A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

Politics rss

China Enforces Silence on 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre

June 4, 2014

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the most important political event in China’s post-Mao era. But you’d hardly know it from watching or reading the state-run media, walking around my university’s campus or talking to the man in the street. That’s because the ruling Communist Party has banned any discussion of… Read More ›

Female Students Wear Wedding Gowns for Graduation Photos

During the past week, I’ve seen a lot of women wearing white wedding gowns on the campus of Henan University of Technology. Since most of the female students I know don’t even have boyfriends, I was puzzled until I found out the real reason: graduation photos. Seniors have been getting their graduation photos taken this… Read More ›

CCTV is Chinese Television’s 800-Pound Gorilla

Turn on a television in China and chances are it will be tuned to CCTV. It’s hard to avoid the giant state-run network, which has 45 channels broadcasting news, sports and entertainment all across the Middle Kingdom. It’s as if ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, CNN, ESPN, HBO and Showtime were all part of one… Read More ›

Is Taiwan a Country or a Province? It Depends on Whom You Ask

While talking to my students about my Taiwan trip, I referred to the island as a country. Several students shook their heads and others gave me a puzzled look. When I asked one of them what was wrong, she emphatically said, “Taiwan is not a country. It is a province of China.’’ This is what… Read More ›

First Lady Takes Heat Over Family’s China Junket

Michelle Obama is taking some heat over her family’s weeklong visit to China. While I think most of the criticism is trivial, I strongly agree with one point: If this isn’t just a vacation, as the White House claims, then the press should have been allowed to join her on the trip. No reporters accompanied… Read More ›

Rising Elderly Population Will Force Higher Retirement Age

Everywhere you go in China, you see grandparents taking care of their grandchildren while their parents are at work. The practice wouldn’t be so widespread if the country didn’t have such an early retirement age. Currently, men must retire at 60 and women at 50 (blue-collar) or 55 (white-collar). Early retirement was designed to make… Read More ›

Activist Jailed for Pushing Peaceful Change

We just got another reminder that China, despite its enormous economic progress, is still a one-party state that doesn’t tolerate political dissent. Xu Zhiyong, a prominent human rights activist, was sentenced to four years in prison for such unspeakable crimes as fighting government corruption and opposing a policy that prevents children of migrant laborers from… Read More ›

Mao’s Wax Museum Body Needs Nip and Tuck

Chairman Mao is showing his age. Lying in an open crystal casket encased in an airtight chamber at his massive mausoleum in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, China’s former supreme ruler looks like a figure from Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Surrounded by a bed of lilies, his body is dressed in his usual drab gray suit and draped… Read More ›

Monk’s 16-Year Odyssey Ended at Wild Goose Pagoda

I was feeling a little travel weary until I read about Xuanzang, a 7th-century Chinese monk who went on a 16-year, 100-plus country pilgrimage and returned home with one of the greatest collections of Buddhist scriptures in history. I learned more about Xuanzang at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, part of the Da… Read More ›

Buy a Mao Key Chain at Communist Party Birthplace

Our third day in Shanghai featured links to China’s past, present and future. Pat and I visited a silk museum, the city’s colonial French section, an antiques market, Shanghai’s oldest street, the upscale Xintiandi entertainment district, a gigantic pedestrian shopping mall, the restored 1930s home of a wealthy banker, and the site of the Chinese… Read More ›

I Have a Dream, Chinese Style

I recently asked my upperclassmen to write about their dreams. Here is the poignant response I got from one student: I have a dream that one day I will be the one who has all the powers. According to the contemporary society, it is full of corruption, bribery, injustice. All these things have a serious… Read More ›

Bureaucrats Unhappy With Change in One-Child Policy

One large Chinese group isn’t thrilled by the recent change in the country’s one-child policy: the half-million people employed by the government’s family-planning agency. Those workers have long opposed liberalization of the policy, fearing that it would reduce their importance and lead to job cuts. The family-planning unit was merged with the Health Ministry earlier… Read More ›

Will Relaxed One-Child Policy Lead to Baby Boom?

China already has more people than any other country, so why did the Communist government just announce a new policy that will increase the population? The answer is simple: Too many old people and not enough young ones. The demographic imbalance is the result of a longstanding policy that limited most Chinese couples to one… Read More ›

Bloomberg Bends to Chinese Pressure

The New York Times recently reported that Bloomberg News decided not to run two investigative articles detailing how the families of Chinese leaders benefit from ties with Chinese tycoons and foreign banks. The Times also said that Bloomberg uses a special computer code to keep sensitive stories about China off its computer terminals there. The… Read More ›

Former Classmate “Solves” JFK Conspiracy

Among the flood of books marking the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination is “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ,’’ which claims that Lyndon Johnson was the mastermind behind the Crime of the Century. It’s co-authored by Roger Stone, a sleazy Republican operative renowned for his dirty campaign tricks, fancy wardrobe and swinging… Read More ›

Forget Facebook: QQ, WeChat Are Online Kings in China

Facebook and Twitter may dominate social media in the U.S., but QQ, WeChat and Sina Weibo are the online kings in China. Of course, it’s not really a fair fight since Facebook and Twitter are blocked by China’s Great Firewall, which censors websites that are deemed objectionable by the government. The most powerful Internet company… Read More ›

Students Miss Class for Party Lectures

Some of my students skipped class this week to attend “the party lecture.’’ This is not the kind of party you normally associate with college students. It’s the Communist Party of China, which runs the country. The CPC was recruiting students on campus, part of its campaign to attract the best and brightest to the… Read More ›

Playing the Blues Like John Lee Hooker

It’s never too late to be a guitar hero. I played guitar when I was younger, but I hadn’t touched the instrument in 30 years before I got to China. Now I’m taking lessons from my neighbor Toni, a talented musician who plays guitar, piano, flute and clarinet. Today, I’ve been trying to pick and… Read More ›