Miss World Canada’s statement about her failed attempt to attend pageant

Miss World Canada's statement about her failed attempt to attend pageant
Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada, published the following statement on her Facebook page today. China is preventing her from attending the Miss World competition in Hainan, apparently for political reasons. **** Dear friends, at 6:00am local time on Nov 26th I arrived in Hong Kong en route to Sanya, China, host city of the 2015 Miss World competition. Unlike all other Miss World contestants, I did not receive an invitation letter from the Chinese organizers of this event, and so was unable to obtain a visa in advance. I was never given an explanation as to why I did not receive the letter. Under Chinese law, however, Canadian citizens are eligible to obtain a landing visa upon arrival in Sanya, so I decided to try attending anyway. Unfortunately, I was prevented from boarding the plane from Hong Kong to Sanya. No reason was given for the denial. I will be holding a press conference in Hong Kong tomorrow morning at 10am local time at the Regal Airport Hotel. The slogan of the Miss World competition is “Beauty with a purpose.” My purpose is to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves—those who suffer in prisons and labor camps, or ...

Chinese officials bar Miss World Canada from flight to Hainan pageant

Chinese officials bar Miss World Canada from flight to Hainan pageant
Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada, has been prevented from boarding a flight from Hong Kong to Sanya, Hainan, to attend the Miss World pageant, the AP reports. Lin had not received the necessary letter of invitation from Chinese immigration authorities to obtain her visa, but she attempted to fly in China anyway. Hong Kong is administered separately from the mainland and does not require visas for Canadian citizens. The preliminary activities of the pageant began Monday. Lin, a follower of Falun Gong spirituality, is an outspoken critic of China’s poor human rights record. The Beijing government considers Falun Gong a dangerous cult, and has banned the organization within China. The 25-year-old theater student was born in China, but emigrated to Canada with her mother at age 13. Her father still lives near Changsha, Hunan. More details at The Guardian.

China shuts out Canadian Miss World contestant for political reasons

China shuts out Canadian Miss World contestant for political reasons
China is apparently denying a Chinese-Canadian a chance to come to the Miss World contest tomorrow in Sanya, Hainan, because of her human rights activities. Anastasia Lin,25, has not yet received a letter of invitation from Chinese immigrant authorities. Without it, she cannot obtain a visa for entry into China. Other contestants received their letters last month. Lin is an outspoken critic of China’s human rights record, particularly regarding its prohibition of Falun Gong, a spiritual group that Beijing calls a religious cult. Her father, who lives in Changsha, Hunan, has also been harassed by authorities, because of his daughter’s work. She and her mother emigrated to Canada 12 years ago. Lin was crowned Miss World Canada in May. The pageant operators in Canada have refused to send a runner-up contestant to Sanya. More details are at the BBC and Shanghaiist.

My student’s contribution to NPR’s #15Girls project

My student's contribution to NPR's #15Girls project
Last month, NPR’s Goats and Soda blog began its #15Girls project, inviting girls and women from around the world to tell about their lives when they were 15 years old. Contributors were asked to send photos and comments about the hardest thing they faced at age 15 via Twitter or Instagram — which are both blocked in China. Really, NPR, what were you thinking? I didn’t come across the project until late in the month, but I posted it in my Qzone 说说 (shuo shuo “say say” — which is like Facebook’s Status), and said I could relay any contributions through my Twitter account. Only one person responded: one of my students, Tina Li ShaoLi, sent me a contribution, which I posted to Twitter in a somewhat abbreviated form. You can see it here and in the screencap above. This is Tina’s original contribution: The hardest thing for being 15 is that I fell in love with a boy but however hard I tried I still couldn’t be together with him. I fell in love with him at the age of 13. However, in our country, people believe that falling in love with people at such an early age is ...

VIDEO: The 1960s-style cartoon promo for China’s latest 5-year plan

So, either someone with a wry sense of humor, or with no sense of cultural relevance, produced this English-language cartoon to promote China’s latest five-year economic plan (十三五 shisanwu, the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan). Here it is on YouKu.com. Here it is on YouTube. As Shanghaiist points out, no groovy cartoon can make any five-year economic plan at all interesting, especially to teenage bands cruising a Peter Max China on top of VW Combis.

VIDEO: Why do Chinese students come to American colleges, universities?

The BBC posted this video in June. Chinese students at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign explain why they prefer to study in the USA. The main reason: they can study what they want. In China, your major is pre-selected for you, based on your performance on the college entrance exam (gaokao). High school students list five preferred majors on their exams, and the exam section with the highest score determines which of the five possibilities is assigned. So, this is why I’ve had students who prefer physics and math, but ended up being Business English majors. Their gaokao scores on the physics and math sections were too low. Parents are also fed up with the Chinese gaokao system. If they have enough money, they will send their children abroad for their university education, sparing those kids three years of intense, high pressure preparation for the gaokao. You can read more at the BBC.

