Does this sound familiar? You’re wrapping up a great meal at some fantastic restaurant – stuffed, maybe even overstuffed. Feeling the food coma creep in, you sense your brain struggling to maintain consciousness as your body desperately attempts digestion. Seeing you slump slightly in your chair, the waiter walks by with the dessert menu but passes you by, assuming you’re down for the count.
“Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example…Best when freshly baked and still a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach.”
Mere moments before he’s out of reach, you eagerly snatch the menu from his confused fingers. There’s ALWAYS room (and energy) for dessert! As my friends (and dentist) can attest, my sweet tooth is relentless.
“Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.”
You know how cows have 4-chamber stomachs? I must have bovine tendencies, since no matter how full I may be, I appear to magically grow a separate stomach chamber just in time for dessert! Are you with me?
Much to my surprise, Hong Kong is brimming with bakeries, pâtisseries, cafés, and cha chaan tengs (Chinese tea restaurants). Sometimes, these are more local shops, serving local desserts. Despite the somewhat negative stereotype that clouds western perceptions about Asian desserts, some of the local sweets here really do hold their own. And there is a fun element of novelty, at least to Chinese-dessert-virgins (you get what I mean).
Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example – all creamy, custardy, buttery/flaky crust goodness. Best when freshly baked and still a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach. Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.
Hong Kong residents are hard-core egg lovers – as proven by yet another famous egg-y sweet, the egg waffle. Humble in appearance, when prepared properly, they are slightly crispy on the outside, tender and airy on the inside – sort of the ‘bubble wrap’ of desserts, with the flavor of vanilla cake. The fun, bulbous shapes make tearing off a golden sphere (or 5, or 10) almost impossible to resist!
Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside. Try this WAY before your next visit to the cardiologist! Read the rest of this entry »
George Will writes: Russia’s ongoing dismemberment of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s erasing of Middle Eastern borders have distracted attention from the harassment of U.S. Navy aircraft by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea. Beijing calls this sea, and the Yellow and East China seas, the “near seas,” meaning China’s seas. The episodes involving aircraft are relevant to one of Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s multiplying preoccupations — CUES, meaning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.
“Cascading dangers are compelling Americans to think afresh about something they prefer not to think about at all — foreign policy.”
This is designed to prevent incendiary accidents, a topic of special interest during this month’s centennial commemorations of the beginning of a war that, ignited by miscalculations, ruined the 20th century. Greenert, chief of naval operations, has carrier-based aircraft flying from the Persian Gulf to targets in Iraq. He is, however, always thinking about the far side of the largest ocean.
One hundred years ago, the principal challenge of world diplomacy, which failed spectacularly, was to peacefully integrate a rising, restless power — Germany — into the international system. Today’s comparable challenge is China. Greenert, who knows well his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Wu Shengli, radiates a serene patience about China. Read the rest of this entry »
Gambling Firms Aim to Raise Funds for Macau, Overseas Casino Operations
HONG KONG— For WSJ, Kate O’Keeffe & Yvonne Lee report: China’s international financial hub, located a quick ferry ride from the world’s casino capital, has seen a throng of gambling companies rush to its equity markets over the past year.
“The Asia gaming industry should be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the next decade.”
– CLSA analyst Aaron Fischer
Since July 2013, at least six casino and VIP gambling companies have unveiled plans to list in Hong Kong, often through so-called backdoor listings. These companies are either hoping to raise funds to expand abroad or to bolster business at home in Macau at a time when the enclave’s $45 billion gambling market is suffering its first revenue declines in five years.
Most recently, Nasdaq-listed Iao Kun Group Holdings Co. last month filed a formal listing application to go public “by introduction,” where no new funds are raised, hiring Rothschild (Hong Kong) Ltd. as its sponsor. The company is part of Macau’s junket industry, which brings high-spending gamblers from mainland China to Macau, issues them credit and collects players’ debts in exchange for commissions from casinos. Read the rest of this entry »
Snakes are a delicacy in many parts of the world and among them the Indochinese spitting cobra is held in high regard for both is scarcity and the alleged health benefits it holds to those who consume it… (read more)
“She has the ability to change the course of people’s lives with a click of her mouse.”
