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My Father

Sitting the first gaokao after the Cultural Revolution – by Karoline Kan

 

For years, I hated my father. In my eyes, he was the most irresponsible dad in the world. He wasn’t earning money to support us. He didn’t enjoy family gatherings, and was always the first to leave the table. He didn’t care whether his kids were happy in school or not, but would be angry if we didn’t perform as well as he expected. He often quarreled with my mother, for reasons I didn’t understand.

“Who can you blame? It’s your own fate!” My mother would shout at him. Father would just stay silent, turn to the other side of the room and light a cigarette, while my mother again repeated the story from more than thirty years ago which in her mind led to father’s bitterness.

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Karoline Kan, Thu 20 November 2014 - 06:01

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Chengyu Tuesdays: Smashing Jade

完璧归赵 wánbìguī Zhào – return to its owner

 

完璧归赵 (wánbìguī Zhào) is literally "return the jade disc to Zhao", and means to return something to its rightful owner. As always, there's a (somewhat overwrought) story behind it:

 

A precious jade disc (the 和氏璧 héshìbì) was stolen from the state of Chu and sold to the state of Zhao. In 283 BC, King Zhaoxiang of Qin offered 15 cities to the state of Zhao in exchange for the jade disc. Zhao minister Lin Xiangru was dispatched to take the jade to Qin. He handed over the disc, but when it became clear that the King of Qin would not uphold his side of the bargain, he claimed that the jade had an imperfection.

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Anthill, Tue 18 November 2014 - 06:01

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New Kung Fu

Photos by Christopher Cherry, with an introduction by Sascha Matuszak

 

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Sascha Matuszak, Sat 15 November 2014 - 04:37

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Made in China

Laszlo Montgomery’s other life in Chinese manufacturing

 

In my China History Podcast series I have touched on China trade going all the way back to the times of the Han Dynasty adventurer Zhang Qian. Trade with China has always been exotic and unique. Silk, tea, lacquerware and other valuables ware sold along the fabled trade routes to all points between Rome and Asia. Zhang Qian, Marco Polo, the Silk Road, the Tea Horse Road, Zheng He, Macao, the Canton System, the Noble House. For an old China hand, what isn’t there to love about this world of China trade?

But when I first started out as a China watcher, back in the day, I didn’t realise that in my professional life I would become part of it myself.

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Laszlo Montgomery, Thu 13 November 2014 - 03:30

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Chengyu Tuesdays: Dripping Water

滴水穿石 dīshuǐchuānshí – perserverance yields success

 

滴水穿石 (dīshuǐchuānshí) literally means “dripping water cuts through stone”, and is a common chengyu meaning that persistent effort can overcome any obstacle, a bit like “little strokes fell great oaks”. It’s a clear image, and is the sort of thing a mum will say when her kid is studying for the gaokao. The story behind it, meanwhile, is rather more criminal:

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Anthill, Tue 11 November 2014 - 03:01

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Poem: The Last Graveyard

 

Ed: This is a poem by Xu Lizhi, a 24 year old worker at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen who killed himself last September. It was translated at the Nao blog, who are happy with other sites republishing the poems. Over at Beijing Cream, Anthony Tao has also posted another couple.

For context, also check out this interview I did a while back with Li Liao, an artist who went undercover at a Foxconn factory. He said of the suicides: "I think it was mostly out of despair ... If they leave they are unemployed, and can only go back to their old homes and start a small business. They feel they have no way out."

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Anthony Tao, Mon 10 November 2014 - 01:55