Identity Papers

On being Chinese, but not – by James Hsu


When I was growing up in Canada, my mom used to tell me a story about how our Taiwanese relatives got cheated when they visited mainland China. The story meant only one thing – that all mainland Chinese were thieves and could not be trusted.

It must have been the early nineties, because the tale has been repeated endlessly for at least two decades. My mom wasn’t there, but she heard it from her sisters. As the story goes, my aunts visited China for a tour in the summer. They were looking for a place to exchange their Taiwanese dollars for Chinese yuan.


Dark Displays

Sightseeing the Nanjing Massacre Museum – by Christian Shepherd


"Alright mate. Where've you got to?" I'm sat on the benches at the exit."

Relieved, I up my pace to a brisk walk. "With you shortly."

"No rush mate – watching an interesting documentary on the author of The Rape of Nanking. You don't want to skimp on the torture and beheadings section."

I slow down. "Hold on – you're still downstairs?"

There's a pause on the other end of the line. "Upstairs? There's more?"


The Sage and the Sales Pitch

White-fronting in Confucius’s hometown – by Brent Crane


I have a Swiss friend who says yes to everything. When anyone asks him if he wants to do something – grab a bite to eat, go jump in a creek – he almost always agrees. “Why not?” he says.

I thought of him when I agreed to a money making opportunity recently. I was visiting Qufu, a city in Shandong province known throughout China as the birthplace of Confucius, and nothing else. It is a poor and gritty third-tier city, where air pollution has stained the sky permanently grey and residents drive shabby motorbikes and half-constructed tuk-tuks through dusty streets. Without its connection to ancient Chinese history, it would be nothing more then a grey blot among grey blots.


What Can We Do?

A Chinese student volunteers with migrant workers – by Crayon


Ed: Most writers on the Anthill are foreigners, so we thought to hear from a Chinese voice for a change. 蜡笔 (là bǐ) or “Crayon” is the pseudonym of a 20 year old student of English at Wuhan University, in her home province of Hubei.

Last year, in the run up to the spring festival, Crayon volunteered to work with migrant workers in the southern factory city of Shenzhen. She was there for a week, and her experiences affected her deeply. She wrote about it (in English), and quite by chance I stumbled across the essay. With her permission, the Anthill is publishing an edited version.


How to Be a Male God

An afternoon with a Chinese Pick Up Artist – by Alec Ash


Xia'er, a 22 year old music graduate from Hunan province, is short, with a boyish complexion and no steady job. He is an average catch.

Cirl, professional Pick Up Artist, has a ripped body, the confidence of a God, wears sparkling jewelry and does magic. He is a ladykiller.

Cirl exists in Xia'er's mind, also known as studtown. In there, it's 24-7 happy hour on manmeat, and the ladies are queuing up like it's half-price prime-rib steak for sale in East Berlin. If you let Xia'er keep talking, you might make the same mistake of thinking he is Cirl. If you let him do his magic tricks on you, and have two X chromosomes, watch out, you'll be another notch on his wall the next morning.