuhan government, the Wuhan International Culture Association and the Brisbane-based company VAC International Group.

At the three-day event, 11 movies - including Australian star Jack Thompson's Don't Tell and Chinese documentary Twenty Two - were shown in nine cinemas and four universities in Wuhan, attracting more than 10,000 viewers to a total of 30 screenings.

But despite the films, the two forums held on Nov 9 to discuss the future of coproducing works with Australia were of key interest to Chinese decision-makers and producers.

At the event, Australian producers from 10 movie and television companies unveiled more than 20 projects combining Chinese and Australian elements.

Besides Girl of Ashima, the titles included Lost in Australia, the fourth installment of the hit franchise Lost; Young Dragon in Paradise, a coming-of-age drama about a Chinese immigrant family in Australia; Shimalaya, an aviation-themed feature set in World War II and The Docks, a period television program based on the true story of a Chinese sailor's love affair with a local racist politician's daughter in Sydney in 1878.

Redman, CEO of Harvest Pictures and producer of Lost in Australia, says the movie will have Hong Kong veteran Yip Wai-man, director of the franchise's first movie Lost on Journey (2010), on its producing team.

Currently, Yip is working with the Shanghai-based company Hiver Pictures to develop the story, which features adventures in Australia of several Chinese characters - an undercover agent, a romantic fool and a rancher.

Despite the growing interest of Australian filmmakers in collaborations, the total number of coproductions done till now is small.

Collen Champ, coproduction manager of the country's key funding body, Screen Australia, says Australia has coproduced 175 films with other countries, but only eight with China.

The movies include The Children of Huang Shi (2008), The Dragon Pearl (2011), 33 Postcards (2011) and the upcoming adventure movie Guardians of the Tomb, starring top actress Li Bingbing.

Champ says an upcoming sci-fi movie Bleeding Steel, which is a Chinese movie recently shot in Australia, shows that the country also has many picturesque locations and talent with post-production skills which the Chinese can use.

Bleeding Steel, led by Jackie Chan, is one of the biggest budget Chinese movies filmed in Australia.

The movie hired more than 250 Australians, saw 100 million yuan ($15.1 million) spent for the Australian leg and filmed in Australian locations for 28 days, according to Champ.

Miao Xiaotian, general manager of China Film Co-Production Corp, says coproduction has huge market potential in China, as five of the 10 top-grossing films in the country are coproductions.

"Coproductions are a short cut to win audiences from different cultures," he says.

Pushing the coproduction theme, Matthew Deaner, CEO of Screen Producers Australia, says: "Australia is a country which has a small population and large continent. A large number of people are immigrants. So, they have unique stories rooted in their cultures, and they would love to watch such stories on the big screen."

Citing the instance of Lion, an Oscar-nominated movie based on the true story of an Indian child adopted by an Australian couple, Deaner says Australian and Chinese filmmakers can make such movies that resonate with audiences in two countries.

Ren Zhonglun, president of the Shanghai Film Group, says he held talks with VAC around two years ago about creating a romantic Chinese tale with Australian scenes and its unique animals.

Jiang Ping, general manager of China Film Co Ltd, says the historical connections between the two countries, including the advent of Chinese laborers in Australia more than 100 years ago and the rapid growth in the number of Chinese students and immigrants headed to Australia in recent years, are all good material for coproductions.

So, what is the future for coproductions.

At the Wuhan event, 10 contracts with a total estimated value of 6 billion yuan were signed.

The contracts include a strategic cooperation treaty to promote coproductions signed by Ausfilm, the Screen Producers Australia, the VAC International Group and the Wuhan Teem Hoo Films Holding Group.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

Jackie Chanstarring Bleeding Steel, which shot 28 days in Australia and recruited 250 locals, exemplifies the latest cinematic collaboration between China and Australia. Photo Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-16 07:08:40
<![CDATA[Fans can look forward to Liu Jian's latest animation film]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/16/content_34604987.htm Film director Liu Jian is by no means talkative. Liu, who was invited to the opening ceremony of the fifth Festival of German Cinema in China in Beijing on Friday as chief guest, spoke just five sentences in his opening speech.

But his work does speak out more.

Have A Nice Day, his latest 77-minute-long animated film, was nominated for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in February.

The film is 48-year-old Liu's second theatrical release.

However, it is the first Chinese animated film to be nominated in the Berlin festival, and even the first Asian animated film to be nominated for a Golden Bear since Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's iconic Spirited Away in 2002.

Though the film lost out, it has aroused a lot of expectation in China.

Earlier this month, Have A Nice Day premiered in China via an originally unscheduled screening at the first Pingyao International Film Festival in Shanxi province.

Chinese film director Jia Zhangke, who launched Pingyao festival, called the film a milestone in Chinese animation on the occasion.

Liu was not present in Pingyao.

But when Liu finally appeared in Beijing, he said that the film will be publicly screened in Chinese cinemas before the Chinese New Year in February.

Speaking about the movie, he says: "Animation can have many meanings or formats. And after seeing the film, people may accept that animation can tackle serious issues."

Unlike most Chinese animated films today, which are based on fairy tales, myths or ancient legends, Have A Nice Day has darker shades to it.

It shows what happens after Xiao Zhang, a driver working for a gang, takes his boss' mon-ey to fix his girlfriend's failed cosmetic surgery.

Speaking of how such films tackle serious issues, he cites examples of French-Iranian film Persepolis (2007) and Israeli production Waltz with Bashir (2008), both of which deal with weighty topics in realistic ways, and were nominated for the Academy Awards.

According to Yang Cheng, producer of Have A Nice Day, the copyright of the film has been sold in more than 30 countries and regions, and it will soon be distributed in cinemas all around the world.

The film is set in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, probably as a way for Liu to acknowledge his hometown.

Also, most of the dialog is in the Nanjing dialect, and the dubbing sounds amateurish. Sometimes, it is even like reading a book aloud.

"I know some will find this a little bit strange, but I deliberately avoided professional voice actors," says Liu, adding that such voices can feel like "plastic".

"I wanted normal conditions," he further explains. "Thanks to my artist friends from Nanjing who contributed their voices. I just picked the roles in the film for each to speak in a natural way."

Liu is also a maverick when it comes to animation.

Before releasing his first film in 2010, he had been a contemporary artist for long.

He is a painter, a photographer, and once played in a band.

Though Liu switched focus to cinema, he still does a spot of painting. After all, he is also an associate professor at the China Academy of Art based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

"The crossover is not that dramatic as you may think," he says. "For me, film is just another form of artistic expression.

"The reason I decided to shoot a film in the first place was because what I had was not enough to express my ideas."

As a comprehensive fine art form, animated film can maximize the expressional method, he adds.

Liu says the role of a painter in the film is partially based on his own life.

In the film, he kept adding new elements throughout the three years of its making. It even includes background sound from a news broadcast on Donald Trump winning the US presidential election in November 2016, which was only three months before the Berlin premiere.

Liu drew all the animation in Have A Nice Day, but he considers storytelling more important than images in animated films. He rules out the possibility of using real people in his films in the near future.

"In animation films I can control everything. I don't need to adjust to actors' moods," he says. "So, I will still stick to animation, but I'll keep bringing something new in each production."

For the music, the song Our 80s was sung by the 1980s' Chinese disco music diva Zhang Qiang, and it was used as the ending theme song in the film. This may have left the audience confused because it seems irrelevant in the context of the film.

Liu, however, says the song is a preview of his next film. "It will possibly be a story about the 1980s," he says.

wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

Liu Jian (right) deals with weighty topics in realistic ways in his latest animation film, Have A Nice Day, which will be screened in Chinese cinemas ahead of the Chinese New Year in February. Photos By Wang Kaihao / China Daily and Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-16 07:08:40
<![CDATA[Li Yundi joins a classical force]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/16/content_34604986.htm The Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the oldest orchestras in the world, is touring China through Sunday, performing in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Wuhan in Hubei province.

]]>
Chinese pianist teams up with German orchestra Staatskapelle Dresden to round off China tour. Chen Nan reports.

The Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the oldest orchestras in the world, is touring China through Sunday, performing in Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Wuhan in Hubei province.

Under the baton of conductor Alan Gilbert, the former music director of the New York Philharmonic, the orchestra will present Mozart's Piano Concerto No 23 in A Major, K488 and Richard Strauss' Symphonia Domestica, Op 53.

The orchestra was founded in 1548, and it has built a unique connection with Strauss and Mozart over its long history.

Strauss entrusted the orchestra with nine of his opera premieres, including Salome, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier, says Jan Nast, general manager of the Staatskapelle Dresden.

"This is one of the reasons why we are bringing one of Strauss' great tone poems, Symphonia Domestica, to China. It's a piece that is not performed very often in China, but it is definitely a landmark work inspired by events in Strauss' own life," says Nast.

Chinese pianist Li Yundi will join the tour. In the late fall of 2005, he toured with the Staatskapelle Dresden in Germany and performed Liszt's Piano Concerto No 1.

"I am glad to be performing with the orchestra in my home country, and the piece, Mozart's Piano Concerto No 23 in A Major, K488, is one of my favorites," says Li, winner of the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 2000.

"This is the first time I'm working with Alan Gilbert, the great conductor, and I am looking forward to a spark of new inspiration in music."

According to Wu Jiatong, general manager of Wu Promotion, one of the first private touring companies and promoters in China, the orchestra made its debut show on the Chinese mainland in Beijing in 2000 and the company has been cooperating with the Staatskapelle Dresden since 2011.

The company also organized the first major tour of China by the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in October, which saw 10 concerts in five Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing, and attracted audiences of more than 12,000.

"In the past, the Vienna Philharmonic only stopped in Beijing or Shanghai for two to three concerts during their Asia tour. But the ongoing tour means that China has become an important market for international classical music," Wu says.

Founded in 1991 by Wu and his father, Wu Promotion now produces between 400 and 500 concerts and events every year, both in the country and abroad.

Two years ago, Wu met Valery Gergiev, director of the Mariinsky Orchestra in St. Petersburg, and came up with the idea of launching the Mariinsky Theatre Festival in China to bring Russian music, ballet and opera to Chinese audiences.

The first Mariinsky Theatre Festival took place in Shanghai in October 2016 with operas The Queen of the Spades and War and Peace, concert performances and the ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet staged under the baton of maestro Gergiev.

Following the success of the Mariinsky Theatre Festival in Harbin in August, Gergiev will lead the Mariinsky Orchestra and Mariinsky Ballet back to Shanghai from Nov 26 to 28 for the second Mariinsky Theatre Festival in China.

In addition to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, well-known overseas orchestras now schedule visits to a number of smaller cities as part of their Chinese tours.

It took between 10 and 20 years for Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to develop their markets for classical music, says Wu. "And for second- and third-tier cities, I think they don't need such a long period as they already have a much better base established by the first-tier cities. China is a huge market for the music."

The company has also organized tours for Chinese orchestras and traditional art troupes internationally, including established institutions like the China Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Peking Opera Company of China.

Under the baton of Yu Long, the China Philharmonic will begin its eighth collaboration with Wu Promotion to play in Kawasaki and Tokyo in Japan, and Taipei from Nov 28 to Dec 2.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

Alan Gibert (left) takes the baton of the Staatskapelle Dresden orchestra for its ongoing China tour. Chinese pianist Li Yundi (above) will join the tour. Photo Provided To China Daily

]]>
2017-11-16 07:08:40
<![CDATA[Tencent has plenty in store for online video fans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/16/content_34604985.htm Fans of King of Glory, Tencent Holding Ltd's top-grossing mobile game, will have a new pastime in December - the game-adapted variety show Wang Zhe Chu Ji (The Ace Valor), where 20 Chinese players in parallel with the game characters will have "five versus five" battles.

The variety show will debut on the tech company's online video platform on Dec 15.

Chinese actresses Lin Chiling, Wang Lin, Angelababy and Jia Ling, and model Xi Mengyao will play the female heroes in King of Glory.

"The mobile game was a hit. We want its popularity to grow," Ma Yankun, vice-president of the Tencent Penguin Pictures, a subsidiary, said at a recent event in Beijing to announce the company's upcoming productions.

Ma says Tencent will drive the growing trend of following youth idols in China by continuing to run the singing contest Ming Ri Zhi Zi (The Coming One) and enrich the genres of talent shows.

Produce 101, a Chinese adaptation of a reality show, will be launched by Tencent to select 11 rising stars from 101 young women. The 11 winners are expected to form a Chinese girl band.

"We are eager to find girls who meet public expectations in China," says Ma. "They should be characterized by wisdom, ambition and strong personality."

Variety shows to find brilliant dancers and musicians will also be launched next year.

In April, Tencent released a Chinese animation film titled The King's Avatar, which was adapted from a popular online novel released on Qidian, a literature website in China.

The growing viewing rate of the animation has boosted Tencent's confidence and it plans to expand the domain of The King's Avatar.

Next year, the online video platform will present a self-produced drama series of the same name, in which Chinese actor Yang Yang will play the lead role.

The story is about a top esports player who stages a comeback with his teammates after being kicked out from a club.

Sun Zhonghuai, vice-president of Tencent Holding Ltd, says "high-quality, highly-praised videos with high viewing rates" are the platform's key to winning the largest share in the paid-for-content market.

He adds that this is the reason why Tencent has spared no effort to collaborate with famous writers and produce their works.

Tencent is producing a drama series based on Sha Hai ("sea of sand") by Xu Lei, who is better known by his pseudonym Nanpai Sanshu.

The novel is a sequel to Xu's best-seller The Grave Robbers' Chronicles.

Xu, 35, who is supervising the visual effects and postproduction of the drama, says: "I hope the series comes up to my expectations."

Chinese best-selling author Ma Li, better known by his pseudonym Ma Boyong, will also see his novel San Guo Ji Mi ("secrets of the three kingdoms") brought to the screen by Tencent.

To target a wider audience, Tencent is working on a number of new cultural programs. The Book of Fate, for instance, will get its break next year.

The online program will feature Mahua FunAge, one of China's most popular comedy troupes, as it stages performances based on plots from books like A Brief History of Humankind and The Three-Body Problem.

According to Wang Juan, the chief editor of Tencent's online video unit, up to September, the number of its paid users on the streaming platforms has crossed 43 million.

"Pay-to-watch is providing the momentum for good video content, while the rise in the number of paid users is the result of plentiful videos of high quality," she says.

xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-16 07:08:40
<![CDATA[Great ideas honored]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566137.htm About three weeks after this year's Nobel Prize winners were announced, dozens of world's top scientists, including the 2016 Nobel Prize-winning chemist James Fraser Stoddart gathered in Beijing.

]]>
This year's Future Science Prize recognizes the achievements of three Chinese scientists. Zhang Zefeng reports.

About three weeks after this year's Nobel Prize winners were announced, dozens of world's top scientists, including the 2016 Nobel Prize-winning chemist James Fraser Stoddart gathered in Beijing.

Over the course of two days, they outlined their cutting-edge research in fields such as computer science, neuroscience, astrophysics and materials science, and celebrated this year's winners of the Future Science Prize.

After a long and rigorous process of nominations, professional appraisals, expert reviews and a secret ballot, three Chinese scientists were each honored with a prize of $1 million.

This year's mathematics and computer science prize was awarded to Peking University professor Xu Chenyang for his contribution to birational algebraic geometry, while Chinese quantum physicist Pan Jianwei won the physical science prize and biophysicist Shi Yigong won the life science prize for breakthroughs in their fields.

"This is the second year we are honoring top Chinese scientists with the awards," says Wang Xiaodong, director of National Institute of Biological Sciences Beijing and a member of the prize committee.

"It shows that world-class scientific breakthroughs and discoveries can come from China."

The Future Science Prize was initiated by a group of Chinese entrepreneurs and scientists in 2016 aiming to honor outstanding scientific research in basic science and its application.

Xue Qikun, a physicist at Tsinghua University, and Dennis Lo Yukming, a professor of chemical pathology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, respectively won a materials science award and life science award at last year's Future awards.

Secure communication

Professor Pan Jianwei, 47, a quantum physicist at the University of Science and Technology of China, won the 2017 Future Science Prize in physical science. The award was for his work in enabling the practical implementation of secure communication through quantum key distribution.

One of the best ways to upgrade communication security is to use a system that encrypts the information while simultaneously detecting eavesdroppers. Pan's quantum physics experiments with entangled photons helped to achieve this goal.

When an attempt is made to eavesdrop on a quantum communication it creates a disturbance that can be detected.

Despite its high security level, the implementation of this technology faces a number of challenges including distance and cost.

Pan and his team also broke the distance record by sending a quantum encrypted message about 1,200 kilometers from space to Earth.

Pan was the lead scientist of the world's first quantum-communication satellite, Micius, launched by China in 2016.

"We hope to form a quantum communication network over a wide area in the next five to 10 years," Pan says.

Fundamental life makeup

This year's Future Science Prize in life science honors Shi Yigong, 50, a biophysicist professor at Tsinghua University, for his uncovering of the high-resolution structure of the spliceosome, a substance crucial to gene expression.

According to research, one-third of human genetic diseases are caused by malfunctions of a complicated cellular process, which delivers information held in the DNA molecule into the cell. Spliceosome is a key player in this process.

Less was known what the spliceosome looked like before Shi found the structure of the yeast spliceosome at the atomic level.

"The structure of the spliceosome represents a much greater challenge than the structure of the ribosome, for which three individuals in the past were awarded the Nobel Prize," Dinshaw Patel, a senior scientist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States, was quoted by Tsinghua University as saying in an email.

"It's a milestone achievement in Chinese life sciences and it will encourage the next generation to enter the field."

Shi's group has been using revolutionary new cryoelectron microscopy and software techniques to photograph and analyze millions of intact spliceosomes.

They are currently working to untangle the secrets of the human spliceosome with the hope of giving clinicians tools to be sure that every gene splice is right.

Shi encourages students to embrace stringent, systematic scientific training in science.

"Vigorous training is the basis for all kinds of intuition," he says. "Only through comprehensive training and accumulated knowledge can you get the spark of a great idea."

Mathematical breakthrough

Peking University math professor Xu Chenyang, 36, was awarded the 2017 Future Science Prize in mathematics and computer science for his fundamental contributions to birational algebraic geometry.

Xu entered the field of algebraic geometry when he was an undergraduate student at Peking University.

"I like the way people use it. The language of algebra is very abstract but what they study is a concrete geometric object," says Xu, the youngest award-winner.

Algebraic geometry refers to applying the problem-solving power of algebra to geometry. But when the equations of algebraic geometry become complicated, the shapes can be in multiple dimensions.

Xu and his colleagues used a fundamental mathematical idea to emulate higher dimension calculations. The contributions he has made to birational algebraic geometry are crucial to understanding the many dimensions of string theory and can be applied in areas including robotics and coding.

Xu says mathematics is the basic language to understand the world.

"It is the crown of science," he says. "From the transmission of cellphone signals to understanding the properties of space, all are based on advancements in math."

The research breakthrough Xu made originates from his passion and love of mathematics.

"I feel grateful for being a mathematician," he says. "It's an enjoyable and meaningful profession."

Xu plans to donate part of his award to set up a scholarship to encourage young people to conduct research in algebra.

"I hope more young people choose to find themselves in the field of science," he says.

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Tips for youth from researchers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566136.htm While it is celebrities and entrepreneurs that are usually in media spotlight, the Future Forum recently put the focus on scientists.

The forum, held in October in Beijing, brought together top scientists from around the world to share their enthusiasm for research and inspire upcoming scientists.

University of Science and Technology Beijing student Tan Zhiyang had been anticipating the forum for almost a year. He believed it would showcase the forefront of science.

"I am currently facing the pressure of choosing my field of study," says the 19-year-old junior physics major who missed last year's event. "I want to find out what those top scientists are thinking about."

While listening to a variety of lectures on subjects ranging from astrophysics, quantum physics to computer science and artificial intelligence, Tan says he gained a better understanding of quantum physics and developed an interest in materials science.

Tan was especially intrigued by Yang Peidong's research on artificial photosynthesis and Cui Yi's presentation on the application of nanomaterials in new energy. He also paid attention to the obstacles those scientists are encountering.

"Getting to know the difficulties they are facing can be quite beneficial," he says. "Our generation can take up those challenges."

This year's event also added a new session - Conversation Between Teenagers and the Future Science Prize Laureates. Students were invited to attend and talk face-to-face with Shi Yigong, Pan Jianwei and Xu Chenyang, the winners of the 2017 Future Science Prize.

Tian Siyuan, 14, from Beijing Academy, a school, asked Pan, the winner of physical science prize, a question related to the application of quantum physics. She was fascinated by this subject when she was reading the award-winning Chinese sci-fi novel, The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin.

"I am interested in how scientists conduct their research and the way they present their accomplishments," says Tian. "What they have been doing is meaningful, which inspires me to be someone like them."

The youth forum was both inspiring and educational. The laureates not only shared their personal stories and their cutting-edge research, but also touched upon topics including interdisciplinary education, the public's attitude toward science and gender equality in science.

Cai Jiahong, 16, from Beijing No 4 High School International Campus, was encouraged by the answer of Shi, who won the life science prize, about gender equality.

After the forum, her concerns about being a female physicist were reassured as she realized women can play an important role in scientific advancement.

"We should not be intimidated by titles such as 'female scientists' and 'female PhDs'," says Cai, who once won a national physics competition prize. "It's more important to pursue what we truly desire rather than worrying about others' perception about you."

The questions asked by the young attendees were highly acclaimed by the laureates for their creativity, relevance and depth.

In a video interview, Pan encouraged those intending to pursue a career as scientists to be true to themselves. "The future belongs to the young generation," said Pan.

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Home visits offer students personal touch]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566131.htm A class tutor at Beijing's Yimei Primary School, Zhao Lin has visited all 36 students' homes at weekends and summer holidays since 2014 to discuss their studies with their parents. Zhao offers practical advice on how to improve their motivation and self-management.

]]>
One-on-one guidance still most effective approach for many tutors

A class tutor at Beijing's Yimei Primary School, Zhao Lin has visited all 36 students' homes at weekends and summer holidays since 2014 to discuss their studies with their parents. Zhao offers practical advice on how to improve their motivation and self-management.

The aim is to get parents more involved in educating their children, says school principal Jin Hui.

Although social networks and other new media have helped enhance communication between teachers and parents, Jin believes traditional home visits are still necessary.

"Parents tend to be bewildered about their children's education. Home visits mean teachers can give one-on-one guidance in a targeted way. That helps create a concerted effort for educating children," Jin says.

In September, the Chinese government issued a guideline on education reform, which called for improvements to "family education and strengthening family education guidance services to help parents establish a rational educational philosophy".

China has an ancient tradition of family-led education. Some family rules and traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. However, this cultural legacy is now being tested.

Some working parents have precious little spare time to spend with their children; some don't know how to discuss matters with their children effectively, especially if the youngsters are strong-willed or rebellious. Indulging children in online gaming has to some extent revealed weaknesses in family education.

As a result, the demand by parents for more scientific methods to raise their children is growing. Books on child-rearing and education philosophy often appear on best-sellers lists. Some parents even consult professionals.

Chinese authorities have pledged greater support and guidance.

According to the Five-Year Outline on the Promotion of Family Education (2016-2020) released in November 2016, "parent schools" will be established in 90 percent of kindergartens, primary and middle schools in cities, and in 80 percent of rural schools by 2020.

Public institutions such as museums and cultural centers will be required to hold at least two family education guidance sessions and two practical activities each year.

More cities are integrating family education guidance into the public service system and increasing financial support.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education recently launched a program providing guidance to more than 500,000 families of kindergarten, primary and secondary school students.

Launched in 2012, the "mobile education lecture hall" has held hundreds of free public lectures for more than 10,000 parents, inviting leading experts, scholars and teachers to answer questions.

In Shandong province, research centers and mentor training bases have been set up with the help of universities, research institutions or internet platforms.

Some places are fast-tracking local legislation on family education. Since the implementation of the Chongqing Family Education Promotion Ordinance in September 2016, public security agencies have admonished 1,323 parents or guardians for inappropriate family education.

Family education is also regarded as crucial for cultivating and promoting socialist core values among China's youth.

Qi Zhenjun, principal of the Primary School Affiliated to Beijing Chaoyang Teachers College, believes the essence of traditional Chinese family culture, such as filial piety, should be creatively applied to modern family education.

In his school, parents volunteer to be guest speakers at flag-raising ceremonies, sharing their life and work experience with students. The school also encourages students and their families to take part in volunteer services in the community.

"Parents' mindsets and the home environment are thought to influence child development greatly. Parents can set a good example for their children and help instill social responsibility through these activities," Qi says.

Some Chinese parents only focus on intellectual education, sending their kids to extracurricular classes in the hope of raising their test scores.

"Moral education and character building should not be neglected," says Qi. "They are the essence of family education, which helps prepare children for the future."

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Early exposure key to Florida tech expansion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566130.htm ORLANDO, Florida - Lockheed Martin could take advantage of young people's interest in space, having partnered with NASA in an effort to reach Mars for years.

But for that to happen, the company must be more proactive and reach them earlier to inform them about career options, a company official said recently in Orlando.

"We need to create those connections at a very young age," says Jennifer Mandel, a strategic philanthropist with Lockheed Martin. "We want them to dream about partnering with NASA to inhabit the area above Mars."

Early exposure is key, agrees Jennifer Kane, a technology teacher at Timber Creek High School in Orlando.

"If you get them really early, it's easier for them to fall in love with it and want to pursue it," she says.

Mandel and Kane joined representatives from John Deere, Toyota, Amazon and Verizon, among others, at this year's Project Lead the Way event in Orlando. The STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program brought 2,000 educators, business leaders and other advocates from across the United States to Orlando. Kane accompanied a team of tech students who delivered a speech pushing for the effort.

Project Lead the Way is one program that tries to solve the tech industry's most-pressing need: people. Colleges and high schools have focused on increasing STEM-based learning for years, as more introduce robotics classes and battlebots competitions.

But if students are to pursue tech careers in the future, businesses must partner with local schools and reach them sooner, Orange County Public Schools superintendent Barbara Jenkins says.

"It's all of our responsibility to develop these young people into future employees and future citizens," she says. "It has to be a collective effort."

Lockheed Martin, which employs more than 7,000 people in Central Florida, partnered with Orange County Public Schools in 2015 on a $2 million grant that helped the district develop training programs under the Project Lead the Way banner.

That has opened the door for students to learn more technology-oriented skills, Jenkins says.

"I am so impressed at what young people are capable of," she says. "We believe adults have to encourage young people, coerce them, push them sometimes into tougher courses. 'Smart' is not something you are. It's something you become if you work hard."

Dennis Parker, founder of Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education who leads Toyota's efforts to expand STEM-based learning, says efforts to grow the workforce haven't been successful just yet. That impedes companies and also leaves some students behind if they get to college without STEM skills, he says.

"When they graduate, they are just not work-ready," Parker says. "We need to fix that."

Mandel says a company's involvement has to go beyond merely "writing a check", with mentoring and guidance among the extra efforts she is pushing for.

But she says the fact that the conversation is ongoing is encouraging.

"The good thing is that everybody understands that there is a problem," she says. "But it'll take a bit to get there."

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Interactive game teaching climate science targets younger audiences]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566129.htm CANBERRA - Australian researchers have developed an interactive game to teach children about climate science. The team from Australian National University created CO2peration to teach children aged between 12 and 14 about the impact of climate change.

Inez Harker-Schuch, the project leader, says most Australians were not taught about climate science until they reached the age of 16, which is too late.

She says that 12 was the perfect age because of developmental change that typically occurs at that age.

"They start to look at executive functions and complex problems in different ways," Harker-Schuch tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"This is what we call abstract reasoning. It happens around the age of 11 for girls and 12 for boys."

The game requires players to undertake fact-finding missions in order to collect data and samples to figure out why Earth is so waterrich.

Harker-Schuch's team focused on removing "noise and emotional messes" to focus the player's attention on the core issue.

"I'm not interested in changing their opinion or giving them an opinion - I'm just interested in teaching the science," she says.

"Often in school, you'll have teachers who will give instruction in climate change and they might discuss things that are frightening."

Players are given the opportunity to explore every planet in the solar system and look closely at molecules.

"We need to use visualization to teach climate science," Harker-Schuch says.

"Kids are on their devices so much of the time, so we wanted to take those devices and make them useful."

The game is being tested in schools in Australia and Europe with a full public release expected in May 2018.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Mexican IT students in China for training]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566128.htm

MEXICO CITY - Ten Mexican university students traveled to China in early November to receive two weeks of information technology training, Mexico's communications and transport ministry said.

Students earned the opportunity to develop their IT skills in China through Seeds for the Future, a scholarship program organized by Chinese technology giant Huawei, in conjunction with the ministry, the ministry said in a statement.

At a ceremony at Huawei's headquarters in Mexico City to present the winning students with their scholarships, Deputy Communications Minister Edgar Olvera underscored the importance of IT in today's world.

The government has made it a priority to expand Mexican peoples' "access to quality telecommunications services", said Olvera.

China's ambassador to Mexico, Qiu Xiaoqi, congratulated the winners and noted that the educational exchange marked a "great historic moment in Mexico-China ties".

The students will travel to Shenzhen and Shanghai, said Qiu, adding "the first is the city most representative of the growth in technological innovation, and the second is a great cosmopolitan city, as well as China's financial center".

The students, who come from a variety of states throughout Mexico, were selected out of a total of 220 candidates who submitted a two-minute video on the importance of technology for creating a better world, and why they wanted to participate in the scholarship program.

Students will first take a Mandarin course at the Beijing Language and Culture University, before continuing on to Shenzhen, where they will train in cloud computing, intelligent networks and other aspects of IT at Huawei.

Cesar Merino Ibanez, who graduated from the Technological University of the Valley of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, says the trip is his first time abroad.

"I am very thankful to the Mexican ministry and Huawei, because this kind of opportunity does not occur very often, and I am very grateful to be able to share ... in this cultural exchange and exchange of knowledge," says Ibanez.

In addition to the scholarship program, Huawei provides free internet access at some 45,000 locations across Mexico as part of its corporate social responsibility efforts.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Boost for young musicians]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566127.htm When he finished playing Claude Debussy's Toccata from Pour le Piano at a concert gala recently, 11-year-old Jiang Yicheng stood up and bowed to the audience, who gave him a long and warm round of applause.

]]>
A concert gala of the second China Youth Music Competition, based on the format of a contest in Germany, has just been staged in Beijing. Chen Nan reports.

When he finished playing Claude Debussy's Toccata from Pour le Piano at a concert gala recently, 11-year-old Jiang Yicheng stood up and bowed to the audience, who gave him a long and warm round of applause.

"I enjoy playing the piano and I like playing with other musicians," says Jiang, who also performed Camille Saint-Saens' Oboe Sonata in D Major, Op 166, along with 12-year-old oboist Zhi Yi.

Jiang, a Beijing native born to parents who are athletes, started learning the piano when he was about 6 years old.

He was introduced to music by his grandfather, who was a big fan of Taiwan pop star Teresa Teng.

Three years ago, the boy started learning piano with renowned pianist and educator Li Qifang.

Jiang recently won three first prizes - one for solo piano performance and two for chamber music (stringed and wind instruments) - and the second prize for piano duet performance at the second China Youth Music Competition.

The competition's Hummingbird Music Award - which was also awarded to other prize winners - was presented to him at a concert gala at the Pudu Temple, a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) site, in Beijing on Sunday.

The China Youth Music Competition, launched in 2015, is based on the German Music Council's renowned Jugend Musiziert, the most well-known music competition for young performers in Germany, started in 1963.

At the concert gala, young German musicians, who were winners at this year's Jugend Musiziert youth competition, shared the stage with young Chinese musicians.

Munich-based pianist Clara Isabella Siegle, 17, played Johann Sebastian Bach's Flute Sonata in B Minor, BWV 1030, along with Chinese flutist Dong Danlin.

Speaking about her performance, Siegle says: "It was a spontaneous performance. Dong was supposed to perform with another pianist, who couldn't come, so I just stepped in. We did a rehearsal this morning. This is my first time in China and it's really exciting and fun to do this."

According to Zhang Yong, the founder of the China Youth Music Competition, eight winners at the 2017 China Youth Music Competition did a weeklong training and performance tour of Germany in September.

There, they joined the winners of the Jugend Musiziert to take part in four days of master classes in Bonn.

The young musicians from both countries then attended three concerts - one at the Chinese embassy in Bonn, the second at Beethoven House also in Bonn, and one at the city hall in Bad Honnef.

"The competition aims to promote amateur music education, so applicants should not be in full-time music training institutes or professional practice," Zhang says, adding that the China edition of the contest required applicants not to be older than 23.

In 2016, the first edition of the contest ran in Beijing and Shanghai, and attracted more than 600 applicants from across China.

This year, more than 1,100 students competed in eight cities and 410 came to Beijing for the final in July.

"This competition encourages children to play instruments with other musicians. There is fun in cooperating with others. And technique is not the only standard here, but understanding of music as well," says Zhang.

Zhang studied pipa (a four-stringed Chinese plucked instrument) for three years before learning the oboe. He came to Beijing in 1986 to study at the affiliated middle school of the Central Conservatory of Music.

In 2006, he founded the Beijing International Music Competition, which brought together professional international musicians.

In 2014, Zhang met Benedikt Holtbernd, the artistic manager of the nonprofit arm of the German Music Council in Munich, where the Jugend Musiziert is headquartered.

Revealing how he and Zhang came to work together, Holtbernd says: "We share similar views about music and music competitions. But it took a very long time to work out the details about bringing the format of the Jugend Musiziert to China.

"However, I am glad to see talented young Chinese musicians compete not just for prizes, but also to enjoy and share music."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Above left: Jiang Yicheng performs at the gala concert in Beijing. Above right: Zhang Yong, founder of the China Youth Music Competition, with Benedikt Holtbernd, artistic manager of the German Music Council. Top: German youngsters perform at the Beijing concert. Photos By Zou Hong / China Daily

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Design award recognizes really good products]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566126.htm The China Good Design Award winners were announced in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Nov 3.

There were 620 products nominated for the awards. And from them, 14 won the golden award, 114 received awards for excellence and 23 won the honor awards.

Speaking about the event, Peter Zec, from Germany, the founder and CEO of Red Dot, which runs the China Good Design Award, says: "This award (which was created in 2015) is very important for Chinese industry, and at the same time, it is very attractive for international companies who want to be part of the Chinese market.

"China Good Design will gradually become an international award followed by global brands."

Red Dot is an internationally recognized label for design, and it helped select the independent and international expert jury for the Chinese awards.

Taiwan designer Yao Cheng-chung, from the jury, who curated and designed the International Interior Design Exhibition for the event, says: "We need more good designs to represent China to the world."

All the 620 nominated products were exhibited during the Xiamen International Design Week - Red Dot in China from Nov 3 to 6.

Among the golden award winners of this year's competition were:

Clover Garden Light

 

The light looks like a blooming flower. It is powered either by a solar panel or through a cable. The touch button on the back of the solar panel can be used to adjust brightness.

The light is suitable for outdoor parties and camping, as it can be directly stuck into the ground.

Tapole Series T

This spectacle frame does not have screws, adhesive or welding, because it uses a technology that combines nylon and a titanium alloy. The titanium alloy sheet can form into a unique hinged structure after laser cutting and curving. A pair of adjustable pads on the bridge provide comfort and prevent it from falling off.

MI P4 PRO In-ear Headphone

Its metal-sound chamber with ergonomic curves has been carefully conceptualized for comfort.

The headphone's "double vibrating diaphragm + balanced armature drivers" structure offers richer treble and deeper bass sound.

Phicomm AM1

This is an intelligent device to measure air quality at home. It can monitor levels of PM2.5, formaldehyde concentration, temperature and air humidity, and update the data to an app on your phone through Wi-Fi. The device has a high-accuracy PM2.5 laser sensor and a large-capacity battery.

Halo City

The electric foldable bicycle only weighs 15.5 kilograms and can be folded easily. The frame is made from aluminum alloy using a 3-D forging technique, while its front fork and hub is made of a recyclable magnesium alloy.

Contact the writers through liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/15/content_34566125.htm Music

Meaning of Life

Kelly Clarkson can almost sing anything. It's a combination of her pre-American Idol karaoke roots and the richness of her powerful voice that makes her a versatile singer. However, on her new album, Meaning of Life, Clarkson is focusing on a more soulful sound than usual and the results are stunning.

The first single, Love So Soft, sounds like a Motown update, especially when paired with the upbeat Heat, with both songs using an arrangement that allows her lead vocals to shine by surrounding it with strong backing vocals. She takes the retro-soul vibe to the next level with Slow Dance. Clarkson has had finer singles, but Meaning of Live may be her best album.

TV

Stranger Things

Stranger Things was one of the happiest TV surprises in years - a genuine word-of-mouth sensation that came out of nowhere to hit a nerve with the audience. At first, the Duffer brothers' Netflix drama might have looked like a harmless '80s nostalgia trip about a small town that gets attacked by supernatural forces. But it really hit home, with Winona Ryder as the mom and a great cast of young actors - especially Millie Bobbie Brown, who made an instant folk hero out of a weird bald girl named Eleven.

The new season, its second, is darker - more of a horror show - but it still has that same emotional power.

All these kids are still reeling from the Season One monster. The adults learn about "post-traumatic stress", a rather new concept in 1984. For all the geek bravado of Stranger Things, it's that sense of trauma that makes it something special.

Game

Super Mario

Nintendo's latest adventure, Super Mario Odyssey, is a pure delight. It combines almost everything you expect from a Mario video game, incorporating his signature red hat in fun and fresh ways.

Odyssey puts Mario in a familiar position: rescuing Princess Peach from the hands of his nemesis, Bowser.

This time, Bowser plots a wedding, kidnapping Peach for his bride. Mario must travel the world following Bowser as he collects items for the planned nuptials. Mario follows Bowser in a ship, fueled by power moons he must collect in each of the kingdoms he visits.

Players will find these useful in capturing enemies with long legs capable of reaching tall platforms. It adds a new fun layer to Super Mario's stellar navigating and puzzle-solving.

China Daily - Agencies

]]>
2017-11-15 07:12:42
<![CDATA[Natural Ability]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522996.htm The magnificent views surrounding Huangshan Mountain have been admired by Chinese poets, painters and calligraphers over the centuries. The scenic mountain range in East China's Anhui province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was also a favorite of Liu Haisu (1896-1994). The prominent artist traveled there to paint on several occasions over the course of 70 years.

]]>
Inspired by the natural beauty of Huangshan Mountain, Liu Haisu set out to modernize Chinese art through innovation and education. Lin Qi reports.

The magnificent views surrounding Huangshan Mountain have been admired by Chinese poets, painters and calligraphers over the centuries. The scenic mountain range in East China's Anhui province, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was also a favorite of Liu Haisu (1896-1994). The prominent artist traveled there to paint on several occasions over the course of 70 years.

After his sixth trip in 1954, Liu composed a line that read: "Huangshan Mountain was previously a teacher of mine. Now it is a friend of mine."

And he carved the words on a seal, in remembrance of what the mountain taught him about the true character of nature and art.

During his life, Liu produced dozens of landscape paintings of Huangshan Mountain, both in ink-brush and oil, and 28 of them are the center of an ongoing exhibition, A Drop in the Ocean, being held in Beijing.

The show at the National Art Museum of China marks Liu's innovation during a period of great modernization in Chinese art. On display are more than 100 works that have seldom been seen in public, let alone together.

Liu had his first encounter with Huangshan Mountain in 1918, in the hope that the breathtaking natural scenery could inspire him to find a new direction for Chinese art.

He later recalled the trip: "The paths up to the mountain top were really difficult. Sometimes I had to crawl on my hands and knees. But the views were so attractive: the pine trees, the rocks and the mist. The mountain taught me a lesson about beauty."

And the paintings at this exhibition reflect the change in Liu's approach to nature and his attitude toward life. The works created before he turned 60 were more realistic, while after that, he embraced a more abstract style to depict the ever-changing scenery of Huangshan. He heavily relied on the method of pocai, or splashing colors on paper. The technique also reveals the broad, philosophical outlook on life that he held.

Liu was 93 when he made his last trip to Huangshan. He produced 46 paintings during his final stay, which lasted nearly two months.

Ding Tao, a professor at the Nanjing University of Arts, accompanied him. He recalls one day when Liu was working on an ink-brush painting, Lion Peak, which is part of the current exhibition: "He splashed ink on the paper so hard that we thought the painting would be ruined. But he looked quite confident.

"After he stopped pouring, he added a few strokes here and there. It turned out to be a splendid piece of artwork."

Liu demonstrated the same innovative spirit in his educational practice.

Four months before he turned 17, Liu co-founded the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, the first proper art school in modern China, together with two other painters, Wu Shiguang and Zhang Yuguang.

The private institution operated for four decades after first opening its doors in 1912. The academy cultivated many noted artists such as ink-brush master Li Keran; Zhao Dan, who later became a popular movie actor; and Wan Laiming, a pioneer of the Chinese animation industry.

The academy relocated to Nanjing in 1952. It was renamed the Nanjing University of Arts when it became a public institution, where Liu continued to serve as its principal.

However, the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts was not Liu's first experience of education. In 1910, he opened a studio to teach oil painting in his native county of Changzhou, in East China's Jiangsu province.

In Shanghai, Liu garnered attention for being a liberal educator, who tried to free his students from the shackles of feudal teaching methods.

His school was the first to enroll both men and women. It received its first female students in 1919, including Pan Yuliang (1895-1977), a former sex worker who later became a renowned painter.

Ding recalls how Liu explained why he adopted the coeducation system despite opposition: "He said, 'Are there separate roads for men and women? No. Then why should we have schools for boys and girls?'"

Another controversy Liu sparked was to introduce nude models - men in 1915, and women in 1920 - into sketching classes, making his academy the first to do so in China.

The school held an exhibition of students' paintings in 1917, which included nude drawings. One visiting principal was angered by the classes, and denounced Liu as a "traitor to art" and "a virus within educational circles".

The debate over the use of nude models escalated to such an extent by the late 1920s, Liu was forced to leave the academy.

He then made several long trips to Europe, where he was exposed to contemporary modern artistic movements. He also painted, and his oil works were twice shown at the Autumn Salon in Paris, the influential art exhibition that has been held annually since 1903.

Liu returned to Shanghai in 1931 and was restored to his post at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts.

Liu's friend Fu Lei (1908-66), a famous translator and art critic, wrote in a published article in 1932 that Liu had "two bosom friends who had been supporting and encouraging him: self-assurance and flexibility".

"Because of his strong sense of confidence, he never doubted himself or hesitated, even when he was in a dire situation," Fu wrote. "And his flexibility allowed him to become even more tenacious, when he confronted with mounting external pressures."

He added that Liu was accumulating his ability and would one day shock the world with his powers, "as glaring as that of an erupting volcano".

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm, closed on Mondays, through Nov 26. 1 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6400-1476.

 

Clockwise from top left: An oil painting of flowers by Liu Haisu in 1960; Guangming Peak of Huangshan Mountain, 1982; visitors at the ongoing exhibition in Beijing; and Sea of Clouds of Huangshan Mountain, 1954. PHOTOS By Jiang Dong / China Daily

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[Display of modern Chinese ink masters]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522995.htm If you want to better understand an ink painter's personality, then albums and handscrolls are probably most revealing about an artist, because their intimate style was designed to be appreciated among friends.

About 50 works of albums and handscrolls that have rarely been seen in public are being displayed in Beijing from the M K Lau Collection, a private Hong Kong family collection focusing mainly on 20th century Chinese ink paintings.

The show Intimate Encounter at the newly-opened Guardian Art Center features many modern ink masters, including Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Pu Ru (1896-1963), Wu Changshuo (1844-1927) and Lu Yanshao (1909-93).

"Intimate Encounter represents a very personal form of art, normally enjoyed among friends. It allows us to see the different personalities of the ink painters," says Catherine Maudsley, curator of the show.

Some of the albums on display have been wrapped up in layers of cloth, cases and silk covers, underlining the private nature of the pieces. And the artists who created them put their personalities, whether it be in the form of humor or drama, into these works.

The exhibition has nine pieces by ink painter Pu Ru - a cousin of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China - on display. Pu Ru is also regarded as among the most talented painters from the royal families of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

On one tiny scroll displayed under a magnifying glass for visitors to see more clearly, Pu Ru painted scenes of playful animals: a lonely tiger, a fox watching birds fly overhead, delightful deer and rabbits hidden in grass that even with a magnifying glass, they are hard to spot.

"It shows the dramatic and humorous side of Pu Ru," explains Maudsley.

Pu Ru's other scroll Lofty Landscape, which is about 11 meters long, shows off the artist's brushwork skills. Pu Ru demonstrated his technical flair by maintaining the high quality of brushwork across a variety of different painting styles over the entire scroll, explains Maudsley.

Pu Ru teamed up with friend and master painter Zhang Daqian to paint one of the handscrolls on display, known as "Pu in the north of China and Zhang in the south". In a mark of friendship, each artist painted a separate half of the work. This type of cooperation on a single scroll is common among ink painters.

Zhang's albums and scrolls are also on show. Three leaves of a 12-leaf album titled Mount Huangshan on display was painted by Zhang at the age of 34, in a style quite different to works in his later life, which explore a heavier use of color.

Altogether, the exhibition includes works by 19 artists, both from northern and southern China. They feature a broad range of styles, types of brushwork and a variety of subject matters.

Guo Tong, head of Chinese paintings and calligraphy at China Guardian Auctions, says the artists had to adopt the role of film director to successfully paint a scroll or album. Maintaining the order of each picture and the consistency of the content in each section was a major challenge to the ink painter.

"We try to show a variety of modern ink painters. This is just a small portion from the private collection," adds Maudsley.

The M K Lau Collection started acquiring Chinese ink paintings in 1977 and now owns one of Asia's finest private collections of 20th century ink-and-brush paintings.

It's the second time it has collaborated with China Guardian Auctions. Their first joint show was held in Hong Kong in 2015, and focused on ink paintings documenting historical events in New China.

In the current exhibition, it is the first time that the works have been seen in public after having been bought from auction houses or private collectors.

Guo says they want to use the exhibition to demonstrate how emerging collectors can set up and develop their collections.

If you go

10 am-6 pm, through Nov 22. Guardian Art Center, 1 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6518-9968.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[Tribute to master of rural landscapes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522994.htm Oil painter and educator Luo Erchun (1930-2015) always liked to visit the Canglang Pavilion whenever he returned to Suzhou, in East China's Jiangsu province.

]]>
Echoes of Canglang, an ongoing exhibition in Beijing, looks at Luo Erchun's artistic evolution over six decades. Lin Qi reports.

Oil painter and educator Luo Erchun (1930-2015) always liked to visit the Canglang Pavilion whenever he returned to Suzhou, in East China's Jiangsu province.

The garden built in the 11th century is one of the oldest classical gardens of Suzhou that were added to the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2000. It was also once the location of Suzhou Academy of Fine Arts where Luo graduated in 1951.

There, Luo studied under Yan Wenliang (1893-1988), where he progressed from an art-loving boy, hailing from rural Hunan province in Central China, to become a professional painter who began to build a visual vocabulary of his own.

Echoes of Canglang, an exhibition now on at Beijing's Shixiang Gallery, looks at Luo's artistic evolution over six decades.

And more than 30 paintings on show are from private collections at home and abroad.

The exhibition opened on Oct 29, the anniversary of Luo's death.

Luo was little known because of his low-profile manner. But an exhibition of his works held at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing a few months before his death increased his popularity.

Visitors were then amazed by his simple compositions and the vibrant, delightful palette of his works.

Luo did not leave his birthplace, a secluded village in Hunan province, till he was 16.

He was sentimentally attached to it. And all his life, he had a strong bond with his hometown and similar countryside scenes he saw at home and abroad - the trees, crisscrossing streams and rolling hills.

Oil painter Ai Zhongxin (1915-2003) said Luo's paintings touched people so much because he "loved life and nature much more than his exploration of artistic forms".

In one oil work on show, Village Houses, Luo presents a serene rural landscape.

"At first sight, one recognizes it a work of Luo because of the use of intense colors which was his oeuvre," says Li Dajun, a friend and collector who founded Shixiang Gallery.

"The large area of red comes from his childhood memories of the blood red soil of his hometown. He said the land was reddened even more after the rain."

The only ink-brush painting on show is a 14-meter-long scroll, titled One Hundred Chickens, which Luo painted in 2008.

The calligraphic title was written by Huang Miaozi (1913-2012), a renowned artist and writer, when he was 98.

Li says Luo liked the painting very much and he later understood why after he traveled to Luo's native village in Hunan province.

"At his ancestral house I saw chickens all over the field. That scene was like what he depicted in the painting," says Li. "His paintings were his life."

Zhan Jianjun, 86, an oil painter, longtime friend and colleague of Luo, shared a studio with him at the Central Academy of Fine Arts for several years.

Zhan says that Luo was mostly quiet and sometimes restrained, and therefore people would be surprised by the impassioned, vigorous style of his paintings.

"The eruption of energy in his art seemingly contrasts with his appearance. For people who didn't know him well, he was a man who didn't talk much," says Zhan.

"But he had a strong character. He was very sensitive and insightful of things around him."

One oil still-life on show, Painting Tools, shows three bottles in which there are various kinds of painting brushes, and which look like three men standing straight against a wall.

Li says master painter Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010), a friend of Luo, singled the painting out from a catalog of Luo's works.

"He (Wu) said it was brilliant. He said Luo may be vulnerable but never surrendered to criticism."

In an article to remember Yan Wenliang, Luo compared the death of his teacher to "the sun that eventually sets below the horizon, leaving people to miss it a lot", but still he would inspire people like "the glittering stars in the sky and the hopeful dawn".

"Wouldn't that be like the feelings we have for Luo?" asks Li.

Li says that he plans to curate a memorial exhibition of Luo annually and show his works which have never been exhibited before.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9:30 am-5:30 pm, closed on Sundays, through Nov 21. E2 Jili International Art Zone, Gaobeidian, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5691-6379.

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[A Dutch treat of donated Golden Age masterpieces]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522993.htm BOSTON - Boston's art scene is getting a Dutch treat with a twist: a flurry of donated 17th-century masterpieces that experts say will change the city's museum landscape for decades to come.

First, collectors gifted the Museum of Fine Arts with 113 leading Golden Age masterpieces - including a prized Rembrandt portrait and works by Rubens and Brueghel - and established a new center dedicated to the study of Dutch and Flemish art.

Now, the Harvard Art Museums have been bequeathed 330 drawings dating back to the 1600s.

Practically overnight, scholars say, the gifts have made Boston a global center for the period.

"I can't remember a time when a city has been a beneficiary of such significant gifts in such a short time," says Arthur Wheelock Jr., a curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and a leading expert on Rembrandt, Vermeer and the other Dutch masters who left such an indelible mark on the art world.

Boston-area collectors Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and Susan and Matthew Weatherbie last month donated works by 76 artists to the Museum of Fine Arts. The gift included funding for a new research library and a center for Netherlandish art at the museum, the first of its kind in the United States.

It's the largest gift of European paintings in the museum's history and will nearly double in size its collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings.

The collection includes Rembrandt's 1632 portrait of Aeltje Uylenburgh, a cousin of Rembrandt's wife-to-be. Experts say the work is in nearly perfect condition. Other donated paintings include landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes and still lifes, some of which are included in Masterpieces of Dutch and Flemish Painting, a new exhibition that runs through Jan 15 at the MFA.

Then, last week, the Harvard Art Museums were pledged a trove of drawings - including works on paper by Rembrandt and his students - by George Abrams, a Harvard-educated lawyer who has amassed a vast collection and had donated 140 other sketches in past years. Select pieces are on display through mid-January at Harvard, where the government of the Netherlands knighted Abrams to recognize his contributions to the art world.

Harvard Art Museums director Martha Tedeschi called the most recent gift "truly transformative," saying it will help make Boston "a major destination for the study and presentation of Dutch, Flemish and Netherlandish art".

Together, the donations mean Boston now boasts one of the largest US collections of Golden Age art. The National Gallery, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts also house considerable Dutch and Flemish galleries.

Four centuries on, the works still captivate.

"You find the world depicted in such detail," Wheelock says. "Whether it's Rembrandt exploring the mystery of the human psyche, or Vermeer's wonderful sense of grace and elegance, they capture all kinds of worlds."

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[Saying with few words]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522992.htm For about 20 years, Zhou Ning has lived in the countryside in East China's Shandong province, dedicating himself to one thing - chiseling blocks of wood.

]]>
Zhou Ning, an artist who lives in rural China, is presenting his wood art in Beijing. Deng Zhangyu reports.

For about 20 years, Zhou Ning has lived in the countryside in East China's Shandong province, dedicating himself to one thing - chiseling blocks of wood.

The 48-year-old artist seldom visits cities unless he has to. But he came to Beijing at the end of October for the start of his solo show at the Yilian Art Center.

The ongoing show, entitled True Words: Carving a Path to Self Cultivation, features 28 pieces of woodcuts, among which the heaviest is up to 150 kilograms.

Unlike many other woodcuts that focus on carving out delicate patterns or making the surface smooth, Zhou's works show how he moves cutting tools through wood.

"Everything has a soul. I can feel it when I touch the wood," he says.

Every time Zhou selects a block, he brings out his tools to feel the fibers.

Zhu Xuchu, an art critic who has known Zhou for a decade, says the artist treats every piece of wood as a living creature, "letting them speak for themselves" based on each block's shape, hardness and color.

Zhou has created a unique world of woodcarving, using wood as a medium to present his moods through his skillful cutting techniques, Zhu adds.

Zhou's studio is in Shiqiao village, not far away from the Taishan Mountain in Shandong.

The artist's works also connote Taoism, a subject he is fond of.

Speaking of his life in the countryside, Zhou explains it's cheap to have a big studio and collect materials needed for his work.

More important, the noise made by woodcarving does not disturb others as Zhou usually works at night and sometimes until early morning. During the day, he guides his apprentices with physical disabilities. Some of them have worked with him for years.

In 1995, Zhou graduated from Shandong College of Arts in Jinan and taught art at a special polytechnic school for people with hearing and speaking disabilities.

"All students were eager to learn a craft to make a living. I taught them woodcarving because it was an affordable craft for them," he says.

Zhou majored in mural painting in college and had hoped to be an oil painter one day. But while teaching his students woodcarving, he found their gift and decided to keep developing their potential, as well as build on his own skills.

In 1997, Zhou and his students held a show at the National Art Museum of China and made a big splash. But many students' parents stopped them from further studying because they thought art was useless when one was hardly able to make a living.

For many years, Zhou himself lived in poverty. Along with his students, he lived a simple life in the rural areas and continued on the artistic path.

He made various cutting tools himself to carve out sharp lines, sweeping curves and hollowed-out parts in wood, day after day.

"The carving knives for me are just like pens. Very easy to master the skills after decades of practice," he says.

It's common for him to spend several years on one piece. If he lost the inspiration to carry on with a work, he would stop and wait for months and even years to resume.

"There are lots of unfinished works piled up in my studio. A good piece needs time and patience. Also it needs my sincerity to treat them," he says.

But each time he has had to move from village to village, mostly due to the development of cities near them, it takes dozens of trucks to transport all his unfinished pieces.

After his first solo show was held in Shanghai in 2015, collectors started to visit his studio in Shandong and buy his works.

The show in Beijing is his second solo show with works produced in the past few years. When displaying his work at the Beijing show, Zhou wore a pair of cloth shoes and carried his tools in an oversized cloth bag.

"It needs power to carve out a heavy piece. Sometimes my students assist me," says Zhou.

He refuses to use electronic tools, which he says break wood in a mechanical way.

"When I touch a piece of wood, I can sense what it has, and I know how much I need to cut and where to cut," he explains.

Zhou is a man of few words. He communicates with his apprentices in sign language and spends most of his time in the countryside, away from the clamor of cities.

Han Yingxue, curator of the show, says Zhou's wood pieces speak to the "inner mind of a man concentrating on his art without intervention from the outside world".

Contact the writer at dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

11 am-6 pm, through Feb 9. Yilian Art Center, 2 Xibahe Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-5322-6979.

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[US museum shows Cixi as arts patron]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522991.htm SANTA ANA, California - For more than a century she has been known as the woman behind the throne, the empress who through skill and circumstance rose from lowly imperial consort to iron-fisted ruler of China at a time and in a place when women were believed to have no power at all.

But it turns out Empress Dowager Cixi was much more than that. The 19th century ruler, who consolidated authority through political maneuvering, was also a serious arts patron and even an artist herself, with discerning tastes that helped set the style for traditional Asian art for more than a century.

That side of Cixi comes to the Western world for the first time with Sunday's unveiling of Empress Dowager, Cixi: Selections From the Summer Palace at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.

The wide-ranging collection, never before seen outside China, will remain at the Southern California museum through March 11 before returning to Beijing.

Consisting of more than 100 pieces from the Beijing palace Cixi called home during the final years of her life, Empress Dowager includes numerous examples of intricately designed Chinese furniture, porcelain vases and stone carvings, as well as several pieces of Western art, rare in China at the time that she also collected.

Among them are a large oil-on-canvas portrait of herself she commissioned the prominent Dutch artist Hubert Vos to create.

Other Western accouterments include gifts from visiting dignitaries, among them British silver serving sets, German and Swiss clocks, a marble-topped table from Italy with inlaid stones in the shape of a chessboard and even an American-built luxury automobile.

"We already have a lot of scholarship on who she is and how she ruled China. But this show brings you a different angle," says exhibition curator Ying-Chen Peng, an American University art historian.

"This exhibition seeks to introduce you to this woman as an arts patron, as an architect, as a designer."

Anne Shih, who chairs the museum's board of directors, noted recently that she spent 10 years trying to persuade the Chinese government to lend Cixi's art.

Shih finally prevailed, however, when she emphasized this show would focus on art, not politics.

Although it does, it still becomes apparent to visitors what a formidable presence Cixi must have been as they enter a re-creation of her throne room to be greeted by a larger-than-life portrait of her covered in jewels and razor-sharp fingernail protectors as she glares ominously at her audience.

Although she led her country through numerous wars launched by foreign invaders during those years, she also found time to visit with dignitaries from other countries and to pursue her passion for art.

