China has a bad rap, uh, rep, and this video aims to confirm, uh, correct that

China has a bad rap, uh, rep, and this video aims to confirm, uh, correct that
JISHOU, HUNAN — Let me be frank here. I’m an ignoramus when it comes to rap and hip hop. I freely confess it. But even I know the difference between good rap and horrible rap. This new video from the Chinese propaganda office falls into the latter category. I mean, you can’t even call it rap. It’s more like spoken word or — going further back in history — bad beat poetry. Of course, maybe it sounds better in Chinese, but the video is intended for a foreign audience and the spoken lyrics are in English. It begins: Regardless of all the prejudices in the past Today I wanna restore the impression you have on my country, China Which have been exactly fabricated by media for a long time As an individual citizen based in the south west of the country I wanna spit it then You guys can know better about what the truth is and How Chinese people access their own country And how much we don’t wanna be disputants Word, man. Word. Here’s the thing. China has decent rappers (in Mandarin or Cantonese). And maybe the performers on this state-approved video can rap pretty good in their ...

Three Chinese cities in top 10 most costly places for expats

Three Chinese cities in top 10 most costly places for expats
JISHOU, HUNAN — Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing are among the ten most expensive places to live for expats, according to Mercer, a global business consulting firm. Hong Kong is #1, with Shanghai in seventh place and Beijing in tenth. Other Asian cities in the top ten are Singapore and Tokyo, in fourth and fifth places respectively. Jishou is not included on the list, but it would be near the bottom, as rents are quite cheap here compared to the larger cities in China. Citing the Mercer study, the BBC reports that a two-bedroom unfurnished apartment in Hong Kong rents for US$6,800, compared with $5,100 for a comparable apartment in New York. A cup of coffee in HK will set you back about US$8, but a hamburger meal is about $5. Some of the cities are expensive, because of their fearsome cost of living generally. Many Chinese, for example, have trouble affording housing in the nation’s largest cities. Other cities, such Luanda, Angola (#2) are in countries with weak currencies, which hurts expat pocketbooks. Mercer says it evaluates expats’ cost of living in some 200-odd cities by taking into account housing, education for children, transport and everything needed to live ...

China dis-invites children’s choir after it sings Taiwan’s national anthem

China dis-invites children's choir after it sings Taiwan's national anthem
JISHOU, HUNAN — The Puzangalan Children’s Choir of Taiwan was supposed to perform in Guangdong next month, but China has canceled the group’s invitation, apparently for political reasons. The choir, comprising members of the aboriginal Paiwan people, had sung the Taiwanese national anthem at the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, last month. Since China considers Taiwan a province of the mainland, the song apparently hurt Beijing’s feelings. The performance at a choral festival in Guangdong was part of a fundraising tour for the choir. President Tsai has pledged $15,000 to offset the loss of income, the BBC reported today. Focus Taiwan TV reported today that the group has raised enough funds to attend the International Choir Festival organized by Cantemus Choral Institute in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, in August. So, take that, China! For more information about the choir, you can visit their Facebook page or their website. Here’s an example of their singing.

‘Disappeared’ Hong Kong bookseller returns after 8 months, says his TV confession was scripted

'Disappeared' Hong Kong bookseller returns after 8 months, says his TV confession was scripted
JISHOU, HUNAN — Eight months after he disappeared from Hong Kong, bookseller Lam Wing-kee has returned home, with stories of his apprehension by mainland authorities and detention in a small room in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. Lam said his confession on mainland TV in February of selling banned materials was carefully scripted, and that his captors made him repeat the script several times until they were satisfied with the results. Lam and four other men associated with a Hong Kong bookstore selling books critical of the Chinese Communist Party disappeared from Thailand, Hong Kong and the mainland at different times last year. Lam returned two days ago. One associate, Swedish national Gui Minhai, remains in custody on the mainland. At a press conference at Legco — the Legislative Council for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) — Lam related how he was picked up in October on his way to Shenzhen, which lies just across the river from Hong Kong on the mainland. Though Britain returned its former colony to China in 1997, the SAR is supposedly autonomous; people passing between HK and the mainland must pass a border control point. As reported in the South China Morning Post today, ...

