The Nanfang / Blog

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival In A Place With No Seasons

Posted: 09/8/2014 1:42 pm

Today is a holiday in Mainland China as people around the country celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. The holiday is celebrated by eating mooncakes with family and friends. 

To mark the occasion, The Nanfang is publishing a fictional account of Mid-Autumn Festival set well into the future. It is reproduced here with permission of the author. We hope you enjoy it.

In Lunar Colony 01111001, Mid-Autumn Festival is a special time of the year. Especially so in the colony’s festive Chinatown. One of the four great holidays of the ancient Chinese tradition, for the colonists now living where Chang’e once flew, it has become the highest day of all. The irony is lost on no one.

Parades of Chang’e robots and glittering jade rabbits adorn the streets. People take a break from their mining and export duties, children have no school, and people the moon over enjoy eating mooncake.

Mooncake manufacture is a good business to be in. Wang Xing, the owner of the largest gene-splicing grain and proteinstuffs factory in the colony, and has subdivisions in lotus seed splicing as well. Yet he finds he spends most of his time in Chinatown with his family in the humble bakery where he started it all, mentoring his niece and expanding relationships with the Lunar elites.

Guanxi is very important,” he would explain to young Xiao Yue, a first-generation Lunar and smallest of his family.

“Uncle, I’m very bored I want to play computer games!” she scoffed.

It was the night of Mid-Autumn Festival and mooncake sales were very high. A full Earth was up in the sky, and trading vessels carrying ingredients and life-giving essentials were flying in. Wang Xing had diversified investments in eggs, sugar, chocolate, and icings; vertical integration as they call it in the business community.

Many customers were Chinese, of course, the labor class and their ilk. But in a tightknit community of interlunar expats and the growing importance of Luna-themed holidays for the new culture, the bakery had a diverse cast of clientele. Mooncakes were a commodity with ever-growing popularity. One customer of particular concern was an American consulate representative, Wang Xing’s most important contact. As everyone knows, America as first flag-waver boasts official colonial sovereign power over all Luna and any influence (in business and otherwise) must be fostered through certain friendships…

“Valued customer, what would you like?” asked Wang Xing.

“Hello Mister Wang,” said the American consulate representative. “You are always so kind. A box of your finest iced cakes sir.”

“It is my pleasure, good sir.”

That was all. The American left, their brief acquaintanceship to be refurbished for another day.

“Pay attention,” Wang Xing said to his niece, “this relationship is like a seed. One day it will grow enormous fruits of wealth, of contracts and trade and untold fortunes, but in this early stage of growth only just the right amount of water and sunlight is needed.”

“What is a seed?”

“Oh my dear niece, your generation gives me worry.”

That night, the family gathered to the roof of the dome and watched the full Earth. They ate the highest quality mooncakes, and though the burning of incense was forbidden due to high oxidation, it was still as nice a Mid-Autumn Festival gathering as Wang Xing could have hoped for.

“Uncle,” asked Xiao Yue, ever precocious and curious, “why is this day called ‘Mid-Autumn’?”

“Because we celebrate the middle of Autumn, the turning of the seasons, for the sake of the farmer’s calendar. That is of the ancient calendar, which is in fact Lunar, and ties so into our peoples’ history. And we celebrate this day here on the colony because we are blessed to live in such times that we can enjoy being upon the moon itself.”

“But I still don’t understand,” she said. “What does ‘Autumn’ mean?”

He paused for a moment, and thought of what to say. “You poor youths these days. I keep forgetting. Autumn is a cyclic time on the Earth that signifies when the leaves fall from the trees, and we transition from the hot days of summer to prepare for the frigid nights of winter. The seasons change, and every year we have our accompanying rituals.”

“But what are seasons?”

“Something that only exists upon the Earth. Scientifically, it has to do with the axis of the poles in proportion to the rotation of the sun, and every revolution brings a cycle of temperature and weather patterns.”

“I see.  And all the Earth has these ‘seasons’, and we here in 01111001 just follow the pace?”

