Tag Archives: China

Why ‘freedom’ sells

Having lived in China for seven years I have my own kind of sorrow, mixed with the tenderness of memory when I see a small Christian community deep inside China harassed for their faith. The leader, pastor Zhang, was imprisoned for 12 years and his family was in danger of losing their lives before making…

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Thuli and other 21st century ‘freedom fighters’ among Time 100

Although she occupies only a sliver of a column on p. 80 in the “leaders” section of Time magazine’s special edition on “The 100 Most Influential people” (May 5 2014), this should not mislead anyone as to the comparative importance of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s inclusion in this annual pantheon of (itself) one of the…

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Academia is Africa’s last hope

“I am studying mathematics because I wanted to study something as difficult as it is useless.” I follow this statement with a polite laugh and wink. This is how I answer a person asking me why I’m studying a subject that most people regard with a terrified shudder (no doubt linked to their bad memories…

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Bye-bye 132 000 Chinese tourists

By Michael Jones “I’m sorry, I simply do not see them” is an often-quoted response I hear when talking to high-end South African tourism brands about marketing their products in the China outbound travel market. Strange considering that official government statistics are adamant that South Africa received 132 334 Chinese tourists in 2012 making it our…

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‘Unwanted, dirty’ – reading a Chinese woman’s memoir (I)

— Written while recuperating from a broken hand and wrist How everything is already memory. His broken hand cradled, cupped and listened to as its slow bones knit back. The wonder of watching his fingers and palm go through their re-blooming: the fingers learning again to outstretch, then bunch up like an evening blossom that…

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Brics can unlock deadly stalemate, bring humanitarian relief to Syrians

By Jonathan Whittall On one of my first visits into Syria with MSF, I arrived on a cold night in a city with no electricity and shortages of food. A community under siege hosted me while they lived in fear, huddled into basements in an attempt to escape the continuous bombing. I saw field hospitals…

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The role of China on the African continent

The exponential rate of Chinese investment in Africa over the past few years has been noted with both optimism and scepticism by mainstream media, political commentators and influential role players in the developed and developing world. Opinions triggered by this new development are deeply polarised. A positive view of increased and concentrated Chinese investment on…

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The blind sage talks constitutionalism

“The law is optional. Those in power use it when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t.” Sound familiar? These words could be describing South Africa, but the context is China. The speaker is Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, the blind self-taught activist lawyer who sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing last…

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Postcard from a recovering China

Preparing to leave Beijing last week after a splendid fortnight’s rail tour of the two neighbouring (and confusingly named) provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi, I was startled to find evidence of a very different China to the one that is often portrayed in mainstream English-language media – “never mind the quality, feel the growth!” What’s…

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Poverty, empty hands, little smiles

Wooosshh! I upended the large bin and hundreds of colourful Lego-like blocks and bally-shaped thingies scattered across the floor in front of the delighted Chinese four-year-olds that I am currently teaching. The floor was now a rainbow that had come crashing and splintering down from the heavens. “Pick up the green,” I roared, “the green,…

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