Tag Archives: china

Happy Mao-mas!

24 Dec

maoAs you’re all tucking into your turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day, there’ll be a celebration of a slightly different kind up Beijing way. Yup, December 26th will mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, the man who launched 1,000 ironic t-shirts as well as being the founding father of modern Communist China.

Considering he managed to bump off an estimated 50 million of his own people thanks to a fateful combination of woeful economic mismanagement and egomaniacal hubris it’s a wonder the old chairman has managed to retain such iconic status in the Middle Kingdom. Well, I say it’s a wonder but it’s not really, considering the party he founded and swept to victory over Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang nationalists has always put self-preservation and media control above all else.

So it is 120 years after he was born that the man who now sits in his throne at the apex of state and party, Xi Jinping, is turning the screws even more on the country’s media. You’ve got to hand it to the Party, this time last year it was difficult to see how media controls could even get any tighter.

New guidelines released this week urge the industry: “Strengthen the management of the media, do not provide channels for the propagation of the wrong points of view”. Ostensibly this is a request to self-regulate, but we all know what the alternative is: sack-cloth, unmarked van, detention.

As if that weren’t enough there are plans to put local propaganda officials in charge of the journalism programmes at 10 of China’s top universities. This takes care of the next batch of freshly pressed, brainwashed reporters, but what about those who may still harbour some desire to dig for the truth in modern China? Well, Xi’s thought of that too. Back in August the Party announced that China’s 300,000+ hacks would be sent back to school to study Marxism classes.

“I’ve studied Marxism for so many years, the more I study it, the less I understand it,” a Beijing-based journo told the SCMP.

You know what? I think that’s exactly the point.

Happy Mao-mas everyone!

Airpocalypse NOW: China’s netizens slam smog spin sham

12 Dec

smog spaceIn the world of spin there are few who can claim to have reached the very pinnacle of their art. Alastair Campbell swore and bullied New Labour to three general election victories. Fair play you horrible man. Shane Warne managed somehow to put Liz Hurley in such a spin that she had sex with him….more than once by all accounts. Then there is Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, probably the greatest spinner of all time, who bowled himself to 800 First Class wickets.

They all pale in comparison with the Communist Party of China, who this week via state-controlled media tried to put a positive spin on the country’s airpocalyptic smog problem. The article on national broadcaster CCTV’s web site incurred such a savage backlash from the country’s feisty netizens that it was soon withdrawn, but the Streisand effect has been at full throttle ever since. The broadcaster clearly needs to learn a thing or two from the Daily Mail about link-baiting. If you’re going to post something this offensive you might as well leave it up to get the clicks.

In short, the article highlighted “five surprising benefits from China’s haze”. Not “deadly and entirely man-made fog”, you understand, but “haze” – as one might see on a hot summer’s day in Kensington Park. Whether it was a jokey attempt to play down the carcinogenic clouds that have closed down major cities including Shanghai and Harbin in recent months, is unclear. One thing that is though – if you’re a mouthpiece of the central government, don’t make light of a problem which is causing people to quite literally cough up their lung sacks.

So without further ado, here are the five benefits of cancerous smog as translated by Tea Leaf Nation (comments added by your Noodle):

  • It brings China together. Yup, smog is EVERYWHERE – it affects cities big and small, towns and villages. British people love to talk about the weather – it’s the social glue that holds the nation together. In China they can’t because, well, they can’t see the weather.

  • It makes Chinese people more equal. Kind of a development of the last point. The idea here is that choking smog is indiscriminate – all must kneel before its deadly power. The only slight problem with this argument is that the families of Communist Party members either live abroad or rarely even need to visit the outdoors. They simply glide along on floating money from one air conditioned luxury shopping mall to another.

  • It gives the Chinese an opportunity to display their fabulous sense of humour – cracking wise about the smog. Well, the author certainly misjudged that one.

  • It raises awareness about pollution. Yup, fair point. But awareness has been raised now. I think people would generally quite like their kids to begin breathing non-carcinogenic air.

