Monday, March 26, 2007

Second warm day in a row, and locals are admiring and photographing the blossoms on Chang'An Jie, as you drive past Tiananmen Square.

Had another fight withe the bao an, this time the security guard at the diplomatic compound just next door to mine, when they demanded my passport, but not the passport of any other foreigners entering. The guy actually chest butted me. I was so shengqi.

Last week was the on-again, off-again six party talks. They're off again.

Have been writing about soccer stars and petitioners, and how for migrant workers, Chinese New Year isn't always the family-centric holiday it seems.

Only one of their five children made it home to see Zhi Jifang and her husband, Huang Peibing, in Yanyan village, Henan province, for Chinese New Year. Abnother said maybe. The couple used to look after four grandchildren but now only care for one. Their own children are busy doing migrant work in faraway cities and family ties are strained.

Lui Huana, rear, in white shorts, practicing in Kunming, Yunnan province, with the rest of China's national womens soccer team. Couldn't get any closer.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The tenth National People's Congress is on, through March 16th. China's Foreign Minister used the occasion to host an annual press conference Tuesday at which he urged Japan to face historical facts but otherwise took the let's-uphold-friendly-relations route. Today, leaders debated a controversial law to help protect private property, which experts say is likely to pass.

These pictures don't have anything to do with China, but last week I was skiing in France with family and friends. It snowed nearly everyday, which meant zero visibility but terrific powder conditions. I took these photos on our one full day of sunshine. Breathing clean mountain air was great. Within 12 hours of being back in Beijing, I'm clearing my throat again. I'll spare you any more detail, but for those unused to it, the pollution here is not just a news headline.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Duck eggs at Mengyang market, outside of Jinghong city, in the XiShuangBanna region of southern Yunnan Province. Bordering Laos and Burma, near Thailand, this region is much more relaxed and laid back than the rest of China. The women wear heels and beautiful silks even when working the fields and markets.

Not so long ago, before China's opening and reform first kicked off in about 1978, free enterprise was so thoroughly reviled that even peasants selling fresh eggs were criticized as capitalists. The editors asked me to write about the topic here and here.

Meanwhile, am getting both encouraging and hostile email over a recent story about gays and lesbians in China. Some appreciative readers say they had no idea it was legal to be gay in China. Another thought it was a crime to run a photo of a drag queen. We did so because a few years ago there were almost no gay bars at all, and now in Beijing alone there are dozens, with drag queens and with advertisements in local magazines. And yet there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding, including psychologists who advertize what they say are cures for gayness.