Posts Tagged ‘China’

Inspector Chen novels

December 14, 2015


Death of a Red Heroine - Qiu Xiaolong

Death of a Red Heroine – Qiu Xiaolong

Inspector Chen, a character I had never heard of.

A series of novels, set in Shanghai, in the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen Square massacre.

A China that is changing, from the China of Chairman Mao, to the China we see of today.

Inspector Chen is an unusual character. He is a poet and there are many references to early Chinese poetry. He studied English at university, was hoping to go on to a Masters Degree, but is ordered to take up a post as a diplomat, until it is found his uncle had unrevolutionary tendencies. He is transferred to the Shanghai Police to write reports for the local Party Secretary. He asks to be assigned to police work, and is assigned to special cases, political cases, given his own apartment, this at a time when three generations of a family are all living in one apartment.

Each person encountered is politely addressed by their title, or as Comrade.

A wonderful insight into China.

Qiu Xiaolong (1953- ) was born Shanghai, China. Visiting the United States in 1988 to write a book about T S Eliot, but following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and a newspaper reporting on his previous fundraising efforts for Chinese students, he was forced to remain in America to avoid persecution by the Chinese Communist Party.

BBC Radio 4 has dramatised three of the Inspector Chen novels.

Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends

December 22, 2013

A destiny is not realized until we let go of the illusion of control. — Master Oogway

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It had always been the dream of ThePianoGuys to play on the Great Wall of China.

Since ThePianoGuys began, it has been our impossible dream to put a grand piano on the Great Wall. People laughed at us when we said we were determined to do it. It is done. All of us at ThePianoGuys would like to dedicate this music video to the visionary behind it all and the man whose dream this has always been: Paul Anderson.

An invisible hand guided us, for which we are eternally grateful. This was a life-changing experience for us.

When we found out we had been granted a permit to film on The Wall we were intimidated by the prospect of choosing what song to write. A pop song arrangement seemed irreverent! We talked about writing an original tune, but we wanted something more relevant. We’re big fans of the Kung Fu Panda movie series (and we’ve all got kids that love it too.) We had what we call a “chills up” moment as we listened to “Oogway Ascends” from the soundtrack. Steve was inspired to figure out how to create a sound on his custom electric cello (named Bruce Lee) that mimicked the Chinese fiddle (Erhu) and the plucked instrument, Guqin. As we often love to do we wanted to include a classical influence. There are over 30 million piano students in China. That’s more people than the entire population of Australia! It’s probably safe to say the great Polish pianist/composer Frédéric Chopin has more groupies in China than anywhere else. We had been working on an arrangement of his Prelude No. 20 (nicknamed “Chord” or “Funeral” Prelude). It fit the theme and the vibe of Oogway’s “Ascension” AWESOMELY (as Po would say). Between it all we wanted a bridge that sounded like a Kung Fu battle. Once the concept had solidified the song seemed to write itself.

We only had a day to film. Wow. Capture the epicness of the Great Wall in 12 hours or less? Add in the challenges of weather (lighting), limited equipment and crew, and, of course, the people climbing the wall – many were very nice and stayed back as we filmed, but we couldn’t keep everyone off which eliminated a lot of shots. We wished we could have done so much more, but we’re grateful for what we were able to do.

The portion of the Great Wall where we filmed is called “Huangyaguan.” It was originally built in 570 AD and rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). The Great Wall is over 8,000 Kilometers (5,000 miles) long. It can be seen from space. It is arguably the most iconic Wonder of the World. Our new dream is to put a piano and cello on ALL SEVEN WONDERS. Which one should we do next?

If you’ve read to the end of this description then you are unofficially inducted into ThePianoGuys Secret Kung Fu Inner Circle. Skadoosh!

The amphitheatre at the base of the Acropolis in Athens, is a must for ThePianoGuys to film and perform a concert.

A farmer walking the fields in China

January 15, 2012
farmer walking the fields in China

farmer walking the fields in China

Water is the mirror of heaven as the soul is the mirror of the mind, sometimes it does not shine if there are clouds, but will do so again when the wind chase them. — Marie-Christine Grimard

A farmer is beginning his day, walking along the rice terraces at dawn.

This amazing picture, picture of the day from National Geographic magazine.

Photograph by Byongsun Ahn.

Rice Terraces, China

Concern for missing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei

April 6, 2011
Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei

The response from the West has been toothless. It is time now that China was referred to the UN’s Human Rights council, because these disappearances are such a departure from China commitment to UN mechanisms. — Nicholas Bequelin, Human Rights Watch Hong Kong

I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine! — Ai Weiwei

There is growing concern for Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei 艾未未 who has not been seen since he was detained on Sunday whilst trying to board a plane in Bejing bound for Hong Kong.

His detention and disappearance is part of a crackdown by the Chinese authorities fearful of the spread of pro-democarcy protests as seen in the Middle East.

Beijing lawyer Liu Xiaoyan told the BBC he had been summoned by the police and held for 10 hours last Saturday after posting online notes asking about a missing Shanghai lawyer.

Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned artist. He currently has an exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London. He was one of the designers of the iconic birds nest stadium at the Chinese Olympics. He is one of the fiercest critics of the Chinese government, his international reputation has until now safeguarded him from detention.

Ai Weiwei is the son of the late Ai Qing, one of China’s greatest modern poets, which may aslo up to now have afforded him a degree of protection.

To target Ai Weiwei, the order must have come from the top, which indicates a Tiananmen Square crackdown.

China has still to recognise and acknowledge that the Tiananmen Square massacre took place, to release all political prisoners, allow public debate of this terrible event in Chinese history.

