Tang Xianzu

The Ming writer Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) is regarded as one of China’s greatest playwrights. Born in Jiangxi into a scholar’s family, Tang exhibited literary talent from the very tender age of five. He lived in a time of government corruption, instability at the Court, when borders north and south crumbled under threat of attack from neighbouring tribes. Despite his prodigious learning, Tang encountered multiple setbacks in the Jinshi exams[1], and declined requests by numerous official that amounted to aiding in cheating. In 1591, he presented a memorandum to the emperor criticizing the idol conduct of servants of the Court, thus offending its key members. Banished to minor posts in poor, remote southernmost regions, he nevertheless worked with dedication and compassion, allowing prison inmates to visit their families during Spring Festival, and attend Lantern Festival celebrations.


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12 Christmas Gift Ideas for the Sinophile

My English partner once told me, that China should re-Christen themselves the East Pole, claim Father Christmas as one of their own, and tell the children of the world, that he’s just moved closer to where the toys are made.

As we hear sleigh bells on the horizon, I know a lot of you will be facing Christmas with a mixture of excitement and dread, with many of you still hunting for exactly the right gift to spoil your loved ones and friends. Interest in Chinese culture have grown in recent years, and I hope this gift guide may help inspire anyone shopping for a sinophile!


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Peking into Chinese Opera

This weekend sees a brief season of Chinese opera at Sadler’s Wells. I thought I’d write a little about this traditional musical genre.


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5 CNY Things To Do Outside Chinatown

This week is Spring Festival 2015. In London’s Chinatown, festive lanterns shine over frantic shoppers rushing about to prepare for the biggest annual feast and celebration, there will be lion dances in Gerrard Street and music performances in Trafalgar Square. Is the thought of pushing through the crowds again making your head spin? Are you an adventurous Sinophile wandering what else there is beyond the bounds of Soho? Here are some things you can enjoy in London outside Chinatown.


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China Underground – A Translated Sample

An interview with the band Vagabond Street, by John YingLing, for his upcoming documentary, China Underground.
I’ve translated about 3 hours of interviews for this project, which is now heavily into post production (but could still do with more funding). This will be one of the video programe available to accompany my talk “Peking Into Punk”.


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A Gaokao Essay

At 2:22 in the early morning, I was walking on a strange street, holding hands with my girl, and feeling the sweat in her palm.

“Do you think my mum’ll get the police to drag us back? Is it really ok to not go to the entrance exams?” My girl asked me, wracked by nerves.


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