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China recently has been tightening its requirements on visas. Please check with your local consulate http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/hzqz/t84229.htm before planning to travel to China. All foreigners must have a visa to enter China and in most cases you will need to be invited to China even for a Type-L tourist visa. A Type-F business visa will require additional  correct documents.

1. PASSPORT —  Submit your current, valid, signed Passport. It must not expire within 6 months and must have at least 2 blank visa pages.

2. VISA APPLICATION —

Submit a completed China Visa Application form. It must be typed, handwritten forms are rejected, and must be the correct form which differs between consular region. Download the proper form from the consular website.

NOTES:

  • Your name on the application must match your name on your passport exactly, including middle name if applicable.
  • Any incorrect information (such as wrong passport info) on the application form may result in rejection by the embassy!

3.  SUPPLEMENTAL VISA APPLICATION

If you are not a US citizen, and/or you share a passport with another traveler, submit a Supplemental Visa Application.

4. PASSPORT PHOTOGRAPH

Submit a recent, 2×2 Passport Photograph taken by a passport photographer. It must not be a digital or non-passport style photograph.

5.  BIODATA Submit a photocopy of the bio data page from your passport. Also copy of your last visa if you have previously been in China and apply for a business visa.

6. PROOF OF RESIDENCY [NON-US CITIZENS]

If you are not a US citizen, submit your proof of your legal long-term US residency (i.e. US Permanent Resident Card or US visa). A photocopy is acceptable.

7. BUSINESS INVITATION

Submit one of the following:

  • An Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit or a Confirmation Letter of Invitation issued by an authorized Chinese agency; or
  • An invitation Letter issued by the Chinese local governments, companies, corporations and institutions other than above-mentioned Chinese agency, including the following items:
    • Personal information of the invitee: name, gender, date of birth, passport number, passport date of issue, passport date of expiry, etc.
    • Information concerning the invitee’s visit to China: purpose of the visit, date of arrival and leaving, places to visit, relationship between the applicant and the inviter, and who will bear the cost of the applicant’s accommodations in China.
    • Information of the inviter: name of the unit, phone number, address, seal and signature of the legal representative.
    • The inviting organization’s stamp.

Generally, the invitation letter may be submitted as a fax, copy or printout. If necessary, the consular officer will ask the applicant to submit the original invitation letter, or to provide some supporting and supplementary documents, or schedule an interview.

sample business visa invitation letter. — requires official stamp from inviting agency.

Chinese Company Letterhead + Physical Address
Consulate General of China
United States of America
We request the Embassy to provide a 12-month multiple entry business visa for the following individual:
Name: Mr. John Smith
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: 06/06/1974
Nationality: USA
Passport Number: 123456789
Date of Issue: 2005/10/10
Date of Expiry: 2015/10/09
We are pleased to confirm that Mr. John Smith Director of Business Development for XYZ Corporation is
invited to visit China for company business meetings from August 21-28, 2012.
In view of rapidly expanding business in China, Mr. Smith will have frequent travels to China for business
purposes. We would be grateful if you may kindly grant Mr. Smith a multiple entry visa to China for
convenience.
We confirm and guarantees Mr. Smith’s expenses during his visits to China, including flights,
accommodation general travel and maintenance expenses. While in China, Mr. Smith will not receive
any financial remuneration from any Chinese source.
We appreciate your assistance in providing Mr. Smith a multiple entry China visa.
Yours sincerely,
SIGNATURE

Name
Title
Company

—–

8. BUSINESS COVER LETTER

Submit a Business Cover Letter from a US company on company letterhead and addressed to the Consulate of China. It must be signed by a manager. It must indicate :

  • the purpose of your trip
  • visa type
  • number of visa entries being applied for
  • duration of your stay
  • your job position and title
  • your company’s moral and financial responsibilities for you

9.  ADDITIONAL 

If you have previously held a Chinese nationality, and/or were born in China, Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan:

  • If you have obtained a Chinese visa before, submit a photocopy of the original passport’s information/photo page and the page containing the previous Chinese visa.
  • If you have not obtained a Chinese visa before, submit your original Chinese passport with a copy of its information/photo page, and extension page if applicable.

