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Yet another insult to the Chinese people

chinese-condom-16939454Yet another advert which has ‘hurt the feelings of the Chinese people’.  But I wonder how many of the Chinese people have actually seen it?

The article is on this QQ page.

Related posts –  No favour

China, health and us.

I came across two articles [vaguely] related to the 2008 Olympics, China and health. The first is an article from ‘The Guardian‘, ‘A cultural revolution to make London sit up and take notice‘ [2008.8.13], written by Marina Hyde, and the second is an item from the Reuters news agency, written by Belinda Goldsmith, ‘Armchair Olympics fuels obesity fears‘ [2008.8.15]. Although, on the face of it, they seem to be at odds with each other on closer inspection they are both correct.

The substance of the Reuters report is China is facing a [potential] obesity crisis. Work patterns have changed, average family spending power has risen and there is an increasing demand for western style foods so is it any surprise that some of the problems which have bedevilled western societies for some time are now cropping up in Eastern Asia. Over the last two decades fast food chains [MacDonald’s, KFC etc] have found their way into the middle kingdom and have been enjoying considerable success. They are quite expensive compared with normal run of the mill Chinese restaurants and dining there is something of a mark of status; children from middle class families are often taken to fast food eating places for birthdays or other treats, so the habit is established at a very early age. In the early days, shortly after Deng Xiaoping opened up China to the outside world, someone in the Politburo made the mistake of thinking that such chain restaurants represented the very highest in western cuisine and as result they were allowed in to China to trade. One hopes that after the mistake was discovered the culprit was taken away and sent on a suitable programme of re-education or at the very least, shot.

At present approximately 14% of Chinese adults are overweight and about 3% are obese [ref BMJ August2006], compared with 21% of men and 23% of women in the UK, but these figures do not paint the full picture. In China obesity is more likely to be found amongst younger people than the older generation, in the UK the reverse is true, the older the age range examined the more prevalent obesity becomes. This is good news for China as it shows the problem is a recent one, new problems are more easily remedied than those long standing, but not so good for the UK. Perhaps the most worrying thing for China, and for anyone else interested, is just how fast the population changed from one of the slimmest and most sveldte in the world to its present position. Another interesting twist to the picture is that in China obesity is more common amongst the middle classes while in the UK it occurs most frequently amongst unskilled working classes, although it must be stressed that no sector of society is free of the problem. In China most children have enough to eat but an increasing number of families have the spending power to buy more meat and to overfeed and having only one child per family, who is often tended by both parents and grandparents, the child, especially if it is a boy, is spoilt beyond belief. In the old days to be overweight was a status symbol, as it demonstrated your wealth and showed you did not have to work and this is now being re-echoed in modern China. Similar things have been happening in the UK for much longer, although one observation I would make is that with the UK, and other western nations, it is the coming of industrialised foods which has been our final undoing. Make of all that what you will but one thing which cannot be avoided is that we are faced with a health problem which, if unchecked, will become more than just a nuisance in the future.

The gist of The Guardian article is that the Chinese people take responsibility for looking after their own health and many are quite fanatical about staying fit and healthy. The main reason is quite simple; no-one else is going to do it for them.  There is no free health service in China to sort out all your ails.  The phenomenon observed by the writer Marina Hyde in her Guardian article is something which can be found all over China, in cities, towns, villages, taking place in parks, near lakes, in back-streets or on any convenient patch of ground. Reading her article the reader may be excused for thinking that only older people are involved, in fact at schools, colleges and universities morning exercise periods are as fixed a part of the day as the sunrise. Every morning at different places around the campus where I taught people would gather for exercise, sometimes individually but more often in groups. Almost every activity could be seen, taijiquan, sword dancing, fan-dancing, wushu, or just a routine of faithfully repeated exercises. All of which goes a long way towards persuading people that they have a responsibility to look after their health and giving them the means of doing just that. In the evenings, in the Peoples’ Square, similar things took place, although these were usually of a more social nature, line-dancing, ball-room dancing. At weekends, in the park, clusters of people would gather for more of the same thing, more practice on the communal exercise parks, Peking Opera, more ballroom dancing, group singing, traditional music – I was captivated and awed by the range of activities which the people would organise on their own initiative. When it comes to looking after themselves and their peers, and with the minimum of resources, the Chinese people win hands down.

