Sunday, 23 October 2011

Foshan Hit-and-run toddler and Mencius

Recently a tragic incident involving a toddler in Foshan being knocked over by two vehicles has caused an outraged in China. The incident has been caught on CCTV camera that shocked many viewers. The outrageous thing was 18 passersby did nothing to help the toddler until a rubbish collector moved her to the side.The two year old girl Yueyue is now confirmed to be dead after battling for her life the last several days under intensive care in hospital. This incident has got many people talking on the internet about the lack of  morals in modern Chinese society and how to encourage good Samaritans in society. Also consider that similar incidents are frequent China.

Read more here

We can refer to the virtue of ancient Confucius philosopher Mencius' Four Beginnings of human nature. He used an example of a child falling down the well to show that humans are born with the tendency to be good.

“If people witness a child about to fall down a well, they would experience a feeling of fear and sorrow instantaneously without an exception. This feeling is generated not because they want to gain friendship with the child’s parents, nor because they look for the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor because they don’t like to hear the child’s scream of seeking help. Therefore, it can be suggested that without a mind of commiseration is not human, that a person without a mind of mortification is not human, that a person without a mind of conciliation is not human, and that a person without a mind of discernment is not human. The mind of commiseration is the driving force of benevolence. The mind of mortification is the driving force of righteousness. The mind of conciliation is the driving force of propriety. The mind of discernment is the driving force of wisdom. A person has these four driving forces, just the same as he has four limbs.”

Unfortunately the sage's words have little relevance to the passersby when the poor little girl got ran over. However Mencius also mentioned that although all human contain the the four virtues it requires the nourishment through education and upbringing in decent environment where human goodness can be achieved. If the saying is right then that not only says something about those 18 people but also the current state of China.

RIP Yueyue

Monday, 10 October 2011

Xinhai Revolution and 100 years of Republic

Dr. Sun Yat Sen

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命), and today 10th of October (aka Double Ten Day) is the commemoration of the Wuchang Uprising that overthrew the Qing Dynasty and lead to the establishment of the Republic of China, which ended 2000 years of feudalistic and imperial rule in China. It was also the first Republic in East Asia and the beginning of a modern era for China. As the Qing Dynasty went through decline and the country was marred by colonisation from foreign powers, the revolution was a turning point to bring salvation to a severely weakened country. There are far too many things to be looked at but I'll try and keep it as concise as possible. I'll provide links to Wikipedia for more details.

The central figure that lead to event was of course Dr. Sun Yat Sen (孫中山) often known by many Chinese today as the 'Father of the Nation' (國父). Although many important people were involved that are worth noting, Sun Yat Sen was known to be the one who pioneered it all. Sun Yat Sen spent a great part of his life abroad. At the age of 13 he went to high school in Hawaii and after that studied medicine in British occupied Hong Kong. Around that time he formed the 'Hsing Chung Hui' (興中會) or the Revive China Society. It was from there where he planned out revolutionary activities together with his fellow revolutionaries. Sun's life abroad has greatly influenced him ideologically and also made him realised how much behind China was at the time. This drove him to press on the revolution and set to modernize China. He created the Three Principles of the People's (三民主義) consist of nationalism, democracy and people's livelihood in hoping it will help China and it's people to become stronger, more prosperous and free.

Sun Yat Sen went into exile in 1895 when the first Guangzhou uprising has failed, he stayed in Japan for some time. He also travelled to the United States, Canada and Europe including Britain as well. During the trip he has garnered support and money from the Chinese communities overseas which contributed greatly to the revolution. In fact without the support and funding from overseas Chinese the overthrowing of the Qing government might not have been so successful. Many have also returned to China and fought during the uprising. It goes to show the Chinese diaspora remained to have a strong tie with the motherland. It was probably one of the rare occasions where Chinese from across the globe are united for a cause. On the 10th of October 1911 the Wuchang uprising was launched and it was to be the final attack at the Qing's government.

