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[ By | 20 Jul 2009 | No Comment ]

It’s no secret the Chinese government heavily censors its country’s news media. Controversial topics are ignored and uncomfortable facts are sometimes omitted, particularly when it comes to the Three T’s: Tibet, Tiananmen, and Taiwan. Newsroom editors must routinely ask themselves what stories are appropriate to run or risk having officials shut them down for crossing the line.

Historically speaking, there is good reason for such caution. Since the founding of the Peoples Republic in 1949, the news media have mainly served as an instrument in the dissemination of government policy and information, and is expected to show support for such policies.

Because of the recent commercialization of media, however, that may now be changing. “Commercial media is only a couple of decades old in China,” said William Moss, a specialist in international public relations. . . .

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[ By | 27 Jun 2009 | 2 Comments ]

“What makes a woman attractive?”

I recently had the opportunity to ask this relatively simple question to 20 strangers on the streets of Shanghai, and while the answers went in various directions, ranging from physique to a woman’s timeliness, the most interesting answer, and also the one most foreign to me, was the concept of having “qi zhi.”

Eleven out of the 20 respondents listed “qi zhi” in their top-three picks for what makes a woman attractive, with eight out of the eleven listing the concept as number one. The rest answered that it was the second most important requirement.

From the convoluted reactions I received when I asked what exactly “qi zhi” meant, it appears there is no simple or direct translation into any concept that we might be familiar with in America. In fact, people resorted to lengthy explanations and extensive metaphors to explain the idea to a visitor.

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[ By | 24 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]
A day in the life of Beishe village

Beishe is a village located in rural Shaanxi province, a two-hour drive from the ancient capital of Xi’an. While change has come to Beishe over the years – the introduction of electricity, an increase in motor vehicles and other labor-saving devices, and overall improvement in the quality of life – it has come at a much slower pace than in the country’s booming urban centers. This video offers glimpses of a day in the life of the people of Beishe, who manage to honor age-old rhythms in a time of dramatic national transformation.

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[ By | 13 Jun 2009 | One Comment ]
The two sides of a crêpe

At the intersection of Di’anmen East Street and Di’anmen Inner Street stands a small crêperie no bigger than your average walk-in closet. Crammed inside, is a multinational and multicultural conglomerate owned by two people who couldn’t be more different.

Harbin native Cai Wen Bo, 23, is an aspiring musician who made a living traveling around China wherever he could find work. His most recent job ended after a disagreement with his boss, which lead him to vow to never work to please someone else again.

liang shi's travel blog, society & culture »

[ By | 5 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

When does a boy become a man? For some, it’s growing and mowing that facial peach fuzz on a consistent schedule. For others, it’s turning the monumental age of 18 when the law defines you as an adult. For Chinese boys, smoking is one of the key rites of passage, said He Bing, 28, a Beijing chauffeur who picked up the habit at 16 to imitate the adults around him.

“Some middle schoolers feel like smoking makes them feel more like a man,” He said. “I started for the same reasons.”

Beijing native and club promoter Zhang Nannan, 30, tried his first cigarette at age 11 after stealing it from his father. “‘Why?!’” Zhang said. “’Why did [my father] smoke?’ I wanted to know, so I tried it too.”

China accounts for one out of every three cigarettes consumed worldwide, with a total of 67 percent of all Chinese men and 4 percent of all the women smoking. When it comes to teenagers, 33 percent of males and almost 8 percent of females smoke. Approximately 3,000 Chinese die daily from smoke-related causes. . . .