July 23, 2005

Dr Gunther von Hage's Corps are made in china.

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July 21, 2005

Great Search Engines

www.google.com: for everthing
www.answers.com: a quick and introductory guide to any concepts, terms,etc
www.streetmap.co.uk: for detailed map for anywhere in the UK
map.google.com: for both satellite photos and maps

July 19, 2005

Chinese tourists flock to UK in search of Clarks, fog and the 'big stupid clock'

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/china/story/0,7369,1515467,00.html

Britain braced for influx from Beijing after visa rules relaxed

Richard Jinman and Hsiao-Hung Pai
Monday June 27, 2005
The Guardian

The Chinese were well-prepared. Armed with paper cutouts of their relatives' feet, they leaped from their coaches and headed straight for the racks of shoes at the Clarks shop. "It was a bit of a frenzy," said a staff member at Bicester Village, a collection of factory outlets near Oxford visited by a group of 2,000 Chinese salespeople this month. They bought up to six pairs of shoes each and the queue stretched out of the door.
Chinese tourists flock to UK in search of Clarks, fog and the 'big stupid clock'

Britain braced for influx from Beijing after visa rules relaxed

Richard Jinman and Hsiao-Hung Pai
Monday June 27, 2005
The Guardian

The Chinese were well-prepared. Armed with paper cutouts of their relatives' feet, they leaped from their coaches and headed straight for the racks of shoes at the Clarks shop. "It was a bit of a frenzy," said a staff member at Bicester Village, a collection of factory outlets near Oxford visited by a group of 2,000 Chinese salespeople this month. They bought up to six pairs of shoes each and the queue stretched out of the door.

Article continues

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Tourism chiefs hope the scenes are a taste of things to come. They are predicting a significant increase in the number of visitors from China following Beijing's decision in January to add the UK to its authorised destination status (ADS) list.
In the past, only Chinese businesspeople and students could obtain visas to travel here. From July, an ADS visa will be available that allows groups of five or more Chinese tourists to visit Britain.

The introduction of the visa and the booming Chinese economy is being acknowledged with an increase in the number of flights from China's main cities. British Airways this month launched a Shanghai-London route and increased the number of flights from Beijing.

The first official group of ADS visitors – a party of 80 tourists and VIPs – arrives in the UK on July 24. VisitBritain, the agency organising the trip, believes the new visa will increase the number of annual visits from 96,000 last year to more than 200,000 in 2010. By then, inbound tourism from China will be worth more than £200m and by 2020 China could be among the UK's top 10 inbound tourism markets.

Carl Walsh, VisitBritain's overseas markets manager, describes the advent of the ADS visa as "a huge opportunity".

"A lot of people are comparing it to when the Japanese first started coming 15 to 20 years ago."

But what do the Chinese expect to find when they get here? And what will they want to see and do besides emptying the shelves at Clarks factory outlets?

According to Calum MacLeod, director of the Great Britain-China Centre, many Chinese still have an outdated view of Britain shaped by classic literature and old movies.

"Oliver Twist is a very popular book in China and the title of the Chinese version translates as Foggy City Orphan," he said. "When I tell people I live in London they often ask me how bad the fog is."

MacLeod says phrases such as "the home of the industrial revolution" or "the empire on which the sun will never set" still resonate strongly with many Chinese. "But not in a particularly negative way," he said. "They are very interested in the UK's history and traditions."

Lai Gaik Ung Polain, a blue badge guide who regularly escorts Chinese groups around the UK, agrees. As well as much-visited attractions such as Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, Ms Polain says many of her Chinese visitors want to see Blenheim Palace – because Winston Churchill was born there – and the British Museum, because some of them suspect it may contain artefacts stolen from China in the colonial era.

Often, a photograph taken outside an attraction is as good as a visit inside. "They have to show pictures back home to prove they were there," Ms Polain said.

