The Nanfang / Blog

“Western Banker” Writes Hilarious, Self-Important Letter to Occupy Students

Posted: 11/9/2014 1:09 pm

After The Nanfang published an open letter to Benny Tai, one of the founders of the Occupy movement in Hong Kong, we received another anonymous, satirical letter from a “western banker”. We publish the letter with the writer’s permission below.

Dear students,

After occupying large parts of central Hong Kong, you have made your voice heard and made your point. Now it is time to go home, so that the Central Government and wealthy people like myself can go back to ignoring you and the problems you are drawing attention to.

I walked through the Admiralty protest zone yesterday on the way to a lunch meeting. I did not do this to take a selfie, like many tourists do. I did it so that when I talk about Occupy at dinner parties with other members of the elite, I can say that I’ve visited the protests. I feel it adds weight to my argument. And it only took about 15 minutes to do because I didn’t stop to actually engage with any protesters or try to understand their motivations.

So students, I hope you will take my advice, as someone who has been to the protest area and lived in Hong Kong for years. It is really time to tear down the blockades in Admiralty and Mong Kok. There are other more effective ways you can work to influence the direction of Hong Kong. I don’t know what they are, but when I say “other more effective ways” I’m really just hoping to leave it at that.

Is blocking people from coming and going to work democracy? No, it is not. True democracy is the freedom for me to make money, and for you to not elect your leaders.

Many Hong Kong people oppose Occupy Central. The ongoing protests and blockades are affecting countless lives in Hong Kong. Never mind that even the government says that Hong Kong’s economy has not been negatively impacted, and tourism has increased over the same period last year. The whole thing has impacted my life and my rights, and the lives and rights of many others, for two basic reasons:

1. Sometimes it takes me longer to commute.

2. Sometimes it forces me to think about issues I don’t want to think about.

Let’s talk about the second reason. As a Western businessman living in Hong Kong, I do not care if the people of Hong Kong can elect their leaders or not. If the Mainland destroys Hong Kong’s unique identity, I don’t really care either. If the Central Government ends freedom of the press, censors the Internet, and makes Hong Kong start to resemble the polluted hellscape that is Mainland China, then I will just leave. I know that millions of Hong Kong citizens can’t just leave, but that’s life. (Your life, not mine.)

It’s time to recognize that democracies around the world all function differently. Hong Kong is no different. In selecting the Chief Executive, real elections will be held. Students are hoping for direct elections, but the Central Government has announced there will instead be bullshit elections. This might not be the kind of democracy the people of Hong Kong want, but it is still democracy if you consider democracy to be just a word with no meaning. For the record, Hong Kong is democratic. But as in every democratic society, this comes with unique characteristics. What’s special about Hong Kong’s democracy is that a violently repressive government holds veto power over it.

You might consider me insensitive, or even an asshole. But such name-calling misses the point. The point is that you should go home because it’s taking me longer to commute, and I don’t like to think about the issues your actions are making me think about.

Thank you.


To Hong Kong’s Occupy Protesters: Here’s How to Win a Civil Nomination Option

Posted: 11/1/2014 2:58 pm

The following is an open letter to Occupy Central organizer Benny Tai. It was submitted to The Nanfang by an executive at a listed company in Hong Kong. We publish it here with his permission, though he has asked to remain anonymous.

Dear Benny,

Your movement has successfully communicated the position that democracy is a laudable aim – you can now claim you have occupied the ideological high ground. What your movement has not yet achieved is winning the hearts and minds of the people – the moral high ground. Too much of your movement is seen as causing conflict and chaos without coming up with a solution to the problems that society faces, other than “democracy”.

Your concept of civil nomination is a tactic to get around the perceived bias of the nominating committee and enable the public to choose a chief executive which is not “selected by Beijing”. To win a war, you need to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy and hit him where it hurts.

You can achieve your aim by effectively stripping the nominating committee of its legitimacy. Here’s how:

1. In 2.5 years time, the People’s Candidate needs to get the support of the majority of the people of Hong Kong. The people need to believe that he or she is the right person to solve Hong Kong’s problems and give them a better life. Therefore, your camp (let’s call it the yellow camp) needs to start to select that candidate.

