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[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | 2 Comments ]
China’s gay community: Despite promising steps, the road ahead remains uncertain

When Professor Gao Yanming began teaching at Fudan University’s School of Public Health 10 years ago, the idea of teaching a course with the word “homosexual” in the title was unthinkable. Today, however, Gao teaches “Homosexual Health and Social Science”– the first gay-related course to be offered at a Chinese university.

The reason for this dramatic turnaround is difficult to pinpoint, but people familiar with gay and lesbian issues in China – gay and straight, locals and foreigners – voice the opinion that the West’s increasing openness about LGBT people and culture has had an impact.

“You can’t deny that Western culture, which is always pushing the bar, has something to do with it,” said Chris Xu, a gay Shanghai man. “I doubt being gay in China would be any more accepted if America [had] made no progress for tolerance in the past couple of decades.” Ironically, homosexuality in China is celebrated in the country’s ancient art. . . .

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[ By | 20 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
The fine art of haggling: How to avoid getting ripped off in Xi’an

“You are supposed to help me because we are both Chinese,” an angry shopkeeper told Xia Wengian, a local man helping a visiting American student bargain for a piece of jewelry. The seller’s tone and facial expression made it clear that she felt Xia was interfering with her business.

Aside from its concentrated minority population, Xi’an’s vibrant Muslim Quarter is a tourist district where store and stall owners are known for their ferocious haggling techniques. On any given day. . . .

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[ By | 13 Jun 2009 | One Comment ]
To eat or not to eat: The problem with man’s best friend

“Do they really eat dog over there?” is a question many friends and family have asked me about China.

I wanted to find out for myself as well, since, according published reports, hosting last year’s Summer Olympics led authorities to mandate that 112 Beijing restaurants remove dog meat from their menus. Now a year later, I discovered that the consumption of dog meat is not as popular as stereotypes would have led me to believe. In fact, Beijingers have become enthusiastic dog owners. Ordinary citizens walk their toy poodles. . . .

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[ By | 5 Jun 2009 | One Comment ]

For Chinese families, June 1, International Children’s Day, is normally one of the happiest days on the calendar, something like Christmas and Fourth of July rolled into one.

This year, a reporter visiting Beijing’s scenic Houhai Lake district found herself in the midst of a typically festive scene, with student volunteers wearing the bright red neck scarves, a traditional symbol of childhood, and parents on their way to neighborhood toy stores to buy presents for their children.

She stopped to chat with a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ging, who happened to be delivering their three-year-old son to a public dance performance. That may explain why he was wearing bright red lipstick and pink blush on his cheeks, and was dressed in an elaborate multicolored dragon costume.

“We are so proud,” said Mr. Ging.”This is our first year participating, but our family hopes to continue this tradition until [our son] is no longer a child.”