going fruity

August 8th, 2014


I’ve noticed more and more stores like this popping up around the neighbourhood recently. The earliest ones started to appear a few years ago, but there seems to be a sudden increase in them. Here’s a few points I’ve noticed about them:

1: The aesthetic seems to be largely the same among all such stores, from the general layout right down to the colour schemes, size, style, and fonts on the signage.

2: Although they are generally green grocers, the focus is definitely on fruit – to the point where the names of the stores, be they independent or branches of a chain, always feature the character (guǒ, fruit). In this photo, the store’s name is 果蔬鲜 (Guǒ Shū Xiān), which, in addition to having quite a pleasant sound, means literally “Fruit Vegetable Fresh”. Another new grocer I’ve seen is called 多果多 (Duō Guǒ Duō) – “Lots of fruit, lots”.

3: This is perhaps the important bit: These stores seem to be occupying a previously vacant niche between supermarkets and markets. The example in the photo above is located in a residential area right around the corner from a lane that becomes an impromptu market in the mornings. Not far away is the large, 2-storey barn that the local outdoor market was moved in to a few years back. About 500 metres down the road is a supermarket. And so the locals have choices: They could buy their fruit and veges from people squatting behind blankets spread out on the ground; They could walk a little further and buy from a market which is certainly cleaner and has a full range of other daily goods and necessities, but is still very much small stallholders, with all the nagging little questions about where they’re really sourcing their products from; They could trek down to the supermarket and pay definitely higher prices while getting no greater a range of produce to choose from; Or now they can shop at this new green grocer, which has a good range of fruit and vegetables, and whose set-up and signage projects that same air of security and confidence as the supermarket.

Now, Zespri is doing a very good job. Zespri is easy enough to find, especially in higher end/international supermarkets. Zespri is doing well enough that I’ve seen cartons of kiwifruit in suspiciously Zespri-like colours with suspiciously close to IPR-infringing labels. But I don’t see a lot of other New Zealand fruit around. It seems to me that New Zealand has two huge advantages when selling fruit to China, namely its clean, green, quality reputation and the off season. These new stores seem to me a good sign of the demand among ordinary Chinese for better quality goods and a better quality experience. Surely New Zealand could step up?

speak too soon?

March 28th, 2013

Perhaps I spoke too soon. I was in the Jenny Lou’s up by Chaoyang Park West Gate and, in light of yesterday’s rant about NZ wine in China, thought I’d have a wee look around their wine department. I found a few bottles of NZ wine mixed in with the Aussies and thought, typical, then looked a bit further and saw a section devoted to NZ wine. Not a huge section, a fraction of the size of the space dedicated to Australia and South Africa, either side of the NZ section. There was actually a selection of NZ wines. I would guesstimate a dozen-odd brands, some of which had 2 to 3 wines on the shelves, so not a huge selection, but more than the lonely 1 or 2 I’m used to seeing on the rare occasions I’ve found them in the past. And some of them were going for almost reasonable prices.

I still think NZ’s wine industry is doing far from enough to market their product in China. Compare with dairy – everybody claiming to source their milk powder from NZ plays that up loud in their advertising, and NZ cheese and butter is easy to find. Or kiwifruit – I’ve seen plenty of large, prominent displays of Zespri kiwifruit in the fruit sections of supermarkets. But still, what I saw in Jenny Lou’s today is a vast improvement on any previous sighting of NZ wine in China.




one love

October 30th, 2009

I think this is about the awesomest thing I’ve seen online all year.

don’t get it

November 6th, 2008

There’s something in this post at ESWN I don’t get, a question of terminology. And no, I’m not questioning Roland’s translation, I’m questioning the definitions of commonly used terms. See, those characterised as “extreme” or “angry” leftists in that post strike me as being extreme right, or neo-Nazi skinheads with Chinese characteristics; whereas those in the same post characterised as being “extreme” or “angry” right strike me as being the Chinese branch of America’s Republican Party. And to both groups I tend to apply a certain label starting with F- and ending with -ascist, with the sole embellishment being the addition of the adjective “wannabe”. In other words, I don’t see the difference.

Or, to put it another way, genuine left-wing politics are internationalist politics.

Workers of the world unite!

In other words, to be leftist means to rise above petty national, cultural, “ethnic” and “racial” boundaries and treat all as equal. In other words, once you retreat into petty, narrow-minded nationalism, you can no longer call yourself ‘left’. Instead, you should shave your head, tattoo a few swastikas, and spell Nazi slogans badly- or make a right tit of yourself, to put it simply.

And the extreme rightists in that post? Well, they are extreme rightists, but what gets me is the degree of self-loathing. If you hate yourself and your country so much that you blindly worship an idea which has so far failed to show up in the real world, then I’m going to seriously struggle to respect you. The word “colonised” applies to such minds, and it’s a very sad sight.