2. The yellow camp launches a civil nomination process for any registered voter in Hong Kong to choose their candidates. If you get a million eligible voters to endorse your candidate, you can claim your process is legitimate.

3. In the process of this civil nomination, the candidates will need to articulate the policies that they will implement when they are chosen as the chief executive, such as housing, social, economic and political policies. Most voters in Hong Kong are wise enough to understand that we are part of China and that opposition to China, the Chinese Communist Party or the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” is not credible.

4. The successful candidate voted by the people can declare himself Shadow Chief Executive.

5. By having a shadow chief executive and a team articulating the yellow camp’s policies, it would force the blue camp to also put forward candidates, or the yellow camp will have a clear run.

6. By this process the yellow camp could win the hearts and minds of the people with policies designed to strike a balance between all sectors of society. Mass rallies supporting the shadow chief executive, television, radio and social media can raise his or her profile. Surveys can show he or she has support of 70 percent of the population compared to 30 percent for the blue candidate.

7. With such overwhelming public support for the yellow candidate, the nominating committee will have no choice but to include him or her in the chief executive election as long as the candidate is not seen as “anti-China. The nominating committee is composed of Hong Kong people and they will have no choice in the face of overwhelming public support for a moderate candidate. If they do not chose him or her, then the whole electoral process will be seen as illegitimate and not credible. Until you try to win, you cannot occupy the moral high ground.

So, you can have a civil nomination, but only if you start it yourself now to elect your own candidate. You can use democratic processes to make an undemocratic system give you the result you want. Once in power, you have an influential position to try and make the next election more democratic.

All this can be achieved without confronting China; without being seen as a bunch of revolutionaries and misguided students.

You can win the hearts and minds of the people if you embark on a winning strategy. Glorious or inglorious defeat should not be your aim. Hong Kong people do not want chaos and ideological conflict, they want someone who will make their actual life better.

Carpe diem.


PRD People: Musician and Expat Website Troll The Fred Fong

Posted: 09/5/2014 5:46 pm

Since January when the Nanfang posted his song “Super English Teacher,” The Fred (who also posts under the name of “Fred Fong”) has been one the best known trolls in the China-watching blogosphere. He is mostly known for his cheeky songs that rag on aspects of life in China (mostly foreign English teachers) and his provocative comments on websites such as Shanghaiist, Chinasmack and the Asia Stuff Media websites where he has been a fixture for years.

This is him

He has kindly taken the time to talk to The Nanfang about his career in business, life as a musician in China, why he considers himself superior to English teachers and how he is a “compulsive masturbator.”

The Nanfang: You are a regular in the comments sections of most major English-language websites that focus on China, known as both The Fred and The Fred Fong. You are quite a mysterious man, tell us about yourself.

The Fred: I’ve been coming to China since 1995 and find it fascinating. I’m very inquisitive about Chinese culture and history. Since selling my business in America in 2006, I’ve lived full time in China.

Having a challenge in life is important to me and trying to understand the Chinese puzzle is a challenge because several of the pieces are missing. I’ve started a couple of businesses here and recently sold one of them. I’ve always been self-employed and enjoy a challenge. Now I can relax a bit and write music until another opportunity comes along.

The Nanfang: You’re a long-term China expat, what’s Shenzhen got going for it?

The Fred: I travel between Shenzhen and Shanghai. All cities have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m comfortable and can enjoy myself wherever I happen to be at the time.

The Nanfang: Is Shenzhen’s live music scene any good? If not, why do you choose to live there?

The Fred: I play live music throughout China and the biggest problems is finding capable musicians to write and collaborate with. The other problem is finding venues that encourage original music.

I enjoy playing improvisational jazz/rock or “world” music as some people call it. A majority of the foreigners that come to China that are musicians aren’t very talented and can only play cover/copy music. A majority of Chinese don’t have any sense of rhythm and can’t play impov music because it means you must play spontaneous and creatively in an unstructered yet structured format.

