Love and the Law: A Propaganda Tale of Woe

Every generation a story emerges which perfectly encapsulates the mood of the times. Euripides perfectly summarised the Ancient Greek love of murdering all of your immediate family members in Medea. The Canterbury Tales provides a fascinating insight into medieval life. Capturing life in Regency Period Britain for the upper middle-classes was Jane Austen’s speciality. And, of course, Keeping Up With The Kardashians perfectly displays our modern degeneracy and descent into a society of soulless harridans with plastic injected into our grotesquely oversized buttocks.

Yet what magnum opus has China pumped out to capture a window on its society as it entered the new Millennium? Some might say Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui. To those people I spit in their faces and later throw their children down disused mine shafts. Nay, the greatest work of literature produced in China around the year 2000 was the epic The Contest of Love and the Law produced by the Beijing Police and stuck on billboards across the city. Thought lost to the world for the last 15 years, luckily a copy has finally re-emerged. Originally stolen by a drunk British student on his way home from The Den in 2002, this blog is proud to present a translated performance of…

The Contest of Love and the Law


Don’t Marry That Man From Jinan Who Didn’t Go To University


The Contest of Love and the Law.


This is how the masterpiece looks in its glorious entirety.


Edited by notable and acclaimed turn of the century police poet: Liu Renqing. We salute you.

Notice how Xiao Qing’s hand is just millimetres away from Cheng Ming’s cock. The dirty little minx deserves everything that is coming for her. Notice the rocking red turtle neck on Cheng Ming: years before Steve Jobs started wearing them.

In 1980, 18 year old Cheng Ming graduated from a certain Beijing upper secondary school. He didn’t get into university, but managed to find himself a girlfriend. Xiao Qing was a much-liked girl. As soon as Cheng Ming knew her, he became deeply attracted to her. He appeared to be a real manly man, occasionally acting as her guardian angel. He was considerate towards her and even spent money on anything for her. Xiao Qing was conquered by Cheng Ming’s love, so the couple started seeing one another.

You will know this is China in the winter as everybody is wearing their coats inside: just outside the picture you would have seen the window wide open in order to allow the minus twenty fresh winter air in. Readers of Party Members will be interested to note that the mother is drinking a refreshing glass of F-Max: the lightly sparkling fish-flavoured drink made from workers’ piss.
However, after meeting Cheng Ming, Xiao Qing’s parents really didn’t like him. Every time Cheng Ming would visit the house, the parents were indifferent to him. Cheng Ming would always buy them presents on his visits in order to impress his future father and mother in law. Yet no matter how hard Cheng Ming tried, Xiao Qing’s parents still wouldn’t agree for them to be together. Since Cheng Ming was kind to her, Xiao Qing decided not to let her parents’ disapproval stop her. They still remained a couple. After several years, Cheng Ming couldn’t leave Xiao Qing’s side.

In the world of “Love and the Law” everybody likes to wear plain unbranded coloured shirts. I’m sure there is some symbolism going on here: the strong woman wearing revolutionary red, the evil man wearing capitalist blue.
However, without the approval of her parents, Xiao Qing wasn’t prepared to marry Cheng Ming. Cheng Ming harboured a deep grudge towards Xiao Qing’s parents because of this. Following this understanding, the relationship between Xiao Qing and Cheng Ming entered into a crisis. Xiao Qing realised that Cheng Ming wasn’t the man she thought he was, and that they had very different personalities. They began to argue frequently over small things. After several arguments, Xiao Qing decided that things were too hard, and was increasingly disappointed in Cheng Ming. Thus she decided to break up with him.

If this was the present day they’d both be staring at their phones right now.
One day in 1985 Xiao Qing passed Cheng Ming a break-up letter, saying that her parents didn’t agree with them being together and that she must listen to her parents.

Cheng Ming was very angry and thought that Xiao Qing had led him on; concluding that this was all due to her parents’ meddling. At the same time, he also felt that he had spent a lot of money on Xiao Qing and her family. He thought: “Although you lot have not been benevolent, I have not been righteous! I want all my money back. I’m not losing both my girlfriend AND my money.”

Lovely thermos of HOT WATER behind the father there. Obviously a man who cares about his healthy. Little does he know that his hot water won’t protect him from Cheng Ming’s hammer of justice in the next panel.
On November 16th 1985, Cheng Ming brought a dagger and entered the house of Xiao Qing’s parents in Beijing’s Fengtai District. At the time her parents were not home, so Cheng Ming used a key he had previously copied to open the door and enter the house. Then Xiao Qing’s father returned home, and upon seeing Cheng Ming in the house asked him what he was doing. Cheng Ming said: “I have come to get my money back.” Xiao Qing’s father said: “We don’t owe you any money, get out.” Cheng Ming said: “I bought many things for Xiao Qing and you two. Now she won’t stay with me. I have come back to settle the score.” Xiao Qing’s father said: “You’re talking nonsense. Your relationship with Xiao Qing is your own doing, we don’t owe you anything.”

Cheng Ming finally takes his Thor cosplay too far.
The two of them argued back and forth. Cheng Ming thought back to all the attitude that Xiao Qing’s parents had given him in the past, all of their absolute opposition to him being with Xiao Qing, and he couldn’t help but to be full of hate towards Xiao Qing’s father. In his eyes, Xiao Qing was the enemy standing in his way of happiness, and he became filled with murderous rage. He turned around and pulled out a hammer that he kept on his person, and violently hit Xiao Qing’s father three times on the head. Xiao Qing’s father collapsed onto the floor. Fearing that he wasn’t dead, Cheng Ming pulled out a knife and slashed him several times across the neck, also stabbing him several times in the chest with his dagger, until Xiao Qing’s father was dead.

(Can I just say how completely implausible it is that Cheng Ming would have not one, but THREE murder weapons about his person. A glass of cold water would probably have been sufficient.)

As a foreigner who first visited China in the 1990s, I can attest that the bed covers are an authentic depiction of pre-2000 bed covers. I also had blood on my bedroom floor too.
Cheng Ming dragged the body into the bedroom and placed it next to the bed, then covered the body with a blanket. After killing Xiao Qing’s father, Cheng Ming still felt it wasn’t enough. So he hid in Xiao Qing’s house waiting for her mother to return. After some time, Xiao Qing’s mother came home. Before she could even speak, Cheng Ming leapt over and viciously stabbed her in the chest and neck with his dagger. Xiao Qing’s mother fell into a pool of blood. Cheng Ming dragged Xiao Qing’s mother’s body into the bedroom, covered it with a towel, then sat in the outer room waiting for Xiao Qing to come home.

For a woman who has just seen her parents stabbed to death and has a bloody knife being pointed towards her face, Xiao Qing looks remarkably nonplussed. Her face is only emitting the type of mild disgust shown upon, say, finding that the person before you in the toilet didn’t flush.
That evening after six o’clock, Xiao Qing finished work and came home. When she opened the door she saw Cheng Ming approaching her from the north room with a dagger in his hand – she couldn’t help but be shocked. Cheng Ming said to her: “Don’t move, come with me into the room.” Xiao Qing was terrified as she followed him in. After entering the room she said: “What the hell has happened here?” Cheng Ming said to her angrily: “I will tell you straight, I have killed your parents. Listen to me, I cannot let you go.”

