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Everything about China and it's culture

Everything about China and it's culture


  • World Celebrates The Chinese New Year 2012-Dragon

    This year, the Chinese year 4710 begins on January 23, 2012. The Chinese all over the world are celebrating the New Year with a new sign, the dragon. But what are the Chinese up to during the New Year Chinese festivities?

    Chinese families celebrates Chinese New Year by using a different mix of their traditions, beliefs, superstitions, lucky signs and charms.

    According to Chinese legend, a long time ago, the gods called together all the animals on the planet, and told them that there will be a race. The first twelve winners will be included in a special list that they were coming up with. So on the chosen date, all the animals lined up and started to race each other. Being the smallest, the rat was able to weave its way through and under all the other animals and ended up crossing the finish line first. Next came the ox, followed by the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and lastly, the pig. That’s how those twelve animals ended up representing the twelve animal signs of the Chinese zodiac, each with its own specific characteristics.

    For the Chinese, the dragon is the luckiest and most auspicious of all the animal signs. Chinese parents want their kids to get married in the Year of the Dragon. Chinese couples rush to make “dragon babies” because they’re supposed to be lucky. You can just imagine the number of Chinese babies that will be born this year.

    In addition, for Chinese, new year meant decorating and wearing red, having lots of food at home, attending fireworks and parades, and having lots of red envelopes with money inside. There would be round fruits so that there’ll be lots of money, and pineapples for prosperity. A big fried fish would also be present because fish supposedly represented abundance.

    A lot of Chinese also make it a point to visit Chinese temples on Chinese New Year’s Eve to offer incense, pray to their ancestors and consult the resident geomancer about their fortunes for the coming year. Chinese families also visits their friends and relatives, and participate in the lantern festival. Families also clean their homes, because they feel that it will remove bad luck and ill-fortunes.

    The highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon–which might stretch a hundred feet long–is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo.

    The Chinese New Year is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Bhutan, Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Chinatowns around the globe. Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. It usually lasts three days.

    To all the Chinese around the world, Happy New Year 2012 to all of you!

  • China accomplishes first space docking

    Two Chinese spacecraft accomplished the country’s first space docking procedure early Thursday, silently coupling in space more than 343 km above Earth’s surface.

    Nearly two days after it was launched, the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 docked with space lab module Tiangong-1 at 1:36 a.m., marking another great leap for China’s space program.

    The success of the docking procedure makes China the third country in the world, after the United States and Russia, to master the technique, moving the country one step closer to establishing its own space station.

    President Hu Jintao, who is in France for the G-20 summit, sent a congratulatory message on the success of the country’s first-ever space docking.

    “Breakthroughs in and acquisition of space docking technologies are vital to the three-phase development strategy of our manned space program,” Hu said in the message.

    Hu said he wishes all the program participants to try all out to fulfill a complete success of the whole mission after the smooth docking.

    Other leaders, including Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, who are Standing Committee members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, watched the mission at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center.

    China is now equipped with the basic technology and capacity required for the construction of a space station, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program.

    “This will make it possible for China to carry out space exploration on a larger scale,” he said.

    “The capability increases China’s ability to act independently in space, as well as its ability to cooperate with others,” said Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst and China project manager at the global security program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit scientific advocacy group based in the United States.

    “China’s pursuit of an original solution to space docking, that is based on their understanding of the experience of other nations, could lead to innovations or experiences other space-faring nations could find useful,” Kulacki said.

    The world’s first space docking was achieved in 1966, when the manned U.S. spacecraft Gemini 8 docked with an unmanned Agena Target Vehicle.

    Forty-five years later, the maneuver remains a technological challenge. Many of mankind’s 300-plus attempts have been met with difficulties or resulted in failure.

    “To link up two vehicles traveling at 7.8 km per second in orbit, with a margin of error of no more than 20 centimeters, is like ‘finding a needle in a haystack’,” Zhou said.

    The Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 will separate after flying together for 12 days. After that a second docking procedure will be conducted.

    Rendezvous and docking, essential to exploring space beyond Earth’s orbit, create the possibility of building space stations, resupplying them, transferring astronauts and rescuing them.

    Without this key know-how, exploration of the moon and beyond requires carrier rockets with significant amounts of thrust. China does not currently possess rockets of this magnitude.

    Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 both weigh about 8 metric tons, well within the delivery capacity of the Long March 2F rocket. A permanent orbiting space station is designed to be as heavy as 60 metric tons, with docking ports accommodating both manned and freight space vehicles.

    The interior of both the Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 is an actual environment in which astronauts can live and work. After the Shenzhou-8 tests, the Tiangong-1 will remain a target orbiter for more docking procedures in 2012 by the Shenzhou-9 and -10 spacecraft, at least one of which will be manned to conduct manual docking.

    Although the Shenzhou-8 is unmanned, it is equipped with devices to record images and data that will help China make improvements to its spacecraft design and astronaut training.

    Two female astronauts are now believed to be on the active duty roster for future Shenzhou missions, said Chen Shanguang, director of the Astronaut Center of China (ACC).

    “We must assess both male and female astronauts to verify if human beings can live in space, as there are huge differences between men and women in spite of their common generalities,” Chen said.

    “Space exploration activities would be incomplete without the participation of female astronauts,” Chen said.

    The Chinese spacecraft also feature collaborative space experiments under the framework of a Chinese-German science and technology cooperation.

    German scientists designed bio-incubators for the experiments, while their Chinese counterparts were in charge of the development of control equipment, China’s manned space program spokeswoman Wu Ping said.

  • A Chinese old-fashioned wedding

  • Chinese food animated

    食功夫 Chinese Food from sun haipeng on Vimeo.

  • Happy Moon Cake Festival 2011

    Moon Cake Festival: A Mid-Autumn Festival (Chung Chiu), the third major festival of the Chinese calendar, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month. This festival corresponds to harvest festival s observed by Western cultures (in Hong Kong, it is held in conjunction with the annual Lantern Festival).

    Contrary to what most people believe, this festival probably has less to do with harvest festivities than with the philosophically minded chinese of old. The union of man’s spirit with nature in order to achieve perfect harmony was the fundamental canon of Taoism, so much so that contemplation of nature was a way of life.

    This festival is also known as the Moon Cake Festival because a special kind of sweet cake (yueh ping) prepared in the shape of the moon and filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds and duck eggs is served as a traditional Chung Chiu delicacy. Nobody actually knows when the custom of eating moon cake of celebrate the Moon Festival began, but one relief traces its origin to the 14th century. At the time, China was in revolt against the Mongols. Chu Yuen-chang, and his senior deputy, Liu Po-wen, discussed battle plan and developes a secret moon cake strategy to take a certain walled city held by the Mongol enemy. Liu dressed up as a Taoist priest and entered the besieged city bearing moon cake. He distributed these to the city’s populace. When the time for the year’s Chung Chiu

    The moon plays a significant part of this festival. In Hong Kong, any open space or mountain top is crowded with people trying to get a glimpse of this season’s auspicious full moon.

    First lady on the moon: It is generally conceded that Neil Armstrong , the American astronaut, was the first man on moon ( he made that historic landing in 1969). But that’s not necessarily festival arrived, people opened their cakes and found hidden messages advising them to coordinate their uprising with the troops outside. Thus, the emperor-to-be ingeniously took the city and his throne. Moon cake of course, became even more famous. Whether this sweet Chinese version of ancient Europe’s “Trojan Horse” story is true, no one really known. the truth to Chinese, who believe that the first people on the moon was a beautiful woman who lived during the Hsia dynasty (2205-1766BC)

    This somewhat complicated moon-landing story goes like this: A woman , Chang-O, was married to the great General Hou-Yi of the Imperial Guard. General Hou was a skilled archer. One day, at the behest of the emperor, he shot down eight of nine suns that had mysteriously appeared in the heaven that morning. His marksmanship was richly rewarded by the emperor and he became very famous. However, the people feared that these suns would appear again to torture them and dry up the planet, so they prayed to the Goddess of Heaven (Wang Mu) to make General Hou immortal so that he could always defend the emperor, his progeny and the country. Their wish was granted and General Hou was given a Pill of Immortality.

    Another version of this story notes that Chang-O, the wife of the Divine Archer, shot down nine of ten suns plaguing the world and received the Herb of Immortality as a reward.

    Whoever the hero was, Chang-O grabbed the pill (or the herb) and fled to the moon. In some versions it is uncertain whether she ever actually got there, because Chinese operas always portray her as still dancing-flying toward the moon.

    When Chang-O reached the moon, she found a tree under which there was a friendly hare. Because the air on the moon is cold, she began coughing and the Immortality Pill came out of her throat. She thought it would be good to pound the pill into small pieces and scatter them on Earth so that everyone could be immortal. So she ordered the hare to pound the pill, built a palace for herself and remained on the moon.

    This helpful hare is referred to in Chinese mythology as the Jade Hare. Because of his and Chang-O’s legendary importance, you will see – stamped on every mooncake, every mooncake box, and every Moon Cake Festival poster – images of Chang-O and sometimes the Jade Hare.

    The old man on the moon: There is a saying in Chinese that marriages are made in heaven and prepared on the moon. The man who does the preparing is the old man of the moon (Yueh Lao Yeh). This old man, it is said, keep as a record book with all the names of newborn babies. He is the one heavenly person who knows everyone’s future partners, and nobody can fight the decisions written down in his book. He is one reason why the moon is so important in Chinese mythology and especially at the time of the Moon Festival. Everybody including children, hikes up high mountains or hills or onto open beached to view the moon in the hope that he will grant their wishes.

    To celebrate this sighting of the moon, red plastic lanterns wrought in traditional styles and embellished with traditional motifs are prepared for the occasion. It is quite a sight to see Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, or Morse Park in Kowloon, alight with thousands of candlelit lanterns. These “Lantern Carnivals” also occur spontaneously on most of the colony’s beaches.

    The lantern are made in such traditional shapes are rabbits, goldfish, carps, butterflies, lobsters and star-shaped fruits. However, in modern Hong Kong you will also see lantern in the shape of missiles, airplanes, rockets, ships and tanks. In Chinese mythology, the butterfly is the symbols of longevity and the lobster the symbols or mirth. Star-shaped fruit is the seasonal fruit in the autumn, and the crap is an old symbol of the Emperor, personifying strength, courage, wisdow and, of course, power.

  • What Foreigners Looking for Work in China Need to Know

    The Labor Department announced no new jobs were created in August in the United States. With fears of a double dip recession rising, the unemployment situation, already mired at 9.1%, could get worse before it gets better.

    Many Americans are looking to China’s soaring economy for job opportunities. Firms such as Apple , Goldman Sachs ,and Microsoft have announced they will add staff in China. Citigroup said it would triple the number of employees in the country from three thousand to ten thousand within three years. Even Google, which shut down its search engine in China last year and began redirecting users to its Hong Kong site, is hiring.

    Two years ago, seemed to suggest that foreigners could find jobs in China, even if they didn’t speak much Mandarin or didn’t know about the local culture.

    But is that reality?  The simple answer is no.

    Working in China can be a great career experience. Younger executives get far more responsibility than they would in America. Charlotte, one of my firm’s analysts, leveraged her China experience with us to pursue an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.

    With China becoming the growth engine for some of the largest companies like Intel, Disney and Starbucks, executives with China-based experience are likely to be in high demand.

    There are, however, serious downsides to working in China to think about before heading over. Unlike several years ago, being able to speak English or having overseas work experience does not automatically give you an advantage.

    Nearly one million Chinese have studied abroad in the last three decades. Almost 30 percent have returned to China in recent years because of job opportunities and daunting U.S. work visa policies.  Nearly 80 percent of my firm’s recent hires in the past two years studied in America and the United Kingdom.

    Companies often prefer to hire these returnees because they can move with ease between Chinese and Western business environments. Given this pool of qualified Chinese, foreign job seekers have to work harder to prove their value. The Chinese government is also making it difficult for foreigners to get visas unless they have demonstrated expertise in sectors like finance and IT.

    Foreigners lucky enough to find jobs should also expect lower salaries than what they get at home. Even before the financial crisis, companies began phasing out expatriate packages with cars, chauffeurs and housing allowances – except for the most senior executives. Expats should expect to be paid a fraction of their salary back home until they can prove that they add value to the China operations.

    Often the best jobs are in smaller firms, run by executives that can show you the ropes of the Chinese business world. They are more likely to train you, and potentially pay you the high salaries you want.  Bigger multinationals often prefer to relocate someone from headquarters – who knows the company culture – to China for several years.

    The most successful foreigners often take a low paying job to start. After two or three years of proving their value, learning Mandarin, and networking, they finally find the compensation packages they were looking for.

    Despite the lower pay and the challenges, working in China can be a great experience and a stepping stone.

  • Chinese traditional Yue Music troupe will tour in Atlanta


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  • What’s the purpose of China’s new aircraft carrier?

    The United States is asking questions and isn’t happy with what it’s hearing. Late last night, a spokeswoman for the US State Department sought to clear the air about China’s intentions surrounding the Ukranian aircraft carrier they purchased, the Varyag:

    We welcome any explanation from China about why it needs this kind of equipment. This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as other countries. It is not as transparent as the US about its military acquisitions or its military budget.”

    The issue of transparency is most likely due to the fact that despite world-wide news coverage of the Varyag’s first sea trials, the Chinese government remained silent, barred foreign and domestic reporters from photographing or taping, and had no fanfare whatsoever surrounding the launch of China’s most important piece of military equipment to date.

    In the past, China has been forthcoming about its intended use for the Varyag. The official party line remains that the vessel will be primarily used for research and training.

    However, as the realization of “holy crap, we have a carrier” sinks in among China’s higher-ups, no doubt some alternate uses will be spilling out, causing further anxiety among China watchers. The first of these alternate uses bubbled up yesterday in an opinion piece published in the state-run military newspaper, PLA Daily. In the commentary, a top level reporter made some bold assertions that would most likely not be published if they did not receive some support from Chinese leadership.

    Why did we build it if we don’t have the courage and willingness to use the aircraft carrier to handle territorial disputes? It is reasonable to use the aircraft carrier or other warships to handle disputes if there is any need. The reason why we built a carrier is to safeguard China’s maritime rights and interests more efficiently. We will be more confident and have more determination to defend our territorial integrity after we have carriers.

    No country has specifically responded to this assertion as of yet, but countries that currently have maritime territorial disputes with China such as the Philippines and Vietnam have naturally been concerned about the carrier since it was announced. Taiwan similarly had a strong reaction to the Varyag by unveiling a “carrier killer” missile set against a backdrop of a burning Varyag.

    Around the world there are currently 22 aircraft carriers operated by nine countries. Half of those carriers belong to the United States, Italy owns two carriers, and Spain, Britain, Brazil, France, Russia, India and Thailand own one a piece.

    China’s entrance into the carrier club seems lessened by the fact that India and Thailand already own carriers. However, India’s carrier is currently the oldest in operation (60 years of service) and Thailand’s carrier is so small it is often considered the Thai Royal Family’s Yacht.

    Despite all of this foreboding, the fact still remains that China is the only nation on the UN Security Council that doesn’t have a carrier. The US Navy’s supercarrier, the USS George Washington is docked long-term in Japan. China has been a responsible nuclear power for 55 years and is signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (India is not). China’s military expenditures as a percentage of its GPD is 2.2% compared to the United States’ 4.7%.

    No matter how slowly China develops its military, or exerts influence over South-East Asia, the world the United States will complain and fearmonger. It’s 2011, and China is still years away from being able to get any use out of the Varyag. If anything, the United States should be encouraging China to hurry up and modernize their navy, because just as Chinese warships were trusted to secure shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia, the United States can’t be everywhere at once.

    If the world doesn’t expect China to actually use the Varyag, then what do they expect? Another hotel?

  • New US ambassador makes first public appearance


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    The new US ambassador to China Gary Locke made his first public appearance this weekend in Beijing, using the opportunity to assure China that its investment in the US dollar is safe. With headlines in Chinese state media like “Locke to rebuild US reputation” and “New US ambassador faces a tough job“, the tone in Beijing seems at the very least welcoming, if not optimistic over the arrival of the former US Secretary of Commerce. After burning up the Chinese internets last weekend because he buys his own coffee and carries his own backpack, Locke was asked whether he plans to use social media to speak directly with Chinese citizens, and responded “We look forward to using all forms of communications, including blogging and the electronic media.” In the mean time, you can follow him on Twitter at @AmbLocke. Surprisingly, we still can’t find a verified account for him on Weibo! But you can follow the U.S. Embassy in Beijing here.

  • No rise in expat tax threshold

    The income tax threshold of 4,800 yuan (US$744) enjoyed by expats in China will remain unchanged when personal tax thresholds are raised.

    At present the threshold is 2,000 yuan with an extra 2,800 yuan for expats.

    From September 1, China is raising the threshold to 3,500 yuan but the extra sum for expats is to be cut to 1,300 yuan, leaving them with the same 4,800 yuan benefit.

    “We’ve received lots of inquiries from clients about the expatriate deduction,” Freeman Bu, an Ernst & Young partner in Shanghai, said yesterday.

    “They have argued that the cost of living is also rising for them as inflation is the same for Chinese and expatriates.”

    “The move is in line with China’s aim to revise its tax law to let low and medium income families benefit from tax cuts,” said Bu.

    “Expatriates are often deemed as high-income earners.”

    Bu said that expats earning close to 18,000 yuan a month would pay more under the new tax system, which meant that “probably the majority of expatriates will have to pay more on tax.” While for Chinese, those earning 38,600 yuan a month will pay more tax.

    “The ‘standard monthly deduction’ for expatriates were 4,000 yuan since 1994, this was increased to 4,800 yuan since 2006 and has remained at this level for the past 5 years, clearly the expatriate population has not benefited from the increase of the exemption threshold and this does lead to a perception amongst many expatriates that the overall tax burden has increased even though they too have been under the same inflation pressures,” said Joyce Xu, a Deloitte partner.

    She added that the primary objective for the current PRC Individual Income Tax reform is intended to reduce the tax burden for the lower income groups, whilst increasing “moderately” the tax burden for the high income groups.

    “Expatriates are traditionally regarded as the “high income group” as such, not surprisingly , the new individual income tax law has not provided visible relief measures to reduce the tax burden of this group,” the industry expert said. “This also reflects an ‘equalization’ in terms of exemption threshold between the PRC nationals and the expatriates. This, viewed in the context of the proposed new social security law where expatriates for the first time will also be paying PRC social security contributions on a compulsory basis, does seem to lead to not insignificant additional tax burden for the expatriates and the multinational companies.”

    “To better attract the international talent working in China, it is important that at the policy level, the expatriates are also provided with reasonable tax relief and an appropriate balance is trike between the need to alleviate the tax burden for the less well off and at the same time not inadvertently over tax the expatriate group unduely,” she added.

    Industry experts said the move came as no surprise as the 4,800 yuan threshold was unchanged last time thresholds increased in 2008.

    The threshold was raised from 800 yuan to 1,600 yuan in 2006, when expats’ extra benefit remained at 3,200 yuan, giving them a total deduction of 4,800 yuan from the previous 4,000 yuan.

    The threshold was further raised to 2,000 yuan in 2008.

    But the expat extra was cut to 2,800 yuan, leaving their allowance unchanged.

    China currently levies tax progressively on personal salaries in nine brackets ranging from 5 percent to 45 percent.

    From September 1, the 15 percent and 40 percent brackets will disappear and there will be a new 3 percent rate.

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