“Not just the pace of the Earth. Because even what time is night and day varies across the Earth. Here in our Chinatown abroad, of course, we go by Beijing Shijian.

At this time Xiao Yue was no longer paying attention. Apparently satisfied with the answer, she found herself distracted with video consoles. Wang Xing sat, sipped at his rice wine, and looked at the Earth, his mind filled with the memories when he was her age.

“Why don’t we have our own festivals Uncle?”

Xiao Yue pleasantly surprised him, and he suddenly awoke from his nap and turned to her. “A wise question, my niece. I presume, because we are an early culture still, we must wait for the culture to grow in its own time. For now, it is more prudent to respect the Terran past that has already been long-established.”

“Uncle, I have another question.”

“Yes, my niece.” The old uncle was infinitely patient.

“Is Chang’e real?”


“Is she real?”

“Yes I think so.”

“But how can it be that Chang’e and the jade rabbit truly came up to the moon four thousand and five hundred years ago?! I was made fun of at school, all the other kids said it is impossible! They said that was before jet propulsions, and in class they said the American Armstrong was the first in Luna. Why do we say Chang’e was here first?”

“In a sense, Xiao Yue, she is real.”

“What? But where is she now? Over in Colony 01101101, or on the dark side? Does she live in Tycho Crater? I think that would be a great hiding place!”

“Xiao Yue, she is not hiding in the Tycho Crater.”

“Oh,” she said with disappointment.

“Listen to me. There are many kinds of truths, many kinds of places. Cheng’e is true, but somewhere else.” Wang Xing smiled to her and tapped at his head. “There are scientific facts, of which you must study carefully and make good marks. And there is, in another sense, the metaphoric truth of mythology and dreams. I hope you can believe in symbols just as well. It is important. But it may take you a long time to realize this.”


“Do you understand?” he asked, knowing that she probably didn’t.

Xiao Yue confidently answered, “I understand.”



Home page photo credit:


China expert John Dorris predicts China to lead developing world, but questions innovation

Posted: 04/1/2014 11:29 am

American John Dorris, a founder of consulting firm Sino-Associates, raised concerns over China’s innovative spirit as the economy continues to grow in a speech at the Shenzhen IdeaXchange  on March 30. The expert on Chinese affairs said while the nation poised to be the biggest economy by 2030, local innovators may not be able to directly compete with those in the West any time soon. But there is much certainty that they will be leading the developing world in South America and Africa.

He went on to discuss how challenges lie in store for the new generation. “In the past, globalization was left to outliers, adventurers and explorers. Today, we are all involved in globalization,” he said. “We are the first truly global generation at work.”

Dorris, a frequent guest speaker at Hong Kong University, described himself as an “interculturalist,” and went over a host of issues for the audience. From the history of globalization going all the way back to China’s role in the ancient Silk Road to modern trading from 1950 and on, he detailed the rapid changes within China. For example, in 1984 Sun Guiying was famously the first Chinese citizen to privately own a car – a Toyota Publica – yet by 1986 China was the second largest market for Toyota. With his expertise on multicultural environments, it was a fascinating discussion at the latest Shenzhen IdeaXchange  speaking event.

With over 250 people in attendance at the Nanshan library, the free event has been taken to a whole new level compared to last month’s humble venue in OCT’s Farsome space. Other engaging speakers included economist Edgar Ollervides on fiat currency; Hanan Yariv continuing to deconstruct economies by going over cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin; local comedian Jay Jay keeping it light with an education on comedy structure; and lastly more multicultural issues with Anthony Paglino on his experiences in Chinese villages and how it relates to his views on cultures coming together.

The Shenzhen IdeaXchange  will continue to hold monthly events. Watch The Nanfang for announcements on the April lineup of speakers, sure to be among the most interesting activities in the PRD.


1st Shenzhen Idea Exchange a hit, more being planned

Posted: 02/24/2014 3:48 pm

Inline image 1The very first Shenzhen Idea Exchange was held this past weekend at OCT Loft in Shenzhen, and drew participants from around the PRD to hear more about innovation, trends, and business.

