Yu Hua’s “China in Ten Words” comments

Yu Hua’s writing is some of the most engaging for me that we’ve read. He really knows how to draw readers in from the very start. The intro provided a descriptive image filled short story that grabs your attention. I can tell that he really likes to draw from his own experiences in all of his writing. I’ll admit, he does focus on himself a lot, but that also adds to the analysis he gives. I like that he tends to compare current day China to the China of 30, 40, and 50 years ago. I’ve also really liked the feelings of nostalgia that you get from the readings. Even though we never experienced what he is speaking about, the way he writes the essays draws you in enough so that it’s nearly as close. He is more complimentary of Mao that I originally expected. He writes things like, “Only Mao could carry this off” and “Many years after the 1976 death of a genuine leader,” referring to Mao. Not just Mao, but that whole period seems to hold a lot of meaning for Yu Hua. He writes about current day China with surprising negativity, such as “China today is a land of huge disparities” and others. I don’t have much to critique of Yu Hua, as all his writing has been enjoyable and fascinating to read.

New Project & Challenges

As I have just recently decided to change my area of focus for the project, I am somewhat back at square one. The main challenge for me right now is to catch up to where I was before changing the research. I need to find out what my main questions are and organize my project and information. I have to find new primary and secondary sources and begin reading them. I believe the hardest thing will simply be catching up and being prepared for the draft due in a little over a week.

My new area of research is on athletes in China. Though I’ll be focusing somewhat on scandals and reports surrounding performance enhancing drugs and the athletes, I will also probably do more research on the general training process of national and Olympic athletes. I may also touch on the rumors and reports of under-aged Olympic athletes in China. I’ve found some particular case studies about all the previous topics mentioned that I will be using throughout the research.

I think one more challenge in this new project is finding genuine reports coming out of China on this topic and not just from other countries. I want to make sure I get the opinion of the Chinese people and facts coming from those involved. I may do some more extensive research with athletes who have a past of being caught using performance enhancing drugs. I will look into the reports of Chinese athletes being forced into taking performance-enhancing drugs with the excuse that it is for scientific training. I’m looking forward to seeing what I find.

Challenges with Research Projects

I’ve always had the trouble with research projects in that I am always trying to take on more than I can handle. I have trouble narrowing down my questions to one topic and end up without a solid few questions to follow. My research then begins to go astray and I become confused as to what I really wanted to know.

With this particular research project, I’m finding myself with a similar problem. I’m researching North Korean refugees treatment in China and discovering the desire to take under the broader topic of general refugees as well as wanting to know about the living conditions of the North Korean refugees in China. Another difficulty would be that a lot of the information I’m gathering is coming from countries outside of the two I’m focusing on. Due to the extensive censorship of media and information in China, as well as the fact that it is a sensitive topic for the Chinese government, I’m having difficulties getting a true feel of the opinion of the Chinese people about these refugees. I was aware that this would be a difficulty going into the project, but I’m hoping to find some good information after some digging.

Refugees or Illegal Immigrants

As a brief introduction to my research, I am looking at the treatment of North Korean refugees in China, China’s stance on refugees, and why China handles refugees in the manner they seem to do. The source I’m reporting on comes from Radio Free Asia and is titled “China Arrests North Korean Refuges: Reports.” It discusses the arrest and deportation of 11 North Korean refugees from China, who were traveling south out of China to an unknown Asian country and then presumably, on to South Korea. They were being lead by two ethnic Koreans with Chinese citizenship and were supported by a South Korean Christian mission. There are some contradicting released statements about just how many refugees there were.

In history, China’s known to forcibly repatriate North Korean ‘refugees’. However China doesn’t necessarily think the same way. A quote from the article reads, “China-North Korea’s staunchest ally-frequently repatriates those it catches, claiming they are illegal economic migrants, rather than refugees.” This article is very useful because it gives a very recent example of China dealing with North Korean refugees and covers what happened, China’s actions, and how they dealt with it. It also gives other countries opinions and actions.

I found it interesting that the number of refugees in the group arrested hasn’t clearly found a single factual number. If the refugees are forcefully repatriated, they would likely face death or be sent to a labor camp and Stephen Noerper of the Washington-based Korea society brings up the possibility that they will severely suffer. He wanted the international community to get involved.

I’m hoping to use this particular example further through other articles, news reports, and videos about the refugees and what actions the Chinese government may have taken The article could have been more detailed about China’s stance with possibly more quotes from news reports about the detainees.

