For most of last week, China Daily website sent me on assignment to shoot some videos around Beijing, which put the spotlight on changes in culture and education around the city. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the places we visited for the shoot.
We shot a number of scenes at the National Center for Performing Arts, recognized by many for its iconic egg-shaped design.
We shot some scenes right here in this spectacular hall, and also in one of the theaters as well, during a rehearsal.
In Beijing’s Wangjing neighborhood, we visited the Yabin Dance Studio, home to the renowned dancer Yabin Wang, who has appeared at the National Center for Performing Arts on numerous occasions, including in collaboration with foreign artists.
Here I stand with Yabin (right) and one of her fellow dancers in the studio. I later learned that she has also had a career as an actor — my colleagues on the video shoot recognized her as one of the leads in the first and second seasons of Xiangcun Aiqing (乡村爱情).
On the education front, we first visited Peking Union Medical College Hospital, the first Western medical institution established in China. There I spoke with the director of a postdoctoral program, who also introduced the hospital, including this photograph on the wall taken in 1921, during the celebration of its founding.
We went to the Communication University of China, the premier institution in the country for higher education in the media and communications industry, where we had a chance to visit its mobile 4K ultrahigh definition studio (seen in the background), equipped with the same technology you would find in major media outlets. The university is one of the few in the country to have a 5G network, which facilitates the broadcast of ultrahigh definition video.
Our last day of shooting brought us to the Qianmen area just south of Tian’anmen Square, and its lively pedestrian shopping streets.
The videos for these Beijing episodes will go live around the beginning of October — and once they’re available, I’ll share them with all of you online.
Ten years of blogging. I can’t believe that, as of this Saturday, I will have been at this for a decade, ever since May 18, 2009.
To mark this special 10-year “blog-iversary” I’m running 10 photos of me and my husband from the past decade, along with a popular post from the end of each of these past 10 years.
Thank you so much to all the readers out there, no matter how long you’ve followed Speaking of China. You’ve continually inspired me and also helped make this a better blog. I’m also deeply grateful to have made so many wonderful friends in the process too. Know that I’m raising my glass to everyone in appreciation!
When Jun and I went to China for the summer of 2009, we indulged in a month-long trip across the country to take in all of the sights we never visited years before — from Xi’an and Chengdu to Changsha and Kaifeng.
To commemorate our wedding anniversary in 2012, we enjoyed a relaxing evening of classical music performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. But before heading out, we posed before the flower garden to remember the evening.
For Chinese New Year in 2013, Jun and I whipped up a traditional Chinese feast for the family — from roast goose and ribs to ginger-garlic green beans and stir-fried matchstick potatoes. We’re smiling, but there’s exhaustion behind those eyes because we spent the entire morning in the kitchen! Still, it was worth the effort.
Recently, I served as a guest for two Chinese New Year-themed videos for China Daily, where we discussed online delivery of Chinese New Year goods and also how to navigate family small talk during the holidays. For anyone who has ever wondered, “What does Jocelyn sound like?” here’s your chance to hear and see me in action!
For Chinese New Year, many people shop for a wide range of holiday goods, known as nianhuo in Chinese, and the staff at China Daily website are no exception. In this video, they talk about their nianhuo shopping experiences, and their concerns of the possible dark side of the shopping spree, while also delivering their best holiday wishes to you.
Have a look and let me know what you think! And if you like them, share them.
Are you a foreign woman or Chinese man in a foreign-Chinese couple in mainland China? Aliza Warwick, a researcher at Peking University’s Yenching Academy, just came out with an online survey that you could take (only takes 10-15 minutes) to help support her exploration of intercultural marriages. Here’s some background on her research:
Data from the Chinese government show that the number of marriage between foreigners and Chinese citizens in mainland China has been rising rapidly in the past several decades since China’s opening up. However, no demographic data are released about the individuals in theses marriages, such as where the foreign spouse is from originally, the ages of the individuals in the marriages, or their educational and occupational backgrounds. Anecdotes from the media hardly provide a clearer picture and instead often serve to fuel stereotypes. This questionnaire seeks to address this information gap and shed some light on this growing population of intercultural couples. The survey is part of a larger research project focused on intercultural marriage in mainland China by a Masters student at Peking University’s Yenching Academy.
You can learn more by clicking on this link for the survey, which provides further background information on the research. And if you’d like to participate, you can do so anonymously online.
Additionally, if you have further questions about the research, you can contact Aliza via email at [email protected] or via WeChat at aliza23.
