LATEST ARTICLES

Bad Air Days

Bad Air Days

Massive LED screens in Beijing’s famous Tiananmen Square glow red through the haze. Pedestrians, many wearing space-age face masks to filter the toxic air, rarely even glance at the screens’ bold instructions: “Implement the Clean Air Action Plan”, “Improve air quality, start from myself, start with the small things, start now” and “It is everyone’s …read more

Match points

Match points

A long queue of fidgeting kids stretches back from the school’s door; kids whispering and giggling, intoxicated by the presence of fame. Tennis champion Li Na patiently autographs their tightly-clutched tennis balls, poses for photos and scrawls her name in book after book. Launching the English language version of her ghost-written autobiography ‘My Life’ in …read more

Wings of kindness

Wings of kindness

Xia Li doesn’t want to help clear away the dishes. She’s having fun, laughing and chattering, and she’s slow to get up from her chair. But a few quiet words from a retired Australian primary school teacher gets her up and moving. Sitting at the other end of the noisy dinner table, teacher Linda Shum …read more

China Clay

China Clay

The 30,000 cornflower-blue porcelain butterflies clustered on Caroline Cheng’s robe symbolise China for the British-born artist. From a distance, all the tiny butterflies look the same: the same blue, the same shape, roughly the same size: a flock of identical ornaments sewn on to the burlap backing. Yet Cheng says a close inspection reveals that …read more

The Bruce Chalet, Lijiang

The Bruce Chalet, Lijiang

Could it get any more poetic? Sitting on an open verandah, drinking a bottle of Yunnan’s Windflower Sun and Moon lager, gazing across a garden of deepening shadows to the distant Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range: only a Chinese Coleridge could do this scene justice.

Made in China

Made in China

It began with a few washes of clear blue water-colour on a white page. Evolving from this first simple splash of art, the design grew and developed. By late last year it was a sophisticated entry for the multi-stage international competition to design a massive municipal museum in northern China. By April the adventurous Australian …read more

Peng Shui

Peng Shui

When China’s new president Xi Jinping walked down the airplane stairs in the tiny Carribean nation of Trinidad and Tobago in June, it was a shimmering moment in Chinese modern history. Not only was he arm in arm with his elegantly-dressed wife, Peng Liyuan, but he held an umbrella over both their heads. Perhaps most …read more

Red (and white) China

Red (and white) China

Kalen Ip is on a roll. A wine enthusiast with an unnervingly accurate palate, he has correctly guessed the type, variety, vintage and price range of an Eden Valley riesling, a straightforward Barossa shiraz and a Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre. The 31-year-old has yet to visit Australia, let alone the Barossa, but he’s not about …read more

China’s Michelle Obama: a new kind of power chick

China's Michelle Obama: a new kind of power chick

China’s new first lady, Peng Liyuan, is leading a fashion renaissance in China, defiantly wearing Chinese designer outfits on the world stage. “National Mother” copycat handbags and scarves are now for sale on China’s online shopping site Taobao; a glut of eager customers has crashed one Chinese label’s website and the Chinese internet is buzzing …read more

Made well in China

Made well in China

The “Made in China” label used to conjure up images of cheap and tacky mass-production; container-loads of plastic toys, plastic shoes, plastic kitchen utensils, plastic clutter. But the inexorable pace of Chinese growth has brought with it increasing manufacturing standards and ability, as well as a massive market of consumers increasingly clamorous for better design …read more