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Four Olds + Many News = Good News for Chinese Culture
By Matthew Capper

Finding (and enjoying!) traditional Chinese culture in People’s Park, Chengdu

China used to be a very different place to the one it is today. In 1949, Mao Zedong - commonly known as Chairman Mao - and his political party, the Communist Party of China, assumed power of the People's Republic of China. Since then, nothing has been the same. 

Chairman Mao was a strong man, and sometimes controversial. He oversaw the rescue of a country gripped by civil war, starvation, and poverty, and is credited with the rapid transformation of the People's Republic of China into a prosperous industrialised nation.

Since then, China has continued to make unprecedented progress. A new superpower, China is undergoing the most rapid industrial revolution the world has ever seen. And it hasn't come without some sacrifices.

Chairman Mao, in an apparent struggle to purify the Communist Party and to rekindle revolutionary fervour (to the end of continuing China's march towards a communist society and an economic superpower) initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966. During this time there was much economic growth; but it also led to planned, chaotic civil unrest and the targeted destruction of “the four olds” of China: old culture, old customs, old habits, and old ideas. The goal was to cultivate “four news.”

Unfortunately, the revolution claimed as casualties many historical artefacts and much of China’s ancient architecture; and consequently, much of its history was destroyed. As a result, despite China's increased efforts to protect and restore much of its rich, ancient heritage, you often have to search a little harder to find it in everyday city life.

Fortunately, it's more difficult to destroy old habits and traditions than it is to destroy material things. If you are lucky enough to live in Chengdu, then you have the opportunity step into an area of temporal limbo. This place is the famous “People's Park.” Built in 1911, it became the first public park in Chengdu. Today it is an infusion of both the new and the old, and is an interesting reminder of how the two can and should exist in harmony.

If you live in Chengdu then you've probably heard of People's Park. Maybe you've visited, but didn't appreciate its significance, or connect with all its glory. But if you haven't visited yet, then you need to.

After getting off at the People's Park metro station, I walked along a shrub-lined path with a little stream running alongside it. This runs up towards the main gates. As I entered the park and followed it through into the main grounds - a large, slab-paved square - I was immediately greeted by different forms of dance of alternate origin, one of ancient heritage, and one of modern mintage.

In front of me, to modern-day popular music, a form of choreographed street dance was being performed by a group of young performers, to an absorbed audience. All of a sudden an old boy wearing a pair of round-framed glasses took centre stage. He ripped-off his shirt to reveal a black vest underneath, and burst into spontaneous but smooth dance -- to the raucous applause and hoots of the onlookers. (I was doing most of the hooting).

Having successfully snatched the attention of the crowd away from the choreographed act behind, the charismatic old boy sent everyone into a state of shock. When the music was just about to reach the crescendo, he leaped into the air and landed perfectly into a split, and then popped back up like a sprightly lamb in spring. He threw his arms into the air and encouraged the crowd to get involved.

After lauding about what I think I have on the dance floor (but don't), I walked into the adjoining square and was greeted by the characteristic sound of the bright music that is often played in the evening in public squares all across China. It is a blend of yangge, a popular rural Chinese folk-dance and three-step. In this square there was a group of around sixty middle-aged ladies (and the occasional chap) performing strictly choreographed dance moves in very traditional fashion, characteristic of square-dancing – which in this square, it sort of was.

Square-dancing has a very long history in China. It originated with the common man as a form of enjoyable exercise for both the mind and body. As I'm sure you're all very well aware, squares, corners, and parks all across China are often used as large dance floors where the locals often get together and perform their dance routines.

I sat at the circumference of this square in amazement as I watched one particular woman, who was perhaps sixty years-old, at the front of the group and leading them through the long set-list of dances. The periphery of such get-togethers is the perfect spot from which to watch the show. It is always enjoyable and amusing to watch, particularly when other ladies turn up half way through a dance, are greeted by the others, and engage in a bit of good gossip while catching-up and getting into step.