Improvisation is the most satisfying form of live music and when you have capable musicians communicating and interacting together it becomes magical and very satisfying.

The Nanfang: You are something of a China basher in many of your comments.

The Fred: There is no “good or bad” place to live in my opinion. I can adapt to just about any environment, but China is stimulating. China inspires and confuses me daily and I’m pushed to respond to life experiences in some type of expressive way. If people find my comments offensive I apologize. My comments are made for the purpose of provoking thought and debate. Same with my music. Cover-band music and boring comments are not my cup of tea

The Nanfang: You have at least four songs that bash English teachers. Are they the real villains of today’s society?

The Fred: Not really villains, just easy targets. It’s the only group I can insult and joke about without being accused of being a racist or hating women. Its fun to laugh at those that are low on the social and mental spectrum.

The Nanfang: You repeatedly mock English teachers as not being very clean living (e.g. frequenting brothels), are you superior on this count?

The Fred: Yes…I am superior to your average foreign English teacher in China. Generally speaking, most non-English teachers are far superior to your average unqualified, low IQ foreign English teacher that stumbled into China.

The Fred with his guitar

The Nanfang: Do you intend to turn your attention to some other things in China that ought to be satirized?

The Fred: I’m a fan of common sense and when I see irony or a lack of common sense my mind takes note and before I know it a song is written. I can’t write about love or little apples. Common things are quickly deleted from my thoughts. My Songs about English teachers also subtly comment on how Chinese are willing to pay a foreigner that has never taught before a salary far higher than what a qualified Chinese person would get. Chinese not respecting their fellow Chinese is very disturbing to me and it manifests itself through the English teacher scenario…kapow! A new song is written.

The Nanfang: Some of your most popular songs are just flat out silly rather than satirical (“Big Chinese Dick”, “Boycott Bukkake”, etc…). Are you at heart an angry social critic or just an impish jokester?

The Fred: I’m willing to admit something that most artists aren’t willing to admit. I’m a compulsive masturbator…in an artistic sense. I write and record music and make videos for my own selfish enjoyment. For whatever reason…I guess…I’m a big jackoff…and no one can stop me.

The Fred’s latest song, “English Teacher Autopsy”, can be heard here.


Infamous English Teacher-Basher “The Fred” With New Music Video

Posted: 08/15/2014 10:00 am

Shenzhen-based expat The Fred caused plenty of controversy in January with his music video “Super English Teacher”, which lampooned foreign teachers in China for being “slackers”, among other things. Now he is back with an even more controversial song, which takes the form of a duet between an English teacher and a Shanghai prostitute.

Carrying on the theme of English teachers being unable to make anything of themselves in their home countries, Fred now has his English teacher confessing to being in love with the Shanghai prostitute who admits that she will dump him as soon as she has her green card.

Do English teachers really warrant being on the receiving end of such satire?

YouTube version:

Youku version:


Bus Explodes in Guangzhou (Photos)

Posted: 07/15/2014 9:17 pm

A public bus has exploded in downtown Guangzhou that has left at least two people with serious injuries.

The explosion happened along Guangzhou Dadao on bus #301. The bus was completely gutted in the blaze, and a reporter from Southern Metropolis Daily said he saw at least two people with serious injuries.

Photos are below. We’ll update with more information when we receive it.

UPDATE 9:23pm July 15: People’s Daily is reporting 2 people have died.

UPDATE: Please read “Graphic Video of Guangzhou Bus Explosion Shows Commuters Running for Their Lives” for the most recent news on this story.


Nanfang TV: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy in Shenzhen”

Posted: 06/22/2014 2:58 pm

Someone has finally done it: our very own Happy video set right here in Shenzhen.

Youku user Lilyfang is apparently behind the video, which is the third (by our count) Happy video in China after Hong Kong and the pollution-filled Beijing video.

Check it out.