As Ms. Hyde says, “Mao declared that the Chinese should civilise their spirits and be brutal on their bodies. “; he may not have been right about everything but this is one gem of wisdom which seems to ring true, judging by what can be seen in China and the contrast which can be found in “London: that far-off land where the increasingly familiar sight of mobility scooters outside pubs suggests that late-capitalism is either a mixed blessing, or bold initiatives are called-for in the run-up to the [2012] Games“

It is hard to see how a couple of weeks of elite sportsmanship in 2012 could alter the health of the British nation or have any impact on the growing obesity problem. As quickly as the 2012 games come they will go, and so will the euphoria and any nine-minute wonders that the government dreams up. If we are not to end up glued even more firmly to our remote controls and TV sets [see “Success will inspire us … to pick up the remote” in The Guardian, written by Emma John] drastic action is required. As stated in The Guardian, free swimming for the over-60s is a start, but measures need to go a little further and deeper than that. At the very least we could take a leaf from the PRC government and invest in low cost, low grade exercise equipment such as is found in Chinese towns and cities and restore playing fields to all schools; these are relatively superficial things but could be part of an overall scheme. Reaching out to the population with more funding for games and sports probably wouldn’t be a bad thing either, but relies on people being willing to respond. Are those most in need of shaping up most or least likely to respond? This is not just a matter of offering opportunity and providing the hardware and infrastructure but one of culture and attitude, neither of which are easy to influence. Or maybe we must turn to Chairman Mao once again and be more brutal with the population and give people no option other than to take responsibility for their own health or suffer the consequences.

Here’s some really important health information – especially good at this time of the year!

Q: I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it…don’t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruit and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism for delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Sheep are a good source of field grass (leafy green vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily intake of vegetable products.

Q: Is beer or wine bad for me?

A: Look, it goes back to the earlier point about fruits and vegetables. As we all know, scientists divide everything in the world into three categories: animal, mineral, and vegetable. We all know that beer and wine are not animal or mineral, so that only leaves one thing, right? My advice: Have a burger and a beer and enjoy your vegetables.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body, and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: ‘No Pain…Great’.

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

A: You’re not listening. These days foods are fried in vegetable oil. In fact, they’re permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: What’s the secret to healthy eating?

A: Thicker gravy.

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO …… Cocoa beans .. another vegetable!!! It’s the best feel-good food around!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets. Now go and have a biscuit……..flour comes from wheat, which is a veggie!

Finally; if swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Oh, and one more thing… “When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt.”

No favour

An interesting article in The Guardian newspaper here. Just cast your mind back to the fuss over Sharon Stone’s comments, the storm in a teacup over the tea stains advert, the fiasco of the poster showing Tibetan monks on a rollercoaster, and a few other recent ‘insults’ to the Chinese nation. In every instance someone apologised unreservedly for each of these slurs against the Middle Kingdom and there was some kind of step-down – but why? Ms Stone’s comments were foolish, but did they matter? She is an actress not an intellect; did anyone genuinely expect intelligent comment? The slogan used by Procter and Gamble to advertise their Ariel detergent employed an idiom commonly used in English, ‘all the teas in China’, which somehow came to be seen as an insult to China. And the [mis]interpretation dreamt up by the Chinese blogger who stirred the brown stuff to set off the furore over the Coca-Cola poster is so stunningly far-fetched it borders on the surreal. Isn’t it time this great nation learned to accept that not everyone in the world is going to say nice things about it, that not every reference to ‘China’ amounts to a slight upon their motherland and, most important of all, learn to discriminate between trivia and serious comment?

Ma Jian argues that constantly apologising is not the way to deal with these over-reactions. According to the teachings of Kongzi there are three types of good friends and three types of not so good friends and Ma argues we are rapidly setting ourselves amongst the unreliable ones, but that is only part of the story. Not only are we pandering to a bunch of over-sensitive, nationalist halfwits but we are doing ourselves even fewer favours by encouraging them to become ever more vociferous and demanding. By repeatedly telling them, in effect, that we are wrong and then giving in to their demands are we not making future dealings with the Chinese people, and government, more difficult? If there was some truth in the complaints made an apology or change of stance would be in order but that has not been the case, and caving in to hysteria does no-one any good.

