Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Into the home stretch

Now that we have less than two weeks left in China, I've been thinking about what it is I will and won't miss about living in Beijing. You can guess which is which:

1. The pollution, humidity, dirt, and occasional oddity, like the migrant worker pounding on our door, desperate to retrieve his blanket from where it had fallen from the 16th floor to land on our air conditioning unit.

2. Delicious and inexpensive restaurants, stir-fried Chinese vegetables, and a wealth of Chinese and expatriate friends who, although not quite from all walks of life, are
certainly more diverse than my California circle.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Small demonstration at the Japanese Embassy

It was fun to be at the scene of a small-scale protest against Japan. This is a rather typical anti-Japanese protest, unlike the nationwide marches that took place over three weekends in April 2005.

China Daily has the officially sanctioned story. The Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV has similarly abbreviated coverage. This Chinese blogger was more impassioned in his retelling of the 30-minute protest. Some of the comments ask why there weren't more participants.

Of the 20 protesters, only
Zhao Ronglai and Feng Jinhua accepted interviews.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chinese activists plan protest in front of Japanese Embassy

June 10, Narita Airport - A Chinese man named Xue Yi (薜义) has been taken into custody for throwing two plastic bottles at Lee Teng-hui and his wife, following Lee's visit to Yasukuni Shrine and reiterated support for Taiwanese independence. Not surprisingly, Bi Yi's detention has sparked anger among Chinese netizens on nationalist forums. But news of the incident has also received coverage on official internet portals, some of which have drawn parallels to a similar incident in 2001, when overseas Chinese student Feng Jinhua defaced the entrance to Yasukuni Shrine. Feng Jinhua was given a hero's welcome upon his return to Beijing and is now one of the core leaders of the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands.

Late last night, I received an SMS saying that there will be a protest Monday morning at 10 A.M. in front of the Japanese Embassy. If the demonstration even comes to fruition, it's unlikely that the event will be large. If not, it will simply join the scrap heap of would-be protests.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Homemade yogurt

While in Xinjiang, I fell in love with homemade yogurt. I've always been partial to yogurt, especially when mixed with mango pulp to create the delectable mango lassi, my favorite Indian yogurt drink and the inspiration for my screen identity, mangolass. (News flash: following a trade agreement with India, three new varieties of mangoes will be on sale in California this summer!)

But Dannon, Yoplait and even Horizon Organic cannot compare with the experience of eating yogurt in Xinjiang: thick, semi-separated curds, good for dipping bread, flavoring rice pilaf, or with a spoonful of sugar, the way I like it. Beijing yogurt has a nice consistency, but the preservatives give it an off-taste. Even the freshly made yogurt at our favorite Xinjiang restaurant, run by the Urumqi City Government Office, seemed thin and watery by comparison.

What to do? Make my own!

I'd tried once before, but with miserable results. This time I beefed up on incubation techniques and starter cultures. Several hours later - voila! Delicious, creamy yogurt - served right from the rice cooker, my stand-in yogurt incubator.

Easy, the Indian way:
A little fussy:
Getting scientific:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Xiamen protests

Residents of the wealthy coastal city of Xiamen turned out on June 1st and 2nd to protest the proposed construction of a petrochemical plant. Cellphone text messages circulated for days before the protest. Having thrown a bone to the protesters by saying that it would consider pulling the project, the government appears to be cracking down now. But one man has already caught the brunt.

Xiamen mayor Liu Cigui told reporters: “There are some people who have taken advantage of the people's attention to environmental issues, attention to this project, and taken inappropriate and even illegal actions."
According to the SCMP:
Rumours circulated that at least one person suspected of being a ringleader of peaceful marches was arrested at his home early yesterday.
Who was this man?

During the protest, citizen-blogger Cloudswander spotted a man at the head of the march wearing a Bao Diao t-shirt. It appears that this man is named Li Yiqiang (李义强), former head of the Xiamen branch of the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands.

Photos taken by Cloudswander

According to a fellow activist, Li Yiqiang was taken into custody on June 3rd and has not been released yet.

It also appears that Li Yiqiang acted on his own, without telling other Bao Diao activists of his plans. In fact, Li Yiqiang fell out with the CFDD following the March 2004 landing of seven Bao Diao activists on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, which garnered fame for the participants but earned the enmity of the government, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Related links:

2004 photo of Li Yiqiang

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I end my long hiatus from blogging with photos of my Xinjiang trip here.