Archive for February, 2012

Chinglish Strikes Again

February 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Just spotted this banner ad for the latest blockbust “Journey to the West”, seriously, you Chinese guys need to hire at least one native English speaker if you’re going to come up with this kind of mistake.  Really, just give some student at BLCU 300rmb to check your copy.

Categories: Uncategorized

Merkel’s China Gaffe

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Things to Do Back Home When…You’re Dead

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

So we’re almost at the end of my bi-yearly visit to the good old U, of…er…K.  When I was a China newbie there were lots of “you’ve been in China too long when…” lists floating around, so here’s my amusingly compliled counter-culture shock list:


A two hour train ride isn’t really something you consider “long distance”

You count money twice when you withdraw from the ATM
You use “ATM” instead of “cash point” or “cash machine”
All dealings with the bank must be done in person – telephone or Internet banking is completely untrustworthy.  
Three beers a night is “relaxing” and you’re still good to drive
TV is really, really good.
Privacy is a long forgotten concept.  
Everyone is fat.  Like, really fat.  Really huge-ass-don’t-think-about-buying-that-burger-fat.  You fear that women could crush you with their enormous thighs.  
There are less advertisements on TV.  
Newspapers have informed, well written op-ed pieces.  In fact, reading the newspaper is an absolute pleasure.
The China Daily is a shocking 20rmb (yes, I did find a copy in the Manchester train station WHSmiths)
Thrift stores aren’t thrifty enough.
Facebook is completely unnavigable.  What the hell happened to that thing?
No one seems to believe that you are who you say you are or how old you are.  
There’s information on food.  Calories and stuff.  
Who’s been sticking these nasty photos on cigarette packets? 
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

Mixed Sex Education Messages From China

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m at the age where most of my friends are getting married. It’s not really that depressing, but by the time that you hit 33 (as I will be this May), it becomes apparent that the number of women that are a) eligible, and b) my age is pretty small. Many of those women are single for a reason, and because most of the single girls have been educated by TV shows and no-one else, it’s fair to say that by and large, not all of their dogs are barking. On paper, I’m pretty much perfect – rich, vaguely decent looking (certainly slim by modern Chinese standards) and I have a government job. Ok, I work for a university, but I don’t have to pay rent and all my meals are subsidized, leaving a fairly large monthly disposable income.

The fact that I’m single is down to a number of factors. The first is that I’m plainly no sleazy enough. I do actually respect women, I find one night stands to be something quite pointless, and, as I get older, personality trumps the body. Most of my contemporaries have pretty much the opposite view, you just needed to look at the crowds of confused men that scattered through the bars at Chao Yang West Gate in bewildered, pathetic groups when Maggies closed down in 2008 to see that. Most of the girls are incredibly highly educated too, especially the ones that can speak English, and were probably learning French and German before they were on solids. It’s hard to treat a woman who was being taught stuff about particle accelerators in the last year of high school, and the only reason that she didn’t complete a Phd was because she didn’t have enough time as some samey pick-up in a bar. Especially when she takes time out to write haiku in the morning. And then translate it into Finnish.

In Japan there wasn’t much hope for me, since I really wanted to meet a girl who could engage me in a conversation, rather than nod and “mmm” in that annoyingly endearing way that Japanese women do, needless to say, I ended up with a Chinese girl instead.

I had come to the rather racist conclusion that Chinese girls should stick to Chinese men, and Japanese girl should stick to Japanese men. Chinese men have the right attitude, and it’s probably why I hate the vast majority of Chinese men that I have to come into contact with. I simply don’t have the wherewithal to occasionally bring my bitch into line with a quick backhander, but I’m pretty sure that to a Chinese woman, three with the belt now and again, it’s perfectly normal. I’m just not that assertive. Culturally, a westerner doesn’t really tick all the subconcious boxes that a Chinese girl needs in order to commit to a long term relationship – most of the Japanese/western marriage that I knew about were falling apart, and the vast number of western/Chinese marriages that I know about aren’t happy ones, or have caused massive, irreparable rifts in at least one of the families.

Despite the apparent hopelessness of my situation, I’m in a better position than most Chinese men. Since most Chinese men are raised in families that have typically overbearing mothers and distant fathers, they don’t really have much in the way of a male role model. Which is why a lot of them are single and desperate, and rather unable to converse on any level with a woman. The bad news gets worse when the idea of “losing face” is added into the mix: the men can’t really have a girlfriend who is less qualified than they are, and since the women regularly beat the men academically, there’s a lot of single guys about.

