Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all my readers! Here are some Christmas thoughts from Beijing, on behalf of my new company, Honest Films.

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's all about Angola

Poster for the China-Africa Summit, Beijing, 2006

Last year I was around in Beijing when the China-Africa summit was on. The summit was deliberately orchestrated to prove China's commitment to the African nations. China is dealing with regimes the West boycotts on political and humanitarian grounds. As these regimes have few other rich nations to trade with left, China has stepped in to buy their natural resources at bargain rates. Angola is one of those countries and is now China's main supplier of oil, having overtaken Saudi Arabia. But China is also involved in the political and economic life of these countries, training future African government ministers in Beijing alongside future Communist Party cadres and Chinese companies building new 5 star leisure complexes for the elite across the continent.
China's involvement is realigning world politics but we hear very little about it in the West. This Radio 4 programme highlights some of the political, social as well as economic ramifications of China's relationship with Africa.
You can listen to the programme here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

hugs in China

Free hugs in China

Free hugs in Amsterdam

I think it's clear what exactly this campaign is about but in case you want to know more check out the Free Hugs website here.

Today's lesson:

1) everyone is suspicious of wierdos on busy streets
2) there's soft hearted exceptions to everything
3) web 2.0 includes China

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

it was once sunny

Qingdao, Northern China

To remind myself that at one point this summer it was sunny I'm posting some pictures of the beach at Qingdao from May. Some classic Chinese seaside sights here;
  • no sunbathing instead there's umbrellas and full clothing
    (women prefer pale skin to tanned)
  • only men in the sea
  • and no one's actually swimming, mostly there's only degrees of paddling

And you are never far from a bike, even at sea. Above, bike-pedaloes.

But don't despair if you're planning a global ad campaign about beaches - some things at the seaside are the same all over the world, like kitschy shell-based ornaments:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

the internet gets Chinese girls pregnant

The QQ logo, a popular internet chat brand in China.

According to the operators of a pregnancy helpline in Shanghai nearly half of the teenage girls who call them met their partners on the internet. Full story here, from the China Daily. An indication of the net's popularity as a place to find dates for Chinese youth and more evidence of the generation gap - youth sexual activity is out pacing the government's and parents' ability or willingness to deal with the previously taboo subject of sex.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

shared joys

Child's ride, Qingdao, China

Child's ride, Great Yarmouth, UK

A small thing but one shared by many - the joy of a badly spray-painted, slightly sinister, mechanical ride.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Japan and Korea as centres of influence

Levels of mobile phone strap use. From the always interesting Jan Chipchase. His presentation 'where's the phone?' can be found in full here.

Mobile phone straps can range from the utilitarian, plain cord to hang the phone from wrist or neck, to the decorative ( see below, souvenir mobile phone decorative straps from Nikko, Japan)

Why are mobile straps so popular in Pacific Asia? (Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore aren't included in the study here but you'll also see plenty of phone straps in those countries as well). It's probably reflecting a relatively low crime rate, the extent phones are used as a status/fashion symbol and the Asian love of the minature or cute. But this chart is also an indication of centres of cool - phone straps appeared first in Japan and Korea, and have spread (as with other fashions, music and TV shows) to other Sino-Pacific Asian countries. Phone straps as a tracer for cultural influence, eh?