Her real artistic skill, however, lay not in making art but in envisioning works that would stand the critical test of time and then finding skilled artisans to create them.

"Her personal preference actually led to the further development of these very ornate designs," Peng says, observing some of the intricately carved, gold-inlaid furniture and hand-painted porcelain objects. "Nowadays when you go to antique shops, you can see quite a few pieces in this style. You can say she was a trendsetter."

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[Qing clothing highlights connection with faith]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/14/content_34522990.htm The parasol, golden fish, conch shell, lotus, vase, dharma wheel, victory banner and "eternal knots" are considered auspicious in Buddhism.

A jifugua (auspicious gown) - with such symbols on it - that belonged to a queen during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is among 10 items of clothing that were on display at a recent exhibition at Tru-Space in Beijing.

"People would wear such a gown for festivals in Qing times, and all the symbols have meaning," says Fang Hongjun, a retired researcher at the embroidery department of the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, in the capital.

The lotus, for example, is a symbol of purity and enlightenment.

Matching the eight round patterns, the design at the bottom of the gown is called haishuijiangya, referring to the sea and rugged cliffs. Several small patterns, such as the ruyi (a traditional Chinese symbol of good fortune) and peonies, are on this pattern.

"Actually the one who wears the gown is deciding what pattern she wants on the piece - it could be a rhino horn, coral, gourd, silver ingot or some other thing," Fang says.

After having being designed by a queen or imperial concubine, the tailor who worked outside the palace would start to sew such a gown. Each piece could take a garment maker several months of needlework. The suture of the gown would be completed by the tailor at the palace right before the owner wears it.

"For different celebrations, the queens and imperial concubines would wear different such gowns," Fang says. "They would also wear a matching jifupao (auspicious robe) with the same pattern as the main gown."

"The gown had to be in blue, while the robe could be in any color."

A red robe from Emperor Guangxu's reign (1871-1908) was also on show at TruSpace, and its crane medallion pattern illustrates it was worn for birthday celebrations.

"The purple color on the red 'auspicious robe' was only used in late Qing Dynasty."

Fang explains experts now can identify the time of Qing clothing through patterns, colors and fabrics.

"From the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the Qing Dynasty, the style and color turned from calm and solemn to complicated. In late Qing, more saturated colors were used."

Cao Jian, a collector of some of the clothes for the exhibition, also the owner of Tru-Space, says the show was held to show the importance and beauty of ancient Chinese costume.

"Culture and daily life are closely tied, and we wanted people to have access to appreciate our heritage," Cao says.

Du Jiayi, curator of the exhibition, has the same vision as Cao.

Du, who is majoring in illustration visual media at University of the Arts London, picked eight clothes of the ruling Manchu and two from Han people at the time for the show.

"Usually people see clothes from the Qing Dynasty in museums, but I also wanted to show some clothes of that time from common people," says Du, 24.

"It's actually a fusion of Manchu and Han and you can recognize the mixture of the patterns in the clothes of both races."

Fang says: "Besides ethnic fusion, the clothing from the West introduced to China is the reason that the costume changed from loose to slim in the late Qing Dynasty."

The development of modern clothing in China has followed a cycle.

"After being popular for a few years, the trend comes back even if not directly," he adds.

The show was held from Sept 20 to Nov 10.

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-14 07:29:40
<![CDATA[Imperial leather]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/12/content_34438779.htm "Teach the apprentice and the master will starve," says 44-year-old Zhou Chuanbin. "This has always been the traditional mindset in the leather-craft trade."

]]>
A nomadic survival skill lives on as an exquisite handicraft

"Teach the apprentice and the master will starve," says 44-year-old Zhou Chuanbin. "This has always been the traditional mindset in the leather-craft trade."

Like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him, Zhou is a leathersmith. Several centuries ago, Zhou's Mongolian ancestors migrated all the way to Jiangxi province in the south to evade wartime chaos, and they brought their ancient leather-making techniques with them.

Today, much of Zhou's work involves carving vivid prints of mythical creatures, portraits and landscapes on tanned leather, known as "soft reliefs". The most common decorative pattern is the "Tang plant (唐草纹 tángcǎowén)", lush floral and leaf scrolls popularized by the emperors of the seventh-century dynasty in their architecture and fabrics, and which Zhou now carves on handbags, wallets and other leather accessories.

To his nomadic forebears, Zhou's level of artistry would have been unthinkable. The original leather artisans made crude leather sandals and belts as a tool for survival and to support their families. Zhou came to Hangzhou more than two decades ago and opened a small stall for his leather goods in a night market, then changed location more than a dozen times.

He finally gained a permanent spot at the Live Exhibition Museum of Handcrafts in Hangzhou in 2011.

By teaching would-be leathersmiths over the past six years, Zhou believes he is helping revive the family tradition rather than spilling its secrets.

He wishes his students heartfelt good luck in opening their own studios across the country.

"Young people nowadays love to make unique objects of their own," Zhou says.

Shi Qi, a student, agrees: "Now people are into luxury goods; there are also many knockoffs flying around, but my bags will definitely be unique."

Zhou's course usually takes three months, but even a simple handmade project is time-consuming: A leather wallet takes three to four business days to finish. But Zhou takes his time. His motto is: "Repeat the simple tasks daily, and stick to the daily tasks." Not bad advice for those taking up an ancient skill - or simply learning to enjoy life.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese 

 

 

Various decorative stamps are used to create patterns on leather. Photos by Zhang Demeng / The World of Chinese

 

]]>
2017-11-12 15:29:52
<![CDATA[Persimmons: gift of the gods]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/12/content_34438784.htm Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

When we were still living in the staff quarters of the People's Daily campus in Beijing, there would be occasions when we had to venture into the main buildings to pay our utility and internet bills.

The access by the western gate nearest us was through a long driveway lined with persimmon trees.

 

Dried persimmons. Photos Provided to China Daily

In winter, it was a really pretty sight, for the persimmons would still be hanging high on the trees, each a bright orange globe topped by a cap of snow. They were like a parade of festive lanterns.

Those were the days before the trees, and driveway, were bulldozed to make way for the current glass and concrete tower that has become the paper's proud landmark north of the Third Ring Road.

Persimmons, or Diospyros kaki, are native to Asia and widely cultivated in China, the Korean Peninsula and in Japan. There are two main varieties, roughly divided by their astringent and non-astringent fruit

In the north, the large squat round fruit with a belly fold around its middle is most common. This is the astringent variety and it must be thoroughly ripened before it can be eaten. Country folks have various ways to hasten the process.

The tannin in the fruit is what makes your mouth pucker when you bite into a persimmon that's not quite ready for eating. Sometimes, the tannin is so strong it will leave a layer of white residue in the mouth. Ask any impatient child in Beijing.

In the old hutong, persimmons were cheap treats in late fall to winter. They were laid outside on window sills and roof ledges to freeze as temperatures dropped.

When it was time to eat, the fruit were taken indoors while eager mouths gathered and waited. The whole frozen persimmon would be submerged in a bowl of cold water as it thawed, and when a crust of ice floated on the water, it was ready to eat.

Every child would be handed a persimmon and a spoon, and it was like eating a half-frozen fruit sorbet. My husband said it was a rare and treasured childhood treat. His favorite was the chewy slightly crisp internal membrane that surrounded each of the jet-black seeds, the "tongues" inside the fruit.

For me, growing up in Singapore, my first memory of a persimmon was the dried fruit, a moist, dark brown titbit covered in a layer of frosty white. My grandmother called them shibing, or persimmon cookies, and she would soak them in hot water first before doling them out.

They were delicious, of course, but so very different from the fresh fruit that I didn't recognize them as being the same until I was a lot older.

Part of the reason a lot of Chinese persimmons used to be dried and preserved as shibing is because it is such a fiddly fruit.

When it is fully tree-ripened, it does not travel well at all and will bruise very easily. Most fresh persimmons are sold when they are still hard and full of tannin. When they are brought home, they must be set aside in a covered container with a banana, or more often than not, with an apple, the other fruit of autumn.

The ethylene gas released by the apple or banana is what will soften the fruit and make it edible. The old Beiijng way is to put them outside in the freezing cold so the frost breaks down the fruit tissues.

The other variety common in China is the smaller, heart-shaped persimmon called hachiya. They ripen while still hard and crisp, and then soften to the familiar squishiness.

Persimmons are now cultivated all over the world in California, New Zealand, Australia, Spain and the Mediterranean, and, of course, in Israel, where they are marketed as Sharon fruit.

But nowhere are they so much a part of autumn and winter as they are in China, where the fruit stay on the trees well into the season, freezing on the branches and adding little spots of bright orange to the cold grey winter landscape.

Chinese farmers take a lot of trouble drying the fruit. Ripe fruit are slowly sun-dried until most of the moisture evaporates. Persimmons are rich in fructose and glucose, and these sugars rise to the surface of the skin, forming the characteristic powdery white crust.

Dried persimmons are excellent dry rations because of their high sugar content and nutrition. They are also highly popular in desserts such as sweet soups, cakes and cookies.

These days, creative Chinese chefs are starting to use both fresh and dried persimmons in their dishes.

There are few fruits native to northern China that grow so abundantly and are so affordable. It is little wonder, then, that this sweet, luscious fruit is often called the gods' gift to the common man.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Persimmons are wintertime delight

Dried persimmon fruit cake

150g butter

150g caster sugar

150g plain flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 eggs

3 whole dried persimmons

1 cup shelled walnuts, roughly chopped

Remove calyxes from the dried persimmons, rinse and cut into little cubes. Toss with a tablespoon of flour and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and whisk well.

Sieve flour, ground ginger and baking powder and add to the butter mixture. Cut and fold to incorporate the flour.

Finally fold in the persimmon cubes and walnuts. Bake at 180 C for 40 to 45 minutes. Test with a skewer. When it comes out clean, your cake is done. You can also bake the batter in muffin tins for fruity cupcakes.

Beijing frozen persimmons

Beijing persimmons are squat and fat, and they have a fold in the middle like a generous beer belly.

They are most commonly eaten with spoons. The ripe fruit is often frozen so it can be enjoyed throughout the winter.

When it's time to eat, the frozen fruit is placed in a bowl of cold water to thaw. Then it is eaten with a teaspoon, scooping out the semi-frozen flesh, with the persimmon skin acting as a fragile container.

]]>
2017-11-12 15:24:17
<![CDATA[A brush with history]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/12/content_34438783.htm Painter Xue Haitao combines ancient and modern painting skills, as well as Chinese and Western painting style, in his works

Xue Haitao, an artist known for traditional Chinese painting, has been deeply inspired by the Dunhuang frescoes.

"I worked as a restorer of the Dunhuang frescoes from 1993 to 2005, and my job was to repair the damaged parts of the murals," Xue recalls.

"Ancient mural restoration deals with flaking pigment curling, efflorescence, fading of colors and other damage caused by long-term natural infringement and improper conservation. It was urgent to carry out the protection work so as to restore the original look," Xue says.

Despite poor working conditions thanks to the wind and sand of the Gobi Desert, Xue and his colleagues worked consistently from beginning to end to finish the job.

"The climate there is dry and windy. Every night before sleeping, I had to shake down the sand from my bed, pockets and shoes," he says.

"However, I used to feel a sense of achievement after finishing the restoration of a badly damaged mural. I love ancient mural restoration. Our work prolonged the life of the murals, with their historical and cultural value better conveyed and traditional Chinese culture better inherited."

The 12 years as a restorer of the Dunhuang frescoes was just the beginning of Xue's story. After his time in Dunhuang, Xue was transferred to the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

In his spare time, in 2012 he began devoting himself to a piece of art based on the murals on the walls of Sanqing Hall in the remote Yongle Gong Temple, also known as the Palace of Eternal Joy, in Shanxi province.

The murals, with a total of about 290 figures on them, depict a scene where the congregation meets Yuanshi Tianzun, an etiquette story of Taoism. The murals became blurred with heavy deterioration.

Xue's paintings based on them started with the west wall murals.

He spent the first half year doing research and going to museums and archives where he could study documents on the history of the paintings to understand the original composition, details and colors before devising a strict plan for the painting based on the damaged murals.

Then, he used a silk scroll and color pigment to do the drawing, also called Xibitu of Chaoyuantu. It took him four years to complete.

"The key to the restoration of these murals lies in details. Each stroke has to be responsible for the next in the painting. In particular, each of the 290 figures in the murals has a totally different facial expression and clothes. A tiny mistake would ruin the murals. Thus, the restoration requires precise work," Xue says.

Comparable with the Dunhuang frescoes, the murals of Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) in Yongle Gong Temple are nationally important traditional religious murals and enjoy an important position in the history of Chinese mural art.

They are considered the Chinese counterpart of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. They are not only 200 years older than Michelangelo's 16th century ceiling, but also comparable in size and beauty.

Xue also completed a painting based on the east wall murals in August.

Xue, who was born into a family of artists, started learning Chinese calligraphy at 5, painting at 8, carving at 12 and seal carving at 16.

In 1988, he joined the then Central Academy of Arts and Design, which is now part of the Academy of Arts and Design of Tsinghua University.

He learned Western oil painting at the suggestion of his teachers and began to combine the techniques of traditional Chinese painting with Western methods.

In 2007, he went to the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia, for further studies.

Since then, Xue has been developing his own painting styles and skills. Each of his paintings has a distinctive style.

In one of his ultra-realistic paintings called Tears of First Love, the girl's strands of hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, wrinkles on her forehead, as well as the tears in her eyes and on her face, can be seen distinctly.

The piece, which took Xue two and a half months to complete, is now with a national gallery in Italy.

Xue often goes to the African grasslands. Taking sightseeing trips, he observes and sketches the facial expression and body movements of the animals and turns them into ultra-realistic oil paintings. They make people feel as if they are personally at the scene.

"I will not stop my ultra-realistic painting until my eyesight and physical strength cannot support the work. The observation and concentration required is extremely consuming."

For the past 12 years, Xue has started work in his studio at midnight, going to sleep at 4 am.

During the day, he now works as a lecturer at the School of Continuing Education at Renmin University of China.

"I enjoy the uneasy quietness of night, and I want to make full use of it in my paintings," he says.

Xue is one of the few domestic artists who concurrently enjoy the titles of National First-Class Chinese Painting Artist, National First-Class Oil Painting Artist and National Fine Arts Artist.

 

Xue Haitao, an artist known for traditional Chinese painting, and his artworks An Eagle Flies A Thousand Miles and Asian Heart.

]]>
2017-11-12 15:24:17
<![CDATA[Beijing's growing backbone]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/12/content_34438782.htm The capital's north-south axis reflects Chinese culture as well as the country's history

Chinese architect Liang Sicheng, a pioneer of heritage preservation, says the "unique beauty of Beijing's design is due to its zhongzhouxian".

The capital's north-south central axis, or zhongzhouxian, possibly the world's longest and greatest, according to the architect, has been extended and rejuvenated many times over the centuries.

The original zhongzhouxian during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) stretched to 3.7 kilometers. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, its length increased to 7.8 km, from Yongdingmen in the south to the Drum and Bell Towers in the north.

 

Clockwise: Tourists look at the Palace Museum at Jingshan Park; a photo from 2008 shows the Bell and Drum Towers; a night view of Qianmen Street in 2009.

 

The axis was extended again in 2003, when the city prepared for the 2008 Olympic Games. Olympic Park is considered to be one of the most important areas along the axis today.

The China Science and Technology Museum there has been open to the public since 2009. Next door, the new China National Sinology Center building has been completed. And construction of the headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank began in September last year.

Zhao Jin, operations director of Beijing Inno-Olympic Group Co, which is Olympic Park's property management company, says the China Intangible Cultural Heritage Hall and the new site of the National Art Museum of China are also to be built along the zhongzhouxian.

"Together with the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and the China National Convention Center, the northern extension is expected to be a national hub for culture, sports, technology and finance," Zhao says.

Olympic Park has hosted a total of 410 million people, including tourists and visitors, from 2008 to 2016, according to Zhao.

On a clear day, from the top of Yangshan, the main peak of the Olympic Green, it is possible to see Jingshan, the highest point of the original zhongzhouxian, 8 km to the south.

"It is like the backbone of Beijing's urban spatial structure," says Beijing historian Li Jianping.

Li says it reflects Chinese culture, in which the center is viewed as the focus. The zhongzhouxian separates the central districts of Dongcheng and Xicheng.

Along it are the historical buildings of Qianmen, the gate that once guarded the southern entry into the inner city, the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, and the Drum and Bell Towers.

The Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, the Monument to the People's Heroes and Tian'anmen Square are lined up along the axis.

"This reflects the Chinese idea of 'center worship'," says Li.

The aesthetic of symmetry is found along the zhongzhouxian. The Great Hall of the People and Beijing Zhongshan Park, or the Park of Sun Yat-sen, are on the west side, while the National Museum of China and Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace are on the east.

"Beijing has been built according to a 'checkerboard' planning system since the Yuan Dynasty," says Wang Shiren of the city's history and culture preservation committee, "while many of the capitals of other countries have less-structured layouts influenced by the Renaissance."

The Beijing municipal government officially kicked off its campaign to have the main historical sites along the city's central north-south axis included as part of the world's cultural heritage in 2011.

Wang says the zhongzhouxian used to have 42 historical sites, and 36 of them have been preserved or rebuilt, including Beijing Zhongshan Park, which used to be the imperial altar of land and grain, built in 1425, and the Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace, which was the royal ancestral temple before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Meanwhile, there has been criticism that some of the preservation has seen excessive renovation, such as Yongdingmen Tower. The original south end of the zhongzhouxian was rebuilt in 2004.

Feng Feifei, director of the Urban Design Department of the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design, says the city has experienced different historical periods with different value orientations. "The zhongzhouxian's urban function has also differed," she says.

For this reason, various cultures are on display along the axis, including the culture of old Beijing from Yongdingmen to Qianmen, the culture of New China from Mao Zedong Memorial Hall to Tian'anmen, and the imperial culture of the Ming and Qing dynasties from Duanmen to Jingshan Park, historian Li Jianping says.

The city is aiming to make progress in becoming a top international capital over the next five years, according to the city's new development goals unveiled in June.

The capital is striving to improve as the country's political, cultural, international and innovation center. "A long history means a rich cultural heritage," Feng says.

Ji Xiang and Zhang Lili contributed to this story.

China Features

]]>
2017-11-12 15:24:17
<![CDATA[Expressing the beauty and soul of belarus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/12/content_34438781.htm An exhibition of paintings from the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus is now on display at the National Art Museum of China. Lin Qi reports.

The tranquil landscape of Belarus and the artists nurtured by this landlocked country are little-known to most Chinese people.

But as the Eastern European country strengthens its ties with China with the Belt and Road Initiative, more Belarusian artworks have been introduced to Chinese audiences at several exhibitions held in Beijing this year.

An exhibition of 57 paintings from the collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus is now being held at the National Art Museum of China.

 

Paintings loaned from Belarus' national art museum, including Issac Levitan's The Alps (top) and Nikodim Silvanovich's Soldier with a Boy (above), on show in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

The Beijing museum also staged another Belarusian art exhibition that concluded recently. It showed sculptures and watercolors by Sergei Selikhanov (1917-76) inspired by a visit to China in 1956. They were shown in China for the first time, and they were juxtaposed with the works of Konstantin Selikhanov, 50, Sergei's grandson, who is a sculptor in Minsk.

In June, Tsinghua University Art Museum presented Nonlinear Reality, an exhibition of Belarusian lithographs, watercolors and drawings on loan from the country's National Center of Modern Arts.

Speaking about this show, the center's director, Natalia Sharangovich, says no one is better than an artist at expressing a country's beauty and soul.

It is the same idea that is demonstrated at the current exhibition at the National Art Museum of China, which also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Belarusian diplomatic ties this year.

The exhibition took two years to prepare, says Wu Weishan, director of the museum, and it is grounded in the variety of collections, from historical iconographies to modern works, at the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus.

Wu says the exhibition traces the evolution of Belarusian art since the 19th century to the present day, with a selection of portraits, landscapes, still lifes and genre paintings that "hail the majestic expanses and clear, blue sky of the land and its people's desire for a peaceful, free life".

The exhibition starts with the paintings of 19th-century Russian artists largely belonging to the artists' collective Peredvizhniki, or The Wanderers.

Uladzimir Prakaptsou, general director of the Belarusian museum, says that after Belarus was merged into the territory of the Russian Empire in the 18th century, many Belarusian artists were nourished by Russian art, and some received training in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

Among the Russian masters featured are Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov, two portrait artists, and Ivan Shiskin and Issac Levitan - both of whom are known for their realistic depiction of Russian landscapes.

Paintings of the four artists from the collection of Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery were shown at an exhibition on the Peredvizhniki group of artists at the National Museum of China in 2015.

Their influence on Belarusian painters is examined in the show through the works of Ivan Khrustsky, a still life master, and Stanislau Zhukousky, an outstanding painter of landscapes.

Belarusian artworks of the second half of the 20th century constitute the bulk of the treasure trove of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus and number more than 15,000, says general director Prakaptsou.

He says the current exhibition features representative artists who established the national art school of painting in Belarus at the time.

He says their productions focus on the life and work of ordinary people after World War II, including how people reconstructed the war-torn capital city, Minsk.

He adds that the 1960s also saw a boost of Beralusian landscapes in which one can "feel a love of the country, a sentimental mood, an excellent arrangement of colors and a revealing of people's mental being in the depiction of daily scenes".

Belarus declared independence in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Prakaptsou says contemporary artists have sought a national cultural identity, and they take great interest in the origin and traditions of ethnic Belarus culture.

The paintings on display of Mikalai Seliashchuk and Vasil Kastiuchenka, for example, take their inspiration from the country's folk tales, festivals and fables.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-12 15:24:17
<![CDATA[Saving a slice of heritage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/12/content_34438780.htm A landmark house in Shanghai has just been restored by a team comprising Italian and Chinese architects and craftsmen commissioned by Italian fashion house Prada

Shanghai has a lot of European-style villas and gardens. Buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries are hidden by the shade of trees on narrow streets.

Since mid-October, a three-floor white villa with Roman-style columns, stained-glass, an orange dome and a lavish green garden, at Shanxi Beilu Road, has attracted attention.

The house is called Rong Zhai, the abode of the Rong family.

 

Rong Zhai is a historical building that has witnessed the changes of Shanghai society and its culture. Photo by Agostino Osio

It has just been restored by a team comprising Italian and Chinese architects and craftsmen commissioned by Italian fashion house Prada.

The house will be open to the public until Dec 17.

At the turn of the 20th century, a German businessman spent 10 years working on the house and garden.

Then, in 1918, Rong Zongjing (Yung Tsoong-King, 1873-1938), a famous Chinese entrepreneur who owned a successful flour and yarn business and was dubbed "the flour king of China", bought the house and commissioned architect Chen Chunjiang to remodel it.

Rong's house was a meeting place for celebrities and entrepreneurs.

During the Japanese occupation in Shanghai, Rong refused offers for the house from the Japanese-controlled government, but he had to move to Hong Kong in 1938, leaving the property vacant.

Since 1949, the house has been used by several organizations.

In 2002, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch rented it for the Shanghai office of News Corp.

And in 2011, Miuccia Prada, the founder and designer of Prada, visited Shanghai and fell in love with the residence.

A passionate lover of design and architecture, Prada decided to restore the house.

An Italy-China team led by Italian architect Roberto Baciocchi spent six years bringing back life and charm to the old house.

"Rong Zhai is a historic building that has witnessed the changes of society and culture," says Baciocchi.

He says the restoration aimed to both repair damage and reinstate the building's interiors and exterior, while also doing structural reinforcements and functional updates.

"We tried to restore it to its original appearance, blending Chinese cultural elements into this Western-style building," he says.

The team undertook the conservation of the building's many ornamental and structural elements, including plaster work, wooden paneling, stained glass and many types of decorative tiles.

He says the biggest challenge was communicating with Chinese craftsmen.

"We feel a great sense of achievement that whenever possible, fabrication and installation techniques were modeled on the traditional methods and materials used by craftsmen who built the house over a century ago," he says.

John Yung, the director of The Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank and great-grandson of Rong Zongjing, says: "Thanks to Prada for its promotion of the art of living and preservation of culture."

He says that his grandfather H.C.Yung, the youngest son of Rong Zongjing, came early this year to see the house.

"It was a very emotional visit. He saw how this house was being transformed back into the old house he grew up in. He had visited the house a few times, when it was used as a government office and later by Star TV. He was quite sad that the rooms were not in very good condition," says John Yung.

Commenting on the work, H.C. Yung says: "After 100 years, the residence was reduced from a magnificent house to an obsolete building. This renovation has been carried out in a very careful way. Even the walls and stained glass were given special care."

Zheng Shiling, a preservation expert from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says that Prada's efforts to preserve the residence are an example for others to follow.

"The restoration of heritage architecture is costly and requires great skill. It's not simple repair. It needs redesign, structural reinforcements and functional updates. These kinds of historical buildings need companies or wealthy individuals who have the knowledge and can afford to care for them."

Prada has extensive experience in restoring historic architecture, including the renovation of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, and the Palazzo Ca' Corner della Regina in Venice.

Responding to the comments, Prada says in a statement: "We have always drawn inspiration from the arts, not least of all architecture. The study of the practical, commercial and historical implications of buildings has played an essential role in the development of Prada's practice, as we have been deeply involved in both contemporary architectural experimentation and meticulous historical preservation.

"China, the country itself and the European perception of it, has maintained a valued place in the imagination of Prada. As our various cultural activities have expanded both through the fashion company and Foundation Prada, we have searched for opportunities to extend our architectural and otherwise artistic explorations back to China. It was this imperative that led us to Rong Zhai, a historical landmark that can appropriately manifest our abiding commitment to Chinese culture."

Stefano Cantino, the Prada Group's strategic marketing director, says Prada decided to restore Rong Zhai because the company has always seen China as an opportunity, not just regarding commercial aspects and the market, but also culture. In addition, Prada Rong Zhai represents an opportunity to expand the architectural and artistic explorations of the brand to China and to manifest its commitment to Chinese culture through a dialogue between East and West.

He says that working side by side with Chinese historians, architects and artisans in the restoration of a building that is a symbol of Shanghai was an experience and a project that helped to not only strengthen, but also to better understand, deepen and develop Prada's ties with China in an area and a direction that go far beyond its core business.

chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-12 15:24:17
<![CDATA[Melting pot of cultures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398503.htm Kazan, which will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is also home to the Kazan Kremlin, that is one of the best places to enjoy a view of the city and the Kazanka River, a tributary of the Volga River

Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, is where you can enjoy the integration of cultures, unique architecture and retrace the steps of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Russian Communist Party, leader of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

It's only a one-and-a-half hour flight from Moscow. And it is also called as "the sports capital of Russia".

The city, which will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is also home to the Kazan Kremlin, that is one of the best places to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Kazanka River, a tributary of the Volga River.

In 2000, the Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It consists of buildings from the 16th to the 19th centuries, with Orthodox Eastern churches and mosques.

The Khanate of Kazan - with Kazan as its capital - was one of the successor states of the Golden Horde - originally a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate established in the 13th century and originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire - in the early 15th century. And the Siege of Kazan in 1552 was a turning point for the city.

Then, Ivan the Terrible, who was the first to proclaim himself as Czar of Russia, conquered the state and ordered the building of the Kazan Kremlin.

Adjacent to the river bank are the Governor's Palace and the 58-meter-high redbrick leaning Suyumbike tower.

The tower's name is linked to the last queen of the Khanate of Kazan, Suyumbike.

On the gate of the tower are symbols of a golden sun and crescent. And near the tower are mausoleums and monuments of the Kazan khans.

Nearby, built from local white sandstone, is the Annunciation Cathedral which boasts magnificent icons and frescoes. One of them is Our Lady of Kazan, which depicts the Virgin Mary as the city's protector.

A little distance away is the white and blue Kul Sharif Mosque, which was rebuilt in 2005. It's a new landmark in Kazan and is one of the largest mosques in Europe.

It is painted white and blue inside and has an exquisite blue crystal lantern hanging from its golden ceiling.

The first floor of the mosque has a miniature of the structure, which is named in honor of the statesman and Imam Seid Kul Sharif.

During the Siege of Kazan, the imam and his pupils were killed while defending Kazan from Ivan the Terrible.

When in Kazan, you can also visit the Lenin House-Museum, which was opened in 1937 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Lenin's family rented the house in 1888 but only stayed there for nine months

At the museum, visitors can learn about the family's daily life from the modestly furnished rooms.

Lenin used to study law at Kazan Federal University but was expelled from there because he joined the students' protest against the czar's government in 1887.

At the university, visitors can sit in Lenin's seat in the classroom.

Near the university is a statue of Lenin in his student years.

If you want to enjoy Kazan - which means "a cooking pot" in the Turkic language - hop onto a double-decker city tour bus to see the streets.

Incidentally, the marriage registry office building in the city looks like a giant cooking pot.

Situated on the other bank of the Kazanka River, the building is surrounded by sculptures of legendary animals.

Tartarstan's Ministry of Agriculture and Food building in the city is done in Gothic style, with a 20-meter-high iron tree forming part of its gate.

The building is also decorated with winged snow leopards, a symbol of the Republic of Tatarstan.

The building is near a street lined with restaurants and shops.

Some of Kazan's streets are named after famous Russians such as Maxim Gorky. At the age of 19, Gorky attempted suicide by the river, but the bullet missed his heart. He survived and left Kazan and then became a well-known writer.

Bauman Street is the city's main pedestrian street. On sunny days, the square with a fountain attracts pigeons.

The city also has a soft spot for cats. Besides a stone sculpture of the Kazan Cat, you will find all kinds of souvenirs related to cats, such as magnets and small porcelain sculptures related to the feline in the city.

Legend has it that during the Siege of Kazan, the Kazan Cat warned the Khan of the Russian troops who were tunneling underneath the fortress.

In 1745, Empress Elizabeth ordered 30 cats brought from Kazan to Saint Petersburg to catch mice in the Winter Palace.

One of the other attractions in Kazan is the Soviet Lifestyle Museum, which has a large collection of daily necessities from Soviet times, ranging from children's toys and cosmetics to badges with Lenin's picture on them.

Visiting the museum is like doing time-travel. At the museum, you can choose different army uniforms and hats to dress up as a soldier.

The museum also has dolls and small sculptures of Misha - the Russian Bear mascot of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

Among the other interesting exhibits is a metal mold to bake pancakes in the shape of Misha and an electronic postcard with lights.

xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Clockwise from top: The Lenin House-Museum domenstrates the family's daily life from the modestly furnished rooms; a metal mold to bake pancakes in the shape of Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow; the marriage registry office building in the city looks like a giant cooking pot. Photos by Xu Lin / China Daily

]]>
2017-11-11 07:41:31
<![CDATA[A cruise is a good way to experience the culture of Tartarstan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398502.htm To delve into the ancient history and diverse culture of Tartarstan, the best way is to hop on a cruise from Kazan and take a two-day voyage along the Volga River.

It's relaxing, especially for the elderly and children. Tourists don't have to pack and unpack or carry heavy luggage, and can enjoy different activities on board such as live music, dancing and handicraft workshops.

A Russian woman teaches you how to make a doll without stitching. The secret is to use a length of thread to tie a knot to make a round shape out of a cloth filled with cotton. She is clever with her hands and makes different kinds of dolls.

In the early morning, you can watch sunrise through the window, lying in bed. If it's raining, you may see a gorgeous rainbow above the river.

 

From left: An islander serves tourists with homemade chak-chak (a popular Tatar sweet) for free; the Trinity Church is the only preserved wooden church on the town-island; a soldier in shining armor with a sword and shield shows how to fight in the Middle Ages. Photos by Xu Lin / China Daily

The first destination is Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.

There, a couple dressed in a traditional costume are waiting at the port to serve tourists with homemade chak-chak (a popular Tatar sweet) for free.

At the Museum of Bolgar Civilization you get a preview of the medieval city of Bolgar and the history of Tartarstan in the Middle Ages.

The ancient city was settled by Volga-Bolgars between the 7th and the 15th centuries.

During the 13th century, it was the first capital of the Golden Horde.

As the Golden Horde started to disintegrate in the early 15th century, the Khanate of Kazan was established, with Kazan as its capital.

In 922, the Volga-Bolgars accepted Islam as their national religion and the ancient Bolgar remains there are a pilgrimage destination for Tatar Muslims.

As part of the cruise, visitors can explore mosques, minarets, mausoleums, public bathhouses and remains of the Khan's palace and shrine in the city.

A typical Bolgar stone bathhouse consists of an anteroom, a central room and a heating room.

In the city, there is a white marble mosque with three yellow domes and two minarets.

It looks like the Taj Mahal in India.

According to our tour guide, European and Asian merchants, including the Chinese, were frequent visitors to the city as it was a hub along the Silk Road.

In 2012, a memorial was built in the city in keeping with ancient Bolgar architecture.

It exhibits Islamic artworks by Tatarstan artists and a large collection of the Quran - the sacred book of Islam - which are made from different materials in various sizes.

The most impressive Quran has a length of 2 meters and a width of 1.52 meters.

The 632-page book weighs 800 kg.

Its green cover is mounted with gold, silver and precious stones of different colors.

The next place you will venture to is Ulyanovsk, where Vladimir Lenin was born and lived until he was 17.

It's said that the Russian Marxist enjoyed the local windy weather, so his statue on the Lenin Square shows him in a windblown coat.

Next to the square is the Lenin Memorial Museum Complex, with several museums about Lenin's childhood and political life and his family's former residence.

The Lenin Memorial Museum has photos, statues and documents about Lenin and the history of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union.

Tourists can even see Lenin's death mask and molds of his hands made from plaster.

A simulated map there shows how the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 took place.

Exhibits also include weaponry used by the Russians during World War I.

The final destination, Sviyazhsk, is a tranquil town-island with ancient churches and cultural monuments. Only about 300 residents live there.

It's a perfect place to enjoy the scenery, and you will bump into cute cats and see billboards with cartoon cat images.

In 1551, Ivan the Terrible built Sviyazhsk as a fortress in only four weeks and initiated the conquest of the Kazan Khanate from there.

In Sviyazhsk, visitors can experience life in the Middle Ages.

There, soldiers in shining armor show how to fight with swords and shields.

You can also shoot an arrow or crossbow and try on a suit of armor there, and also take photos with a king and knights dressed in traditional costumes.

In July, the Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the cathedral's frescoes features Saint Christopher with a horse's head, though he is mostly shown with a dog's head in Eastern Orthodox icons.

Another must-visit is the Trinity Church - the only preserved wooden church on the town-island. It was built without any nail.

A bit like Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, Sviyazhsk was used as a political prison in the early 20th century.

]]>
2017-11-11 07:41:31
<![CDATA[In love with the grottoes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/10/content_34361639.htm When Mimi Gates speaks about the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, she goes from the cultural and historical background of the caves to the vivid details of certain paintings there.The 74-year-old US art historian has served as the chair of the Dunhuang Foundation in the United States since 2010 and has participated in the conservation of Dunhuang's relics for years.

]]>
The 74-year-old US art historian Mimi Gates has passionately participated in the conservation of the Dunhuang relics for years. Liu Xiangrui reports.

When Mimi Gates speaks about the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, she goes from the cultural and historical background of the caves to the vivid details of certain paintings there.The 74-year-old US art historian has served as the chair of the Dunhuang Foundation in the United States since 2010 and has participated in the conservation of Dunhuang's relics for years.

Looking back, Gates says the decision to visit Asia when she was young instead of studying in Italy, as her parents wished, changed her life.

She found herself attracted to Asian culture, and decided to start with China.

So Gates studied Chinese language and history when she was a student at Stanford University. She later earned a master's degree in Oriental and Chinese Studies from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in Art History from Yale University.

"Chinese art was always close to my heart, and it was always my primary interest," says Gates.

She worked at the Yale University Art Gallery for years, first as a curator and later as its director. She became the head of the Seattle Art Museum in 1994, and she married William H. Gates Sr, the father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in 1996.

Mimi Gates paid her first visit to Dunhuang in 1995, as director of the Seattle museum, and "had a brief glimpse of the greatness of Dunhuang".

The Dunhuang grottoes are a 1,600-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site comprising about 500 caves and a large collection of Buddhist art, such as statues and murals.

She was invited to return in 2009 to present a paper on visitor experience at a conference there. Spending a few days there, Gates visited the caves whenever she had free time.

When Fan Jinshi, the then-head of the Dunhuang Research Academy, visited the US to raise funds for the protection of the site, Gates suggested setting up a foundation and accepted Fan's offer to help organize and chair the foundation.

"The idea was to encourage Americans to support Dunhuang, because it is such a spectacular site, and I think it is so important to humanity," says Gates.

A window to China

Over the years, the foundation has collected nearly $6 million for the protection, research and promotion of Dunhuang. It has also engaged in scholarly exchanges that provide opportunities for the academy's researchers to study abroad.

Gates and her foundation were a big force behind the major exhibition on Dunhuang art held at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 2016.

Then, her foundation worked with the Dunhuang Research Academy and the Getty Museum, a longtime partner of the academy, to organize the exhibition, with funding from other charities. Two of the three full-scale replica Mogao caves shown at the exhibition were specially made for the event, and took several years of work.

Besides, about 40 important paintings, statues and other relics were also displayed during the exhibition - many of them borrowed from museums in different parts of the world.

A digital version of the caves was also on show at the event.

Speaking about the exhibition, Gates says: "Very few Americans know about Dunhuang. My feeling is Dunhuang, and Chinese art in general, offer a window into China, and it's something that many people can appreciate.

"Not only does it inspire people aesthetically, but it also shows how long, how deep and how rich Chinese history is."

The exhibition attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

Despite the success of the exhibition, Gates says that understanding the complexity of Buddhism takes time, and more work needs to be done to make Dunhuang more accessible for foreigners. She looks forward to working on more relevant exhibitions.

According to Gates, she chose to work for the protection of Dunhuang because of its uniqueness.

The site's long history (from the 4th to the 14th centuries), its rich diversity as a hub of cultural exchanges between East and West, as well as its well-preserved relics fascinated her.

"You can learn a lot about early Chinese landscape painting, everyday life and also about Buddhism. There are all these dimensions that make Dunhuang singular."

Gates has been visiting Dunhuang a couple of times annually over the past years, giving lectures at related symposiums and organizing trips for foreigners to help them appreciate Dunhuang art and culture.

"Abroad, not everybody realizes the strength of Chinese culture, and a site like Dunhuang can fuel their interest and encourage them to come," she says.

Good results

Over the years, Gates has also traveled to other parts of China.

According to Gates, her foundation is currently working on several different fronts, including bringing together scholars on various research aspects of Dunhuang so they can share knowledge and resources.

It is also making efforts to help the Dunhuang academy in Gansu and a group of universities to carry out training courses on conservation, such as for wall paintings.

She says the academy is wise to cooperate with international conservators and find out what the best practices are in protecting relics, and years of collaboration have given Chinese and US preservationists a lot of good results.

For example, the practices and principles developed during the joint protection project on Mogao's Cave 85, a late Tang Dynasty (618-907) gem that had deteriorated due to salts in the underlying rocks, have been included in the Principles for the Conservation of Heritage Sites in China, a set of national guidelines.

The project also led to the creation of a team whose members have participated in relic protection around China. In October, Gates received the Friendship Award from the Chinese government. The award is the highest honor given to foreigners who have made significant contribution to the country's social and economic development.

"I feel deeply honored. I think it is a wonderful form of recognition for so many people and encourages them to do more and work even harder with Chinese colleagues for the good of the Chinese people," she says.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-10 07:11:24
<![CDATA[Louis Cha's acclaimed trilogy to be translated into English]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/10/content_34361638.htm Despite their popularity, only three of Jin Yong's martial arts novels have been translated into English. But fans will soon get more from the writer as his most popular trilogy, named after the first of the three books, Legends of the Condor Heroes, is scheduled to hit bookstores in February.

Jin Yong is the pen name of Louis Cha. And the author, who lives in Hong Kong, is one of the best-selling Chinese authors alive with over 300 million copies of his works sold in the Chinese-speaking world.

This latest translation project is the most ambitious with regard to Jin Yong's works.

The trilogy, written by Jin Yong in the 1950s and '60s, covers the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and features hundreds of characters.

The plot includes betrayal and allegiance among different martial arts schools, and the rise and fall of dynasties.

According to the publishing house, Maclehose Press, the translated work will come in 12 volumes, including Legends of the Condor Heroes; Divine Condor, Errant Knight; and Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre.

Anna Holmwood is the translator of volume one, A Hero Born.

Speaking of the project which she took up in 2012, Holmwood, a self-employed translator focusing on Chinese-English literary translations, says in an email interview: "It had to be Jin Yong then. It was the obvious place to start, not only because of the quality of his writing, but also because of his standing and reputation in Asia."

Holmwood, who was born to a British father and a Swedish mother, grew up in the United Kingdom and studied history at the University of Oxford.

Her love affair with China began in 2005, when she spent two months traveling around the country on a scholarship.

The trip aroused her curiosity about China, and she was determined to learn Chinese. "That was the only way to satisfy my curiosity about the country," she says.

Holmwood then chose modern Chinese studies as her MPhil major at Oxford, and went to Taiwan Normal University for a year of language training in 2009.

In Taiwan, a friend took Holmwood to a bookshop, where she saw a whole shelf dedicated to Jin Yong. She bought a copy of Jin Yong's work - Lu Ding Ji (The Deer and the Cauldron), the longest of his novels.

"It (reading the book) was a struggle at first," Holmwood says, adding that this was because Jin Yong's novels are all set in ancient China and the characters span multiple generations.

But what is a bigger challenge for the translator, Holmwood says, is rendering the original pace and excitement into English.

"It's all about whether the English reader will be lured by the emotions and characters.

"It's vital for the English version to read like an enticing work."

It took five years for Holmwood to finish the translation of the first volume.

Paul Engles, editor of the book at MacLehose Press, recalls that when he received a sample from Holmwood at the end of 2012, he was instantly entranced by it and also amazed that the work had not been translated before.

"Jin Yong is one of the world's best-selling authors, and, rather like Alexandre Dumas, he is a popular author who will in time (if not already) be recognized as a writer of stone-cold classics," he adds.

"We feel that it is essential that these novels be translated into English," Engles says, adding that the plan is to publish one volume a year.

The second volume is being translated by Gigi Chang, an art writer and translator from Hong Kong.

Although Chang and Holmwood work separately, they discuss common issues and keep a shared database for terms appearing in the trilogy.

As for why his works need to be translated, one must read Holmwood's introduction in volume one, which says: "Many have considered Jin Yong's world too foreign, too Chinese for an English-speaking readership. Impossible to translate.

"And yet this story of love, loyalty, honor and the power of the individual against successive corrupt governments and invading forces is as universal as any story could hope to be.

"The greatest loss that can occur in translation can only come from not translating it at all."

Lu Lili contributed to this story.

]]>
2017-11-10 07:11:24
<![CDATA[Jack Ma pulls a stunt]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/09/content_34318951.htm One of the richest men in China, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, is also a martial arts fan. And he is making his debut in Gong Shou Dao (the art of attack and defense), a 20-minute movie.

]]>
The Alibaba founder, also a martial arts buff, is making his debut in a 20-minute movie, which will be screened partially at a TV gala on Friday. Xu Fan reports.

One of the richest men in China, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, is also a martial arts fan. And he is making his debut in Gong Shou Dao (the art of attack and defense), a 20-minute movie.

An eight-minute clip from the film will be screened at the Tmall Double 11 Night Carnival, a TV gala by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Friday.

The TV gala, an annual promotion event set up in 2015 by Alibaba on Nov 11 - China's biggest online shopping day since 2009 - will air on three satellite channels in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Zhejiang province, as well as on several video-streaming sites like Taobaolive and Youku.

Also in the film, pop diva Faye Wong, who has taken a break for a year now, teams up with Ma to sing the movie's theme song, Feng Qingyang.

Ma, 53, widely known as a fan of martial arts, is fascinated with Louis Cha's wuxia (martial arts) novels, and has been practicing tai chi for over 30 years.

He even tells employees to use fictional warriors' names from literature classics as their nicknames at work.

Thanks to Ma's love of tai chi - the 600-year-old martial art rooted from Confucianism and Taoism - Alibaba has hired five national champions to train the group's employees.

When Irish President Michael Higgins visited the headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou during his state visit to China in 2014, Ma arranged for four staff members to perform tai chi stunts for Higgins.

Meanwhile, the movie has three top Hong Kong action choreographers: Yuen Wooping from The Matrix and Kill Bill franchises; Sammo Hung famous for the Ip Man movies; and Ching Siu-tung known for Swordsman.

The cast includes top action stars such as Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Wu Jing and Tony Jaa from Thailand, as well as A-list actors like Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Li Chen.

Besides, Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming and retired Mongolian sumo champion Asashoryu Akinori also feature in the film.

Ma was inspired to make the movie in 2009 when he met Li, the Chinese kung fu giant who's known for Zhang Yimou's Hero.

They then co-founded a company to promote tai chi in 2011 and decided to make a film to realize their goal.

For the film, a number of scripts were sent to Ma. But he finally plumped for a tale penned by actor-turned-director Wen Zhang, who shot to fame with the 2007 hit TV series Struggle.

In the movie, Ma reportedly plays a master of tai chi while Li plays a Buddhist monk.

Speaking about the movie and its impact on the Alibaba founder, a source close to Ma says: "Ma has a young heart. He loves art and culture. And martial arts has played an important role in shaping him."

Separately, the publicity division of Alibaba says that the complete version of Gong Shou Dao will be streamed on Youku, the online video provider affiliated to Alibaba, besides being screened in movie theaters.

As for the cinema screenings, an Alibaba statement says: "As the movie aims to popularize and spread Chinese culture, the theater screenings will not have tickets. Instead, people will be invited to watch the film for free."

Giving details of Ma's commitment to the film, Li says that Ma spent 12 hours each day for 12 days on the film. During this time span, Ma only excused himself once for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's visit to the Alibaba headquarters in September.

"I appreciate Ma for devoting his time to the film and also providing a wonderful platform (the Double 11 gala) to demonstrate Chinese martial arts to the world," says Li.

Last year, up to 200 million viewers, domestic and foreign, watched the gala, with Alibaba's online sales reaching 80.7 billion yuan ($11.85 billion) on Nov 11.

As for the movie critics, most of them see the short movie as more of a promotion stunt for this year's forthcoming Double 11 shopping day.

Jiang Yong, a Beijing-based critic, says that a 20-minute film is too short to evaluate, and the release date makes it more like a marketing ploy for Double 11.

But Fei Yuliang, the vice-president of the Netherlands-based International Health Qigong Association, says the movie can help raise the profile of martial arts in the West thanks to Ma's reputation and the cast's star power.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Gong Shou Dao features some of the country's top kung fu stars and action choreographers.Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-09 07:44:28
<![CDATA[TIFF brings 'Ten Best' showcase to Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/09/content_34318950.htm Soon after Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's blockbuster Blade Runner 2049 saw its Chinese release in late October, his Academy Award-nominated film Incendies was seen by audiences in Beijing on Nov 3.

The movie was the opening film in the Canada's Ten Best: New Cinema from the North showcase being presented by the China Film Archive from Nov 3 to 12 - a collection of classic and contemporary Canadian films making their screen debuts in Beijing.

The Toronto International Film Festival organized the screening of Canada's top films in Beijing, and they include several highlighted in TIFF's annual Canada's Top Ten Film Festival, as well as a selection of retrospective titles from TIFF's Canada on Screen sesquicentennial series.

Besides Incendies, the selection features Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, Xavier Dolan's Mommy and Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell.

"Denis Villeneuve, Xavier Dolan and Sarah Polley are only the latest acclaimed filmmakers to show the power of Canadian creativity to the world," says Piers Handling, director and CEO of the TIFF. "We can't wait to bring our very best screen storytelling to audiences in the world's fastest-rising film capital."

"It's a selection of very representative films shot both inside and outside of Canada, and in a mix of languages."

TIFF's annual top 10 program has been touring Canada for many years but started to expand its horizons when it moved to New York in 2015, and then onto Los Angeles. Beijing is its third international destination.

Canadian cinema has for decades enjoyed an international reputation for its documentaries and animation, but Canadian feature films only started to gain recognition in the 1960s, says Handling.

"David Cronenberg was the first filmmaker who showed new ways for Canadian film. He was much more interested in imagination, in the things you couldn't capture in a documentary," says Handling.

In Handling's opinion, Canadian films before the 1990s tended to focus more on subjects close to home. But for the past 20 years the situation has changed significantly as Canadian filmmakers began adopting a more outward-looking stance to the world.

Founded in 1976, the TIFF is often considered a reliable forecast for the outcome of the Academy Awards. Handling, who has been running TIFF since 1994, finds it rewarding to see the festival turn into one of the most important in the world, and see the focus of the international film industry turn to Toronto.

Meanwhile, Chinese films have done well at the festival in recent years. Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi was selected to join the jury in 2016, and acclaimed director Chen Kaige led the jury in 2017.

"I think China has created some of the most incredible films of the past 30 years. And I began to come into contact with Chinese cinema through the works of filmmakers like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige," says Handling.

"Chinese films like House of Flying Daggers hold a certain attraction for commercial audiences, and they speak about China in a different kind of way, which is extraordinary."

Sun Xianghui, director of the China Film Archive, watched the Chinese classic film Struggling together with Canadian audiences during the 42nd TIFF in September.

"I am excited to provide a space that allows Beijing audiences to discover and appreciate Canadian cinema. This partnership will serve as an opportunity to celebrate our common love of films," says Sun.

John McCallum, Canada's ambassador to China, is delighted that Canadian cinema is coming to Beijing and "sharing with the world Canada's rich history, diversity and unique perspectives".

liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-09 07:44:28
<![CDATA[Perfecting the art of murder]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/09/content_34318949.htm Chinese viewers who struggle to remember foreign faces may find it difficult to accept that Commander Bolton in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is returning to the country's big screen in Murder on the Orient Express.

]]>
After the success of Dunkirk, Kenneth Branagh returns to Chinese cinemas with a remake of an Agatha Christie classic. Xu Fan reports.

Chinese viewers who struggle to remember foreign faces may find it difficult to accept that Commander Bolton in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk is returning to the country's big screen in Murder on the Orient Express.

That's because this time, the actor who played Bolton sports an enormous moustache and speaks English with a heavy Belgian accent in his portrayal of the famous fictional detective, the creation of Agatha Christie, the prolific British writer dubbed the "Queen of Crime".

Kenneth Branagh, the award-winning British filmmaker and actor, was in Beijing to promote his upcoming directorial feature Murder on the Orient Express.

In the movie, which has been adapted from Christie's 1934 novel of the same name, Branagh will appear as Hercule Poirot.

Meanwhile, in addition to the subtitled English-language movie, Chinese audiences will be also able to watch a Mandarin-dubbed version, which will feature A-list actor Wang Qianyuan and actress Yu Feihong alongside veteran voiceover artists Cao Lei and Liu Feng, at Chinese theaters.

Speaking about his character in the movie - which will open across the Chinese mainland on Friday - the director-actor says that the Belgian detective appeared in 33 novels, around 50 short stories and one play between the 1920s and 1970s.

There was also the 1974 movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Sidney Lumet, which garnered one award and five Oscar nominations

"I think it's a classic story that needs to be retold. It needs to be heard and seen again. I think the meaning changes according to different times," says Branagh, explaining the reason behind the remake.

"Our goal was to make a cinematic experience to take the audience on the train from Jerusalem to Istanbul ...and take them on a visual journey through Europe," he adds.

The train in the movie, the Orient Express, is a long-distance luxury passenger train service that first started in 1883. Magnified by Christie's work, the train has enjoyed enduring popularity with travelers over the decades, and they continue to flock to discover the sumptuous compartments and first-rate service depicted in the novel.

Interestingly, room 411 at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul - where Christie is supposed to have penned the novel - also remains a popular tourist spot.

Branagh, who has been a fan of Christie since his mystery-novel-loving mother put him onto the author's work, recalls his early impressions about the author's influence on theater.

"When I became an actor, I noticed that our local theaters would put on a production based on an Agatha Christie novel every three months or so. Then I began to realize how important she was in our culture," says Branagh.

Branagh began researching extensively to prepare for the movie a year ahead of the shoot, from reading all of Christie's novels about Poirot to revisiting the works of celebrated Belgians like the surrealist Rene Magritte and cartoonist Georges Prosper Remi, author of the Tintin series.

The 56-year-old director-actor even listened to recordings of 27 different Belgian accents by men of Poirot's age speaking in English. He met with a dialect coach three times a week to study and practice the character's accent.

As a famous novel which has been translated into around 45 languages and reprinted at least 10 times in China, most moviegoers are aware of the film's ending before they go to the cinema.

Explaining how he got around this problem, he says: "I directed the stage play Romeo and Juliet starring Lily James last year. Everyone knows what happens to Romeo and Juliet. But what matters is how you do it.

"I thought we could change some elements at the beginning of the film and add several new characters (in Murder on the Orient Express)," he says.

"But what is crucial to the ending is a new twist, which Poirot calls the moral twist. Poirot is a man who says 'There is right. There is wrong. There is nothing in between.' But at the end of the story, he begins to consider whether there may be something in between," reveals Branagh.

In the new movie, the storyline keeps to the core of the original novel, in which the murdered man was once a ruthless criminal who ruined a family. But in the end, Poirot has some doubts about whether the multiple murderers should be punished for seeking justice in their own way.

The star-studded cast assembled for the movie includes big names like Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Lucy Boynton and Daisy Ridley.

Branagh says it was a nerve-wracking experience working with so many excellent actors, but the improvisation skills they brought to the movie were indispensable.

For instance, on one occasion Ridley forgot her lines during one scene shot with Poirot outside the train in the snow.

But Branagh did not seem to mind, and let her improvise the scene.

"As she did that, the look in her eyes was so vulnerable. I could really see her thinking. So it was really Daisy forgetting her lines, but it looks like Mary Debenham, the character, lying to Poirot," says the director, who is also known for a string of movies adapted from the works of Shakespeare.

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Top: British directoractor Kenneth Branagh stars as Hercule Poirot in the upcoming movie Murder on the Orient Express. Above: Branagh with members for the Mandarindubbed version, including actor Wang Qianyuan (second right) and actress Yu Feihong (center) alongside voiceover artists Cao Lei (second left) and Liu Feng (right).

]]>
2017-11-09 07:44:55
<![CDATA[Revolutionary drama receives mixed reviews]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/09/content_34318948.htm Over the past three decades, Hong Kong singer-actor Aaron Kwok has starred in more than 50 movies and has picked up more than 100 music awards.

The impressive list of characters he has portrayed on the big screen range from an upright police commissioner in the Cold War franchises to a struggling farmer living with HIV in Life Is a Miracle.

But for the superstar, who has risen to become one of the most recognized faces in Asia since his career began in the mid-1980s, portraying a revolutionary martyr in a Chinese mainland movie has been an unprecedented experience.

"I've never played a real-life person in my career before, let alone a famous historical figure. When I received the script, I read some books about him and the period that he had lived and fought through," Kwok says at the recent Beijing premiere of Eternal Wave.

A remake of a 1958 classic, Eternal Wave opened in theaters on the Chinese mainland on Nov 3, raking in 51 million yuan ($7.7 million) to top the box-office charts of domestic titles over the weekend.

Set in the late 1930s, the story centers on a Communist intelligence officer who disguises himself as a businessman to secretly establish an underground radio station in Japanese-occupied Shanghai.

The tale is based on the true story of Li Bai, a secret agent from Hunan province, who played a pivotal role in the battle of Communist intelligence agents against the invading Japanese and Kuomintang forces. He was arrested and tortured by the Kuomintang in 1948 and was killed in 1949.

Besides Kwok, the cast also features Zhao Liying, an A-list actress best known for the hit TV series The Journey of Flower; veteran Hong Kong star Simon Yam, best actor winner at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards; and pop idol Zhang Han.

Speaking about the filming of Eternal Wave, Kwok recalls he had to shoot bare-chested for two hours in the freezing cold for outdoor scenes of his character being tortured by the Kuomintang secret service. He also badly injured his leg while shooting a chase scene.

But the biggest challenge for Kwok was not the pain.

"When playing a historical figure, you need to forget who you are and immerse yourself in the character's inner world, and try to understand his sacrifice and faith," says the 52-year-old star.

With Hong Kong veteran Billy Chung as director, Eternal Wave is the latest example of what many industry watchers see as a rising trend among Hong Kong filmmakers looking to make revolutionary-themed movies for the Chinese mainland market.

Despite many Hong Kong filmmakers knowing little about the revolutionary history of China during the last century, their long-established skills in storytelling and action choreography, and their efficient shooting and production techniques make them stand out from their peers on the Chinese mainland.

But unlike Tsui Hark's The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014) and Andrew Lau's The Founding of an Army (2017), Eternal Waves has so far received mixed reviews.

Many netizens on the popular ratings and review website Douban.com were initially drawn to the film by the star power of Kwok and Zhao, but were disappointed to find the plot falling a little flat.

"Kwok is the only highlight in the movie for his enthralling performance," says Xu Fuxiong, a Beijing moviegoer.

"But there are only a few scenes about his work as an underground agent. Otherwise, the numerous action scenes make the movie appear too entertaining, despite its attempt to present a serious tale commemorating a hero."

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-09 07:44:55
<![CDATA[Stories of tomorrow]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/08/content_34276142.htm To send mooncakes from Earth to people living on an asteroid presents a lot of problems, such as how to transport them so they stay fresh during the long journey.

]]>
The country's scientific achievements have helped foster what is being hailed as the start of a golden age for Chinese science fiction. Xing Yi reports.

To send mooncakes from Earth to people living on an asteroid presents a lot of problems, such as how to transport them so they stay fresh during the long journey.

And people working on asteroids might not even be able to see the moon, so will they celebrate the Moon Festival as Chinese do on Earth?

Such questions came to Song Zheng as he was eating mooncakes during this year's festival in early October.

Song, 36, is a clerk at the National Energy Administration. But after work, he is a budding science fiction writer.

He developed his mooncake questions into a story about family reunions, submitted the draft to a sci-fi writing workshop, and was admitted.

