Thursday December 12, 2013
I've recently been playing a video game called Sleeping Dogs that's set in modern Hong Kong. It's an incredible representation of the city, but for those who have never been, there may be a bit of a surprise: it feels almost nothing like mainland China.
In fact, Hong Kongers and mainlanders have had some trouble getting along over the past decade. As a foreigner, I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to like them both (and I do) but the divide is definitely something you should be aware of if you're planning on traveling to either Hong Kong or mainland China (or both).
Wednesday December 11, 2013
Since I was talking about propaganda newspapers yesterday, I thought it might also be worthwhile to chip in with a post on the CCTV Evening News, also known as Xinwen Lianbo. If you haven't seen it before, it has been China's evening news standby for decades, and for that reason anyone who has seen it can probably hear the show's theme music in their head right now. I know I can.
Catchy theme music aside though, Xinwen Lianbo is basically the TV equivalent of the People's Daily: a source of news but also a propaganda mouthpiece for China's Communist Party. In recent years, it has been losing some ground to cable shows, but don't count it out just yet; CCTV's evening news is sponsored by the government and will likely stay on air for years to come. I wonder if they'll ever update the opening title sequence...
Tuesday December 10, 2013
There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about the story published in China's Global Times suggesting that the country's smog problem is actually good for you. That's nonsense, of course, but it's exactly the sort of nonsense I've come to expect from the Global Times. Why? Because the Global Times is just an offshoot of the People's Daily, China's long-running newspaper that is considered the mouthpiece of the Communist Party.
The Global Times (an organization I should probably admit I wrote a few articles for once upon a time, though I regret that now) has built a reputation for bombast and for occasionally taking attention-grabbing, somewhat ridiculous stances like this one. But make no mistake; very little is published in that paper that doesn't get approved by higher-ups in the Party. That story was certainly ridiculous, but it was no accident.
Wednesday November 27, 2013
"Everyday [sic] we strive for what we think is important, but there are more important things in this world. People have different opinions on the matter. Please select a point of view and write an essay about your thoughts."
That's an essay question taken verbatim from China's national college entrance exam, the gaokao. The essay questions, in particular, are notoriously vague and difficult. How would you respond to this one? Do you think you would pass?