Picture China, fourth largest country, with over 1.3 billion people. Now picture each of those people going on their daily lives. Here’s a slice of the odd, or controversial things they’ve been up to this past week.
1) The Bombs of Shanghai Skyscrapers
It seems that for over a year now, Shanghai skyscrapers have been the culprits behind the great number of cars being smashed by falling glass, as old windows crack due to heat waves and are swept by the wind, down hundreds of meters to the sidewalks below.
In yet another case which saw the windows of dozens of cars shattered just a few days ago, the city has taken measures to implement maintenance regulations, as there were, unbelievably, no routine security steps implemented up to now.
Though there have so far been no victims to the large sheets of glass (going up to 3 meters by 1.5 meters), one is left befuddled at the lack of foresight from local authorities, in a city where up to 5,000 skyscrapers have glass windows.
2) China to Replicate Austrian Town
If you can’t buy it or import it, do it yourself. Such is the long-serving motto a Chinese real estate firm has decided to put into effect for the small town of Hallstatt, in Austria. More specifically, the firm has drawn plans to build a replica of the town in Huizhou, in Guangdong province.
Architects were supposedly sent to Hallstatt to take pictures and measurements of buildings in view of duplicating them. Such conspicuous behavior would have gone unnoticed in the town of 900 habitants and 800,000 yearly tourists.
Reactions were mixed from the local population: inn keepers were outraged, the local priest voiced his concern that the replicated church be built for religious use only, and the mayor appeared optimistic at the anticipated touristic ripples.
It is not known whether or not such an endeavor can stand legally, however past examples in Anting (copy of a typical German town), Chengdu (copy of Dorchester) and numerous others around Shanghai (copies of Barcelona, Venice, Scandinavian Nordic town) leave little doubt as to whether or not the plans will go through.
These destinations have been popular tourist destinations for the Chinese middle class, many of who take their wedding pictures in these ‘original’ attractions.
3) Gay Lover Interrupts Wedding
Real or fake? The video of a man, purported to be the groom’s secret gay lover, barging in on the couple’s wedding day has gone viral over the last week, and no one’s quite sure what to make of it.
With an embarrassed groom as mediator, the bride and the boyfriend battle it out with fists and words. After a short bout, as the wife-to-be (not anymore) turns to the groom demanding explanations, his boyfriend suddenly grabs his wrist and pulls him in a breathless run, with the bride in hot pursuit.
For a transcription of the conversation and the almost unbelievable video, click here.
4) Masked Heroes or Masked Hypocrites? Bribe-Reporting Websites
Corruption has a new enemy in China, and this one is real. Anti-corruption websites have sprouted around the net, giving the opportunity for people to report bribes in numbers and names. China Daily released a report on the recent emergence of one of these websites. Run by a man named Chen, it aims to encourage netizens to discuss any case of bribery they are aware of or witness to.
Be it to report a bribe to the local policeman, informing through pictures of public government figures making outlandish displays of wealth, way over their pay grade, or simply to vent their frustrations at the prevalence of corruption in China, these sites offer an anonymous outlet to fight the phenomenon.
Experts have so far disagreed over the utility of such websites. While some claim them to be no more than congregations of ambiguous information that might also be violating people’s privacy rights, others have adopted a more guarded approach, arguing this internet pressure might discourage people from accepting or giving bribes.
5) Weibo Strikes Again! Official’s Erotic Convos Out in the Open
The country changes, the story stays the same. Be it (ex-)Congressman Wiener with his career-crushing pictures, or Xia Zhiqiang, director of the Liyang City Health Bureau, with his naïve erotic prose on Weibo, the public is consistently fed sigh-worthy displays of public disgrace. Granted, the Chinese story lacks its American counterpart’s level of drama and denouement, but at the rate things are going, we’re hopeful.
Xia, passing himself off as Weileni5123, was new to the microblogging program, and was under the mistaken belief the erotic conversations he was having with a married woman online were just between the two of them. They weren’t. Declarations of love, prurient remarks that a relationship was never complete without physical contact, and feverish words of ‘the sacred moment’ to come this Monday were shared with thousands of curious Weibo users.
