China: ‘Please Stop Hiring Funeral Strippers’

china-stripper-funeral

In China, friends and family of the deceased may have to do without a special form of funeral entertainment: strippers

Primatologisteditor-commen-desk alerted me to this item from WSJ’s Real Time China Report. Hopefully before those Communist Chinese government party-killers crush this unique tradition, we can convince our Hong Kong Bureau Chief to attend one of these events in person? In the meantime, Te-Ping Chen and Josh Chin have it covered:

Funeral_Strippers

“The point of inviting strippers, some of whom performed with snakes, was to attract large crowds to the deceased’s funeral – seen as a harbinger of good fortune in the afterlife. ‘It’s to give them face,’ one villager explained. ‘Otherwise no one would come'”.

Te-Ping Chen and Josh Chin: According to a statement from the Ministry of Culture on Thursday, the government plans to work closely with the police to eliminate such performances, which are held with the goal of drawing more mourners.

strippers-asia

Pictures of a funeral in the city of Handan in northern Hebei province last month showed a dancer removing her bra as assembled parents and children watched. They were widely circulated online, prompting much opprobrium. In its Thursday statement, the Ministry of Culture cited “obscene” performances in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, as well as in Handan, and pledged to crack down on such lascivious last rites.

stripper-funeral

“This has severely polluted the local cultural life. These troupes only care about money. As for whether it’s legal, or proper, or what effect it has on local customs, they don’t think much about it.”

— China Central Television

In the Handan incident earlier this year, the ministry said, six performers had arrived to offer an erotic dance at the funeral of an elderly resident. Investigators were dispatched and the performance was found to have violated public security regulations, with the person responsible for the performing troupe in question detained administratively for 15 days and fined 70,000 yuan (about $11,300), the statement said. The government condemned such performances for corrupting the social atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »


From Texas to Los Angeles: A Closer Look at China’s List of Most-Wanted Fugitives

CDRL4wFWYAAcVjy

Twitter – Read Time Cina – WSJ


Hong Kong Election Reform Plan Compliations

HK-election

Hong Kong’s electoral reform proposal can at times resemble a complicated math problem.

Real Time China‘s Isabella Steger writes: On Wednesday, the government unveiled an updated package for the 2017 chief executive election following a second round of public consultation. The gist of it? The government says their reform package now makes it easier for people to participate in the election. The opposition says in reality, the vote is still one rigged in favor of pro-Beijing candidates.

The government has repeatedly said that Beijing’s Aug. 31 decision that any candidate running in the election must be pre-screened by a nominating committee cannot be amended. The decision, simply referred to as “831” in Hong Kong, sparked last year’s Occupy protests.

People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2014. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

People listened to talks between student leaders and senior government officials as they were broadcast live at a protest site in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Oct. 21, 2014. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

“The government says their reform package now makes it easier for people to participate in the election. The opposition says in reality, the vote is still one rigged in favor of pro-Beijing candidates.”

But the government has hinted that tweaks could be possible within the nomination process. And that’s what the Hong Kong public got in the form of concessions on Wednesday.

Under the current electoral system, a nominating committee of 1,200, heavily stacked in favor of pro-Beijing and pro-business interests, nominates candidates for the chief executive position. A candidate requires one-eighth of votes, or support from 150 members of the committee, to be nominated. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Internet Censorship in One Chart


‘Not the Only Gorilla in the Jungle': Japan Overtakes China as Largest U.S. Bondholder

japan-stock-WSJ

Japan’s purchases will help soothe lingering concerns that U.S. bond prices could decline as China slows its buying. 

Min Zeng in New York, Lingling Wei in Beijing and Eleanor Warnock in Tokyo report: Japan dethroned China as the top foreign holder of U.S. Treasurys for the first time since the financial crisis, following a wave of purchases by buyers shifting money to the U.S. as Japan’s economic policies push down interest rates there.

“China is currently the 800-pound gorilla in the U.S. Treasury market. However, it is not the only gorilla in the jungle.”

