Tag Archives: China

Cultural Revolution

China’s first gay TV show launches.

The programme is being broadcast online and will feature gay presenters discussing gay issues. The makers hope it will increase tolerance in a society where homosexuality remains a major taboo. Until 2001, Chinese authorities still classed homosexuality as a mental illness. How the programme fares within China’s notoriously censorious online environment remains to be seen.

The weekly 12 episode show has been produced by Hong Kong listed broadcaster Phoenix Satellite Television. The show’s producer Gang Gang told Reuters, that the show will be a forum “to get in touch with each other and communicate.” He added:

In a lot of major Chinese cities, gay people are playing sports, swimming, working out, singing karaoke — they are getting together for all types of activities.

Such coyness about what gay people actually do when they get together is to be expected. Whilst this is definitely progress, don’t expect Gaydar China to launch anytime soon.

Posted in Need To Know | Tagged | Leave a comment

More bad news for bootleggers

Chanel, Prada and three other luxury goods companies have won China’s first copyright verdict against a shopping mall landlord.

Clearly imitation is no longer the sincerest form of flattery for luxury brands. The International Herald Tribune reports that both the landlord and vendors at the Beijing Xiushui Haosen Clothing Market have been ordered to pay $13,000 in compensation to six luxury goods companies after being found guilty of selling pirated goods, or preventing the sale of them.

According to the US Commerce Department, international companies lose more than $60 billion a year because of piracy in China. The case is believed to be China’s first copyright verdict successfully upheld against a shopping mall landlord and is only part of a huge crackdown into counterfeiting that began last July. China prosecuted 158 people for counterfeiting and imposed 376 million yuan in fines in the 15 months sending September 30th, 2005, according to the State Adminstration for Industry and Commerce. The agency has also investigated 6.77 million business entities and 283,000 markets nationwide resulting in the closure of 6,273 places that made and sold fake goods.

Bizarrely, Vogue is now reporting that Chanel is being sued by one of its own suppliers for counterfeiting. The fashion house faces charges of counterfeiting and “abusive termination of [ongoing] contractual relations” by World Tricot, which is seeking £1.3 million for breach of contract and £2.3 million for counterfeiting. Chanel is, of course, countersuing, claiming that the action is a publicity-seeking stunt. Vogue reports on the vagaries of proving style theft:

After nearly four hours of testimony during which the commercial court’s presiding judge, Jean-Pierre Lucquin, struggled to compare unusual evidence comprising a sample of white crochet and a crochet Chanel vest, he proposed that the complex case be tried in front of a mediator. Both companies must now agree to the mediation before January 20 or the case will have to be tried again.

See previous post, ‘The end of the line for cheap chic?’

Posted in Need To Know | Tagged | Leave a comment

China Calling

VoIP take up in China has triggered a trend of random cold calling to Western users.

According to a report in Time, Skype - whose software allows users to make cheap phone calls over the Internet – has become extremely popular amongst young Asians – with 45,000 new Chinese users signing on each day. Apparently many of them are using the service to practice their English – by cold calling fellow Skypers in the US. The company, which currently has 66 million registered users in more than 200 countries, includes language preferences in every user’s profile and last year started offering a ‘Skype Me’ mode that encourages calls from strangers (or stalkers, depending on your outlook). Like SMS was for the mobile phone industry, the popularity of this application has somewhat surprised the company. “It’s an area that, frankly, surprised us. People are becoming voice pals instead of pen pals.”

Skype, which is now of course owned by eBay, is looking into providing translation services as a possibly pay feature in 2006. Last week it released a web 2.0 edition that enables users to plug in their webcams and make free video calls. With Skype doing so much to shrink the world. maybe it should change its name to BabelFish.

Posted in Need To Know | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Ads Are Like Psoriasis …”

Artist Wang Qingsong produces Gurksy-sized photographs critiquing the inexorable spread of advertising in China.

battlefield-large.jpgWe’ll let him explain: Qingsong says,

My work “Competition” focuses on the power of ads and the misconceptions that ads can create. For this photo work, I constructed a chaotic backdrop where over 20 people are depicted in a frenzy of competition with some even fist fighting while jostling for ad positioning on a huge billboard advertisement; this struggle for the most optimal outdoor ad placement is perceived as inevitably bringing power and influence.

The struggle for ad placement in public space in China is not unlike a battlefield strewn with casualties after a pitched battle for power. Today one brand wins. The next day, its competitor will replace it with better positioning on public spaces. Every day, new ads go up, and old ones fall down, scattered in pieces, and discarded on the ground under newly erected billboard advertisements.

In this work, I’ve constructed a huge wall, that stands about 14 meters high and 40 meters across, and I fixed over 600 pieces of paper (110x90cm each) on which I wrote in traditional Chinese ink brush style in some instances and in felt tip pen and magic marker in others, a random selection of slogans and phrases from the advertisements that bombard us here every day. These ads include both domestic and international information about companies and famous brands, such as the lease of houses, education programs, restaurants, foot massage, etc. Everything is advertised, from items as big as airplanes (BOEING) or as small as vinegar and condoms.

On my gigantic wall, I make the fight for advertising as fierce as a struggle for military power, with inevitable casualties on the battlefield. I have also included some of the famous brands that proliferate in China, such as Shell, McDonald’s, Durex, Starbuck’s, along with a few of the anecdotes behind them and the misunderstandings that arise in translating these for a foreign audience. Altogether, I’ve used around 3000 varieties of products and services on my wall to show off the allure of this mass advertising campaign that surrounds us.

Finally, without even being able to understand English, the inundation of advertising these famous brands in China give people the impression that they can easily follow what the words say, despite their lack of English skills! In terms of visual form and content, this outdoor advertising onslaught is not unlike the big character posters (“Da zi bao“) posted by competing factions and littering city streets in China during the Cultural Revolution.

In the past the streets were hung with posters in fights over political beliefs. Now the struggle is over financial power and business gain. Ads for items are like psoriasis found everywhere on our city streets.

Link courtesy of Artkrush.

Pictured – Competition, 170 x 300 — 85x150cm, Photograph, Wang Qingsong, 2004.

Posted in Nice To Know | Tagged | Leave a comment

Gaming Nation

15 million South Koreans are registered for online gaming.

The BBC reports this week that a man has died after playing a computer game for hours at a time in South Korea. Shock horror stories about online gaming are nothing new, the latest big one being the guy in Shanghai who got stabbed in a dispute over a virtual gaming sword. Some people take their alternative lives in MMORPGs very seriously indeed.

The real shock in this article for me came right at the end: 30% of the South Korean population are registered for online gaming.

BST has written about South Korea before – see previous posts: Cunnilingus in North Koreaand Ohmynews.com. As the most wired nation on earth, South Korea has become something of a nursery for what all our futures may look like.

Posted in Need To Know | Tagged | Leave a comment