Building up to the 100th year anniversary, scholars and historians from mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong have been re-examining this period of history. Each have their own ways of interpreting the events but most agree that the success of the revolution was short lived. When the Qing government was overthrown along with the abdication of Emperor Pu Yi in 1912, a National Assembly was established with the first ever democratic constitution, the first of its kind in Asia. However not long after that the president Yuan Shikai (who played an important role in toppling Qing government) disbanded the assembly and attempted to revive the monarchy. As he failed it caused China to plunge into fragmentation and warlordism. The country went through a terrible fate, from then on to the Japanese invasion and through to the civil war until the founding of the People's Republic of China. The Xinhai Revolution despite its' significance was undoubtedly a failure. Sun's famous last words was 'The Revolution has not yet succeeded. Comrades, you must carry on!', he died of liver cancer in 1925. Today Taiwan (where the ROC government still remains) is the only place that carried out Sun's principals.

Failure or not the Xinhai Revolution was very important as it was the pinnacle of Chinese history. It's probably a largely neglected part by those in the West who want to study Chinese history because it doesn't contain the mystical appeal as the dynastic period. This may also be the case for us Western born Chinese too. But I think it is vital to study this period as it can give us a good understanding of the chaos that China went through and the impact it has on the country today. And no, it did not just begin with Mao Zedong in 1949. The founding father Dr. Sun Yat Sen is an aspiring historical figure that I suggest further studying, especially about his life, ideas and principles. His legacy continue to inspire many Chinese today, including myself.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Chinese with British accent = weird?

With my new found interest in photography I have been looking through some videos on YouTube about the topic. One of the video channel I've been frequent is Digital Rev TV. It is basically a web series with the format that is not too dissimilar to Top Gear except featuring cameras instead of cars. Although it is based in Hong Kong the entire series is presented in English by a British Chinese guy Kai Wong, who described by many viewers as the Chinese version of Jeremy Clarkson. His presenting style is humourous, cheeky and very articulate but one thing that seems to fascinate people is the presenter's flawless 'British' accent. This is not a big deal to us and Kai is most likely a BBC who was brought up in the UK, speaking with a regional English accent is as natural as walking on two legs. However for others it seems to be something unbelievable or impossible. Although most of the comments are camera related, but you get remarks directed at Kai's accent popping up once in a while. Here's a collection of  some of them:
Jeez do people expect him to speak like 'fly lice you plick'?
I wondered too....he might have picked it up from a Jamaican?
And there's some positive ones:

At least a few people have some common sense:

So you get the picture. Whenever people see a Chinese face they often assume we speak English (or none at all) with some stereotypical Chinese accent. It seems even the American accent is more acceptable on an Asian face, maybe because we used to seeing them on TV and films more often than British Chinese. At least this is mostly the case for people outside the UK. I know we get told how people are fond of the typical British accent (mind you many also hate it too), however when it's spoken by a Chinese person it somewhat becomes an alien concept. Thus why we see the ignorant comments and reactions like above on the Digital Rev videos. The British Chinese population (especially ones who speak with an English accent) is so minuscule in the global community we barely get much recognition at all and our existence appears to be an anomaly to many.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wong Fu Productions

Ted Fu, Philip Wang and Wesley Chan

Last week Wong Fu Productions have made a huge announcement last week that they'll be going to Taiwan to direct a new music video for Taiwanese singer Wang Leehom. Wong Fu Production is a great phenomenon that grew from a group of friends to a proper indie production house with a huge following around the world. It was back in 2006 the film Yellow Fever that first brought them so much attention and remained to be one of their best known works. Since then they've been constantly putting out shorts, music videos and comedy skits on Youtube, whilst gaining increasing number of fans. Some videos even get several millions of views. Comparing their earlier productions which seemed so amateur to the ones they've been doing so recently, they've come a long way. The qualities look so professional considering most are shot with a tiny or no budget, a perfect example of guerrilla film making. Now that they're working with Wang Leehom, an Asian superstar this had to be their greatest achievement yet.

