Watch Me Report from China Int’l Import Expo in Shanghai

China Daily sent me last week to do some video reporting from the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, and those videos have all gone live for you to watch and enjoy! You can see me:

In addition, I did two live broadcasts for China Daily from the expo — one on Nov 6, and another on Nov 7. However, those are only available to watch on the China Daily app (which you will need to download for your Android or iPhone, and then search the app to find — use the search term “CIIE” to find expo-related content).

And I’ve also included a number of photos below documenting my time at the expo, including behind the camera (thanks to my colleagues!).

471573476452_.pic On my first morning at the expo, I introduced the cultural heritage on display at the Meet Shanghai booth. Behind me is a selection of folk paintings done by rural painters from Shanghai.

431573476446_.pic Also during my first morning at the expo, I continued to show more of the cultural heritage from Shanghai — here I’m introducing Shanghai-style woolen embroidery, also used to make a dazzling picture of the Shanghai Pudong skyline hanging on the wall.

461573476451_.pic High-tech was a major highlight of the expo, and it appeared in some fascinating forms — such as this device. It’s rideable, and it can also follow you around like a dog. (It even looks like one, with a cute canine design.)

401573476441_.pic On Nov 7, I completed my second live broadcast at the expo from the food and agricultural products exhibition hall. Here, I’m talking to a representative from CJ Foods, a South Korean brand promoting their foods at the event.

411573476442_.pic That’s a wrap! Here I am after finishing the second live broadcast on Nov 7 (my final assignment at the expo), along with my colleagues from work.

I’ll be back later this week with a new blog post!

‘A Simple Favor’ Mixes Up Mystery, Thrills, Fun (AMWF Movies Worth Watching)

If the coming of Halloween has you envisioning a night of mystery and thrills mixed with a twist of fun (and a lemon), then consider spending an evening with the 2018 film A Simple Favor, starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding.

Kendrick’s Stephanie, an overachieving single mom with a popular vlog, finds herself at the center of a mystery when her new friend Emily (played by Lively), the effortlessly glamorous fashion publicist dressed in chic suits and heels, suddenly disappears, along with her mercurial personality that veers from supportive to saucy and even downright scary (such as the icy look she shoots at Stephanie when telling her to delete that photo she just snapped of her). These, and many other oddities, lead to Stephanie going into full mommy noir mode, sleuthing out the truth behind what happened as she finds herself increasingly ensnared in the wreckage Emily left behind. And revelations, such as Emily’s son claiming he saw his missing mom, only add to the “Gone Girl” oddity of it all.

Golding, as Emily’s handsome but secretive spouse Sean, reveals more of his enigmatic wife to Stephanie, along with himself, and “comforting the husband” takes on an entirely new meaning as things heat up between the two of them. After Golding’s breakout role in Crazy Rich Asians, he once again shows versatility in the movie, which also deserves kudos for opting not to cast another white guy.

And if you want to take A Simple Affair a step further by making a night of it, don’t forget to serve up some martinis (or mocktinis), which appear frequently in the film. Cheers!

The film garnered an impressive 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics especially hailing the performances by Kendrick and Lively. You can learn more about A Simple Affair at the IMDb, which features a trailer (also available on Youtube).

Have you seen A Simple Affair? What do you think of the movie?

P.S.: Discover more AMWF movies worth watching here in this blog post.

South Korea Bans Abusive Men from Marrying Foreign Women

Recently, the Guardian reported that South Korea approved legislation to prohibit men with a criminal record of domestic violence from inviting foreign women to the country for marriage:

The ministry said the change was prompted by national outcry over footage that emerged in July showing a 36-year-old South Korean man physically and verbally assaulting his Vietnamese wife in front of their young child.

Footage of the assault, which occurred in the south-western county of Yeongam, shows the man slapping and kicking his wife and then repeatedly punching her in the head in front of their young child. “Didn’t I tell you that you are not in Vietnam,” he shouts.

And while that incident may have sparked the new law, here’s what researchers discovered in the country:

In 2018 a study by the National Human Rights Commission found that of 920 foreign wives in South Korea, 42% had suffered domestic violence, while 68% had experienced unwanted sexual advances.

Activists say that while a high proportion of migrant wives experience abuse, few report their cases to the police.

I found this story fascinating as a foreign woman married to a man from China, a neighbor to South Korea. While China has yet to draft any laws explicitly banning men with a criminal record on domestic violence from taking a foreign spouse, domestic violence in China had in recent years made headlines as well, thanks to a certain foreign woman.

Remember the case of Kim Lee, a white American woman battered by her Chinese husband Li Yang (who had enjoyed celebrity status in China over his popular “Crazy English” series)? Her Weibo photos revealing everything from a badly bruised forehead to a bloodied ear thrust her into the public spotlight. Eventually, she won a landmark divorce case in China that granted her the right to leave her husband over domestic violence. Her fight also sparked the passage of China’s first law prohibiting domestic violence.

