Painting Over ‘The Founding Ceremony of China’
This iconic painting is famous to all Chinese people, across the nation and for generations. The art work is not necessarily the best aesthetically or accurately depicted, but because of the subject matter, it can’t be avoided: familiar to text books, national museums and many families have it on their wall. It’s The Founding Ceremony of China, a patriotic depiction of the grand ceremony on October 1, 1949 in Tian’anmen Square when the country was officially founded.
What is not so well known is the creative and political process behind it, and the fact that the painting went through several changes over the two decades after its creation. Because of changing political climates, “sensitive” figures were washed off or painted over, resulting in a “politically correct” founding of the country.
On the painting, Chairman Mao on the center left immediately catches the eye—he stands upright and is taller than anyone else on the painting, making an announcement of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on the rostrum of Tian’anmen. On his left, a group of the country’s leaders listen attentively with pride. Eleven of their faces are recognizable as vice presidents, premiers, chief justices and other leaders of the country. Down on the square, crowds gather to celebrate with a sea of red flags reaching all the way to the skyline, the whole country immersed in a feverish festival under a blue sky.
Commissioned by the Chinese Revolutionary Museum in 1952, Dong Xiwen (董希文), the then 37-year-old artist and professor at the Central Academy of Art, was selected for the important task of capturing history. Experienced in heroic portraits and revolution themed paintings…
The Window of the World theme parks in Shenzhen and Changsha, Beijing World Park, and Grand World Scenic Park in Guangzhou are popular tourist destinations for people to come marvel at the reproduced (often miniature) versions of the most famous places around the world. They are similar to Disney, only that instead of visiting wonderlands and fairy tales, one visits exotic places around the world. Lest a short visit would not satisfy your desire, you could choose to live in one of the “copy towns” that have recently appeared all over China.
If you wish to hop back to England, go to Shanghai’s Thames Town, where the entire neighborhood is modeled after European architecture. According to SPIEGEL, “one English woman complained that her fish and chips restaurant had been copied in exact detail.”
Thames Town has become one of hottest wedding photography destinations in the Shanghai area. When I visited earlier this year, Thames Town seemed to have problems expanding beyond a tourist/photography attraction. Although the houses were built to be residential, many of them remain unoccupied. On weekdays, the streets were almost empty and only half of the stores were open for business. On weekends however, Thames Town flooded with visitors, newlyweds, and cameras.
If you wished to live in an Austrian China, move to Guangdong, where you could stay in a duplicate UNESCO town. The complete copy of Austrian town Hallstatt, both the architecture and the lake, will come into existence in Guangdong, as SPIEGEL ONLINE covered.
New Visa Regulations to Take Effect in July
Visa renewal can sometimes be a headache for foreign passport holders in China. If you have lived in the Middle Kingdom for a long time, then your stay has probably been broken up by various visa- runs to get new ones. In a Shenzhen visa run, Phoebe Storm recently managed to get a new multiple-entry F-visa in 24 hours. But wouldn’t it be great if visa runs did not have to be so frequent? This wish seems to be coming true.
New regulations to be implemented under The Exit and Entry Administration Law (中华人民共和国出境入境管理法) will take effect this July, which target management of visas for foreigners in China.
- Some Foreigners will be eligible for a new “foreign professional” visa which will be valid for up to five years.
- Visa management bureaus and entry-and-exit management bureaus under public security departments can keep fingerprints of foreigners who enter China.
- The current ‘F’ visa for business use will be moved to a new ‘M’ category.
Tackling China’s Corporate Culture
China’s corporate culture has heavy Confucian influences, which is difficult even for a ‘born and raised’ Chinese to maneuver. There is the emphasis on hierarchy, so how should you address your coworkers? How do you know if you are stepping over the line with your boss? Watch the video below for Teresa Norton’s take on what leadership entails in China, why employees seldom put forward their ideas, and how corporate culture works in multinational companies.
Spring into Spring Bamboo Shoots
A Chinese children fable called “Spring Bamboo Shoot and the Pebbles” (《春笋与乱石》 chūnsǔn yǔ luànshí) tells a story of a spring bamboo shoot aspiring to burst through the soil, but is halted by a group of pebbles above him. He politely asks the pebbles to let him through but to no avail. With shear determination he pushes through between the pebbles and grows out of the soil. The pebbles are so impressed that they start celebrating him as a superstar. I’m actually not quite sure what the moral of the story is. But “success through determination” is so typically Chinese and very tiger-mom like. Regardless of the moral though, the story does tell of how bamboo shoots surge forth every spring to produce one of the most delicately delicious ingredients in Chinese cooking.
Spring bamboo shoot is the young shoot that has broken through the soil and appears above ground, as opposed to winter bamboo shoots that are harvested while they are still in the ground. The tip of the shoot is incredibly tender and sweet. That’s the reason why they are eagerly anticipated during the few months they are available in the spring. Last weekend I noticed them for the very first time being sold in New York City. I was thrilled to find them at Jmart in the New World Mall in Flushing. They still appeared succulent and fresh in spite of being transported all the way from Asia. So I bought some and cooked them for dinner last night.
