Tuesday, 28 March 2017

David Beckham's Facebook Post 'Great 48 hours in China' Upsets Hong Kong Netizens

(source: Paulblank via Wikimedia Commons)

When it comes to China, the phrase 'words matter' is definitely true, as ex-footballer David Beckham discovered a few days ago.

On March 23, the former captain of the English national team visited Shanghai to take part in events organized by a life insurance company, which had appointed David Beckham as its global ambassador. On Friday he travelled to Hong Kong to promote the company.

At the end of his trip, Beckham published a Facebook post:

'Great 48 hours in China'

Beckham's apparently harmless post, however, caused a backlash. Hong Kong netizens criticized the ex-footballer for implying that Hong Kong and China are one and the same thing. Hong Kong netizens wrote comments below the post to point out Beckham's error.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Are Taiwanese Nice to Foreigners? A Few Thoughts on Prejudice and Freedom

Years ago I wrote a post about the contrast between the clean MRT and dirty restaurants in Taiwan. Yesterday a Taiwanese user posted the following critical comment:

Read through your paragraph, so you want to spend a little money but experience the luxury, you are telling the joke. Actually, if you feel bad toward this kind of experience, you can go back to your own country, right ? No One Force you to come here, buddy~ If you think the restaurants in your country are much cleaner than ours, then.... you don't even have to torture yourself, just go back and do not waste your time to write down these shit. Last but not the least, come to a new environment, you should learn how to get accustomed to their culture, including learn their language, not just complain all the day. 

You can read my short reply to him here

Now, does the logic of this Taiwanese netizen's comment sound familiar to anyone? Let's compare it with the following sentence: 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Back to Blogging?

It's been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. I have been quite busy and, as most bloggers know, it is very hard to post regularly over a long period of time. That's probably why many blogs such as mine end up being discontinued.

To be honest I have missed blogging, but I just had no time for it, for personal reasons I don't want to discuss here. I have also decided to put more effort into my website china-journal.org, where I write new posts about Chinese culture and history and republish old articles.

As I explained earlier, I felt that this personal blog wasn't the right place to write serious articles. The solution was to start another website. This blog is and should be a platform for absolutely personal opinions, experiences, and from time to time also for weird news. When I write this blog, I just want to relax. I want to write short posts, rants, thoughts, episodes, and that's it.

Although I left Taiwan a long time ago (and I would like to explain why in another post), there are still many things I want to write about. Some of my memories have already faded away, and so have some of the feelings I had back then and which often compelled me to write Taiwan-related posts. Sometimes, when I try to remember the names of streets or people, or the details of things that happened to me, I realize how much I have meanwhile forgotten.

I enjoy blogging and I want to keep this hobby. And Asia is such an incredibly fascinating place. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. The world seems out of control. Trump is insane. Xi Jinping is insane. China threatens Taiwan. I truly feel exhausted and depressed. I knew something about this world was wrong, but at least I believed we had learnt something from history. "Never war again", "never Great Depression again", "never Cultural Revolution again", etc. etc. That's what people used to say. And what do we have now? It seems we are just turning back the clock of history with every year that passes.

Going back to the main point. I hope I can keep blogging from time to time, and although this blog is not what it used to be, I hope that some people will enjoy reading it and perhaps will share their thoughts, too.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Taiwan's Fears of War with China Grow

Ever since Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the island has been confronted with the permanent risk of Communist invasion. In the 1950s the People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched two attacks against the last bulwark of Chiang Kai-shek's regime. The last major crisis in the Taiwan Strait dates back to the mid-1990s, when the People's Republic of China (PRC) conducted missile "tests" dangerously close to Taiwan's shores. This display of military strength was aimed at then-President of Taiwan Lee Teng-hui, who had publicly refuted Beijing's territorial claims on the island. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Hundreds of People Rush to China's "Ruby Village" Hoping to Make a Fortune

Over the past few days hundreds of people rushed to Houzhang, a small village in China's Zhejiang Province, in search of precious rubies. About a thousand people went to the village on June 20th carrying with them equipment including hoes, shovels and flashlights. 

Houzhang's "ruby rush" began a few days ago when a netizen wrote on his WeChat account that residents of Houzhang village had found small rubies in the earth, some of which were allegedly worth up to 25,000 RMB (around 3,800 USD). Local villagers began excavating the ground, hoping to make a fortune overnight, but as the news spread, they were soon joined by scores of people from outside the town. 

According to local reports, over a thousand people rushed to the village on June 19 alone, digging not only at daytime, but also during the night: they have heard that in the darkness the rubies are easier to spot because they reflect the flashlights. Whether young or old, male or female, all take part in the treasure hunt.  




Monday, 13 June 2016

Chinese Passengers on Chongqing-bound Flight Attack Flight Attendant

Hainan Airlines aircraft
(photo by Aero Icarus, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

On June 12 a Hainan Airlines flight from Taiyuan to Chongqing was delayed after two male passengers assaulted a flight attendant.

Flight HU7041 was scheduled for departure at 1:30 from Taiyuan Wusu International Airport. After the completion of boarding and safety check procedures the plane reached the runway and was taxiing, but the pilot stopped the aircraft shortly before take-off. 




Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Stuck In Macau For One Night

Senado Square

On Friday I decided to go to Macau, a city which in my opinion - as I wrote in the past - is one of Asia's most charming travel destinations. I was planning on staying there for just one day, taking a walk in the afternoon and later meeting an old friend of mine, before returning to Hong Kong at around 11 p.m.

The original idea was to take a ferry in the morning, but because I slept miserably the previous night I ended up leaving home at 3 p.m. The weather was hot and humid, the sky grey. Around one hour later I arrived at the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. After buying a ticket and going through the immigration control, I joined the unavoidable long queue largely consisting of mainland Chinese tourists: young and old, fancy and sporty, all invariably holding shopping bags with names of fashion or food brands written on them. 

Riding a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau may seem like an enjoyable and relaxing experience - to those who have never taken one. The reality is quite different. Ferry pilots in Hong Kong either love speed or they are always in a hurry, which is alright as long as the sea is calm, but when it is rough, the unaware passengers suddenly find themselves trapped on a boat which, rocked by the powerful waves, restlessly pitches and yaws.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Launching A New Website - china-journal.org

In this post I would like to introduce my new website: china-journal.org, in which I will be writing about Chinese culture, history and society. 

I had been thinking for quite some time about starting a new website, since I was very unhappy with how this blog has developed over the years. At the beginning "My New Life In Asia" was supposed to be a platform where I could write about my personal experiences and thoughts - which is what blogs have been invented for. Instead, I started to write about Confucianism, politics, culture etc. In the end I totally abandoned my original purpose. 

This created two problems: first, many posts I published on this site are out of place; second, I have no space for a "public diary" as I had envisioned it. The only way to solve this issue was to separate blogging from more "serious" writing by creating an entirely new website. Let me now briefly explain the concept and structure of china-journal.org.

First of all, I decided to reject the logic behind most websites we see on the internet nowadays, which is to attract as many viewers as possible in order to monetize traffic. Of course, this is probably the only viable business model in the internet age, but to be honest, this tends to generate a lot of superficial content whose main purpose is to stir emotions, prompt engagement, and ultimately lead to precious clicks. As a result, whenever I visit my Facebook profile and other social media I am bombarded with videos of cute animals, with articles about uncivilised Chinese tourists or about collapsing roads. One either has to accept the mainstream trends and write similar stuff, or one simply has to reject them, forget about statistics and traffic, and focus on what matters: on trying to share knowledge and to create a community of people who want to think, learn and debate (whether this is possible on the internet, I do not know).