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Showing posts from 2016

Stuck In Macau For One Night

On Friday I decided to go to Macau, a city which in my opinion - as I wrote in the past - is one of Asia's most charming travel destinations. I was planning on staying there for just one day, taking a walk in the afternoon and later meeting an old friend of mine, before returning to Hong Kong at around 11 p.m.
The original idea was to take a ferry in the morning, but because I slept miserably the previous night I ended up leaving home at 3 p.m. The weather was hot and humid, the sky grey. Around one hour later I arrived at the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. After buying a ticket and going through the immigration control, I joined the unavoidable long queue largely consisting of mainland Chinese tourists: young and old, fancy and sporty, all invariably holding shopping bags with names of fashion or food brands written on them. 
Riding a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau may seem like an enjoyable and relaxing experience - to those who have never taken one. The reality i…

Launching A New Website - china-journal.org

In this post I would like to introduce my new website: china-journal.org, in which I will be writing about Chinese culture, history and society. 
I had been thinking for quite some time about starting a new website, since I was very unhappy with how this blog has developed over the years. At the beginning "My New Life In Asia" was supposed to be a platform where I could write about my personal experiences and thoughts - which is what blogs have been invented for. Instead, I started to write about Confucianism, politics, culture etc. In the end I totally abandoned my original purpose. 
This created two problems: first, many posts I published on this site are out of place; second, I have no space for a "public diary" as I had envisioned it. The only way to solve this issue was to separate blogging from more "serious" writing by creating an entirely new website. Let me now briefly explain the concept and structure of china-journal.org.
First of all, I decided t…

Law In Imperial China – Confucianism And Legalism

The legal system of imperial China developed from two schools of thought: Confucianism and Legalism. Although both of them exerted a deep influence on China’s state-building as well as on its moral and legal traditions, at the beginning these two philosophies were bitterly opposed to each other, as they were based on entirely different principles (see: Xin Ren: Tradition of the Law and Law of the Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China, 1997, p. 19). Confucianism (儒家) originated from the teachings of Confucius (551 – 479 BC), a Chinese scholar, politician and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period. The main body of the Confucian canon comprises the Four Books and the Five Classics (四書五經), texts which have been traditionally attributed to Confucius himself, although their authorship is not ascertained beyond doubt. Confucius’ philosophy revolved around two concepts: the nobleman and the establishment of a well-ordered society. The nobleman (君子, pinyin:  jūn zǐ…

China’s Legal System – Communist or Feudal?

Emblem of the People's Court of the People's Republic of China (source: Wikipedia)

On October 13, 2014, Yu Wensheng, a lawyer from Beijing, was arrested and detained by the police for 99 days . He was interrogated approximately 200 hundred times by 10 officers who worked in shifts night and day. Yu's wrists were fastened behind his back with handcuffs. "My hands were swollen and I felt so much pain that I didn’t want to live", he told Amnesty International. "The police officers repeatedly yanked the handcuffs and I would scream". Two days before his arrest, Yu had submitted a request to Beijing Fengtai Detention Centre for meeting one of his clients. The authorities had rejected Yu's request without reason. As an act of protest, he stayed in front of the detention centre and later published a post online describing the incident. At around midnight the police forced him to leave, and on October 13 the Beijing Daxing District Public Security Bureau a…

Wrestling For A Seat In The Metro - Fight Erupts Between Two Couples In China's Wuhan

In any major city grabbing a seat on the metro can be a stressful experience. But in China disputes between passengers may lead to violent clashes, like the one which happened a few days ago in Wuhan city, capital of China's Hubei Province.
According to local media, on April 20 at around noon a middle-aged couple got on a train of Wuhan metro. The wife put a bag on the seat next to hers. Shortly afterwards, an older couple, about 60 years of age, asked the woman to free the seat. However, the woman refused. The old man insisted that she ought to yield her seat to elderly people, but she would not back down. At that moment, the woman's husband intervened and started cursing the old man, who instead of turning away yelled back. In a fit of rage, the younger man pushed the other away, thus giving rise to a fight between the two couples.

"Listen To The Masses" - Xi Jinping Wants Chinese Government To Take Citizens' Petitions Seriously

Mao Zedong once said that Communist cadres "must be models in applying the Party's democratic centralism, must master the method of leadership based on the principle of 'from the masses, to the masses', and must cultivate a democratic style and be good at listening to the masses". 
"Listening to the masses" - whatever this may mean - has become a common catchphrase of Xi Jinping's new vision for China's Communism. In perfect Maoist rhetorical style, Xi coats his ideology in vague high-sounding phrases, a vagueness that suits a Party leader who doesn't have to engage in debates with opponents and who needs ideological ambiguity in order to rule. Xi's last attempt at reviving the old Maoist principle of "listening to the masses" is the strengthening of Communist China's system of popular petitions, the so-called xinfang(信访). 

