California is the biggest agricultural state in the US - half the nation’s fruit and vegetables are grown here.

Farmers are calling for urgent help, people in cities are being told to conserve water and the governor is warning of record drought.

But at the other end of the state the water is flowing as the sprinklers are making it rain in at least one part of southern California.

The farmers are making hay while the year-round sun shines, and they are exporting cattle-feed to China.

The southern Imperial Valley, which borders Mexico, draws its water from the Colorado river along the blue liquid lifeline of the All American Canal.

It brings the desert alive with hundreds of hectares of lush green fields - much of it alfalfa hay, a water-hungry but nutritious animal feed which once propped up the dairy industry here, and is now doing a similar job in China.

"A hundred billion gallons of water per year is being exported in the form of alfalfa from California," argues Professor Robert Glennon from Arizona College of Law.


It was the second major downtown land deal struck with Chinese money in barely a month, signaling L.A.’s appeal as a haven for investors looking to move money out of China. In late December, Oceanwide Real Estate Group bought land across Figueroa Street from Staples Center; it’s planning a five-star hotel, apartments and stores.

Major Chinese developers have been looking for large-scale commercial projects in so-called gateway cities on the East and West coasts, said real estate broker John Eichler of Cushman & Wakefield, who helped put together the Oceanwide deal. Cities such as L.A., San Francisco and New York are well-known to Chinese investors and have large Asian populations.

[…]

Chinese investors have compelling reasons to bring some of their money to the U.S. Developers in China have a lot of cash on hand at a time when the country’s government is trying to slow land development to prevent a real estate bubble burst. Many wealthy Chinese individuals also have money they want to invest abroad because there are not many investment options in China and because they want to diversify their assets outside the country.


artchipel:

Curator’s Monday 130

Zhu Daoping 朱道平 (b.1949, China)

Born in Huangyan, Zhejiang, Zhu Daoping graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Nanjing Art Academy. Zhu’s paintings were exhibited in the annual national art exhibition even before his graduation. Since 1998, he has been president of the Nanjing Institute of Calligraphy and Painting. In 2004, he received the first prestigious Huang Binhong Award, named for the leading literati painter of the early 20th century. Having grown up near Nanjing, Zhu’s art us closely related to the New Jinling (Nanjing) School, painters deeply influenced by Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), who revivified the local landscape tradition; and the lush terrain of southern China and the Yangzi River, While the application of dotted surfaces in Zhu Daoping’s paintings is reminiscent of the style of earlier Nanjing masters such as Mei Qing (1623-1697) and Shitao (1642-c.1707), Zhu goes further by rediscovering and emphasizing the relationship between dots, lines, and the pictorial surface: he has created a modern aesthetic that is still rooted in the long Chinese tradition. (source: Michael Goedhuis Gallery) Our sincere gratitude and appreciation to iamjapanese for this Curator’s Monday.

[more Zhu Daoping 朱道平 | Curator’s Monday with iamjapanese]


The issue of hukous, or residence permits, is the flip side of China’s urbanization dilemma. On one hand, there is the government’s itch to speed up the process, which can result in new cities that have residents but no jobs or stores. On the other hand, many rural residents who head to the cities of their own accord, in hopes of finding better-paying jobs, become second-class citizens. These migrants lack the residence permits (hukou in Chinese) that provide access to local schools and health care. In fact, as the Xinhua article pointed out, many of the Chinese currently counted as “city-dwellers” are not officially city residents because they lack hukous. Reuters estimated that, if these migrant workers are excluded, China’s urbanization rate may be as low as 35 percent.

The problem has received increasing attention in recent years, to the point that even Xinhua, China’s official state media outlet, has no problem calling the hukou system “a major barrier holding back the country’s urbanization process.” The CUWC called for concrete steps to reform the hukou system, but in a tiered approach. In coming years, China will “fully remove hukou restrictions in towns and small cities, gradually ease restrictions in mid-sized cities, setting reasonable conditions for settling in big cities while strictly controlling the population in megacities.” In other words, China will continue to emphasize the growth and development of “small cities” by removing hukou restrictions for these underdeveloped areas. But “megacities” like Beijing and Shanghai will likely continue to have strict limitations on hukous in a bid to fight overcrowding and rising housing costs.


