In China, friends and family of the deceased may have to do without a special form of funeral entertainment: strippers
Primatologist 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:
“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.
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.
“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 »
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.
“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 »
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) April 21, 2015
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: Godzilla is playing a leading role again — this time as a tourist attraction in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, where the monster is working to resurrect the area’s reputation as a film hub.
“The 12-meter-high Godzilla head is a centerpiece of the building. The sculpture is installed 52 meters above ground level — matching the height of the original monster that appeared in the first film in 1954.”
The 30-story Shinjuku Toho building opened Friday in Kabukicho on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater. Thanks to the installation of a colossal sculpture of Godzilla’s head, the monster himself appears to be hovering over a terrace on the eighth floor. The new building houses a fancy movie theater and a hotel with rooms from which Godzilla can be observed close-up.
Kabukicho shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other business operators expect the new building to help reinvigorate the district as a center for cinema lovers. “We’ll do our best to make Kabukicho a safe, secure place,” said Mototsugu Katagiri, the 66-year-old head of the district’s commerce association, at a dedication ceremony Thursday.
Kabukicho was formerly home to more than a dozen movie theaters, but that number has dwindled as fewer people have been going to the cinema. Shinjuku Milano Theater was shuttered at the end of last year, leaving the district without a single movie house.
The Shinjuku Toho building was constructed on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater, which closed in 2008. The new facility features a hotel and a movie complex.
With 12 screens and 2,347 seats, Toho Cinemas Shinjuku occupies the third to sixth floors. The theater features deluxe seats equipped with marble tray tables and power recliners. Read the rest of this entry »
Brian Krassenstein 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 within 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 printing 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.
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 »
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.
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
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.
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 »
She erased emails after the Benghazi probe wanted to see them
If the House panel investigating Benghazi really wants to get a look at Hillary Clinton’s emails, perhaps it should subpoena the Chinese military. Beijing—which may have hacked the private server she used to send official email as Secretary of State—is likely to be more cooperative than are Mrs. Clinton and her stonewall specialists now reprising their roles from the 1990s.
“Mrs. Clinton’s real message to Congress: You’ll see those emails over my dead body.”
On Friday Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, disclosed that he couldn’t cooperate with the Benghazi committee’s request that she turn over her private server to an independent third party for examination. Why not? Well, the former first diplomat had already wiped the computer clean.
Of course she had. What else would she do?
The timing of the deletions isn’t entirely clear. Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy says they appear to have been deleted after Oct. 28, 2014, when State asked Mrs. Clinton to return her public records to the department. That could qualify as obstruction of Congress, as lawyer Ronald Rotunda recently argued on these pages.
The deletions certainly violate Mrs. Clinton’s promise to Congress on Oct. 2, 2012, when the Benghazi probe was getting under way. “We look forward to working with the Congress and your Committee as you proceed with your own review,” she told the Oversight Committee. “We are committed to a process that is as transparent as possible, respecting the needs and integrity of the investigations underway. We will move as quickly as we can without forsaking accuracy.”
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kendall say the vanishing emails don’t matter because State and the committee already have all the relevant documents and emails they’ve asked for. But State and the committee don’t have the actual emails, only the printed copies she provided to State.
Hillary used iPad for official emails at State
The Hill reports: Hillary Clinton used an iPad and Blackberry to send official emails at the State Department despite her claim that she relied on a personal address to avoid the inconvenience of multiple devices, according to The Associated Press.
And State had previously assured the committee it had everything it had asked for before Mrs. Clinton coughed up 850 pages of email copies from her private server this month—emails State couldn’t turn over before because she hadn’t provided them despite clear State Department policy that she and other officials do so….(read more)
Mrs. Clinton’s real message to Congress: You’ll see those emails over my dead body. Read the rest of this entry »
The Obama administration refuses to negotiate openly, lest the extent of its diplomatic surrender to Iran be prematurely and fatally exposed.
“We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program,” Mr. Obama said of the Iranians in an interview with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire philanthropist. “They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They don’t need some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a limited, peaceful nuclear program.”
Hardly more than a year later, on the eve of what might be deal-day, here is where those promises stand:
Fordo: “The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites.”—Associated Press, March 26.