Although there are many ways to prepare spring bamboo shoots, I usually like to make it using a simple technique known as oil braising. The shoots are first fried until they just begin to turn brown, then braised in an aromatic soy sauce liquid until the flavors are thoroughly absorbed into the shoots.
Using Audacity to Practice Chinese
When it comes to learning a new language, practicing one’s listening skills and pronunciation is crucial. In addition to studying with the help of a native speaker, one can practice speaking and listening on their own time as well.
Ollie Linge from Hacking Chinese recommends Audacity, a free recording software for both Windows and Mac users. Audacity lets the user record live audio and import digital files into separate channels, which the user can use to cut, copy, splice or mix the recordings. With these features, the program can easily be used to do the following:
- Record from any source
- Enhance the recording
- Repeat or slow down the audio
- Mimick and record
- Save, edit, and export
Ollie also made a tutorial, which can be viewed below.
Beijing’s Raptors and Captors
As the sun dances on the sparkling waters of the Wenyu River, a gentle trickling lulls a patient photographer into a sense of deep relaxation. High above the paddy fields that frame the banks of the shore, a lone eastern buzzard gracefully soars through the air as a black-eared kite glides on a thermal breeze in the expanse of sky. A shy long-eared owl rests on the ledge of a branch nearby, inspiring the photographer to capture its beauty before it flutters away. Refocusing the lens from the sky to the land however reveals an incongruous backdrop; electricity pylons litter the landscape as concrete pillars supporting colossal highways intercept the peaceful pastures around the river. This is Beijing in 2013, the megalopolis is growing, steam-rolling on and enveloping all that borders it. Yet, despite the dystopian picture propagated by many, along with the seemingly birdless skies within Beijing’s 3rd Ring, China’s capital is fairing surprisingly well for birds of prey.
Among the manicured lawns and neat rows of cypress tress at Beijing’s iconic Temple of Heaven Park (天坛公园 Tiāntán Gōngyuán), birders lurk, eagerly searching for the elusive long-eared owl which makes the park its winter home. A lack of tagging makes auditing the number of birds difficult, but most agree that the numbers seen here are dwindling. Despite historical attempts to control avian populations in Beijing (some will remember the late 1950s drive to bang pots and pans for three days non-stop to spook every sparrow in sight) the latest count is an impressive 430 species resident or migrating through the city and its environs…
Wenjiang: A Semi-Ghost City
Urbanization in China is a strange process. In addition to the natural phenomenon of workers migrating to big cities, the state also actively expands and builds satellite cities. Many 3rd and 4th-tier Chinese cities are becoming “ghost cities”, such as Inner Mongolia’s Erdos and Erenhot, Jiangsu’s Changzhou, and Hubei’s Shiyan. New buildings are going up, but at the same time, some old places are deserted, namely Beijing’s recently torn down Wonderland and Shougang steelworks. The Economic Observer takes a look at Chengdu’s Wenjiang, in the southwestern Sichuan province, where efforts at building a satellite city resulted in a barely-occupied ghost town:
“Wenjiang is a poster child for how urbanization alone doesn’t necessarily bring sustainable economic development. Many scholars now realize urbanization shouldn’t be a government-led way to promote economic development, but rather, it should come naturally as a result of economic development.
Wenjiang reverted from a country to a district of Chengdu in 2002. With Chengdu’s rapid expansion, the move was an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on its central districts by directing much of the growing population to outer lying areas.
But today Wenjiang is still often called a “sleeping city.” For various reasons, many of the area’s homes remain empty.”
The reporter visited residential blocks near the district government, and discovered that while thirty per cent of some buildings were lit, over fifty residential buildings with more than thirty stories were left in the dark. Why is the vacancy rate so high?
Do You Speak Video Game in Chinese?
As the first country in the world to classify internet addiction as an official disorder, China has an astonishingly large population of gamers. Whether it’s popular online games or casual games, gamers flock to digital worlds to either escape or just have fun. It is important to note that these games are in Chinese and even a dedicated expat gamer probably would not be familiar with game-related words.
As the author from Ninchanese noted:
“One of the first things that struck me when I got to China is how popular online gaming is, as well as playing in arcades and internet cafés. World of Warcraft is particularly big over there. There’s even an (unofficial) World of Warcraft-themed amusement park in China!
Turns out, that’s all I knew about gaming in China. After researching a bit, I learned that the Chinese government hasn’t allowed foreign video game consoles to be sold in China since 2000 (but you can still buy them on the black market)! Maybe that’s one of the reasons why online gaming is so big in China. To give you an idea, this market was worth a record breaking $9.7 billion in 2012 ( a 35.1 increase from 2011!).”
The writer then introduced some video games vocabulary, starting with hardware:
游戏机 : Yóuxì jī = video game console
手柄 : Shǒubǐng = game pad
卡匣 : kǎ xiá = cartridge
光碟 : guāng dié = optical disc
记忆卡 : jì yì kǎ = memory card
Followed by Chinese vocab for some old school items that will surely bring back memories!