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Death by White Chocolate

On white privilege in China – by Sophie Haas

THIS ESSAY FIRST APPEARED AT LORELI

Ed: If you haven't heard of it yet, Loreli ('look, read, listen') is a platform showcasing new artists, writers and musicians based in China. It's a terrific site, and they put on great events so if you're artistically inclined do follow them. They even did a Q&A with me, if you scroll down on their read page. Here we're proud to publish the winner of an essay competition they ran at the end of last year, a lovely piece of writing by friend of the hill Sophie Haas

 

The realization struck on my very first day in China, when I was 17: during the 14-hour plane trip from New York, I had somehow become a tourist attraction. I’d landed in Beijing the night before, and my host family had decided the way to welcome me to China was a sunrise trip to Tiananmen Square to watch the raising of the flag. Apart from eating a cucumber and drinking overly sweet green tea from a bottle, I hardly remember anything about that day or Tiananmen itself. But one memory has always stood out as clearly as if it happened yesterday: many, many people wanted either to take my picture or to have their picture taken with me. At first I tried to refuse, but soon I started to get into it, putting a friendly arm around someone’s daughter or copying the peace sign that everyone else seemed to be making in pictures. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t flattered, or that I really minded the picture taking. I’d never been considered exotic in my life and that day I began to understand what it was to feel like a model.

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Party Dinner

Satire from the lazy susan – new fiction by Arthur Meursault

AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL PARTY MEMBERS

 

Between Little Qi’s gloating at work and their current taxi ride, it had been a woeful day. Yet again, Party official Yang Wei had experienced misfortune on public transport during his journey home when a particularly sharp-elbowed grandmother had succeeded in pushing him off the crowded bus just before the doors closed, forcing him to wait another thirty minutes in the rain. While standing by the bus stop an entrepreneurial shoe-shiner had thrown mud on his shoes in an attempt to drum up some impromptu business. The crowd of fellow commuters had laughed at him as he tried to clean his soiled shoes in a puddle of dirty water, and when he returned home he discovered that the shoe-shiner had spat on the back of his jacket for failing to take up his kind offer of a twenty-yuan shoeshine. Yang Wei was dreading dinner.

Though the weekend had not yet arrived, the Five Harmonies Delicious Gourmet Seafood Restaurant was bursting with customers. Seafood restaurants were popular in Huaishi. In the evenings, the main roads of the city were lined with desperate young men in cheap tuxedos trying to drag patrons into their deserted establishments. The Five Harmonies Delicious Gourmet Seafood Restaurant succeeded in business better than most of its competitors because it had a reputation for not cutting corners.

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Getting the Picture

Barlife anectodes by Robert Black

 

A young Australian guy turned up at the hostel. He told me back home he was a boat captain. We agreed to have a beer. I was on tight budget, and so I took him outside to the rou chuan'r place on the street with cheap zhapi, right opposite Beijing Station. We sat in the warmth of the summer night and drank beer and talked, mostly about Australia and China. He said he had to make a call, but he was keen to continue on, and so we agreed to meet in the hostel bar, thirty minutes later.

At the bar we had nearly finished our second handle of beer when a very drunk Chinese guy stumbled over towards us. He did not appear to speak any English and so I had to translate. Like many Chinese I have met in bars, he wanted to drink with us. Except this guy was rude and obnoxious, and pretty much demanded it. He pointed to the bar. We agreed, he was paying after all. But when the three bottles of beer arrived he did not make any moves to pay. So we refused to pay. When he realised this, somewhat annoyed, he got his cash out.

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From Below

A photo essay by Daniel Rickleman

 

We're used to the bird's eye view of China, but what of the view from below? In this photo essay, geologist and amateur photographer Daniel Rickleman points his lens up at the Shanghai Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Centre and Beijing's CCTV tower, to give up an idea of what China's skyrocketing development looks like from the ground up, lost in the clouds, the night or the smog ...

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China Prep

New fiction from the China classroom - by Quincy Carroll

 

Ed: You might have heard of Quincy Carroll's foreign-teacher-in-China novel Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside, which I've just finished reading and enjoyed a lot. We're delighted to share this exclusive extract of his new novel, a work-in-progress also set in China ...

The first time you had come to China had been over spring break in 2003, and you and your classmates had spent the week visiting places like the Forbidden City, the Lama Temple, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall. Many of you had been lucky enough to have traveled outside of the U.S. before, but with the exception of another boy named Benjamin, you were the only one in your school who had ever been to Asia. Your mother and father had taken you and Abraham to Taiwan once in second grade to meet your father’s side of the family, but that had been so long ago and you had both been so young that it was no more than a memory—distant and hazy—by then.

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