The mayor from impoverished Gansu province, in China’s remote north, should have kept his hands in his pockets. In late November Yuan Zhanting, mayor of Lanzhou, became the latest senior official accused of corruption by ever-vigilant Chinese microbloggers. Photos of Yuan wearing a succession of luxury watches were posted on China’s Twitter equivalent, the popular …read more
Always anxious to boost Myanmar’s struggling economy, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been taking advice from one economist in particular – the Australian academic Dr Sean Turnell. The effective leader of the opposition in the long benighted country, Ms Suu Kyi recently told CNN that Dr Turnell was her “favourite economist”.
High up on a balcony of the ornately pillared Sofaer’s building in downtown Yangon, a woman is pegging out the washing. She ignores the spreading mildew that stains the building’s crumbling façade and the weeds that sprout from cracks in the masonry. Silhouetted against a century of history, she steps neatly round a jerry-rigged television …read more
Five years ago it would have been unthinkable. International literary festivals, where writers and readers speak freely and exchange ideas, were not permitted in shuttered Myanmar.
High heels give a kick to New Year’s Eve parties; sashaying through a night of cocktails and canapés. Worn at weddings and to wakes, to summits and to war-rooms, heels are the event wear for women who are stepping out. But are heels losing their lift? After decades of elongating women’s silhouettes, lengthening their legs …read more
The mainland’s internet universe is a closed book to nearly all Westerners – few know even the most rudimentary basics of spoken Putonghua, let alone have a grasp of the written language. Yet an explosion of interest in mainland microblogging sites, known as weibos (” weibo” loosely translates as “micro-blog”), has lured even resolutely monolingual …read more
Jie Chen giggles as she picks her way through Sina Weibo, China’s immensely popular microblogging site. The 25-year-old office worker from Shantou city in Guangdong province has revelled in her Weibo account for more than two years: it provides her with endless amusement and, sometimes, with useful information. Her long hair swings forward as she …read more
Shifting and giggling, the tourists and locals wait to pose with a mural painted on a dilapidated Penang street wall. An image of two laughing children on a three dimensional bicycle, the mural is a striking and thought-provoking contrast of forms. It is art that begs for interaction and it has proved incredibly popular in …read more
Sitting on a gently lolling junk, with a glass of wine in hand and a warm breeze blowing: it’s a good way to see the evening settle down over Hong Kong. The fan-shaped red sails of the junk, although not at all functional, are gently decorative and suggestive of an earlier and more romantic time: …read more
Staying overnight in an ancient garage might not be everybody’s idea of fun. But this isn’t the standard suburban garage found in most countries in the world, stuffed higgledy-piggledy with tins of paint, bits of bicycle, bottles of oil and screwdrivers.