I walked further along the adjoining tree-lined path to where it opened up into a third square. Here people were playing badminton on courts marked-off with spray paint. A glass skyscraper towers above in the background, and the courts and their surroundings provide a perfect picture of temporal contrast.

After a short stay and a cheeky game I caught a glimpse of practitioners of the ancient but revered art of calligraphy. As I approached I found a few chaps equipped with a couple of waist high calligraphy brushes, each man dipping his brush into a bucket of water and quickly painting the strokes of beautiful traditional Chinese characters onto the slabs of the pavement. They'd then both have a short break to admire and discuss each others work. Passers-by also stopped to admire the huge watery scrolls written along the pathway, before nature played its role and the water evaporated.

As I followed the path around I passed through a small arch where a few old chaps watched a portly women performing some beautiful Chinese opera into a karaoke machine. This was just about where a large, modernised park joins and extends from the original park. This part of the park is now a family-friendly recreational area that has a child's mini rollercoaster, bumper-cars, and several areas where both kids and adults can partake in a spot of pottery spinning and painting.

Just around the corner, after walking through what seemed to be a kaleidoscope of generational activities, I once again found myself being transported back to the traditional and poetic China of old. After entering through a large stone arch I arrived at a not insignificant pond teeming with lotus flowers and lily pads, over which stretches a bridge. On the bridge a lady was performing taiji. A couple of advanced years sat next to a wall of shrubs, serenading passers-by with an erhu, a traditional Chinese two-string instrument known to many in the West simply as the “Chinese violin.”

In his day, Chairman Mao believed that – in order to successfully bring the values and ideals of communism to the many peoples of China - he had first to remove capitalist, traditional, and cultural elements from Chinese society. This of course was one of the main aims of the ten-year Cultural Revolution.

Nowadays, despite the loss of a huge percentage of the country’s cultural relics and architecture (through both war and civil unrest), the people of China - though embracing the changes ushered in by Chairman Mao - still cling fast to their traditional roots. Despite mass-scale industrialisation and urbanisation, it's still not too difficult to observe traditional aspects of Chinese culture. You just have to know where to find them. In Chengdu, an evening stroll through People's Park is the perfect place to start.

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National Rollout of Burger King's Impossible Whopper

The Impossible Burger patty in a Burger King Whopper is the biggest bang so far in the galaxy of plant-based meats, and now that bang is even bigger: The Impossible Whopper goes nationwide at all 7,200 Burger King locations in the US on Aug. 8. After a successful test in St. Louis, which is battleground over the definition of "meat", the Impossible Whopper spread to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami and other cities, but national rollout has always been the benchmark of a new era in fast food.

Nationwide availability of the Impossible Whopper does much to assuage concerns that plant-based patties are a fad, a concern cited as a reason that McDonalds hasn't yet made a similar move. When and if McDonald's does choose (really, anoint) a plant-based "meat" patty it will be a bellwether, thanks to the brand having twice the number of locations and nearly four times the sales as Burger King in the US. McDonald's introduced a McVegan in Germany using a plant-based "Incredible Burger" from Nestle that has all the hallmarks of clear broadside at Impossible.

The new McVegan made with Nestle's "Incredible Burger" debuted in McDonald's German locations shortly after the Impossible Whopper was announced.

While the big food chains offer burgers, tacos, breakfast sandwiches and soon bacon made with plant-based meat, an even bigger battle is shaping up in grocery stores. Impossible just cleared a major hurdle toward offering its plant-based meat in stores, thanks to a favorable FDA ruling over the safety of heme, the plant ingredient that allows the burger to "bleed." Barring any objections that offer new proof the heme is unsafe, Impossible could have its burgers in grocery cases by this fall.

Aside from a specially formed Impossible Burger patty that conforms precisely to Burger King's bun diameter, the Impossible Whopper features the same bun, cheese and condiments as a traditional Whopper.

The Impossible Whopper has moved from regional availability to taking its place on Burger King's main menu page.

