Archive for the ‘New year’ Category

Taiwan celebrates lantern festival

February 18, 2008

(ITN)  Taiwan is celebrating its annual lantern festival to mark the end of Chinese New Year festivities.

The lanterns were first used as a tool to help protect the safety of townspeople, but gradually evolved to become a way to send prayers to heaven.

Ling Yao-ting, a magistrate in Pingshi, said: “A long time ago there were bandits in Pingshi. People hid in the mountains to protect themselves until the bandits left, and they released lanterns as signal to say that people could return home.”

“Today the floating lanterns carry prayers for people who wish to get married, wish for success in their career, or happiness for the family. They deliver these prayers through the lanterns.”

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China tries to shrug off cold and celebrate Year of the Rat

February 7, 2008
by Karl Malakunas

BEIJING (AFP) – China welcomed in the Year of the Rat Thursday with a bonanza of fireworks and festivals, but the celebrations for many were subdued due to ferocious cold weather that kept them from their families.

A family walk on steps printed with a portrait of a rat during ... 
A family walk on steps printed with a portrait of a rat during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in Beijing. China has welcomed in the Year of the Rat with a bonanza of fireworks and festivals, but the celebrations for many were subdued due to ferocious cold weather that kept them from their families.
(AFP/Teh Eng Koon )

Explosions of colour could be seen in the skies of Beijing and across China in a centuries-old fireworks tradition that is meant to scare off evil spirits but this year also sought to raise national morale after the horror cold snap.While the fireworks brought much delight, they also led to at least one fatality, dozens of injuries and a spate of fires in Beijing alone, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The start….

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Lunar New Year gets off to Olympic start in China

February 7, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) – Drum rolls and dragon dances set off Lunar New Year celebrations here Wednesday as revellers welcomed an Olympic-themed Year of the Rat.

Children dressed as the Olympic mascots, known as the five fuwa, ...
Children dressed as the Olympic mascots, known as the five fuwa, cheer during Spring Festival celebrations on the eve of the Lunar New Year in Beijing.
(AFP/Frederic J Brown) 
Millions will throng parks across the country to enjoy the food and fun during the holiday season and in Beijing, the host of the 2008 Olympics, there was an added dimension at Long Tan Park.The park’s temple fair was chosen by Olympic organisers to showcase the Games and bring the Olympics closer to the people.
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Millions in China to greet new year without power

February 5, 2008
By Chris Buckley

KAILI, China (Reuters) – Railways and highways were returning to normal across China on Tuesday, but millions are likely to spend the biggest holiday of the year without power and water in what for some is the coldest winter in a century.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a convoy ...
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a convoy of trucks carrying coal heads to provinces hard-hit by snow and ice storms to increase coal supply and bring back power there from Erdos, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. The worst snowfall in decades beginning early January paralyzed cities in a part of the country.
(AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Xin)

The freezing weather in the run-up to the Lunar New Year break, which begins on Wednesday and offers the only chance for poor migrant workers to visit loved ones, has killed scores of people and left millions stranded.
Whole cities have had their power and water cut off for more than a week and so far 11 electricians have been killed trying to reconnect lines or break ice encasing poles and cables.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, soldiers ...
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, soldiers climb the Jinggang Mountains in east China’s Jiangxi Province on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 as they are mobilized to fix power transmission lines damaged by heavy snow storms. The loss of power brought electric trains to a standstill, stranding more than 5 million holiday travelers.
(AP Photo/Xinhua, Dai Qingming)

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In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese ... 
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Hu Jintao delivers a speech at a grand gathering in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day, which falls on Feb. 7 this year. Hu chaired the gathering of 4,000 people from various sections of society, Xinhua said.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Xueren)

Vietnam: Tet Offensive 40 Years Ago

February 5, 2008

By Uwe Siemon-Netto

Forty years ago today, I witnessed the start of the most perplexing development in the 20th century – America’s self-betrayal during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.

The reason why I have never ceased wrestling with this event is this: On the one hand, Tet ended in a clear military victory for the United States and its South Vietnamese allies, who killed 45,000 communist soldiers and destroyed their infrastructure.

On the other hand, the major U.S. media persuaded Americans that Tet was a huge setback for their country. As a result, Tet marked the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, which consequently ended in defeat when South Vietnam fell in 1975.

A parade to mark the 40 the anniversary of theTet Offensive ...
A parade to mark the 40 the anniversary of theTet Offensive is seen in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Friday, Feb. 1, 2008. The Tet offensive of 1968 was a massive attack by the North Vietnamese on Tet, lunar new year, and it was a turning point of the Vietnam War.
(AP Photo)

I was there, as Far East correspondent of the Axel Springer group of German newspapers, Jan. 30, 1968, when 85,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops struck 36 of the South’s 44 provincial capitals.