  • It makes people more knowledgeable. Again, kind of similar to the previous point, but also similarly trumped by the fact that the whole choking air thing is getting a bit old now. The author apparently postulates that “our knowledge or meterology, geography, physics, chemistry and history has progressed” thanks to the smog, and locals have even learned the English words for “haze” and “smog”. Perhaps the author has learned the words for “unpaid leave” by now too.

    For the record, things have gotten so bad on the smog front that Beijing has even been forced to enlist the help of one of its supercomputers – the Tinahe-1A, to help crunch some numbers. The hive mind will be tasked with analysing what conditions foment the perfect smoggy storm so they can be avoided in the future. No doubt the power-hungry supercomputer will be fuelled by a lovely clean coal power station. Oops.

From opium to pig jizz: Cameron turns on the charm in China

6 Dec

david cameronDavid Cameron has been in China this week on the “can you spare some change?” tour. Along with an enormous entourage of business leaders, ministers and other hangers-on, he whored his way around the Middle Kingdom trying to promote a free trade agreement with Beijing and broker more lucrative financial deals for the UK.

He managed to do all of this, of course, in a spectacularly obsequious and utterly humiliating manner. No mention of human rights, Tibet, online censorship or even the increasingly vulgar attempts by the Communist Party to intimidate journalists over here. When US Veep Joe Biden is making you look wilfully out-of-touch by raising the matter with Beijing, it’s probably time for a strategy rethink. You kowtowing cock.

So what was the highlight of the week? A contender was surely China’s subtle attempt to assassinate our PM via air pollution in Shanghai that topped 400 on the AQI today – literally off the scale. But no, my top pick was Wheeler Dealer Dave shaking on a £45 million contract to export pig semen to China. Yup. Apparently the Chinese have an insatiable appetite for the stuff – pork not pig wank – and this high quality jizz will go some way to sustaining the largest pig population on Earth. Apparently Dave joked that is was like “selling coals to Newcastle”. Given that my home town hasn’t exported coal for over one hundred years, we should probably update this phrase for the 21st century. How about “like selling pig spunk to China”? Yeah, that’ll do.

In a related story – bear with me – Hong Kong’s female population is positively crying out for jizz, although presumably with the caveat it must be human, according to The Atlantic. The gender imbalance in the SAR has apparently reached epic proportions, with over 200,000 women living alone according to the 2011 Census. The depressing reality is that one in five born today will apparently stay single for the rest of their lives. Sorry girls.

My advice: go out and get drunk once in a while. Going shopping with your parents every weekend is not normal behaviour for anyone past puberty. We all know the first step towards a stable, loving relationship is getting twatted almost to the point of blindness and then pulling a random in a bar. Never did me any harm anyway.

The best ramen in Hong Kong: hot noodle-on-noodle action

28 Nov

noodles hide chantSecond up in my Noodle-on-noodles odyssey is ramen. Arguably one of Japan’s greatest gastro-cultural exports, ramen is actually a kind of Japanese-Chinese hybrid. It typically features the wheat noodles and roast pork (cha-siu) popular in the Middle Kingdom, with that added Japanese obsessional eye for detail which helps create rich, flavour-packed soup stocks.

Being as ramen is borrowed a bit from Chinese noodle dishes it seems highly appropriate that Hong Kong-ers have taken to it in their droves. However, while in Japan there are very distinct varieties – miso (popular in Hokkaido), shoyu (a good Kanto staple), salt (a lighter broth), and tonkotsu (rich pork broth base from Kyushu) – in the SAR, tonkotsu is the clear winner. Which is fine for me, cos it’s my favourite.ramen menu

There are several above average ramen-ya in Hong Kong, in fact, the locals are spoiled for choice here. However, there are several no-nos as well. In a tonkotsu joint I want proper, thin Hakata-style noodles, I want to be able to choose my done-ness of noodle, and I want lots of choice when it comes to extra toppings – everything from more pork to soft boiled eggs and seaweed, if you please.