"Writing stories is my favorite pastime, and science fiction interests me in particular, for it allows me to use my wildest imagination," Song says at one of the workshop's meetings near the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

There are 19 people at the workshop, who listen to the lecturer for some time, and then disperse into small discussion groups.

They are asked to submit story ideas, hone them after receiving feedback from their peers and their group leaders, revise them, and eventually finish a science fiction novella under 20,000 words by the end of the monthlong workshop.

"Sharing ideas with a group of like-minded sci-fi amateurs is what attracted me to the workshop. I'd lose my passion just writing on my own," says Mu Lin, an office worker in a Beijing insurance company.

This is the second time Mu has attended the workshop. After attending her first workshop in July, Mu wrote a story about a person who is falling into a black hole.

"I get bored with the daily routine at work, and writing sci-fi makes my life interesting," Mu says.

Idea generator

The workshop is organized by Future Affairs Administration, a company which is trying to seize the opportunities created by the growing popularity of science fiction over the past three years, since the success of writer Liu Cixin and his book, The Three-Body Problem, the first installment of a trilogy, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015, after being translated into English.

The Three-Body series has so far sold around 7 million copies in Chinese, and 300,000 copies in English.

In the spotlight as the first Chinese writer to win the world's top award for science fiction writing, Liu has drawn lots of media exposure to Chinese sci-fi. The 54-year-old, used to be an engineer and wrote sci-fi only in his part time, but he has been enrolled into the China Writers Association.

Ji Shaoting, a former journalist with Xinhua News Agency and a longtime friend of Liu, founded Future Affairs Administration as a loose group of sci-fi aficionados in 2013.

She incorporated it into a company in 2016, with the aim of paving the road for Chinese science fiction to enter a "golden age".

"I think people can be a little bit more curious about the future through science fiction," says Ji at Kubrick Book Cafe in Beijing MOMA, where her company has an office.

Beijing MOMA is an office complex with a sci-fi appearance as the buildings are connected by aerial walkways.

"If there is ever a sci-fi movie set in Beijing, this is the place to shoot," Ji jokes.

The company has around 20 employees. They maintain an online daily newsletter called Non-Exist, publishing original Chinese sci-fi works and translated works, sci-fi criticism, and popular science articles.

Right now, their online accounts on various social media platforms, such as Sina Weibo and WeChat, have gathered more than 1 million followers.

They also keep contact with around 70 sci-fi writers at home and abroad.

"The number of sci-fi writers in China is still too few," Ji says. "And established writers are not so diligent in producing new works, as most of them only write part time."

In June, the company released a project with Liu, called The Three-Body Cosmos, encouraging amateur writers to submit stories against the backdrop of Liu's Three-Body series.

They have also organized tours for sci-fi writers to watch rocket launches, visit laboratories, and talk with scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Last year, they led a group to Guizhou province to see FAST, the world's largest radio telescope which probes gravitational waves and dark matter, and listens for any transmissions from alien civilizations, if there are any.

"We try to widen the views of our sci-fi writers, so that they can write eye-opening stories for readers," Ji says.

To become the idea generator for Chinese science fiction is the goal for Ji and her company.

Still a niche genre

In the English-speaking world, the 1930s to 1950s is known as the "golden age of science fiction", as many enduring sci-fi works and famous sci-fi authors, such as Jewish-American writer Isaac Asimov and British science fiction writer Arthur Clarke, emerged during these decades.

"This golden age accompanied the rapid development in science and technology in the West," says Ji. "Now technology is marching at fast pace in China, so there is a high possibility that many good Chinese sci-fi works will be born in the years to come."

Besides publications, Ji says filmmakers are also eyeing the sci-fi genre, which will bring Chinese science fiction to a larger audience.

Apart from films adapted from Liu's works that are in production, Red Ocean, a novel by popular sci-fi writer Han Song, is also being adapted into a feature animation.

Science fiction has also become the topic of many academic seminars over the past three years.

In a sci-fi seminar held in Beijing in October, Han Qide, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, joined the discussion with a range of university professors, sci-fi writers and industry practitioners.

Han says that he encourages creating more platforms for sci-fi writers and scientists to exchange ideas, so each can inspire the others, and boost the development of the science fiction industry in China.

Despite the optimistic outlook for Chinese science fiction, Li Zhaoxin, a veteran sci-fi critic who has followed the country's sci-fi scene for 20 years, says it remains a niche genre in China with loyal readers only numbering a couple of thousand.

"In the past decade, no more than 20 sci-fi authors have kept publishing new works of more than 100,000 words. The figure in the United States is more than 1,000," Li says.

Li lectures at the Future Affairs Administration's sci-fi writing workshop, and he has been running an online writing course since September.

The workshop plans to invite a US professor from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to come and teach next year, he says.

"Science fiction is a small sector in the cultural industry, and like anything related to culture, it always needs a long time to cultivate," Li adds.

Contact the writer at xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Above: Guest speakers from fields of IT, art and literature attend a forum on “uploading” organized by Future Affairs Administration and Today Art Museum on Sept 10 in Beijing. Top: A person stands on a large newspaperprint exhibit at the Today Art Museum.Photos Provided to China Daily

 

]]>
2017-11-08 07:11:57
<![CDATA[A sci-fi history of over a century]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/08/content_34276141.htm When American Nathaniel Isaacson began research on Chinese science fiction as a doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles, a decade ago, he thought it would be easy for him to cover the development of Chinese sci-fi in the 20th century.

"Ten years ago, most people didn't know about Chinese science fiction," says Isaacson. "And there were little available materials to study."

However, the more he looked into the field, the more material he dug up.

Early this year, Isaacson presented his findings with analysis in a new book, Celestial Empire: The Emergence of Chinese Science Fiction, which examines the birth of the genre in China in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to the early years of the Minguo period (1912-49).

Since Chinese award-winning sci-fi writer Liu Cixin's works have been translated into English in 2014, more people want to know about Chinese sci-fi.

"But I think it's very important to understand its origin. This was something China has had for 100 years," says Isaacson.

Song Mingwei, a modern Chinese literature scholar at Wellesley College, recommends the book.

"It's a landmark in the study of science fiction. It presents new interpretations of the emergence of Chinese science fiction in the context of colonialism," says Song.

The idea of studying Chinese science fiction came to Isaacson during a course on Chinese modern literature in UCLA, where he was asked to write a paper about a novel, The New Story of the Stone, by late Qing writer Wu Jianren.

At first, Isaacson didn't know what to write, and got no grade for the course, but later on he thought that one could understand this novel through the point of view of science fiction.

The novel is a "sequel" to Cao Xueqin's classic The Story of the Stone, better known as A Dream of Red Mansions, and could be considered a time-travel novel as it takes the main character Jia Baoyu from the early Qing, the possible setting of Cao's original work, to the late Qing period.

In the novel, Jia first visits Shanghai, and sees many of scientific marvels of the time, such as steamers, trains and electric lights.

"There's a scene in the novel where Shanghai hosts the World Expo, and it really came true 100 years later," he says.

From that course paper, Isaacson went on to study science fiction works written by China's early modern intellectuals, and then to read sci-fi works by acclaimed modern writers Lu Xun and Lao She.

What he noticed in those early Chinese science fiction works were concerns about imperialism and resistance to it.

"A lot of sci-fi unconsciously promoted imperialism, but I think early Chinese sci-fi authors were aware of this, and wanted to use sci-fi as an anti-imperialist tool," he says.

An associate professor at North Carolina State University, Isaacson was recently in Beijing as a participant in the Visiting Program for Young Sinologists hosted by the Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"I am hoping to find more information on Chinese sci-fi," says Isaacson, noting the growth of the genre in recent years with Chinese authors winning international awards and more works being translated into foreign languages.

Before earning his PhD at UCLA in 2011, Isaacson earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in East Asian studies at the University of Arizona.

He recalls that at that time many people said he could make big money as a Chinese speaker and do business in China.

"Who doesn't want to make fortune? That's why I started to learn Chinese," he says. "But I have long given up my millionaire's dream."

Besides teaching Chinese and researching, Isaacson also translates Chinese science fiction. Currently, he's translating works by Han Song, a sci-fi writer in China.

Talking about his work, he says: "Confucius once said: 'They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.' And I am the one who delights in it."

]]>
2017-11-08 07:11:57
<![CDATA[2 Cultures, 1 University]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/08/content_34276140.htm Students from all corners of the world dressed in caps and violet gowns formed a violet-colored wave as they walked from the New York University Shanghai to the Shanghai Oriental Art Center to attend the inaugural commencement on May 28 this year.

]]>
The Class of 2017 has graduated from New York University Shanghai. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Students from all corners of the world dressed in caps and violet gowns formed a violet-colored wave as they walked from the New York University Shanghai to the Shanghai Oriental Art Center to attend the inaugural commencement on May 28 this year.

The first class of 264 graduates from China, the United States and 31 other countries were awarded their NYU bachelor's degrees and NYU Shanghai diplomas. For two consecutive nights, one of the city's landmark buildings, the Oriental Pearl Tower, was lit up in violet in honor of their graduation.

Jointly established by New York University and East China Normal University in 2012, NYU Shanghai was the first Sino-US joint-venture university in China. It was literally built from scratch.

"Back then NYU Shanghai didn't even have a campus. Students spent their first year studying at East China Normal University," recalls Yu Lizhong, the chancellor of NYU Shanghai. "In terms of faculty, we had a list of over 100 NYU professors, but we weren't so sure who would come to teach."

The Class of 2017 turned out to be a success. By June, 32.3 percent of students had already been admitted to graduate schools including Harvard, MIT, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, and 37.3 percent entered the professional world with desirable offers.

"I have special regard for our first group of graduates," says Yu. "They had the guts to be the first to try out a brand-new education model."

"They could have entered first-tier Chinese universities such as Tsinghua University and Peking University and opt for a predictable, yet still promising, future," Yu says. "Instead, they embarked on an unknown academic journey to alter their life path by enrolling with NYU Shanghai," he adds.

Over the past five years, NYU Shanghai has become one of the leading examples of China's efforts to internationalize its education system.

At the commencement, Vice-Premier Liu Yandong applauded the university as having "achieved remarkable success in creating an innovative school system, cultivating outstanding talent and boosting cultural exchanges".

Liberal arts education

Three years ago, while in senior middle school, Dong Jiaqi received a high score in the college entrance examination, which would enable her to enroll in one of China's top institutions, Fudan University. But instead she opted to study at NYU Shanghai.

"I thought the liberal arts education that NYU Shanghai offers would give me more opportunities to explore," says the 21-year-old senior student. "So, I opted to spend the first year of college discovering my academic interests before choosing my major."

The university gives students the freedom to spend their first two years on taking core liberal arts courses so that they can spend their third and fourth years to deepen their fields of study.

While studying at NYU Shanghai, Dong attended writing workshops and took a variety of courses, including global perspectives on society and interactive media arts, to broaden her horizons. She also spent her summers doing research on digital marketing and social issues to explore her research interests.

Dong later followed her interests and majored in business and finance and interactive media arts. She participated in projects related to her specialty such as creating interactive maps on Shanghai street food and marketing food products online.

Dong's academic endeavors at NYU Shanghai helped her develop an interest in food research. "I want to apply for the NYU's PhD food studies program after graduation," she says.

"Every student is different," says Yu. "We try to offer a variety of resources for students to choose and design their own academic development track."

Student-centered

Before Moldovan student Marcela Railean entered NYU Shanghai, she was not only interested in learning about the Chinese language and culture, but also found the abundant opportunities that Shanghai offered appealing.

"I thought China would provide the best opportunity for me to grow as a person - to become even more independent," says the 21-year-old business and finance senior from Eastern Europe.

"NYU Shanghai is not just an established university where we would have to follow the rules. Students are encouraged to help shape the way it evolves and develops."

International students make up about half of the university's intake. Railean enjoys studying with students from different backgrounds in small-class settings, interacting with professors directly and tapping into the wide range of resources offered by the university.

"Unlike many European universities, where you find you are on your own, the university is reaching out to you and trying to get you involved in different things," she says.

Apart from offering the flexibility of a US education, the university has also become a gateway for students to learn more about China. Many of the business classes and internships Railean took part in were related to China, which fitted with her plan to work in a company with links to the country. "China is the future," she says.

Despite all the achievements NYU Shanghai has made, challenges remain.

"The biggest challenge is to incorporate two different education systems and cultures into one university. It requires lots of thought," says Yu.

"Our exploration of higher education is an ongoing process, and it will always continue to be."

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Top: The campus of New York University Shanghai. Above: Chinese and international students do experiments together in a smallclass setting. Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-08 07:11:57
<![CDATA[Velvet back on the fashion agenda]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/08/content_34276139.htm If you've been shopping recently, you'll have spotted the autumn trends arriving in stores. Usually, the trends that you'll see will depend on the store: the age-bracket, and depth-of-pocket, that they're catering to.

]]>
Black looks lovely, but colors are more striking. Charlie Gowans-Eglinton reports in London.

If you've been shopping recently, you'll have spotted the autumn trends arriving in stores. Usually, the trends that you'll see will depend on the store: the age-bracket, and depth-of-pocket, that they're catering to.

But this season, there is one trend that crosses budget, age and body type: velvet. Whether you're shopping in Marks & Spencer or at MatchesFashion.com, velvet will be front and center.

Of course, velvet wasn't always so widely available. A trip through the UK's National Gallery will prove that the fabric has long been the preference - and preserve - of the aristocracy.

It's such a symbol of wealth and standing that it has long been worn for coronations. Queen Elizabeth II wore ermine-trimmed velvet for her own in 1953. And while the silhouettes might be slinkier, the fabric has proved popular with younger generations of royals.

Princess Diana could often be seen wearing velvet, in burgundy, bottle green and midnight blue; the Duchess of Cambridge prefers to wear the plush fabric in black.

But while black can look lovely, it's colored velvet that is the most striking, as the texture adds a depth to any color. Red velvet, though glamorous, is a little too "Mrs Claus" in large doses, though a red velvet shoe can look lovely.

There are four main shades of velvet to look for this season: dusky rose pink, olive green, yolk yellow and midnight blue.

Thanks to its luster and fragility - never wear a velvet coat on a rainy day - velvet is usually reserved for evening wear. On the autumn and winter 2017 catwalks, Erdem, Altuzarra and Peter Pilotto all showed stunning evening gowns in deep-pile velvets, and if you're looking for a good all-rounder dress for the Christmas party season, then take your cue from those.

If you already have a velvet dress but it's looking flattened or matted in some areas from storage, steaming should help to revive it: Try hanging it in the bathroom while you take a hot shower, or enlist the help of a dry cleaner for severe cases.

What makes this resurgence of velvet interesting is the option to dress it down.

Frame's pink velvet blazer, while pricey, will flatter most skin tones and look elegant with blue jeans and a pair of loafers at the weekend. A pair of velvet trousers are smart for everyday wear at the office. Pair with a white shirt to make them feel "day" appropriate.

And while velvet shoes might not be rain or snow friendly, they're good for crisp autumnal days, and will see you from desk to dinner, or wherever the evening takes you.

In the 1970s, velvet shed its aristocratic associations and became popular in more bohemian circles, as well as appearing on the Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta catwalks in the latter end of the decade.

Princess Diana often chose velvet not only for public appearances but also for glittering evening functions. When worn by the princess, velvet is both appropriately regal and fashionably up to date. In 1985, she chose a midnight blue gown by Victor Edelstein to visit the White House.

The autumn and winter 2017 catwalk shows put velvet firmly back on the fashion agenda, and none more so than Erdem. There were patchwork velvet dresses, brocade velvet platform shoes, and devore floral velvet dresses and coats in peony pink and yolk yellow.Daily Telegraph

 

From left: Fashion blogger Dasha Gold wears a velvet coat from Isabella Quinn at a Sydney fashion show; Australian actress Abbie Cornish is clad in a floral blue velvet dress at a Hollywood movie premiere; Italian fashion designer Chiara Ferragni dresses down a velvet blazer to pair it with white jeans and sneakers in New York; German style blogger Gitta Banko is found in a green velvet suit in Paris.Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-08 07:11:57
<![CDATA[New virtual fitting room helps make online shopping easier]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/08/content_34276138.htm CHICAGO - If years of online shopping have taught us anything, it's this: Just because an outfit looks amazing on the model, it doesn't mean it will look anywhere near as good when we get it home and try it on in front of a mirror.

And we've learned to live with that problem. We return the items that just don't fit quite right, or, for those hard-to-buy articles, we suck it up and venture into a physical mall - braving crowds of shoppers, long lines and unforgiving fluorescent lights in search of the perfect fit.

But Berkeley-based startup Twindom is working on a solution, which it calls Drapr. The company is using its 3-D imaging technology to create a virtual fitting-room experience capable of showing you how your own body would look in any article of clothing - all from the comfort of your home.

"The final result looks like you wearing clothing that you've never worn before," says co-founder and CEO David Pastewka. "And it is as accurate as if you had actually worn it."

He says the result will resemble that scene from the movie Clueless where Cher uses a computer program to "try on" outfits from her massive closet before school.

The idea is made possible using Twindom's proprietary full-body scanners - the $27,000 devices look like small, portable cages that can be set up anywhere in less than an hour. The subject stands in the middle, cameras on all sides snap pictures, and that data is sent to a computer that converts it into a 3-D image.

Pastewka is working on forming partnerships with major clothing retailers, which will set the scanners up in their stores and invite customers to have their bodies scanned. The next step is for the retailers to photograph their clothing - which is when it gets a bit weirder. Retailers will put the clothes on a Twindom robotic mannequin, which changes shape to represent different body types and sizes. The retailer takes 3-D pictures of each clothing item in several standard sizes, and uploads them to a computer.

Twindom's software then combines the clothing images with the images of the customer's body, using its simulation technology to fill in the gaps between the robotic mannequin and the real person. The result is a 3-D image that captures everything accurately from how a piece of clothing fits, to the way it hangs, to where the fabric bunches, Pastewka says.

Twindom is beta testing its virtual fitting-room concept with customers now, and hopes to roll it out at major retailers within the next year. The startup is also working on technology that would let customers do the 3-D body scan at home using their smartphone - Pastewka says users can expect that new feature in three to four years.

In the meantime, Twindom is using its technology to create 3-D-printed, action-figured-sized models of people. They work with local retailers like PocketMe in Berkeley and Fisherman's Warf to bring family photos to life.

Tribune News Service

]]>
2017-11-08 07:11:57
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/08/content_34276137.htm Music

Take Me Apart

Since her outlandish 2013 Cut 4 Me mixtape, US singer Kelela has been discussed in the same breath as musicians like Solange Knowles and Frank Ocean, especially when it comes to smartly confessional, experimental electronic soul.

Without relying on conventional rhythm, melody, meter or structure, Kelela became a sensation of next-level genre-babbling, a vibe she doubles down on, hard, for her full-album debut, Take Me Apart. With her brawny vocals and an oddly phrased and hungry take on breakups, makeups, and forthcoming romance, Kelela is ready to take no prisoners.

Still, it is Turn to Dust that is most stirring in that it toys with soul's age-old conventions while imagining love's hole-in-the-heart distance in language that's crisp, frank, and emotive. That's a tradition worth keeping and twisting, and Kelela does so brilliantly.

Book

David Bowie

British award-winning music icon David Bowie, who passed away in early 2016, led one of the most memorable and legendary lives imaginable.

Covering among other things such as his London roots, the creation of Ziggy Stardust, his relationship with his family and his marriage to Iman, this book offers readers a view into the real life of David Bowie.

Drawing from hundreds of interviews with friends, lovers, family and rivals, this biography promises to be the most intimate yet. It's "a must-read, incredibly diverse and detailed oral history of the rock god's entire existence. From the cradle to the grave. Best. Bowie book. Ever," says US writer Denis Leary.

Game

The Evil Within 2

With The Evil Within, Japanese legendary game developer Shinji Mikami aimed to bring the survival-horror genre back to its roots. He gave players a creepy and mind-bending game with a plot that was hard to follow but exuded a nightmarish atmosphere that made one's skin crawl. The sequel, The Evil Within 2, maintains the status quo while giving players a new story. The main protagonist, Sebastian Castellanos, returns once again, but he has a new goal. He wants to find his daughter, Lily, who was put in the STEM machine, a device that connects people's minds together.

When it comes to the gameplay, the game maintains the survival-horror aspects of the genre. Castellanos has limited ammunition. He can carry several weapons and heal himself with syringes.

Combat is shot in a third-person perspective with stiff controls. It creates an intimacy with the character while at the same time limiting the perspective.

China Daily - Agencies

]]>
2017-11-08 07:11:57
<![CDATA[Tribute to an artistic pioneer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/07/content_34231188.htm The 9-meter-long inkbrush painting, Jiangshan Ruci Duojiao (How Beautiful the Motherland Looks) is undoubtedly the best known work of Guan Shanyue (1912-2000). The painter from Guangdong province co-produced the grand landscape with art master Fu Baoshi (1904-65) in 1959, after being inspired by one of Mao Zedong's poems. And it bears its title in calligraphic hand writing of the late chairman.

]]>
The National Museum of China is holding an exhibition, Infinite Ranges of Mountains, which traces artist Guan Shanyue's evolution from a young talent in the 1930s to being a pathbreaker. Lin Qi reports.

The 9-meter-long inkbrush painting, Jiangshan Ruci Duojiao (How Beautiful the Motherland Looks) is undoubtedly the best known work of Guan Shanyue (1912-2000). The painter from Guangdong province co-produced the grand landscape with art master Fu Baoshi (1904-65) in 1959, after being inspired by one of Mao Zedong's poems. And it bears its title in calligraphic hand writing of the late chairman.

The painting was a State commission to decorate the newly built Great Hall of the People. And even today, it hangs in one of the meeting rooms of the grand building.

But one painting is not enough to get a comprehensive overview of Guan's accomplishments.

It needs an exhibition.

And the National Museum of China is holding one, Infinite Ranges of Mountains, which traces Guan's evolution from a young talent in the 1930s to a mature artist who still painted in his last days.

Three years before he died, Guan donated some 870 of his paintings and calligraphic works to the city of Shenzhen, in Guangdong province.

Then, based on the donation an art gallery named after him was built.

The bulk of the works at the Beijing event are from the gallery's collection.

The rest are on loan from five museums and cultural institutions in Guangdong, making the current show a rare collection of Guan's output from different periods of time.

Li Jingkun, deputy chairman of the Guangdong Artists Association, says that at the heart of the creations by Guan, and many artists of his time, is an unconcealed expression of emotion.

"He zoomed in on the daily life of the common people, and was sensitive to how they felt and what kind of art could comfort them. He was one of them, from the bottom of society," says Li. "This allowed him to innovate on classic Chinese paintings, and his landscapes like Jiangshan Ruci Duojiao created a buzz in the second half of the 20th century."

Guan Yi, founder of the Guangzhou-based Guan Shanyue Arts Foundation, says that one can't separate the development of Guan's style from the nourishment he received at the Chunshui Studio that was opened by Gao Jianfu, his mentor and the leader of the Lingnan Painting School in Guangzhou, in the early 1930s.

She says the painter caught Gao's attention when he attended an art course by him at Sun Yat-sen University, and showed the artist his paintings.

"Guan was then a poor primary school teacher. He couldn't afford the fees at Chunshui Studio," she says. "So, Gao took him in for free and even provided him with accommodation."

Gao and other Lingnan school painters endeavored to revitalize the classic painting style to be a "new national art of realism", focusing on the realities of ordinary people.

Guan embraced the same spirit throughout a career spanning several decades.

His paintings at the current exhibition show his pursuit to always put people's agonies and happiness at the center of his creations.

For example, during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), he traveled a lot and his ink-brush paintings, done in his studio, showed the plight of war victims.

In Fate of Invaders, one of the paintings on display, Guan depicts a tragic snowy scene after a heated battle: Two vultures are on a tree branch and below them a helmet of a Japanese soldier dangles on a wire fence.

Speaking about the work, art critic Xue Yongnian says: "He didn't directly portray a battle. He took a poetic approach to what his people were suffering and to tell people that the invaders were bound to surrender."

Guan Yi says the painter often packed his war paintings in a bag and carried with him whenever he traveled, so that he could exhibit them.

After the foundation of New China in 1949, Guan traveled extensively so that he could "confront" the changing landscape of the country and the new life of people.

Among his many paintings showing the country's progress are four similar paintings all titled Green Great Wall in the 1970s.

The paintings show stretches of trees along the coast of southern China to prevent windstorms.

One of the four paintings is now on show.

Xue says that in this work Guan hailed the idea that the progress could be achieved only when people knew how to be in harmony with nature.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm, closed on Mondays, through Nov 23. National Museum of China, 16 East Chang'an Avenue, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6511-6400.

 

The ink-brush paintings are among the works by Guan Shanyue on show at the ongoing exhibition Infinite Ranges of Mountains at the National Museum of China in Beijing.Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-11-07 07:44:40
<![CDATA[German museum shows art from vast trove hidden for decades]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/07/content_34231187.htm BONN, Germany - Some 250 art works that a reclusive collector hid from the world for decades, including pieces likely looted from Jewish owners under Nazi rule, are on show at a German museum.

The paintings being shown starting from Thursday at Bonn's Bundeskunsthalle - including works by Albrecht Duerer, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro - are from the huge art collection hoarded by late collector Cornelius Gurlitt. Authorities first stumbled on the art, stored in Gurlitt's Munich home, while investigating a tax case in 2012.

The exhibition focuses on works of art believed to have been taken from their mostly Jewish owners as part of Nazi persecution and on works whose provenance hasn't yet been established.

The Bonn show is part of a double exhibition titled Gurlitt: Status Report. A parallel show in the Swiss capital Bern features some 200 works from the collector's trove, mostly from artists who were defamed by the Nazis as "degenerate".

The art on display in Bern includes Expressionist works by artists such as Otto Dix and Franz Marc.

It is the first chance for the public to view any of the paintings and other works from the 1,500-piece collection that belonged to the estate of Gurlitt's father, the Nazi-era art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt.

The Bonn show, subtitled Nazi Art Theft and Its Consequences, aims to put the works into their historical context. It tries to shed light on Hildebrand Gurlitt's life and also focuses on the fate of Jewish artists, collectors and art dealers who fell victim to the Nazi regime.

The works cover a broad time span, from Lucas Cranach via Carl Spitzweg and Edgar Degas to Max Beckmann. Among the highlights are Monet's Waterloo Bridge and the marble sculpture Crouching Woman by Auguste Rodin.

Cornelius Gurlitt, who died in 2014, had squirreled away more than 1,200 works in his Munich apartment and a further 250 or so at a property in Salzburg, Austria.

His will bequeathed the works to the museum in Bern. A German government-backed foundation is working with it to ensure that any pieces looted from Jewish owners are returned to their heirs.

That has been a slow and painstaking task. So far, experts have identified six works as definitely having been looted by the Nazis - the latest of them last month, when researchers determined that the Portrait of a Seated Young Woman by Thomas Couture belonged to Georges Mandel.

Mandel, a Jewish French politician, was murdered in 1944. That piece is among those on show in Bonn.

The curator of the Bonn exhibit says that a lot of work still remains to be done regarding the provenance of much of the collection.

"The origin of more than 50 percent of the art pieces has not yet been solved," Agnieszka Lulinska tells the German news agency DPA.

The Bonn exhibition runs until March 11. The Bern exhibition runs until March 4.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-07 07:44:40
<![CDATA[Time travelers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/07/content_34231186.htm On a sunny, humid morning in an open area of tropical forest in Honduras, a group of 16 locals and two Chinese men are on an archaeological dig. Suddenly a snake slithers into view. Frightened and yelling, the locals use spades, sticks and anything they have at hand to scare the snake away.

]]>
In recent years, Chinese archaeological teams have been working far afield uncovering the secrets of the past. Yang Jianxiang and Qu Ting report.

On a sunny, humid morning in an open area of tropical forest in Honduras, a group of 16 locals and two Chinese men are on an archaeological dig. Suddenly a snake slithers into view. Frightened and yelling, the locals use spades, sticks and anything they have at hand to scare the snake away.

To Li Xinwei, an archaeologist from Beijing, the red-skinned snake was similar to the red-banded snakes he had seen in the fields at home. But from the speech and gestures of the head worker, who was wielding a machete, he realized the snake was extremely poisonous. A bite on the arm might require cutting off the limb to save the victim's life, he was told.

That was in November 2015. Li and his colleague were on an excavation resulting from an agreement signed with the Honduras government more than a year before. The Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Honduras Institute of Anthropology and History were cooperating on a five-year project. The Anthropology Department of Harvard University also had a part.

The role of the Chinese archaeologists was to excavate and reconstruct Group 8N-11, a sub-royal elite residential compound, in Copan, Honduras.

Not long after, they unearthed carvings of serpent-headed supernatural birds with outstretched shell-shaped wings and maize-like god heads. This reflected the death and rebirth cycle of the maize god, according to ancient Mayan beliefs.

At the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology held in Vancouver, Canada, this year, Li Xinwei, director of the IACASS Honduras team, shared their findings. His presentation won warm applause from the international audience.

The serpent-headed bird resembled a common Chinese dragon-head icon, which reminded Li of the late Chinese-American archaeologist Kwang-chih Chang, who believed that American and Chinese civilizations probably shared pan-Pacific cultural genes and were different developments from the same source civilization.

"We cannot understand the special characteristics of our own civilization without understanding the characteristics of other civilizations," Li says.

In recent years, China has sent archaeological teams to central, west and Southeast Asia, and to Kenya in Africa. But Copan is the first of the Chinese archaeologists' major foreign explorations. The Temple of Montu in Luxor, Egypt, and the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in Haryana, India, are prospective destinations.

In March, the CASS Research Center of World Archaeology was inaugurated under director Wang Wei.

And a category of new archaeological awards was set up in 2016 to recognize Chinese archaeologists' remarkable achievements in foreign excavations. Last year the top award went to the Mingtepa project, a joint operation between IACASS and counterparts in central Asia's Uzbekistan.

The foreign excavations coincide with the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013, which envisions the expansion of infrastructure and trade networks to connect Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes. Many foreign destinations are along the ancient Silk Road and such endeavors have strong support from the government, Wang says.

Wang led the first team to Copan in July 2014, accompanied by William Fash, a Harvard University archaeologist who started excavating in Honduras in the late 1970s. Although China came to the party fairly late, Fash says he had great confidence in Chinese archaeologists' abilities and strongly believed they would contribute to the study of Mayan civilization.

In the Mingtepa project, Chinese archaeologists employed a unique China-made tool known as a "luoyang spade". Through five excavations, they successfully broadened the excavation site size and proved that over 2,000 years ago Mingtepa was not simply a provisional garrison fort for nomads, but a fully functional castle, the largest in the Fergana Valley.

Li's team also used drone cameras, high resolution professional software and 3-D modeling in their work, which proved more efficient and accurate than established local practices in recording the location, topology and properties of features and items within the excavation grid.

The Mayans often built over existing sites, a testament to their belief in the life-cycle theory. For the excavation of 8N-11, Li adopted the conventional approach of tunneling. He was careful to examine and record the colors and properties of the soil. A little over a year later, Li had a clear picture of four main stages of construction, destruction and reconstruction of the 8N-11 complex structure. He was able to answer many questions related to the development of divine kingship, expressions of cosmology, roads, architecture and sculptures, and to conjecture about the causes of the collapse of Mayan dynastic rule.

Chinese archaeologists are achieving notable results in other countries. A Kenyan project undertaken by a team with Peking University's School of Archaeology and Museology has not only made a fruitful survey of ceramic exports from China to Africa, but also uncovered, through excavations at five coastal sites, a large quantity of ancient relics, which put the existence of the early Malindi Kingdom at around the 9th and 10th centuries. Chinese scholars also proved the region accommodated an iron smelting industry and was an important manufacturing base for iron products in the early trading era of the Indian Ocean. The finding was well received by Kenyan scholars, who hailed it as a great advance in the study of the Swahili coast of Africa.

"One of the main purposes of the archaeological projects is to get a world perspective in our research on the development of societies, to appreciate and share the beauties of other cultures," Li says in a recent interview.

At Copan, Li made the effort to learn Spanish. By mastering the local language, he hopes he can respond more rapidly next time when an incident occurs. He also wishes to continue working on the Mayan culture after the current project winds up in 2019.

"The American archaeologists have committed to the Maya study for more than a hundred years now. We can do the same," he says. "The serene pyramids scattered in the tropical forest are beckoning."

China Features

]]>
2017-11-07 07:44:40
<![CDATA[World's smallest paleolithic ornamental beads unearthed]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/07/content_34231185.htm

YINCHUAN - Chinese archaeologists have unearthed the world's smallest paleolithic ornamental beads, in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region. The beads, made of a kind of eggshell, which are 1.26 millimeters in diameter, were discovered at an ancient site from the late Pleistocene dating between 8,000 and 12,000 years ago in Qingtongxia city.

Three beads were discovered at the same time, archaeologists say.

The excavation was jointly conducted by the Ningxia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and the cultural relics administration of Qingtongxia from May to August.

"It is incredible that the beads have such small diameters," says Wang Huimin, a researcher with the Ningxia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

Archaeologists say the beads showed excellent craftsmanship and the aesthetic taste. They say further research is needed to determine the exact purpose or meaning of the beads.

It took the archaeologists five years to sift and wash thousands of cubic meters of dirt to find the beads. As many as eight sets of steel sieves were worn out in the process.

In 2016, three beads were found at the site, among which the smallest was 1.42 mm in diameter.

The site in Qingtongxia has produced more than 10,000 items, including stoneware, ornaments and plant seeds.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-07 07:44:40
<![CDATA[Art markets with potential]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/07/content_34231184.htm British dealer Sadie Coles, 54, is recognized as a "legend" and "highflier" in the highly competitive art market. The gallery owner from London says the drive, excitement and potential she feels about Shanghai reminds her of Berlin in the 1990s.

]]>
A British art dealer says the audience for contemporary art in China is growing fast, especially in art hubs like Beijing and Shanghai, both of which she feels are 'accessible, receptive and open'. Lin Qi reports.

British dealer Sadie Coles, 54, is recognized as a "legend" and "highflier" in the highly competitive art market. The gallery owner from London says the drive, excitement and potential she feels about Shanghai reminds her of Berlin in the 1990s.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital was a flourishing art market, and a gathering of galleries and international artists pushed it to the forefront of the contemporary art world.

So it is with the art market in Shanghai, which Coles describes as "solid and serious".

"Shanghai has many private institutions and initiatives that offer a variety of platforms for artists, for exhibitions and for audiences," Coles says in an email interview.

She adds the audience is "engaged and highly inquisitive".

Coles' impression is based on her experiences at West Bund Art & Design.

Sadie Coles HQ, which she opened 20 years ago, will return for the third consecutive time to this premier fair in Shanghai, which will run from Friday to Sunday.

Meanwhile, the gallery will make its debut at Art 021, another major fair in Shanghai, which runs from Thursday to Sunday.

Works by more than one-third of the artists whom the Coles gallery represents will be showcased at the two fairs. Among them there are Swiss-born Urs Fischer, whose works were shown at the West Bund fair, and US painter Ryan Sullivan, whose works are well received at major international art fairs such as Art Basel.

Coles says there will also be artists who are less familiar to the Chinese, including British artist Hilary Lloyd and Brazilian Adriano Costa.

"I always get an injection of energy from the high levels of interest expressed in our artists," says Coles.

"Our primary aim is to foster knowledge about our artists and our programs, and to spark new conversations. Conversations lead to collaborations, projects and sales."

One such project will be the first major solo exhibition in China by US artist Jordan Wolfson, who works with Sadie Coles HQ.

The exhibition, titled Riverboat Song, will be open on Friday at Shanghai's Pond Space.

Wolfson's works will also be featured at Coles' booth at the West Bund fair.

Coles says a lot of her artists are "curious about showing their work in China ... and are interested in the new experiences and audiences which China offers".

China is not only a destination for Coles to expand her business. It is also the focus of talk in London's art circles over the past two months, sparked by two contemporary Chinese art exhibitions at her gallery: Zhongguo 2185 and Xuzhen Supermarket, which ended on Sunday.

Coles says the shows introduced to London and Europe a younger generation of artists from China, "whose practices are in dialogue with their contemporaries worldwide".

Zhongguo 2185 showed works by 10 artists who are in their 30s.

Coles says it had "incredible" attendance, particularly from young people who recognize the "shared anxieties of contemporary life" in the displayed artworks.

Xuzhen Supermarket featured the virtual environment of a supermarket in which the audience was surrounded by stacks of commodities.

The exhibition by Shanghai artist Xu Zhen, 40, examined such topics as the relentless circle of supply and demand, and mass consumption.

Coles says the art community outside of China as a whole has had relatively little exposure to the works of this generation, and this in itself brought many visitors.

She adds that while speaking to the Chinese artists featured at the shows, she learned that "the voices they have are proudly their own", and they do not cater to the ideas of what Chinese art should look like.

She says the audience for contemporary art in China is growing fast, especially in art hubs like Beijing and Shanghai, both of which she feels are "accessible, receptive and open".

She says both cities boast communities "who are making serious and long-term commitments to building structures in which contemporary art can flourish".

Coles also advises women in art like herself to ignore the authority and superiority that men assume they have.

"I have always refused to accept that I am any different: I am the owner of an art gallery, I love art and artists, and I run my business to the best of my ability.

"I don't consider my gender to be any kind of impediment and am enormously thankful to all the artists who have given me the opportunity to work with them. I am pretty sure they didn't choose me because of my gender."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-07 07:44:40
<![CDATA[Marriage of styles for first Serrano solo exhibition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/07/content_34231183.htm What does the phrase "Made in China" represent? US artist Andres Serrano tries to give an answer with a distinctly red hue in An American Perspective, his first solo show in China, which features his most recent Made in China series.

The show, which opened on Saturday at the Red Brick Art Museum, a private museum in Beijing, presents 53 large-format photographs and video works from his 16 major series, including a portrait of US President Donald Trump, shot in 2004, as part of his America series.

The New York-based artist spent about half a month in Beijing this summer producing his Made in China series, in which he shot portraits of Chinese people from all walks of life dressed in wedding gowns.

"The individuals in my works are visual symbols that I use to explore identity and cultural diversity. The wedding gowns refer to China's tradition, love and marriage, and the country's glorious past," says Serrano, adding that he has Chinese blood because his great great-grandfather was Cuban-Chinese.

He invited newly-married couples, waitresses, cooks, villagers, street cleaners, single men and women, and divorced people of different ages and social backgrounds to take part in his work on Chinese marriage.

All the 36 people who posed for him were dressed in traditional red Chinese wedding costumes. Serrano explains that the gowns allowed him to find the dignity and character of the models, who were all carefully selected. He dressed an 84-year-old woman in magnificent wedding attire, whom he says he "treated like a queen". He met her in a village near where he was staying.

"I tried to find people who have worked hard all their lives. They have a unique character which you can see in their faces," Serrano explains of his attraction to people from different walks of life.

Yan Shijie, founder of the Red Brick Art Museum, invited Serrano to join the museum's artistic residency project. He says due to the limited time Serrano had in Beijing, the artist wasn't able to explore the subject more deeply. This meant that Serrano was only able to present his Made in China series while keeping a certain distance from the country.

However, Yan says Serrano's other works on display offer Chinese audiences a glimpse into US society from a US perspective.

The bulk of Serrano's works are portraits, and many of the works in this exhibition are taken from his America series, which include photos of 115 Americans he shot after the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks. He took photos of all kinds of people, including firefighters, soldiers, homeless people, celebrities, stars and the rich.

And the current US President Donald Trump was then his model in 2004.

"In 2004, Donald Trump was Donald Trump: a celebrity, a successful businessman, a TV star. I didn't predict that he would become president. But I saw in him what America is for me. Many years later, people saw the same thing," he says.

In that series, he also shot many other celebrities, such as Yoko Ono and Arthur Miller. Serrano is known for works that direct his audiences' thoughts toward our standards of value judgments.

Talking about his most recent series Made in China, Serrano says its title is meant to be taken literally. Although the phrase can sometimes evoke negative connotations, he regards it as a positive label.

"China represents the future of the world's economic and cultural development," he adds.

The artist regrets that his stay in China was so short and hopes to return. For him, the country is "like a universe that needs a lifetime to explore".

If you go

10 am-6 pm, through Feb 25. Red Brick Art Museum, Hegezhuang, Cuigezhuang village, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8457-6669.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-07 07:44:40
<![CDATA[Showcasing traditional arts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/06/content_34189066.htm Performers of shadow play, Peking Opera and acrobatics are displaying their skills at the Traditional Culture & Arts Week in Beijing. Chen Nan reports.

Lu Baogang can still remember the day his father died of a heart attack in 1979. For Lu, who was 15 then, it felt like sky was falling. That year, as the youngest and only son of his family, Lu dropped out of school and started working with the Beijing Shadow Show Troupe, where his father was appointed as director days before he died.

"My mother made the decision for me and I had to obey because I had to earn money to support my family," says Lu, who has four elder sisters.

 

Lu Baogang, director of the Beijing Shadow Show Troupe, demonstrates how to manipulate a puppet in his office in Beijing. He believes reaching out to younger audiences may help revive the age-old art form. Zou Hong / China Daily

 
He was a top student in his class and his dream was to study in university and become a teacher after graduation.

Standing in his office at the Beijing Shadow Show Troupe, which is based in a quiet and hidden hutong (alleyway) in the capital's Xicheng district, Lu, 53, who is now the director of the troupe, recalls the events like they happened yesterday.

The art his father practiced was shadow play, also known as shadow puppetry, an ancient Chinese art form combining music, storytelling and puppets.

The art, which took shape in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), reached its peak in the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties.

The troupe celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. And during the ongoing Traditional Culture & Arts Week, which kicked off on Oct 31 and runs through Nov 17, Lu is leading his troupe to display his family's craft.

There were, at one time, two schools of shadow puppetry in Beijing: eastern and western. Although they originated from the same source, they were different when it came to performing styles.

Lu is the fifth generation to follow his family's shadow play tradition, whose style is from the old western school.

The Beijing Shadow Show Troupe, set up by the government in 1957, is an extension of the Lu family tradition.

Since its founding, the troupe has received support from established Peking Opera masters, including Mei Lanfang, who had invited the troupe to perform at his home many times.

"Shadow play and Peking Opera have a strong connection. Many repertoires, including The Journey to the West and White Snake Lady, were shared by shadow play and Peking Opera," says Lu.

Like many traditional Chinese art forms, such as Peking Opera, shadow play has gone through rocky times, challenged by diverse contemporary entertainment.

In 2008, shadow play was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage.

What Lu wants to do is more than display this art form.

"I want to revitalize this art form. I am proud of my family's tradition. But for decades, the troupe was losing talent and its market was declining. It would be a shame if this art form dies in my hands," says Lu.

The troupe now has 11 actors, from their early 20s to their 50s, who give about 110 performances every year around the country. They also produce shadow puppet cartoons for television and do free shows to children during the summer vacation.

For now, Lu is preparing for a new show to be premiered in 2018, which will integrate traditional shadow play with contemporary elements, like a multimedia stage set, to attract younger audiences.

But he feels that there is much to be done.

He says that by letting more people see the art form - from the performances to the techniques of making shadow puppets - people, especially the young, could be inspired by what they see and begin their own revival.

Along with Lu's troupe, the ongoing Traditional Culture& Arts Week also features Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company, which celebrates its 80th anniversary; and the Beijing Acrobatic Troupe, which marks 60 years.

The two troupes are also performing their latest works at the festival.

The Beijing Fenglei Peking Opera Company was on the verge of dying in 2001, but had a dramatic reversal of fortune thanks to Song Yan, now 53, a Peking Opera actor, who is also the director of the company.

When Song became the director, he led the actors to give nearly 800 performances in 15 months, which helped it survive.

Today, 16 years later, the company is one of the best-known Peking Opera companies in the country, doing about 600 shows a year.

The company premiered its work, Ke Si Jian Yi, at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center on Nov 1 and 2, which is about the people who rented costumes to Peking Opera troupes in the 1930s.

The show is the second of a trilogy by Song, in which he combines theater with Peking Opera. The first show, titled Wang Zi, premiered in October 2015. It tells the story of a father and his adopted son in Beijing in the 1930s.

Speaking about the challenges traditional art forms are facing, Song, who joined the troupe when he was 12, says: "Though they are different, there is one thing in common. People who learn these arts have to be patient and focused. You have to isolate yourself from the outside world, which is full of commercial benefits and a variety of entertainments. It takes years and even decades to master these techniques. That's why these arts are timeless and can still be appreciated by audiences centuries later."

The Beijing Acrobatic Troupe will present a show, which won a gold medal at the Paris' Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (The World Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow) in 1995.

Beijing Tianqiao Zenith Investment Group Co Ltd, which manages the three troupes, says they did more than 1,400 shows in 2016, which attracted more than 400,000 people.

And in another bit of good news, the government of Xicheng district has received approval for a project to build a heritage center in the Tianqiao area, once a haven for folk arts and small businesses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to promote shadow puppetry and acrobatics.

Xu Li, the deputy head of Xicheng district, says: "These troupes are national treasures, and they have performed in other countries in cultural exchange programs, introducing Chinese culture to international audiences."

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-06 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Berlin Philharmonic returns to Shanghai with sellout shows]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/06/content_34189065.htm All the tickets for the two upcoming Berlin Philharmonic concerts in Shanghai sold out within 26 hours on Sept 17 and 18, a record for a live performance.

The German orchestra is performing at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on Nov 16 and 17 as the final leg of its China tour.

This will be the second time the world-renowned symphony orchestra has played at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

The first time was in 2005, when the theater had just been launched. The concert caused such a sensation that it made it onto the city's top 10 cultural news stories of the year, says Lei Wen, president of the theater.

"The ticket price has been significantly lowered this time relative to the price 12 years ago," Lei says.

It is still extremely expensive to introduce a top-notch symphony with 100 plus pieces, she says. But thanks to commercial sponsors such as Borgward, a German carmaker, "We have lowered the highest ticket price from 4,000($604) to 3,480 yuan, and the lowest ticket price from 300 to 80 yuan," Lei says.

In general, the average ticket price is 30 percent less than the last time the orchestra performed at the venue.

Avid music lovers waited outside the theater for the box office to open on Sept 17. Some even stayed at a hotel nearby.

"I was lucky," says Shi Yingying, a 32-year-old office worker who bought a ticket for 1,288 yuan, after waiting for three hours. "By the time I arrived, some had left because the first night tickets were all sold out."

"I fell in love with classical music listening to recordings of the Berlin Philharmonic. Now they are here in my city, and I don't want to miss it."

Luo Xueqin, vice-general manager of Shanghai Oriental Art Center, says: "People's enthusiasm was far beyond our expectation. We will be better prepared in the future, and improve our online booking system."

She says that the theater used an ID-ticket purchasing system to avoid scalpers.

Since its establishment in 1882, the Berlin Philharmonic has become a cultural icon of Germany, says Christine D. Althauser, consul general of Germany in Shanghai.

After the turmoil of World War II, the orchestra went through a period of rapid development under the leadership of Herbert von Karajan, who worked with the symphony from 1955-1989.

Tang Muhai, one of the most acclaimed Chinese conductors of today, was once invited by Karajan to be the guest conductor for the Berlin Philharmonic.

Tang says he has been impressed by the strong spiritual power the orchestra has displayed through the past few decades, and from which it has developed a distinctive sound.

He says the orchestra is now a young and lively group, playing lots of modern and contemporary music, while holding firmly onto its German and Austrian traditions.

Sir Simon Rattle has been the music director since 2002, but this is his last music season leading the orchestra. Kirill Petrenko will take over the baton in 2019.

Chinese pianist Wang Yuja will perform on the first night in Shanghai, playing Piano Concerto No 2 by Bela Viktor Janos Bartok, a particularly difficult piece.

While the first night features mainly German and Austrian music, the second night in Shanghai will be a "Russian carnival", featuring works by Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, says Luo.

The orchestra's China tour starts on Nov 10, with two concerts in Hong Kong. It will then play in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Nov 12, and Wuhan, Hubei province, on Nov 13.

After Shanghai, it will perform in Seoul, South Korea, and Kawasaki and Tokyo in Japan, before heading back home to Berlin.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-06 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Mountain pressure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/06/content_34189064.htm As visitor numbers to Huangshan soar, mammoth challenges emerge for ecology officials tasked with protecting the scenic spot. Yang Feiyue reports.

Strangely-shaped pine trees, grotesque rock peaks and a sea of clouds all make Huangshan Mountain a special treat for visitors, whether they be hikers, nature lovers or photography buffs.

Located in the south of East China's Anhui province, the mountain range covers an area of 1,200 square kilometers and has long been considered the epitome of classic Chinese landscape scenery.

"You might never understand the beauty of Chinese poetry if you fail to see the scenery Huangshan presents," says Ge Xufang, an official with the Huangshan scenic spot management committee.

 

The mountain, considered the epitome of classic Chinese landscape scenery, draws visitors from around the world.

Polychromatic trees and flowers carpet Huangshan's vast valleys in late October. Dark green pine trees stand in sharp relief against the rugged milk-white and gray mountain peaks, while clouds shroud some of the lower peaks, all creating a panoramic vision.

The mountain was named a world cultural and natural heritage site back in 1990, and joined the UNESCO-supported Global Geoparks Network in 2004.

There are roughly 90 peaks, each more than 1,000 meters above sea level, and it's a thrilling experience to walk along their precipitous cliffs.

Visitors can opt to take the cableway that takes roughly 10 minutes from the foot of the mountain to one of the major tourism attractions, Yuping or Jade Screen Pavilion, to enjoy the hugely popular Guest-Greeting Pine, which is believed to be at least 800 years old.

The tree has a branch protruding out from the cliff, resembling a waving arm that welcomes visitors from far and wide.

For those with stamina, it takes about three hours on foot to reach the spot.

"It's the perfect time of the year to catch the autumnal scenery," Ge says.

Fresh air and a profound cultural heritage have contributed to the mountain's popularity.

"There are many inscriptions on the precipices and ancient paths and bridges here," Ge says.

Many well-known painters have based their classic artistic creations on Huangshan since the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, which also adds to Huangshan's fame.

Photography competitions also draw a large number of shutterbugs to the scenic area.

Huangshan received more than 180,000 visitors during the recent National Day holiday (Oct 1-8), an increase of 17.4 percent over the same period last year.

In 2016, the number of visitors broke 3.3 million, more than 30 times the number in 1978, and the scenic spot raked in 2.83 billion yuan ($428 million).

The launch of the Hefei-Fuzhou high-speed railway in 2015 has given local tourism a shot in the arm.

"We've seen a significant increase in the number of tourists from cities along the rail line, especially from Beijing, Fujian and Tianjin," Ge says.

Outbound tourists from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative are also increasing, especially those from Europe. Visitor numbers from the United States are also rising.

Given the increase in the number of visitors, tourism officials in Huangshan have taken additional measures to ensure the integrity of the local environment.

Fu Qiugui is carrying a big bundle of washed quilts on his back and tourists are moving aside to let him through.

"Clean bedclothes and food are needed at the mountain top," the 50-year-old says.

The bundle he carries weighs 75 kilograms, and would take him five hours on foot, or one hour by cableway, to transport depending on the day.

He normally carries dirty quilts on his way back down the mountain.

Usually, he earns about 200 yuan a day for his work.

Fu lives in a rural area near the scenic spot and has been working as a porter at Huangshan for 24 years.

The biggest challenge for him is the steep road and fickle weather conditions on the mountain.

"It's difficult to walk when it rains or snows," Fu says

But the plus side of his work are the flexible hours.

He usually works for 200 days a year, and returns home to plant or harvest tea during the farming seasons.

"And the income is OK," he says.

Fu's work is part of a larger effort to protect the environment of the scenic spot.

All the bed sheets and quilts have to be carried downhill and washed, before being sent up again. Fresh food is also washed before being delivered to the mountain.

"This prevents wastewater polluting the environment, and avoids the overuse of mountain water, which might undermine the ecology," Ge explains.

There are 250 people like Fu working for eight hotels in the mountains, which can accommodate up to 3,000 guests.

A sanitation team is in place to deal with littering. In some cases, workers use ropes to pick up trash left by tourists in steep ravines and cliffs, Ge says.

Particular efforts have also been made to protect trees and animals. Special personnel have been assigned to take turns to watch the Guest-Greeting Pine around the clock.

There are more than 100 ancient trees in the mountains, all over 100 years old.

"We've kept track of their growth and the soil conditions to ensure their healthy development," says Hu Xinting, a Huangshan ecology official.

The forest coverage rate has increased to more than 98 percent, as opposed to 56 percent in the 1970s. The number of plant varieties has also risen by 300 to 2,100.

A stump-tailed monkey research facility has also been built to preserve the protected wild animal.

Dozens of wastewater treatment facilities have been built to deal with refuse from hotels.

In the future, a new tourist lane will be added to the cableway and its capacity will be increased to meet the rising visitor numbers.

A new scenic spot, Donghai, featuring a waterfall and rivers in the east of the mountain is being planned, and is expected to open to the public within three years.

More tourists also now visit in winter, which was traditionally a travel offseason, to avoid crowds and take in the winter scenery.

"The white snow covering the distinctive pine trees looks magnificent," Ge says.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-06 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Peru seeks more Chinese visitors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/06/content_34189063.htm LIMA - Peru hopes to build on the growing number of tourists visiting the South American country from China and other Asian countries, says Carlos Canales, president of Lima's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Currently, about 40,000 Chinese citizens visit our country for various reasons, including leisure and business travel," says Canales.

Famed for its ancient Inca civilization, Peru was recently voted Latin America's second best country for doing business, and the region's fourth-leading tourism destination.

To promote Peru's attractions in China, Canales plans to take advantage of an invitation recently extended by the local government of Zhuhai, a city in South China's Guangdong province, and enter into a sister-cities partnership to boost tourism numbers.

"To develop mutual cooperation and, in particular, tourism and foreign trade, I will be traveling along with the president of Peru's Association of Exporters, Juan Varilias," Canales says.

The number of Chinese travelers to Peru has been growing steadily, with 35,000 Chinese citizens visiting the country in 2016, representing a 10 percent increase over the year before, he says.

"If we keep in mind that 10 years ago we had barely 6,000 Chinese tourists, we can say that in a decade we have succeeded in producing an almost 800 percent increase," says Canales.

The tourism promoter is confident that the trend will rise in the years to come.

"Our goal is to reach a million Chinese tourists. Today, the United States receives 5 million Chinese tourists, and Canada 7 million. Argentina, Brazil and Chile have an average of 35,000," says Canales.

The similar tourist numbers for Latin American countries spring from the fact that the Chinese normally join group tours that take them to several countries in a single trip, which is understandable given the long haul from Asia to the Americas.

"A typical Chinese tourist comes to visit three or four countries, he makes a circuit, so the traveler who comes to Peru also goes to Chile, Brazil, Argentina or Mexico," says Canales.

Chinese tourism to Peru, like bilateral trade, began to increase following the signing of a free trade agreement between the two countries that took effect on March 1, 2010.

Since taking office in the summer of 2016, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki has also made the promotion of trade, investment and tourism ties with China a priority.

Statistics from Peru's Ministry of Foreign Affairs show that 73 percent of Chinese visitors choose to stay at four- or five-star hotels, and a visit to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, is on most Chinese travel itineraries.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-06 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Illinois eyes new tourism markets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/06/content_34189062.htm CHICAGO - Illinois tourism officials are expanding their efforts in China and Mexico, hoping to attract more foreign visitors to the state.

The Illinois Office of Tourism, which has just opened an office in Mexico City, plans to open one in Beijing on Dec 1, the Chicago Tribune reported. Three additional support offices in China are being planned in Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

Agency director Cory Jobe says between six and 10 people will work across the five offices in public relations, marketing and trade efforts for the state.

He says they will work with travel agents, create new products and pitch travel stories to help educate potential Chinese and Mexican tourists on what they can expect to see and do in Illinois.

"To be quite honest with you, there's only so much money to go around here for us to market around the world," Jobe says. "We have to be very strategic."

He says the agency has worked on paid media and smaller trade initiatives with both countries during the past few years and is opening the new offices to meet the growing demand from those markets.

"At the end of the day, it's all about dollars and cents, and it just made economic sense to expand at this time when those markets are growing - to Illinois and to the United States," Jobe says. "When I looked at what our competitors were doing, we had to make it happen."

China is the top overseas market for Illinois, with about 235,000 visitors in 2016, which marked an increase of 41.5 percent compared with the year before.

Chinese visitors spent $175.1 million in Illinois, generating about $13.1 million in state and local tax revenue.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-06 07:41:42
<![CDATA[Answering the call of Africa]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/05/content_34137128.htm At great personal cost, researcher has striven to provide Ethiopians with knowledge to improve their lives

For many Chinese, Africa is a continent that is not only far away, but also strange and wild. He Wang, however, has spent most of her time there for more than a decade and has just left her 92-year-old mother to travel there for the eighth time. Each of her visits to Africa has lasted more than 10 months.

While He was busy preparing her luggage for her latest visit, at home in Hunan's provincial capital of Changsha, her mother came to her constantly. It seemed that the older woman intended to say something - but she never opened her mouth.

"Last time when I was about to head for Africa, she sighed to me that she doubted if she would see me again the following year," says the researcher from the Hunan Institute of Aquaculture Research.

 

He, however, was determined to continue her unfinished task of helping Ethiopia develop aquaculture to contribute to the country's development.

Even during her stay of more than two months at home, she often stayed up until the middle of the night drafting the first-ever fish production textbook for Ethiopia. He, 53, says she has almost finished the draft and expects to use it in her teaching this year.

As well as the textbook, as ever, she took a lot of other things with her. She had four big suitcases this time, containing daily necessities, kitchenware, teaching aids and gifts for friends at Alage Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training College, where she works.

"Each time I leave, I take with me as many things as possible, since it is difficult to buy some items because of shortages there," she says.

When she is at the college, the nearest town for buying daily necessities is Bulbula, 50 kilometers away, while Addis Ababa, the capital, is an additional 190 km to the north. Vehicles are rare on the unpaved road from the college to Bulbula and always create a cloud of thick dust.