Sancai earthenware camel found in Luoyang among the other figurines in a tomb which is said to belong to General Liu Tingxun of the Tang dynasty (618-907AD) following his death in 728AD
—————————-

What is difficult? asks the spirit that would bear much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult, O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much, that I may take it upon myself and exult in my strength? Is it not humbling oneself to wound one’s haughtiness? Letting one’s folly shine to mock one’s wisdom?Or is it this: parting from our cause when it triumphs? Climbing high mountains to tempt the tempter?Or is it this: feeding on the acorns and grass of knowledge and, for the sake of the truth, suffering hunger in one’s soul?Or is it this: being sick and sending home the comforters and making friends with the deaf, who never hear what you want?Or is it this: stepping into filthy waters when they are the waters of truth, and not repulsing cold frogs and hot toads?Or is it this: loving those who despise us and offering a hand to the ghost that would frighten us?All these most difficult things the spirit that would bear much takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds into the desert, thus the spirit speeds into its desert.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Sancai earthenware camel found in Luoyang among the other figurines in a tomb which is said to belong to General Liu Tingxun of the Tang dynasty (618-907AD) following his death in 728AD

—————————-

What is difficult? asks the spirit that would bear much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. What is most difficult, O heroes, asks the spirit that would bear much, that I may take it upon myself and exult in my strength? Is it not humbling oneself to wound one’s haughtiness? Letting one’s folly shine to mock one’s wisdom?
Or is it this: parting from our cause when it triumphs? Climbing high mountains to tempt the tempter?
Or is it this: feeding on the acorns and grass of knowledge and, for the sake of the truth, suffering hunger in one’s soul?
Or is it this: being sick and sending home the comforters and making friends with the deaf, who never hear what you want?
Or is it this: stepping into filthy waters when they are the waters of truth, and not repulsing cold frogs and hot toads?
Or is it this: loving those who despise us and offering a hand to the ghost that would frighten us?
All these most difficult things the spirit that would bear much takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds into the desert, thus the spirit speeds into its desert.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra


arsvitaest:

Guardian lions

Origin: China
Date:
18th century
Medium:
Porcelain
Location:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Statues of guardian lions have traditionally stood in front of Chinese imperial palaces, imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy, and were believed to have powerful protective benefits. They are also used in other artistic contexts, for example on door-knockers and in pottery.

The lions are usually depicted in pairs that consist of a male resting his paw upon an embroidered ball (in imperial contexts, representing supremacy over the world) and a female restraining a playful cub that is on its back (representing nurture).


globalpost:

After decades of peace, could China and Japan be on the brink of war?

Both China and Japan have long-held claims to the Japanese-administered islands — known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Tensions have intensified over the past year, and observers fear that a political or military misstep could rapidly escalate.

Over the weekend, China announced an air defense zone over the East China Sea, encompassing the disputed islands. The new policy would require airlines to give Chinese authorities their flight plans before entering the airspace designated by China.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the new policy ”escalates the situation and could lead to an unexpected occurrence of accidents in the airspace.”

The United States on Monday called China’s announcement “unnecessarily inflammatory.”

