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I have moved home, yeah!!!

From 10 April 2017 on this blog has been moved to my new website julieoyang.com

Nice to meet you! 🙂

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Julie curates China 热风

Julie Curates China appears every Wednesday in Hoje Macau. Visit my website for more.

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The most dynamic Chinese, ever (and the most tired)

(限制) 中国人脑筋里的一件事

Guanxi關係means relationship. Simply: your network.

Guan 關 means to close, closure; to imprison. But it also means a crucial location in the strategic sense, especially along the Silk Road.
Xi繫 means connection, tie, correlation, an organizing system etc. The character has “silk” in it.

In fact, the Silk Road may be considered the powerful manifestation of global Guanxi networks, when silk was the international currency. The current Silk Road Project of the CCP is consistent with the way how the Chinese mind works.

Contrary to English word “relationship”, which suggest something predetermined and enduring, the use of Guanxi is meaningfully combined with a verb. Guanxi is always full of action. It is lively and self-motivated and constantly on the go. Guanxi is an action hero, like Bruce Lee, witty, fast and tired. Guanxi is the most dynamic Chinese ever existed. And in my opinion, it is also the thing that limits the Chinese mind and restrains the authenticity and creativity.

Guanxis in Chinese culture are fundamental to doing business. In the Western eye it is almost something mythical and profound that ought to be respected and worshipped. But when looking behind the smoke screen, it is a form of reciprocation: ‘a favour for a favour’. Chinese business people will often give something to someone in return for, at a later date, being able to ask that person to give something back or to exert influence and power on their behalf.

This is intended to enable Chinese businesses to create connections, relationships, and networks that help them bypass normal governance systems or conventional business practices. An important aspect of this is the social ties between individuals, which are intended to provide direct or exclusive access to insider information, business contracts or scarce resources.

In other words, talent is not the foremost motive and in most cases it’s not even given the chance. When Guanxi rules, innovation is only a side effect but true innovative thinking is the only way to lose. Talent and skills suffer for a stubborn tradition. The trump card in this system is and has been the significant collection of relationships and connections.

It’s almost Chinese New Year, a brilliant season to guanxi.  Speaking of Guanxi as a verb, we will take a quick look at the Chinese drinking ritual.

Quanjiu,劝酒, “persuade (business relation) to drink” is a major feature on the Chinese parties. There are many Chinese sayings relating to this extreme behaviour. “Be (appallingly) drunk! Show me you are a true friend!” “Feel (friendship) deep, bottom up. Feel (friendship) shallow, lick the cup.” Etc.

How much you are prepared to get drunk with your business partner is of importance in the Chinese context. Chinese drinking game is not about the charm of the wine itself, but behind the intention to persuade someone to get deadly drunk lies power and control; “who rules who”. It’s a sign of conquest. If you are a woman attending a business banquet during Chinese New Year, remember what I just told you.

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Change: the shapeshifter

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Julie O’yang contemporary calligraphy | (Thinking of) Change, 69074cm (c)Julie O’yang 2017

This recent piece of artwork is made of many layers of thoughts, with the Chinese character “Change” 變 floating to the surface.
Its appearance is based on the famous shapeshifter Sun Wukong, commonly known as Monkey King (16th century).

I would like to invite artists and art lovers around the world to interact with me through this image.

You may alter it in any way you like based on your aesthetic judgement as well as your emotional experience and evaluation. In this way, we make art alive by our joined effort. Art unite us through Change!

I have experienced both excitement and serenity while creating this piece. It seems that Chinese ink technique is the rare expressive channel that can be perfectly calming and powerful.

Please CHANGE! and share your “Change” with me: julie@julieoyang.com

*“Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way.” Monkey King, Journey to the West
**

Thank you for reading!

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The making of Mythology series: Julie O’yang ink art studio

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Pictures are Artist’s own. (c) Julie O’yang 2017

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Julie O’yang artwork – Mythology series No.2: Donald Trump (Twitter & Truth)

Julie O’yang ink abstract

Mythology series No.2: Donald Trump (Twitter & Truth)

ink/mixed media on Chinese paper, 69×69 cm,  (c) Julie O’yang 2017

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Julie curates China热风

Julie Curates China appears every Wednesday in Hoje Macau. Visit my website for more.

