The Nanfang / Blog

Nangfang News: Guangzhou activists detained after anti-Gaddafi protest

Posted: 08/31/2011 11:40 am

Welcome back to school, n00bs

Tens of thousands of students at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies were left without Internet access for several hours Monday evening after a computing science student hacked into the campus intranet. The network-wide message he left behind at least made the prank somewhat entertaining.

Young burn victim humiliated by Shenzhen school system

With school set to start this week, a 5-year-old girl in Shenzhen who was left with severe burns after a fire last year has been refused admission by more than ten kindergartens in the city (photo). She’s been so isolated since the accident, her parents say, that she hasn’t even been able to learn to count.

Communist terror wedding memories

A couple of young newlyweds in Guangzhou thought it would be funny to do their wedding photos dressed as Red Guards, seen here on Tianhe Rd. minutes before a former university professor turned bus driver plowed them down.

No politics at the mall, please

Two netizens and several activists were detained Sunday morning outside Guangzhou’s Tee Mall after hoisting a banner celebrating Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s recent fall from power. A similar banner was seen outside the Mandarin Spring Hotel in Panyu over the weekend.

Broken water main brings millions in damages

A water main on Guangzhou’s Dongfeng West Rd. ruptured early Monday morning, leaving thousands of families with no water or electricity and hundreds of cars submerged. Authorities said it will take about a week to get the power back on.

Sci-fi fans bring UFO to Guangzhou

One of the UFOs from the film Battle: Los Angeles somehow made it over the Pacific and was spotted yesterday blue-raying residents of Cen village not far from South China Agricultural University.

Haohao

The light goes on: China to improve PR after Wenzhou, Guo Meimei fiascos

Posted: 08/30/2011 11:05 am

Disaster in Wenzhou

There’s no doubt that people in China have more access to information than ever before, largely thanks to Internet services like Sina Weibo. Where once people in China may have been angry but disconnected, they are now increasingly able to band together for common causes and share their anger over issues such as government corruption, land expropriation, tainted food and more. The popular microblogging service most-recently lit up with angry comments during the Guo Meimei and Wenzhou train crash incidents. (If you’re unfamiliar with these two cases, you can read more about Guo Meimei here and Wenzhou here.)

Both cases were bad in and of themselves, but one could argue they were made worse by PR bumbling. This is not China of the 1970s (or even 1990s) where the government had a monopoly on news and information, which means more is expected of the people trotted out to publicly make the government’s case. The good news is it seems the government has received the message loud and clear. The Nanfang Metropolis News has published a story today (Chinese) on a lecture series offered to public relations spokespeople, using the Guo Meimei and Wenzhou train collision as case studies:

To help government bodies better communicate with their audiences, especially in an age where people can post their opinion relatively freely on social media platforms, the National News Publication Bureau recently organized the eighth national spokespersons training course in Beijing. According to Wang Xuming, former spokesperson for the national education bureau and one of the lecturers during the training, this kind of training isn’t available elsewhere in the world. Previous courses have focused on skills rather than values, but he regards this lecture as a way to help spokespeople establish their moral values.

Liu Pengfei, chief analyst of the press monitoring office of the People’s Daily website and another instructor during the training, suggested all spokespeople open Weibo accounts. Liu said his lesson would focus on how to respond on Weibo. “The Guo Meimei incident started from Weibo and developed all the way to a trust crisis of the Red Cross, and I have to say during the Wenzhou train wreck, the Zhejiang local government utilized its Weibo account to good effect.”

The participants are communication officers from the enterprise (SOEs) and government bodies, (Liu Jintao, the vice president of Shuanghui Group, whose company was involved in the recent poison scandal which started on Weibo, participated the training.) Liu said his lecture is welcomed by these people and they all regard social media communication as crucial.

China’s poor PR apparatus has long been a criticism of this blogger, so this is a good first step.

Thanks to MissXQ (Twitter, Weibo, blog) for the translation.


Haohao

Guangdong votes for happiest couples

Posted: 08/30/2011 9:12 am

It’s no secret that the provincial government’s latest PR campaign is “Happy Guangdong“, focusing on how this place is so much more than just cheap migrant labour. While Guangdong may be rich, the comrades in charge are making sure to point out that they are also happy, harmonious even, in the words of Hu Jintao.