War between Japan and China is an accident waiting to happen

Photos via AFP/Getty Images


urbangeographies:

New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope

By Ian Johnson
HUAMING, China — Three years ago, the Shanghai World Expo featured this newly built town as a model for how China would move from being a land of farms to a land of cities. In a dazzling pavilion visited by more than a million people, visitors learned how farmers were being given a new life through a fair-and-square deal that did not cost them anything.
Today, Huaming may be an example of another transformation: the ghettoization of China’s new towns.
Signs of social dysfunction abound. Young people, who while away their days in Internet cafes or pool halls, say that only a small fraction of them have jobs. The elderly are forced to take menial work to make ends meet. Neighborhood and family structures have been damaged.
Most worrying are the suicides, which local residents say have become an all-too-familiar sign of despair.
As China pushes ahead with government-led urbanization, a program expected to be endorsed at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting that began Saturday, many worry that the scores of new housing developments here may face the same plight as postwar housing projects in Western countries. Meant to solve one problem, they may be creating a new set of troubles that could plague Chinese cities for generations… [Read more here]
Source:  New York Times, Nov. 10, 2013

urbangeographies:

New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope

By Ian Johnson

HUAMING, China — Three years ago, the Shanghai World Expo featured this newly built town as a model for how China would move from being a land of farms to a land of cities. In a dazzling pavilion visited by more than a million people, visitors learned how farmers were being given a new life through a fair-and-square deal that did not cost them anything.

Today, Huaming may be an example of another transformation: the ghettoization of China’s new towns.

Signs of social dysfunction abound. Young people, who while away their days in Internet cafes or pool halls, say that only a small fraction of them have jobs. The elderly are forced to take menial work to make ends meet. Neighborhood and family structures have been damaged.

Most worrying are the suicides, which local residents say have become an all-too-familiar sign of despair.

As China pushes ahead with government-led urbanization, a program expected to be endorsed at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting that began Saturday, many worry that the scores of new housing developments here may face the same plight as postwar housing projects in Western countries. Meant to solve one problem, they may be creating a new set of troubles that could plague Chinese cities for generations… [Read more here]

Source:  New York Times, Nov. 10, 2013


asianhistory:

Uyghur dance: Dolan meshripi (CCTV dance competition)

The Dolan people are grouped part of the Chinese Minority group known as Uyghurs. This piece is a part of a meshrep dance, performed at a CCTV dance competition. The meshrep is actually a longer, elaborate community gathering which displays music, dance, poetry, and conversation. The traditional Meshrep also falls under UNESCO’s Intangible World Heritage in Need of Safeguarding. 

Found among the Uygur people concentrated largely in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Meshrep constitutes the most important cultural carrier of Uygur traditions. A complete Meshrep event includes a rich collection of traditions and performance arts, such as music, dance, drama, folk arts, acrobatics, oral literature, foodways and games. Uygur muqam is the most comprehensive art form included in the event, integrating song, dance and entertainment. Meshrep functions both as a ‘court’, where the host mediates conflicts and ensures the preservation of moral standards, and as a ‘classroom’, where people can learn about their traditional customs. Meshrep is mainly transmitted and inherited by hosts who understand its customs and cultural connotations, by the virtuoso performers who participate, and by all the Uygur people who attend. However, there are numerous factors endangering its viability, such as social changes resulting from urbanization and industrialization, the influence of national and foreign cultures, and the migration of young Uygur to cities for work. Frequency of occurrence and the number of participants are progressively diminishing, while the number of transmitters who understand the traditional rules and rich content of the event has sharply decreased from hundreds to tens.

- UNESCO

”.. the influence of national and foreign cultures” by which they mean The Eagles


Perhaps even more important than these tragic, violent outbursts is China’s larger ideological battle and how it affects the region. This week Xinjiang Daily applauded the “peace and happiness” of the Muslim holiday, but peace and happiness is all you’re ever likely to read about in a state-run paper, and some believe that China’s strict control over the media and freedom of speech in the region is to blame for much of the violence. China’s well-documented ability to ignore bad press in Xinjiang is alive and well, but Xinjiang is not immune to the wider media crackdown.

For example, over a hundred citizens were detained for “online rumors” in the region last week in China’s now notorious attack against free speech online. Authorities also confiscated 2 gigabytes worth of separatist e-books from a young farmer. Of course, compared to the 2009 security crackdown in the wake of the Urumqi riots that killed nearly 200 people, this is tame to say the least. Still, China is increasingly using broader and broader sweeps to round up malcontents. Two weeks ago, for instance, 100 Uyghurs were arrested in Yunnan province—far from Beijing’s restive western province—in order to nab seven possibly violent dissidents.


