Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Man walks past Tai Po wishing tree and gets hit by falling branch

Photo: rosher

In an incident straight out of an Old Master Q comic, a 62 year-old man is suing the government for injuries caused by a branch that fell from Tai Po's famous 'wishing tree'.

Choi Kam-yin sustained injuries to his leg, whilst a young child was also injured by the branch.

"According to the family, Choi had been so badly injured that he had to receive several operations and physiotherapy.

The family also accused the department of being callous as it did not send any staff to check the patient's condition. The department only sent a representative to see Choi after the incident came to light.

The ailing Tai Po Wishing Tree, its branches heavy with wishes tied to oranges, had caused concern among government officials who announced it was to be protected."

Source: The Standard, and first sighted at Hong Kong or Bust.

The big question that needs answering is: Was someone else at the time wishing that a branch would fall from the tree and hit Mr. Choi?

If that was the case then it would certainly prove the wishing tree's credentials. The government should investigate further I think!


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why 'Lust, Caution' can't win a Best Foreign Film Oscar

I thought Lust, Caution was a really good film and probably stood a chance of winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, but it hasn't even been nominated.

It turns out that there was a problem with the film being submitted to the Oscar panel as a Taiwanese production. They felt the film was not strictly speaking a Taiwanese film because so much of it was done in China and featured non-Taiwanese personnel.

Source: Xinhuanet

However the film was eligible for other Oscar such as costumes, music and didn't get nominated for anything. It's been totally overlooked!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Maye Choo joins the growing list of British Asians in the media

Despite being in what must be the least annoying of the Halifax can't-get-it-out-of-your-head series of commercials, Thomas Yau appears to have become something of an annoyance to many people, according to London paper the Metro. Even a member of BritishChineseOnline.com is quoted as saying - quite bizarrely:

'I saw it on telly and hung my head in shame and disbelief.'

Source: TV advert inspires a little Xtra loathing

Hopefully not all of us are prone to such feelings when we see a Chinese face on telly but if Thomas and his singing aren't your thing, there is another new British Asian face on our screens at the moment:

Maye Choo has a recurring role in a high profile ITV drama 'Honest' starring alongside veteran actor Burt Kwok who plays her father.

To be honest (no pun intended) when I first saw Maye Choo's performace I was surprised at how good it was - quite confident and convincing. I think the unusual thing about her character is that she isn't just a 'Chinese type' but is actually a scheming, plotting character with motives who gets really involved in the plot. It's not the kind of thing you see that often from a Chinese character and I think it makes a nice change.

Maybe this be a future star to watch?

'Honest' is on ITV Wednesdays at 9:00pm

Maye Choo has her own website: Mayechoo.co.uk

Related: Castnet profile

Monday, January 21, 2008

Poll: "Should we be afraid of China's might?"

The London Evening Standard is running a poll asking readers whether we should 'be concerned about Chinese companies buying British firms?'

Click here to cast your vote.

As of 9:00 pm, the poll stood at 70% Yes, 30% No

Related: Burberry may soon be 'Made in China'

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Food inflation in China

Inflation in food prices in China is a hot topic at the moment. Whilst the population is generally getting more prosperous, recent large prices rises for products such as pork, cooking oil and noodles have come as a shock.

In one incident, there was a stampede at a Carrefour supermarket where cooking oil had been discounted by about 1USD and 3 shoppers were killed:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Thomas Yau, star of new Halifax commercial

The latest can't-get-it-out-of-your-head Halifax commercial features a Mr. Thomas Yau, an employee at the bank from Leeds who auditioned after seeing an internal email.

I don't know how they do it but the people who make the Halifax ads seem to have a knack of choosing songs that really stick in your head! Still, it's a fun ad and it's nice to see a Chinese face in a commercial who isn't doing the usual, predictable, stereotypical stuff.

You can see behind-the-scenes clips and an interview with Thomas on Halifax's dedicated website: www.halifaxsomethinggood.co.uk/

And here's the ad itself (Warning: Contains catchy song!):

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thousands in latest HK democracy demonstration

Photo: Reuters

There was another pro-democracy march in HK today. This time it was in response to the announcement by China that Hong Kongers shouldn't expect full democracy for another ten years at least

Last month China decided to delay the introduction of full democracy in Hong Kong from 2012 to 2017, with elections of the entire legislative council potentially stalled until 2020.

The reason given was (reportedly) that the people of Hong Kong lacked the political maturity to cope with democracy - they are simply not ready. The protest was aimed at proving this wrong.

Reuters reports:

"We want universal suffrage in 2012. Return our right for universal suffrage," the crowds chanted into loudhailers.

"Hong Kong's democratic development has been too slow, we want it to be faster," said protester Irene Wong, who works in the financial sector and marched with several friends.

Whilst Australia's ABC reports:

"Analysts say Beijing fears that a move to unhindered democracy could spark the same demand on the Chinese mainland and fuel social unrest in the country."

I think that's actually the real issue here: Beijing knows, I think, that Hong Kong is ready and able to cope with democracy. It's the rest of China that they're worried about, and how it can hold back or deal with demands for democracy right across the country.

Story: ABC (Australia)
Story: Reuters

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My 'Lust, Caution' review

Judging by the audience seeing 'Lust, Caution' at the weekend, I think quite a few bbcs are going to see this movie so I thought I'd write a short review.