As a general rule people, and governments, respect those who are honest, they have more respect for those who are strong and more still for those both honest and strong. The Chinese people and government have the right to hold their own views on the world, about everything from the cosmos down to which is the best football team, and they also have the right to know that there are other viewpoints in existence in the world but must accept that not all of them are parallel with their own. If they are to regard us with respect, just as we should with them, there has to be a reason for that but our present kow-towing is not it.

The PRC government has a point when it says that it is unacceptable for outsiders to interfere with matters which are purely internal to another nation – and by that I mean no-one has any more right to dictate what sort of posters are pinned on hoardings in other countries than they have to dictate what colour socks we wear.

Related posts: The Hurt Feelings Of The Chinese on China Rises

Getting your head around big numbers

Everything in China happens on a big scale. This should be no surprise when bearing in mind that one fifth of the world’s population live there, but this snippet of information usually slips past without our accepting or realising its implications until we come face to face with it.

Some of the most arresting features of the world are located in China, the Taklamakan Desert, one of the coldest and driest deserts on earth, the Karst Mountains, one of the most stunning scenic spots in existence, the Changjiang, the third longest river in the world [Yangtze to most of the world] but it is when we get down to looking at some of the man-made features that we really start to sit up and take notice. The trend started many centuries ago when the ruling dynasty decided to build a wall to keep out the uncouth louts from the North. It took a while to build the wall and it was redesigned, re-jigged, re-hashed, restored and rebuilt many times before we finally ended up with the Great Wall of China, a fortified structure extending 6,400 kms from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west. Qin Shi Huang, the emperor who brought all the little bits of China under one rule [bashing people around doesn’t quite equate with the word ‘unite’] liked to do things in a big way and planned and built the biggest mausoleum for himself, ever. And the trend has continued ever since. The world’s first long distance canal, the Grand Canal, coupling Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province with Beijing was started in the 5th century BC but was not extended into its modern day form until the 6th century AD. It is 1,770 kilometres long, contains 24 locks and is still in use for carrying commercial traffic. By comparison canals in Britain were not built in a serious way until the 17th century and the difference in scale is striking. For example the Grand Union Canal, connecting London with Birmingham, built in the 18th century, is 220 kilometres in length, contains 166 locks and on average is only 6 yards wide.

In more modern times the structures built in China are even more ambitious. Earlier this year, after less than 5 years construction work, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge 36 kilometres long, connecting the cities of Shanghai and Ningbo was completed and opened. This will be the world’s longest sea bridge and the second longest, overall. The Chinese people love tall buildings and they are to be found in every city, some are quite likeable, some grotesque and others just a little quirky as every architect tries to leave his mark on the world. Probably two of the best known modern buildings in China are both found in the Pudong district of Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Tower, the third tallest TV tower in the world at 468 metres high, and the Jin Mao Dasha, the fifth tallest building in the world at 420 metres high, but one of the strangest is the new CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, still under construction – it looks as if it will never stay upright. While we are on the topic of tall buildings the very tallest in the world, at the moment, is the Taipei 101 building, built in Taiwan, with 101 floors – and also rated, by some, to be one of the ugliest buildings of the world, click here. When I first visited Shenzhen, a very modern city in the south of China, it had no subway or metro system, but when on returning only two years later a system was in use and was being extended further. Some things take a while to build, such as the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, but other things in China can be done on a scale and at speeds which most of us are just not familiar with.

One of the best known projects to be built is the Three Gorges Dam which was started in 1993 and will not be fully complete until 2011. The dam, which is 2,300 metres long, 101 metres high, 115 metres thick at the base will produce a lake 660 kilometres long, approximately 1.5 kilometres wide and holding 39.3 cubic kilometres of water. To do this more than 4 million people have been relocated so they don’t go under the water; many small towns and innumerable villages plus over 1,000 sites of archaeological or historical interest will be lost. But navigation through the Three Gorges on the Changjiang will be easier and the power station will generate 22,500 megawatts of electricity. Before we leave this item and glibly skip forward to the next wonder of the world, just imagine trying to persuade 4 million people to move house in the UK; that’s more than the population of Glasgow, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester and Sheffield all rolled up together – think about it for a moment.

