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China Hong Kong

The 36 stratagems

The 36 Stratagems is an ancient Chinese text. Like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, it is a guide on military tactics. The 36 Strategems teaches us that deception is how to win a war. Supposedly, anyone in China (or raised in a Chinese household) would know this. Chinese children learn the 36 Stratagems the […]

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China Chinese prisons Hong Kong

Knock Knock

Surveillance is an ancient Chinese art. To monitor the enemy, Sun Tzu (544-496 B.C.) advocated the use of spies: local, inward, converted, doomed and surviving. The emperor should deploy all five kinds in times of war and in peace. Last week, Hong Kong arrested 53 activists for allegedly subverting state power. The police needed no […]

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China Food Hong Kong Los Angeles Politics

Moon Cake

On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, Asia celebrates the Harvest Moon Festival. Lions dance in China, Taiwan and Singapore. Japanese and Korean children make paper lanterns while in Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the older generation gazes ardently at the full moon. In all these countries, in one form or another, people […]

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Censorship China Hong Kong

Payback Time

Hongkongers are in the news again. New security legislation, protests, and the inevitable arrests. Shock and dismay expressed around the world. Many claim that Beijing has violated the 1997 treaty pursuant to which the United Kingdom relinquished control over Hong Kong. But the writing has been on the wall for a while. The Chinese are […]

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China Hong Kong

The Black Hands

Hong Kong is entering its 9th consecutive week of protests against Carrie Lam. She is the Beijing figurehead appointed to govern Hong Kong. Her proposed extradition law sparked the protests. It would have allowed criminal suspects arrested on Hong Kong soil to be sent to China for prosecution. Hong Kongers believe — and rightly so […]

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China Hong Kong Politics Taiwan

The Devil’s Bargain

Deng Xiaoping was a little guy, 5 feet tall though one observer said that was surely an exaggeration. Purged twice in the course of his long political career, you could say Deng is a survivor. The first purge was in 1966, at the start of the Cultural Revolution, for being a capitalist roader. He spent […]

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California Chinese-American Hong Kong Los Angeles Politics

Model Minority

I have been a minority all my life. As the only girl in a neighborhood of boys, a downtrodden East Los Angeleno in a fancy-pants law school or a Chinese-American expat in the Netherlands. As minority experiences go, however, I can’t really complain. My kind doesn’t make trouble and so trouble rarely rains down on […]

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Chinese language Chinese-American Hong Kong Shanghai

Speaking in Dialects

Dad is from the north. He thinks southerners are slippery and clannish. Their talk is impossible to follow. He prefers his native Shanghai dialect with its soft lilting sounds. Mom is a southerner. Her mother tongue is Cantonese. To me, it’s a throat-clearing ribald dialect, somewhere between a curse and an off-color joke. I’m an […]

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Family ghosts Hong Kong Shanghai

Qipao

When I was writing The Dancing Girl and the Turtle, I thought I knew the difference between a qipao and a cheongsam. Both, to be sure, were dresses for women. But in my mind, the former was figure-hugging while the latter was loose. I wanted to use that distinction to show how my main character […]

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Hong Kong Shanghai Taiwan War

Fish

One of the best things about being in California is loading up on food. Chinese food, of course: dim sum and xiaolongbao, Chengdu hot pot and Peking duck. Plus plenty of home-cooked steamed fish. Then there’s the food for thought that comes with being at home with Mom and Dad. All these years, I’ve been […]