Wednesday, December 29, 2010

UK Wants a "Cultural Revolution Just Like the One They've Had in China"

I can't quite describe my feeling.  Words fail me at a moment like this.  So let me just point out one eerie thing:   Mr. Gove appears to be very well suited for the role of "Cultural Revolution" education secretary.  During that wondrous period, you know, uneducated people took over the leadership of China's educational system.  Universities were closed to the public for 10 years.  High schools closed for 6 years. Elementary and middle schools closed for 3 years. Not to mention libraries were sealed and books were burned. I can see why Mr. Gove thinks this was definitely the cause of China's academic success today.

Great. Let’s watch the UK have at it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Boxer-Murder Mystery in Hainan: Part 2

by Maple, guest blogger

[in translation, continued from Part 1 / 阅读中文原文]

A brief history of Christianity in China before I go further:  Catholics first entered China in the 7th century; now there are about four million Catholics in the country, commonly distributed in the suburbs around cities big and small.  Protestants entered China in early 19th century; their missionaries often settled in remote and backward areas. Many never returned home, but became common residents of villages, unknown to the public. They struggled to make a living in adverse conditions, just like the locals, until they died and were buried in the wilderness. Along the Yunnan-Tibet, Yunnan-Burma, and Sichuan-Tibet borders, I've often seen tombstones like this: "Allen Thompson, English missionary, 1805-1886."  Currently China has about ten million Protestants.


A little after 10 am, we arrived at the town of Jiaji, in Qiong Hai city’s jurisdiction. I hadn't been here for four or five years, and was a bit surprised by its change. The rural dirt roads had developed into a four-lane asphalt highway. The farm fields on the roadside had changed into beautiful residential enclaves. Carrefour and Kentucky Chicken replaced farmers markets. Four- or five-star hotels neatly lined up.

Situ asked: "Therefore each year the Boao Forum for Asia (博鳌亚洲论坛会) is held here? Didn't Ms. Clinton stay here a few days ago?"  I laughed: "You are a China Hand! Even this you have heard. Who knows, tonight you guys might stay in the same hotel Hillary did." "That's impossible," Situ said, "we booked the hotel online. It's an average one, about 700 yuan." He took out the receipt to show me – it was exactly the Sofitel Hotel where Hillary had been! Situ laughed loudly: "Therefore Hainan people are really fortunate! In Beijing hotels of this caliber would cost two or three thousand yuan a night."

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Boxer-Murder Mystery in Hainan: Part 1

by Maple, guest blogger

[in translation, 阅读中文原文]

Hainan, China –  One evening near the end of November, I got a call from Beijing. My friend DL asked if I could help an American trace his ancestor in Hainan.

DL's friend, Doctor Cai, who practices Chinese medicine in the US, is the nephew of Chen Lifu and Chen Guofu, brothers of one of the "four big families" in Nationalist China. Many of Doctor Cai's patients are Americans fond of Chinese traditional culture. Every year, a portion of those follow Doctor Cai to visit China, hoping to learn about this age-old and mystical country through first-hand experience.

This November, as usual, Doctor Cai brought a dozen or so Americans to Beijing. After the group activities were finished, all but one returned to the US. Karl, a Los Angeles real estate developer, stayed for a reason.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

American Conspiracy in China – A Review for Rock Paper Tiger

Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann, Soho Press, $25, hardcover

Reviewed by Bob Eberlein

Lisa Brackmann has put out a terrific thriller that runs us around China on an adventure including sightseeing, espionage, terrorism, torture and, of course, art. Rock Paper Tiger is the never-boring, fast moving story of a woman wounded in Iraq finding unexpected refuge in China, only to have the nightmares of the Iraq war revisit her.

It starts with the innocuous meeting of Ellie, the protagonist, with her occasional boyfriend Lao Zhang, and a Uygur man from Xinjiang who some believe is a terrorist. The meeting itself would never have happened but that Ellie’s cell phone ran out of money. That small failure in life management is pretty typical for Ellie. An encounter with an IED in Iraq has also left her with a leg that causes constant pain and a disposition that is often downright skittish. Those bits of her characters, along with the general impulsiveness that seems to be her trademark, lead Ellie into lots of trouble very quickly.