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Posts Tagged ‘china

[LINK] “How China Conquered France’s Wine Country”

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The New Republic‘s Nic Cavell has a wonderful long-form piece looking at how China has wholeheartedly embraced the idea and the culture of French–or, domestically produced French-style–wine.

In 1996, Chinese premier Li Peng surprised his audience at the National People’s Congress by toasting the Ninth Five-Year Plan with red wine: “Drinking fruit wines is helpful to our health, does not waste grain, and is good for social ethics,” he announced. For China’s rapidly growing underclass, this gesture signaled a commitment to rein in the fraud and waste epitomized by party banquets, where officials were known to drink each other under the table with bottles of Moutai Flying Fairy and other spirits derived from grain. For the elites in question, it was an unmistakable signal that business as usual required a new currency. Within a few years, they were using bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild to gain favor and ease transactions.

As Suzanne Mustacich relates in Thirsty Dragon: China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines, representatives from Bordeaux, France’s largest wine-growing region, saw Li’s endorsement as an invitation to “conquer” the Chinese wine market. It was a goal that they believed themselves uniquely positioned to accomplish. Bordeaux’s wines—such as Château Haut-Brion, Château Latour, and Château Cos d’Estournel—communicated luxury, and Bordeaux’s official classification system, which dates back to Napoleon, was easy to sell as a lengthy gift catalog “ratified by pomp and history.” Although Bordeaux’s 1855 Classification rules created for the Exposition Universelle de Paris in that year were never meant to be permanent, the rankings they generated were considered so successful that only a few changes have been made in the century and a half since. In Mustacich’s words, what began as a price list for visiting tourists became a “calling card” and “an immutable promotional tool” for businessmen seeking to introduce Bordeaux wines into new markets.

Although the Chinese market was just a fraction of a percent of the country’s population, châteaux and their middlemen moved huge quantities of product by offering entrepreneurs a very clear hierarchy of the finest wines already ratified as international status symbols. The precise rankings of each wine could be easily mapped onto the numerous positions within the Chinese bureaucracy, allowing gift-givers to save face by offering the appropriate wine at each level of officialdom. At the time, few Chinese had a taste for wine, but the social liquidity of a First Growth like Lafite—which in China is widely considered the best—was rated sublime. One real estate developer was inspired to commemorate a bottle of the château’s 1982 vintage in verse as both “the greatest treasure” and “the moment of death”—“the appreciation of which is greater than the desire to taste it.”

As well as importing wines and their prestige, China is also building its own formidable wine industry. According to industry analysts, within five years, China will bottle more wine and devote more land to vineyards than any other country. For instance, the government of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region announced its plans to construct 50 new châteaux and a regional classification system modeled on Bordeaux in November 2013. To qualify for a listing, a château must not only meet industrial production quotas but build a four-star restaurant and hotel for guests. The vineyards are to be staffed by ethnic Hui, the Muslim farmers and herders the government has arranged to relocate or “move out” of rural poverty. “In fact, this is incorrect,” Grape Flower Industry Development Bureau director Cao Kailong tells Mustacich. “We have plans to develop one thousand châteaux.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm

[LINK] “Controversial Nicaragua canal project delayed”

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Al Jazeera reports that the China-backed Nicaragua Canal project has been delayed. Is this a sign of the times, I wonder?

A Chinese company said Wednesday it is delaying the start of construction on a controversial $50 billion inter-ocean canal across Nicaragua until late 2016.

China’s Hong Kong Nicaragua Development (HKND) Co. obtained approval for environmental studies of the canal earlier this month. But on Wednesday, a company statement said, “The construction of locks and the big excavations will start toward the end of 2016.”

The company gave no reason for the delay, but said, “The canal’s design is currently being fine-tuned.”

Nicaraguan authorities have already approved the proposed 172-mile route for the canal a mega-project — widely reported as the world’s largest civil engineering enterprise — that has outraged indigenous communities and citizens around the country. The plan has drawn protests from farmers who fear their land will be seized for the project.

Crews broke ground on access roads for the project last December, but have yet to start digging the waterway itself.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 27, 2015 at 2:47 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] On eating Canadian Chinese food in Toronto in 2015

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Beef with ginger and green onions #toronto #hojan #carltonstreet #canadianchinese

Beef with ginger and green onions

Celia Hatton’s report for the BBC, “Why Shanghai’s first American Chinese restaurant is taking off”, caught my attention.

The Fortune Cookie is the brainchild of two friends, Fung Lam and Dave Rossi. Fung was born on the doorstep of New York’s Chinatown.

“I was in the playpen of the kitchen of my parents’ restaurant, of my grandparents’ restaurants,” he recalls.

“All my earliest memories were of the woks going, my dad coming home with the smell of Chinese food.”
Fung met Dave at graduate school. Outside of class, they soon discovered a shared love of American Chinese restaurants.

