March 23, 2008

Beijing's Blue Sky...
I just read an interesting blog post on SexyBeijing about Beijing's blue skies.
We keep hearing about how China is doing great things to improve the levels of pollution in Beijing in time for the Olympics, and how the air quality has dramatically improved since 1998. Turns out that, according to the Wall Street Journal, the government has simply moved the pollution monitoring stations to less polluted areas! Two stations in polluted and traffic dense parts of the city were removed and three stations were added in less polluted areas, to give a better (i.e. lower) pollution average. According to Peking University professors, cited in the same article, the pollution in Beijing caused 25,000 deaths in 2002 alone.

March 22, 2008

There's been a lot of coverage of the events happening in T1bet at the moment. I don't feel that I can contribute anything significant, especially since I wasn't able to make it there myself before leaving China. Instead, I thought I'd give links to some sites that I've found interesting in the past few days.

T1bet Through Chinese Eyes
An article about the "Chinese development missionaries" and how they view the situation in T1bet, and how T1betans view them.

Foreign nations voice support for China's handling of Lh@sa riot
Official Chinese newspaper touts support from Mauritania, Vietnam, Lesotho, and other foreign governments, regarding their good handling of the current situation.

More musings on T1bet propaganda drive
An article by an expat in China focusing on the Chinese governments propaganda and "thought liberation" drive withing the country. Includes an interesting quote by a internationally educated Chinese marketing manager, “I know the government cuts all the negative information and we can not see the true story. But it has to do this. Most Chinese are poor and not well educated. They are not capable of independent thought or making their own judgements. They need to be guided by the government.”

T1bet crushes conspiracies by D@lai L@ma clique
According to this article, T1bet has been working hard to crush conspiracies by the D@lai clique over the past five years.

China's tough line in T1bet...
An International Herald Tribune article including the quote "The Communist Party is like the parent to the Tibetan people, and it is always considerate about what the children need," Zhang said last year. He later added: "The Central Party Committee is the real Buddha for Tibetans."

Hu on Time list of 'influentials'
One of my favourite articles from when I was in China. "Hu [Jintao, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, and former Communist Party Chief in the TAR] explains plans for a 'peaceful rise' in seeking a benign external environment". "Hu's vision has been to build a 'harmonious society'".
Hopefully Hu Jintao can maintain a "Harmonious Society" through the use of tanks, troops, and the chasing of monks. (OK, that comment was a little biased.)

At Shuttered Gateway to T1bet...
A look at the situation, by the New York Times, from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, one of the main gateways into T1bet. There's a short video that accompanying the article. It's interesting that the article mentions Wuhousi and the T1betan area surrounding the temple, which I visited just over a year ago.

Canada T1bet Committee
A group representing T1betans in Canada.

The New Colonialists
An Economist article about China and their need for raw resources, and how it affects their policy.

March 16, 2008

Sugar Bush!
I learned for the first time in January what a "sugar bush" is. Some Canadian I am from the Westcoast! Though another friend from BC also didn't know what a sugar bush was, looked it up on google, and found the Rhus ovata (a plant from California).

So I finally went to my first sugar bush at "Wheelers Maple Syrup Camp & Pancake House" with some friends from uni. Amazing! We had a huge brunch with pancakes, sausages, and tonnes of maple syrup (of course).
Next we took a short horse drawn sleigh ride through some of the maple forest, which you can see part of below.

They have the world's largest maple syrup making museum, which was informative.
We looked around the room where they would boil the sap down into syrup, and ended up talking with the owner/operator of the farm who said that we could borrow some snow shoes to go through the forest. They've got a lot of trails that are packed down, but we thought it would be cool to walk over some of the snow (which was at least 4 feet deep). So we went snowshoeing! It's amazing how spreading out your weight a little bit makes it possible to walk on snow that you would normally sink into. It was interesting too to see how they tap the trees, and the way that they collect the sap through lines that go into a pump room, instead of collecting buckets like they used to.

Just before we returned from snowshoeing, they started the first sap-boil of the year since the sap was just starting to flow. So we go to see part of the process of making maple syrup.

March 04, 2008

Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis
I just heard about a great new movie called "Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis" (Welcome to the Land of the Ch'tis), a French comedy that takes place in the North of France. Apparently it's doing really well at the box office.
I've written a bit about Ch'ti before, the "patois"/language spoken in the North of France. It's spoken in the North of France, where I was living and teaching a few years ago. When I watched the promo video I almost literally died laughing. There were so many stereotypes and memories. For example, when the guy from Paris drives up North he passes a sign welcoming him to the North and right away the skies open up and it pours with rain (it did rain almost the entire time I was there, including last summer when I went back for a day). They also tease the language, and there's a great line where the Parisian asks "Is there something wrong with your jaw? You're talking funny?! Does everyone here talk like that?". The Ch'ti welcome the Parisian, and at one point teach him how to talk like them. So at a restaurant he tries to order in Ch'ti and the waiter says "I'm sorry sir, I'm from Paris and don't understand what you've said" at which point the whole table breaks out into cheers because he's one of them.