"We're making meat from plants. That's never been done before," Impossible Foods founder Pat Brown told me, tacitly demoting competitor Beyond Meat's plant-based burger, which has been offered at most of the 1,100 Carl's Jr. restaurants since the beginning of 2019. "People have made plant-based replacements for meat, but they haven't made plant-based meat."

One way the Impossible Whopper will indeed differ from the original is price, costing a significant $1 more in an industry where brands have gone to war brandishing menus of items that only cost a dollar. As with electric cars, price parity with the established choice is a future linchpin to mainstream success.

On the left is the Impossible Whopper we hacked in Impossible's test kitchen. On the right, a traditional Whopper, indistinguishable visually and on the palate.

"Once we have products that taste the same or better and that cost less, plant-based and clean meat will simply take over," according to Bruce Friedrich, executive director of the Good Food Institute, which champions plant- and cell-based meats.

"So very little will change in people's everyday lives as more and more meat is produced either from plants or from cells. Consumers will continue to buy burgers, chicken sandwiches and sausages, [but] those products will simply not have the adverse impact on our environment and global health."

Impossible says its team spent an inordinate amount of time getting its burger to survive the "death-defying drop" at the end of the broiler-conveyor without breaking apart.

The Plant Meat Wars are Just Starting

Burger King doesn't break out sales figures for Whoppers, let alone its expectations for the more expensive Impossible Whopper, but some insights can be inferred from a 2018 survey by Faunalytics. Assuming price was no different between beef and alternative burgers, 65% of consumers polled said they'd still stick with beef, 21% would choose a plant-based burger like Impossible, and 11% would select a cultured burger grown from animal cells, which isn't expected on the market until the early 2020s.

But Impossible's Pat Brown feels such surveys leave out the qualitative experience. "If you give them our burger, and then ask them the question again, a very large majority of them say they would definitely buy it and would be willing to pay a premium for it."

Acceptance of plant-based meats turns not only on taste, texture and price but on overcoming momentum. Environmental and animal welfare arguments have triggered a million conversations and social media posts about meat's issues, yet US per capita meat consumption hit an all-time high in 2018.

A case of Impossible Whopper patties, the result of a long effort to comport to the realities of the fast food industry, not the other way around.

And while burgers are the American diet icon, steaks aren't far behind, and an even bigger challenge in alternative meat marketing may soon unfold at fast casual steak chains like Outback or Texas Roadhouse. Unlike burgers, steaks generally arrive on the plate unadorned, without bun, cheese or condiments to mask any shortcomings. Get steak right, so the thinking goes, and the plant-based dominoes begin to fall.

Source: CNET

HIS Celebrated with a Groundbreaking Ceremony at its new site

At the auspicious time and date of 10:08am, August 8th, Hangzhou International School (HIS) celebrated with a Groundbreaking Ceremony at its new site on Huxi Road (close to Yingcui Road). Students, Parents, Faculty, Board Members of the HIS Community attended along with a number of VIP guests, including Deputy Secretary General Of Hangzhou Mulnicipal Government, Mr. Cheng Hua Min, Deputy Secretary of Hangzhou Education Bureau, Ms. Zheng Li Min, Deputy Chief of Hangzhou Education Bureau, Mr. Mao Wei Min, Chief of Binjiang District, Mr. Li Zhi Long, etc.

Hangzhou International School (HIS) was first opened in 2002 at its current site in Binjiang, alongside the campus of No. 2 High School. HIS serves students from 2-18 years old and is the first International School and only IB and WASC accredited school in the region. The school enrolls over 700 students from over 50 nationalities. Graduates attend top universities around the world. The Director of School, Mr. Jeffry Stubbs, has worked with HIS for thirteen years and has seen the rapid growth of student enrollment over the past years.  As the current school has reached capacity, the new campus will accommodate up to 1300 students and include state-of-the-art purpose-built facilities, including: 25-meter swimming pool, 650 seat theater, two soccer fields, three gyms, 3 libraries a design center, and separate early childhood facility.  The new school will also meet the highest ratings for energy and environment design.