Interview with Actress Yao Chen
The Telegraph‘s Sarah Keenlyside: “Is it like having a superpower?” I ask the actress Yao Chen as she raises her coffee cup to her lips. She breaks into a broad smile as her translator explains my meaning. “I’m getting more mature,” she says, avoiding the question. “These days I am much more careful and cautious.”
China’s Answer to Angelina Jolie
“Stories abound of children’s operations that were paid for by donations from her Weibo followers.”
One could add the word “modest” to that list, because Yao, self-effacing as she is, has more followers on Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) than the population of Britain. That’s 71 million, in case you were wondering. And when five per cent of the population of one of the world’s most powerful (not to mention politically sensitive) countries is hanging on your every word, you have a lot of influence, no matter how cautious you are.
“When I was younger a family member shared the gospel with me. And over the course of that summer I read the Bible and it just answered all of the questions I had about life, so very soon after I was baptised.”
In fact, so great is that influence, she has the ability to change the course of people’s lives with a click of her mouse. Stories abound of children’s operations that were paid for by donations from her Weibo followers, of old ladies who put their entire savings into causes she supports – even of a condemned man who was suddenly hailed as a hero because of her impassioned online defence of his character (he was a friend of her father’s).
How did a nice middle-class actress conquer Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, and turn herself into one of the most influential figures in the world?
A still from Color Me Love (2010)
So how did a 34-year-old from a small coastal city in south-east China rise from obscurity to become one of Time magazine’s 100 most powerful people on the planet? (Forbes ranked her 83rd among the world’s most influential women.) And, more to the point, why have we never heard of her?
Government continues crackdown over violent incidents blamed on Uighur separatists from Xinjiang region
BEIJING—Chinese state media said on Saturday that eight convicted terrorists were executed in the far western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic conflicts have left dozens of people dead this year.
Among those executed were three men convicted of plotting a deadly assault in the heart of Beijing last year in which the attacker—with his mother and wife as passengers—drove a sport-utility vehicle through crowds, killing themselves and three bystanders, the government-run Tianshan Net news portal said.
The incident was a sign that the ethnic violence was spilling out of the ethnic region of Xinjiang.
The others who were executed were convicted of offenses including police attacks, bomb making, murder and arson, the news portal said.
The report didn’t say when the executions took place.
Xinjiang is home to the Muslim, Turkic minority of Uighurs. Beijing has blamed the ethnic violence on terrorism with overseas ties, but human rights groups say the Uighurs are suffering from repressive policies and practices. Read the rest of this entry »
China demands end to U.S. surveillance flights
Bill Gertz reports: The Navy is sending a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Asia Pacific region amid new tensions with China over a dangerous aerial encounter between a Chinese interceptor and Navy P-8 surveillance craft.
“We stand by our account of this dangerous and unprofessional incident.”
– Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby
The strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson departed San Diego for the Pacific on Friday, the Navy said in an announcement of what it terms a “planned” deployment.
- Report: Chinese Su-27 Jet Threatened U.S. Navy Intelligence Aircraft Near Japan (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- China Warns U.S. to Stop Close-in Surveillance (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
China’s military on Saturday, meanwhile, demanded an end to all U.S. monitoring flights and called U.S. criticism of dangerous Chinese jet maneuvers false.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement that a Chinese fighter jet made a “regular identification and verification” of the Navy P-8 anti-submarine warfare jet during an encounter in an area 135 miles east of Hainan Island.
“We are concerned that the intercepting crews from that unit are acting aggressively and demonstrating a lack of regard for the regard for the safety of our aircrews.”
– Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool
Yang called Pentagon criticism of the incident “totally groundless” and insisted the Chinese pilot operated professionally and kept a safe distance.
The Chinese spokesman’s account, published in the state-run Xinhua news agency, is at odds with Pentagon officials who called the encounter both dangerous and aggressive. A White House official also said the dangerous intercept was a Chinese “provocation.”
“We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept, which posed a risk to the safety and the well-being of the air crew and was inconsistent with customary international law.”