Two Christmas presents the Chinese gave themselves

2016年底的礼物

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Judging from my Chinese language social media circles, Christmas celebration came across as a little undigested. For the past decades the Christian festival has been honoured by people from PRC perhaps not formally, but in the people’s heart for whatever reason.

And the next day, a popular post caught my attention, which reads:

“Today is the Chinese people’s true Christmas. Beloved Chairman Mao, we will always miss you!”

26 December is Mao Zedong’s birthday. Here is a quick summing up of the general sentiment:

“In Mao Zedong era, the sky was blue, the water was clear, and the Chinese people were equal and the politicians were fair! Now ‘the three great mountains’ (Mao’s allegory of imperialism, feudalism, state/bureaucratic capitalism – J O’y) that oppress the people are back!”

“Mao gave our country blue sky, white clouds, good people and fresh air. He gave us social harmony sustained by just and honest party cadres. The sun was the reddest and Chairman Mao was the dearest!”

“Thank you, Chairman Mao! Defend the real social standards!   Defend social equality and a fair income for everybody!”

“The Great Leader will always live in the hearts of hundreds of millions of people! In your days, the Chinese people could sleep at night without fear of being robbed and women and children were not sold in clear daylight. Housing was cheap, too. China was closer to paradise.”

The year’s end gave yet another circle of my Chinese friends a gift, which they are noisily proud of. The headline reads:

“Chinese Manufacturer Moves To The U.S. To Cut Costs.”

Fuyao Glass company bought a former GM plant in suburban Dayton, Ohio, and the factory expects to create jobs for 3,000 workers there when it is fully operational. Fuyao Glass America employs about 2,000 people already since its grand opening in October.

Founded in 1987, Fuyao is said to be the largest glass fabrication company in the world. It has 18,000-plus employees across the globe, with factories in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea, as well as China and now the U.S.

In The Beijing News on last Monday, Fuyao Glass chairman Cao Dewang (70), was quoted as saying the US was a cheaper and better place to make glass because taxes were much lower than in China. As U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is trying to lure firms back to the U.S. under his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, companies are reconsidering their ­presence in China.

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On death, crisps and the John Bergers for breakfast

Should I worship his death? Should I really? He stands for the “muscle milk” that tastes like sonorous crisps. If you know me, you know I like crisps at the right time.

Have one 🙂

 

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John Berger: Ways of Seeing

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Julie curates China热风

Julie Curates China appears every Wednesday in Hoje Macau. Visit my website for more.

The clash of desires

中俄边境的一些镜头

 

In the summer of 2014, Davide Monteleone began to travel to the Russian-Chinese border in search of something that felt real and reliable. The Italian photographer had lived in Moscow for more than a decade. The images he captured of the locked away places through his lens remind me of Marcel Proust’s words: “We do not succeed in changing things in accordance with our desires, but gradually our desires change.”

Below I selected four images whose significance does not extend, just like a secret desire without any ambition to become real, ever.

Monteleone: “In a remote place like this, the Russians just wait for something that is going to happen, while the Chinese try to do something.”

 

A RUSSIAN-CHINESE FRIENDSHIPReplica of St. Basil’s Cathedral. The original constructed by Ivan the terrible in the 16th century stands on the Red Square in Moscow. The copy on the photo was built by the Chinese in Jalainur. The painted turrets and onion domes were only a shell; nestled inside the building is a museum dedicated to science.

A RUSSIAN-CHINESE FRIENDSHIPA food vender awaits customers on the bank of the Songhua River in Harbin, underneath the old and new bridges for the Chinese Eastern Railway. The old bridge on the left was built by the Russians at the beginning of the 20th The new one on the right was built by the Chinese.

A RUSSIAN-CHINESE FRIENDSHIPYu Shi is studying in St. Petersburg to become an Orthodox priest. The photo is taken in Harbin, China.

4Passengers at the railway terminal in the Chinese city of Manzhouli, a small Chinese city on the border with Russia

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Julie curates China热风

Julie Curates China appears every Wednesday in Hoje Macau. Visit my website for more.

lust-caution

Lust, Caution

魔鬼调教的张爱玲

 Chinese novelist Eileen Chang 张爱玲 died on 8 September 1995 in Los Angeles. Can we celebrate someone’s death? I decided we can because she is among the few modern Chinese writers I read nowadays. She sits next to Lu Xun on my literary altar, only more forgotten.