When He started teaching there in 2013, she was astonished to find she had to start from scratch, as there were no textbooks, teaching or experimental facilities available for her on the 4,200-hectare college campus. Students had to travel to a farm more than three hours away for practical experience.

With no machinery or experienced engineers, she spent four months building a 200-square-meter fish pond 1.5 meters deep with her students and colleagues. The project led to He being given the nickname "The Iron Lady".

A total of 13 fish ponds have now been built at the college. Students also have equipment including microscopes and pH test strips that she supplied.

Before "The Iron Lady" went to Alage, she had also worked at Holeta ATVET College. She arrived there for the first time in 2003. In 2009, she also went to Zimbabwe for a year to contribute her expertise.

Though Holeta is only 40 km away from Addis Ababa, life there was hard. Without phone service, it was difficult to get in touch with family and friends. The water supply was unreliable, and horse-drawn vehicles were needed for the journey to buy vegetables.

Wild animals and insects were a problem. Once when He was reading books on her bed in the evening, she suddenly found ants on the windowsill of her room. She tried to drive them away but more came, and eventually there were ants almost everywhere - on the ceiling, on the bed and on the floor. She had to spend the night on a sofa.

"One of my Chinese colleagues even suffered depressive disorders because of the difficulties in carrying out work and the inconvenience in everyday life," she recalls.

So far, He has helped Ethiopia to educate more than 1,000 aquaculture students, and many of them have become the backbone of the country's agricultural development. In July, she was granted an award by the Ethiopian government.

With her recommendation, one of her colleagues received his master's degree in genetic engineering at South China Agricultural University and is preparing to apply to continue his studies in China. She says the colleague "tells me a magazine in the United States will probably publish one of his papers, which will help him a lot to continue studying in China".

However, He feels sorry for her family, since she has spent very little time with them in recent years. Last November, she had to leave for Ethiopia in the evening of the day when her daughter's wedding ceremony had been held. But her family has been very supportive of her work, she says.

"She did all the things responding to the call of the country. They are of great significance. We all support her," says He's husband, Zou Zhongyi.

houliqiang@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-11-05 16:00:13
<![CDATA[Crazy for hairy crabs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/05/content_34137127.htm Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

In the Chinese ninth and tenth lunar months, a little creature becomes the talk of the town. Among gourmands and gourmets, there will be serious discussions on the best vendors and the best chefs, all of whom will contribute to a successful feasting on crabs.

Hairy crabs, the Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis, comes into season around the middle of autumn right through to the end of November.

These freshwater crabs have a unique characteristic. Both claws are densely covered with what looks like fur, justifying their name. The best crabs supposedly come from Yangcheng Lake near Suzhou, where the clean water, sandy lake bottom and plentiful weeds create an ideal environment for the infant crustaceans.

 

The most common way of cooking is to simply steam the crabs, but there are strict procedures to follow. Photos Provided to China Daily

But they are native to fresh waterways all around the eastern seaboard of China, where they are known as hexie, or river crabs.

They are not large like mud crabs or deep-sea blue swimmers. The largest may only weigh in at 200 to 250 grams, and if they grow to that size, their value soars.

There is not much meat on them, either. But when the autumn moon shines bright, the hairy crabs start thinking about romance and they plump up with roe and milt.

Unfortunately for them, their roe and milt are considered extremely tasty, and it is for these delicate mouthfuls that the mitten crabs are harvested annually and sold at premium prices.

Of course, no Chinese chef would ever waste an ingredient, and their meat, too, is carefully extracted and enjoyed in little steamed buns and a whole repertoire of dishes that are pushed out during the hairy crab season.

Hairy crabs have become valuable seasonal gifts in recent years, and wholesalers have taken to selling coupons and gift certificates. These certificates are convenient presents instead of live crabs, which are easily perishable.

Instead, the appreciative recipient can choose an appropriate time for the precious crabs to be delivered, when they can immediately be steamed and eaten to maximize their freshness.

Yangcheng Lake crabs are under a protected patent, and every crustacean has a traceable marker with a serial number. Interested buyers can scan the codes and find out which farmer raised the crab, and where.

These designer crabs can sell for as much as 200 yuan ($30; 26 euros; 23) a pair, since they are normally eaten together, first for the roe, then for the milt.

The most common way of cooking is to simply steam them, but there are strict procedures to follow.

The hairy crabs are always sold fresh, bound up tightly in sea grass. They are given a shower and then placed upside down on a steamer so their shells catch any juices that leak during the cooking.

Depending on regional preferences, slices of ginger or a handful of dried perilla leaves will go on top of the crabs. Some chefs may drizzle yellow wine over them. After 15 or 20 minutes over high heat, they are cooked.

The cooked crabs are then piled high on a platter and brought to the table ready for the feast. But there must be the proper garnishes and sauces, and for some, the right equipment.

In Shanghai, there is a popular set of cutlery known as xiebajian, or eight pieces of crab eating equipment, including miniature scissors, forks, pincers and hammers, all designed to pick out every juicy morsel.

Some crab lovers are so good at this that they can put together the complete crab shell intact with all the legs after extracting the meat.

The best Zhejiang black vinegar is mixed with finely shredded ginger and a little raw sugar. The crab meat is eaten with this. Hairy crabs come from freshwater, and the ginger and vinegar will offset the "chilly" effect, according to traditional Chinese medicine principles.

For the same reason, the crab feast will often include a large pitcher of the best Shaoxing wine, warmed up.

In restaurants all over China and in Chinatowns worldwide, hairy crabs are served up right about now as the season's food promotion.

Once the season is over, however, the hairy crabs will disappear from the menu, as another cycle starts with the seeding of crab larvae in the lakes and rivers.

But real aficionados have discovered a way to prolong the pleasure.

In Shanghai, at the peak of the season, chefs hunt out the fattest hairy crabs and prepare a well-loved delicacy - drunken crabs.

At the end of the pickling process is a chewy gelatinous product that retains all of the crabs' sweet flavor. And best of all, it can be enjoyed well beyond the few months that these crustaceans are sold.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

How to prepare the crabs

How to steam hairy crabs

Scrub the hairy crabs with their fastenings intact. Rinse well and drain.

Heat up a steamer with plenty of water. When the water comes to a boil, place the crabs in the steamer, shell side down. Place a few slices of ginger on top of the crabs. Give them a good 15 minutes over high heat. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on and rest two to three minutes.

Drunken hairy crabs

My grandfather spent much of his youth living in Shanghai and developed a love for the local cuisine. Here is his recipe for this Shanghai classic.

5 pairs of fresh hairy crabs

10 thick slices of ginger

2 sprigs of spring onions

2 fresh red chili

1 teaspoon roasted Sichuan peppercorns

2 liters quality Shaoxing wine

1 piece rock sugar Make sure all the hairy crabs are alive and blowing bubbles. Give them a good shower under running water and a thorough scrub with a soft brush. Drain.

With the back of a cleaver, bash the ginger, spring onions and chili to release their flavor.

You need an earthenware crock or large glass jar. Sterilize the container with hot water and dry thoroughly.

Place the crabs in a single layer at the bottom of the crock. Place ginger and spring onions on them. Layer with more crabs. Pour the Shaoxing wine over the crabs.

Add chili, rock sugar and roasted Sichuan peppercorns.

Make sure you weigh down the crabs so they stay submerged beneath the wine. My grandfather had several large stones that fitted on top.

Cover the crock and let the crabs pickle for at least a week. They will be ready to eat after six to seven days. The best way to serve the drunken crabs is to chill them and cut into quarters for easier eating.

The crabs will be sweet and gelatinous after the long soak in the wine and spices.

If you like, you can also steam them for 15 minutes for cooked drunken crabs.

]]>
2017-11-05 16:00:13
<![CDATA[Poet in motion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/05/content_34137126.htm Choreographer captures global attention with presence on China's burgeoning contemporary dance scene

The studio of TAO Dance Theater is in Beijing's northeast suburbs. It is off the highway, and a 10-minute drive across farmland is required to get to it.

The group's dancers, who need a lot of space but cannot afford the high rents in the city, gather in a village called Hegezhuang.

The TAO Dance Theater uses a two-story house as its rehearsal facility.

Tao Ye, founder and choreographer of the group, lives in a house 30 meters away.

Sporting a black T-shirt and black linen harem pants, the bespectacled Tao, 32, does not look like a typical dancer, let alone a choreographer who has captured global attention as a radical new presence on China's burgeoning contemporary dance scene.

Now, he is struggling to finalize his latest work, known simply as 9, which was set to premiere at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on Nov 3.

The TAO Dance Theater is performing a double bill - 8 and 9 - until the next day. Eight and nine refer to the number of dancers in each performance.

"It's difficult to create 9, because nine is the biggest number in Chinese culture," says Tao.

"I've explored all possibilities and pushed the limits of human movement - from the works 2 to 8," he says.

Tao says his original idea was not to educate or tell a story. "I wished to make the dance a way to invite you to join in. So no settings, fancy lights or costumes - just body movements.

"My choreography is about the logic of movement and presents repetition through numbers," he says.

In this, you can see Tao's unique language, the repetition of the natural sequence of the body. Through repetition, the variations in movements are reduced and progress toward a state that is pure and minimal in form.

The awareness of the body has a special meaning for Tao, who started dancing because he had a superflexible body.

He spent most of his childhood with his grandmother, since his parents were not in a happy marriage.

Then, one day when he was 12, he saw a dance program on TV and imitated the dancer to do a split.

His grandmother was impressed, since she had never seen a boy his age do this.

So she sent him to the local dance school in Chongqing, in Southwest China.

There, he received training in Chinese dance and a bit of ballet.

Later, he joined the performance ensemble of the Shanghai police.

But after the excitement of the first few months, Tao soon found that he was not very happy there.

That is, until he visited the Jin Xing Dance Company in Shanghai.

"I remember the floor of the rehearsal room was covered with a white carpet. Dancers were lying there stretching their bodies. The sun was shining over them. This scene changed my idea about dance," he says.

"The training for classical dancing required me to jump high, to split, to make my body tense, to fight gravity. I did not know dancing could be so relaxing. You just listen to your body and follow your heart," he says.

Tao joined the Jin Xing Dance Company in 2003.

"I then realized that while earlier I had been required to dance as a job, now I had the motivation to dance, to enjoy it."

In 2005, he moved to Beijing, where contemporary dance has more fans.

With the Beijing Modern Dance Company, his motivation and potential soon got full play. He even began to choreograph.

The dance company hosts a festival each year. There, some foreign choreographers who loved Tao's work offered him a chance to travel abroad with them. But Tao declined the invitation.

Then, in March 2008, he and his girlfriend, now his wife, Duan Ni, and another dancer, Wang Hao, formed the TAO Dance Theater.

They started with a performance for three dancers, Weight x 3, which premiered in Beijing in September 2009. They made it into a DVD and sent it to some festivals.

His unique choreography soon attracted attention and drew invitations.

The Singapore Arts Festival, Norrland Opera of Sweden and Dansmakers Amsterdam of the Netherlands commissioned him to create 2, for Tao and Duan.

Then, he started to explore other numbers. And the young company soon became the most sought-after Chinese contemporary dance company worldwide.

So far, it has toured more than 40 countries, and it was the first Chinese contemporary dance company to perform at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City.

The United Kingdom's Sadler's Wells Theatre commissioned Tao for three consecutive years to perform at the event.

Lin Hwai-Min, founder and artistic director of Cloud Gate, the renowned Taiwan dance company, says Tao "is the most promising contemporary dancer on the Chinese mainland.

His works belong to the 21st century. They amaze and provoke deep reflection."

Sculptor Xiang Jing says, "In an era of entertainment where dance is losing its dignity and creativity, Tao's dances make us return to serious discussion, make us recognize and salute true creativity."

Cui Jian, the godfather of Chinese rock 'n' roll, compares Tao to "a devoted monk, a hardworking migrant worker, a rational philosopher and a sensitive 'madman'".

chenjie@chinadaily.com

 

Dancers from the TAO Dance Theater perform 9, one of choreographer Tao Ye's creations. His latest work will premiere at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Nov 3.

]]>
2017-11-05 16:00:13
<![CDATA[UK unveils new plan for scholarships]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/05/content_34137122.htm British universities are offering postgraduate aid to Chinese students in fields such as engineering, law and bioscience. Xu Lin reports.

Chinese students who are applying for postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom have a new opportunity to receive financial support.

The British Council, together with 31 universities in the UK, recently unveiled the Great Scholarships 2018 - China campaign, with a total value of nearly 1 million ($1.3 million; 1.1 million euros).

The 31 institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will offer 150 postgraduate scholarships ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 in fields such as engineering, law and biosciences.

 

Chinese students, with their counterparts from across the globe, in Britain. Photos Provided to China Daily

Scholarships will not be awarded in the form of cash, but will be presented directly as tuition fee waivers.

Chinese students can find more information on the scholarships on the individual websites of the universities involved.

Once they receive admission from participating universities for the autumn semester in 2018, they can then apply for the scholarships online.

The value and number of scholarships offered at each university vary, as do the types of courses available.

Individual universities will use different criteria to select the final candidates, whether it be their academic ability or social contribution, depending on the courses.

According to the British Council, from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, about 82,000 study visas were issued to Chinese students, and 97 percent of those who applied were successful. This represented an increase in applications of 17 percent compared with the previous 12 months.

In the 2015-16 academic year, about 154,000 students from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao were enrolled at UK universities.

"The UK is confident of its world-class education system and is committed to ensuring that all international students enjoy a diverse learning experience," says Jazreel Goh, director of education marketing at the British Council in China.

"An education in the UK will teach you how to think, not what to think. The skill will help you improve yourself. Those who have studied in the UK bring back three things - individuality, inspiration and creativity," she says.

According to Goh, students should not focus solely on the rankings of the UK universities when making their applications, but should consider their own interests and personalities.

Many Chinese graduates return to China for work due to the favorable development and work opportunities, Goh says.

The British Council organizes two job fairs a year for them.

"The University of Cambridge will support just one student from China studying for a master's degree with the Great Scholarships because we have to be evenhanded with students from different countries," says Sue Osterfield, deputy director of the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust, which provides international students at Cambridge with scholarships, including several hundred from China.

"Students need to be well-qualified to meet the entry requirements of our university."

She adds: "With more scholarships offered at Cambridge, we will attract the best students.

The university will not restrict the types of courses available to successful applicants who receive a��20,000 scholarship."

Successful candidates will still have to provide funds for living expenses and any additional tuition fees.

When assessing applicants' suitability for a scholarship, Osterfield says, the university will not only judge them on academic merit, but also take into account whether students will fit into the courses, their academic objectives and their personal statements.

According to Osterfield, Cambridge has experienced an increase in Chinese applicants in recent years, with most popular courses being engineering, physics, chemistry, mathematics and law.

Students from China also make up the second-largest group of overseas students at the university.

Three Chinese students for the PhD program and one for the master's program at the University of Liverpool will each receive a 5,500 Great Scholarship.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-05 16:00:13
<![CDATA[A German writer's perspective on China's soul-touching stories]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/05/content_34137120.htm Stefan Schomann attempts to stitch together a real-life impression of the country

With its long history, China has always been a treasure trove of soul-touching sagas of epic proportions. The intercultural love story of a young Jewish man and a Chinese woman in war-torn Shanghai during World War II is one of them.

It was discovered by German writer and freelance journalist Stefan Schomann and became the subject of his book Last Refuge in Shanghai. Schomann calls it "a crazy story that happened in a crazy time" in an "exotic location".

In 1939, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria, Robert Reuven Sokal fled his country with his family, joining the band of fewer than 20,000 Jews who embarked on an odyssey from Central and Eastern Europe to the foreign concessions in Shanghai, one of the few places that didn't require Jewish refugees seeking sanctuary to have a visa.

 

A memorial wall at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum lists the names of 13,732 Jews who found a haven in Shanghai during World War II. Vision Shanghai / sh.qq.com

In Shanghai, while studying at St. John's University, Sokal, the son of a Viennese paint factory owner, met Julie Chenchu Yang, who was born into a wealthy Chinese family. By then, Shanghai was experiencing the pain of the Japanese invasion, and Shanghai's Chinese and Jewish communities shared a common sorrow.

"I was looking for a story that tells more than just this epic story of Jewish immigration to China, to Shanghai. I wanted to tell how China experienced the war ... what happened in China," Schomann says.

To combine a Eurocentric perspective with a Chinese one, which is rarely seen in earlier books on the Jewish community in Shanghai, Schomann talked to the Chinese neighbors of the refugees and Jewish survivors.

Since very few people know what really happened in the city in 1937, he thinks Last Refuge in Shanghai may serve to fill in gaps in history. "It was... important to me to tell this (story)," he says.

The young lovers supported each other through countless challenges, including turmoil and the cruelty of war, opposition from Yang's family and other obstacles in their intercultural marriage, eventually embracing a happy ending

Born in 1962, Schomann, a student of German literature, has been a frequent visitor to China for almost 20 years. He has been writing articles on China for leading German media outlets and has published four books on the country in German and Chinese.

He began to write in both languages after being inspired by Lin Yutang, the Chinese author who lived between 1895 and 1976 and wrote in a polished style in both Chinese and English. The German author says it was Lin who helped introduce China to him.

"It was absolutely fascinating to encounter such a bright mind from China, who was writing with such (ease)," he says.

Schomann describes Lin as a fascinating writer, philosopher, thinker and cultural activist, saying, "His books have a lot to (contribute) for a better understanding of Chinese culture and history and Chinese mentality."

Yet, understanding China is not an easy task for a Westerner.

"I think it's impossible to perceive (China) as a whole, or to judge (it) as a whole, or to make statements about (it) as a whole. It will just lead to strong simplifications and generalizations," he says.

He compares forming an image of China to piecing together a mosaic: "The big image is composed of many little images - pieces of the mosaic. And you are always working on one piece."

This perspective is best illustrated in his latest book, released in June, China - Strolls Through an Empire, which features 10 individual travel stories covering trips to a variety of Chinese landscapes, from wild deserts in the northwest to modern cities in the coastal east, as well as landlocked cities with ancient history and precious cultural heritage.

Schomann uses an article in the book to illustrate the concept of a mosaic. He writes about the two-day annual traditional storytelling festival in Central China's Henan province, where "the whole universe of Chinese culture, mentality and entertainment" is present, and he tries to present "the essence of this culture" in a 2,500-word narrative.

"As a journalist you take something quite limited, but then you open up a whole world within this topic," he says.

Schomann believes he is a peer of Chinese storytellers - one who, by using a different medium, shares his experiences, thinking and observations over the years "to create a comparatively easy access to China." He calls it a personal access.

"People are intimidated by China. It's such a big country and such a complex subject," he says, explaining how the language, with its system of characters instead of an alphabet, is alien to Westerners. And that is just one factor.

His aim is to help readers "overcome this intimidation of China, basically by telling people that you don't have to understand everything, just to make the first step, and the second, and the third, then you will be able to get somewhere".

To create a real-life impression of China, Schomann resorts to other things besides writing. While researching the Shanghai refugees, he came across some historical footage taken by German photographer Eugen Flegler (1897-1981).

Flegler went on excursions to take photos of the countryside and the peasants in and beyond Shanghai from 1936 to 1938. Very few people took pictures of China's rural areas in those years.

Schomann curated an exhibition of these historical images. It was held eight times in Germany and China.

Having documented China for years, Schomann has his own understanding of the Chinese Dream. He describes it as China "becoming a well-respected member of the global community, and increasing China's importance and significance on an international level".

Within two decades, China has made great progress toward that aim, he says. "China has become more international, more cosmopolitan, more respected on (the) international stage."

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-05 16:00:13
<![CDATA[Pets rest in peace]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/05/content_34137119.htm Li Chao has one lifelong regret: Not burying his "best friend" properly. He's been making up for it ever since.

]]>
Businessman is determined to give our beloved animals the send-off they deserve

Li Chao has one lifelong regret: Not burying his "best friend" properly. He's been making up for it ever since.

Li remembers Jojo's death vividly. A long-haired husky, she'd lived with Li for seven years and witnessed some of his most intimate struggles, from bachelorhood to marriage. But one afternoon in October 2015, the dog had an epileptic fit and died before Li's eyes. He wept for several hours before realizing he needed to do something about Jojo's remains.

Unfortunately, the cremation services he contacted only added to his pain. "Their manner was cold and distant. Everything was simple and crude," Li says. "And the final price was higher than what we'd agreed on. I should have said goodbye to her in a much better way."

 

The pet funeral industry is on the verge of an expected boom in China. Photos Provided to China Daily

The heartbreaking experience motivated Li to make a life-changing decision: He would open his own pet funeral service, to provide the level of attention and sympathy that he and his beloved Jojo had been denied.

Against the will of his family, Li quit his well-paid job as a media manager and began researching the market. A month later, he founded JoyPets.

China's pet funeral industry is on the verge of an expected boom. Citing the National Bureau of Statistics of China, a 2016 Forbes report on the overall pet industry - currently valued at 130 billion yuan ($19.6 billion; 16.8 billion euros; £14.9 billion) and climbing - noted that China ranked third globally for dog ownership, with 27.4 million pet dogs, compared with 55.3 million in the United States and 35.7 million in Brazil. (It's no slouch when it comes to cats, either: Chinese reportedly own 58.1 million felines.) Beijing alone has 1.5 million registered dogs, according to the China Beijing Kennel Club, an organization managed by the local Public Security Bureau. The club estimates that at least 200,000 pets die in Beijing each year, a huge potential market for companies like JoyPets.

Like most startups, Joy-Pets had a hard time getting people's attention: Li Chao's customers either didn't know about his business, or didn't think it was necessary. But Li's first customer proved to be a special case - a 35-kilogram golden retriever, paralyzed and suffering from a tumor and severe bedsores, whose owner was about to have him put down. When Li saw the dying animal, he immediately understood the need: "There was nothing more in his life but suffering."

"Faced with the death of their beloved pets, what people need is listening, caring and professional advice," says Li. "They are very fragile emotionally; a tiny mistake can cause a breakdown. We must comfort them from our heart, instead of going through the procedures mechanically."

Since then, Li has accompanied many pet owners through euthanasia. Swift and painless as the process is, seeing the life drain from a pet never gets any easier. "It's torture," says Li. "Every time someone calls for advice, I ask very carefully about the situation, the reason why. ... Wherever possible, I'll suggest keeping watch, keeping (the pet) company, instead of turning to mercy killing immediately."

Daodao was one whose fate Li delayed. The husky was suffering from incurable and painful bone cancer, but struggled intensely when taken to be put down, barking mournfully. The plan was shelved; Daodao's owners spent another three days with their pet before the animal died peacefully at home.

To date, JoyPets has served more than 1,000 clients. For cremation services, the company charges between 400 and 600 yuan per animal - and also offers a taxidermy and "souvenir "alternatives, in which cremated remains are converted into objects such as jewelry.

Yet most dead pets - about nine out of 10 - are still not disposed of properly or legally. Shen Ruihong, secretary general of the China Beijing Kennel Club, told the Beijing Evening News that the majority of owners bury their own pets, either in their garden or in the woods or suburbs; a few simply leave them in trash bins, the body concealed in a plastic bag.

According to China's Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention and Technical Standards for Safety Disposal of Animals Dead from Illness, issued by the Department of Agriculture, animals that die of disease should be disposed of with safely regulated methods, such as burning, vaporizing or burying in designated locations.

Li says: "Improper burial may not only break the law, but it also affects neighbors. And the owners have to worry that the dead pets could be dug up." He once received a tearful phone call at midnight from a young woman who feared the cat she'd recently buried in the yard of her apartment complex was about to be excavated as part of a building redevelopment project.

The incident brought home the issue for Li. "Currently, the problem (of improper burial and corpse disposal) is still serious. It's partly because of the cost, but the main reason is lack of information. Even some pet store operators don't know the existence of the pet funeral industry. Many of our clients tell us they never knew before that a pet could be cremated."

Others have, perhaps, embraced the industry a little too enthusiastically. In 2015, a lavish funeral in Shanghai, replete with a wake, professional mourners and limousine-chauffeured luxury coffin, provoked a variety of outraged comments after State media outlets shared the pictures online. A search for "pet funeral" on Taobao, China's largest e-commerce platform, brings up dozens of results for postmortem services, with costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of yuan. In March, Beijing Youth Daily reported on the existence of several upscale pet cemeteries, where plots can cost up to 10,000 yuan.

Instead, JoyPets, alongside several other companies, provides ecological alternatives, such as turning remains into fertilizer that can be used to grow a houseplant, or even stuffing an animal.

Only a tiny percentage of clients choose to stuff their pets, Li says, but they usually do it for a personal reason. He recalls a client whose German shepherd had scared away an intruder who broke into the family home. "When the dog died of old age, they wanted to keep their heroic friend with them forever," says Li. "Different pets have different stories in different families. ... For some, a pet is a family member, and (taxidermy) makes them feel as if their pet never left."

Despite the place most pets hold in people's hearts, many of his friends disapprove of Li's career, saying the industry is fragile and vulnerable to misinterpretation and lack of acceptance. There are many problems in the industry, Li agrees, including a lack of clear procedures and the relatively poor quality of some facilities and services, particularly compared with those in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other developed areas. "But I know what I am doing and why I am doing it," says Li. "Helping others see their pets off gives me a sense of purpose, especially when I experienced all of it myself."

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com.cn

The World of Chinese

 

]]>
2017-11-05 16:00:13
<![CDATA[How do you view slam bidding?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/04/content_34109247.htm Richard Powers, a novelist whose works explore the effects of modern science and technology, wrote, "What was acrophobia anyway, if not the half-acknowledged desire to jump?"

Some players suffer from bridge acrophobia: a fear of the six- and seven-levels. What do you need for a good slam when your side does not have heaps of high-card points?

Ideally, you have a good trump fit and controls in the side suits. In this deal, what do you think of the auction?

I like strong jump shifts at the two-level. Also, I keep them well-defined: either a long, strong one-suiter, or a good two-suiter with the responder's suit and the opener's suit, as in this deal. I believe 13-17 high-card points is ideal. Responder shows enough to insist on game, but needs opener to decide about slam prospects.

Here, South was not fond of his singleton and only four diamonds, so backpedaled over three diamonds with three no-trump.

But when North did not pass, South used Roman Key Card Blackwood and settled into six diamonds.

West, with an unappealing lead, chose his trump. South won that and drew another round, which caused West considerable discomfort. He wanted to keep all of his spades and, because South had rebid in the suit, clubs. So he threw a heart.

Declarer drew the last trump and played a club toward his king. When East took the trick, South had 12 tricks: one spade, four hearts, four diamonds, one club and two club ruffs in the dummy.

]]>
2017-11-04 07:58:31
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/04/content_34109246.htm

Disney on Ice in Beijing

Date: Nov 18-19 - 3:00/7:30 pm

Venue: Capital Indoor Stadium

Price: 180-980 yuan

The two-hour live show, produced by Feld Entertainment, will feature more than 50 timeless Disney characters, including the stars of Frozen, The Lion King, Zootopia, Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo. Additionally, audiences will be offered singalong scores to melodious masterpieces, such as Hakuna Matata, You've Got a Friend in Me, Let It Go, At Last I See the Light and A Whole New World, among the stunning choreography, beautiful costumes and intricate sets. "This is a show, more than any other. It is truly for everybody," said producer Kenneth Feld. "When I sit with the audience members, I see those who are grandparents, like I am, enjoying a lot of the classic Disney stories, while young kids and young parents really respond to Frozen and all the latest Disney stories and animation."

Richard Clayderman Piano Recital Concert

Date: Dec 16 - 8 pm

Venue: Shenzhen Concert Hall

Price: 280-1,380 yuan

Richard Clayderman is a French pianist who has released numerous albums including the compositions of Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, instrumental renditions of popular music, rearrangements of movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and easy-listening arrangements of popular works of classical music. Clayderman has recorded over 1,300 melodies, and has created a new romantic style through a repertoire which combines his trademark originals with classics and pop standards. He has devoted much of his time to performing concerts, going as far as playing 200 shows in 250 days. He has clocked up worldwide record sales of approximately 70 million, as of 2006[update], and has 267 gold and 70 platinum discs to his credit. He is popular in Asia and is noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as being "the most successful pianist in the world".

Drama Looking West to Chang'an

Date: Nov 4-5 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 150-380 yuan

Looking West to Chang'an is a five-act satire comedy authored by the Chinese writer Lao She based on the first political fraud case of the New China in 1956. The comedy tells an absurd and thought-provoking tale. With mean trickery, leading role Li Wancheng forges his personal details to get official posts. People place trust in him with credulity and degrade into cat's paws to help him garner fame and fortune. And some victims even help the deceiver get married. Until a few vigilant comrades become aware of his deception, so the public security organ investigates and cracks down on the criminal case.

2017 NCAA Pac-12 China Game

Date: Nov 11 - 12:30 pm

Venue: Baoshan Sports Center

Price: 100-780 yuan

This is the third year the Pac-12 will open its men's basketball season in China. The Conference became the first United States sports league, collegiate or professional, to host a regular-season contest in China in 2015 when Washington defeated Texas, followed by Stanford beating Harvard last season. The Pac-12 China Game will help usher in the start of the 2017-18 US college basketball season. The game will tip at 12:30 pm local Shanghai time on Nov 11 and be televised live on ESPN in the US and streamed live on Youku Sports. Tickets are available through Damai.cn in the US and China.

Beijing Yunzai Culture Communication Drama, Beijing Neighbors

Date: Nov 8-12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 60-380 yuan

This story happens at a courtyard in Beijing, from the late 1990s to the early 21st century. Some people such as old Yang are natives, who have resided in this courtyard for a long time, while Hu Dong and a writer surnamed Liu are residents who come from other places and work in Beijing. Liu and his wife run a restaurant in Beijing, and through the contact with old Yang and other natives, Liu gradually accepts their lifestyle. On the other hand, old Beijingers understand drifters' diligence and struggle through Liu and Hu. The two cultures ultimately blend together.

Itzhak Perlman Violin Recital

Date: Nov 9 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 200-1,200 yuan

Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also to his irrepressible joy for making music.

]]>
2017-11-04 07:58:31
<![CDATA[Listings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/04/content_34109245.htm Jonas Kaufmann is a German operatic tenor. He is best known for his performances in spinto roles such as Don Jose in Carmen, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur, and the title role in Don Carlos. He has also sung leading tenor roles in the operas of Richard Wagner with success in Germany and abroad, most notably the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is also an accomplished Lieder singer. In 2014 The New York Times described Kaufmann as "a box-office draw, and the most important, versatile tenor of his generation".

]]>
Shows

Jonas Kaufmann Solo Concert in Shenzhen

Date: Nov 11 - 8 pm

Venue: Shenzhen Concert Hall

Price: 280-1,280 yuan

Jonas Kaufmann is a German operatic tenor. He is best known for his performances in spinto roles such as Don Jose in Carmen, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur, and the title role in Don Carlos. He has also sung leading tenor roles in the operas of Richard Wagner with success in Germany and abroad, most notably the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is also an accomplished Lieder singer. In 2014 The New York Times described Kaufmann as "a box-office draw, and the most important, versatile tenor of his generation".

Contact: 400-610-3721

Cloud Gate Dance Theater Rice

Date: Nov 4-5 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-680 yuan

The inspiration for Rice came from the landscape and story of Chihshang in the East Rift Valley of Taiwan. Previously tainted by the use of chemical fertilizer, this farming village has now regained its title as the Land of the Emperor's Rice by adopting organic farming. Awed by the immense waves of grain rolling across expansive fields of rice, Lin took the dancers to Chihshang, where they joined the farmers in harvesting the rice. Out of this experience in the field, Lin has created exuberant yet powerful movements woven through Soil, Sunlight, Wind, Water and Fire, telling the story of the land while contemplating the devastation of Earth.

Contact: 400-610-3721

SSB in Concert

Date: Nov 2 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Blue Stream, Beijing

Price: Free entry

Pop rockers HZ have been together since 2014 and are big on the campus and live house scene. They take the stage at Blue Stream this Saturday with fellow rockers SSB for a free show. SSB plays pop, punk and hard rock. They're a group of musicians who got together for fun, never thinking that they'd be this successful.

Contact: 400-188-6980

National Peking Opera Company Return of the Phoenix

Date: Nov 11 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

The Vice-minister of the Ministry of War Cheng Pu retires on account of old age and returns to his native place. He has two daughters, of whom the elder one, whose name is Xueyan, is ugly, while the younger, whose name is Xue'e, is beautiful and clever. Cheng Pu goes for a spring outing and comes across his friend's son Mu Juyi. He has a thing for Mu Juyi and invites the young man to his birthday party. Returning home, he tells his wife what has happened on the way and plans to marry Xue'e to Mu, but his wife strongly insists marring Xueyan to Mu. On Cheng's birthday, Zhu Huanran comes to the party and falls in love with Xue'e at the sight of her. Mrs. Cheng mistakenly believes that Mu has tacitly consented to the proposal of marriage and asks him to stay in Cheng's house. Xueyan goes to visit Mu at night under her sister's name, but Mu turns her down and takes French leave. He runs into Zhu on the way, and the latter gives him silver ingots and a horse hypocritically to make him go far away. It happens that Cheng Pu is reinstated and returns to the army with Military Supervisor Zhou. He runs into Mu on the road and takes the latter to the barracks. Zhu disguises himself as the bridegroom, and so Xueyan passes herself as the bride under Mrs. Cheng's instigation, but the new couple later gets to know each other's true identity. At the very time, traitors are rising in revolt, and Mrs. Cheng goes to Zhu's house alone for shelter, but Zhu has been impoverished due to a fire disaster. Cheng Pu puts down the rebellion, and Xue'e comes to her father. Then comes an echo of bringing up proposal of marriage, but Mu rejects it. Honggong and Supervisor Zhou spare no effort to bring him around, and the air is cleared in the bridal chamber. Then, Zhu, Xueyan and Mrs Cheng come to seek shelter, and they have a family reunion.

Contact: 400-610-3721

National Peking Opera Company The Unicorn Purse

Date: Nov 12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Granny Xue, a wealthy landlord in Dengzhou, betroths her daughter Xue Xiangling to Zhou Tingxun. Before the wedding, Granny Xue gives her daughter a unicorn purse inlaid with jewelry interiorly as the local customs request. On the wedding day, the bridal sedan chair is caught in a rain midway, and the people have to take shelter from rain in the Chunqiu Pavilion; there comes another bridal sedan chair, in which sits the poor girl ZhaoShouzhen, who is wailing for the fickleness of the world. As a compassionate person, Xiangling gives Zhao the unicorn purse, and they restart their respective journey after it stops raining. Six years later, a flood attacks Dengzhou. The Xue family and Zhou family are reduced to refugees, and Xiangling is separated from her family. She drifts to Laizhou alone, where she runs into her former nanny Hu, who takes her to the almshouse built by the local gentleman Lu Sheng. It happens that Hu is recruiting a nanny for his son, and Xiangling is recruited. When watching operas with Tianlin in the theater, she fills her mind with a myriad of thoughts and suddenly realizes the fugacity of poverty and wealth. Tianlin is playing with a ball, which rolls into a low building, and asks Xiangling to pick it up, but Mrs Lu has issued a ban that nobody can enter the building without permission. Xiangling enters the building and sees the unicorn purse on the altar. She cannot help being moved to tears. Mrs Lu is Zhao Shouzhen, who cross-examines Xiangling, and gets to know that this nanny is the one who gave her the unicorn purse. Mrs Lu treats Xiangling as an honored guest and helps her reunite with her family members.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Nothing's Carved in Stone Live in Shanghai

Date: Nov 11-12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Bandai Namco Shanghai Base Future House

Price: 380-480 yuan

Nothing's Carved in Stone is a Japanese rock group formed in January 2009. Their 2009 debut album proved that this band has it's own unique sound and a rocking band chemistry which is seen in their energetic live performance. On 2013, the band continued their string of successful tie-up songs, as their single Out of Control was selected to be an opening theme of the hit anime Psycho-Pass. Following the release of their fifth album, Revolt, in June.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Musical West Side Story

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

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

Price: 200-1,000 yuan

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

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Activities & Nightlife

Nicky Romero at Club Sir. Teen

Date: Nov 4 - 10 pm

Venue: Club Sir. Teen

Price: 200 yuan

World famous DJ Nicky Romero appears at Club Sir. Teen on Saturday, Nove 4. Best known for his viral hit Toulouse and his UK chart topping single I Could Be The One with Avicii, he plays a mix of EDM, electro-house and progressive house. When he's not DJing, he produces for Rihanna and Britney Spears.

Contact: 185-1828-5425

Building China Into Your Career

Date: Nov 6 - 6:30 pm

Venue: Hotel Jen Beijing

Price: 200 yuan

On Monday, Nov 6, join the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and Project Pengyou for a special panel event on how to develop a China-focused career, featuring prominent Hopkins alumni from the business, policy and entertainment sectors. The speakers will share their on-the-ground experiences in China and also give the audience a chance to take part in the dialogue. Robbie Shields, Student Career Counselor at the Hopkins Nanjing Center (HNC), will moderate the event. There will be a networking reception following the discussion.

Contact: nihao@projectpengyou.org

The Ultimate Fun & Social Dance Workout

Date: Nov 4 - 6:45 pm

Venue: Destination Club, Beijing

Price: 50 yuan

PartyFit is an hourlong intense dance workout designed to suit everybody and bring people together to sweat in on. PartyFit involves dance and aerobic elements. The choreography incorporates Hip-Pop, Salsa, Reggaeton, and mambo. Squats and lunges are also included. A total workout, combining all elements of fitness cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, and flexibility, boosted energy and a serious dose of awesomeness each time you complete the class. Plus it is super fun and very social. You don't need to be a dancer.

Contact: ajsong1987@gmail.com

TCM Healthcare Talk Show

Date: Nov 5 - 2:30 pm

Venue: Guo Yihui TCM Hospital

Price: Free entry

The upcoming activity is about killing pain with TCM's help. Professional doctor Zhou will tell you all kinds of disease connect to the neck, shoulder pain and lumbar disease. We will teach you traditional Chinese physical exercise as well, it's interesting to learn and get a better health at the same time. Please make appointment first. It is limited to 20 persons.

Contact: 136-6228-0612

2017 Smart Food Industry Trend Forum

Venue: Hilton, Dalian, Liaoning

Price: Free Entry

The 2017 Smart Food Industry Trend Forum and Fmeimei launching ceremony was held in Dalian. In-depth Discussion focused on the challenge and opportunities brought by the internet. The efficiency shown by intelligent catering makes it an important new force. Feng Enyuan, vice-president of China Cuisine Association said there is a discrepancy between the increasingly personalized taste and the large demand. Smart catering, central kitchen is the new trend, and through big data customers can enjoy better fast food from master chefs. Fmeimei has always been committed to creating a new catering model. In its strategic layout, selling machines in cities have always been their top priority by integrating the IoT into its own cold chain delivery system. Now they have completed distribution in more than 100 locations in Beijing with 400 selling machines to meet the demand for high-quality and convenient meals.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Thrash Metal Act The Crack

Date: Nov 4 - 9 pm

Venue: Yugong Yishan

Price: 100-120 yuan

The thrash metal group The Crack is a tough, technically precise five-man metal group formed in Beijing in 2005. Their latest EP describes scenes the Crusades from a soldier's perspective. Catch this unique rock group live at Yugong Yishan.

Contact: 400-188-6980

Sports

Audi Cup of China ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017

Date: Nov 4-5 - 3 pm

Venue: Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing

Price: 80-580 yuan

Organized by the International Skating Union and managed by Chinese Skating Association, Cup of China ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017 is one of the highest-level figure skating series events in the world, which will attract all top figure skaters from different countries. The Grand Prix is hosted in six countries including the United States, Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan. The first Cup of China was hosted in 2003 and it has been organized successfully in the successive 14 years. In 2017, Cup of China will be held at the Capital Indoor Stadium on November, 3-5. This year the participating teams are highlight enough. Four projects are participated by world champions. Moreover, European Champions, Four Continents Champions and World Youth Champions will also compete on COC, which is absolutely worth expecting. Figure Skating originated in Holland in the 13th century. The skaters will show their technical skills and artistic representation, which will be a grand visual and audio feast.

Contact: 400-610-3721

]]>
2017-11-04 07:58:31
<![CDATA[Walking the talk on the Great Wall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/04/content_34109128.htm Australian schoolgirl with cerebral palsy shows willpower in China

Once built to keep invaders out, the Great Wall, one of China's best-known faces, has now become a platform to bring people together. For Taylor Walker-Lear, an 11-year-old Australian schoolgirl, it is a magic ladder which carried her closer to her dream.

Taylor was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects movement and coordination. But her indomitable willpower has sent her on missions to create public awareness about the disorder and raise funds for people living with it.

 

Clockwise from above: Taylor Walker-Lear is amazed after climbing to the highest spot of the Great Wall in Beijing on June 6; the 11-year-old Australian girl tackles the Great Wall step-by-step with her mother's guidance; accompanied by her parents, she climbs the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Photos by Meng Dingbo / Xinhua

In March 2016, she summited Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia at 2,229 meters above sea level. When her mother Toni asked her what her next goal was, she answered: "Mount Everest might be a little too hard right now, but maybe the Great Wall."

On June 6 this year, her wish came true. With her walking aid, the sup-port of her parents and sponsor, and accompanied by a group of primary school volunteers from Beijing, Taylor realized her dream in China by climbing the stretch of the Great Wall known as Mutianyu despite rain and an ensuing chill.

The Mutianyu part was built by General Xu Da in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) more than 600 years ago, and was mainly used for military defense.

Taylor moved ahead slowly yet steadily, and with determination. When the stairs were too steep to maneuver on her own, her parents lifted her, encouraging her to keep going.

The journey started near Watch Tower No 14, somewhere in the middle of the Mutianyu Great Wall. In the dim and cramped tower, Taylor attentively listened to the guide narrating the long history of the Great Wall. Then she went to a little window in the tower to look at the magnificent view below.

"It's amazingly beautiful!" she told Xinhua.

Her father Simon said China holds a "magical appeal" for Taylor, even though she couldn't define it exactly.

Mission possible

In preparation for her Great Wall mission, Taylor underwent physiotherapy for months to strengthen her legs and build up stamina. She also swam.

Simon said she is passionate about swimming and wants to be a Paralympic swimmer like Jacqueline Freney, fellow Australian with cerebral palsy who won eight golds in the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

In September 2016, Taylor went through a major surgery to improve her motor function. After that, she was able to stand straight like other children. Asked whether the operation was painful, she said breezily: "It's all right."

Toni said her daughter never cried while recovering from the surgery despite the pain. "She is such a courageous kid. She always pushes herself to be the best she can be," she said.

Dougal Cameron, a volunteer who accompanied Taylor on her Great Wall trip, said he was inspired by her. "It was obviously painful for her to walk so far along the Great Wall. She is amazing," he said.

The trip to the Great Wall was surreal for Toni. "We are so grateful for all the support Taylor received from all corners of the world," she said.

Paying it forward

One person who deserved special thanks was Norman Li, a Chinese businessman who works and lives in Sydney. He sponsored Taylor's China trip.

When Li, who owns a health and skincare company, learned about Taylor's dream to climb the Great Wall, he was touched and decided to sponsor Taylor's and her family's trip to Beijing.

He then arranged a one-week visit, which also included a short trip to Shanghai. By sponsoring the trip, he told Xinhua he was expressing his gratitude.

When Li went to study in Australia about three decades ago and then started working there, he said warmhearted locals helped him in various ways.

"What I did for Taylor was also to repay those Australians who gave me a hand years ago," he said. As an old Chinese saying goes, "A drop of water in need shall be returned with a burst of spring in deed."

During her climb, a group of Chinese primary school students followed Taylor closely. Before she started out, they gave her a red rooster doll, symbolizing the Year of the Rooster according to the Chinese calendar, to bring her luck. The little gift lit up Taylor's face.

Simon said Taylor was inspired by so many people who accompanied her, their support reinforced her confidence and made the climb easier.

Toni said the Chinese were above and beyond their expectations. "China is really opening its arms, and people are so warm, kind, friendly ... They are really interested in Taylor and her story," she said.

This was also part of Li's intention - to enable foreigners to better understand China and the Chinese. "I hope they can know more about China's development. It's so different from their old perception," he explained.

Taylor now has a new mission: to train hard so that she can take part in the swimming events at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. The walk on the Great Wall has given her a booster dose of confidence she needed for that.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-04 07:57:11
<![CDATA[Hermes marks China anniversary with unique exhibition]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/04/content_34109127.htm To mark the 20th anniversary of Hermes in China, the French luxury house has launched an exhibition called Harnessing the Roots in Shanghai.

"We arrived in Shanghai in September 1997 and opened Hermes Maison in Shanghai in 2014. Now we have 24 boutiques in China and will open stores in Changsha and Xi'an. The Chinese market is very important for Hermes. And we hope this show about the DNA of Hermes will help people understand what we want to do," says Hermes Greater China chief executive officer Luc Hennard.

The exhibition comprises five parts: Brides de Gala; The Horse and Its Tack; the Saddle, Buckled Up and Ties and Straps.

The focus is on Hermes origins as a harness maker and the way in which these origins have influenced the bags, garments and accessories throughout the brand's 180-year history.

The objects at the exhibition are arranged by theme rather than in chronological order.

The exhibition also includes a video of the whole process of making a saddle recorded by Robert Dumas (the fourth generation of Hermes) in 1962.

Chinese visitors can listen the audio done by Chinese actor Wang Qianyuan, best actor winner at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2010.

Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermes says, "We believe that every design is remembered. The old memory is never a drag but inspires us to move on."

Bruno Gaudichon, the curator of the exhibition, who is also the curator at the "La Piscine" Museum of Art and Industry in Roubaix, in northern France, says: "Hermes always finds a balance between innovation and heritage. It creates the trend while not forgetting to inherit the tradition."

The exhibition will open to public through Nov 18.

]]>
2017-11-04 07:57:11
<![CDATA[Chinese orchestra hits high note in US debut]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/04/content_34109126.htm CHICAGO - A sold-out concert performed here last Saturday by China National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) Orchestra caught the attention of the whole audience by showcasing a unique combination of Western and Chinese music.

The concert, performed at the Symphony Center in Chicago, started with Chinese composer Zhao Jiping's Violin Concerto No 1, with Ning Feng as the soloist.

Zhao's piece was commissioned by the orchestra and just had its world premiere in Beijing a couple of weeks ago, said Lu Jia, music director and chief conductor of the NCPA Orchestra.

"Zhao's music is fantastic," Lu said, in praise of its harmonious combination of Western music with Chinese elements.

Zhao is one of the best-known composers in China. He gained his international fame for his music scores in films, such as Farewell My Concubine, directed by Chen Kaige in 1993, and Raise the Red Lantern and To Live, directed by Zhang Yimou in 1991 and 1994 respectively.

The concert also features the use of pipa, a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, with Wu Man, a world-renowned pipa virtuoso, as the soloist. Wu played American composer Lou Harrison's Pipa Concerto with String Orchestra, which was commissioned for her in 1997.

"I'm so thrilled to play it with China NCPA Orchestra in the United States," she told Xinhua.

Wu said she had played Harrison's piece hundreds of times with foreign orchestras in Europe and the United States, but last Saturday night's concert marked her first time to play it with a touring Chinese orchestra outside China.

"I feel very honored," she said, adding that the concert's characteristic use of pipa made her feel "a major change" in her efforts in introducing traditional Chinese musical instruments to Western audiences.

The audience so enthusiastically greeted Wu's performance that she had to return to the stage with an encore of White Snow in Spring, a famous traditional pipa score that enabled her to demonstrate more playing skills.

"We carefully selected from Chinese music that spans over half a century," said Patrick Ren, managing director of China NCPA Orchestra. "We are staging our performances at the best venues in the US for this tour."

Chicago is the first leg of the current tour of the NCPA Orchestra. The orchestra will make its debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and will stop by in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chapel Hill.

Besides the repertoire in Chicago, the orchestra will perform Chen Qigang's Reflect d'un temps disparu and Yin Chengzong and Chu Wanghua's Piano Concerto Yellow River in other cities.

The concert concluded with Johannes Brahms' Symphony No 4 in E minor with two more encores, and finished with Bao Yuankai's familiar tune of Bamboo Melody.

"This is my first time to hear pipa," said Jordi Pedrola, "It feels very natural and harmonious, generating a very positive emotion."

"I'm very impressed by the musicians' skills," said Joseph Mastron, a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

This is the second time that China NCPA Orchestra has staged at the same venue. In 2014, it made its debut tour in North America at the Symphony Center, which has 2,000 seats.

"Different from three years ago, our musicians are much more experienced and our repertoire much larger," Lu said.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-11-04 07:57:11
<![CDATA[Crime classic forever]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/03/content_34067768.htm Since arriving in Pingyao, a small county in central Shanxi province, we, reporters at the first Pingyao International Film Festival, have been asked one thing many times by local residents: Can you get me a ticket for A Better Tomorrow?

]]>
Veteran Hong Kong director John Woo's A Better Tomorrow is still making waves more than three decades after it was made. Wang Kaihao reports from the Pingyao International Film Festival.

Since arriving in Pingyao, a small county in central Shanxi province, we, reporters at the first Pingyao International Film Festival, have been asked one thing many times by local residents: Can you get me a ticket for A Better Tomorrow?

"That's the only film I want to see at the festival," a taxi driver, a man in his 40s, says. "I have not seen it on the big screen."

However, all the tickets for A Better Tomorrow were sold out, even if it has been 31 years since the premiere of this crime film, a milestone work by veteran Hong Kong director John Woo.

No one can figure out how many pirate videos of the film were once circulated in China's small cities and counties in the 1990s.

However, an indisputable legacy is: While filmgoers in China's metropolises have developed diverse tastes, old-style Hong Kong films, starring Chow Yun-fat, an actor in A Better Tomorrow, still dominate county cinemas.

"Don't call me a master. I'm only a lover of films." That is how 71-year-old Woo began his so-called "film master class" on Sunday in Pingyao at the film festival, which will run through Saturday.

"What I wanted to create (when making A Better Tomorrow) was merely fresh gunshot scenes," he says. "But I got very deeply immersed in preparing for the scenes, which startled my wife."

Woo finally created a classic scene in film history where Chow carries two pistols to a restaurant. The scene was later copied by many filmmakers.

Speaking about the film, he says: "A hero cannot take a machine gun. If so, the fighting will finish too soon."

Woo compares his films to wuxia, or kung fu, a Chinese literature and film genre, which refers to martial chivalry.

"In my films, a pistol is like a sword for the heroes," he says.

"My action scenes are just like dancing. They are influenced by musical films, which emphasize rhythm. If the rhythm is right, repetition of the same action can create an extraordinary effect."

After he made them, Woo's A Better Tomorrow and The Killer (1989), also starring Chow, attracted attention among filmmakers in the West.

And Woo was then invited to Hollywood.

Since Broken Arrow (1996) and Face/Off (1997), both starring John Travolta, his resume also includes Hollywood blockbusters.

Speaking about his tryst with Hollywood, he says: "The facades are in the West, but the techniques and spirits are rooted in the East. You see, Travolta is just like Chow Yun-fat in the films."

Referring to his experiences abroad, he says: "At first, I made the lead roles in these films die in the end. But, I was forced to change the scripts.

"This was because in wuxia films, Chinese heroes are not afraid to sacrifice their lives if necessary, although they do value life. However, heroes in Hollywood films always struggle on to survive."

Explaining his success, he partly attributes humor and romanticism as to why his films travel beyond cultural and language barriers.

As for the kinds of films he likes to make, Woo says he prefers to focus on humanity and keep his distance from sci-fi and superhero films.

Woo is not someone who follows fads. When he first began doing action films in Hong Kong in the mid-1980s, the industry was dominated by comedies, which were considered the only way to make money then.

Woo's experiments were not expected to be successful. Also, in the past decade, his productions like Red Cliff and The Crossing, both with huge budgets, have been failures at the box office.

Commenting on his propensity to go against the grain, Woo says: "Nowadays, overwhelming studies about filmgoers' habits actually harm the industry.

"Whether a film is good or not should be decided by what people say online," he says.

Despite his successes globally, Woo in Pingyao - a UNESCO World Heritage site - is a modest student paying homage to other filmmakers. For instance, he says his inspiration for The Killer came from The Godson (1967), a movie made by French crime film guru Jean-Pierre Melville.

The ongoing film festival has a special section comprising Melville's major films.

Besides, he says many scenes in his films are a tribute to American director Martin Scorsese.

Speaking about his regrets, Woo says he never got a chance to work with Japanese actor Ken Takakura, who died in 2014.

So, could Woo's upcoming Manhunt, about a framed procurator who wants to clear his name, be a way to make up for a missed opportunity?

The original Japanese film, starring Takakura, was released in China in the late 1970s.

Then, it was very popular. Asked if his version of this familiar story will feature typical "Woo's scenes", like flying pigeons and heroes carrying two pistols, he smiles, saying: "Why not? These are my trade marks."

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Hong Kong director John Woo talks about his experiences in making films on Sunday at the first Pingyao International Film Festival.Photos By Wang Kaihao and Provided to China Daily

 

]]>
2017-11-03 07:37:07
<![CDATA[Suzhou ballet troupe takes to Europe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/03/content_34067767.htm In 2007, ballerina Li Ying decided to retire at the age of 38.

It was a tough decision because she had foot surgeries twice already and had been forced to endure the pain of recovery while dancing.

Her husband, Pan Jiabin, also a former ballet dancer, retired that year too to support his wife, and the couple returned to Pan's hometown of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, where they founded the Suzhou Ballet Theater, one of the country's youngest ballet troupes, the same year.

The couple met at the Beijing Dance Academy and were married in 1991. Both of them had been principal dancers with the National Ballet of China from 1987 to 1992 and joined the US ballet company BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, before dancing with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater for 12 years until 2006.

"Although I stopped dancing onstage, I have never stopped dancing in my mind," says Li, who was born in Shanghai and started dancing at the age of 11.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Suzhou Ballet Theater began its one-month debut tour in Europe from Oct 30, presenting 10 shows of the troupe's original ballet work, Romeo and Juliet, in nine cities including Paris, Amsterdam and Hasselt in Belgium. The company had previously performed in many countries around the world including Poland, Singapore, Qatar and Bahrain.

Choreographed by Li and Pan, the ballet, Romeo and Juliet, gives William Shakespeare's classic play a distinct Chinese look.

"The story of Romeo and Juliet is well known to Western audiences but I believe that they will be surprised to see our production with all these Chinese elements," says Li.

For example, a Chinese paper fan is used to carry the message, and a gourd is used as a container for poison. The changing shapes of the moon on the stage set also reflect the emotions of the main characters, from a crescent moon to a full moon.

Romeo and Juliet, which premiered in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in May 2010, accompanied by the Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra, was the company's first original full-length ballet work. The piece has been staged about 20 times since then, including at a performance at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing in 2012.

"My goal of launching the Suzhou Ballet Theater was to create original Chinese ballet works, not just telling Chinese stories but also interpreting Western classics with a Chinese angle," says Li. "Romeo and Juliet is a bold attempt for us."

Ballerina Su Yulin, who graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy in 2008 and joined the company in 2007, has been dancing as Juliet in the production since the piece was first performed.

"They were a celebrity couple as ballet dancers and I joined the company from the very beginning because of their reputation, hoping to grow with it," says Su, who will continue to dance in the role in the European tour. "Juliet was my first lead role and I am still playing her now, which means so much to me."

Su also danced in other lead roles in the company's other productions, such as Cinderella and the company's latest production, Tang Yin, which premiered in August. The ballet is about Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scholar and calligrapher Tang Bohu, also known as Tang Yin.

Li and Pan have received many international awards, including first prizes at the 12th Varna International Ballet Competition in 1986 and at the 5th Osaka International Ballet Competition in 1987.

Over the past 10 years, the couple have created seven original ballet works, including Coppelia, Carmen and The Nutcracker. In the first year, they choreographed three short works for the new company: Double Happiness, Chopin's Poem, and Dancing on Rock, a work showcasing a variety of ballet styles mixed with Chinese elements.

Li once performed as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, a ballet produced by the National Ballet of China in 1992 with her husband, Pan, as Romeo. During the curtain calls, they kissed onstage, which was caught on camera by their colleagues.

"I used to enjoy the applause from the audience as a dancer. Now, I enjoy the applause in a different way as a choreographer," says Li.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

Top: Suzhou Ballet Theater’s version of Romeo and Juliet gives the classic play a Chinese look. Above: Li Ying performed as Juliet in 1992 with her husband, Pan Jiabin, as Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, produced by the National Ballet of China. Photos Provided to China Daily 

]]>
2017-11-03 07:37:07
<![CDATA[Beijing's growing backbone]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/03/content_34067766.htm Chinese architect Liang Sicheng, a pioneer of heritage preservation, says: "The unique beauty of Beijing's design is due to its zhongzhouxian."

]]>
The capital's north-south axis reflects both Chinese culture and the country's history. Liu Xin and Kong Xiangxin report.

Chinese architect Liang Sicheng, a pioneer of heritage preservation, says: "The unique beauty of Beijing's design is due to its zhongzhouxian."

The capital's north-south central axis, or zhongzhouxian, possibly the world's longest and greatest, according to the architect, has been extended and rejuvenated many times over the centuries.

The original zhongzhouxian during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) stretched 3.7 kilometers. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, its length increased to 7.8 km, from Yongdingmen in the south to the Drum and Bell Towers in the north.

The axis was extended again in 2003 when the city prepared for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Park is considered as one of the most important areas along the axis today.

Here the China Science and Technology Museum has been open to the public since 2009. Next door, the new China National Sinology Center building has been completed. And construction on the headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank began in September 2016.

Zhao Jin, operations director of Beijing Inno-Olympic Group Co Ltd, which is the Olympic Park's property management company, says the China Intangible Cultural Heritage Hall and the new site of the National Art Museum of China are also to be built along the zhongzhouxian.

"Together with the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube and the China National Convention Center, the northern extension is expected to be a national hub for culture, sports, technology and finance," Zhao explains.

Olympic Park has hosted a total of 410 million people, including tourists and visitors from 2008 to 2016, according to Zhao.