It must be difficult for Xiao Qing and the police to continue their conversation with the police vans outside still continuing to keep their sirens and lights on. Still, it is probably quieter than living next door to a Chinese apartment that is being redecorated, so perhaps they are used to it. Also, where in the Beijing-Jinan vicinity is there a nice uncluttered police station that has a wide boulevard outside it with room to park two large police vehicles? So many questions…
To stop Xiao Qing from running away, Cheng Ming used a rope to tie one of her hands to the bed. He tied the other hand to himself. The next afternoon Cheng Ming decided that he could stay in the house no longer, and told Xiao Qing that she was to go with him back to his hometown. Xiao Qing was afraid that he would kill her, so she could only say yes. After arriving at Beijing train station, Cheng Ming bought two train tickets to Jinan. After boarding the train, Cheng Ming felt that Xiao Qing couldn’t possibly run away, so he leant over the table and went to sleep. As soon as the train arrived at a station, Xiao Qing seized her chance and ran off the train and straight to a police station to make a report.

“YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE LONG ARM OF THE GIANT SQUARE-JAWED CHINESE POLICE AND THEIR HANDCUFFS OF JUSTICE! NOBODY CAN!” Cheng Ming also looks like he is sporting a massive erection in this panel. Well done, lad.
After waking up, Cheng Ming realised that Xiao Qing had run away. He knew she would go report to the police. Therefore he decided to change trains and fled to Longhua town in the Jing County of Hebei Province. Changing his name to Cheng Chen he hid for awhile. At the beginning, Cheng Ming was nervous all day and night. He realised that he had committed a fatal crime, if he was caught there was no doubt that he’d be executed. Hence he started to have nightmares every day. In his dreams the police would suddenly appear in front of him before locking him in handcuffs and dragging him off to a police car. Occasionally when walking down the street, if he spotted a uniformed police officer, even if it was just a security guard, he would think that they had come to arrest him.

Women hold up half the sky. Boxes too in this story.
In his extreme fear, the days slowly passed. Cheng Ming realised that nobody knew he was a murderer on the run – the police hadn’t taken any action against him. Hence he gradually recovered his courage. No longer did he spend the whole day hiding in a small rented room; he began to go out everywhere. Not long after he found himself a job and built up the appearance of being a very honest person. In his job he was more hard-working than others. Whenever his neighbours needed help he would always gladly assist. Normally he was a quiet person, somebody who didn’t want to cause any trouble. Everybody considered him to be a practical, capable and honest person: somebody who could be a friend and help out in time of need.

“I love you darling, which is why I have brought you to the muddy banks of this traffic overpass. The diesel fumes are beautiful, but not as beautiful as you.”
Before he knew it, several years passed by, and Cheng Ming had settled down in Jing County. In his heart he thought: “Several years have gone by, the police have probably forgotten about me. I hope that Heaven can protect me and let me continue my life this way.” Now that his work and life were in place, the almost 30 year old Cheng Ming decided to seek out marriage. Before long a woman called Feng Jie was introduced to him. As soon as they met they had a good impression of one another. Feng Jie really liked his Beijing accent and thought he was cultured, polite, honest and capable. Cheng Ming also wasn’t too picky about Feng Jie, as long as a woman liked him and was willing to spend her life with him he thought it was enough. Cheng Ming kept his past a secret and after one year they were married.

(There seems to be some inconsistency here in Cheng Ming’s back story. Here it says he has a Beijing accent, but earlier it says his hometown is Jinan. Also, why did he choose Hebei as his place to hide out? Come on Beijing Police, get your facts straight!)

If that is a speaker system next to the stereo in the top right corner then – despite his many crimes – Cheng Ming was the most badass muthafucka in 1990s Beijing… even when wearing a v-neck sweater.
After getting married, Cheng Ming was thoughtful towards Feng Jie in all ways, and after the birth of their son, he was a shining beacon to Feng Jie and his son and carried out the role of a good husband and father well. In order to give his wife and son a better life he thought of many ways to earn some extra money. Afterwards, they purchased a house in his work unit and also a tractor. The money in their pocket was growing bigger all the time. They bought several appliances for the house. Feng Jie also started to spend lots of money and would often buy fashionable clothes; because of this their neighbours started to envy them.

The artist just gave up on the policewoman’s face, didn’t he?
Cheng Ming was secretly proud of the fact that he had evaded the law and was living a happy life, however in 1999 the whole country carried out the task of looking for him. One day in September the Fengtai District police received news from the Jing County police that the missing murderer Cheng Ming had appeared in Jing County. On hearing this the officers quickly arrived in Jing County and prepared to catch Cheng Ming. However, it was as if the crafty Cheng Ming had smelled them coming, and he had already hidden elsewhere. The officers found nothing at Cheng Ming’s house. When they asked Feng Jie she said she wasn’t clear where her husband was, and the officers could only leave empty-handed.

“Darling, do you ever feel that we could be fictional cartoon characters in a government propaganda campaign? I don’t know any other 1990s working class families in Beijing with their own corner office, especially families led by men from Jinan who didn’t go to university. Something just doesn’t feel right. I’m scared.”
After hiding out, Cheng Ming realised that there were no further movements so decided to return home. Feng Jie asked him: “Why do the police want you? What have you done wrong?” Cheng Ming replied with an understatement: “I had a fight with somebody and beat them into a vegetable state.” Feng Jie said: “Is it really because of this? Are you lying to me?” Cheng Ming said: “How could I lie to you?” However, don’t tell anybody else about this. If I’m really arrested, what would happen to you and our son? What would happen to our family? I can’t bear to be without you and our son. Right now only you can help me. As long as you don’t tell the police they won’t be able to find me.”

In this panel, Cheng Ming decides to flee to Puyang in Henan Province rather than go to jail. Personally, I would have chosen jail.
When she heard that her husband had really committed a crime, Feng Jie felt extremely nervous. She considered urging her husband to surrender himself so that he would receive a lenient punishment. However, after thinking it over, she felt her husband was speaking the truth. He was the foundation of this family, the whole family depended on him. If he was really arrested, what would happen to her and her son? Furthermore, if other people knew her husband was a criminal, where would she be able to show her face? When she thought of that she decided to keep her silence and not go to the police. Although Feng Jie had said she wouldn’t go to the police, Cheng Ming thought that there were too many eyes nearby watching him, so he decided to go and hide out temporarily in the city of Puyang in Henan Province.

I’m not sure that adding the lipstick to the blue-tinged background really helps. Feng Jie looks like a necrophiliac’s dream come true. Either that or this is a David Lynch movie.
In Puyang, Cheng Ming pondered that he could no longer stay in Jing County. Since the police had already been to his house to look for him, there were definitely people who knew he was a criminal on the run. If he appeared at home again, he couldn’t be certain that nobody would report him. After much consideration, he decided to let Feng Jie sell of all the household items and come with him to Puyang. He gave Feng Jie a phone call: “I am now in Henan. Sell the house and the tractor and bring yourself and our son to Henan.” Feng Jie asked: “It sounds like you’ve committed a serious crime. Why won’t you dare to come home?” Cheng Ming said: “Look how we’ve bought a house and a vehicle, other people misbelieve that we have a lot of money. Some people can get very jealous and you can’t be sure they won’t try to blackmail us. It’s better that we change location and save ourselves the trouble.”

The women in Cheng Ming’s life only appear to own red or yellow clothes. Xiao Qing did have a green jacket in panel 2, but that was only in exchange for the green hat she gave Cheng Ming after 5 years of illicit pre-marital sex.
Feng Jie asked: “Is it really because of this?” Seeing that Feng Jie didn’t quite believe him, Cheng Ming simply and openly said to her: “I have committed a serious crime, but I have already reformed into a better person. I really can’t bear to lose you and our son, I don’t won’t you both to become a widow and orphan. I love you too much. In this world I only have one person close to me. Only you can help me. We are husband and wife, bring our son and come to Henan.” Cheng Ming’s words moved Feng Jie so she agreed to Cheng Ming’s request. She quickly sold the house for 35,000 yuan and also sold the tractor plus all the other household belongings that were worth money. Then she brought their son and went to Puyang together to be reunited with Cheng Ming.