Unfortunately I’ve had many a poor bowl of noods in Hongkers, but am happy to say that a few places are upholding the fine tonkotsu ramen tradition with honour. Butao ramen – that hole-in-the-wall joint near LKF – has moved to Wellington Street but the place seems no bigger, still pulling in huge queues. They have a nice take on tonkotsu with squid ink, and a great almost milky stock, but any ramen-ya proprietor that serves a east-meets-west “green” version deserves to be shot.

Ippudo’s not bad either – a decades old chain from Hakata, the home of tonkotsu ramen, which now has a several outposts in Hongkers. Three things put me off about this place though. The ramen were perfectly fine but there was no choice over how well cooked I wanted them; the whole place stank of fresh paint (this is the Central branch); and the menu is just too big, featuring everything from burgers to onsen tamago. Stick to the ramen guys … and stop painting.

noodles hide chant

A steaming bowl of Red Hide

No, I’ve tried the rest and keep on coming back to my favourite: Hide Chan on Wellington St. It’s never busy for some reason, despite being in the Michelin Guide, but it should be. Eating a bowl of their White Hide ramen is like tucking into a roast pork Sunday lunch. Liquidised, of course. I believe they roast the pork bones over a high heat to get that intense flavour. The soup also has the creaminess tonkotsu should, without tasting like a lard banquet, and the pork topping is given a quick blast with the blow torch to enhance its char-grilled flavour.

The menu is also mercifully short. Choose Hakata Original, White Hide, Black (never had it) or Red (with a mild chilli-miso sauce), decide how soft or hard you want those noods and if you want pork shoulder or belly, then choose one of many extra toppings. Simples. Oh and they also do a dissembled version known as tsukemen, for those that like it or care, and serve up the lightest, crispest gyoza I’ve had this side of Japan. Beers are also ridiculously cheap (around HK$25) and I’ve never had to queue.

If you’re a ramen buff, try it out and let me know what you think. I’ve had few better bowls than this joint serves up.

China: Be the best, screw the rest

13 Nov

typhoonThis week saw the world’s biggest ever shopping event. It was in China, obviously, where coming first at stuff has become a national pastime, and it was 11.11 day – an event made up by retailers to sell more shit on the country’s most popular e-commerce platforms, run by Alibaba.

Now I mention this because Alibaba recorded a staggering $5.78 billion in sales on that single day, double that of the year previously. If any event could define a nation at a single moment in time it would be this – Chinese shoppers scrabbling desperately to hoover up as many online bargains as possible, like so many chavs bursting down the doors of Primark on Boxing Day. Spend, spend, spend and forget the state-sanctioned human rights abuses, the endemic corruption, and the cancerous smog.

I also mention this because at the last count, China had failed to offer a single penny of aid to the typhoon-wracked Philippines. With large parts of the country totally and utterly flattened, thousands dead and an estimated 600,000 displaced, two-thirds of whom are still without food, water and medicine, it’s not a big ask. The Chinese Red Cross has offered a paltry $100,000 – not much but it’s something. Actually it’s 0.0017% of the money made in the 11.11 sales.

There are a few reasons why the response from the world’s second largest economy has been so feeble, and they offer a neat insight into the Chinese psyche, or more pertinently, the Communist Party’s priority list. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated recently over that old chestnut, territorial claims in the South China Sea. In this case, China is claiming a group of rocks known as the Spratlys just 100 miles away from the Philippines. Then there is the lingering anger at the lack of a formal apology from Philippines government for the 2010 hostage bungle, in which several Hong Kong tourists were killed when their bus was captured by terrorists in Manila.

Hong Kong, for the record, is still um-ing and ah-ing about official aid – waiting for a Legco ruling to approve a HK$40m disaster fund. This despite the fact that over 100,000 Filipino maids work in the SAR. In the meantime, local charities are taking the initiative themselves and seem to be doing ok. Even HSBC has donated more than $1 million. It also seems, according to my friends at Shanghaiist, that even the loyal state-run media in China is angry at Beijing’s lack of movement on this so far. When you’re being made to look miserly and petty by a bank, and the media outlets you control with an iron fist are having a pop, it’s probably time to rethink your position.

No wonder China’s soft power efforts are somewhere behind North Korea’s at times.