US citizens transiting China do not require a Chinese visa as long as they remain in the airport for less than 24 hours.

Persons who plan to re-enter China from Hong Kong or Macao must obtain visas allowing multiple entries.

Special permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners.

10. FEES and processing. USD$ 140-160 2-4 business days and no same day service.

—————–

Many travel agencies are able to help you with this process. Best wishes and safe travels.

Richard Trombly is a writer and film maker living in China since 2003.  He is the founder of http://www.obscure-productions.com

 

 

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13 Aug. 2012, Shanghai — Obscure Productions today wrapped a 4-day shoot of its short film production Analysis, a story of a 13-year-old math genius and her mentor trying to solve “the human equation.”

In the lead was newcomer Sofie Fella, a 12-year-old actress in her first starring role playing opposite seasoned talent of stage, screen and tv, Charles Mayer.

Lead Actress Sofie Fella, 12, speaks with director Richard Trombly on the set. Analysis http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html  was shot on location in Shanghai China in August 2012.

Lead Actress Sofie Fella, 12, speaks with director Richard Trombly on the set. Fella brought a high level of professionalism, maturity and natural talent to the role of Tina, a young genius seeking solid answers in math rather than the ambiguity of human behavior. Analysis http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html  was shot on location in Shanghai China.

Cinematographer Jeffrey Chu http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1338118/ on the set of Analysis. http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html <br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

Cinematographer Jeffrey Chu http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1338118/ on the set of Analysis. Chu has shot dozens of films in China, USA and other countries like Japan. He brought with himself a  team of talented and devoted professionals in the lighting and camera departments. Chu is a co-producer of Analysis. He was cinematographer on director Zheng Dasheng’s Falling City which was selected to the for the upcoming Monteal World Film Festival.

Producer and Assistant Director Jiang Wen ” Jude ” on the set of Analysis. http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html  We all had to take multiple roles since the crew was so small.

Producer and Assistant Director Jiang Wen ” Jude ” on the set of Analysis. http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html  We all had to take multiple roles since the crew was so small. Jiang was involved in this production from its inception and was deeply involved in script development and production design. She was also tireless in securing the funds to make this production possible.

“Tony” Wei Tao , Line Producer and Production Manager was an essential part of the success in shooting Analysis. We had great locations, top-notch equipment and crew and good meals. Tony kept people happy, motivated and working hard toward our goal of making a great short film. It was great to see the film come together and everyone working together so well.

“Tony” Wei Tao , Line Producer and Production Manager was an essential part of the success in shooting Analysis. We had great locations, top-notch equipment and crew and good meals. Tony kept people happy, motivated and working hard toward our goal of making a great short film. It was great to see the film come together and everyone working together so well. Wei’s dedication was essential to procure all the needed equipment for the best value since Analysis was shot on an incredibly limited budget.

Caffeinated Film making. Actress Emily Feist enjoys a cup of delicious Arabica Roasters http://www.arabicaroasters.com/en/mall/Index.php coffee. Arabica Roasters is the generous coffee sponsor of the short film Analysis http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html  The kind folks at Arabica Roasters not only offered their sponsorship and a supply of their Fair Trade Coffee selections, they also shared their wisdom and enthusiasm about great coffee. Their support kept our crew and actors alert and ready to perform.

Caffeinated Film making. Actress Emily Feist enjoys a cup of delicious Arabica Roasters http://www.arabicaroasters.com coffee. Arabica Roasters is the generous coffee sponsor of the short film Analysis.   The kind folks at Arabica Roasters not only offered their sponsorship and a supply of their Fair Trade Coffee selections, they also shared their wisdom and enthusiasm about great coffee. Their support kept our crew and actors alert and ready to perform.

Charles Mayer (left) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1885544/ stars opposite Sofie Fella in Analysis as teacher and mentor Mr. Richardson. Mayer’s most recent feature film Shanghai Calling (aka America Town) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2070597/ hit theaters in China this week. In Shanghai Calling, Mayer was supporting cast with Hollywood talents such as Bill Paxton. Analysis is the second collaboration between director Richard Trombly and Mayer.

Charles Mayer (left) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1885544/ stars opposite Sofie Fella in Analysis as teacher and mentor Mr. Richardson. Mayer’s most recent feature film Shanghai Calling (aka America Town) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2070597/ hit theaters in China this week. In Shanghai Calling, Mayer was supporting cast with Hollywood talents such as Bill Paxton. Analysis is the second collaboration between director Richard Trombly and Mayer.

Fun on the set of Analysis http://www.obscure-productions.com/analysis.html<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
“Jude” Jiang Wen, producer (left) “Somebody drop a light on him, already.”<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Richard Trombly, director “Hey, I heard that.”<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Actually, we had a very cooperative and friendly crew and cast and the production was hard work and long hours for 4 days, but we all pulled together toward the goal of doing our best with the tight schedule and limited resources. I am so moved by the work everyone did and how well everyone pulled together.

Fun on the set of Analysis. Director Richard Trombly and Producer Jude Jiang  joke with each other to the delight of lead actress Sofie Fella.

We had a very cooperative and friendly crew and cast and the production was hard work and long hours for 4 days, but we all pulled together toward the goal of doing our best with the tight schedule and limited resources. I am so moved by the work everyone did and how well everyone pulled together.

Thank you to all those who supported our efforts ! Brilliant lead actor Charles Mayer (Shanghai Calling 2012, Ip Man 2 2010 , Goodbye Shanghai 2010) , INTRODUCING: lead actress , the charming Sofie Fella, supporting actor, Paul Collins (noted cast member of East West Theatre and other Shanghai drama troupes), Yun Zhang “Ann” (Danegrous Liasons 2012) Cinematographer and coproducer Jeffrey Chu (Falling City 2012, Fen Dou 2011, Happy Ending 2010, Rasperry Magic 2010) Producer WenJiang, executive producer Gloria Lemos, co-producers Ludwig Fella and Lu Yan-Fella (John Rabe 2009) , Exir Kamalabadi production assistant and behind the scenes cameraman (Ghosts of Old Shanghai, 2011, Looper 2012) Anna Zhao graphic design, Julian Henry, Actor, Tim Chu actor,  Joseph Kalouch actor,  Emily Wallace, actor, Eric Lee, Actor , Emily Feist, actor, Micheli Molinaro Hsiao Botte, actor, Kimiya Kalamabadi, actor Tom Wei, actor, Wendy Wu, Actor, crew:  “Cloud” Zhibin Wang , sound master Yang Hongbo, camera operator, Da Tou camera assistant, Zhang Weibin Gaffer, Tony Wei Tao, Production manager, Carrie Hu production assistant. Thank you K.Leslie Graves and Roberta Sherman, for production support, Pete O’Hanlon original theme music composition and performance , Doug Finn – Original sound track composition and performance

FAIR TRADE coffee sponsor : Arabica Roastershttp://www.arabicaroasters.com

Meal Sponsor: Windows Star Garage
http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/nightlife/bars/has/windows-garage/

Location sponsors :

Shanghai University, Cinema Department

Reya Group
http://www.reyagroup.com/

And Thank you to our sponsors from  www.indiegogo.com/analysis

And to the other great people that were a part of this production.

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There is nothing quite like the openness of so many of the Chinese people I have met. People are always willing and eager to invite you into their homes and share their hearths no matter how meager and they will always assure that you have eaten the best they have to offer. This was a meal with a migrant worker who works as a maid and general assistant in a suite of professional offices in Shanghai for a startup firm, many of whom are foreign professionals. I had the joy to meet and get to know this lovely woman who is working in Shanghai to support her husband and child in their home village far from this metropolis. She saves every penny to send home – yet she spared no expense to make me the best meal she could including delicacies she brought from home saving for a special occasion.