I have NEVER seen this many police in Beijing take a matter so seriously unless it was a drunk foreigner giving out free cigarettes on Sanlitun.
After Cheng Ming’s family disappeared from Jing County, the police did not rest in tracking him down. After much investigation, they finally found out Cheng Ming’s new address. On the night of April 24th 2001, the police in Henan’s Puyang City arrested Cheng Ming and Feng Jie and returned them to Beijing. On August 30th 2001 the No.2 Beijing People’s Procuratorate charged Cheng Ming with the crime of murder and Feng Jie with the crime of harbouring him, and sent them to the No. 2 Beijing People’s Middle Court for trial. The Court thought that Cheng Ming had disregarded the state law, and had carried out cruel means to deliberately take the lives of others resulting in two people dead. This behaviour already amounted to the charge of murder, but his criminal nature was especially evil, deceitful, and ended in serious results. He represented a serious danger to society and should be punished in full accordance of the law.

Cheng Ming and Feng Jie were sentenced to be handcuffed to dummies of police officers in a Beijing Police Waxworks Museum for eternity. Let that be a lesson to all.
Feng Jie knew clearly that Cheng Ming had committed a crime. When the police sought to arrest him, she aided Cheng Ming in evading the sanctions of the law. These actions were enough to amount to the crime of harbouring and should be punished in full accordance of the law. On 17th September 2001 the No. 2 Beijing People’s Middle Court sentenced Cheng Ming to death according to the law and to be deprived of all of his political rights to the end of his life. Feng Jie was sentenced to two years detention, with a suspension of two years. The master criminal Cheng Ming finally received the full punishment of the law a whole 15 years after his crime. As for Feng Jie who should have had enough of an average citizen’s consciousness of the law to report Cheng Ming to the police, her regard for the law was weak so she helped her husband to escape. Thus she also received due punishment. This should give cause for everybody to consider: between love and the law, which one should you choose?

“Today’s episode of government propaganda has been brought to you by the letters B, J and the number 8.”
The Law of the People’s Republic of China.

Section 232: The crime of murder is punishable by death, life imprisonment or a minimum of ten years imprisonment. If the motives are lighter, it carries a sentence of between 3 to 10 years imprisonment.

Section 310: The crime of knowingly harbouring a criminal from justice, either financially or through other means, carries a sentence of 3 years or less imprisonment. If the crime is more serious, it can receive a sentence of 3 to 10 years imprisonment. For repeat offences, cases will be considered individually.





If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The People’s Liberation Army Pictorial Paper

Recently I was searching through my old drawers in the hope of finding a piece of retro-treasure that I could sell to fund this month’s booze requirements. Perhaps a Millennium Falcon or even a homemade Tracy Island play set. Alas, no. However, I did stumble upon some of my old Chinese propaganda collection.

Back in the day I used to collect quite a large amount of Cultural Revolution bric-a-brac. Today, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you some selected passages from the May 1976 edition of the People’s Liberation Army Pictorial Paper – just four short months before the Great Helmsman was due to pop his clogs and enter the big Communist Party in the sky.


A solid choice for the front page of the PLA Pictorial. The classic Chairman Mao in full colour waving at the masses. I don’t think there was ever an edition of the PLA Pictorial that didn’t have Mao as the front page celebrity – a bit like how Philip Schofield is ALWAYS on British TV no matter what you are watching.

The main story of the month was the monuments meeting between Chairman Mao meeting some representatives from the Laotian Communist Party. Remember, this was just four months before Mao shuffled off this mortal coil and he is looking decidedly decrepit in this photo. Lie him down, stick him in a glass coffin, and he doesn’t look much different now.

Inside front cover: lovely red-tinged (literally AND politically) poster wishing victory to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Only the front and back pages, plus a central section, are in colour. The rest of the magazine sees a huge decrease in quality and even the paper is a little rougher. The same can’t be said for the content though! Here we have a fascinating pictorial on how the Party’s decisions are benefiting the masses all over China and being welcomed by everybody. Surely true Communism was only mere months from being achieved if it hadn’t been for that meddling Deng Xiaoping and his dastardly reforms.

Images from Xi’an, Lanzhou, Kunming and Guiyang in uniform dull black and white. The signs all basically say the same thing: uphold the Central Party’s wise two resolutions. What those two resolutions are I have no idea. Interestingly, the lower sign in the bottom left picture (Kunming) exhorts people not to follow the incorrect capitalist path of reformer Deng Xiaoping. Note how the two characters for Xiaoping have been deliberately slanted to an angle.

The glossy centrefold section. No nudes or Playboy bunnies here though, just morally upright images of everyday life in the worker’s paradise.

This is a performance in Guizhou of the revolutionary opera Sha Jia Bin which you can watch here if you are interested. It’s basically just about fighting the Japanese.

See how the women of China were set free from their chains and given the liberty to spend their lives working in factories. Women hold up half the sky! This liberated young lady is inspecting a high-pressure insect killing light.

Look at these wonderful products. It’s astonishing how the West didn’t just collapse overnight in the face of this astonishing industry. Above picture is a tractor, below are some generators.

This is how the full page looks. The bottom right picture shows the peasants warmly welcoming their new agricultural equipment.

I love this photo. It’s amazing how people’s faces actually looked different back then, as if they were infused with the holy revolutionary spirit itself. This is a branch of the Wuhan Party Support Team who have “organised some revolutionary cultural activities for the cause of class struggle”. These activities mainly consist of singing in large groups and writing slogans on walls. Not my words, the words of the People’s Liberation Army Pictorial Paper.

The Secretary and Deputy Secretary of a factory. The headline says that previously they had “never touched the oily parts of a machine, but now have become technical masters!”

The rest of the magazine is more or less the same: photos of people holding up banners, photos of machinery and photos of Mao. The editorial team certainly didn’t have to worry about clicks so you won’t see eye-grabbing headlines like “This one weird trick to denounce your neighbours!” or “Capitalists hate him! Find out how Wang Yang increased his class solidarity overnight!”

While looking through these magazines, I also found some of my large collection of Cultural Revolution era pin badges that I have amassed.


The last one is my personal favourite. It shows an Asian, European and African hand rising up in solidarity to hold aloft a portrait of Chairman Mao. How quaint.

The badges above are fairly generic pin badges that people would wear on their lapels. Below are some special collector’s sets that were never meant to be worn but were meant to be showcased in one’s home and treasured as great revolutionary tat.


Inside are badges of “New China’s Ten Greatest Marshals” and “New China’s Ten Greatest Generals”.


The Marshals.


The Generals.


Close up of the Marshals. Here you can see (from top to bottom) Zhu De, Peng Dehuai and Lin Biao. The write-up for Lin Biao denounces him as a counter-revolutionary and mentions his death in a plane crash over Mongolia.


Not as rare or as exciting as the Marshals and Generals badges, here are some generic Mao badges that anybody can buy in Tiananmen Square or in Mao’s hometown. The slogan on the left refers to Mao as “The Red Sun in the Hearts of the People.”


Quite who would wear all of these badges in this day and age is beyond me, though I would dearly love to see somebody rocking all twenty badges of China’s greatest Marshals and Generals. Maybe somebody can open up a restaurant that is a cross between TGI Fridays and a 1960’s commune kitchen so that the staff can strut their flair.



If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

China Crayon Colours

Well, well, well… look what I found.

It’s the famous China Crayon Colours from our old Sinocidal blog!

Fairly self-explanatory and mostly still relevant. The only ones that haven’t aged well (don’t worry Zhang Ziyi, I’m not looking at you – in fact, nobody is since 2010) are the ones relating to now dead blogs.  The green was a reference to John Pasden’s background colour on Sinosplice that appears to still have a few breaths of life in it and is now mercifully free of the counter in the top-right corner that informed the world how long John had been in China. Chinabounder was the erudite sex blogger who was big news back in 2007 but has since disappeared like an out-of-favour former ally of Mao Zedong. Peking Duck still survives online but now posts so rarely that he’s more of a Mauritian Dodo than the eponymous tasty Beijing bird.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The Genius That Was

Officer Balloon

It’s sad when great pieces of art don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Nope, I’m not talking about sales figures for Party Members, but in fact one of the funniest, wittiest and most original China satire sites of all time.

And you’ve probably never heard of it.

I know very little about the people behind Gou-Rou. The main writer was a “Tom” who used to comment frequently on the dead and sadly missed TalkTalkChina. Little is known about the mysterious Tom other than the fact he was based in Hong Kong. Many is the time I have pondered whether some famous China journalist like Tom Philips of the Morning Star Grauniad or Tom Hancock of the Soros-owned Zionist Conspiracy Mouthpiece Financial Times could in fact be the mysterious Tom, but neither seem to possess the necessary devilish wit and biting sarcasm,

Gou-Rou was a website that existed during the Golden Age of China Blogs – before the internet destroyed everybody’s attention span and nobody could concentrate on anything more complex than a Spongebob Squarepants meme. Obviously heavily influenced by British comedy legends Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris – with a ton of shout-outs to their masterpieces TV Go Home, Nathan Barley and Brass Eye – Gou-Rou had the type of dry and acerbic humour that can only be seen today in the occasional China Daily Show post (also well worth checking out).

Like Brass Eye and TV Go Home, Gou-Rou was a fake news website that also contained satirical spoofs of Chinese TV shows and pastiches of awful CCP propaganda and even more awful expat-magazine listings. Sadly, once the unspoofable Goebbels Times came along there was no need for Gou-Rou anymore, but the site remains online in a “that which is dead can never truly die” state like some nightmarish Lovecraftian god. I highly recommend checking out the still-alive Gou-Rou archives for the gems contained within before Mark Zuckerberg becomes the 46th President of the United States and the entire internet is replaced by a looped image of Mark’s head spinning around 360 degrees surrounded by the word “OBEY.”

Hypno Zuck

Here are a few of the choicest slices of Gou-Rou to whet your appetite…

CCTV Shows during the 2008 Olympics

Hello, readers. Here in China, there’s an awful lot of Olympic-themed TV on now and probably for the next few years. In this, our Olympic special TV rundown, we give you a taster of some of the highlights of what’s on during the Games themselves!

Olympic Breakfast with Wang and Zhou
Each morning during the Olympics, Consterna Wang and Gilette Zhou bring you a light hearted (and at times hilarious) look at the Olympics and the previous days events. Video montages of foreign athletes making mistakes will provide humourous asides from the main content – interviewing Chinese medal winners + members of the public inside a gigantic swing shaped like the Olympic Rings. (BTV6, 4:30am – 6:00am every morning)

Bending Balloons
Just because children might not be naturally excited by the Olympics doesn’t mean they can’t also be manipulated into thinking about it all the time! Starting in July, “Uncle” Feng will demonstrate how to make olympic shapes out of balloons to an in-studio audience of 3-6 year olds. Highlights will include “Uncle” Feng’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, “Uncle” Feng’s Inflatable Javelin, and in the final week, a step by step guide to building a life-size working replica of Liu Xiang, no longer the World Record Holder for the Men’s 110m Hurdles. (3pm – 3:30pm CCTV Kids. Also Available on CCTV 9 – with voice dubbing provided by 2004 US presidential hopeful John Kerry as “Uncle Feng”)

Isn’t Beijing Great?
Foreigners attending the Olympics will be interviewed to ascertain their positive impressions of Beijing. In Episode 1, a group of Dutch visitors explain how the “Great Wall is really long, the Forbidden City is amazing, and the Chinese people are so friendly and welcoming and rich”. Several visitors will be filmed as they apply for Chinese citizenship. (CCTV1 – Midday till late.)

Welcome to Chinafood
Introductory show, aimed at the tens of foreigners permitted into China for the Games, highlighting the wide variety of traditional Chinese food. Each episode goes to a new region of China, where three dishes are prepared, one consisting of stewing some meat and then chopping it up, the other two of chopping up all the ingredients into small pieces and then frying them.(CCTV-9, 2.30, 5.20, 11.12 pm daily)

Zhongguo Aoyun Lishi
History series drawing tenuous links between famous Olympic success stories and China. Episode 1: Chionis of Sparta and Leonidas of Rhodes were two of the most famous runners in the ancient Olympics. Two Harbin Technical College students, who have chosen Chionis and Leonidas as their English names, are interviewed about how excited they are for the 2008 Beijing games.(HLJTV, 7.20-7.53 pm every Wednesday)

Caring Han Athletes
Heartwarming programme showing that members of China’s all-conquering, non-drug-taking Olympic team have not forgotten their roots. Each week, we follow a different athlete as they visit hospitals, schools and local government buildings in bottom-rung single-industry cities around China to hand out trinkets to children and old ladies, accompanied by a relaxing piano moods soundtrack. Episodes end with most presentable children available waving Olympic and Chinese flags and shouting “中国加油!” while performing the state-mandated arm movements.(HBTV-2, 5.35 – 6.45 pm Mondays)

Officer Balloon
Enthusiastic police officer Xie Fei attaches helium balloons to his body and becomes Beijing’s leading expert in high-rise crime and prevailing wind directions. When it Rains, It Pours! – special Olympic themed six-parter. Floating gently in a south-westerly direction over Xizhimen bus terminus on the lookout for dissidents pretending to be beggars in order to discredit China’s economic miracle, Officer Balloon stumbles upon a needlessly complex plot to undermine the Olympics. However, before he can report back to his superiors he is caught in a sudden downpour caused by government weather management techniques and gradually forced to land — will he be mangled by the terrorist types? And how is former Tottenham and Olympique Marseille winger Chris Waddle connected to the whole thing?(BTV-2, 7.15-7.43pm Fridays)

How to market Chinese books in the UK

From China to Britain, a Book Odyssey

by Freddie Toastfork

With the unveiling of the five hideous mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there has never been a better time to raise the profile of Chinese literature in Britain, particularly for a number of companies specialising in publishing translated Chinese literature in Britain. So that’s why I’m here, to provide my integrated consultancy services and encourage those companies to get their books into the shops and flying off the shelves, as part of the British Council’s current Do China Favours With No Apparent Reciprocity campaign.

At this point you may be thinking. “How do you know what works in the book-selling world? I’ve never heard of you. Who are you?” Of course you’ve never heard of me. I was always in the background, working from the shadows. Pulling strings, toggling switches, slowly rotating dials until they produced an audible electric hum. But the fact is, I’m the expert on book marketing. I practically invented the modern concept of selling novels. If it hadn’t been for me, nobody would have even heard of books, let alone read them.

I came up with all the classic methods to induce book purchasing and the catching of eye to cover. Hideous shiny embossed lettering on the cover? I came up with that. Making the author’s name bigger than the title? That was me. ‘Recommended’ novels stacked in a less formal manner on tables in the middle of the shop to create a friendly, market stall ambience? Me again. Cluttered quotes from critics on the dust jacket? Actually, that was J.G. Ballard’s idea, but I came up with putting quotes and award names on giant round stickers that obscure most of the cover.

Now, the main problem is that while the money-burdened public like serious world literature, that doesn’t mean they’re going to read it. We don’t care if they read it either, as long as they buy it. So, my advice to anyone wanting to sell classics of Chinese literature is this: lie.

Specifically, the blurbs on the back covers should be punchy paragraphs of mendacity. The public want to be really grabbed by the blurb – they don’t want to hear from some crusty academic saying how great the new translation is.

Let’s try some examples.