With this in mind, netizens across the region voted for the “10 Best Husbands and Wives” in Guangdong to showcase how love really does last here, despite the plethora of mistresses. The Nanfang Daily has the details:

The competition, held by the Women’s Federation of Guangdong Province, started receiving applications in May this year and attracted more than a thousand participantswho told their love stories through the Internet and received votes from netizens. Up to August 26, more than 10 million people cast their votes.

So who won this thing?

The award of “Best Golden Couple” (those married for more than 50 years) is granted to Yang Yingbin and Zheng Liya, a highly-respected couple both in their nineties. Yang and Zheng met during the second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. While they had grown deep feelings for each other ever since, they made a mutual agreement and didn’t get married until the day after the Japanese troops signed to surrender. After that, Yang and Zheng went through the brutal Cultural Revolution and held on to each other ever since.

Except for the deep love between the two of them, they also showed their selflessness to the outside world by cumulatively giving needy people tens of thousands of RMB.

We’ve never had one single fight, not even a quarrel,” said Zheng, the wife, when she recalled the past 74 years they have been in love.

Yes, it’s comforting to know that long-lasting love can be found here in “Happy Guangdong”.

(Translations done by Ellen Wang)

 

Haohao

Nanfang News: Guangdong prosecutors seal criminal records for young offenders

Posted: 08/29/2011 12:58 pm

A fire broke out Saturday evening in hills north of Tianhe district in Guangzhou, but took only two hours to extinguish.

Big Brother starts helping little brothers out

‘Hometown associations’, long an instrument used by local authorities to keep tabs on all the potential union organizers who arrive each year from difference provinces to work in the PRD’s factories and drive our taxis, have a new purpose now.

According to Southern Daily, hometown associations throughout the PRD have reversed course and are now active in helping members resolve labor or contract disputes and various other conflicts.

The newspaper isolates two factors which led to the change: stronger social foundation throughout Guangdong province, and a rapid increase in recent years in the number of hometown associations throughout the area. Southern Daily notes that Shenzhen alone has over 200 hometown association offices.

T-Mac brings the love to Foshan

Hundreds poured out yesterday to get a glimpse of seven-time NBA all-star and #1 forward for the Detroit Pistons, Tracy McGrady, traveling across China this month on his Feeling Love tour.

McGrady’s contract with the Pistons expired earlier this month, so we’re waiting to find out that he’ll actually be playing with the Long Lions all next season.

Court records to remain sealed for young offenders

Guangdong public prosecutors announced earlier this month that juvenile offenders in the province will now have their criminal records expunged for any convictions which take place prior to their 18th birthday, and the same deal applies to registered students once they turn 25.

The decision comes after the number of young criminals has risen by 11% over the past five years, and is aimed at rehabilitating delinquents by making it easier for them now to seek employment, stay in the school system, or join the army, all options previously unavailable to anyone with a criminal record.

Dog crackdown continues

The crackdown on unregistered dogs which started in Guangzhou’s Panyu district has spread north to Yuexiu, which covers most of the downtown area. Media reported over the weekend that police are doing spot checks in various neighborhoods at different hours throughout the day, issuing fines to owners of unlicensed dogs and impounding those dogs found running astray.

No heat respite despite approaching typhoon

Typhoon Nanmadol is supposed to pass next to Guangdong province today and bring crap weather through to Wednesday. Temperatures are not expected to go down, however, and will likely stay in the mid to high 30s this week.

Haohao

From the “badly needed” file: Hertz unveils electric car rentals in Shenzhen

Posted: 08/29/2011 7:00 am

You'll soon see the E6 plying the streets of SZ

Not a lot of us are in the market to rent automobiles. China is notoriously strict on what it will accept when it comes to proper driving permits, and an international driver’s license doesn’t cut it. On the other hand, though, the country is notoriously lax: many fellow laowai report being pulled over on scooters, motorbikes or other contraptions and being let go simply because putting a foreigner through the bureaucracy is too ma fan.

That being said, there is definitely a market for cars which come with drivers. Cars are regularly rented for tours around the city, jaunts out of town for the day, and more. They are also used to pick up VIP guests and shuttle them around to factory visits and baijiu-soaked banquets. Often times, these cars are not even that expensive, all things considered.

Hertz has just announced that it will begin renting out electric cars in three Chinese cities, namely Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai. Unlike Hertz in the US though – and in keeping with Chinese tradition – the cars come equipped with a driver. They are made by BYD, a battery manufacturer based in Shenzhen. The New York Times fills us in:

The Chinese government has been energetically promoting the adoption of electric cars for several years. But automakers have continued to work on ways to extend the cars’ range.