Arak: “Today, the six powers negotiating with Iran . . . want the reactor at Arak, still under construction, reconfigured to produce less plutonium, the other bomb fuel.”—The New York Times, March 7.
Advanced centrifuges: “Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.”—Reuters, March 3.
But the president and his administration made other promises, too. Consider a partial list:
Possible military dimensions: In September 2009 Mr. Obama warned Iran that it was “on notice” that it would have to “come clean” on all of its nuclear secrets. Now the administration is prepared to let it slide.
“It was never especially probable that a detailed, satisfactory verification regime would be included in the sort of substantive framework agreement that the Americans have been working for.”
— The Economist
“Under the new plan,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman reported last week, “Tehran wouldn’t be expected to immediately clarify all the outstanding questions raised by the IAEA in a 2011 report on Iran’s alleged secretive work. A full reckoning of Iran’s past activities would be demanded in later years as part of a nuclear deal that is expected to last at least 15 years.”
Verification: Another thing the president said in that interview with Mr. Saban is that any deal would involve “extraordinary constraints and verification mechanisms and intrusive inspections.”
Iran isn’t playing ball on this one, either. Read the rest of this entry »
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 origins 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.
”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.
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 »
Government opens another front in public relations battle with China, South Korea
TOKYO— Peter Landers writes: Japan’s government is paying to have Japanese-language nonfiction books translated into English, with the first works to be produced under the program arriving in American libraries this month.
“Japan is among the top nations in the world in terms of books published, but unfortunately, they’re just published in Japanese. If they were known around the world, there are a lot of books that people would find really interesting.”
The move is one of several nontraditional public-relations steps by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, which is trying to enhance Japan’s profile among U.S. opinion leaders and the general public as it engages in a public relations battle with China and South Korea.
“Some efforts have been overtly political. South Korea has created a website in seven languages to make its case that two islets claimed by both Tokyo and Seoul rightly belong to South Korea, and last year sponsored an exhibit in France on forced prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II.”
Japan’s foreign ministry has boosted its public diplomacy budget. Measures include spending $5 million to fund a professorship in Japanese politics and foreign policy at Columbia University. Another program, begun last year, sends Japanese people from various walks of life to places like Lawrence, Kan., and Lexington, Ky., to talk about life in Japan.
The books translated into English with Japanese government funds will carry the imprint “Japan Library” and be published by the government itself—a different approach from that of some other nations that subsidize private translations. Read the rest of this entry »
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 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 »
‘The regulators require the birth system in our games to meet the regulations of birth-control policies.’
Let’s say you load up The Sims (China Edition). You make your little character. What’s the first thing he should do? Register for a hukou, of course. And then get a national ID card. A bit down the road, if he gets married, he’d better not think of having a second child without paying a social-compensation fee. Aren’t video games fun?
According to an article on MarketWatch, this scenario isn’t as ridiculous as it seems. The folks at MarketWatch spoke to a Chinese game developer who ran into issues with authorities who believe that video games should reflect the laws and regulations of the PRC.
“The regulators require the birth system in our games to meet the regulations of birth-control policies [in China],” says the developer, who had to make changes after his game originally allowed for characters to have multiple children. Read the rest of this entry »
We’re back with more catfish! I discovered and posted a link to small item about this here, yesterday, but was disappointed to not find any additional reporting on it, but most of all, disappointed to find no photos. Thankfully, images are coming in. A story about a gigantic catfish-in-the-streets catastrophe is obviously a lot less fun without pictures.
When the door of a delivery truck in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou swung open, 15,000 lb. of catfish came spilling out, covering the road in a flopping, scaly mess.
Remarkably, with the help of community members and the local fire department, a two-hour rescue effort was undertaken and the shipment was not wasted, according to the Shanghaiist. Their task was arduous but simple — workers basically sprayed the fish with water to keep them alive while others picked them up and returned them to the truck…(read more)
Teijin Tetron テイジンテトロン pleated skirt advertising – Japan – 1961
One donor – Rilin Enterprises – pledged $2 million in 2013 to the Clinton Foundation’s endowment. The company is a privately-held Chinese construction and trade conglomerate and run by billionaire Wang Wenliang, who is also a delegate to the Chinese parliament. Public records show the firm has spent $1.4 million since 2012, lobbying Congress and the State Department. The firm owns a strategic port along the border with North Korea and was also one of the contractors that built the Chinese embassy in Washington.