The Family by Ba Jin
In rural China, respect is everything. In his latest hard-hitting thriller, ex-cop author Ba Jin takes on a brutal journey into the heart of organised crime. Xiao Dong is a young man about to “make his bones” for his crime family, but can he go through with it? His target is a wealthy businessman who will not kowtow to the Family – and the father of Pingping, the girl he loves. “Gripping, taut, a bloodied tour de force,” said the London Review of Books.

Camel Xiangzi by Lao She
Xiangzi is special – there aren’t many camels that live in their own apartment in Hong Kong, and even fewer that can talk! But Xiangzi feels lonely and alienated in the big city, so when a local zither enthusiast offers him a place playing the trombone in a modal jazz ensemble, he jumps at the chance. An international hit with young adults and literate camels alike, Camel Xiangzi is a heartwarming story of life on tour, the struggle for success and staying true to yourself.

Rainbow by Mao Dun
Mao Dun is sometimes hailed as ‘China’s answer to Nick Hornby’. In Rainbow, we can see why. The story follows teenager Nick as he grapples with the troubles of life, love and rock’n’roll in late 70s Iowa. Nick’s family is troubled, his school grades are low, but one passion holds his life together – the newly formed rock group of ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Rainbow. When Nick gets the chance to tag along on Rainbow’s US tour, it seems as though all of his prayers have been answered, and he even falls for the girl of his dreams. But traces of the past, and a bizarre conspiracy surrounding the band’s vocalist, Ronnie James Dio, may yet come to haunt him…

Beijingese-Actual Meaning Phrasebook

Beijingese-Actual Meaning phrasebook

by Rudolph Bracket

What Chinese people say, and what they really mean, presented in pinyin for the ease of our Chinese-deficient readers.

In the shops

Wo bu hui pian ni xiansheng – Wo xiang pian ni xiansheng

Ni hao pengyou! – Ni hao, you qian de ren

Ni hui putonghua ma? – Ni de yisi wo wanquan mingbai, danshi wo bu zhidao zenme huida ni de wenti.

In the Taxi

Women zou er huan ba, bijiao kuai! – Zou er huan wo hui zheng duo yi xie qian!

Ni shi nali lai de ren? – Wo hen congming, zhidao ni bu shi Beijing ren

Oh!! X – Hao! (X=the country you say) – Oh X mei you zhongguo hao!


Ni hao – Ni bu hao

Ni chi fan le ma? – Ni juede wo chuan zhei jian yifu wo pigu zenmeyang?

The Market

Waiguo pengyou – Waiguo ren.

Hello Hello! – Wo xiang he ni de xue!

Look look! – Ni kan zheibian, wo hui sha ni!

Heckling the Communist Party: A How-To Guide

So you’ve decided to heckle a plenum, committee or other meeting of the Chinese Communist Party. Good for you. As a veteran of this pursuit (I once heckled the late, geat Deng Xiaoping, though it was admittedly sort of an accident), I felt qualified and obligated to provide people with the following tips, which will begin…. now.

1) Choose your moment

Don’t be a jerk. This may seem like odd advice considering I’m advising you on how to interrupt a meeting with uncalled-for derogatory remarks, but bear with me. You’re trying to liven up this meeting with witticisms and insults, so make sure it’s actually necessary. If the speaker is witty, erudite and fascinating to listen to, don’t bother – you will only ruin the meeting for everyone. Now, I know people say that Chinese Communist speeches that are actually interesting are as rare as hen’s teeth, but with the increased industrial pollutants in the Yangtse and Yellow Rivers, hens with teeth are more and more common in China these days. So you never know.

2) Politics

The CCP isn’t a monolith, much as it would like to be. It’s also not a monograph – that would be a detailed treatise on a particular, usually quite narrow, subject.

So the CCP does have different factions and its politics does change – you can use this! Read up on how the speaker has conducted himself in the past. Or use Maoism as a weapon – although the Leftist faction is regaining influence in Chinese politics, it’s still uncomfortable for many to be seen as too close to Mao-era politics. Try comparing the speaker’s assertions to something from the Yan’an era. That should get ’em riled up.

3) Keep it simple

When you’re heckling, you’re on a limited timescale. Very limited. You’ve got to yell out your piece, get the punchline in and then BAM, out of there. You don’t have time to ramble about the massive number of problems caused by and facing, say, the Three Gorges Dam. Just point out it was a decades-long demonstration of how not to do civil engineering projects and be done with it.

Another facet of “keep it simple”, is don’t be afraid to go back to basics. Yeah, it’s great if you can come out with some epigrammatic number that cuts to the heart of the current debate, belittles the speaker and references a classic Rolling Stones track at the same time, but don’t belabour it. Sometimes it’s enough just to shout “why don’t you give a speech standing up, shortarse?”

4) Do your research

I can’t stress this enough, people. And I’m not even talking about studying CCP agricultural policy in depth or any of that kind of thing, I’m just saying get your facts straight. If all the speaker has to do to respond to your heckle is say “I think you’ll find it was not Jiang Zemin who coined the phrase ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, actually”, you’re history. I’ve seen too many good but overconfident hecklers come a cropper on this one.

Well, that’s it for now. Enjoy yourselves, take care out there and remember – always heckle the Chinese Communist Party responsibly, even if at times it seems trivially easy. Peace out.

Jobs Available

Native Teachers Wanted
A world famous state primary school in near south 5th ring road, seeks two motivated, fun, presentable Native speakers to teach starting from September 1st. Hours will be Mon-Saturday, 10am-8:45pm including free dinner. Salary 4000Rmb / month.

Sales Manager Position available
A joint-venture company is seeking a sales manager for its Beijing Office. You will be well-educated, white, with excellent Chinese and English. Available to live in Beijing for two years.
Desirable traits: At least 14years managing Multi-national Company preferred. + at least 2 years extensive experience in the copper plated gas-pipe seal industry preferred. Age over 35 years Able to invest in company also a benefit.
Salary range : 8000 – 9000Rmb / month depending on previous experience.

English Teachers Urgently Needed
Come live in Beautiful China!!! We have vacancies for the English teacher must urgently need to filled. Salary 5000rmb / month, positions available:
Jilin, Zhengzhou, Chengde, Dalian, Wuhan, Chengdu, Hefei, Taiyuan.

I am lovely tall Chinese lady. I offer full massage for you 24 hour discreet location. 300rmb / hour. Send me mail yes to

Foreigners Required
We urgently need foreigners for Modelling and Acting. Please send photo and resume to .

Assistant required
World famous exports company requires Assistant for the china manager. Necessary requirements: Female, 20-24, pretty, shapely, able to work late, desirable features, 160-180 cm
Secondary requirements: English speaker, able to use computer / office / word, honest, reliable, hard-worker, relevant experience, education.

Engineer Wanted
Engineer with experience on the Trio-tech production line software system control apparatus (Gamma version upgrade) required for manufacturing firm in Guangdong. Pay negotiable. ( Position to be filled urgently – The manual is in English and we don’t know how to turn it off)

Native American Teachers Wanted
No Cherokee.

If this kind of stuff doesn’t have you snorting milk out of your nostrils or calling up your doctor to report a serious case of split sides then I don’t know what will. Go check out Gou-Rou and laugh: laugh like a drug-addled hyena being forced to watch looped re-runs of Police Academy 4. DO IT.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Shanghai Talk selects its Top 3 China Books for 2016…

Tom Carter showing off his photography skills again…

I’m pretty cynical when it comes to the boldness of China’s expat magazines, so I almost fell off my chair when I saw that Party Members was featured in Shanghai Talk Magazine’s Top Three China Books for 2016.

I have now pulled myself up off the floor and sat back down again.

