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January 18, 2007

Forbidden Palace Starbucks May Close

Forbidden Palace Starbucks May Close

A news anchor for China Central Television has led an online campaign to remove Starbucks, which opened in the palace in 2000 at the invitation of its managers, who are under pressure to raise money to maintain the vast complex. The anchorman, Rui Chenggang, wrote in a CCTV blog that Starbucks' presence "undermined the Forbidden City's solemnity and trampled over Chinese culture."

Starbucks defended the operation of its palace outlet.

"Starbucks appreciates the deep history and culture of the Forbidden City and has operated in a respectful manner that fits within the environment," the company said in a written statement.

"We have provided a welcome place of rest for thousands of tourists, both Chinese and foreign, for more than six years."

The Starbucks located in the Forbidden City is the world's smallest.

January 17, 2007

Internet Black Holes

Internet Black Holes

Reporters Without Borders features China in an interactive map of countries which censor the internet for political purposes and imprison cyber-dissidents. Other countries included on the map are Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam

[ via infosthetics ]

Archinect interviews Beijing artist Ai Wei Wei

Archinect interviews Beijing artist Ai Wei Wei

It's a very sad condition, you see a nation or a city rip up the past, not to benefit the people, or the situation, but for profit, it's really the idea of all those new rich. It's like a country girl has to be a prostitute, because there is no other way to get out of the village. China's development is so much based in this idea: to let somebody ruthlessly become rich, but they can't become rich unless the party and government also profits, otherwise it's impossible. So who has become rich? Who has become more powerful? Who benefits and who is losing their rights, or their property. This property belongs to everybody, it belongs to somebody who never sees this property, because you know we are a communist country and this of course for the past 10 to 20 years has been a hidden secret (I mean nobody talks about it). It's stealing. I am not criticizing, these are only the facts. I record the condition after things are torn down and before they are built up, you know it's a very short moment, but in that moment nobody wants to look. There's a question mark there, a big, big void. The old is so sad, but the new is also sad. It is a very sad condition, so I think it's interesting to record it. It's a unique situation, a void with many questions, yet people don't want to look, or raise these questions.

Guangzhou motorcycle ban & crime

In City Ban, a Sign of Wealth and Its Discontents

Guangzhou, the chaotic export capital in southern China, appeared to hit a major Chinese milestone this month, becoming the country’s first city to reach a per capita income of $10,000 — more than five times the nationwide figure and a rough threshold for becoming a “developed” country.

But in a measure of just how problematic prosperity can be here, the city will institute a ban on motorcycles and motorized bicycles on Monday, hoping to quell a crime wave that has been building to more than 100,000 offenses a year.

The vehicles, the primary mode of transport for migrant workers clawing their way up Guangzhou’s economic ladder, are also favored by criminals who have terrorized the city in recent years, including a shocking case in late 2005, when a woman had her hand cut off by a thief on a motorcycle. News accounts concluded that motorcycle thieves were divided into gangs, including one called the Hand Choppers.