– Rear Adm. John Kirby
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Friday called the maneuvers by the Chinese J-11—a Russian design Su-27—a dangerous and unprofessional encounter and said the military has protested the incident to the Chinese military. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese Defense Ministry here on Saturday urged the U.S. side to stop close-in surveillance of China, and create a sound atmosphere for bilateral military ties.
The ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement that one U.S. anti-submarine plane and one patrol aircraft flew to an airspace about 220 kilometers east of China’s Hainan Island to conduct close-in surveillance Tuesday morning, and then a Chinese fighter jet took off to make regular identification and verification.
Commenting on relevant criticism made by the U.S. side, Yang said that was “totally groundless,” as the Chinese pilot, with professional operation, kept the jet within a safe distance from the U.S. aircraft.
It was U.S. massive and frequent close-in surveillance of China that endanger the two sides’ air and marine security, and is the root of accidents, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Started as a film forum in 2006, the festival over the years has grown to be one of the most important events for China’s independent films, but also has attracted the attention of authorities eager to regulate free speech.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities blocked an annual independent film festival from opening on Saturday, said organizers of an event that has become a rare and influential venue for the showing of films that could be critical of the government.
“It’s very clear that the Xi Jinping regime is determined to control the ideological realm, which has not been emphasized so much for a long time.”
– Chris Berry, professor of film studies at King’s College London
The Beijing Independent Film Festival’s artistic director, Wang Hongwei, and executive director, Fan Rong, said authorities had forced the cancellation of the event, which was scheduled to run through Aug. 31. Wang and Fan are with the Li Xianting Film Fund, the festival’s organizer.
— Emma Chibulu (@chibulu) August 22, 2014
Li Xianting, founder of the film fund and a movie critic, posted memos on social media over the past week saying that state security personnel had been pressuring him to cancel the festival and that he had come under police surveillance. Both Wang and Fan verified the authenticity of Li’s posts. Read the rest of this entry »
Defense officials said the Chinese Su-27 interceptor jet flew within 50 feet of the P-8 anti-submarine warfare jet near Japan
Bill Gertz reports: A Chinese jet fighter flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy P-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft near Japan this week in an encounter that highlights China’s continued aggressiveness in the region.
The P-8, a new, militarized Boeing-737 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, was conducting routine surveillance of the Chinese coast over the East China Sea on Monday when the incident occurred, said U.S. defense officials familiar with reports of the encounter.
In 1991 China purchased an initial batch of 24 SU-27s for about $1 billion which were delivered in late 1992 and based at Wuhu Air Base, 250 kilometers west of Shanghai. In May 1995 China purchased a second batch of 24 SU-27 aircraft through Russia’s main state-run arms exporting company Rosvooruzheniye.
Su-27 profile from fas.org
Codenamed `Flanker’ by NATO, the J-11 [Su-27] is a multi-role fighter bomber and air superiority aircraft which can also be used in the maritime strike role. The Flanker has an operational radius of around 1500 km, and is equipped with an inflight refuelling facility extending their radius by another 500 km. Although normally configured for conventional operations, the J-11 could provide China with a high-performance nuclear-capable strike aircraft. The acquisition of Su-27, after China had attempted for years to develop the J-10 aircraft with equivalent technology to perform similar functions, demonstrates a lack of confidence in domestic industrial capabilities…(read more)
More from Washington Free Beacon‘s Bill Gertz: These were delivered in April 1996 and based at Suixi Air Base in Southern China. The 48 Su-27-type aircraft include 36 one-seat Su-27SK manufactured in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and 12 two-seat Su-27UB manufactured in Irkutsk, worth a total of 1.7 billion dollars.
In 1991 China purchased an initial batch of 24 SU-27s for about $1 billion which were delivered in late 1992 and based at Wuhu Air Base, 250 kilometers west of Shanghai. In May 1995 China purchased a second batch of 24 SU-27 aircraft through Russia’s main state-run arms exporting company Rosvooruzheniye. These were delivered in April 1996 and based at Suixi Air Base in Southern China. The 48 Su-27-type aircraft include 36 one-seat Su-27SK manufactured in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and 12 two-seat Su-27UB manufactured in Irkutsk, worth a total of 1.7 billion dollars. Read the rest of this entry »
Alex Knapp reports: On Tuesday of this week, a Long March-4B carrier rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, carrying with it China’s Gaofen-2, as well as a Polish satellite as part of the BRITE constellation.