On a clear day, from the top of Yangshan, the main peak of the Olympic Green, it is possible to see Jingshan, the highest point of the original zhongzhouxian, 8 km to the south.

"It is like the backbone of Beijing's urban spatial structure," says Beijing historian Li Jianping.

Li says it reflects Chinese culture, in which the center is viewed as the focus. The zhongzhouxian separates the central districts of Dongcheng and Xicheng.

Along it are the historical buildings of Qianmen, the gate that once guarded the southern entry into the inner city, the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, and the Drum and Bell Towers.

The Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, the Monument to the People's Heroes and Tian'anmen Square are lined up along the axis. "This reflects the Chinese idea of 'center worship'," says Li.

The aesthetic of symmetry is found along the zhongzhouxian. The Great Hall of the People and Beijing Zhongshan Park, or the Park of Sun Yat-sen, are on the west side, while the National Museum of China and Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace are on the east.

"Beijing has been built according to a 'checkerboard' planning system since the Yuan Dynasty," explains Wang Shiren of the city's history and culture preservation committee, "while many of the capitals of other countries have less structured layouts influenced by the Renaissance."

The Beijing Municipal government officially kicked off its campaign to have the main historical sites along the city's central north-south axis included as part of the world's cultural heritage in 2011.

Wang says the zhongzhouxian used to have 42 historical sites, and 36 of them have been preserved or rebuilt, including Beijing Zhongshan Park, which used to be the imperial altar of land and grain, built in 1425, and the Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace, which was the royal ancestral temple before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Meanwhile, there has been criticism that some of the preservation has seen excessive renovation, such as Yongdingmen Tower. The original south end of the zhongzhouxian was rebuilt in 2004.

Feng Feifei, director of the Urban Design Department of Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design, says the city has experienced different historical periods with different value orientations. "The zhongzhouxian's urban function has also differed," she says.

For this reason, various cultures are on display along the axis, including the culture of old Beijing from Yongdingmen to Qianmen, the culture of New China from Mao Zedong Memorial Hall to Tian'anmen, and the imperial culture of the Ming and Qing dynasties from Duanmen to Jingshan Park, Li Jianping says.

The city is aiming to make progress in becoming a top international capital over the next five years, according to the city's new development goals unveiled in June.

The capital is striving to improve as the country's political, cultural, international and innovation center. "A long history means a rich cultural heritage," Feng says.

Ji Xiang and Zhang Lili contributed to the story.

 

 

1. Tourists look at the Palace Museum at the Jingshan Park. 2. A photo from 2008 shows the Bell and Drum Towers. 3. The Tian’anmen Square in the center of the capital features the Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and the Monument to the People’s Heroes. 4. A night view of Qianmen Street in 2009. 5. A 2011 picture shows Yongdingmen Gate. 6. A night shot of the Beijing National Stadium, or the Bird’s Nest, and Beijing National Aquatics Center, or Water Cube.Xinhua Photos

 

]]>
2017-11-03 07:37:07
<![CDATA[Not afraid to run blind]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/03/content_34067765.htm Yan Wei, a 30-year-old blind man from Gaomi, Shandong province, is thrilled. He has just covered the 42.2-kilometer distance in a marathon in Longkou, a coastal city in Shandong province, on Sunday, beating his personal record, with a new time of 3 hours, 15 minutes and 58 seconds.

]]>
He has completed 14 full marathons in two years and Yan Wei, a visually-impaired runner, just wants to keep going. Fang Aiqing reports.

Yan Wei, a 30-year-old blind man from Gaomi, Shandong province, is thrilled. He has just covered the 42.2-kilometer distance in a marathon in Longkou, a coastal city in Shandong province, on Sunday, beating his personal record, with a new time of 3 hours, 15 minutes and 58 seconds.

While running, he heard the sound of sea as the race route hugged the coast.

He had two guides to help him - and Yan was tethered to him with a safety rope.

It was Yan's 14th full marathon.

Yan is also known as the first blind runner from the Chinese mainland to finish the Boston Marathon in the United States, the world's oldest annual marathon and one of the six major marathon events in the world.

Yan, who lost his sight when he was a few months old due to a tumor, started running two years ago, after learning that volunteers were available to assist visually-impaired runners at the 2015 Beijing Marathon.

When he started training with the help of his sister and parents, he could run only for 2 or 3 km at a time.

But soon he improved so much that his sister had to ride a bike to stay ahead of him and guide him during training.

It took him just four months to be ready for his first full marathon.

Yan attributes his quick progress to the physical strength gained through a daily exercise regimen that included more than 10,000 jump rope repetitions.

Since then, he has only upped his pace.

According to Yan, ideally, he would like to run 200 km per month.

"I feel uncomfortable if I do not run for two days in a row," says Yan.

But his training is subject to the availability of running guides. And it is becoming harder for Yan to find running guides for marathons now, because there are few guides who can run faster than him.

His guides typically need to be in better physical condition than him and have faster personal times than he does.

Shu Hao, an experienced marathon runner, was one of Yan's running guides for this year's Beijing Marathon.

Speaking of how they paired up for the Beijing event, Shu says: "I first met Yan during the Boston Marathon (in April)."

As for Yan, instead of trying to prove himself every time he runs, he has now moved to enjoy the process. He now smiles more often as he enjoys the process of running and this is reflected in the media coverage he receives.

In September, Yan completed his third Beijing Marathon in 3 hours 40 minutes despite being tripped up during the race.

Yan thought he could have done better, but admitted that he had eaten too much the night before and was also suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort.

As for breaking boundaries, Yan is now finding ways to make it more comfortable for him when it comes to running while ignoring conventional norms followed by visually-impaired runners.

Speaking about Yan's other strengths, Shu says that he is impressed not only by his confidence and determination to train, but also the proficiency with which Yan operates his mobile phone.

The internet is a key channel for Yan to learn about the world and the new technologies he uses greatly facilitate his daily life.

For now, Yan has installed screen readers on his phone and computer. And with the devices he can "read" at least three times faster than typical radio and television announcers.

He also shops online and buys most of his running gear on the e-commerce platform Taobao. Yan also takes screen-shots of his race and training data and sends them to his friends.

Besides, he is able to fix most of the problems that occur on his computer.

In recent years, Yan has turned his attention from books on social sciences, nonfiction and traditional Chinese culture to philosophy.

As he puts it, he has moved from masterpieces of great philosophers like Plato, Kant and Feng Youlan and learned to live his life more positively.

Cheng Yi, a volunteer of Running in the Dark, a nonprofit running group that provides professional running training for the visually impaired, has guided Yan in four marathon races. He is impressed with Yan's mindset.

"He is very optimistic and rarely thinks negatively," says Cheng.

Yan earns his living as a masseur.

And after seven years of working in Hangzhou and Beijing, he returned to his hometown, Gaomi, and opened his own massage parlor.

He sees himself as having persistence.

"I am keen on improving myself in things that really matter to me," says Yan.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

Yan Wei (left) runs with a volunteer guide in a marathon in Tai'an, Shandong province, in April.Photos Provided to China Daily

 

]]>
2017-11-03 07:37:07
<![CDATA[She helps convey Xi's message to the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/03/content_34067764.htm Holly Snape saw less of two things while growing up in Yorkshire in the 1980s - ginger and diversity.

But her travels to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other parts of Asia at the time made up for what she says she couldn't find enough of in her home county in Britain.

Snape, who works for the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau, an affiliate of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, first visited China nearly two decades ago, when she along with her late mother took a cruise on the Yangtze River from Shanghai to Chongqing.

Since the weeklong 19th National Congress of the CPC in October, Snape, in her mid-30s, has found herself in media spotlight as a member of the CCTB team that worked on translating from Chinese into English and some other foreign languages, President Xi Jinping's report delivered there.

Its Chinese staff aside, the bureau has 13 foreign translators who study Party documents and translate them in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Arabic.

Snape joined the bureau in 2014. And, this has been her highest-profile project so far.

"It conveys a real sense of confidence in the Chinese way, the idea that China needs to be and should be, can be confident in its own path, in its own direction," Snape told China Daily during an interview on Monday when asked for her assessment of Xi's speech at the opening of the Party conference, held once every five years.

"I (have) developed a better sense of the direction that China is going to be moving in," she added.

The report to the world's largest political party, Snape said, also emphasized the idea that the CPC needs to further tackle problems like corruption and govern itself with rigor. Further, it highlighted that China should play a more active role in global governance.

Describing it as "an enormous sense of responsibility", Snape says she read many of Xi's earlier policy addresses and took the time to prepare for the translation of his Oct 18 speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing so as to both "stay faithful to the original text" and be able to convey its full meaning to an English-speaking audience.

But she didn't reveal the date on which she first received a copy of the speech.

This was the first time since 1978 that foreigners were involved with the translation of such a confidential report before its release, according to State broadcaster China Global Television Network.

Snape doesn't know if her story would draw more qualified foreign translators to China but the mostly behind-the-scenes work itself is interesting and challenging.

"When I first came to China I realized very quickly I needed to speak Chinese if I wanted to understand China, to understand the culture - it is not just about the language, it's everything underneath it," she says, adding that without knowledge of Chinese, achieving genuine communication with local people becomes difficult.

Snape did a basic Chinese course when she was pursuing her master's degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Bristol but started to pick up the language after moving to Guangzhou to learn about social organizations in China at Sun Yat-sen University in 2007 as part of her postgraduate program.

In the capital of Guangdong province, where many people speak Cantonese, she made friends from all over China, including with migrant workers, she says.

Her Mandarin gradually built up.

A couple of years later she finally came to Beijing for her PhD. Initially a visiting student from Bristol at Tsinghua University, where she met her future husband, Snape has since lived in the Chinese capital. Her 2-year-old son speaks better Chinese - in an Anhui dialect - than English, she says.

Her curiosity about China was aroused by exposure to Chinese art and visits to British museums and to Hong Kong, primarily during her childhood and teens. Her mother was a schoolteacher and her father did an office job, and the family was vegetarian and didn't own a car out of concern for the environment, says Snape, whose Chinese name is Taoli.

"I come from a very ordinary family."

satarupa@chinadaily.com.cn

Holly Snape is a member of the team that worked on translating President Xi Jinping's speech at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October.

]]>
2017-11-03 07:37:07
<![CDATA[Swire Properties, Beijing Music Festival bring high art to capital]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/02/content_34026812.htm

An advertisement for the 20th anniversary of Beijing Music Festival at Swire Properties' Taikoo Li Sanlitun, a genuine Beijing cultural landmark. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Swire Properties is working closely with the annual Beijing Music Festival, supporting and sponsoring high-quality cultural performances in its venues around the capital city.

Due to the close collaboration between BMF and Swire Properties, more and more classical music, high-art performances and creative works have come to Beijing.

All these have made Swire Properties' Taikoo Li Sanlitun a genuine Beijing cultural landmark, and have allowed the public to experience creative arts and music.

A Chinese saying goes, while it is easy to relieve one's frustrations by turning to music, it is extremely challenging to find a bosom friend to share that music with.

However, BMF is lucky to have many companions to share in its common visions and values, and Swire Properties is one of its most outstanding companions.

Encounters

BMF and Swire Properties first began working together in 2010.

A key early performance the two have hosted is renowned pianist Li Yundi's master class in The Orange venue at Sanlitun Village, which was renamed as Taikoo Li Sanlitun in 2013.

Li played his favorite pieces by composer Chopin, offered a critique to piano students from various musical institutions and answered questions about his music career and performances.

The master class was broadcast directly outside The Orange via an LED screen, allowing many more passersby to witness the masterful performance.

According to Swire Properties, BMF commits itself to bringing high-quality music and art experiences to all audiences, which perfectly matches its commitment to building communities.

With its long-standing commitment to building communities, Swire Properties transforms neighborhoods and connects them to the latest developments in art, shopping, music and culture.

By collaborating with BMF, the fashion landmark of Beijing Taikoo Li Sanlitun has also gained a more profound cultural appeal.

Yu Long, the artistic director of BMF, said: "We share the same vision with Swire Properties in building and enriching the cultural life in Beijing's communities.

"By presenting BMF performances as well as major community and educational outreach events in Taikoo Li Sanlitun, we make music and contemporary lifestyle interact, while BMF becomes closer to the heart of Beijing's cultural life."

Yu said Sanlitun's fashionable and energetic atmosphere endorses BMF.

He said he hoped that the cooperation would strengthen in the future and that Swire Properties can play a more important role in connecting art and life in the city.

BMF will help more and more music lovers to enjoy international concerts in China, according to Yu.

Innovation

Having achieved great success from their very first collaboration, BMF and Swire Properties have proactively strengthened their long-term cooperation in many different art fields.

Since 2010, BMF has organized numerous cultural activities and performances at Taikoo Li Sanlitun, covering diverse genres.

In 2011, BMF launched its Urban Series music program in collaboration with Swire Properties.

By introducing contemporary and dynamic performances, the series has attracted new, young audiences to the renowned festival, and promoted arts and culture as essential elements of an urban lifestyle.

With the successful hosting of many performances, the Urban Series has brought increasingly fresh experiences for audiences, including Ju Percussion Group's concert; a musical conversation program hosted by renowned singers Cui Jian and Luo Dayou, and conductors Tan Dun and Yu Long; the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's Also Sprach Zarathustra, an adapted version from Richard Strauss' symphonic masterpiece.

Since last year, mini operas have also been performed on stage at Taikoo Li Sanlitun. After making a great sensation with Don Giovanni in 2016, Silent Opera comes back this year to debut Czech composer Leos Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, which has won unanimous praise.

Muziektheater Transparant presented La Voix Humaine, a one-act opera by French contemporary composer Francis Poulenc, treating the audience to a midnight in Paris experience as they enjoyed the touching story.

Integration

Differing from other sponsors, Swire Properties is also BMF's venue partner.

In 2012, for the first time, BMF presented a large number of its concerts in a creative new venue-The Orange in Taikoo Li Sanlitun.

On Aug 3, 2015 when the 18th BMF convened its news conference, The Red venue, in Taikoo Li Sanlitun North was officially unveiled.

By making the young, fashionable Taikoo Li Sanlitun its home, high art has naturally spread widely and deeply, becoming a part of people's daily life.

The move reflects what Liu Suola, a renowned musician and composer, said, that art should not be treated like antiques kept in museums, but should be modern and charming, and should blend right in with the fast-paced urban lifestyle.

BMF has begun to work alongside INDIGO, Swire Properties' second development near Beijing's 798 art district. The two parties have created a public benefit "family weekend", which allows more local families to come into contact with high art.

]]>
2017-11-02 07:54:15
<![CDATA[Cinematic draw]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/02/content_34026799.htm The onset of colder weather in late October usually marks the start of low season for tourism in the Shanxi heritage city of Pingyao, but a new film festival opening there has just changed all that.

]]>
Chinese director Jia Zhangke hopes his new film festival will be as much an attraction for tourists to Pingyao as the ancient heritage city. Wang Kaihao reports.

The onset of colder weather in late October usually marks the start of low season for tourism in the Shanxi heritage city of Pingyao, but a new film festival opening there has just changed all that.

Pingyao, China's best-preserved ancient walled city with architecture dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

The first Pingyao International Film Festival, organized by acclaimed Chinese director Jia Zhangke, has reignited a buzz in the city by throwing open its doors to filmmakers from all around China and the rest of the world.

In the festival, running from Oct 28 to Nov 4, Jia and his team have selected more than 40 new films from 18 countries and regions.

"More opportunities have been made available to young filmmakers," says Jia. "Creativity in young talent is the key."

Jia, 47, jokes that his mental age is 27, and it is this that helps him maintain his creativity.

With this in mind, Jia has created a segment at the festival dedicated to screening works by young filmmakers - with many of them making their international big screen debuts there. Jia has given the segment the title of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," after Ang Lee's Academy Award-winning movie.

The director says strict standards were maintained during the selection process for entries to the festival, which were deliberately limited to a relatively small number.

Marco Mueller, Italian filmmaker and former artistic director of the Rome, Venice and Locarno film festivals, has been appointed artistic director for the ongoing event. He has been a longtime proponent of Chinese cinema in the international arena.

"We now have the first Chinese film festival with a dedicated resident artistic director, just like many of our top-tier international counterparts," Jia says.

To honor the birth centenary of Jean-Pierre Melville, a founder of the French New Wave movement, the festival will also host a special segment to screen 10 of his films.

Jia explains that Melville's films did well both commercially and in expressing his personal style, and could serve as a useful reference for Chinese filmmakers in today's market.

No awards will be handed out at the festival, which has been planned as an annual event.

"Competition is not a must for a top-tier film festival," Jia explains. "If it's overly emphasized, it can even prove a distraction for filmgoers."

Although he is often labeled as a leader of the Chinese arthouse movement, Jia wants to avoid using the event as a showcase to promote the genre.

"What really matters are the sparks inspired by the communication between different styles of films," he says.

"A professional operation is the foundation," he says. "I can't expect the Pingyao International Film Festival to compete with Cannes, but if we can persevere for five years, I think Pingyao can become the home turf for Chinese cinema."

Before making it as an A-list director, Jia was considered a maverick in Chinese cinema. Preferring to capture the lives of China's underprivileged, Jia was content to set up his camera on the dusty streets of China's small cities and counties. Initially neglected in the domestic market, Jia instead carved out a reputation for himself on the international film circuit.

In 2006, Still Life, a film about the Three Gorges Dam, earned him a Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival.

"The first overseas film festival I attended was Berlin in 1998. That was also my first visit to Europe," he says. "I felt the strong cultural differences in what was a whole new world to me, and that experience inspired in me many new ideas," he says.

"Now, I hope overseas filmmakers can equally experience the cultural differences when they visit a small city in China with such well-preserved classical Eastern aesthetics."

Films from countries in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe dominate the screening list at the first Pingyao festival.

"Due to highly developed marketing channels, American and Western European films are easily accessible to Chinese filmgoers," Jia says. "However, the most dynamic creativity in the film industry is now in developing countries.

"Films in these regions more obviously reflect social change. Sadly, information about them is severely lacking."

Jia says he is not deliberately creating a force to counter the cultural influence of American film.

"At least we can have another type of movie to have an equal dialogue with them," he says.

Recently, Jia produced Where Has the Time Gone? - the first cinematic collaboration between filmmakers from all five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) - which may be a motivation for Jia's desire to see fresh voices in world cinema.

As a native of Shanxi province, Jia's choice of Pingyao as the location for the festival appears to be a mark of respect for his homeland.

"I left Shanxi to live in Beijing in my 20s," he says nostalgically. "Shanxi has become very unfamiliar to me. I'd like to come back and search for my past."

However, Jia's home province has never been far from his heart. Shanxi has always been the preferred backdrop for his films, and the dialogue in his movies is often written entirely in the local dialect.

The main venue for the festival is the Pingyao Festival Palace, a recently refurbished machine factory which had previously lay abandoned for years.

"It was once the most ragged place within the ancient city walls," Jia says. "However, an international film festival may usher in more work opportunities and a more modern lifestyle here."

He confesses he faced many difficulties trying to organize such a big event in such a small place, far more so than if he had chosen a major city as the location for the festival.

"However, it's worthwhile to give a new image to the province," he says.

In China, Shanxi is often unfairly stereotyped as an old-fashioned central coal-producing province.

"As the film festival opens, you find drivers in Pingyao trying to speak Mandarin, and young people even speaking English," he says. "Changes are taking place."

Jia says the film palace will open its doors in January 2018, and will screen films otherwise overlooked by mainstream cinemas for commercial reasons.

"Who knows? Maybe movie-watching will become another tourist attraction for Pingyao other than visiting the heritage site within a few years," he says.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-02 07:22:45
<![CDATA[Remake, Remodel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/02/content_34026798.htm Perhaps, like American TV audiences over the past decades, Chinese netizens will be laughing aloud on Saturday nights.

]]>
Youku is nurturing a big ambition to localize the world's most popular television genres for online viewing. Wang Kaihao reports.

Perhaps, like American TV audiences over the past decades, Chinese netizens will be laughing aloud on Saturday nights.

After all, Saturday Night Live China, a Chinese adaptation of the long-running sketch comedy and variety show from NBC, is to be released in 2018 via Youku, one of China's major online video streaming platforms based in Beijing.

The US Emmy Award-winning original features comedy sketches that parody popular social and cultural topics. It is simply known as SNL in the United States, where it premiered back in 1975.

The plan to screen SNL China online was released during a two-day conference in Shanghai on the future development of Youku and the online video industry in China, which ended on Oct 25.

"SNL is the single most successful comedy variety show in TV history," said Liu Liu, a producer of the new show, at the conference. "The programs have not only created chemistry between the public's idols and comedy, but also nurtured unique perspectives on social issues and the sensibility of the times."

According to Liu, the upcoming weekly show will select some of the hot topics discussed by young people during the preceding week and develop them into entertaining parodies. Nevertheless, the producer says it will not to be a carbon copy of the US show.

"Short video clips are easily spread in cyberspace," he says. "Consequently, each episode of the show will make short video clips go viral online."

Liu also expects the show to improve the status of comedians in China, saying comedians can become superstars. Celebrities will also have the chance to become comedians as they will be invited to reveal their opinions on some social issues.

"When comedy is closely connected with fashion icons, it will create a new direction for Chinese comedy shows," Liu says.

More details about the show, such as who will be the anchor, are yet to be revealed.

Language kings

Compared with xiaopin, which are short comedy skits, talk shows are a relatively late starter in China. However, Youku is producing another variety show called Yan Wang De Dan Sheng (which roughly translates as "Birth of a King in Language") that will be screened online next year.

The show will bring together what Youku says are the top 10 professional talkers in China. Gao Xiaosong, a popular musician-turned online program anchor, and Feng Xiaogang, one of China's top film directors, who is known for his outspoken remarks, will be hosts of the show.

Other online video platforms have already introduced talk shows.

Roast, a program inviting celebrated actors or singers to make fun of each other in the form of a talk show, premiered in 2016 on Tencent, another of the major Chinese online video platforms, and it has won a huge fan base.

"The most popular TV variety shows in China are about singing and dancing, and comedy was considered marginal," says Ye Feng, head of the Shanghai-based independent program developer Fun Factory. His studio is the behind-the-scenes team of Roast and the upcoming SNL China.

However, he says the lack of an established model means there is more room for uniquely Chinese elements.

"Talk shows have a long tradition in the United States. But after we add some Chinese elements, they become a fresh and exciting genre for Chinese viewers, as they play with the language in an unprecedented way," he says.

Consequently, he says the style of SNL China will be more down-to-earth for Chinese viewers.

Something new

Some other upcoming Youku programs offer even newer formats for Chinese viewers.

According to Song Binghua, a content manager from Youku, they will release a reality show on robot fighting next year, similar to the American TV series BattleBots.

In the program called This Is Bots, 48 competing teams from across the nation will design and operate remote-controlled armed machines to fight in a combat arena for the title of ultimate champion.

"Robot fighting is a new thing in China," Song explains. "Geeks usually don't know how to act in front of camera, so the reality show will truly reflect young Chinese people's aspirations, talent and positive energy."

Founded in 2003, Youku is China's earliest online video platform. Since becoming an arm of the Alibaba Group in 2015, Youku has nurtured a big ambition to localize the world's most popular television genres for online viewing.

Also on the long list of Youku's upcoming online offerings are dramas, many of which also borrow ideas from overseas, but tell their stories with Chinese characteristics.

For example, The Longest Day in Chang'an, a historical adventure and thriller set in Chang'an (today's Xi'an, Shaanxi province), the Chinese capital during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), claims to be China's 24 by depicting the events of a single day in one season.

Novoland: Eagle Flag, an epic fantasy drama set in a fictional time in ancient China, aims to be a Chinese version of Game of Thrones.

"The seasonal Chinese dramas will not just copy the models of American or Korean TV series, though," Yang Weidong, head of Youku, said in a keynote speech in Shanghai.

"We need to respect the tastes of Chinese audiences."

China's online programs used to be widely criticized for using some eye-catching or even vulgar elements to attract viewers.

However, as China's internet regulation over online programs strengthened, higher quality programs became a must.

For instance, the crime drama Day and Night premiered on Youku in August. It gained a rating of nine out of 10 points on Douban, China's major film and TV rating website.

The show's production team once revealed that each episode cost more than 2 million yuan ($300,000), even though the series needs no fancy visual effects.

TV standards

In June, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released a rule, stating that the same criteria will be used to approve online programs as those broadcast on TV.

"The time when online platforms could make use of different approval criteria has ended," Yang says.

He says there were dozens of online video platforms in China more than a decade ago, but the number keeps shrinking and there are now only three online video platform colossuses - Youku, Tencent and iQiyi.

"In such intense competition, no one will waste energy on making a program if it cannot offer new aesthetics and storylines to catch the attention of audiences," Yang says.

Contact the writer at wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

The Longest Day in Chang'an is one of the most anticipated dramas by Youku.

]]>
2017-11-02 07:22:45
<![CDATA[DC's latest film set to spark renewed rivalry with Marvel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/02/content_34026797.htm Around six decades after the birth of Justice League, one of the most famous metahuman alliances in American comics history, an upcoming movie named after the fictional team will bring them to life.

Justice League, the latest DC Comics film, will be simultaneously released in China and the United States on Nov 17.

A surprise for fans was that China is the first stop for the $220 million film's global promotion tour.

"China is one of the most important film markets in the world," says Ben Affleck, who reprises his role of Batman in the upcoming movie.

Alongside Affleck, the other major stars in Justice League - Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot; Superman played by Henry Cavill, Flash played by Ezra Miller; Aquaman played by Jason Momoa and Cyborg played by Ray Fisher - were on a whirlwind tour in Beijing in late October.

In recent years, it has been common to see Hollywood stars promote their movies in Chinese cities, but such a large team was unprecedented.

From greeting Chinese fans in Mandarin to taking photos with them, the Justice League team won local hearts.

Statistics from ticket services such as Maoyan and Taopiaopiao showed that Justice League was one of the most anticipated movies in November.

Separately, as part of its promotional campaign in China, distributors screened a 25-minute slice from the 121-minute feature for a small group of Chinese fans and journalists in a theater in Beijing on Oct 27.

The section featured the mourning for Superman's death, and the Justice League teaming up to stop the villain Steppenwolf's attempt to rule the world.

But the slice did not say if Superman would be brought back to life in the movie.

In the DC film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was released in 2016, Superman sacrificed his life to kill a deadly monster, but the last scene seemed to indicate a possible return.

Despite avoiding questions about the return issue, Cavill says the death of Superman has changed Batman, who now works with Wonder Woman to guard the planet.

Compared with previous DC superhero movies, Justice League has a brighter tone with more funny scenes, indicating DC's strategy to target non-fan audiences.

Referring to the "preview", producer Charles Roven, who is behind a string of DC comics hits such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, says: "You (the Chinese audience) are the first in the world to see that 25 minutes."

Justice League was conceived by American writer Gardner Fox and first appeared in a DC comic book in 1960.

Over the past decades, the fictional alliance has inspired a series of animated movies and TV shows, but Justice League marks the first time the team is part of a live-action movie.

For most DC fans and movie industry watchers, the movie is a late reply to Marvel, probably DC's biggest rival in the comics-adapted superhero movies genre.

Marvel, the publisher of Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk comics, released its first movie, Iron Man, in 2008. And with The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014) and a series of standalone movies and franchises, it has established a well-known cinematic universe for its heroes.

Now, with the latest Marvel superhero movie Thor: Ragnarok, which will be released in China and the United States simultaneously on Nov 3, Marvel has 17 such movies.

Wang Xiaoyang, a Beijing-based critic, says Justice League will be a pivotal chapter in the history of DC, as it will decide if DC's warriors can regain the audiences they have lost to Marvel.

xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-11-02 07:22:45
<![CDATA[Close-ups of China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982324.htm At a workshop in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, Polina Tsoncheva is carefully pinching clay on a spinning potter's wheel, molding it into a plate.

]]>
A program for young Sinologists is helping academics from all over the world gain a deeper understanding of the country. Xu Lin reports.

At a workshop in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, Polina Tsoncheva is carefully pinching clay on a spinning potter's wheel, molding it into a plate.

"It's such an indelible memory! The city is world-famous for its pottery and ceramics, and I get to see the process of how Chinese craftsmen make them," says the assistant professor who teaches Chinese and translation at St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo, in Bulgaria.

Tsoncheva was on a four-day field trip to Jiangxi's Jingdezhen, Wuyuan and Sanqing Mountain as part of a cultural experience. They visited old villages, ancient porcelain kiln sites and watched traditional operas.

It was part of the recent three-week 2017 Visiting Program for Young Sinologists in Beijing, in which 27 Sinologists from 26 countries participated. With an average age of 36, their research fields include the Chinese language, history and politics.

The Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences co-founded the annual project in Beijing in 2014. This year, it was held in four cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Zhengzhou - with a total of 120 participants.

"Young Sinologists can not only enhance their academic level, but also explore Chinese culture and society," says Zhu Qi, deputy director of the international liaison department of the Ministry of Culture.

"It was the most wonderful three weeks, at least in my last 10 years," says Tsoncheva. "After listening to the lectures given by Chinese scholars in Beijing, interesting ideas for my future research have come to my mind."

She wants to delve into the history of Tongwen Guan, or the School of Combined Learning. Founded in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the government school taught foreign languages and scientific subjects. In 1902, it was merged with the Imperial University of Peking, which is now Peking University.

"The school was established due to the demands of translators and interpreters. Studying foreign languages allows one to meet different people and learn about the culture, history and traditions of other countries," she says.

She also wants to further her study tracing the earliest time when Chinese literature entered Bulgaria and how it influenced Bulgarian literature. She discovered that in the 19th century, poems by Tang Dynasty (618-907) poets, such as Li Bai and Du Fu, were translated into Bulgarian from Russian or German versions.

"They didn't know Chinese, but their translations capture the Chinese spirit," she says.

Expanding worldviews

Many years ago, Bulgarians knew little about China and they had limited access to information about the country. Tsoncheva's parents, who were born in the middle of 20th century, never visited China but they have been interested in Chinese culture and read books about China.

She recalls that when she first heard a Bulgarian speaking Chinese in university, it sounded different from any other language she had heard before.

"It was like a song. I liked it at once and from that time on I was determined to speak it at least as good as that," she says.

After studying Chinese in Bulgaria for four years, she came to the Beijing Language and Culture University in 2001 for a one-year program to further her Chinese.

"China is changing rapidly. Thanks to globalization, we're learning from each other's cultures in a dynamic process that also changes us," she says.

"I'm trying to transfer my endless curiosity and love for China and the Chinese language to all my students, making them eager to learn more and expand their worldview."

Ana Jovanovic couldn't agree more.

"Every time I come to China, I see a lot of changes because China has made developments in every field," says Jovanovic, docent at the faculty of philology, University of Belgrade, Serbia.

"Many foreigners are interested in traditional Chinese art and music. In Serbia, there are more performances today by Chinese performers and music troupes (than years before). It's great to see these shows outside of China."

Jiangxi boasts various traditional operas, and during her stay in the province, she enjoyed an opera about the legend of the White Snake - a love story between a man and the spirit of a snake.

"It's amazing for us to see the local operas and know about the local culture via the field trip to villages," says Jovanovic, who has translated two books by Nobel Prize laureate Mo Yan into Serbian.

According to her, from the 1950s to 1970s, Chinese novels, including works of Lu Xun (1881-1936), were translated from intermediate languages such as English and French. But starting from the 1980s, some Chinese novels were translated directly from Chinese.

Scholarly interactions

Svetlana Kharchenkova, a lecturer from the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, in the Netherlands, believes the Visiting Program for Young Sinologists is an excellent program for young scholars and PhD students.

"It's an intensive program with varied activities. It's important to interact with Chinese scholars who are in similar research areas. For example, we can read and discuss each other's work to develop further research," she says.

She is now writing a book about the development of the contemporary Chinese art market.

"The market didn't exist about 30 years ago, but now it's flourishing. I'm interested in these questions - how the market and the institutions were established? How did the auction houses and galleries emerge?" she says.

The visit to Jingdezhen also gave her inspiration, as she visited the art zone and porcelain studios there. She also enjoyed climbing the Sanqing Mountain, because the picturesque views reminded her of the traditional Chinese painting about landscapes.

"Imagine if we lived here, we would have the inspiration to make beautiful artworks, too. No wonder China has such wonderful traditional culture," she says.

She started to learn the Chinese language in 2000. Four years later, she made her first visit to China, studying Chinese at Peking University for a year.

"The internet was not so developed at that time. It was so much fun to meet Chinese people and see Chinese characters everywhere," she recalls.

She worked in Beijing from 2006 to 2008, witnessing the fast development of the capital before the Olympic Games, such as the further construction of the subway and the Beijing National Stadium.

Journeys of discovery

"The program allows China to market itself. It's like a melting pot of different cultures. Young Sinologists from all over the world come to see what's going on here, rather than read textbooks about it," says Tochukwu Innocent Okeke, a lecturer from the department of history and diplomatic studies at the University of Abuja, Nigeria.

Like others, he appreciates the opportunity to interact with Chinese scholars, so they can get firsthand information about China.

"It helps me open my heart more so I can connect with China in a more profound way," he says.

"I'm happy about being able to read books in the library of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences because outside China it's not easy to find such a rich collection. I also met many professors and our talks have given me more insights about my research focus."

When he was pursuing his PhD several years ago in Wuhan, Hubei province, he found the history of China-Africa relations could be traced back at least to the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when Emperor Yongle sent his admiral Zheng He on seven expeditions to the Indian and Pacific oceans.

"Now the visiting program has stirred my interest in the topic again. I want to know about the ancient relationship between China and Africa, especially during the Ming Dynasty. I want to know about Zheng's statecraft and diplomacy," he says.

Like him, other young Sinologists also benefited greatly from talking to Chinese scholars.

"Chinese professors give me precious suggestions about my research on agriculture. I want to figure out what lessons African countries can learn from China. One of the challenges between China and Africa is that there is little research in the area," says Gedion Jalata from Ethiopia, the program manager for Africa-China Dialogue Platform at Oxfam International.

"Since reform and opening-up was launched in 1978, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty. We're planning to have scholars and policymakers discuss this at our dialogue platform, so African countries can learn from China's experience to reduce poverty," he says.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

Top: Foreign scholars including Dutch Svetlana Kharchenkova (first left) visit the China Ceramics Museum in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, as part of the 2017 Visiting Program for Young Sinologists. Above left: Nigerian Tochukwu Innocent Okeke (right) shopping for souvenirs in Wuyuan, Jiangxi province. Above right: A young Sinologist learns to play the musical instrument erhu in Wuyuan, Jiangxi. Photos By Lan Jian / For China Daily

 

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[All about studying abroad]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982323.htm The 2017 China Education Expo, which toured Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai from Oct 21 to 29, attracted over 50,000 visitors, with the expo at the China National Convention Center in Beijing hosting the most, around 27,000 visitors.

]]>
The China Education Expo provided visitors with an insight into the universities, colleges and high schools of nearly 40 countries and regions. Xing Wen reports.

The 2017 China Education Expo, which toured Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai from Oct 21 to 29, attracted over 50,000 visitors, with the expo at the China National Convention Center in Beijing hosting the most, around 27,000 visitors.

Universities, colleges and high schools from nearly 40 countries and regions including the United States, Australia, Canada, Spain, Japan and Sweden had booths at the expo, which provided visitors with details about different universities, scholarships, tuition fees and living expenses.

"Although it's more effective to cooperate with high schools in recruiting qualified students, we can give students and parents more comprehensive information about our university through the expo," said Zhao Suping, the international relations manager and special adviser of University of Waterloo in Canada. "For example, I can introduce them to the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in our university, which ranks high in the field all over the world yet isn't known by many Chinese students."

Among all the national pavilions, Canada's was the largest, with over 130 universities and colleges showcasing their programs, courses and curriculums.

As the Country of Honor for this year's expo, Canada promoted its international education brand "EduCanada: A World of Possibilities" and developed an app to present information about the education institutions featured in the expo.

Zhang Ke, the trade commissioner of the Canadian embassy, said staff from the visa office also showed up to answer questions about how to apply for student visas and work visas.

"This year marks the 150th anniversary since the birth of Canada, and the embassy of Canada welcomes talent worldwide to study and work in the country," said Zhang. "The expo is necessary for visitors who want to study in Canada to get constructive and accurate advice directly from the representatives of their ideal universities."

Rob Batchelor, an international officer of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, offered face-to-face interviews with Chinese students in his booth.

"We have different requirements, depending on the subjects. The most important aspect in the interview is to assess the student's educational background and English language level. Then I'll give them advice on how to prepare the application," he said. "The expo helps us promote the university's name and get to speak to many Chinese students who have potential."

The expo also enabled cooperation between institutions.

Gu Lin, a teacher from Tianjin Urban Construction Management and Vocation Technology College, visited the expo in Beijing to seek cooperation with foreign universities in improving the college's newly offered major, Information-based Management of Cities.

The major aims at cultivating skilled professionals in data collection, statistics analysis and system maintenance for the management of smart cities.

Gu looked through all the booths and finally found there's a similar major in the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. "I hope we can develop a joint curriculum with the university and launch international exchange programs," said Gu. "I think the expo would benefit if more foreign institutions of vocational education participated."

This year, visitors could attend a series of seminars with topics ranging from International English Language Testing System presentations to how to find a job in the United States.

Yang Qiaoyue, a senior from Beijing Information Science and Technology University, attended a seminar given by German Academic Exchange Service.

She said the seminar showed the general situation of studying in Germany and as educational institutions were grouped in the hall, it was more convenient to turn to the service desk than search online.

According to China's Ministry of Education, China has the biggest international student presence in other countries. To meet the higher requirements of China's educational services market, the expo has accommodated a range of such overseas education-related service providers as well as airlines, banks, law firms and overseas apartment suppliers.

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Canada, the Country of Honor of this year's China Education Expo, promotes its international education brand "EduCanada: A World of Possibilities" and an app to present information about the education institutions in the expo in Beijing.A Qing / For China Daily

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Fresh take on Swedish work at drama festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982322.htm Miss Julie, one of Swedish playwright August Strindberg's most representative works written in 1888 and noted for its naturalistic style, has been adapted for the stage as a traditional Chinese opera.

In May 2014, the play was adapted by students and teachers of the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts into a show performed as a Yuju Opera, a traditional opera form that originated in Henan province during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The show will now be staged under the same title on Nov 4 as part of the ongoing 6th Beijing College Students Drama Festival.

"We initially took a few parts from the play to use as role-playing practice for our students during class. But we decided to develop it into a full-length play since the psychological transformations of the characters in Miss Julie were so well suited to be performed as a traditional Chinese opera," recalls Wang Shaojun, the director and scriptwriter of the play, and director of the acting department at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts.

Set in a large country house, the play is centered around Miss Julie, who finds herself attracted to her servant, Jean, who she later seduces.

The couple then try to escape from the family to start a new life. However, the life eventually leads them to a very different destiny.

In Wang's adaptation, the play revolves around a wealthy squire's daughter named Zhu Li who seduces her servant Xiang Qiang on the night of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival. She decides to break with tradition and elope with him in the hope of starting a better life. This version of the play, like the original, ends tragically.

"Yuju Opera is rich in rural flavor, and its dialogue and singing give a vivid insight into the complex minds of the characters," says Wang.

"This mix of traditional Chinese opera with a Western play not only gives a fresh perspective on Miss Julie, but also offers a new way of interpretation using traditional Chinese opera."

Besides Miss Julie, the ongoing drama festival, which kicked off on Oct 27, has gathered together eight productions, including Voyage from the University of International Business and Economics, Shun Kin from Tsinghua University and Wu Yuzhang from the Renmin University of China.

Started in 2006, Beijing College Students Drama Festival is a national theater program involving students from colleges and universities nationwide, which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the country, according to Hao Rong, chairman of the committee of Beijing College Students Drama Festival, and vice-president of the Central Academy of Drama.

Since its inception, the festival has given more than 3,000 students from 90 colleges and universities around China the opportunity to stage their theater works. Students from other countries, including Russia, Japan and Ukraine, have also presented their works at the festival.

This year, besides watching performances, participants can also attend workshops, master classes and forums on subjects relating to the theatrical arts from Oct 16 to Nov 6.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Designing the antidote to counterfeit culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982321.htm Six university students from around China had the chance to apply their creativity by turning knockoff goods into other types of useful products at a competition held at the East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, as part of a novel program on how to dispose of seized fake products.

All the materials used by the students came from fake products amassed by e-commerce giant Alibaba, which organized the competition together with the China Youth Daily, China University Media Union and the Shanghai-based nonprofit organization Adream Foundation.

Since 2011, Alibaba has implemented spot checks on products sold on Taobao, the group's online shopping portal, and initiated corresponding sanctions for retailers who were caught selling counterfeits. These products are sealed up and stored for three years to be used as evidence in potential lawsuits, and those remaining after this time are destroyed.

"The traditional way that knockoffs are destroyed is also a way of waste of resources, and this was the reason the competition fascinated me," says Zhang Jin, a contestant and a first-year graduate student majoring in public art at Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, Gansu province.

"We tried to change these products by peeling off their fake exteriors, and transform them into real products and make full use of these materials."

Sun Jungong, vice-president of Alibaba, says: "Fake goods are a kind of resources that are misplaced. Young people can give them another social value by repurposing counterfeit goods."

Voted by teachers and students on the scene, Ayjol Adli, an ethnic Kazak and a native of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, won first prize with his creative work involving a pair of fake Nike sneakers.

He painted the shoes with patterns characteristic of his ethnic group, and used another fake Coach silk scarf to intensify its ethnic features. He says he cut the scarf into strips and glued them onto the front and sides of the shoes. He then shredded them with a knife to make them look and feel like fur.

"I also used the scarf to make the shoelaces in the form of a horsewhip. People from the Kazak ethnic group have a strong emotional connection with horses and grasslands, so I tried to blend these elements into my work," says Adli, who is a sophomore majoring in dress design at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.

Adli says he chose to work on shoes because there are still children in some parts of the world who don't have shoes to keep their feet warm in winter.

"Although these shoes are counterfeits, we can restore their original function as footwear and be of use to people when we remove their fake labels. I hope to donate the shoes to children who are in need of them," he says.

Zhang created a traditional Chinese lantern using fake Levis jeans and other materials such as wooden dowels, silk and paper.

"Because the jeans were counterfeits, I didn't want people to recognize the fact they were fake, so I only used them on the frame of the lantern. Through my handiwork, I created something very different from the original product," she says.

The competition, which started in mid-September, received suggestions on how to destroy and recycle fake products from more than 400 college students around the country.

Zhao Hang, a Shanghai-based artist and an instructor to the contestants, says the rise of counterfeits in society is largely due to people's vanity.

"Creative art comes from people's true feeling. Through this design competition, we hope some people's pursuit of fake products can be replaced with true emotions," he says.

Zheng Junfang, Alibaba's chief platform governance officer, says the fight against fake products must include efforts from society as a whole, particularly the younger generation.

"They are the main force in the internet age. More than a third of the shop owners on Taobao are under the age of 24," she says.

The group has attempted to include young people in various ways, such as inviting university students to visit its warehouse of fake products or to attend regular media briefings on platform governance, she says.

"In the future, we will invite them to meet with our task force who often work together with police on the frontline in the fight against fake goods, and discuss issues about intellectual property protection," Zheng says.

zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Career in comics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982320.htm Cartoons have been an indispensable part of Ao Yo-siang's childhood since he can remember. In primary school, Ao created fictional storylines to sketch four-panel comics on workbooks entertaining classmates. Teachers often assigned him to draw blackboard posters.

]]>
Cartoonist Ao Yo-siang plans to help young aspirants. Zhang Zefeng reports.

Cartoons have been an indispensable part of Ao Yo-siang's childhood since he can remember. In primary school, Ao created fictional storylines to sketch four-panel comics on workbooks entertaining classmates. Teachers often assigned him to draw blackboard posters.

"I get a sense of fulfillment from drawing cartoons," says the 61-year-old renowned Taiwan cartoonist. "I was weak in athletics. Cartoons were something that I can use to draw people's attention to me."

Ao's interest in cartoons altered his career path.

At the age of 25, his four-frame kung fu humor comic series, Wuloom Family, that tells stories about four monks, brought him fame. So, he quit his job in an animation company and started working as a full-time cartoonist.

Since its release in 1980, the series has sold 120 million copies and gained an enduring appeal among young readers.

"Wuloom Family is a comic cartoon that everyone can accept," says Ao.

Between 2004 and 2007, Ao won awards in the Golden Dragon Award Original Animation and Comic Competition, one of the most significant awards in the cartoon industry on the Chinese mainland.

This year, Wuloom Family will take another monumental step.

Its motion comic adaptation, Wuloom Family: Save the Elf, which combines elements from comic books and animation, is released on Tencent video on Nov 1.

However, the process comes with many challenges.

Unlike the printed version that mainly relies on drawing and storytelling, the animation requires producers to reshape characters as well as add new elements such as motion and music.

"It took us a year for the series' first episode," says the chief director Rao Kunhua. "It's challenging to keep its originality while integrating innovative elements into the show."

Ao is one of the first batch of Taiwan cartoonists like Tsai Chih-chung and Zhu Deyong who have developed their careers on the Chinese mainland.

In 2002, he moved to Guangzhou as "I wanted more readers on the mainland to read my comics", says Ao.

"The comics market here is also very alluring," he says.

Over the past two decades, the Chinese cartoon and animation industry has seen tremendous growth.

In 2010, China overtook the long-established comic kingdom, Japan, as the largest producer of animated films.

Ao has witnessed all these developments.

Wuloom Family, which features traditional Chinese elements such as history and culinary traditions, has also become one of the best-sellers on the mainland.

"I was lucky to be a part of this industry," says Ao.

"The mainland is a great platform for young talent in Taiwan. I hope the cartoon and animation industry on the mainland can maintain its growth."

In recent years, the cartoon industry has also been greatly shaped by the internet.

Cartoonists can now publish their works online instead of going through the traditional publication process while readers can directly read, engage with, and even influence the cartoonists.

"We should keep up with the pace of change brought about by technology," he says.

Ao says that creative ideas and appealing stories are crucial for cartoonists in this digital age.

"Cartoons must be surreal," he says. "The more unusual the story is, the happier readers are."

Ao encourages cartoonists to draw inspiration from voraciously reading other people's works, and isolating themselves occasionally to think about their work.

Over the years, Ao has devoted himself to nurturing talented young artists.

Each month, he and his team spend four days visiting two remote rural schools in Taiwan to teach students.

In October, Ao set up a 1 million yuan ($152,000) scholarship in Hangzhou to support China's young aspirants to pursue their cartoon dreams.

Students from both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are eligible to apply, says Ao.

"The period prior to publication is usually the hardest for budding cartoonists," he says.

"I want to provide both financial and professional aid to help them make that transition."

Contact the writer at zhangzefeng@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Respect nature's light-dark cycles]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982319.htm In October, the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine went to three American academics, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, for their work on circadian clocks. They've established that plants, animals and humans naturally adapt their biological rhythm - the cycle of rest and activity - so that it's synchronized with the Earth's revolutions, with the cycles of light and darkness.

Their work draws attention to recent changes in the way we live. In the past 100 years, humans have ignored natural light-dark cycles, and relied on electric lighting, particularly screen lights to keep us awake when it's dark outside.

We're just beginning to understand the consequences of this dramatic change in lifestyle. Links have been suggested between a malfunctioning of our circadian clock and both physical and psychological illnesses.

Ellen Stothard and colleagues at the University of Colorado have shown that when individuals rely on artificial lighting to keep them awake, their circadian clocks are overridden and start to run "late". This is linked with higher rates of obesity, poor school performance and mood disorders such as depression.

These are only associations. However, in a paper presented to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011, Ilia Karatsoreos and colleagues at Rockefeller University reported that when the connection between rest, activity cycles and environmental light, and dark cycles in mice was deliberately broken, many became obese. There was a decrease in the neurons in the prefrontal cortex, the area associated with emotional control, and cognitive functioning became more rigid.

Daily Telegraph

 

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Vermont students take up healthy lifestyle options]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982318.htm BURLINGTON, Vermont - Pledges by college students to eschew drugs and alcohol are old hat. Now they are meditating, working out, practicing yoga, eating healthily, and at least in one school, the University of Vermont, it has become a bona fide lifestyle.

In UVM's Wellness Environment, known as WE, students live in a new, big substance-free dorm, take a required class in what affects the health of their brains and bodies, and are given incentives to stay healthy like access to a free gym membership, nutrition and fitness coaches and an app that tracks their activities.

"We created an environment where we believe if we offer young people healthy foods, healthy choices, they'll make them. We reward those things, and we don't encourage the negative things, so the rule in the environment is no alcohol, no drugs, and the students follow it," says Jim Hudziak, the chief of child psychiatry at the UVM's Larner College of Medicine, who founded the Wellness Environment, or WE program.

It goes beyond the wellness and substance-free residential halls found at some colleges.

"It looks at them (students) as an individual, which is really important obviously for health and wellness, but then it's also making changes to their community," says David Arnold, of the Washington-based NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. "So combining those two things together as well as working broader with faculty is actually a very impressive implementation of that process."

At the start of a recent class, "Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies", the auditorium full of students stood with eyes closed for a few minutes of meditation. Then Hudziak, who tosses a brain-shaped football to students in the auditorium before class, discussed neuroscience topics including how traumatic or stressful experiences in childhood can affect physical and mental health.

And there's no tolerance for alcohol or drugs in the dorm. If you're caught with either in the environment, you're thrown out, Hudziak says.

"I'm a genetic neuroscientist and child psychiatrist who wanted to end what I thought and saw was damaging cultures in university settings, and I thought using neuroscience and behavior change science rather than lecturing and setting standards of behavior would work," he says.

That makes for a quieter dorm, says freshman Cole Spaulding, of Waterbury. "You're sitting at home in your dorm, and it's not like people are yelling. You know the bathrooms are always clean. It's a nice place to just live," he says.

WE students pay the same rate for campus housing as other students.

After a recent meditation class, Hannah Bryant, of Brewster, Massachusetts, says her choice to join WE has paid off. She bases her life around living a healthy lifestyle and likes the chance to be surrounded by healthy opportunities like yoga, meditation and good food.

"Just like already within the first three weeks of school has made a huge difference. And it's things like this, the 30 minutes, that can really change your week around," she says.

Through the app, students earn coins for healthy choices that can be used to buy socks, sweat shirts and hats. They're also encouraged to mentor kids in the community as one of the four pillars on which the program is based: fitness, mindfulness, nutrition and relationships.

To freshman Joy Vincenzo of Portland, Connecticut, the UVM program has helped in her first few weeks of college. She does yoga and, when she has breaks between classes, she might go to the gym for 20 minutes.

"This argument of WE is, if we teach and practice these health-promoting activities, when things get tough, you'll rely on a whole new set of skills," says Hudziak.

Associated Press

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Playlist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982317.htm Music

Gorgeous

Anyone hoping that Taylor Swift's new album Reputation will be a cold blade of revenge will be surprised by the gooey romance of her new single, Gorgeous. Released on Oct 20, the song is a hard turn from the angry, slightly unhinged electro-rock of her latest releases. Instead, it's a maudlin pop ballad about falling hard for a super-hot dude despite some minor reservations. It's built with modern subbass and synth pings. But the drippy, devotional lyrics and Swift's delivery are weirdly indebted to the kind of teen pop heard on mid-2000s TV shows such as The Hills.

It's not quite what we expected from the new, supposedly more coldblooded Swift we recently heard on Look What You Made Me Do.

The song returns Swift to Swedish producer Shellback and songwriter Max Martin, who helped design much of her pop crossover album, 1989.

Apps

For photos

We're shooting more photos with our smartphones than ever, and they're getting better and better each year.

Camera+ lets you set exposure, white balance and focus, for those times when automatic just ain't cutting it, and lets you use your iPhone flash for fill-in, instead of those overbearing, washed out images we've come to associate with smartphone flash. Slow Shutter is fun for night shots, when you need to let in more light, or times when you just want to have fun.

Speaking of editing, the best all-around editing app is Snapseed. You can crop, rotate, add a vignette, add contrast, drama or vintage film looks to your smartphone shots.

Book

Life in the wild

If you're in a city but you live in a van, or a trailer, or a tent, you are deemed homeless. But if you're in the desert or the forest, you're camping. Rationalizations such as these are what make Nomadland such a compelling look at a weirdly camouflaged swath of society that's more entwined around us than we realize. Author Jessica Bruder, a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism, immersed herself among those who move between seasonal jobs at a time when they'd imagined contemplating retirement, but life went haywire. These nomads are not necessarily to be pitied. They are inventive and savvy, frugal and generous. When they gather at a campground for bring-your-own-topping baked potato night, they are, as one put it, "hiding in plain sight".

China Daily - Agencies

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Hearing loss hits a younger generation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982316.htm Hearing loss, that's an older person's problem, right?

Think again. Noise, not age, is the leading cause of hearing loss. While hearing problems are common among older folks, damage from everyday noise is growing among younger Americans, including those in their teens and 20s.

The latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows some 40 million Americans ages 20 to 69 with hearing damage from everyday loud noise, including heavy traffic, noisy restaurants, rock concerts, sporting events and loud music via earbuds.

Among 12- to 19-year-olds, researchers estimate some 17 percent show evidence of noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears.

Worse, many Americans don't even realize their hearing has been affected.

In the CDC's analysis of more than 3,500 hearing tests, one out of four adults claimed their hearing was just fine and reported no job-related noise, yet hearing tests indicated they already had noise-induced hearing loss.

This type of damage causes a telltale drop in the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, and it was evident in those as young as 20.

"We have government standards in the workplace to protect workers from noise, but nothing protects you from a society getting noisier every year," says audiologist Jack Scott, of the Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning at Northwestern University.

Even in protected parks and wildlife areas, a recent study found that noise pollution from traffic, logging and drilling has doubled, drowning out the natural sounds of birds and rushing water.

Sarah Sydlowski, the audiology director of the hearing implant program at the Cleveland Clinic, puts the problem this way: "The baby boomer generation is dealing with skin cancer from the tanning they did as teens. This generation will have to deal with the consequences of noise exposure that damaged their hearing."

Many young adults don't realize that hearing loss is permanent. When loud noise kills the sensitive inner-ear cells that allow us to hear, they don't regenerate. "The hearing you have when you're born is all you get. Those cells can't be replaced," says Sydlowski.

And the damage is cumulative, adds Scott. The more often the ears are exposed to damaging noise, the more cells die, leading to impaired hearing.

Part of the reason hearing damage is showing up earlier is today's improved portable devices. The sound level 28 years ago from the Walkman, with its flimsy headphones, was much lower than today's high-fidelity smartphones with earbuds that deliver louder sound much closer to the eardrum.

A study that compared hearing tests of teens during the late '80s and '90s - when Walkmans were popular - with tests in 2005 to 2006 - when iPods were all the rage - found the levels of mild hearing loss jumped 30 percent.

But don't just blame the earbuds, says Sydlowski. People underestimate what a safe level of sound is, "especially when they're already in a noisy environment".

Both she and Scott say a common problem among their younger patients is cranking up the sound in their earbuds to mask the noise around them.

To protect your hearing, follow these tips:

Turn down the volume. If you're listening to music through your earbuds, "any volume level higher than 50 percent is risky", says Sydlowki.

Limit your exposure. Avoid fitness classes with deafening music (or at least move away from the speakers, advises Sydlowski) and sports stadiums with ear-splitting crowd noise.

年轻一代正遭受听力损失

听力损失,这不是老年人的问题吗?

再想想。其实,导致听力损失的主要原因是噪音,而不是年龄。虽然听力问题在老年人中间很常见,但越来越多的美国年轻人,包括10多岁和20多岁的青少年,正在遭受由日常噪音造成的听力损伤。

美国疾病控制和预防中心的最新研究表明,大约4000万年龄在20至69岁的美国人,因喧嚣的日常噪音而听力受损,噪音来源范围包括拥挤的交通、嘈杂的餐厅、摇滚演唱会、体育赛事以及耳机播放出的高分贝的音乐。

研究人员估计,在12至19岁的青少年中,大约17%的人会出现单耳或双耳噪音诱发性听力损失现象。

更糟糕的是,很多美国人甚至并未意识到他们的听力已经受到了影响。

根据疾病控制中心对3500多人的听力测试的分析,每四个成年人中就有一人声称他们的听力完好,没有受到与其工作相关的噪音侵扰,但听力测试却显示他们已经遭受噪音诱发性听力损失。

这种损伤会导致听取高分贝声音的能力下降,而这种情况在20岁的年轻人身上就已经出现了。

美国西北大学听力学、话语、语言与学习中心的听力学家杰克·斯科特说:“在工作场所我们有政府制定的标准来保护工作者免受噪音损害,但我们身处在每年日益变得更加喧嚣的社会中,根本无法避免受到这种损害。”

最新的研究发现,即使在受保护的公园和野生动物活动区内,来自交通、伐木和钻孔的噪音污染都已加倍,淹没了鸟鸣和流水的自然之音。

克利夫兰医学中心听力植入项目的听力学主任萨拉·赛德洛沃斯基对这一问题是这样说的:“战后婴儿潮一代正在面对因青少年时期日光浴所导致的皮肤癌问题,而这一代将不得不面对他们因噪音而听力受损的后果。”

很多年轻人没有意识到听力损失是永久性的。当赋予我们听力的敏感内耳细胞被巨大噪音杀死后,这些细胞就无法再生了。“你出生时获得的听力就是你能得到的全部,这些听力细胞是无法被替换的,”赛德洛沃斯基说道。

这种损伤是逐渐积累的,斯科特补充道。耳朵听的损伤性噪音越多,听力细胞死得就越多,从而导致听力受损。

听力受损过早出现的部分原因是当今先进的便携娱乐设备。28年前随身听单薄的耳机音量远低于现在高保真的智能手机的声音,后者的配套耳塞传送的音量更大,更靠近鼓膜。

一项研究对不同时期的青少年听力测试作了比较,一个时期是随身听很流行的上世纪80和90年代,另一时期是iPod风靡一时的2005至2006年,研究发现,轻度的听力损失水平增长了30%。

赛德洛沃斯基表示,也不能仅仅把问题归咎于耳塞。人们低估了安全的音量水平,“特别是当你已经身处一个嘈杂的环境时”。

(本段的翻译有奖征集中)

保护听力,可遵循以下这些建议:

调低音量。如果你正在用耳塞听音乐,“那么任何高于50%的音量都是有危害的”,赛德洛沃斯基说。

减少噪声接触。不去参加音乐声震耳欲聋的健身课(或者至少离扬声器远一些,赛德洛沃斯基建议道),也不要去有山呼海啸般人群噪音的体育场。

翻译高手:请将蓝框标注内容翻译为中文,在11月6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:黑龙江哈尔滨 哈尔滨理工大学 孙宇超

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[“金拱门”的英文是啥?听完它背后的故事,你还觉得它老土吗?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982315.htm 上周,一则麦当劳中国公司更名的新闻在微博上刷了屏。 工商信息数据显示,麦当劳(中国)有限公司已于2017年10月12日正式更名为金拱门(中国)有限公司,其各地分公司也在陆续更名。

网友立刻炸开锅,纷纷吐槽“太土”.......