The film's pedigree could hardly be better; It is directed by Oscar-winner Ang Lee, stars reknowned Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai (already known to Western audiences for his role in 'In the Mood for Love') and is based on an original story by one of Asia's most popular and respected authors, Eileen Chang.

'Lust, Caution' grabs your attention from the start, cleverly using a game of mah jong to symbolise the battle of minds between a group of well-to-do women living in Japanese occupied Shanghai in 1942. What Yee Tai Tai (Joan Chen) doesn't know is that her fellow mah jong player, Mak Tai Tai, is actually a resistance spy who is conducting an affair with her husband, a high ranking official in the collaborationist Chinese government.

From here the film jumps back in time and shows how a group of idealistic, young drama students evolves into a resistance cell that plots to assassinate a member of the regime they feel has betrayed their people.

It falls on the shy but brilliant actress Wong Chia Chi (Wei Tang) to assume the role of a 'honeypot' spy who's mission is to seduce and ensnare Tony Leung's character, Mr Yee.

Wei Tang's performance is intense and quite amazing. Her character transforms from a shy, innocent student to a passionate mistress, whilst becoming a master spy along the way. She is totally believable every step of the way. Tony Leung Chiu Wai as the sinister official Yee is excellent too but some moviegoers may feel that he is simply reprising his now trademark restrained, smouldering performance.

There has been a lot of hype about the sex scenes and all I can say is I can't imagine how they could be faked, such is the realism. For me, seeing the couple make love so explicitly is justified as it makes what happens in the film all the more intense and believable.

The film convincingly recreates Shanghai and Hong Kong in the 1940s (although the story is quite claustrophobic and we are not shown the outside world that much) and overall it has a very evocative period look to it.

'Lust, Caution' is an intense, passionate, beautiful film and I'd give it top marks. If you've seen it, let me know what you thought!

Related: Two new Eileen Chang collections published

Related: Tong Leung launches website

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Goji Berry Phenomenon

Photo: sohu.com

It's quite strange to see a food item I grew up with and ate as part of my mum's traditional Chinese soup suddenly become an ultra-trendy, ultra-healthy 'superfood' beloved of celebrities and fitness freaks.

Go ji are the instantly recognisable ingredient in homemade, Chinese soups. We boil them so that their goodness goes into the soup and the berry becomes soft, sweet and mushy. Re-hydrated after cooking, the berries become fat and bright orange unlike the dry variety on sale in western shops.

Now, go ji are being hailed as something akin to a miracle food in the west. As this BBC report says,
"they're supposed to contain, weight for weight, more:

• vitamin C than oranges
• beta-carotene than carrots
• iron than steak

But there's no messy peel, and the berries are so light that a "daily serving" is just 10-30 grams.

The hype machine calls them "fruit Viagra", "cellulite-busting" and claims one pack will have you "jumping for joy".

A more sober scientific explanation says the beta-carotene in the fruit is thought to help fight heart disease, defend against cancer and protect skin from sun-damage. The berries are a good source of B vitamins and anti-oxidants - which may help protect against the fallout from chemical reactions in the body."

I like a bowl of Chinese soup every now and then but I can't say if it makes me 'jump or joy'. Nice to know that western doctors are in agreement that the berries are good for me, though.

What next? Nell MacAndrew appearing on TV telling us not to eat so many crisps because they're 'yit hay'? :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hey big (bbc) spenders....

I found this article on the Daily Telegraph website. It seems to suggest that Chinese people - not just overseas tourists but British-born Chinese too - hit the sales particularly big style this year:

The Chinese - both British-born and from overseas - are reputed to have taken the sales by storm this year, searching for luxury goods at knock-down prices.

Retailers including Selfridges and John Lewis have reported the trend, one of the knock-on effects of a booming Chinese economy. Around 700 million people are expected to have joined the Chinese "consumer class" by 2020.

A spokesman for Selfridges said: "The Chinese have always been keen on status symbols. And luxury goods, especially handbags, have become increasingly popular.

"We have a particularly strong handbag department - that's why we've attracted a large number of Chinese, both British residents and tourists. Even Chinese students were spending heavily."

I can well believe that the number of wealthy Chinese tourists coming here is on the up but I didn't realise that we bbcs were noticeably bigger spenders at the sales than other people. Maybe I'm just not a big shopper!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Two new Eileen Chang collections published

In time for the release of the new film from director Ang Lee, Penguin Modern Classics has published two new collections of short stories by the author of 'Lust, Caution', Eileen Chang. One of them, 'Love in a Fallen City' includes some stories printed in English for the first time.

Eileen Chang rose to prominence in Shanghai during the 30s and 40s when the city was under Japanese occupation.

Unlike most other writers living in the 'fallen city', Chang chose not to adopt a Communist, opposing stance but rather integrated with, and set her writing in, the world of the new regime.

She caused controversy by marrying a high ranking local official in the Japan-backed government but her husband left her for another woman when the Japanese were defeated in 1945.

Chang left China and lived in Hong Kong for three years before moving to the United States in 1955 where she died, alone and a recluse, in 1995.

Her books remain massively popular in China and throughout Asia to this day and the new film adaptation of 'Lust, Caution starring Tony Leung and Wei Tang is released this Friday Jan 4th.

Related: The film 'Lust, Caution' (imdb)

Related: Lust, Caution (Amazon)

Related: Love in a Fallen City (Amazon)