inside thoughts on China and beyond

Posts tagged “social

Hong Kong – Pearl of China (HK.3)

 

Pearl of ChinaRecent protests in Hong Kong caused me to reflect once more on my short stay in this Pearl of the Orient. If Honk Kong was dreading its return to mainland China in 1997 for political reasons, with the battle of Tiananmen Square less than a decade earlier still looming over its people as the threatening dark clouds of Mordor, the anticipation of wealth that would be flooding its streets and shops and households surely made up for it. The bitter-sweet, decades-old Chinese medicine of ‘two systems, one country’ would do the trick, it was assured. But what good can come from an affair with an abusive husband? (more…)

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Hong Kong Hassle (HK.1)

Hong KongHong Kong has always been an intriguing city. With its rich colonial history, its endless skyscrapers and neon signs, its ever present hilltops and, of course, the dizzying busyness between Kowloon Bay and Victoria Harbour, it was the Crown Jewel of the British Empire for most of the last a century. It was the optimum of opportunities for daring entrepreneurs and the dream of many. It was the ultimate sensation of the Orient. Hong Kong has, as Prince Charles once said, “created one of the most successful societies on Earth.” Hong Kong, in short, is a place you had to have seen before you died. But for all its magic, I tell you, never go there after Chiang Mai. (more…)


Guest (TT.4)

GuestI was staying at a guesthouse that was nicely tucked away along the eastern shore of the Ping river and under the shady canopy of an ancient tree that fully umbrellaed the grounds here, and that of at least 3 neighbors. Everyday during breakfast a Dutch radio channel announced the day’s traffic jams (more…)


Migrant Workers and The China Dream (part 2)

Chunjie is a moving business in quite the literal sense of the word: everyone is moving, and most are moving home. And like all previous Chinese New Year holidays, records are broken. Now, an estimated 200 million trips will be made -all in about 2 weekends. Should be enough to topple the earth, if you ask me. And this time, Da Erzi joined the crowd.  (more…)


Migrant Workers and The China Dream (part 1)

Things aren’t always as they seem. Especially when it involves my son. Just when I was mesmerizing about the fate of the migrant workers whom are the embodiment of China’s ambitious urbanization plans yet unwelcome and marginalized by every city, Asher came home. All fired up and ready to talk. That doesn’t happen to often so the migrant workers and their urbanization have to wait a while. So tell me, Asher, what’s up?  (more…)


Cosmetic News

Just after 6 this morning I was awakened by a soft but surprisingly inviting sunlight that pushed its way through the curtains of our bedroom. And by a sound that was equally astonishing: the sound of silence. Take it from me; this is a rare combination in these parts. Truly a day to remember! It was the last day of the holiday and I suddenly fell fresh and energized. It happens. And if you’re like me, you will understand; it is like the excitement that tickles somewhere deep in your belly just before departing on a long anticipated holiday, all on a Sunday morning. Surely a day to take the family out and about!

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Patriot Talk

My Chinese language teacher is a fervent traveler and true patriot. Had she only lived in, let’s say, March 8, 1421, she would surely have joined admiral Zheng He, whose ships (each an impressive 5 times the size of Columbus’ dinky boat!) crossed many seas. She would have explored the new worlds of Australia and Africa and beyond and enjoyed the cultural diversities and tried to comprehend it all. That’s how curious she is. She would have returned home with spoils of arts and animals and sing glory to the Middle Kingdom’s achievements and greatness. That’s how patriotic she is. But then she would also have been uncontrollably upset when eventually the emperor burned all ships, shut down China’s borders and closed off the country for any contact with the outside. That’s how headstrong she is -and angrily disappointed. I won’t say it aloud, but I am sure she would have started a rebellion, back then. (more…)


Big Business

Disclaimer: do not read this article while eating! And with that said, let’s dive right into it: China is changing rapidly and its toilets are changing with it. Notably slower though.

But toilets have always, how shall I put it, intrigued me. After all, we spend quite some time there. As a boy I would sit and study the patterns of the floor and walls while doing my business. In the shapes and lines on the concrete floor I would see the outlines of countries, of wild roses at the point of withering; the list of what I saw was endless and always growing. Sometimes though, I would see faces. An old man with a sharp nose and deep eyes, a girl’s face with wavy long hair falling down her bare shoulders. Sinterklaas. Well, today it happened again. (more…)


The Stroller

My traffic light is red. I stop. (Do take note of this; stopping for traffic lights isn’t anyone’s second nature after more than 10 years in China – remarkable, really!) I wait and watch thick raindrops splash on my windscreen. Soon I will need to switch the wipers from interval mode to constant. A young woman is crossing the road. With one hand she pushes her stroller loaded with Aldi shopping bags hanging heavily on the handlebar while holding an umbrella with the other. (more…)


Milk Rush

It’s been awhile since I last was in Holland. One year to be precise, or, as my assistant puts it: 12 boxes of Nutricia baby milk powder ago. She measures time by what is dear to her, and don’t we all?  My daily drive to work used to take me 4 songs, but after we moved to our new home it only takes one song. Sometimes even less than that and then I drive around the block just to hear the end of a Mozart cantata or Sting’s ‘Mr. President’.  (more…)


Chinese Dream

In 1963, Martin Luther King spoke his legendary words: “I have a dream” and within days it became the dream of millions.  Exactly 50 years later, Xi Jinping revealed his slogan: “Zhongguo meng” the “China Dream” (also translated as: Chinese Dream). That was months ago, and millions are still wondering what he meant by it.  (more…)


Portfolio – Emperors of the Middle Kingdom

Portfolio – Emperors of the Middle Kingdom

February 2013

The One Child policy has lead to a dramatic surplus of males and a problematic shortage of future workforce, most of whom, to make it worse, are considered the overly spoiled xiao shihuangdi (=little emperors).  But is China’s youth really a spoiled generation? Have a look for yourself… (read more)


Exit Xichang

clothIn America, striving for happiness is as fundamental as the Declaration of Independence itself. In China, it is the government’s worry number one, as it has been for centuries. To maintain a ‘harmonious society’, they are working hard to keep the people happy. But happiness doesn’t always come easy.  (more…)


Portfolio – Walls of China

Portfolio – Walls of China

December 2012

My neighbor is building a wall around his house. I’m not sure why, because our neighborhood already has a high ands well guarded vence to keep out the dangerous and the poor. It reminded me that this was the first things I noticed when I came to China years ago: everywhere were walls. Walls around the country; walls around neighborhoods; walls around gardens ands houses.[…] above all and regardless the reason, it seems a result of the deep-rooted distrust that is a fundamental aspect of the Chinese culture. This is a small impression of life amongst the walls of China. (read more)


The Oak Wood Room

The Oakwood Room

They came from America, from France, from Germany, from all around the Western world as a matter of fact, and some even from Japan. They were meeting on the 179th floor of the state-of-art skyscraper that was finished only 5 years ago, covering the alleys far below with her constant shadow. For a short while it was the world’s tallest building. (more…)