How many people in China live in big cities? Visiting any city in China you might be excused for thinking that everyone lives there, the streets are so busy with people, and most Chinese cities seem big by comparison with western counterparts but it isn’t quite as might be expected. The Chinese definition of a big city is a population centre of 5,000,000 people or more – and there are more than 10 of these in China! Although there has been a substantial shift in the population the majority still remain in rural areas, towns and small cities. Actual population figures vary according where they are obtained and how they are calculated in the first place, but possibly the largest of the municipalities, of which there are four [Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Tianjin], is Chongqing which is reputed to have a population of approximately 30,000,000 and an inner city population of between 4,500,000 and 12,000,000; this figure varies according to where the boundary between the urban area of Chongqing and the rural area is set and no one seems to agree on where that is.

On the sporting front it seems that if you give any game or activity to the Chinese it will come back twice as big and complicated as it was before, if not more. Take a simple tug-o’-war, stage it in a Chinese city and it isn’t quite so simple any more as we saw earlier this year when an event, involving two teams of 10,000 people each, a rope 1 kilometre in length and weighing 3 tons, was held in Changsha. Or a simple track event. I’m sure everyone knows what a 3-legged race is, a feat of cooperation between pairs of runners performed at a moderately quick pace. Not content with that the Chinese have come up with a 21-legged version of the race, which transforms a relatively sedate activity into something with the potential to break several limbs simultaneously should anything go wrong.

Returning to natural events, the recent disaster in Sichuan has involved some figures which are quite numbing. The number of people dead and missing is bad by any standard but these are small when compared with casualty lists and the numbers who are now homeless – more than 300,000 injured, and more than 5,000,000 people displaced. Five million; that is more than the population of the Republic of Ireland. One of the problems to be dealt with during the aftermath was the danger posed by earthquake-lakes and in one instance approximately 1.9 million people had to be moved to safer ground – that’s the population of Dublin plus a few more, shifted in one move to solve one small part of the problem. Last year the UK was beset by floods unseen before. No one doubts it cost a lot of money and was a real disaster for those directly affected. There was certainly a lot of noise made about it but I’m not sure it ranks the same as a disaster on a Chinese scale; 8 people died and 55,000 homes and other properties were damaged. If things were bad enough for 8 people to die and the population to get hot under the collar about it, how bad must it be for more than 60,000 to die and 5,000,000 to lose their homes? For up to date figures on casualties and how things are progressing, click here.

When China was an enclosed and inward looking nation none of this mattered to the rest of the world but now that it has chosen to interact what goes on in the Far East starts to matter a lot – and in a very personal way too. While China remained self-sufficient it made very little impression on the rest of the world but now there is a demand from within China for imports this has an effect. Remember, this is 20% of the world all under one government. Importing enough rubber boots to keep the population happy would have a big effect on everyone else i.e. no one else would have rubber boots for that year, there simply isn’t enough rubber in the world; but this is hypothesis, how about sticking to reality? In the days before China began importing oil the price of petrol was relatively steady, now that China is buying up supplies the price is rising. There are other factors involved too, but undisputably China is one of the major influences. This year, 2008, will probably be the last year that China is self-sufficient in food, this is due to rising expectations of the Chinese population and an increase in demand for higher living standards. Dietary shifts in China have been quite modest and the average Chinese person eats far less meat than any westerner but when that average change is multiplied by one fifth of the world population an overall world change becomes inevitable. If the squeals were loud when petrol prices started to soar, how loud will the noise be when food becomes expensive.


Related articles –

More Wealth, More Meat

From Poverty To Fast Food


Here is a posting worth reading. On the Frog In A Well blog is an article about some works of art by a Chinese artist, Yang Liu [or Liu Yang, depending on whether you prefer Chinese names westernised or in original order], currently on show in Germany. Each picture is intended to show differences between Chinese and German culture, which is why you see small Deutsch captions; in fact they could be said to illustrate differences between China and many western European countries, probably North America too.

