Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Blind Voice Of The New Silk Road

Voice of the silk road
This week is the screening of the seventh segment of the first round of The Voice of the Silk Road – a show that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs watch every Friday night at 8 pm local time on Xinjiang TV Channel 9. People like the contest because they can watch their favorite performers joke around with each other; they can see people they know perform or imagine themselves performing in their place. Uyghurs see themselves trying on a performance mode popularized by mainstream English and Chinese-language versions of the show, but instead of English or Chinese pop ballads and American and (largely) Han stories of unrecognized talent, on this show they see the reverse. They largely see Uyghur folk songs, classical muqam and pop music; and they mostly hear Uyghur stories of personal triumph. Read more »

The Beautiful Faces Of North Korea

Mangyongdae Theatre, North Korea
The amazing folks over at the North Korea news and analysis website NK News are back with the second edition of their (hopefully annual) NK News Calendar, with pictures by award-winning photographer Eric Lafforgue. You can buy the calendar here -- and get $5 off by entering beijingcream as the coupon code. Read more »

Joy, Hardship And Ultimate Frisbee: Ivan Xu’s Unique Ride Across Europe

2014 August- About to start the day to cycle in Nancy France
Back in June, we brought your attention to the adventures of Ivan Xu, a Chinese youth who planned to bike alone around Europe for 100 days for Ultimate Frisbee and charity. He ended up cycling across 14 countries and visiting 11 high-level Ultimate Frisbee clubs* from June 18 to September 25, beginning in Brest, Belarus and ending in Berlin. His adventures have been profiled by media around the world, including CCTV-4, Estrepublicain.fr, Pärnu Postimees, Belarusian CTV, Russia-Belarus TPO TV and OHT TV, so what follows is hardly an exclusive. But here's an update anyway. Read more »

Sindicator, APEC Special: In Case You Missed It…

Sindicator - APEC featured image
Our beloved China, the new social-political-economic butterfly on the scene, wowed at APEC before jetting off for the ASEAN East Asia Summit and the G20 Summit. Hosting APEC for the first time since 2011, Beijing did things 大气, spending $6 billion on a lakeside campus, a new elevated expressway, and a no-costs-spared spectacular opening complete with fireworks. But how did they really do? Read more »

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Flamenco And “World Citizenship”

Uyghur Flamenco featured image
On any given weekend in China you can find a Uyghur band playing flamenco. It has not always been this way. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that a young man from Qarghiliq in Kashgar prefecture discovered Turkish variations of Spanish flamenco. Over the next decade that man, Arken Abdulla, along with other early flamenco guitarists such as Qehirman and Tursun (see the above video), introduced flamenco to the Uyghur world. Read more »

Bamboozling, Clickbait And Viral Marketing: The New Tricks Of Chinese PR

PR clickbait boyfriend wanted - Beijing Today
Chinese social networking sites have been swamped with discussion of the latest scandalous topic: “Escort for Travel.” Purportedly the work of an 18-year-old woman, the posts advertise job openings for “temporary boyfriends” and include photos and videos of the woman sleeping with random men on her trips to Nanjing, Wuxi and Suzhou. Read more »

Introducing: “The New Masters,” A Documentary On MMA In China

The New Masters 1
Ed's note: First, watch the above trailer. It's awesome, isn't it? It's the preview for The New Masters, a proposed full-length documentary about mixed martial arts in China directed by Christopher Cherry and David Dempsey. You can learn more about it, which has the makings of something special, over on its Kickstarter page. Or keep reading, as screenwriter and producer Sascha Matuszak explains the inspiration behind this project. Read more »

The Poetry Of Foxconn Worker Xu Lizhi Before His Suicide

Xu Lizhi Foxconn suicide
A week and a half ago, the China blog of the libertarian communism website libcom.org -- Nao Blog -- published translations of the poetry of Foxconn worker Xu Lizhi, who committed suicide on September 30. As Nao notes, "By translating these poems, we aim to memorialize Xu, share some of his excellent literary work, and spread awareness that the harsh conditions, struggles and aspirations of Chinese migrant workers (including but not limited to Foxconn) have not diminished." Read more »

Magical Realism? The Avant-Garde Artist He Ling

He Ling magical realism 1
While most painters create their art using pen or brush, the avant-garde artist He Ling (@何玲Heling) uses medical syringes to bring his wild imaginings to life. At his recent exhibition in Songzhuang Art District, the young artist displayed a series of mutant birds and beasts he created by injecting acrylic paints and dyes made from Chinese herbs into his canvas. The process resembles traditional embroidery in its delicacy. Read more »

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Uyghur Migrant Food Network

Dispatches From Xinjiang - The Uyghur Migrant Food Network 1
When young people come to Ürümchi to work or study they are often supported by a network of people from their home village. They rely on relatives and friends to help them find jobs and get on their feet. But there is one thing their hosts cannot provide: food from back home. It's perhaps for this reason that young Uyghurs have developed a food shipping system that brings the tastes of the countryside into the city. Read more »

Hutongs And Palaces: Tian Li’s Beijing In Oil And Wood Block

Tian Li painting of Beijing 皇城系列(二(2)80x80cm
It’s hard to find anyone without an opinion about this city, be it a fear of pollution, heavy traffic or some other widely reported negative attribute. But Beijing isn’t all bad. Tasty snacks, magnificent architecture and a comparatively cosmopolitan environment are among the city’s selling points, which is what artist Tian Li attempts to capture in his work. Read more »

No Subway Line 2 Halloween Party This Year, Because You Could Be Arrested

Anthony Tao's homemade Optimus Prime costume in Hong Kong subway
Happy Halloween, everybody. For those of you wondering, the some-years-strong Beijing tradition of dressing up and riding Subway Line 2 on the weekend before Halloween will come to a close this year. Authorities are worried about the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, so they don't want their public transportation clogged with beer-guzzling foreigners doing weird shit and attracting crowds. Read more »