Here’s an interesting article that explains how there’s much more to Macau than just huge casinos.
Order a generous slice of Macau and you’d be brave to swallow it whole. This is a historical layer cake of clashing flavours. Long, unremarkable centuries of sleepy ancient Chinese fishing villages infused with a whiff of incense from Taoist temples. A slab of Portuguese colonialism – rich, centuries-thick and packed with spices. And on top, a great slathered-on crust of neon candy – luminescent pink, saccharine sweet, saliva-inducing.
If you despise totalitarian government, you’re probably a fan of “V for Vendetta” if you’ve had the opportunity to see the film. If you love freedom, this film, and particularly the film above, will inspire you.
It’s for that reason that the news of out China today is so shocking. Somehow, the censors allowed this film to be broadcast in China. It was already an underground favorite, but now millions in China may be suddenly questioning their own government. We can only hope.
The machinery in China established to produce gold medals in The Olympics is ruthless, and the Chinese people are grappling with the positive and negative effects of this system.
But the crankiness back home could increase in coming days as the Olympic Games heads into events such as track and field, where China hasn’t traditionally been strong. Despite tremendous pride in China’s slim lead over the U.S., the success has sparked debate over the pressure China’s results-driven sports system puts on winning.
That system picks athletes at young ages, grooming them for Olympic gold at national training centers, often far away from their families. Qin, the diver, said he started training at age six. “Sometimes, I get to see (my family) every other year. If the competition schedule is not that tight, maybe sometimes I can spend a whole week with my parents in a year,” he said.
“Every athlete has some pressure,” Qin said. “If you want to be really good, then you have to be able to hold that pressure to perform.”
Last week, 23-year-old weightlifter Wu Jingbiao publicly apologized, bowing in front of the television cameras, for bringing home a silver, not gold, medal. “I feel terribly sorry for my country, China’s weightlifting team and everyone that supports me,” Wu said, fighting back tears. That came after some Chinese newspapers referred to 17-year-old Chinese female weightlifter Zhou Jun as one of the country’s greatest failures.
“It is not the barbell that overwhelmed Wu, but a world of difference in terms of treatment toward gold medal winner and that of silver medal,” said the Southern Metropolis Daily, a newspaper in China’s southern Guangdong province.
An editorial written this week in the state-run China Youth Daily newspaper called for change, saying leaders have hammered hard for medals in pursuit of global recognition that could have been earned in other, more socially beneficial ways. “Even from the standpoint of sports fans, we are more concerned with public affairs that affect our happiness,” the China Youth Daily editorial said.
State-run newspapers have taken the opposite approach, arguing that any criticism of the state’s sports system is criticism of the state itself.
In many ways this debate is a good thing for Chinese culture. It will be interesting to see how this debate evolves.
China’s march towards a modern economy continues unabated, even with reports of a recent slowdown. While the country is still held back by the restrictive policies of the government, censorship and corruption, many changes are afoot that will transform the culture over time. While Internet access is somewhat restricted, Chinese citizens can find information and entertainment if they are determined to do so. They can communicate through social networking, play online games or track poker on Party Poker Television. There’s only so much the government can do to hold back the desires of the Chinese people. They want the brands we have and want to play the games we play. Consumerism is a very powerful force, as people around the world want access to what Western citizens have. With the Internet, they can see what others have, and that influences behavior. Just look at the Middle East and see what social media and online access can do to a restrictive culture.
With gambling, the government has actually accelerated the cultural shift with the support of the massive growth in Macau. Gambling revenues continue to grow rapidly even with a slowdown looming in the overall Chinese economy. Given the size of Macau’s gambling presence this is still impressive growth. The casinos in Las Vegas aren’t happy about it, as the Asian high rollers no longer have Vegas as their primary destination. Macau is closer and bigger.
This isn’t lost on the Chinese people, who now have their own glittering destination for gambling. Naturally, this helps fuel the growth of games like poker in China. The poker popularity explosion is around 15 years old in the United States, but can you imagine the growth of this game as over a billion Chinese people become exposed to the game with the hype surrounding Macau and access to online gaming sites?
