Tomorrow is Halloween or All Hallows Eve, the biggest festival featuring supernatural phenomenon in the West. The closest thing on the Chinese calendar took place this year about a month ago. That was Zhong Yuan, or Ghost Month, the biggest of three festivals of the dead. China has a rich history of ghosts and spirits, as many as 1520 have been compiled. To celebrate the global love of ghosties and ghoulies, I’ll be publishing a mini series of articles on the collection 33 ghosts I talked about over this year’s Ghost Month, to give you a flavour of Chinese ghosts and an idea of just how wide a range there is.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, demons, ghosts, Halloween, spirits, supernatural by Xueting Ni
As we settle into autumn and those first chills in the air make us long for snug jumpers and steaming hot soup, it’s the perfect season for hot pot. 火锅 Huo Guo or Hot Pot is a Chinese cuisine whereby thin slices of food is cooked very quickly in boiling hot soup and consumed simultaneously during the act of cooking. It’s warming in the winter, a very social way of eating to be enjoyed slowly, offers an effective way of detoxing in hot and humid weather, and a great way of sweat out those germs in the system if you’ve caught a winter bug.
Posted in Blog and tagged Cantonese, china, Chinese, cuisine, food, hot pot, Sichuan by Xueting Ni
It has been lovely to hear about Brian Goldberg, who studied in Beijing in his youth and had grown to love the Jianbing so much that he spent almost 14 years studying the art of making this delicious pancake breakfast, and now brings it to the public on the streets of NYC, offering adaptations of the dish with more filling that are great for lunch or dinner. Let me tell you a little about the origins of the Jianbing.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, food, Jianbing, pancake, snack, street food by Xueting Ni
Qi Xi, the Chinese Valentine’s Day that is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, is also known as Qi Qiao, the festival of skills. On this day, women pray and perform rituals in the hope that they could improve their skills in clothes making. As I already have written about the origins of Qi Xi, this year’s piece will be an introduction to those wonderful Chinese traditional garments that required such skills from tailors and weavers in their making.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, clothes, culture, festival, Qi Xi, Qi Xiao by Xueting Ni
I have always been proud to be Chinese. Growing up in Britain during the 1990s, surrounded by a mix of Chinese family, friends of mixed ethnicity, and generally accepting people all round, it was not something I felt I needed to defend or actively promote. It wasn’t until I went to university, and came into contact with a wider public, that I began to see a problem.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, commentary, culture, ethnicity, heritage, identity, race by Xueting Ni
It has become a tradition, on my trips to Guangzhou, to visit Qixiu tea market in FangCun, south-west of the city. I have written about this wonderful wholesale market a couple of times, where bulk-buyers and tea lovers alike may find their heart’s desire, and if not, at least taste delicious tea in good company, away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, market, merchants, tea by Xueting Ni
Whenever LGBT issues are mentioned in connection with China, they are almost always reported as negative. LGBT Apps and events being shut down, and one map published during Pride Month coloured China black, as “Persecuting LGBT”, alongside countries like Iran and Nigeria, where homosexuality is still a capital crime. This is of course an outdated and selective view of the country, and whilst it still has a way to go, I think it’s important to set the record straight as to its actual current position, and the history behind it. Like most things about China, its attitude to LGBT issues needs to be understood within the country’s very unusual and unique historical and cultural context. The ancient Chinese had passing acceptance of queer relationships, with homosexual love appearing in written records as early 650 B.C. As with most agricultural nations, where progeny are a necessity, society tolerated homosexuality mainly as a casual penchant of royalty and the aristocracy through the dynastic periods. As society modernised, the political climate during the 1960s and 70s, meant it became politicized as a “bourgeois decadence”, and was outlawed as a crime against the country. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the Chinese really began to interact with the concept of LGBT, in a way that lead to mass inherent misunderstandings. In the late 1990s, legislative progress began to be made. This was slow going, beginning with decriminalisation of homosexuality, but not extending to the removal of trans and queer issues from the list of mental Continue Reading →
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, commentary, culture, history, LGBT, Pride, rights, society by Xueting Ni
This article is dedicated to the cats of Canton. Cats were introduced into China via Persian Empire and Egypt. The Chinese term for cat “mao”, phonetically resembles very closely the Egyptian “mau”. To this day, the predominant pedigree in China, tends to be the Persian Longhair. As a child in Guangzhou, I remember spending a lot of time with a white Persian named Tao Tao, whenever my frantically busy mother deposited me at the neigbour’s for the evening or the weekend. Tao Tao, whose name means “naughty”, was anything but. In fact, she was rather timid and skittish, my over-enthusiastic playfulness sometimes sent her scuttling to a dark corner of the flat to hide.
Posted in Blog and tagged cats, china, Chinese, commentary, culture by Xueting Ni
It’s not hard to tell from the cover that this book is going to be an unpalatable sort of satire. Whilst I find Wang Shuo very interesting as a writer, I found myself waiting for the suitable moment to start this book. When I finally did, the stark committee meeting scene it opens with put me off a couple of times. Having been exposed to the Chinese media in my childhood, there is something in the tone of official committee meetings that is inevitably soporific and dulling to one’s senses. It was not until the plot device of the Big Dream Boxer is revealed at the end of the first chapter, that I really started to engage with the story.
Posted in Blog and tagged books, china, Chinese, culture, dystopia, literature, novel, review, satire, Wang Shut by Xueting Ni
Chinese science fiction is still a relatively new concept for Western readers. It is not so in China. An encounter during my trip to China earlier this year vividly illustrates domestic attitudes to science fiction. While browsing at a major national book shop, I asked the assistant where I could find the science fiction. She directed me to one end of the shop, where I found children’s literature and educational books. Baffled, I returned to the assistant and inquired again, providing an example of the sort of books I was looking for. “Liu Cixin’s Three Body? Oh, why didn’t you say so before?!” I was re-directed to a section at the end of a row of shelves, where, albeit small, I found the selection an elegant sufficiency to keenly pique my interest.
Posted in Blog and tagged children's books, china, Chinese, culture, history, International Children's Day, literature, Sci-Fi, Ye Yonglie by Xueting Ni