According to one current Chinese-language guidebook to Britain, Trafalgar Square, Karl Marx's grave and the British Museum are among the highlights. Westminster's Big Ben clock – Da Ben Zhong in Chinese, which translated directly means "big stupid clock" – is also praised. "The most precise time-teller in the UK! Although it did break twice."

Soho provides a taste of home – "All Chinese tourists will be taken here because they simply need to eat Chinese food when they are abroad," says the guide. But that part of London also provides other attractions. "The male tourists always ask to see the red light district, so they are always taken there. The red light district is not as developed in Britain as in other parts of Europe," the book says.

The British Museum is a less straightforward attraction. "The Chinese section contains precious exhibits from the imperial times, many of them given to the British as gifts from the royals. Many feel that these are looted from China."

Charlie Li, VisitBritain's Beijing representative, insists that old-fashioned perceptions of the UK are fading. Initiatives such as Think Britain – a 2003 scheme designed to educate Chinese people aged 16–35 about contemporary Britain – are having an effect.

"People are realising London is a vibrant, international city and they want to visit," Ms Li said. "British people are regarded as kind, gentle, welcoming and civilised."

Shopping is as important as sightseeing to many Chinese tourists. They are on tight schedules – many will spend only a few days in the UK before moving on to another European country – and they like to buy presents for family, friends and workmates. "If they have the money, they can go really crazy," said Ms Polain.

Clarks shoes has a reputation as a prestige brand because it was introduced to China in the 1980s via Hong Kong. Provenance is important to the Chinese when it comes to buying goods, so they are also drawn to brands such as Dunhill and Burberry, which are seen as quintessentially British.

Some of these goods may be manufactured in China, but that is not particularly important. "There is the perception that they are less likely to buy counterfeit goods here," said Mr MacLeod. "China is plagued by fake goods and there is a real cachet in having bought something from its place of origin."

Chinese tourism may have enormous potential, but not everyone believes Britain is doing enough to stimulate a boom. Mr MacLeod, who already brings groups of Chinese professionals to the UK, says not enough hotels, tour operators and attractions are gearing up to meet the specific needs of Chinese tourists. More Chinese signage, brochures and guides need to be created and more hotels should consider offering Chinese newspapers and television as well as Chinese breakfasts.

It is a concern echoed by Stephanie Cheng, the managing director of London-based tour company China Holidays. Britain is not a cheap destination and the UK's £50 ADS visa is expensive compared with a £27 Schengen short-stay visa that allows Chinese tourists to visit 15 EU countries. More needs to be done to cater for the Chinese market, or Britain risks losing out to countries such as France and Germany, Ms Cheng says.

VisitBritain's Mr Walsh does not believe the cost of the ADS visa will discourage Chinese visitors. Many tourism companies are already translating brochures and commentaries into Mandarin and hotels are looking at ways to cater for Chinese guests.

"We are not going to see massive growth in the short term," he said. "But the potential is enormous."


July 18, 2005

Wild Swans author writes Mao biography

Writing about web page http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/biography/story/0,6000,1492173,00.html

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and her husband Jon Halliday have spent the last ten years researching a biography of Mao Zedong.

Only just heard of the book from a friend, I am not surprised with what they boast " this book will shake the world and will help to shape China'. Is this true that whatever on that misterous history of Mao's regime will shake the world?

Among many authors who made their names known to the western world by writing on Chinese women's life story before and after the cultural revolution, Jung Chang obvious knows exactly what will sell in the west. I suspect the real reason behind her ten years research on this biography of Mao. Is this a book which will possiblly tell some truth, or it is just another gimmick of the fame hunters?


The Painting Village of China

Writing about web page http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/15/business/worldbusiness/15paint.html?hp

Own Original Chinese Copies of Real Western Art!

By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: July 15, 2005
SHENZHEN, China – Zhang Libing has painted more van Goghs than van Gogh ever did.

At 26, Mr. Zhang estimates that he has painted up to 20,000 copies of van Gogh's works in a paint-spattered third-floor garret here where freshly washed socks and freshly painted canvases dry side-by-side on the balcony.

