Obese Youth in China

Until 5 years ago, obesity wasn’t seen as a health problem by Chinese health experts.
In contrast to western countries where obesity is linked to poverty, in China it’s linked to wealth.


An Infographic inspired by the article “Obesity Outpacing Economic Growth in China” in online version of the Epoch Times from September 21. 2013.
All graphics used are from openclipart.org and licensed as public domain.


Adrenalin Focus Rugby

“Adrenalin and focus, that’s your life for 40 minutes.”

An interview with the Scrum-half of the Hongkong University Rugby Team.
Grace Fung about playing Rugby.

Noise Annyos Beijing Citiziens

Noise pollution is a problem for many people in Beijing

A builder cutting through an iron bar in a residential area

A builder cutting through an iron bar in a residential area.

The long battle of Beijing City Government  reducing traffic noise  is well observed by the public.
But it’s a different kind of noise which is the real problem. People living here get upset and frustrated by environmental noise in their homes or during past time activites, the very places they’ve choosen to get away from the the hussle and buzzle of the the big city.

Forbidden City with fewer crowds

Phillip Sarnoff has queued only 10 minutes for a ticket to the Forbidden City, Beijing,  China.

Phillip Sarnoff has queued only 10 minutes for a ticket to the Forbidden City, Beijing, China.

Philipp Sarnoff, a German teacher in Chunchang, is arguing with a tourist guide. “I can get you a ticket in a minute, if you queue yourself, it will take you 2 hours”: Lily ,the tourist guide, points to the ticket booths across the place before the huge gate, which is the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. “There are too many people, yesterday we had 70,000 visitors.” she tries to convince him. The queues are not too long and he is willing to take his chances, he explains to Lily, she finally leaves him alone, after handing him her name card, just in case he changes his mind.

According to Xinhuanet, 186,000 visitors came to the Forbidden City on the 2nd of October 2012, which is the highest number on record.  Amongst the most popular tourist destinations in China, the Forbidden City ranks on place 2 directly after the Great wall.  Many Chinese and foreign tourist come to visit the Forbidden City during the so called “Golden Week” holidays starting from the 1st  of October and lasting for 7 days.

While Philipp is waiting in a short queue for his turn to buy a ticket, he comments on the many people around :”It’s crazy but that’s what I expected. But I’m a lot taller than most of the Chinese and can see everything.” The 1.98m tall German makes his way through the security gates into the Forbidden City.

Since September 2011 the Forbidden City website offers an online reservation system. It has been put into place to avoid long queues at the ticket booths and to better plan for peak visitor days. Unfortunately the system is only available in Chinese.

Nadir and Camilla

Inside the Forbidden City, Camilla Maville and Nadir Rossi from Italy,  take a rest between 2 stairs over which a the constant stream of peoples make their way up to a gate. They study Chinese here in Beijing and it’s there first holiday since they arrived. They decided to visit the Forbidden city in the morning but didn’t know that there was online ticket reservation system.“ They seem ok with so many people at this attraction and explain, that China has many people and that the streets of Beijing are crowded even when there is no holiday.

Stephan Muench photo

Stephan Mueller, another German, is asked to pose on a photo together with some Chinese. “I’m always asked to pose on photos, you get used to it.”  He just finished an internship in Shanghai and takes the holidays for a trip to Beijing. He planned his trip from Shanghai with the help of some friends but he hasn’t heard of the online ticket system either.  The Forbidden City and the Great Wall are the 2 main attractions he wants to visit.

Forbidden City Empty Throne Photographers

The large place behind him seems not very crowded. But the hall in front of him shows a different picture. On display inside is the throne of the emperor. A crowd of tourists have gathered fighting about getting a glimpse and good picture of the empty throne.

Yu Dalong

Yu Dalong, a Chinese tourist from Heilong is happy that he came today. “Yesterday there were 70,000 visitors, I heard. Today there are not so many people here.”

Forbidden City Exit

Camilla and Nadir have made it through exit of the Forbidden City. The place behind the south gate is really crowded, it’s late afternoon. They discuss what to do after the visit. Camille comments on the Forbidden City:”It’s really pretty.”

Fresh graduated dancers struggle to invent new jobs

Chinese dancers modern dance

Chinese dancers perfom modern dance at “Happy Feet” art exhibition, Bed Bar, Beijing, 7 September 2013

It’s Sunday night in early August, Pengfei, a fresh graduated dancer, is dancing a short piece from Pina Bausch’s Cafe Mueller. He’s a dancing teacher here at the Junran Art Center in Beijing, China, and the joint screening and workshop, introducing modern dance, is ending. Many of the people taking part in this workshop are dancers or actors, among them fresh and recent graduates, which share the same fate like most having difficulties in finding a job in their major.

According to MyCOS, a Beijing based higher education consulting firm, this year nearly 7 million college students are looking to start a fresh career. They are facing a tough time job hunting with 2013 being the year with a four-fold increase and most college graduates in China, after the expansion of the university system in 1990.
The ‘Top 10 most employable majors in China 2013‘ list shows only majors in engineering, but what is the situation for young dancers and actors finding jobs?

Dancer’s careers
Pengfei, graduated with a degree in modern dance and choreography from Beijing Opera College. The Beijing Modern Dancing Company took him on as an intern just after he graduated in spring 2013. “ It was too easy for me, maybe I’m lucky. My major is so good. This company needed one actor” he says.
But his classmates weren’t that lucky and didn’t find a job as dancers. “My friends now go to junior school as a teacher, some go to another company as actors, and some are still looking for a job.”

Graduates ending up doing manual labour jobs instead of finding employment related to their major is an increasing problem worldwide, which finally has reached China, writes Patti Waldmeir from Shanghai.

Blue collar and dancing shoes
Some of Pengfei’s classmates decided to stay in Beijing and still try their luck. “Many people join this major, because they think this major is so cool. And they have a dream, and someone have a dream like this just don’t need this money, just for art.” describes Pengfei their motivation.
He adds, that most can barely afford to do this and are often depending on financial support from their parents for one or two years. Just enough money to try to fulfill their dream, while taking on job opportunities as hosts for small product promotions and corporate events, looking for openings in plays and dancing companies.
They’ve become part of the growing Beipiao subculture, which can be translated as Beijing Floater or Beijing Vagabond, a busy lifestyle centered around building up a network and finding a chance to get their career started, while taking any little job available. If they don’t succeed and their parents can’t support them anymore, they will most likely have to return to their home cities and villages and take on whatever job is available if any.

Inventing new jobs on your own
Chinese leaders are getting increasingly worried about graduates not finding jobs and in May 2013 President Xi Jinping surprised many students attending a job market in Tianjin, encouraging them to work hard and create jobs.

Jesse Appell, a young American from Boston, studying Xiangsheng, a traditional Chinese comedy style known as Chinese Crosstalk, will be searching for a job as comedian here in China soon. Currently he’s performing weekly at the Open Mike session of Comedy Club China in Beijing’s Hot Cat Club to get more experience.
“Find areas of the market like other types of work. Being entertaining would make it so much better for everybody. Right now everybody is doing work in a very boring way where everybody hates their job, because there is no fun involved, then maybe find a way to make a little fun in that” he thinks out loud before he is casting it into a new job idea: ”There are a lot of kids. They don’t want to sit with a textbook when they are told to study English, but if we just start acting and trying to speak, just get up and start moving using our bodies, that sort of thing, then all of a sudden everybody is liking it.”
Jesse shrugs his shoulders and smiles. It might be difficult though, he analysis, since only established forms of art and culture can count on support by the government here in China. But still it’s better to make full use of the skills artists learn in education then letting them go waste, he finishes confident.

The network
Back in Junran Art Center, the workshop has ended and the participants start to mingle and exchange their contact details, information about other events and possible jobs. Many of them performed dancing together for the “Feet Happy” art event, a few weeks later in early September at Bed Bar, Beijing, hosted by Beijing Creatives, a group encouraging creative people to “share, create and collaborate”.

The future will show how young dancers and actors will manage and if their initiative and imagination will let them create new jobs independently from any official support. Securing a better future for them while bringing more culture, colour and fun into every day life is a goal we will all benefit from.

Pingyao Singing Street Vendor

A Pingyao street vendor entertains tourists by teaching them how to sing his advertising slogan.

Pingyao street scene, a vendor pushes his cart.

The vendor is called to a group of tourists.

A street vendor offering dates from a cart to a group of women in Pingyao.

Vendor offering fresh Chinese dates.

Chinese Dates on the vendor's cart.

Chinese Dates on the vendor’s cart.

Street vendor offering dates over a cart to a group of women.

The vendor encourages to taste his dates and teaches his advertising singing.

Women tasting dates and singing.

The women taste the fresh dates and sing the newly taught slogan.

Hands picking up dates from a cart.

Choosing and buying dates.

Women haggling over price and weight with a street vendor.

Some haggling over price and weight.

A group of women waving goodbye.

The women see the vendor off.

A vendor pushing a cart on a street in Pingyao.

The vendor leaves down the street.