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[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
China’s once, present and future fashion capital

“Shanghai is a modern city… compared to most other cities in China, so I came here to learn about fashion,” said Zhang Yujing, a fashion design sophomore at the city’s Donghua University.

The travel Web site asiarooms.com said Shanghai was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and that fashion was a “booming industry.” The site also said that over the past few decades, fashion here had developed a unique style of its own, attributing the trend to factors like the mixing of indigenous and Western patterns of dressing or “East Meets West”.

While the amount of fashion in and from Shanghai that is truly representative of Chinese or Shanghai fashion is debatable, few question that Shanghai is an important global fashion post. When did the city become a big player in the world fashion scene?

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[ By | 24 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

One of my biggest concerns, before coming to China for the first time a few weeks ago, was how I would negotiate the Chinese-language barrier. A traveler should learn enough language to get by in any country they plan to visit, of course. But this time around, trying to graduate from college and the promise of interpreters to be provided by our study abroad program meant that I simply didn’t get the job done.
And yes, I paid for my lack of preparation. Something as simple as ordering a bowl of …

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[ By | 20 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

“Desert has now come within 200 miles of Beijing,” said Liu Gengyuan, a doctoral student in environmental studies at Beijing Normal University, in a briefing he gave to our Reporting China workshop in Beijing in early June entitled “China and the Path to Environmental Sustainability.”

As Liu pointed out, in addition to desertification, key environmental issues facing China “are air pollution mainly caused by coal and vehicles, [and] water pollution.” And not surprisingly, university students throughout China are interested in how to solve such issues for the sake of their country’s future. This was evident when I had the opportunity to speak with a group of students at Xi’an International Studies University in central China, where I learned that opinions on environmental issues are just as diverse and passionate as they are in the United States.

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[ By | 5 Jun 2009 | One Comment ]

China’s economy has been growing by leaps and bound in recent years, and Western fast food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s have made some impressive strides of their own. The first McDonald’s appeared in Shenzhen in 1990, while the first KFC opened its doors in Beijing in 1987. Today, there are 960 McDonald’s across the country and nearly 2,600 KFC’s.

How did American fast food get so popular so fast? Do Chinese people really relish the taste all that much? Is it a matter of convenience in an increasingly fast-paced society? Or is downing such fare as American burgers and fries seen by Chinese as status symbol in a country now aggressively linking its fate with the global economy?

The answers to these questions vary a lot depending on to whom you happen to be talking. . . .