I hope the new law in South Korea will serve as an important step forward as it shines a light on a vulnerable group of women.

What do you think about South Korea banning men with a history of domestic abuse from marrying foreign women?

‘Running for Grace’ Movie: Interracial Love in 1920s Hawaii Goes the Distance

If you’re looking for a fresh take on the star-crossed lovers theme, consider the indie film Running for Grace (also known as Jo, the Medicine Runner). Set in 1920s Hawaii in segregated Kona coffee fields, in a world where Japanese immigrants toil for white plantation owners, love blooms one afternoon when the mixed-race (Japanese and white) orphan boy named Jo, a medicine runner in the fields, gazes upon Grace, the young daughter of the plantation owner, through gossamer curtains. But, in that era, he’s not what her privileged (and racist) white family hoped for – and eventually the revelation of their taboo romance sparks plenty of drama, including some thrilling scenes of Jo dashing through forests and fields over his affection for Grace.

Ryan Potter, who many of you may recognize from the Oscar-winning animated film Big Hero 6 as well as the Nickeleon TV series Supah Ninjas, stars as Jo, while Olivia Ritchie plays Grace. While the plot of Running for Grace follows a relatively predictable path, the two make for a winsome couple, one that will keep you rooting for them as they go the distance to stay together.

If you’re interested in Running for Grace, you can learn more about the film at its official website or IMDb, where you can see a trailer (which is also available on Youtube).

Have you seen Running for Grace yet? What do you think of this film?

Riding the ‘Love Train’: Matchmaking Express Takes Off in China’s Chongqing

Move over, Love Boat. Southwest China’s Chongqing has discovered a more creative vehicle for matchmaking with its own “Love Train”, which has gained momentum since its opening in 2016, as China Daily reported in a recent story. The train whisks nearly 1,000 single men and women on a two-day, one-night journey within Chongqing, with one destination in mind: romance. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“Such activities are more creative than matchmaking. The train is like a magpie bridge, bringing people from different places together to get to know each other during the journey,” said Huang Song, one of the participants. “Even if you don’t find the right one for you, you can still make a lot of friends on the train.”

And with a little luck, they could discover that special someone. Ten couples who met on the train have already tied the knot, after all.

(Interestingly, the train runs under the number 999, a lucky figure for lovers which signifies “together forever” in Chinese.)

To read the full story and check out the photos, head on over to China Daily to see The pursuit of true love is hopeful aim on matchmaking train.

What do you think about the idea of a “love train”? Do you think trains are a good place for matchmaking? Would you enjoy hopping on board in an effort to find love?

Photo credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:China_Railways_YZ22_336250_in_2678_Ordinary_Fast_Train_20131001.jpg

New Romantic Chinese TV Series to Sweeten Up Your Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day) – Rec’d by China Daily

Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine’s Day, is coming up (this year August 7). If you’re a fan of TV series — and enjoy watching in Chinese — consider sweetening up the holiday with one of these new Chinese shows, as featured in the China Daily article Romantic dramas a sweet TV treat for Qixi:

In the past, realistic or tragic TV dramas dominated the Chinese TV market. But this year has seen a big shift as more viewers, especially young women, are turning to sweet romantic dramas with a happy ending.

All of these TV dramas have a similar format. The leading male and female characters are very outstanding in their studies and careers, and have rarely had romantic relationships before they meet. Usually, they fall in love with each other at first sight or after they clear up some misunderstandings. And the couple continues to show affection through the drama.

Anyone whose guilty TV pleasures happen to include romantic, lighthearted picks (such as movies from Netflix or Hallmark) should find something to love in the 10 recommended TV series in the article, which include Gank Your Heart (陪你到世界之巅), the TV series featured in the image above.

Those of you studying Mandarin might also give these TV series a try. After all, some of the best learning aids are those that make it fun! When I started out, I spent a lot of evenings engrossed in TV series about young people falling in love. My desire to understand everything on screen pushed me to learn more Chinese words and characters. (After all, how else will you know why they’re breaking up or who has a crush on who?) 😉

Head on over to China Daily to read Romantic dramas a sweet TV treat for Qixi. And then start watching!

Happy Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day) to everyone!

