Alec Ash

Alec Ash is a writer and journalist in Beijing, and founding editor of the Anthill

Posts by Alec Ash

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Bling Dynasty

Comedy in China – a Q&A with Jesse Appell

 

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Postcard from Xinjiang

It was the first day of the Chinese new year in Urumqi, not that many Uighurs particularly cared. It's not their holiday (although there was a Uighur language spring festival gala). But it was also a Friday, which meant the biggest weekly public prayer at the Grand Bazaar. The Bazaar itself, the world's largest, was closed. Outside it, hundreds of Muslims laid out their mats, kneeled and prostrated themselves to the yodelling refrain of "Allah Akbar" coming from the speaker system.

Across the street, a clump of security guards watched them, looking bored.

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A Modest Proposal

For preventing the Corrupt officials of China from being a Burden to their country's Progress and for making them Beneficial to the Public

 

It is a melancholy object to travel through this great country of China, and see its provincial cities, towns and villages burdened by the venality of its corrupt local officials. These Party Chiefs, Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries, instead of honest service implementing the well intentioned directives of central authority, rely on fat envelopes and splendid gifts, handed under-table or with excessive ceremony, for comfort beyond what is necessary or appropriate, while their appetite at the table weighs down both themselves and the Nation.

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The Red Guard and the Landlady

From cultural revolution to rent collection – by Alec Ash

 

It's always a pleasant surprise when my landlady drops by unannounced at eight in the morning. I'm familiar with the early bird rap tap on my door by now, and the first thing I do before opening the door is put on the kettle. Sometimes she's there to collect the rent. Sometimes it's to check the heating came on, or to write down the electricity meter digits, or to switch off the water supply to the roof so it doesn't freeze in the pipes during winter, twiddling with hidden knobs under the kitchen sink.

This time, rap tap tap, it was just to have a chat.

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Expats behaving badly

Just because you know it, doesn't mean you can say it

 

You’ve likely read about this scooter mook, who earlier in the month cut across two lanes of traffic and slammed into a middle aged lady. He got into an argument with her and used some horrific Chinese – in both senses of the phrase – including “f* your mother” and shabi, which I translate below the break. She, in turn, ripped his coat and clung to his scooter somewhat hysterically, obviously angling after compensation. Neither came across particularly well, but it was the foreigner who lost all my sympathy when he opened his gob. (Although it’s a tough break to be deported for it.)

Here’s a personal vignette that illustrates what I think about this. It doesn’t reflect well on me. It’s about when I called a taxi driver a shabi.

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