Hollywood director Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution 色、戒is based on her short story published in 1979 in Taiwan (see photo). Two themes characterise Chang’s work: pre-Communist “East meets West”daily life and her cosmopolitism. In Lust, Caution, Lee showed his love for both.

Chang’s writing seems the natural outcome of her upbringing. Her father was the picture of decadent late-imperial aristocracy, and her mother was very much the kind of Westernized “New Woman” that embraced cultural reform. She was educated and independent, leaving her family behind for several years to travel Europe and to ski in the Swiss Alps. When Chang’s parents divorced when she was ten, she grew up in a contradictory world of pre-Communist Shanghai, split between her mother’s modern apartment and the opium-filled den of her father’s traditional aristocratic house. China’s cultural transition is evident and extensive in her razor-sharp observations.

Most of her literary works were written during the middle decades of the twentieth century, a period of intense political upheaval. The Qing dynasty was overtaken by a revolutionary republican democracy in 1911, nine years before the writer was born. However, this democracy collapsed into warlordism within five years, and the 1920s through 1940s were marked by increasingly violent power struggles to control and reshape China. These struggles culminated in the bloody Sino-Japanese War and the civil war between right-wing Nationalists and the Chinese Communist Party. While many prominent writers responded to these conflicts by turning radically left-wing and writing about ideals such as Nation, Revolution, Progress, Chang focused more on the mundane interactions and relationships between men and women. Lust, Caution is all the more extraordinary in that it is one of her few works where the politics drive the story. It seems to be Chang’s response to her critics who claimed that her treatment of war was too trivial.

Below I have selected five quotes from her books to share with my readers:

  • If a woman can’t win love and admiration from men, she won’t be respected by women either.
  • When you laugh, you laugh together with the entire world. When you cry, you cry alone.
  • Photography is like the hard shell of life. As time passes, you eat the inside and only you know how it really tastes. The empty shell is what’s left behind to show people.
  • I love money because I never have known what harm it can bring. Nobody has taught me about its evil, I have only learned how good money is.
  • Humanity is the most interesting book there is and you never finish reading.

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Julie curates China热风

Julie Curates China appears every Wednesday in Hoje Macau. Visit my website for more.

bejing-2008

A game called Mahjong

搓麻將的女人

Beijing 2008 is a painting by Chinese-Canadian artist Liu Yi 刘溢. Completed in 2005 and exhibited at a New York art fair the next year, this work was soon posted on the Internet and raising heated discussions around the world. Many people including netizens and art critics believe there are political messages in the artwork. Recently, following the storm on South China Sea, the painting is being dug up again.

First, let’s look at the portrait hanging on the wall. Who’s he? He is a combination of three former influential leaders of China: Sun Yat-sun, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, as the man’s face carries each of the three leaders’ facial features. What does it mean? I think to me perhaps it means China, separately and together, is an unsolved, frustrating situation within differing ideologies and identities. The figure hanging on the wall is always very important. He is the only one who wears clothes, gazing rather unmoved at the women in different state of undress.

The one with the tattoos on her back is China. On the left, focused intensely on the game, is Japan. The one with the shirt and head cocked to the side is America. Lying provocatively on the floor is Russia. And the little girl standing to the side is Taiwan.
And what about the tiles they are holding? China’s visible set of “East Wind” signifies China’s revival as a world power. Additionally, it signifies the military might and weaponry that China possesses has already been placed on the table. China appears to be in a good position, but we cannot see the rest of her hand. The tattooed woman is also handling some hidden tiles below the table.

America looks confident, but is glancing at Taiwan, trying to read something off of Taiwan’s expression and at the same time seems to be hinting something at Taiwan.
At a first glance, Russia appears to be disinterested in the game, but if you look closely, one of her feet strokes America coyly while her hand passes a hidden tile to China. Double dealing superpowers exchanging benefits in secret. Japan is all seriousness, staring at her own set of tiles and is oblivious to the actions of the others…If the women’s real game is that the loser strips off a piece of clothing? Some people seem to think the artist rather suggests that the final victor lies between China and America. And while America is capable, they are playing Chinese Mahjong, not Western Poker. She does not even remember to cover her lower body while playing by the Chinese rules, how much chance at victory does America really have?

Artist Liu Yi: “…My magic is about dreams of the masses and society.” Liu is an excellent storyteller.

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