Saturday, 22 October 2011

China, a nation of stone cold hearts

I recently read an article in The Guardian relating to the terrible incident in Foshan: How can I be proud of my China if we are a nation of 1.4 bn cold hearts?.  As recorded by CCTV camera, a total of 18 people walked by as Yue Yue, a two year old toddler, lay dying in the middle of the road.  She had been hit by a truck and could be seen still alive, writhing in agony. And yet, yards away from their feet, her presence and distress did not even seem to register as these 18 people went about their own business.  Seven minutes later a second vehicle ran over Yue Yue, crushing her to death.

The footage of this incident has since gone viral and has made national and international headlines.  Grief, outrage and condemnation has been expressed by netizens all over the world and protests and vigils were held all over China in honour of Yue Yue's short life.  But there is no denying the fact that this incident graphically exposes a terrible side to Chinese society; its moral fabric rotten to the core.  For what happened on that day, although shocking and tragic, is just one incident of many.  The author, Lijia Zhang, does not hold back.  She defines with pin point accuracy the short comings and problems that engulf Chinese mentality.  She is observant of the spiritual vacuum left behind now that the ideology of communism has been displaced.  A new and frighteningly dark China is now fast emerging where morality, tradition and principle have been cast aside in favour for greed, selfishness and indifference.   

After reading this article, I felt so sad - and embarrassed and angry.  Here the British press like to run with the theme of a "Broken Britain" - a reference to the failings of British society -  but I can honestly say that if a similar situation to Yue Yue's occurred on any street here, there would have been no hesitation whatsoever.  If there were 18 people present at this scenario, 18 people would have rushed over to help or at least would have done something.  It is innate, it is inbuilt in the culture.  It is unthinkable to do anything else!         

"We Chinese have every reason to feel proud about what we've achieved. Now we demand respect. But how can we possibly win respect and play the role of a world leader if this is a nation with 1.4 billion cold hearts?" That is a good question.  Lijia Zhang refers to the existence of a law in parts of Europe in which its citizens must come to the aid of another in distress.  This could only be a good thing.  But such behaviours should not require a law - as people in general, all over the world have the natural capacity to care and look out for one another.  It should not need this, or the tragic death of a child caught on CCTV to convince us to act like decent human beings.   

Source: The Guardian

Also see: 

Lijia Zhang                



Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Northampton murders

Police in Northampton UK are still searching for Anxiang Du, the main suspect in the brutal murder of an entire Chinese family in Northampton, UK.

Jifeng Ding, his wife Helen and their two daughters Xing and Alice

The suspect Anxiang Du, seen at Northampton station on April 29th

Another picture of Anxiang Du

Dr. Jifeng Ding, his wife and their two teenage daughters were found at their home on May 1st of this year. Post mortem analysis found that all four had been stabbed to death. According to the BBC, police have released new CCTV footage of Anxiang Du on April 29th at Coventry railway station on 10.00 am, Birmingham New Street station at 10.50 am and at Northampton bus station at 12.50 pm. Since then he has gone missing. A Vauxhall Corsa that the family had rented and had gone missing after the murder has since been found on Venables street in North London.  The investigation is now focused there.

It is reported that Anxiang Du, a business man, recently lost a court case against the Dings on their joint herbal remedy business.  The police think that despite what appears to be a  suicide note left to his family Du is still alive and is on the run with a large amount of cash.  It is also possible that he has already left the country.  There is now a reward of £10,000 for information that will lead to his capture.

Dr. Jifeng Ding was reported to be a well respected lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, his two daughters Xing and Alice were talented, popular and had bright futures ahead of them.  If anyone has any information on his whereabouts please contact Crimestoppers UK on +0044 (0) 800 555 111.

Source: BBC News Northampton

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Doctored photo draws international attention and amusement!

 Somewhere in South West China three officials are inspecting a road - or are coming out of the road - or are floating above the road - it depends on how you look at it really! This terribly altered photograph of these three men supposedly inspecting a new road in Sichuan province is now a global sensation.  It is already being nominated as one of the worst doctored images in history, so-much-so that jokers are already trying their hands at placing the three men in other important places!

The new intergalactic highway is finished at last! A bit dusty though...

 With a little drainage a road could be built here.

Get up! We've got planning permission you know! 

This road is not complete! AND its got a huge bump in it!! This is a total disaster!!!

Traffic-slowing measures are of a huge importance to public safety.  Let us inspect closely...

But with all this great artistry what I really want to know is - what is the original photograph where these three guys were taken and added into the road? Anybody know this??
I am sure that the truth will be stranger than the fiction!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Insulting yourself

I was a follower of a certain BBC celebrity on Twitter.  Recently, or at least from when I had started to follow them, they had been using the word "chink" or "chinky" to describe themselves in their tweets.  The first time I saw this I was taken aback; to my knowledge the word "chink" is a racially abusive term for us Chinese.  Now here is a well known British Chinese individual, who themselves have been subject to discrimination, labelling themselves with the same word!

It is known that some people in other ethnic groups use racist words to address one another to communicate comradeship and affection, but it does not appear to me that the celebrity is using these words in this way; it is as if they are trying to making an outward statement, publicising their heritage in an audacious manner that also smacks of indifference and avengment.  To brand yourself with the words of your antagoniser, is this not an admission of inferiority? A proud, bold display to everyone that you, and others like you, deserve to be discriminated against and that your antagonisers are justified in their actions?

I'm not sure how many other BBCs refer to themselves in this way, but if one is indeed proud of ones heritage, shouldn't one refer to oneself with a little more dignity?  In my opinion, to do otherwise is not only self-defeating and letting your antagonisers gain the upper hand; it also harms and brings down an entire population, many of whom wish to live their lives harmoniously in this multicultural society that is the UK.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sweet potato dessert (蕃薯糖水)

A most favourite dessert that we have after dinner (way after dinner!) is sweet potato served in sugar water (蕃薯糖水 fan sui tong suy).  This is usually consumed in the evenings as it is believed that having a sugary, watery snack before bed is good for the throat and lungs in that they are not so dry (this is based on the hot weather in Asia).  This is a simple, lovely, healthy snack that is high in fibre and is suitable for vegetarians.
To make this for four people you will need:

A couple of slices of ginger
One or two sweet potatoes, skinned and chopped into chunks
a stick of cane sugar

Heat up three tablespoons of oil and fry the slices of ginger for two minutes.

 Add the chunks of sweet potato and fry these well for 5-10 minutes.

Add a water, enough to cover the sweet potato.  Break up a stick of cane sugar and add this in.  Cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  Stir every now and then.

 Serve into bowls and enjoy!

Thank goodness for weekends! ;)


Saturday, 4 June 2011

Dragon Boat Festival

June the 6th is the Dragon Boat Festival ( 端午節 Tuen Ng Jit). This is a day that is observed and celebrated in many parts of East Asia, and in the Motherland it is a public holiday.  Like other traditional festivals, the Dragon Boat Festival follows the lunar calendar (the fifth day of the fifth month) and therefore in the Gregorian calender it changes from year to year.  In the UK the Dragon Boat Festival will be celebrated on many a river.  The competition takes the form of charity races, racing associations and corporate events.  All in all it promotes team work and community and is a fun day out for all the family.

The festival is thought to originate from a folk story based on the Chinese scholar, poet and minister Qu Yuan   (屈原) who lived during China's warring states period.  As a loyal adviser to the King and his state, he was a champion of peace, truth and justice.  However the King, under the influence of jealous and corrupt ministers, banished him from the court.  Not long after, the state was attacked and the King was captured.  Qu Yuan, upon hearing of the demise of his country and the King's fate, was overcome by sorrow and despair.  He then threw himself in the Miluo river.

 Qu Yuan (屈原)

It is said that the ordinary citizens, who knew and respected the good minister, rushed out to rescue him.  Unable to find him in the water, they resorted to throwing packages of rice into the river and beating drums in an attempt to scare away the fish so that they would leave Qu Yuan's body alone.  To this day, this tradition is repeated to commemorate Qu Yuan's death: the rice packages are now known as zongzi  (粽子) which are rice dumplings consisting of glutinous rice with various fillings that are wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.  The boats are now long boats, decorated with the head and tail of a dragon and are raced with a drummer on board.

  Zongzi (粽子) with meat filling

Dragon Boat race



Monday, 30 May 2011

'Encounters' at the Ruins of St. Paul, Macau

Check out these videos by geochoi136 of an amazing light show on the remains of St. Paul's church in Macau.  It tells the story of Macau, from the arrival of the Portuguese to the modern day.  Enjoy! 

Homemade jerky from soup meat

The Chinese soups that we make at home, using pork or beef, are usually done by boiling pieces of boneless, fat-free meat in a large volume of water for several hours with other ingredients.  The soups are very tasty but the pieces of meat are now very dry, very tough, almost tasteless and are destined for the bin.

 Pork, leftover from making soup

However, instead of throwing it away, you can make a very tasty snack from these leftovers!

To do this you will need:

A chicken stock cube (or MSG, depending on your preference)
Satay powder
Satay sauce (Jimmy's is pretty good)

Firstly, chop the pieces of meat, taken not long after being in the soup, into bite-size chunks in a dish or a bowl.

Add salt and one teaspoon of satay powder.

Break up the chicken stock cube in a separate bowl and add one tablespoon of satay sauce (if you are using MSG add one teaspoon to the satay sauce).  If you have some licorice powder, add a little bit of this too.  Mix these ingredients together and spread all over the meat.

 Mix everything up well and leave (preferably covered) at room temperature for one hour.  You can marinade the meat longer by leaving it in the fridge for several hours or even overnight (uncovered).

Place the pieces of meat on a baking tray that has been brushed with a little oil and grill until the pieces of meat are dry.  Turn off the grill and keep the meat in the oven for a bit longer and let the heat absorb into the meat.

And there you have it, homemade jerky!


Warning: Very morish!  If not paying attention you can find the whole box disappears......

and it is you who has eaten it all!!!

Many thanks to my Aunty in HK for first recommending this idea. And many many thanks to my Mum! ;) 

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Apprentice - Susan Ma

I've only just noticed that on the latest series of The Apprentice one of the candidates is BBC!

Susan Ma was born in Shanghai before settling in the UK at the age of 13.  Here, she eventually went on to study philosophy and economics at university and now runs a lucrative business selling skincare products.  On The Apprentice website she is described as an "adrenaline junkie" and is "ambitious, optimistic and easy-going".  So far she has only been in the boardroom once with Lord Sugar but has succeeded already to impress her colleagues with her good managerial skills and sell tactics.

So here's to you Susan, best of luck! Here's hoping that you get the job!

Source: The Apprentice - Susan Ma

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A taste of Ireland!

Ireland is quite popular in the press right now, what with the Queen's historic visit to the country to help strengthen Anglo-Irish relations.  Today the news reports that she was treated with the ultimate taste of Ireland - a perfectly pulled pint at the Guinness storehouse.

Back in the Motherland, the taste of Ireland is also being offered - at KFC of all places!! Chinasmack reports that KFC China is launching for a limited time only a "taste of Ireland", where in the video it seems the chef is fusing Irish whiskey with Baileys Irish cream to create this taste in the chicken! The customer seems to be impressed!

Yummy yummy yummy -hic!

So when will we get this I hear you cry?? Well, you know what they say, good things come to those who wait! ;D

Source: Chinasmack

Saturday, 14 May 2011


Goji ( 枸杞) or wolfberries refer to the berries of Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense; woody perennials with thick, white, thorny stems and thin and spear like leaves.  Purple flowers appear around June to September, followed by berries in October.   Lycium chinense originates from south China and can grow between 1-3m high.  It is shorter than its relative that comes from Ning xia (宁夏), north west China.  In the UK, goji was imported into the country in the 1730s and was known as the Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree.  It can be found growing wild and in hedgerows, particularly in coastal regions.  We have several plants growing in the garden.  They are pretty hardy!

