Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chrismas Santa Claus Toys in China

Santa Claus toys of ChinaSHENZHEN This southern city in China,once the centre of Christmas gift manufacturing, is losing its dominance due to rising costs and a higher minimum wage for workers, said those in the industry.

The working environment is worse for us, and I'm afraid I have to move my factory out of here soon,"said Zhang Renzhong, general manager of Yuanxing Christmas Production Co.

Zhang's factory has produced artificial Christmas trees and gifts in Dapeng of eastern Shenzhen for more than a decade, mainly supplying the United States and European markets.

"This year the order for Christmas products decreased nearly 30 per cent," Zhang said. "We tried to raise prices to cover losses generated by the higher costs of raw materials, but many foreign buyers wouldn't accept it."

Official figures for the export of Christmas gifts this year are not yet available. In the past, reports said eight out of every 10 artificial trees sold in the United States were made in the city.Prices for raw materials such as plastic and colour toner surged 20 to 30 per cent from a year before, Zhang said.

Another factor making business tough is the government's new policy for a higher minimum wage for workers, which went into effect on July 1.The policy requires employers outside Shenzhen to pay workers at least 700 yuan (US$88.6) per month. The previous minimum was 580 yuan (US$73.4).

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Zhou Xun Best Award at 43rd Golden Horse

43rd Golden Horse AwardsChinese mainland actress Zhou Xun won the best actress award at the 43rd Golden Horse film awards,a Chinese language equivalent of the Oscars, held in Taipei Saturday.

Zhou took this honor for her performance in "Perhaps Love,"the musical story of a romantic triangle on a film set. The film also harvested other three honors, including best director of Hong Kong's Peter Chan, the best cinematography and best original film song categories.

Among mainland Taiwan or mainland-Hong Kong co-productions,"The Banquet" won the award for best art direction and the best makeup and costume design "Crazy stone"for the best original screenplay.

Zhou attributed her victory to good luck, saying other nominees like Siqin Gaowa are very good actresses, according to local media in Taipei.

Nominated co-production films include Peter Chan's musical movie "Perhaps Love"starring mainland actress Zhou Xun,who has been nominated for best actress"The Postmodern Life of My Aunt"starring Chinese actress Siqin Gaowa,also nominated for best actress; "Crazy Stone"and Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's Hamlet-inspired epic "The Banquet", which stars Zhang Ziyi.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Battle of Wits star Andy Lau

The Battle of Wits picture Andy LauChina Daily new update film The Battle of Wits starring Andy Lau is filled with magnificent battle scenes, martial arts and dazzling effects-but it's also a film without real heroes and it carries a potent anti war message.

For their magnificent battle scenes and dazzling techniques, it would be easy to compare Hong Kong director Jacob Cheung's latest film "The Battle of Wits" with the Hollywood Trojan War epic Troy.Battle" opens in cinemas nationwide today.However,director Cheung is not trying to create a Chinese version of"Troy"in this historical drama but to convey ancient Oriental philosophy, wisdom and a universal message of peace.

"Super hero movies are a popular genre for Hollywood filmmakers but are not that common in the Asian cinema," says director Cheung. "It took me 11 years to prepare and make the film."The 47-year-old Cheung looks more like a mild and low-key scholar who has deep passion for profound Chinese culture than a movie industry figure. As a director and producer, Cheung has enjoyed remarkable success in the past decade.

His films, including "Beyond the Sunset" (1989) and "Cageman" (1992), have won many prizes, such as the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay."The Battle of Wits" is an adaptation of the popular Japanese comic"Mozi's Assault"by Mori Hideki.Set in China's Warring States Period (476-221BC), the film recounts how Ge Li, disciple of the famous philosopher Mo Tzu, helps the small Kingdom of Liang fight off invaders from the powerful Kingdom of Zhao.Hong Kong star Andy Lau teams up with mainland actor Wang Zhiwen and South Korea's Ahn Sung-gi and Choi Si-won in this US$15 million production."This is the only film I am presenting this year," Lau says with a laugh. "You can see how much the story appeals to me."

Mainland's veteran actor Wang Zhiwen also vividly portrays Emperor Liang, in a performance that is another highlight of the movie."Emperor Liang is not merely a fatuous governor," Wang says."He just doesn't want to lose what he already possesses. The psychological crisis leads to his selfishness, ferocity and the ambivalent doubting character."Though the movie seems to have almost all the commercial and entertaining elements, director Cheung refuses to compromise his filmmaking just to cater to the market in China.

I really want to tell modern people that there is no real hero in battle and express my anti-war opinions," he says.The Battle of Wits" will premiere nationwide today in China.It will be shown in Chinese with both English and Chinese subtitles of China.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chinese cuisine eaten west

Chinese Cuisine pictureFu 1039 takes its name from the street number of the building in China, a small French house on secluded Yuyuan road that has a venerable history, as can be seen as soon as one steps up to the very Shanghai-style floor tiles of the entrance.