BYD says the E6 can go up to 300 kilometers, or 190 miles, on a charge, if the air-conditioning is not running and the speed is kept around 70 kilometers, or 45 miles, an hour. BYD says that driving 80 miles an hour with the air-conditioning on reduces range to 240 kilometers, or 150 miles.

The catch is only two cars are available in Shenzhen right now, but Hertz hopes to have 25 to 30 electric cars for rent by the end of this year.

The benefits of electric cars are obvious, especially in a polluted city such as Shenzhen. The electric car revolution maybe late and slow going, but perhaps it’s finally begun.

Haohao

New Sounds of China Episode 3: The Beijing Scene

Posted: 08/28/2011 8:00 am

Popular Beijing band "New Pants" (新裤子) (Photo: The Guardian)

New Sounds of China is back on The Nanfang with Episode 3: The Beijing Scene (you can listen to past episodes of the popular podcast here).

As always, the show is hosted by Paul Kendall and Hu Pan. Here’s the description of the latest episode:

After episode two’s critical assessment of the famous Maybe Mars label, we move into territory mostly uncharted by Western journalists, to consider the output of three less-hyped Beijing record labels. The resulting diversity of sound is breathtaking, ranging from the urban folk of Wan Xiaoli, with his tales of modern urban life; to the postmodern self-consciousness of New Pants, with their musical riposte to Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West”; and the curiously misplaced Britpop style of Sober, a band more influenced by The Beatles and Blur than Peking Opera and Maoist propaganda songs.

The show includes interviews with the managers of all three record labels: Shen Lihui, the charismatic, Richard Brandon-esque helmsman of Modern Sky Records; Da Fei, one of the idealists behind tiny label Mr Miss, which draws inspiration from legendary 1980s British indie label Sarah Records; and Lu Zhongqiang, the more practical manager of 13 Month, a label devoted to modern Chinese folk.

You can listen to it now here.

 

Haohao

Universiade is done, but legacy will live on in Shenzhen…

Posted: 08/27/2011 12:51 pm

The Universiade was arguably the biggest event that Shenzhen has hosted in its very short history, and by all accounts it was pulled off successfully, as many expected.

The downside of the games having ended last week is this. We received a number of emails from readers in Shenzhen noting that air quality plummeted a mere few hours after the closing ceremonies concluded. But such is life in China (the same thing happened after the Beijing Olympics and Shanghai Expo, despite promises the air would be cleaned up for good).

If you didn’t get a chance to visit any of the venues, they are now open for tours. But to ensure nobody forgets about the Universiade over the long term, the flame tower is going to be turned into a public space, according to the Shenzhen Daily.

The Shenzhen Universiade flame tower will be permanently preserved with a memorial square to be built around it after the Games closes, Chinese newspapers reported yesterday.

The flame tower will become one of the landmark urban sculptures in Shenzhen.

The 26-meter flame tower is on the shores of Shenzhen Bay. The tower comprises irregular boxes representing books, with each one bearing the details of previous Universiades.

Shenzhen Executive Vice Mayor Lu Ruifeng, along with other officials of city bureaus of urban planning and land resources, construction works, and urban management, recently inspected the tower and studied the feasibility of building a memorial square.

One would think building any kind of ‘square’ in China could be dangerous (why give the angry masses a place to congregate?) but the thinking behind it is a good one. The Universiade marked a coming of age of sorts for Shenzhen, so it makes sense to build a memorial square. One figures Shenzhen will probably have the opportunity to host many other large-scale events in the future, based on the success of the Universiade.

 

Haohao

The Spin Doctor – Active Child, “You Are All I See”

Posted: 08/27/2011 10:39 am

Active Child, “You Are All I See” (Vagrant Records)

3.4 out of 5

For an instrument with such a rich history, it seems odd that the harp is largely absent from contemporary pop music. While Joanna Newsom uses the instrument regularly and PJ Harvey has flirted with the autoharp, the instrument remains a rare sight on the indie-pop/rock touring circuit. Pat Grossi is looking to change that. Performing under the moniker, Active Child, the L.A. based artist is a harpist and former choir singer who performs a rather unique blend of baroque synth-pop and post-dubstep experimental R&B. While that may sound like a bubbles and squeak musical description, Grossi’s sound isn’t far removed from the works of James Blake (who Grossi recently opened for), Antony & the Johnsons and even Bat for Lashes. Following the success of 2010’s Curtis Lane EP, Grossi’s debut LP, You Are All I See, finds the artist picking-up much where the EP left off, only on a grander and more ambitious scale.

