zjemi's Comments

39 Wangjianshuo's Blog Meetup

Waa. We'd love to come to a meetup but we won't be in Shanghai until November. Hope there is another meetup then.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-21 02:24:44. More

38 Update about Yifan

My mother said I had temper tantrums when I was very little and would bang my head against the floor. She was so upset that she ran out of the room. Apparently that worked, because I soon stopped crying when there was no audience. So whenever I did that, she just walked away and soon I stopped having those tantrums. But we know a 15 year old (who is Chinese, I am not) who still has those tantrums. I think it happens when kids are treated so well by their parents that they expect to get everything they want. At some point even their loving parents cannot give them everything, and they can't stand it. I was treated too well by my mother (in the beginning) and the 15 year old (boy) is still over-indulged. I think it is very hard for parents who naturally want to give their children everything.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-18 05:30:08. More

37 Lang Ping's American Volleyball Team Beat China

For a non-Chinese one of the striking facts about this Olympics is how many super athletes from other countries have Chinese coaches. This shows that Chinese around the world are great. Of course it is common to have foreign coaches in, say, soccer, but the Chinese coaches are particularly noticeable and all are doing their part to emphasize how great the Chinese are.

I also noticed how many Chinese-Americans have reached the Olympic level in certain sports. They too are contributing to a great impression of China.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-16 00:29:00. More

36 Olympic is about Competition and Happiness

In entertainment it isn't at all weird or cheating to have the voices (and the music and the sound effects) done separately from the visual part.

The song was pre-recorded so Yang Peiyi certainly knew that her voice, rather than her body, was going to be exhibited. This isn't so strange. Apparently Pavarotti pre-recorded his voice when he sang at the Olympics. In films almost all the voices are redubbed after the filming. David Niven, an old British actor, had his voice substituted in his later films because he had Parkinson's disease. It isn't the little girls who were cheated, only those of us who don't know the conventions.

I hope we all know that Li Ning didn't really run around the top of Bird's Nest in the air all by himself. Wasn't it still spectacular? That's what I think about the two little girls. Yang Peiyi's voice is extraordinary. Lin Miaoke is beautiful, as were many of the flag holders of the different countries. The effect was wonderful.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-15 07:53:26. More

35 One Ceremony, Many Perceiptions

I too was astonished that the moveable type was done by humans. But I didn't think "only in China and maybe Germany". Rather I thought, "if we all worked together think of the wonderful things we could achieve." In a way the Olympics has created the enthusiasm in China that early communism did, where everyone wanted to contribute, to help, even to sacrifice. That happened in New York City when the World Trade Center was destroyed--in a city known for its hostility, everyone helped everyone else and it lasted for months.

Disclosure: I grew up in New York City and now live in a small town in Massachusetts.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-13 00:58:58. More

34 The Chinese Elements - Part II

During the games, I've been seeing a lot of Chinese shirts with Li Ning written on them. Is that in honor of Li Ning the torchbearer or is it a logo of a company?

I noticed that President Bush is really enjoying himself at the games. Good for him. I really don't like him, but I like that part of him that can really appreciate China's Olympics.

I hope all the journalists that want to call China a police state and all those things notice how few security guards are needed at the games--for some sports you can't see any, for soccer only three on one side. Compare that with the security needed in the West. Also there's a story today that Chicago is studying China's security system in preparation for 2012.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-12 05:04:53. More

33 The Chinese Elements in the Ceremony

The message I got over an over was that by working together we can create magnificent things. While the Chinese may be used to the synchronized movements, they may also be used to this message, so it is good that foreigners are both surprised by it and impressed by it.

Tell us more about the history and symbolism. I recognized the Tang Dynasty green and the Zheng He fleet, but don't know much else.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-11 05:58:47. More

32 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

I was very moved by the opening ceremony, awed by the skills and organization it took to manage so many people into such complex performances. Perhaps there's a message, that in a truly harmonious society many people will work together to do great things. I loved the scroll, the idea of Olympiads creating colors on the painting by walking across it, the pictures of Yao Ming with the little earthquake boy (he seemed much younger than 9), the lights from the audience and of course the lighting of the torch. Wow.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-08-09 22:39:13. More

31 Death and Religion in Tibet

Thank you, Jian Shuo, for always considering both sides. And thank you for giving us a list of your postings on Tibet. I noticed the one about Grace Wang at Duke. Since I used to teach at Duke, I felt especially sad that so much anger was there and that it was directed at her.