–James Sarni, a managing principal at investment manager Payden & Rygel, which oversees $90 billion of assets

In reclaiming its status as the largest foreign creditor to America in U.S. official data, Japan is japan-chart-WSJreasserting itself as Beijing holds its Treasury portfolio steady amid a weakening Chinese economy.

“U.S. debt bears higher yields than government bonds offered in other rich nations, thanks to the perception of stronger U.S. growth prospects and to central-bank bond purchases that have driven yields near zero across Europe and in Japan.”

Private investors and official institutions in Japan owned $1.2244 trillion of U.S. government securities at the end of February, compared with $1.2386 trillion at the end of January, according to the latest monthly data released by the Treasury on Wednesday.

China held $1.2237 trillion of Treasury debt at the end of February, compared with $1.2391 trillion a month earlier.

Over the past year, Japan has boosted its holdings by a net $13.6 billion, while China’s holdings dropped by $49.2 billion.

“The single largest holder of U.S. long-term debt is the Federal Reserve, with more than $2 trillion. The amount has surged from $755 billion at the end of 2007, fueled by Fed purchases of long-term securities in response to the financial crisis”.

The Treasury data, released with a two-month lag, don’t capture all of the Treasury-bond holdings China may have parked at middlemen in places such as the U.K. and Belgium. Many analysts and investors believe China has considerable holdings bought through such intermediaries. The Treasury notes on its website that “it is difficult to draw precise conclusions about changes in the foreign holdings of U.S. financial assets by individual countries” from the capital-flow data.

“The shift also reflects changes sweeping China. The world’s most-populous nation has in recent months largely held its Treasury portfolio in place, reflecting a slowdown in the growth of its $3.73 trillion foreign-exchange reserve, the world’s largest, and an effort to shift those reserves toward higher-yielding assets.”

The Japanese purchases have helped drive long-term U.S. bond yields near record lows despite an economic expansion that averaged 2.7% annually over 2013-14. Those low yields have, in turn, helped keep down interest rates for Americans on everything from home loans to credit cards. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s New Social Enforcement Campaign: Beijing Turns to Social Media Tattletales in Battle Against Smoking

china-no-smoking

Alyssa Abkowitz and Hu Chao report: Smokers in Beijing get ready: law enforcement officers won’t be the only ones trying to catch you smoking indoors.

“To pump up attention for the WeChat account, the government is inviting people to vote for a hand gesture that residents can use to try and discourage people from smoking.” 

Beijing’s government is rallying residents to help enforce the country’s new smoking rules, which will be implemented on June 1. The rules ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other indoor public places, with maximum fines of 200 yuan (about $33) for individuals and 10,000 yuan for organizations and companies.

“The government-suggested images include:  I do mind(我介意),which depicts a woman covering her nose with her hand, Don’t(不可以), in which the woman is holding her palm like a stop sign, and Please stop(请停止), in which the woman makes a time-out signal with her hands.”

The government this week launched an account on the social messaging app WeChat to allow residents to report violators, either by uploading images or videos of smokers caught in the act. In addition, the account offers a bevy of anti-smoking information including the full text of the regulations, anti-smoking videos featuring famous CCTV anchors, and warnings about the health impact of smoking (such as the fact that it can negatively affect the quality of one’s sperm).

“But the campaign will face an uphill push in a country where smoked-filled banquet rooms are a routine part of doing business, and the state-run tobacco industry generates a whopping 956 billion yuan ($156 billion) in taxes and profits.”

Asking the public to help police the nation is a familiar thread in Chinese history. During the Cultural Revolution, neighbors were encouraged to report anti-revolutionary actions of one another. More recently, the government has urged citizens to report polluters by calling an official hotline. Read the rest of this entry »


Beijing is Restricting How Often Residents of Neighboring Shenzhen Can Enter Hong Kong

Hong-Kong-train-station

China Reduces Mainlander Visits to Hong Kong

Isabella Steger writes: Can a tweak to a visa arrangement for mainland Chinese tourists coming to Hong Kong help ease tensions between the two places?

“The change was prompted by a marked increase in public anger in recent months against parallel traders. Protests have broken out in areas of Hong Kong near the border with the mainland, such as Tuen Mun, Sheung Shui and Yuen Long.”

