Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kunming massacre

Posted: March 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

here is a more intertesting piece on the event. (link good)

No one at the railway station in Kunming noticed the men and women wearing black until they drew their knives and began slashing throats.

Working together, according to Chinese witnesses, the group seemed well-trained: they knew exactly where to stab and cut.

By the time Chinese police reacted, shooting four as the rest of the group dissolved into the darkness, 29 people were dead and more than 130 injured.

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for last Saturday’s attack. But some fear it may be the start of a new cycle of violence as China becomes a target for radicals trained or influenced by Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The state media called the attack "China’s 9-11": the moment when Islamic terrorists began to target Chinese civilians.

The authorities have suggested that ethnic Uighurs are responsible, whose homeland is the north western frontier region of Xinjiang.

Since the 1980s, when large numbers of Han Chinese began moving into Xinjiang, the authorities have battled a small but determined independence movement.

Local Muslim Uighurs, angry at becoming second-class citizens in their homeland, have regularly launched attacks on the Chinese authorities, occasionally calling for their own state: East Turkestan.

In the past year, there have been at least five serious attacks reported in the Chinese media, and dozens killed. The cities that have seen the heaviest fighting, Kashgar and Hotan, are roughly the same distance from Mecca as they are from Beijing.

Kunming has a large but transient population of Uighurs, many of whom find work with the city’s 500,000-strong population of ethnic Hui Muslims.

It may also be a stopover on the route to South East Asia: roughly 100 Uighurs were arrested on the border with Laos a year ago, according to Radio Free Asia, and a group of Uighurs was also deported back from Cambodia in 2009.

But the attack on the railway station was "anomalous", said Dru Gladney, the author of Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People’s Republic.

"What you have in Xinjiang are social eruptions and personal vendettas. This felt more like radical Islam, maybe an imitation of the Mumbai attacks or the Chechen attacks, although they did not take hostages or attack infrastructure.

"It was for shock appeal rather than a strategic effort. But attacking civilians is a game changer."

Prof Gladney noted that the attackers were all dressed in black "which is not typical of Uighurs and may be more likely the influence of South East Asian groups".

He added: "Their knives were not Xinjiang knives, which tend to be ornate, with colourful stones and glass, and their flag was the wrong colour. The flag of East Turkestan is a light blue, this one is a dark blue or black and the writing is Arabic not Uighur, and poorly done."

The involvement of two young female attackers suggested that the group may have learned from the Caucasus militants, said Jacob Zenn, a Eurasia analyst at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington.

"Women featured prominently in the Beslan kidnapping in Russia and attacking a train station is also something that is done in the Caucasus but has not been done by Uighurs before."

For years, China has warned that it faces the threat of Uighurs from Xinjiang becoming radicalised in the cauldron of fundamentalists in Pakistan and Central Asia.

"China’s ongoing security crackdown in Xinjiang has forced the most militant Uighur separatists into volatile neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan, where they are forging strategic alliances with, and even leading, jihadist factions affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban," wrote Philip Potter, an assistant professor of public policy and political science at the University of Michigan, in a recent paper.

China refers to these terrorists as members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an umbrella phrase for all the splinter groups that operate in Pakistan and central Asia.

"There is no one group that calls itself ETIM," said Mr Zenn. "The Chinese could be referring broadly to East Turkestan movements because there are lots of different groups."

"The Chinese do not have a very clear definition of what it is that represents ETIM," added Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

The most prominent group is the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), which was formed in 2006 by Uighurs who had fled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1990s, according to Mr Zenn.

"The TIP focuses on propaganda in order to attract funding and it has succeeded because Xinjiang is now included in the global jihad by Al Qaeda, which it did not used to be," he said.

The organisation publishes online statements in English and Arabic as well as Uighur and releases a regular stream of videos from its camps in Pakistan.

"The videos do not show a huge amount: people running with AK-47s, building rudimentary bombs, displaying rocket-propelled grenades," said Mr Pantucci. "They sometimes have an interesting thing of getting senior Al Qaeda speakers to praise them, saying that the Turkestanis are doing a good job."

Some of the members of the group have been reportedly killed in drone strikes alongside "hardline factions of the Pakistani Taliban," he added.

Ironically, TIP claimed responsibility for the last terror attacks in Kunming, a pair of bus bombs that went off before the Beijing Olympics, killing two and injuring 14. At the time, however, the Chinese authorities were keen to play down the potential of a terrorist attack during the games.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks, a businessman in Kunming told James Boughner, a visiting American diplomat, at the time: "When the Uighurs don’t do anything, the government blames them for something; when they claim to have done something, the government says they didn’t."

