Chinese space babies, the taikonaut tykes of the future!
04.16.2014
07:45 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
China
space


Little Guests in the Moon Palace, 1972 
 
You may recall a post I did a while back on Soviet holiday cards and their predilection for space travel. If you were able to get past the whole “Santa on a rocket ship” motif, you might have also noticed the prevalence of a little boy in cosmonaut get-up, another symbol of the USSR’s vision of an exciting future of fantastic technological advances—one which awaited all good little Soviet children. In the US, of course, the space race was a far more sober affair. NASA didn’t really produce this kind of propaganda, beyond some (admittedly very cool) space colony concept art. So while the US promoted a much more “dignified” view of space technology, Soviet space imagery was much more familiar.

However, Chinese space propaganda makes the Soviet stuff look like military school. Progress is commonly represented by children and technology in a lot of nationalist art, but the Chinese child taikonauts are a step beyond. This stuff is so kid friendly, it had toys, puppies, bunnies, and all manner of toddler-friendly spacecraft. Perhaps hoping to excite the younger generations, these pieces abandon almost any semblance of science fiction and go straight to fantasy. 
 

Take the Spaceship and Tour the Universe, 1962
 

Bringing his playmates to the stars, 1980
 
More space babies after the jump…
 

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
Fabulous Emo hairdos of China’s Millennials workforce
03.03.2014
07:49 am

Topics:
Fashion

Tags:
China
millennials


 
Photos of Chinese Millennials hard at work, sportin’ some fun-loving, kind of elaborate, hair’dos:

It is 8:30 at night. A group of young workers are busying processing products at a plant in Zhuhai city, South China’s Guangdong province. They have been working for nearly 10 hours. All of them are born in the late 90s and come from rural areas outside the province. Wearing blue uniforms and having peculiar hairstyles, they make a living by repeatedly working on the assembly lines and contributing as one of the forces of the city’s construction.

There are more images over at China Daily.


 

 

 
Via Nerdcore

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Hair-raisingly weird way Chinese students try to stay awake while cramming for exams
01.10.2014
12:15 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
China
Studying


 
Perhaps safer than overdoing it on the Adderall, some hardcore Chinese students cramming for exams have devised a hair-raising contraption that prevents them from falling asleep while studying.

Photos like the ones posted here, are showing up on the Chinese website, Wiebo

Honestly, I could totally use a contraption like this while standing in line at the DMV.
 

 

 

 
Via Kotaku and Nerdcore

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘Interviews Before Execution’: Fascinating, disturbing Chinese talk show
11.01.2013
03:13 pm

Topics:
Crime
Television

Tags:
China
Interviews Before Execution

Interviews Before Execution
 
China and the United States are both among the countries that execute the most prisoners annually—but only one of them has ever had a TV talk show dedicated to presenting the death row inmates in a personal way. (According to Amnesty International, China executes the most people by more than an order of magnitude over its #2 competition, Pakistan. The United States is #6 on the list.)

From 2006 to 2012, the Henan Legal Channel in China’s landlocked Henan province ran a weekly TV show called Interviews Before Execution, with an appealing host named Ding Yu, who became something of a star because of the show. She has interviewed more than 200 inmates on the show. In March 2012, BBC Two, on its This World series, aired an hour-long documentary on Interviews Before Execution; with its typical light touch, the Chinese authorities, fearful of embarrassment in the international arena, quickly moved to cancel the show.

In China, citizens can be executed for any one 55 offenses, including endagering public security and “economic crimes” such as embezzlement, but Interviews Before Execution focuses almost entirely on brutal murder cases. Most of the prisoners are glumly contrite, resigned to their fate, inarticulate about the motives that led to the crimes. Providing an instructive snapshot into China’s sexual mores was Ding Yu’s extended interview with Bao Rongting, a homosexual man who was convicted of murdering his mother. In China, homosexuality was a criminal offense as late as 1999. The Bao Rongting episodes of Interviews Before Execution were a huge ratings success. Since 2007 a new safeguard has been introduced: all capital cases must be sent to the Supreme Court for review—it does happen that they occasionally return cases to the lower courts for further investigation.
 
Interviews Before Execution
 
Interviews Before Execution is a fascinating mixture of good, old-fashioned reporting, TV sensationalism, and an undefinable quality that is uniquely poignant and human. In its tone, the show feels like a cross between America’s Most Wanted and a Barbara Walters special. Regardless of one’s feelings about the death penalty—count me against—it’s difficult not to think that the show’s positive effects outweight its negative ones. As none other than Albert Camus pointed out (in “Reflections on the Guillotine”), if you argue for the death penalty because of its deterrent effects, it’s a contradiction to conduct the executions and everything surrounding them far from public view, as is done in the United States. Whatever your position, the show has featured some incredibly compelling television, and even if the viewers’ reactions may feel comparable to rubber-necking, the show does permit the audience to get to know convicted murders not as statistics but as complex members of the human race.