The land is only the size of a city block. But Ye Mao, an analyst with the China Real Estate information Center, says it’s a potential gold mine.

"If this land could be developed into a residential area, it would easily be among the most expensive properties in Shanghai," says Ye.

In 2005, a developer hired by the Xuhui government set fire to a house in Maggie Lane. The demolition crew was trying to scare people out of their homes. Instead, they burned an elderly couple alive in their bed. After that, the Xuhui government left the neighborhood alone.

Xie and her husband were among a handful of people who stayed. But all that changed this week. Now Xie, who suffers from colon cancer, and her husband Chen, have to find another home - much like tens of millions of others displaced by land grabs across China.

Beijing property lawyer Wang Cailiang says the problem is that GDP growth on the local level in China largely depends on the government seizing and then selling land.


In China, Xinhua, the official government news agency, said that as American politicians continued to flounder over a deal to break the impasse, “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world”.

The jibe came as Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, raised the spectre of a repeat of the 2008 financial crash as hopes dwindled for a resolution of the crisis over the debt ceiling and partial government shutdown.

[…]

“If there is that degree of disruption, that lack of certainty, that lack of trust in the US signature, it would mean massive disruption the world over,” she told NBC’s Meet the Press programme . “And we would be at risk of tipping, yet again, into recession.”

Xinhua attacked America’s pre-eminent position in the world, adding that “such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated”.


pulitzerfieldnotes:

A small convenience shop is located next door to the Buffalo Institute where we are staying in Bishan village. Every morning we walk over to buy vegetables to cook for breakfast. Hu Yongfeng, the shop owner, is a 61-year-old Bishan native. In the late 1990s, she opened one of the first private shops in the village, where villagers could buy fertilizer and farming tools. But even by that time the demand for farming supplies had already started to decline as villagers left to become migrant workers.

Large-scale farming has made farming less profitable for individual farmers across China, but the fast-expanding nearby towns provide Bishan villagers with a variety of opportunities to make money. While most Bishan locals still grow some rice every year, many households have stopped growing vegetables. In 2006, Hu started selling a small selection of vegetables in response to changing customer demand. As farming in the village continues to decline, her selection has grown. Today her shop also offers meat, eggs, tofu, baked goods, cigarettes, snacks and drinks.

Hu wakes up every morning at 4:30 to drive five miles to the Yixian county town market, where she buys fresh produce to sell in her shop. Today villagers are more dependent on buying food from the county town, or from village retailers like Hu in a complete reversal of the traditional supply-demand relationship between rural and urban areas.

Hu and her husband stopped farming completely in 2009. Hu’s family is relatively affluent in Bishan. On top of a daily revenue of over 1000 RMB from the convenience store, they also own two other businesses in Yixian county town: a curtain store and a truck transportation outfit, which Hu’s husband manages. Their son works as a deliveryman in nearby Huangshan city, and their daughter helps out in the curtain store. The couple often subsidize their children and grandchildren because it is difficult for the young families to sustain themselves on meager salaries in urban environments. But Hu doesn’t think the answer to this financial insecurity lies in a return to farming either. She told us, “In the future, nobody is going to farm in our village anymore. Our generation is farming less and less, and the next generation doesn’t farm at all. My children have never farmed in their lives, and they live in town. They don’t even know where in the field our farming land is located.”

— Pulitzer Center grantees Sun Yunfan and Leah Thompson. Images by Sun Yunfan (@eighthday on Instagram). China, 2013.

Images:

1. Hu Yongfeng (second from left) played on the Bishan village basketball team during the Cultural Revolution. (Yixian County Photo Archive)


2. Hu Yongfeng peeling edamame in her convenience shop in Bishan.


3. Vegetables on sale in Hu Yongfeng’s shop are all purchased from Yixian county market.


4. Yixian county market is located in the Yixian county town, approximately five miles away from Bishan village.