another wow

July 13th, 2007

I have to say I have not been particularly impressed by journalist blogs. Well, some of them are very good and some I do read every day, but still, as a species, I’ve found the journalist blogs to be rather average. But every now and then a journalist blog up and surprises you. Today’s surprise comes from Richard Spencer, who I should say I rate as a good journalist blogger, and his article about discovering temples in rural Sichuan on his summer holiday. It’s a good read. And I particularly like the ending:

That’s all really. I entered town through a Muslim Hui street. Shops selling Tibetan-style coats and others selling training shoes and mobile phones sat side by side on the main drag. A Tibetan monk wandered past. So did my family.

Nicely done. Also of note is his encounter with a man wielding a sickle and some interesting opinions.

9 Responses to “another wow”

  1. John Says:

    I need to read Richard Spencer’s blog a little more often. I’m surprised that The Guardian hasn’t got Jonathan Watts doing the same.

    Unlike Fuzhou, which is riddled with all sorts of temples, the ones here in Chengdu appear to be limited to “official” variety (i.e., those where you pay Â¥60 to enrich the coffers of the monasteries experience the spiritual side of Chinese culture). I haven’t seen any sign of neighbourhood temples here yet, although I’d probably have to get onto less beaten tracks to find them.

  2. John Says:

    Ah, blast. The line-through tag doesn’t work.

  3. wangbo Says:

    You might also have to get out into smaller towns or the country side to find those temples.

  4. Ben Ross Says:

    That was a nice article, and Richard Spencer is indeed much more insightful than those hacks over at Time. One thing did bother me a bit though. Spencer makes it sound is if dissidents are few and far between in China. There is a common held misconception by many Westerners that just because Chinese people aren’t staging massive protests or demanding voting rights, they by in large support the party. In reality, this is far from the truth. These days you would be more hard-pressed to find somebody who wholeheartedly supports the party than one who opposes the current single party regime.

  5. wangbo Says:

    Good point Ben. He shouldn’t have been so surprised to meet somebody with a point of view. It was just nice to read something by a journalist that was actually reasonbly well written and went beyond the usual China cliches.

  6. John Says:

    He should’ve been in central Chengdu today. There was a little demonstration. Were they protesters demanding freedom of speech, democracy, or the forcible integration of Taiwan back into the Motherland?


    It appeared that they were demanding that some Chinese pop star should perform in the city. (All right, so I don’t know exactly what they were demanding.)

    There were about a dozen of them, which is as close to a mass incident as I’ve come. And where were the police? ä¸?知é?“. Probably off getting bribes and jiaozi.

  7. wangbo Says:

    That sounds like the usual protest. Probably about land use rights or something. Western journalists need to pay more attention to that kind of thing and less time waiting for the next event that did not happen 18 years ago in a square in the capital.

    Actually, John, you probably saw a lot more protests than you realise in Tongzhou. There was often some group of aggrieved people outside the district government/party headquarters on the corner of Xinhua Lu and the road that leads down past the hospital to our former school. Always the same deal as what you saw in Chengdu today.

  8. John Says:

    I did see quite a few protests outside the local government offices in Tongzhou when I lived in that part of the world. There was one I remember when a police car pulled up and the officer seemed to be trying to get the protesters to move along. Most of the time people just sat there with some kind of sign and that was about it.

    The “protest” in town today really was for something as shallow as a Chinese pop star. There were pictures on the placards, and the protesters weren’t a bunch of peasants from out of town. This was affluent urban youth demanding entertainment.

  9. wangbo Says:

    Wow, that’s quite a pathetic protest. Maybe the foreign journalists should rush to Chengdu and cover it so they can write some nutty article about how the lack of entertainment is causing massive instability and is presenting a serious threat to the city of Chengdu.