Organizer Sean Weisbrot says the event was designed in the finest tradition of TED Talks. Various presenters exchanged their ideas in front of a live audience, which was also able to ask questions. The talks ranged from economics to networking, and exposed on how web companies like Google and Couchsurfing have changed our lives. With about 100 people in attendance, the event was seen as a great success and Weisbrot hopes to have another such engaging event next month.

The Nanfang was fortunate to sit down with Weisbrot to hear his thoughts from the event.

First of all, please introduce yourself to our readers.

I’m an American from Miami, Florida, and I’ll be 28 in June. I’ve been in China for five and a half years, four and a half of those years were in Wuhan, Hubei Province, and the last incredible year has been in Shenzhen. I originally came to China to learn Mandarin and gain a deeper respect and appreciation for Chinese history and culture. I saw that the West and China are entangled in a web of necessity, and yet the way we communicate is imperfect due to the nature of our differences. I decided I could do something better with my life if I moved to China and learned about it so I could teach people back home not to fear China, but rather to respect and appreciate it.

After being here for so many years, I realized that Chinese people are much more open-minded about the West than the West is about China, so I switched my focus to teaching locals about the West. The business environment in Shenzhen is the best I’ve seen in China. I feel that most business-minded people are open to proper business practices which will see not only happy employees, but happy customers and high profits as a result. I’m excited to live in such an incredible place at such an incredible time.

How did you come up with the idea for the Shenzhen Idea Exchange?

I’ve been a hardcore fan of TED for many years, and yet never had the opportunity to speak at TED myself. I wanted to spread my love for TED with people in China, and was lucky enough to meet Glen Cornell, who runs the Shenzhen Exchange. We clicked immediately, and he told me about his second event called the Idea Exchange, and I told him I wanted to help him plan it in a TED-like style. He was immediately interested in working with me, and we planned the event.

What do you think of your first event now that it’s over? 

The first event was much more successful than I think anyone could have expected! What impressed me most was that people approached us after the event who told us they drove from Zhuhai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong just to hear what our speakers had to contribute. As well, we rented a room that could comfortably fit 50, and ended up filling 75 chairs with 20 additional people standing up inside the room and outside. Some people even left because there was no room to stand!

Do you have a long term plan for these events? 

Our long-term plan for the Idea Exchange (Glen handed off the event to me to continue running) is to do one each month, and continue to get people to share and collaborate. We hope that people who are in the audience their first time will become inspired to be a speaker their second time, and continue to tell their friends about what we’re doing! We’re already planning the next event and looking for five to six speakers!

Sean Weisbrot is the guy on the far left

Will your future events be more topic-specific with one or two speakers, or will they be more general in nature with multiple speakers at one event?

We believe that keeping it generalized will allow for more interesting events, however we do believe that cutting the speakers to five or six and giving them more time to speak will be a better format which will help the audience to absorb and digest the information.

Do you think you will need a bigger venue for a larger audience in the future? Will these types of events be the main focus of your business?

We will continue to network and tell everyone we meet about what we’re doing, and continue to add them to our WeChat/Weibo to keep them up to date. We had 90 people attend the first event, and we are working on getting a bigger venue which can hold hundreds of people. If you or someone you know has a place they can recommend or allow us to use for future events, please contact me by email at [email protected] or by Wechat: 859528848. 

Lucy Liu also helped with the interview and in compiling the story.


In case you missed it: Chinese copycats target the Colbert Report

Posted: 01/28/2014 2:53 pm

Stephen Colbert has been “ripped off by the Chinese!”

Chinese bootleggers have done it again. American satirist Stephen Colbert was recently surprised to find that the Chinese news comedy show the Banquet (夜宴) has completely plagiarized his opening. From the epic “Iron Man jump” graphics to the theme song, “Baby Mumbles” by Cheap Trick. It’s a total knockoff.

Keeping in with his television character, Colbert’s vain persona was very happy to reach the potential Chinese audience of 400 million. “Folks, this is nothing more than wholesale theft… and I love it.” Colbert proceeded to hilariously pander to Chinese audience, sarcastically of course, by making them more comfortable with some familiar smog.

