Upcoming at Crouching China this week

Here’s a preview on what you’ll see on Crouching China this week. If you want to suggest a future topic I’ll cover here at Crouching China, leave a comment below.

Monday – Word of the week

Tuesday – I review some extreme hotels!!!

Wednesday – I explain “cloud seeding” and what to expect in Beijing during the Olympics

Thursday – I profile bigwhiteguy.com

Friday – I’ll introduce a new 5-part series. Stop by Friday to see what it’ll cover


5 Reasons you must read this blog!

1) Learn insightful and interesting information about China’s past, present and future!

2) After reading Crouching China for a year, you will know everything about the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics!

3) Learn a new word/phrase in Mandarin each week (this starts next week)!

4) Hear about others’ experiences traveling, living and being from China!

5) Read book reviews on traveling in China (this way you can skip the boring ones)!

Speedlinking – China/Olympics Related Blogs

Here are a few blogs I have come across recently and/or read regularly.

Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies Today!

Okay, it’s not today. It’s one year from today. But the one-year-to-go mark almost passed without a mention here. (It’s 10:11PM where I’m at). Anyways, 365 days from now the world will turn its full attention to China, the athletes will be at their athletic best and 3 million visitors will be trying to see the processional of nations march into the Olympic Stadium. And we’ll be right in the middle of all of it. You gotta love that!

Secret Olympic Pigs

By far the strangest thing I came across this week. There’s an article on FT.com about how the official pork supplier for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is feeding its pigs only organic food in order to insure that Olympic athletes will not fail doping tests. Typically, the pork supplier, Qianxihe Food Group, uses growth hormones to rear the pigs. A customary practice in China according to a company spokesman. The company is so serious about its pigs being steroid free that it is raising these Olympic pigs in secret locations throughout China. Wow.

2008 Beijing Olympic Observations

The Financial Times is starting to do a great job of covering the Beijing Olympics. After reading the special Bejing Olympics 2008 section in Monday’s paper, I have the follow observations. (thanks to Richard McGregor and Mure Dickie for their reporting)

Massive Development – Each year 100 Million square meters of new building construction is added in Beijing in the last few years. On the flipside, [Olympic] Games related development has accelerated the destruction of Beijing’s most historic neighborhoods according to a local preservationist. There has to be a balance between new development and preservation of historically significant areas.

Transportation – 5,399 km of new municipal roads have been added between 2001 to 2006. 84km of new metro and light rail lines are being added. With all this new transportation options, congestion will surely increase. Beijing is already trying to combat that with in-dash traffic monitors as well as a plan to cut the number of cars allowed into the city.

Pollution– This has been a growing problem for China, Beijing especially. To combat the ubiquitous smog, some factories will shut down during the Games. There is talk of reducing the electricity supply to the area. Even with air quality that supposedly is improving (according to Olympic officials) several countries’ Olympic teams are concerned, Australia, Japan the UK and the US to name a few. Britain swim coach has said he will delay his team’s arrival to Beijing until the last moment to limit the risk from the polluted air.

Capitalism– Termed a ‘coming-out party’ for China, the Olympic Games will allow Chinese companies a never before seen opportunity to market to an international audience. Companies like Lenovo, a well known brand in China, will gain greater visibility through its participation with the Olympic Games (Lenovo designed the Olympic Torch). The Games are also an avenue for international companies to make a dent in the Chinese Market. McDonald’s, a lead sponsor of the Games, has created the “China Mac” in its mainland restaurants. These are just a few examples of the unilateral access the Olympic Games provides.

Controversy– What would the Olympics be without controversy? The current debate being China’s support of the Sudanese regime. The Save Darfur coalition has nicknamed the Beijing Olympics the “Genocide Games”. In its defense, China has established a special African envoy to help end the violence in Darfur. In the coming months I’m sure we will see more from both sides on this subject.

China has done a fantastic job in preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. There is always more to do. And the Opening Ceremonies are quickly approaching. I look forward to seeing first hand what China has done to greet the world next August.

I’m not (yet) an expert on China but these are some of my observations. What have you observed that I haven’t? Do you think Genocide Games is a deserved title? As always, feel free to comment here or drop me an email at crouchingchina (at) gmail (dot) com.

Review: Fried Eggs with Chopsticks

Today I review the book Fried Eggs with Chopsticks by Polly Evans. The subtitle of the book says it all “One Woman’s Hilarious Adventure into a Country and a Culture Not Her Own”. With a few rudimentary phrases of Mandarin, a determination to experience (rural) China on public transportation (by bus, car, train, and mule), she embarks on a journey filled with stories of bad food and comfortless travel. Though she has an annoying habit of whining about almost everything, she is a good writer (this is one of three books she’s written book). Her anecdotes about training with six year old Kung-Fu artists and to witnessing a train official selling flameproof socks are very entertaining. The book often adds a historical perspective to wherever Evans visits. A good read and a good example of why one should think twice before trying public transportation in China.