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy
JISHOU, HUNAN — It seems every few months or so the Internet is in turmoil about some silly “controversy” or another. The latest is the “Marty and Luis” pizza question. An image of the question, supposedly marked in green by a teacher, ended up on reddit two months ago, apparently as a criticism of American education, or teachers, or math. Who knows? Well, I’m a skeptic, so I went digging around the Internet trying to find the origin of the question and the image. The source of the question was easy to find: Pearson Education’s EnVision math series for 3rd Grade Common Core. The source of the image was a different matter. Using TinEye.com, I used the image as a search parameter. It’s earliest appearance was, oddly enough, on a German image collection site, www.lachshon.de, and it was posted there in March 2015! The account of the original poster, gelöscht-20111221-112645, has since been locked, and his new account, gelöscht-20120516-162657, is not visible to the public, though the images are searchable. Go figure. After this mysterious German appearance, the same image ended up on imgur.com about a week later, where it began to attract the usual assortment of comments, ranging from ...

BBC Click features new glass-bottomed bridge in Zhangjiajie 张家界

BBC Click features new glass-bottomed bridge in Zhangjiajie 张家界
JISHOU, HUNAN — But the news service misspelled the city’s name in the video. Zhangjiajie 张家界 is about 90 minutes from here. It’s already the home of several tourist attractions, including the first national park in China, Yellow Dragon Cave, and the “Grand Canyon,” which is a deep crevasse cut through the limestone here, but not quite as grand as America’s Grand Canyon. The new bridge spans the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, and is reported to be the longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge in the world. It’s due to open next month, and I might just give it a go. More details at CNN. Donate Bitcoins

Chinese government mouthpiece disses ‘barbarian’ UK media following ‘Gossip Queen’s’ gaffe

Chinese government mouthpiece disses 'barbarian' UK media following 'Gossip Queen's' gaffe
British media will become more civilized after they are exposed to 5,000 years of Chinese history, the editors of the Chinese version of Global Times wrote yesterday, responding to coverage of Queen Elizabeth II calling a Chinese delegation “rude.” “The West in modern times has risen to the top and created a brilliant civilization, but their media is full of reckless ‘gossip fiends’ who bare their fangs and brandish their claws and are very narcissistic, retaining the bad manners of ‘barbarians’,” the unsigned editorial says, according to the South China Morning Post. The Queen was recorded Wednesday having a conversation with the police commander who had been in charge of security for Chinese diplomats during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s October visit. The commander remarked that the delegation had been uncooperative and rude, and the Queen replied that she knew about it. “They were very rude to the Ambassador [Barbara Woodward],” the Queen said. Both were apparently unaware their conversation was audible to TV news cameras. Chinese reaction was initially muted, though BBC News reports were bleeped out on the mainland. The English language Global Times made light of the gaffe. Yesterday’s Chinese language version was more irate, but said the ...

Queen calls Chinese delegation to UK ‘rude,’ comments blocked in China

Queen calls Chinese delegation to UK 'rude,' comments blocked in China
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made some blunt comments about the behavior of a Chinese diplomatic delegation to the United Kingdom, which has apparently hurt Chinese feelings. In a conversation with the London police commander in charge of the delegation’s security, Queen Elizabeth was overheard saying the Chinese diplomats were “rude” to the British ambassador. China has bleeped BBC TV and radio reports about the comments, but has not blocked the BBC wholesale. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the UK in October to bolster trade between the two countries. Security was handled by Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who met the Queen at a Buckingham Palace garden party Tuesday. Their conversation was caught on camera. As reported by the BBC, it went like this: The Queen’s remarks were caught on tape as she was introduced to Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who the monarch is told had overseen security during President Xi’s visit to the UK in October. She is heard to respond: “Oh, bad luck.” An official went on to tell the Queen that Commander D’Orsi had been “seriously, seriously undermined by the Chinese, but she managed to hold her own and remain in command”. Commander D’Orsi told the ...

