December 5th, 2014
06:05 AM ET

A mission close to Yao Ming's heart

It’s no secret that Yao Ming is tall, but in person – he’s larger than life.

And it’s not just his height that’s impressive. He has one of the biggest hearts of anyone around.

Between his professional basketball career – to launching his own wine label – Yao Ming’s interests have run the gamut.

But he’ll tell you, working to save endangered animals is especially meaningful to him.

“I feel they have a personality – just like us,” Yao said of the rhinos and elephants he met during a trip to Africa two years ago. “Some are very funny. Some are very shy. They have a good memory too – and know the people who treat them very well.”


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Filed under: China
November 26th, 2014
02:31 PM ET

Jimmy Lai tells HK protesters to retreat

As Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement stretches into week nine, more barricades are coming down in the district of Mong Kok. So should pro-democracy protesters withdraw or wait it out?

One high-profile supporter is urging student leaders to stand down.

"It's about time we retreat," says Jimmy Lai, a fervent China critic and media mogul. He has been working from his protest camp in Admiralty since the start of the action.

Lai calls the Umbrella Movement a "war" that will extend far beyond the battle of the last two months.

He fears that growing public resentment to the protests, which has caused major traffic disruption throughout the city, will damage the pro-democracy movement.

According to a poll released by the University of Hong Kong last week, 8 out of 10 people surveyed think the demonstrators should leave the streets and go home.

"If we will lose the moral high ground, it will be very difficult for us to come back later," Lai tells me.

Click on to hear Lai's call for the protesters to retreat, regroup and return at a later time.

November 9th, 2014
08:44 AM ET

Using art to save the Asian elephant

Call it the elephant in the room. It may be a cliché, but the fact that elephant populations are dwindling around the world is a growing problem that can’t be ignored.

Africa has seen its elephant population decline from 1.3 million several decades ago to an estimated 419,000 now. Poaching still goes unchecked in some parts of the continent.

The Environmental Investigation Agency’s latest report says the situation is especially grim in Tanzania.

Tanzania lost 10,000 elephants to poaching last year alone – more than any other country in Africa.

And the EIA makes damning allegations about China, the world's largest ivory market. It links some smuggling to Chinese officials who have accompanied the president to Africa. Beijing has denied the claims.

But it’s not just African elephants facing a perilous future. Their Asian cousins are also in a battle for survival. FULL POST

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Filed under: Art & Science • China • General
October 24th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

Watch Mark Zuckerberg speak Chinese

In case you missed it, here's Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking Mandarin Chinese at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

Zuckerberg surprised the audience by speaking and answering questions in Mandarin for almost 30-minutes.

His heavy accent caused a few moments of misunderstanding - like when he tried to say the word "billion" but it came out as "eleven."

But no matter. It was an inspiring effort!

October 23rd, 2014
06:51 AM ET

Anson Chan's message to Beijing

For four weeks now, pro-democracy demonstrators have blocked major roads and highways in Hong Kong.

It's a sight that's become the new normal in a city known as a hyper-efficient financial hub.

Parts of the central business district have transformed into a tent city - a hotbed of political activism while both sides refuse to back down.

The protesters want true universal suffrage. They don't want Beijing to vet who can stand in Hong Kong's next leadership election.

But Chinese authorities say there is no way Beijing will take back its decision on 2017 elections.

That’s not acceptable for former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Anson Chan.

"We need a new chief executive who at long last will stand up for Hong Kong’s best interests,” she says.

Anson Chan was the second in command in Hong Kong's colonial government and after the handover. In recent years, she's taken a high-profile role in the campaign for universal suffrage.

I spoke to Chan about the way forward for Hong Kong and passing the torch of democracy to a new generation.

She also has this message for China:

"I would like to say to Beijing - trust the people of Hong Kong, trust our young protest leaders. They are our future, and use Hong Kong as a testing ground for introducing full democracy."

Click on for the full interview.

October 2nd, 2014
03:25 PM ET

Is Hong Kong playing chicken with China?

Hong Kong is in a standoff with Beijing. It’s a fight ostensibly about universal suffrage. But in some ways, it’s also a litmus test for financial freedoms under President Xi Jinping.

Right now, Hong Kong is governed by a “one country, two systems” charter mandating that until the year 2047, the territory will remain a capitalist economy - with a good deal of political autonomy.

The tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets this week are banking on Hong Kong’s financial leverage over the world’s second largest economy. But the unspoken worry is that Hong Kong just isn’t as important to China as it used to be.


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Filed under: China
September 3rd, 2014
06:57 AM ET

The rise of Xiaomi

Executives in wigs dancing and singing on stage. Hundreds of fans clad in the same orange shirt cheering them on. Fans racing on stage to win plush toys.

I wasn't sure what to expect from my first Xiaomi fan event. But I didn't expect this.


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Filed under: China • Technology • Titans of Tech
September 2nd, 2014
10:57 AM ET

China's propaganda war in Hong Kong

These are highly charged political times here in Hong Kong.

Beijing announced on Sunday there would be no open elections in Hong Kong, paving the way for China to remain the political power over the territory.

During this time of intense political discord, a gripping image from 1967 is a reminder of the fraught relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing.

It's a Chinese propaganda poster issued during the Leftist riots to stir people in Hong Kong rise up against British rule.


Recently on display at Hong Kong's Picture This Gallery, the poster depicts an angry, muscular crowd wielding placards and other objects as weapons.

In the bottom left-hand corner, weak cartoonish figures depicting the colonial government are being beaten and kicked out by the crowds.

"This was produced in China, probably smuggled into Hong Kong and used to try to rally support among patriotic Chinese living in Hong Kong," Bailey tells me.

The poster was part of an exhibition of Chinese propaganda that include a Norman Rockwell-esque public service announcement and a red balloon-strewn commemorative poster of Deng Xiaoping and the Hong Kong handover.

Bailey says the 1967 Hong Kong posters generated the most interest in his gallery and will find a new home in a museum.

Take a tour of these Chinese propaganda posters with the video above.

August 5th, 2014
01:58 PM ET

Shadows over U.S.-Africa summit

It is indeed an historic occasion.

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

But the leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia are not there. They have opted to stay at home to battle the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

"The timing is very unfortunate, and no one would have wished for this," author and academic Howard French tells me.

"Having high-level discussions between the U.S. and Africa on business and investment are infrequent. So to the extent that this distracts from that I think will be regretted all around."

The summit is a much-needed opportunity for the U.S. to reset relations and economically engage with Africa.

"Africa is in a very particular moment, economically speaking," says French. "The continent has been growing very fast. Demographically, there's a bulge in terms of its youth population. And Africa needs partnerships."

Africa's biggest trading partner is China. It has invested deeply into Africa as a source of customers, natural resources, and jobs.

Howard French refers to Africa as "China's Second Continent" as more than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved there.

But will China's engagement with Africa lead to prosperity or exploitation?

Click on to hear more from our wide-ranging conversation on what's at stake for U.S.-Africa relations in light of the Ebola outbreak and China's head start in the region.

July 3rd, 2014
07:21 AM ET

China's last women with "lotus feet"

Since 2005, Hong Kong-based photographer Jo Farrell has been on a mission to document China's last women with bound feet.

It was a symbol of beauty and social status that began in the Song dynasty but officially banned over a hundred years ago. But the practice continued in rural areas for a few years after the ban.

Farrell has spent a decade traveling to China’s Shandong and Yunnan provinces to forge a close relationship with 50 of China’s last women with bound feet.

Those women are now in their 80s and 90s. In this video, we discuss the brutal practice of foot binding and Farrell's sense of urgency to share her portraits of their "lotus feet."

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