Should Bob Dylan have played in China? Should he have have allowed the Communist leadership dictate the playlist?

Ai Weiwei suffers for princelings’ paranoia
Ai Weiwei’s wife fears for his safety
Concern mounts over missing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei
Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Eyewitness account of Tiananmen Square

Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

October 9, 2010

For once the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a worthy recipient.

The award last year to Barack Obama was a sick joke. For what, was the question most people asked. It made ridicule of the Nobel Peace Prize. Almost as bad as awarding the US Liberty Medal to Tony Blair.

China is a brutal regime. They carry out brutal repression of dissidents both within China and Chinese occupied Tibet. The West turns a blind eye whilst China continues to supply the West with cheap goods.

Last year I had the honour of meeting Ma Jian one of the student leaders who survived Tiananmen Square massacre. The memory of which has been wiped from the Chinese collective consciousness. I am only sorry to say I have still not read his book, Beijing Coma, a copy of which he kindly gave me.

Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo is another survivor from the Tiananmen Square massacre. He has continued to speak out which is why he is now in a Chinese prison.

The Nobel committee made clear in its announcement of the award that by giving it to Liu, currently serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges, it intended to highlight human rights problems and political repression in China.

also see

Eyewitness account of Tiananmen Square

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to China dissident Liu Xiaobo

China: Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Spotlights Rights Deficit

Jailed Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Eyewitness account of Tiananmen Square

October 23, 2009
Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

Twenty years ago, 4 June 1989, a date written into history in blood, the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square and crushed the pro-democracy protesters. Although there has been some economic reform, nothing has really changed, political dissent is crushed.

Tibet is an open air prison, the country is raped and pillaged for its mineral wealth.

What then is the reaction of the West? A deafening silence. So long as China keeps the West supplied with cheap consumer goods the response will continue to be silence. Occasional a murmur is raised about China’s massive CO2 emissions, conveniently forgetting that China is one huge offshore manufacturing plant for the West.

Guildford Book Festival is a major event on the book and literary scene. Amnesty International always host an event as part of the book festival. This year they invited Ma Jian to talk about what he saw 20 years ago. The venue was St Nicolas Church Parish Room on the banks of the River Wey in Guildford.

Ma Jian was an eyewitness to the massacre and the blood that flowed in Tiananmen Square. He has woven his eyewitness account into a novel, Beijing Coma. Ten years in the writing, he was inspired to write this novel by what happened to his brother, injured in Tiananmen Square, turned into a vegetable.

In Beijing Coma we see what happened in Tiananmen Square through the eyes of a student. Shot in the back of the head, he lies in a coma. Through the thoughts that run through his head, we learn what happened on that fateful day, 4 June 1989.

Through his interpreter, Ma Jian emphasised again and again the importance of collective memory, that what happened in Tiananmen Square should not be lost or forgotten. Beijing Coma is his attempt to record those events less we forget.

Ma Jian had been at the Frankfurt Bookfair. Apart from his own book, not a single book on the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese writers he spoke to were in a state of denial.

The dissent in China had been building up a couple of years before the Tiananmen Square massacre. He himself had been arrested. He had been released and told to quietly disappear.

Ma Jian has a friend in China from his student days, now a wealthy lawyer. Not once has his friend mentioned to his family what happened in Tiananmen Square.

Several days before, 5,000 students had been in the square. they knew nothing of democracy. They had gone to university libraries to read the US Constitution. Ma Jian corrected one misconception. It was not a student revolt. It was a people’s revolt. There were writers, there was even policemen joining in. When students marched into the square they were stopped by policemen. The policemen were unarmed, they were laughing, they let the students pass. It was a party atmosphere.

Soldiers he has spoken to said they all had their orders, where to be and when. Beijing was ringed by over a thousand tanks. The People’s Liberation Army rolled into the square, they opened fire with guns and tanks. People were crushed, had arms ripped off by passing tanks, those escaping down side alleys were running past dead bodies lying in the street. There were rumours of dead bodies piled up.

What then took place was mass brain washing. To keep their jobs, people were required to write an essay denouncing the demonstrators, praising the reaction of the government. No one dared discuss or raise what had taken place. Tiananmen Square has been wiped from the collective consciousness. The young are not even aware of what took place, and if it is raised with them the reaction is one of disbelief.

Ma Jian has been back to China. He is followed wherever he goes. He is not allowed to talk to dissidents.

Repression and persecution of dissidents is widespread. Tiananmen Square may not be mentioned, nor the date 4 June, which is tough luck on anyone on which that date is their birthday!

An editor in a provincial newspaper permitted a brief paragraph on Tiananmen Square, but only because she had not heard of it before and so did not know the significance. She was immediately fired as was the editor-in-chief. A TV channel streamed a channel from Hong Kong. They overlooked a 20 second mention of Tiananmen Square, for this oversight, senior management lost their jobs.

There was minor window dressing during the Olympic Games. Access to the BBC website was permitted. Once the Games were over and the western media went home, the shutters came back down and the websites were blocked. There are more policemen patrolling the Internet than patrolling the streets!

Ma Jian compared China with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four. China has recently celebrated 50 years of Communist rule. The focus was on recent years, 30 years of rule under Chairman Mao is being wiped from the collective memory.

The situation is very similar to Iran, another totalitarian state. The young have no knowledge of what happened during the overthrow of the Shah. Attempts are being made to wipe from the collective memory the brutal killing of Neda, an innocent girl who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That is why it is so important to keep alive the memory of events like Tiananmen Square, if not we are less as human beings.

China is called upon to: recognise and acknowledge that the Tiananmen Square massacre took place, to release all political prisoners, allow public debate of this terrible event in Chinese history.

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