February 28, 2010
Although I thought winter had past (we had a few warm days already), we got a bunch of icy snow last night. After the snow here, armies of people set out to clear the sidewalks using shovels and brooms. Here's a shot of the action in front of my office building this morning. You can see the big brooms made of clumps of twigs tied together. Not many people use sand and salt on sidewalks because of the cost. (The crews who clear the roads use snowplows, sand, and salt -- more like the crews in the US.) I saw this scene repeated dozens of times in front of shops and office buildings on my way into work this morning.
February 23, 2010
As I've pointed out before, it’s interesting to see how Western media (Australia, in this case) and Chinese media portray the same issue. Here are two articles on the same event – new changes in how individuals can register websites in China.
The Age shows this as a new restriction in the Chinese internet while the China Daily shows this as a loosening of a previously tightened rule. Both seem factually correct, but the tone and interpretation are different.
As I mentioned before, it's probably best to read multiple news sources and form your own opinions.
China launches strict new Internet controls
February 23, 2010 - 9:35PM
China's technology ministry moved to tighten controls on Internet use Tuesday, saying individuals who want to operate Web sites must first meet in person with regulators.
The state-sanctioned group that registers domain names in China froze registrations for new individual Web sites in December after state media complained that not enough was being done to check whether sites provided pornographic content.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that ban was being lifted, but would-be operators would now have submit their identity cards and photos of themselves as well as meet in person with regulators and representatives of service providers before their sites could be registered.
It said the rule was aimed at cracking down on pornography.
China has the world's biggest online population, with 384 million Internet users. The government operates the world's most extensive system of Web monitoring and filtering, blocking pornographic sites as well as those seen as subversive to communist rule.
The new regulations come as the government is in talks with Google Inc. about whether the U.S.-based Internet giant will be allowed to continue operating in China after saying in January it would no longer cooperate with the country's Web censorship. The two sides have given no details of the status of their discussions.
Chinese authorities have launched repeated crackdowns on online pornography and the government says nearly 5,400 people were detained last year.
China resumes individuals' website registrations
By Zhao Chunzhe (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-23 14:12
Individuals in China are now allowed to apply for websites, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, but applicants are requested to hand in a full-color photo, cnr.cn reported today.
The administration said both companies and individuals are allowed to register a website. Authorities will evaluate an applicant’s information in 20 weekdays and keep the information secret, the report said.
Individuals' domain name registration was called off December 14, 2009 in fighting against pornographic websites.
February 16, 2010
As I mentioned in yesterday's post on Chinese New Year fireworks in Beijing, the action is fast and furious and often very close to buildings. Last night, The Place, a shopping mall across the street from our apartment put on an hour-long show in the bike lane directly in front of their buildings. We watched from our apartment for a while, then Andrew (12) and I went down to the street to get a front-row view.
It was absolutely nutty as you can see from the photos. The flaming bits regularly hit the buildings with some parts flying up over the buildings on nearby rooftops. I suppose it's not a real danger, but it did give me pause. I don't think you'd ever see this in the US; maybe we're just too wimpy...
View from our apartment:
At street level you can see how close these are to the buildings.
This is a 1/90th second shot (pretty short for fireworks shots). You can see how bright it got. Lots of boom.
Andrew really enjoyed watching the fireworks up close.
February 14, 2010
I saw this on one of my co-worker's Facebook profile. It caught me a bit by surprise, although I guess it shouldn't.
February 13, 2010
Happy Tiger New Year! (Oh, and Happy Valentines Day too!) We spent New Year's Eve in our apartment in Beijing this year. The fireworks were absolutely crazy. They started around 6:00pm and kept going until well past 2:00am, non-stop.
There are no "official" fireworks shows like you'd think of them in the US. These are just random people who buy fireworks at the million fireworks tents that pop-up around Beijing near CNY. They drag their load onto random street corners and then light them off. As you can see from the photos and video below, these are often pretty serious shows, very close to buildings. You can buy a "show-in-a-box" for around $75-150 USD or maybe even higher; light one fuse and the step back.
I imagine the scene was repeated on virtually every block in Beijing (if not more, since we live in an area with lots of expats and hotels.) Spring Festival lasts two weeks, so we have a lot more fireworks to go...
This was probably the coolest set of the night, next to our apartment.
We were pretty much right underneath this one.
Here's Michael (9) playing with a sparkler.
Here's video I shot from our apartment at midnight. You can hear a roar in the background; that's from fireworks going off all around us. The big dark spot in the scene is a construction pit, so we have an even better view of the mayhem near by. The light colored building in the middle of the scene is the Shangri-La Kerry Centre Hotel.