The situation has become so bad that people are advertising on the Internet. Not to find a girlfriend, but to rent one out, especially over the Spring Festival where many of the guys go home only to be confronted with questions about when they plan to get married. Oddly, if you’re a Chinese guy, the philandering begins once you get married. Mistresses are still a show of how wealthy and powerful you are (by those standards, I’m not very much of either). ”The practice of monogamy is only 60 years old in China. Before that the number of mistresses a man possessed was an indicator of his success,” so says Li Yin He in the Global Times. Liu Zhu Jun (pictured) alledgedly had 18 mistresses, each of them willing to cater to his uniform festish – and will all that sex going on, he still managed to be the Minister of Railways, until his dismissal in February 2011.

The relative sexual inexperience of a Chinese girl isn’t much of a help when it comes to finding a soul mate. It’s entirely possible, because I’ve been to lots of weddings betwixt westerners and Chinese women, but for the most part, these couplings seem to fall into one of three categories:

1) Pregnancy – the couple get married to save face in the light of the impending patter of feet.

2) Statute of Limitations – there comes a time when a couple live together for so long that getting married seems to be nothing more than a formality.

3) Pressure from parents – the big one, since most Chinese thinking is about 25 years behind current thinking in the western world, most women would probably be pressured into marrying someone by the parents rather than having to put up with the shame of living in sin.

Between these three you’d think that either I would have been stupid enough to get a girl knocked up by now, OR, I would be in the same weary long term relationship for long enough that someone would’ve eventually complained enough for me to grudgingly go through the prolonged agony of a Chinese wedding, but no. Sex education in China is somewhat lacking, especially for a country that has copulated it’s way to 1.3 billion people, but statistics show that teenage pregnancies are on the increase, and, worse, many teachers are dismissing sex ed classes as unnecessary. In Shanghai, there’s only one helpline, run by Zhang Zhengrong which gets around 1,000 calls a day from distressed teenage girls. 3 percent of the 50,000 callers they’ve had since they were established in 2006 have have three or more abortions. Another three per cent have had an abortion in an unlicensed (read “cheap”) clinic. While some parents believe that if their kids don’t know about sex, they won’t worry about it, but the Women of China website tells some horrific stories:

Two years ago a father in Shanghai rushed his 19-year-old daughter to a hospital after she had given birth to a baby at home. In order not to be discovered by her parents, the young woman secretly delivered the baby herself in the toilet. Then she put the baby in a plastic bag and threw it in a neighborhood garbage can. The father couldn’t believe it and told me his daughter was a good student, hard-working at school and obedient at home,” Zhang says. “The careless parents didn’t know she was pregnant until she gave birth!”

At the end of last year, the government began it’s “Steps of Growth” programme for high school students, which immediately triggered a mealstrom of controversy. For a start, there was never any consensus as to what age the kids should start in the programme, and early in 2011, a school established rules that stipulated that boys and girls should stay 50cm apart when they are talking in public – the ”distance for civilized communication” was rounded decried throughout the media, when the China Daily bellowed that local schools should follow rules passed by the Ministry of Education rather than making it up as they go along.

Categories: Education

Just Fancy That!

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Democracy in China

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve often said that the Chinese people wouldn’t know what to do with a vote, since the vast majority of them (in Beijing, at least) seem to have problems operating a subway ticket machine, but the news wires are abuzz with a village election in…Wukan.

Malcolm Moore at The Telegraph, as well as China Digital Times have weighed in with coverage of the first free and open democratic election in China since, er, forever.

Even though the elections were only a prelimiary round of voting ahead of the main even in March, everything – bar a “scuffle” between reporters from Hong Kong – went as smoothing as could have been expected.

“We had to make a big thing, a big show, out of it to underline its importance and to guarantee that it was all fair and transparent,” said Yang Semao, one of the chief organisers.

“Wukan has been in the dark for so many years; its elections always manipulated. It is the first time we have done this so we want to do a good job,” he added. In the past few days, several academics and students have also arrived in Wukan, partly to observe the proceedings, and partly to offer advice to the villagers.

“This is very meaningful,” said Chen Liangshan, 61, who used to work in one of the village’s temples. “I have already got the list of people I will vote for in my mind. I am glad to get the chance to choose people who will actually do something. This is the first time we have ever seen a ballot and we are excited about it.”

Mr Chen filled in his ballot, a sheet of A4 paper, at a table covered by a bright red tablecloth and deposited it in one of seven shiny aluminium ballot boxes. According to an official press release, he was one of 7688 eligible voters, with 1043 voting by proxy.

The BBC has a short photostory on voting in the village, and blogosphere analysis from the WSJ.

Categories: Politics

How Chinese Journalism Works

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

A news story on Global Times covered the kidnapping of 25 Chinese workers from a cement factory in Egypt had a curious map that, among other things, had renamed Isreal as “The Holyland”.  The map was hastily taken down, but China watchers on Facebook quickly discovered that the map had been unceremoniously swiped from Atlas Tours and Tourism – a travel agent’s based in Jordan. Sinocism was quick to take a helpful screenshot of the image to help readers come to their own conclusions, the original map can be viewed at