Two days earlier, a French officer in Laos had tipped me off that something spectacular was about to occur during the cease-fire for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. “You’d better return to Saigon,” he said.

At 3 a.m. on Jan. 31, I stood opposite the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, watching a fierce firefight between Marines and Viet Cong attackers, some of whom were already inside the Embassy compound.

Some days later, I was in the company of Marines fighting their way into communist-occupied Hué, Vietnam’s former imperial capital, 600 miles north of Saigon. We found its streets strewn with the corpses of hundreds of women, children and old men, all shot execution-style by North Vietnamese invaders.

I made my way to Hué’s university apartments to obtain news about friends of mine, German professors at the medical school. I learned that their names had been on lists containing some 1,800 Hué residents singled out for liquidation.

Six weeks later the bodies of doctors Alois Altekoester, Raimund Discher and Horst-Guenther Krainick and Krainick’s wife, Elisabeth, were found in shallow graves they had been made to dig for themselves.

Then, enormous mass graves of women and children were found. Most had been clubbed to death, some buried alive; you could tell from the beautifully manicured hands of women who had tried to claw out of their burial place.

As we stood at one such site, Washington Post correspondent Peter Braestrup asked an American T.V. cameraman, “Why don’t you film this?” He answered, “I am not here to spread anti-communist propaganda.”

There was a time when Hué was the most anti-American city in South Vietnam, to wit, a graffito outside the villa of the dowager empress, which read, “Chat Dau My” (cut the Americans’ throats). But this changed as a result of Viet Cong atrocities. Now the word “My” (American) was replaced with “Cong” (communists).

Many reporters accompanying U.S. and South Vietnamese forces realized and reported that the fortunes of war and the public mood had changed in their favor, principally because of the war crimes committed by the communists, especially in Hue, where 6,000-10,000 residents were slaughtered.

But the major media gave the Tet story an entirely different spin. CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite, for example, flew briefly into Saigon. When he returned to New York he told his 22 million nightly viewers:

“It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who have lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

In other words, Cronkite said, “Oops, we lost,” when, in truth, the biggest engagement in this war was militarily won. Two decades on, I was a chaplain intern in a VA hospital working with former Vietnam combatants. They were broken men. Most had been called baby killers on their return home. Their wives or girlfriends, and in some cases even pastors, had abandoned them.

Many had attempted suicide or withdrawn into the wilderness.

And almost all thought that their country, even God, had turned their backs on them. There was a time when I loved my craft as a reporter passionately. Vietnam changed this. It taught me the appalling consequence of journalistic hubris, which gave the media, meaning all of us, an enduring bad name.

Uwe Siemon-Netto is a guest lecturer in Lutheran theology at Concordia University in Irvine, California.

For China, Students Educated In U.S. Might Never Return “Home”

February 5, 2008

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 5, 2008; Page A14

CAOTANG, China — This week in Caotang village, members of the Huang family were preparing for the Chinese New Year by making traditional dishes, scrubbing their already spotless homes and paying their respects to the family patriarch.
They were also discussing the fortunes of one of their most promising members, Huang He, a film and television student. In 2006, after 10 years of study in Northern Virginia and Michigan, Huang returned to China. Now, at the dawn of the Year of the Rat — a symbol of prosperity — he is contemplating heading back to the United States for work.

“I’m caught in between. My friends think I should set my feet firmly in the U.S. because I have already spent so much time there,” said Huang, who wonders who will look after his parents if he leaves. “I’m not really lost. I’m not panicked. I’m just looking for my next opportunity and my next home.”

Huang, 36, is a “sea turtle,” one of the thousands of students who return to China each year after spending time abroad. For many of them, a visit to their family villages during the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is near mandatory. But such visits also force them to confront changes in modern China — changes that may prompt them to swim away again.

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China Confirms Man Killed in Stampede; Winter Chaos Continues

February 3, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Government officials of China confirmed on Sunday an earlier report that a rail worker was crushed to death on Friday at Guangzhou as 260,000 people besieged the railroad station.

The government said the incident was regretable and that the army was being used to maintain order.  More than one million army troops have been deployed to remove snow and ice and to serve as crowd control, especially at mobbed rail centers.

Policemen try to control the crowd during a stampede outside ...
Policemen try to control the crowd during a stampede outside a railway station in China’s southern city of Guangzhou February 3, 2008. A stampede at Guangzhou railway station killed one person when frustrated passengers rushed to board trains after days of cancellations because of fierce cold and snow, police confirmed on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported that railway service inched back to normal Sunday in southern China,  just after one person died in a stampede caused by frustrated train passengers who were stranded for days because of snow ahead of the important Lunar New Year holiday.

