A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘china

[LINK] “British Villagers Are Baffled by Flocking Chinese Tourists”

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In The New York Times, Dan Bilefsky describes why so many Chinese tourists are paying attention to the otherwise unremarkable British village of Kidlington.

One explanation holds that guides started using Kidlington as a drop-off point for tourists who declined to pay $68 for a Chinese language tour of the palace. Credit Elizabeth Dalziel for The New York Times

Sun Jianfeng, a 48-year-old tour guide with Beijing Hua Yuan International Travel, said guides were routinely depositing in Kidlington tourists who did not want to pay an extra $68 for an optional Chinese language tour of nearby Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s majestic ancestral home.

He added that some wily tourists had figured out that buying tickets at the palace would cost only about $25, and were secretly sneaking there on foot, irking other tourists, who had already paid full price. As a result, he said, those who opted out of the Blenheim tour were being dropped in Kidlington, which is not within walking distance.

Mr. Sun said Kidlington was also a convenient stop on the way to Bicester Village, a must-go discount luxury retail destination for Chinese shoppers. The Chinese are big spenders, and European countries compete hard for their business.

Mr. Sun stressed that the Kidlington phenomenon was also an outgrowth of modern China and globalization. Many tourists are a part of China’s rapidly growing middle class, many of whom live in anonymous concrete tower blocks in huge cities, he said. They are enchanted by the village’s tranquillity and intrigued by daily life in the English countryside.

“The environment in the countryside in China isn’t so great,” he said, noting that it could be run-down and gritty compared with England’s typically bucolic atmosphere. “In Kidlington, the environment is great. You see farm fields and ranches here. Also, many newly built houses here have brick or brick-and-wood structures, which you no longer see very often in urban China.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 7, 2016 at 8:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO reports on the Union Station Holiday Market.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about how she has fled toxic environments.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the next generation of observational astronomy with Alpha Centauri in mind.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at how foreseeeable advances may mean that Proxima Centauri b’s atmosphere could soon by studied for indirect signs of life.
  • Far Outliers notes how, in the dying ways of the War of American Independence, British forces were setting slaves free.
  • Language Log shares Chinese science fiction writer Ken Liu’s thoughts about the Chinese language and Chinese literature.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money warns about the potential threat posed to indigenous peoples in the United States by the Trump Administration.
  • The LRB Blog considers the likely fates of Italy after Renzi.
  • The Planetary Society Blog describes the impending launch of a solar sail craft into orbit.
  • Savage Minds considers ways in which the different subfields of anthropology can more profitably interact, looking at scholarship and politics both.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the American left should make the Trump Administration cause to advocate for a renewed federalism.
  • Arnold Zwicky writes about the art of being camp and its selective deployments.

[URBAN NOTE] “What Chinatown used to look like in Toronto”

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blogTO’s Derek Flack has another photo essay up, this one looking at Toronto’s many and changing Chinatowns over the decades.

Toronto’s Chinese population was tiny prior to the early 20th century, with roughly 200 residents scattered in various areas, including clusters on Queen East near George St. and Queen West near York St. The burgeoning Queen East chinatown was short-lived, but the one to the west of Yonge would eventually migrate north towards Dundas St. and become the city’s first major Chinese community.

By 1910, the Chinese population in Toronto was creeping towards 1,000, and storefronts along Elizabeth St. started to bear Chinese-language signage. This was the same period when Chinese restaurants first opened in the city. The laundries still existed, but the community’s business interests diversified as it grew.

Over the next 40 years, the Elizabeth St. Chinatown was a robust and thriving community, housing both the businesses and residences of the city’s Chinese population, which was now growing rapidly. It’s quite possible that this Chinatown would have remained the primary hub of Chinese culture in Toronto had it not been for the arrival of New City Hall, which expropriated many businesses and knocked out whole streets of the old Ward neighbourhood.

Despite the fact that so many Chinese buisinesses were razed for the construction of Nathan Phillips Square, remaining area residents successfully fought city plans to relocate the community outright. Rising real estate prices, however, led to the gradual shift of Chinese businesses west along Dundas St., which gave rise to one of the main chinatowns that we know today.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 6, 2016 at 9:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • At Apostrophen, ‘Nathan Smith talks about how he made a tradition out of Christmas tree ornamentation over the past twenty years.
  • blogTO notes that Toronto’s waterfront has major E Coli issues.
  • Crooked Timber notes the potential for the recent by-election in London, fought on Brexit and lost by the Tories, to mean something.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on a search for radio flares from brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that China has been installing ecologies on its artificial South China Sea islands.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers what it means to be an ally.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the complex peace negotiations in Colombia.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a map of American infrastructure.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a one-terabyte drive passed from person to person that serves as a sort of Internet in Cuba.
  • Towleroad notes a film project by one Leo Herrera that aims to imagine what prominent AIDS victims would have done and been like had their not been killed by the epidemic.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the complexities surrounding Brexit.
  • Arnold Zwicky has had enough with linguistic prescriptivism.

[LINK] “China’s Big Year in Space Sparks Excitement and Speculation”

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Scientific American‘s Leonard David describes the noteworthy ongoing improvement of China’s reach in space.