Each with chic Western furniture:from the large tables to the silverware cabinet and chandeliers, and the ornaments apparently casually placed, all are authentic pieces from Shanghai's heyday in the early part of the 20th century in China.

Fu 1039 offers Chinese cuisine eaten in a western style. Head chef Mr Li is a master of Shanghai style of cooking, he believes that the secret to gourmet cooking is in the ingredients themselves.

Fu 1039
Location: 1039 Yuyuan Road
Tel: 021-52371878
Opening hours: 11:00-24:00

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shanghai High hopes for China's tourist trade

Shanghai Fair Travel Tourist PictureEverybody knows it will be a big piece of cake. But nobody knows how truly huge it can be.That ref lects a true picture of the Chinese tourism market, in the eyes of many international tourism promoters attending the ongoing China International Travel Mart 2006 (CITM 2006), Asia's largest tourism fair, which opened yesterday in Shanghai.

More than 4,100 domestic and overseas tourism authorities, travel agencies, hoteliers, airlines and caterers set up shows at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre for the largest international tourism fair ever held in the city. CITM 2006 has attracted exhibitors from 91 countries and regions,a historical high based on an increase of 12 per cent from last year when the fair was held in Kunming of Yunnan Province,said organizers.

Pinning high hopes on the growing number of Chinese tourists and business people visiting overseas,international tourism promoters took up 45 per cent of the total exhibition area, an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year.

The delegations from the United States and Canada, each led by a senior trade and tourism official, are the fair's largest exhibitors.As a strong signal to support the American tourism industry and welcome more Chinese visitors, visiting US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez showed up at the American booths of the tourism fair yesterday.The United States expects to receive 300,000 Chinese visitors this year. It is estimated that this number will double by 2010, Gutierrez said.

China travel tourist and the United States have not granted approved destination status (ADS) to each other, which has prevented many Chinese from visiting the United States as individual travellers.Gutierrez said the two countries have started to negotiate on ADS issues,a process that he said would take three to five years.By March of this year, the Chinese Government had already approved 117 overseas countries for ADS.

Meanwhile, foreign visitor arrivals in China rose 10 per cent last year from the previous year to 120 million, exhibition organizers said yesterday.Foreig n c u r renc y revenue from international tourism reached US$29.3 billion, up 13.8 per cent from 2004.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Li Yundi released his new album

Li Yundi Picture New AlbumYoung Chinese classical piano sensation Li Yundi, the successor of romantic pianist masters,has released his new album,"Chopin, Liszt Piano Concerto No.1.The album includes Frederic Chopin's Piano Concerto No.1,Li's signature piece that helped him win the prestigious International Chopin Competition in 2000 at 18,becoming the youngest-ever winner.

In addition to Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, fans will also be able to enjoy Li's performance of Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1.Li will have a solo concert at the Century Theater in Beijing on Dec 3.He will also perform at more than 20 concerts in the US in February under the baton of master conductors Leonard Slatkin and Kurt Masur.What's more,he will perform works from the 20th century with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa.

Some foreigners say Chopin and Liszt are Chinese musicians' typical choices. Li refutes these claims, saying that as a perfectionist, he always chooses to perform his favorite pieces with passion. It takes time to get to know a composer, he said. One or two years is very common.Regarding the two piano concerto on the new album, Li had planned to record them a long time ago, but he never felt the time was right until he cooperated with Gustavo Dudamel,a conductor from Israel. Under him,Li Yundi gained confidence. He prefers to have a high starting point.

Born in 1982, Li is anxious to promote classical music to his peers. Li says he will have more contact with young people by keeping the originality of classical music to get them interested.Meanwhile, I am growing up too. I hope we can still grow together when we are 30, 40, 50 years old.Children are affected by what they have seen and heard,he muses.

Li Yundi Beijing piano recital
Date/Time: 7:30pm, December 3
Location: Century Theater, No.40 of Liang Ma Qiao Road, Chao Yang District
Ticket: RMB 100(out),180,280,380,580,680,980(VIP),1280(VIP)

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Yao Ming validates his all star accolades

Yao Ming Basketball NBA Star ChinaHOUSTON, United States (AFP) There are a lot of people who feel Yao Ming's all-star hopes hinge on an internet voting frenzy orchestrated by his loyal compatriots in China.But the 25-year-old Yao's recent performances have silenced his critics and validated his selection as the starting all-star centre ahead of Shaquille O'Neal.This is the best I have seen him play since he's been in the league,Yao's Houston Rockets teammate Jason Terry said.He is playing like a beast.

Yao, who was the top vote getter for last month's National Basketball Association All-Star Game in Houston, is considered one of the most dominant players in the game.And in five of his past six games, Yao has scored 30 or more points and averaged a superb 32.8 points and 11.2 rebounds.

The Rockets steam towards the playoffs without their other star Tracy McGrady, who could miss the remainder of the regular season because of a back injury.The Shanghai-born Yao is helping fill the void but he's going to need some help from his teammates.

