China's Balancing Act

Today China's annual parliamentary session opened. It lasts two weeks. Yes, that's right, just two weeks. In any other country where the parliament met for only two weeks in a year, the nation would collapse for lack of leadership.Here, of course, the parliament is so utterly without power… more »

Sweets scattered along the road….

The Slaughter Pavilion was based on stories that trickle into the Chinese media about missing children. Today, the excellent South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's English language newspaper, ran this story that I am going to show in full because of all the questions it raises. There are so… more »

Spy Cams

Let's start with my own paranoia. It used to be the case that as foreign journalists based in Beijing, James and I knew we were being watched. There were cameras at the gate of the diplomatic compound where we were forced to live, and visitors had to sign in. We assumed our phones were bugged, … more »

Back to the Dark Ages

I've been sitting here rather listlessly in Beijing for a few months, exhausted by Christmas and the endless grey winter, Only the news that Tan Zuoren is to be imprisoned for five years for subversion has outraged me enough to return to this blog. But now I'm here, I find I'm speechl… more »

North Korea comes to Beijing

Well, we all expected the display of military might. It was the floats that got to me. I'm just going to list them: The Slogan of Scientific Outlook on Development float, the Bless the Motherland float, the Hardworking and Pioneering float, the Mao Zedong Thought float,  the Keeping Up Wit… more »

A Fearful Inheritance

A few weeks ago, I sat in a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the south of Beijing talking to Mao Hengfeng, her husband, Wu Xuewei, and one of their three daughters. A small woman with a pretty face and long black hair, Mao Hengfeng is immensely tough. Sitting there in KFC, she showed me the scars fr… more »

Maoists Revived

You may have already read about this in The Economist, but James and I spent a surreal Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago in a Maoist seminar. Yes, Maoist. If people in western democracies are a little querulous now about the superiority of the capitalist system, China's Maoists are emergin… more »

Evil Germs

Another poster from my favourite park. This one one how to avoid contracting tuberculosis, and how to cure it if you get it. I love the evil germ, the ghostly tb sufferers, and the cheerful child imprisoned in the X-ray machine.

Oh, and here's my local park which I pace whilst seeking inspirat… more »