Hong Kong Unrest from an Insider’s View

Protests and tensions rise as more Hong Kongers flood the streets, demanding democracy. What’s really going on in Hong Kong? There’s much more than what first meets the eye. Take a look at this video by China Uncensored that does a great job explaining some of the underlying complications.

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Chinese Short Story 003 – 晏子使楚 (Yanzi’s Diplomatic Mission to Chu)

When Emperor You was killed in 770 BC by Quanrong, a barbarian tribe, the Chinese royalty lost control of the whole country. China was split up into states and suffered by endless wars until 221 BC.

Yanzi is a famous politician and diplomat in Qi, a state in North-East China. Unfortunately, God didn’t give him a good appearance to match his wisdom and resource. Yanzi was tiny and ugly. One day. the king of Qi, King Jing, wanted to get help from the Chu state in South China, so he sent Yanzi on a diplomatic mission to Chu.

Main Gate of ChuKing Ling, the king of Chu, was not satisfied with the emissary because of Yanzi’s ugliness. He asked his people to close the gates of his city and they told Yanzi, “There is a hole dug in the wall by dogs. King Ling thinks the hole is big enough for you.” Yanzi answered, “People go through a great gate when they visit a great kingdom. People go through a dog’s hole when they visit a dog’s kingdom.” After King Ling heard this answer he asked his guards to open the biggest gate for Yanzi.

After Yanzi and King Ling met each other, King Ling asked, “Are there any people in Qi now?”

Yanzi answered,”There are more than 7,000 clans that live in our capital. People can cover the sun with their arms. There are too many people that flood the streets; so they swarm shoulder to shoulder and feet to feet. How can you say there are no people in Qi now?”

“But why, then, did King Jing send you to me?”

“Great people work together on a great job. We really can’t find a better person than you,” Yanzi answered.

Yanzi's Diplomatic MissionAs was custom, King Ling prepared a dinner for Yanzi. During the dinner, some soldiers walked in with a person who was tied up.

King Ling asked, “Who is this guy?”

The soilders answered,” He is from Qi. He is a thief.”

“Are all the people from Qi good at stealing?” King Ling asked Yanzi.

Yanzi answered, “If you plant an orange tree in the South of Huaihe River, it is called Ju. The fruits are sweet and tasty. If you plant an orange tree in the North of Huaihe River, it is called Zhi. These fruits are bitter and distasteful. They are the same fruit, but the environment has changed them. Why are the people in Qi kind and honest, but changed after they moved to Chu?”

King Ling laughed out boisterously and said, “I shouldn’t try to make fun of you! The person who wants to shame others will always be shamed in the end.”

Mid-Autumn Festival

MidAutumn Festival - China9/8/2014. It is the Mid-Autumn Festival for this year. It is the second most important festival in Chinese culture (the first one is the Chinese Spring Festival). In Chinese culture, people pray to the Sun for a plentiful harvest and people pray to the Moon in appreciation for the harvest. So, you can say the Mid-Autumn Festival is Chinese thanksgiving. Koreans also celebrate it as 추석 (Chuseok), but I’ll let Dani write more about that later.

What do people do for Mid-Autumn Festival? Families gather together on this day and have a party while watching the Moon. Many people eat moon-cake during this party and different cities have their own way to celebrate this festival.

MidAutumn Festival - China 2The moon is important in Chinese culture as the Chinese calendar is based on the changing of the moon. Every Chinese month is a period from the new moon to the full moon and then back to the new moon again. As such, every Chinese month has 30 days and every 15th day in the month is the day that has the full moon. Normally, the Mid-Autumn Festival has the biggest and brightest moon in the whole year. Chinese people associate “reunion and happiness” with the full moon, and associate “separation and loneliness” with the incomplete moon. When a Chinese person sees a full moon, they miss their family and friends more.

Moon-cake is the special food for Mid-Autumn Festival. It is said that since the Tang Dynasty(618~907 A.D.), the moon-cake was similar to the one that you can find today. Here is the history behind the moon-cake:

MooncakeDuring 1271~1368 A.D. China was controlled by Mongolia. During that period, Chinese people were treated as animals. Chinese people didn’t have names, only a number was used to identify themselves from others. For example, the first emperor after this period is Zhu YuanZhang, but this name was given by himself, because he was called 88 when his parents were living. He could only choose his own name after all of his family members had been killed. When Double Eight was leading his army to fight with Mongolia, he had to capture a city, NanJing, which is protected by a tall and strong wall. Double Eight asked his men to cook a lot of moon-cakes and put notes in them, which said, “We are coming to attack after 10 days.” They sold the moon-cakes in that city on Mid-Autumn Festival because only Chinese people eat moon-cake and celebrate the festival. Therefore, when his army came after 10 days, they found the city was already controlled by the citizens. If you go to the city, NanJing, you still can see the broken walls that were broken during the second World War.