‘Made in China’ Movie: Franco-Chinese Man Dating White Woman Reconnects with His Family

The latest film from Julien Abraham that hit the theaters earlier this summer, explores many themes typical of family comedies — such as family estrangement and pending parenthood. But “Made in China” does so with a twist less often seen in the French cinema, let alone movies worldwide  — through the eyes of a 30-year-old Franco-Chinese man together in Paris with his pregnant white girlfriend. Here’s an excerpt from the synopsis on IMDb:

François, a young thirty-year-old Asian, has not been back in his family for 10 years after a violent dispute with his father Meng. Since then, he has always tried to avoid questions about his origins, until he lies to believe that he has been adopted. But when he learns that he is going to be a father, he realizes that he will have to reconnect with his past and his origins.

The film stars Frédéric Chau, a lead from the French hit Serial (Bad) Weddings series, in the main role, and Julie De Bona as his girlfriend. A review in the Hollywood Reporter praised the film, saying:

In a country where Asians have often made for easy punchlines in movies and TV shows, and where a more aggressive racism toward the Chinese population has reared its head these past years, Made in China comes as a welcome reminder of France’s evolving demographics…

It’s also a welcome reflection of the lives of many interracial and intercultural couples around the world, grappling with similar issues. The movie, in French and Mandarin, may still be in theaters in France and Germany. Otherwise, you can watch this trailer on Youtube (or this promo on QQ, if you’re in China) and then stay on the lookout to stream it online.

What do you think of “Made in China”? Have you seen it, or would you see it?

‘The Sun Is Also a Star’ Movie: Blasian Love Hits Big Screen

The movie adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s best-selling YA novel “The Sun Is Also a Star” opened last weekend in theaters across North America, with many noting its romantic leads – the Jamaican girl Natasha (played by Yara Shahidi of “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish”) and the Korean American boy Daniel (played by Charles Melton of “Riverdale”).

While I’ve yet to see the film (though read the book), it has drawn mixed reviews, putting it at a little over 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, I believe “The Sun Is Also a Star” merits a look for a number of good reasons.

Yes, we’ve got to start with the “R-word” here – representation. This modern day Romeo and Juliet tale pairs up a black girl and an Asian boy. It’s rare enough to see either black women or Asian men cast as romantic leads, let alone both together. Here’s what Charles Melton had to say about his turn as Daniel Bae in a conversation with AsAm News:

Speaking of handsome, it hasn’t been lost on Melton he’s getting the rare opportunity to play the male lead in a romance.

“To see not only that, but to see a character that embodies a full masculinity, it’s very endearing. It’s very aspirational. It’s a love story,” he told me. “The way Daniel is its like it’s great that he’s Asian. People will be able to connect to that . He’s also like the modern  man- to be open, to be a hopeless romantic. It’s an honor.”

The story also takes representation a step further with characters that eschew the usual stereotypes. Natasha is a rational young woman who aspires to become a scientist, while Daniel is creative and secretly yearns to be a poet.

Meanwhile, “The Sun Is Also a Star” puts a human face on immigration — a timely theme in this era — with Natasha. As an undocumented immigrant who came to the US as a child and must face the prospect of deportation within 24 hours, she symbolizes immigrant kids like the DREAMers as well as the ways in which the US immigration system can suddenly threaten young hopes and futures.

Do you plan to see “The Sun Is Also a Star“? Or have you seen it already? What do you think about the movie?

Are Highly Sensitive People More Accepted in Chinese Culture? One Study Says Yes

One of the fascinating things I learned from my husband when we began dating many years ago is this – that, as a more quiet and sensitive kind of guy who excelled at his studies, he was popular in school growing up in China.

This was the complete opposite of my own experience growing up in America. Being quiet and sensitive didn’t exactly help me rise in popularity among my peers, particularly in junior high and high school. Add to that the fact that I was a straight-A student near the top of the class, which led a number of kids to just write me off as another geek.

Over the years, I’ve found myself more at ease in China, and I would often attribute it to a number of things, including this sense that I felt my personality was more accepted in the culture. Imagine my surprise to read Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person and discover a study that actually revealed that Chinese culture appears more welcoming to sensitive individuals:

If you remember only one thing from this book, it should be the following research study. Xinyin Chen and Kenneth Rubin of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and Yuerong Sun of Shanghai Teachers University compared 480 schoolchildren in Shanghai to 296 in Canada to see what traits made children most popular. In China “shy” and “sensitive” children were among those most chosen by others to be friends or playmates. (In Mandarin, the word for shy or quiet means good or well-behaved; sensitive can be translated as “having understanding,” a term of praise.) In Canada, shy and sensitive children were among the least chosen. Chances are, this is the kind of attitude you faced growing up.

Think about the impact on you of not being the ideal for your culture. It has to affect you — not only how others have treated you but how you have come to treat yourself.

Reading this was like a revelation, an ah-ha moment that confirmed something I had understood for years – that my personality felt like a better fit in China compared to the US.

How about you? Are you a highly sensitive person who has lived in the East and the West? Have you also felt more at ease in a culture in the East, such as Chinese?