More than 10,000 vehicles were backed up on an icy section of a highway in central China’s Hunan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.  The vehicles were backed up for nearly 45 miles, even though workers were removing ice from the roads Sunday.

Fog further snarled traffic in central China on Saturday and Sunday.

The freakish weather is now in its fourth week, throttling the country’s densely populated central and eastern regions as tens of millions of travelers scramble to board trains and buses to return home for this month’s holiday.

In southern China passenger train travel was deemed “nearing normal” the government said.

The trains are also needed to move vast amounts of coal, which provides much of China’s electricity.

Normally coal mines use the week-long holiday that starts Wednesday to cut production so equipment repairs can be carried out and their workers can go home, but this year more than 80% of the state-owned mines will run full blast, the State Administration of Working Safety said.


Snowstorms damage China’s reputation

A man rolls a snow ball after a heavy snow in Hangzhou, in east ...
A man rolls a snow ball after a heavy snow in Hangzhou, in east China’s Zhejiang province Saturday Feb. 2, 2008. Heavy fog fell over parts of central China on Sunday, further clogging a transport system already paralyzed by weeks of snow, a day after one person died in a stampede by frustrated train passengers stranded for days.
(AP Photo)

Blizzard Strikes: What Happens in China Different From in the U.S.?

China warns of “tough task” in snow relief

China’s army of migrant workers stranded in winter freeze

February 3, 2008
by Stephanie Wong 

GUANGZHOU, China (AFP) – For Luo Qingming, returning to his village in central China for the New Year holiday is the one bright spot in a year full of back-breaking work and low pay.

But this year, instead of heading home, the 42-year-old factory worker is one of thousands of migrant labourers stranded at the main railway station in the southern city of Guangzhou, a victim of China‘s worst snowfalls in decades.

“I have no money to buy myself a blanket to keep warm at night. I’ve spent days sleeping rough….

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A woman use a towel to stay warm and shelter from the rain at ...
A woman use a towel to stay warm and shelter from the rain at the railway station, in China’s southern city of Guangzhou, on February 2. China’s enormous army of migrant workers — many of whom are already downtrodden — are among the hardest hit by the heavy snow and freezing conditions that have wreaked havoc across large swathes of the country.(AFP/Liu Jin)

Vietnam: Purchasing power increases sharply on pre-Tet days

January 31, 2008

VietNamNet Bridge – Citimart in HCM City said that half of the 10 tons of goods it had reserved for Tet have been sold out, while Phu An Sinh Poultry Slaughtering Company has arranged 600 more tons of chicken to sell on pre-Tet days, an increase of 30% over last year.
Ngo Van Hai, Business Deputy General Director of Citimart, said that the prices of all commodities are 20-30% higher than last year. Commodities are all getting more and more expensive towards Tet.
“A lot of clients are complaining that the quoted prices for the same commodities are increasing day by day. It is not our fault, we have to raise prices because producers are making goods more expensive,” Mr.
Hai said.
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A carp is released to Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi,Vietnam, Wednesday, ...
A carp is released to Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi,Vietnam, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008, for a ceremony of Tet, Vietnamese New Year. Traditionally, Vietnamese families offer three carps to the three kitchen guardians when the three guardians returns to heaven on the 23rd day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, which is on Wednesday this year. After the ceremony the fish are released to ponds, lakes or river.
(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Grill The Elephant! It’s Time for Tet!

January 11, 2008

News of the impending Chinese Lunar New Year or “Tet,” the aroma of my Mother-in-Law’s fresh hot “heart of beast” soup, plus a news story about the Hanoi Zoo and a brief encounter with a friendly black dog reminded me today that it is almost that magical time of year: the celebration of great eating.

No, not “Super Bowl Sunday.”


My wife’s Mom cooks up many a great delicacy and today it was “heart of beast” soup. I call it this because I have no idea where the heart comes from.

And I mean I don’t know what animal or what vendor.

And I don’t want to know. Like many things Asian, it is made in a mysterious way and it is enough to know that it is no good without a lot of heart…

The BBC News reported today that the Hanoi Zoo had been caught illegally trading in rare animal parts. Carcasses of tigers, elephants and other creatures of God’s good earth had been discovered in strange places. Some parts had been sold or “trafficked.” Some were wrapped in the freezer. An Asian friend said, “Some great eating there.”

Sumatran tiger, file image

Tigers are used in traditional Asian medicines


I said I didn’t want to know….

Finally, we met a friendly black dog today. We admired her and petted her. Her owner said, “Ten years old. And you know what they say in China? The best dog is black dog.”

I had a feeling this remark came from a chef and not a vet or a dog trainer.

But I didn’t ask.


I Have Eaten A Pack of Dogs and a Flock of Crow But “Hold the Penis”

How about a nice hot bowl of horse meat and noodle during the Super Bowl?