A spot about a father suffering from Alzheimer's is the most popular of a new series of ads that has young people on China's social networks talking—or better put, it has them talking about crying. "Every time I see it I cry," writes one Weibo user. Hers is a typical reaction. Filial piety might seem a laughable topic for a public-service campaign in the west, but in China, it's the basis for a campaign aimed to guilt kids into thinking about the elderly. Making China's youth cry is not enough, though; China needs the new generation to act on that guilt, to buy into the Confucian ideal [...]
Of all it has embraced, the booming artisanal movement has so far passed over one largely extinct 19th-century practice: opium smoking in the old manner.
But in a book out last year, one collector of antique opium-smoking paraphernalia documents how his fascination with a lost era's artifacts led to an attempt to recreate and live in a lost era of chandu, resulting in an opium addiction of "the traditional manner" that reached a peak of thirty pipes a day. I spoke with author Steven Martin about his book, Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction, his Opium Museum project, and the cultural legacy of [...]
"Cock wire Mike Sui!" yelled one of the young men in the crowd. "Cock wire Sui is awesome!" The kimono robe and mirrored sunglasses, like some kind of last-minute frat-boy Halloween costume, that Mike Sui was wearing when he leapt onto the stage, had been shed, and Sui now prowled the stage in cargo shorts and a Nike t-shirt.
Before April, a slim few, if any, in this Shanghai crowd would have known Sui's name. And before April, NetEase, one of China's largest Internet companies, certainly would not have asked Sui to emcee its stage at China Joy, the nation's largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibition. But now it was [...]
"Chinese residents were left terrified after mistaking a pink-skinned stray dog for either an escaped genetically modified pig or a strangely coloured mini-horse." Yes, there is a photo.
Are these satellite photos of the Gobi Desert "proof that China is planning an attack on Washington, D.C."? Sure, why the hell not.
"H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans," the AP reports from Beijing. Well that would be very comforting for humans (if not for birds), except for the sad fact that the wire story is about the first two humans known to be killed by H7N9. Another infected human is in critical condition.
But it's supposedly a low-level virus and not the SARS kind of crazy—that virus jumped to humans from a weird kind of wildcat cruelly captured and then kept in cages to sell to bad people at markets. SARS eventually killed 775 of the 8,000 infected during that [...]
"Half of all pigs live in China – and well over half of them eat feed laced with antibiotic 'growth promoters'. Now Chinese and US researchers have found that this practice is spawning a tide of antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
One of the links passed around Twitter by China watchers yesterday was a photo gallery of "little warriors playing the game 'Defend the Diaoyu Islands.'" (The Islands being the disputed territory that sparked the nation's recent anti-Japan protests.) Armed with plastic assault rifles and (adorable!) berets, the children completed boot camp-like obstacle courses such as shimmying under razor wire (kidding; just string) while gripping tiny Chinese flags in their mouths (not kidding).
It's been two-and-a-half years since we first wrote about the Red Dawn reboot after coming across an early script. Then, the film's original 2010 release date was postponed; in the interim, the army invading America was [...]
The Reuters special report was called "The downfall of 'China's Jackie Kennedy.'" That video was picked up and republished by numerous news outlets such as the Chicago Tribune. "The fall of China's 'Jackie Kennedy'" was Rediff's version. CBS did a remix with its report titled "China's Jackie O" confesses to murder," and HuffPo accompanied its story with the tweet, "China's Jackie Kennedy, if only Jackie were accused of murder." In the U.K., the Express went with "'JACKIE KENNEDY OF CHINA' FACING DEATH FOR POISONING BRITON" while the London Evening Standard chose "Slice of heart clue in trial of China’s Jackie Kennedy." The Daily [...]
Back in May, when the original English report came out that China had censored Men In Black 3, it put the amount of cut material at 13 minutes.* A day later, when the Los Angeles Times picked up the story, the amount of censored material was revised to "at least three minutes." But too late, everyone from E! to HuffPo had taken the story and run, the latter joking, "there could be a silver lining to the 'Men In Black 3' censorship: by cutting 13 minutes out of the film, Chinese theaters can screen the movie more times per day."
Twelve days later, the L.A. [...]
Here is what is apparently a Chinese reporter planting a Chinese flag on some bit of disputed land in the massive South China Sea territory. Here is a Chinese hacker "planting" a Chinese flag on the website of the Philippines News Agency. Here are tit-for-tat pictures of people burning China's flag and people burning the flag of the Philippines. I would suggest to the Philippines that neighbors that have land disputes with China often end up in unhappy situations.
Also did you know that in 1951 we signed the "Mutual Defense Treaty Between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America"? It's [...]
"Chinese authorities said they found more than 3,300 dead pigs in a river that supplies water to Shanghai, a stark illustration of China's problems with environmental pollution." On the other hand, the opportunities to make jokes are off the charts.
"Chinese TV extra Shi Zhongpeng, 26… appeared as a member of the Japanese forces more than 200 times last year, the Qianjiang Evening News reported, sometimes dying on set eight times in a single day."
The world runs a little bit more smoothly without troublesome humans mucking up the works. Consider the least sexy sex scandal of all time, 60-year-old David Patraeus and his various middle-aged twin Florida gal pals and wives and shirtless old FBI agents trying to figure out this whole "sexting" business. Why not just have drones do the war fightin', right? OH WAIT THIS IS OBAMA'S PLAN.
Meanwhile, in China, there is trouble at the factories that produce our beloved iPhones and iPads and those iDevices currently manufactured in a compromise size between that of the iPhone and the iPad. The workers want the jobs, because of the [...]
Tom Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future has just come out in paperback. This distinctive American's-eye-view of China's capital is bracingly cerebral without didacticism, intimate and touching without the slightest trace of "self-realization." I loved it.
Maria Bustillos: There is so much I want to know about your book, and about China. How long has it been since you were last there? How has the book been received? How old is [your son] Mack, [who was born in China], now?
Tom Scocca: We haven't been back since I was doing the epilogue, in May 2010. The book's been received pretty well, I think. Or [...]
Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.
When a British businessman died of alcohol poisoning in a Chongqing hotel earlier this year, it seemed completely unremarkable to anyone who had worked in China. Boozing—heavily and to great personal detriment—is such a common practice in China that an old China Hand could easily have had a run-in with counterfeit, contaminated alcohol. Or he just overdid it.
Of course, that was no run-of-the-mill British businessman and it wasn't alcohol that poisoned him. But it was probably the commonality of "baijiu culture" accidents that led his assassins to choose [...]
If I could award a prize for the best chapter title ever given in a work of fiction, I would bestow it at once on British author Ernest Bramah for the title of Chapter III of Kai Lung's Golden Hours (1922): "The Degraded Persistence of the Effete Ming-Shu." Bramah is better known for his blind detective, Max Carrados, but to my mind the comic tales of Kai Lung (most of them free on Project Gutenberg) are his best. They are sublime, particularly if you enjoy a rococo, antiquated, kooky imitation-Chinese English style:
"It has been said," he began at length, withdrawing his eyes reluctantly from an unusually large [...]