Cooking in Jin Nong Tang- Directed by Richard Trombly

http://vimeo.com/42251241
Nong tang is the Chinese word for the narrow winding alleyways in the traditional neighborhoods of Shanghai. They are a style unique to Shanghai but are rapidly disappearing to make way for sky-scraping high rises. Jin Nong Tang is near the west bank of the Huangpu River upon which Shanghai and is not far outside of the city center so the area has become valuable and was slated to be demolished on 22 March 2012. So the invite to have dinner with Xiao Liu, a resident of Jin Nong Tang on March 21 was not to be refused…

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China accelerates space program plans

By Richard Trombly

24 Feb 2011, Beijing – China announced that its Shenzhou 9 launch will be a manned mission to the Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace -1) space module after the successful robotic docking of the unmanned Shenzhou 8 with the orbiting space lab module in November of last year.  The launch is planned for June or July.

The next manned mission was planned to be later this year with Shenzhou 10 but spokesperson for the manned space program Wu Ping announced that  Shenzhou 9 will carry three astronauts and it will not only be another opportunity to test manual docking technology but also for a brief mission of scientific experiments within the 8.5 tonne station, said the spokesperson. The Tiangong -1 module was successfully launched in September.

An astronaut on an EVA during Shenzhou – 7 (Xinhua)

The Shenzhou module and its Long March II rocket have been completed and are undergoing testing and safety checks according to the spokesperson. China also hinted that this year’s Shenzhou 10 launch would include female astronauts who are currently in training, and that Tiangong – 1 would become part of a full spacestation to be completed by 2020 along with launches of Tiangong – 2 and Tiangong – 3, said the spokesperson. Original plans for Tiangong – 1 had involved letting it descend and burn up after Shenzhou 10.

The Shenzhou – 9 mission will be the fourth manned space mission since Yang LiWei orbited Earth in Shenzhou 5 and became China’s first astronaut in 2003 and making China the third country to successfully launch a human into space.

This represents an accelerated schedule of both manned launches and in the development of the China space station. Though projected to be much smaller than the current US-constructed collaboration, the International Space Station, the combined Tiangong station will reach 60 tonnes. But it is only a part of China’s developing space industry including a web of satellites and its own GPS system as well as more Moon probes after the success of Chang’e 2 which completed its Moon survey and is off to explore the Lagrange points in deep space.

China announced further plans late last year for human exploration on both the Moon and later to Mars. It already has plans for the Chang’e 3 and 4 probes. The Moon landing was outlined in China’s space roadmap released late last year which says China will “push forward human spaceflight projects and make new technological breakthroughs, creating a foundation for future human spaceflight”, and describes preparations for orbiting laboratories, space stations and studies that underpin “the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.” It was hinted that the Moon landing, the first since Apollo 17 in 1972, was slated for 2025 but recently China has advanced the timetable and investment in its other space endeavors with a Lunar mission possible before 2020.

According to Shanghai Security News, although it did not reveal its sources, China will spend more than USD$50 billion in the next decade on up to 20 space ship launches. It is a part of the space roadmap that involves investing heavily in developing China’s space industry and launch capabilities.

This comes as India is renewing its own commitment to space. As a neighbor to China, scientists in India are well aware of China’s heating up of the space race. In the 90s India was seen as a leader in launching satellites and had announced plans in the early part of this century to send unmanned missions to Mars but India has seen China develop heavy launch vehicles that can launch nearly 10 tonnes while India is limited by the 2.5 tonne payload of its own current rockets. But former ISRO chairman, U. R. Rao addressed a gathering of scientists last week at Sri Venkateshwara University and discussed the commitment of India to develop its sciences programs, increase interest among students and renew its commitment to go to Mars.

This came just before the announcement that a teen from India, Sachin Kukke, has been selected as a winner of the YouTube Space Lab science competition, said the U.S.-based company. The  18-year-old Bangalore engineering student won for his experiment on how microgravity affects the thermal conductivity of a ferrofluid subject to a magnetic field and how heat transfers in these magnetic liquids called ferrofluids which might be used to create advanced cooling systems.

All of this as NASAs own 10-year survey outlines austere spending on planetary sciences from 2013 – 2022 and slashes funding for two proposed Mars missions in 2016 and 2018. So NASA Mars exploration past the Mars Science Lab currently underway to the red planet will be virtually unfunded under the current plan.

While the U.S. has made vast advances in robotic space research but has not made serious advances in human missions since the development of the shuttle. With the retiring of the fleet the U.S. is currently reliant upon Russia to even reach the U.S.-constructed ISS. Perhaps China’s efforts will spur the USA to get back into the space race that China is currently gearing up to win.

Richard Trombly is  Public Outreach director for The Mars Initiative http://www.themarsinitiative.org/

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China Moves Toward Permanent Space Presence

August 31,2011

Ivan Broadhead | Hong Kong

Read the original story at  http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/China-Moves-Toward-Permanent-Space-Presence-128773673.html

Visitors sit besides a model of Chinese made Tiangong 1 space station at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China 2010, in Zhuhai city, south China, Guangd

Photo: AP
Visitors sit besides a model of Chinese made Tiangong 1 space station at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China 2010, in Zhuhai city, south China, Guangdong province (2010 File)

China is expected to launch its Tiangong 1 space laboratory in the coming days. A country that only eight years ago put its first taikonaut (astronaut) into orbit could, in eight more years, be the only country to possess a permanently-crewed space station.

Chinese media report that the Tiangong 1, or “Heavenly Palace”, is being readied for flight at the Jiuquan launch facility in Inner Mongolia.

The module represents the first element of China’s plan to develop a manned space station, which Beijing hopes will be fully operational by 2020.

Professor Kwing-Lam Chan of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is involved in analysis of China’s lunar program. He explains the objective of this first Tiangong mission:

“It’s a lab for testing the connection between spacecraft: Shenzhou 8 will be sent [up] probably this year, and will be connected to Tiangong 1 for testing, but will not carry people,” he said.

State media report that China’s space program aims to enhance the country’s “progress, power and prestige”.

Under military authority, it has advanced rapidly despite European Union and U.S. embargoes on trading in defense-related technologies with China.

The Shenzhou spacecraft emerged from Russian Soyuz technology in the late 1990s. A first manned space mission for China followed in 2003, making a national hero of the taikonaut Colonel Yang Liwei.

Professor K.L. Yung of Hong Kong Polytechnic University is helping develop equipment that China will use on the Moon next year.

He suggests that while China’s space program is no more advanced those of other space-faring nations, a team of elite engineers and scientists is making incremental and cost-effective progress.

“The main reason is obviously salaries in China are not that high. The other reason is, they are developing a lot of their own components because of the high-tech embargo; it actually helps them.”

With the International Space Station, funded by Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and the EU, slated for retirement in 2020, Yung points out that China could soon emerge as the only nation with a permanent, manned space platform.

The potential for such a strategic advantage in space, aligned with China’s ballooning defense budget, is causing international concern.

Last week, the U.S. Defense Department published its annual report on China’s military capabilities.  The report concluded that Beijing is developing “extensive space warfare technologies”.

The report also found little evidence that “China’s leaders have fully thought through the global effects of employment of these strategic capabilities”.

Although Beijing insists it “opposes the weaponization of space”, India, Japan and Korea continue to play catch up with their own indigenous space programs.

However, Chan is convinced China is receptive to cooperation, on its terms:

“I am very impressed by the quality of the people on the space enterprise in China and I believe they want to collaborate, on equal grounds.”

Tiangong 1 is at least the fourth space launch China has conducted since mid-August. However, the ambitious pace of the launch schedule is now under scrutiny after August 18th, when an experimental orbiter launched from Jiuquan failed to enter orbit when the rocket carrying it malfunctioned.

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DIGNIFIED CHAOS

By Richard Trombly

Posted on August 15th 2011

http://www.designindaba.com/article/dignified-chaos

The most populous city in China, Shanghai is experiencing urban development and cultural renewal on a grand scale.

Shanghai is known as “The Pearl of the East” and is a city that was designed from the outset. Before the Western powers won concessions from China in the Opium Wars of the late 19th century, there was only a sleepy fishing village. But with the influx of foreigners, the city was built within a walled circle on a bend of the west bank of the Huangpu River.


A once-stately brick building bears the white hand-painted Chinese character that means this building is condemned and ready for demolition. Photo by “Jude” Jiang Wen

  • A once-stately brick building bears the white hand-painted Chinese character tha
  • A “wet market” where locals have a choice of affordable vegetables. Photo by “Ju
  • View of the Rock Bund Hotel, which opened last year and also features a modern a
  • A trendy young man photographed in Huai Hai Fang, an old lane house compound off
  • Chinese people at the Shanghai World Expo in front of the Philippines Pavilion.
  • Old Shanghainese man photographed on People’s Square. Photo by Patrick Wack.
  • Schoolboys at the Shanghai World Expo. Photo by Patrick Wack.
  • Elderly people practicing Tai Chi Chuan on the Bund as the sun rises over the sk
  • View of the Huangpu district and the modern skyline of Pudong as the sun rises.
  • Migrant workers from the countryside comprise the bulk of the workforce in the b
  • View over old lanes near Nanjing West road in the Puxi area of Shanghai. Many pe
  • A woman getting her hair curled at the local hair salon. Photo by Patrick Wack.
  • Tourists and passers-by walk pass a giant urban planning billboard on Nanjing Ea
The city is built around the river and divided into Puxi (literally “west of the Huangpu”) where all of historic Shanghai exists and Pudong (East side), which was farm fields until the 1990s but is currently home to the city’s modern glass and steel behemoths that comprise the Lujiazui financial district. Ferries filled with numerous scooters, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcycles still cross the river but one can see that the tracks onto the boats were designed for cars – a reminder that just over 20 years ago, before the first of Shanghai’s now impressive network of bridges and tunnels, this was the only method of crossing the wide, yellow silt-laden river.With a population reaching 20 million, Shanghai is the nation’s most populous, and certainly most prosperous, city in mainland China. And despite city planners’ design schemes, Shanghai is a city with a mind and a rhythm of its own.“Shanghai is fascinating as it exists on multiple levels no matter what sphere you are moving in,” says former Shanghai resident Richard Simpson, who works as portfolio design manager with New Zealand-based Essenze and is an expert in organisational behaviour. “On street level, rickshaws pulling collected polystyrene are mingling with luxury cars, but there is no friction or visible animosity. It clicks and hums at an extraordinary pace and seemingly reinvents itself on an almost daily basis.”With overflowing sidewalks where pedestrians bump shoulders, spilling into bike lanes where displaced cyclists jockey for space with the endless stream of motorised traffic, including unlicensed three-wheeled taxis, a never-ending stream of electric scooters and motorcycles stacked with produce from neighbouring provinces, as well as cars and buses, the morning commute is a chaos that somehow works on a grand scale.The traffic patterns found some recent relief due to massive expansions in the subway system in advance of the 2010 Shanghai Expo. It is a safe, clean, cheap and environmentally friendly way to move over 7 million riders per day from one of the more than 270 stations along the over 420 kilometres of track. A ride on the metro starts at 3 Yuan or approximately US$0.45. The longest ride will only cost about US$1.

All of this traffic reflects a huge amount of commerce and the city is growing, expanding and modernising at a breakneck pace. It is happening so fast that rows of vast skyscrapers, each contributing a unique design to the skyline along the main business arteries, give way directly to 19th century “shikumen”, Shanghai’s distinctive brick residential blocks characterised by winding, narrow streets. Meanwhile across the city, former concession areas offer European-influenced villas and Russian Orthodox churches that have been renovated into upscale nightclubs.

“Local and global influences are brought together and blended to infuse the city with a mystique all its own,” comments Simpson. “Traditional Chinese architecture is encroached by modern high-rises, making its command of positive and negative space even stronger. Standing at the Bund [riverfront] is very much the ying and yang of the city with the Art Deco behind and the flamboyant modern expressionism across the river.”

But not everyone is sharing in this prosperity. Gentrification remains rare in this city that strives to be so modern. Instead of repurposing existing buildings, entire blocks are demolished and residents displaced to make way for new buildings. A rundown shikumen block located conveniently along Zhaojiabang Road, a major business street, is a myriad lanes zigzagging among once-stately brick buildings that all bear the white hand-painted Chinese character meaning “condemned”.

Although the demolition has begun, Liu Xiaoling is one of only 10 residents left in her block that used to be teeming with thousands. Here she pays US$62 per month out of her US$200 salary for her 5 square metre single-room apartment. Most apartments exceed her salary. “I look at these beautiful old buildings and it seems like they are weeping and aware of their fate,” says the 34-year-old office maid. “I want to stay in Shanghai, but once this room is gone, I may not find any place I can afford.” Others from her neighbourhood and nearby blocks visit the lottery vendor on her lane in the hope that they will be lucky and avoid their fate.

“Among the chaos there is order of a highly dignified manner,” adds Simpson. “Wet markets on the roadside appear to be a seething mass of people fighting for personal space, yet for the locals they seem to represent a layer of tradition within a whirlwind of change. Designer label stores next to hole-in-the-wall eateries define a city that refuses to lose its roots to rampant building.”

One of the economic realities is that “wet markets” are the local choice for affordable vegetables. At best these are grand open halls filled with local farmers. But there are also lines of farmers that carry their produce to town in two baskets on a bamboo pole and then squat along a roadside, effectively cutting off all traffic and clogging it with pedestrians elbowing their way to a bargain.

Though the Chinese government has strong authority to enact civil control, there is a famous folk saying in China: “The hills are high and the emperor is far away.” This exemplifies the passive resistance that the people present to the government. Wet markets are one example. Shanghai mandated the closing of wet markets while stating supermarkets should start selling vegetables, but supermarket produce costs are considerably higher.

So in this communist nation, the wet markets remain due to market demand. Even though the Shanghai government website still boasts that to improve public health and modernisation, all wet markets would be state-owned by 2006, 80% of the wet markets remain privatised. Shanghai lawmaker Zheng Huiqiang concedes that this goal, with a price tag reaching US$4.5 billion, won’t likely be met soon.

The power of the people can also be seen in a 2003 ordinance to restrict all bicycles from downtown and turn bicycle lanes into additional automobile lanes. The popular resistance from an overwhelming majority of the people led to this policy being abandoned. And even while the government forbids superstition and mysticism, the old traditions find their way to emerge.

On a recent taxi ride, my 47-year old driver, Xu Wei pointed to the Nine Dragon Pillar at the intersection of several streets, and told me the local legend that work was repeatedly halted and the pillar could not be solid until a monk came to exorcise a nest of dragon spirits living there. The monk called on the workers to adorn the pillar with dragons so that the people would know to respect their spirits.

Of course, famed designer Zhao Zhirong tells another story. He was called upon to design the pillar that marks the heart of Shanghai’s sprawling highway network and says he drew on elements from nature like his family’s garden. When he looked at the traffic pattern of Shanghai’s highways, he saw the form of a dragon with wings extended. Nonetheless, locals have propagated the other story and somehow it is fitting of the way the people in this city make their own story.

Richard Trombly is a freelance writer living in China since 2003. He is also an obscure filmmaker with a clear vision at: www.obscure-productions.com

A child of suburban Paris, photographer Patrick Wack has been based in Shanghai since 2006, after spending several years in the US, Sweden and Berlin. Website: www.patrick-wack.fr

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Shanghai’s East West Theatre presents Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead at Shanghai’s historic Xinguang Theater.

poster for the play

Location: XinGuang Theatre, 586 Ningbo Lu (cross street  North Guangxi Lu.)  close to Metro lines 2,1, and 8 – People’s Square Station.

Dates:  April 8th, 9th, 10th & April 15th, 16th, 17th.

Friday & Saturday shows at 20:00, Sunday Shows at 19:00.

Tickets are priced at 150 RMB in advance and 180 RMB at the door. We are also offering a reduced price show on our closing night, Sunday April 17th. All tickets on the last night are only 120 RMB in advance or at the door. Advance tickets available at: Cotton’s Bar or at the Bulldog Pub.

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