Joshua Lipes, “China Arrests North Korean Refugees: Reports” Radio Free Asia. http://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/arrest-11182013171205.html

Union of China & North Korea

The power of the people of China and (North) Korea is great

Designer: Ding Yunqu (丁允渠)
1955, October
The power of the people of China and (North) Korea is great
Zhong Chao renmin liliang da (中朝人民力量大)
Publisher: Chaohua meishu chubanshe (朝花美术出版社)


I chose this poster because it has to do with Korea and China’s alliance and friendship. On the left you have the young Korean girl dressed in a traditional hanbok and on the right you have the young Chinese girl in red. Both of them are smiling happily while holding onto each other. Flowers surround the girls with a clear blue sky in the background. The feeling from the poster is heartwarming and enjoyable to look at. By having young girls as the focus, you feel more inclined to believe in a happy and good relationship. There are also music stanzas below the flowers, adding to the innocence and serenity of the picture. The translation below says, “The power of the people of China and (North) Korea is great.” With the union of the two girls in the picture, holding hands and arms slung around each other, it’s easy to believe. The children’s innocence and the beauty surrounding them makes the relationship seem tranquil and friendly.

The Thorn in China’s Side: North Korea

Although I previously wrote a blog post on a similar article, this topic is one of great interest to me. The article starts out talking about the recent execution of Kim Jong Un’s uncle and mentor, Jang Song Thaek. One of the reasons this purging has become such big news is because of the position of power his Uncle held. Jang Song Thaek was in charge of trade with China. There was suspicion of treason, with Song Thaek selling North Korean goods, such as coal, at unreasonably cheap prices, to China. Cai Jian, an expert on Korea from Fudan University in Shanghai, says that it may have also been a direct swipe at China. China has great influence over North Korea, as it supplies North Korea with many necessary goods, along with being a sort of protector. As one North Korean woman working in a Chinese department store said, “How could North Korea survive without China?” However, North Korea may worry about this influence, thus editing Jang Song Thaek out of the picture, lessoning the influence. The worry now is about the economy in North Korea, as fewer goods are now heading into North Korea from China. Many still ask, as do I, why China continues to support North Korea? Looking at it from one point, North Korea just seems like a deeply embedded thorn in China’s side. But Cai Jian says that China seems to have decided that the stability of the Kim regime is in their strategic interest. I’m curious to delve deeper into China’s opinion on North Korea. I’d also like to know more about their trading system and see if there’s any new information as to how it’s managed from the North Korean side. I’m also interested in learning more about the northeast part of China, where, across the Yalu River, products are taken by train into North Korea. It’s described as North Korea’s only real point of contact with the outside world. And few North Koreans are lucky enough to make a visit there.


Traditional Mongolian Medicine in China and the West

The article I read was titled “Healing traditions go abroad” from the “China Daily” on www.chinaculture.org. It spoke of traditional Mongolian medicine and it’s critics, as well as the recent interest shown from the west. I’d always been most interested in acupuncture, bone setting, and the use of water in the traditional medicine. It’s promising to read that the Chinese government is encouraging advances in traditional Mongolian medicine and it’s expansion; “In 2013, the health department of Inner Mongolia reached an agreement with the US National Institutes of Health to promote the study of Mongolian medicine.” The article mentioned that Chinese doctors who were studying western medicine, some even abroad, were now coming back to learn the traditional methods.  Ulaan is the director of the State-owned Inner Mongolia International Mongolian Hospital, which opened in 2012. She discussed their recent invitation to an international forum organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), after specialists from WHO witnessed traditional Mongolian medicine at work for themselves.

The topic of cost was also brought up, mentioning how much cheaper the traditional medicine was. Ulaan points out that taking many of the “sophisticated medical instruments and expensive drugs” leaves the focus on the doctor’s experience and ability. I definitely agree that it’s hard to understand and comprehend the traditional methods when one hasn’t witnessed them in person, but I’d like to think I have faith in some of the traditional methods. Though I know a few people who swear by acupuncture, but have yet to experience it myself. I feel as though some of the other traditional methods are not as common or popular in the west as acupuncture has become. I’m curious to know if anyone in the class has had acupuncture before, or experienced/witnessed traditional Mongolian medicine methods. I’m also curious as to just how popular traditional medicine is in China compared to western medicine, now, in 2014, and if it has grown or dwindled in popularity in the last decade.


