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Plastic China

plasic-china

Currently the most popular documentary movie in China. The Douban rating for this movie is 9.5, compare with the average Chinese movie rating is just around 5 this year.  Continue reading “Plastic China”

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY

Regarding successful artist like Ai Weiwei, people in mainland China always hold different opinions, some say that he is a genius and get inspired from his art, the other think that he is simply good in marketing and creating cheap news. From my point view, contemporary art is defined as art that is current, offering a fresh perspective and point of view – in this way, he is more than successful.

Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics. First-time director Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai while working as a journalist in China. Her detailed portrait provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.

High Tech Low Life

Ever since I was born, every day news in TV is good news – what a wonderful world we live in! But all of a sudden, everything changed as we start to hear bad news from “net-people” who become “reporters”, and then realized that things are not always so perfect. However, in order to access these bad news, there is a small price to pay.

My typical day of work starts with the following conversation.

“Why can’t I access google, youtube and twitter in here?”

“Well, these sites are blocked in China because of the GFW.”

“What is GFW?”

“It is Great Firewall of China, so you need to use VPN to access the web”

“What is VPN?”

“It is Virtual Private Network, a software – almost everyone use it in China to access blocked sites, pay 5 dollars and there you go.”

After 5 minutes, the conversation is always ended with a question regarding why Gov. still try to blocks it while everyone can get around it by VPN…..

High Tech, Low Life follows two of China’s first citizen reporters as they travel the country and document the underside of China’s rapid economic development. A search for truth and fame inspires young vegetable seller “Zola” to report on censored news stories from the cities, while retired businessman “Tiger Temple” makes sense of the past by chronicling the struggles of rural villagers. Land grabs, pollution, rising poverty, local corruption and the growing willingness of ordinary people to speak out are grist for these two bloggers who navigate China’s evolving censorship regulations and challenge the boundaries of free speech.

From the perspective of vastly different generations, Zola and Tiger Temple must both reconcile an evolving sense of individualism, social responsibility and personal sacrifice. The juxtaposition of Zola’s coming-of-age journey from produce vendor to internet celebrity, and Tiger Temple’s commitment to understanding impact of China’s tumultuous past reveals a striking portrait of a new China in flux and of news-gathering in the 21st century.

The People’s Republic of Capitalism

Perhaps a good way to understand modern China is simply to go and visit Chongqing –A city of 35 million which you’ve never heard of, it has been referred to as the “Chicago on the Yangtze”. When China grow in such rapid speed, it seems that people are busy rushing forward, moving on from their old poor life and welcoming a richer more exciting future.

Over four episodes, Koppel reveals increasing economic interdependence between the United States and China, and daily business for the American furniture maker is a case in point. While couch bases are made in Chinese factories using cheap labor, those bases are then sent to the U.S. to be assembled with other components. The finished couches are then sent to China to be sold to a growing middle class with money to spare. Such is the cycle of globalization, pushing the U.S. and China into a necessary partnership that has an upside for some and a profound downside for others.

In order to understand that complexity, Koppel tells us, it’s important to grasp rapid changes in China, which has forsaken socialism—the very idea of a classless society—for a fervent embrace of new values and the goal of becoming an economic superpower. Koppel shows viewers how China, on one hand, micro-manages people’s lives in very real ways, such as the country’s notorious “one child” policy for families, which is designed to lower the nation’s enormous population in time. On the other hand, Chinese are enjoying the freedom to pursue aspirations toward economic success and the (sometimes illicit) fruits of hard work. But others don’t manage quite as well: Chinese factory workers who battle fatigue to make the equivalent of $20 per week, and the American workers who lost their jobs to their overseas counterparts. This eye-opening series is truly helpful toward understanding our complicated new world.

American Dreams in China (2013)

american dreams in china

It begins in 1985, during China’s national study-abroad craze: a time when undergraduates are infatuated with America and believe it is their only hope of a good future. Three close buddies at Beijing’s prestigious Yanjing University — Cheng Dongqing, Wang Yang and Meng Xiaojun — have comical yet fateful interviews with U.S. immigration officials. Naive country boy Cheng’s visa applications are repeatedly rejected; cinephile/lady-killer Wang foregoes his application to stay home with his American girlfriend, Lucy; and golden boy Meng coasts through his interview and takes off for New York, hoping to land on the cover of Time magazine.