PLA dispatches local singing star Song Zuying 宋祖英 to Spratly Islands for show

PLA dispatches local singing star Song Zuying 宋祖英 to Spratly Islands for show
JISHOU, HUNAN — The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent local singing star Sòng Zǔyīng 宋祖英 to the disputed Spratly Islands to perform for military personnel stationed there, the BBC reports. Song, 49, is from Guzhang County, Hunan, about an hour’s drive from Jishou. Song belongs to the Miao minority group (also known as Hmong) and often performs wearing Miao clothing and silver bridal jewelry and headgear (see photo). China has been developing one of the Spratly Islands, which lie in the South China Sea near the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. Jurisdiction of the islands has been a source of friction between China and its smaller neighbors, who are not very keen on China’s incursion into international waters so close to their shores. For its part, China claims its development of the islands, which includes an airstrip and a naval dock, is for civilian use only. Beijing claims a large swatch of the South China Sea belongs to China, basing that assertion on centuries-old documents. The UN, however, recognizes the nearby countries as having jurisdiction. Song is a non-combatant member of the PLA with the rank of rear admiral. She’s performed Chinese and Miao songs around the world, and sang ...

Chinese, Hong Kong officials named in latest ‘Panama Papers’ releases

Chinese, Hong Kong officials  named in latest 'Panama Papers' releases
JISHOU, HUNAN — The investigative team behind the massive “Panama Papers” data dump have uncovered more associates of present or former Chinese government officials with offshore shell accounts. Also named are a present minister in the Hong Kong government and a Hong Kong university. Previously, eight people with ties to former or present Politburo members — including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping — were revealed to have extensive offshore business assets. Named in the latest report is Li Pak-tam, son-in-law of Jia Qinglin, a former Politburo member who retired in 2013. Li is the owner of a firm listed in the British Virgin Islands, Fung Shing Development Ltd., the South China Morning Post reported. Jia’s grand-daughter, Jasmine Li, had previously been named as an officer of another offshore shell company The Post had previously reported that Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University had established an offshore company with millions of dollars in assets, but the university had never mentioned the shell company’s existence in its financial reports. The deal happened while the present HK innovations minister, Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung, was vice president of the university. Shares in this offshore company were then transferred to another company controlled by a delegate to ...

In which I recall the wise words, ‘Never assume’ 3

In which I recall the wise words, 'Never assume'
JISHOU, HUNAN — Journalists are often reminded to “never assume” they know the truth, or in fact if anyone knows the truth. Teachers need to follow the same advice, as I found out a few weeks ago in class. One of the activities in our Oral English textbook, which is published in the UK, asks the students to pair up and tell each other about a book they read as a child. Easy enough, right? Well, that’s what I assumed. In fact, it was not an easy task, because for a fair number of my students, the only books they had as kids were their textbooks in primary school. For these students hailing from the countryside, their first real chance to read a book for pleasure didn’t come until they boarded out to middle school. When I give my students this kind of assignment, I usually let them talk among themselves. If the hubbub seems to be winding down, I’ll ask a few of them to tell the class what they’d been discussing with their partner. Other times, I’ll join a group, or a student will ask me a question and I’ll stay and chat for bit. On this occasion, ...

N. Korea still whinging about 13 defectors leaving China for S. Korea

N. Korea still whinging about 13 defectors leaving China for S. Korea
JISHOU, HUNAN — Nearly a month after 13 North Korea restaurant workers in Ningbo, China, left for South Korea, the North Korea government is still trying to save face. First, the North accused the South of forcibly abducting the 12 women and one man, but that idea didn’t hold much water after Chinese officials publicly stated the group had legal exit papers and were free to leave China. Reuters also reported that four of the women had gone shopping for backpacks two days before they left, and had told the salesclerk they were going on a trip. The North demanded their return, asserting the South had violated their human rights and threatening serious consequences if South Korea did not comply. South Koreans officials firmly said, “No way.” Official state media in the North have not reported on the defections, even as the government arranges melodramatic appeals for the foreign media. In the North Korea capital of Pyongyang, on April 20, North Korea trotted out seven tearful young women for an exclusive interview with CNN. The women, who all claimed to be former workers at the Ningbo restaurant, pleaded for their comrades to return, and told the CNN correspondents the 13 ...
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