Ye Xiaodong, 25, is completing 200 paintings of a landscape of pink and white flowers in his garret. A block away, Ye Xiaodong, 25, is completing 200 paintings of a landscape of pink and white flowers in another third-floor garret. And down the street, Huang Yihong, also 25, stands in an art-packed store and paints a waterfall tumbling gracefully into a pool, mixing the paints on an oval palette.

China's low wages and hunger for exports have already changed many industries, from furniture to underwear. The art world, at least art for the masses, seems to be next, and is emerging as a miniature case study of China's successful expansion in a long list of small and obscure industries that when taken together represent a sizable chunk of economic activity.

China is rapidly expanding art colleges, turning out tens of thousands of skilled artists each year willing to work cheaply. The Internet is allowing these assembly-line paintings to be sold all over the world; the same technology allows families across America to arrange for their portraits to be painted in coastal China.

As in the United States and Europe, a handful of contemporary painters in China can command hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for each of their highly creative works – artists like Chen Yifei, Zhao Wuji and Wu Guanzhong. But the main push by China has been in the broad market for works that retail for $500 or less, with painters who work from postcards or images on the Internet or, in Mr. Zhang's case, a large, dog-eared copy of an art book in English on van Gogh.

China's ability to turn what has long been an individual craft into a mass production industry may affect small-scale artists from Rome's Spanish Steps to the sidewalks along Santa Monica's beach in California, as well as many galleries and art colonies in between.

Artist groups in the United States are starting to express concern, questioning the originality of some Chinese paintings and whether they comply with American copyright laws.

Wal-Mart, according to Bill Wertz, a company spokesman, has opted not to stock any Chinese paintings for this reason. But retailers from Pier 1 to Bed, Bath & Beyond say they are importing Chinese oil paintings, as are Internet sites like Oilpaintings.com.

United States customs data show that imports of Chinese paintings nearly tripled from 1996 to 2004, with bulk shipments reaching $30.5 million last year. Retail sales are several times that, as the customs data are based on the price that entrepreneurs pay for bulk purchases.

The biggest market for oil paintings from China turns out to be in Florida condominiums and other second homes being built as part of the global housing market boom. Hotels and restaurants also buy large numbers of Chinese paintings.

Many of the paintings depict scenes that Chinese artists have never seen. "European landscapes, like the Mediterranean or Venice or Paris, are the best sellers for us," Moses Ben Herut, the president of Oilpaintings.com, said in a telephone interview from Alpharetta, Ga.

Mr. Herut's Web site does not publicize the fact that it buys many of its paintings from Xiamen in southeastern coastal China, instead putting "Georgia, U.S.A." at the top of its home page in red, white and blue to emphasize that it is an extension of a local gallery.

At the Canton Trade Fair in Guangzhou this spring, exporters surrounded by paintings filled an entire row of exhibits. Adrian Goldberg, the chief executive of the Ziganof Group, a wholesaler in Manchester, England, walked into one of the booths and in less than an hour had placed an order for six 40-foot shipping containers filled with paintings to be delivered this autumn to ports in Europe and the United States.

Standing outside the booth as crowds of buyers and sellers moved past, Mr. Goldberg explained that he was paying $25 to $30 for each painting, including the frames, and that it would cost him another $1 a painting in shipping charges.

He plans to sell the paintings mainly to furniture stores for $35 to $40 apiece, and predicted that shoppers would eventually pay $100 to $125 apiece in Europe for the paintings, and up to $160 each in the United States.

he economics of the Chinese oil painting industry – very few watercolors or pastels are traded internationally – are striking. Mr. Zhang and Mr. Ye, who both learned to paint by serving two-year apprenticeships after high school, each earn less than $200 a month, plus modest room and board. Mr. Huang, who earned a four-year art degree from Jiangxi Normal University in east-central China, said he was paid $360 a month, but buys his own food and housing.