But Colbert (or his writers) made a bit of a laowai mistake, saying mantou are eggs.

He concluded by demanding that the Banquet invite him to China. Let’s wait and see if they take up his invitation.

The Atlantic has reported that some Chinese netizens were not amused. “This is down-right plagiarism: Absolutely shameless. I hate this kind of thing,” said a young woman on Weibo. “With the great popularity of The Colbert Report, don’t you know how easily Colbert can make a laughingstock out of China, and ensure the whole world knows about it?” remarked ‘Coolgirl1982’.

The Banquet apparently has taken those critiques into consideration and now has a new intro. Meanwhile, American comedy does seem to be growing in popularity in China. Saturday Night Live now being legitimately streamed on Sohu with official Chinese subtitles.

In 2012 fellow late-night host Conan O’Brian was also copied by Internet show Dapeng. He took it rather well after an apology was given and actually offered a free opening graphic for the perpetrator.

As the English chengyu goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Also on The Nanfang:


Photo credit: The Atlantic


Jon Stewart getting big in China

Posted: 04/13/2013 2:42 pm

Jon Stewart, host of the popular American news satire show the Daily Show, did a piece on North Korea recently that ended up going viral in China.

Chinese audiences took to the mocking of Kim Jong-un in Little Miss Sunshine garb. Because of the sheer number of people in the Mainland, the skit on the North Korean dictator became the most-watched in the show’s history. To put it in perspective, the average view count from the official Comedy Central website is around 100,000. The view count from Sina went up to 3 million.

Evan Osnos in the New Yorker also looked at Stewart’s growing popularity in China in a recent story:

He decided to cater to the new audience by renaming his program, in one segment at least, “The Daily Show with Imperialist Puppet,” with attendant jokes: “How about this air pollution? I’ve seen Confucius quotes that are clearer.” And “What do you call a hundred Taiwanese citizens in a bathtub? Chinese! Because Taiwan does not exist independently.”

So just what does China think of “The Daily Show”? Max Fisher, the Washington Postsforeign affairs blogger, first noticed that a segment on North Korea, entitled “Nuke Kid on the Block,” had been subtitled in Chinese and racked up two million eight hundred thousand views in China. He wondered if “the voraciousness with which Chinese viewers are watching the segment suggests that their appetite for such coverage, for publicly criticizing an ally that has become something of an embarrassment, far exceeds what they’re getting.”

He’s right, but there is something at work that runs even deeper: the popularity of Stewart and “The Daily Show” among the urbane crowd offers a good measure of how China is changing. And it bodes well for the future of satire in China.

Stewart seems to know where the big money is!


Feeling Club in Shenzhen invites one and all for a drink… except the Japanese

Posted: 02/20/2013 6:28 pm

Feeling Club in central Futian, in the heart of the club scene next door to famed Viva, has put up an ad for their international night on Tuesdays. Free beer before 10:30, buy one get one free after that. Seems a good deal. So what could possibly be wrong?


The advertisement for Feeling Club’s Tuesday drink special

Current politics aside (and of course never forgetting “The War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression”), is this really a successful way to attract foreigners to your bar? Perhaps, purely for the sake of marketing, it might be a better idea to keep one’s political feelings to oneself and not plaster them on the side of a bar. Is this something anyone wants to see while going out for an apolitical drink?


That’s a wrap for Shenzhen Fringe Fest, Mr. Magnus shares thoughts on local music

Posted: 12/4/2012 6:05 pm

The Fringe Festival concluded on Sunday in Shenzhen, the third time the 10-day festival has been held in the the city.

To wrap the event, The Nanfang sat down with Mr. Magnus, who performed at Fringe events organized by RealDeal, a local events company.  Mr. Magnus talked about why he’s in Shenzhen, what he thinks of the Fringe Festival, and how he’d characterize Shenzhen’s music scene.

Firstly, do you like to be referred to by your DJ title or real name?