Wonderful to be sharing the honour with two other books that I have mentioned and rate highly: Isham Cook’s At The Teahouse Cafe and JFK Miller’s Trickle-Down Censorship (both reviewed here previously). They both make fantastic Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa gifts (choose as appropriate) for loved ones in the CCP.

You can see an image of the magazine reviews here on imgur, though you’ll have to grab a copy of Shanghai Talk’s December issue in order to hold the review in your own blessed hands. It’s available from all good Element Fresh outlets and coffee shops across the city. It also may appear on their website in the future. The reviews are written by none other than Tom Carter – editor of the acclaimed Unsavoury Elements (a book I was nearly included in but I threw a hissy fit at the time and watched all the Rocky films back-to-back instead).

Personally, it is refreshing to see one of China’s expat magazines has the boldness to not only feature books that are less than positive about certain aspects of China, but also has the foresight to highlight innovative works from small independent publishers that are otherwise ignored by most media outlets. I have no idea how Shanghai Talk got it past the censors, but I take my hat off to them for doing so. Except I don’t wear a hat. I lost it when I fell off my chair. I’ll raise a glass then.

The Nanfang also ran a review of Party Members recently, though I am sad to say that the announcement was a bittersweet one. At the same time The Nanfang announced that they were closing after seven years of being in the business. I always had a soft spot for The Nanfang – especially when compared to the abysmal Shanghaiist – and I’ll miss its news, views and reviews (good name for a magazine).


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

The Horror of China Expat Magazine Listings

The epitome of China expat articles: an article on fucking dumplings

Big news this week in the China expat-sphere was that the venerable City Weekend magazine had closed its doors. Well, the announcement technically says that the owners are with great optimism having discussions about a vague future online business, but anybody who has been around knows that this is mere media code for “The journalists have already re-applied to the Beijing Happy Giraffe No. 17 Kindergarten”.

In the pre-web 2.0 world, or whatever the fuck it’s called these days, the expat rags used to have listings of various pretentious and/or wanky events around town. Some of these could be quite funny – especially the personals section that regularly featured Sunnygirl87 – a traditional girl – looking for a man with a thirteen inch cock and a minimum monthly salary of 40,000 RMB a month to be her “language exchange partner”. Or some such variance.

Some of these listings will be pretty dated now, but here was a parody I wrote back in 2007 about the types of listings that City Weekend and its rivals used to feature.

Sept 1st: Jungle is Massive Night at Club Babyface*

Find that minimal isn’t enough for your dancefloor fix? Had enough of monotonous trance synth-lines that have sold out to “The Man”? Wanna take a pill drop back to the true progressive era of sub-sonic woofer house music? If you want an indication of where Gen-X dance music is going next, then join us as we invite DJ Nobody’s Ever Fucking Heard Of But His Name Ends In A “Z” all the way from Amsterdam to set off a selection of fire and car alarms as crowds of Chinese businessmen and prostitutes listen indifferently and play dice instead. Chivas and Green Tea sets start at 888 RMB and come with a complementary grape.

* Although the management of Babyface will try its utmost, Babyface can not guarantee the presence of black people at any publicised event.

September 4th: Ladies Who Lunch

The Ladies Who Lunch will this Tuesday be dining at a delightful American themed diner recently opened just off People’s Square. Serving a homemade selection of traditional American fayre in a comfortable, yet trendy, environment; this guarantees to be a welcome alternative to our usual weekly drudge of holistic therapy and alternative yoga*. This week our selected book will be the back cover of a pirated Desperate Housewives DVD, and as we complain endlessly about how difficult it is to find good service in Shanghai these days, we will consider sending the waiter’s tip this week to the Urumqi Orphanage for Christian Children, before crossing the road in order to avoid eye contact with a gang of street beggars.

Please contact Judy for the address of the People’s Square McDonald’s Branch.

September 8th: The Shanghai Expat’s Club September Gathering

Exactly seven lonely foreign businessmen who have been in China for no longer than two months each join together in the lobby bar of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and try and kid themselves that this is called “networking”.

September 12th: English Corner

“Can you use chopsticks?” “Are you a Christian?” “Can I invite you to a dinner?”

If the above questions don’t make you want to immediately stab yourself in the eye with a rusty coathanger, and if for whatever fucked up reason you’re desperate and lonely enough to even entertain the thought that being the only foreigner surrounded by a group of two hundred Chinese students could ever be anything other than a spiritual experience roughly equivalent to having a 20 foot Native American totem pole covered in faulty cheese graters forcefully penetrate your quivering anal hole, then please come along to the Number 94 Middle School English Corner. COME.

September 15th: Hash House Harriers Fun Run

Nestled in between Chongming Island and Pudong, Hengsha Island (literally: “Clean Island”) is an unspoilt patch of paradise untouched by Shanghai’s encroaching development. Join the Drinking Club with a Running Problem (!!!!!!!!) as we spend two days running, enjoying the scenery, drinking beer out of our shoes, and finally getting into an argument with a farmer for pissing all over his crops whilst a 4 foot tall butterball from Ohio attempts to drag you away by screaming “Just leave it Brian, he ain’t fucking worth it!”

September 18th: Opening Night of a New “Western” Restaurant in a Second Tier Provincial City

Relive the classic days of Laurel & Hardy, the Keystone Cops, and The Three Stooges by paying good money to dine at the opening night of Happy Apollo Italian Westaurant in Yantai City. Chuckle as the waiters try to serve food even though the management forgot to purchase any plates, guffaw as the cashier is forced to prostitute herself in a feeble effort to get her hands on some change, and roar hysterically as the Spaghetti Bolognese turns out to be a cardboard baozi covered in sand. Then weep, weep untold tears of salty misery, as you realise you’ve been waiting three hours and still haven’t seen a menu.

September 21st: 300 and something days to the Olympics

Go about your normal daily existence and do your best to ignore yet another fucking mediocre Government sponsored pop concert in order to celebrate 300 and something more days to the fucking Olympics.

September 23rd: Sunny Hotel Dinner Buffet

Enjoy an uninspired Chinese buffet in a three star Chinese hotel with no economic discounts or benefits whatsoever in a hope that the management still decides to place their advertising with this magazine next year.

September 24th: Cunt Cinema

The Beijing Bookworm will present a series of mostly French independent short films made by Europe’s best respected amateur cunts. This collection’s themes revolve predominantly around freedom of speech issues, women’s rights, and cunts. All cunts welcome. English subtitles for the cunt impaired.

September 30th: Labourer Holiday

Are you aged between 12 and 80? No plans for the National Day holiday? Then why not go on a working Labourer’s Holiday?

– Learn all about carrying a bucket full of dirt!

– Earn at least 17 yuan!

– Free instant noodle and steamed bun meals!*

– Free cigarettes for all mine workers!*

– Free police supervision!*

– Complete privacy as you enjoy your Labourer’s Holiday (Road will be closed to its own residents)!


Not free.

Whilst the magazine tries its best to ensure all event listings are correct and complete at time of publication, the editors cannot guarantee that locations, times, names, national boundaries, and even the laws of physics will not change before due dates.


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

An Open Letter to the Woman Who Asked Me If I Could Eat Spicy Food

Me. Yesterday.

Dear Madam:

Maybe I should have let it go. Turned my big laowai nose elsewhere. I had just gotten out of a 24-hour spa and massage centre, and I was with some friends on the Upper East Side of Shijiazhuang’s hip and happening Museum of Hebei district. Yes, I was surprised to learn that there is a Museum of Hebei too. Whatever. That isn’t the point. We were going to lunch, trying to see if there was room in the Chongqing-style hot pot restaurant down the street. You were in a rush. It was raining. Or perhaps it was sunny. It’s hard to tell because either type of weather means you’d have your umbrella and your privilege up. This gaggle of laowai was in your way.

But I was, honestly, stunned when you saw us make towards the hot pot restaurant and tapped me on the shoulder to ask, “老外,你能吃辣吗?”

