Archive for the ‘Chinese today’ Category

From “For I have nothing” to “I walk this road alone”

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010 by xgz

I have always wanted to do something for the anniversary at this time of the year every year since 20 years ago but always had found no good excuse to do it. This year I finally found the right excuse when I accidentally came across this song from the Danish rock group Michael Learns To Rock:

What your web experience would be like in China

Saturday, April 24th, 2010 by xgz

China’s internet penetration is far less (29%) than the US (74%), but the total number of users, 384 million, has far exceeded that of the US, 228 million. Although people tend to use the web for pretty much the same purposes everywhere in the world, the web experience in China in many respect would be quite different than in the US.

The top uses for the web in China, according to the 25th internet survey report (, are for online music (84% of users), news (80%), search engines (73%), instant messaging (71%), online games (69%), online videos (63%), blogs (58%), and emails (57%). Compare this with the top uses in the US according to data from Pew Research (, which are emails (91%), search engines (88%), map/directions (86%), research hobby/interest (82%), research product/service (80%), weather (79%), health information (74%), news (72%), and travel information (72%). This contrast is already very interesting. Chinese don’t use emails as much as Americans. Instead they use instant messaging far more often. Americans tend to use the web to help with their entertainment, using it to research their hobby related topics or to gather information for their next trip. For Chinese, on the other hand, the web is the entertainment. A vast majority of them listen to online music, watch online videos, and play online games. Americans also use online business far more extensively than Chinese.


Rocking Beethoven

Saturday, September 12th, 2009 by xgz

Which musician is more famous than the Beatles today, and even Adidas named a shoe after him? Surprise, it’s Lang Lang, the classical pianist from China. Lang Lang is a rare classical musician who has a rock star celebrity recognition around the world.

We went to Nashville this weekend to see Lang Lang play Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3 with the Nashville Symphony. The concert was completely sold out. There were a lot of children at the concert. Perhaps as much as ten percent of the audience were children. Even among adults, the average age was also significantly younger than a typical audience for a classical music concert.

Sing to me, about your new policies

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 by Mei

Many Chinese kids of my generation grew up singing very upbeat songs about the good life we had, how great our leaders were, and how bright our futures would be. They were all laden with “positive” messages. Of course there was an occasional song or two just on the joy of a field trip in the park, without the requisite reminder on how it was made possible only by the blood our forefathers shed on our behalf. As kids we absorbed them all, oblivious of the wise distinctions usually made by older people. The songs were music and laughter, and they made me happy.

Thinking back on some of those songs, I realized that the lyrics were laughably unsubtle. One song (with a particularly beautiful melody) compared “Our Party” to a mother. Another sang about how “the sun is the reddest, and Chairman Mao the dearest”.

Such lyrics gradually faded out in the 1980s. There are still songs and movies that are considered “mainstream melody (主旋律)”, but most of them carry less obvious messages. So I was a bit surprised to find a song with the very unsubtle name A Mountain Folk Song about The Brief (山歌一曲唱纲要) while searching for performances by Abao, a popular folk singer in China. The lyrics and melody follow a pattern typical of west China folk songs, reminiscent of the songs I grew up with. Yet somehow, this new song lacks the emotional power of the old propaganda songs. It feels strangely like a corporate marketing piece. (more…)

From Sasu’s blog: My Tibetan Friend, and Tibetan Affairs

Saturday, April 18th, 2009 by Mei

This translation was motivated by a rather inconspicuous comment a good friend of mine made in her blog. She watched the 2009 Chinese New Year Gala on TV in a friend’s house, and made various observations about the gala, in her usual humorous style. I was all itching to leave some comments of my own on her blog, when the last sentence of her article jumped to my eyes – it was an off-hand remark: “… at least three hours in, no mention of Tibet; but then you’re only supposed to think happy thoughts during Chinese New Year.”

It was an innocent remark that nevertheless stung, as if a dear friend suddenly started to joke about my family problems in a party. She was of course not the first one of my friends who talked about Tibet, since the issue has practically become a fashion statement in the west. But taking a side in someone else’s family dispute is one thing, joking about it like enjoying a comic show is another. I was so put off by the comment that for a couple of months I couldn’t find a way to talk to her. (more…)