A little thought on the side; the internet is a very powerful medium if utilized in the right way and Wong Fu have certainly took advantage of it to become what they are now. Of course you can't overlook the fact they are a talented bunch and very committed to their works. Even though they're not exactly mainstream but I think has played a part in creating a presence for Asian Americans in the Western media. For this I really do admire their effort and they have also inspired me do to get my cameras out and start my own project possibly sometime in the future.

Wong Fu Productions

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Doing the Asian eyes on Vogue Japan

Vogue Japan or rather the editor of Vogue Japan Anna Dello Russo have caused controversy with a video showing a shoot of the model Crystal Renn with her eyes taped back, some how resembling the slanted 'Asian' eyes. It's not sure what's the intention of doing that to her eyes or whether it was done to imitate the eyes of East Asian. The reaction has been quite mixed from what I have read, some find it offensive whilst others did not see it as a big deal. The fashion and art world has been known for crossing the boundary of political correctness and causing controversy.

The eye pulling gesture has been known for the mockery of the distinct Asian feature, however in Asia this gesture does not have any offensive means compare to Asians living in the West. Baring in mind this is a fashion shoot for Vogue Japan. So is Vogue being racially insensitive or is it others being too sensitive? Personally I find what's been done to the model's eye to be rather hideous looking, the taped eyes aren't symmetrical and as some have mention she looked a bit like Boy George. If this is what they call a tribute to Asian beauty then obviously this is a failure.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Take away murder

Image from the Guardian website

I'm a little late as usual but recently found out about a gruesome murder of a Chinese takeaway worker Simon San by a gang of racist youths in Scotland. Of the four that were involved three of youths were prosecuted for the crime. the controversial part was that the Lothian & Borders police did not acknowledged the crime to be a racially motivated attack despite what the San's family had claimed. It seemed the police made little effort further into the inquiry and had only assumed that the victim was 'in the wrong place at the wrong time'. Considering it happened right outside of the premises where he worked it sounds pretty obvious that wasn't the case. Only now that police had admitted and apologised for mishandling the case. Unfortunately none of this will change anything for San's family and what they've been through. More on the story:

Over the years there has been many similar cases where take away workers are subjected to harassment and violent attacks from gang of youths. It's a concern that many Chinese (or anyone) working in the industry had to deal with. Isolated and open till late at night, these premises are an attractive spot for delinquent youths to cause trouble. Even though it might not always result in physical harm or deaths, it's still to many a frustrating environment to work in. Most Chinese are unable to do much but to accept the situation and get on with business, as doing anything more it will only bring more trouble.

Many have cited the dissatisfaction with the police, usually getting to the scene too late or taking the problems too lightly to prevent it from happening again, ignoring the possibility that the next time it happens that their life will be put at risk. It doesn't make things better when take away workers are not very fluent in English and that makes communication very difficult at times. Chinese organisations are not always within reach for those who live far away from the city when support is needed.

Anti-social behaviour and the lack of police authority are part of the problems which stem to tragedy like this. We've seen this in the recent rioting. On a whole it effects everyone in society but for the Chinese community that are too often invisible and silent will end up bearing the brunt of it. The irony is that these are the same hard working people who pay taxes, the same money that goes into the police force and probably the welfare that supports these ASBO youths. Where's the justice in that?

For far too long Chinese in this country has been perceived to be the 'model minority', which means working hard and staying out of trouble. Although that sounds all and well unfortunately this means we're vulnerable when trouble comes looking for us. The majority assume being one of the most economically successful ethnic group, means we're the least discriminated and the most integrated in the British society. In reality this is only half truth, a lot of the struggles we're facing are actually hidden away or brushed aside. All-in-all now it's the time for the Chinese community to get the voices and concerns out into the mainstream. But for the moment it's easier said than done. If each of us British Chinese individual like myself are more politically aware and active even on a local level, it'll be a good start.

Here's a very insightful report that was published few years ago that I recommend reading:
Hidden from public view? Racism against the UK Chinese population

Monday, 6 June 2011

Li Na wins French Open and June 4th

Li Na's victory

Li Na has become the first Chinese player to have ever win the Grand Slam title at the French Open, that's Chinese by nationality but if you're talking about Chinese by ethnicity the legendary Michael Chang who's American was actually the first to win 22 years ago.