The Gaofen-2 is China’s most powerful imaging satellite in orbit to date. A full color satellite, it’s able to view images to a resolution of one meter, and according to the Chinese government, will be used for geographic surveys, environmental modeling, agriculture, and other applications.
“The goal of the BRITE constellation is to observe some of the brightest stars in the sky in the hopes of learning more about them from their light properties.”
As you might guess by the name, this satellite is the second in China’s Gaofen satellite series. The first, Gaofen-1, was launched in April of 2013. The Chinese government plans to place a total of seven Gaofen satellites into orbit. The first Gaofen satellite has been used for city development and agricultural planning, according to the Chinese government. The satellite was also used to assist the search for the missing Malaysian Airline flight earlier this year. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s state propaganda machine is seizing Friday’s 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping‘s birth to highlight similarities between President Xi Jinping and the paramount leader who set the country on the road to economic prosperity while crushing dissent.
A heavyweight official biography of Deng was published this week, and Chinese television viewers are being regaled with a 48-episode dramatisation of his life, broadcast nationwide in primetime.
“The contribution by Comrade Deng Xiaoping not only changed the historic destiny of the Chinese people but also changed the course of the world’s history.”
– President Xi Jinping
But the series only covers the eight years up to 1984, avoiding much of the tumult of the Cultural Revolution and, crucially, stopping five years before he ordered the deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“Xi is essentially trying to get back to the Deng spirit of being reformist on the economy and orthodox on the politics.”
– John Delury, an expert on modern Chinese history at Yonsei University in Seoul
Pro-Democracy Activists Demand Right to Nominate Candidates for Chief Executive
HONG KONG — WSJ‘s Chester Yung reports: China’s top legislative body in Beijing is expected to announce a decision Aug. 31 on the issue of how Hong Kong’s leader is elected, according to people familiar with the matter.
[Also see - Pundit Planet welcomes new Deputy Bureau Chief & Asia Photo Editor-At-Large, Hong Kong Fong's Deb Fong]
Beijing has said elections for the city’s leader will begin in 2017, but at issue is whether Beijing will let Hong Kong residents directly nominate candidates for the chief executive post or whether only pre-approved candidates will be allowed to run.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, will convene Aug. 25-31 in Beijing, and will discuss proposed reforms for electing Hong Kong’s top leader.
“Occupy Central, a pro-democratic activist group, has threatened to mobilize 10,000 protesters in mass civil disobedience if Beijing takes a hard line on the city’s election reforms.”
Two people familiar with the matter said a news conference would be held in Beijing on Aug. 31 to announce the results of the meeting. They said another news conference would be held in Hong Kong.
[From our July 1 2014 Edition: Hong Kong’s Occupy Central ‘Referendum’ Explained]
[Exclusive report - Underneath the “Hong Kong Miracle”]
So far, rhetoric from officials in both Beijing and Hong Kong suggests that Beijing will reject outright activists’ demands that the public be allowed to directly nominate candidates for chief executive. Read the rest of this entry »
Foreigner fell unconscious in Shanghai No. 2 subway. Passengers in 3 carriages rushed out. No one helped. pic.twitter.com/UyLNDLgPXb
— Offbeat China (@OffbeatChina) August 20, 2014
From vintage everyday: Heres a collection of amazing color photographs showing everyday life of Hong Kong in 1969, taken by LIFE photographer Co Rentmeester. Dedicated to Pundit Planet‘s own co-founder and Legal Affairs Correspondent, Primatologist and Hong Kong Fong‘s Deb Fong, our Deputy Bureau Chief & Asia Photo Editor-at-Large, both stationed at our luxurious Hong Kong Headquarters. See the whole series from this 1969 portfolio, it’s a large set, worth exploring the whole thing.