Great Hall of the People

A place where every voice is heard and respected. Talk about what you’d like; I’ll be back tomorrow.

The Discussion: 44 Comments

Richard, you have NAILED the proper name for the open link! I love it!

June 13, 2005 @ 9:21 pm | Comment

I am also looking for a comment that someone made yesterday about no-one wanting to be seen as China’s Gorbachev, does anyone know who or where it was?

Posted by rwillmsen at June 13, 2005 06:31 PM

Richard W., I think that was me, on my blog, paraphrasing Dylan, who sometimes comments here and who seems extremely knowledgable and astute, at least to this observer.

June 13, 2005 @ 9:26 pm | Comment

N..n..not THE Dylan, surely?!?

June 13, 2005 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

err…is there a THE Dylan? Aside from Bob?

June 13, 2005 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

Bob Dylan comes here?!? Seriously? Because there WAS another famous Dylan, at least in the UK – Actually I’d be very interested to hear what either of them had to say about the CCP!

June 13, 2005 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

Say, does anyone have any green vegetable snacks? I am out.

June 13, 2005 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

One more thing before I toddle off – I just watched “BLIND SHAFT” – anyone seen it? A great, gritty, honest piece of film-making. Very dark.

IMO, the best Chinese films are way better than the vast majority of what America produces nowadays. I read somewhere a comparison of this film to 40s American noir. It’s definitely that, except unlike the more stylized noir pics, this is very “real,” almost a documentary approach. What it says about the life of the vast majority of Chinese who are at the bottom of the food chain is utterly damning.

I’m not surprised it was banned.

Of course, I bought my copy in a Beijing DVD store, so that tells you something too.

June 14, 2005 @ 12:53 am | Comment

I’ve had difficulty getting Chinese films, like the Beijing Bicycle, with subtitles. I think i’m missing out. I’m looking forward to seeing that Shanghai film everyone was talking about a couple of weeks ago.

June 14, 2005 @ 12:59 am | Comment

ps. Just uploaded a new rant and am all blogged out!

June 14, 2005 @ 1:00 am | Comment

Oh! I really want to see Blind Shaft. I heard it was great.

I’ve been enjoying Jackie Chan recently, and “Liu LaoGenr” Anyone seen it?

June 14, 2005 @ 1:05 am | Comment

Haven’t seen the Jackie Chan. HAs it been released stateside yet?

Richard W., too bad you can’t get good DVDs in Dalian. When I’ve gone to Beijing recently, I’ve seen every major Chinese film for sale, including the banned ones like blind shaft and Guize laile (Devils at my doorstep is the English title I think). What’s the big Shanghai film?

There’s an indy American film I want to see that is half Mandarin, half English, starring Joan Chen, called Saving Face. It’s gotten excellent reviews.

RW, looking forward to your latest rant.

June 14, 2005 @ 1:17 am | Comment

I just came across this on a online forum for English teachers:

“I saw a poll of the Chinese people Chinese teenagers most admire. Number one was Mao. The rest of the top ten included three other CP cadres, Yang LiWei (the first Chinese bloke in space) and someone who won an ‘honest police chief’ award. No Yao Ming, no pop stars.
Now I know that no โ€˜favourite famous personโ€™ type discussion has ever included mention of any police chiefs (or indeed any of the others) at my school. Do you think the teenagers were giving answers they thought they should give or none were asked in the making of this poll?”

Mao!!! Well, things HAVE moved on in China! Actually, I suppose I have to agree with the poster that it all sounds a bit suspicious.

June 14, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment

If this is the Great Hall of the People, then shouldn’t we start out with an hour of insufferable speeches and toasts with weak beer in thimble sized glasses?

June 14, 2005 @ 3:29 am | Comment


I’ve been in a dialogue with a US foreign policy expert on China. I’ve summarised the links so far at Pundita does China but if you get time I’d be interested in your thoughts, as I imagine they’d diverge from hers. Obviously it’s open to others as well.

June 14, 2005 @ 3:54 am | Comment


Hahaha. Nice one.