Since 2017, Hangzhou International School (HIS) has worked in collaboration with the Hangzhou Municipal Government, Hangzhou Education Bureau and Binjiang District government, to establish a new facility for future growth.  In December 2017, HIS signed an agreement with the Binjiang District to lease land and build a new campus in the White Horse Lake area of Binjiang District.  The new HIS campus is located at the foot of beautiful Langdai Mountain and surrounded by water canals and park space.  White Horse Lake is located about a 15-minute drive from the current site.  While the current HIS has been a wonderful home with many memories and achievements, the HIS community is excited about the additional facilities and 21st century design of the new campus.

HIS is an IB World School that offers the expatriate community in Hangzhou an inclusive international experience and curriculum (Nursery to Grade 12) based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework. HIS is the first and only international school that is fully accredited by an international accrediting association and authorized by the IB. The school currently serves students from over 50 nationalities. As a community, HIS administration, staff, parents, and students work closely to achieve high levels of success for every child. Graduates attend prestigious universities throughout the world.

Flying Frenchman Successfully Cross the English Channel

Second time lucky: Daredevil French inventor Franky Zapata, 40, becomes the first person to successfully cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard a week after his first, failed attempt.

·   French inventor Franky Zapata has crossed the English Channel on a kerosene-powered hoverboard
·   The 40-year-old is the first person in history to complete the flight following a failed attempt last week
·   He landed on the White Cliffs of Dover after just 23 minutes of flight following takeoff at Sangatte, France

Flying Frenchman Franky Zapata today became the first person in history to cross the English Channel on a kerosene-powered board not much bigger than a tea tray – saying it 'feels magnificent!'.

The 40-year-old set off towards the White Cliffs of Dover from Sangatte beach, in Calais, at 7:16am UK time in front of a cheering crowd.

Within seconds he was soaring through the skies looking just like a high-tech version of Marty McFly, the character played by Michael J. Fox in the ‘Back to the Future’ films.

There were shouts of ‘Allez le Flying Frenchman!’ and ‘Go Franky, go!’ including from Mr Zapata’s wife, Kystal.

And at 7:39am – 23 minutes later – the triumphant Mr Zapata landed at St Margaret’s Bay in Kent, saying: 'Frankly, this feels magnificent!'.

The army reservist and former Jetski champion lifted an arm in the air in triumph, shed a tear, and savoured his incredible success.

'There were no problems this time,’ he told waiting reporters. ‘Frankly, I’m tired – I’m not on holiday, but I’m elated. Thanks so much my team, and to my wife'.

'For the last five to six kilometres I just really enjoyed it. Whether this is a historic event or not, I'm not the one to decide that, time will tell.'

'We made a machine three years ago...and now we've crossed the Channel, it's crazy,' he said, before breaking into tears.

Ms Zapata had been left hugely disappointed on July 25 when he failed in his first attempt to complete the same 22.4 mile journey.

Then, he had crashed off a refuelling boat 12 miles into the trip, but this time a larger vessel and landing platform were used.

The self-styled ‘Flying Frenchman’ travelled at a speed of some 87mph, staying at least 49 feet above the water.

French naval vessels kept an eye out during the crossing in case of trouble.

Calais authorities also gave him permission to keep the refuelling boat in French waters, something they had refused the first time around due to safety concerns.

Temperatures were above 25C on Sunday, the sun was shinning brightly, and there was next to no wind or waves.

The state-of-the-art device, which was built from scratch, resembled a souped-up tea tray and could reach an altitude of 10,000 feet. It was powered by five turbojet engines.

Mr Zapata wore a flying suit inspired by the lead character in the superhero movie Iron Man.

There was a maximum of 42 litres in Mr Zapata’s backpack, meaning he once again had to refuel half way across the Channel.

This meant landing on a boat, and swapping backpacks during a stop of no more than two minutes.

He added: ‘We created a new way of flying. We don't use wings. You are like a bird, it is your body that is flying. It is a boyhood dream. We want to follow a little bit in the footsteps of the pioneers of aviation.’