While Yao Ming has shot 56 percent in the last three games his teammates have combined to shoot just 33 percent over the same period.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Giant pandas wrestling

Giant Pandas WrestlingTwo giant pandas scrum in Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre in the picture taken on August 19, 2006. Pandas are not always gentle and peaceable, they sometimes play rough-and-tumble games.

Elizabeth Irwin of Anderson, SC visited the Zoo on April 11, 2003, as the grand-prize winner of an online sweepstakes hosted by Fujifilm called Meet the Pandas.

Highlights of the tour included a behind-the-scenes visit to the observation area at the Fujifilm Giant Panda Conservation Habitat and a face-to-face meeting with Norman, a 600-pound California sea lion and a long-time favorite of Zoo-goers and 17 panda cubs all born in 2006 take a group picture at the China Wolong Giant Panda Research Center, Southwest China's Sichuan Provice November 7, 2006. Giant pandas in China had a baby boom in 2006 with 17 of 19 cubs survived.Panda cubs, all born in 2006,make a pubic appearance at the China Wolong Giant Panda Research center A three month old panda cub plays at the China Wolong giant Panda.

We started a new study, a nursing watch, last weekend. We will collect data two weekends per month to learn about Tai’s nursing frequency and duration. This watch, conducted by volunteers, will run continuously from 7 a.m. Friday morning through 7 p.m. Monday evening. This means more quality time for our nighttime web cam viewers! In January, we will look at his nursing frequency, as well as hormonal data, to determine the progress of his weaning. One specific hormone of interest is urinary cortisol. Increased corticoid levels are associated with the maintenance of lactation in mammals. We have documented this phenomenon for Olympic pandas, and Mei’s levels have doubled since Tai's birth. We have endless learning opportunities with Mei Xiang and Tai Shan. This information will also help us begin to plan for the 2007 breeding season.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

The Banquet (Ye Yan) - 2006 Movies

The Banquet Film PictureThe Banquet has been described as a loose adaptation of "Hamlet"it is a tale of fate and revenge set in 10th century China.A new Emperor has usurped the throne through murder. Zhang Ziyi plays the widowed Empress, who marries the new Emperor (Ge You) only to protect herself, but also secretly plots his death with the help of the Crown Prince (Daniel Wu) and the Chief Minister (Ma Jingwu). Yet the Prince and Minister each have their own plans for the throne, and, of course, so does the Emperor. All these intrigues are brought to a climax when the Emperor calls for a lavish banquet, where the murderous plans are set in motion. According to director Feng Xiaogang: "If Hamlet is about a prince who must make a choice involving life and death, then The Banquet is about how each character must face a choice of life or death All are motivated by desire, but as soon as they have begun their plans must grow more extreme, and they move step-by-step towards the abyss They do not intend evil, but turn to it out of self-preservation and ever-growing ambition.

Zhang Ziyi Empress Wan
Ge You Emperor Li
Daniel Wu Prince Wu Luan
Zhou Xun Qing Nu
Ma Jingwu the Grand Marshall
Huang Xiaomoing the Grand Marshall

Director Feng Xiaogang ("A World Without Thieves")
Music Tan Dun ("Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Hero")
Cinematographer Zhang Li ("A World Without Thieves")
Art Director Tim Yip ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon")
Screenwriters Chiu-Tai An-Ping , Sheng Heyu
Dance Choreographer Wang Yuanyuan ("Raise the Red Lantern")
Executive Producer Yuen Wo-Ping ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon")
Shooting Dates September 2005 through January 2006
Production Company Huayi Brothers & Taihe Film Investment Co. (HTF)Budget $20 million

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Double Ninth Festival of China

Double Ninth FestivalThe Double Ninth Festival, also named Chong Yang Festival, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, hence it gets name of Double Ninth Festival.

The festival is based on the theory of Yin and Yang, the two opposing principles in nature. Yin is feminine, negative principle, while Yang is masculine and positive. In ancient times people believed that all natural phenomena could be explained by this theory. Numbers were also related to this theory. Even numbers belonged to Yin and odd numbers to Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day when the two Yang numbers meet. So it is called Chong Yang. Chong means double in Chinese. Chong Yang has been an important festival since ancient times.

It is hard to say when these customs were created. But there are many stories which are closely related. As recorded in a historical book of the sixth century, in ancient times, there lived a man named Huan Jing. He was learning the magic arts from Fei Changfang, who had become an immortal after many years of practicing Taoism. One day, the two were climbing a mountain. Fei Changfang suddenly stopped and looked very upset. He told Huan Jing, On the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, disaster will come to your hometown. You must go home immediately. Remember to make a red bag for each one of your family members and put a spray of dogwood on every one. Then you must all tie your bags to your arms, leave home quickly and climb to the top of a mountain. Most importantly, you must all drink some chrysanthemum wine. Only by doing so can your family members avoid this disaster.

Since then, climbing a mountain, carrying a spray of dogwood and drinking chrysanthemum wine became the traditional activities of the Double Ninth Festival, to avoid evil spirits and misfortunes.

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