Ikea Shanghai to elderly, lonely Chinese people: buy something or get out


Turns out that when your giant, tax-dodging global furniture enterprise pitches itself as a kind of flat-pack-on-tap public utility, it gets treated like one. Read the rest

Chabuduo: China's culture of "it's fine"


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.)

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.

Read the rest

July: Vancouver imposes a 15% tax on foreign real estate speculators; September: home sales drop by a third


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

Company suspected of blame in Office of Personnel Management breach will help run new clearance agency


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

Chinese real estate bubble is "biggest in history"


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's elites appear to be exfiltrating billions while on holidays


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

A powerful attacker is systematically calibrating an internet-killing tool

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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

How Hong Kong's vulnerable, reviled refugee community saved Edward Snowden

Supun and Nadeeka let Edward Snowden hide in their home in Lai Chi Kok; Jayne Russell for National Post

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

Pro-democracy reformers win big in Hong Kong's elections


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

Generate artistic, animated, color QR codes that scan


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

Watch trucks drive massive wind turbine blades up a mountain


In what feels as tense as Wages of Fear in places, teams of drivers transport wind turbine blades up a steep switchback mountain road.

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.

C&C trucks carrying wind turbine blades to the mountaintop (via Wind Power Monthly) Read the rest

Foreign influence: how a Chinese businessman funneled $1.3M to Jeb Bush's campaign


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

Bureaucrats disqualify Hong Kong legislative candidates for insufficient loyalty


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 tests straddling bus that travels above traffic


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.

Read the rest

Chinese government decrees that it is always legal to video-record the police

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Chinese state corruption is so weird and manifest that it has its own literary movement, and the use of the internet to uncover corruption has become a political football that has spilled over into the Chinese press, and into street-brawls. Read the rest

Man flew to China to meet online girlfriend, but didn't


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

Chinese kids brawl with KFC customers as South China Sea online patriotism campaign spills onto the streets


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

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