That contract is a direct tie to the Chinese government, according to Jim Mann, who has written several books on China’s relationship with the U.S. With “embassy construction, one of the most important tasks is making sure that there are no bugs there,” he said. “So you want to have the closest security and intelligence connections with and approval of the person or company that’s going to build your embassy.”
The tie to the Chinese government is troubling enough, but the CBS News report doesn’t elaborate upon the firm’s ties to North Korea. The port owned by Rilin in Dandong, China has long been suspected of helping North Korea evade western sanctions. Not three days ago, the Washington Post published this report on it:
DANDONG, China — The textile factories producing “made in China” goods from compounds just across the Yalu River from North Korea offer a glimpse into a hidden world that is helping North Korea’s economy to thrive….(read more)
Alyssa Abkowitz reports: In 1989, sexologist Li Yinhe conducted a famous survey that showed 15% of Chinese respondents said they had premarital sex. Today, that figure is about 71%, according to local figures. “China is becoming more adventurous in the bedroom,” said Zhang Lijia, author of the forthcoming novel “Lotus,” which looks at prostitution in modern China.
“China is becoming more adventurous in the bedroom.”
Ms. Zhang was speaking to a mostly younger crowd at Beijing’s Bookworm Literary Festival on Sunday. She was joined by Jemimah Steinfeld, author of “Little Emperors and Material Girls,” which focuses on China’s sex and youth culture, and Faramerz Dabhoiwala, who has been called the Stephen Hawking of sex for writing “The Origins of Sex,” which looks at the western sexual revolution of the 18th century.
“Chinese women gingerly began to unbutton Chairman Mao’s jacket. For a long time kissing on a bus was something we only saw in foreign films.”
— Zhang Lijia
Only several decades ago, “Chinese women gingerly began to unbutton Chairman Mao’s jacket,” Ms. Zhang said, referring to the 1980s, when women started to wear makeup and shorter skirts. “For a long time kissing on a bus was something we only saw in foreign films.”
“Er nai, as modern-day Chinese mistresses are called, are deeply entwined in business practices, because having multiple mistresses is a sign that a man has the pull to seal a deal.”
Today, sex is everywhere in China, from adult stores on nearly every corner in Beijing to young entrepreneurs, such as one interviewed by Ms. Steinfeld, who wants to import quality sex toys because he thinks Chinese sex toys are faulty. (This could be a tough road, as the majority of sex toys are made in China and exported around the world, Ms. Zhang said).
“There are women who have lovers just for fun too. Male prostitutes are far more expensive here because they have more work to do.”
Judging from the panel discussion, progress is mixed. As Beijing looks to pass its first domestic violence law, cleavage is being banned on television. One of the most popular items sold at roadside sex shops is hymen repair kits. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing Assails Student Democrats as Revolutionaries
China’s Communist Party frequently rails against “splittists,” with the usual targets being the freedom- and independence-minded people of Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang. Now China’s parliament is adding Hong Kong to its enemies list, using the pretext of last year’s pro-democracy marches.
“In his annual Policy Address in January, Mr. Leung attacked his critics for harboring secessionist sentiments, citing as evidence the undergraduate magazine of Hong Kong University, which published an article on ‘Hong Kong people deciding their own fate’ and a book called ‘Hong Kong Nationalism.'”
“The movement and the expression for independence of Hong Kong will not be tolerated,” third-ranked leader Zhang Dejiang declared last week in the Great Hall of the People. Days before, General Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff, told a state magazine that last year’s street protests were “a Hong Kong version of a color revolution,” akin to the popular movements that toppled several post-Soviet governments a decade ago.
“Mr. Leung was widely ridiculed for the feebleness of the charge, yet now top leaders in Beijing are echoing it.”
These aren’t the first time such charges have been leveled. In October, during the first weeks of Hong Kong’s 75-day demonstrations, a commentary in the official People’s Daily argued that the protesters’ true aim was independence, while senior Politburo member Wang Yang warned of “color revolution.” But Beijing then muted such claims—at least until Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying revived them. Read the rest of this entry »