Although the fast food chain reassured its fans on its Sina Weibo that stores in China will still bear the old name, the new moniker was immediately ridiculed by net users for sounding unsophisticated.

尽管该快餐连锁公司在新浪微博上向其粉丝保证中国的门店不会改名,但新名称还是因为听起来太“土”而遭到网友嘲笑。

网友反响如此热烈,麦当劳也立刻抓住机会进行了一波宣传,在微博上卖着萌解释说,改名只是证照层面……

据了解,此次更名的一系列变动是在麦当劳成为中资控股之后发生的。

McDonald's low-key name change came after the fast food chain sold the bulk of its Chinese mainland and Hong Kong business to financial conglomerate CITIC Group and American investment company Carlyle Capital in January.

在麦当劳(中国)有限公司在低调改名前,已于今年1月将其中国大陆和香港的大部分业务出售给中信集团和美国投资公司凯雷资本。

麦当劳解释说:“这一变更主要在证照层面,日常的业务不会受到任何影响”,且“麦当劳餐厅名称、食品安全标准、营运流程等保持不变”。

话说回来,公司改名为什么会选择“金拱门”一词呢?

其实,这其中大有名堂。

金拱门,即“Golden Arches”,正是麦当劳的标志和象征。

先推荐大家去看一部去年上映的电影,迈克尔·基顿主演的《大创业家》(The Founder)。

影片中,推销员雷·克洛克在上世纪50年代遇到经营汉堡快餐的麦当劳兄弟之后嗅到了商机。1961年,他买下麦当劳兄弟的汉堡连锁,将其打造成了全球最大的快餐王国。

The story follows Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' innovative fast food eatery, McDonald's, into the biggest restaurant business in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence and ruthlessness.

这部电影讲述了推销员雷·克洛克的故事,他靠自己的雄心、坚毅和冷酷,将一个两兄弟创新的快餐店麦当劳经营成为世界快餐巨头。

实际上,“金拱门”有着很长的历史,最早要追溯到1952年。不过一开始,这两扇“拱门”是分开的……实际上,这个店门的设计还经历了一番波折。

麦当劳兄弟(McDonald's brothers)当年就找来了三个设计师,想让他们设计两个醒目的拱形,然而却惨遭拒绝……

The first three architects were skeptical of the brothers' plan to construct a restaurant with two arches, shaped like semicircles, on each side.

两兄弟计划建一个两边各带一个半圆状拱形设计的餐厅,但是他们找的前三个设计师都不太认可这种设计。

于是,他们只能另觅高人,找到了设计师斯坦利·克拉克·梅斯顿(Stanley Clark Meston)。

Meston designed the McDonald's location to stand out among the surrounding buildings, grabbing the attention of hungry drivers who could be convinced to pull over and buy a quick burger. Two golden arches, one on each side of the building, did just that.

梅斯顿的设计让麦当劳餐厅从周边建筑中脱颖而出,很快能吸引饥肠辘辘的过路司机的目光,让他们快速开车过来买个汉堡。餐厅两边的金色拱形设计刚好做到了这一点。

一开始,这两个拱形并没有形成一个“M”。不过后来,正如我们现在所知,麦当劳的建筑设计渐渐有名了起来。于是麦当劳就按照其门店的样子,设计了一个“微缩版”的麦当劳门店,作为新logo:两个拱状设计组成了大写的“M”,中间是一道斜线。

By the late 1960s, McDonald's had ditched the two-arch design, with the golden arches appearing instead on signs. This is the era in which Ray Kroc had taken over the business and was swiftly franchising McDonald's across the US, using the golden arches as a logo, not as an architectural instruction.

20世纪60年代末,雷·克洛克接手了麦当劳,开始在全美范围内授权经营。麦当劳放弃了两个拱形的设计,金色拱形只体现在标识上,而非门店设计上。

后来,麦当劳标识的辨识度渐渐高了起来(become gradually recognizable),麦当劳也允许不同地区的麦当劳在logo上使用不同的颜色。

                                                                                      

                                                                                      ]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[CURRENT QUOTES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982314.htm "Our spirit is to aim high and look far ahead. If we have this spirit, I believe we will never be bothered by those petty things."

- Liu Qiangdong, co-founder & CEO of JD.com

“我们的精神是‘志存高远’,如果我们有这样的思想,我相信我们再也不会为那点小事烦恼。”

- - 刘强东,京东创始人兼首席执行官

10月28日,京东创始人兼首席执行官刘强东回到他的高中母校江苏省宿迁中学,作为校友代表参加了母校90周年校庆,并做了主题演讲。

1989年,他考进宿迁中学,因为家里穷,他只背了十斤大米和一罐豇豆来到学校。在追忆自己的少年时光时他说,在中学时代,他最大的理想是当个村长,因为看到村长家屋檐下有很多猪肉,他想把猪肉分给村民们吃。

1992年,刘强东考入中国人民大学社会学系,他带着500块钱和76个鸡蛋去上学,从此决定要开始独立生活,不再向家里要一分钱。

刘强东表示自己今天依然每天工作16个小时,并不仅仅是为了事业上的成就,而是希望每一天的学习都能够让他看得更远,每一天的努力都能够让他走得更远。

                                                                                      

                                                                                     ]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[CURRENT QUOTES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/01/content_33982313.htm “科幻小说这一领域,面对的是我们这一物种的生命周期远在未来的那一部分。但如果真是周期循环,在某种意义上,未来那部分就已经发生过。”

 -  -  菲利普.K.迪克,美国科幻小说家

"Our field, science fiction, deals with that portion of the life-cycle of our species which extends ahead of us. But if it is a true cycle, that future portion of it has in a sense already happened."

 -  - Philip K. Dick, American science fiction writer

10月27日,美国电影《银翼杀手2049》在国内上映,该电影根据菲利普.K.迪克的小说《机器人会梦见电子羊吗?》改编,故事背景设定在1982年上映的《银翼杀手》剧情的30年后,讲述了在人类与复制人共生的2049年,两个种族之间的矛盾升级,新一代银翼杀手K寻找到已销声匿迹多年的前银翼杀手,并联手再次制止了人类与复制人的命运之战。

菲利普.K.迪克(1928-82)早期的小说探索社会和政治等方面的议题,后期的作品则是在讨论毒品和神学,这些描绘其实出于他自己的生活经验,他的作品《高堡奇人》(The Man in the High Castle),创造出一种新的科幻作品类型--错列历史,也因此获得1963年雨果奖最佳长篇小说。

                                                                                      

 

                                                                               

]]>
2017-11-01 07:19:15
<![CDATA[Remembering a pioneering designer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935624.htm Zhang Ding (1917-2010) could barely contain his excitement when he retired from the head of the Central Academy of Arts and Design, now Tsinghua University's arts and design academy, in 1984. He was then 67.

]]>
An exhibition to commemorate the centenary of acclaimed artist Zhang Ding's birth is now on at the Tsinghua University Art Museum. Lin Qi reports.

Zhang Ding (1917-2010) could barely contain his excitement when he retired from the head of the Central Academy of Arts and Design, now Tsinghua University's arts and design academy, in 1984. He was then 67.

The artist, designer and educator was delighted because he was finally free from administrative duties and could fully commit himself to ink-brush painting, according to Wang Luxiang, a longtime follower and Beijing-based commentator on arts and culture.

"After retirement, he got up before dawn daily and prepared a Westerns-style breakfast: coffee, fried eggs and toast. He then painted till noon. In the afternoon he read or received guests," says Wang.

He says Zhang traveled extensively and sketched till his 80s. He seldom slept while traveling on car or train but always searched for "prey" - landscapes, animals and people he wanted to paint - and once he found them, he would immediately start to work on his sketchbook.

Zhang's individuality is remembered by his colleagues, students and lovers of art.

An exhibition to commemorate the centenary of Zhang's birth is now on at the Tsinghua University Art Museum.

It reviews his role as a designer and his innovations in ink-brush painting.

Zhang is hailed as the "prime visual designer of New China" because he undertook several pivotal commissions that marked the birth of the People's Republic of China in 1949, such as the design of national emblem.

His proposal that the emblem should feature the Tian'anmen Gate Tower was accepted, although some said that the tower, which is part of the Forbidden City, symbolized feudalism.

His other jobs included decorating the room for the first session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the design of stamps that commemorated the new republic's inauguration held at Tian'anmen Square.

Zhang also monitored the carvings on the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tian'anmen Square, which was unveiled in 1958.

He also supervised the decoration of the "10 grand architectures" in Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of New China.

Separately, he also helped boost the image of New China by participating in the design of Chinese pavilions at several expositions abroad in the 1950s, including the Leipzig Messe, a major trade fair, in 1954 and two years later, at the International Expositions in Paris.

As a member of a Chinese culture delegation, he met Pablo Picasso, whom he had admired, in Cannes, France in 1956.

Zhang did not receive training at any art school and taught himself.

Xi Jingzhi, a former colleague, says Zhang called Picasso a great man whose innovative approach breathed new life into fine art.

Picasso's endeavors inspired Zhang as he tried to reform classical Chinese painting in the 1950s. Then, there were those who questioned whether the centuries-old ink art should change.

One side said the form had reached maturity and required no improvement, while the other argued that it should drop the rigid technical norms to incorporate new styles that suited the tastes of most people.

Zhang opted for reforms and together with several like-minded painters, including Li Keran, another modern ink master, they journeyed to southern China in 1954 to sketch outdoors, hoping that it would allow them to find a new path.

Wang Yuliang, an art professor of Tsinghua University, says: "He wanted to rejuvenate Chinese painting by adopting the most original, lively elements he could find in every-day life. And he found the power of folk art."

The trip produced a series of colored ink paintings that are displayed in the current exhibition.

In those works, Zhang blended the simple, raw beauty of folk crafts with a cubic style that Picasso heralded in the early 20th century.

He further perfected the style when he designed the frescoes in Beijing's public places and the characters in several feature-length animations.

In his later years, Zhang took an even simpler approach to painting. He explored the jiaomo style in which painters applied no color but dried ink to depict subjects.

He traveled to northwestern China a lot and created many jiaomo paintings. They are also on show at the Tsinghua exhibition.

After turning 80, Zhang was advised by doctors not to travel for health reasons.

So, he stopped painting and practiced calligraphy.

Remembering him, Feng Yuan, director of Tsinghua University Art Museum, says: "He once said, 'There has never been a crisis for Chinese painting but one for Chinese painters'."

"He meant the crisis would emerge either when one explored no more or when he was removed from the commons and life."

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm, closed on Monday, through Nov 10. Tsinghua University, Haidian district. 010-6278-1012.

 

Clockwise from top: Dusk at Huashan Mountain (1983); Zhang Ding and Picasso in Cannes, France, in 1956; Zhang in his 80s; a New Year painting by Zhang; a stamp designed by Zhang in 1949 to mark the founding of New China. Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Unique porcelain exhibition shows creativity in the 17th century]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935623.htm An ongoing porcelain exhibition featuring more than 100 vases, plates, brush pots and cups showcases different aspects of society in 17th century China.

The exhibition, Commissioned Landscapes: Blue and White Porcelains of the 17th Century, is the first of its kind to focus on porcelain produced by folk kilns during a period when royal kilns had stopped production.

The porcelains on display at the Guardian Art Center in Beijing were from Classy Society, a group of collectors concentrating on porcelain from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The group consists of more than 250 collectors, antique dealers, scholars and connoisseurs.

"The value of porcelain produced by folk kilns lies in their creativity and imagination. Many show the owners' personalities," says Leung Hiu Sun, curator of the show.

Unlike ceramics made for royal families that had restrictions on the patterns and pictures painted on them, the subjects and pictures on folk kiln-produced porcelain are diverse. Folk tales, legends and stories from novels and operas are all featured on the vases, plates and cups.

During the 17th century, society experienced ups and downs due to the change of dynasties. So, scholar-officials and the literati turned their attention to artistic things, such as gardens, paintings and ceramics.

Customized porcelain was particularly popular then.

As an example, Leung points to a blue and white vase featuring a Chinese painting by master ink painter Mi Fu (1051-1107).

Mi's ink paintings were regarded as hard to copy even on paper and silk, let alone on ceramics, says Leung. So the vase must have been ordered by a rich scholar.

Why did the client choose Mi's painting?

The then Emperor Kangxi was fond of painter Dong Qichang, a master painter whose skills were influenced by his idol Mi Fu, says Leung.

"It was a kind of following of the emperor's tastes," he adds.

Wang Gang, an antique collector and an actor, has loaned some of his porcelain for the show. One is his favorite vases features a legend about a Taoist representative Qiu Chuji and Genghis Khan.

Also, many pieces on display have pictures of women on them. These well-dressed women are seen playing along rivers, playing chess and appreciating art.

This, Leung says, shows that the social status of women was good during that period, as it was rare to see female images on porcelain before that period.

Another part of the show focuses on porcelain exported overseas, including to Asia and Europe.

According to historical documents, the Dutch East India Company exported nearly 12 million pieces of porcelain over 1602-82.

Leung says compared with domestic porcelain which stressed artistry, the exports were mainly for decorative purposes, and often had iconic Chinese elements on them.

In addition to the porcelain show, there is also an exhibition of furniture from the Ming Dynasty and an exhibition of bronzeware and stationery from the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736-96).

All three exhibitions are being held by private collectors in conjunction with Guardian Art Center, which opened in October in Beijing.

If you go

10 am-6 pm, through Nov 19. 1 Wangfujing Avenue, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6518-9968.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Craft collaboration]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935622.htm A new Beijing beer festival promises a three-hour, freeflow tasting of 32 different craft beers and eight collaborations between breweries in China and the Pacific Northwest, together with gourmet food and live music.

]]>
Groundbreaking festival showcasing partnerships between Chinese beer makers and the cream of US talent is set to brew up a storm. Li Yingxue reports.

A new Beijing beer festival promises a three-hour, freeflow tasting of 32 different craft beers and eight collaborations between breweries in China and the Pacific Northwest, together with gourmet food and live music.

And this is just one of four sessions being held at the inaugural 8x8 Brewing Project's Beer Festival taking place in Beijing on Nov 3-4.

Eight up-and-coming Chinese breweries and eight top craft breweries from the US Pacific Northwest have paired up to brew eight collaboration beers specifically for the festival.

This is the first beer festival in China to focus on collaborative brewing - where two breweries work together to make a co-branded beer that combines their brewing styles, favorite ingredients and expertise - according to Alex Acker, initiator of the project.

Acker is also the cofounder of Jing A, one of the most popular breweries in Beijing, which started in 2014. Acker is surprised by how quickly craft beer has taken off in China.

"When we first started our brewery, probably 80 percent of our customers were from the foreign community, and now that's flipped the other way," Acker says.

The 39-year-old from the United States has taken Jing A beers to several international beer festivals since opening, giving beer fans from the US and around Europe the chance to taste beers from Chinese craft breweries.

Absorbing the positive experiences from the beer festivals they joined, Acker and his team came up with the idea of throwing their own brand of beer festival.

"It's not a typical festival but more like a project, with all 16 breweries becoming more involved in a six-month brewing collaboration.

"Too often, it's just distributors or sales teams that attend festivals, but we've invited the owners and brewers to join themselves," Acker says. "So, there's every chance the guy who pours your beer may well be the brewer, and you will be able to talk with him about it."

Acker's goal with 8x8 is to build connections between craft beer communities in other countries and the vibrant craft brewing industry that's developing in China.

For the first event, Acker chose to team up with breweries from the Pacific Northwest, one of the birthplaces of the modern craft beer movement and the location of his home state of Oregon.

Half the breweries attending the festival from the US are in the top 50 rankings of US breweries. Among them, Breakside Brewery from Portland won two silver and two bronze medals at last year's World Beer Cup, and four bronze medals at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival Awards.

Besides collaborations, each brewery will also bring eight of their craft beers to the festival. "Most of the beers from Pacific Northwest are not available in China, and many of them will cost $30, or even $40 for a bottle," Acker says.

"For beer fans, it's not only an opportunity to try some of these amazing beers in China but also to show support for this creative collaboration between Chinese and Western brewers."

Jing A has been paired with Holy Mountain brewery from Seattle, Washington, which focuses on farmhouse sales. Acker decided to follow their style and bring some of their wild yeast to the collaboration, adding kumquats and Sichuan pepper corns to make their cultural revolution (6 percent ABV) beer.

Brewing for the event began in July, while brainstorming sessions started well before that.

Over the summer, each pair of brewers worked on their collaborative recipes, establishing new relations with each other.

Ben Love, cofounder of Gigantic Brewing from Portland, Oregon, met Acker at the Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen three years ago, and they've seen each other a few times at different beer festivals or when Acker returns home, since then.

When Acker suggested the idea of the event last winter, Love didn't hesitate to sign up for it.

"Ideas that come from collaborations can be incredible, and I think with brewers coming from different parts of the world, the ideas are even more exciting," Love says.

Gigantic was paired with Moonzen Brewery from Hong Kong, and Love has been discussing ideas and recipes with his partners by email since May.

"Our collaboration is named Pacific Berry Monster Lambic (5.2 percent ABV), because it adds boysenberry from Oregon and is brewed in Hong Kong, and the monster suggests the ancient gods on the label of Moonzen's bear bottles," Love says.

"It's cool to work with somebody from China, as they incorporate their local palate," the 39-year-old says.

Gigantic and Moonzen's collaboration has already been shipped to Beijing for the festival, and Love will meet his brewing partners to reveal the fruits of his labor.

Chang Jui Chao, owner of Bubble Lab in Wuhan, Hubei province, visited his partner's brewery, Cloudburst Brewing in Seattle, Washington in July, where they discussed each other's brewing styles. They decided to brew a triple IPA called Bubbles in the Beard (10 percent ABV).

"IPA is not usually so strong, but we wanted to brew a strong triple IPA to enjoy in winter. But the process of brewing such a beer can easily go wrong," the 30-year-old says.

"I've never brewed a triple IPA before, but with our partner's technical help we made it work," Chao says. "That's the beauty of collaboration, where brewers can learn and grow with each other."

Beijing Homebrewing Society, a non-profit organization with more than 800 members, is partnering the project. Wang Bo, chief of the education department of society is looking forward to joining the event.

"I've checked on RateBeer, a website that rates craft beers, and some of the beers from US breweries have achieved top scores," Wang says. "And, of course, I'm looking forward to the collaborations."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

Steve Luke, owner of Cloudburst Brewing in Seattle, Washington, works at his brewery. He will be among the beer makers to join the Beijing festival.Photos Provided to China Daily 

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Carving out a niche for wagyu afficionados]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935621.htm A cut of chilled Australian wagyu beef can take as little as 15 days to reach the refrigeration cabinets at Meat Mate, a chain of modern butcher shops in Beijing specializing in the delicacy.

Japanese wagyu is one of the world's finest meat products and is famous for its signature marbling, but it is not readily available on the Chinese market.

Australia received its first wagyu genetics in 1990 and has been successfully breeding the cattle ever since. Australian wagyu producers currently export up to 90 percent of their beef globally.

Meat Mate, which opened in Sanyuanqiao in October 2016, was the first outlet in the capital focusing on selling chilled Australian wagyu.

The group's newly-opened second store at the Indigo mall in Chaoyang sells every cut of Australian wagyu beef, other than organs and tongues.

Frozen beef is commonly found in Beijing restaurants and used in home cooking, but chilled beef is much more difficult to find.

Chilled wagyu beef is freshly cut and deboned from the cattle and stored at a temperature of between 0 C and 4 C within 24 hours, before being transported in refrigerated containers for export.

The low temperature helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria and gives the beef its tender taste.

Meat Mate's brand spokesperson Guo Mian explains the difference between frozen and chilled meat.

"When you freeze beef, the water within the beef turns to ice. After you defrost it, the water drains from the meat as it dries before cooking. So, its texture is not as moist and juicy as chilled beef."

Chilled beef usually comes with a 120-day warranty after being vacuum-packed at source. The usual transportation time from the slaughterhouse in Australia to Beijing is around 40 days by sea.

Noticing the growing demand for high quality beef in the capital, Guo's team sparked on the idea of opening up a high-end meat outlet.

"We want to cut the link between retailers and restaurants, and bring the premium meat directly to our customers," says Guo.

Meat Mate provides every type of cut of Australian wagyu, including sirloin, ribeye, and filet mignon for beef steaks, while also selling short ribs for hotpots and barbecues.

Customers can buy chilled wagyu beef freshly delivered every day and choose to either to take it home to cook, or have it cooked for them in the store.

A grill chef is on duty to cook the beef to order and offer culinary advice, and customers can order side dishes such as french fries, salads and soft drinks with their food.

"We also plan on running steak cooking classes for our clients," Guo says.

A meat-matching array of sea salts, cheeses and a selection of red wines are also available at the store.

"We provide everything customers will need to cook the steak when they take it back home," Guo says. "We are also preparing beef soup for the winter time."

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Expressing belarus' beauty and soul]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935620.htm The tranquil landscape of Belarus and the artists nurtured by this landlocked country are little known to most Chinese people.

]]>
An exhibition of paintings from the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus is now being staged at the National Art Museum of China. Lin Qi reports.

The tranquil landscape of Belarus and the artists nurtured by this landlocked country are little known to most Chinese people.

But as this eastern European country strengthens its ties with China with the advancing of the Belt and Road Initiative, more Belarusian artworks have been introduced to Chinese audiences at several exhibitions held in Beijing this year.

An exhibition of 57 paintings from the collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus is now being held at the National Art Museum of China.

The Beijing museum also staged another Belarusian art exhibition that concluded on Sunday. It showed sculptures and watercolors by Sergei Selikhanov (1917-76) inspired by a visit to China in 1956. They were shown in China for the first time, and they were juxtaposed with the works of Konstantin Selikhanov, 50, Sergei's grandson, who is a sculptor in Minsk.

In June, Tsinghua University Art Museum presented Nonlinear Reality, an exhibition of Belarusian lithographs, watercolors and drawings on loan from the country's National Center of Modern Arts.

Speaking about this show, the center's director Natalia Sharangovich said that no one is better than an artist to express a country's beauty and its soul.

It is the same idea that is demonstrated at the current exhibition at the National Art Museum of China, which also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Belarusian diplomatic ties this year.

The exhibition took two years to prepare, says Wu Weishan, director of the National Art Museum of China, and it is grounded in the variety of collections, from historic iconographies to modern works, at the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus.

Wu says the exhibition traces the evolution of Belarusian art since the 19th century to the present day, with a selection of portraits, landscapes, still lifes and genre paintings which "hail the majestic expanses and clear, blue sky of the land and its people's desire for a peaceful, free life".

The exhibition starts with the paintings of 19th-century Russian artists largely belonging to the artists' collective Peredvizhniki, or The Wanderers.

Uladzimir Prakaptsou, general director of the Belarusian museum, says that after Belarus was merged into the territory of the Russian Empire in the 18th century, many Belarusian artists were nourished by Russian art, and some received training in Moscow or St. Petersburg.

Among the Russian masters featured are Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov, two portrait artists, and Ivan Shiskin and Issac Levitan - both of whom are known for their realistic depiction of Russian landscapes.

Paintings of the four artists from the collection of Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery were shown at an exhibition on the Peredvizhniki group of artists, at the National Museum of China in 2015.

Their influence on Belarusian painters is examined in the show through the works of Ivan Khrustsky, a still life master, and Stanislau Zhukousky, an outstanding painter of landscapes.

Belarusian artworks of the second half of 20th century constitute the bulk of the treasure trove of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus and number more than 15,000, says general director Prakaptsou.

He says the current exhibition features representative artists who established the national art school of painting in Belarus at the time.

He says their productions focus on the life and work of ordinary people after World War II, including how people reconstructed the war-torn capital city, Minsk.

He adds the 1960s also saw a boost of Beralusian landscapes in which one can "feel a love of the country, a sentimental mood, an excellent arrangement of colors and a revealing of people's mental being in the depiction of daily scenes".

Belarus declared independence in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Prakaptsou says contemporary artists have sought for a national cultural identity, and they take great interest in the origin and traditions of ethnic Belarus culture.

The paintings of Mikalai Seliashchuk and Vasil Kastiuchenka on display, for example, take their inspiration from the country's folk tales, festivals and fables.

Contact the writer at linqi@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

9 am-5 pm, Mondays closed, through Dec 17. 1 Wusi Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-6400-1476.

 

 

Paintings loaned from Belarus’ national art museum, including Issac Levitan’s The Alps (top) and Nikodim Silvanovich’s Soldier with a Boy (above), on show in Beijing. Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Gormley's works fuel new thoughts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935619.htm Internationally acclaimed artist Antony Gormley says his ongoing solo exhibition at Shanghai's Long Museum is in a way not his show or has nothing to do with him. He says it is an empty and open space for "new thoughts and new feelings to arise".

The London-born artist is known for his sculptures, installations and public art projects, which feature human body molds being chiefly cast from his own body. His distinctive approach invites people to investigate the possibilities of their own bodies as a space and their relationship with their surroundings.

"There are many levels at this exhibition (in Shanghai) but the real subject of it is you: Each and every visitor will make his own journey at this exhibition," says the 67-year-old.

"Their experiences, thoughts and feelings are really the subjects of the show."

Antony Gormley: Still Moving is the second show in China by the British artist, who won the Turner Prize in 1994 and has been a member of the Royal Academy of Arts since 2003.

The previous exhibition, titled Host, was held at Galleria Continua's space in Beijing.

The Shanghai exhibition has more of Gormley's works and for the first time, his drawings and lithographs created since 1981, providing an alternative perspective to understand his views of the human body and space.

Gormley is the latest addition to a star-studded lineup of foreign artists who have exhibited solo or in a group at the West Bund space of Long Museum, founded by the billionaire-turned-collector couple Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei.

Previous exhibitors include James Turrell, the American artist who primarily works with light and space, and the Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson.

Gormley's current exhibition includes Critical Mass II, a seminal body of works created in 1995 that are making their Asian debut.

It includes 60 life-size cast iron human bodies: Some of them are installed in a line in the poses from the foetal positions to stargazing, reminding one of the ascent of humans, and others are suspended in midair or scattered around on the ground.

Through these works, Gormley hopes to touch upon the audience's hopes and fears.

"For me this isn't about occupying a room, or colonizing a space," he says. "But I am activating it, making the space somehow come alive."

He says whether people like it or not, they are there at the exhibition as part of an experiment: "We are to see what art can do."

He says art by its nature is transformative, and wants to empower every person who engages in it and to give them a possibility of having their unique individual experiences.

"I really don't know what will happen.

"But I'm really excited about it. And I'm also excited about what the creative potential of China will be."

Gormley says the exhibition is also an experiment about what a museum can be, how it works, how it can engage people.

And he also expresses his hope for transformative art forces in China like the Long Museum.

He says that as a young museum, a bigger job for Long, besides exhibiting international artists of note, is "what kind of institution it will be, what kind of value it will have in terms of involving people in culture, and what will be the role of art in the emergence of China as a world power."

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Art fair draws top-notch galleries from around the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/31/content_33935618.htm The just concluded Guardian Fine Art Asia, one of the top antique and design art fairs in China, which ran from Oct 25 to 29 in Beijing, attracted about 40 galleries and antique dealers from across the world, and featured hundreds of artworks including classic paintings, Buddha sculptures, porcelain and antique furniture.

First held in 2014, the annual art fair organized by the Guardian Art Center and Fine Art Asia Hong Kong has always drawn well-known foreign galleries and antique dealers due to strong Chinese demand as well as art dealers' confidence in the market.

Gladwell & Patterson, a gallery established in 1752 in London, started taking part in the art fair in 2015.

"We are building our market slowly. Every year there are new faces and the number of Chinese collectors who visit our gallery in London is increasing," says Glenn Fuller, the director of the gallery.

He stresses the importance of the Chinese art market and says the demand for high quality Western art here is strong.

The British gallery - which brought several Monets - was not alone in bringing museum-level works for sale at the fair.

One of Monets, the well-known series of lotus painted in 1919, was expected to fetch $45 million and Fuller expected a potential buyer among museums in China.

Rossi & Rossi gallery offered an ancient Chinese painting dating back to the 15th century, priced at more than $20 million.

The Lioness, painted in 1483, depicts two foreigners from Central Asia taming a lioness. It was a gift presented by a king of Uzbekistan to Emperor Zhu Jianshen of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Fabio Rossi, the director of Rossi & Rossi, says that the painter remained unknown.

Some scholars think it was done by a Chinese painter, while others believe that it was created by a Central Asia Muslim artist who was trained in Chinese painting skills.

Besides the painting, the gallery had thangka paintings and Buddha sculptures, done by artists from China, Nepal, India and Mongolia.

Rossi says they come to the art fair every year because the sales are good.

"Collectors here are interested in Himalayan art and their appetite is diverse. It's a growing market," adds Rossi.

Kou Qin, the general manager of the Guardian Art Center that organized the event, says that staff from Chinese museums also visit the art fair every year. And the percentage of overseas galleries and dealers is growing.

Many antique dealers see the event as a good opportunity to display their artworks as well as museum-level antiques.

It gives more channels to the Chinese to buy Chinese antiques from overseas, says Kou.

Although the art fair tends to pay more importance to antique dealers, it also has room for younger visitors with lots of high-end designer brands joining in.

Shang Xia, Hermes' Chinese brand, displayed its furniture series done with ink painter Pan Gongkai.

And Rare by Oulton from Hong Kong brought dozens of antique Louis Vuitton signature trunks that were produced between 1900 and 1920.

When the art fair was launched in 2014, they put the word antique into its name, but deleted it the next year.

Explaining why that was done, Kou says that they wanted the art fair to attract a diverse audience - from the middle-aged to the young, and from museums to art lovers.

The change has worked. When the fair opened for VIPs on the night of Oct 25, the spacious first floor of the nine-floor building was full.

dengzhangyu@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-31 06:57:36
<![CDATA[Chinese touch to familiar forms]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/30/content_33893751.htm The National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra has begun a six-city tour of North America in which it is performing classical music with characteristics of home. Chen Nan reports.

The National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra is on a six-city tour in North America, including Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, until Nov 7.

The tour will see the orchestra make its debut performance at the Carnegie Hall on Monday.

Under the baton of Lyu Jia, the chief conductor of the orchestra, the tour features violinist Ning Feng and French cellist Gautier Capucon.

 

Chinese pipa player Wu Man (above) and French cellist Gautier Capucon (top) are touring with the NCPA Orchestra in North America. Photos Provided to China Daily

Chinese pianist Zhang Haochen, 27, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and a Gold Medal and First Prize winner at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, has stepped in for Lang Lang, who is recovering from an inflammation in his left arm.

Also performing on the tour is Grammy Award-nominated pipa player Wu Man.

The Hangzhou-born and San Diego-based musician has imbued the 2,000-year-old, four-stringed Chinese instrument, the pipa, with a contemporary touch.

She will perform American composer Lou Harrison's Concerto for Pipa with String Orchestra.

"Lou Harrison was commissioned by the Lincoln Center and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra to write the piece in 1997 when he was 80 years old. The composer spent time in Taiwan in his early years and he was familiar with Asian instruments. He wasn't afraid to do anything," Wu said in Beijing, before performing at a send-off concert for the NCPA Orchestra on Oct 18.

Back in 1997, she premiered the work with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies.

"It's fascinating to have a Western composer write for a Chinese instrument. I am looking forward to performing with the NCPA Orchestra," Wu says.

"Many of the musicians in the orchestra are from Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where I graduated; the conductor Lyu Jia, for example. It's like a reunion."

During the tour, the orchestra will premiere two pieces by Chinese composers in the US - Luan Tan by composer Chen Qigang and Violin Concerto No 1 by Zhao Jiping.

Luan Tan is Chen's first work of orchestral variations, based on a musical style in Chinese drama of the same name, which originated in the 1600s during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

According to Chen, who wrote the theme song, You and Me, for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he wanted to set a challenge for himself and to produce something different from his past works, which are usually described as being "melancholic" and "refined".

He started to work on the piece in 2010 and didn't finish it until 2015.

Zhao, whose credits include scores for a number of award-winning TV series and movies such as Red Sorghum (1987) directed by Zhang Yimou, spent a year turning his idea for his first violin concerto into reality. He had been thinking about the piece for nearly a decade.

"In terms of music language, it has a very strong Chinese color, whereas the theme borrows from the traditional European concerto form. I hope this violin concerto can speak to the world in a Chinese voice," said Zhao in an early interview.

The other highlights of the tour repertoires will include Chen's Reflet d'un Temps Disparu for cello and orchestra, Jean Sibelius' Symphony No 2 in D Major, Op 43 and Johannes Brahms' Symphony No 4 in E Minor, Op 98.

"The NCPA Orchestra is young and dynamic. The average age of musicians is about 30," says Lyu, the conductor.

Lyu was born in Shanghai, graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and won the Golden Prize and Favorite Conductor Award in the international conducting competition, Antonio Pedrotti, in Trento, Italy, in 1988.

In 1991, he was appointed as the chief conductor of the Italian opera house, Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi, making him not only the opera house's first chief conductor from Asia, but also its youngest.

"This year marks the 10th anniversary of the National Center for the Performing Arts. During the past decade, NCPA has witnessed and promoted the development of classical music scene in China. The NCPA Orchestra also has grown into one of the best orchestras in China," says Lyu.

Contact the writer at chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-30 07:48:36
<![CDATA[Tunisian subjects get ink treatment]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/30/content_33893750.htm

TUNIS - The medium is Chinese but the subjects are Tunisian. An amalgamation of the cultures of the two geographically distant but historically close countries has won an appreciative audience as six Chinese artists painted scenes they had witnessed in the North African country during their 10-day stay.

Their work, done in the delicate traditional Chinese ink painting style, is being shown in Hammamet, a beach town in eastern Tunisia that is a prime tourist destination.

The one-week exhibition, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, is jointly organized by the Chinese and Tunisian ministries of culture as part of Sino-Tunisian cultural exchanges.

There are more than 50 drawings by six artists, including Zhai Jianqun and Zhou Xiaoming - members of the Chinese Artists' Association - and Ding Xuejun, a professor of the renowned Rongbaozhai painting academy in Beijing.

Their subjects range from landscapes and figures to Tunisian folk culture.

Zhai says that they stayed in Tunisia for over 10 days to experience local customs. They painted Tunisia in traditional Chinese ink painting style.

"We found Tunisian artists know little about Chinese ink painting. So this exhibition is a good way to share our traditional painting culture with Tunisian artists," says Zhai.

"We communicate and learn from each other."

Moez Mrabet, the director of the International Cultural Center of Hammamet, says the exhibition is a good opportunity for Tunisian artists to learn about the Chinese painting technique.

Bai Guangming, cultural counselor at the Chinese embassy in Tunis, says Sino-Tunisian cultural ties have witnessed rapid development in recent years, thanks to frequent artistic exchanges.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-10-30 07:48:36
<![CDATA[Indian-born composer set to debut work in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/30/content_33893749.htm In August 2008, the Chinese opera Mulan made its debut at the Vienna State Opera House. The opera not only won praise from audiences in the Austrian capital but also witnessed the start of a friendship between Guan Xia, the composer of the opera, and Vijay Upadhyaya, who conducted the rehearsal of the Vienna Imperial Philharmonic Choir for the opera.

"I can still recall how Upadhyaya trained the chorus so efficiently and impressively," says Guan.

In 2009, Guan, the director of the China National Symphony Orchestra, invited Upadhyaya to be the conductor and composer for the Chinese National Orchestra and Chorus.

 

Vijay Upadhyaya (left) will take the baton and lead the China National Symphony Orchestra Chorus (right) to premiere his latest composition, Chang'an Men, in Beijing in November. Photos Provided to China Daily

For the past eight years, Upadhyaya, who was born in Lucknow, the capital of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and is now based in Vienna, spends about three months every year in Beijing, working with the orchestra and chorus.

On Nov 13, the China National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will premiere Upadhyaya's composition Chang'an Men in Beijing.

On Dec 11, the work will be performed by the Vienna University Philharmonic at the Musikverein in Vienna.

Upadhyaya, who will take the baton at the two performances, says: "The work was commissioned at the end of last year by Guan Xia. And I wanted to give this work as a gift to my friends in the China National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, who have been good to me. They are more than employers and colleagues."

Chang'an Men is the second symphony by the 51-year-old composer. It is a musical journey through various periods of Chinese history and culture.

In the work, the composer combines Western symphonic and choral techniques with traditional Chinese music, literature and philosophy.

His first symphony composition, Prayer Flags, premiered in 2014 in Vienna. It is based on Indian literature and melodies.

The 75-minute Chang'an Men, for orchestra, a 16-part chorus and two soloists, contains four movements - the first movement incorporates texts from The Analects by Confucius; the second movement is based on poems from The Book of Songs (Shi Jing), the most ancient collection of Chinese poetry compiled in the 6th century BC; the third movement is inspired by a traditional Nanyin song; and the fourth movement is based on Tao Te Ching, a text written by Chinese sage Laozi around the 6th century BC.

The work also features traditional Chinese instruments, including the guzheng (Chinese zither), and Nanyin singer Cai Yayi.

Cai performs in Nanyin, an ancient Chinese music art form, which was listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

According to the composer, he named the work Chang'an Men, because men in Chinese is gate, and the composition relates to his good wishes for lasting peace.

Chang'an is also the name of the ancient Chinese capital (now known as Xi'an), which was the start of the ancient Silk Road.

"I read Chinese philosophy after I arrived in China. I found that the ideas of Confucius and Laozi are important in the present day, not just for the Chinese, but for the world. For example, we try to escape our daily lives and look for peace," says Upadhyaya.

In his composition, Upadhyaya has created a melody that strictly follows the four tones of the Chinese language, giving the language foremost importance.

"First, I occupied myself deeply with these Chinese ideas and tried to recite them like a Chinese person. Then I had to think of the melody," the composer says.

"We then started the rehearsal and some of the chorus members told me that the work sounded like an old Chinese song. That's what I wanted."

Upadhyaya learned to play the piano in childhood. He also completed diploma studies in Indian percussion (tabla) and dance (kathak) in India.

In 1987, he moved to Austria, where he studied at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.

He then began conducting a church choir and a brass band in the east of Styria province to finance his studies. In 1994, he moved to Vienna where he now lives and directs the Vienna University Philharmonic.

Upadhyaya likes traveling, which, he says, is "a source of inspiration and energy for my compositions and for me as a whole". So, he has been going to remote valleys in the Himalayas at least once a year for the past 30 years.

After traveling to Southwest China's Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, he plans to launch a project in which he bases his compositions on the music of Chinese ethnic groups.

"I live in two worlds - China and Europe.

"For us, with Asian traditions, we need to use the music techniques of the West to create our own musical identity," he says.

]]>
2017-10-30 07:48:36
<![CDATA[Taking to the slopes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/30/content_33893748.htm As people flock to take up skiing in ever-increasing numbers ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, demand for quality resorts has also sky-rocketed. Xu Lin reports.

More and more Chinese are itching to try their hand at skiing, and experience the breathtaking winter sport for the first time - and especially with their families.

With Beijing and Hebei province's Zhangjiakou co-hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, this trend is expected to grow exponentially. And this is gaining the attention of both overseas and domestic resort operators who are keen to get into this emerging market.  

 

In recent years, China has witnessed an increase in the number of ski resorts, drawing more people to take up the winter sport. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

According to the 2016 China Ski Industry White Book, more than 11.33 million Chinese went skiing last year, with an average time on the slopes of 1 hour 20 minutes. Beijing, Heilongjiang, Hebei and Jilin had the most number of skiers, while the number of ski resorts in China grew to 646, with 78 new resorts opening in 2016.

"Skiing and snowboarding holidays are still a niche market in China, but more and more Chinese have been taking to the slopes in recent years, thanks to the increasing number of ski resorts," says Sebastien Portes, general manager of Club Med Hong Kong and Macao.

Based in France, Club Med currently operates two ski resorts in China at Yabuli in Heilongjiang province and Beidahu in Jilin province. With snow resorts in 22 destinations around the world, Club Med is famous for its all-inclusive holiday packages.

During the recent World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo, Club Med and travel website TripAdvisor co-released the 2017 Chinese Ski Insights Survey, to raise awareness of skiing and snowboarding in China and look into the latest trends and habits in winter sports.

Among the 3,357 respondents to the survey, 62 percent had previously skied, while 60 percent said they were willing to do so again within the next three years. For respondent's most recent ski experience, 37 percent said they had visited another city to ski, while 18 percent said they had traveled to overseas destinations such as Japan, South Korea or Switzerland to do so.

While first time skiers were most concerned about safety when choosing a venue, those who had skied more than 10 times cared most about the size of the ski slopes and their steepness and difficulty.

As for choosing a ski resort, respondents' top considerations were the immediate accessibility of the ski slopes from the hotel, the reputation of the resort online, and the hotel services on offer.

Respondents mainly went skiing with friends, with their partner and children, or just with a partner. For more than half of them, the average spending per person was 1,000 to 5,000 yuan ($152 - 760).

Many of those surveyed cared about how they look when skiing and considered ski suits, gloves, sunglasses and goggles important to improving their style.

"We're planning to have more ski resorts in China. This study will help us better understand the Chinese market, while offering insight into how we can adapt to people's habits and demands," Portes says.

For example, Club Med plan to recruit more international ski instructors to ensure the safety of their customers. As Chinese customers like to have easy access to ski venues, they will consider establishing new resorts closer to big cities.

Meanwhile, the skiing industry in Zhangjiakou's Chongli district has been booming in recent years, attracting increasing numbers of tourists with its ski resorts, fresh air and convenient transportation links. More and more Beijingers are buying houses there.

Most of the skiing and snowboarding events scheduled for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be staged in Chongli, a poor area in the past.

Official data shows that during this year's Spring Festival, more than 259,000 tourists - or twice the population of the district - visited Chongli.

With the completion of a highway and high-speed rail link between Beijing and Chongli in 2019, it will take about just over one hour by car or by train for those who travel between the two cities.

"I like Chongli very much because I can enjoy skiing in winter and cool down on holiday in the summer," says Guo Dandan, 37, China's first freestyle skiing world champion.

"It's important to build Chongli as an all-season destination. For example, in summer, they can hold events such as concerts, or go cycling and camping. Also, ski resorts should offer decent services, such as delicious food and good accommodation," she says.

Opened in December, the Fulong Four Seasons Town in Chongli consists of a 750,000-square-meter ski venue, hotel clusters, hot springs and a commercial street.

According to Fan Xiaogang, assistant president of Fulong Holdings Ltd, the traveling habits of Chinese tourists is shifting from traditional sightseeing to vacation and leisure. Most tourists travel with their families. For those from big cities, they like to visit places that have easy access, natural landscapes or a unique culture.

"We're making ski resorts that provide a diversified experience such as sports, music and culture so that all family members can enjoy themselves. Our target customers are families and we pay a great deal of attention to children. Children can enjoy many colorful activities besides skiing," he says.

Fulong Holdings recently signed strategic agreements during the recent Beijing expo and announced that the town will be home to China's first Bricklive Center. Especially for Lego fans, the center will help teach children through entertainment and cultivate their creativity.

It will also work with Milan's Kids Design Week to establish an exhibition area to showcase global artworks and strengthen interactions between parents and children.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-30 07:48:36
<![CDATA[China's wealthy looking for unique travel experiences]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/30/content_33893747.htm Costs don't seem to matter much to wealthy Chinese travelers.

So, small and medium-sized cruise ships, high-end hotels and exclusive Chinese language tour services and drivers are what Chinese luxury travelers are looking for, says an October report by HHtravel, a luxury brand under China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip, and Palm You, a tourism consultant based in Shanghai.

More than 90 percent of the wealthy expressed willingness to travel to polar regions and the United States, the report says.

Northern Europe, Canada, Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Russia, Japan's Hokkaido and Maldives are also on their lists.

Meanwhile, Chinese travelers have overtaken Australia to become the second biggest group to visit the Antarctic, and their numbers have grown nearly 40 times over the past decade. The figure is expected to cross 5,000 this year.

High-end travelers accounted for 10 percent of all travelers there, the report says.

"Most luxury travelers deem the Antarctic as a once-in-a-life-time destination and prepare carefully," says Guo Ming, the chief operating officer of HHtravel.

"Some of them have planned trips to the Arctic after visiting the Antarctic."

The increasingly convenient visa policies of South American countries - Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil - this year have also sparked the interest of the Chinese nouveau riche.

Their trips to those countries typically involve spending between 100,000 ($15,050) and 250,000 yuan per head, 10 times the figure spent by ordinary travelers, the report says.

Historic sites and magnificent natural landscapes have a special appeal for those who are relatively tired of visiting the US and Europe, according to the report.

In addition, many Chinese travel to the Southern Hemisphere over October-February to enjoy the summer.

Private business owners, senior company officials, investors and their families are a major force in the luxury travel market, and most of them are from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

They are mostly aged between 35 and 50, and prefer to take their spouses or their whole family along. They value individual, private and flexible arrangements, and favor first-class direct flights run by top airlines.

Chinese travelers to the Antarctic typically opt for luxury cruises that can accommodate 200 people, so they get a full measure of the polar charm, such as hiking up a glacier and seeing polar animals at close quarters.

Other experiences that attract the wealthy include jungle fun featuring animal migration in the Masai Mara in Kenya and piranhas in the Amazon, skiing in the Alps (Switzerland's Zermatt) as well as St Moritz, hiking in the rainforests and watching whales in New Zealand and Australia.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-30 07:48:36
<![CDATA[Canberra on Lonely Planet top cities list]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/30/content_33893746.htm CANBERRA - Often overlooked by both domestic and international travelers alike, Australia's small, quiet capital city of Canberra has been named in the Lonely Planet's top 10 cities to visit in 2018. Edged out by Seville in Spain (ranked No 1) and Detroit in the United States (No 2), Canberra was said to pack a "big punch" for a small city of just 400,000 people.

According to Lonely Planet's Chris Zeiher on Wednesday, Canberra's abundance of national treasures, and the concentration of fine and casual dining restaurants meant it couldn't be overlooked as a first-class travel destination.

"Criminally overlooked, Canberra packs a big punch for such a small city," Zeiher says.

"National treasures are found around almost every corner and exciting new boutique precincts have emerged, bulging with gastronomic highlights and cultural must-dos."

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after being made aware of the accolade, the Australian capital territory's chief minister Andrew Barr said that Canberra often gets a bad wrap from other Australians because of the cold weather and the presence of politicians.

He said it was "fantastic" to see that Canberra was "finally getting the attention that it deserves".

"Over time Canberra has suffered a little reputation-wise from the antics of federal politicians and our sometimes-cold winters," Barr said on Wednesday.

"(But) within two hours from our city you can experience almost every Australian tourism experience from skiing in the mountains, surfing at the beaches and enjoying the rural hinterlands around the ACT region."

Barr also joked that the ACT had not paid Lonely Planet for the publication's glowing endorsement.

"We can be very clear this in no way involves jurisdictions bidding to be in the list," he said.

Seville, Spain, is No 1 on the list, followed by Detroit in the US; Canberra, Australia; Hamburg, Germany; Kaohsiung, China's Taiwan; Antwerp, Belgium; and Matera, Italy; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Guanajuato, Mexico and Oslo are last.

Lonely Planet's top 10 countries for 2018 are Chile, South Korea, Portugal, Djibouti, New Zealand, Malta, Georgia, Mauritius, China and South Africa.

Xinhua

]]>
2017-10-30 07:48:36
<![CDATA[Golden opportunity for snake soup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/29/content_33851150.htm Editor's Note: China is divided into as many culinary regions as there are different ethnic groups. Its geographical diversity and kaleidoscopic cultural profiles contribute to the unending banquet of flavors.

Oct 28 will be the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, a day when the elderly are specifically feted. The double ninth or Chongyang is when the whole family gathers around the matriarchs and patriarchs of the clan and prays for their longevity.

This special day has been celebrated since as early as the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), before the establishment of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). As with most traditional festivals, it first started as an ancestral rite.

 

The broth is a slow simmer of chicken, pork and snake bones with a secret blend of Chinese herbs. Provided to China Daily

These days, many families take advantage of the brisk autumn weather and head out to the countryside to enjoy the red and gold colors of the falling leaves. This ritual is known as shangqiu, or the appreciation of autumn.

A lot of families climb to higher ground, or denggao, so that their prayers and good wishes for the old folks at home can be heard clearly by the deities above.

Most of all, Chongyang is an indication that autumn has well and truly settled throughout the country.

The flower of the season must be one of the most recognizable icons of China, the chrysanthemum.

Chongyang is the time for chrysanthemum wine and chrysanthemum cakes, both enjoyed while appreciating the vast variety of chrysanthemum flowers now blooming in public parks and gardens.

In Beijing, the formal gardens of the Forbidden City will be putting up grand displays. Farther south in Suzhou and Hangzhou, their famous landscaped gardens will have delicate bonsai and magnificent sculpted pots of blooms.

Yet farther south in Guangzhou, the chrysanthemum is appreciated in a very different way.

As early as in April, chefs plot with their favorite gardeners on how to start cultivating a special variety of white chrysanthemums. These plants must be totally organic, free of any chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

The flowers must be ready around Chongyang, when they are carefully harvested just as they reach full bloom. They are an essential ingredient in an autumn delicacy - snake soup.

To the Cantonese in Guangzhou and Hong Hong, nothing is more representative of the season than a steaming hot bowl of thick, rich snake soup.

This is a dish that has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, partly thanks to modern farms that have made the supply of snakes more reliable. In fact, the snakes can be viewed as a pharmaceutical industry byproduct - the production of serum, essential antidotes for snakebites.

When I first worked in Hong Kong, a local colleague took me sightseeing to Temple Street, the famous night market that is an essential draw for tourists. As we wandered through to the end of the alley, we crossed the road to some street stalls under a sprawling banyan tree and sat down.

The stall owner set a fragrant bowl of broth before me, its golden surface speckled with a shower of white chrysanthemum petals. This was the infamous snake soup.

The rich redolent fragrance overwhelmed any reservations.

There were shreds of chicken and snake, shreds of mushrooms and black fungus, delicate strands of aged citrus peel and slivers of kaffir lime leaves. The broth was amazingly savory.

That was my first bowl of autumnal snake soup, 30 years ago.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited a friend working for a major television news channel with its headquarters in the New Territories town of Taipo, in Hong Kong. He invited us for lunch at Taipo Market, and the main course was snake soup.

My spouse was hesitant, since the most exotic meat in his diet so far had been Inner Mongolian lamb. But he was game for the experiment.

There was space for maybe four tiny tables in the shop, and almost half the space was taken up by a cooking station with a huge bubbling basin of broth.

Next to the stove was a counter piled high with chicken carcasses and skinned snakes.

As we watched, fascinated, the lady boss stripped the snakes of meat with a nimble flicking motion that soon built up a pile of creamy white shreds. The chicken was being shredded by another equally dexterous auntie.

I edged closer and started asking questions.

The broth is a slow simmer of chicken, pork and snake bones with a secret blend of Chinese herbs - there is always a secret blend of Chinese herbs. It is simmered overnight and the result is a rich broth full of collagen that comes from the snake skin. Every mouthful makes your lips stick together.

The snake meat, chicken and shredded mushrooms are mixed into the broth just before serving, then garnished with kaffir lime leaves, more aged citrus peel and white chrysanthemum petals.

It is a masterly combination.

You really can't tell the difference - for once, snake meat really does taste like chicken, only the texture is softer. There is no gamey taste at all, only a fresh sweet aftertaste.

A lot of it is because of the citrus peel and the kaffir lime leaves, which refresh the palate after the richness of the meats. The chrysanthemum is both a visual and aural attraction.

It is indeed a seasonal broth because, once winter arrives, the snakes go into hibernation and slowly use up their fat as they sleep. In spring and summer, the dish is considered too rich for the body and the snakes are left alone to fatten, until next autumn.

paulined@chinadaily.com.cn

Rich autumn chicken broth (snake optional)

1 whole chicken, steamed

500g pork soup bones, blanched

1 large piece chenpi (aged citrus peel)

3 slices of ginger

4-6 dried shiitake or Chinese mushrooms, soaked

3-4 pieces black woodear fungus, soaked

3-4 kaffir lime leaves

1 large white chrysanthemum, soaked in lightly salted water

Salt and lots of white pepper

1 large snake, steamed and skinned (optional)

Remove the meat from the chicken carcass. Shred the meat.

(Remove the meat from the snake.) Place chicken carcass, pork soup bones (and snake bones) into a large pot of water with the citrus peel and ginger slices and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 15 minutes, then reduce to a simmer while you get on to preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Finely shred the mushrooms and fungus. Roll up and cut the kaffir lime leaves into very fine slivers.

Remove the petals from the chrysanthemum and rinse again in salted water. Drain and dry.

By now, your bone stock should be full of flavor. Remove the bones and add salt and pepper to taste. Add a spoonful of sugar to increase the sweetness.

Add the shredded meat and mushrooms to the pot and allow to come back to a boil. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with kaffir lime leaves and chrysanthemum petals.

Serve with more white pepper and very finely shredded ginger.

Skip the snake and you still get a very flavorful chicken broth that will warm you up in the cool autumn evenings.

]]>
2017-10-29 14:25:02
<![CDATA[The world's TVs tune in to China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/29/content_33851149.htm More production companies helping to promote Chinese programs overseas as interest grows

China's rapidly growing entertainment industry has attracted more foreign players to seek cooperation with Chinese companies.

At one of the largest trade shows for television programs and formats - held in Cannes, France, from Oct 16 to 19 - Chinese entertainment products gained attention from international representatives.

Dongyang Huan Yu Film and Television Culture Co (Huan Yu Film), a Chinese TV and film production company, took along three of the latest episodes of the TV drama series Zhao Ge, Huang Feng Prison and Story of Yanxi Palace, featuring the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century BC), Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-581) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

 

Top: Outside view of Palais des festivals in Cannes, France, where the 2017 MIPCOM was held. Left: Handmade props used in TV drama by Huan Yu Film. Right: An Iranian filmmaker (center) with staff from Huan Yu Film. Photos Provided to China Daily

A handmade silk dress embroidered with dragons, clouds and various flowers patterns, which is one of the costumes from Story of Yanxi Palace, was exhibited at the event.

"We hired over 200 Chinese embroidery artists to make costumes for our palace-themed TV drama. This dress is a costume for the queen in the drama and took 10 artists four months to make," says Yang Le, CEO of Huan Yu Film.

Along with the dress, other handmade traditional Chinese props, including a phoenix coronet, a silk fan and hair clasps, were also shown in Huan Yu Film's exhibition zone at the trade show.

"These well-made props, with distinctive Chinese elements, make the dramas as good as movies," a member of TVP television from Poland commented.

Yu Zheng, founder of Huan Yu Film and a famous Chinese TV drama scriptwriter, says that through the diligently made props and costumes, the company wanted to show Chinese culture to people from other countries, particularly the spirit of craftsmanship.

"We hope that by increasing the quality of our products, we can spread Chinese cultural values to the world and give Chinese films and TV dramas more recognition around the world," says Yu.

The costumes and props not only prompted people to take photos, but also attracted deals. According to Yang, interest in the company's TV dramas from foreign filmmakers and media went beyond expectations.

"So far, we have received interest from over 10 countries for buying copyright to screen our dramas," the CEO says. "We are proud to see that Chinese TV drama, as well as traditional culture, are popular today."

Huan Yu Film is one of 100 Chinese companies that attended the 2017 MIPCOM, the International Market of Communications Programmes.

MIP - or Marche International des Programmes - is a global distribution marketplace for entertainment content. Its major event is held in Cannes twice a year, as MIPTV in spring and MIPCOM in autumn.

This year, more than 13,900 delegates and 4,800 buyers from over 110 countries attended the event to buy and sell new programs and formats for international distribution. A hundred Chinese companies with 400 delegates attended the event.

Under the Chinese government's policy framework for promoting Chinese TV and movies "going out", more of the country's companies are engaging in the international event and being proactive in promoting cooperation. This trend has been noticed by Bertrand Villegas, co-founder of the France-based TV format company The Wit.

"There is a lot of buzz at this year's MIPCOM about international coproductions and big new SVOD (subscription video on demand) series," Villegas says. He notes that China is one of the leading representatives, showing the emergence of Asia's growing television production industry.

Villegas highlights China's TV drama Princess Agents, aired beginning in June on Hunan TV and said to be the most-watched TV drama of all time in China, with 50 billion views on streaming sights.

He adds: "Even if not so many companies are yet buying Chinese series, and they are not so innovative from a writing point of view, they're growing online for Asian communities around the world. I think in years to come they will manage to go mainstream."

Last year, exports of Chinese film and television programs amounted to nearly $121 million (103 million euros; 91.6 million). At the same time, film and television business has developed from direct buy and sell to multiple cooperations, particularly coproductions.

At the latest MIPCOM, Chinese production company 3C Media announced a codevelopment deal with UK company ZigZag on a new reality show format, called Ancient Games, during a panel session titled "From History to the Future - The Beauty of Working With China".

According to Shirley Cheng, senior vice-president of 3C Media, Ancient Games will be an athletics competition between modern-day, super-fit contestants. Former athletes, actors and other celebrities will compete over the course of the series in many ancient-themed competitions.