Everyone knows about American Dreams, but more and more, people around me have started to talk about “Chinese Dreams”. This movie is actually based on a real story. There is a private language school in China, known as the New Oriental School. The headmaster is Minhong Yu and he was born into a poor family in a rural area of China, His father’s innovation and determination inspired Yu to consistently pursue his dream. Yu overcame many obstacles in his life, including childhood poverty, two failures of the university qualification exam, a one-year delay in university due to sickness, and several refusals for over sea’s study visas. Although Yu never had a chance to study abroad and fulfill his American Dream, he made up his mind to become an English teacher and help Chinese students learn English so that they could follow their dreams.

Today, Yu is known as the “richest teacher in China”, and the “Godfather of English Training”. He has a network of 57 schools, 733 learning centers, 32 New Oriental bookstores and more than 5,000 third-party bookstores, in excess of 17,400 teachers in 50 cities, as well as an online network with over 8.3 million registered users.

All around me, I have seen and heard numbers of such cases in Shanghai – it is a city full of possibilities and always open to new ideas.

A Bite of China

 

A Bite of China, a televised documentary with the delicacy theme, became a new CCTV evening program since May 14th, 2012. No one would expected that this documentary series soon turned into the hotspot on the screen. Those epicureansgourmet gourmet who promised they would never watch TV began sticking in front of their televisions on time, waiting for this program starting from 22:30 every night on CCTV channel 1.

Never before in Chinese history has a documentary film aroused so much public enthusiasm. In my case, as someone who is trying to stay away from TV, I only heard about this documentary from people around me, over and over again, which caused me to search the 7 series online and started to watch it….so far only made to the 3rd part but it has been an amazing experience and the food has made my mouth watering. At a point, I felt a need to follow the movie travelling around China in order to meet these local people who made these yammy food.

There are many TV programs on Chinese cuisines, but few are like A Bite of China. The majority of Chinese audience sees this program as more than just the regular food show; they see it as a revolutionary program to reflect the value and quality of Chinese food and societal changes. It is a serious documentary providing a unique view of Chinese as well as the relations between people and food and between people and society from the perspective of food.

More interestingly, according to Taobao, China’s biggest online retail website, just five days after the series began to air, nearly 6 million people went to the site in search of various local specialties, particularly those mentioned in the documentary. More than 7.2 million deals were concluded.

Lost by director Zhou Xiaowen

Shenzhen, China, the present day. Nineteen-year-old Wang Baihe (Wang Zitong) is a migrant worker from a village in Shaanxi province. She has a baby son from a one-night stand with a man from Hong Kong and a small income from making Chinese decorative knots at home. Her dream is to open a noodle restaurant and “make lots of money and become a city person” but she finds it difficult to find regular employment because of her baby boy. Her story emerges through interviews with journalist Liu Nan (Lü Liping), who is writing a book about her. When Baihe discovers her son has congenital heart disease, she tries desperate ways to raise the RMB80,000 (US$12,000) for the operation, helped by her friend and fellow migrant worker Hu Jinling (Zhao Yaqi). 

Excavate the issue of humanity

At the moment,  four types of films prosper more so than others within the current context of the Chinese film market: patriotic “red” movies, crime thrillers, action movies and romance stories. There are few films that truly concern common people and disadvantaged groups such as women and children. Sometimes I wonder if there will be a situation where these movies disappear altogether.

Eating bitterness

China is now experiencing the fastest economic growth in recorded history. Little known however is the fact that millions of young women from poverty-stricken areas have migrated to the more developed coastal regions trying to make it in the cities. Many of them have to endure all kinds of miseries and humiliations in order to live better lives. Some of them become rich men’s mistresses while others work 16 hours a day at the cost of their health. There are also a great number of them who become single mothers. The population of such single mothers has reached three hundred thousand and the number is still growing.