Photo credits: Models: Justin Zhang, fitness coach and Youtuber (IG: NoobStrength) and Angelina Bower, beautiful fashion model (IG: musicloveandlies) Photographer: Ana Hudson (WhiteChocolatePlayer)
Chinese New Year is the most wonderful time of the year for Chinese people, a holiday marked by joyful family reunions, feasts and traditional festivities.
But there’s a flip side to the coming holiday season: It’s also the time of the year when people should exercise additional caution.
A coworker of mine provides a typical example why. Recently, she needed to run to the bank and decided to rent a shared bicycle, which required using her smartphone to scan a QR code on it, which of course let any would-be thieves see her high-end phone. Because she felt rushed in a busy area, she didn’t pay much attention in the process. But after arriving at the bank, she suddenly realized that someone had stolen her smartphone — which very likely happened as she was distracted and getting ready to pedal away.
(She even told me, later on, that she should have been more careful, given that Chinese New Year is approaching.)
This kind of thing is more likely to happen in the weeks leading up the holidays, a time when thefts and other related crimes spike (so much so that a Tencent-backed news outlet devoted an entire article in Chinese to exploring why thieves are so rampant during Chinese New Year).
But it’s not just pickpockets you have to worry about.
Over the years, I’ve often heard my Chinese mother-in-law warn me to be more vigilant as Chinese New Year approaches, because it’s a time when more burglaries occur. In her village, people have had everything from valuables to crisp stacks of renminbi bills disappear after break-ins. (That’s why my in-laws always aim to have someone stay at home at all times during the holiday season.)
Why does so more crime take place in the holiday lead-up?
First of all, China experiences a huge migration of people during this time, with a rise in people carrying money and valuable gifts, providing more opportunities for thieves in places like crowded train stations and airports, and packed public transport around town (such as subways and buses).
Because so many people leave their homes and apartments for travel, this also creates more chances for burglars as well.
Add to this the fact that the holidays also come with a lot of pressure. People are expected to bring something home (like money or gifts) and appear successful before friends, family and peers. That includes crooks too, and anyone else less ethically inclined in society. So they have extra motivation to get out there and take advantage of the potential bounty that the Chinese New Year period brings.
The holiday season is always a special time of year. It is also a time when busy people become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime. We can never be too careful, too prepared or too aware.
Beijing’s Fragrant Hills burst forth in brilliant reds, yellows and oranges with the coming of autumn, and visiting still remains one of those must-do experiences if you come to the city in October. Jun and I decided to go hiking there, timing our visit to catch the fall foliage at its peak.
First off, it’s an easy trip from Beijing, thanks to the newly opened Xijiao Line on the subway, and you can even buy your tickets to the park online ahead of time (which is recommended if you visit during weekends or holidays, when it can get rather crowded).
Second, while Fragrant Hills do draw a lot of visitors, it’s quite easy to escape the crowds if you hike a longer or less-traveled route.
While I’m still on break and catching up on things, I thought I would share some photos from our visit. We followed the “red leaf trail” in the park, which offers plenty of opportunities to view the best fall foliage at Fragrant Hills.
Wherever you are, here’s wishing you a fabulous (and colorful) fall!
There’s nothing like hiking through mountains when autumn shows its brilliant colors — especially when you can hike beside and enjoy views of the Great Wall. That’s what Jun and I did this past week in a visit to Badaling National Forest Park.
It’s an easy journey from Beijing (just take bus 877 from the Deshengmen area, near the Jishuitan subway stop on Line 2). And once you’re up the mountain, a loop trail rewards you with incredible views of the serpentine Badaling Great Wall straddling the mountain ridges dotted with red and yellow leaves.
While I’m taking a break this week, I thought I’d share a sampling of photos from our hike.
Wherever you are, here’s hoping you’re enjoying the beauty of autumn!
It’s hard to believe summer will officially end later this week! Despite the scorching temperatures we saw here in Beijing (like much of the world), Jun and I still enjoyed our share of light moments (including, yes, taking the time to smell the roses). While I’m catching up on some work, I’m bringing you a few of my favorite summer images from here in Beijing.
Wherever you are, here’s wishing you had a sensational summer!
We took this photo in the rose garden at China Daily, where we also took a moment to take in the roses’ fragrance as well. Ah!
Jun and I visited Yuanming Yuan (the Old Summer Palace), which reminded us of our old stomping grounds in Hangzhou.
Here’s a picture we took of Qianmen, the gate just south of Tian’anmen Square.
Also near the Qianmen neighborhood, but looking in the opposite direction down the old streets.
Jun and I stroll through through a park filled with beautiful willow trees beside a canal in the Ditan Park area.