I am not a bigot, so I will not assume that some people cannot read the Chinese characters I just typed. Perhaps they can. Perhaps they cannot. Let’s just not base our assumptions on the colour of their skin or their accent. However, for the benefit of those who cannot read Chinese characters, I will help here by saying that the woman asked “Foreigner, can you eat spicy food?” Not knowing that doesn’t make you a worse person. Knowing that doesn’t make you a better person. Can’t we all just get along? Jesus…


I hesitated for a second and then turned to confront you. That must have startled you. You probably weren’t even expecting that I could understand you. I have become accustomed to that.

But you didn’t stop there.

You then pointed to me and asked “Can you use chopsticks?”

It was comical, in retrospect. In a civilised country you would have been rightly arrested and had your life and career destroyed for such disrespectful bigotry. However, here nobody challenges or stops to check their privilege. Instead you just continued your hate crimes, pointing at the hot pot pictures and doubting whether I could eat the chilli peppers or not.

“I can eat lots of spicy food!” I yelled back. “Even the McSpicy burger at McDonalds!”

It felt silly. But how else to prove I belonged?

This was not my first encounter, of course, with racist food insults in China. Ask any Caucasian-Chinese, and they’ll readily summon memories of waiters bringing them knives and forks, or disturbing encounters at the grocery store when the shop assistant suggests we try the cheese. When I posted on Twitter about what happened, an avalanche of people replied back to me with their own experiences. But I couldn’t see their responses because this is China and I don’t have a VPN.

Walking home later, a pang of sadness welled up inside me. And it wasn’t the inevitable diarrhoea following three hours of all-you-can-eat spicy hot pot.

You had on a nice winter coat – even though it was 28 degrees and you were sweating profusely. But I accept your tradition of believing that winter clothes must be worn after a certain date regardless of the actual temperature. I don’t make an issue out of it. I accept. Your iPhone was a 6 Plus. iPhones are designed in the West so technically you had appropriated my culture by using one, but again – I accepted. I tolerated. You could have been a fellow customer in other restaurants that I regularly dine at. Like KFC. Or Pizza Hut. You seemed, well, normal. You probably even write in extremely short sentences. Just like I do. It just feels better that way. But you also had these other feelings in you, and, the reality is, so do a lot of people in this country right now.

Maybe you don’t know this, but the insults you hurled at my ability to eat spicy food got to the heart of the Caucasian-Chinese experience. It’s this persistent sense of otherness that a lot of us struggle with every day. That no matter what we eat, how much mapo tofu we can handle, how much diarrhoea we get, our stomachs don’t belong. We’re foreign. We’re not Chinese. It’s one of the reasons that everybody thinks I only eat hamburgers and hot dogs for breakfast. That and the fact that I’m morbidly obese and have type-two diabetes. “Why are you so fat?” Chinese people always ask me. Now we can add fat-shaming to your list of sins.


I fled the United Kingdom for China because I was tired of bland food. I struggled to overcome a diet of fish and chips so that I could eat the types of spicy food that I truly identified with. I’m trans-spiced. I came to this land for the hot pot. For the Kung Pao Chicken. For the McSpicy. I even came here for the diarrhoea. Model minority, indeed.

Yet somehow I still often feel like an outsider.

And I wonder if that feeling will ever go away. Not the feeling of diarrhoea (that never goes away), but the feeling of otherness. My stomach is not your exotic curio. Don’t “other” my tastebuds. Work with me for the day when we can all have a hot pot… together.

But, afterward, my 7-year-old daughter, who witnessed the whole thing, kept asking my wife, “Why did she ask, ‘Can you eat spicy food?’ We’re not even eating spicy food anyway.”

No, we’re not, my wife said, and she tried to explain that the reason we decided not to go to the hot pot restaurant after all and instead go to McDonalds was because she found a voucher in her purse for 50% off all Big Macs that expires next week.

Your father spends most of his money on alcohol, she told my daughter. We choose where we eat based on price, not spiciness. But sometimes people don’t understand that.

I hope you do now.


Arthur Meursault

(If you’re lucky enough to not know what the hell I am talking about you can head to the New York Times and read this drivel)


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Ideas for new CCTV Shows


I was jerking around on Reddit recently and threw around a few ideas for Chinese CCTV shows. It really isn’t that hard: my dog could come up with better ideas than CCTV and his idea of entertainment is sniffing his own arsehole.

If you have any ideas for CCTV shows, do submit them in the comments section. Who knows – maybe a top brass from the open-minded world of Zhongnanhai is reading this right now and might “borrow” your intellectual property rights for CCTV4! Let’s get started:

The World of Suzy Wrong

Light-hearted news review programme in which a 21 year old student with broken English called Suzie is asked about her opinions on world politics and current affairs. Following the show’s success, a Christmas Special is being filmed where Suzie addresses the World Health Organisation on what she believes is the best way to prevent colds.*

*It’s warm water

“Do you know it?”

All the Tee in China

Challenging reality-based game show where teams of foreigners have to gain and use guanxi in order to see who can be the first to play a round of golf on every course in China. Hosted by Andy fucking Lau.

24 – Chinese Version

Tough CIA agent Jack “Tim” Bauer has 24 hours to post a letter, transfer money to an overseas bank account, and apply for a new residency permit in downtown Lanzhou. Will he make it in time?

The Port of Dandong Mysteries

Detective series set in the PORT OF DANDONG. A mysterious visitor arrives in NORTH EAST ASIA’S NUMBER ONE SHIPPING HUB. Can the police stop him in his scheme to prevent The Port of Dandong from REACHING OUT TO THE WORLD FROM NORTHEAST ASIA?


Self-Preservation Society

A documentary on the true face of modern Chinese society to the tune of Michael Caine’s The Italian Job.

Chairman Mao

Another episode of the crime-fighting superhero who can transform into a chair at the hour of need. Starring Andy fucking Lau as Gobshite No. 7.

Oh yes – it’s a real thing. You think I just make all this up?

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Popular current affairs chat-show where world leaders thrash out hard-hitting issues. Whilst playing ping-pong.

Both about to get balls in their mouths…

Deng Xiaoping’s Dung Shopping

Re-run of the popular 1970’s consumer action show where late Premier Deng Xiaoping led an agrarian collective in the procurement of advanced Western fertilizer products.

More reasons to visit Sichuan

The Great Ball of China

Nationwide survey of Chinese citizens in an attempt to settle once and for all the question that has plagued scientists for centuries: Who is the most popular Ball in China? 50s screen siren Lucille Ball, English crooner Michael Ball, or DJ Fatboy Slim’s alcoholic wife Zoe Ball?

Obviously it’s Zoe

Sit down, shut up, and do as you’re told

Family fun and games aimed at the under-fives.

Starring Uncurious George

Global Times Island

A ground-breaking reality TV social experiment where twenty contestants are left stranded on a remote island without access to any form of media except The Global Times.

Some of the show highlights include:

Week 1: Tibetan minority castaway Lobsang collapses from exhaustion after only five days on the island after being forced to perform traditional song and dance, and express his gratitude and eternal happiness non-stop everyday.

Week 2: The castaways language has almost entirely devolved into a baffling combination of rhetorical questions, angry xenophobic opinions, snorts and clumsy sounding slogans. The island is now renamed “Social Harmony Three Represents Island”.

Week 3: The Japanese pilot of a light aircraft crash-lands on the beach and is offered food and shelter in exchange for allowing every male member of the island to anally rape him and smear dogshit in his face uninterrupted for the next twenty years. The island is renamed, simply, “Diaoyu”.

Week 4: Upon discovering that one of the islanders has been having an affair with a sheep, the other islanders set up an internet site devoted to destroying his life and force him to change his phone number seventeen times in just one day.

