Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Michael Spence

August 12, 2016

is the vice chancellor of the University of Sydney.

It’s been just a bit comical seeing his public road-to-Damascus moment about the “bamboo ceiling” – now that following his remarriage after the tragic early death of his first wife he has a child who might possibly come up against it one day.

Today Spence is reported complaining about the immorality of subsidising the costs of medical tuition for Australian students with the profit from international fee-paying students.  He says:

Australian universities “tax the poor families of Sichuan to subsidise the education of kids who went to Kings to become doctors and charge people a lot of money.”

That seems a bit colourful to me.  Plenty of medical students come from James Ruse rather than from Kings.

There is a university system in China, for which entry is competitive but which you can reasonably say is open to poor students of high ability.  General view in China would be that Australia is where the (relatively) dumb and rich ones come, and as to who the rich are and how they are rich there are plenty more views about that.  According to those views, maybe you could describe the origin of their wealth as a “tax” on the poor in a very loose sense.

Most Chinese would be astounded to learn that the Chinese students studying in Australia came from “the poor families of Sichuan.”

Beijing streets

January 1, 2016


Not entirely clear to me why somebody should be so attached to these chairs.


At first I wondered what the Beijing prejudice against tyre-kickers might be.


Closer inspection suggested an explanation:




A man’s motor-trike

December 20, 2015


Is his kingdom. (Beijing 2014)


Good cause in Beijing

December 20, 2015


Rather blurry shots from 2014 retrieved from my soon to be obsolete mobile phone.

Animal welfare is still a bit of a new thing in China, as is the keeping of cats as pets – you see rather harried feral creatures, for some reason more often white than is commonly seen in Australia.

This was a stall in the yuppy (and by night, night-life) area of Sanlitun.


BJ in summer

July 24, 2014


I’m back from behind the Great Fire Wall.

Feelings high in Yunnan

November 3, 2013


In Australia, our new government sedulously dissuades us from any environmental effort, particularly when it comes to global warming, by the contrary example of the Chinese.

I first went to China in 1998. Since then, I have noticed some “environmental” developments.

Public rubbish bins now routinely have a “recyclable” and “non-recyclable” receptacle. True, this distinction is almost universally ignored, but to the extent that it is observed it may make things just a little easier for the free-lancers who go from bin to bin retrieving the recyclable objects (especially plastic water bottles) and putting them into enormous sacks on their bicycles.

Styrofoam takeaway food containers and chopsticks used to gather in practically every windbreak of any sort in any public place. I can’t work out how but you don’t seem to see them or at least so many.

In urban areas, at least, the motor bike has been supplanted by the electric bicycle (though electric bicycles have probable replaced quite a lot of ordinary bicycles as well).

And you now have to pay for a plastic bag at the Supermarket (a measure also adopted in Australia in the ACT though not yet in NSW). You can buy a slightly more robust one than they used to give away. It doesn’t cost much, but the Chinese are a frugal people.

Unarmed with my own bag I went shopping this year on the main street of Dali old town(Sifangjie, a common name for a main street in these parts). I have kept the bag I bought as a souvenir.

The bag identifies the shop and its slogan, reproduced at the head of this post, which places an appropriate (especially for China) emphasis on its goods being well-priced.


It’s only today that I really paid any attention to the other side of the bag:


And again, looking a little more closely:


That’s right: 钓鱼岛 – that’s the Diaoyu Islands (to the Chinese, Senkaku to the Japanese) – are Chinese!

Those are the islands which are currently the focus of heightened feelings between Japan and China.

I’d be surprised if Japanese supermarket bags are festooned with equivalent slogans.

See also here.

This way to the shadow agglomeration pond

September 22, 2013


More from my trip behind the great firewall. The Chinese are big on these.


Apparently there is a spot (this is the Chongsheng temple near Dali, Yunnan Province) where the points of the three pagodas can come together. I couldn’t even manage to get a proper picture of all three: it is hard to find a good spot.


The fruit on the left were new to me:


This plant seemed vaguely familiar:



though a tea brewed from it (in the spirit of science: we had to try) yielded no discernible result.

One day somebody who can start to sell drinking yoghurt in Australia in the Chinese style should surely make a fortune. This is the more expensive (of two brands) widely available in this part of Yunnan:


That’s yak milk yoghurt.

From behind the great firewall

September 2, 2013


I am just back from China. I traveled to Shanghai, Beijing, Kunming, Lijiang and Dali in Yunnan Province, and to Yangzhou in Jiansu province. If I lived there I would doubtless equip myself with the necessary proxies etc, but without them, access to this blog (and many others) was denied me.

At various scenic attractions, a frequently encountered side-show is a stall where you can fire an air rifle or (as in this case) throw darts at targets or arrays of little balloons. This one was at a scenic spot and waterfall about 50km south of Lijiang on the pass which provides the entry to Lijiang from Dali.

That’s the Japanese prime minister’s picture on the board.

Seen in Shanghai

October 3, 2011

For Neil.

Just next to the Shanghai Conservatory (of music, that is):

The lumber room

September 17, 2010

I have travelled to Shanghai to see the Cologne Ring Cycle, conducted by Markus Stenz.  Last night was Das Rheingold

The performances are at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, which is, as its name proclaims, grand.

I am staying in a small room at the back of D’s mother’s quite modest apartment in the former British concession area of Shanghai. The apartment itself comprises the ground floor room at the back of the house plus an additional lean-to bathroom which has been added after the house was divided into separate dwellings. Kitchens for the two ground-floor flats are in a common area in the stair-well. My room, which is opposite the original back outside loo, was probably originally a servant’s room. At present it is nearly full of some family furniture and there is just room for my bed and access to a few drawers of a dresser to stow my things.

It certainly puts even the shakily-founded splendour of Valhalla or the extravagance of a trip to Shanghai to see an opera in perspective.

I had hoped to post a picture, but the Chinese internet has not proved co-operative. [Postscript: obviously there has been a kind of Glasnost since my first composition.]

Chinese internets permitting, I shall post something more concerning the performances themselves and [with a seemly discretion] fellow bloggers met here anon.