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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The spring migration

Two panoramas from spring festival travels

 

Two landscapes, courtesy of the iPhone's "panorama" function.

One is a stretching maize field in Anhui province, among China's poorest and most historic rural settings. To the left, one of the many graves that pepper the land, mounds of earth around which the newly budding crops circle respectfully. Straight ahead, almost too low to be visible, a hamlet of brick houses and dirty courtyards filled with waddling ducks and barking dogs.

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The artist and the factory

A Q&A with a fake Foxconn worker

 

On October 9th 2012, 30 year old Li Liao reported for his first day’s work at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, southern China. The behemothian electronics contract manufacturer, which makes our iPhones, Kindles and Wiis, provides a livelihood for hundreds of thousands of poor Chinese. It was also the centre of controversy after a spate of worker suicides in 2010.

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Tales from the hutong

Three vignettes from old Beijing in midwinter

 

In the two months I have lived at no. 19 Xiguan hutong (between the mahjong hall and public toilets, past the sex shop and suspiciously located massage parlour next door), I have come to know the school kid who plays saxophone in the back of a cycle rickshaw, the market man who sells pak choi at a discount when he thinks it’s ugly-looking, and the army of fat cats who mobilise on the low rooftops at dusk.

Hutong life keeps giving. Here are three vignettes from it.

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What a difference a year makes

Reflections on how China has changed in two years

 

As with dog years, so is it with China years – one here is equivalent to several most places else. They just fit more in. When it comes to pace of change, no-one else holds a candle really.

I’ve been out of China for two years. For a dog, that’s ten human years, and you could argue the rate for China is about the same. It’s like leaving London shortly after the millenium and coming back for the Olympics. Recognisable, but look closer and you notice all the new things.

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Diary of an AIDS activist

Cheng Xiangyang of AIDS charity 爱源 talks to Alec Ash in Beijing

 

“In 1997, in my village in Henan province, China, people started to die inexplicably. There were certain symptoms they all had in common: fever, diarrhoea, and so on. More and more of us fell sick and died. The doctors said there was no virus - but they didn't test for HIV.

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