World War BoJo: Big Posh Sod lands in Hong Kong

18 Oct

boris johnson routemasterYou know how life sometimes decides to piss royally on your cornflakes? So it was with poor old Hong Kong this week.

Now citizens of this schizophrenic little outcrop of China have had to cope with many trials and tribulations over the past 100+ years. Typhoons, fires, cholera, SARS and even an outbreak of the plague close to where I now reside, have all tested the resilience of its people to the limit. That’s not even to mention British colonial rule, and today, an invasion of a different kind by hordes of cash-rich, ill-mannered mainland tourists.

I get the sense Hong Kongers were just about coming to terms with all life had thrown at them when this happened…

Boris in HK

(image: ITV)

Yup, BoJo’s in town gaffe-ing his way around the SAR with his usual aplomb, as part of a 5-day trade visit to China.

One of the new London Routemasters formed one of Boris’ centrepiece photo opportunities in HK. I believe the London mayor is keen to export the idea of a Boris Bus to other countries, although things didn’t get off to a brilliant start here after it was apparently stuck on the cargo boat for several hours after breaking down.

Undeterred the politician who is defined more by his photo opps than any actual policies took to the air in an open-doored helicopter for an Apocalypse Now style sweep across the city, golden mane twirling effortlessly above him.

BJ met George Osborne, who’s been on a similar mission in China seemingly designed to say in BIG capitals: “sorry for hosting the Dalai Lama last year, let’s forget about that and all that human rights nonsense and get as many of you rich sods over to the UK spending your MONEY!”

So it was that dear Gideon declared there is no limit on the number of Chinese students that can study in the UK – hint, hint – and that visa rules for Chinese tourists would be simplified.

Now I’ve got no problem with encouraging rich social elites who probably accrued their wealth illegally in countries which pay little or no heed to human rights to come to the UK to kick-start our economy. You know, cos they sort of owe us anyway for letting them have back Hong Kong even though we’d already named ALL the roads and built loads of stuff there…

I do have a slight issue with the idea that there could be no limit to the number of Chinese students studying in the UK, however. For a Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Osborne is displaying a worrying lack of aptitude for simple mathematics.

There are roughly around 1.4 billion people in China, and a fair proportion of them have the financial means to send their kids abroad to study. However, at the last count, there were fewer than 600,000 undergraduate places available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Apparently 130,000 Chinese are already studying in the UK – although not all on university courses. Let’s see how friendly Georgey boy is to the Middle Kingdomers when that number doubles, or triples over the next few years.

That said, given the trade and investment deals struck with China this week, the UK will soon have no option but to brush off its haughty post-colonial attitudes as Chinese banks and nuclear power stations start popping up all over the People’s Republic of Great Britain.

Transform This!

BoJo’s flying visit at least seems to be going down better with the locals that that of Hollywood director Michael Bay, here in the city to film yet another Transformers film.

As he explained in a brief blog post, a meth’d-up, possible Triad took umbrage to his film crew and tried to shake them down for some “compensation” money – using an air conditioning unit as a stick and, well, there wasn’t a carrot.

Perhaps enraged not just by the methamphetamine coursing through his veins but the dreadful motion pictures Bay has inflicted on the world, the unnamed assailant tried to strike the director.

Bay continues:

That’s when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie World War Z—he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guards Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved.

Thank god it was an Air Max Michael. Thank the sweet lord above.

China’s tourist style guide: falling before the first hurdle

4 Oct

chinese touristsIt’s the National Day holiday period in China this week – a time when the nation venerates the founding of modern China by flaunting the newly acquired wealth made possible by its beloved Communist Party. Ish.

Of course one way those slack jawed, badly dressed, free internet hating Middle Kingdomers are increasingly doing this is by travelling the world. Most studies agree that Chinese tourists now spend more than any other nation when holidaying abroad, but on the flip side, so many of them are absolutely dreadful at being tourists. Loud, arrogant, rude, [insert insult here].

Unfortunately, what’s acceptable in many parts of China – public urination, hawking one’s guts out onto the street, and travelling around places of interest in groups of no less than 30, making that great Instagram shot of the Colosseum virtually impossible – is rather frowned upon elsewhere.