Last October, the TIP praised an attack on Tiananmen Square when a man drove his wife and mother into tourists underneath the portrait of Chairman Mao before his jeep exploded into flames.

It has also showed footage of one of the men arrested in an attack on Kashgar attending one of its training camps in Pakistan.

But while China is keen to blame the TIP for attacks on its soil in order to justify its vast security operation in Xinjiang, there is little direct evidence that it is running operations and it may only have between 50 to 200 members.

"Angry people in Xinjiang who feel oppressed might have some material from a terrorist group but does that mean they are members or that there is a causal link?

"The Chinese government is not bothering with that nuance. They are all motivated by ideology so they are all ETIM," said Mr Pantucci.

The most prominent case involving a Uighur terrorist, the conviction of Muhammad Rashidin, or Mikael Davoud, in Norway in 2010 for plotting to blow up a newspaper office, made no mention of an organised Uighur terrorist group.

At his trial, Davoud said he had wanted to attack the Chinese embassy, having been radicalised by the "murder" of his relatives by the Chinese authorities.

He spent time in a religious school in Pakistan before reaching Norway, and was in email contact with Al Qaeda groups in Pakistan. But Peter Nesser, an expert witness at the trial, said there was "nothing in court which tied him to ETIM and it was not mentioned".

After initially putting ETIM on a global terror list to win Beijing’s support for the war in Afghanistan, the United States has now removed it.

Prof Gladney said there was "no hardcore evidence that even if this organisation exists, it has any responsibility". He added that there is a fundamental conflict between the ideology of Uighur separatists and Al Qaeda.

"The problem is the global jihadis are anti-nationalist, anti-state, whereas the Uighurs want liberation and sovereignty, their own state. That’s why Osama Bin Laden never really mentioned the Uighurs or the Chechens, and probably why Al Qaeda never get on with the Taliban, who were very localised."

Instead, he said, attacks inside Xinjiang are being driven by unemployment among young men. "These young men are fairly well educated, they can speak up to four languages, they use the internet and are interested in the global media. They have aspirations, but there are no jobs.

"They are constantly misrepresented in the media and are angry. And its hard to get married because they have no money so where are they going to go: the mosque," he said.

This year’s Beijing International Literature Festival will start this Friday March 7, the day before the International Women’s Day. To Mark the occasion, all the sessions on March 8 touch upon women’s issues. Originally I was invited to serve as a moderate for the first session at 10 on Saturday morning entitled Feminism in the 21st Century. Then I was asked to be a panelist. The other panelists are British/Indian feminist writer Bidisha, French writer Carole Martinez.

As a certified feminist – I am one of the two dozen Chinese women who graduated from China’s first feminist school, I am delighted to take part, in whatever role.

In some ways, I felt relieved to be a panelist because I can just say what I want to say. Whileas as a moderator, you have to navigate and make sure things move ahead smoothly and draw out something from each panelist, which requires fair amount of research beforehand.

First of all, I think a writer’s outlook, including her sexual politics, will inevitably follow her into the world of literature. I do have a feminist intention in my writing. I write what interest me. Gender issue is a big one. It fascinates me because I always believe women’s position in a society tells you a lot about what’s going on.

Now, feminism in the 21st century. In the west, people have been talking about if feminist is a thing in the past. In China, on the other hand, feminist movement is just budding. To form a movement as such, it demands further relaxed social control and a civil society. But I feel encouraged by the increased feminist activism in the past years, for example, my young feminist activist friend Xiao Mei has just walked all the way from Beijing to Guangzhou to protest against child sex abuse.

Yes, I enjoy writing about women’s issue and I write as a gendered being.

Come along. It should be a highly interesting session.

