The Nanfang / Blog

Hong Kong’s MTR to Expand for First Time in Years

Posted: 12/12/2014 11:40 am

hong kong subwayIt’s not quite all the way to Lamma Island, but it’s a start.

Hong Kong’s newest subway extension may not be very long, but connects a vital and historic neighbourhood with the rest of Hong Kong island.

The MTR Corporation announced that the West Island Line will open on December 28. It will extend train service westward from Sheung Wan Station to the western end of Hong Kong Island and will make stops at Hong Kong University (HKU) Station and Kennedy Town Station.

The construction of a third station, Sai Ying Pun, is behind schedule but expected to be operational by February 15.

Train service from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town is expected to take five minutes for the three kilometer journey.

HKU Station is expected to serve as a transfer station to a future expansion called the South Island Line. This expansion will be separated into two separate but interconnected lines that will start at HKU and ring through the island to connect with the Island Line at Admiralty.

This weekend, the MTR will open HKU Station and Kennedy Town station for public tours. Tickets can be obtained from Central and Western district council.

Here are two reference maps that show how the West Island Line will fit in with the future Island Line.

future hong kong subwayfuture hong kong subwayTo take a glimpse at what the entire future Hong Kong subway system may look like, click here.

Photos: Wikipedia (2), sznews


100 Million Chinese Tourists Head Abroad in 2014, a New Record

Posted: 12/8/2014 9:30 am

national tourism administration

Over 100 million mainland Chinese tourists are expected to have traveled internationally in 2014, according to the National Tourism Administration. This number beats the previous record set in 2013.

The number is somewhat misleading, as more than 60 percent of travel was to the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau as well as the self-governed island of Taiwan.

Other popular destinations were South Korea, Thailand, Japan, USA, Vietnam, and Singapore.

Nearly 90 percent of all travel was within Asia, while 3.5 percent went to Europe, 3 percent to Africa, and 2.7 percent to the Americas. The countries with the biggest increase in Chinese tourists were Japan and South Korea. Combined, the two countries saw an increase in Chinese tourism of almost 40 percent.

The new travel record stands in stark contrast to China’s international travel from just over a decade and a half ago. In 1998, there were only 8.43 million trips made beyond China’s national boundaries.

Photo: People’s Daily Online


Historian’s Claim Leonardo Da Vinci Was Half-Chinese Sets Chinese Internet on Fire

Posted: 12/5/2014 11:26 am

mona lisaThe theory that Chinese culture may have been a fundamental part of the Renaissance has set the Chinese internet on fire. An Italian historian has suggested that Leonardo da Vinci’s mother was Chinese and his famous painting, the Mona Lisa, was based on a Chinese slave.

Angelo Paratico, an Italian novelist and historian currently based in Hong Kong, made the connection in an interview. He is currently working on a book, “Leonardo da Vinci: A Chinese Scholar Lost in Renaissance Italy”.

Paratico cited Sigmund Freud’s hypothesis that the Mona Lisa is based upon Da Vinci’s mother to suggest that the model used in the famous masterpiece was Chinese as well. In defense of his theory, Paratico said the Mona Lisa has a Chinese background and that the Mona Lisa “looks Chinese”.

Not many details have been confirmed about Catarina, the mother of the 15th century artist, mathematician and inventor. But speculation over her ethnicity has inflamed the interest of the Chinese internet, clearly piqued at the suggestion that da Vinci could have been half-Chinese. Netizens have posted numerous Photoshops of the Mona Lisa featuring faces very familiar to a Chinese audience.

One user said, “I now understand why her smile looks so mysterious and concealed — it’s typically Chinese.”

Paternity of important historical figures is an important issue to proud Chinese netizens. Previous online discussions of nationality have centered around the issue of whether or not Confucius is Korean.

Photos: People’s Daily Online


Mainland Buyers Have Left Hong Kong Dangerously Short of Baby Formula

Posted: 12/2/2014 9:30 am

According to the Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau, Hong Kong is running out of stock on popular brands of baby formula.

After surveying five Hong Kong districts from June to November, the results showed various brands of baby formula running dangerously low. Brands manufactured by Friso were hit hardest, with total stock depleted by as much as 68% below normal levels.