On Monday, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying confirmed a long-anticipated move by Beijing to address the influx of mainland visitors to Hong Kong in recent years. The move is aimed specifically at those who come from neighboring Shenzhen to Hong Kong to engage in so-called parallel trading, the practice of buying goods ranging from toiletries to food in Hong Kong to resell at a higher price on the mainland.

“Residents of these towns complain that parallel traders drive up the prices of goods and rents, pushing out small businesses serving locals.” 

According to the new arrangement, Shenzhen residents applying for an individual visitor visa to Hong Kong will only be allowed to enter the city once a week, rather than multiple times. The change is effective Monday. Residents of these towns complain that parallel traders drive up the prices of goods and rents, pushing out small businesses serving locals.

“Since 2009, Shenzhen permanent residents have been allowed to apply for one-year, multiple entry visas to Hong Kong…”

The change was prompted by a marked increase in public anger in recent months against parallel traders. Protests have broken out in areas of Hong Kong near the border with the mainland, such as Tuen Mun, Sheung Shui and Yuen Long. Read the rest of this entry »


Australian Koalas Chill in First Class Before Being Flown to Singapore

koala

Jenni Ryall: writes: Australia’s national airline, Qantas, has released photos of four koalas living the high-life in first class seats.

The native animals were the stars of the photo shoot a week before they were gifted to the Singapore Zoo on Monday, to mark the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.

Although it looks glorious for the furry guys, they were actually transported to Singapore in the plane’s cargo hold, like all animals.

koala3

The photos posted to Facebook show the koalas, from Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane, being offered treats such as fresh gum leaves, a can of lemonade and a hot towel. Read the rest of this entry »


Three Foreign Tourists Arrested for Sexual Molestation in Japan Claim Novel Defense: ‘But We Thought it was Normal Behavior!’

A suspect was caught trying to capture upskirt photos while riding an escalator. In another case a Chinese tourist was reportedly caught grabbing a woman’s ass inside an adult store.

From RocketNews24  reports: Given the size and longevity of the adult entertainment industry, it’s safe to say that such products serve a purpose in societies everywhere. However, one purpose for which adult videos should never be used is as travel guides for visiting other countries.

“Watching Japanese adult videos, I thought the people here were open about sex. I thought molesters were everywhere.”

— Foreign suspect’s confession to police

You might think that would be common sense but apparently we can’t stress the point enough after there has been a recent spate of molestation committed by foreign tourists who claim to have thought it was normal behavior in Japan after watching Japanese adult videos.

Adult actress Miki Mayuzumi

Adult actress Miki Mayuzumi

“And then we have the case of a man arrested for lifting the skirt of a woman while riding the train. This last incident appears influenced by a scene from the classic 1993 AV Nurse Monogatari staring Miki Mayuzumi.”

According to Focus Asia there have been three separate incidents of foreign visitors overstepping their bounds.

[Read the full text here, at RocketNews24]

In one instance a suspect was caught trying to capture images up women’s skirts while riding an escalator. Then in another case a Chinese tourist was reportedly caught grabbing a woman’s buttocks inside an adult goods shop.

jp-molest-rn24

“You might think that would be common sense but apparently we can’t stress the point enough after there has been a recent spate of molestation committed by foreign tourists who claim to have thought it was normal behavior in Japan after watching Japanese adult videos.”

And then we have the case of a man arrested for lifting the skirt of a woman while riding the train. This last incident appears influenced by a scene from the classic 1993 AV Nurse Monogatari staring Miki Mayuzumi…or maybe something else. I don’t know because I don’t watch the stuff.

Reports claim that one foreign suspect confessed to police, saying, “Watching Japanese adult videos, I thought the people here were open about sex. I thought molesters were everywhere.”

All three men are currently in custody and deliberations with the victims’ lawyers are being held to determine if criminal charges will be pressed, or if they can find some other settlement. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Government to Put 3D Printers in All 400,000 Elementary Schools by Next Year

china-3-D

 reports: Education is probably one of the areas that will benefit the most from 3D printers in the long run. The problem though is getting the machines into the schools in the first place. With prices generally ranging from $400 to $3,000 for typical desktop 3D printers, they are not cheap, and with budgets c3within many school districts running dry, both in the United States and overseas, the unfortunate fact is that many schools simply can’t afford them, not to mention the materials and time it takes to train teachers to use them.