Things like this might seem trivial, but small things like poker and gambling can have a huge impact on culture. People demand the right to enjoy entertainment options once they are exposed to them. You can’t put that genie back in the box.
Las Vegas casinos used to feast on Asian gamblers. Often, these were the “whales” – otherwise known as high rollers – that the casinos would rely upon to rack up huge profits from their casino operations.
The popularity of casino games is huge. People love playing online and they also love the atmosphere of a casino. This has always been a hallmark of the Asian culture, and Chinese tourists were becoming a huge growth opportunity for the Vegas casinos.
But all of that is changing due to two very powerful forces. One was the financial crisis which decimated the Vegas casinos. Everyone was affected, including Chinese tourists. Now the crowds are coming back to Vegas, but there is still a problem as there are fewer Asian high rollers.
And that’s due to the second factor – the emergence of Macau in China as a gambling destination. The casinos there are bigger than those in Vegas and the gambling volume has surpassed Las Vegas. Chinese whales now can stay on their own continent and get the same kind of thrill from progressive jackpot slots or hours of blackjack. They don’t have to look to Vegas as the best option.
This trend is having a huge impact on Chinese tourism, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Is China fighting a losing battle with its ridiculous censorship crusade?
Authoritarian governments need to control information to control their population, so none of this nonsense is a surprise. Now the Chinese are extending this strategy to movies:
China has proposed a new law to ban film content which it deems to disturb social stability or promote religious fanaticism.
The Movie Industry Promotion Bill would also forbid foreign firms or individuals from filming without a government-sanctioned partner.
Correspondents say this is part of an overall tightening of China’s grip over its cultural industries.
China has long banned the screening of films deemed politically sensitive.
And some film-makers have steered clear of controversial issues likely to upset the authorities, observers say.
But this draft bill adds even more categories open to censorship. It states that films must not harm national honour and interest, incite ethnic hatred, spread “evil cults” or superstition, or propagate obscenity, gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror.
The Chinese are trying their best with this despicable strategy, but can this work in a modern world where we have social media and mobile phones? Have they seen what’s going in with the Arab Spring and now even in Russia?
For example, if people want mobile gambling apps, they are going to get them. But the same phones that permit this technology can also be used for social networking, sharing photos, videos and protest ideas.
A Chinese rock band hired by Puma, a leading sports lifestyle company, plays American music covers during a public marketing event at an international fashion mall in Beijing. Foreign companies hoping to do business in China often hire local musicians, celebrities and athletes to help promote their brand to the largest consumer market in the world.
Actress Bai Ling arriving at the Huffington Post 100 Gamechangers event on October 18 2011 in New York City Philip Vaughan
Actress Bai Ling arriving at the Huffington Post 100 Gamechangers event on October 18 2011 in New York City. Ling is a Chinese actress who you’ve seen in films such as The Crow. She also had a cool role in Entourage.
The National Ballet of China gave an adaptation of classical opera, The Peony Pavilion, its European première at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, which has been extremely well-received.
This performance was shortened to just one hour and forty minutes, and was directed by Li Liuyi, choreographed by Fei Bo, and had music composed by Guo Wenjing. The original, or course, was written by the legendary Tang Xianzu in 1598, and lasted a total of 20 hours. Some audiences may have already seen the 2001, movie adaptation of this play, which was titled ‘Yóuyuán Jīngmèng’. However, whilst it might be easier to watch a movie version whilst checking emails or playing online games at the Chinese PartyPoker site, nothing quite compares to seeing pieces like this performed live. Indeed, this latest dance interpretation of The Peony Pavilion has been, for many, one of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
The plot of The Peony Pavilion follows a young girl who falls asleep and dreams of a man with whom she falls in love. Upon waking, she becomes obsessed with the man from her dream, and eventually dies of a broken heart. However, the president of the underworld judges that she is destined to marry the man she has seen, and so she is brought back to life in order to do so.
Audiences are said to have been particularly impressed by the stunning aesthetics of this particular production, which feature a number of traditional costumes, and draw on other typically Chinese styles of dance. The festival celebrates a wide range of performance art, and take places in Scotland’s capital city. This year’s festival director, Jonathan Mills, had chosen to include the production as one of the many examples of how Eastern culture has come to inspire much Western art.