Though intimate in its portrayal of a village girl’s yearnings for success in the big city despite her increasingly dire social circumstances, Lost (Baihe) offers a thought-provoking case study that suggests that this is not just the story of one fictional woman, but of a vast (and largely unspoken) cross-section of modern Chinese society.

Here is a better idea: Chinese official government estimates put migrant workers in China at 221 million (16.5 % of the total population) and expected to grow another 100 million over the next 10 years.

There, but for the grace of God

Watching this movie, I can’t help but think that this could happen to me or just any person. We are who we are because of where we are, when we are born and who we know. In the end of the movie, we have 3 totally different endings and all seems true and highly possible.

Globalization to One Country

It is pretty strange but everyone around me has been talking about globalization and telling me 2012 is going to be a BAD year. The house price is slowly dropping in China, living cost is going up and the min. wage in Shanghai has just raised 15%. Same as most people, I wish that I could forcast the future and know how to fix the problem.

Inside Job is such a great film to help people understand what is happening and it teaches us that Nothing Comes Without Consequences. When China joins WTO in 2001, Chinese people have little to none idea regarding what is going to happen and how much of it will effect with our day to day life. If the real estate price in Ireland raised 100% is considered as abnormal, Chinese real estate price probably is MAD. The interesting thing is that the price is regulated and hugely depending on the Chinese Gov. policy. Everyone knows there is a bubble but policy maker turned a blind eye on it and think it is okay to ignore. In the end it is the mid-class and workers to pay and endure. 

In China, certainly things here are still manageable and people’s over all mood is still quite good and positive. But in Europe, looking at what is happening with Greece is worrying. UK decided to run away from the mess and Merkel as the Chancellor of Germany is telling people to cut costs and stop borrowing and lending money. But there is no creative solutions to really solve the problem, what we have so far is just a very bad cycle – cut costs -> lay off workers -> people stop spending money -> no business -> lay off more workers. This feels like the End of the World.

The Type A Personality

Lagarde’s nomination as the first female head of the IMF is a good sign since there are just too many type A guys in the money world and they become out of control. Watching the ENRON story of the smartest guy in the room feels like reading a science fiction story, very intriguing and hard to believe that this really happened.

Let’s ask ourself why the financial engineer who is building dreams is getting paid so much more than the real engineer who is building bridges. If the bridge broken, the real engineers will be jailed, but if the dreams turn into nightmares, who is responsible?

China’s Capitalist Revolution

Older Chinese are the ones who went through all of the changes in China during the past 30 years. Sometimes I wonder if they could believe that things can really change in such fast pace. One minute everyone wanted to join the army, work in the factory and proud of becoming a farmer, the next minute the same group of people want money, open business, buy LV and drive BMWs.

China’s Capitalist Revolution is an interesting movie on Deng Xiaoping’s reforms during the 80s. It tells the a gripping tale of the path that China took to opening up its economy, with plenty of anecdotes (e.g. the novelty of synthetic t-shirts), how people made a lot of money, but also how the changes created social unrest through corruption, inflation and unemployment…

From Chairman Mao’s little red book to Apple’s IPhone 4s in just 30 years and all these changes made China as one of  the most exciting countries in earth.

About this movie:

When Chairman Mao died in 1976, he left China in chaos and poverty. He was succeeded by Deng Xiaoping, who overturned Maoism and taught the Chinese to love capitalism, creating special investment zones for the West. But Deng’s crash course in capitalism went wrong when inflation grew and workers lost jobs. By 1989, China faced disaster. Now, 20 years after the tragic events in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, this programme reveals an interpretation of the motives of the demonstrators that may well overturn the conventional view in the West.  The demonstrators did not begin by demanding democracy. Corruption, inflation and the hardship caused by economic reforms drove students and workers to confront the government and the army. Students went on hunger strike, and troops killed more than 2,000. Deng Xiaoping gave the order to fire, but his ideas prevailed. This film argues that Deng’s capitalist revolution created today’s China.

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