Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chongqing Impression

Some readers of my earlier post "Chongqing Nostalgia. Where Is It?" asked for more stories about Chongqing.  Here are two detailed pieces I wrote that appeared elsewhere last week:

Chongqing Dispatch - China Beat
Gingko Fever in Chongqing  - Atlantic / Fallows

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kissinger Encloses Many Sides of Mao – A Review of On China

On China by Henry Kissinger, Penguin Press, hardcover, 586 pages, $36

Reviewed by Bob Eberlein

“God has sent me an invitation, yet he [Kissinger] says, don’t go.”

So Mao Zedong reflects on the passing of his soul in a conversation with Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger in 1975. There is a chance that I have seen this quote before. If so, it passed me by. With limited knowledge of China and Mao at the time, I would not have understood the overwhelming irony embodied in the conversation.

Reading it afresh in Henry Kissinger’s new book On China - released today - I laughed and laughed. The conversation follows the riveting story of the opening of diplomatic relations between the US and China that was spearheaded by Kissinger. Though I knew how the story would end, I still found myself reading with great anticipation, for in this part of the book Kissinger has really managed to bring us into the moment, to show us things as he saw them then. And he certainly did not know what was going to happen next.

Friday, May 13, 2011

White or Red: Bo Xilai's Quandary

While in Chongqing last month, I heard this story:

Bo Xilai was puzzled why Taiwan businesses shy away from Chongqing, despite the fact he has "aggressively provided preferential policies to attract investment." The Taiwanese are around and nearby -- they have made the Sichuan province their most popular destination in western China – but they avoid Chongqing. Bo asked the question in a meeting, and he was told, well, it is the "Refuse Pit Prison."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Poll on How to View Chongqing's 'Sing Red Songs' Campaign

If a public poll from Chinese media means anything, here is one on the website of China's International Herald Leader titled "How to View Chongqing's 'Sing Red Songs' Upsurge." The questions and votes (as of this writing) are translated below:

  1. Is it still meaningful to ardently sing red songs in our new era? 
  • Yes, the spirit they represent is still worth promoting (39.02%) 
  • Yes, they are excellent musical works (6.13%) 
  • No, the background of the songs' time no longer exists (40.1%)  
  • No, most singers can't understand their connotation (11.04%)  
  • No, revised too much (1.54%)  
  • Don't know (2.2%)
    1. Can red songs arouse the lost belief?
    • Yes (17.13%)
    • No (55.89%)
    • At least some positive effect (24.81%)
    • Not sure (2.19%)

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    The Ambivalent Role of China's Middle Class -- A Book Review

    The Chinese Dream: The Rise of the World’s Largest Middle Class and What It Means to You by Helen H. Wang, Bestseller Press, $16.97 paperback, $9.99 Kindle edition

    "What do you think 'middle class' means in China?"  I raised this question to Chinese friends during my trip to Chongqing in April.  I was after a spontaneous answer.  From what I heard, the consensus seems that if you own a house and a car, you are in middle class.  An art professor, who owns neither, said that by classical definition a professional is middle class, but in today's China he is no longer sure if he is middle class despite the fact he is a professional.