In China, ‘Once the Villages Are Gone, the
Culture Is Gone’
BEIJING — Once or twice a week, a dozen amateur musicians meet under
a highway overpass on the outskirts of Beijing, carting with them drums,
cymbals and the collective memory of their destroyed village. They set up
quickly, then play music that is almost never heard anymore, not even
here, where the steady drone of cars muffles the lyrics of love and betrayal,
heroic deeds and kingdoms lost.
The musicians used to live in Lei Family Bridge, a village of about 300
households near the overpass. In 2009, the village was torn down to build
a golf course and residents were scattered among several housing projects,
some a dozen miles away.
Now, the musicians meet once a week under the bridge. But the
distances mean the number of participants is dwindling. Young people,
especially, do not have the time.
“I want to keep this going,” said Lei Peng, 27, who inherited
leadership of the group from his grandfather. “When we play our music, I
think of my grandfather. When we play, he lives.”
Across China, cultural traditions like the Lei family’s music are under
threat. Rapid urbanization means village life, the bedrock of Chinese
culture, is rapidly disappearing, and with it, traditions and history.
“Chinese culture has traditionally been rural-based,” says Feng Jicai,
a well-known author and scholar. “Once the villages are gone, the culture2/2/2014 In China, ‘Once the Villages AreGone, theCulture Is Gone’ – 2/6
is gone.”
That is happening at a stunning rate. In 2000, China had 3.7 million
villages, according to research by Tianjin University. By 2010, that figure
had dropped to 2.6 million, a loss of about 300 villages a day.
For decades, leaving the land was voluntary, as people moved to the
cities for jobs. In the past few years, the shift has accelerated as
governments have pushed urbanization, often leaving villagers with no
choice but to move.
China’s top leadership has equated urbanization with modernization
and economic growth. Local governments are also promoting it, seeing the
sale of rural land rights as a way to compensate for a weak tax base.
Evicting residents and selling long-term leases to developers has become a
favored method for local governments to balance budgets and local
officials to line their pockets. Numerous local officials are under
investigation for corruption linked to rural land sales.
Destroying villages and their culture also reveals deeper biases. A
common insult in China is to call someone a farmer, a word equated with
backwardness and ignorance, while the most valued cultural traditions are
elite practices like landscape painting, calligraphy and court music.
But in recent years, Chinese scholars have begun to recognize the
countryside’s vast cultural heritage. A mammoth government project has
cataloged roughly 9,700 examples nationwide of “intangible cultural
heritage,” fragile traditions like songs, dances, rituals, martial arts,
cuisines and theater. About 80 percent of them are rural.
In the past few years, for example, Mr. Feng has documented the
destruction of 36 villages in Nanxian, a county on Tianjin’s outskirts, home
to a famous center of woodblock printing.
“You don’t know if it will survive or not because when they’re in their
new homes they’re scattered,” he said. “The knowledge isn’t concentrated
anymore and isn’t transmitted to a new generation.”
That is the problem facing the musicians in Lei Family Bridge. The
village lies on what used to be a great pilgrimage route from Beijing north2/2/2014 In China, ‘Once the Villages AreGone, theCulture Is Gone’ – 3/6
to Mount Yaji and west to Mount Miaofeng, holy mountains that
dominated religious life in the capital. Each year, temples on those
mountains would have great feast days spread over two weeks. The faithful
from Beijing would walk to the mountains, stopping at Lei Family Bridge
for food, drink and entertainment.
Groups like Mr. Lei’s, known as pilgrimage societies, performed free
for the pilgrims. Their music is based on stories about court and religious
life from roughly 800 years ago and features a call-and-response style,
with Mr. Lei singing key plotlines of the story and the other performers,
decked out in colorful costumes, chanting back. The music is found in
other villages, too, but each one has its own repertoire and local variations
that musicologists have only begun to examine.
When the Communists took over in 1949, these pilgrimages were
mostly banned, but were revived starting in the 1980s when the leadership
relaxed control over society. The temples, mostly destroyed during the
Cultural Revolution, were rebuilt.
The performers, however, are declining in numbers and increasingly
old. The universal allures of modern life — computers, movies, television —
have siphoned young people away from traditional pursuits. But the
physical fabric of the performers’ lives has also been destroyed.