Aside from his accomplished harp playing, Grossi’s greatest asset is his impressive falsetto. His formidable vocal range never sounds thin or syrupy and brings a lush, at times, ethereal tone to You Are All I See. For someone who allegedly does the bulk of his recording in his bedroom, his heavily reverberated vocals are more akin to something one might hear in a vast and empty cathedral than a home studio. This is immediately apparent on the album opener and title track. “You Are All I See” is a mesmerizing blend of delayed harp arpeggios, synth washes and Grossi’s, frankly, angelic voice. It’s an impressive opener. So impressive in fact it’s a tough act to follow. The hooky R&B flavoured chorus of “Hanging On” and the simply stunning “High Priestess” come close but, by the record’s second half, Grossi starts to run-out of steam and ideas. “Ivy” is a pleasant enough instrumental, yet is a little too 80’s soft rock for it’s own good. While “Way Too Fast” at 5:16 is way too long and meanders without ever really getting anywhere. Then there’s the interesting choice of “Playing House”. Featuring vocals from Tom Krell of the R&B project, How To Dress Well, the track is the most heavily James Blake influenced moment on the record. Stealing a page from Blake’s experimental R&B playbook, the track works well as a single, yet, in the context of the more baroque synth-pop moments on the record, it feels out of place and, with the auto-claps and distinctly 80’s synth measures, a tad gimmicky.

Despite the weak mid-section, You Are All I See bounces back on closing track “Johnny Belinda”. According to Grossi, the track was inspired by many late nights watching Turner Classic Movies on mute. Take that as you will, but here all of the record’s elements fuse perfectly. Grossi’s voice and harp are given an additional dose of urgency due to the accompanying string treatments, which swell beautifully around the 2:50 mark before giving way to a beautifully restrained outro.

While Grossi’s arrangements are often grandiose and enveloping, his lyrical content doesn’t operate on the same level as his musicality. With a voice like Grossi’s this is certainly forgivable, however the huge, at times near operatic arrangements only highlight Grossi’s lyrical shortcomings. Although his harp playing and layered vocals on “Hanging On” are impressive, the arrangement is compromised with lines such as: “tell me if you feel this pain, cause I don’t want to be a ball and chain”. While the first person narrative certainly keeps the record intimate, it’s not enough to bring the music the gravity it deserves. Still, despite the album’s weaknesses there are some truly compelling moments here, and I doubt you’ll hear fans of Grossi’s EP complaining. While far from a perfect debut, there’s certainly enough moments to hold one’s attention from cover to cover and, of course, there’s always that beautiful harp.

You can stream “You Are All I See” in its entirety here

Read previous Spin Doctor reviews here

Haohao

Nanfang News: Foshan plastics boss abandons factory, 1000+ employees

Posted: 08/26/2011 1:34 pm

New Express ran a feature earlier this week on the couchsurfers of Guangzhou, who you probably saw if you’ve ever been to 13 Factories on a Friday night. Curious what Chinese kids think of global nomad culture? It’s on Weibo.

“Is he into me or is he just staring?”

You Are The One, the slightly obnoxious dating show that the whole country watches, is now being replicated in nightlife venues in Guangzhou. More than 100 singles poured into one event held at a Western food restaurant in Tianhe last Friday evening, and, organizers say, 40 of them managed to couple off. If you have 100 RMB or so to spare and think you can stand questions more probing than you’re likely to face anywhere in the daylight, there’s one singles event beginning at 6PM tonight at the Kowloon Peninsula Restaurant, 2/F China Shine Plaza at #9 Linhe West Rd., and a You Are The One-themed night at the same place and time tomorrow.

If you’re already off the singles market but still want something new this weekend, take note of the newest trend for engaged couples in Guangzhou, semi-nude wedding photos.

D8wed.com, the company which made the news this week after advertising the wedding photo service with stripped-down prices on Weibo, has a number of offices both in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, more info here.

Airport bus cancels Tianhe Hotel stop

Media confirmed today what we’ve been hearing over the past week, that buses to Baiyun airport in Guangzhou have not been stopping at Tianhe Hotel on Tiyu West Rd. Buses, however, are still making their scheduled stops behind nearby CITIC plaza. City authorities have been slow in deciding whether or not to renew their contract with the hotel, and it officially expires today.

