Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Art Of The China-Eurasia Expo

Dispatches From Xinjiang - The Art Of The China-Eurasia Expo 1
It was a busy week in Ürümchi: musicals, archeology exhibits, art shows, a ComiCon festival, and thousands of visitors from outside the “autonomous” region. Special bus lines were put in place; millions of potted flowers were carefully arranged in sculpted dune patterns; and street corners were plastered with giant red billboards that featured -- a la the Shanghai Expo 2010 -- a dancing cartoon named Heavenly Horse Star (Tianma Xingqi), the slogan “Opening-up and Cooperating for the Building of the Silk Road Economic Belt,” and the logo for the fourth China-Eurasia Trade Expo.

Astrill Down, Everyone Frustrated

Astrill down
It's a decent day. Outdoors, I mean. We shouldn't be doing this. We shouldn't be checking our WeChat groups as friends report what portals are working and which are not -- "Sweden 2 is okay" ... "...and, not any more!" -- we shouldn't be obsessively clicking refresh on our gmail tab as if the government has decided just in the previous five seconds to unblock the service, and we shouldn't be cooped up in cubicles or monstrosities of home-office complexes twiddling our thumbs like simian slaves of a machine that won't even let us work. We should all go to the park and play Frisbee.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Baseball In Xinjiang And The Film “Diamond In The Dunes”

Baseball in Xinjiang - Diamond in the Dust
The new documentary film Diamond in the Dunes, directed by Christopher Rufo, tells the coming-of-age story of a Uyghur man named Parhat as he finds his way through college. It shows us how he and his Uyghur and Han classmates at Xinjiang University develop a passion for a game, for abilities and skills that don’t rely on ethnicity or Chinese business connections. It shows us how the citywide riots of 2009 shaped their life-paths and how they found ways to move forward despite the difficulties of their circumstances.

Sindicator, Ep.04: Chai-Na, Development By Destruction

Sindicator - Chai-na
Chairman Mao once said, "Without destruction there is not construction. The destruction is the criticism, the revolution. The destruction comes first, it of course brings the construction.” In recent years this quote has been taken literally, and the character 拆 (chāi), which means to "tear down," adorns the entrances of many-a-doomed domiciles. The phenomenon has evolved so that the Chinese have nicknamed their country 拆那 (chāinà - get it?), referring to the daily razings that make way for growth.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Rock Star Perhat On The Voice Of China

Uyghur Rock Star Perhat Voice of China
It's been two weeks since the Uyghur rock star Perhat Khaliq took on The Voice of China, and the Uyghur Internet is still buzzing about the way he delivered his songs of loss and longing to a national audience. Perhat surprised everyone with the painful tension in his voice. Strumming an acoustic guitar, he started his song in a low, almost spoken-word register that slowly evolved into a full roar.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Celebrating Roza In A Time Of Fear

Xinjiang - Celebrating Eid in a Time of Fear 2
On Friday, the first of August, we woke up to the sound of an explosion in the alley. It was a deep resonate boom: not a firecracker, not a gunshot. It was a window-rattling explosion. We knew immediately what it meant: mangled bodies, screaming women, terrified children, a suicide bomber. But when I leaned out the window, I saw a young man with a fire extinguisher putting out a few small fires next to a mangled three-wheel cart.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Rise Of Buddhism In The Far West

Buddha Xinjiang 2
The giant 41-meter Buddha faces due west. It seems to embrace the construction on the other side of Bright Red Mountain on the northeast periphery of Ürümchi. Behind him, the constant ring of hammers and the roar of Bingtuan Construction Engineering Company trucks rise from the still-unfinished wing of the new Hilton hotel and the alien-looking international expo center. Every few minutes the low industrial roar is punctuated by the “dong” of a giant bell. Chants of A-mi-tuo-fo are carried intermittently on the breeze.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: “Encounter On The Silk Road” At The Xinjiang Art Biennale

Encounter on the Silk Road 10
A lot of people turned out for the final day of the Xinjiang Art Biennale on July 20 at the International Expo Center. The massive complex, situated next to a giant Buddha and Hilton Hotel in the city's northeast, echoed with the sounds of an original score by Philip Glass called “Encounter on the Silk Road.” Indeed, exhibition was heavy on spectacle. Giant video screens, paintings, and sculptures drew the largely Han crowd into massive spaces lit by natural light. Smartphone cameras were often raised at the mesmerizing objects, which called the viewer to contemplate Xinjiang as “a land of many colors.”

This Week In Douchey Laowai Ruining It For The Rest Of Us

Douchey laowai in Sanlitun MAIN
It's Friday night just past midnight. You're standing on a curb in Sanlitun after a pint/dinner/book talk/whatever looking for a cab. You see a green and yellow car driving your way, the little red light in the windshield beckoning. Already thinking of that book on your bedside, you raise your hand high and step forward in anticipation.

Flash Fiction: “If Not For The Melon”

If Not for the Melon
Thank you to all who attended Flash Fiction for Charity on July 13 at Great Leap Brewing. We collected 2,450 RMB for Educating Girls of Rural China. We'll be posting our five readers' entries this week, culminating in a podcast of the full event on Friday. To start, here's Daniel Tam-Claiborne, author of the novel What Never Leaves, with his short story "If Not for the Melon."

Flash Fiction For Charity: It’s Today, So Come Say Hi

Flash Fiction for Charity readers
Okay folks, here's your final reminder that Flash Fiction for Charity is happening this afternoon at 2:30 pm at Great Leap Brewing's Original No. 6. All the details you need are here. On a semi-related note, while Beijing Cream will still post over the summer (Beige Wind on Thursdays, in particular), I'll personally be scaling back for about two months starting next week (travel, etc), so come by and say hi and I'll let you know how you can help us keep going.

Flash Fiction For Charity: An Interview With Cindy Jensen Of Educating Girls For Rural China

Educating Girls of Rural China
Our charity for tomorrow's community fiction event is Educating Girls of Rural China, which provides financial aid and other support for deserving young women from rural areas (principally Gansu province, but also Qinghai and Guizhou) to continue their educations. Since its establishment in 2005, EGRC has awarded 435 university and high school scholarships. The organization boasts a 100 percent graduation success rate.

Is This Gutter Oil Being Scooped From A Shanghai Alley?

Gutter oil Shanghai
Disclaimer: We can't be certain this oil being extracted from a gutter in Shanghai's Tianzifang, a trendy "historic district" filled with kitschy shops and overpriced restaurants and bars, will be used on hotplates and woks and pans. But it sure is possible, isn't it? Sing their praises: Jiiiiianbing. Guaaaanbing. Shen jian bao! Tian youtiao! GIMMAY GIMMAY GIMMAYYYY.

Your Readers At Flash Fiction For Charity (Sunday, 2:30 pm), ft. Kaiser Kuo, Susan Barker

Great Leap picture by Anthony Tao
We're two days away from Flash Fiction for Charity at Great Leap Brewing's Original No. 6 (friendly emphasis: that's the courtyard/hutong location). The doors will open at 2:30 pm, with the event kicking off shortly thereafter. If you're interested in a seat, we have just a few spots still available for reservation: please email fiction@beijingcream.com. (We'll also take walk-ups, but you might have to stand/lean.)