One recent afternoon, Mr. Lei walked through the village, now
reduced to rubble and overgrown with wild grass and bushes. He started
singing with his grandfather when he was 2. He now has an office job in
the city’s public transportation company and spends all his vacation time
working on the troupe.
“This was our house,” he said, gesturing to a small rise of rubble and
overgrown weeds. “They all lived in the streets around here. We performed
at the temple.”
The temple is one of the few buildings still standing. (The Communist
Party headquarters is another.) Built in the 18th century, the temple is
made of wooden beams and tiled roofs, surrounded by a seven-foot wall.
Its brightly painted colors have faded. The weather-beaten wood is2/2/2014 In China, ‘Once the Villages AreGone, theCulture Is Gone’ – 4/6
cracking in the dry, windy Beijing air. Part of the roof has caved in, and the
wall is crumbling.
“It used to be on a list of historic preservation,” Mr. Lei said. “The
government says it will be rebuilt, but no one seems to know anything.”
Government urban-planning officials could not be reached for
comment on the village.
Evenings after work, the musicians would meet in the temple to
practice. As recently as Mr. Lei’s grandfather’s generation, the performers
could fill a day with songs without repeating themselves. Today, they can
sing only a handful. Some middle-aged people have joined the troupe, so
on paper they have a respectable 45 members. But meetings are so hard to
arrange that the newcomers never learn much, he said, and performing
under a highway overpass is unattractive.
“I guess for a lot of us it’s a hobby,” said Li Lan, 55, a cymbalist and
singer. “It’s just so inconvenient now to come out here and practice.”
Over the past two years, the Ford Foundation underwrote music and
performance classes for 23 children from migrant families from other
parts of China. Mr. Lei taught them to sing, and to apply the bright
makeup used during performances. Last May, they performed at the
Mount Miaofeng temple fair, earning stares of admiration from other
pilgrimage societies also facing aging and declining membership.
But the project’s funding ended over the summer, and the children
drifted away.
“I think it’s pointless because you have to be from our village to
understand how important this is,” Mr. Lei said. “Anyway, those children
will move somewhere else and won’t learn long enough to become real
members. It was nice but didn’t fix the problem.”
One of the oddities of the troupe’s struggles is that some traditional
artisans now get government support. The government lists them on a
national register, organizes performances and offers modest subsidies to
Last month, Mr. Lei’s group was featured on local television and2/2/2014 In China, ‘Once the Villages AreGone, theCulture Is Gone’ – 5/6
invited to perform at Chinese New Year activities. Such performances raise
about $200 and provide some recognition that what the group does
Du Yang, director of the district office of intangible cultural heritage
protection, said the group’s music was among 69 protected practices in
her district.
“The goal is to make sure these cultural heritages don’t get lost,” she
said. “It would be a great pity if they are lost just as our country is on the
road to prosperity.”
Mr. Lei said that keeping their village life intact would have helped
“It was really comfortable in the old village,” he said back in his new
home, a small two-bedroom apartment high up in an apartment block a
half-hour drive away. “We had a thousand square meters and rented out
rooms to migrants from other provinces. Lots of buses stopped nearby, and
we could get into the city easily.”
Like all rural residents, the Leis and their neighbors never owned their
land; all land in China belongs to the state. So when the plans were
announced to build the golf course, they had little choice but to move. “No
one protested,” he said. “We knew we didn’t have a choice. You have to just
go with the flow.”
Everyone got free apartments and $50,000 to $100,000 in
Strangely, however, the golf course has never been built, and the
village still lies in ruins. No one here can figure out if this is because the
development was illegal, or perhaps part of a corrupt land deal that is
under investigation. Such information is not public, so villagers can only
speculate. Mostly, they try to forget.
“I try not to think about these things too much,” Mr. Lei said.
“Instead, I try to focus on the music and keeping it alive.”
Mia Li contributed research from Beijing.2/2/2014 In China, ‘Once the Villages AreGone, theCulture Is Gone’ – 6/6
A version of this article appears in print on February 2, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition
with the headline: In China, ‘Once the Villages Are Gone, the Culture Is Gone’.
© 2014 The New York Times Company