Week 5: When 15 year old Xu Guangming is overheard expressing his belief that life on other islands is possibly better than life on their own island, he is forced by the village elders to write the words “Our island is a developing island” on the sand using only the blood from the wound on his penis inflicted whilst working a seventeen hour shift down an illegal mine shaft.

Week 6: News of a foreign African visitor to the island causes the island newsletter to publish an entire issue devoted to the meeting, and pictures of grass-skirted savages boiling Victorian missionaries alive in large cooking pots are posted around the island to make the guests feel welcome. The island is temporarily renamed “Happy Happy Jolly Darkie Island”.

Week 7: 65 year old islander Qian Dongshui has stomach ache, so as a safety precaution every living animal on the island is kicked to death.

Week 8: Since his arrival on the island, Wang Fan has done nothing but read the cartoon published on the editorial page of The Global Times. he begins to alienate the other islanders when he begins to walk around in a white t-shirt with the words “American hegemony” printed in large black letters whilst juggling three balls which respectively have the words “Racial tension”, “War in Iraq” and “Gun control” written on them.

Week 9: The island successfully bids to hold the 2016 International Coconut Shy Contest on its shores, and the elders begin removing every tree, flower, and natural feature from the island in order to make room for a planned “Coconut Village” where athletes can rest comfortably in fibreglass, rotating, neon-lit coconuts.

Week 10: The series comes to a dramatic end as the island is sold to the owner of a medium-scale fake Lego factory, and the castaways are all forced overnight to build rafts and flee back to the mainland.

Directed by Thomas Friedman


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

How to write a China article

(I first wrote this in 2007 for Arguably, it was my most successful ever article. It was reposted in quite a few places, was translated into German, got featured in some mag, and even got linked to on Shanghaiist. Most of that seems to have completely disappeared now. There was even one person at the time who claimed I copied this off a Kaiser Kuo article. Pfffft, as if. There are better places to plagiarise from than that. The article still seems to hold as true today as it did back then. If you want to use this template for Japan just replace any instance of “Dragon” with “Samurai”. I’ve updated a few dated references too.)

“My name is Shaun Rein and I fully endorse this guide on how to write a China article.”

You’ve just arrived in your 5-Star room at the Shanghai Hilton and unpacked your fancy new Apple laptop.  As you pull the top off the mini bottle of Hennessey XO, you finally turn to your instructions from the editor back home.  2000 words by Monday about the important issues facing China today.  Easy.

But two days have passed and you are still staring at a blank screen.  You’re experiencing a stretch of writer’s block as long as the Great Wall of China and the deadline is hanging over your head like the proverbial Sword of Damocles.  It seems that more research than flicking through a copy of Wild Swans in the airport is needed after all.

Sound familiar?  Then you, my journalist friend, need the Meursault’s fully patented guide on how to write that Pulitzer Prize winning China article.  Simply follow the steps below, and you’ll have your name splashed across the front page of every newspaper in Britain faster than a convicted child molester.


Each and every good China article begins with a carefully considered and well thought-out title.  “Cor, what a scorcher” may be good enough for a tabloid article about heatwaves in April, but if you’re going to impress your fellow tofu-eating, goatee bearded colleagues at the Grauniad office (not to mention that hot feminist who writes angry columns about women’s issues), then you’re going to need to think up a snappy headline.  Thankfully, titles for China articles follow a strict guideline, and a catchy media soundbite can be created in seconds thanks to Meursault’s (TM) China-headline-o’matic.  Just choose one of the words from column A, and match it with a random word from column B.

The Dragon
The East
1.3 Billion People
Red Star

Does Dallas

The only exception to this rule is when writing an article about the clash of western commercialism against old-style Communist practices, in which case the title “Mickey Maos” must be used.

Interview a taxi driver

You may well be isolated from the unwashed masses of China in your luxury Shanghai hotel room, but for God’s sake, you don’t want the brainless idiots who read your newspaper to know that.  A good journalist never loses his common touch: after all, the whole point of your article is to pretend that you care about “the Chinese people themselves” and how unfairly the system treats them.  Bob Geldof has made a career about appearing to care for African people, and hopefully you can do the same for Chinese people, earn loads of money, and buy a big fuck-off house in the south of France.  There’s no way you actually want to meet any of the Chinese people though.  It’s OK to let some of them clean your hotel room, but any more contact than that and you risk catching tuberculosis.  So you might as well make use of the only Chinese person you ever come into contact with – the taxi driver – and pass off his opinions as your own.

Interest rate predictions for the coming quarter?  Ask a taxi driver.
Improving Sino-Japanese relations in the post-Koizumi era?  Ask a taxi driver.
Financial aid to developing African economies?  Ask a taxi driver, but leave out his politically incorrect opinions regarding “those dark folk”.  The students in the Harvard reading room don’t like reading about that kind of thing.

If you can’t find a taxi driver whose political views match those of your readers, then just make one up.  Call him Mr. Wang, inform your public that he only earns a hundred dollars a month, and they’ll believe any old crap you write.  “I’ve been following the latest series of Game of Thrones with interest,” says Beijing cab driver Mr. Wang (43), “though Ramsay Bolton’s recent behaviour has been quite reprimandable.  Still, it’s hard to follow all this TV gossip when I only earn five yuan a year.”


Nobody really understands China.  Especially you, because you hadn’t even heard of the country until last week when you failed to be chosen as a New York correspondent.  So get around the whole problem of writing difficult conclusions by just presenting a series of contrasting images.  Here are some easy ones to start you off:

  • A statue of Mao with an advert for Coca-Cola in the background.
  • An elderly Chinese man, with a long wispy beard, sat on a bench next to a fibreglass model of Ronald McDonald.
  • A sign saying “Promote Environmental Awareness” stuck in a field full of nuclear waste and dead babies.
  • A girl with a mobile phone walking past a tramp.
  • A description of a fashionable Shanghai socialite who hangs out at Starbucks and likes KFC, quickly followed in the next paragraph by a description of a former prostitute who works 5 million hours a day in a condom factory for just two grains of rice a year.

A comment on “guanxi”

It is absolutely essential that you insert at least one line about this mysterious Chinese force called “guanxi” – pronounced “GWAAN-SHE” that dominates Asian business. Nobody in the West can even comprehend what “guanxi” is, let alone utilise it, so it is a huge obstacle to foreign businesses. Don’t forget to say that there is no English word equivalent for “guanxi”, except maybe “relationships”. Or “connections”. Or any of the other twenty words that can mean “guanxi”.

Vague Conclusion

When you’ve finished writing your pointless and vague summary of obvious contrasts, follow it up with an equally pointless and vague conclusion.  Write how some things point to x, whilst some other things point to y.  “The future, it seems, is still uncertain for China” is always a good one to sign off with, especially because other countries are all governed by psychic fortune tellers who know everything that will happen for the next 200 years.

If, for whatever reason, you want to try something different (perhaps this is not your first time to write a China article.  It might be your second, say), highlight the enormous population of China, and then focus on a single individual.  That way you’ve covered all the bases and it looks like you care.  You could even try and combine both conclusion styles if you’re feeling cocky.  For example:

“It seems that the future is looking bright for the 1.3 billion people who make up the world’s most populous nation.  But for Li Hui – who is still working at the condom factory for just two grains of rice a year – that future is still unclear.”

Follow the above guidelines and you can’t go wrong.  Before long, you’ll be printing the words “CHINA EXPERT” on your business card and you’ll have your own book about the Chinese political landscape listed under the Lonely Planet Guide to China’s list of recommended reads.

Perhaps you could even call the book “China Awakes”.

“My name is John Naisbitt and I categorically deny ever using a how-to guide on how to write a China article.”

Don’t believe me on the titles? Take a look at these…


If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.