“Making A Tire Is Like Making A Person”: A Chinese Factory Tour

Tire factory tour story by Steven Zhang
The largest factory I ever visited was an automobile tire-manufacturing complex with more than 10,000 workers. At the time, I was working with a professor on a project to calculate the environmental impact of tire recycling. My colleague – let’s call her Kate – and I were dispatched to take a tour of the complex and see tire manufacturing firsthand. That was the ostensible reason, anyway. The real reason we were there was to schmooze with the plant managers in the hopes of obtaining one of their environmental audit reports.

False Assumptions, Misunderstanding, And Forgiveness: An Airplane Story

A letter written to Hannah Lincoln on Chengdu plane
Boarding an airplane can put you through the rawest five minutes of judgement you'll ever face, especially if you're a foreigner. Like a slow, awkward fashion show, you amble down the aisle in fits and starts while everyone already seated simply stare. On my recent Guilin-bound Chengdu plane, I was generally spared of any finger-pointing or comments before I slid into my middle seat, wedged between A and C. But then the 20-year-old boys came.

The Creamcast, Ep.06: Candice Lee, Expat Extraordinaire

BJC The Creamcast logo 250x250
Candice Lee is leaving China, and that doesn't seem fair for those of us who can't imagine a Beijing without her -- including the bowling league, the annual kickball tournament, those random nights at 4corners or Great Leap Brewing when she would be merrily blitzed from a boozy dinner and talk about things no one would remember the day after.

Miss World China Final: Where Contestants Tried, And Really Deserved Better

Miss World China 6
Occasionally in showbusiness or sports, the odds against a performer's success are so stacked that the audience chooses, out of the goodness of human compassion, to root against probability. It's why we pull for Celtic FC when they face Barcelona, or Susan Boyle. I hadn't planned to cheer for the pageant contestants of Miss World China on Sunday at Galaxy SOHO -- hadn't not planned to cheer, as planning these things one way or another would be odd -- but a realization dawned upon me sometime between the rain and the fake applause piped in through the sound system: these girls are all underdogs in their own spotlight. They deserve better.

A Modern Colossus Holds The Sun: Inside The World’s Largest Building In Chengdu

Chengdu world's largest building 9
The biggest building in the world recently opened in Chengdu, China. The New Century Global Center's colossal undulating roof, which I'd been eyeing from my apartment window these past few months, is visible from any high point in the city. I hadn't known what it was until last week, when relatives informed me through a flurry of news articles that it was part of a 1.7 million square-meter complex that is nearly the size of Monaco, and has an artificial sun.

The Creamcast, Ep.03: Amy Daml Talks About Her Sex Scene

BJC The Creamcast logo
Amy Daml of Coon Creek, Minnesota has had a productive first year in China, braving TCM, Chinese grannies, and sex scenes in movies (alas, just as a voice actress, with her sexy, sexy voice). Listen to her charm the pants off our hosts, John Artman and The Good Doctor, in the latest episode of The Creamcast. You can also catch Daml (pronounced Dam-ol) on China Radio International's Easy Cafe (time tbd).

Beers And Et Cetera At The 2nd Annual Beijing Craft Beer Festival

Craft Beer Festival reviewed
I spent my last 30 minutes at the 2nd annual Beijing Craft Beer Festival sitting behind a desk under the LGBT Resource Center tent handing out fliers and chatting with curious Chinese onlookers and expats happy to see the table. (How drunk was I? You decide.) Ni hao, women shi Beijing TongZhi ZhongXin, we announced to a curious child and his semi-interested mother. Her eyes snapped to a rainbow-patterned poster, then to the two smiling foreigners sitting in front of her. With the speed and grace of a defensive tackle scooping up a fumble, lady disappeared with child. Not a minute later, a separate young mother had her two daughters each put 10 kuai into the donations box. Scurrying and donating -- it was like that all evening, and the organizers were just fine with that.

Saint Ai, The Musician: The Divine Comedy, Reviewed

Ai Weiwei - The Divine Comedy
Ai Weiwei has managed to upset and alienate many groups during his reign as China’s national gadfly, particularly within the past five years, a period in which the 55-year-old's public profile has swelled to supernova proportions. A respondent brought up the "Ai Weiwei Effect" in last month’s roundup of critical reactions to Ai Weiwei and Zuoxiao Zuzhou’s song “Dumbass,” and on the eve of the release of The Divine Comedy -- the six-song album on which Dumbass appears -- it's worth asking again: how do we perform aesthetic analysis of the outspoken artist-cum-activist's work when our perceptions are so colored by sentiment?