"We are delighted to be working with 3C Media, China's leading TV production business, to create what may be the biggest original TV format to come out of China so far," says Danny Fenton, CEO of ZigZag Productions.

Cheng says: "3C has had a successful and enjoyable experience working with international partners in the past 10 years. The agreement with ZigZag on Ancient Games will definitely be one of our milestone international cooperations."

Besides traditional TV production companies, many internet companies now are also enjoying success in this burgeoning industry.

Chinese internet giant Tencent will stream and distribute the British natural history series Blue Planet II in China, following a coproduction deal with BBC Worldwide sealed at the latest MIPCOM.

"We are very excited to be coproducing this landmark series with Tencent, with whom we have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship," says David Weiland, executive vice-president of BBC Worldwide Asia.

"This production partnership is an affirmation of the shared commitment we have in producing ambitious natural history content. Tencent's involvement will bring this landmark series to a wider audience in greater China."

At the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping, in the report on behalf of the 18th CPC Central Committee, stressed the importance of strengthening cultural exchanges between China and other countries.

In a news conference at the congress, Zhang Hongsen, vice-minister of press, publication, radio, film and television, said China has signed agreements to make TV and films with 20 countries, while the country has increasing exchanges in cultural content with the United States, as well as countries in Europe and Central Asia.

Zhang said that, over the past two years, China has exported more than 20,000 hours of film and television programs throughout the world. More than 1,600 Chinese films and television programs are translated into 36 languages, including English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Zhang pointed out that this is an important part of building Chinese soft power.

"Cultural exchanges are key projects that the government supports," Zhang said. He said that over the next five years, China will continue to encourage cooperation in TV and film exchanges. "Coproduction is an important and major way of Chinese TV and movies 'going out'", Zhang said.

panmengqi@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-29 14:25:02
<![CDATA[Drawing attention]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/29/content_33851148.htm The internet is fueling new ways of looking at the Chinese comics industry

Chinese comics artist Bai Xiao used to wonder how his Japanese counterparts could churn out their creations on a weekly basis, when he could do so only once a month in magazines.

That was before he moved online. Now, Bai is equally prolific. He publishes his story Shikong Shitu (Bloodivores) on the online comics platform of internet giant Tencent twice a week, and he has completed more than 200 chapters so far.

 

Chinese comics artists create comic strips with colorful topics, from fox-demon fantasy (top) to martial arts (above). Photos Provided to China Daily

"The internet has changed Chinese comics profoundly," says Bai, 35, who is based in Beijing.

Bai started to draw comics in 2001, when magazines were the main platform for the genre. He published several stories in magazines such as Comic Artists, China Cartoon, and Comic Fans, one of the most influential comic magazines in China.

He switched to online comics less than two years ago. Shikong Shitu, a science fiction story, depicts a world full of conflicts caused by new technologies. A group of bloodsucking characters, the products of medical side effects, forms a major part of the storyline.

On Oct 1 last year, a Japanese cartoon version of Shikong Shitu began to be shown on Japanese TV station Tokyo MX, a day after the Chinese version rolled out online.

"I used to admire those who could offer stories that ran for as long as they wished in a month," says Bai. "Due to the limited number of pages in magazines, I was allowed to publish no more than 40 pages per month. I could not finish the opening parts of a story even in a whole year. Sometimes I had to delete plots to fit everything in, and the stories would not be perfect or complete."

Bai now produces about 100 pages of online stories a week, a number he says he could not have imagined a decade ago.

He has the space to give his creativity and storytelling skills full rein.

To satisfy the demand from his readers for "good stories", Bai set up a studio last year that hired assistants to help with the artwork.

"A studio is a more stable, creative group. I believe, with the market becoming more mature, the number of comics studios in China will increase," says Bai.

Better experience

The development of the internet has also fueled greater interaction between comics artists and their readers.

Although magazines in the past could receive more than 100 letters from readers, mostly serious fans, many editors were not able to reply to all of them. At that time, the artists were not able to adapt their stories to reflect feedback from their readers.

But social media platforms such as micro blogs now allow both sides to communicate regularly.

"Most of the interaction is enjoyable. It lets you know that there are plenty of readers paying attention to your work," says Bai.

"But sometimes it can be hard to handle."

Bai cites one case when he came up with a plot ending to "surprise" his readers, but some of them guessed it and spread it online, putting him in a fix.

"It took me several days to come up with another reasonable and beautiful ending," says Bai. "Still, it's interesting to have these 'games' with the readers. It gives me a sense of achievement and the confidence to come up with better stories."

The internet is not just a platform for artists to showcase their work. It also acts as an engine to power the development of the industry, he says.

The growing number of comics artists and their stories online have certainly helped to raise the quality of work, say many artists and their readers.

Yiren Zhixia, created by Mi Er, reveals the unusual lives of several people who are able to master superpowers related to traditional Chinese culture, such as the qi energy-flow concept in Taoism. Huyao Xiao Hongniang, a web comic created by Tuo Xiaoxin, tells of a series of interesting and mysterious love stories between Taoists and fox demons.

Both the stories are based on traditional Chinese culture, and the cartoon versions of them have been introduced to Japanese TV audiences over the past two years.

According to statistics released by the Qianzhan Industry Research Institute in March, at the end of 2016, China had 150,000 web comics created by more than 90,000 artists, receiving more than 200 billion hits from 70 million readers. Many of them had the habit of buying comic books or magazines in the past.

Zhang Han, 25, who works in the Ministry of Transport, is one fan who switched from magazines to websites. Zhang has been reading comics since elementary school. It helps her relax, and she reads them on her computer before going to sleep every night.

"I used to finish reading a whole magazine once I bought it, and wait for the latest installment in the weeks ahead. But the number of magazines was limited, and sometimes I could not get hold of one," she says.

Online comics can also be much cheaper than the magazines of the past, and many fans are reading them on the go via mobile apps.

"Many of my friends began to read comics on apps and I have tried that, but the pictures and words on smartphone screens are too small and my eyes can hurt," says Zhang. She usually follows several storylines at the same time, but reading them all on her mobile device means she would have to download many apps and deal with limited digital storage, she says.

Adapting to changes

Tencent Comics and Kuaikan Comics, both launched in 2014, are two of the most popular comics apps in the Chinese market, which is made up of hundreds of smaller players catering to a wide range of readers.

Li Yan, 20, majors in telecommunication engineering at Beijing Union University. She began to read comics on apps last year and has both comics apps installed on her smartphone.

Li was asked to select her gender the first time she used the apps because they were apparently customized to cater to different types of readers - girls and women usually went for romance stories, while boys and men would opt for violent ones.

"Sometimes I'd select the opposite gender to see what was being offered on the other side," says Li.

The increasing number of selections means she can pick the ones that are familiar to her daily life and interests, Li says. Her favorite comic is Junlin Chenxia, a fiction piece based on the history of the Three Kingdoms period (220-280).

"I used to read them on computers, which meant that I could only immerse myself in the world of comics when there was a computer around me," says Li.

"Now with apps on my phone, I can read the comics anywhere as long as I have it with me."

The interactive platforms on the apps also allow Li to communicate with people who share the same interests and hobbies.

Besides a standard feature for comments after each chapter for readers to express their opinions, Tencent also promotes its danmu, or "bullet screening", a real-time comment feature that flashes across readers' screens for them to share their ideas and feelings.

Kuaikan Comics offers a live communication platform on its app, which reduces the distance between comics creators and readers.

"We communicate like friends," says Li, adding that by interacting with creators in real time, she gets a deeper understanding of comic characters' personalities.

"Chinese culture in online comics is a natural link between the audience and the artist, making these comics easily understandable and popular among the young," says Song Lei, director of the development and research department of the China Animation Comic Game Group. Song started to focus on Chinese comics in the early 1990s.

He lauds the contribution made by the internet to growing the Chinese comics industry.

By leading more creators into the market as well as spreading more works among readers, the internet breaks down the barriers between readers and artists caused by the limited resources of traditional print, he says.

However, Song adds that since the barrier to entry for online comics is low and the regulations are still imperfect, there is the danger of undesirable content spreading among readers.

Better supervision and management of the market might help the sector develop in a more stable way, he says.

Xing Yi contributed to this story.

jiangyijing@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-29 14:25:02
<![CDATA[Family treasures]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/29/content_33851147.htm An ongoing exhibition offers a view of some of the world's greatest art and artifacts from the Renaissance years

Francesca Bellini could be seen strolling around a large hall in Shanghai in late September with a cloth in hand to wipe the 16th-century tables and cabinets being kept there as part of an exhibition.

The show, Miracle: The Bellini Family and the Renaissance, opened at Shanghai Himalayas Museum on Sept 28, with five exhibition halls designed to replicate wealthy Italian households during the period.

The exhibits, nearly 460 everyday objects and artworks, include original works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. The displayed items are from the private collection of the Bellini family and the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci.

 

The exhibition halls at the museum are designed to replicate wealthy Italian households during the Renaissance period. Exhibits include original creations by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. Photos Provided to China Daily

The exhibition was popular during the National Day holiday week earlier this month, when visitors formed long lines to get a glimpse of the displayed items.

Francesca and her husband, Luigi Bellini, are the 21st generation of the Bellini family from Florence, Italy. Through six centuries, the family has put together a huge collection of antiques and artwork. This is the first time these pieces have been shown in China, where the halls have been decorated in the style of the family's sitting room, dining room, salon, prayer room and bedrooms. The family even brought five original door frames from Florence for the China show.

At the center of one of the exhibition halls, there is a large bed frame that once belonged to the Medici family. A villa was bought by his grandfather from the Medicis and the bed was from that estate, Luigi Bellini tells China Daily.

The Medici family were important patrons of great artists during the Renaissance, including Botticelli, Leonardo and Michelangelo. But the family declined in the 18th century, and many of the collected artworks had either scattered or were lost.

The Bellini family has managed to continue to develop its collection and has accumulated around 10,000 pieces through six centuries, Luigi Bellini says.

Shen Qibin, director of the Shanghai Himalayas Museum, worked with the Bellinis as co-curator of the exhibition. To best represent the glory of the Renaissance, Shen has used virtual reality technology to re-create the domed roof of the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci.

The Bellini family's heritage could be a source of inspiration for modern wealthy Chinese who collect art.

And in this regard, the Himalayas Museum hopes to establish a long-term cooperation with the Bellinis, says Shen.

"The Bellini family's collection will tour other cities of China, too" he says.

The tour will seek to introduce the family to a wider section of Chinese society.

"We want to promote the core idea of the Renaissance," Shen says. "Contemporary China shares a lot in common with the Renaissance period in Italy. Although this is an exhibition largely focused on antique artworks, it is highly relevant to today's China. That's why we decided to have the exhibition in the country."

The museum in Vinci, Leonardo's birthplace in Florence, has been dedicated to research and study of the artist for a long time. It has brought to the exhibition in Shanghai a 1.11-meter-tall sandstone sculpture by Michelangelo, Arrotino Lanfranchi, depicting a kneeling man sharpening his knife. Also among the artworks on display in Shanghai are original paintings by Raphael and Leonardo, as well as works by other important artists during the Renaissance.

The exhibition also includes a series of later artworks inspired by the Mona Lisa, from a copy of the masterpiece dating to the 16th century, to the creations of more modern artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali.

Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci, says this section presents Leonardo and his masterpiece in the perspective of artistic history.

Additionally, Vezzosi has brought to the exhibition prints, publications and physical models made after Leonardo's designs, to show the "great man of the Renaissance" not only as an artist, but also as an engineer, inventor, scientist and architect.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-29 14:25:02
<![CDATA[Building a legacy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/29/content_33851146.htm Renowned architect, writer and (most recently) painter Paul Andreu held his first art exhibition, Dialogue avec le Papier, this summer at Beijing's Yishu 8, where Philippe Dova sat down with him for an exclusive interview.

French architect Paul Andreu has designed so many iconic buildings in China that it's easy to lose count. Among his best known are the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, the Jinan Grand Theatre and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Now nearly 80, Andreu continues to develop projects in China, including a revolutionary undertaking to bring new life to an impoverished village in rural Shandong province.

How was it that you went from architecture to writing - and more recently to painting?

I have a desire to create, for continuous renewal. While I can't say that I know everything there is to know about architecture, I no longer have much to prove or discover. For me, painting is just as important, creatively, but it's something you do alone in your workshop, with a piece of paper and a pot of ink or acrylic paint - it's terribly refreshing.

Why did you wait so many years to start painting?

It was a kind of need. I felt saturated and I partially compensated for this by writing. But writing is a very long process - it takes at least a year to write a book. Painting is faster. Being alone with yourself during the day, in the light, and then putting yourself in a situation where you produce something of which you know nothing and for which no one has asked - it's a kind of freedom you rarely have in life.

Are you still as busy as ever in China?

China is still building, but at a less frenetic pace. They have trained their own architects, who for the most part are very good, so there's no longer a need for foreign architects to contribute. Today, China is part of a great movement of very open exchanges with other countries - and that's a very good thing. After the National Grand Theatre (National Centre for the Performing Arts) in Beijing, I did a series of projects in different cities: a sports complex in Guangzhou, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, a performing arts complex in Jinan, a museum in Taiyuan, office buildings and so on. I'm not involved in quite so many projects now, but I still love coming here.

What are your projects in China right now?

With the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, I've submitted a project to design a new area in the city of Nantong. There's a cultural component - performing arts facilities, an art museum, etc. - as well as convention and exhibition centers and a hotel.

There's a project in the Zhuhai-Macao area that's especially close to my heart - a cultural-commercial urban development project on Hengqin Island. The Chinese engineering and construction company Zhuhai Da Heng Qin approached French architect Thomas Coldefy and asked him to think about the project, recommending that he work with an architect who's already known in China. He asked me if I'd be willing to do some of the work. I very seldom collaborate with French architects, but if this project goes ahead, then it will have both our signatures on it. We're now in the preliminary phase, and we'll present the project before December; the planned completion date is in 2019.

You're going to be working on a project to redevelop a rural village, too?

China has given me a lot - and I've always wanted to give something back. Some Chinese friends from Yunnan spoke to me about the province's magnificent landscapes and asked me if I could help out by coming up with a way to preserve them. I publicly accepted this challenge, but they never followed up. Then, the industrialist Dong Fangjun, who is a big patron of cultural projects and very involved in efforts to save his native village in Yiyuan, in Shandong province, asked me if I'd be willing to work with him on that.

The village is located on a peninsula that he calls "Peach Blossom Island" - it's full of orchards and little market gardens. I went to visit the village and as soon as I saw it, I wanted to bring it back to life. Not by introducing an abstract kind of life for flashpackers to come and look at, but by making sound, established agricultural operations even more viable by giving them an artistic aspect - by offering other alternatives to the people who live there. I'm going to be totally committed to this project.

What will you do specifically?

I don't know yet. For now, they've put red flags with our names on them along the roads to welcome us. It's going to be organized in a very sensible way, with the China Global Philanthropy Institute drawing up a plan and setting the budgets.

The project will kick off soon. While I know it's not going to be some huge, neverto-be-forgotten project, I find these kinds of small, very humble things very tempting.

What do Paul Andreu the architect, Paul Andreu the writer and Paul Andreu the painter have in common?

They're all the Paul Andreu who was born in Bordeaux almost 80 years ago and who, little by little, grew within different branches, each of which he considers to be of equal importance. With a great desire to do things with his hands and with his head, and to always keep discovering something new.

Your most beautiful memory?

Delivering the National Grand Theatre in Beijing. This project represented an enormous amount of work. I put my whole self into it; I thought constantly about every detail. Some things in the theater I even made with my own hands - there are some bronze plaques in the floor that I engraved myself. I was very happy at the opening.

 

Born in Bordeaux, France, Parisian architect Paul Andreu has a great desire to do things with his hands and with his head, and to always keep discovering something new. Photos by Trudy He / For China Daily

]]>
2017-10-29 14:25:02
<![CDATA[Everything under the sun]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/29/content_33851145.htm In just five years, China's solar industry went from 'life support' to global industry superpower

In late 2012, China's solar industry was on "life support". The warning came from Li Junfeng, deputy director of the energy research institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, which manages China's renewable energy policy.

So many solar panels were being produced that their value was plummeting; Li indicated that a crisis was on the horizon unless the world, including China, dramatically slashed production.

 

 

A drone surveys a solar power station for impoverished areas near the Three Gorges Reservoir in Hubei province. Photos Provided to China Daily

The European Union first imposed tariffs on Chinese solar products - which make up one-third of sales in the EU - in 2013. They were allegedly retailing at below production cost. It extended the trade measures to the end of 2015.

In September, the EU issued its final announcement that it will limit China's solar panel exports by setting a minimum import price. The regulation would be implemented from Oct 1, and the minimum import price will be set step-by-step. The Ministry of Commerce said on Sept 18 that the European Union's decisions regarding tariffs on Chinese solar panels were a positive step toward market normalization, and it hopes the EU will completely scrap such measures.

The EU tariffs are one of the few stumbling blocks still left for a resurgent Chinese solar industry, which, just five years after being at death's door, is now regarded as a superpower in an industry worth $100 billion (85.1 billion euros; 75.8 billion) globally, and expected to expand by an estimated 13 percent annually. In 2016 alone, China was responsible for half the world's solar capacity, doubling the size of the domestic industry.

In 2008, China set a goal of 1.8 gigawatts for its solar capacity by 2020; in 2014, that was dramatically revised upward to 100 gW. The target was met this year, when China installed 10 gW in July alone. Reuters recently reported that the country industry was expected to produce 60 gW worth of solar panels in 2017 alone, a 25 percent increase on the previous year.

China recently unveiled the world's largest floating solar farm, in a flooded coal-mining region in Anhui province, an experimental project that aims to see whether still bodies of water can be used for power generation.

That's far from the only large-scale project recently completed. A farm in the shape of a panda was recently unveiled, along with plans for another 100 panda-shaped solar-panel farms across Asia. Even this massive project seems minor compared with the proposal presented to the United Nations by China's State Grid Corp in late 2016, suggesting the creation of a global grid by 2050. Under this ambitious plan, solar, wind and hydroelectric power would be generated in areas with abundant resources and sold across borders to population centers that need power.

It's a plan that would have been unthinkable five years ago. Industry publication Scientific American, citing the US Department of Energy, points to Germany, which launched a program to promote rooftop solar panels in the late 1990s. The policy proved so popular that domestic production was overwhelmed by demand. The deficit was met by China, with the aid of German capital, technology and expertise. After Italy and Spain launched their own renewable-energy incentive programs, Chinese manufacturers realized there was ongoing EU demand to be met and began to seek more overseas solar investment - expertise and the materials, such as polysilicon supplies, needed to fuel its industry.

The process took decades, as it required building huge, often automated, factories and acquiring multiple technologies, during which China's solar future was uncertain. Renewable energy demand has come in booms and busts, but one constant was that China's solar expertise and manufacturing capacity were making steady improvements.

As global prices plummeted, China's domestic demand started to ramp up. Partly as a consequence of the low prices and ready availability of the technology, local governments began offering their own variants of the original German program, and China was suddenly in an enviable position.

The risks associated with razorthin margins are just as acute today, if not more so. But there are other potential problems lurking on the horizon for Chinese solar. While the future of solar power may still be under a cloud, one aspect is not: China will be at the center of the storm, for better or worse.

Courtesy of The World of Chinese; www.theworldofchinese.com

The World of Chinese

]]>
2017-10-29 14:25:02
<![CDATA[Lots of food for hungry bridgeurs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814831.htm Scott Adams, in one of his Dilbert cartoons, wrote, "Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you're a consultant."

The key word there is "hungry" - this deal has lots of food for discussion. First, what do you think of the auction? Second, what should West lead against three no-trump after the given sequence?

In the auction, some Souths would have opened two diamonds, but with four spades and a void, it would have been debatable. However, West had a clear-cut one-club opening. His count was minimum, but he would have had no rebid problems.

After North opened one heart, East's overcall was acceptable, especially as he was a passed hand. South might have responded one no-trump, but two diamonds was reasonable as he had already passed. Then the rest of the auction was predictable.

During a duplicate at Bridge Base Online, this exact auction occurred three times. Each time, West led the club queen. South won with dummy's king, overtook the diamond jack with his queen and drove out the ace, very happy to see the 3-3 split. Now South was sure to take at least one spade, two hearts, five diamonds and two clubs.

The Easts must have been hungry for a new partner! If only West had led his spade, East could have won with his ace and continued with the queen to dislodge the spade king from the South hand, declarer's lifeline to the diamond suit. Then the contract would have gone down one.

]]>
2017-10-28 07:25:04
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814830.htm

Kooza in Shanghai

Date: Oct 28-Dec 3 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Expo Park, Shanghai

Price: 280-1,950 yuan

As a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil, Kooza tells the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world. Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, Kooza explores world with audiences in a light and delightful atmosphere, and also offers a nice family time together. As the largest theatrical producer in the world, Cirque du Soleil stands out for its theatrical, character-driven approach and the absence of performing animals. It combines two circus traditions to Kooza: acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. Kooza has Balancing on chairs, Contortion, High wire, Hoop, Unicycle duo, Wheel of death and more to develop the storyline. The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

2017 NCAA Pac-12 China Game

Date: Nov 11 - 12:30 pm

Venue: Baoshan Sports Center

Price: 100-780 yuan

This is the third year the Pac-12 will open its men's basketball season in China. The Conference became the first United States sports league, collegiate or professional, to host a regular-season contest in China in 2015 when Washington defeated Texas, followed by Stanford beating Harvard last season. The Pac-12 China Game will help usher in the start of the 2017-18 U.S. college basketball season. The game will tip at 12:30p.m. local Shanghai time on Saturday, Nov. 11 and be televised live on ESPN in the United States and streamed live on Youku Sports. Tickets are available through Damai.cn in the United States and China.

Beijing Yunzai Culture Communication Drama Beijing Neighbors

Date: Nov 8-12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 60-380 yuan

This story happens at a courtyard in Beijing, from the late 1990s to the early 21st century. Some people such as old Yang are natives, who have resided in this courtyard for a long time, while Hu Dong and a writer surnamed Liu are residents who come from other places and work in Beijing. Liu and his wife run a restaurant in Beijing, and through the contact with old Yang and other natives, Liu gradually accepts their lifestyle. On the other hand, old Beijingers understand drifers' diligence and struggle through Liu and Hu Dong. The two cultures ultimately blend together.

Itzhak Perlman Violin Recital

Date: Nov 9 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 200-1,200 yuan

Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, Itzhak Perlman enjoys superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also to his irrepressible joy for making music.

TAO Dance Theater - 8&9

Date: Nov 3-4 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Tao Ye's piece 8 is the last of his "Straight Line Trilogy". This piece furthers Tao's characteristic line of creative exploration. It uncovers the innate logic of bodily movement through an accumulation by the repetition of movements, and through the investigation of possible movements within the constraints imposed on our body. In performance, the dancers lie on the stage-floor instead of standing, in this way their bodies are further restricted to the floor and movements are limited to the moving range of their spines. Under this limitation, the capabilities of the body of the dancers' can be further explored and released. So from the audience's point of view, no heads, arms or legs are to be seen, whereas the torso comes into central focus.

Drama Looking West to Chang'an

Date: Nov 1-5 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 150-380 yuan

Looking West to Chang'an is a five-act satire comedy authored by the Chinese writer Lao She on the basis of "the First Political Fraud Case of the New China" in 1956. The comedy tells an absurd and thought-provoking tale. With mean trickery, leading role Li Wan Cheng forges his personal details and CV to get official posts. People place trust in him with credulity and degrade into cat's paws to help him garner fame and fortune. And some victims even help the deceiver get married. Until a few vigilant comrades become aware of his deception, so the public security organ investigates and cracks down on the criminal case.

]]>
2017-10-28 07:25:04
<![CDATA[Listings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814829.htm Shows

Cloud Gate Dance Theater Rice

Date: Nov 2-5 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-680 yuan

The inspiration for Rice came from the landscape and story of Chihshang in the East Rift Valley of Taiwan. Previously tainted by the use of chemical fertilizer, this farming village has now regained its title as the Land of the Emperor's Rice by adopting organic farming. Awed by the immense waves of grain rolling across expansive fields of rice, Lin took the dancers to Chihshang, where they joined the farmers in harvesting the rice. Out of this experience in the field, Lin has created exuberant yet powerful movements woven through Soil, Sunlight, Wind, Water and Fire, telling the story of the land while contemplating the devastation of Earth.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Jonas Kaufman Solo Concert in Shenzhen

Date: Nov 11 - 8 pm

Venue: Shenzhen Concert Hall

Price: 280-1,280 yuan

Jonas Kaufmann is a German operatic tenor. He is best known for his performances in spinto roles such as Don Jos�� in Carmen, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur, and the title role in Don Carlos. He has also sung leading tenor roles in the operas of Richard Wagner with success in Germany and abroad, most notably the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He is also an accomplished Lieder singer. In 2014 The New York Times described Kaufmann as "a box-office draw, and ... the most important, versatile tenor of his generation."

Contact: 400-610-3721

Lyu Siqing Violin Recital

Date: Nov 2 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 80-580 yuan

Lyu Siqing was the first Asian violinist to win the first prize in the prestigious Paganini International Violin Competition in Italy, 1987. Hailed by Strad as "an outstanding talent", Lyu has given performances in more than 40 countries. Those performances have taken him to some of the world's most prestigious concert halls, including Musikverein in Vienna, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Apart from an active soloist on stage globally, Lyu is also dedicated to chamber music. Contact: 400-610-3721

Nederlands Dans Theater 1 Shoot the Moon

Date: Oct 28-29 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-680 yuan

Nederlands Dans Theater 1 (NDT 1) is one of the world's leading contemporary dance companies, under artistic guidance of Paul Lightfoot. The Dutch troupe is based in The Hague, but performs for over 115.000 visitors in Europe as well as in the USA, Asia and Australia. Since its founding in 1959, the top company has built a rich repertoire of 600 ballets by master choreographers Jir�� Kyli��n and Hans van Manen, renowned house choreographers Sol Le��n & Paul Lightfoot, associate choreographers Crystal Pite, Johan Inger, Alexander Ekman and Marco Goecke and high-profile guests such as Gabriela Carrizo, Hofesh Shechter and Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

NCPA Peking Opera Commission Red Cliff

Date: Oct 30-Nov 1 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

In the winter of the thirteenth year during the reign of Emperor Xian of Han Dynasty, a navy and army of 830 thousand soldiers invades the Kingdom of Wu under the command of Cao Cao (the Kingdom of Wei). Hearing the news, the ministers of the Kingdom of Wu gets into a panic, some advocating fighting back, some advising to surrender, leaving the king Sun Quan unable to make a final decision.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

National Peking Opera Company Return of the Phoenix

Date: Nov 11 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Cheng Pu, a vice minister retires on account of old age and returns to his hometown. He has two daughters, of whom the elder one, whose name is Xueyan, is ugly, while the younger, whose name is Xue'e, is beautiful and clever. Cheng Pu goes for a spring outing and comes across his friend's son Mu Juyi. He has a thing for Mu Juyi and invites the young man to his birthday party. Returning home, he tells his wife what has happened on the way and plans to marry Xue'e to Mu, but his wife strongly insists marring Xueyan to Mu.

On Cheng's birthday, Zhu Huanran comes to the party and falls in love with Xue'e at the sight of her. Mrs Cheng mistakenly believes that Mu has tacitly consented to the proposal of marriage and asks him to stay in Cheng's house. Xueyan goes to visit Mu at night under her sister's name, but Mu turns her down and takes French leave. He runs into Zhu on the way, and the latter gives him silver ingots and a horse hypocritically to make him go far away. It happens that Cheng Pu is reinstated and returns to the army with military supervisor Zhou. He runs into Mu on the road and takes the latter to the barracks. Zhu disguises himself as the bridegroom, and so Xueyan passes herself as the bride under Mrs Cheng's instigation, but the new couple later gets to know each other's true identity. At the very time, traitors are rising in revolt, and Mrs Cheng goes to Zhu's house alone for shelter, but Zhu has been impoverished due to a fire disaster. Cheng Pu puts down the rebellion, and Xue'e comes to her father. Then comes an echo of bringing up proposal of marriage, but Mu rejects it. Honggong and supervisor Zhou spare no effort to bring him around, and the air is cleared in the bridal chamber. Then, Zhu, Xueyan and Mrs Cheng come to seek shelter, and they have a family reunion.

Contact: 400-610-3721

China Pingju Opera Theater A Beautiful Night

Date: Nov 14 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Li Xiuru becomes a widow at a young age and earns a living as an innkeeper. Her life seems dull and gray along with her heart. But then a young scholar named, Di Renjie, who is on his way to the capital to sit for an examination, visits the inn. As he reads out loud, his voice re-ignites Li Xiuru's gray heart, such as a gust of spring breeze. She is surprised to discover the young scholar looks similar to her late husband. She serves him a hot meal. Nevertheless, the old servant sees her as a jinx and gets her out of the room by every means possible.

She returns to a lonely life only to find that she has fallen in love with Di. She feels frightened and hopes the spirit of her dead husband may divert herself from loneliness. But her husband's ghost never arrives, whereas Di crashes into her new life. She loses her heart to Di, and bravely express her feelings to him. Unexpectedly, Di persuades her to comply with feudal ethics. Hence, they part from each other.

Yet, Di sees a beautiful widow in his dream and realizes he also loves with the widowed innkeeper. As a young man, who never experienced love, he is struck with panic and leaves the inn without saying good-bye. But the separation can help one better understand what is right and wrong. When ruminating over such torment, Li remains convinced she deserves to love another man, and recognizes that Di holds the same feelings for her. So, she expects him to return. Leaving the inn, Di sees ospreys flying together and is inspired. He obeys his inward voice and returns to the inn amid the pouring rain.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Nothing's Carved in Stone Live in Shanghai

Date: Nov 11-12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Bandai Namco Shanghai Base Future House

Price: 380-480 yuan

Nothing's Carved in Stone is a Japanese rock group formed in January 2009. Their 2009 debut album proved that this band has it's own unique sound and a rocking band chemistry which is seen in their energetic live performance. On 2013, the band continued their string of successful tie-up songs, as their single Out of Control was selected to be an opening theme of the hit anime Psycho-Pass. Following the release of their fifth album, Revolt, in June.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Monologues Revel's World of Shakespeare in Suzhou

Date: Oct 28 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Dushu Lake Theater

Price: 60-280 yuan

Revel's World of Shakespeare was written and will be performed by Joseph Graves, directed by himself as well. Graves draws heavily on his considerable personal experiences with Shakespearean plays and study of the plays' articulations. Graves magically weaves a wildly comedic and deeply moving tale of childhood confusion and exploration, relating it all to the greatest of English writers, William Shakespeare.

Being the artistic director of PKU Institute of World Theatre and Film, Graves, over the last 28 years has directed over 50 stage productions, including classical, contemporary, musical theater and opera, in the United States, Great Britain and China, such productions include: Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, A Midsummer's Night Dream, The Alchemist, The Sea Gull, Three Sisters, The Private Lives of The Master Race and Fiddler on the Roof at such notable venues as The Welsh National Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre, and The Haymarket Theatre (West End) in Great Britain and numerous theaters throughout the United States as well as several in China.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Musical West Side Story

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

Venue: Shanghai Culture Square

Price: 200-1,000 yuan

Provocative finger snapping of street gangs, Puerto Rican girls' whirling skirts on New York City's flat roofs, derelict West Side back yards - just a few notes of Leonard Bernstein's world-famous score, featuring songs such as Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, America and I Feel Pretty, immediately evoke these images of West Side Story. At its 1957 Broadway premiere the musical redefined an entire genre both musically and in terms of dance. The genius of its four creators - Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim - produced a piece whose great artistic quality remains unquestioned to this day.

The film version won ten Oscars and brought the masterwork to an audience of millions just a few years later. Today West Side Story stands unchallenged as the No 1 of American musical theater - daring, realistic, and as relevant as on the day of its premiere.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Activities & nightlife

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Date: Oct 27-28 - 6:30 pm

Venue: Blue Note Beijing

Price: 280 yuan

Grammy nominated, fashion forward, socially conscious trumpeter Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah will grace the stage and play his eclectic, boundary pushing tunes.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Bloodweiser Halloween Modern Night in Shanghai

Venue: Jian Tao Sky Warehouse

Price: 120-280 yuan

As the wild and thrilling carnival of Halloween approaches, Budweiser, an American-style lager owned by Leuven-based Anheuser-Busch InBev held Bloodweiser Halloween Modern Night in Shanghai, created a new-style "fearless" in its first crossover endeavor.

Bloodweiser not only presented the special series for Halloween Budweiser in its cooperation with three "true self" designers from Labelhood, but also set a special stage for fashion shows at Halloween Modern Night, where people can see vampires embodying Mix & Match Street Style, zombies performing rebellious Rock& Roll, witches dancing with cool and free moves, featuring independence and beauty.

Contact: 137-0197-2878

Sports

Audi Cup of China ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017

Date: Nov 3-5 - 3 pm

Venue: Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing

Price: 80-580 yuan

It is one of the highest-level figure skating series events in the world, which will attract all top figure skaters from different countries. The first Cup of China was hosted in 2003 and it has been organized successfully in the successive 14 years. This year the participating teams are highlight enough. Four projects are participated by world champions.

Moreover, European Champions, Four Continents Champions and World Youth Champions will also compete on COC, which is absolutely worth expecting.

Contact: 400-610-3721

]]>
2017-10-28 07:25:04
<![CDATA[Musical tribute to the mainland]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814824.htm Maksim Mrvica, a Croatian pianist has just premiered two singles in Beijing, New Silk Road and China Rhapsody

In 2001, Maksim Mrvica, a Croatian-born classical pianist studying in Paris, gained fame as a promising young musician after winning piano competitions in Europe. After watching his performance on TV that year, Tonci Huljic, a Croatian songwriter and producer, approached Mrvica and introduced him to Mel Bush, a concert promoter and music manager, who put on concerts for artists like Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and Elton John.

At that time, Bush was looking for a classical pianist and hoping to break into the classical crossover market. On meeting Maksim, Bush was impressed by both his rock star image - tattoos, chic hairstyle - and solid piano playing technique.

 

Maksim Mrvica is about to kick off a 34-city tour of China. Photos by Zou Hong / China Daily

Bush signed Mrvica on the spot after hearing him play just one piece.

Nearly two decades later, Mrvica, with 11 crossover albums since 2003, has grown into one of the top selling crossover pianists in the world.

His albums, including the hit one, Croatian Rhapsody, in 2015, have sold more than 4 million copies in 57 countries.

Meanwhile, the pianist has just premiered two singles in Beijing, New Silk Road and China Rhapsody, both written by Huljic.

To support of these releases, Mrvica will kick off a tour in China - his biggest one in the country - by visiting 34 cities, including Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shenzhen.

"I've performed over 100 shows in China and I want to give something back to my fans here. The two songs are inspired by China, especially Chinese culture," the pianist says in Beijing. Mrvica first came to China in 2008 to record a piece, Olympic Dream, for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Since then, the pianist has toured China every year and has built a large fan base.

In 2016, he has visited 26 Chinese cities, playing his signature pieces, including an energetic version of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee.

As for the two new songs, the New Silk Road, was recorded in Budapest along with more than 60 musicians from the Budapest Symphony Orchestra.

For the six-minute song, the composer, Huljic, combined music elements from China, Russia, India and Central Europe, including the sounds of Chinese instruments - the erhu and bamboo flute.

Speaking about his work, Huljic says: "As composer, I collect music elements from all over the world. And I am very interested in Chinese music, especially ethnic music.

"This is my first time in China and before composing these two songs, I asked myself 'How can I describe China in a few words?' Then I chose the words like 'great', 'wisdom' and 'humanity'. I put these words into music."

Speaking about the songs, Huljic says that while New Silk Road is a grand and dazzling piece for piano and orchestra, China Rhapsody is just for piano.

"China Rhapsody is much simpler technically. There are many kids in China learning piano and this piece is material for them to practice," he says.

Huljic also says that this year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Croatia and he dedicates these two pieces to the two countries.

Giving details about his tour, Mrvica says that he will divide his upcoming visit China in 2018 into two seasons - spring and autumn.

"The number of the cities (for the tour) is still growing, so I can take a short break between these two parts.

"It (the tour) can be very exhausting. So, I usually stop playing the piano for a while after each segment so that I can recharge myself."

Mrvica, 42, who was born in Sibenik, Croatia, started piano lessons at the age of 9 and by the age of 11, he had held his first concert as a soloist with an orchestra.

It was not easy for him to become a concert pianist, especially when, at the age of 15, war broke out in Croatia.

But he continued to practice his piano in the basement of his music school.

By that time he had won the first prize in a national competition in Zagreb.

Later on, he won the first prize at the Rubinstein Piano Competition in Paris and the first prize at the Pontoise Competition in France.

He then went on to study at the Music Academy in Zagreb before he spent a year at the Franz Liszt Conservatoire in Budapest.

His debut album, Gestures, was released in 1999.

The album, featuring works by contemporary Croatian composers, became one of the fastest-selling classical recordings released in Croatia.

Speaking about his musical journey, Mrvica says: "No one in my family is a musician. So, when I told my parents that I wanted to become a pianist, they were very surprised."

The pianist is recording a new album in London and Budapest, and it is scheduled to be released in January.

The two new pieces, New Silk Road and China Rhapsody, will be in the album, and for the first time, he will integrate pop music into his work.

"In the new album, audiences will find familiar pop songs from Coldplay, John Legend and music from the popular TV drama, Game of Thrones. It's a challenge to adapt pop music into classical music but I like it," he says.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-28 07:24:45
<![CDATA[Classical dancer set to don new garb with contemporary performance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814823.htm Hua Xiaoyi, a long-haired beauty, has the image traditionally associated with a Chinese classical dancer. However, the 25-year-old Hua is going against her long career as a Chinese classical dancer and will stage her first contemporary dance work, titled Every Moment, in Beijing on Oct 31 and Nov 1 before heading to Shanghai on Nov 21 and 22.

Consisting of four sections, the dance work is choreographed by three artists, including Chinese choreographers Gao Chengming, Lou Menghan and British choreographer-dancer Akram Khan.

From different perspectives, the three choreographers explore the identities of women.

 

Hua Xiaoyi, a Chinese classical dancer, will stage her first contemporary dance work. Provided to China Daily

"In my past works, I have portrayed different female roles. But with this work, I want to be myself," says Hua. "Every Moment displays some significant moments from my life, which are subtle but powerful to me. I hope that the audiences will look back at their own special moments after watching this work."

In 2013, as the top student in her class, Hua went to study at the Purchase College in New York as an exchange student for three months, where she received training in contemporary dance and ballet.

Besides training, Hua also watched a variety of performances in New York.

One of the shows, Desh, by Akram Khan, changed her view about dancing.

Recalling the performance, Hua says: "In one and a half hours, he displays himself through rich dancing vocabularies, which are independent and interesting. I want to dance like him.

"For the first time, I start thinking about talking about myself through dancing."

About a year ago, she initiated her idea of Every Moment, which was supported by Xu Rui, the vice president of Beijing Dance Academy.

As the director of the dance work, Xu helped Hua to contact Khan, inviting him to choreograph for Hua.

Hua flew to Moscow in July to meet Khan, when he performed his piece, Until the Lions there.

"I was thrilled that he agreed to choreograph for me after watching the videos of my dancing," says Hua, who traveled to London to meet Khan again to do a rehearsal.

Born in Dalian, in Liaoning province, Hua was introduced to Chinese classical dance by her parents, both dance lovers.

In 2004, she came to Beijing to study at the affiliated school of the Beijing Dance Academy and later study Chinese classical dance at the Beijing Dance Academy.

She is a two-time winner of the Tao Li Cup, the top dance honor for young Chinese professional dancers, in 2009 and 2012.

Now, Hua is a member of the dance troupe of the Beijing Dance Academy.

"It's not easy to change my dance language from Chinese classical dance to contemporary dance. I don't want to give up my past experience with Chinese classical dance. I want to combine these two forms of dancing," says Hua.

chennan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-28 07:24:45
<![CDATA[The South African who is almost Shanghainese]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814810.htm Editor's note: The Honorable Citizen of Shanghai Award is the highest tier in the Magnolia Awards which are presented to foreigners who have made significant contributions to the city's development. Named after the city's flower, the Shanghai Magnolia Awards have been given out annually since 1989 and is among the highest honors a foreigner can receive in the city.

After living in Shanghai for 21 years, David Preston can now consider himself to be more of a Shanghainese than an expatriate.

On Sept 30, the South African was conferred the Honorable Citizen of Shanghai Award, the highest tier in the prestigious Magnolia Award that the local government can present to foreigners in recognition of their contributions to the city's social and economic development.

 

David Preston, chairman and chief executive officer of Boehringer Ingelheim in China. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

The Magnolia Awards have been presented annually since 1989. There are three categories: Magnolia Silver, Magnolia Gold and Honorable Citizen of Shanghai.

Preston, who is the chairman and chief executive officer of Boehringer Ingelheim in China, had previously won the Silver and Gold awards in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Like many expatriates, Preston came to China for business. He ended up falling in love with a Chinese woman and starting a family with her. The couple have two daughters, Caitlin, 6, and Charlotte, 2.

Before taking the helm of Boehringer Ingelheim's China operations in 2009, Preston worked for Xian-Janssen, the US-headquartered pharmaceutical maker's China joint venture, and French-based Sanofi-Aventis.

He lived in Xi'an, Shaanxi province and Beijing before settling down in Shanghai in 1996 when Sanofi allowed him to choose a city to set up its China office. Preston said he chose Shanghai largely because of the city's pool of quality local talent that comprised many returnees who studied overseas.

Born to two English parents in Cape Town in South Africa, Preston said he had always desired to be in an industry where he could work in foreign countries and be exposed to different cultures. After graduating with a degree in business and commerce, he joined the pharmaceutical industry as he believed it would provide him with the opportunity to see the world.

Preston was right. He was posted to Belgium not long after he started his career and worked in that country till 1992 when an opportunity in China came up.

"China was opening-up and I thought that it would become extremely open one day. I knew it was the right time to go to China," he recalled.

More than two decades later, Preston said that he is still intrigued at how his adopted country is still in its "golden phase".

"You always feel that there's something new and exciting that's happening. And when it happens, it is so quick," said Preston, snapping his fingers as he cited examples of innovation such as Mobike, the world's first dockless and cash-free bike sharing platform.

"I don't know if there was ever a time in this country when I thought: 'Okay, it's slow enough for me. I need to go find another country where I could perhaps get that same feeling of exhilaration, that same feeling of satisfaction,'" he added.

Preston first lived in Shanghai in 1993, following his stint in Xi'an that lasted a few months. Being an adventurous person, he ventured beyond the restaurants in the Hilton Hotel on Huashan Road where he stayed and would explore the local dining scene.

He even had lunch with a local family in a tiny apartment.

"We would go there at lunchtime and sit on the bed," he chuckled. "But it was charming."

He also remembers how the Pudong area then was in its initial phase of development.

"People said Pudong was a big rice field. That was a lie," he said, while referring to a photo he took in 1993 that shows a half-completed Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower from across the Bund.

As head of Boehringer Ingelheim China, Preston has managed the company's rapid expansion through projects including a biotech manufacturing and production facility in Pudong and an animal vaccine plant in Taizhou, Jiangsu province. As one of the leading projects in the city's innovation drive, the biotech manufacturing facility is aiming to become the first global provider of biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing solutions in China.

Preston is very proud of the project, which represented an investment of at least 100 million euros when it was launched in 2013. He pointed out that there was no regulatory pathway to guarantee that the plant would receive a license after being constructed during that time. Nevertheless, he managed to convince the company's headquarters in Germany to go ahead with the project because he "had faith in the Chinese government".

"That faith in government has stood me in a good place for many years," Preston said, adding that mutual commitment is the key for multinationals to survive and thrive in China.

When asked about his retirement plans, the seasoned businessman said he hopes to become a mentor for Chinese startups, which he said is the best way he could give back to the local community. Preston added that he does not plan on ever leaving Shanghai, which he admits still captivates him till today.

"One thing that is charming about the city is although we have the high-rises and it's very modern, you can still walk downstairs and find something very local very quickly," he said.

Preston also has a piece of advice for foreigners who are new to the city: "Never see something as wrong or right, but rather different. Embrace the Shanghainese of this city instead of being against them. As a foreigner, you have to fit in. You have to be part of it."

linshujuan@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-28 07:24:25
<![CDATA[Taking over the reins and stepping into his father's shoes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814809.htm To Larry Chan, his father Carlos has always been a doting figure, a successful businessman and a generous philanthropist that he and his five siblings have always tried to emulate.

Carlos introduced Liwayway, the family's snack business in the Philippines, to China in 1993, setting up two joint ventures in Shanghai and creating the brand Shanghaojia, a Chinese equivalent of its already successful Oishi back in the Philippines. Over the span of a decade, the brand grew to become one of the most popular in the market.

In 2005, Carlos was conferred the Honorable Citizen of Shanghai Award for his outstanding contributions to the city's development. The event was a major affair for the family. After all, Carlos was the first Filipino to receive the accolade.

Following the award ceremony, Chan's mother told him matter-of-factly that he should also attempt to bring home another award for family.

To Chan, that was simply too tall a task. "That's not possible," was his reply.

On Sept 30, Chan was made to eat those words as he became one of the two foreign residents in Shanghai to receive the award. Since its launch in 1989, the Honorable Citizen of Shanghai Award has only been given to 43 expatriates.

A father's foresight

Like his father, Chan has been a longtime resident of Shanghai. He first started helping with the family business in China in 1996. By early next year, the 44-year-old would have spent more time in Shanghai than in his home country.

"Shanghai is my second home," said Chan, who is presently the president and chief executive officer of Liwayway, China.

In 1975, the Chan family started producing prawn crackers using Japanese technology and hence chose the Japanese term "Oishi", which means "delicious", as the brand name. When it came to expanding the business, Carlos had his eyes set on Shanghai.

"My father was very interested in Shanghai because he frequently watched Chinese movies during his growing-up years. Those movies were mostly made in Shanghai," said Chan.

"He always told us that Shanghai would one day be glorious again. I still remember him telling me that I would be going to Shanghai after my graduation."

Chan said that his father had as early as 1984 started planning for an expansion project in China. Shanghai was one of the cities he visited the most. In 1993, when China opened the gates to foreign investment, the company wasted no time in making its entry.

The first step in the expansion was establishing joint ventures with two State-owned Shanghai food processing plants as this allowed the company to hit the ground running.

By 1996, Oishi was declared a "Shanghai famous brand". Over the past two decades, the company has never lost its spot among the top five snack food brands in China.

Recipe for success

As head of the company's China operation, Chan said he admires his father's decision to brand Oishi as a local product from the very beginning.

Chan recalled that Carlos came up with the term Shanghaojia, the Chinese brand name for Oishi, because it encapsulates several meanings. In the Hokkien dialect, the term means "very delicious". In Chinese, the term could mean "supremely good" or even "Shanghai is a good home".

Chan added that this localization approach was pivotal in the company's expansion in China as Shanghai has always had a reputation for being a place that produced innovative goods of high quality.

"Shanghai itself is a brand. If people know it was made in Shanghai, there is already a level of trust," said the Filipino.

Chan noted that the company's main challenge today is to maintain its reputation as one of the top brands in the world's most competitive market. To achieve this, the company has been channeling its focus on innovation. Liwayway's factory in Shanghai's suburban Qingpu district also serves as the company's research and development center. Chan revealed that the brand will be introducing new products by the end of this year.

Paying it forward

To Chan, securing a bright future for the company is important not because it boosts profits but because it also allows the company to contribute more to society, either as a tax payer, a good employer or as a generous donor.

This philosophy of giving back to society, said Chan, is one that successful ethnic Chinese in the Philippines take pride in. Carlos has been donating fire engines, ambulances and school buildings back in his home country.

"We derive our meaning to life mostly from how much one can contribute to the society," explained Chan.

Li Peiming, the executive vice-president of Liwayway China - he used to work for one of the two State-owned food plants the company partnered with - recalled that many of the Chinese workers were anxious about job security when the joint ventures took place.

According to Li, it was the Chan family's modesty and compassion that eventually won their trust and loyalty.

In fact, Liwayway even became one of the most sought-after employers in the market. Over the past decade, the company has employed hundreds of workers who were laid-off due to the restructuring of State-owned enterprises.

Li pointed out that the Chans have also been very generous when it comes to donations to disaster relief and education initiatives in China.

In 2007, Oishi became the main sponsor of the first Special Olympics in Shanghai. The following year, Carlos donated 12 million yuan ($1.82 million) from his own pocket to help with relief efforts for the Wenchuan earthquake.

"I think the honor of winning the Magnolia Award has encouraged my father to become more active in social causes," said Chan, adding that his father has set an example for him to follow.

Just as his mother expected him to follow in his father's footsteps, Chan has similar expectations for his two teenage children in terms of taking over the family business and maintaining the tradition of giving back to the community.

Using himself as an example, Chan believes his children would not decline taking over the reins.

"Anyway, food is not a very difficult industry to be interested in," he smiled.

]]>
2017-10-28 07:24:25
<![CDATA[Q & A: 2017 'Honorable citizen' recipients]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814808.htm What do you feel is China's biggest achievement in the past five years? What's the most notable change you've observed?

David Preston: I think it is not one or two things, there are a number of really big achievements. It's the transformation of the economy, from the sort of supplier based industrial type of economy to a more innovative economy. I think this is one of the big changes.

I would also like to say that, especially against the light of our industry, being in the human pharma industry and animal health industry, there's been a significant upgrade and improvement on regulatory, environment, safety and guidelines on food and environmental standards. We can see that the water we drink is much better than before; the food we eat is safer than before; we can see the greening of the city, the focus on polluting industries, the reduction of pollution in the country has been dramatically addressed by the Party in all cities in China.

Larry Chan: The biggest achievement has mainly been in the quality of the lives of its citizens. The country now has one of the most advanced transportation and technology infrastructures. The service sector has provided so much convenience not available in most parts of the world. The social media landscape is strong and vibrant. Being in the food industry, we have noticed significant changes in the retail sector and how people have clearly moved from supporting daily needs toward desiring better experiences.

Which three words would you use to describe China today?

Preston: Stable, transforming and exciting.

Chan: Resilient, progressive, challenging

What's the biggest challenge China faces and how do you feel the country can go about overcoming it?

Preston: I think the biggest challenge is continue to grow. It's a big population. It needs to continue to grow like at the moment, 6 or 7 percent, to be able to drive the country. Again, the challenge is of course the speed of the transformation from the old State-owned enterprises into more modern State-owned enterprises, but also the development of robust high value private enterprises. It's a challenge. The other challenges we will face are on food, environmental and pollution issues. China is certainly very fixed on doing this and I feel happy that all the issues that need to be addressed are being dealt with currently.

Chan: Food security because as more and more of her citizens prosper, they consume more and desire better things in life. It is both a quality and supply challenge. I think this will require farmers to get a bigger share of the value in the supply chain, supported by a government managed farmer credit-rating system to ensure overall quality and compliance in the agricultural industry. It is critical that responsible farmers are aptly rewarded and that farming becomes a meaningful craft.

What's your most unforgettable experience or moment you've had in China? Or related to China?

Preston: Of course it's the birth of my two kids, who were born in China, enjoying the Chinese passport, Shanghai Hukou, and being Chinese citizens. I think these are two moments. The last one is really receiving the silver and gold Magnolia Awards in the past years and the 2017 Honorary Citizen of Shanghai Award.

Chan: My most unforgettable moment in China is when I saw my grandmother, who is a first-generation Chinese born in China and moved to the Philippines when she was very young, first visited Shanghai in 1996, already on her wheelchair, and was truly touched by the experience of seeing her grandchildren settling in the country where she was born. I could truly feel how proud she was.

]]>
2017-10-28 07:24:25
<![CDATA[Fine dining with new look, taste and feel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814785.htm It's out with the white linen as a Beijing restaurant looks to include a touch of Zen at the table

When it comes to fine dining in Beijing, white tablecloths are often the calling card. Think of those traditional, formal French and Italian restaurants in five-star hotels in which the cuisine on offer is classic European fare. You can't really complain about that, even if sometimes it can seem a little humdrum.

Katie Li, a Chinese Australian restaurateur, reckons fine dining in Beijing is developing very slowly, particularly when compared with what is happening in Shanghai, and lags far behind Western countries.

"White tablecloths? That really is old hat," says Li, owner of the Tiago restaurant group, reflecting on a recent gourmet trip she made visiting some of the top fine dining restaurants in the world.

"Most of the tables were bare. In fine dining the trend is for fewer formalities and frills but more novelties and innovations."

Li is striving to have a role in redefining fine dining with the group's newly established restaurant that has been having a soft opening in COFCO Plaza in Jianguomen.

In Beijing, restaurants are still trying to produce so-called authentic Western food, but in the West more and more fine dining establishments have evolved into an eclectic blend of cuisines with an oriental twist, be it Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese, Li says.

For her new restaurant, Combal by Tiago, Li says she wants to incorporate oriental cultural elements that are "decorous, mysterious and elegant" into fine dining.

At Combal, what you eat is European, yet what you feel is a Zen-style dining environment, with a decor that exudes oriental charm.

Tea is "a good representation of Chinese culture", Li says, and that is manifested in a decorative wall of shelves filled with various kinds of tea barrels, in the tea-infused cocktails on the menu - each name being a single Chinese character taken from archaic Chinese drinking terminology - and in the tableware with sauces presented in beautiful teacups and desserts coming in antique-furniture drawers.

The welcome snacks are presented on a plate mounted with pebbles, simulating a Chinese pond. The dish as a whole is like a miniature tranquil Chinese garden with garnishes with all the appearance of rockery and leaves.

"A city like Beijing has such a profound culture heritage, and we ought to have integrated more of our cultural elements into fine dining," Li says.

At Combal by Tiago, an innovative approach has been taken with each dish, some bold and some with a nuanced twist, but overall there has been a solid attempt to break away from old-style conventional fine dining.

The restaurant's name, Combal, a whimsical concoction evoking the idea of combining things, perfectly reflects the establishment's ethos, Li says.

As a stomach warmer there is a dish whose offbeat name tells you that you are about to be served something very unusual: egg in eggs. It is presented in a transparent tea bowl with a lid.

The style has echoes of the Japanese hot appetizer chawan-mushi (egg custard), but the contents are different: the base consists of scrambled Japanese eggs, then goes up to light potato sabayon, and then to whipped egg yolks, salmon roe and caviar on the surface. It is so soft that it is eaten with a spoon, and it is best to scoop out from the end to the surface. In one spoonful you will taste the different layers, mixing and melting on the tongue.

Then there is paccheri, a cylindrical pasta similar to rigatoni, but wider in diameter. Combal by Tiago may well be the only place in Beijing you can try this. It was a first for me, and it set me off yet again on a search for various types of pasta, in its many varied shapes and dimensions, and their names.

"Paccheri is very rare in Beijing," Li says. "It's made of whole wheat flour, and we import this dry paccheri from Italy."

The wide and thick hollow pasta holds the heavy sauce well, in this case a fresh tomato sauce essential in Italian cooking that Combal executes admirably.

With the rich sauce that balances sweet and sour, the pasta is mildly chewy but does not stick to my teeth.

In another pasta dish, fried homemade taglioni with New Zealand scampi and lettuce sauce, there is a little more innovation. The salty-sweet, moist scampi flesh is wrapped in long, flat ribbons of pasta that are deep fried. As I bite it, the flaky texture reminds me of the deep-fried rhombus-shaped flour crust my mother used to make when I was a girl.

For a meat dish at a fine dining place, beef should top the list. In Combal's version, tough cuts of Australian black Angus filet come on a cast iron mini-grill. The fired herbs - thyme and rosemary - underneath give a smoky and piney taste to the filet, which is already superbly cooked sous-vide. This is served on a petite cast iron grill whose exterior is inscribed with Japanese script - but it is what sits on top of the grill that is worthy of the loudest fanfare: meat wrapped in a shell made of breadcrumbs and chamomile, crispy and crunchy outside, and pink and juicy on the inside.

Sometimes a simple garnish can give a dish that extra something, as does the next meat dish by Combal, a cassia bark that sits directly on the side of the plate doing the work. Once extinguished, aromatics and flame from the flaring cinnamon bark suffuse the foie gras, pigeon leg and breast, enjoyed in an ambience not unlike that of carnivores around a campfire after hunting in the jungle.

One shortcoming is that the so-called spicy pigeon breast seems to have been marinated for much too short a time, at the cost of a lot of flavor. But for a restaurant that strives to innovate and dares to be different, and is still in its soft opening, these kinds of drawbacks give it the opportunity to learn and grow.

Combal is akin to a new adventurous gourmet playground for the Tiago restaurant group.

"Fine dining is about an experience, something new, and something you will not forget," Li says.

In the past three years the Tiago group has opened five outlets under four brands: Tiago Home Kitchen, a causal family-style Italian restaurant; Casa Talia by Tiago featuring Spanish cuisine, Tiago Select focusing on Mediterranean cuisine, and Combal by Tiago, a fine-dining Italian restaurant.

Li says a steakhouse brand that is part of the Tiago family will make its debut next year, focusing on a niche market of steaks at a medium price.

"We see expensive steakhouses at five-star hotels, and we see casual butcher shops with grill chefs on duty, but there should be something young and vibrant in between."

dongfanyu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

From top: Australian beef filet aromatized with fired herbs; fried homemade taglioni with scampi and lettuce sauce; egg in eggs, presented in a transparent tea bowl; Petit Fours, a combination of four-flavor desserts. Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-10-28 07:23:41
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814784.htm

Steaks, wine and plenty of fresh color

A noted steakhouse in Beijing, CRU, has reopened after renovations. It first opened about 10 years ago. Diners can enjoy steaks in an updated environment - crisp and contemporary, featuring rich, warm colors reflecting those used in the cooking: wine red candles and brightly colored chairs. A wooden wine wall is used to store fine wines in a semiprivate room.

The restaurant features Australian wagyu beef, and in this establishment 270 C is regarded as the perfect temperature for cooking it. Apart from steak, classic dishes such as Iberico ham with arugula, pan-fried foie gras, CRU crabcakecake, pan-seared Japanese scallops and Boston lobster, and the acclaimed CRU laska dessert, are available.

