interviews

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Why I'm Not Going to Be Living in China Anymore But Might Be Back

Parting words from Brendan O’Kane

 

Brendan O'Kane will be a familiar name to many of you. He is a long time Beijing resident, accomplished translator, and "accidental pedagogue" at Popup Chinese and IES. Next month he leaves China to do an MA at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on classical China, but plans to be back around autumn 2014 and is sticking around for a PhD which means, presumably, indefinitely. As he has far too much good sense to write a "Why I'm Leaving China" post, I roped him into doing a Q&A instead, so I could ask about his experiences here over the last dozen years, his thoughts on Chinese literature, and more.

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Teaching for China

Two privileged Chinese graduates go to teach in the boondocks

 

Li Site and Yang Xiao, both in their mid twenties, went to Peking University and Tsinghua University next door, China’s Oxford and Cambridge. A degree from one of those can set you up for life. It’s the castle on the hill for countless students hitting the books all over China, only a tiny proportion of whom will get in.

On graduating, instead of applying for a job or a PhD, they separately chose to teach for two years at hardship schools in the countryside of far southwest Yunnan

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If you are the one

A Q&A with two foreign contestants on a Chinese dating show

 

The latest invaluable pensée from Global Times is "If you are the foreign one". It’s about foreigners on the TV dating show Fei Cheng Wu Rao. “They are too frank and say things inappropriate for match-making talk, which makes them seem alien,” is one choice quote. Perhaps this is the reason why “the worship of foreigners has ebbed”, and “it is common for foreigners on the show to pass through many rounds but still leave without finding a girl.”

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Interview with the rapper

A Q&A with Beijing hip hop luminary Nasty Ray

 

Nasty Ray is a Beijing rapper straight out of the hutong. He was born in 1988, and lives in the west of town with his mum. ("Welcome 2 da hood, this is Tuanjiehu / I live in 20Two", goes one lyric.) His walls are covered with basketball posters and his own sketches, and one room is a shedload of vinyls and decks. For a taste of his music, go to his Douban page. And for an open sesame to more Chinese hip hop, also check out Yin Cang, Yin San'er and Hei Yun.

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Chris Patten on China (video)

A 2008 perspective of China that holds true in 2013

 

This is a clip from an interview I did with Chris Patten in Oxford back in 2008, shortly before the Olympics when I first came to live in Beijing. Rewatching it now, the two minute clip makes as much sense in context five years later as it did then. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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