All of which leaves us in the West, Hong Kong and elsewhere with something of a dilemma. We moan about their uncouthness but covet their cash. To misquote Stewart Lee, Westerners slagging off Chinese tourists is like a punter punching a prostitute in the face because he’s sickened by his own desire.

So what’s to be done? Do we just sit there and think of England until, eventually, they get the idea and modify their behaviour abroad? After all, it’s sort of worked for Brits abroad if you discount vast swathes of the Med. Well, no actually, because – never one to pass up an opportunity to tell its subjects how to live their lives – the Communist Party has done all the hard work in a newly released Guidebook for Civilised Tourism.

Whilst laudable in its aims – to improve China’s image throughout the world and presumably prevent teenagers from graffiti-ing their names onto priceless Egyptian relics – the result is somewhat bemusing. In fact, the guide itself is testament to just how ignorant China’s leaders are of the world beyond – despite many of them having been schooled abroad at some of the finest universities on the  planet, and UCL.

Yes, there are the obvious rules – don’t swear at locals; don’t steal life jackets from airplanes; don’t piss or gob into fountains; don’t talk about pork to Muslims; and, of course, don’t take a dump standing on the toilet seat. But there are some rather strange bits of etiquette advice too.

Never click your fingers at a German; avoid playing with your hair in Japan; don’t touch people’s heads in India; don’t smash mirrors in Hungary; don’t comment on babies’ eyes in Iran; don’t give yellow flowers to French folk who invite you into their home; and finally, for the ladies, ALWAYS wear earrings in Spain. Now I may be showing my ignorance of some actually well understood tourist faux pas here but my first thought was “what the holy fuck are they on about??”

Still, as long as it eases cross-cultural understanding and helps the world hate itself just a little bit less, I’m all for it. It should also be mentioned, of course, that Chinese tourists are sinned against as well as sinning, with rogue tour operators, unscrupulous cab drivers and money grabbing restaurateurs all guilty of exploiting the poor chaps in various countries.

However, it strikes me that China should probably get its own house in order before teaching its citizens how not to act like a tit abroad.

Reports from Shanghai reveal that visitors to the zoo there chucked over 70 plastic water bottles into the lion’s enclosure, in a situation staff described as “heartbreaking”. Previously a giraffe there apparently died after eating a plastic bag tossed into its enclosure; punters in Hangzhou in January thought it would be hilarious to pelt the lions with snowballs; and in Shenzhen zoo crocs were stoned to death by bell-ends who wanted to see if they were real or not.

Congratulations China. You have made me sympathise with a carnivorous reptile.

Mooning the Party this Mid-Autumn Festival

20 Sep

mooncakeIt’s Mid Autumn festival in China: a lunar holiday where families get together over a healthy dinner of seafood, offal, chickens’ extremities and pig anus to complain why their youngest sons/daughters/nephews/nieces aren’t married yet, while their kids fire up the Galaxy Note for the 71st time that day.

I’m being flippant of course. The lanterns bedecking every house, block of flats and public building in Hong Kong at this time of year are actually quite lovely, especially at night, and the giving of thanks to the moon – in years gone by to celebrate the harvest – is a lot more spiritually nourishing than the veneration of a magic Jewish baby.
It’s also nicknamed the “moon festival” and locals eat mooncakes – a traditional Chinese food (danger team) which usually consists of a round pastry-wrapped pie filled with a disgusting slurry of lotus seed paste, red bean paste, or something equally offensive to my delicate western pallet. Imagine tasting a selection of lovingly prepared mooncakes and you’ve just imagined eating a pack of Revels with all the nice ones taken out.
Still, legend goes that back in the 14th century, the humble mooncake helped China topple the mighty Mongols, after Ming revolutionaries communicated  by baking secret messages In the pastry. Mmm delicious revolution .
Sticking the Vs up to the Party

The festival this year has also coincided with more online unrest in China, this time concerning the so-called the Big Vs. These are weibo’s verified account holders, or at least, some of its most popular users, many of whom have accrued followers in their millions and become pretty influential as opinion movers and shapers online.