The BBC2 documentary is linked below; it’s one of the most interesting and powerful hours of TV I can remember watching.
 

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
North Korean paintings of contemporary China as a socialist utopia
10.24.2013
07:27 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
China
North Korea

CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest
“CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest”
 
In their exhibition “The Beautiful Future” at Beijing Design Week a few weeks ago, westerners Nick Bonner (Koryo Tours) and Dominic Johnson-Hill (Plastered8) pulled something of a Komar and Melamid when they commissioned paintings of contemporary China from North Korean artists.

The remarkable canvases that resulted challenge one’s notions of irony or protest—they seem incredibly pointed but may have been meant sincerely. One suspects that the fantastic juxtapositions—Maoist uniforms and karaoke, or socialist flags and office cubicles—were at a bare minimum prompted as compelling subjects by Bonner and Johnson-Hill. It’s a little unclear.

Several of the paintings feature notable architectural gems of the recent past, including the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the Beijing National Aquatics Center by PTW Architects, and the CCTV Headquarters by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

As a deadpan provocation, it’s pretty fabulous.
 
Office Culture for Prosperity
“Office Culture for Prosperity”
 
City Migration
“City Migration”
 
Bird's Nest, Home of the People
“Bird’s Nest, Home of the People”
 
Water Cube for Clean Air and Healthy Life
“Water Cube for Clean Air and Healthy Life”
 
KTV Gives Us a Voice
“KTV Gives Us a Voice”
 
Disco Night to Enhance the Day
“Disco Night to Enhance the Day”
 
Glorious CCTV Tower
“Glorious CCTV Tower”
 
via designboom

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Help stop the trade of live animals as keychain / lucky charms in China
10.16.2013
09:50 am

Topics:
Activism
Animals

Tags:
China
Petition

0000bantrade.jpg
 

AVAAZ.org have a petition to stop the sale of living animals as keychain/lucky charm.

The petition calls on the United Nations to:

...demand the Chinese government to ban the manufacture and sale of amulets and jewelry containing live animals.

As the petition explains, this “new fashion” jewelry in China has:

...animals living under plastic containing a liquid nutrient and oxygen that allows them to live up to 2 months.

This is cruel and should be condemned by the international community.

Though it has been claimed that the animals can live up to two months in the “nutrient” environment, this is not true, as the animals die within days through a lack of oxygen.

This story has been featured in the news since 2008, but nothing has been done to stop this horrific trade.

Please sign the petition to help highlight and stop the sale of amulets and jewelry containing live animals. Thank you.
 

 

 
With thanks to Lindsay Reid.
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Foxy grandpa’: China’s hottest model is 73 years old, could use a good dentist
09.24.2013
04:28 am

Topics:
Fashion

Tags:
China
modelling

Liu Xianping
 
Last year, Lu Qing was unpacking some women’s clothing for her fashion outlet business Yuekou when her grandfather, Liu Xianping, came in and started giving her some unsolicited advice about what piece went with what. So she suggested that he try some of the clothes on. Before they knew it, the entrepreneur (also known as Ms. Lv) had him in front of her camera—and on her website, as a model.
 
Liu Xianping
 
The images of Liu Xianping wearing miniskirts, tights, dresses, fur-lined coats, and even long-haired wigs have become an international sensation. According to the New York Daily News, “The foxy grandpa says he’s just happy to help his granddaughter with her business.” Lu has said that her grandfather’s involvement has greatly enhanced her business: “Since the pictures came out, we’ve had a huge number of website visitors, and are selling five times as many clothes as before. . . . Previously, we sometimes sold less than 10 items a day, and were feeling depressed about the business.”
 
Liu Xianping
 
Liu’s sassy attitude, long legs, and slim physique have attracted the attention of other stores, who have inquired about his modeling for them. As he told China Newsweek: “Why unacceptable for someone like me to wear women’s clothes? Modelling for the store is helping my granddaughter and I have nothing to lose.”

Damn right, Gramps.
 
Liu Xianping in a 'Gangnam Style' pose
Liu Xianping in a ‘Gangnam Style’ pose
 
After the jump, more of Liu Xianping’s modeling poses…..