Or to put it more simply: I agree with the sentiments expressed in that post.

new word

October 22nd, 2008

Hehe, chuarwalla, that’s awesome.

speeding up subway expansion

October 9th, 2008

I don’t really want to translate this one, I’ve done far too much public transport lately, but this article in TBN says planning work on four new subway lines has started and two more will begin construction this year. Those to enter the planning stages are lines 3, 11, 12 and 16, while lines 7 and 14 are those to begin construction by the end of the year. Line 15 and the Fangshan line might also begin construction. What strikes me as being the key point, though, is that subway expansion is to be sped up.

But to be honest, I’m feeling too lazy to read the whole article in detail, let alone translate it. Sorry.


April 2nd, 2008

I don’t have time right now for this, but just a quick note before lzh and I head off for a study session with one of my colleagues: The headline says:


150,000 Dongcheng residents plan to move out to Chaoyang District

Which naturally leaves me asking: “How?” The “why”, judging by the subtitle, is the preservation of the Old City and the raising of living standards. And a carpark will be built outside the hutongs (no, I don’t know what that’s about either).

Anyway, hopefully I’ll remember to look this up and read and maybe even translate the whole thing tomorrow. I mean, moving 150,000 people seems pretty damn momentous to me.


February 25th, 2008

Why is it that I get the feeling that Victoria University of Wellington‘s student newspaper Salient is of a far higher quality than New Zealand’s mainstream media?


February 25th, 2008

When I saw the headline, I was wondering about the article, but then I saw the NZ Herald’s (all too typically) short and seriously superficial excuse for an article, and all that is going through my mind is:


Sure, censorship exists in New Zealand’s publishing industry. It’s a part of publishing, curtailing the excesses of authors, keeping them on the straight and narrow. And sure, the article in question is attributed to Newstalk ZB, a radio station, and New Zealand’s radio stations are little more than vehicles for advertising, with the occasional outbreak of “news”, weather or music. But censorship is a pretty damn big accusation to be levelling in a Western democracy. Could nobody have thought to, like, actually, investigate these claims?

And people wonder why I have no respect for my country’s excuse for journalism….

and just because..

February 17th, 2008

Just because I felt like I’d done too many rough as guts translations of Chinese articles, I decided to open up Libé instead. And what did I find? That Muammar Gaddafi might be the son of a Corsican aviator


So here it is:

Le colonel Muammar Kadhafi, fils d’un aviateur corse… Cette idée surprenante, qui circule comme une légende sur l’île de Beauté depuis des années, a aussi retenu l’attention de hauts gradés de l’armée française. Le site d’infos en ligne Bakchich a mené son «enquête corse» sur les traces d’Albert Preziosi, héros de la Seconde Guerre mondiale mort dans le ciel de Russie en 1943. Héros et peut-être le père du Guide libyen. Pour les habitants de Vezzani, en Haute-Corse, cette filiation est une évidence. D’ailleurs, comment expliquer autrement le soutien de Tripoli aux nationalistes corses dans les années 70 ? Problème : aucune trace écrite ne confirme la légende orale. Les archives de l’armée de l’air n’apportent que peu d’informations, si ce n’est une correspondance d’officiers supérieurs français datant de 1999, preuve que l’on s’était déjà interrogé sur la véracité de cette filiation. Si l’on examine de près le parcours de l’aviateur corse, il paraît crédible qu’il ait été en Libye au moment de la date présumée de la conception de Muammar Kadhafi. Mais si ses anciens compagnons de combat évoquent une liaison possible avec une Libyenne, ses descendants sont plus circonspects. En définitive, le meilleur argument des tenants de cette légende reste la ressemblance frappante entre Muammar Kadhafi et Albert Preziosi.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, son of a Corsican aviator… This surprising idea, which has been circulating as a legend on the Isle of Beauty for some years, has also attracted the attention of high ranking soldiers in the French army. The on-line news site Bakchich undertook its own “Corsican investigation” into Albert Preziosi, hero of the Second World War killed in Russian skies in 1943. Hero, and perhaps father of the Guide of Libya [???]. For the residents of Vezzani, in Haute-Corse, this parentage is obvious [?????????]. Otherwise, how can you explain the support of Tripoli for Corsican nationalists in the 70s? Problem: No written evidence confirms the oral legend. The air force archives provide only a little information, if it’s not correspondance between superior officers dating from 1999, proving that the truth of this parentage [????] had already been investigated. If one examines more closely the path [???] of the Corsican aviator, it seems credible that he could have been in Libya at the presumed date of conception of  Muammar Gaddafi. But if his former brothers in arms speak of a possible liaison with a Libyan woman, his descendants are more circumspect. What is certain is that the best argument of the believers in this legend remains the striking resemblance between Muammar Gaddafi and Albert Preziosi.

Question marks mark where I’m really unsure of my translation; the more question marks the less sure I am. Corrections are welcome.