As Christmas approaches, the threat of shortage remains high, a spokesperson for the Bureau warned. The shortage has largely been blamed on traders from mainland China, who buy baby formula in Hong Kong and resell it on the mainland to avoid taxes and duties. Hong Kong retailers were warned to stock up on baby formula to ensure there remains a sufficient supply to accommodate local infants.

Last year, Hong Kong passed a law restricting the amount of baby formula permitted to cross the Hong Kong/China border to two cans per person. Despite the restriction, there have been no shortage of Chinese citizens caught attempting to smuggle much more.

Photos: Badcanto; Reuters 


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

Posted: 11/9/2014 1:09 pm

Welcome to the debut post from The China Curmudgeon.

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.


Pro-Beijing HK Newspaper: “None of Hong Kong’s Business Groups Support Occupy Central”

Posted: 11/5/2014 10:00 am

A Chow Tai Fook jewellery shop on Nathan Road in Mongkok

Although Hong Kong tycoons are reluctant to voice their opinions about the ongoing Occupy Central that erupted in the city more than a month ago, according to an opinion poll conducted by the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Business Daily, and reported by Xinhua,  close to 600 business groups in the city oppose the protests. 

Among the 600 questionnaires distributed to the city’s major business groups, 57.81 percent of the 563 respondents said they “strongly oppose” the protests, while 40.53 percent said they “oppose” the protests.  The remaining 1.6 percent responded “neutral”, with not one respondent expressing support.

Not surprisingly, more than 95 percent of the business groups polled said the protests are disorderly, while almost 98 percent said the protests are disrupting Hong Kong’s economy.

The results are a stark contrast to the recent poll conducted by Hong Kong University’s Public Opinion Programme, which revealed the Hong Kong Federation of Students, a leading force behind Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, has become more popular than any of the city’s 12 major political parties, sporting a support rating of 47.1 percent, the SCMP reported.

The Liberal Party’s popularity also increased after its former leader, James Tien Pun-chun, was stripped of his seat on the nation’s top advisory body, the CPPCC, last month for criticising CY Leung.

In an interview with three international newspapers, Leung said universal suffrage would give the city’s poor more say in Hong Kong’s policies, a group comprising a significant percentage of the city’s population.

Photos: CHRIS STOWERS — McClatchy


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.


Lots of Crying and Complaining: How Occupy Protests are Covered in China

Posted: 10/23/2014 9:00 am
hk occupy central talks

The student leaders are seen to the left. There should be five of them if you count.

The Occupy protests in Hong Kong have been well-covered by Mainland media, although the coverage is obviously been selective. That means people Mainland still aren’t clear about who is protesting, or why.

One way to know would have been be to watch the televised discussion two nights ago that featured the movement’s student leaders and the Hong Kong government. As it were, and as expected, mainland news media covered the talks but didn’t quote the students a single time, or even give their names.

hk occupy central talks

But the Occupy movement does have a face on the mainland news: an unhappy and disgruntled one. Stories regularly highlight how the “average Hong Kong resident” is upset with the protests and want them to end. Mainland TV coverage has focused upon the people impacted by the demonstrations — people who tend to speak in Putonghua, a language not normally used in Hong Kong (at least not well).

complaining angry crying hong kong resident occupy centralIn one video (below), Miss Zhang said the Occupy protesters had destabilized the city:

We need to work and live
Children need to go to school
You’ve made it so that children can’t even go to school
Working is not convenient
There are even some places where stores have closed
Having closed, many workers aren’t able to go to work
If they can’t work, they can’t make a salary
What do you say? (Does Occupy Central) have a big impact?

complaining angry crying hong kong resident occupy centralMrs Yu complains that her rights have been infringed upon:

The situation for my daughter have become like this
When my daughter goes to school, there aren’t any teachers there to teach her
She is the only one sitting in the classroom
When she returns (home), she is very, very sad
This has stripped us of our rights

complaining angry crying hong kong resident occupy centralAnd then we have Eric, a long-time resident of Hong Kong who represents the laowai:

Most of the people I know in Hong Kong do not like what is going on
They want a peaceful Hong Kong, with gradual progress like we have been having, stability, harmony… that’s what we want

complaining angry crying hong kong resident occupy centralEric then reads from a book:

Hold(ing) HK hostage is not peaceful
Block(ing the) streets is not democracy
obstruction is violence (in law, in fact)
Blame(ing) police for their violence is hypocracy, because they are the ones causing the problem.