To Serve People Tiananmen Special: The Global Times Reminds You To Shut The Fuck Up

TAR Tiananmen 1
Global Times chose June 4 to publish two editorials about how the Internet and media need to be brutally censored. One editorial is by Shan Renping -- the party’s stupidest editorial lapdog -- and the other is from the rat-infested oozing pile of vomit and bile shat through the vagina of a dead yet zombified tapeworm screaming at the top of its intestines, Hu Xijin. Let’s start with Hu: “Web regulation in public's best interest”

The Conversion Of Liao Yiwu: How A Poet Becomes A Dissident

Liao Yiwu - For a Song and a Hundred Songs
Liao Yiwu was a fledging poet without a formal education, a hot-tempered philanderer prone to fights, a dreamer who actively despised politics -- until the early hours of June 4, 1989, when, from the living room of his home in the river town of Fuling, he listened with Canadian Michael Day to shortwave radio reports of Chinese troops opening fire on students around Tiananmen Square. "The bloody crackdown in Beijing was a turning point in history and also in my own life," he writes in his prison memoir For a Song and a Hundred Songs...

Three Shots With… Mitch Moxley, Author Of “Apologies To My Censor”

Three Shots With Mitch Moxley
Welcome to Three Shots with Beijing Cream, where local personalities show off their drinking prowess at bars you should patronize. Produced and directed by Gabriel Clermont and Anthony Tao. You've likely bumped into him at one of the city's bars, if you're the bar-going kind. Otherwise, you might know his work from The Atlantic, the New York Times, TIME, CNN, Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications. Our guest this week is Mitch Moxley, former China Daily copy editor, author of the forthcoming Apologies to My Censor about being a white man in China.

How Is Ai Weiwei’s Musicality? We Asked Chinese Music Experts

Ai Weiwei Dumbass
By now, you’re probably familiar with Ai Weiwei’s “Dumbass," the Beijing-born artist-cum-activist’s widely-publicized collaborative heavy metal music video with Zuoxiao Zuzhou that was unveiled last week to promote the pair’s upcoming full-length effort, The Divine Comedy. Directed by well-known Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle -- you may recognize his work with Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar-Wai -- the highly-polished video offers a surrealistic interpretation of the 81 days that Ai, 55, reportedly spent in detention in mid-2011 for tax evasion

Unsavory Elements: The Good, The Bad, And The Boring Foreigners Of China

Unsavory Elements cover
The problem with gringo lit about the gringo experience in China is it inevitably and unsubtlety reinforces the foreigner's sense of Otherness while feeding his inflated sense of importance. In doses this is not necessarily bad – it can be therapeutic to read, even for lesser voyeurs – but in bulk it becomes obnoxious, not least of which because it is both disingenuous and vapid to pretend that foreigners don't relish, if not secretly rejoice at, their entitled status as Other. “From the moment we step foot in the Middle Kingdom,” editor Tom Carter writes in his introduction on the opening page of Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the Loose in China, “foreigners are subjected to an extraordinary range of alien experiences, ranging from appalling to exquisite.” The use of passive voice – are subjected to – places the emphasis strictly on “foreigners,” who are subjects protraying themselves as objects, assailed. The next sentence begins – emphasis mine – “We contend with seething masses of humanity,” and it becomes abundantly clear who are the looked-upon They.

BJC Bar And Club Awards Examined: Mr. Sex

Mr. Sex
This week we introduced the 2nd annual Beijing Cream Bar and Club Awards (VOTE HERE), with 20 categories divided into four groups. We've saved the best for last, and look who's come around to write about Mr. Sex There's not a doubt in my mind, and there should certainly be none in yours, that this group of categories is the most important. If you look at the content allowed by the owner and proprietor of BJC, you'll see that he is actually catering to the deepest and darkest urges of blog readers.

BJC Bar And Club Awards Examined: Little Miss Dance

Little Miss Dance
This week we introduced the 2nd annual Beijing Cream Bar and Club Awards, with 20 categories divided into four groups. Here's Hannah Lincoln with a closer look at the group Little Miss Dance. You’re two beers and three shots in, and it suddenly dawns on you that it is your God-given mission to share your sexiness with the world (or at least with Beijing’s other dance-floor lepers). Bearing that cross, you drag your friends to the nearest club (sidewalks of dancing ayis notwithstanding), ready to commit some serious sacrilege.

Chinagog: A Passionate Defense Of Henan, My Adopted Chinese Home

Chinagog - In defense of Henan
Anytime anything bad, weird or completely fucked up happens in China, I hold my breath for the inevitable mention of Zhengzhou, Sanmenxia, Zhumadian or any of the horror-story prone towns and cities around Henan. Historically, the province has known many sorrows, including around a billion earthquakes and Yellow River floods. In more recent history, it... Read more »

BJC Bar And Club Awards Examined: Mr. Drunk

Mr. Drunk
This week we introduced the 2nd annual Beijing Cream Bar and Club Awards (VOTE HERE), with 20 categories divided into four groups. We've invited a man who knows a thing or two about flaming shots, time traveling, methanol hangovers, and the magical curative properties of a McDonald's breakfast sandwich to take a closer look at the group Mr. Drunk.