But to put this in perspective, let me say that in other universities (Smith College, for example), students and faculty who have even dared to forward a link reporting riots by Tibetans in Lhasa, rather than police brutality toward peaceful protestors, have received hate email, been told they are spreading dissent. Students and one faculty member have complained to the college president and deans about the immorality of anyone who would do such a thing (forward a link to an article reporting on Lhasa).

There is a lot of anger and misunderstanding. Many Chinese in the US feel that they have not complained about the misinformation for too long. I think it is time they speak up, and I'm very sorry that some of us are at the receiving end of the hostilities.

I do think that Grace Wang was treated badly, and certainly worse than what happened at Smith. Like her, we want to lessen the hostilities, but not by allowing false impressions and misinformation to continue.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-05-01 00:41:32. More

30 More Discussion on Tibet

Well, I guess I'm not as impartial as you Jianshuo
and thank you for being so. There is a lot wrong with China, to be sure, but there is also a big difference between a protest and a riot. And the Youtube videos I've seen were beatings and burnings and destruction.
We call that a riot in the US. A protest is marching down the street with signs, peacefully.

For the history of Tibet, see


Very detailed and well documented.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-04-15 03:46:49. More

29 Error in Western Media Report about Tibet

I think you can love your country, as you can love a person, without discriminating against others. That professor was WRONG, Elaine. Love is a good thing.

But now you all can see why the ordinary American, French person, German, believes the Free Tibet stories. It is not their fault. However, people in the governments should know better and they don't. They get their news from CNN too.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-04-13 00:34:45. More

28 Friends Started to Boycott French Products

And P.S. don't hate the French, but know that most of them are misinformed about China and Tibet just as Americans are. As for boycotting, that could be a very interesting development. That's aimed at the French government, not the French people, I think.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-04-12 01:02:13. More

27 Friends Started to Boycott French Products

It's not just Paris. Yesterday an American college professor sent two links about the history of Tibet and the riots in Tibet to a Chinese student organization. The Students for a Free Tibet were outraged that a professors dared to show the other side, sent outraged emails to the college president and other faculty, while the students from China have been sending emails of support saying that for years they have felt oppressed by the one sided proTibet Independence antiChina stories all over the US. Very few Americans know anything about Tibet and China, only the stories from the Tibetans living in India and Nepal.

I think the outrage comes from an idealized view of Tibet before 1950, a desire of some people to champion the "poor defenseless innocent pure harmless etc." victims and feel very good about themselves as a result. So when it turns out that some of those "victims" are murderers and the past is not so idealized, the supporters feel threatened, as if their own morality was being questioned. At least that's what's happening in some colleges in the US.

The good part is that the student from China are beginning to see that not everyone in the US thinks China is evil toward Tibet, and that they can speak out. So perhaps the videos and reports of the riots will have a good result, although at a terrible cost.
Posted by zjemi at 2008-04-12 00:59:09. More

26 Why I Didn't Cover About Tibet

One of the Tibetan complaints that I have heard is that so many Han Chinese now live in Tibet that they have "taken over" . If there are large numbers of Han living in Tibet, any vote to secede is likely to fail. Anyone know the population statistics and how they might have changed from, say the 19th and 20th centuries?

Almost all the Tibetans living in the U.S. come from India, have never been to Tibet, and many of them are the ones who want Tibet to secede. It is likely that many Tibetans in Tibet, like disadvantaged minority groups in many countries, just want better treatment not a whole new country.
Posted by Zjemi at 2008-04-06 11:06:09. More

25 What is the Most Sticky Topic?

Most of the popular topics are about travel. So I have a question
about travel too. You flew to Hainan Dao a few years ago. We would like to go in November, fly from Shanghai to Sanya, then from Sanya to Beijing.
Will the flights be very expensive? How far in advance should we book the tickets? We are planning to arrive in China on November 2, but not go to Sanya until November 22. Isn't it much cheaper to get the tickets in China than to book the trip from the U.S.? Which airline did you use? Are tickets still one way so that we will have to get to Sanya to get tickets from there to Beijing?

I'm looking forward to taking the new fast trains from Beijing to Nanjing and then Nanjing to Shanghai. How much in advance should we book train tickets?

Thank you for your blog. Although I do check the travel entries, I enjoy the blogs about your own life the most--naming your baby, going to IKEA, having a garden, etc.
Posted by zjemi at 2007-07-09 11:12:49. More

24 Chinese Characters

Jian Shuo,
I think you are absolutely right about Chinese. Because the characters
are not necessarily tied to the sound, one can learn to communicate
in writing without having to learn what sound to use. So the poor languages stuck with "water" and "l'eau" and "agua" can't easily exchange information with each other, but if you know 水; means the same thing, you don't have to master the sound-based spelling to communicate.

The first time I was in China and understood very little Chinese (well, that's still mostly true) people would write on their hands to communicate what I hadn't understood them saying. I was so flattered that they thought I could read that. But now I understand why. Hey, I'm still flattered. I use chinesepod.com to learn more, but I've got a long way to go.

Posted by zjemi at 2007-06-25 03:44:29. More

23 Shanghai World Expo 2010 Time

Will the prices of everything be gigantic? What if we came
right after the Expo, say in November of 2010? Won't there be
great signts and exhibitions still around? What do you advise?
Posted by zjemi at 2007-05-25 04:52:36. More

22 SJTU - No 565 in the World Ranking

For some fun rankings, try http://www.princetonreview.com/college/research/rankings/rankings.asp
to see which college has the most "students who wish Bill Clinton were still president" or "dorms like palaces" or other silly categories. SJTU should get in on that if it hasn't already--how about number one for the most famous Chinese blogger?
Posted by zjemi at 2007-05-02 23:52:08. More

21 I Got a Tax Summary!

Wow. The U.S. government should be so polite.
Posted by zjemi at 2007-01-08 00:24:22. More

20 IKEA, Xuhui Store in Shanghai

Why do you think they don't allow pictures? This was true all over China, even for little stores, as if they think we want to steal their trade secrets. Even the Physical in the Metro City bubble in XuJiaHui
didn't want us to take pictures of the sign inside. Weird. They could be getting free advertising all over the world from our pictures.
Posted by zjemi at 2007-01-07 02:54:11. More

19 Wangjianshuo.com Inaccessible

Thank you, Jian Shuo, for keeping us posted. We get to tell our
friends in China (by phone) what the conditions are and when it is likely to be repaired, as if we had inside information that they
(who don't read your blog) can't get. Ah, GuanXi.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-12-29 23:47:06. More

18 Sound Bytes of These Days

Yes, # 3 is true. Many kids begin to learn to drive in the driveway of their house, going back and forth between the street and the garage. I even think in some states kids are allowed to drive farm vehicles like tractors without a license so you might see a 14 year old in a big tractor going slowly down the side of the road.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-11-16 17:37:24. More

17 Jet Lag? Finally Found Out the Cure

We arrived in XuJiaHui last week and found the same thing about jet lag. Last year we tried to adapt to local time right away and had jet lag for nearly two weeks. This time we slept a lot and the only jet lag was getting hungry in the middle of the night, which we didn't ignore. Our bodies are very happy that we listened to them and adjusted really well, except that they (our bodies) want to eat Shanghai food all the time.
Even though we joined "Physical" in Mei Luo Cheng, we are gaining weight.

Can you give advice about where to buy tools like files, grinding wheels, drill bits and where to buy computer software like optical character recognition for Chinese?

Someday we will get brave and ask you for advice about how to buy an apartment. As you said, the American dollar is going down, and we don't expect it go up even if the war in Iraq stops, not until the debt goes down. If only we knew how to buy real estate. If only we could tell the future....
Posted by zjemi at 2006-11-12 17:16:39. More

16 Coincidence? Maybe Not

Herbert is right. Always assume incompetence instead of malevolence. And it happens in the US
too. Otherwise there wouldn't be a war in Iraq.
At least the Chinese economy is improving and
occasionally the government tries to help the Lao Bai Xing. The opposite seems true in the US.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-11-03 20:31:00. More

15 Why I Keep Losing Stuff

You should get lots of responses for this one. We lose socks (in the laundry), reading glasses (I have about 10 pair around the house), tools (only when we need them), sweaters (well, you don't need those yet in Shanghai), anything we can take off or put down temporarily while doing something else. There are some underpants in the street in front of our house that slowly the rains are washing away. How did they get lost?

But I also find lots of things--glasses, coins, tools, sometimes even sweaters, or six packs of beer unopened. There are fewer things to find in Shanghai than in the U.S. because people sweep and wash the streets.

The family story is that many years ago my grandfather lost something and was frantic. I was three and told him "I know where it is Grandpa." He said to my mother "See, see, I told you. Your children take everything because you don't control them." and then turned to me and said more gently "Where is it, dear?" and I said "Just where you left it, Grandpa." My mother repeated that story all my life and now
we realize that many of our lost things are "grandpa-ed."
Posted by zjemi at 2006-08-30 01:47:40. More

14 Top 3 Issues of Shanghai Tourism

Advise tourists what to do about the "hello, lady, watch?" people and the beggars on the Bund and on Nanjing Lu. A lot of tourists just give money to the beggars and shrug off the sellers, but there are so many. I started carrying snacks and would give the beggars cookies but NOT money. But I ended up just avoiding Nanjing Lu because of the sellers. There must be something funny to do that would make them less annoying.

I don't advise making them go away. That would probably be impossible. However, one seller did say he couldn't go into the Yu Yuan area. Is that right?

Actually, Shanghai is a very foreigner-friendly city. Friends got along so well on their own in Shanghai that they tried to travel to Suzhou on their own (not on a tour) mistakenly assuming that the level of English would be the same. Big funny shock.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-08-04 00:58:37. More

13 Back to Blog of My Own

I love finding out about Chinese things that a foreigner wouldn't normally know, like how hard it is to get a blog approved in China, variations in the one child policy, the HuKou requirements. Please don't stop telling us about these things, and those of us who appreciate your blog will try to remember to tell you and help erase those people who just want to rant.

You really do a great service to China by allowing those of us from other places to learn about it.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-07-08 03:38:20. More

12 Look at These Advertisements

I saw it too, but I couldn't read the second character. I was surprised that so many of the ads are in English rather than German. I'm glad Chinese is becoming an international language too. What is Budweiser in Japanese, Korean, or other languages that might use Chinese characters?
Posted by zjemi at 2006-07-02 10:01:12. More

11 Xiang Yang Market Shutdown

I've heard that the Xiang Yang Lu sellers have been giving out business cards with new addresses (or is it just websites?) in anticipation of the shutdown. Is this true? I also heard that JiPo Lu is where they are relocating, or at least where another market like Xiang Yang is located. Is this true? The good thing about Xiang Yang is that the people selling were clearly the best of the street sellers, did a great business, had a place to return to every day, knew a little English such as "Oh My God" and "You've got to be kidding" if you offered too low a price. Every exchange with them was like crosstalk and I felt like DaShan.

It also seemed clear that these sellers were part of larger organizations, because of the websites, the ability to switch to seasonal merchandise (from T shirts to down jackets) as soon as the weather changed, etc. I would like to know more about those organizations. Does anyone know?
Posted by zjemi at 2006-07-02 09:56:08. More

10 One Child Policy in China

Whoa. Sounds like an American trained by the "religious right" to me, not a potential $10 M investor. How do we know who this Pete guy is? Surely people with $10 M ought to have better informants. "Forced one child policy"? Hah. Plenty of rich families in Shen Zhen had two children just to show off that they could afford to, and that was back in 1998. In Shanghai I think the two-children show-off trend didn't take hold, at least not in 2005 that I could see. But then all the children are in private schools during the week and you hardly see any of them.

As for who will be wealthier, well, China is serious about alternative energy development which the U.S. government has ignored. Who's going to win that race? Duh.

The U.S. had a two child policy after WWII but it was done by social pressure. Only "lower class" people had lots of kids and no one wanted to be lower class. Suddenly couples from large families had only two kids, and by the 1960s people were criticized for having three and being "selfish." It wasn't official policy, but it worked even better than if it had been. The boy-girl ratio is another problem, and the Chinese government is working on a policy for that, I believe. Woe unto them if they don't.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-06-21 00:22:40. More

9 "The Right to Refuse Service to Anyone"

Freedom is a nice thing as long as it doesn't hurt other people. The US may have more restrictions on freedom than China, but we natives take that for granted. We don't have the freedom (that is, the Right) to hurt other people or take their things, and there are a lot of freedoms we don't have because of imagined worries that it will interefere with someone else's freedom. So you can't smoke wherever you want, you can't drive wildly on the road, you can't make a lot of noise in a theater, you can't block a doorway, sit in the middle of the street, take off your clothes in public, and in many states you can't marry whomever you want, because people have been convinced that it will hurt their own marriage if your choice is the same sex as you are.

Carroll explained the sign well.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-06-17 04:47:07. More

8 Traffic in Shanghai

To JH. Think of it this way: In New York City if pedestrians that have a walk sign had to wait for cars turning, there are too many cars and they would never get across. Now think of a part of world with a lot more pedestrians than cars. If the cars didn't get to go first, and had to wait for the hundreds of people crossing the street, they would never get a chance to turn.

