Shenzhen has grown from a cluster of fishing and farming villages to one of the biggest, busiest, and most important cities in China. See what you can do in this bustling metropolis with just one day. Wander around Shekou and get some tasty food, hit a massive market, check out the Splendid China theme park, and wind down with an awesome dinner.
While there was a lot of joking around in Beijing last week about the “APEC blue” sky, big things happened behind closed doors at the conference – especially between the US and China. Barack Obama and Xi Jinping made a couple of historic agreements under the temporarily clear blue Beijing sky in what many are saying is a huge step forward for US-China relations. Let’s take a closer look at the two deals that were struck:
Carbon Emissions to be Cut
The world’s two largest economies and two largest producers of carbon emissions have come to an agreement many deemed impossible. The United States has agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 26-28% of 2005 levels by the year 2025, and China has said it will peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and also increase their use of non-fossil fuels to 20% by the same year. Without Beijing and Washington, such agreements from other countries are highly unlikely. Hopefully, more nations will join in the fight against climate change after seeing China and the US reaching an historic deal. To quote President Obama – “We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious — all countries, developing and developed — to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year.” Of course, this will be a huge political battle for the President, as members of the GOP have already vowed to fight this deal. It’ll be no easy task in China, either, where the rush to modernization makes such a drastic change seem difficult. Whatever happens, the fact that these two countries were able to come to an agreement – after months of discussion – leaves many hopeful for the future.
New Visa Policy
In the past, it hasn’t exactly been easy for Americans to travel to China or vice versa. The visa application is time-consuming and expensive, and previously issued visas maxed out at one year. For people who frequently travel to China and for exchange students, this has meant the need to get a new visa every single year. To do so, you either need to go to your local consulate – which could be a long trip in and of itself – or pay a hefty fee to an agent to do it for you. It’s the same for Chinese trying to come to the US, and not surprisingly this has deterred many people on either side from ever traveling between the two counties. Potential travelers to the US need to travel to the embassy in Beijing for an in-person interview, something that is just not possible for most people. Around 100 million Chinese people traveled last year, but only 2% of those tourists visited the United States. The potential boom in tourism is expected to generate massive economic growth and create thousands of jobs in the years to come. It will also be much easier for Chinese to come and do business in the US or study. Sending their children to an American university is the dream of many Chinese parents, and some fear that this may cause an even greater “brain drain” in the Middle Kingdom. Americans will now be able to get business and tourist visas valid for up to 10 years, and students will be able to get 5-year visas. I’m personally thrilled by the idea that my next visa could and should be valid until 2024, as I’m planning on moving out of China next year but would still love the ability to come back to visit and travel in the years to come.
Practice your Chinese while reading about the new visa agreement with this great study guide from my old school, Tailor Made Chinese.
It’s obvious that the US and China are going to have to work together on the many important issues of our time moving forward. While the two countries have their fair share of disagreements and differences, progress such as the emissions cuts and new visa policy should be celebrated and welcomed on both sides.
Since I talked about online dating in the last post, I figured I might as well jump into the wild world of Chinese dating game shows today. Alongside the explosion of the online dating market in China, game shows full of young Chinese who are single and ready to mingle have also gotten incredibly popular in recent years. It all started with one show, so that’s where we’ll begin:
If You Are the One (非诚勿扰 – fēi chéng wù rǎo)
This smash TV program – whose name literally means “if not sincere then don’t disturb” – is far and away the most popular dating show on Chinese TV. It’s so popular, in fact, that it is now even broadcast in Australia and New Zealand with English subtitles. If you haven’t seen the show, here’s the basic premise:
Twenty-four women stand in an arc on stage and are greeted by a single man. The eligible bachelor carefully chooses his “heartbeat girl” (心动女生 – xīn dòng nǚ shēng), whom he reveals only to the host. Each lady is situated behind a lit up podium. To begin, a few short videos are shown to introduce the guy. After the videos, the girls can choose to turn their light off, thus signalling their lack of interest. A new feature allows ladies to turn on a “burst light” (爆灯 – bào dēng) – her light changes to a pulsating heart and she has punched her ticket to the final round. There can end up being a few girls in the final round, where the guy will ask a series of questions and try to narrow it down to one. Even if his “heartbeat girl” turned her light off, she’s still automatically in the finals where he can try to win her over. In the end, the guy will either choose a girl or elect to depart alone. Ditto for the ladies – they can accept his offer of a date or tell him no thanks.
Even 老外 can get in on the fun.
This show – which has pushed the boundaries for what you can get away with on Chinese TV – unsurprisingly fell into the bad graces of the censors. It was said that the program was spreading the “wrong values” by focusing on topics such as wealth, materialism, and sex. One famous interaction between contestants went as follows – a man asked a girl if she would ride on the back of his bicycle on a date with him, to which she replied:
“I’d rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle.”
(宁在宝马车里哭，也不在自行车上笑 – níng zài bǎo mǎ chē lǐ kū, yě bù zài zì xíng chē shàng xiào)
Male contestants were often asked to show bank statements or material possessions to the ladies. One guy was rejected by all of the women for coming on the show simply to show off his expensive sports car. The show has since been toned down quite a bit, thanks in part to the addition of a party school psychologist as a third host. It still does quite well, and continues to be one of the most popular shows on Chinese TV.
One Out of 100 (百里挑一 – bǎi lǐ tiāo yī)
On this famous dating show out of Shanghai, sixteen lovely ladies are introduced to one bachelor. Here’s the catch – the 100-member audience also has to like the guy. After a short introduction, he will give a short performance to show off one of his talents. If at least 70 members of the audience are impressed, he’s allowed to continue. There are more self-introductions and questions, and then the guy has to choose two ladies – his favorite and least favorite. While all of this goes on, the ladies are free to switch off their light if they lose interest, however this goes on behind the guy’s back so he has no idea who is still in the game. Finally, he will voice his requirements for a girlfriend. If any ladies remain, the guy can make his choice. He can confess to his favorite girl, choose the one still left standing, or simply walk home empty-handed.
A full episode of “One Out of 100″ for you to study!
Mother-in-Law Looks at Son-in-Law
(丈母娘看女婿 – zhàng mǔ niáng kàn nǚ xù) and
Mother-in-Law Looks at Daughter-in-Law (婆婆看媳妇 – pó po kàn xí fù)
This dating show has an interesting twist – contestants are joined by their mothers. The moms can participate in the questioning and their disapproval can see their son or daughter disqualified from the round. As you can imagine, this is quite nerve-wracking for the guy or girl competing. In order for a match to be made, both the contestant and their mother must agree – something that we all know can be quite difficult. There’s a lot of potential for hilarity here with Chinese contestants, but imagine how funny the scene is when an American dressed in a “sui-sey” (suit/jersey) shows up with his goose and very poor Chinese.
Donnie Does Chinese Dating Shows
There are plenty of other funny stories from people who have appeared on these dating shows. Here are three of my favorites: