Showing posts with label Hong Kong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hong Kong. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sha Tin Moon

I will delay the return to more down to Earth matters by unexpectedly continuing the Moon over Hong Kong theme. Tonight in Sha Tin:

Moon over Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Enjoying the weather. More later . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Assorted Links: Hong Kong Seeks Innovation, Too Much Trump in Trumpchi?, Blaming China for Job Losses, and Panama Cuts Ties with Taiwan

It has been a while since I have done the "assorted links" thing. Time to get back to it with excerpts from four pieces worth a full reading:

1. Natasha Khan's and Enda Curran's piece about a proposed technology park on the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen could inspire debate on a variety of topics such as Hong Kong's integration with mainland China, environmental preservation in China, and strategies for fostering innovation. It also raises the issue that Shenzhen's now sees less advantage to partnering with its neighbor to the south after recent rapid developments:
Shenzhen forged ahead, clearing out most of its old, labor-intensive factories and building high-tech giants like Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. The city’s Nanshan district is a cradle for more than 8,000 technology firms, centered around the vast Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park, known as SHIP. Entrepreneurs have come from across the world, leading some to question why Guangdong needs to collaborate with Hong Kong on innovation.

“That ship has sailed,’’ said Felix Chung, chairman of Hong Kong’s pro-business Liberal Party. “The plan could have been good 10 years ago but have you seen Shenzhen lately? It has the ability to do so much on its own.”

2. My April Fool's post last year, "Donald Trump to Bring His Chinese Car Brand to the U.S." took advantage of the similarity between Trump's name and the Chinese automaker GAC Motor 's brand Trumpchi. Now that Trump is president, GAC has some very real concerns about the similarity:
Executives at the firm and its parent Guangzhou Automobile Group (601238.SS) say they may now change the Trumpchi brand - which was meant to sound like its Chinese name Chuanqi, which is a play on the word "legendary" and means passing good fortune - after it drew some ridicule at the Detroit auto show in January.

"We saw people were laughing at this and took pictures looking only at this detail, and also put on Facebook or other websites," GAC Motor Design Director Zhang Fan told Reuters. "When we read all that feedback, we realized it might not be very positive promotion for the brand."
I don't know if this blog is one of the "other websites", but I do thank GAC for providing such excellent material. The April Fool's post has received a notable amount of traffic during the past year.

3. William H. Overholt argues that both of the major political parties in the U.S. unfairly blame China when it comes to jobs:
[Politicians of both parties] find it convenient to blame China [for "job declines caused mainly by technology"].

Why? Because interest groups dominate the Washington conversation and both parties are beholden to constituencies with an interest in the post-factual illusion. Democrats depend on unions that see protection of current jobs, not helping workers prepare for the future, as their task. They see every gain for workers in poor countries as a loss for U.S. workers. Preparing the workforce for a changing future could threaten union leaders’ power. . . .

Republicans reject reality for different reasons. If you acknowledge the inexorable disappearance of manufacturing jobs, and the fact (documented by MIT Professor David Autor) that, without government help, whole communities stagnate, then you must authorize the government to analyze the areas of loss and gain, and follow through by spending money to retrain workers and help them move. However, to avoid taxation, wealthy Republican constituents will denounce expanded government authority and expenditures as socialism.
4. No excerpt for the final link since the China Digital Times piece is itself a collection of excerpts with links: "Panama Severs Ties With Taiwan, Pledges Allegiance to China".

Monday, March 6, 2017

Two Creative Year of the Rooster Promotions in Hong Kong

As in Jieyang, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, and Macau, I saw many artistic depictions of chickens in Hong Kong to welcome in the Year of the Rooster. I will share two of the more creative examples I saw there.

The first was one of several sculptures in a Lunar New Year promotion involving the local designer Eric So and MT masking tape at the iSquare shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui.

rooster with happy children faces designed by Eric So

I am going to take the liberty of naming it "Fowl Happiness".

The other chickens were in an advertisement for Apple I saw in Causeway Bay. It featured a piece of art made with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. As I noted before, it isn't clear in many cases whether the chicken depicted is specifically a rooster or a hen. In this case, I think there is one of each, though the rooster is more prominent.

Apple Year of the Rooster advertisement in Hong Kong featuring a piece by Victo Ngai

No witty (or less than witty) name is coming to mind, but fortunately the artist Victo Ngai provided a namer of her own: Apple Lucky Rooster. Follow the link for some details about the creative process behind the piece and photos of some other locations where it appeared.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dramatic Signs Don't Stop People from Walking on Escalators in Hong Kong

As I mentioned when discussing China's new desire for people to stand still on escalators, the place I most associate with people regularly standing on one side of an escalator and walking on the other side is Hong Kong. During my recent time there, nothing seemed to have changed in people's behavior. Admittedly, I walked up or down my share of escalators.

I even noticed a sign on an escalator for an elevated walkway in Wan Chai indicating the "stand on right" rule.

'Stand on right — Hold the handrail' sign on an escalator in Hong Kong

It may just be a leftover from an older time though.

On escalators for MRT (Mass Transit Railway) stations, notices indicate to "always hold the handrail", which doesn't necessarily preclude people from walking.

'Always hold the hand rail' and 'Anti-bacterial coating applied to handrail with addition disinfection regularly carried out' signs on an MTR escalator in Hong Kong

Although I didn't see any "standing only" messages in similar locations, on one occasion I noticed an announcement requesting people to stand still.

And in at least some MTR stations there are a few relevant but easy to miss informational posters mixed in with the many advertisements and other similarly posted signs common in stations.

a hold the handrail MTR sign with a man perilously standing on a high rock

The main message above is that is dangerous to not hold the escalator handrails. Additionally, the message to "stand firm" appears in small print at the bottom of the sign. The bottom half of the image reminds me of an incredibly perilous and since-closed path I once faced at the Stone Forest in Shilin, Yunnan. My self-preservation skills kicked in then, and I will take my chances walking on an escalator over that any day.

This certainly isn't the first MTR sign I have seen with a dramatic message. And it isn't the only MTR escalator safety sign which, um, escalates the sense of danger. Another sign warns against bringing baby strollers onto escalators.

MTR 'No Strollers on Escalators' sign with a teddy bear falling from a great height

Based on my informal observations, baby strollers are far more often used for babies than teddy bears. I am guessing the MTR has its limits for drama though. Baby strollers also can block people from walking on escalators, but that is probably a point the MTR wants to avoid.

There is even a related 2016 MTR escalator safety video. Like the signs, it is pretty intense.

The smashed tomato really makes it. While the "stand firm on escalators" message is expressed, the most relevant part of the video focuses more on "stay alert" and "hold the handrail", which could apply to stairs as well. On that note, according to a MTR safety report for 2015 there weren't any fatalities due to escalators but there was one caused by a misstep on stairs. It doesn't give numbers on accidents due to walking on escalators or stairs, which would be useful for evaluating the relative risks. Whatever the case, it is hard to argue with the "stay alert" message. Particularly in a busy environment, it is relevant whether you are walking on flat ground, stairs, or even an escalator.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hong Kong to Guangzhou in Double-Decker Train Style

When I was ready to depart Hong Kong and head to my next destination, Guangzhou, I knew exactly how I wanted to make the trip this time. Not only did I know I wanted to take the Guangzhou-Kowloon Through Train, but I also knew which type of train I wanted to take. The line makes use of both Ktt trains and the 25T new train set, and I wanted to ride the Ktt. The Ktt locomotives are purchased from Switzerland and the coaches imported from Japan. Furthermore, the Ktt is managed from the Hong Kong side. The 25T is manufactured in mainland China and managed from the Guangzhou side. But what mattered to me was that only the Ktt is a double-decker train.

double-decker Ktt train at Hung Hom Station in Hong Kong

Of course I sat on the upper deck.

The train left Hung Hom Station in Hong Kong right on schedule. Two hours later the train arrived on time at the Guangzhou East Station in a downtown area of Guangzhou.

The biggest negative of the trip was the mobile devices symphony which regularly erupted, an issue not particular to double-decker trains. I am still wondering what made the irregular beeping noises reminiscent of the stopwatch on a digital watch from the 1980s. Regardless, the overall experience was positive. I appreciated the less obstructed view from the upper deck. And I found the immigration processes which occur both in Hong Kong and Guangzhou due to the border between Hong Kong and mainland China faster and less draining that those required when taking a bus or using the metro to cross the border.

Someday a new high-speed line will finally be completed (a story of itself) and offer a faster connection between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. But while the trip will be quicker and the immigration process even easier assuming everything is handled with a joint checkpoint on the Hong Kong side, which raises its own issues, the train will go to Guangzhou South Station — far less convenient if your destination is in downtown Guangzhou.

If you wish to take the Guangzhou-Kowloon Through Train and want a double decker experience, the schedule posted by the Hong Kong MTR indicates which trips use the Ktt train. At least at the main ticketing area at Hung Hom Station, requesting a seat specifically on the upper deck next to a window is a breeze assuming seats are available.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Tin Hau Temple Tiger in Stanley, Hong Kong

At the Tin Hau Temple in Stanley, Hong Kong, I didn't witness any temple cleansings. But I did see something I didn't expect to find.

tiger skin at Tin Hau Temple in Stanley, Hong Kong

informational sign about the tiger skin at Tin Hau Temple in Stanley, Hong Kong

Accord to Geoffrey Charles Emerson in his book covering a part of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, "Hong Kong Internment, 1942-1945: Life in the Japanese Civilian Camp at Stanley":
In May 1942 one of the most unusual events of the internment years occurred. Although hardly an event of great importance, it is of great interest. For weeks there had been rumours in the Camp that a tiger was roaming around at night. As rumours were always prevalent, most internees refused to believe such a "preposterous" tale. Therefore, it came as great surprise when a male tiger weighing more than 200 pounds was killed just outside the Camp by a part of Japanese gendarmes, Chinese and Indian guards. The Hongkong News of 21 May 1942 reported that the tiger weighed about 240 pounds, was three feet high and six feet long with a nineteen-inch tail. Some of the Indian guards reported that they had also seen the tiger's mate and two cubs, but these were never found.

One of the internees, who had been a butcher with the Dairy Farm Company in Hong Kong before the war, was taken out of the Camp to skin the tiger. After being stuffed, it was put on exhibition in the city and attracted many viewers. The meat was not wasted, either, as The Hongkong News reported on 27 June that "thanks to the generosity of a Nipponese officer, some officials of the Hong Kong Race Club were recently given the rare treat of having a feast of tiger meat. The meat, which was as tender and delicious as beef, was from the tiger shot at Stanley.
No live tigers approached me in the area, though there were a few domestic cats. So I just had a salad by the beach.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Two Cleansings at a Hong Kong Temple

Like other Man Mo Temples in Hong Kong, the Man Mo Temple in Tai Po is dedicated to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). During my brief visit to the spiritual location I had the luck to witness two acts of cleansing.

cat cleaning itself in front of the Man Mo Temple in Tai To, Hong Kong

woman spraying water with a hose to clean the Man Mo Temple in Tai Po, Hong Kong

I don't know how often these cleansings occur, but some tranquility contrasting with the lively market on the street should be easy to find.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Disappearances and Closed Doors: A Return to Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong on Monday, I noticed the front-page news about a missing billionaire in Hong Kong. Since then, there has been more news:
At least 30 employees of a Hong Kong billionaire who was whisked to China about two weeks ago have been stopped from leaving the mainland, with many more probably unable to travel, two people familiar with the matter said Monday.

It has become increasingly apparent that Beijing’s dragnet extends far beyond the billionaire, Xiao Jianhua, and is now closing in on dozens, if not hundreds, of his employees in one of the most far-reaching crackdowns on a private Chinese conglomerate in the nearly four decades since the country began to embrace free markets.
The case is reminiscent of the five staff of Causeway Bay Books who disappeared in 2015 and ended up in mainland China under similarly mysterious circumstances.

Since I visited the closed Causeway Bay Books store just over a year ago, one of the more remarkable related events was Lam Wing-kee's account of his abduction from Hong Kong and detention in mainland China. He could share his story only after returning to Hong Kong and ignoring the demands placed on him. In his full written account, Lam answered a question the media hadn't asked him but he felt was important:
Why did these people sell the bookshop but leave it empty? . . . Everyone knew that these people were rich. Yet they wouldn’t waste their money on nothing, would they? I am going to quote my own words — “when I was in Shaoguan, Shi told me that I had to continue working in the bookshop after I came back to Hong Kong. He would be in contact so I could report what was happening, through text or photographs. They wanted to understand what was going on in Hong Kong, especially those who were buying books about political theories.” Don’t you understand? The purpose of those people buying off the store was to have it serve as a convenient point of surveillance, from which they could spy upon Hongkongers.
This past Sunday I revisited the bookstore's location. The blue and white Causeway Bay Books sign still hangs prominently over Lockhart Road.

Causeway Bay Books sign above Lockhart Road in Hong Kong

After walking up one flight of stairs, I found the store's familiar closed doors, now without the notes of support I had seen before. Some written messages on the store's directional sign were visible though.

closed door of Causeway Bay Books

Contrasting in several ways, immediately next door SisterHood Lady Products was open for business.

entrance to SisterHood lady products in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

While taking photos I noticed a man was watching me from partway down the stairway. After I started to leave he gave me a thumbs up. As we continued to walk down together he said in English, "Communist Party is bad." When I asked if he was from Hong Kong, he told me he was from "Peking" — the name for Beijing formerly used in English.

I was curious to learn more about the man, but I doubted I could confidently answer the questions now in my mind. I simply wished him well and headed down the street unsure of when I would next return to the bookstore. The man remained at the building's entrance for several minutes busy with his mobile phone.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Donald Trump Needs to Line Up for Noodles in Hong Kong

A few months ago in Shanghai I suspected there was something China wouldn't let me forget. And this past weekend, I was reminded of it yet again by a mural on the side of the Cart Noodle Expert (車仔麵專家) restaurant in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.

mural on the side of the Cart Noodle Expert (車仔麵專家) restaurant in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Here is a closer view of the section with yet another artistic interpretation of an iconic Donald Trump expression.

mural of a noodle cart line with a man offering assistance to Donald Trump

The sign next to Trump says "Please line up here". It looks like the man next to him is trying to help him.

If Trump does get in line, he might recognize somebody.

mural with a line of people including Barack Obama

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Swatching and Listening to Valentine's Day in Hong Kong

Performance for promotion at Swatch's store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Promotion two days ago at the Kai Chiu Road Swatch store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Billionaire News at a 7-Eleven in Hong Kong

Today at a 7-Eleven in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, I noticed a New York Times front page with a piece titled "Video adds to mystery of vanished billionaire".

front page of New York Times magazine with piece title "Video adds to mystery of vanished billionaire" at a 7-Eleven in Hong Kong

It was a bit relevant to the local surroundings:
Xiao Jianhua, one of China’s wealthiest and most politically connected financiers, whose disappearance last month sent a chill through Hong Kong and the political class in Beijing, does not appear to be fine.

In the early hours of Jan. 27, he was taken out of the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong in a wheelchair, his head covered by a sheet or a blanket, according to people who have seen or been briefed on video footage captured by security cameras in the hotel.

Mr. Xiao, 45, who was not known to use a wheelchair, was accompanied by about half a dozen unidentified men who were also pushing a large suitcase on rollers. He is believed to have been transported by boat from Hong Kong, eluding border controls, and is now in police custody in mainland China, according to two people familiar with the investigation into his whereabouts.
More details from the piece here.

I will share a followup to a post about a somewhat similar case in Hong Kong later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book and Magazine Messages About Trump in Hong Kong

I don't know for sure if the Eslite bookstore in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, deliberately arranged some of the books for sale to express a message.

"The Myth of the Rational Voter" and Donald Trump's "Great Again" displayed next to each other

It would be harder to claim the message on a cover to a Taiwanese business magazine available in Hong Kong wasn't deliberate.

magazine cover with Donald Trump's head in a mushroom cloud explosion

That's all.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Some Thoughts After Guiding a Family of Four Through Hong Kong and Beijing

During the past week or so I have spent a lot of time hanging out with two good friends and their two children and guiding them around Hong Kong and Beijing. This caused me to take more of a break from blogging than I had expected. To get back into things, I will share a few quick off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts regarding the rather enjoyable experience I had with four visitors from the U.S.:

  • Hong Kong has been something like a second home for me during recent years. I really enjoyed the opportunity to show some friends a mix of standard attractions I felt were worthy and personal favorites I thought they would appreciate. And I felt fortunate to be able to efficiently adapt to some unexpected conditions, such as discovering two favorite places for pork chops & milk tea don't stay open very long after lunch. We just walked to a favorite nearby place for goose instead.
  • They liked the goose.
  • China has a number of popular tourist sites which don't necessarily deserve all of the attention they receive relative to other options, and some people have an almost fanatical attitude regarding "must sees". It of course depends on personal tastes, which is why it can be so useful, especially if you are on a tight schedule, to have a guide (or recommender) who better appreciates what you are looking for. I have experienced both sides of this equation, and it makes a big difference.
  • Some places which are worthy of more attention might not be as enjoyable if they received more attention. Life is complicated.
  • We met up in a similar fashion a year and a half ago in Shanghai, but it was still a reminder how different exploring a city can be when you have children along for the ride. For example, I have written before about requests I receive to have photos taken with strangers and am familiar with experiences other foreigners have had, but it still fascinated me to see yet again the amount and type of attention Caucasian children can receive in mainland China. I will refrain from a fuller commentary, but I will say that in Beijing some people asked if it was OK to take a photo with one or both of the children in the midst of others who were, shall I say, far more direct in obtaining a prized photo.
  • For the most part, the kids enjoyed the attention, so my friends were fine with the photography. But in one case when a crowd of photo-seekers swelled to the point where it was clear things wouldn't end anytime soon, intervention was required. We thought it would be nice to see more of the Forbidden City before it closed for the day.
  • I had a grand time hanging out with the children. Earlier in Shanghai we discovered they both like eating termite larvae and bees (Yunnan style). Impressive.
  • Visiting popular sites during a Chinese holiday is often a tricky proposition. Sometimes I grin and bear the crowds. Sometimes I decide it isn't worth it. Again, life is complicated. So is briefly walking around Houhai in Beijing on a Friday night during the Dragon Boat Festival.
  • Of course, I bought him a bottle. Part of the experience . . .

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hong Kong Nature and Power

A friend visiting Hong Kong asked me to take her to somewhere with nature. She seemed pleased with the island I chose, even though this happened:

View of the Lamma Power Station from Hung Shing Ye Beach on Lamma Island, Hong Kong
View of the Lamma Power Station from Hung Shing Ye Beach on Lamma Island, Hong Kong

Monday, June 6, 2016

My First Time to See the Lights in China on June 4

Since starting this blog, I have noted what I saw on June 4, whether in Chengdu (2011), in Xining (2012), in Qingdao (2013), in Hengyang (2014), or in Changsha (2015). One common theme of those days was what I saw seemed unremarkable compared to many other days I have experienced in China.

For most of June 4 this year, much was the same. But that night I saw something which undoubtedly spoke to the day's importance. It only happened because I was in a part of China where the rules are different — where people are allowed to remember.

When a friend and I arrived at the vigil commemorating the 27th anniversary of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, we were told the main area was already full and were diverted to another area in the park with large video screens. After spending some time there, we made our way to the main area, which held more video screens and the main stage. And there were candles. Lots of candles.

Presented in the order they were taken, below are photos from Victoria Park in Hong Kong on the night of June 4, 2016. They are unlike any photo I have taken in mainland China on June 4. They are unlike any photo I have taken in mainland China on any day.

For me, they are rather remarkable.

person holding a candle at a vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

woman and girl holding candles at a vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

2016 vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

young woman holding a candle at the vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

hand holding a candle at the vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

"Vindicate June 4th" sign at the vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Café With Ego

Some Hong Kong businesses indicate honesty with their name, others something else.

Café de Ego in Hong Kong

I have only passed by the cafe near the Kowloon City Ferry Pier in Hong Kong. I wonder if breakfast would be better at a Café de Eggo.

On a deeper note, I saw a remarkable film today which currently can't be seen outside of Hong Kong. China wants to see its movie industry thrive, but this is one film Beijing would be happy to see fail. At the moment, though, available tickets are scarce. Still pondering what I saw, so a few thoughts about the film later.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Honest Commercial Corporation in Hong Kong

I share this lest people doubt it exists. Assuming they live up to their name, I wish them the best.

Honest Commercial Corporation in Hong Kong

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ten Assorted Taiwan 2016 Election Tweets

I will keep things simple on an historic night in Taiwan and just share some recent tweets (photos in tweets may not appear if viewed through an RSS reader):

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Book That Won't Be Published in Hong Kong

Woman holding a sign saying "Stand up for Press Freedom" at a rally in Hong Kong
Sign held at Sunday's rally in Hong Kong for five missing booksellers

Kris Cheng reported an example of people fearing to "stand up for press freedom" in Hong Kong:
A new book by a Chinese dissident planned for publication in Hong Kong and critical of China’s president Xi Jinping has been suspended due to pressure. . . .

Yu says that the book will be published in Taiwan in late February, calling Taiwan the “last lighthouse of publishing freedom for ethnic Chinese society”. On whether the Taiwanese version will be available in Hong Kong bookstores, Yu says he is “not optimistic”.
The chief editor for the publisher left little doubt the decision was a result of five Hong Kong booksellers disappearing under suspicious circumstances when he explained people "want to stay out of trouble so that they won’t be the next one".

Without changing any laws, China's "two systems" have become more similar.