Mr Zapata hopes his device will one day enter commercial production, as a revolutionary piece of military hardware.

Last month, the board impressed crowds at France's annual July 14 Bastille Day Parade, where Mr Zapata zoomed through the air 50ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde dressed as a soldier and brandishing a rifle.

The Home-made Hoverboard that Flies at 120mph and Can Reach 10,000ft

Franky Zapata's designed his home-made hoverboard himself, which is inspired by the flying suit worn by the lead character in the superhero movie Iron Man.

Powered by five jet engines, the impressive 'Flyboard Air' can propel its driver through the sky at impressive speeds of up to 120mph and reach an altitude of 10,000 feet.

The state-of-the-art device, which he built from scratch, is powered by kerosene which is widely used as a fuel in the air industry.

Mr Zapata admits it is very similar to the hoverboard used by Marty McFly, played by Michael J Fox, in the Back to the Future films.

However, current models of the Flyboard Air can only stay airborne for about ten minutes on a single tank of fuel.

The impressive board operates via a small joystick and the rider must maintain a rigid body position while using small movements to help steer.

Last week, the Flyboard Air wowed crowds at France's annual Bastille Day Parade, where Zapata zoomed through the air 50ft above Paris's Place de la Concorde, donning soldier's uniform and holding a rifle.

Mr Zapata now hopes it will one day enter commercial production, as a revolutionary piece of military hardware - and he was even granted £1.26 million by France's Ministry of Defence to develop it.

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said that the board would be 'tested for different uses, for example as a flying logistical platform, or indeed as an assault platform.'

He previously broke a Guinness World Record by using the hoverboard to travel more than 7,388ft off the coastal town of Sausset-les-Pins - but was almost prosecuted by France's Civil Aviation Authority for the impressive feat.

He has since flown the Flyboard Air across a stretch of the Arizona desert.

Mr Zapata initially designed a board powered by water jets a decade ago, using a hose from the exhaust of a jet-ski to power an aerial device.

It can blast riders roughly 30ft above the waves, and allow them to perform somersaults and other tricks.

It has been in commercial production for several years now and is popular among thrill-seeking holidaymakers across the world.

Mr Zapata then spent four years developing a device that does not need to be connected to a jet-ski, so can fly over both land and sea.

Resource: MailOnline

New 2,000km Highway Through Russia Will Connect China to Europe

The missing link of the “New Silk Highway” is set to finally be completed. Construction has begun on a new highway that will stretch from Russia’s border with Kazakhstan to Belarus, serving as a critical part of the China-Western Europe transport corridor—an infrastructure mega-project that has been described as the “construction of the century.”

Once completed, the China-Western Europe transport corridor is meant to be the primary nervous system of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the overland portion of China's Belt and Road initiative. The corridor begins at the Chinese port of Lianyungang on the Yellow Sea and stretches along the Lianhuo Expressway, China’s longest road, to the Khorgos dry port on the border of Kazakhstan before moving through Russia en route to Western Europe. The corridor is meant to eventually combine road, rail and air transport hubs into a multi-modal ecosystem which could revolutionize the economic role of the central stretches of Eurasia and alter our paradigms of how goods are shipped between China and Europe. Ideally, this highway would allow trucks to travel between China and Europe in just eleven days, as opposed to 30-50 days by sea and 15 days by rail, making it the fastest overland option of the New Silk Road.

While the China-Western Europe transport corridor got its start in 2009, it was hamstrung by Russia’s reluctance to give its portion of the project proper attention and funding. For years, the corridor served as a high-speed transit route into the heart of Eurasia, rather than a bonafide “Silk Road” which properly connects the east with the west. Trucks would speed across China and Kazakhstan on one of the world’s most modern highways only to run aground at the Russian border, where they would meet head on with infrastructure of a more modest persuasion. However, the fortunes of this mega-project may soon change.

Dubbed the Meridian highway, Russia’s long-awaited portion of the China-Western Europe transport corridor is now under active development. It is to become a 2,000km toll road from the Sagarchin crossing point with Kazakhstan to the border of Belarus.

This new highway is slated to cost in the ballpark of $9.3 billion, with most of the financing coming from private firms rather than public coffers—although investors have sought $500 million of government backing to hedge against potential unforeseen political upheavals, such as the closing of borders. The main player behind the project is a Russian investment holding called LLC Meridian, a company that’s fronted by Alexander Ryazanov, the former deputy chairman of Russian gas giant Gazprom and current board member of RZD, Russia’s railway monopoly, who claims to already be in possession of 80% of the land the road is slated to pass through.

The Meridian highway is primarily being developed for cargo transport, and the main stream of revenue is expected to come from tolls, which Ryazanov estimates will take at least 12-14 years to recoup his company’s initial investment. However, the highway is also posited to generate a large amount of knee-jerk development along its route and create new jobs, in addition to reducing transport times from China to the west of Russia three-fold, according to the Russian Ministry of Transport.

One concerning aspect of the project is its geopolitical overtones. Jonathan Hillman of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, points out that the route of the new highway subverts Ukraine, which “would add to a series of Russia-led transport projects that limit Ukraine’s connectivity with the east." Political objectives adulterating transport routes and countries battling their rivals with large-scale infrastructure projects are nothing unusual on the New Silk Road. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway, for example, takes a conspicuous long-cut around the contour of Armenia, further cutting the small country off from its neighbors and putting it on the outside of the trans-Eurasian cargo flows that are starting to trickle through.

Hillman also pointed out that Russia could improve the future of this project by removing glaring trade barriers in the Eurasian Economic Union. One of the biggest bottlenecks of the Belt and Road isn’t just the fact that there are gaps in key trans-Eurasian transport routes but Russian sanctions against the import and transit of many products that could otherwise be shipped overland between Europe and China, which has actually given rise to a competing new corridor that bypasses Russia to the south.

While Russia has always officially been a participant in China's Belt and Road initiative and the broader New Silk Road, the country's level of actual commitment has always remained in question. Spanning across much of the Eurasian landmass, Russian participation is necessary if China's Belt and Road is to flourish. Two of the major overland routes between China and Europe pass through Russia, and Russian and Belarusian transport companies are often the workhorses behind the scenes that actually make these corridors function. However, Russia has carried out policies, including the above mentioned sanctions, which run directly against the "win-win" nature of the Belt and Road, and have been prone to delay or otherwise hamper the development of key infrastructure projects that must pass through their realm. The start of the Meridian highway is a good indication of where Russia is leaning as the Belt and Road picks up momentum.
Source: Forbes

These Pools Failed to Pass the Water Quality Inspection

Last week, we posted an article titled “Do You Know How Much Urine is in the Swimming Pools?” The survey at the end of the article showed that more than 60% of respondents have peed in the pool.

Recently, the supervisors of the Municipal Health and Wellness Committee conducted random monitoring of 289 swimming pools in Hangzhou. The first list of pools that failed the inspection was announced. Let's take a look at them, you might have been to quite a few.

Remark: According to the "GB9667-1996 Swimming Pool Hygiene Standards", the standard value of free residual chlorine (pool) is 0.3-0.5mg/L; the standard value of urea hygiene is ≤3.5mg/L; the total number of bacteria is ≤1000CFU/mL.

The results are not all bad and there are some safe and clean swimming pools in Hangzhou. Check out the list of A-class swimming pools, and go ahead to have a nice swim.

A Little More to Know   

Free Residual Chlorine: The requirement for free residual chlorine is to ensure that the water in the pool has a continuous ability to disinfect and can inhibit the re-propagation of residual bacteria in the water.

Urea: Urea in the pool is mainly derived from our sweat, secretions and excretions. Excessive urea content indicates a higher degree of contamination of the pool water.

Total bacteria: The total number of bacteria can be controlled when there is enough disinfectant in the pool, the pH value is kept within the specified limits, the circulation of pool water is appropriate, the swimming pool filtration equipment is often cleaned, and the swimming pool hygiene management is strengthened.

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