Everything about China and it's culture

Everything about China and it's culture

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  • 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.

  • 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


    Picture 1 of 6

    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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Obesity in children up 25% in a decade in China

    About 13.3 percent of local children are overweight and 6.5 percent are obese, according to a newly released survey.

    The obesity rate among local schoolchildren has grown by 24.4 percent in the past decade and is close to that found in Western countries, experts said.

    Children from downtown areas are fatter than those in the suburbs, children from low and middle-income families are more obese than those from high income ones and male students are plumper than female students, the survey found.

    Being born a big baby, with inherent big-body weight, consumption habits and a couch potato-like lifestyle are major causes, researchers found.

    Unhealthy lifestyles and wrong concepts about child-raising among parents and grandparents are important risk factors, said experts, who researched local children’s obesity and metabolism disorders through the survey covering 11,839 students from 36 primary schools in Luwan, Huangpu, Yangpu and Baoshan districts.

    “It is a comprehensive survey since we not only included weight measurements and questionnaires but checked their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels,” said Cai Meiqin from the nutrition department of Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Medicine, which conducted the survey.

    Experts called for more awareness of the issue, as being overweight or obese during childhood increase the risk of hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases as an adult. Obesity during childhood can also cause other side effects, such as poor sexual development in males and a negative impact on mental development and social ability.

    In the survey, about 0.8 percent of normal-weight children had metabolism disorders, while the percentage rose to 2.9 for overweight children and 6.7 for obese ones.

    Being a big baby is a factor, experts found. Some 35.7 percent of overweight children and 43.3 percent of obese children weighed more than 4.5 kilograms when born.

    Soft drinks are another factor, as more than half of obese children consumed sugary drinks more than three times a week. Spending too much time watching TV and on the computer and late night snacking also play a role, Cai said.

    “It’s difficult to control their weight if they don’t change their lifestyle,” she added.

  • Police arrest man after theft from China’s Forbidden City

    Police have arrested a man they said broke into China’s famed Forbidden City, the heavily guarded former home of the country’s emperors, and stole seven art pieces made of gold and jewels.

    It was the first theft in 20 years from the historic site, the tourist attraction’s spokesman Feng Nai’en said, adding that security would be increased.

    An investigation found that nine pieces all small Western-style gold purses and mirrored compacts covered with jewels made in the 20th century were missing from the temporary exhibition, on loan from the private Liangyicang Museum in Hong Kong.

    Two of the missing items were recovered nearby shortly after the theft and were slightly damaged.

    State media said that police had caught a man called Shi Bokui in an Internet cafe on Wednesday night who confessed to the robbery. The China Daily said some of the seven remaining stolen pieces were recovered, but did not give details.

    Feng said the entire Palace Museum will be checked to see if any other items are missing.

    “For this to happen here shows us that, No. 1, we need to speed up the modernization and installation of our security systems,” Feng said. “No. 2, we need to investigate carefully and find out if we can implement better, more modern and more sophisticated security systems.”

    Wang Xiahong, curator of the Liangyicang Museum, refused to reveal the value of the stolen items, which belong to Hong Kong art collector Feng Yaohui.

    She said that despite the theft, the exhibition would continue and other pieces would be added to the show, which is temporarily closed but expected to reopen soon.

    The museum’s deputy director, Ma Jige, told reporters he felt “very guilty and sorry” about the theft. He stood up and bowed to Wang in a show of remorse.

    Karen Smith, a Beijing art curator and historian, said the theft was “a big loss of face” for the museum but would probably result in much improved security at the sprawling landmark.

    She also noted that the robbery targeted items of relatively low value and prestige, not the museum’s best-known treasures such as its large collection of rare and delicate scroll paintings. Those pieces are undoubtedly much better protected, she said.

    “If you were really going to go and steal something from the Palace Museum, there’s a lot more valuable things you could make off with,” Ms Smith said.

    It wasn’t immediately clear whether future cooperation with other international exhibitors would be affected by the incident.

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