Ich Bin Ein Beijinger: Fill in the Blanks

“Ich Bin Ein Beijinger” was a magazine column written by Kaiser Kuo that ran in every issue from October 2001 to October 2011. Kaiser offered one self-proclaimed Beijinger's take on the city that he's come to call home.

December 2004 - The Foreign Correspondents Club of China offers journalists new to Beijing this useful template for your first files. It has been used with great success by big-name reporters hundreds of times! Just fill in the blank with the appropriate phenomena, supply some names for sources, and voila! Instant China story.

________Comes to China

BEIJING, November 18, 2004 – China is in the throes of another “cultural revolution,” but this time it’s not politics, but a growing class of hipoisie leading the charge. The latest Western fad to breach the fabled Great Wall? (FILL IN THE BLANK), which many are calling the most revolutionary thing to hit China since Mickey Mouse.

“It’s a revolution in cool,” says (PROFESSOR), who teaches contemporary Chinese cultural studies at (UNIVERSITY). “It’s not for your Average Zhou,” he quips, “but _____ is really catching on with young people.”

“It’s all the rage these days,” says (CHINESE NAME), who runs a fashionable shop specializing in _____ near the stylish Sanlitun Bar District, where it’s not uncommon to see young women wearing makeup, Western-style blue jeans, and even sporting dyed hair. Young couples hold hands and even show bolder signs of affection on occasion – behavior that has prudish, older stalwarts shaking their heads.

For Westerners who cling to images of drably-dressed millions all riding bikes, addressing one another as “comrade” and shouting slogans, the fact that _____ can be found in China at all comes as a real surprise. But China is changing fast, and the images still prevailing in the West are a good five years out of date: Many Chinese have already sampled Ameri¬can fast-food, and many – at least in the big cities – are familiar with US television series like Friends.

“Ten years ago, who would have believed they’d have _____ in China?” says (FOREIGN NAME), a long-time Beijing expatriate who has lived in China for almost two years and has witnessed much of the dizzying change. “All the Chinese people I know – my ayi, my driver and my secretary – are already doing it. But _____ doesn’t even merit a second glance from jaded Beijingers, who drink Coca-Cola and send one another messages on their cell phones using an advanced technology called “SMS,” for Short Messaging System.

China, which has a history of 5,000 years, invented gunpowder, paper, the compass, sericulture, printing and the men’s pleather clutch purse. It is also credited with discovering green tea as a Chivas mixer. Pride in their own creations makes Western fads like _____ difficult for some Chinese to accept.

When _____ first appeared on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, controversy followed close behind. Only a few years earlier, society was skeptical of such “spiritual pollution” that fads like breakdancing represented in the China of the ‘80s, or the “bourgeois liberalization” of the early-90s Klezmer craze.

“How can we Chinese, who have 5,000 years of history and invented gunpowder, paper, the compass, sericulture, printing and the men’s pleather clutch purse be so easily seduced by Western _____?” (CHINESE NAME) asks. “It’s just a fad, like McDonalds, Starbucks, and unleaded gasoline,” he says sipping a cocktail of Chivas and green tea in a hip Sanlitun club. “As our leaders once said, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s a black cat or a white cat as long as it catches mice.’ But what color cat is _____? And where are the mice?” (NAME) demands.

But like it or not, _____ is spreading fast, and not just in the cities. In Yellow Peony Gulch Village, a hardscrabble hamlet nestled amidst the dun-colored hillsides of Shaanxi Province, where even today some people still live in caves carved into the loess cliff faces, _____ is already making inroads. “Yes, we’ve seen _____ on the television. My wife thinks it’s naughty, and so do many of the older people here in Yellow Peony Gulch Village. But the youngsters are already picking it up,” says (CHINESE PEASANT NAME), 52, as a gaptoothed grin spreads across his deeply-creased, weatherworn face. “But I’m young at heart, and I think people should be willing to try new things!”


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