 Goji berries and goji leaves has long been used for food and traditional medicine in Asia.  Li Ching-Yuen (李清雲), who was supposedly born in 1677 and died in 1933 (and thus had the world's longest human lifespan of 256 years!) attributed his long life to various things, one being drinking tea brewed with goji berries.  Published studies have since shown that the berry and leaf components of the plant has antioxidant properties and potential medicinal benefits. These include preventing/improving cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases vision-related diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.  Goji is also cited to have a neuroprotective effect and may act as an anticancer and immunomodulatory agent.

However, there are safety issues associated with goji consumption.  It has been reported that for some people, particurlarly the elderly, the blood clotting process can be effected.  This is reportedly due to components of the goji (phytochemicals) interferring with warfarin metabolism.  As with any foods or medicines, one should take care and consult a specialist or a qualified doctor.

To make one bowl of goji soup you will need a piece of ginger, pigs liver chopped into small pieces and seasoned with salt, an egg, a good bunch of goji leaves and 5-10 goji berries (for people with heart or cholesterol problems, it would be better to leave out the liver or any other meats).  First, boil a bowl-and- a-half's worth of water and add the ginger and berries.  Allow these to boil for a few minutes before adding the washed goji leaves. Continue boiling for 5 minutes then simmer for 15 minutes or so to release the flavour.  Then to this add the pieces of liver - these don't take long to cook so probably give this 3-5 minutes.  While this is cooking, crack an egg, whisk and add to the soup.

Finally, season with salt to taste.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Asian models on the rise in 2011

Asians are rarely represented in western fashion, and when they are they are merely to add an ethnic balance to a campaign.  Now, the situation is changing and models from the Far East are becoming a regular feature on the catwalk and the faces of some major designer fashion campaigns.

"Redefining traditional concepts of beauty." L–R: Du Juan, Tao Okamoto, Lee Hyun, Hyoni Kang, Liu Wen, Bonnie Chen, So Young Kang, and Lily Zhi. Photo by Steven Meisel for American Vogue 2010.

Fei Fei Sun (孫菲菲) is a rising Chinese star on the runway.  Photo from New York Magazine

In the UK we are only just getting news of this now through the latest edition of British Vogue, where the Article 'The New Guard' is examining the rise of the Asian model and how they are - as quoted from its American counterpart - "redefining traditional concepts of beauty." Hmmm, not sure what these are!  Still, this is pleasing news - here's hoping that more of our own to make it up there in the lights and on the runway! 
Source: British Vogue    


Friday, 6 May 2011

Juk - the ultimate sunshine food!

Juk (粥) is the cantonese name for a type of rice porridge.  It is something that my family always have at home and is the perfect thing to have for lunch (or even breakfast, if you have time for it!)  You can have it as a main or side dish, served alongside dumplings, dimsum and noodles. 

A bowl of juk, served with a fried cruller 

It is also something you can have on an off-day.  Plain juk on its own is well-known to be kind to the stomach and is full of nutrients.  Asia's answer to chicken soup, you can say!  

To make juk at home, you will need a cooker (better still, a rice cooker) that has a 'congee' setting.  At home we find that American long grain rice is best for this.  Normally the rice has to be soaked in water overnight to soften the rice in preparation.  However, my genius mother has found that by putting the freshly washed rice  in a blender, you can skip this step.  You then put the rice in the cooker, with many times its weight of water and press the button.  Hey presto! Steaming hot Juk!

A (very fancy!) rice cooker with a congee setting

Being at home a couple of months ago we were out in Liverpool's St. Johns Market.  We bought pork mince, and pig innards (liver, stomach and kidneys) and made Pig innards juk (猪杂粥 - jeu-jap-juk).  The pork, that had been rolled into meat balls and cooked within the juk, was moist and tender.  The pieces of liver, kidney and stomach were treated with rice wine, salt and ginger before being added.  These were tender, smooth and melt-in-the-mouth, and with the pork added a nicely rounded meaty taste to the juk.  The steaming juk, made aromatic by the wine and ginger, with spring onions to garnish and served with cruller (油炸yow jaa gwuy) home made dim sum made a wonderful healthy and delicious lunch.  A lunch made even more special that it was made and had amongst family.