“Friday night was Chinese food night in the Rossi household,” Dave explains. With more than 40,000 American Chinese restaurants in the United States, families of all ethnic backgrounds grew up eating New World Chinese classics.

When visiting Shanghai as tourists, Fung and Dave missed their usual versions of noodles and stir-fried classics, and thought others might too.

I’m personally much more familiar with Canadian Chinese cuisine than its American equivalent, for obvious reasons. Just last night, on the occasion of my parents’ first night of their visit in Toronto, that’s what we ate, as Ho Jan Chinese Restaurant (45 Carlton Street) just across the street from their hotel.

Sweet & sour chicken with pineapple #toronto #hojan #carltonstreet #canadianchinese

Sweet & sour chicken with pineapple

The food was great. I know full well that the food produced in Chinese restaurants in North America for unknowing North American audiences exists at a distant remove from actual Chinese food. I know this: I’ve ate local, reasonably authentic, food living in Toronto over the past decade. As someone from small-town Canada for him Canadian Chinese food was perhaps the first culinary experience I had coming from outside, this food has strong, positive nostalgia value. More, I’m prepared to argue that this food can actually be good, if adapted and presented successfully. Such was my experience last night; such will be my Yelp review. Soy sauce and sriracha can co-exist in the Toronto of the 21st century.

Soy and sriracha #toronto #hojan #carltonstreet #canadianchinese #soysauce #sriracha

(No, I did not order an egg roll.)

Fortune cookie #toronto #hojan #carltonstreet #canadianchinese #fortunecookie//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

(I did have one of these.)

Written by Randy McDonald

November 27, 2015 at 11:30 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • Centauri Dreams considers the likely cometary explanation for KIC 8462852.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes an enigmatic dark spot on a white dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on China’s construction of a military base in Djibouti.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the man who promised to reduce the price of an HIV/AIDS medication that his company hiked has reneged.
  • Lawyers, Gins and Money notes that Trump was lying about protesting Muslims in New Jersey after 9/11.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnic minorities in Ukraine, now and in 1926.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how the right won in Argentina.
  • Torontoist notes local initiatives to welcome Syrian refugees to Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes a Vietnamese trans right bill.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy observes that American states cannot ban Syrian refugees.
  • Window on Eurasia looks on a new Chinese railway passing from Xinjiang through Central Asia to Iran, and looks at the odd Communist-Christian-Muslim mélange being favoured in Russia.

[PHOTO] Statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Riverdale Park East, Toronto

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Dr. Sun Yat-sen statue, Riverdale Park East #toronto #sunyatsen #statues #riverdaleparkeast #riverdalepark  #autumn #latergram

The statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen that stands in Toronto’s Riverdale Park East, overlooking the Don Valley, was framed beautifully by autumn. As noted by the Toronto Public Library blog in 2010, this statue was completed by local sculptor Joe Rosenthal in 1985, two years after winning a competition to erect a statue of the founder of the Republic of China. “This monument shows Dr. Sun Yat-sen holding a book. The book is his famous ideology “The Three Principles of the People”. It talks about nationalism, democracy and socialism.”

Written by Randy McDonald

November 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO notes that an abandoned Toronto power plant is set to become an arts hub, despite being unreachable by transit at present.
  • Crooked Timber argues against letting the Paris attacks lead to an anti-refugee backlash.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a new study of the complex WASP-47 planetary system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the search for Archean-like atmospheres.
  • Far Outliers follows a Soviet soldier in Afghanistan who became a Muslim convert.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the company bought by a man who increased the price of a drug used to treat an AIDS-related infection hugely is now suffering major losses.
  • Language Log comes up with an origin for the Chinese word for pineapple in Vietnamese.
  • Steve Munro updates readers on the Port Lands development.
  • Torontoist notes how a Toronto critic of Gamergaters has been smeared as a terrorist implicated in the Paris attacks.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the deep divisions of Russia’s Muslims over ISIS.

[LINK] “Chinese Visitors to Japan Double in October in Boon for Economy”

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Stephen Stapczynski’s Bloomberg article shares some good news.

The number of visitors to Japan rose to a record for the month of October, as arrivals from China doubled in response to the cheap yen and looser visa laws, a sign that the government’s efforts to boost tourism are paying off.

The number of visitors in October rose to 1.8 million, up 44 percent from last year, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday. Chinese visitors doubled to 445,600, followed by visitors from South Korea, who numbered 378,000. Visitors from Canada rose to 22,000, a record for a single month, the agency said.

Since the start of the year, 4.3 million Chinese tourists have visited the land of the rising sun.

With the world’s third-largest economy falling into recession the second time since 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is betting that overseas tourists can help boost growth. The Abe administration is targeting a rise in international visitors to 20 million by 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics, a target officials have said is well within reach. There were 16.3 million visitors in the first ten months of 2015.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 18, 2015 at 8:48 pm


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