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2011 Oct 26 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 But China is changing fast, and the images still prevailing in the West are a good five years out of date: Many Chinese have already sampled Ameri¬can fast-food, and many – at least in the big cities – are familiar with US television series like Friends.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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Eight years ago, my band Chunqiu (Spring & Autumn) played at the Snow Mountain Music Festival in Lijiang. The day before the festival kicked off, we sound-checked at the venue, an alpine meadow 45 minutes by car above town. Then we shared a minibus back down to Lijiang with the band Brain Failure, one of China’s best-known Punk bands. At first there was a bit of awkwardness.

Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to travel outside of China a great deal for speaking engagements. The talks I’ve given recently are mostly about the Chinese Internet, and they’re usually aimed at dispelling myths about the Chinese Web. Last month, I visited Warsaw to give a talk. It was my first trip to Poland, and the many Poles I met were all eager to engage me about China. Warsaw’s relations with Beijing have been at times rocky over the last couple of decades; next time you’re online, look up the day the first Polish democratic election took place and you’ll understand why, in some quarters of Poland, certain attitudes toward China still prevail.

On his right flank, the tuanzhang could see the black turbans of the Pashtun Talib just above the low rock ridge as they picked their way through the narrow defile. The cold wind would carry a snatch of conversation, an occasional clip-clop of an iron-shod mule’s hoof to Zhang Jinghan’s position in the Wakhjir Pass, at the China end of the Wakhan Corridor, where his unit had waited since dawn broke over the Hindu Kush.

 

“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.

October 2001 - So she’s not the world’s most beautiful city. Granted, she doesn’t offer much by way of natural scenery, and what little she can boast – the mountains to her north and west – remains obscured most days by the dust and haze that hangs in the air. Her weather could be better and yes, her traffic sucks. Yet in the seven years I’ve lived here I’ve fallen in love with Beijing, irrationally and irretrievably.   

“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.

April 2005 - To be a cool foreigner in The Jing, you need to get with one of the cool local scenes! Follow this simple guide to learn how to insinuate yourself into any of the four truly important scenes in Beijing – what we call the “B-scenes” – and why it’s so incredibly cool to be a part of each. But watch out – they each have their pitfalls!