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Xi'an/China General News
The Voices of Time
That's the title of one of the texts in the extensive reading book I was issued last term. It was actually quite interesting to talk with my students in Xi'an about different cultural perceptions of time. The example given in the text described an important American agriculturalist who had an appointment with the minister for agriculture in 'an Asian country' (not specified).

After announcing his arrival to the secretary, the American waited for fourty-five minutes in the outer office, before leaving in an insulted huff. In 'western' culture, promptness is a virtue, and to keep a business associate or official visitor waiting is considered highly unprofessional. Yet in the 'asian' country apparently fourty-five minutes was only the start of the acceptable waiting time, and thus the American's actions appeared both incomprehensible and impolite.

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Chinese Sandwiches
Food is natural, but cookery is a human invention, a system imposed upon the raw ingredients of plant and animal that is ancient yet constantly evolving. Of course, one can just eat and enjoy, but there are so many interesting questions to ponder. For example, why does the chinese dish called "fish-scented meat strips" contain no fish? And what are the similarities and differences between chinese and western cuisine?

Being such a large country with so many different regional styles of cooking, I sometimes suspect that every cooking concept that appears elsewhere in the world, from basic methods (like deep-frying in batter) to the overall idea (like noodles in a spicy tomato-based sauce), must also appear somewhere in China. But often, although the composition is similar, the taste is quite different. The noodles I mentioned are a popular dish in Xinjiang province, but although the concept is similar to a simple Italian spaghetti pomodoro, the seasoning and method is different, and the result is a unique Xinjiang flavour.

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Cuando China no ayuda
Las espantosas imágenes de un doble atropello a Yueyue, una niña china de dos años en la provincia de Cantón, ante la pasiva mirada de una veintena de personas que pasaron a su lado sin hacer nada, han dado la vuelta al mundo, y algunos lectores me han pedido que comente algo sobre ellas aquí, aunque ya dijera alguna cosa ayer y hoy en el Grupo de Facebook.

Si alguno de vosotros no las ha visto, no sé si recomiendo hacerlo. No son imágenes muy sangrientas, al estar algo borrosas (fueron tomadas por cámaras de seguridad, que por cierto en Cantón son numerosísimas), pero pese a todo son horribles. Pero tan horribles como los dos atropellos (en realidad cuatro, ya que cada vehículo pisa a la niña primero con las ruedas de delante y luego con las de detrás) son la indiferencia y frialdad con que la gente pasa al lado de la niña sin socorrerla, algunos sin siquiera mirarla.

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This baijiu article grew out of an interest in one of the most popular spirits that I’d never heard of. I’m a bit of a spirit enthusiast and so on moving to China I was somewhat surprised to hear the statistics. This led to a bit more research and some tasting – initially against my nose’s better judgement, but eventually with a little more enthusiasm.

The need to write it down arose out of necessity for a tasting I was supposed to be giving at The Hide Bar in London recently, although I’ve been meaning to put virtual pen to virtual paper for over two years…So those statistics: According to a Bloomberg report quoted extensively by Diageo in their 2010 investor report (“Outlook of the Chinese Wine Spirits Super Premium Market; McKinsey & Co.”, baijiu’s global market share in 2009 accounted for 31% of spirits world-wide.

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Dangerous Breathing
We came across a shocking but very interesting document: It is a summary of a report released by Greenpeace China, that studies the health risks and economic loss linked to PM2.5 in four major Chinese cities (among them Xi'an), and assesses the potential public health and economic benefits given effective improvement of PM2.5 pollution control under different scenarios.

The report is called "Dangerous Breathing - PM2.5: Measuring the human health and economic impacts on China's largest cities" and it was published in December 2012. It is the first of its kind, based on currently available research findings and data in relation to PM2.5 in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Beijing, respectively elected as four major cities in Eastern, Southern, Western, and Northern China.

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