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AJL
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Recently, my office was visited by a local office of the Chinese Communist Party to establish a formal relationship with my company. My thoughts are below: The Party is a very top-down, protocol driven organization. This meeting was with grassroots workers from the Party, meaning from a sub-district office. At the meeting, they hung up the Communist Party flag on the wall, and before we began, we stood facing the flag as the Chinese national anthem was played. At the closing of the meeting, we stood to the Internationale. The meeting proceeded with strict protocol, leaders sat at the front,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2012 at Mixed Blood in China
It is August again, and Beijing, like many large and dynamic urban centers, is experiencing an outflow of many of its foreign yuppie types as they move on to schooling, better opportunities, or whatever the next step in life might be. It can be sad to see so many friends leave, and surprising to find oneself several years in, especially when many of us planned to be here anywhere from a few months to at most a year (August 28th marks four full years for me, not enough to receive "China Expert" status, but longer than many). Instead of writing... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2012 at Mixed Blood in China
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Spring has come quickly to Beijing. My work occasionally brings me outside to the residential communities throughout the city. Now that the weather has gotten better, I have spent a little extra time taking photographs. It's nice to get out of the office. Most of us are trapped inside Beijing's office buildings and skyscrapers which, scattered throughout a city of imperial buildings, creates a unique urban landscape. After the morning rush hour, the city is transformed as retirees flood the buses on their way to the parks and their daily activities. Only then does one feel the extent of Beijing's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2012 at Mixed Blood in China
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Monday marked the first day of the lunar new year. This is typically the biggest holiday for Chinese people, when people go home to celebrate the new year with their families. In Beijing, the city clears out. Migrant workers, the unskilled workers who come to the cities for jobs in construction, cleaning and in restaurants, return early to the countryside. As a result, in the weeks before Chinese New Year, the city starts to slow down as the various establishments close. Office workers leave later, some rushing to finish projects before their work schedules are disrupted by the mandated week-long... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2012 at Mixed Blood in China
The Economist recently shared two opposing views of Chinese linguistics. I have included them in bold with my comments. In brief, Chinese traditionalists believe: 1) Chinese is one language with dialects. I would argue this is a highly political statement to make. As part of its political rhetoric, China states that it is one people comprised of fifty some minorities. Having everyone, from different ways of life and different cultures, speaking different dialects from the same language, works to reinforce that notion. One might disagree, but how many times have pro-Tibet groups argued for Tibetan independence by citing the fact... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2012 at Mixed Blood in China
As one can tell from my last post, I have been contemplating my China exit strategy and have been submitting applications to American law schools. I have found myself going back and forth. Aside from missing the people, friends, language and food, various issues have crossed my mind. Is it worth it to pick up and leave everything here behind? Is going to graduate school worth losing a few years of potential work experience, salary and connections? However, a few issues have started to make me think that maybe now is the right time to leave China. The China Law... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2011 at Mixed Blood in China
After three years in the capital Beijing, I took a few months off at home to prepare for graduate school applications. Now that I've put some distance between myself and China, I thought I'd put a few points of reflection about my experience there. -Anything and everything is negotiable. This will resonate with people who live there and find that deals can be made anywhere, not just in street markets but also in restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and taxis. On my way to Singapore, the staff at the airport informed me that my bags were overweight by some 20kg (40+lbs).... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2011 at Mixed Blood in China
Recently, my article entitled Are We Content to Let Our DNA Define Us was published on the blog Chinasmack.com. Chinasmack's Diaspora series is a look at the personal experiences and perspectives of overseas Chinese communities. You can read other articles in the series here. A Chinese friend once responded harshly when asked, “Are you Japanese?” by a young child who had approached him on the street. His response struck me as strange. After all, my identity was always a topic of discussion. As a child of a Chinese-American father and Caucasian mother, I looked neither. I have thick dark hair,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2011 at Mixed Blood in China
I recently took a trip to outer Mongolia. A few reflections on the trip relative to its neighbor, China. Population: Mongolia has a population of only a few million, small compared to even a modestly sized Chinese city. Traditionally, the people lived a nomadic lifestyle, sprinkled throughout the countryside as they cared for their herds. Like China, it is experiencing massive urbanization (now some half of the country's population is living in the capital, Ulan Bator). For a view of Mongolia's changing demographic and economic landscape, Foreign Policy published a moving photo essay. However, Inner Mongolia (the Chinese province) is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2011 at Mixed Blood in China
The protests in Egypt have garnered considerable press all over the world, and China is no exception. However, it is not for the same reasons. Media such as CNN are quick to emphasize popular dissent, broadcasting vivid images of a people discontent with an oppressive regime and taking to the streets in protest. A quick glance at CCTV shows a clearly different story. A recent Chinese media story describes the movement as chaotic, and focuses on the economic repercussions such as the downturn in the Egyptian stock market and tourism market. Laughable? Maybe. Effective? Yes. Many a friend has come... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2011 at Mixed Blood in China
Recently, this blog passed its one year anniversary. And so, I thought that the most suitable post to write would be to take a step back and reflect on the very question of why I write, or particularly why I write here. George Orwell, in his piece Why I Write, points out a few qualities that motivate writers everywhere. He describes traits such as a desire to seek out truth, an urge to push the world in a certain direction, an appreciation of literary beauty, and, in all honesty, for the sheer purpose of one's own ego. In a recent... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2011 at Mixed Blood in China
Last week the Ministry of Education and the National Committee on Language and Characters issued a report on newly added words to the Chinese language during the year 2009. In total, there were 396 new words found commonly used in radio, print media and on the internet. The news coverage can be viewed here in Chinese, and I will highlight a few of the top words below. The new vocabulary illustrates the discussions in China that satirize life, society, and government. Bei Ju (cup set): this is homonymous with a word meaning tragedy and is used to often jokingly refer... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