Floating back under parachute from outer space to Inner Mongolia on November 17, China’s Shenzhou-11 astronauts brought to a close the nation’s longest piloted space trek, which lasted 33 days. The mission capped off a year that saw a series of noteworthy successes in China’s blossoming space program, including the country’s sixth manned space mission, the launch of a new space lab module and the inaugural use of a new spaceport. China also opened a world-class radio telescope this year, signaling the country’s growing involvement in space science. These advances, experts say, establish China as one of the top-tier spacefaring nations on Earth and the one with perhaps more momentum than anyone—a status that excites scientists and could inspire other nations to step up their own plans.

Most of the Shenzhou-11 mission had the two crew members, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, safely tucked inside the live-in space lab Tiangong-2, which just launched in September. The duo’s work was dedicated in large part to honing expertise required to develop China’s own large space station. That station is due to come online by the mid 2020s—around when the International Space Station is due for retirement—a fact that Chinese space planners have emphasized.

The year’s Chinese checklist also included the first use of a new Kennedy Space Center-like spaceport, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island off China’s southern coast. The sprawling facility saw the maiden liftoffs of two rockets this year: the Long March-7 and a heavy-lifter, the Long March-5. Both boosters are essential to an expansive space agenda, with the latter dedicated to lofting the nation’s multi-modular space station and possibly, quite literally, shooting for the moon.

China is building upon earlier robotic lunar exploits, including unmanned orbiters and a lander that dispatched the nation’s Yutu moon rover in December 2013. Now their multi-pronged plan calls for the robotic spacecraft Chang’e 5 to launch in the second half of 2017 atop a Long March-5 rocket, land on the moon and collect several pounds of lunar samples, then hurl the specimens back to Earth. And on tap in 2018 is the launch of a lander headed for the far side of the moon, which would be a space first for any country. Looking beyond the lunar landscape, China is also busy at work on a Mars rover that is slated for a 2020 liftoff.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Politics, Science

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[LINK] “Bringing the Chinese Canadian Archive into view”

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Spacing Toronto’s Arlene Chan profiles the exciting introduction to the public via the Toronto Public Library of an archive of Chinese Canadian history over the past century and more.

On Dominion Day, 1923, Canadians were in a celebratory mood. But those good feelings didn’t extend into any Chinatown. July 1 came to be regarded by the Chinese in Canada as “humiliation day.” The Chinese Immigration Act, known commonly as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned virtually all Chinese immigration for the next 24 years. It stood as the most severe legislation of the more than a hundred anti-Chinese policies of the day. The successively increased head tax of $50 (1885), $100 (1900), and $500 (1903) failed to deter immigration, as intended, at a time when the vision for the country was a ‘white Canada.’

My mother, Jean Lumb, nee Toy Jin Wong, was three years old on that infamous day, but almost a year would elapse before a government bureaucrat photographed her for this official document. After all, the Chinese Exclusion Act not only halted immigration; it also required that all Chinese, whether born in Canada (as my mother was) or abroad, to register for an identification card within one year of the passage of the new law.

The card looks uninteresting in itself – a document that lived for decades in a shoebox. But in a recent interview for Ming Pao Daily News, a former employee of the now defunct Shing Wah Daily News, once the largest Chinese newspaper in North America, commented that the need to pass on and preserve this history to future generations is more urgent than ever. The connections to our past are fast fading with the loss of our elders.

Such documents will now be shared, thanks to a new initiative of the Toronto Public Library. The mandate of the Chinese Canadian Archive — which will be launched officially at a reception this evening (Tuesday) at the Toronto Reference Library – is to collect, preserve, store, and provide access for researchers and the general public.

“This archival program is a great opportunity to properly accommodate our family’s precious historic material that our children will not want to keep,” says Nelson Wong, whose father, W.C. Wong, was a prominent leader in Chinatown.

Mavis Chu Lew Garland, who grew up in Chinatown, wants others to know that her “half-Chinese family also existed in Toronto.” Garland’s sizeable donation of documents and photos reveals the extent to which her family honoured its Chinese heritage. “The items will now be available to be shared with whoever is interested in the Chinese culture, and in the people who valued them.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm

[LINK] “China Wants To Be The Next Hockey Heavyweight”

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Over at Vice Sports, Sheng Peng describes the heavy investments being made into China into making China a hockey superpower. Russia is playing a particularly large role, in providing training and guidance, but there are also influences from Europe.

There is no Chinese word for “puck.” In fact, the most literal translation for “bingqiu”—Chinese for hockey—is “ice ball.” The Chinese are about as familiar with hockey as Wayne Gretzky is with badminton.

Yet off the West 4th Ring of Beijing on Sept. 5, 2016, the Kunlun Red Star were taking the ice for their home debut at LeSports Center. The Red Star are the newest franchise of the Russian-based KHL, thought to be the second-best league in the world after the NHL. In other words, what were they doing here?

[. . .]

China wants to flex again, as it did during the 2008 Summer Olympics. This time, the country is training to be a hockey heavyweight. Like Russia, the United States, or Canada. Really.

China has the capital. And right now, it has the motivation: In just six short years, all eyes will once again be on Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

China, as host country, will have a chance to field squads for both the men’s and women’s ice hockey tournaments. In arguably the Games’ most prestigious event, the hunger to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world is naturally greater. Not that far behind, also, is the specter of the “sick man of Asia”, which has dogged the Middle Kingdom’s last century.

But how can China transform its IIHF 37th-ranked men’s national team, which plays literally three rungs below the elite, into a unit with even a puncher’s chance in 2022?

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm