Need2LearnChinese Blog

Everything about China and it's culture

Everything about China and it's culture


  • China’s new space station program

    Starting in 2011, China will be among the elite few nations who can lay claim to haivng their own operational space stations. Named the Tiangong-1 (天宫-1) module, it will be China’s first foray into functional space stations.

    The module is reported as being “outfitted with a docking port on its front and rear ends”, and will weigh in at roughly 8.5 tons.

    Having a life expectancy set of only two years, Chinese space officials are hoping to use Tiangong-1 as a practice run that will hopefully lead to far heftier and longer lasting future projects:

    “According to an April 26 Xinhua report, China’s goal is to build a 60-ton space station that would consist of three modules and also would make use of a cargo spaceship delivering supplies to the orbital complex…. The 60-ton Chinese station is approximately the same size as America’s first space station and is being launched at a comparable stage in the history of China’s human space flight program”

    It’s an exciting time for the Chinese space program. Following Tiangong’s ascension into space, an unmanned spacecraft (Shenzhou 8) is expected to launch and hold the honor of being the country’s first space docking. Next year, Tiangong-1 will also host both the Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 space missions.

    The station is currently undergoing final preparations in Gansu province, and is expected
    to launch later this year.

    To learn more about how Tiangong-1 really works, click here for a helpful infographic

  • Yao Ming is retired and will go to Jiaotong University.

    It’s all speculation at this point! Less than 24 hours after he announced his retirement, the Chinese media are going wild with rumors of what comes next. In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, when asked whether he’d consider going into business or politics like other retired athletes, Yao Ming responded:

    Whether in politics or business, they all begin at school. This must be the first step, your future beings at school. I have made plans to begin my studies before the end of this year.他们不管是从政还是从商,开始都是上学。 这一步是首先必须的,未来从上学开始。已经有这方面的计划,年底之前吧。

    Que the rumormill! When asked where he’d live after retirement, he mentioned Houston, Shanghai, and Beijing, but said the past few years have been spent mostly in Shanghai.

    From those bits of information, headlines now have it that Yao Ming might study computers and finance at Jiaogtong University! Jiaotong has indirectly confirmed these rumors by announcing that it “welcomes Yao Ming to return” and study with them in a specially tailored program.

    It all still sounds pretty groundless (the computer thing is taken soley from the lame fact that “he loves computer games”) but who doesn’t like day dreaming of running into our favorite gangly, lovable giant on your way to Chinese class?

    We’ll keep you posted

  • World Swimming Championship in Shanghai (synchronized swimming!)


    Picture 1 of 8

    The 14th bi-annual FINA World Swimming Championship competition has been up and running for a week now in Shanghai, here are some photos from amazing synchronized swimming.

    While the first initial heats were won by Team Russia, the real winner of the event is clearly the nose plug industry.

    There are still two nights of synchronized swimming left.

  • Rail linking Europe to open up China’s West

    A cargo train filled with laptops and LCD screens has left Chongqing, a mega-city in China’s less-developed western regions, starting its 13-day trip to Duisburg, Germany, which marks the official launch of the new transcontinental rail freight route.

    The new rail route witnessed its official opening on Thursday night, after three test runs since March last year.

    Clattering out of the station at about 9 p.m., the cargo train is set to travel 11,179 kilometers across the far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, before finally reaching Germany.

    The route offers a major shortcut to the more traditional sea trade routes from Shanghai and Guangzhou, cutting travel time to Europe from about 36 days by container ship to just 13 days by freight train, said Huang Qifan, mayor of the inland business hub.

    Huang said that the train is also safer and less expensive than sea transport.

    Though the rails have been there for over ten years, the route is new as no train services linking Chongqing and Europe have been provided before due to complicated customs checks and cargo transfers, according to Ma Zhongyuan, director of Chongqing customs.

    Last year, China signed a strategic agreement with Russia and Kazakhstan to open the new freight route, as the country is trying to build the inland labor-rich municipality into an international high-tech hub, especially for laptops.

    Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract electronics supplier, Acer, Taiwan’s leading computer maker, and Hewlett-Packard(HP) are already in place in Chongqing to produce laptops.

    In the first five months this year, Chongqing sold 2.43 million laptop computers abroad. The exports were valued at $840 million, accounting for 20 percent of the city’s total export value.

    The city’s export of new- and high-tech products totaled 14.26 billion in the period, up 182.5 percent year-on-year.

    Officials believe the shorter transport time to Europe by railway will make made-in Chongqing notebook computers more competitive.

    Last month, a new cargo air route also became available between Chongqing and the European cities of Moscow and Luxembourg.

    The province-sized city is already a major transport center at the junction of China’s prosperous East and poorer West, as cargo can be sent out of Chongqing along the Yangtze River, the country’s longest waterway,via air and railway.

    The new rail route will be used to link south China’s Pearl River Delta manufacturing hub and the country’s southwest industrial belt with Europe, officials said.

    Just last mouth, a rail route connecting Chongqing and a port in the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen went into operation.

    The transcontinental track will also boost trade between southeast Asia and the Europe, as railways have already linked Chongqing with the southwestern border province of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said Cai Jin, vice president of the China Logistics and Purchasing Association.

    Currently, the train only leaves Chongqing for Duisburg once a month, but train services may be increased to once per day in the future as the city’s exports to Europe increase, according to Huang.

  • Young people are starting sex earlier, report says

    YOUNG people in Shanghai are having their first sexual activity earlier than older generations, and more choose cohabitation before marriage, according to a report issued yesterday by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

    People born in the 1980s have sex for the first time at an average age of 21, said the report based on the questionnaires of 2,200 locals born from the 1950s to the 1980s. The average is the same for men and women.

    In comparison, men and women born in the 1970s had their first sex at an average age of 23, while the average age for people born in the 1960s or 1950s was 25 for men and 23 for women.

    Meanwhile, about 45 percent of married people born in the 1980s live together before marriage, compared with 30 percent for people born in the 1970s and 15 percent among those born in the 1960s and 1950s.

    “More kids experience early puberty now,” said Zhou Haiwang, deputy director of the academy’s population and development studies. “Children also have easier access to sex information from novels and websites, compared with the previous generations,” he said.

    He advised local schools to introduce sex education to students earlier, including in primary schools. Many schools now wait until students are in middle school before giving them sex education.

    “Children should know the hazards of unprotected sex and abortion,” Zhou said.

    The study found about half of people born in the 1980s have never had sex. “This reflects many young people are not as open as the prevailing thoughts about them,” Zhou said.

    Another part of the report noted that older people have poorer awareness of safe sex than young people. Nearly half of all respondents seldom use condoms, particularly migrants.

    About 63.8 percent of people born in the 1950s and 1960s have never used condoms. But that proportion drops sharply with younger generations. The percentage is 39.8 percent for people born in the 1970s and 25.6 percent for those born in the 1980s.

    Most local couples said they were satisfied with their sex lives, according to the report. About 72 percent of people in marriage or living together said their sex life is “very harmonious” or “harmonious.” Only 3 percent said it was “disharmonious” or “very disharmonious” and the remainder choose “mediocre.”

  • Liu Xiang sets new Asian Championships record for 110-metre hurdles

    China’s flying hurdler, Liu Xiang (刘翔) has done it again. Yesterday in Kobe, Japan, Liu clocked 13.22 seconds in the 110-hurdles event, re-writing the Asian Athletics Championships record. The first Chinese athlete to achieve the “triple crown” of athletics (World Record Holder, World Champion and Olympic Champion), Liu has been making a steady comeback since his shocking pullout from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His world record of 12.88 seconds, set 2006 at the Super Grand Prix in Lausanne, was broken by Cuba’s Dayron Robles two years later. Robles continues to hold the world record of 12.87 seconds today.

  • Chinese parents turn to US summer camps

    Summer camps in the US are the latest strategy for Chinese parents plotting a better future for their children. This year, more than 60,000 children will fly off for an immersion program that may, or may not, test their suitability for college abroad. Emily Cheng explores the issues.

    For around $5,000 or roughly 32,500 yuan, kids are flying across the Pacific for an opportunity to play sports with US students, attend summer classes, and most importantly, speak English. They will be joining American summer camps, a mid-year ritual for many children in the United States, but still something for the privileged few in China. After two consecutive years at China-based summer camps, Lou Yong’s 13-year-old son, Tim, will take the experience to the next level by spending four weeks in Baltimore, USA. “I hope to enrich his summer vacation and let him experience different activities which he is interested in, but are not available at the local schools,” says Yong.

    “American summer camps are a good complement to Chinese-style education. Chinese-style education focuses on academic achievement, while American-style camps allow the students to improve their overall abilities. If the child wants to study abroad in future, an American camp can help them make some adjustments beforehand,” she says.

    Alex Abraham, the general manager of Blue Sky Study, a Shanghai-based overseas education consultancy, also sees the camps as a way of easing a child into a culture that he or she will most likely be a part of when they join the other Chinese undergraduates in the US.

    The number of students going abroad does not appear to be dropping soon so, for those who can afford it, summer camps give them a head-start.

    “For parents who would one day like their child to study in the US full-time, it is a great way to introduce a foreign country to a young student,” Abraham says.

    As more parents plot overseas ambitions for their children, a camp itinerary that includes excursions to famous universities is popular among fee-paying parents.

    Joel Lavenson, director of the Maine Golf and Tennis Academy in the US, noticed the enthusiasm among Chinese families for their children to get into American schools and introduced college visits into his Chinese-American summer camps.

    “The Chinese parents look at the camps as part of their educational portfolio as a world citizen,” says Lavenson.

    At another US-based organization, the American Chinese Academy (ACA), the intake of Chinese students has tripled this year.

    Joyce Zhao, CEO of ACA, suspects that the increased interest correlates to the parental need for their children to maximize their potential.

    “It is a tradition for Chinese parents to ‘sacrifice’ or pay high costs for their children’s education, expecting their children to be successful one day,” she notes.

    Zhao categorizes parents who send their kids overseas as a “wise” group which understands the importance of travel experiences for the youngster’s personal growth. Nonetheless, she still thinks that there’s an undeniable academic-focus in their intentions.

    “The parents who send their children to overseas summer camps are still traditional in that they don’t want the activities to stray too far away from academic learning. Therefore, classroom hours are scheduled,” says Zhao.

    It is this balance between cultural, social, and educational activities at American summer camps that appeals to Chinese parents.

    Gao Ruolin, organizer of China Daily’s Little Journalist Summer Camp, credits obtaining a good visa record as another major appeal of summer camps abroad.

    China Daily’s camp offers the usual visits to famous universities and sites but it also appeals to parents who want more specialized activities. As well as visiting the BBC and China Daily’s New York and London offices, the aspiring journalists are taught the basics of journalism in an intensive English environment. After taking tests to get into the exclusive camp, students travel to countries including the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and the States under the guidance of senior journalists from the paper.

    It is a program that will appeal to parents like Emily Chan, who intends to eventually send her 6-year-old son, Nathan, to a camp in America “to learn native English and get used to life in the US.”

    However, putting a kid on a plane to America every year is not a luxury that many can afford. Which is why domestic, American-style summer camps are becoming increasingly attractive for parents like Chan, who sends her son to camps every summer.

    Chan believes the camps groom children for their future studying abroad.

    While images of a Tiger Mom may arise, the situation is nothing but. Nathan is always excited about the holiday season because he has a say in the camp he wants, “I choose only what he wants to do,” Chan says of her son.

    This year, Nathan will be attending a sports-oriented summer camp in Beijing.

    “From the camp, he will learn values and independence without parents and ayi,” she explains.

    As more and more parents realize the social and educational benefits of recreational activities, an increasing number of organizations have crowded the market for more cost efficient, China-based summer camps.

    Fanghua Jiang jumped on this wagon and started Longfeifei Youth Summer Camp in the summer of 2009.

    “I decided that we would adopt an American curriculum supplemented by some Chinese activities, and the camp would be structured and managed in an American style. For example: employing counselors, including enrichment over academic activities and having camp staff recruited from various sources,” Jiang elaborates.

    As an avid member of the Fudan University Alumni Association, Jiang initially proposed the Shanghai-based camp as a way of connecting domestic and overseas children among alumni. Now it has become much more.

    “The children who enroll are typically those who have different interests, who come from a family where parents pay attention to their children’s character building,” she says.

    Carol Peng, director of the International Bilingual Summer Camp in Beijing, also employs an east-meets-west style for her camps.

    “American-style summer camps have their appeals and style. The activities are rich as well as educational: various sports, arts, languages, field trips, medical skills and so on. The children can experience the joy of learning English through such creative activities,” Peng says.

    Improving English in an interactive environment was one of the selling points for Nancy Chen when she first found out about summer camps.

    Chen has enrolled her 9-year-old daughter, Mao Ruihan, in the Beijing Playhouse Academy of Performing Arts’ (BPAPA) theater camps four times now.

    “She has improved her English and acting skills. She is happier, more confident and more courageous. She has also learned more about western culture and interpersonal communication skills. Overall, she has changed a lot, positively,” Nancy says.

    BPAPA offers bilingual theater camps for Chinese students who are less fluent in English.

    The goal is to improve their spoken English. They study in English, follow the directors in English, and at the end of the camp, they are on stage performing in English.

    Unlike many summer camps that offer multiple activities, BPAPA’s camps focus purely on theater production and performance.

    Chris Verrill, executive director of BPAPA, remembers the time when expatriate kids dominated the first camp. Seventy-four percent came from native English-speaking countries, 26 percent from other parts of the world, and none came from China.

    Over the years, more Chinese children have been enrolling to learn about theater and improve their English. The most recent camp was composed of 76 percent Chinese, 18 percent English-speaking country kids, and 6 percent from other countries.

    “We work hard to maintain the quality of the theater experience for all the children. So if a student is not fluent in English, then we refer them to the Broadway English theatre camp. Even for Broadway English, the student must at least have an intermediate level of English. When it comes to teaching English, our goal is not the basics. We leave the basics to other language schools,” Verrill says.

    But, at the end of the day, it’s not always about learning and classes – it’s about knowing that your child is having a good time.

    The fun environment provided by summer camps is all Nancy wants for her daughter, “Sending my kid to the camp has little to do with her studying abroad in the future,” she says. But it helps.

  • 100 Chinese tourists drive their own way around North Korea

    Chinese passport holders often complain about the hassle they have to go through applying for visas each time they’re going abroad, but on the bright side, they’ll now have easier access to ONE country than everyone else on Planet Earth. Recently, 100 Chinese tourists drove their own way in a convoy around North Korea as part of a three-day tour costing a very affordable US$147 per person. And my, my, look what happy tourists they are!

  • Picture perfect in Chinese wedding photo business

  • The 14th annual Shanghai Film Festival to kick off this weekend!

    The Shanghai International Film Festival returns in its 14th incarnation this weekend! From June 11th-19th, over two hundred films (including “seven film noir classics”) will be shown in 24 theaters across the city.

    This year’s SIFF will promise to include something for just about everybody. Films range from the acclaimed German documentary “Pina”, to older classics such as Fritz Lang’s epic “Metropolis”. To see the full list of movies and show times please visit here.

    Along with the other festivities, SIFF will also be hosting one of its biggest attraction; the annual Asia New Talent Award (ANTA). Begun in 2004 ANTA seeks to find the best emerging young directors throughout Asia and give them an international platform to showcase their talents. This year 9 films are competing for the award.

    BIRTH RIGHT (Japan, 2010, 108’)
    Directed by Naoki Hashimoto
    Ayano, an energetic teen, is told by a classmate that a “super cute” boy has a crush on her and wants to meet her later that day. Ayano agrees to meet, but is soon kidnapped by a unknown person and locked in a basement.

    WAYS OF THE SEA (Philippines, 2010, 76’)
    Directed by Sheron Dayoc
    “The film tackles the relevant theme of exploitation and human trafficking from Mindanao to Malaysia. The story follows the journey of different people as they take a arduous journey into uncharted territories in the hopes of substituting certain poverty”

    THE DAY GOES AND THE NIGHT COMES (Iran, 2010, 94’)
    Directed by Omid Bonakdar & Keivan Alimohammadi
    “Fashion designer, Fouzhan Rahaie is going to marry her cousin, but when a young man named Babak Barman steps into her life, she must face new problems….”

    SUN BEATEN PATH (China, 2010, 88’)
    Directed by Song Taijia
    A son kills his mother and, in his grief, travels to Lhasa on a pilgrimage. He meets an old man on his way back and the two forge a unique bond while traveling through “no man’s land.”

    KAASAN MOM’S LIFE (Japan, 2010, 114’)
    Directed by Syoutarou KOBAYASI
    Rieko SAIBARA is hardworking mother who must deal with the strains of taking care of her children while her husband is away being treated for alcohol dependency. This is the story of one families difficulties with living with an abusive alcoholic father.

    TD DASAN STD VI B (India, 2010, 98’)
    Directed by Mohan Raghavan
    Chandrika’s husband deserted her and her son years ago. Since then, she has learned to fend for herself and her family without the help of a man. Her son however soon founds out about their missing father and sends a letter to him….

    RETURN TICKET (China, 2010, 85’)
    Directed by Yung-Shing TENG
    From the neon lights of China’s major cities, to the rice fields of it’s countrysides. This is the tale of one migrant’s arduous journey home.

    ROSARIO (Philippines, 2010, 115’)
    Directed by Alberto P. Martinez
    Rosario, a young and liberated woman in the 1920s has just arrived from New York and is spending her vacation in hacienda. There, she meets and falls in love with Vicente, an older man who manages the tobacco plantation owned by Rosario’s family. What happens when Rossario’s father finds out about her and Vincentes forbidden affair?

    THE DEVIL INSIDE ME (China, 2011, 93’)
    Directed by ZHANG Qi
    After a heart transplant surgery, LIN Yan found that her heart is going to make her into a different person. Lin Yan must now track down the heart’s previous owner and find out who she is to become.

    True to it’s international name, Susan Sarandon, Matt Dillon, Marisa Tomei, Willem Dafoe, and Rupert Murdoch, have all apparently made confirmations that they will attend this years Festival. We know, we know, not the biggest A-list celebs, but it is something.

    In addition, Oscar-winner Barry Levinson ( “Rain Man”) along with Japanese director Yoichi Sai, British screenwriter Christopher Hampton and Spanish actress Paz Vega will be the jury to decide who shall receive the festivals biggest prize “the Golden Goblet”. The Golden Goblet this year is apparently being contested by 1,519 films from 102 countries. Who would have thought?

    Yes, they are showing some predictably average films. Yes, this Film festival really isnt international quality. But, if you just dig through the garbage a little bit, you will actually find some real gems worth watching

    Tickets go from 40-60RMB, but act fast because apparently already 600,000RMB worth of tickets have been sold and some showings are booked out completely. To buy tickets online click here. Tickets may also be purchased via cell phone, or you could of course just turn up at one of the many different theaters partaking in the event.

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