Speaking with former MakerBot CEO, Jenny Lawton, at CES this year, she told me that 3D printing will become mainstream and really begin to explode as far as adoption rates go, when a full cycle of education has been exposed to the technology. Just like many of us who were exposed in school to desktop computing back in the ’80s and ’90s can’t envision not having access to a computers now, the children of today may one day think the same about 3D printers.

The United States clearly understands the importance of this technology, particularly President Obama. In addition to investing heavily to bring manufacturing back to US soil, he has mentioned the importance of 3D c41printing on several occasions, visiting manufacturing facilities that are using 3D printers, and even going as far speaking about the technology in one of his State of the Union Addresses.

With that said, news coming out of Tapei, Taiwan today, from Simon Shen, the CEO of Kinpo Group (parent company of XYZprinting), suggests that China is about to one-up the United States in a big way.

According to Shen, the Chinese government has a new policy to install a 3D printer in each of its approximately 400,000 elementary schools over the next two years. This number caught me totally off guard for two reason. First of all, that’s a lot of elementary schools. For instance, in the United States we have approximately 70,000 elementary schools, and approximately 100,000 total public schools. As a nation we could easily match China’s ambitions. Read the rest of this entry »


The Great Wall of Manners: China to Start Keeping a List of Badly Behaved Tourists

RTC-shoppers-Ginza-Tokyo-WSJ

Recent guidelines issued by state media have included gems such as admonitions against wearing clothing items that have images of pigs on them and making off with chunks of coral when diving off the coast of Fiji

Chinese tourists behaving badly abroad are in for a shock when they return to the motherland.

New measures announced this week by China’s national tourism authority mean that misdeeds by wayward Chinese vacationers will now be kept on record for a period of up to two years.

According to the announcement, “tourist uncivilized behavior records” will be compiled for those travelers that behave in an unseemly manner—including getting into fights, defacing public property or historical relics, disrespecting social norms of the host nation, gambling or whoring.  Although the notification didn’t specify whether the guidelines were aimed at Chinese behaving badly at home or abroad, the most scandalous tourist behavior has tended to involve Chinese abroad.

“According to the announcement, ‘tourist uncivilized behavior records’ will be compiled for those travelers that behave in an unseemly manner—including getting into fights, defacing public property or historical relics, disrespecting social norms of the host nation, gambling or whoring.”

When necessary, such files – which will be maintained for a period of up to two years — will be shared with Chinese authorities such the police, immigration, banking and transportation authorities, the announcement said, without specifying what kinds of consequences might follow.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

If the flow of examples of uncouth behavior by some of China’s 100 million annual travelers in recent months is any guide, China Real Time expects the keepers of such records will be busy.

“Don’t throw water bottles everywhere, don’t destroy people’s coral reefs and eat fewer instant noodles and more local seafood.”

— President Xi

From tantrums involving the hurling of hot water at flight attendants to writing graffiti on ancient monuments in Egypt, Chinese tourists have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Chinese authorities in recent years have grown worried about how some of its roving nationals could be damaging the country’s image abroad.

“Why don’t we just learn from Singapore and just cane them?”

— Wisecrack from a Weibo user

On a visit to the Maldives last September, even President Xi Jinping spoke out,  saying China needed to teach its citizens to be “a bit more civilized” when overseas. Read the rest of this entry »


Ikea Bans Customers Sleeping on Display Beds

eca86bd9dcd8168ec7ec07

The world’s largest furniture retailer introduced the rule because many customers, both adults and children, have been sleeping in stores, creating a scene and affecting the experience of other customers.

middle-aged woman said Ikea beds are comfortable so her friends “take a nap” there sometimes, according to the newspaper.

Pictures also show young couples lying on the sofas, their faces covered by pillows.

The newspaper said some customers take off their shoes and lie on the beds as if they were in their own homes.