Beijing fashion comes to Jishou

Beijing fashion comes to Jishou
Over the summer, trendy Beijingers were spotted about town sporting plastic sprouts and flowers clipped to their hair. No special meaning. Just a fun thing. My first sighting of this latest fashion statement was last week, when one of my sophomores, Astrid Q (pictured), wore one to class. “Stylish!” I said. Astrid Q hails from Hengyang, the second-largest city in Hunan. Her goal is to attend graduate school, preferably in the UK or the USA. Her English is already pretty good. The Q in her name is to distinguish her from another student, Astrid R, who is from Inner Mongolia. Both Astrids came to Jishou U with their English names already chosen, and by chance, they have the same surname, Zhao, and the same first initial. Not wanting to force them into new English names, I used their second given names for their initials. I will admit to thinking of Maggie Q at the time.

Making a scale model of the solar system (video)

Some of my American students may recall our attempt at drawing the solar system to scale along Broadway in front of SFHS. It’s not easy to get both the size of the planets and the distances between them to scale. This video explores that question.

Mongolian aunties come to my rescue in Changsha

Mongolian aunties come to my rescue in Changsha
CHANGSHA, HUNAN — I’ve rarely had trouble getting a hotel room in China, but this one hotel in Changsha was the exception. It happened in July, before my trip to the States. After spending a few days in Zhangjiajie for a friend’s wedding party, I took the bus to Changsha, planning to spend the night there before boarding the train to Xi’an. Using Ctrip.com, a Chinese-based travel site, I had already booked and prepaid for a room in the Hepingli Hotel, just about a block from the ChangZhuTan bus station. I had stayed there once before two months earlier, and liked the hotel and the location. (Its boxed breakfast leaves much to be desired, though.) Anyway, the bus ride from Zhangjiajie takes about five hours. I arrived at the hotel around 10 pm, more than ready to have a quick bite and a nice rest. I suspected something was wrong when the head clerk, a very officious young woman, waited on a Chinese man before me, even though I had arrived first. He paid for his room with a credit card. Remember this detail. Chinese hotels are required to make a copy of your passport, because they have to report ...

BBC travel correspondent visits Fenghuang (video)

JISHOU, HUNAN — I get excited when I see familiar scenes from my “neighborhood” on the Internet. Fenghuang is about 45 minutes from here, and has become a very popular stop for tourists looking for picturesque views of ancient China. Here’s the link to the page in case the video isn’t working. The young lady he’s talking to, Wu Ling, is dressed in the traditional wedding garb of the Miao minority. It’s for tourism reasons. Miao girls don’t ordinarily walk around with five pounds of silver on their heads.

How China’s “harmonizing” of the Internet works

How China's
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — The Huffington Post media mavens did this hilarious mashup of Donald Trump saying the word “China” over and over again. He really seems to be obsessed with it. CHI-NA! It’s HUUUGGE! Anyway, I thought I’d share the video with friends in China. So I grabbed the video off YouTube and uploaded it to Youku.com, China’s homegrown version of YouTube. The upload was successful, but it was not made public. Here’s the message that comes up on my user page. Has been shielded, according to the provisions of audio-visual management 已屏蔽,根据视听管理规定处理 Putting it more bluntly, “Your video was too political and we nuked it.” In China, this is euphemistically called “being harmonized,” a reference to the previous president’s deeply held wish that Chinese people live in a “harmonious society.” Or, in other words, in a society where people don’t make waves. My timing was probably off, as the current leadership prepares for a gala celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Japanese Occupation. China’s net nannies typically go into full swing before any major national event, including holidays and anniversaries they’d prefer to forget, like the June 4, 1989, suppression of Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. ...

What I miss about the USA when I’m in China 2

What I miss about the USA when I'm in China
DENVER, COLORADO — People in China often ask me if I miss the USA and my family. Of course, I say yes, but despite that I manage to cope. Usually, I’m too busy to feel homesick, and the Internet helps to eliminate any such feelings. But I have to admit, there are some specific American things that I realized on this junket home that I really appreciate. Here they are in no special order, and I hope I don’t offend any of my Chinese readers by my bluntness. In the USA, I can drink the tap water without worrying about being sick later. The restrooms are generally clean and sanitary — or at least don’t stink — and there is usually toilet paper, sinks, soap and some way to dry your hands. Also, there are stalls with doors. Every restaurant has a restroom. Restaurants always provide napkins. People know how to stand in line and wait their turn. I can eat raw vegetables and fruit and not worry about getting sick later. I can access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, The New York Times and a host of other websites and services without any problem. The streets and sidewalks are generally ...
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