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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

China’s Bill O’Reilly, Sima Nan, Is Now Pro-Free Speech, Anti-Moron

Sima Nan, Zhou Xiaoping, and Fang Zhouzi featured image
Until this week, the social critic Sima Nan was best known for getting his head stuck in an escalator at Dulles Airport. That moment was particularly precious because Nan, a devoted neo-Maoist, had just posted another of his anti-America screeds on Sina Weibo before flying to DC. But China’s most famous wumao is now back in the news for a more impressive reason: as an impassioned defender of free speech.

Hong Kong Artist Chronicles Month Of Protests In One Cartoon

Hong Kong protests - Carol Hung featured image
Want a graphic summary of the past month of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong? Local graphic designer and artist Carol Hung has you covered. She posted the above (click to enlarge) last night on Facebook, a calendar showing the main events that have led us to where we are today: the pepper spray, the umbrellas, the arrests, the barricades, the Kenny G...

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Uyghur Blockbuster “Money On The Road”

Money on the Road featured
A few weeks ago, just in time for the long ten-day break for National Day holiday and Qurban, the Uyghur comedian Abdukerim Abliz released his first full-length Uyghur language feature film (with Chinese and English subtitles). The comedy Money on the Road (Money Found on the Way in Chinese) features an ensemble of stars, including a cameo by the famous singer Abdulla. It follows the misadventures of three Uyghur farmers who come to the city as migrant workers to participate in Ürümchi’s urban renewal.

Refrigerator, Rambo Top Our List Of Favorite Chinese-Chosen English Names

Hello My Name is Refrigerator
CCTV recently published an article called "Tips for Chinese choosing an English name," which is frankly exactly the type of piece I think CCTV should be publishing more of. It features delightful sentences such as, "Many Chinese like to pick names that are in fact, not names," and, "Meanwhile, Dong and Wang is used as slang for male genitalia. So avoid anything like ‘Bunny Wang’ at all times." It got us thinking: what are the best Chinese-chosen English names we know?

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Sheep, Sangza And Happiness: Xinjiang Celebrates Eid al-Adha

Dispatches from Xinjiang - Eating Sheep featured image
On the last day of the four-day celebration of the biggest Uyghur holiday of the year, Qurban Heyt, or Eid al-Adha, it rained hard and cold. By the next morning a light dusting of snow covered the tops of the mountains overlooking the city. Like many holidays of sacrifice and harvest, this "Feast of the Sacrifice" signals the end of the season of growth and the beginning of the long hard winter. People were already beginning to sell long underwear in the walkway at the intersection of Solidarity and Victory Road next to the Grand Bazaar, and in a week, the heat would be turned on across the city.

Hong Kong Protests Surge Amid Growing Tension, Falling And Rising Barricades

Occupy Central 10.13.14a
On Monday morning, Hong Kong media reported that the barricades around Admiralty would be removed after two-plus weeks of bulwarking pro-democracy protesters in their concrete campground near government offices. The evidence was right there on the tele: moving pictures of police clearing the roads! And so, after lunch, I found myself in a friend's dad's car going from Wan Chai in the direction of our final destination in the western Mid-levels. We had just gotten onto Queensway and could see Pacific Place, a luxury complex of business and commerce, when we encountered... a barricade.

Watch: Hong Kongers Skirmish As Occupy Central Barricades Removed

Hong Kong Occupy Central students block road 3
Many of the barricades near Occupy Central began coming down this morning, but not without resistance. I took the above video at 1:40 pm today on Queensway in Admiralty, just below Hong Kong's police headquarters, a few blocks from the main protest grounds. A group of older men, apparently frustrated that the two-week Occupy Central protests have blocked their streets, rip down the barricades while others chant, "Open the roads." Some quick-thinking Occupy protesters immediately plant themselves in the middle of the street for an impromptu sit-in.

Did Ken Livingstone Crony and Anti-Occupy Spokesman John Ross “Censor” the Global Times?

John Ross
When John Ross,“former director of London’s Economic and Business Policy to ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone and current Senior Fellow with the Chongyang Institute” at Renmin University, was approached by Chinese tabloid Global Times (GT) for a profile about foreign China Watchers, he was, no doubt, expecting a nice soap-job.