complaining angry crying hong kong resident occupy centralThis woman is one of the few Hong Kong residents caught on camera speaking in Cantonese. Here she is arguing with a person who is not seen or heard:

Nothing you do has any use
Is this for the benefit of Hong Kong residents? No!
It’s just become more chaotic
making more problems
And made this society less harmonious

complaining angry crying hong kong resident occupy central

But if there is one face that represents the Occupy protests on mainland television, it would be this woman. Here, she’s seen crying when speaking of the chaos that has inflicted the city:

It’s a contradicting and tearing apart of the (Hong Kong people)
and it’s getting bigger
I think that it’s getting bigger
and has made our Hong Kong into a chaotic place
I am terribly saddened by this
Honestly, very saddened
I have lived in Hong Kong for ten years
I feel that the peace we had before was so much better
It’s that they’ve been infiltrated by foreign powers
and caused disorder
I’ve lived in Mongkok for a long time now
Reporter: You live in Mongkok?

It’s so loud there every night
How can I sleep?

The woman went on to clarify what she meant about “foreign powers”:

I think that it must be foreign powers
who are making moves in the background, turning Hong Kong into this (mess)
Reporter: Why?
I honestly think this
because I have a friend who took their money
so that he would participate in Occupy Central
I asked him (where the money came from)
He said he boss received their money
and then his boss told him to go to “Occupy Central”
He said that if he didn’t go
He would lose his job as a result
For standing two days, he was awarded 2,500 yuan

The videos are seen below:

Photo: Sohu, Xinhua, screencaps from Ku6, iFeng


Shenzhen to Build Hong Kong-style Pedestrian Walkways

Posted: 10/22/2014 8:49 am

admiralty walkwayAlready awarded the title of “Most Walkable City in Mainland China“, Shenzhen looks to outdo itself by making further improvements to its infrastructure in order to improve city transportation.

Shenzhen is planning to make numerous improvements throughout the city, and some of its inspiration will come directly from its neighbor to the south.

Shenzhen is looking to create a number of pedestrian corridors in its Central Business District that match those in Admiralty, Hong Kong. They will be built in the “Golden Triangle” and six other areas where pedestrian traffic is highest.

Shenzhen is also planning to create an all-day or temporary commercial pedestrian street in Nanshan central district, Huaqiangbei, and Dongmen.

Shenzhen’s network of scenic tour routes will also be improved, with the combination of the Lianhuashan and Bijiashan green routes. As well, pedestrian routes nearby hospitals will be upgraded.

A total of nine new pedestrian scenic routes will be constructed in the areas of Meilin, Chegongmiao, Bihai, Tianbei, Xiashuijing, Bantian, Baishaling, Haiyue, and Dongjiaotou.

Lastly, Shenzhen will upgrade the city’s bike trails and offer more bike rentals for those who prefer two wheels to two feet.



Man Caught at Shenzhen Port with 33 iPhone 6s Strapped to His Body

Posted: 10/15/2014 11:00 am

Buyers paying cash to resellers for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus outside of an Apple Store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

There is just no end to the unique and creative ways of smuggling iPhones into China. Take Mr. Chan, a 50 year old Hong Kong man, for example. He was caught trying to enter the country at the Luohu border with 33 iPhone 6 Plus units strapped to his body, reports Shenzhen Business Daily.

According to customs officers, Chan was fidgeting with a plastic bag where, after a search, they discovered the phones. Chan said the phones were bought in Hong Kong to be resold in Shenzhen.

Resellers of iPhone 6 outside of Apple’s store in Causeway Bay.

Demand for the iPhone has been exceptionally high and people will do almost anything to get one, even though it will be for sale in Mainland China in two days. One woman in Guangxi was even seen roaming around the city completely naked in hopes of winning one. According to reports, the woman made a bet with her friends that if she walked around the city naked, they would give her an iPhone 6. In late September, a Chinese man was caught stuffing eight iPhone 6s into his underpants while trying to enter the Mainland from Hong Kong.

According to figures released by China’s Customs Department, between September 10 and 24, Shenzhen Customs confiscated more than 2,000 iPhone 6s. On September 25 alone, Shanghai seized 453 iPhone 6s, Xinhua reported.

Photos: Bloomberg/Getty Image; SCMP


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