Ikea encourages customers to sit or lie on beds for a short while to experience their quality, but many sleeping customers occupy the display pieces for too long, a staff member says. Read the rest of this entry »


Ancient Chinese Community Celebrates Its Jewish Roots, and Passover

china-jewish

Becky Davis reports: Over the remains of the Chinese-style Passover banquet – soups with bamboo and huge chunks of fresh tofu, steamed fish and platters of crisp greens in mustard sauce – Li Penglin, 16, lifted a glass of Israeli wine from his place at the head table. Quietly but without faltering, he read out a Chinese translation of a Hebrew prayer.

About 50 guests, including several local government officials, responded with a chorus of amens, downing their thimblefuls of wine while self-consciously leaning to the left. Some poked neighbors who, unfamiliar with the Jewish custom, had neglected to incline.

It was an atypical scene on an atypical occasion: a Chinese celebration of Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.

“There’s no conflict between Passover and Qingming. They’re both about remembrance of ancestors – very similar, just with different methods.”

In a hotel dining room festooned with purple garlands for a coming wedding, Chinese of Jewish descent in the central city of Kaifeng came together on Friday night for a Seder, the traditional Passover meal over which the Exodus story is recounted. Just two days before Qingming, the “tomb-sweeping” festival when Chinese traditionally pay their respects at family graves, they had gathered to recall ancestors even more ancient and a world away.

The millennium-old Jewish population of Kaifeng has witnessed a surprising revival in recent years, a phenomenon all the more notable for the tolerant eye that the Chinese government, which does not count Judaism among state-sanctioned religions, seems to have turned toward it.

Eight clans in Kaifeng claim to be able to trace their lineage back to a small number of Sephardic Jews who made this fertile region their home in the 12th century, when Kaifeng was the capital of the Northern Sung Dynasty and a bustling hub on the Silk Road. But intermarriage, assimilation and isolation eroded their numbers over time. Floods and fires repeatedly destroyed the city’s synagogue, which was not rebuilt after a flood in the 1850s. The Cultural Revolution in the 1960s further quashed any lingering expressions of religious practice. Read the rest of this entry »


China: Pet Owners Honor Furry Friends During Qingming Festival

furry2 furry1 furry3

It’s not just deceased relatives but also pets to which people are paying tribute during the Qingming Festival in China this year.In southern Beijing, many pet owners held a memorial ceremony for their deceased companions. The pet owners met up at a pet cemetery to lay flowers and share their experiences, recounting the memorable moments they had enjoyed with their furry friends.Most of the tombs in the cemetery have been marked with pictures of the little creatures inside. Some are beautifully decorated by the owners showing their deep love for the deceased creatures.The cemetery has been set up to ensure the safe disposal and burial of dead animals not only to prevent the spread of diseases, but also to allow pet owners to cherish the bonds that they shared with the animals.


Industrial Robotics: Why China May Have the Most Factory Robots in the World by 2017

robots-china

A perfect storm of economic forces is fueling the trend

Timothy Aeppel reports: Having devoured many of the world’s factory jobs, China is now handing them over to robots.

Thunder-Robots

China is already the world’s largest market for industrial robots—sales of the machines last year grew 54% from 2013. The nation is expected to have more factory robots than any other country on earth by 2017, according to the German-based International Federation of Robotics.

A perfect storm of economic forces is fueling the trend. Chinese labor costs have soared, undermining the calculus that brought all those jobs to China in the first place, and new robot technology is cheaper and easier to deploy than ever before.

BN-HR533_robots_G_20150401105819

Not to mention that many of China’s fastest-growing industries, such as autos, tend to rely on high levels of automation regardless of where the factories are built.

“We think of them producing cheap widgets,” but that’s not what they’re focused on, says Adams Nager, an economic research analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation in Washington. Mr. Nager says China is letting low-cost production shift out of the country and is focusing instead on capital-intensive industries such as steel and electronics where automation is a driving force.

China’s emergence as an automation hub contradicts many assumptions about robots. Read the rest of this entry »


Picasso Painting ‘Les Femmes d’Alger’ Poised for Record Sale Unveiled in Hong Kong

picasso-HK

Picasso masterpiece “Les Femmes d’Alger” went on show for the first time in Hong Kong Wednesday ahead of an auction where it is tipped to smash the world record price for a painting.

