Posts Tagged ‘Statistics’

Elysium, China and the Electric Car Question

China Elysium

China Elysium

 

On the long flight back from China to New Zealand recently, one of the films I watched was Elysium.  The sci-fi thriller probably won’t make my top-10 list, but some of the content felt disturbingly close to home.

 

Although earth in Elysium was depicted as a polluted and overpopulated Los Angeles in 2154, it had elements of the way China is going right now, as the air and water pollution seem to be getting worse every year.  The luxurious space habitat that the earthlings wanted to escape to, reminded me a little bit of New Zealand – although with slightly better looking inhabitants and a far superior health system.

 

A recent McKinsey poll in China, found air and water pollution to be Chinese consumers’ fastest growing concerns – 11% and 7% up on last year – and the forth and fifth biggest concerns overall.  Interestingly, the concerns were confirmed by a recent report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, claiming that Beijing was almost uninhabitable for human beings due to the pollution. Whether or not these claims are ‘exaggerated‘, as reported by Chinese state media, the pollution appears to be getting even worse, not better, based on both official reports and my personal experiences, particularly in Shanghai.

 

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The Internet In China: Going The Full Circle

Chinese Internet Prison

The Internet in China is changing for the worse

 

One of the most fascinating things about living in China over the past few years has been observing how the Internet is changing everything from shopping, to communication, to the way Chinese people think.

 

For generations, Chinese were heavily influenced by what the Government said in their state-controlled media, determining what is shown on television, the newspapers, radio, books and almost everything in China. It was an incredibly powerful channel to spread the propaganda, and in a way, helped control what 1.3 billion Chinese thought and felt, contributing to much of China’s swift rise into the economic powerhouse it is today.

 

A few years ago, things started to change. Soaring Internet and social media connections reached critical mass. Whereas the Government controlled virtually all of the country’s mass-communication channels before, the Internet finally gave the average Zhou a voice, and they took full advantage of it.

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Why I’d rather be born in the Year of the Snake than the Dragon in China

2013 Year of the Snake Cartoon

2013 Year of the Snake

 

It began around April 2011, those subtle winks and prods between couples, before slipping out early from the KTV bar with plenty of new accessories from the 7-11 counter. Lights were out across China as hopeful parents pwapped like crazy to hit the 12 month window of a dragon kid.  The 17 million new babies picked to be born in the Year of the Dragon are said to possess passion, courage, luck and strength like no other, so they’re a pretty good bet for your shot at securing retirement funding.  Or are they?

 

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Lamb Love in Shanghai

As a youngster in New Zealand, it wasn’t unusual to return home to the sweet aroma of roasting lamb. Over the years, Kiwi cuisine evolved to mouth watering lamb shanks, gourmet lamb burgers, lamb racks, lamb medallions and many other cuts that make your taste buds tingle and tummy twitter.  With almost 10 sheep for every New Zealander, there’s a bit of lamb to go around.

 

Fast forward a few years and 9,735 kilometres across the Pacific, where we found ourselves craving a little lamb love in Shanghai.  While lamb and mutton are the meats of choice for the sparsely populated western China provinces and Inner Mongolia, and is a popular dish in Northern China, finding a nice cut in Shanghai is needle-in-a-haystack kind of stuff.

 

A sheep pulling a cart in China

Various uses for sheep in China. Source: squierj.freeyellow.com

 

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Koh Rong Island, Cambodia: Paradise … for the Time Being

Something I love about travelling in places like Asia, the Nile River and even New Zealand, is discovering those jaw-droppingly-magical places that are still unspoiled from the tentacles of development.  We were lucky to stumble upon another gem, Koh Rong Island, in a recent trip to Cambodia.

 

One of Koh Rong Island's 23 beautiful beaches

One of Koh Rong Island’s 23 beautiful beaches

 

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Chinese Chicken Love

There are an infinite amount of staggering China statistics. One of my favourites is the quantity of meat. Over a billion pigs are in China, more than every other country combined, and 12 million of them are eaten every week. On average, a small Chinese village eats more hog than Egypt’s entire population living along the Nile. But to think that China is just about animals that oink would be unnecessarily underselling that other well-known white meat, the chicken.

 

Chairman Mao KFC China

Who's the Colonel in China?

 

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Art and Culture – China’s Missing Link?