Chinese Short Story 002 – 愚公移山 (Mr. Stupid Moves the Mountains)

There were two mountains, TaiHang and WangWu, in the North of HeYang State. Both of them were bigger than 700 square miles, and taller than thousands of meters.

Mr. Stupid was a 90-years-old man. His home was in the north of the mountains. Every time, his families had to climb across mountains to go to the city. One day, he convened his family and said,”I am tired of climbing the mountains every time. Do you think it can work, if we move the two mountains to other place?” His wife answered,”It even is unbelievable for you to move the hill outside of our house. Moreover, where can you put the rocks?” Their son said, “We can put the rocks into BoHai Sea.” Therefore, Mr. Stupid led three of his sons and began to break the rocks on the mountains and moved them into BoHai Sea.

At the beginning, all of their neighbors laughed at them. However, more and more people joined them later. One day, Mr. Smart met them and laughed at Mr. Stupid,”You are so stupid. You are so old now. There is no difference between you and a dead person. You can’t finish your plan before you die.” Mr. Stupid answered,”I am stubborn. After I die, my son will keep working on it. After my son dies, my grandson will keep working on it. My family won’t give up, and the mountains won’t grow. There will be one day that we can finish my dream.” Mr. Smart had no words to answer him.

Tip:

When I heard this story in my childhood, I had a question in my mind, “Did Mr. stupid succeed?”  Later, I found my answer from the Chinese map. However, I got another question,”Is this story true? Maybe the two mountains were always at that places where they are.” Honestly, I don’t know. But I know cleverness is not as important as people thought. Intelligence can help people figure out the easiest way to get their goals. However, absurdness is the reason that humans could create so many miracles in our history.

Chinese Short Story 001 – 叶公好龙 (YeGong Loved the Dragon)

The period for this story is 770BC~476BC.

There was a guy, YeGong, he loved the Dragon so much. So, he used the Dragon’s pictures,  sculptures, patterns, etc to decorate his home. He wore the Dragon’s clothes every day and he told everyone he loved the Dragon. One day, the Dragon heard about YeGong. The Dragon thought, “Wow, I have a fan now. I should meet him, since he loves me so much.” However, when the dragon went to YeGong’s home, YeGong was so scared he ran from the Dragon.

Tip for Chinese dragons:

If you know anything about Chinese dragons, you know they are different from the Western dragons. Chinese dragons are kind and friendly. However, they also have a defect: they are egomaniacs. They have no interest in women, but they have an interest in almost all kinds of female animals, such as buffalo, tortoise, fish, etc. People call the monsters of half dragon blood sub-dragons. Sub-dragons are not as powerful as the real dragons, and they also have their own characteristics. This means not all of them are as kind as dragons, such as Jiao (蛟). Jiaos are a cross between dragons and snakes. The Western dragons could possibly be a cross between dragons and bats.

There are two special dragons. One is The Dragon. You can say he is The King of Dragons, and is different from normal dragons. The Dragon has five legs (normal dragons just have four). The Dragon can control his body to become bigger or smaller, and he can use magic to turn into anything he wants. He is the most powerful dragon and all of the other dragons are constrained by his rule.

The second one is the Blue Dragon. He is the Eastern Security for China. (There are three more Securities for the other three directions.) Also the Blue Dragon is the most powerful Security.

Dragons were the signs for Chinese royalty. After 221BC, only the royalty could use dragons’ pattern. The dragon on the emperors’ clothes have five legs. The other royalty members just could use the dragons with four legs. However, the government officers could use the sub-dragons patterns.

Featured Video Series of the Week: Secret (Mandarin Movie)

This week’s featured video series is actually a single movie: a Chinese movie known as “Secret.” Ye Xianglun, a music student majoring in piano, transfers to Tamkang (Danjiang) Secondary School. It is a school famous for musically talented students, especially in piano. On the first day of school, as he wanders through the piano building, he hears a mysterious melody being played that leads him to Lu Xiaoyu, another piano major. When he asks about the song she was playing, she tells him that it is a secret that cannot be told and the two develop a relationship that is shrouded in mystery. Click here to go to this show.