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Nifty futuristic images from Mao’s China
09.22.2013
07:44 am

Topics:
Science/Tech

Tags:
China

Popular Science, 9/1961
 
We don’t really think of midcentury China as having a space-age or Jetsons mentality, but these remarkable magazine covers from 1961 and 1962 clearly prove that premise wrong. “Kexue Dazhong” does mean “popular science,” so this is effectively the Popular Science of China.

On this page I found the following text (after having Google Translate masticate it for a few nanoseconds):
 

1960s, the Soviet Union and China against each other, the withdrawal of scientific and technological personnel, China to promote technological self-reliance campaign on “science and technology development is the practice of a better tomorrow.

 
Well, maybe Google Translate wasn’t so much help after all in this instance. There seems to be some emphasis on competition between the USSR and the People’s Republic of China and “self-reliance,” and yet the “9/1962” cover image below depicts a smiling Russian cosmonaut. So I don’t know what’s going on there.

The page did have the benefit of mentioning the American source book for the image above: Scott Minick and Jiao Ping’s Chinese Graphic Design in the Twentieth Century (1990).
 
Popular Science, 1/1962
 
Popular Science, 3/1962
 
Popular Science, 4/1962
 
Popular Science, 9/1962
 
via Include Me Out

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
‘No Prostitution’: The Simpsons instruct Chinese nightclub patrons on the house rules
09.05.2013
05:38 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
China
The Simpsons

Simpsons prostitution
 
While Disney and Looney Tunes probably have him beat on sheer numbers, Bart Simpson has to have been bootlegged more elaborately and creatively than any other animated character in history. There’s even a Facebook group called “Bootleg Bart,” that curates knock-off Simpsons merchandise and art. “Safer Sex Bartwas my favorite, until I stumbled across these janky little posters from a Chinese nightclub.

The imitation of Groening’s art is just a superficial design element. It doesn’t seem to matter to the illustrator that the posters are obvious bootlegs, because a legitimate association with The Simpsons as a brand obviously isn’t really the point. Still, I can’t help but enjoy the irony of America’s favorite dysfunctional family used to foster public decency in a Chinese bar. (No fighting? Really?)
 
Simpsons drugs
 
Simpsons fighting
 
Simpsons gambling
 
Via Buried Above Ground

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
China’s awkward childhood photos are really… mesmerizing!
09.04.2013
10:04 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion

Tags:
China
Childhood photos


 
Chinese micro-blog Sina Weibo asked its readers to upload their most embarrassing childhood photos. And, well, the Internet gods delivered in spades with these priceless Glamour Shots-style childhood photos circa 1980s and 1990s.

Moar, please! There simply aren’t enough!


 

 
More after the jump…
 

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Get some culture, you bourgeois ingrates! (With some revolutionary Chinese communist ballet, 1971)

Red Detachment of Women
 
Efforts to create a new, post-capitalist artistic culture are fraught with peril. First of all, the tendency to dismiss pre-socialist traditions (artistic or otherwise) as “bourgeois” inevitably leads to a backlash. The impulse to preserve the past and retain one’s history will always prevail (science fiction Christmas cards in state atheist Soviet Russia immediately come to mind). Secondly, the artistic genres of “communist” states can sway overwhelmingly nationalistic, often at the expense of the art itself; propaganda can be art, but when you live in a totalitarian state, stuff can get stale real quick (then again, certain American gaffs remind me totalitarianism isn’t a prerequisite for banal propaganda). And then there’s that rare example of artistic achievement that falls victim to both of the aforementioned pitfalls—fails at relinquishing ties to capitalist culture and politically problematic in its nationalism—but still reaches the height of brilliance and beauty.

Enter Maoist ballet. As an avid ballet fan and former dancer, I’m slightly offended at the notion that I must reassure readers, “this is no ordinary ballet,” but it is an exceptional interpretation, and those who might otherwise be averse to ballet can take heart that this the style is uniquely dynamic and athletic. China’s Cultural Revolution dictated that the bourgeois culture of capitalism just be replaced with a new proletarian culture- hence the radical choreography and patriotic imagery. Of course, it’s still recognizable as ballet, and while a few Chinese instruments pepper the score, it’s primarily performed by a European-style orchestra.

Below is my favorite, “The Red Detachment of Women,” one of the so-called “Eight Model Operas,” (which were actually five operas, two ballets, and a symphony) all designed and organized by Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, intended as the ambitious forefront of China’s new revolutionary culture. Though I tend to watch it in pieces, isolating different acts and numbers for their stand-alone value, the libretto is epic and elaborate. The ballet is actually based on a famous novel that pulled true stories from the all-women Special Company of the 2nd Independent Division of Chinese Red Army, who had over 100 members. When Nixon visited China in 1972 to repair diplomatic relations, this is the ballet they took him to see—there’s no way that wasn’t a backhanded gesture.