With a history spanning 5,000 years, China is rich with cultural and artistic treasures – albeit not nearly as wealthy as it should be.

 

There’s no arts and culture killjoy quite like a Cultural Revolution. In just 10 years from 1966-1976, innumerable works of splendid art, antiques, architecture, books and paintings spanning millennia were destroyed by Red Guards. Countless Chinese artists were persecuted and people were encouraged to criticise their cultural institutions. Arts students, or any students for that matter, were shifted en masse from their universities, to raise pigs and grow grain in rural labour camps.

 

Chinese art and culture propaganda

Chinese Propaganda from 1967 translated to "Destroy the old world; Forge the new world." The worker is destroying classical Chinese text, music on vinyl, a crucifix and buddha.

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64 years of Hard Labour to Marry Your Traditional Chinese Bride

If you were born in China post the 1979 One-Child-Policy, you’d better hope you’re a karaoke crooner or have a lot of cash.  Getting a wife in China is becoming increasingly difficult.

 

If you’re one of those boys who does find your Chinese bride and grows old with her talking about sunsets on the Nile River, you’re one of the lucky ones.  Tens of millions will be without.  Yep, for every 100 boys born in China these days, there’re only 81 Chinese girls to woo.  And with those ratios, it just pushes the stakes up.

 

One of the lucky ones - A handsome Chinese groom in pink with his lovely bride prior to their traditional Chinese marriage in Shanghai

Not so traditional Chinese marriage outfits worn by a lucky groom and his Chinese bride

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Who Wants to be a Billionaire in China? Early Death and Lack of Sex

Their mansion cellars are chock-full of the finest burgundies. Their gift cupboards, packed with luxury European goods. As they play real-life monopoly with central London property, their offspring purr around the cities in orange Lamborghinis. In this land of China, where the authorities have traditionally strived for a classless society with common property ownership, the number of US$ billionaires are growing like Jack’s beanstalk.

 

Billionaires in Beijing, China with their toys

Chinese Billionaire’s toys : the Lamborghini and Rolls in Beijing

 

As much of the world suffers through their financial crises, China’s rampant economic growth continues to pump out billionaires. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of Chinese billionaires grew 45% from 130 to 189, from 2010 to 2011, 43% to 271.  China’s tally is now second only to the United State’s 413 mega-wealthy.

 

But China’s actual Billionaire count could be more than double the official figures. Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher from Hurun Rich List 2011, estimates there are a further 300 ‘hidden billionaires’ lurking amongst China’s financial underworld.
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Rugby in China: The Chinese team will be playing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup

In less than 20 days, New Zealand will be overrun with striped jerseys and empty beer vessels as the rugby world converges for the third largest sporting event on the planet, the Rugby World Cup

 

20 nations will be competing for rugby supremacy in the Nile River of rugby tournaments.  Yet in China, the world’s most populous nation, the dedicated following of the rugby will be limited to a few smoky expat bars and a handful of committed Chinese rugby heads (most of whom will be supporting the All Blacks)

 

Chinese rugby fans of the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup. Click here if you’re in China where You Tube Videos are blocked 中国橄榄球的人

 

Rugby: Banned by the Chinese Government

Rugby was once like a Class A drug in China, the bad boy of sports that was banned by the PRC National Sports Council who deemed “the meeting of sullied bodies in physical contact cannot be approved”.

 

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Yangtze vs Nile – Which river runs supreme?

I’ve lived beside four rivers in my life.  As a youngster, Wellington’s mighty Hutt River was my favourite spot for sitting in inner tubes and doing ‘bombs’ into.  Then there was Dublin’s River Liffey, the resting place of more pint glasses than any other river in the world.   Preparing for our paddle down the Blue Nile, I lived in Khartoum, Sudan where the Blue Nile and White Nile meet.  It was there I caught the bug for the world’s longest river.

 

Since moving to Shanghai on banks of the Yangtze River Delta, my fascination with rivers hasn’t tempered and I’ve become curious about how two of the world’s greatest rivers compare.

