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Middle Kingdom Links

shenzhen I publications I language I chinglish/engnese
culture I literature I art I music I miscellaneous

(note: the government of the PRC blocks mainland access
to some of these sites)

In 1980, when Deng Xiaoping named it the first Special Economic Zone in the PRC, Shenzhen — my home base — was a fishing and farming community of about 40,000. Now it's a teeming metropolis of an estimated 13 million, with an average population of 30. An amazing transformation.

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I contribute to the following publications, so I recommend them highly:

  • China Daily: Published in Beijing on weekdays. English-language, circulation 300,000.
  • Shenzhen Daily: Published in Shenzhen on weekdays. English-language, circulation 40,000. Founded July 1, 1997. First English-language regional newspaper in China; the only English-language daily in South China.
  • Shenzhen Economic Daily: Published in Shenzhen on weekdays. Chinese-language, circulation 300,000.

I read the following publications to stay informed about matters Chinese:

  • Xinhua News Online. Official news organ of the PRC. The party line.
  • Shanghai Daily. Published 6 days a week. Founded in 1999.
  • Beijing Review. Published weekly out of San Francisco.
  • The Standard. Bills itself as "China's business newspaper." Possibly accurate if you count only English-language press. Includes a youth-oriented supplement, The Student, also in English, and the Singtao Daily, in Chinese.
  • South China Morning Post. Published daily out of Hong Kong. Founded in 1903. Front page and headlines only free; full online access by subscription.

Notoriously a difficult language to learn. I have a good ear for European languages, but make headway slowly with Chinese. Lots of online help available, fortunately.

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Because one encounters it everywhere in China, the phenomenon of Chinglish — referred to by some as Engnese — fascinates me. This term identifies the many serious but misguided efforts to communicate in English (or at least to appear to communicate in English, not exactly the same thing) by people not really qualified to do so. This results in hybridized Esperanto-like texts that sometimes allow deciphering but more often achieve a garbled, incomprehensible charm. I view it as a linguistic application of Mao's military strategy of "swarming," in which he simply threw so many troops at the enemy that they got overwhelmed. Proof that this happens often, and than I'm not alone in finding it intriguing, appears at the sites below:

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The ocean of Chinese culture is broad and deep. Here are a few sites that offer good introductions to aspects of it.

  • Virtual Museum of the Cultural Revolution. Published by the China News Digest, and mainly in Chinese, this site intends to serve as an online repository of material relating to the catastrophe. Most of the material currently posted is in Chinese, but some is in English, and they promise gradual English translation of the rest.
  • Asia for Educators. Published by Columbia University in New York, this site has readingss, images, timelines, lesson plans, and much more.
  • The China Experience: China Culture Index. Subject selection seems arbitrary, but much good stuff here.
  • Electronic Resources in East Asian History. A diversity of projects here: databases of Shanghai In Images, Beijing In Images, Maps of Shanghai, a Historical Chinese Postcard Project: 1896-1920, and Chinese Torture, among others topics.
  • Across the Himalayan Gap: An Indian Quest for Understanding China. Complete electronic text of a 1998 book. Rich online resource that gathers speeches, memoirs, papers, and other materials. Published by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.
  • The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies (TBC). Founded in 1998 to "educate the academic community about China." They have put online the catalog for their 12,000-volume research library (mostly English-language titles).
  • Shanghai-ed. An engaging assortment of Shanghai-related material: old picture postcards, front pages from the WenHui Bao newspaper of 1938, more. They bill themselves as "Shanghai's home on the Web."
  • Focus: Asia. A collection of fine 19th-century photographs, including many of China, from the Museum of Asian Art in Sarasota, Florida.

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I'm reading widely as a way of learning about China. And fairly indiscriminately — everything from fictions by western writers to history, biography, and autobiography to contemporary poetry and fiction by Chinese authors (only in translation, alas). Some online sources:

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China today has a thriving contemporary art scene — on the mainland, in Hong Kong, everywhere. The sites below provide a taste of this diversity.

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I enjoy both traditional Chinese music (I think of the zheng players as China's equivalent of old acoustic blues musicians) and contemporary fusion/world/new-age sounds. Some particular favorites:

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Some of my favorites China sites I find hard to categorize, so I've lumped them together here.

  • The Peking Duck, a blog by "an Accidental Expat" now residing in Taipei, provides an affectionate but not uncritical commentary on Chinese culture, politics, and other subjects.
  • Beijing Newspeak, a blog by Chris O’Brien, a sub-editor (officially "Language Polisher") for Xinhua News Agency. Provides insightful commentary on the workings of the Chinese press — including how an x-ray of Homer Simpson's brain ended up illustrating a story on multiple sclerosis.
  • Wind Above, Earth Below presents information on traditional kitemaking in China by U.S. filmmakers Marcia and Michael Bujold, who have worked for some years on a not-yet-released documentary film about the craftsmen who maintain this ancient form.

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Unless otherwise credited, all text and images in this feature
are © copyright 2006-2007 by A. D. Coleman. All rights reserved.

By permission of the author and Image/World Syndication Services,