In many ways, “The Red Detachment of Women” was a total failure. Even if we ignore the fact that the terrible politics of Communist China were being extolled en pointe, it’s intellectually difficult to argue that anything engineered by Mao’s wife could even be populist. And of course it’s a failure as all cultural revolutions are a failure; art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and no amount of communist shellac could purge the fingerprints of the Western progenitors of ballet. Still, the beauty and the innovation of the project are undeniable, and while “The Red Detachment of Women” wasn’t the dawn of a proletarian artistic movement, it was most certainly, well… revolutionary.
 

 

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
Eccentric millionaire professor builds ‘country villa’ on top of 26-story apartment block
08.12.2013
10:42 am

Topics:
Amusing
Design

Tags:
China
Architecture

anihcesuoh.jpg
 
At first glance the compound is reminiscent of ThunderbirdsTracy Island or, the hideaway for a James Bond villain. The villa is situated 26-floors up, atop an apartment block in Beijing’s Haidian district, and was built by a man, known to his neighbors as “Professor Zhang.”

Professor Zhang originally purchased the penthouse apartment, before deciding to extend his property upwards onto the roof. His roof-top country villa includes rockeries, sculptures, trees and gardens, and has taken six-years to build. Its development has caused structural damage, water leakage to the building and considerable inconvenience to its tenants… gives a whole new meaning to the trickle down effect…
 
anihcesuoh2
 
The Beijing Morning News contacted Prof. Zhang, who claimed he was unconcerned what his neighbors thought.

“Since I dare to live here, I am not worried about complaints.”

When questioned about the noise, the eccentric home-owner replied:

“Famous people come to my place and sing. How can you stop them?”

In China, the rich can do as they please, and Professor Zhang is rich enough that he can openly flout any planning regulations. The other residents have asked the building’s management, local urban management officials and even the police to enforce planning regulation against Professor Zhang, but all have refused.
 

 
Via The Independent
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Anti-Pervert Hairy Stockings for Girls in Summertime
06.18.2013
05:36 am

Topics:
Advertising
Amusing

Tags:
China
Hairy Leg Tights

anpervtiggirchin.jpg
 
The headline says it all.

This image was tweeted on China’s micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, purportedly showing a pair of hairy-leg tights for girls to wear in summer to stop “perverts.”

@Happy张江: Super sexy, summertime anti-pervert full-leg-of-hair stockings, essential for all young girls going out.

Happy张江: 超性感,夏日防狼全毛腿丝袜,女童鞋出门必备[xkl喜]THK博友投稿

I dunno—I think it won’t be too long until these “hairy-legged” pantyhose become a fetish all of their own. (Though a part of me suspects it’s all been Photo-shopped.)
 
Via China Smack, with thanks to Laughton Sebastian Melmoth
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
You have to see this zoomed out photo of Tiananmen Square’s ‘Tank Man’
06.03.2013
08:10 am

Topics:
Heroes
History

Tags:
China
protests
Tiananmen Square


 
When a friend told me there were more shots of the still namelessTank Man” who stood in front of a phalanx of oncoming weaponry in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, I figured I would find a few photos from different angles. I did not expect a widescreen tableau that completely recontextualized the scale of the protests (and the man’s bravery, seeing that he was but armed with two plastic shopping bags).
 
Tiananmen Square
 
From this distance, you see past the four tanks in the original iconic photo, to a chillingly expansive mass of tanks and soldiers. The scale of the picture changes the story somewhat, don’t you think? (You can see a larger version here.)

I actually found this shot on the website of the right wing think tank, The Heritage Foundation! I suppose students risking (and often losing) their lives to protest an oppressive Chinese government can be easily co-opted for red scare fodder. Regardless, it’s not every day that I actually learn something new from the right wing!
 

 
A closer street-level view of the David and Goliath confrontation—shot just before the tanks reached “Tank Man” and stopped their engines—was published by photographer Terrell Jones in 2009. Look for “Tank Man” behind the guy running.
 

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
Inexplicably weird products sold in China
02.15.2013
01:03 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
China


 
Oh, the glorious Taobao website, where featured products consist solely of whatchamacallits and thingamajigs sold in China.

Here are a few choice selections from Taoboa‘s catalog of I-have-no-idea-what-these-things-are:
 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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