Despite Tough Year, Guesthouse Still in Business – Pub’d on China Daily

China Daily published a column of mine detailing the story of a guesthouse in Zhejiang province that managed to open and thrive in a tough year. Here’s an excerpt:

“In 2020, the most important thing is not what you’ve already lost, nor what you’ve yet to achieve, but rather what you have now. Let go of the past, and laugh for the rest of your life.”

Yu Jianping, who wrote these words in a post on his WeChat page, might just have been imagining his recent entrepreneurial venture. He and his wife, Huang Li, opened a guesthouse and restaurant in Tonglu county, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, during the star-crossed year of 2020, but still survived and thrived.

You can read the full piece here — and if you like it, share it!

Holiday Purchases Boosting Income Is a Good Tradition – Pub’d on China Daily

China Daily published my article detailing how I started a new tradition of making holiday purchases that supported a good cause at the same time:  Holiday Purchases Boosting Income Is a Good Tradition. Here’s an excerpt:

“No need to give us jujube dates-we have plenty of them.”

This message from my in-laws, delivered by my husband Jun after he returned from a quick trip to his hometown in rural Zhejiang province, exploded my annual Chinese New Year tradition of sending all the family members packaged gift boxes of large Xinjiang jujube dates. After years of believing I had hit upon the perfect gift for the holidays, I was now left scrambling for an alternative.

And the options in my usual online supermarket didn’t look promising. As I ticked off the possibilities with my husband-Beijing-style haw cakes or ginseng or chocolates-he vetoed every one, saying the family could probably buy them or already had them. His mom had even tucked into his backpack a heaping plastic bag of assorted chocolates in flavors ranging from toffee to brandy, a reminder of the increasingly global goods available in the village of his childhood, making my search for something unique even more challenging.

After what felt like the 100th time of fruitlessly scrolling through Chinese New Year goods online, a picture of a gift box of goji berries, a specialty of Ningxia Hui autonomous region, suddenly drew my thoughts back to my 2020 reporting trip to the region for a video shoot. I went to Ningxia to explore how it was leveraging some of its most celebrated agricultural products-including those renowned goji berries-to alleviate poverty, mainly through online sales. And I’d made a number of friends along the way, who welcomed me to contact them anytime.

Surely, they must have some Chinese New Year goods, I thought.

Read the full piece here — and if you like it, share it! Wishing you a Happy (and bullish) Year of the Ox!

P.S.: Image above features me and the friend from Ningxia I mentioned in the article.

Rec’d Holiday Read: Which Chinese Zodiac Has the Best Financial Outlook for 2021?

Pooja, from ValueChampion.sg, recently penned an article on financial luck for Chinese zodiac signs in the Year of the Ox that might interest readers of this blog. It’s titled Which Chinese Zodiac Has the Best Financial Outlook for 2021? Here’s an excerpt of the piece:

As legend has it, the Jade Emperor (Emperor in Heaven in Chinese folklore) wanted 12 animals to serve as his guards. To determine their ranking, he sent an immortal being to earth to spread the message about a race, where each animal’s rank would be determined by the order in which they passed through the Heavenly Gate.

On the day of the race, Rat woke up early but encountered a river with a swift current. To overcome this obstacle, Rat jumped onto Ox’s back. Ox did not mind and helped Rat cross the river. After crossing the river, Rat jumped off Ox and dashed towards the feet of the Emperor. Rat finished first place in the race, Ox came in second, and the rest of the animals followed— that’s how the Chinese zodiac began.

On 12 February 2021, we will be welcoming the Year of the Ox. Apart from hosting reunion dinners, enjoying pineapple tarts, and receiving red packets, what’s Chinese New Year without reading your Chinese horoscope predictions? While shopping malls and Feng Shui masters focus on how lucky you’ll be in your career, health, and relationships, we’re shedding light on your financial luck for 2021. If you’re unsure of your Chinese zodiac sign, find it in the table below.

Key Highlights
The Monkey, Rooster, and Dog zodiac signs are predicted to have the greatest financial luck in 2021, according to Feng Shui Grand Master Tan Khoon Yong.
The Tiger and Rabbit zodiac signs will obtain financial independence by discovering a new income source.
The Dragon zodiac sign will enjoy large profits, as long as they take advantage of the investment opportunities.