The 1955 piece depicts women in a harem and is the final work in a 15-painting series which pays homage to the 19th century artist Delacroix, who Picasso admired.

“It’s one of the great Picassos, period, and it’s one of the last great Picassos that has been in private hands. In terms of Picasso’s quality, it’s at the absolutely top end. It’s an extremely important piece.”

— Derek Gillman, chairman of Christie’s impressionist and modern art department

It is billed to fetch an estimated $140 million when it goes on sale at Christie’s in New York in May — but the auction house says the price could well go higher.

The current world record for any painting sold at auction is for Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud“, which sold for $142 million in 2013, also at Christie’s in New York.

“There aren’t that many museums that can afford works at that level… Increasingly, works that might in the past have gone into museum collections have gone into private collections.”

“It’s one of the great Picassos, period, and it’s one of the last great Picassos that has been in private hands,” Derek Gillman, chairman of Christie’s impressionist and modern art department, told AFP.

“In terms of Picasso’s quality, it’s at the absolutely top end. It’s an extremely important piece,” he said.

The painting was unveiled as part of a preview at Christie’s in Hong Kong ahead of the New York sale and it will also go on show in London later this month.

The piece is inspired by a Delacroix painting of a similar name.

It is also a stylistic tribute to Picasso’s friend and great rival, Henri Matisse, who died five weeks before Picasso began the series. Read the rest of this entry »


Occupy Hong Kong: Six Months Later

isabella-HK

One of the most memorable sights of the Admiralty site during Occupy was the study room, built of wood and decked out with furniture, lights and Wi-Fi.

Isabella Steger writes: Six months have passed since the outbreak of the pro-democracy Occupy protests in Hong Kong, and a small but determined group of activists wants to make sure their struggle isn’t forgotten.

On the sidewalks by the legislative chamber and government offices in Admiralty, a collection of tents has remained since police cleared the site in December. It was here on Sep. 26 that students scaled a wall to try to enter Civic Square, a place that had been sealed off by the government. Two days later, tens of thousands poured into the main roads, prompting police to use tear gas, on a day now remembered as “928” by activists.

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

Over the weekend, crowds turned out at the encampment, and to a second protest site in Mong Kok, to observe the anniversary of the protests. There were seminars on democracy and photo and art exhibitions to commemorate the date.

Students gather at a recreated version of the study room that was one of the highlights of the Occupy Hong Kong protests. Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal

Students gather at a recreated version of the study room that was one of the highlights of the Occupy Hong Kong protests. Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal

The tents have been growing in number, from about 70 in December to over a hundred now, stretching back out on to the side of the main thoroughfare on Harcourt Road. Some of the more permanent occupants are familiar faces to the protesters, such as Bob Kraft, an American pastor. Others drop in and out.

One of the most memorable sights of the Admiralty site during Occupy was the study room, built of wood and decked out with furniture, lights and Wi-Fi. Even that has been reconstructed in recent days at the new encampment, albeit much smaller and away from its previous location the middle of the road.

New York-based artist Miso stands in front of some of his paintings near the Occupy protest site in Hong Kong’s Admiralty neighborhood. Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal

New York-based artist Miso stands in front of some of his paintings near the Occupy protest site in Hong Kong’s Admiralty neighborhood. Isabella Steger/The Wall Street Journal

On Sunday evening, a group of students sat studying for their university entrance examinations, nibbling on Japanese snacks and breaking out into occasional discussions over Occupy-related family strife and a proposed third runway at Hong Kong’s airport, which some have criticized for cost and environmental reasons.

“We want to recreate the feeling of being at the study room,” said Joyce Lo, 18 years old, who was set to take an exam in Chinese reading and writing on Monday. “It’s that feeling when people walked past us in the study room and they fed us and told us they support us, even though the food wasn’t always great, like sometimes the dessert was a bit watery.” Read the rest of this entry »


BLOSSOM FIGHT! ‘Cherry Blossom is Chinese, Not Japanese,’ Claim Growers in China

Artfully Awear Cherry Blossom 5

Old literary references prove flower synonymous with Japan originated on Chinese soil, argues association, after South Korea has also laid claim to the species

Alice Yan reports: A group in China has weighed into the debate about the non-stop-panic-pearlsorigins of a flower synonymous with Japan, the cherry blossom, saying it was first found on Chinese soil.