June 14, 2005 @ 3:55 am | Comment

Martyn or anyone:

Could you recommend a comprehensive book on modern day China and modern Chinese? Not too historical, just something on today’s China?

Much thanks.

June 14, 2005 @ 4:12 am | Comment

Thanks, and have you noticed how, when the Chinese drink, they start with little beer glasses but then lose control after a few, and then start going for the hard stuff?
They just don’t know how to pace themselves. The treat drinking like the Great Leap Forward.

June 14, 2005 @ 4:28 am | Comment

You’re killing me here. Great leap forward indeed.

I know one thing for sure, I’m yet to meet a single person who claims to actually like bloody Maotai or any other of the selection of clear alcohol that passes for spirits here.

Urrrggghhh. I’m starting to feel sickly just thinking about it.

June 14, 2005 @ 5:25 am | Comment

At least Congac, good malt whiskey etc actually tastes goooooood…..

June 14, 2005 @ 5:26 am | Comment

One of my buddies back in New Hampshire really loved the ErGuoTou I brought back for him – you know, the small 4 kuai bottles that get broken out on trains by all the guys playing cards in the hard seat cars?

anyway, he really liked it. So that’s one person

June 14, 2005 @ 6:34 am | Comment

blind shaft was incredible. difficult to watch, but necessary I think.
I also quite liked little chinese seamstress.
I recently watched a few others : together, quite good if not entirely realistic. letter from an unknown woman, which I’m still puzzling through as it has no subtitles and I’m still on taxi driver chinese. someone recently turned me on to Hou Xiaoxian, a recommendation I heartily pass along.

June 14, 2005 @ 7:43 am | Comment

Thanks for the info on the Lotus Centres.
If I need more I will let you know.

June 14, 2005 @ 8:39 am | Comment

Yeah, brilliant name Richard. Inspired.

Could we date them? Or something, to keep track of which thread attaches to which day?

June 14, 2005 @ 8:55 am | Comment

pete, no probs. I personally prefer Carrefour as the fresh meat, wine, beer, fruit and veg sections are second to none…and that includes Asda and Sainsbury!


I think Jasper Becker’s ‘The Chinese’ is what you’re after. It’s a must-read. Check it out on Amazon and if it isn’t what you’re looking for, come back.

June 14, 2005 @ 9:37 am | Comment

I strongly second Martyn’s recommendation of The Chinese — absolutely essential reading, and full of insights into the Chinese psyche and why it’s the country it is today.

And then, pick up Becker’s Hungry Ghosts — not for the weak, it tells the gruesome story of the Mao-generated famines that killed scores of millions. Not for the weak.

June 14, 2005 @ 9:42 am | Comment

Re Maotai, is there anything else on this planet that goes even less well with Cinese food than Maotai, Wulianghe etc?

I’ve yet to find it.

I stopped drinking it years ago after a particularly nasty lunchtime session. Nowadays I stick to beer and lots of it.

The trick is, to tell your over-zealous hosts that “my doctor” told me to strictly avoid any hard alcohol except beer. Works every time.

It’s a good trick for vegetarians as well. Just say the doctor said you shouldn’t eat meat.

June 14, 2005 @ 9:42 am | Comment


We China bods can’t “Go Read. Now” as pundita is on blogspot and therefore blocked.

June 14, 2005 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Chinese beer is great, overall. I love it. Nothing like a cold Yanjing..

I’m actually not sure if I have the Becker history (I do have Hungry Ghosts), so I’ll have to check that out.

Still waiting for my new Mao bio.

No moutai for me this AM, but how about a nice sip of Italian roast in solidarity?

June 14, 2005 @ 10:24 am | Comment

I’m quaffing Yanjing now! Yanjing and Harbin Beer are my favs. Yanjing’s a Beijing beer but I can get it at Carrefour.

Big bottle of Yanjing, RMB2.70. The advantages of China life aren’t just copy DVD’s you know…….!

June 14, 2005 @ 10:37 am | Comment

US27 cents for 640ml.

June 14, 2005 @ 10:38 am | Comment

As a Xinjianger, I gotta go with Wusu beer. 2.5, goes down smooth every time.