You can read the full financial predictions according to Chinese zodiac sign right here.

And to all my readers, wishing you a very Happy (and bullish) Chinese New Year!

Not Home for the Holidays: An Unusual Chinese New Year – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post Not Home for the Holidays: An Unusual Chinese New Year. Here’s an excerpt:

The Chinese saying of “moneyed or not, return home for Chinese New Year” (有钱没钱回家过年, yǒuqián méi qián huíjiā guònián) endures as proof of the importance of the tradition of the annual holiday family reunion. And in years past, in the lead-up to the holiday, I would hear Chinese colleagues burst with excitement while talking about the tickets they purchased for trains or flights, the road trips they had mapped out, or even the vacation home in southern China where they could enjoy a little beach and sun.

This year, however, whenever I ask my colleagues about their Chinese New Year plans, they offer the same perfunctory response, delivered with a certain resignation and often a sigh: “I’m not going home.”

To read the full post, head over to WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!

Videos: Watch Me in China’s Inner Mongolia for Poverty Relief Series

As many of you remember, last year I made a trip to Inner Mongolia to do a video shoot, where I learned more about how the province is doing poverty relief in healthcare, with the help of the internet.

The episodes on Inner Mongolia have recently gone live, so now you can see me in action — and get the chance to watch me learn more about tech and telemedicine at a local hospital and discover how medical coverage for all has helped the poor live better lives.

Episode 1: Tech brings good medicine to Inner Mongolia’s poor

Episode 2: Medical insurance serving all in Inner Mongolia

Videos: Watch Me in China’s Ningxia for Poverty Relief Series

As many of you remember, last year I made a weeklong trip to Ningxia to do a video shoot, where I learned more about how the province is doing poverty relief, with the help of the internet.

The episodes on Ningxia have recently gone live, so now you can see me in action — and get the chance to watch me do everything from herding sheep to trying my hand at livestreaming.

Episode 1: Ningxia sheep ranch rounds up new tech

Episode 2: Harvesting brighter future with Ningxia grains

Episode 3: Factory makes new dreams for Ningxia women

If you like them, share them!

Racist Fears of Chinese Eateries ‘Corrupting’ White Women in Early 1900s

The glut of Chinese restaurants in the US proves just how popular the cuisine is with Americans.

But once upon a time, these eateries were the target of a “war” from the white mainstream, one that represented a continuation of the horrifying yellow peril that first emerged in the late 19th century. Americans used racist and xenophobic narratives that tapped into white fears, including those surrounding interracial mingling.

As NPR reported:

… there was the pervasive idea that Chinese men were lecherous threats to white women. Chinese restaurants were considered “dens of vice,” Chin says, where white women were at risk of moral corruption by way of sex, opium and alcohol.

….

At the American Federation of Labor’s 1913 convention, organizers proposed that all states should pass laws that barred white women from working or patronizing Chinese or Japanese restaurants for both moral and economic reasons, Chin says.

….

While the proposed white women’s labor law was never officially enacted, some police officers began patrolling the restaurants of their own volition, Chin says.

….

For example, he adds, “when there were concerns about white women patronizing Chinese restaurants and when the police thought this was prejudicial to the safety of white women, they would simply order white women out.”

The NPR story also mentions that a case in 1909, where a Chinese restaurant worker killed a white woman named Elsie Siegel working at a Chinese restaurant, further fueled the hostility against these establishments. “‘To be a Chinaman these days,’ one Connecticut newspaper wrote, ‘is to be at least a suspect in the murder of Elsie Sigel.'”

On Sampan,  a bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England, a post on this ugly phenomenon in history comes with an example of the kind of racist propaganda that circulated at the time, even in the northern US. Led with an image from the era bearing the title “State Law Being Sought to Save Girls from Lure of Celestial Wiles”, the post notes a number of local media outlets that pushed this narrative, including  a newspaper “claiming it was dangerous for young girls to go sightseeing in Chinatown” and another paper that actually stated in an article “‘The picture of a girl’s ruination through the medium of the Chinese restaurant is too horrible to depict'”. A representative in Massachusetts attempted to pass a bill to “prohibit women from entering Chinese restaurants unless they were over 21 years old and accompanied by a non-Chinese man” — which was later never enacted.