The problem is that the Communist Party doesn’t much like it when mere mortals start speaking their brains, especially if their thoughts are at odds with Mao, Deng, Marx et al.

Witness the case of poor old Charles Xue, a Chinese American venture capitalist. Now I don’t have much time for VCs, their over-inflated egos and their massive wallets, but Xue has been a powerful voice on Sina Weibo, usually for social good. His campaign against kidnapping in China, and support for Deng Fei’s clean water campaign managed to effect real change in a country where things usually only get done when palms are greased, guanxi tapped and prostitutes exchanged in luxury 5 star hotels.

Unfortunately, rather than let Mr Xue do his thang, the Party decided in its wisdom to make a scapegoat of him. It has been clamping down of late on any online discussions it doesn’t like the sound of, with the increasingly paranoid air of a meth-addled tramp. The great and good of Zhongnanhai call it a campaign to rid the Chinternet of online “rumours” – there’s even jail time promised for popular tweeters whose messages are deemed to fall in this category – but to be honest, it’s just an excuse. I mean, you don’t see Xinhua hauled over the coals for republishing as fact so many Onion stories by now it’s just embarrassing.

Yup, if the Communist Party of China were a person its family and friends would have staged an intervention long ago.

So Xue was arrested the other week for soliciting prostitutes and banged up at His General Secretary’s pleasure to think on his debauched behaviour. Now if it actually happened, he did break the law, fair and square. But quite tellingly, Xue was then paraded before state-run CCTV apologising, not for his filthy whoreing, but for spreading online rumours. Exactly what does his social media profile have to do with his nightime sojourns with ladies of sexy repute? Exactly.

It was such a blatant stitch up it would be funny, if it wasn’t China. The more troubling back story, of course, is that the whole new online rumour clamp down is already stifling debate on an interweb already patrolled by the formidable censorship apparatus of the Great Firewall.

I’ve said it before but once a government creates this kind of a society they can forget about building any kind of cultural soft power to spread throughout the world. Bland TV, bland state-approved movies, awful music and a culture where no one wants to stick their head above the parapet, start an innovative online business, build the next Google.

Already the Big Vs are rushing to have their verified status removed on the country’s microblogs. The rationale is that without the giant letter next to their name they’ll attract less attention. It’s unlikely to work.

Pretty soon they’ll be forced to rely on mooncakes to spread their message.

China who? Why Chinglish is not ‘sweeping around the world’

6 Sep

chinaflagOh dear. Reasons why China won’t rule the world #359. A classic People’s Daily article caught my eye last weekend. It describes how Chinese loan words and Chinglish phrases are finding their way into everyday English conversations across the planet.

As if this weren’t a subtle enough message from the Communist Party mouthpiece, it wheeled out a rent-a-quote academic, in this case Meng Dehong from Beijing Foreign Studies Uni, who claimed, with reference to the Middle Kingdom:

“The more civilised, more advanced and more attractive the country is, the more influential the language gets.”

Now Meng is spot on there, with one crucial caveat – that applies to English (England and the US), not China.

The Daily gives as its examples of China’s growing cultural-linguistic importance in the world the words shuanggui (quasi-investigation); chengguan (municipal officers); jiujielity (hesitation); and, most tellingly, don’ train for “bullet train”.

Er, sorry guys, I know you and Japan have history but you have to admit, if any loan word is going to appear in English for “bullet train” it would be shinkansen, hailing as it does from the country that invented the frigging things. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever read or heard the other words out and about, and I live in Hong Kong.

Ditto the Chinglish phrases We two who and who? meaning “We are good friends”; Go and look meaning “We will see” and No money no talk, apparently meaning “Without money, any talk is spared”. Even the People’s Daily translations sound a little odd so to utter them down the pub they probably come across at best as the incoherent mumblings of an escaped psychiatric patient.

“Hello, can I introduce you to Steve? We two who and who!”

“Er, sorry?”

“We two who and who!!!”

“Um, are you having a seizure?”

As Shanghai Daily points out, the only Chinese words that have ever found their way into English, include gung-ho and kowtow and the phrase “long time no see”, which translates in that word order from the Cantonese.