However, a spokesperson for the bus company has also said that despite erratic service in recent days, pending a final decision, the service will continue and the Tianhe Hotel stop will be put back on the route beginning Monday. Please let us know who you’d rather believe.

Does the neighbor’s dog speak to you in your dreams?

Authorities in Shenzhen have enacted a law that gives building management companies the authority to issue fines of up to 500 RMB to anyone whose dog barks too much. The new legislation doesn’t list any specific hours in which loud dog sounds are prohibited, so we’ll see how it goes once they start issuing daytime fines.

Guangzhou sex culture festival dates announced

Click here for more culture. Alex Hofford photo.


Onto sex, the dates for this year’s annual sex culture festival in Guangzhou have been announced. Entry costs just 30 RMB and doors to the event, held at the Jinhan Exhibition Center (广州锦汉展览中心) close to China Hotel, will be open from November 12-14.

The theme for this year’s festival is “the beauty of sex” and a competition will be held for the sexiest news stories from across China and around the world from the past year. News reports have said that an effort will be made this year to keep the festival more “decent” than in past years, but the giant boner statue and other traditions of the festival will remain. Porn, sexual performance enhancers, blow-up dolls and other goodies are often on sale at the festival.

Foshan factory boss pulls midnight runner

The owner of a plastics factory in Foshan’s Nanhai district, Kong Yongqi, has fled the country along with his family, leaving more than 1,100 former employees empty-handed and out of work. In its 22nd year of operation, the factory has been seized by the court, with all machinery inside still intact. It’s not known why he fled, but former staff at the factory interviewed by Yancheng Evening News have speculated that Kong has probably fled to avoid paying back a high-interest personal loan of 50 mln RMB he took out earlier this year.

Hong Kong-bound travelers increasing the RMB supply

Daily Economic News reports today that as the RMB continues to rise, business is booming for money changers at the Lowu border crossing. Staff at money exchange shops on the Shenzhen side of the border interviewed for the story said that they will change RMB into any currency for amounts of up to 5,000 RMB; anything larger has to be done in the back. One money changer said that even small shops are exchanging up to 4 mln RMB each day. We don’t really get economics, but if the RMB is rising, wouldn’t it be wiser to buy in now instead of selling?

The same story reports that police have busted underground moneychanging operations in Shenzhen and elsewhere earlier this year, seizing a total of 10 bln RMB.

Tianhe schools cancel lunch and noon supervision

Parents of thousands of children in Guangzhou are scrambling now after a number of elementary schools in Tianhe district announced this week that they have canceled both their lunch program and the afternoon rest period. With nowhere for the kids to eat or nap, maybe foreign English teachers in the area will help pick up the slack.

Haohao

Nanfang News: Buyer wanted for Guangzhou sports and concert venue

Posted: 08/25/2011 1:55 pm

The Guangzhou International Sports and Performance Center, built way out in Luogang district for last year’s Asian Games, is back in the news again. Better known for its NBA standard basketball court (left), the venue cost 2.1 bln RMB to construct but now sits largely unused, costing 20 mln RMB a year to maintain. The company running it has said it hopes to sell the sports and entertainment complex off, possibly to a well-known multinational corporation like Coca-Cola. The asking price is 30 mln RMB, more info here.

It’s like the London Eye, only staring straight up

The world’s lamest horizontal ferris wheel opens to the public next Thursday. Beginning September 1, 130 RMB will get you 20 minutes of feeling like you’re about to drop over and roll down the side of Guangzhou Tower.

Enrollment opens for mature student university entrance exams

Also on September 1, enrollment begins around Guangdong province for adult gaokao testing, exams for people who for whatever reason never finished high school but now want to pursue post-secondary education at an accredited institution. The adult gaokao program is designed to take three years of study at an annual cost of between 3,000-5,000 RMB, and this year’s tests will be held at more than 70 venues on October 15 and 16. Tests are divided by subject, and each test costs 37 RMB. More info here.

Building tiles fall

Stone tiles and roofing materials fell suddenly off a building at the corner of Xiaobei Rd. and Fazheng Rd. Tuesday afternoon in the heart of Guangzhou’s foreign trader district. See a photo of the sectioned-off area here.

Mid-Autumn Festival dates set

China’s State Council has announced the dates of this year’s mid-Autumn festival holiday, September 10-12. Stay tuned to The Nanfang‘s Twitter feed @thenanfang for any activities we come across set for that long weekend.

Haohao
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