 

Yangtze River Compared to the Nile River

China’s enchanting Yangtze River and Africa’s magical Nile River

 

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Pretty Chinese Girls Only, Old Fatties Need Not Apply

Survey: 62% of passengers on the Beijing to Shanghai bullet train want the journey to take longer cartoon

Passengers on the Beijing to Shanghai High Speed Train are loving the service; the whole journey seems to be over too soon

 

Imagine you were a young girl in a small Chinese village.  One day exploring the market, you discover a tatty newspaper announcing the development of a shiny new bullet train that will eventually link Beijing to Shanghai in less than five hours.  You look up to the sky and take a deep breath: some day you will work as a stewardess on that glistening train.  But being partial to stuffed pork buns meant you were slightly tubby in 2011, when applications were called to work on that train.  You are the smiley type, and pleasant to be around, but weighing in at 66kg meant you weren’t even considered for an interview.

 

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Yiwu China Commodity City

I’ve never been a fan of shopping malls, that was before I went to Yiwu China Commodity City.

 

Yiwu City, about two hours by fast train from Shanghai, has the largest small commodity market in the world. In laymen’s terms that’s a massive mall where you buy large quantities of all the Chinese-made stuff you see in shops and markets all over the world.

 

And massive it is. 4.3 million square metres of floor space containing 62,000 booths representing factories and suppliers producing everything from 2011 Rugby World Cup balls to Hello Kitty socks.

 

Everything is for sale in bulk in Yiwu including NZ Rugby World Cup 2011 rugby balls

Everything is for sale in bulk in Yiwu including NZ Rugby World Cup 2011 rugby balls

 

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The Modern Great Wall Of China

The Great Wall of China rightfully earns a place on every Top-20 must-see lists of world sites. Its scale is simply jaw-dropping, straddling jagged mountain ridges and deserts 6,259.6 kilometres (3889.5 miles) across China. What strikes me is the stark contrast of its humble design versus flashy modern Chinese bling architecture.

 

The simplicity of the Great Wall, like much of China’s ancient and medieveal architecture, is representative of the endearing humbleness of Chinese culture.  Similar periods of architecture from other parts of world are much more ornate and grandiose.  But as China rediscovers itself, it’s creating the most showy, shiny and shameless buildings on the planet.  Some are simply beautiful examples of how far engineering has come such as the Bird’s Nest Stadium, Opera House and modern-day cryptic Arche de Triomphe CCTV buildings in Beijing, the Shanghai Financial Centre and under-construction Shanghai Tower, but there are also many shiny, pillared, faux gold monstrosities and countless constructions straight from a Jetsons cartoon.  It makes for interesting cityscapes.

 

The fascinating metamorphosis of Chinese architecture had me wondering just how the Great Wall of China might look if it was constructed in 2011.

 

How the Great Wall of China could look if it was built today

How the Great Wall of China could look today if it had been constructed in 2011 incorporating modern Chinese architecture

 

The first sections of China’s Great Wall date back to the fifth century BC, with various dynasties adding to and maintaining it until the 16th century.  Over that time, tens of millons of workers moved 240 million cubic metres (8.5 billion cubic feet) of compacted rocks and soil, then bricks and stone slabs, mostly by the Chinese-invented wheel barrow.  Much of The Wall was held together by mortar made from rice flour, and some say, the bones of some of the million workers estimated to have died building it.

 

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Bicycles and other traffic in China

In days gone by, talk of China would conjure up sepia images of streets crowded with men on bicycles. Times have changed.

 

During the swinging 60′s and 70′s, the must-have items for a marriage in China were a wrist watch, sewing machine and bicycle. Now there are cheap rip-off watches everywhere, someone else does the sewing and almost everyone wants an automobile. Yes, the monarchy of the ‘Kingdom of Bicycles’ has been overthrown.

 

 

chinese-bike-lane-street

Push bikes are gathering dust in China as the locals opt for cars.

 

Back in 1949 when The People’s Republic of China was formed, the party in Beijing opted for the bicycle as the people’s vehicle and started a massive production drive, making two wheels and a chain a big part of their first Five-Year plan. Pedal power took off.

 

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My wife Ellen and I are currently living in China, bumbling our way around this fascinating and fast-changing country. We kicked off our stay with a semester of Intensive Mandarin studies at Beijing Language and Culture University and are now living in Shanghai. These posts cover some of my experiences, views and curious facts in and around the Middle Kingdom. Please let me know what you think!


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  • User AvatarMark Tanner { Thanks Catherine, a little hot for lamb right now, but when things cool down I will be trotting down to Fields for some of their... } – Jul 12, 6:12 AM
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