I usually do not refer myself as a DJ as I am mostly do live remixes using computers and controllers mostly instead of spinning vinyls and CD’s, so I go under Mr. Magnus, my stage name.

How long have you been in China?

I arrived to Hong Kong in early 2009, and a bit more than a year later I relocated to Mainland China.

What brought you to Shenzhen, and do you like it?

I wanted to start performing and organizing in China to push electronic dance music forward.  As I am deeply in love with Hong Kong, Shenzhen was the closest and best option for me.  Anything is possible in Shenzhen, it’s a city that is just constantly growing and changing.

Mr. Magnus

How would you characterize Shenzhen’s music scene? 

Shenzhen’s music scene is very young, and mainly controlled by the bar/club owners and the “show” factor. It’s not about the music, it’s about “face”. But the locals and expats are starting to see more and more events with professional musicians and various unique electronic dance music. I have big hopes for the future, even though it might take some time.

What do you think of Shenzhen’s Fringe Festival?

I was happy to see something like this happening in Shenzhen, to showcase different performances and art to the public. It is needed.

What is special about the audience at Real Deal shows?

The passion and spirit of the crowd we usually have is the best part of the Real Deal parties. It gets us going to see all those people dancing and enjoying the music.

What do you hope the audience at the Fringe Festival got out of your set?

To see what a real dance music event is all about — not about sitting all night drinking and playing games.  It’s about dancing, the music and meeting people that share the same passion.

Can you summarize your background in music?

I got into music as a young child.  I learned music theory, singing, some instruments and (live) performing. At age 14 or 15 I started collecting Hi-Fi equipment and time synthesizers, which I shortly hooked up with a mixer. At age 18 I was out getting myself a set of turntables so I could DJ my own tunes.  After getting my new DJ gear I had a break, but have been focusing on DJing only now for the last 10 years. Just recently I have started to work with music production again.

Luckily I got the hang of DJing very fast and started to work with other music enthusiasts to create outdoor events such as raves in the forest, where we mostly dropped Psychedelic Trance until sunrise. Shortly afterwards we moved into the clubs and started to have international visitors from England, Germany, Spain, Holland and more.

Before leaving Sweden for Asia I managed to dig myself into the music scene in Germany and Holland, mainly the big stage events such as Trance Energy, Defqon and more. I was asked to perform at after-parties and pre-parties.  Sometimes the main events had between 10,000-35,000 people attending, so the after-parties were from time to time pretty big.

In 2009 I left Sweden for Hong Kong, where I took one step back in performing and focused more on supporting the local Hong Kong scene, like the clubs and the events. There are many skilled musicians and event organizers there and I was lucky to learn from some of the best such as DJ Frankie Lam, PUSH, Yumla and many more.

Going over to the China mainland scene was very different from the HK scene. With many big clubs there was a lot of potential but almost no focus on the music and no dance floor! I have been working hard these last few years in the mainland to push this scene into Shenzhen by creating events and by only playing proper electronic dance music.

I started with events under the name “PLAY” at Plush Bar in Coco Park. I managed several successful events where I started building a crowd of dedicated music lovers.
Since then there has been a huge amount of events, organized by me or other skilled organizers already located in Shenzhen. “Beats of Mass Destruction”, “Techno Techno Techno!”, “Techy Techy” were some of the events created, mainly to push out the electronic dance music, especially Techno, Minimal, Tech-Deep House and more, and I invited local DJ’s to perform for a wider range of style and music genres.

Early in 2012 “it’s The Real Deal Inc” came to life, created together with a couple of friends who were also tired with the club scene, which was still not providing proper electronic dance music and dance floors. Even with the effort from before, the local Electronic Dance Music scene was not big enough to make any real impact; it really took off once we dropped our first “Real Deal” party. It was amazing to see so many people attending our parties, even though it’s sometimes tricky to get to the various outdoor locations.

Which venues do you usually go to?