The xinfang system dates back to 1951, when the Government Administration Councilissued a "Decisio…

This Year China May Oppose Taiwan's Participation In World Health Assembly

In 2009 Taiwan received a historic invitation to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. That was the second year of President Ma Ying-jeou's administration, a time in which relations between Beijing and Taipei were improving on the basis of the "1992 consensus", an unofficial agreement between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Guomindang. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) recognises the one-China principle, Taiwan could not participate with its official name "Republic of China". Taiwan was therefore represented with the name "Chinese Taipei" (中華台北). 
The Republic of China (ROC) was a founding member of the WHO, but after the United Nations shifted recognition from the ROC to the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Executive Board of the United Nations passed resolution EB49.R37 recommending to the WHA to adopt a similar decision. As a result, on May 10 1972 the WHA decided "to restore all its rights to…

Visiting Missing Hong Kong Booksellers' Causeway Bay Bookstore

Yesterday I was walking with a friend in Causeway Bay, when she suddenly pointed at one of the countless colourful billboards that decorate the shopping district's building facades and said, "That's the bookstore of the missing booksellers!".
The bookstore is called "Causeway Bay Books" (銅鑼灣書店) and it's located on the second floor of a building on Lockhart Road. I and my friend went upstairs and, of course, the bookstore was closed. Next to the entrance door there were messages written on the wall by sympathetic citizens.

The Strange North Point Musician - A Hong Kong Story

If you are in Hong Kong and live in North Point, chances are you have seen that guy. Middle-aged, tall, scrawny, he has a long, wrinkly face, a long nose, blue eyes. Once he shook hands with me, and I felt the power of his sinewy arms.
He is from the United Kingdom and, as far as I know, he has been living in Hong Kong for a few years. You might have seen him because every day he stands at the corner of a sidewalk - usually near North Point MTR Station - and he plays guitar. That is how he earns a living. If you ever heard him play, you know he plays badly, and his singing talents are even worse than his music. And yet he manages to support himself. At least he earns enough to stay at a serviced apartment in Fortress Hill. At night, after "getting off work", he goes to McDonald's next to North Point Station and drinks there a coffee, which he regularly pays using a bunch of the coins passers-by gave him. While he counts each coin, he talks to the staff who, embarrassed, s…

Hot Sale in Hong Kong - A Lucky Charm That Promises Wealth

This little figurine of a smiling man holding a gold ingot is a hot sale in Hong Kong at the moment. And judging by the number of luxury cars on the city's street, it is not that surprising. Perhaps it really works, so I am thinking about buying one. Getting wealthy for just 30 dollars (around 3 euros) is a pretty good deal. 
The name of the figurine is 元寶財神公仔 (pinyin: Yuánbǎo cáishén gōngzǐ), which literally means: Doll of the Gold Ingot God of Wealth. 
Shoe-shaped silver or gold ingots (元寶) were used as money in ancient China and they have thus become traditional symbols of wealth in Chinese culture. According to Vivien Sung, the yuanbao first appeared in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). In the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) they became an actual standard currency. Because the Chinese dumplings resemble the shape of gold ingots, they are also associated with wealth and are an auspicious dish to eat on New Year's Eve in various part of China (see Vivien Sung: Five-Fold Happiness: C…

An Evening Walk in Hong Kong - From Sheung Wan to Fortress Hill

Hong Kong is a quintessentially futuristic city. For people like me, who love modern metropolises, simply strolling around among shiny skyscrapers, neon lights and billboards is an amazing experience. 
Yesterday I had dinner at a vegetarian cafe' called Ovo Cafe'. It is located in the business district of Sheung Wan. I ordered an all-day breakfast set and a mango smoothie, very tasty (although quite expensive). 


After my meeting, which ended at around 10 p.m., I decided to walk back to Fortress Hill. As you can see from the map below, this is a 5 km walk, lasting around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
While I was walking I took a lot of pictures, and I want to share them now with all the people who are interested in Hong Kong.

Goodbye To Taipei's Legendary Dunnan Eslite Bookstore?

Sad news for all of Taipei's book lovers: the legendary Dunnan Eslite Bookstore (誠品敦南店), chosen by CNN as one of "the world's coolest bookstores", might soon be gone.
According to Housefun News, Dunnan Financial Building, where the bookstore occupies five floors, will be demolished and replaced by a 26-storey high skyscraper with 7 underground floors, which will house a 5-star hotel (By the way, I am wondering if there was no other location available for a new hotel; with all the ugly nondescript buildings in the neighbourhood ...).
The news was also mentioned on Taiwanese websites such as Apple Daily and EToday. However, Eslite Spectrum Corporation, owner of the bookstore, denied it would shut down its Dunnan branch, but it added that the lease for the bookstore expires in 2020. It's not so clear what is going to happen, but let's hope that this historic bookstore will not be closed.