Frontline Film Response – A New Generation

The generation this film seemed to focus on was the generation that was just starting, or in the middle of, college during the Tiananmen square incidents of 1989. This specific event has had significant impact on their opinions and views of the Chinese government and society. As mentioned, this generation can still remember food rations from when they were young, but are now living in a society where surplus is possible. Many of this generation are coming back from abroad as well, with different views on life, business, and love from the west. There are big dreams with an increasingly vocal middle-class. While the older generation seems caught in tradition, young adults are challenging some of those views. One thing that I definitely believe has a huge impact on the lives of the Chinese people at the time, is the large portion of the population, near 70%, that does not have health insurance. There’s also the enormous number of migrant workers pouring into the city from the countryside, looking for better opportunities and money.  Another change in society is the young generation choosing work over their spouse and family, along with the take off of Internet relationships, such as Wang Xiaolei’s.  Lu Dong and his emphasis on Christianity also interested me, as none of the other interviewees mentioned their religious beliefs and it’s impact on their everyday life. I was especially impressed with Ben Wu, whom I found one of the most interesting people in the film. I was happy to hear him talk about the business of bribing officials and how he struggles with that idea, as it goes against his morals. He also was working with foreign investors for his Internet café, which I understand was becoming much more common at the time. Another fascinating part of his life was his relationship with his wife, who was living in the states, along with his parents and brother. This new faction of the generation, where couples live apart from each other, both working, seems to be becoming more common. I’m glad they mention the one child policy, as I am curious to see what happened with Xu Weimin and his wife as they were expecting a second child at the end of the film. I think another huge impact on society would be the changing view on relationships. As mentioned by a few of the interviewees, many believe in marrying for money now, as stability is craved. Less and less are looking for love, but rather money and competency. I’d love to be able to follow up with the interviewees now, in 2014. I’m curious to see if Ben Wu got his solar power business running, whether or not Lu Dong has found a relationship, how well Wang Xiaolei’s rapping career has taken off, whether or not Yang Haiyan has left her home for work, and more.


Air Pollution in China’s Cities: How Serious is it?

Around 10 years ago, my mother made a trip to China with a group of teachers. She excitedly relayed her experience and the amazing art, food, and culture she was able to experience. However, she had one major complaint, and that was the air quality. She said the difference was so noticeable, just after stepping off the plane and her nose and throat hurt a bit the first few days as she got used to the smog. The title of the article I read is “China’s Air Pollution Monitoring Network: Too Little, Too Late?” I’m sure everyone is well aware of the air pollution problems that China is facing, but I learned some new facts in this article that shocked me a bit at just how serious it is. One that really surprised me was a study done by the National Academy of Sciences, whom revealed that their studies indicated that someone living in the north of China has their life expectancy cut short by 5½ years due to the pollution. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s official, Xu Donggun, says that the smog in 2013 has affected 600 million people, which is nearly half the nation’s population. During last year’s national holiday in October, heavy smog caused for the shut down of more than 30 highways and even some airports in Beijing and the surrounding areas. The State Council has suggested a number of initiatives to help with the ever-increasing problem, such as shifting towards renewable energy sources, improving vehicle fuel quality, and downsizing the high-polluting industrial sectors. The people are complaining that despite all the talk of different programs that will be implemented or measures being taken, the amount of time seems too long. By the time the actual process of cleaning the air starts, how much worse will the situation be? The money and time needed to build a national monitoring system, and for everyone agree to new cleaner measures as well as downsizing major industrial centers may be harder and take longer than anticipated. I’m curious as to how big the difference is now as compared to when my mother went. She spent most of the trip in Beijing, which is one of the big problem cities, along with others such as Shanghai. I’d like to read more about the specifics of the measures China was planning on taking.


“Why Does China Coddle North Korea?” Analysis

Everyone seems well aware of North Korea’s ever-increasing economic dependence on China, but the question remains as to why China doesn’t turn around that dependence and use it’s importance to North Korea in more influential ways. After all, it’s not unknown that China is losing patience with North Korea. As North Korea’s strongest, and one of few, allies, China is being kept in the dark about most of North Korea’s internal happenings – politically and socially. The recent execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was in many ways, China’s primary opening into the North, only succeeds in isolating China further from North Korea’s inner activities. The real question is to why China chooses to continue supporting North Korea and only half-heartedly taking action against the isolated communist country. Considering how deeply China is entwined to the U.S., economically, and China and South Korea’s increased trade and promotion of ties, one would think that the answer is more obvious. Beijing seems to be at a standstill as to what to do with North Korea and it’s young dictator. North Koreans who are too closely connected with China are now being suspected as well. Besides the execution of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, anyone connected to him is now in danger. Reports of more executions and purges of these governmental officials have been surfacing. Despite all this, China’s odd relationship with North Korea has been, and remains, an important aspect of the country. The two countries have sometimes been referred to as the parent and the uncontrollable, trouble-making child. There are suspects that believe that the memories of the Korean War are another reason for China’s confusing standpoint on how to handle the small Communist country. With China’s economy so tied up with the west, and North Korea’s ever increasing isolation from their only real provider, one wonders how much longer China will be willing to show any sort of backing for the country.