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For a long time, Japan was known as the crowded country where people are prodded into subway cars by attendants armed with poles. Truth be told, Beijing is no different. A sprawling metropolis, Beijing's workers crowd into subways and buses from far away to travel downtown. For most, the commute to work is a grueling process, in which one must muscle through crowds, wait pressed against others with questionable personal hygiene habits before emerging gasping for breath, all before the start of the work day. Recently, I discussed some strategies of riding the subway with a colleague. 1. Do not... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
In the run-up to the midterm elections in the US, New Yorker writer Evan Osnos wrote a piece entitled A Chinese View of the Midterms, in which he states: But dig into the Chinese view of this election and you’ll find that all of this blather has been refracted in some telling ways. Take “The Chinese Professor,” the political ad produced for the Citizens Against Government Waste, that depicts a Chinese lecturer, twenty years in the future, cackling over the red-white-and-blue and crowing, “now they work for us.” This might seem like prime red meat for China’s “angry youth,”—and, indeed,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
September is a unique time in Beijing. For one, it is a break. It is a break from the humid and smoggy weather that hangs over Beijing summers, and stands right before the city delves into its long, dry winter. It is when residents close their eyes on a warm cloudless day, sighing, wishing that every day could be like this one. In the expatriate community, there is a massive shuffle of people. Students leave their summers abroad and internships and return to their campuses an ocean away. Scholarships and fellowships run dry as summer days fade and autumn beckons.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
Watching the World Cup in China has been interesting on a few levels: The time difference puts the entire country on a disrupted sleep schedule. For the final match we (and everyone else in this time zone for that matter) stayed up until 5am on a Monday morning to finish watching the game as it extended into overtime. The following workday will undoubtedly be filled with hangovers, aspirins, and large mugs of coffee. I happened to camp out at the Spanish team's supporters' (a group composed of a large number of Spanish students in Beijing) selected venue. Different teams' supporters... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
A few weeks ago marked the twenty first year since the Tiananmen protests. There is an abundance of writing on the topic, so I will only offer a few thoughts on the issue. Like with the Cultural Revolution, one's experience in eighty nine differs vastly based on one's age. (As expressed in this book, students' experiences during the Cultural Revolution could be very different based on their age, especially when comparing experiences before and after the abuse of sent down youths were exposed). Those younger than their peers in university, those in elementary, middle and high school, now have a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
Last week, the Washington Post published a column by Elizabeth Chang entitled Why Obama Should Not Have Checked ‘Black’ on His Consensus Form. In it, she expresses her disappointment that Obama checked his racial identity as African American instead of indicating his biracial background of a white mother and a black father. She opposes the move first of all because it is misleading. The president is biracial and has previously acknowledged and even celebrated his multiracial makeup. Second of all, it sets a precedent that individuals of mixed racial backgrounds should conform to a certain racial identity to appeal to... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
I helped to draft another guest post featured in the Asian Healthcare Blog, accessible here. It discusses the issues surrounding elderly day care centers in China. These are a form of care for elderly citizens which are typically located in densely populated residential areas and are intended to provide a center for seniors to have their health monitored while they engage other seniors in a variety of social, as well as physically and mentally challenging activities. However, the truth presents a much more mixed picture. At worst, some simply become majiang halls, while the better managed only cater to the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
Again I reference the writing of the Language Log, which published some time back a piece entitled “Suicided: the Adversative Passive Form as a Form of Active Resistance.” In short, the piece explores a popular usage of the passive indicator bei in Chinese. Traditionally, the word is placed after the subject and before the verb in a sentence to indicate that the passive voice. The Log offers this example: tā bèi quántǐ dǎngyuán píngxǔan wéi zhǔxí “He was elected by all of the party members as chairman.” This grammatical marker, which usually bores students to sleep in Chinese 101, also... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
Today, the Asia Healthcare blog publish a guest post that I co-authored with the Ninie Wang, the fou... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
Recently I attended a conference organized in part by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on a project entitled the National New Talent Plan: Job Skills and Japanese Language Project (Quan Guo Shuang Ren Cai Ji Hua Zhi Ye Ji Neng Ri Yu Xiang Mu). The organizers invited members of the government (mostly the NDRC), Chinese universities, Chinese education associations, as well as various members of the Japanese government and industry. (There is a link to the general program here, but the link to the Japanese language program leads back to the main page.) The program aims at addressing... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
The Language Log has written another interesting post regarding the Chinese language, only this time it is about the influence (or invasion, depending on your perspective) of English on Chinese. Interestingly, the arguments advocating for the purity of language free from foreign influence are usually heard in countries such as France and South Korea; rarely do I hear these ideas in China. In fact, foreign influence on Chinese language has a long historical precedence. In the nineteenth century, China absorbed much of the vocabulary of modernity from Japan. Japan took western concepts such as nation-state, economy, etc. and adapted them... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
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The Language Log has recently written a post regarding Chinese (Mandarin) language and pinyin, the s... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China
The Washington Post had an interesting piece on Bo Xilai, senior Party member in the Chongqing municipal government, who traveled recently to Beijing for the National Party Congress. Bo was key in the recent corruption crackdown both in the government and in the business community. The Post's authors are skeptical that this official will be able to rise to the top rank of Premier, but maintain that he is a top candidate for a position in the influential standing committee. The article also goes into his life and background, and describes the government's preparation for the 2012 exchange of power.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2010 at Mixed Blood in China