Remembering chunyun past: the 2008 storm that left thousands stranded in Guangzhou

Posted: 02/5/2014 6:49 pm

The following article originally appeared on It is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Six years ago, my husband was near Guangzhou railway station. He wasn’t the only one. It was Chunyun (春运 chūnyùn), the yearly mass migration that China experiences before the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival. Guangzhou and Beijing are the biggest transport hubs in mainland China and every year in the weeks before the New Year, millions of people have to change at the train stations of these two metropolises in order to get home in time to celebrate Spring Festival with their loved ones.

My husband was one of those travellers. If he wanted to go back home, he could either take a train from Guangzhou to Changchun, or one from Shenzhen to Shenyang. Fortunately, his family was able to get a train ticket for him from Guangzhou to Changchun for Chinese New Year.

But he’s wasn’t the only one who needed to change trains in Guangzhou. The weather gods seemed to be playing tricks on the chunyun travellers and sent heavy snow storms to Guangzhou. The city, being in the very southeast of China, is not usually a place where it snows. So on that day neither trains nor planes were able to move — and neither were the people stranded at the train station or at any other place where the travellers were able to find shelter from the blizzard. My husband had to wait in a crowd of tens of thousands of people at a square in front of the train station, and with about 170,000 people already stranded in the station, there was no moving forward or backward. The army was trying to keep things under control and not let too many people move forwards or backwards at once. My husband is lucky that he’s taller than most of the other travellers, but that was about his only advantage.

People started fainting. Those who did were carried out of the railway station or away from the squares by the crowds above their heads – similar to crowd surfing, but without the fun. Unfortunately, some didn’t make it out alive.

For 12 hours, my husband stood in the crowd, moving forward only from time to time. After 12 hours without eating and without being able to go to the restrooms, he finally made it into the railway station. Twelve hours for 1.3 km – not bad. Once he made it inside the railway station, he had to wait another 15 hours for his train. There was no drinking water left and empty instant noodle cups were stacked two floors high. Much of the personnel fled the scene, afraid of the angry crowds – but not without reason.  Finally, my husband made it on a northeastern bound train. On that day, the ticket he bought was not important. The only important thing was know whether you were going north or west. Once a train arrives that goes into your direction, you get on it.

On the train, the lower beds of the sleeper compartments were turned into seats and instead of a one person bed, there were four sitting along the lower bunks. The aisles were filled with people standing or sitting on small chairs they brought with them. But on that day, the crowds on the train didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered at the end of January on a cold day in 2008 was getting out of the hell out of Guangzhou railway station.

Photo credit: USA Today


Shenzhen Beach Luau a blast, with a few hiccups

Posted: 08/3/2013 11:00 am

It was party time last weekend at the That’s PRD Beach Luau, and while most people had fun the party was not without some problems.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The buses from Shenzhen left late (which, admittedly, isn’t too uncommon when it comes to Chinese transportation). However, our driver then wasn’t sure how to get to the second pickup point. While we were heading out to Xichong Beach, the announcer on the bus said that no cash would be accepted to buy food or drinks throughout the weekend; instead, people would have to purchase tickets that would be used instead.  Apparently, we would be able to cash in any unused tickets at the end, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

There was also some misunderstanding at the venue itself.  Lunch was RMB60 for a set plate of either a beef burger or honey mustard chicken breast.  The sides were a choice of potato chips, salad, or roasted vegetables… or partially cooked onions. The servers weren’t aware that onions were a burger topping, so would provide them only as a side (meaning people couldn’t select an actual side if they took the onions).  This isn’t a huge deal on its own, but was another annoyance on the trip.

For drinks there was a fair amount of different cocktails and soft drinks with different ticket values, and most seemed reasonable. The dinner was supposed to be another set meal choice of a plate of pork from the roasted pig and/or some pasta and salad for RMB100 (which was 10 tickets’ worth). The pig was already cut up, which took away from the idea of having a true Luau-style roast.

However, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, despite the hiccups, a lot of people had fun. The organizers took time to make sure that there were lots of activities available for all to take part in.

Sumo wrestling was a real blast. It was very enjoyable watching people put on Sumo wrestling suits and fight it out in the sand. Many people seemed to take part in this and had fun.