You can read the full stories at NPR and also the Sampan website.

What do you think?

Photo: A Chinese restaurant on Dupont Street in Chinatown in California in 1895.

Nothing But Dragonwell Tea for Me, Please – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post titled Nothing But Dragonwell Tea for Me, Please. Here’s an excerpt:

Among the rituals I observe every morning when I arrive bleary-eyed to work, nothing perks up my senses more than the moment I open the little light-blue canister in my desk drawer and take that first whiff of West Lake Longjing, or Dragonwell, tea leaves. The aroma of those lightly roasted leaves recalls memories of fresh tea on the bushes while walking through high mountain fields. Even just wandering through those fields in my mind, prompted by the sight and scent of Dragonwell tea leaves, delights me on the most dreary of days.

No other tea will do. My allegiance to the stuff runs so deep that I always prepare a stash of it whenever I travel.

You can read the full post at WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!

 

The Best Posts on Speaking of China in 2020

As we bid farewell (or good riddance) to 2020, it’s time to look back on the top five posts of the year, by views! And much like 2020, it’s a very COVID list.

#5: Actor Liu Ye, Wife Anais Martane Stand Up for Sea Turtles with WildAid

While reading the newspaper, I encountered an ad featuring this celebrity couple, made to support a WildAid campaign.

#4: SARS vs COVID-19: Comparing My Experiences in China

As COVID-19 has exploded into our lives this year, I’ve often found myself reflecting back on my experiences during SARS in China, comparing and contrasting.

#3: Coronavirus: 11 Tips to Prepare for an Outbreak (We’ve Managed in China, You Can Too)

Earlier this year, as COVID-19 began to threaten the rest of the world, I prepared a list of tips to consider in preparation for a potential novel coronavirus outbreak in your community, based on authoritative sources as well as what I’ve learned and experienced.

#2: How the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak Has Changed My Daily Life Here in China

For those of you outside of China wondering what it was like in amid the coronavirus outbreak, I shared my experiences in Beijing.

#1: Coronavirus: My Bread Flour Shortage Points to Curious Trend in China

Toilet paper shortages? Seriously? I was stunned when I read news of how this bathroom essential was flying off shelves — and leaving them bare — around the world, all due to fears about the coronavirus.
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Here’s hoping 2021 brings better days for all — wishing you a Happy New Year!

2020 in Photos on Speaking of China

As we’re days from bidding farewell (or perhaps good riddance!) to 2020, I thought it might be fun this year to share a sampling of some of my favorite photos on the blog from this past year.

2020 ushered in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has turned the face mask into an everyday reality for just about everyone around the world, including us. Here Jun and I stand in a local park in Beijing, sporting our fab facewear. 😉

I had the opportunity to visit Ningxia, a tiny province located in western China, which included a visit to a sheep ranch. The rugged prairie highlands recalled memories of trips through the “big sky country” in the western US.

Befriending the sheep at the ranch proved a highlight of the trip!

For the first time, I also had the opportunity to flex my online sales “muscles” and give livestreaming a go. The experience proved a pleasure!

Jun and I experienced the early autumn charms of Beijing’s Summer Palace this year, arriving just as the osmanthus trees scattered across the grounds had perfumed the air with their beguiling fragrance.

Here’s Jun with one of those osmanthus trees. Reuniting with our favorite flora from the West Lake brought back sweet-scented memories of our days in Hangzhou.

November gave me with the chance to go to Ordos, Inner Mongolia. There I met with a local Mongolian man who had become poverty-stricken due to his medical condition and gained live-saving support for his ongoing treatment through public medical insurance.

I loved visiting his home on the high prairie, which included this decoration before the home, one typical of Mongolian households, which featured a replica of the renowned picture of eight fine steeds as well as horse-shaped metal embellishments at the top.

Finally, like many folks this year, I found refuge in the kitchen — and expanded my cooking repertoire to include some delicious new entrees, such as homemade pizza (yum!). I actually shared a recipe for a vegan pizza with cilantro, shiitake mushrooms and eggplant sauce.

No matter where you are in the world, I’ll be wishing you a very Happy New Year, filled with good health. Cheers to 2021!