I am writing from my detox and yoga retreat called Bahay Kalipay, in Palawan island. It’s a holistic wellbeing center, located in a densely wooded area, a few minutes’ walk away from the sea.

The huts are simple but with rustic charm. The main sitting/yoga area is decorated with wooden masks and carvings and Tibetan pray flags. Life is simple too. No hot shower. There isn’t even toilet paper. All eco-friendly.

I was looking forward to coming to the place but had reservation about food. Actually food has been delicious. Breakfast consisted of sliced papaya, mango, banana, toppled with dried coconut bits and crushed nuts, washed down with a home-made chocolate drink. Last night, we had veggie spring rolls and sweet corn salad.

This coming Saturday, there will be a food workshop to demonstrate how to make such delicious vegan food. I can’t wait!

There are about ten of us staying here at the moment, mostly women as you can imagine. Half of them are yoga teachers or volunteers. We do yoga, meditation, energy workshop and such. For more pleasure parts, there’s massage and body scrub.

I simply can’t get over how beautiful and quiet this place is. I love to look at the brilliant stars at night, such a treat for someone like me from smog choked Beijing. This morning, I went to the beach to watch the sunrise and did yoga right on the beach. There are a lot of white birds – cranes I think, in the nearby marsh. From the forest behind me, all sorts of birds were singing. It was a very memorable experience.

What’s the down side? Well today is the day for silence, which I can manage. It’s also the coconut fasting day, meaning the only thing you can eat is coconut. I am not sure how I am going to survive this.

Manila – A city of Two Tales

Posted: February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

I truly enjoyed my action-packed first day in Manila, during which time I felt I have poked my head into the society.

It wasn’t my first trip. I first made my way here exactly 15 years ago, when I was heavily pregnant with my younger daughter Kirsty.

I only did the touristy things back then. This time, I’d like to do something a little more interesting.

I had wanted to visit a slum. Everywhere I go, I try to visit people’s home or slums, places that allow insight into the society. When I told this idea to a lovely Filipino friend Dana in Beijing, she said she wouldn’t recommend that at all. But she suggested that I could visit her parents’ house in St. Antonio Village in the eastern part of the city, and they could take me to see the squatters in the village. Of course, I snatched the opportunity.

St. Antonio was the first such gated middle-class communities in Manila, established in the late 50’s. At first, it was a cluster of bungalows. Slowly some of the houses gave way to condominiums, housing 6-8 families where one family used to live.

Dana’s parents, both established artists, live in a charming house, its wall draped over by pink bougainvillea. They received me in their semi-open reception area, which was decorated by their art works. Thanks to their interest in art, theatre and in theatre, I felt connected with them straight away.

Then they drove me to the squatters’ quarter, as promised. The slum is not nearly as bad as the images I’ve seen on the Internet but it is a world apart from Dana’s house. The original condominiums were unrecognizable. There are some roughly constructed low buildings. The streets are so narrow that a super-sized American would have difficulties to pass. There were lots of little children running around, naked or in their torn shots. Dana’s mum said children are the only things that the squatters produce. Typically, the husbands have some piece-meal jobs and the wives look after the home. Sometimes the children beg in the city. If they are lucky, some wives or the daughters work abroad as maids.

It seems that they don’t get a lot of help from the government. Many of the children don’t go to school. Sanitation is very poor.

With one of the worst gini co-efficient in the Asia, inequality is one of the problems that has plagued the Philippine society for years. Millions live in sheer poverties.

Slums have been an eye sore for the government. Last July, thousands of squatters from San Juan in Northern Manila clashed with the police as the authorities attempted to evict them and build a business center in the place.

Since Dana’s parents have never visited the squatters’ quarter and didn’t know anyone there, we only drove through. The kind couple took me to a colorful, rather up-class, restaurant run by Dana’s uncle, a keen collector who decorated his establishment (a mixture of western and Filipino) with antiques and interesting objects he has picked up around the world.

Only a few hours later, my curiosity about what a slum home was satisfied.

In the late afternoon, I visited Intramures, the old walled city. “A spacious borough of wide streets, leafy plazas and lovely colonial houses”, if I may borrow a line from the Lonely Planet Guide.

When I got out of my taxi, a small boned little Filipino guy on his tricycle offered to take me to all the sights for only 200 Pesos (less than five dollars). Why not? The light was fading. And the kid smiled so readily. In his not so fluent English, Orlando tried to feed me some historical background of all those spectaculars buildings. I only understood half of the things he uttered. When we were on the street a stone’s throw away from San Agustin church, he pointed to a lively neighbourhood, and said: “That’s my home, very poor.” I asked if he lived with his parents, he said: oh, no, I live with my wife and two children. What! I thought he was still a child. I requested if we could visit his home, he agreed, providing that I didn’t mind the poor conditions.

His neighborhood reminded me the slum I saw earlier in the afternoon: very narrow streets, houses built closely together partitioned by corrugated tin sheet, wet ground – people have to fetch water from a communal tap. In the street corner, there are quite a few virgin Mary statues. They are all devoted Catholics. A lot of people, adult and naked children, were hanging around and they all seemed rather jolly. Filipino’s easy going and cheerfulness much impressed me during my first visit.

Orlando’s house is a pigeon hole, virtually. There are two parts, a tiny sleeping quarter about three or four square meters – they all sleep on the floor and a living room/kitchen of similar size. A 12 inch TV that was flashing out slightly distorted images is the only piece furniture. His wife and children were at home. She apologized for not being able to invite me to sit on a chair. I only wish I could have brought some gifts for his children, aged at 4 and 2.