Fusion Fitness and Freshe Fitness lead a few activities on the beach throughout the day. A group for Tug of War as well as Beach Volleyball.

Despite a technical glitch during one large short burst of rain that blew away a canopy and knocked out the music, the DJ’s were actually very good and the sound was loud and clear. The sets were interesting and never did I feel bored by what was being played.

The private swimming pool was a nice touch with the floating beach pillows that people used to race on. The water was noticeably green but we were assured the water is changed often and that the colour was due to it being mountain spring water.

Vedett beer provided a fun little diversion in the form of a free beer chugging competition, but the catch was you couldn’t use your hands. Some people left happy and hammered. A welcome combination at any party.

There were also some beer pong tables set up by the ShenZhen Ultimate Players Association that people were using occasionally through the night. The SZUPA also got a fair amount of people throwing frisbees around on the beach earlier on.

Then it got wild. A red flower watering pot was brought out and three girls and a guy in a sailor suit took part in a wet t-shirt contest. Everyone seemed to enjoy this and this really helped get the partiers dancing to the great DJs.

The party went all night and there was luckily no more rain.

All in all, I’d give this Beach Luau a 3 out of 10 for authenticity in terms of a Luau, a 4 out of 10 for their changing ticketing system and prices, a 5 out of 10 for the food, and an 8 out of 10 for music, activities, and the many prizes they gave out.

I’d go again just for the beauty that is Xichong beach. All the problems above are fixable for next year.

(Homepage Image Credit: eChinaCities)


New Zealand triumphs in wet women’s rugby sevens weekend in Guangzhou

Posted: 04/3/2013 7:00 am

With Ali Stafford and Amy Nicholson at the Guangzhou University Town Stadium.

It was an action-packed rugby weekend in Guangzhou with the Women’s Sevens World Series, which saw New Zealand finish on top of the standings.

A small but noisy group of die-hard rugby fans created an exciting atmosphere at Guangzhou University Town Stadium. The spectators cheered on every team and every try.

Seven’s rugby has been one of the 2010 Asian Games success stories, providing a legacy and a world-class 40,000-seat facility to attract international sporting events.

The storm, which wreaked havoc on day one, did nothing to dampen the mood. Despite unstable weather, it turned out to be an exciting weekend of rugby.

If Zengcheng, the event host for the sevens tournament, get their way, they aim to be the rugby capital of China.

World Seven’s final day

New Zealand was crowned champion of round three of the IRB women’s sevens after beating England 19-5 in the final in Guangzhou.

In front of a vocal crowd at the University Town Stadium, the All Blacks came from behind to take the title.

The result moves New Zealand eight points clear in the series standings with just one round to go, while England moved up to second spot ahead of Australia after the Wallabies could only manage a seventh place finish.

Host China narrowly missed out on silverware, as despite buoyant home support they were beaten 14-10 by rival Japan in the Bowl final.

Missing several players for the final due to injury, including captain Liu Yan, China fought back from being two converted tries down to within four points of evening the score but couldn’t find a match-winning breakthrough.

Winning captain Chiharu Nakamura said: “I’m extremely happy. China is our big rival, and if we are to get to be the best team in the world, we first need to be the best team in Asia, so this result was a big achievement for us.”

In the Plate competition, Ireland was the surprise winner in its first series event, as it stunned Australia in the semi-final before beating the Netherlands 14-10 in the final.

Earlier in the day, Australia suffered a shock exit at the quarter finals stage of the cup competition after they were dumped 17-14 by the United States. New Zealand and England progressed to the final four, as did Canada after they impressively thrashed Brazil 33-0.