They are incredibly few and far between. Now I’ve no doubt this will change gradually as China flexes its muscles on the world stage, but let’s not confuse economic dominance for cultural. It’s not helped by the fact that, with the best will in the world, Chinese students often don’t assimilate particularly well with others when studying abroad – preferring their own cliques to sharing their culture, and language, with those from other shores.

To my mind the only Westerners likely to drop obscure Chinese words into sentences are pompous journalists and the sort of people you make a habit of avoiding at parties, but will inevitably be stuck with for 30 will-sappingly long minutes, usually at the beginning. In the kitchen. While you’re still sober.

Another route Chinese language could take to find its way into the Western lingua franca is if the Middle Kingdom had a free press we could respect, engage with and learn from, but that’s about as likely to happen as Xi Jinping taking a dump on The Communist Manifesto. Until then, spurious articles on how Chinglish is sweeping around the world are exactly the reason why it won’t.

One other route for the Chinese language to penetrate our homes is of course through popular TV shows and movies. But honestly, when was the last time you saw one of them? If the combined firepower of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Ang Lee, and over 100 years of colonial tinkering in the Middle Kingdom hasn’t made an impact then I’m sorry, but it’s probably never going to happen.

Or as they say in Beijing: “We two definitely not who and who!”

Bo Xilai and the Jets of Power

29 Aug

bo xilaiThe local press over here has been dominated during the past few days by the sensational trial of Bo Xilai – former Chongqing party secretary and charismatic womaniser, whose estranged wife was recently convicted of murdering British business man Neil Heywood.

Whether you believe, as many Chinese do, that Bo was a victim of a vindictive wife and party rivals who didn’t care for his brand of populist Mao 2.0 politics or, as many other Chinese do, that he ran a Mafia-like operation for decades, swindling, extorting, embezzling and intimidating, it doesn’t really matter.

His trial was all for show – a show of power for Xi Jinping and the rest of the new Politburo who are trying to put clear red water between themselves and the previous administration with a well-publicised crack down on Party corruption.

The unfortunate truth for them – neatly suppressed by the Great Firewall and China’s ubiquitous Public Security Bureau – is that for every Bo there are thousands of others. Some are little Bo’s, others are probably Bo-sized in their corruption, but all share his greed, opportunism and insane Hungry Hippo-like grab for power and wealth.

This, to be brutally honest, is what happens when one political party remains in power for over 60 years. Where’s the alternative?

Well, they drove over it with tanks in 1989, or put it under house arrest till it died.

Corruption is so endemic there’s even a story knocking around that it’s the reason why the government refuses to issue any banknotes larger than 100 yuan – because that would make it easier to physically hand over large sums as bribes.

That said, Bo wasn’t the biggest news story of the week for me in China. Oh no.

Hubei’s Chutian City paper had a corker of a story about a young boy who was hurled two metres in the air by one of those annoying multi-coloured fountains that have started appearing in city centres everywhere.

The kid was apparently playing in the fountain when a high pressure jet blasted him into the stratosphere before gravity brought the unfortunate crashing down to earth (concrete) with a bloodied nose.

I for one am hoping this incident is publicised as widely as possible. Not only to stop lazy urban planners across the friggin’ planet from installing these depressing aqua features in public places, but from stopping screaming little shits turning city centres everywhere into de facto chav-infested leisure centres.

hubei fountain

You can just make out the boy flying through the air upside down in this first pic, and there he is all beaten up in the second. Ouch.

Being as this is China, some unscrupulous fountain manufacturing company with little regard for heath and safety has no doubt signed a nationwide deal for  the fucking things after lobbing a sackful of yuan at the right Party cadre.

As Beijing Cream reports, China has previous when it comes to overly aggressive water features.

In 2006 a 19-year-old Henan lassie had her stomach rearranged by an angry water jet, and just a fortnight ago an eight-year-old in Shandong had to undergo emergency surgery after fountain literally ruptured his rectum.

Parents of China take note: if you don’t want your children subjected to an impromptu colonic, keep them well clear.