Orlando himself is only 24. He also grew up in a slum like this one in Manila. He had a few years’ education but his family was too poor to allow him to continue. He said he is working hard so that he can save money for his children’s education.

I am pleased that, despite the poverty and backwardness I saw, the day ended on a hopeful note.

Funny enough, after Orlando dropped me at San Augstin church, the priest was talking about counting one’s blessing. Very appropriate.

from ancient town fenghuang

Posted: January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Greetings from Fenghuang, Pheonix, a charming ancient river town in western Hunan, populated by Miao and Tujia ethnic minorities.

I woke up at dawn – still suffering from my jet-lag. As I lay in bed, reading, I listened to the birdsongs – a rare treat to an urban dweller like myself and the sound of local women beating their washings by the river.

I am staying at a hotel recommended by the Lonely Planet called Kaola House, with a private balcony onto the river. Across the river stand the old mill and traditional brick and wood houses on stilts. Absolutely delightful.

As the town came to life, some wailing started – a funeral ritual was going on. Then the familiar , unescapable noises of construction started: thanks to the success of places like Kaola House, more people on the river fronts are turning their homes into guesthouses.

Last night, disco and karaoke wailed into small hours. The way for many Chinese tourists to feel that they are having a good time is to frequent karaoke bars. Beautiful scenery or vibrant culture never seems enough.

I was too exhausted to be bothered by the noise, after days marching. My legs are still stiff.

Yesterday, my feminist friend Xiao Meili reached Changsha where she planned to rest for a week or also. I am taking a side trip to Fenghuang.

I’ve been inspired to visit the place ever since I read The Border Town by renowned Chinese writer Sheng Congwen who was born and raised here. The story is about an old man and his granddaughter, making a living by ferrying people across the river, and the girl‘s
relationship with two brothers. Like most of Sheng’s stories, there’s no villain. “The world is filled with kindness but also unfortunate coincident,“, as Sheng always argued. there’s no happy ending but a poetic sadness about the novel.

Dismayed by the touristy development, I am nevertheless delighted to have made my way here as it is still enchanting. In the golden morning sun, I strolled around the old town, tasting local specialties like bean starch jelly and smelly bean curd, sharing jokes with local women vendors in their colourful outfits and watching life going by.

Tonight, I am planning to sign up for a tour which will take us to a Miao village some 40 km away where we’ll join the locals dancing around a camp fire. Totally touristy but I am a tourist after all.

Feminists in Action

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

My bags packed, ready to go. Tonight I am going to fly down to Hunan to join a young feminist friend Xiao Meili who has been marching for nearly four months in protest against child sex abuse. On September 15, after the graduation ceremony at China’s first feminist school when a dozen of us, Xiao and myself included, were rewarded a certificate, Xiao left Beijing, on foot, towards Guangzhou.

Along the way, she has been distributing information to local governments, staging performances and collecting signatures.

At 24, Xiao is veteran feminist activist. On Valentine’s Day, 2012, she was one of the three women who dressed up in blood-splattered wedding gowns in protest against domestic violence. In August that year, she shaved off her head in protest against the discrimination against women students at university enrollment. And last year, she was a lead actor in China’s version of Vagina Monologues.

Marching alone is a tough thing and unromantic: walking beside highways, chocked by fumes. For most part, Xiao has had one or two friends to walk with her. Now it is my turn. Delighted and encouraged by the increasing feminist activism, I’d like to show my support.

I said bags packed, actually I’ll have only one backpack with minimal necessities as I’ll have to carry everything on my back for five days. For once, I will not bring my computer or any stylish clothes. There are some fine chocolate purchased days ago in Paris.

But I am excited by this new adventure and I am sure I’ll bring back a few interesting tales.

Anyone who is interested in helping Xiao, below is the donation info.


汇款至中国银行账号:6216 6101 0000 6994 491,开户行:中国银行北京青年路支行,开户人:肖月



Factory life far from home leaves China’s migrant workers vulnerable

By Lijia Zhang, for CNN
January 2, 2014 — Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)

Workers sewing in a clothing factory in Bozhou, in east China's Anhui province.
Workers sewing in a clothing factory in Bozhou, in east China’s Anhui province.


  • China has more than 260 million migrant workers
  • Survey suggests many may suffer from mental health problems
  • Leaving behind children and elderly parents an emotional and financial burden
  • Better-educated and internet savvy, younger migrants suffer more than their elders

Shenzhen, China (CNN)