Saturday results
1. 30 Mar 2013 – 10:00 England 24 – 5 China / Pool C
2. 30 Mar 2013 – 10:22 United States 15 – 0 Fiji / Pool C
3. 30 Mar 2013 – 10:44 New Zealand 29 – 0 Brazil / Pool A
4. 30 Mar 2013 – 11:06 Netherlands 47 – 0 Tunisia / Pool A
5. 30 Mar 2013 – 11:28 Australia 26 – 5 Japan / Pool B
6. 30 Mar 2013 – 11:50 Canada 33 – 5 Ireland / Pool B
7. 30 Mar 2013 – 12:22 England 24 – 10 Fiji / Pool C
8. 30 Mar 2013 – 12:44 United States 21 – 12 China / Pool C
9. 30 Mar 2013 – 13:06 New Zealand 53 – 0 Tunisia / Pool A
10. 30 Mar 2013 – 13:28 Netherlands 12 – 12 Brazil / Pool A
11. 30 Mar 2013 – 13:50 Australia 12 – 7 Ireland / Pool B
12. 30 Mar 2013 – 14:12 Canada 52 – 5 Japan / Pool B
13. 30 Mar 2013 – 15:04 England 19 – 0 United States / Pool C
14. 30 Mar 2013 – 15:26 China 15 – 10 Fiji / Pool C
15. 30 Mar 2013 – 15:48 New Zealand 20 – 5 Netherlands / Pool A
16. 30 Mar 2013 – 16:10 Brazil 24 – 0 Tunisia / Pool A
17. 30 Mar 2013 – 16:32 Australia 10 – 20 Canada / Pool B
18. 30 Mar 2013 – 16:54 Japan 0 – 33 Ireland / Pool B

Sunday results
19. 31 Mar 2013 – 10:00 New Zealand 31 – 5 Ireland / 2nd Best 3rd QF Cup
20. 31 Mar 2013 – 10:22 Australia 14 – 17 United States / 2nd Best 2nd QF Cup
21. 31 Mar 2013 – 10:44 England 21 – 14 Netherlands / 3rd Best 2nd QF Cup
22. 31 Mar 2013 – 11:06 Canada 33 – 0 Brazil / Best 3rd QF Cup
23. 31 Mar 2013 – 11:28 China 57 – 0 Tunisia / 3rd Best 4th SF Bowl
24. 31 Mar 2013 – 11:50 Fiji 5 – 12 Japan / 2nd Best 4th SF Bowl
25. 31 Mar 2013 – 13:06 Ireland 15 – 14 Australia / SF Plate
26. 31 Mar 2013 – 13:28 Netherlands 21 – 0 Brazil / SF Plate
27. 31 Mar 2013 – 13:50 New Zealand 24 – 12 United States / SF Cup
28. 31 Mar 2013 – 14:12 England 19 – 0 Canada / SF Cup
29. 31 Mar 2013 – 14:34 Tunisia 0 – 19 Fiji / 11th / 12th
30. 31 Mar 2013 – 14:56 China 10 – 14 Japan / Final Bowl
31. 31 Mar 2013 – 15:56 Australia 7 – 5 Brazil / 7th / 8th
32. 31 Mar 2013 – 16:18 Ireland 14 – 10 Netherlands / Final Plate
33. 31 Mar 2013 – 16:48 United States 5 – 17 Canada / 3rd / 4th
34. 31 Mar 2013 – 17:10 New Zealand 19 – 5 England / Final Cup

Pitchside interviews and photography by Danny Lee, James Sutton and Josh De-Kooker.


Shenzhen to have safe tap water later this year

Posted: 02/15/2012 9:53 am

Last Tuesday, Shenzhen’s Water Affairs Bureau announced that residents of the city can expect to have safe and clean drinking water pouring from their taps as early as the second half of 2012.

Part of this is the result of 18.1 bln RMB invested throughout the current Five Year Plan, writes the Southern Daily newspaper, raising Shenzhen’s wastewater treatment ratio from 36% to upwards of 91%, but also in part due to new water sources. Shenzhen’s current main source of drinking water, East River, is also the single largest source of raw water supply for Hong Kong.

Shenzhen also announced that it has raised its wastewater reuse ratio from 1% to 27.1%. The city is slated to undergo a water quality inspection in July to evaluate how its drinking water holds up against provincial and national water quality standards.

Interestingly, the Southern Daily story seems to imply that Shenzhen was only able to achieve this somewhat miraculous feat after privatizing its water treatment facilities.

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