“One evening, I drank heavily and the next morning I awoke to find a girl lying by my side. At the time I was incredibly embarrassed, and she was very shocked, because the night before she had also drank a lot. We couldn’t even remember who checked us into the room.”
This is the final installment of my English translation of a Chinese-language article on Vice.cn featuring interviews with four Chinese men who dated foreign women. Today’s interview is with a journalist and writer in Beijing who had many foreign girlfriends when he lived in southern Europe, including one he met the morning after a night of revelry under surprising circumstances.
28 years old, journalist/writer, living in Beijing
VICE: I heard you’ve had many foreign girlfriends.
I’ve had some. That’s because in my former media work, I would often get sent out of the country. So I would contact with many people, mainly in southern Europe. Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece — I’ve lived for at least half a year or longer in all of them, and got to know many women.
Could you share some impressive stories?
Ha ha, there are quite many. The countries I went to are relatively laid-back. The economies are not that developed, but the flavor of life is very strong and the people are very warm. I remember the first time I went out with a foreigner was with a Portuguese girl. At that time I was really young, just 24 and it was my first time to live independently overseas. One evening, I drank heavily and the next morning I awoke to find a girl lying by my side. At the time I was incredibly embarrassed, and she was very shocked, because the night before she had also drank a lot. We couldn’t even remember who checked us into the room. Later we went downstairs to the reception desk to find someone to ask about this, and then went to a bar looking for friends to inquire about what happened the previous night. The whole process was really quite ridiculous, but also very romantic. That evening we were once again having dinner together, and then continued to reserve a hotel room. Everything just happened naturally.
Have you had a long-term relationship with any of them?
Yes, she was French. But I don’t really want to share this story, it’s a little painful and I haven’t yet gotten over it.
With so many foreign girlfriends, do you feel like you’ve brought honor to your country?
No. Because my work was often overseas, my circle of friends included people of all different nationalities. To me, the individual means more than the nation.
As a Chinese guy, it’s rare to date so many foreign girls, right?
Before, I had never really thought about it, because this kind of situation is really uncommon. But after the first time I did, I realized that even thinking about this was a way of underestimating myself. Even though Chinese men in the eyes of foreigners are mostly thought of as martial arts experts or bespectacled geeks, Westerners have a really narrow understanding of us. But when it comes to actual relationships, Western women are willing to get to know me well.
So Western stereotypes about Chinese men haven’t affected your relations with foreign women?
After I got to know that first Portuguese girl, they affected me less and less. The individual differences between women are really not that big. Every person’s needs are very similar, especially emotional ones. Everyone needs to be loved, cared for, acknowledged. But because of culture, these might manifest themselves in different ways. Individual differences are much greater than differences because of country, culture or race. Once I no longer paid attention to the sense of inferiority brought by these stereotypes, I was more confident and smooth in my encounters with foreign girls. It’s like a guy from Henan chasing a girl from Jiangsu – what stereotypes would he consider?
Are there a lot of Chinese men around you together with foreign women?
Very many, and it has always been their Chinese character that attracts the girls. One friend went to university in Argentina and he said, “Actually, foreigners have a much stronger curiosity about Easterners because we’re more mysterious, and who wouldn’t want to try something new?”So the point is that, for this person, at the appropriate time their particular traits are a plus.
Did these women gain any new impressions of Chinese men because of you?
Of course. When I was dating them, I would share some Chinese culture with them and prepare some Chinese dishes for them. Although some things are cultural differences brought about by history, having a new interpretation is always better than unilaterally listening to Western media.
But does it seem easier for Chinese girls to be together with foreigners?
Because in the eyes of foreigners, Asian men have a lower status than Asian women. The typical stereotype of Chinese, or say Asian men, among other countries is: high achievers at school, introverted. These are the qualities that we carry with us. Capitalist culture distorts this notion in books, movies and the media. So who would be willing go on a date with some guy who is not even a little cool?
But for women, although some were rather quietly intelligent when they were young, when they leave the country they can easily fit right in. On one hand it’s related to how women have a strong tolerance. On the other, it’s that Western culture is more accepting of Chinese women. And when you look closely at foreign men with Asian women, for the most part they are very close to each other’s cultural traits, and it’s hard to see Western men following the living habits of Eastern women. That’s because Western men, in today’s mainstream cognition, have an advantaged position in terms of skin color and gender, the symbolic meaning of the more “advanced” human existence. So naturally it will be easier for them to find people no matter where they are.
Do you have any advice for Chinese men who want to pursue foreign women?
You only need to remember this: you and her are both people.
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