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Bryan Jones
Straddling two American in China since 2005.
Straddling two American in China since 2005.

Bryan's posts

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If the shoe doesn't fit...

Since Mandarin, or Putonghua, is a tone based language, it is chock full of homonyms and therefore offers wonderful and creative opportunity for wordplay, or puns. Which the Chinese deftly use to sidestep censorship in online resistance discourse, if only briefly.

The latest, fitting shoe (hé xié 合鞋) is another play on the Chinese word for harmonious (héxié 和谐). And “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is all about promoting harmony.

In his first trip abroad in early 2013 as China’s president, Xi Jinxing delivered a speech in Moscow where he countered international criticism of China’s “developmental path.”

Xi said: We maintain that every country and its people ought to be respected. We must insist that countries are treated equally, regardless of size, might, and wealth. We must respect the right of each country’s people to choose their own developmental path. We must oppose interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and defend international impartiality and justice. “Only the wearer knows if the shoe fits.” As for whether a country’s developmental path fits, only the people of that country have the right to say.

On Weibo, China’s version of Facebook, Chinese netizens rather quickly quipped that they have little say in China’s development…no matter how small or uncomfortable the “shoe,” ordinary Chinese can’t ask for one that truly fits…

Wuyuesanren (@五岳散人): My take on the shoe-and-foot question: Whoever buys the shoes has the last word. The common people pay taxes, so they have the right to say whether or not the shoe fits, as well as the style they want. A well-chosen pair of shoes also comes with a warranty and the privilege to exchange or return the items. The shoes themselves don’t have the qualifications to say whether they fit or not. Shoes that do aren’t shoes, they’re shackles.

“Fitting Shoe” (Artist: Kuang Biao 邝飚)

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Flying colors...the Chinese way

Yesterday, this building was deserted. The fall term starts tomorrow...and now it's not.

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China's "Call of Duty" CG War Video
Kicking American Ass

This week marks one decade of living in China. As a former journalist, I would lay claim to having been a keen observer over the years, if not commentator, of China and Chinese culture. There is a huge difference between sightseeing another country/culture and residing in one. The former of course broadens your horizons, makes your world a bit bigger and more colorful, but the latter, if you let it, truly opens your different ways of thinking, social mores, customs and traditions, as well as giving you the opportunity to view your own country and culture in a new light.

During the bulk of my time here, Hu Jintao was the leader of China. Yet he, even in the eyes of many if not most Chinese, was viewed as little more than a placeholder, a keeper of the status quo...competent, yet bland and boring.

Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012 and, unlike his predecessor, has quickly elevated himself to political and social heights unseen since Chairman Mao. He is anything but a placeholder.

The Chinese call him Xi Dada, Big Uncle image he has carefully and calculatedly cultivated. His war on corruption has netted literally tens of thousands of cadres, many of them, it should be noted, political enemies.The Chinese Dream has become his signature political slogan, while the policy implications remain vague.

Deploring "Western influence," democratic ideology in particular, the Great Firewall of China has become even more aggressive under his hands. VPN services were mostly tolerated under Hu Jintao, but since January of this year most VPN providers have been severely choked down. (While I rarely needed to change servers before, I find myself forced to change every few days now.)

He has also taken a much harder line on foreign affairs and security issues, projecting a more nationalistic and assertive China on the world stage. Objecting to the U.S. "strategic pivot" to Asia, Xi has begun calling China-U.S. relations a "new type of great power relations," a phrase which the Obama administration has not seen fit to embrace. In response to the continued spat with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Xi declared an Air Defense Identification Zone in late 2013.

And, most recently, China celebrated "The Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggressions and the World Anti-Fascist War" with a V-Day parade replete with marching phalanxes of soldiers and rolling military hardware.

In concert with this display of China's defense capabilities, this video has been circulating on the Chinese web. It's a fairly polished CG production that shows China's military springing into retaliation of an attack on the mainland. While the video does not specifically name names, if you watch closely you'll note that the three-pronged land, air and sea spearheads decisively annihilate only U.S. military hardware (F-22s, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers), ultimately succeeding in planting the Chinese national flag on what appears to be Okinawa Island, where of course there is a large U.S. military base.

I never ever felt unsettled or skittish when Hu Jintao held the reins. I kinda do now, though.

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Color me quirky

It's been a long time since I posted any new Chinese art, so here's a collection by Shanghai-based Wang Mojo. Hope you enjoy.

Art | by Wang Mojo
14 Photos - View album

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When fried rice goes bad...

I love chao fan, or fried rice. It pairs well with anything else you feel is hao chi, tasty...and my wife spiffs it up a tad, quite different from typical fried rice, by letting a layer brown up in the pan since we both enjoy a little bit of crunch.

Anyway, there's a story circulating on the Chinese internet about a fried rice vendor in Nanjing who has been causing quite a stir, literally. He's only open from midnight to 5am and his fried rice is apparently so good that he typically attracts a late night crowd of 300-400, said crowd spilling out into the streets and causing traffic jams.

And that's how fried rice goes from being good to bad. He's being shut down for causing too much of a stir.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Absolutely nothing to do with China...for a change

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For Chinese Only

Recently, as were e-scootin' our way to the morning market...

Me: "It's almost cool today. Seems like the worst of summer is over."

Wife: "I told you a couple of weeks ago about the first day of fall in the Chinese lunar calendar."

Me: "Yeah, but in my hometown (Austin, Texas) we'd still be toodling around in triple-digit weather."

Wife: "Well, it's the Chinese lunar calendar. It's only good for Chinese."

Me: "Oh..."

I know, I know. The art is the Chinese zodiac. Just couldn't snag anything sexy for the lunar calendar.

#china   #chineselunarcalendar  

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Keeping priorities straight
Defense budgets worldwide...nuff said...

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Breakfast in Hubei

Noodles are a common breakfast staple in China. Though they aren't my idea of a truly satisfying breakfast, they are filling and can be tasty, if you chance upon the right dive.

This is a bowl of suan cai rou si mian, essentially rice noodles with pork and pickled veggies. Mix in a little dollop of hot pepper paste/jam and you're good to go.

The black bowl on the right is filled with huang jiu, known as yellow wine. A lovely, if a tad sweet alcohol made from sticky rice. You can get a bowl of 6-8% huang jiu for 1RMB, about 15¢ (and refills are commonly free, kinda like coffee only with more buzz), or a bowl of 12% for 5RMB, about 78¢. Me, I prefer the stronger, even though they charge and I usually have two bowls. The noodles are 5RMB, so this breakfast cost roughly $2.35.

What does your typical breakfast cost you?

BTW, huang jiu and having it with breakfast is most definitely a regional thing. I've lived in four provinces now and it seems only Hubei people make and enjoy huang jiu with breakfast. I'm going to have a go at it and I'll let you know whether it pans out.

#chinesefood   #iphone6   #iphoneography  

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Europeans...according to Chinese people

Based on Baidu (China's take on Google) auto-complete search queries, this map compiled by Foreign Policy offers a little insight into what Chinese people think, or wonder, about their neighbors to the west. You can read the complete article here:

Conversely, I'm curious how your Google search about China would read?
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