Also falling on the same date was the Tienanmen Square commemoration on June the 4th. The event took place in Hong Kong as usual, which is the only place in China where the where people can still openly commemorate the incident.

The sad incident happened 22 years ago just the day before Michael Chang has won at the Grand Slam in 1989. Which had he made this statement:

"A lot of people forget that Tiananmen Square was going on. The crackdown that happened was on the middle Sunday at the French Open, so if I was not practicing or playing a match, I was glued to the television, watching the events unfold...I often tell people I think it was God's purpose for me to be able to win the French Open the way it was won because I was able to put a smile on Chinese people's faces around the world at a time when there wasn't much to smile about."

However in contrast Li Na's victory would mark 4th of June to be a day of celebration by many proud Chinese. There's still a long way away before the Chinese government to be open about what happened in Tienanmen Square 22 years ago. With the crackdown and arrests of dissidents in recent months such as artist Ai Wei Wei seems like progress has been awfully slow. But we shouldn't put the two events together. Mind you I just did. On a positive note it's always welcoming to see more Chinese sportsman (or sportswoman) competing on an international level.

Candlelight vigil in Hong Kong

Sunday, 5 June 2011

An Ipad can cost you a kidney

It's a amazing the kind of length some people will go to get what they want, well at least for this 17yr old boy in China who sold his kidney just so he could get the money to buy an Ipad 2. The boy had it done through an illegal agent which he had saw through an advert on the internet. Offering money in exchange for a kidney donation, which to be sold on the black market. Well he got what he wanted in the end however the worrying thing was the operation was carried out at a clinic that was not qualified to perform such operation, and if things went wrong it could've cost him his life instead. The surgeons who performed the operation ran off I believe. His mother only found out afterwards. Definitely not worth it.

News link: Postey-for-ipad2/

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Japan Earthquake

Not long after the earthquake in New Zealand, Japan is hit by what is the fifth biggest earthquake ever recorded at 8.9 on the Richter scale. Which was 800 times stronger than the one happened in New Zealand last month. Since the epicentre of the earthquake is beneath sea it triggered a huge tsunami that swept across the east coast of Japan causing major damage to the coastline areas. Already at least 300 has been confirmed dead and hundreds are still missing.

Having visited Japan a few years ago and having known a few people who are living there (thankfully they are doing OK), I do feel a little heartfelt with this event. A country that is no stranger to earthquakes and are fully prepared to deal with this circumstance so no doubt Japan will overcome and recover from the disaster very quickly, just like it did in the 1995 earthquake.

For updates on the earthquake:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Its that time of the year again. Check out some cool CNY desktop wallpaper designs here

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Martin Jacques: Understanding the rise of China

This is a must watch, a very good presentation from Martin Jacques on TEDtalks. I like the enthusiasm the he has on the talk. Not sure how much I agree with him but he certainly touch on several important key points that made China into an economic powerhouse today and in the coming years. However I certainly agree when he mentioned about how 'ignorant' the Western perspective of the East and other cultures due to the Western dominance in the last two Centuries. Oh and apparently the Chinese invented golf.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Are Chinese mothers superior?

We all know that our Chinese parents have a reputation are particularly stricter and demanding. Just this week an article on the Wall Street Journal by a Chinese author Amy Chua has caused a stir amongst the Asian American blogoshere. The outline of the article basically says that the reason why 'Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids' is simply they were given the traditional Chinese upbringing. Thus this 'tough love' technique is what makes Chinese children to be academically high achievers. As oppose to Western parents, no matter how strict they are are always considerate of their Children's self esteem and 'respect their individuality'. As the author mentioned she even calls her daughter 'garbage'. They'll take it to the extreme to even yell at their kids and basically make them 'feel like garbage' if they fail to achieve anything below grade A. Now this surely crosses the line of emotional abuse. But to Amy forcing these values onto the kids is a method of good parenting.