Paints, brushes, canvases, frames and other materials are all available at low prices here in the Dafen artist village – more than a dozen blocks of paintings stores with studios upstairs – just across the border from Hong Kong.

Wang Yuankang, the paintings entrepreneur at the Canton Trade Fair who received Mr. Goldberg's order, said his factory had 10 "designers" who do original paintings and 300 painters who copy these originals. Another 200 workers do the framing, he said.

Some operations are even larger. Vicky Leung, the business manager for the Chaozhou Hongjia Arts and Crafts Company, with a booth near Mr. Wang's, said that the company had two factories with a total of 10 designers, 250 painters and more than 500 framers and assistant painters.

One advantage of the larger operations is that they allow specialization, with simple assembly lines like those that Henry Ford brought to the automobile industry.

The larger factories have some painters specializing in trees, others in skies, others in flowers and so forth, an approach that not only improves "quality" but also increases output and reduces costs.

Mr. Ye, working by himself in a garret, has a similar approach: on a recent afternoon, he was painting the top half of each of dozens of white flowers on a series of canvases.

"It's quicker to do it like this, and after the paint dries, I'll do the rest," he said as he mixed a slightly darker shade of cream to paint the bottom, shadowed half of each flower.

More skilled painters in Xiamen, 400 miles northeast of here, produce portraits of American families from photographs sent to them over the Internet. About a tenth of the Chinese-painted portraits that Mr. Herut, the Georgia art entrepreneur, sells are returned by families who do not find them to be good likenesses; Mr. Herut has these portraits redone.

Northern New Jersey used to have a small but thriving cluster of businesses with artists churning out inexpensive paintings for restaurants, hotels and homes across the country. But these enterprises have been switching to imports, like the Dae Ryung Company, which had seven painters two decades ago at a studio attached to its offices in Hackensack, N.J., and let the last one leave four years ago without finding a replacement.

"In the beginning it was better here, because we were able to tell them exactly what we wanted," said Helen Cho, the company's purchasing and accounting manager. "But after a while, the Chinese caught on."

Exporters of Chinese paintings say that even though the paintings often imitate well-known works of art, the copies are inherently different because they are handmade, and so do not violate copyrights.

Robert Panzer, the executive director of the Visual Artists and Galleries Association, a trade group based in New York, disagreed. He said that the vast majority of paintings produced before the 20th century were in the public domain and could be freely copied and sold. But it is not legal to sell a painting that appears to a reasonable person like a copy of a more recent, copyrighted work, he said.

In any event, China is creating a fast-growing army of trained artists to produce both copies and original works. Art has become such a popular major in China that the number of art graduates from universities soared 59 percent last year, to 20,031, according to China's education ministry.

That growth took place even though Chinese universities, sensing a financial opportunity, now charge twice as much in annual tuition for arts majors as for engineering majors, said Jin Baoping, an art professor at Shenzhen University.

Mr. Zhang and Mr. Ye said they did not mind painting hundreds of copies.

But Mr. Huang, the university graduate in the street-front store, aspires to greater heights.

"I've never done more than four copies" of the same painting, he said proudly, adding that to do more, "would be boring and very tiring."


July 17, 2005

Grand Tour

Did not realize the socalled Grand tour was originally for English aristocracies, and it was only in 18th centary. However, as early as 618 – 907 AD in Asia, Japanese, Korean, even Pursian came to China to study chinese culture, and spread the influence of chinese culture to the rest of Asia. I though it would be very interesting to make a documentary on the comparisons of these two types of Grand Tours, their cultural impact, historical backgroud, and most importantly, how different are the western and oriental tours, and why were they different.

I thought i was not doing too bad having been to Italy twice and many other parts of Europe. I know i am lucky to come abroad from Red China, and manage to visit some dream lands which i put down into my dream list. "Read thousands of books, and travel thousands of miles", I know that I have only just started both in academia and life…


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