As for books, if you want a heavily researched read on contemporary Chinese politics (my copy from three years ago went up to the Hainan incident), try China Since Tiananmen by Joseph Fewsmith. It relies heavily on internal documents, and shows the power struggle Jiang Zemin had to go through (and how he was a hardliner for a while to solidify his position… Hu, is the jury still out?)

Movies: Blind Shaft is great, and the Little Chinese Mistress is pretty good too. Anybody else like The Missing Gun? Snazzy cinematography, a plot that could never be an American film (we’ve got too many guns for a missing gun to mean this much), and a kickass ganbei joke.

June 14, 2005 @ 10:57 am | Comment

DavesG, I’ll have to get over to Xinjiang so I can try the local brew. Whenever I travel in China I make it a point to try what’s local (though I gather that’s not always the best idea – I’ve heard some nasty stories about some local beers though I’ve never encountered this myself). I’m trying to remember where it was I was drinking Blue Sword….might have been Chengdu, maybe Gordon can set me straight!

I did see the Missing Gun. I was kinda mixed on it – I felt like the ending was a bit out of left field…parts of it were pretty cool though, IMO.

The Chinese seamstress – is that based on the book, Balzac and the Little CHinese Seamstress that was really popular a couple years back? (which I have and have not yet read) Haven’t heard about this one…

June 14, 2005 @ 11:37 am | Comment

Yeah, OLisa, it was based on the book and was a joint production with Canal+ or some other French company.

June 14, 2005 @ 11:39 am | Comment

My take on Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress can be found here.can be found here.

June 14, 2005 @ 11:50 am | Comment

Thanks Richard. So many books…so little time…

June 14, 2005 @ 11:54 am | Comment

FSN, not sure if I understand what you mean with your sugestion to date the thread. Please elaborate.

Simon, I read Pundita, and I’m afraid she pushes some of my buttons with her GOP talking points…. I have no doubt about her brilliance, but I have to look wioth suspicion at anyone who states matter-of-factly that “Clinton gutted the Defense Department and the CIA.”

June 14, 2005 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

Last comment of the night: I’m too beat to open a new thread, so please continue here. The post that’s seeing the most activity today is this one.

June 14, 2005 @ 8:59 pm | Comment

Well, just cause it’s kind of quiet here tonight/this afternoon (depending on where you are), I’ll mention that I just put up a post on a really tragic story about a flood in N. China that swept through an elementary school. As I said in the entry, when I read this article I kept thinking about “Blind Shaft.” they really do relate.

And on a completely separate subject, Martyn, I’m still waiting for those stories of yours!

June 15, 2005 @ 1:21 am | Comment

Yeah Martyn cough up!

One thing I like about this space is that you can’t see who else is online, so most of the comments aren’t of the ‘hey Catgirl howyadoin” ilk, like on most chatrooms.

June 15, 2005 @ 1:51 am | Comment

Thanks guys for the recomendation of The Chinese by J Becker. I looked it up on Amazon and it is what I’m looking for. I’ll wait a short while before I order in case this site starts it’s own Amazon link. That contractor you mentioned Richard, who will improve the site won’t work for free!!

By the way everyone, there is an great debate going on the Taiwan Dilemma thread between Jerome Keating, Lin and Martyn.

June 15, 2005 @ 12:13 pm | Comment

I just went and read the Taiwan Dilemma thread. Hahaha, things are certainly hotting up in there. I think that Jerome and Lin’s opinions regarding the KMT and Taiwan are about as polar opposite as polar opposite can possibly be.

I don’t have time to chip in to that debate tonight as it’s 0320 in Guangzhou. I’ll be there tomorrow though.

June 15, 2005 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

Hey, Richard, I just saw the amazon links – way cool…

June 15, 2005 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

I’m still playing with them, right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

June 15, 2005 @ 6:06 pm | Comment

Oh, I had assumed that since you’d come up with such an inspired name for the open-thread, that it was going to become the title of all future open-threads, and that they’d need to be dated to differentiate them. My mistake!

June 16, 2005 @ 8:58 am | Comment

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