To some extent I can see certain relevance to Amy's account on Chinese parents and there elements of truth to it. However it's not as simple as diverting it into the so-called 'Chinese' and 'Western' approach. I see this as the characteristic of poor immigrant parents who wants to push their children so they have a better future that are different to their parents. In a sense it's a legitimate reason. But for arguments sake I'll just follow her dualistic categories.

It is true that the 'Chinese technique' of raising kids can produce high achievers. We can see this in the statistics. However even with all of that there's no guarantee that it will work on all everyone and at the same time I know many who have achieved success without any intervention from their parents. I can testify that with real life examples. As parents trying to push their kids to have academic achievements will totally constrain other important aspects of personal development such as self-esteem and self-confidence, which is equally as important beyond the academic life if not even more. The pressure being placed children and young adults can take it's toll, as it drove many to commit suicide or suffer mental breakdown.

In the end we need to ask ourselves what is the definition of success? Are these definition of success being placed on by their parents will automatically lead to a happy and fulfilling life? Everyone has different aspiration and passion that we want to pursue, it's no good when parents try to forced us into a path that go against our natural ability. After all those hours of studying may get you a high earning job (I say may because there's no guarantee) or practising your musical instrument can get you a lot praises but it doesn't make you a better person. Many will become lost as they become adults because they are too used to being dictated by their parents. You may look back and ask yourself what was all that for?

Of course emphasising on education is not a bad thing, but balance is the key to raising healthy children. Academic success isn't everything. In the end 'Chinese' mothers are not superior than 'Western' mothers or vice versa. Nor is it fair to confine them with these characteristics.

I heard that the author Amy Chua (who I've never heard of before) has just recently launched her new book. Maybe the provocative article was done as a publicity stunt to sell more books. Well it probably has worked for her.

Here's a really good post from a blog that counteracts Amy Chua's article:

Parents like Amy Chua are the reason why Asian-Americans like me are in therapy/

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

RIP 司徒華 Szeto Wah

28 February 1931 – 2 January 2011

It was sad to hear Hong Kong democracy activist Szeto Wah's death last Sunday. He's been going through a long fight with lung cancer which greatly deteriorated his health in the past months. Unfortunately it claimed his life at the age of 79. I have came to learn about him only very recently. Szeto Wah has been an important political figure, mostly known for his promotion for democracy and campaign for the victims of the Tienanmen Square incident, which he never failed to turn up for the commemoration each year. His persistence and strong spirit to fight on has been an admiration to many activists.

Within his life long career right up to his death he has made numerous achievements in the fight for democracy. He founded Hong Kong's first political party United Democrats of Hong Kong which later became the Democratic Party. Szeto Wah has always been very vocal in criticising the Chinese Government for human rights abuse. But have equally made criticism of the British colonial rule. He has founded the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement of China in 1989 right after the Tienanmen Square. Thanks to the effort the victim of the incident will always be remembered. Unfortunately this got him along with other activists barred from China.

Of course his career was not a smooth ride, he has been called a 'traitor to the nation' for his push for a multiparty rule in China. And just last year he was heckled in a rally for supporting the Legislative Council's reform package which goes against the Democratic Party's principle. Regardless all of his concerns are for the best of Chinese people, he is a patriot at heart.

The exiled leaders of Tienanmen Square student protests Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi are hoping to take part in the memorial service, however they are likely to be denied entry to Hong Kong by the Beijing Government. So much for 'one country two system' then. Even though Szeto Wah had lost his fight to cancer his legacy will continue to live on for sure.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

I don't do New Year's Resolutions

Looking back I have been quite inconsistent with the blog and not to say missing out many things that I could've covered. It's quite exhausting trying to write something constructive sometimes especially since I don't have the natural writing talent like some people, though I am getting better hang of it through practices. I still got a few unfinished posts that are left in the vault I'll try and finish them soon. I'll set myself a target to post more frequently, however I would be too hesitant to call it a New Year's resolution. Anyhow I wish any readers whoever you are safe and happy new year from the BBC Ronin.