Another website has pictures of the artist and the exhibition itself.

I’m not going to tell you what I think your conclusions should be or even say what my views are, only that I like the one about weather.

The Storm of the Chinese Tea Stain In A Tea-cup

After I posted the item about the tea stain remover [yesterday’s post] I did a search, using the slogan, to see if I could find who might have instigated this heinous campaign. The results were disappointing with only this site and QQ News returned with the full slogan, all other hits were irrelevant. Out of curiosity I repeated the exercise today and was presented with 117 hits, each containing the slogan. Here are a few of them


The first on the list is Baidu, listing another 2 further pages of sites, I didn’t investigate these and assumed they will be duplicates of those already found. Most of the others are on Chinese websites and simply reproduce the QQ news item, but others add a few comments. Here are a few selected from the thread of a forum, arguing over the possible meaning of the ad and all of them completely missing the point. Bear in mind these are Google translations so the English is not very good.

Absolutely Yiyushuangguan mean. 现实生活中,china这个词常用么? In real life, china used the word Mody » 如果一个装饰性的瓷器还说得过去,而喝茶的杯子谁管它叫china? 我听说过have a cup of tea,却没听说过have a china of tea. If a decorative porcelain also justifiable, and the tea cups Who Guanta Jiao china «I’ve heard about have a cup of tea, no one heard of have a china of tea. tea这个东西,本身就很容易联系到中国。 tea this thing in itself can easily link to China. 欧美人喝茶的比例毕竟是少数,如果做广告,更应该说,洗咖啡垢,可乐垢。 Europe and the United States, after all, the proportion of people drinking tea is one of the few, if advertising, should also be said that the scale washing coffee, cola scale. 偏偏选了一个茶垢,真是别有用心。 Unfortunately the election of a tea scale, is an ulterior motive.

再看排版,后面感觉就是Made in China。 Look at publishing, is the feeling behind the Made in China. 是在打击中国制造的东西有污圬。 In the fight against Chinese-made things have sewage masonry. 不知道这个广告是什么时候放上去的,如果是毒玩具毒狗粮那段时间反中国制造的高潮时期,那它100%有反华的意思在里面。 The ads do not know what the time-boost, if the drug is toxic Gouliang toys made in China at that time the anti-climax period, it is 100 percent anti-China mean inside. 更可恶的是,这里字母全都是大写,所以也没办法区别是不是一个专用名词。 More heinous is that here are all in capital letters, so it can not distinguish is not a special term.

The English do not quite understand people not to speak, Procter & Gamble this ad is a shame, for advertising, his advertisements have two customs justice, CHINA can refer to China, was criticized when sophistry can be said that the porcelain, but if they are That the porcelain, the use of cleaner bit too narrow, because the cleaning agents can not just wash porcelain, can also wash the glass. Shing and tea in general is in the cup, porcelain flush toilets is done, but by who heard that Flush toilet to drink tea,
所以正常情况下, 他的这个广告词应该说”除去任何杯中的茶垢”,而不是”除去瓷器中的茶垢”他难以自圆其说的.他这个广告直意是”中国茶可以造成污垢”, 暗讽中国的东西都是污垢. Therefore, under normal circumstances, his words should be said that this ad “cup of tea to remove any scale”, not “get rid of porcelain tea scale,” he difficult to justify. He This ad is intended straight, “Chinese tea can cause dirt” , An Feng of China things are dirt.

. . . . and so it goes on page after page

Another starts with the heading “Westerners also declared war on the Chinese people! !“, the article is pasted below it, and ends “ Brothers, how do we fight again » » » » »”

If the students who reported this to QQ had not been so touchy . . if QQ had used a bit of common sense or employed a competent translator to check the ad out . . if the ‘news’ item had not been published . . . . probably no one would have batted an eyelid.

Am I right in thinking we have an expression which might sum this up, something about a lot of rain in a cup? Or creating a large mound of humous from the labours of a small black animal?