When I first arrived in Beijing in September 2014, I knew almost nothing about the country I’d just moved to. I was embarking on a new life that didn’t seem to have a sell-by date – I had no idea how long I’d stay or even when I would next go home. While many of [...]
In China, the LGBTQ+ community face severe discrimination. Many LGBTQ+ people's families and communities refuse to accept their sexuality or gender identity, and therefore find themselves in compromising situations like 'fake' marriages to fulfil their filial duty. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 2001, and some private Chinese clinics still offer 'electroshock' gay conversion therapy. [...]
Yesterday I was locking up my bike when a policeman barked at me. He was fifty metres away. He started walking towards me, and yelled again. No words, just sounds. Then he whistled. A high piercing tone designed to scare me off. He clapped his hands three times, loudly, and shouted again, a sound equivalent [...]
There is a phenomenon quietly sweeping through China, aptly named ‘xiàoyuán dài' or 'campus loans’, through which university students are falling rapidly into debt with little way out. Young people on university campuses are being targeted by online finance companies who give out loans or brand new iPhones, with no down payment required. Most of [...]
Blue skies and bare trees in wintry Beijing, December 2015 © ZhendeGender Beijing looks similar today, which is a delight after days of thick grey smog. Blue skies are such a rarity it is worth celebration. Let's hope winter 2016-17 is clearer and cleaner than last year, so we can fling the windows wide more [...]
How are we to believe Mao Zedong's statement that "women hold up half the sky", if China’s women are being downtrodden by the very language they speak?
This has been a whirlwind of a year. In the past 12 months, I've truly settled into a happy, fulfilling life in China. I've got a lot to be proud of, much of it a result of hard work, some of it springing from luck. But it didn't all go smoothly. I began the year [...]
Beijing is shrouded in a pore-clogging, snot-blackening blanket of horrific pollution. And has been for days. It hangs over the city, blocking the view in every direction, permeating every inch of space. The "fog" blurs the edges of buildings, casts an eery light in daytime and, at night, neon street lights and car headlights alike bleed [...]
Convenience is a myth for the majority of Chinese people. A myth lived out only by the elite, those rich enough to consider time more important than money. For everyone else, it is a long perpetuated lie cast by the shadow of capitalism hanging over the lives of 1.4 billion people. A lie many no longer believe will ever come true.
In Chinese, there is an expression: 酸甜苦辣 Pronounced: Suan, Tian, Ku, La It literally means as Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy and translates as the joys and sorrows of life. I love this phrase. It is true to life anywhere in the world. But it seems to lend itself particularly well to life in China. As my Chinese tutor explained to [...]