At this moment I am performing strictly at our own “Real Deal” events, as I am kind of picky with what venues I like to perform at. A good venue has a good dance floor and a great ambiance.  But now it’s the end of the year so I am looking forward to taking some time to perform in some of the hottest clubs in Shenzhen and greater China.

What kind of music do you like to play, and what’s your inspiration?

I like music that makes my body move, music that makes the crowd get into the spirit of good music and loving vibes. My music comes from European Techno, House and Trance and my remixes/live performances are about creating something new by remixing music that contains something special like a good baseline, melody or just a good flow that I wish to remix with something else.

What do you want to accomplish in future Real Deal shows?

In one way I think we already accomplished a lot, but what I would love to see in the future is for us to keep going on with our events and let more people in China know what the Real Deal is all about, what real dance music events are all about and hopefully influence the clubs to see what’s missing in China at this moment.

More Information:


An eclectic music mix the highlight of Shenzhen’s Fringe Festival

Posted: 11/28/2012 5:23 pm

“2012 Shenzhen Fringe Festival will build a bigger stage beyond your imagination. Let the power of arts blow the tradition, let the surprise of creativity shock the city, and let the heat of Shenzhen keep influencing the world!” - Fringe Festival website.

Strolling through Nanshan’s Coastal City shopping center, one might be surprised to suddenly find a music and art festival camped out in the middle of Haide Square. Overwhelming the neighboring bars and restaurants is the Fringe Festival, an art and performance showcase full of photography exhibitions, merchants, snacks, and a major stage with daily shows. Fringe Festivals are held in 300 cities all over the world. This is the third year one has been staged in Shenzhen, and it’s sponsored locally by the Nanshan district government for the purpose of promoting cultural activities.

The opening weekend began with a parade, and the headliner was the Rave Out. Rave Out started with a floating DJ booth at the parade, then moved the rave to the Fish Theater in the main center tent, and finally on Sunday to Wenxin Park. Shenzhen’s top DJs performed to their best, creating as entertaining a dance party as any found at one of Shenzhen’s nightclubs. Admission is always free, with music going day and night.

The Rave Out performance for the festival was organized by Shenzhen-based crew Real Deal. An international group of talent and trendsetters, they are known for setting up parties all over the city and were enthusiastic about participating in the Fringe Festival. Sebastian, one of the main organizers, told The Nanfang: “We are trying to bring some artistic elements into the Shenzhen party scene. We always have very good DJs, fire-dancers, jugglers, video installations, and decorative LED lights at our events.”

The Rave Out party (captured by smartphone)

But what makes Real Deal different from the usual nightlife scene? “Most clubs and bars are chains these days, and all look alike. Rents are very high and clubs are forced to cut their budget for good DJs and performers. Since we don’t make much money and don’t pay rent, we are free to try new party concepts.”

And great concepts they are. One top performer goes by Mr. Magnus, and was happy for the opportunity to share his music with a new audience. “The passion and spirit with the crowd is the best part of Real Deal parties, seeing all those people dancing and enjoying the music is what keeps us going. It’s not about sitting all night drinking and playing games, its about dancing, the music, and meeting people who share the same passion.”

Magnus is definitely passionate about music, and plays an eclectic set. “My music comes from European Techno, House, and Trance, and my remixes and live performances are about creating something new by remixing music that contains something special.” When asked about what he sees for the future in the scene, he was very hopeful. “I would love to see more people in China know what the Real Deal is all about, and what real dance music events are about. Hopefully we can influence the clubs as they see what’s missing in China at this moment.”

It might have been an odd sight to see all the curious mall shoppers take pictures  of dancing foreigners in the rain, but the locals who did get inspired were excited. All in all it seemed like a great success.

The raving may be over now, but the Fringe Festival will continue until December 2, with various theatrical productions, more music, workshops, exhibitions, and even comedy. Other venues include Huaxia Star Light Theater in Book City, and the Old Black Box theatre at Shenzhen University. Certainly worth checking out, whether just by passing through while shopping or by making a serious plan to enjoy the main events in their entirety.

Bilingual schedules and maps can be downloaded on their website.

Real Deal posts future gatherings on their website as well.

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