Trouble is, in Shanghai, there are now a lot of cars and a lot of people, so fearless traffic assistants help everyone and yell at people who don't obey even if they are driving huge trucks. It really helped to know that pedestrians may not always have the right of way at a crossing when I was in Shanghai last year. I think the really scary thing is riding a bike in Shanghai.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-05-10 06:26:54. More

7 From Shanghai to US - A Handbook

Although I'm an American, I'm really interested in this project. And I'm especially looking forward to the "what to bring back to China" since most of the presents I can think of to give Chinese friends have been made IN CHINA.

Note, yesterday I found out two things that may be a sign of a big shift in U.S. perceptions. 1. Dragonsoft for webconferencing is a terrific program, better than the U.S. made products, and easier to use even for people like me who can't read much Chinese. 2. Batteries for a Canon camera made in China for $11 US are better than the batteries from Canon that cost $80. This shift in quality is a big thing. There was a time in the US, 50 years ago, when Made in Japan meant "low quality". Of course all that changed. Now things made in China are considered, by most people, to mean inexpensive and not as good. The second meaning is about to disappear. Wow.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-05-01 04:17:51. More

6 Train Tickets in Shanghai Railway Station

I bought tickets both ways at the train station, but only to Kunshan.It's probably a bother if you're working, but a worthwhile experience to take the subway and get your own tickets if you're a tourist. I wanted soft seat tickets because I'd heard that the other classes were smoke filled. I was told there was only hard seat and asked with obvious dismay would there be smokers. The ticket sellers burst out laughing and assured me there wouldn't be. And the seats seemed to me to be soft enough.

In the old days (which these days in China can be last week) there were never return tickets because selling tickets was a form of Power and the destination place wouldn't give up that power to a remote agent (at least that was my take on it).
Posted by zjemi at 2006-04-30 09:20:08. More

5 Back from Shengsi

Jian Shuo,
Thank you, but now I want to know what they get paid for handing out the cards and why it isn't legal (because it is annoying? I really didn't find the beggars annoying, and carried snacks to give them, but the card people were really a pain.)

Wow, communicating with a Shanghai 人. I can't wait to return.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-04-21 00:05:37. More

4 Back from Shengsi

When I lived in Shanghai last year there were lots of sellers, in XiangYangLu and on the street, plus young people giving out discount cards. How often do they see their families? What can they earn? Why did so many of them not want their picture taken? What's their legal status? Any information anyone can give would be really appreciated. I really want to know how people from the countryside try to 致富 when they come to Shanghai.

I wish I had asked more questions when I was there. Next time. Next time I'll try to go to the islands outside Shanghai too.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-04-20 06:21:12. More

3 Why Fudan University Only Accept Cash

Edwin, we had the same worries, rented an apartment in Xujiahui
in November and cashed 15700rmb (around $1900) in a Bank of China branch in traveller's checks to pay the rent. We were told that they gave the best rate for traveller's checks. We were also told that Shanghai people don't like to carry credit cards because if they are stolen it is a lot of trouble to stop them, but with cash, well it's gone and that's the end of it. No more trouble. Interesting perspective. Anyhow, Shanghai is probably a lot safer than most places in the US, probably because there are so many people walking around with more money than you have.
Posted by zjemi at 2006-02-09 03:46:46. More

2 Flying to SFO

We spent November in a terrific apt. in Xujiahui. We paid $1900 US/month (about 15700RMB) for a medium luxury place at No. 88, Lane 999, Zhao Jia Bang Lu, close to the Metro and buses, very clean, luxurious. http://www.asiatravel.com/china/shanghai/dijingyuan/
has pictures and nightly rates. It isn't 5* as it says but it is
very good and we got it for less because the swimming pool isn't finished. There is traffic noise, but it didn't bother us even though we're from a small town. The noise ends late at night.
We loved Xujiahui Park and the neighborhood. There must be other less luxurious places for less money right around there.
The Metro is crowded but fast and cheap, riding in cars is scary, air pollution is visually awful but didn't give us headaches like US pollution does.
Posted by zjemi at 2005-12-07 03:43:04. More

1 Loooong Domain Name - Pi

I know a boy who can recite over 100 digits of pi and won a prize at his elementary school in St. Charles, Illinois for doing it. His name is Eric (Xiong) Ye and he is 10. He doesn't use email because he'd rather play with his Xbox.
At first I thought that the school was giving a stupid assignment, but when he told me how he was learning the numbers (by "chunking") I realized that it was a terrific way to develop intelligence. And of course, that is exactly what I am doing when I try to learn to write Chinese characters. Most people who chunk don't have names for most of the categories they used to group things, they just do it.

Thanks for the blog. We are renting an apartment in Shanghai in the fall and all the information is great, plus it helps us dream about the trip.

Posted by zjemi at 2005-06-02 11:03:42. More