“We don’t want to start a war of words with Japan or Korea, but we would like to state the fact that many historical literary references prove that cherry blossom originated in China. As Chinese, we are obliged to let more people know about this part of history.”

He Zongru, executive chairman of the China Cherry Blossom Association, told a press conference that historical references proved that the flower originally came from China.

He’s comments came after media reports in South Korea earlier this month suggested that cherry blossom was first found in the country’s southern province of Jeju.

blossoms

”To put it simply, cherry blossoms originated in China and prospered in Japan. None of this is Korea’s business.”

“We don’t want to start a war of words with Japan or Korea, but we would like to state the fact that many historical literary references prove that cherry blossom originated in China. As Chinese, we are obliged to let more people know about this part of history.” he was quoted a saying by the Southern Metropolis News.

Tang Dynasty

He said the species spread to Japan from the Himalayan region during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Zhang Zuoshuang, an official at the Botanical Society of China, was quoted as saying that among the 150 types of wildly-grown cherry blossoms around the world, more than 50 could be found in China. Read the rest of this entry »


China: Coca Cola Poster, 1948

coca-cola-china-woman-1948


How to Use Chopsticks

chopsticks


Obama’s Iran Policy Is Lost at Sea

PHOTO-DAVID KLEIN-WSJ

How can the U.S. hope to keep tabs on Tehran’s nuclear program when we can’t even track its oil tankers?

Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.

Claudia Rosettclaudiarosett writes: American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.

Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).

“Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article.” 

But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.

“Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.”

The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”

Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »


Want Your City State to Become a Capitalist Success Story? Ban Spitting

Photo dated 19 December 1984 shows senior Chinese

It may be hard to measure just how much Singapore’s famed spitting crackdown helped – but it certainly didn’t hurt.

The governing philosophy of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew contained multitudes: a belief in the enriching power of the free market; a development agenda implemented by a strong central government at the expense of personal freedoms. Alongside these well-known themes, however, there was also this: absolutely never, under any circumstances, would there be public spitting in the Lion City.

“Many of the biggest admirers of Singapore’s rise have since followed in its footsteps and stepped up anti-spitting measures. In 2003, in the wake of the regional SARS outbreak, Hong Kong announced a “no-tolerance” policy, tripling the penalty for spitting to $300.”

In Singapore, anyone caught expectorating can be hit with a hefty fine of up to $1,000 and $5,000 for repeat offenders. That law is part of a raft of legislation that Lee put in place — on gum chewing, bird feeding, and flushing public toilets — that 51z84gsE3EL._SL250_reached deep into citizens’ daily lives and that remain a part of Singapore’s legal code today.

[Order Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000” from Amazon.com]

Lee’s strictures on spitting were designed to curb a habit fairly thoroughly ingrained in traditional Chinese culture. Here, for example, Deng Xiaoping meets with Margaret Thatcher with a spittoon in the foreground. The Chinese reformer was a lifelong spitter.

In the West, Singapore’s laws on personal behavior are seen as quirky eccentricities at best (that happen to be great listicle fodder: “If You Think the Soda Ban Is Bad, Check Out all the Things That Are Illegal In Singapore”) and the mark of an invasive nanny state at worst. These laws, however, are rarely considered as a component of Singapore’s much admired economic growth – but maybe they should be.

“The Shenzhen ban comes at a time when the politics of spitting as a dividing line between the ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ world have grown increasingly fraught, given the growing clout of mainland China, a country of rampant spitters.”

Spitting has long been against the law in Singapore, a vestige from the days when, as the New York Times put it in 2003, “British colonialists tried in vain to quell what the port’s Chinese immigrants once considered as natural as breathing.” The city-state didn’t begin enforcing laws on the behavior until 1984. But when Singapore did decide to crack down, it meant it: The government fined 128 people for spitting that first year and another 139 in 1985. Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,054 other followers