How was his identity unveiled, you ask? Xia had cleverly chosen a headshot of himself as his profile picture.
6) Student Personal Details Available Online
Elementary and secondary school students have seen their personal information released on the net. Cell phones, addresses and more are bundled together in packages of thousands of students and made available online.
Buyers, typically private teaching institutions, will purchase these for prices going upwards of 1,000 RMB. Students with low grades, or who failed at the college entrance exam, are then contacted and encouraged (read: harassed) to follow training courses.
Though no one is certain where the leak of information originates, private schools officials are suspected of gathering their students’ personal details and selling them off for a generous end of year bonus.
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Regarding the copying of european heritage towns: only 20 years ago people here were told where they had to live. Freedom of movement hasnt been around for that long so dont expect people here to have very sophisticated opinions about urban living. furthermore most chinese are still unable to travel to these exotic places. So, it makes sense that a property developer will want to mimic these architectural styles, knowing, at the very least, his/her new italy or holland town, will be a big hit for wedding couples and perhaps family outings.
Jun 27, 2011 06:38 Report Abuse
Did anyone notice that swiss village their building near Guomao in Beijing? It's hideous and looks completely out of place. I sometimes really don't understand what the people responsible for urban planning in China's major cities are thinking. The conclusion I've drwan so far is that the people who give the go ahead for such ridiculous building projects are themselves amateurs in their profession with a very notable lack of tast and sense for aesthetics and cultural heritage.
Jun 26, 2011 18:29 Report Abuse
oops I forgot to mention the Weibo scandal. God when i read that I was so shocked I mean using language like the "sacred moment", I mean is so scandalous I mean really is there anything worse he could have done *gasp* maybe he even sent so "erotic" photos sock horror!! Yes yes the Chinese don't watch porn because its bad for the soul right? yawn yawn
Jun 25, 2011 02:15 Report Abuse
Falling glass - not a big surprise. How do you become an architect/chartered surveyor/regulator in China? Guanxi plus a little bit of bribery = incompetence serious consequences. Actually does the position of a chartered surveyor even exist here yet?
Replica village = utter disgust on my part, just because something works well somewhere you cannot rip it out of context and reapply it e.g American dream. Whoever had this idea should be tarred and feathered and then left to dry out in the Gobi desert.
Gay lover = not in the least surprised, I happen to know of several sham marriages where lesbians and gay men try to escape the pressures of society. My opinion? These people are pitifully weak willed and cowardly. Where are the heroes of China? It seems only in government text books.
Corruption websites = A little bit of harmless fun
Student personal data = Extremely worrying. China is creating a land of fact filled robots devoid of emotion and full of desire to own more more oh and just a bit more.
Thanks for sharing, some nice little snippets
Jun 25, 2011 02:11 Report Abuse
Just don't see the bribe reporting websites working; people reporting are by definition connected to it.
I just see this as being another tool to randomly report unsubstantiated doubts on a neighbor.
But meh, at least the intention is good. God knows how rampant corruption is here.
Jun 24, 2011 21:56 Report Abuse
Yeah I went to "Italian town" in Tianjin. It was a joke. It reminded me of Disney World's little ethnic sections. It was really more or less a glorified backdrop fro wedding photos. The food sucked and was overpriced as did/were the little shops.
I don't want to come across as a person who is always hating on the Chinese, but I think China should stick to its strong points and its own heritage rather than trying to recreate parts of Europe as cheesy tourist traps.
Besides, I don't really see how these things work as a business model.
I went to Tianjin on a holiday weekend and the Italian town was virtually empty save for a few couples snapping wedding photos. Last I checked, it was free to take photos. The shops were virtually deserted and with good cause since they had little appeal. One "import" store just sold overpriced olive oil, canned tomatoes and wine.
Jun 24, 2011 18:23 Report Abuse
The city replica makes me think of all these attraction parks you can find around the country with small replicas of the eiffel tower, coliseum, and all the other world monuments.
What's the appeal? is it because people feel they'll never be able to there? That going abroad is an impossibility?
Jun 24, 2011 15:59 Report Abuse