CRU Steakhouse, Grand Level, JW Marriott Hotel Beijing; 010-5908-8530. Dinner served 6 pm to 10 pm only.

Sushi and sashimi provide a signature

The Japanese restaurant Sushi Yotsuba has opened a branch in Zhongguancun, Beijing, aiming to make up for what is said to be the lack of high-end Japanese cuisine in Beijing's west. Over the past 13 years Sushi Yotsuba has opened three branches in Beijing, at the Lufthansa Center In Liangmaqiao, Sanlitun and Lido. The first, at the Lufthansa Center, opened in 2004 and impressed Beijing foodies with its authenticity, professional service and fresh ingredients, some acclaiming it to be a pioneer among Japanese restaurants.

Hand-rolled sushi and sashimi are Yotsuba's signature dishes. Most of the sashimi is imported from the country of origin, such as blue fin tuna from Nagasaki, reputed to serve the best bluefin tuna in Japan. There are more than 20 types of fresh fish and other seafood on Yotsuba's menu, making it the one of the top choices for variety in Japanese dining in Beijing. Sushi Yotsuba (Zhongguancun), 103, tower A, Raycom Infotech Plaza, 2 Kexue South Road, Haidian district, Beijing; 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5:30 pm to 10 pm; 010-6256-4330.

Cocktail masters do their thing

Yuki Zhu, head mixologist of China Bar at the Park Hyatt Beijing, has had eminent bartenders who have won awards in the Chivas Masters, a world-class cocktail making competition, making cocktails in style for guests over the past few weeks. Those invited were Lisan Li of Yan Whiskey Bar; Kevin Song, formerly of D-Lounge; Zoe Zheng of Mokihi; and Jerry Chao of Ala House. They have prepared a number of special cocktails for China Bar, blending their passion and thoughts in cocktails.

The last of these evenings will be held on Nov 1, with Jerry Chao doing the mixing. China Bar, level 65, Park Hyatt Beijing, 2 Jianguomenwai Street, Chaoyang district, 5:30 pm to 1 am. 010-8567-1268.

Buffet brunch served - with all the horrors imaginable

An all-day dining restaurant at East, Beijing, on Oct 29 will serve a Halloween inspired buffet brunch with Halloween themed desserts, such as finger biscuits, ghost cupcakes, brain cakes. Guests are encouraged to come dressed for the occasion wearing their spookiest outfits for a chance to win prizes. Just in case the Halloween decor and special Halloween pastries are not frightening enough, all children coming to the brunch can get free tickets to the haunted house that will occupy the Xian bar on the first floor of East. The little ones will be able to enjoy various treats. Makeup artists will be on site to provide face painting.

Brunch available from 11.30 am to 3 pm, 428 yuan per person; 010-8414-9820. The haunted house will be open from 12 pm to 5 pm; 98 yuan per child; 010-8414-9810; East, 22 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang district.

 

]]>
2017-10-28 07:23:41
<![CDATA[In search of the elusive snow leopard]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814779.htm Those who want to see one of China's rarest animals face a journey that can be terrifying in parts

I finally woke up when my head bumped against the window of the car as it jolted down the rough mountain road. Behind us, the driver of the Toyota Land-Cruiser was hooting and shouting: "The rear tire! The rear tire!" Our driver brought the car to a slow halt on a flat section of the road.

We were on the only path leading deep into the mountains of what is regarded as the home of snow leopards, Niandu Village, in Angsai town, a remote place in Qinghai province among the wild mountains and rivers of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Our destination, where we hoped to see wild animals such as white-lipped deer, was still about 80 kilometers away.

The driver and the other three passengers of the car jumped out to see what had happened. The right rear tire was punctured. On such occasions I am next to useless, and my phone was picking up no signal, so I decided to take a short stroll in my thick down jacket and ski pants while the flat tire was being replaced.

 

Zhaqu River, in the upper reaches of the Lancang River in Niandu village, Angsai town, in the Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai province. Yang Yang / China Daily

 
We were on the fifth day of a 10-day trip to the Three-River-Source National Park, the first of its kind in China. Approved by the government in 2015, China's national park system aims first and foremost to preserve regions with ecosystems and natural heritage unique to China. Under the national park system, mountains, rivers, woods, fields and lakes are managed by a single department instead of five different departments. The national park, in addition to being charged with preservation, will be open to scientific research, education and moderately developed tourism.

The Three-River-Source National Park, as the name indicates, contains the sources of three big rivers, the Yangtze River, the longest river in China, the Yellow River, the second longest river in China, and the Lancang River that runs into Vietnam, the Mekong River.

The park, covering 123,100 square kilometers, about the size of Greece, is home to not only mountains, rivers and unique plants and wild animals, but also aboriginal people. More than 60,000 people in 16,000 households in 53 villages that belong to 12 towns live mainly on the husbandry. There are 2,400 households that live in poverty.

As a result, preserving the natural environment is just a part of the work of national park authorities. How to improve the lives of those within the park and have them join in the preservation of the national environment is also important for the system so humans can live harmoniously with wild animals.

Niandu Village, near where we had our puncture, is one of the 53 villages in the national park.

We were at about 4,000 meters above sea level. Although I could not move fast, I felt much better than two days earlier, when we ascended from Xining, at 2,300m to the Yellow River-Source region of Maduo county 4,300m where I had spent a sleepless night, suffering from a bad headache caused by oxygen deprivation.

We were now in an open valley. The Zhaqu River, an important upper branch of the Lancang, wound through the mountains afar. There were few trees other than cypresses in sight. Grass carpets that had turned yellow in late September extended onto the low mild slopes of the mountains. It was a splendid view.

Before long, chunks of dark cloud pressed down above us and it started to rain. A gust of wind blew, the air become more chilly and it rained more heavily. Luckily we got to the car in time. As we jumped into it, and before I could roll down the window thunder boomed and hailstones blasted the car, hitting the roof like bullets.

For me, this sudden change of weather was exhilarating. The hail soon stopped but the rain continued. A mountain road that at first had been merely difficult soon became dangerously muddy. The Land Cruiser drivers cautiously eased their vehicles down the continuous 60-degree grade roads punctuated by hairpin bends.

Sometimes the road was so narrow that the cars barely missed scraping the mountainside. At other times it was as if we were floating high in the air above the swiftly flowing yellow water of the Zhaqu River. Stones and rocks that tumbled down the mountains scattered over the road. The view was amazing, but I was so terrified that several times at the local holy mountain on whose top sat a naturally formed Buddha statue I prayed that we would not die, either by plunging over a cliff, or being crushed by falling boulders.

In fact we had entered the mountains the day before, but we arrived too late. Halfway in we came across the remains of a half-eaten domestic yak beside the road, which one of our party reckoned had fallen prey to a snow leopard. Some members of the team had gone deeper into the mountains and told of seeing white-lipped deer and foxes, so we were here again to try our luck.

Angsai town, with its well-preserved natural environment, is home to many wild animals, such as leopards, brown bears, white-lipped deer, blue sheep, argali, white-eared pheasants and the most famous of them all, the snow leopard.

But before Angsai was designated a pilot town in China's national park system in June last year,

nobody knew how many kinds of wild animals, especially big carnivores, lived in the area.

By late September 42 herders had been trained to place 50 camera traps in 1,250 sq km of wilderness and retrieve them every three months. At the end of this year more than 50 camera traps will have been deployed in another 1,250 sq km to capture animal images for research purposes or publicity.

"The cameras will activate when they sense the temperature of an approaching animal," said Li Yuhan, 23, an undergraduate of Peking University, who was in charge of the orange station of an NGO, Shanshui Conservation Center.

"Our station consists of a makeshift building made of containers that can be dismantled and moved away any time."

She showed us around the building not far from the Zhaqu River, which could house up to 12 people. There was solar power for basic electricity needs, but it was out of signal range for phones.

"We regularly train the locals how to install a camera so it can't be moved by wind or animals," she said, adding that "they know the places those animals frequent".

Since the station opened in July it has housed 10 PhD candidates researching topics such as snow leopards, stray dogs and the holy mountains.

"We expected more researchers and volunteers to join us," she said.

Last year a camera trap captured the images of seven different animals: a leopard, a brown bear, a white-lipped deer, a lynx, a red fox, a snow leopard, and a white-eared pheasant. Other cameras captured the images of wolves, otters, blue sheep and argali.

"This was a principal result of our monitoring last year," said the head of Angsai town, pointing to framed photos on the wall of his office.

"Over the past dozen years these photos have proven the existence of leopards in Three-River-Source regions for the first time, and they share habitats with snow leopards. They also show that the Lancang River-Source region is one of the areas in China rich in top carnivores whose habitats overlap."

Thus far they had found traces of 24 snow leopards and seven leopards in the area. They had also captured the images of two mating snow leopards.

However, as the natural environment has improved, the number of wild animals increased, and they are often fall victim to predators.

In 2015, predatory attacks caused the 1,930 households in Angsai town to lose 4.6 yaks each on average, the biggest loss for a household being 28 yaks, the local government says.

"It was a big loss," Tashi Dondrub said. "To encourage people to better protect wild animals, we funded an insurance program to compensate losses. People can invest three yuan for each yak and get up to 1,500 yuan for a yak that is attacked," said Tashi Dondrub.

From January to August those who suffered as a result of 154 yak attacks received compensation. In addition to compensation, locals benefit from the operation of national park in other ways.

Halfway to Shanshui station the previous day, we came cross a herdsman, Dongsheng, 28. In camouflage uniform, wearing a red hat and a red armband, he sang a song in Tibetan that eulogized his beautiful homeland.

Coming from a poor five-people family, on motorcycle or in his car he patrols four mountains, looking out for the theft of plants, wild animals, picking up garbage and reporting on yak attacks. In fact the job entails looking after the ecosystem of the mountains in his charge.

Dongsheng, one of the 468 patrollers in Angsai town, all from poor families, is paid 1,800 yuan a month from national park funding. Patrollers on similar duty in the Yellow river-and the Yangtze River-Source regions are paid similarly.

Saying goodbye to Dongsheng, we continued to drive and pulled up beside a white tent, besides which were more than 60 black and white yaks, grazing quietly at dusk. They were with a nomadic family of four that would migrate to different grasslands in different seasons. The daughter and mother were at home.

The father, Yonta, is a patroller, and one of the 42 herdsmen who placed camera traps to record animal activities. The family is one of 15 official reception families in the town for people who want to experience life here and to observe animals and plants in the region.

"The services start from the airport," said the patroller's wife, Namsai Voimo, 46. "We pick up customers from there and take them to the places that wild animals frequent. We charge 1,500 yuan a day for a car and guide service, and 200 yuan each for board and lodging a day.

"In April we had four British people here who wanted to take photos of snow leopards, but one got severe altitude sickness, so they stayed for only two days and left."

When we finally reached our destination, the new tire suffered the same fate as the first one, and we spent some time waiting for another spare to be delivered from the town, 100 kilometers away. The only animals we saw were marmots and stray dogs.

I climbed up a hill slowly to find a fabulous view: on the right, yellow swift current carrying soil washed down by rainfall ran through the grand mountains. On the left, the naturally formed Buddha statue at the top of the holy mountain sat in a clear blue sky facing another mountain shrouded by thick dark cloud. Before long, sunshine shone through so that one side of the mountain appeared bright and warm, and the other dark and cold.

Because of the altitude and the cold I got hungry very easily, so I went down the hill to eat a bowl of Tibetan noodles in a warm, white tent. Besides it were two rows of smaller tents in many different colors. The owner, a middle-aged mother of a 8-year-old girl, said it was the end of the tourist season here. In July and August the place was crowded with jolly visitors from outside, she said. The girl shyly handed me two candies. The musician Sonam Dargye played a Tibetan song on Mandolin for us.

Outside, it was nightfall and our return journey in the darkness on a dangerous road would take many hours, during which we might well pass hunting leopards hiding beside the road. Before I rushed back to the car, the owner said: "Come next year, we will take you to a wonderful place to see the animals."

Yet locals, who venerate nature, are not exactly keen on a tourist influx even if it benefits them financially, because they believe it will disturb the lives of wild animals, Tashi Dondrub said.

"They oppose the idea, saying the animals they used to see along the roads will not show up anymore."

Under development plans, 2 percent of the Three-River-Source National Park would be preserved for wildlife, and these areas would be off limits to the public.

yangyang@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-10-28 07:23:23
<![CDATA[Cool And Friendly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814751.htm Italian luxury brand Bulgari offers an emotional experience in China's capital, Chen Jie reports.

In the early 1980s, when young Italian backpacker Jean-Christophe Babin and his girlfriend toured Shanghai, they stayed at the YMCA near the Waibaidu Bridge. But they were separated into dormitories exclusively for men and women.

Now, Babin, the CEO of Bulgari, is sitting at the bar of the Bulgari Hotel Beijing, looking over the garden outside the floor-to-ceiling windows along the Liangma River and talking about the "funny thing" regarding his first travel experience in China more than 30 years ago.

"China has undergone dramatic changes in many ways. Hospitality is just one of them," he said.

Bulgari, the renowned Italian jewelry and watch brand, expanded its luxury business in hotels and resorts from Milan in 2004, then Bali in 2006 and London in 2012. On Sept 27, it opened its fourth hotel in Beijing.

Like its previous three properties, the Bulgari Hotel Beijing doesn't only provide an authentic Italian lifestyle through its architecture, services and the way of hospitality, but also has something unique related to the location.

Designed by architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel, the hotel rises along the Liangma River, within sculpted gardens surrounded by pines that balance art and nature.

One unique big pine standing in front of the property has become the hotel's logo.

"Beijing is usually associated with buildings, but this place merges into greenert, with the river and well-designed landscapes," Babin said. "All these trees are over 20 years old. We spent great effort selecting and moving them from the mountains and replanting them here."

"China has deep respect for nature. I think this is a way to capture Chinese culture.

"We have only 119 rooms, not that many, but each is spacious and has a warm, cheerful spirit. Usually hotels seem formal, but Bulgari hotels are cool and friendly," he added.

The location, about 30 minutes from Tian'anmen Square and 20 minutes from Beijing Capital International Airport, is a convenient choice for many visitors.

Bulgari also commissioned Chinese artist Yang Peiming to paint a portrait of its founder, Sotirio Bulgari (1857-1932). The portrait is hanging on the wall of the lobby to greet the visitors.

"We love Yang's style. It is a nice way to introduce our founder through the eyes of a contemporary Chinese artist. We shared with him several pictures," Babin said.

Founded in 1884 in Rome, Bulgari's product lines include jewelry, watches, perfume and accessories. The hotel division is their smallest and youngest business.

"When we sought to figure out some 15 years ago how the luxury brands would develop in the future, we thought it might not only be possessing a timeless masterpiece jewelry or watches. The clients would more and more look for emotions, for memories, for experiences. So we thought that hospitality probably would be an emotional place to go," Babin said.

He said the hotel business now contributes less than 10 percent to the group's revenue, but has great potential and is developing very fast.

Following Beijing, new Bulgari hotels will open in Dubai in December, Shanghai in January 2018 and Moscow in 2019.

Babin hopes the brand's name will help to attract more visitors to their hotels and resorts.

Bulgari is one of the most desirable luxury brands in China, known for its craftsmanship and design, and especially its jewelry and watches.

China is one of the top three countries worldwide for the brand.

"Chinese customers are very demanding. They are also quite informal, breaking your rules that (with) luxury - especially jewelry - everything tends to be very formal, the store is very formal, the staff and the clients are all formal," he said. "Chinese are bringing a freshness into the industry. They are sophisticated, respectful, but younger and pretty casual.

"Chinese people access wealth at an earlier age than in the West. It is forcing the industry to evolve."

Contact the writer at chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The Bulgari Hotel Beijing merges into sculpted gardens and pine trees along the Liangma River.Photos Provided To China Daily

 

]]>
2017-10-28 06:58:24
<![CDATA[Four Seasons delivers fine dining, with art on the side]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814750.htm Ham and beer may be common items on many Chinese menus, but what about ham and floriculture? Ham and oil painting? Ham and Affogato?

That's just the sort of combination recently offered at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing, which elevated mealtime to a fine art during its "The Taste of Artistry" event held Oct 19 to 22 in Beijing, bringing its guests a series of exclusive experiences.

Gathering top chefs, artists, mixologists and designers to explore the intersection of Italian food and culture, the event presented guests with a visible and edible feast.

Two award-winning Italian culinary chefs, Aniello Turco and Marco Veneruso, brought their customers a four-hands dinner menu, which involved aperol spritz, foie gras, figs and bread and ravioli of oxtail with roots consomme.

Based on their cumulative experience in world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, they created a Molto Italiano dinner menu of modern Italian fare, hoping to satiate the most discerning palates.

Besides the Molto Italiano, they also served simple and flavorful Milan street eats made from both Italian and locally sourced ingredients. Their guests were able to choose from various free-flow drinks including wine, beer and Italian sparkling wine.

The chefs "came from the same city in Italy, but they have very different styles on how they represent the cuisine," said Andrew De Brito, general manager of the hotel, adding that the menu is a sort of east-meet-west offering, though the soul is still very Italian.

Cui Fenghua, a resident artist, painted a profile of the guests at the scene. Upon the fiery red canvas, she outlined the picture of men and woman in black.

She also brought along her photo-paintings, which were based on photos taken on Italian streets.

"When I was wandering in Italy, its history, art and culture burst into my eyes. Walking on the ancient streets was just like traveling back in time to several centuries ago. I cannot wait to express my feelings through my pen," Cui said.

Added De Brito: "The pace of modern people's daily life is really fast. We tried to catch up with what's happening. We forget this moment because we are thinking about tomorrow."

The idea of this event is to deliver a lifestyle - people are living in the moment and they should enjoy every experience right now and connect with the people beside them.

"As for the guests who came today, I don't want them to say how good the food was. I would rather them saying this is the experience I would remember for a long, long time," De Brito said.

liyou@chinadaily.com.cn

 

]]>
2017-10-28 06:58:24
<![CDATA[AccorHotels adapts new growth strategy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814749.htm With an explosive number of high-end hotels opening in China, the country's luxury hospitality market is approaching saturation, increasing the competition between famous brands.

Despite this, Accor executives forecast that medium-priced and upscale hotel chains will continue to grow rapidly during the next few years due to the growth of the middle income group.

AccorHotels, the sixth-largest hotel group in the world by number of rooms, is adapting its strategy to satisfy the demands of its customers.

"Based on the new economy of China, which is transforming from an export-led economy to a consumer-led economy, we'll see more demand for midscale and upscale hotels in the next decade," said Michel Molliet, chief operating officer of Greater China at AccorHotels.

To accelerate the development of its midscale and upscale hotels and strengthen awareness of the Accor brand in the country, AccorHotels has signed a strategic alliance with Huazhu Hotels Group, which owns and operates more than 3,000 lodgings across China including HanTing Hotel.

There are 50 to 60 hotels under the Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure and ibis brand names scheduled to open in China this year as part of the partnership with Huazhu.

An additional 90 hotels are under development for other Accor brands. Moreover, there are more than 200 new hotels being discussed.

An increasing number of boutique and lifestyle hotels will also emerge in the next few years to meet the demand of millennials, Molliet said.

"The new generation is growing up. They want to have something different from traditional hotels, so the boutique hotels with fashion designs will satisfy their need.

"But it's too early to say if that is a trend coming."

With hundreds of hotels planned for rollout in China, Michael Issenberg, chairman and chief executive of AccorHotels Asia-Pacific, noted that the country is the most important market for the Accor group currently and is the driving force behind the current growth in tourism across the Asia-Pacific region.

"Asia-Pacific currently makes up 27 percent of AccorHotels' global network, and 48 percent of the pipeline, so this region is definitely leading the way forward for the group," Issenberg said. "China is now the most important outbound market in the world."

Molliet said the competition is fierce since all the international brands are aggressively opening new hotels in China, but instead of focusing on offering a better price, Accor is primarily attempting to impress with a high level of professionalism.

Another part of the expansion strategy for Accor is its aggressive merger and acquisition plan. With almost one new acquisition or merger announced each month since 2016, the group is focused on improving and complementing its services.

Over the past two years, the group has acquired brands such as Raf es, Fairmont and Swissotel, and entered into new strategic partnerships with Rixos and Banyan Tress.

cherrylin@chinadailyhk.com

]]>
2017-10-28 06:58:24
<![CDATA[Poet in motion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/27/content_33772776.htm The studio of TAO Dance Theater is in Beijing's northeast suburbs. It is off the highway and takes a 10-minute drive across farmland to get to it.

]]>
A choreographer captures global attention with his radical presence on China's burgeoning contemporary dance scene. Chen Jie reports.

The studio of TAO Dance Theater is in Beijing's northeast suburbs. It is off the highway and takes a 10-minute drive across farmland to get to it.

The group's dancers who need a lot of space, but cannot afford the high rents in town, gather in a village called Hegezhuang.

The TAO Dance Theater uses a two-story house as its rehearsal facility.

Tao Ye, founder and choreographer of the group, lives in a house some 30 meters away.

Sporting a black T-shirt and black linen harem pants, the bespectacled Tao, 32, does not look like a typical dancer, let alone a choreographer who has captured global attention as a radical new presence on China's burgeoning contemporary dance scene.

Now, he is "struggling" to finalize his latest work 9, which will premiere at the National Center for the Performing Arts on Nov 3.

The TAO Dance Theater is performing a double bill - 8 and 9 until the next day.

Eight and nine refer to the number of dancers in each performance.

"It's difficult to create 9, because 9 is the biggest number in Chinese culture," says Tao.

"I've explored all possibilities and pushed the limits of human movement - from the works 2 to 8," he says.

Tao says his original idea was not to educate or tell a story. "I wished to make the dance a way to invite you to join in. So no settings, fancy lights or costumes, jut body movements.

"My choreography is about the logic of movement and presents repetition through numbers," he says.

In this, you can see Tao's unique language, the repetition of the natural sequence of the body. Through repetition, the variations in movements are reduced and progress toward a state that is pure and minimal in form.

The awareness of the body has a special meaning for Tao, who started dancing because he had a super flexible body.

He spent most of his childhood with his grandmother as his parents were not in a happy marriage.

Then, one day, when he was 12 he saw a dance program on TV and imitated the dancer to do a split.

His grandmother was impressed as she had never seen a boy his age do this.

So she sent him to the local dance school in Chongqing in Southwest China.

There, he received training in Chinese dance and a bit of ballet.

Later, he joined the performance ensemble of Shanghai police.

But after the excitement of the first few months, Tao soon found that he was not very happy there.

This was until he visited the Jin Xing Dance Company in Shanghai.

"I remember the floor of the rehearsal room was covered with a white carpet. Dancers were lying there stretching their bodies. The sun was shining over them. This scene changed my idea about dance," he says.

"The training for classical dancing required me to jump high, to split, to make my body tense, to fight gravity. I did not know dancing could be so relaxing. You just listen to your body and follow your heart," he says.

Tao joined the Jin Xing Dance Company in 2003.

"I then realized that while earlier I had been required to dance as a job, now I had the motivation to dance, to enjoy it."

In 2005, he moved to Beijing where contemporary dance has more fans.

With the Beijing Modern Dance Company, his motivation and potential soon got full play. He even started to choreograph.

The Beijing Modern Dance Company hosts a festival every year. There, some foreign choreographers who loved Tao's work offered him a chance to travel abroad with them. But Tao declined the invitation.

Then, in March 2008, he and his girlfriend, now his wife Duan Ni, and another dancer Wang Hao, formed TAO Dance Theater.

They started with a performance for three dancers Weight x 3, which premiered in Beijing in September 2009. They made it into a DVD and sent it to some festivals.

His unique choreography soon attracted attention and drew invitations.

The Singapore Arts Festival, the Norrland Opera of Sweden and the Dansmakers Amsterdam of the Netherlands commissioned him to create 2, for Tao and Duan.

Then, he started to explore other numbers. And the young company soon became the most sought-after Chinese contemporary dance company world-wide.

So far it has toured more than 40 countries, and it was the first Chinese contemporary dance company to perform at the Lincoln Center Festival.

The United Kingdom's Sadler's Wells commissioned Tao three consecutive years to perform at the event.

Speaking about Tao, Lin Hwai-Min, founder and artistic director of Cloud Gate, the renowned Taiwan dance company, says: "He is the most promising contemporary dancer on the Chinese mainland. His works belong to the 21st century. They amaze and provoke deep reflection."

Sculptor Xiang Jing says: "In an era of entertainment where dance is losing its dignity and creativity, Tao's dances make us return to serious discussion, make us recognize and salute true creativity."

Cui Jian, China's godfather of rock 'n' roll compares Tao to "a devoted monk, a hardworking migrant worker, a rational philosopher and a sensitive 'madman'".

Contact the writer at chenjie@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-27 07:43:37
<![CDATA[To the bottom of the top of the world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/27/content_33772775.htm Golden Week in China is usually an affair I look forward to because the weeklong holiday allows me to take a lengthy trip away from the city to relax and recharge.

]]>

Trekkers at the Qomolangma base camp via Nepal. Photo By Alywin Chew / China Daily

The prospect of trekking for 11 days to Qomolangma base camp may seem daunting, but it is attainable for most with the right preparations. Alywin Chew reports from Shanghai.

Golden Week in China is usually an affair I look forward to because the weeklong holiday allows me to take a lengthy trip away from the city to relax and recharge.

But ahead of this vacation which involved trekking to the Qomolangma base camp via Nepal, I was filled with more apprehension than excitement. After all, people have lost their lives during this trek. In March, an Australian man died of acute mountain sickness, or altitude sickness, while descending from the base camp of Qomolangma (also known as Mount Everest in the West).

Two days before setting off, Bimal Thapa, our guide, gave us some words of advice.

"Just remember this is not a race. Take all the time you need, drink lots of water and you'll be fine," he says, while flashing us a reassuring smile during the pre-trek briefing in Thamel, a tourist hub in Kathmandu.

Pacing ourselves would be easy, I thought. But landing safely in the world's most dangerous airport was a different matter that was out of my hands.

The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, the gateway to the base camp trekking route, is widely associated with the terms "most dangerous", "scariest" and "deadliest". A cargo plane crashed while landing at the airport in May.

Day 1

While standing in queue at the airport in Kathmandu, I tried to empty my mind of the images of Lukla's short runway, the rickety propeller planes and the heavy fog that envelops the mountains around the airport.

To my relief, our Summit Air plane was a relatively new model and more spacious than those of other airliners that looked like flimsy tin cans. Take-off was smooth and the 30-minute flight was hardly harrowing. Landing was, surprisingly, even smoother. When the plane came to a complete stop on the tarmac, all the passengers clapped as if we had just avoided certain death.

We soon met our porter Purna who quickly bundled our duffel bags before strapping the load to his head. I shuddered at the thought of him snapping his neck during our trek - he was carrying slightly over 30 kilograms. My backpack, in comparison, weighed only 5 kg.

But there was really no need for a sea-level dweller like me to worry about a Nepalese porter who is well-accustomed to high altitudes - he actually reached our destination far ahead of us.

The first guesthouse we stayed at was located in the cosy enclave of Phakding. Though the travel agency stipulated in the itinerary that the trek would take about three hours, we completed the journey in just under two hours.

I told Thapa that we should have perhaps shortened the trip by covering more ground each day. He laughed.

"Tomorrow, my friend. Tomorrow will be the toughest day of the whole trip. Rest well now," he quips.

He wasn't joking.

Day 2

In addition to middle and long distance runs, my training for the trek also involved carrying a load of 15 kg up and down 40 flights of stairs twice a week for a month. As I found out, this still wasn't enough to prepare me for the arduous climb to Namche Bazaar which involved a nearly three-hour, non-stop ascent that had steep steps, slippery dirt surfaces and muddy trails that were shared with a horde of other trekkers.

We were knackered by the time we reached the checkpost on the outskirts of Namche Bazaar and as Thapa registered us with the officer on duty, we took time to stretch our sore legs and buy a snack from a shack that claims to be the highest Irish bar on Earth. A short walk later, we entered the town of colorful buildings where locals shuffled in and out of rustic pool parlors as yaks trudged up stone steps past children sitting outside their homes.

We were now at an altitude of 3,440 meters. But apart from my aching legs, I was free of headaches, a common symptom of AMS. I felt well enough to ask if I could have some local beer, but Thapa was adamant that we must not consume alcohol during the ascent. I decided not to push my luck.

Day 3-Day 7

Over the next three days, we ascended more than 1,000 meters through charming villages, beautiful forested areas and mist-covered switchbacks. While most parts of the route are not as steep as the climb from Phakding to Namche Bazaar, there are still challenging inclines that leave one utterly winded, especially at areas past 4,000 meters where the air is considerably thinner.

On Day 6, we reached Duhgla (4,600 meters) where the color of the landscape from here forth shifts from different hues of green to grey and white. But the scenery was no less gorgeous. We were now surrounded by majestic snowcapped mountains and clear blue skies. Swathes of the arid rocky terrain made me feel as if I was an astronaut walking on the moon.

The guesthouse we stayed in was threadbare. In fact, the room looked no different from a prison cell. It was extremely cold during the night and my wife, despite wearing four layers of clothing, had to tuck herself into a minus 20 C sleeping bag to stay warm. We were thankful for daybreak because it meant we could depart for the next destination, Lobuche (4,940 meters).

As we had lunch at our lodge in Lobuche, we heard the steady rumble of a helicopter's rotors as it approached a nearby landing zone.

"Goods delivery?" I asked Thapa.

"No. Helicopters that land here are almost always used to evacuate people who are suffering from altitude sickness," he replied.

"We're still feeling pretty good. I hope there won't be a need for us to get into one of those helicopters," I laughed.

The altitude medication seemed to be working well on us. Apart from mild headaches that quickly went away, we were feeling fine. I quietly hoped that no ailments would manifest themselves past 5,000 meters.

Day 8

At 7 am, we set off for Gorak Shep where we would leave our baggage and have a short break before making our way to the base camp. The path to Gorak Shep was relatively flat and should not have posed a problem, but halfway through this route, my body started sounding off the alarm bells.

Just before we ascended a steep, rocky formation, my stomach started churning, my head began to throb and I felt as if I was about to throw up. I wondered if I had jinxed myself with my previous declaration that the high altitude had yet to cause me problems. Even the spellbinding otherworldly landscape did not make things any better.

The symptoms worsened by the time we reached Gorak Shep. Doubt and fear started to fill my mind. I wondered if I was destined to fail after coming so close to the objective.

Determined to reach the base camp, I soldiered on after taking a concoction of medication. Focusing on my breathing rather than the niggling pain seemed to helped, too. Three hours later, we reached the camp site, which was crowded with trekkers from all over the world.

There was no extravagant display of jubilation, just hugs and highfives before we took photos with a stone etched with the words "Everest Base Camp 2017". Located 5,380 meters above sea level, it is in reality just a site filled with rocks and stones. One cannot even see the whole of Mount Everest from there.

But it's not the scenery that matters at this point - it's the feeling of accomplishment that resonates the most.

Day 9-Day 12

The next three days were spent descending back to Lukla. I found this phase of the trek to be even more exhausting than the ascent. After all, we were covering the same distance within four days instead of eight. I found consolation in the fact that Thapa agreed to let me relax with a can of beer when we returned to Namche Bazaar.

I still experienced butterflies in the stomach ahead of the return flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. Because of the short runway, pilots have no room for error. Failure to achieve take-off would mean plunging the plane thousands of meters into the valley below.

Again, my fatalistic thoughts were unfounded. We took off around 7 am without a hitch and landed safely in Kathmandu just in time to beat the morning rush hour traffic. Like clockwork, the porters rushed to unload the baggage as the pilots prepared to depart for Lukla again.

As someone who much prefers beer over dumbbells and a degustation menu over a workout routine, I must say that this trip wasn't as physically grueling as I thought it would be. Of course, physical conditioning ahead of the trek is essential.

So the fact that I, as well as the dozens of elderly travelers along the route, can complete the trek shows that it is very much achievable for most people.

Or in the words of our lovely guide Thapa: "The Everest base camp trek is really easy. You're just walking. No sweat."

"In fact, reaching the summit of Mount Everest is very easy too. You just need to be very fit. Oh, and you need a lot of money too," he says laughing.

Contact the writer at alywin@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-27 07:43:37
<![CDATA[Northern hilly areas in Pakistan thirsty for more tourists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/27/content_33772774.htm

Taking a break from his busy schedule as a banker, Kelvin L., an Australian of Chinese origin, and his three friends visited Pakistan this summer to take in the South Asian country's scenic beauty.

Speaking to Xinhua recently, Kelvin says he had heard of Pakistan's beauty from a colleague, and he was very impressed by the hospitality of the people and the landscape and wishes to visit the country again.

Kelvin is not the only foreigner to be impressed by the beautiful landscape of the country.

Many other foreigners have visited the country since the improvement of the law and order situation there.

According to the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan's GDP was $328.3 million in 2015, constituting 2.8 percent of the total GDP that year.

And the Pakistani government says that tourism will contribute $9.5 billion to the country's economy by 2025.

A World Economic Forum report also ranks Pakistan as one of the top 25 percent tourist destinations for its World Heritage sites.

The main destinations for tourists to Pakistan are the country's northern mountainous area, which lies at the junction of the world's three great mountain ranges - the Karakorum, the Hindukush and the Himalayas.

Some of the 14 highest peaks in the world, including the second highest K-2, are located there.

Besides, the region also hosts some of the largest glaciers in the world, making it an ideal place for mountaineers, trekkers, adventure sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The region also has a rich cultural heritage, interesting history, rare fauna and a whole lot of natural attractions, including the world's rarest gems and rock crystals.

Foreign tourists say that they had a negative perception about Pakistan before visiting possibly due to the recent terror attacks, but their views changed once they visited the country.

"It's a shame that it (Pakistan) gets perceived negatively by the media. It's such a wonderful country and the people are so hospitable and nice. Wherever we went people offered us tea or meals. Locals invited us to hang out and sing and dance with them, and it was a very good experience for me," says Kelvin.

Most of the foreign tourists who visited the scenic north this year believe that Pakistanis are remarkable when it comes to hospitality, and that the country has a lot to offer in its gems and minerals-rich mountains, but that there is still a room for improvement from the security standpoint.

Taseer Beyg, a photographer from the Hunza valley, says that the region does not have any major problem with security.

"There were issues a few years ago. But now the issues have been resolved. Also, foreigners love to explore and meet the locals. Yes, they love to stay in local houses to know more about our language, culture and traditions."

The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation says that Pakistan welcomed 1.75 million tourists last year thanks to the improving law and order situation in the country.

Locals say that November marks the beginning of the skiing season in the northern snow-topped hilly areas of the country, and that they are hopeful of welcoming more foreign tourists this year.

]]>
2017-10-27 07:43:37
<![CDATA[Saying no to poaching]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/27/content_33772773.htm

Ma Weidu (right) visits South Africa as part of a campaign against poaching. PHOTO Provided By Investec Rhino Lifeline

Chinese antique collector puts weight behind campaign against trade in rhino horn. Liu Wei and Luan Xiang report.

Despite the brutality of poaching, many antique collectors still value rhino horn over live animals.

Such tainted products should be banned from sale in any form, says leading Chinese antique dealer Ma Weidu.

In September, Ma endorsed a new campaign against the rhino horn trade launched jointly by nonprofit organizations WildAid, the African Wildlife Foundation and National Geographic's Traveler magazine in China.

"Despite the fact that ivory has been appreciated by the Chinese since the Shang Dynasty more than 3,000 years ago, and rhino horn items since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), prices were never ramped up in the domestic market," Ma says.

Unfortunately, major auction houses outside China have been selling rhino horn artifacts at extremely high prices, encouraging poaching and smuggling and pushing the rhinoceros closer to extinction.

"Ivory and rhino horn products from any period should be banned from public trade and auction," Ma says.

A scholar and founder of Guanfu Museum, one of the country's first private museums of antiques, Ma has pledged to stop buying any item made of ivory or rhino horn and to advocate for people to stop using, trading or buying wildlife products.

"It is more important to save endangered species while we can than to collect relics after the animals have disappeared completely," Ma says.

Rhinos are endangered primarily due to poaching for their horns, which are used in medicine and for carving. Rhino populations have plummeted 95 percent in the last 40 years.

However, scientists have proved that rhino horn has no medicinal value, and advances in biotechnology make it possible to create substitutes for any animal product, so there simply is no excuse for failing to protect wildlife, especially species in grave danger like the rhino, he says.

In September, he visited South Africa to see firsthand wild rhinos in their natural habitat and those injured or orphaned by poachers, and to participate in an anti-poaching demonstration.

"I never imagined I would touch a rhino. It's an incredibly moving experience to see such a powerful animal so completely vulnerable."

South Africa has seen a spike in rhino poaching since 2008. Last year more than 1,000 were killed illegally.

"It is going to take a long time to change centuries of deeply held beliefs and entrenched Chinese culture," says Ma.

"But we are committed to this cause and the important role of telling people in China that rhino horn has no magical qualities and to stop buying it."

The campaign video has been available on TV, online, at airports and other media in China and via Xinhua's CNC channel abroad since early October.

China's top-down efforts to crack down on rhino horn poaching and smuggling are effective in curbing the illegal trade, says Steve Blake, chief representative of WildAid in Beijing. WildAid estimates only 25,000 rhinos survive and they are being killed faster than they can reproduce.

It is estimated that three rhinos are killed every day, and the western black rhino is already extinct.

Since 2012, China has made building ecological civilization a development priority, with the protection of its fauna and flora, including wildlife, a crucial element, says Blake.

From 2013 to 2016, China organized and led worldwide cooperation against rhinoceros horn smuggling alongside international law enforcement agencies, conservation groups and authorities from other countries and regions.

The anti-smuggling bureau of China's General Administration of Customs last year filed 1,223 criminal cases involving wildlife trafficking, arrested 2,196 suspects, and broke up more than 200 criminal gangs in China and abroad, according to the Animal Welfare Institute.

The administration organized and participated in numerous national and international operations to combat wildlife crimes.

With more stringent legislation and law enforcement, black market prices for rhino horn are about a third of what they once were, says Peter Knights, founder and CEO of WildAid.

All sales of rhino horn have been illegal in China since 1993, and it has been removed from the traditional Chinese medicine handbook. Since 2011, all rhino horn items have been banned from auction house sales as well.

"China - the authorities and the public - has been playing an important part in eradicating the brutal yet complex rhinoceros horn trade," says Blake.

African Wildlife Foundation trustee Gordon Cheng wants more global efforts to stop the rhino horn trade.

"We hope our program can help to convey the right messages for existing collectors and users, and most importantly for younger generations in Asia and around the world," Cheng says.

Tourism is hugely important for protecting rhinos, says Yu Hui, of Traveler magazine. "They are one of the flagship wildlife species in Africa, and tourism to view them generates revenue for local communities and conservation efforts."

"Encouraging our tourists to visit the natural habitat, to be an eyewitness to the animals in their own homes and to influence people around us to care for these endangered species, will provide a greater experience and help the local economy," says Yu.

In September, Traveler magazine in Beijing launched its Travel for Earth program, focusing on ecotourism and highlighting rhino tourism. Jiang Yiyan, a young Chinese actress, starred in a photographic exhibition alongside the last living male northern white rhino. The species with just three surviving animals will inevitably die out.

"I felt so sad when I embraced him and felt his warmth. He was gentle and friendly, huge and yet so vulnerable," Jiang said then.

She urged the Chinese public to join the battle against the rhino horn trade by supporting ecotourism in African reserves. "I hope our children will have the chance to see a living rhino."

]]>
2017-10-27 07:43:37
<![CDATA[Rain helps early foreign presenter's China journey]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/27/content_33772772.htm

More than a decade as a news anchor for the international channel of the State-owned China Central Television has made Edwin Maher's face and voice familiar to many Chinese viewers.

Although he retired earlier this year, Maher says in future he would want to make the most of his China experience of 14 years.

The 76-year-old media veteran from New Zealand began his career as a weather forecaster for Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Melbourne in 1965, and worked there for more than 20 years.

In March 2003, when he was tending to his vegetable garden in Melbourne, it started to rain. Maher ran into his house. While he waited for the rain to stop, he turned on a shortwave radio. He then heard an English broadcast on China Radio International, which happened to report that it was looking to hire a native English speaker.

By then Maher had already quit his TV job in Australia as his late wife was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. He was looking to find something that would take his mind off his wife's death.

So Maher mailed his resume to CRI's English service. To his surprise, he was offered the position of a voice coach in Beijing a few days later.

"If the rain hadn't come down that afternoon, I would never have come to China," says Maher, adding that the experience has been quite transformative for him and opened his eyes to a country he knew little about before.

After his term at CRI ended several months later, he went on to join CCTV's international channel, thanks to his clear diction while speaking English and his experience as a voice coach.

As the channel sought to become more professional and accessible to Western audiences, Maher was soon asked to become a news anchor - making him the first non-Asian news anchor on a Chinese TV. But that did make him a bit nervous before he went to present his first news show for CCTV.

"I knew (that) everybody, including the big bosses of CCTV, would be watching because it was something new. But after the first story, I felt OK," says Maher.

But he had to also deal with a few challenges such as pronouncing correctly the Chinese names of people and places - things that foreigners find difficult.

His regular appearance on CCTV soon grabbed a lot of attention nationwide. Maher's program was liked by many Chinese, especially English learners, at the time.

Even though he left the newsroom six months ago, he is still often recognized and greeted in the streets or on the subway by those who have watched him on TV.

"Television is a powerful medium, so it does leave a lasting impression on viewers," he says.

He says he understood the reports he presented were an important window into China and he always bore in mind that those would help many viewers better understand the country.

Maher also responded to criticism from some foreign media that he became a "paid mouthpiece" by saying he "only read the news and was not trying to read into the news".

Besides anchoring, Maher has coached hundreds of Chinese colleagues over the years on English pronunciation and intonation. Maher says he has enjoyed this part of work as well because it allowed him to interact with many young people on a more personal basis and learned about their ideas, which helped him understand China better.

In 2007, Maher was given the Friendship Award by the Chinese government. The award is the highest honor given to foreigners who have made significant contribution to the social and economic development of the country.

"It was quite an honor and (was) unexpected, ... it's great for the government to recognize foreigners like me and appreciate what they have done," says Maher, who is also now a holder of a Chinese "green card" that allows permanent residence to foreigners.

Maher has published two books about his experience in China. The first, titled My China Daily, is a collection of columns he wrote weekly for this newspaper and recorded interesting daily stories about his early adventures as a foreigner in the country.

He mentions in the book that he often got lost in China, including while getting on buses or trains without knowing where he was going.

"For me, it was part of the fun," Maher says.

In Beijing, he still enjoys biking around, both as a way to explore the city and to keep fit.

He lives alone in Beijing, but Maher doesn't feel lonely, he says. Technology has made the world smaller and he can stay in touch with his children in Australia and visit them during holidays.

"I've got used to this fast pace of life," he says. "Home is where your heart feels at home. I just feel quite at home living in Beijing."

Over the years, he has developed close ties with many local people, including a Chinese family he sees as his own family.

He is impressed by the development going on around him, and finds the city much more international than it was when he first arrived.

After devoting decades to media work, Maher wants to do something different.

He has joined a Chinese company that trains people in public speaking and is often invited to give lectures at various events held by different organizations, including universities.

"I like using my voice," he says, adding that he has been doing some voice-over work as well for some videos that need English commentaries.

In the future, he wants to engage himself in voice coaching for Chinese executives who need to speak English at international events.

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-27 07:43:37
<![CDATA[Bringing old art form to new viewers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/26/content_33731389.htm More than 30 years have passed since they first met as students of Kunqu Opera. And Gu Haohao and Zhang Jun, both in their 40s, are now leading the revival of the old Chinese art form through different paths.

]]>
Acclaimed performers, Gu Haohao and Zhang Jun are leading the revival of Kunqu Opera through different paths. Fang Aiqing reports.

More than 30 years have passed since they first met as students of Kunqu Opera. And Gu Haohao and Zhang Jun, both in their 40s, are now leading the revival of the old Chinese art form through different paths.

Kunqu Opera, one of the traditional Chinese opera forms that has a history of more than 600 years, is growing again in popularity in recent years through the efforts of performers like Gu and Zhang.

Gu, director of the State-owned Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe and Zhang, director of a private troupe named after him, are using innovative means to promote the opera.

As Gu sees it, she and Zhang share the same goal, but do it in different ways.

"What Zhang does is to arouse curiosity in those who have never heard about it, and what we do is to show them the traditional beauty of the form," says Gu.

Diverse repertoire

With three generations of performers trained over 60 years by the best opera schools in China, the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe stands out.

The run of The Palace of Eternal Life, a classic Kunqu Opera adapted from the romance between Tang Dynasty (618-907) Emperor Xuanzong and his concubine Yang Yuhuan, at the Shanghai Grand Theater from Sept 21 to 24, saw four different groups of leading actors, respectively, performing each night.

Among them were Cai Zhengren, 77, and Zhang Jingxian, 71, who are seen as national treasures, while the youngest lead actor was Wei Li, 26.

Since 2015, the troupe has followed a system where middle-aged and younger actors learn 100 classic excerpts and six integral ones from seniors over three years.

This emphasis on training means the troupe has the capacity to stage massive productions like The Palace of Eternal Life, which requires dozens of performers.

As for Zhang, who has a total of eight performers and crew in his troupe, he follows another direction.

During a concert in a private villa in Shanghai on Sept 23, Zhang showcased Kunplug, which he says is "bringing together Kunqu Opera and contemporary music elements like electronic music, rock 'n' roll, rap and jazz".

Though some see this as controversial, Zhang's adaptations are being increasingly accepted with invitations for performances pouring in.

This has prompted him to plan a concert for more than 10,000 people next year.

Eight years ago, his aim to have "a more personalized development and do something different" prompted Zhang to leave the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe, where he had been for 15 years.

He then launched a private troupe that made its debut in collaboration with the famous composer and conductor, Tan Dun.

The troupe's first work was an adapted version of the classic play, The Peony Pavilion, staged in a traditional Chinese garden in Shanghai in 2010.

Closer to audience

Since 1998, Gu and Zhang have both been actively promoting Kunqu Opera among the younger generations, especially students.

After 20 years of work they are encouraged by the response.

During this year's May Day holiday, some performers from the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe went to Tianzifang, one of Shanghai's most visited spots, showing people how to put on makeup, performing excerpts from plays and interacting with people.

They also went to the Bund, shopping malls and communities to promote the opera form.

The idea came from Gu's personal experience of advertising her plays in subways, tour spots and where people assembled in 2004, when Kunqu Opera was not very popular.

On the other hand, Zhang promotes his work with a monthly crowdfunding program called 1+1+1 Action, which combines lectures, gatherings and performances.

At the events, audiences sip traditional Chinese rice wine and listen to Zhang speaking about Kunqu Opera and then enjoy his performance.

The tickets for the event are sold in sets of three.

So, to attend the program, one has to take along two companions.

"Thus, it's not simply a ticket-buying process, but also about disseminating the culture of Kunqu Opera and influencing others," says Zhang, whose ultimate intention is to turn his personal efforts into a social movement.

The 66 sets of tickets for the first program in September were sold out in 14 days and the show was also live streamed.

Speaking about the opera form, Chen Yani, 25, a fan of Kunqu Opera who has enjoyed more than 60 Kunqu Opera performances in theaters in the past five years, says: "Compared with other traditional opera forms, Kunqu Opera attracts more young audiences."

For Gu and Zhang, the campus is the key to promote the opera form.

Supported by the local government, the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe gives at least 130 performances every year at schools in Shanghai.

And, according to Zhang, he will launch an experimental course on Kunqu Opera for students of second grade in a Shanghai primary school in November.

In recent years, the Chinese have been more willing to step into theaters and enjoy Kunqu Opera.

The Shanghai show of The Palace of Eternal Life in September saw box-office revenue of 1.5 million yuan ($226,000). It was five times the box-office revenue from the same show that spanned four nights at the same place seven years earlier.

Going global

Kunqu Opera is not only seeing revival in China, but also gaining ground globally.

Prior to the Shanghai show of The Palace of Eternal Life, the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe staged The Tale of the White Serpent of Leifeng Pagoda, another traditional play and some other classics at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece.

The 6,000 tickets for the three-day performances of the first foreign opera show at the newly opened theater were sold out three months in advance.

In November, Zhang's I, Hamlet, a contemporary Kunqu Opera play adapted from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, will be staged in South Korea, while next year there will be tours to Europe and the United States.

The play, produced in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Shakespeare and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) playwright Tang Xianzu, offers a Chinese interpretation of life and death.

Meanwhile, besides the massive productions of traditional Chinese plays, experimental pieces of Kunqu Opera have also made their way globally.

Chair, adapted from the absurdist play The Chairs by French playwright Eugene Ionesco, has just been staged twice by the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe in Albania. Previously, it has been performed in Russia and Japan.

According to Gu, the play is to tailor the opera form for a global stage.

"Western audiences are very familiar with the story. They are just curious about how we present it as well as our makeup and costumes."

The leading actress in Chair, Shen Yili, takes active part in producing the play, contributing her understanding of the story.

"Today, experimental pieces like Chair have more possibilities. I'm confident that Kunqu Opera can be presented well in this form," says Gu.

Looking ahead

According to the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe, the annual number of performances has risen from 112 in 2013 to 272 in 2016, with the income of performances soaring from 3.31 million yuan in 2014 to 8.25 million yuan in 2016.

"We are now in a better place," says Gu, whose team plans to make full use of the current opportunities, reflected in their packed performance schedules.

For Zhang, who runs a private troupe, the first goal of surviving has been achieved. "We are now running in a healthy way. We can support ourselves with our performances. It is not easy for private troupes."

Zhang played Emperor Xuanzong, one of the protagonists, in the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe's first performance of The Palace of Eternal Life in Shanghai in September.

It was the first time that he had returned to the Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe where he started his career as a professional performer.

So, no matter what route they take, Gu and Zhang will remain committed to Kunqu Opera, declared as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2001.

Contact the writer at fangaiqing@chinadaily.com.cn

The Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe stages the classic Kunqu Opera piece, The Palace of Eternal Life, at the Shanghai Grand Theater in September. Photo Provided to China Daily

 

]]>
2017-10-26 06:38:49
<![CDATA[Shanghai arts festival celebrates spirit of youth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/26/content_33731388.htm The 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival celebrated its opening on Oct 20 with the premiere of Revival, a choral symphony composed by 25-year-old musician Gong Tianpeng (also known as Peng Peng Gong).

The 65-minute production about the founding of the Communist Party of China featured more than 300 performers, including renowned baritone Liao Changyong, tenor Han Peng and soprano Xu Lei.

The Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra performed the work under the baton of maestro Tang Muhai.

Since Shanghai is the birthplace of the Party, the CSIAF decided to focus on the subject because its 19th arts festival, which takes place from Oct 20 to Nov 19, coincided in part with the 19th CPC National Congress, held in Beijing from Oct 18 to Tuesday.

Following the successful premiere of Revival at the Shanghai Grand Theater, the city's cultural and performing arts administrations will go on to polish and improve the production to prepare for performance tours at home and abroad.

"Gong is by far the youngest leading artist to make an inaugural performance at the CSIAF," says Wang Jun, president of the CSIAF center.

The center chose Gong to compose the heavyweight production because of his distinctive perspective as a young contemporary artist who has both experienced China's rise and social development and gained an international perspective while studying abroad.

The composer and pianist was born in 1992, and has already completed his ninth symphony. Gong is currently in his third season as the resident composer with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, after graduating from the composition department of the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 2014.

Upon receiving the commission, Gong made extensive visits to historical sites and monuments all around China which marked important events in the history of the CPC. "All the information is easily accessible," the composer tells the China Daily. "It is a feeling that I was looking for."

Young people a 100 years ago, the founding members of the CPC, were faced with a different reality from today, he says. "I wanted to get as near as possible to them and their surroundings, understand their dreams and ambitions, get a feeling for the challenges they faced, and learn about the choices they made.

"I was determined to give my whole self to not just accomplish the piece as an assignment but to also create an endurable work of art."

Gong adopted the Western romantic music style of the 19th century, and combined it with distinctive musical elements from China, and especially Shanghai, such as folk melodies and laborers' ballads.

"I've always believed music is meant to be understood," says the composer. "I want people to come out of the concert humming the tune they just heard."

"Young as the composer is, he has had the support of three generations of artists," says Mao Shi'an, who penned the lyrics for Revival. The 69-year-old author is vice-chairman of the China Literary Critics' Association.

Before agreeing to work with Gong, Mao attended a concert featuring a composition by Gong named after J.D. Sailinger's novel Catcher in the Rye, and was impressed.

"Today's young artists like Gong are broad-minded, carefree and forward-thinking," he says.

Aside from Revival, the CSIAF will also host a fine art exhibition featuring the history and achievements of the CPC. The exhibition will take place at Shanghai's China Art Museum from Saturday through Nov 20, and will feature 96 artworks mainly taken from collections from the Shanghai Artists' Association, Liu Haisu Art Museum and Long Museum.

zhangkun@chinadaily.com.cn

]]>
2017-10-26 06:38:49
<![CDATA[Courage at sea]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/26/content_33731387.htm First major TV series on China's civil marine rescue force to go on air this week. Xu Fan reports.

Over the past five years, producer Li Yu has concentrated on the 36-episode TV series The Blue Sea of Ambition, China's first screen production to feature the life and work of marine rescuers.

The series will air on Shandong Satellite TV and State broadcaster CCTV as well as the streaming site v.qq.com from Thursday, with two episodes shown each night.

A former journalist from CCTV, Li once interviewed many people from the China Rescue and Salvage unit of the Ministry of Transport.

It is the country's only such national force that rescues survivors and salvages wrecks, and she has become a friend of the unit.

A rescuer's work includes recovering the corpses of victims. Besides, the working environment is dangerous most of the times as storms that have sunk ships have yet to calm down when they dive into the waters.

"They (members of the unit) are the people who come close to death but at the same time, they show respect to the departed. Every time they discover a corpse, they softly say: 'We'll take you home.' It's like a ceremony, and they believe the words rest souls," Li says during a telephone interview with China Daily.

She also spoke about their dedication to the job.

"Most of the rescuers are veteran divers or helicopter pilots. They can easily find higher-paid jobs but most continue to do this work," Li says.

But the heroes of China Rescue and Salvage are less known to the public although the unit was founded in 1951.

"Over the past six decades, the unit has rescued 74,547 people, saved 5,028 ships from sinking and salvaged 1,775 wrecked ships. The cargo they have retrieved from the sunken ships over the past five years is worth nearly 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion)," said Zhu Jialin, chairman of China Communications Press Co Ltd, the series' major financer, during a promotional event in Beijing on Sunday.

"Most inland residents may not even know the existence of such a unit. We hope the TV series will increase people's knowledge."

With a budget of 170 million yuan, the series has more than 400 special-effects scenes, some of which were created by professionals from the United States.

Six veteran scriptwriters, with expertise in different aspects - from characters and suspense to action scenarios - were dispatched by the financers to the unit's bases scattered along China's coastline of 18,000 kilometers.

"When I decided to shoot the TV series, many thought it was an impossible mission. From the directors to the scriptwriters, they all said it was the first time they had heard about the unit. So we sent them to the bases," says Li, who started the project in 2012.

The writers stayed, dined with and interviewed the rescue teams for a couple of months. The script took more than three years of polishing.

Based on a group of Chinese rescuers, the series consists of 17 marine rescue and salvage missions, which are all true stories.

The episodes include rescuing kidnapped Chinese scientists from a group of Somali pirates and rescuing the crew and passengers from a sinking ship in the sea near Shandong province.

Director Chen Jian, known for the hit TV series Drawing Sword (2005), alongside Hong Kong filmmaker Keung Kwokman have directed The Blue Sea of Ambition.

Veteran actors Zhang Guoqiang, Yu Xiaotong as well as actress Yuan Quan respectively play a helicopter pilot, a diver and a psychologist - representing the three major roles in the civil force.

The cast also includes actor Ding Haifeng, from Wolf Warrior 2, and award-winning actor Tang Guoqiang. Most of the actors participated in training sessions on swimming and diving, and lived in the bases for a period of time.

Recalling his time spent with the rescuers, Ding says: "They rescued the struggling and fought against extreme weather. But when they speak about such dangerous moments, they do so in a way that makes it seem so normal. They are worth our respect."

Contact the writer at xufan@chinadaily.com.cn

The new TV series The Blue Sea of Ambition reveals the heroic work of marine rescuers. Photos Provided to China Daily

]]>
2017-10-26 06:38:49
<![CDATA[Sylvia Chang deals with love in her latest film]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/26/content_33731386.htm Sylvia Chang didn't care to make sacrifices for love in her youth.

But now aged 64, the veteran Taiwan filmmaker re-ponders the complexity of love in her upcoming movie, Love Education.

The movie will open on the Chinese mainland on Nov 3.

Love Education was the closing film at South Korea's 22nd Busan International Film Festival, which ended on Saturday.

It recently received seven nominations at this year's Golden Horse Film Festival in Taipei, which will be held on Nov 25.

Set in Central China's Henan province, the 120-minute movie tells the story of a dispute to move an old man's tomb in a village.

The argument drags out on for three generations, and after a series conflicts and confessions, the family members finally understand each other.

The story was originally written by You Xiaoying, a scriptwriter from Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, based on her own experience.

She sent the script to Chang in 2012.

"It seems like a simple story, but it gave me room to develop it into a movie," Chang says in Beijing.

Chang started to rewrite the story with You after receiving the script. The film was shot in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan, in 2016.

Zhengzhou is a city that is often ignored for its geographical characteristics but remembered as a fast-developing smaller Chinese city, Chang explains.

She also invited Mark Lee Ping-bin, an award-winning Taiwan cinematographer, to join her crew for Love Education.

It is the first movie she filmed on the mainland, so she did a lot of field research before shooting it as a "down-to-earth story".

"And because I'm a mother, a daughter and a wife, I analyzed each role to figure out how they would react to the situations in the film," Chang says.

In the movie, the grandmother is shown waiting for seven decades for her husband to return to her after he leaves her for another woman.

Chang says the movie's name revolves around her understanding t