Explosive growth and change in China means many things must be built. They are not built well, writes British ex-pat James Palmer.
The apartment is five years old. By Chinese standards, it’s far better than the average. Our toilet works, while in many of my friends’ houses, flushing the loo is a hydraulic operation akin to controlling the Nile floods. The sockets do not flash blue sparks when plugged in, and all but two work. None of the lightbulbs have ever exploded; and the mirror merely broke away, rather than falling spontaneously from the frame. The shower is not placed next to the apartment’s central wiring and protected by nothing more than rotting drywall.
It's so brutal—"My time in China has taught me the pleasure and value of craftsmanship, simply because it’s so rare"—I can't help but wonder if it's really that bad! The word Chabuduo is offered as the cultural gravity point at hand. Meaning "close enough," it is depicted here as a powerful and useful concept in earlier times (think: improvisation, effectiveness, ingenuity) that has become dangerous in the context of modern life (think: slapdash, jobsworth, irritable.)
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Yet chabuduo is also the casual dismissal of problems. Oh, your door doesn’t fit the frame? Chabuduo, you’ll get used to kicking it open. We sent you a shirt two sizes too big? Chabuduo, what are you complaining about?
At my old compound, the entrance to the underground parking lot was covered by a 20-metre-long half-cylinder of heavy blue plastic. Nobody had noticed that this made a highly effective wind trap, and it had been only crudely nailed to the brick foundations.
Vancouver has been wracked by a white-hot property bubble driven primarily by offshore speculators, mostly Chinese, who have driven up the price of housing beyond the means of working Vancouverites, crippling the city's daily life as workers, students and families struggle to find somewhere -- anywhere -- to live. Read the rest
In 2014, the US Office of Personnel Management was hacked (presumably by Chinese spies), and leaked 22,000,000+ records of Americans who'd applied for security clearance, handing over the most intimate, compromising details of their lives (the clearance process involves disclosing anything that could be used to blackmail you in the future). This didn't come to light until 2015. Read the rest
Wang Jianlin made billions speculating on Chinese real-estate; now that he's diversified into buying Hollywood movie studios and chains of movie theaters, the richest man in China is prepared to say what many have known: the Chinese property market is a huge, deadly bubble that's ripe to burst. Read the rest
China has a massive "tourism deficit" -- the difference between the money that tourists spend in China and the money that Chinese people spend abroad: $206B from June 2015-June 2016, up from $77B in 2013. The missing money is hard to explain, since China doesn't export that many tourists. Read the rest
Someone -- possibly the government of China -- has launched a series of probing attacks on the internet's most critical infrastructure, using carefully titrated doses of denial-of-service to precisely calibrate a tool for shutting down the whole net. Read the rest
When Edward Snowden flew to Hong Kong with thumb-drives full of damning US government documents, he assumed his freedom was forfeit: he didn't even make an escape plan. Read the rest
19 of the 35 seats up for grabs in Hong Kong's legislative election went to pro-democracy candidates who have vowed to continue the fight for autonomy from Beijing and its program of censorship, surveillance, and autocratic authoritarianism. Read the rest
Qrcode is a github-hosted, Chinese Python project for GNU/Linux and Windows that takes sentences and URLs and creates "artistic" colored and animated QR codes that actually scan. Read the rest
According to Wind Power Monthly:
The route to the government-sponsored Baoding Mountain Wind Farm is 5.5 km long, and includes 212 turns and slopes as steep as 30 degrees. The journey with each blade took five hours, and the drivers had to negotiate the load through villages with buildings on either side of the road, and high voltage power lines. The blades are 52.4 metres long, and weigh over 12 tons.
Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen -- Chinese nationals who live in Singapore -- own a global property speculation and development empire whose US branch is called American Pacific International Capital Inc. They followed a recipe set out in a memo by Charlie Spies, a top Republican lawyer, in order to funnel $1.3M to Jeb Bush's PAC, then Tang offered a reporter for the Intercept $200,000 not to mention that he had been investigated for smuggling, tax evasion and bribery by the Chinese government. Read the rest
2014's Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong was an uprising over the Chinese government's announcement that it would exercise a veto over who could stand for election to the Hong Kong legislature (as Boss Tweed said, "I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating."). Read the rest
China's Transit Elevated Bus (TEB), a trippy transport that straddles the traffic below it, had its first test run yesterday in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province. It was a very short trip, just 300 meters. According to Shanghaiist, an engineer on the project says that eventually the TEB "will be able to carry up to 1,200 passengers and travel at 60 kilometers per hour." It's expected to take one year to build out a practical version.
A Dutch man who flew to China to meet his mysterious online girlfriend ended up stuck in the airport for 10 days, eventually being taken to hospital for exhaustion. He'd surprised his companion of two months with plane tickets, reports the BBC, but she never showed up.
On Chinese social media, the majority of users were keen to point out the apparent absurdity of the man's actions.
The hashtag "Foreign man went to Changsha to meet his online girlfriend" has been trending on micro-blogging site Weibo.
"He must be stupid, why would anyone do this?" asked one user.
"Doesn't he know that everything in China is fake?" said another.
Look at the man's photo and tell me that Steve Buscemi shouldn't play him in the movie. Read the rest
In the wake of the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that China had been stealing islands in the South China, the Xi Jinping administration's propaganda machine went into overdrive to whip up patriotic sentiment in China, with a massive wave of anti-American and anti-Japanese sentiment. Read the rest