Hui Ka Yan, the founder of a crisis-hit Chinese property giant, is under police surveillance.
As China's housing crisis grows, so have fears that dreams of home ownership have been bulldozed.
Problems faced by the world's second-largest economy include a property market crisis and slow growth.
There are reports the leaders of the heavily indebted Chinese property giant have been detained.
The stricken Chinese property giant said Hui Ka Yan was under suspicion of "illegal crimes".
The race to get back to the moon is fuelling US investment in private sector space firms.
HOST China snapped up more gold medals at the Hangzhou Asian Games yesterday.
A shooting world record fell to Chinese teenager Sheng Lihao in the men’s 10-meter air rifle with his 253.3 points surpassing teammate Yu Haonan’s 252.8 from Rio de Janeiro four years ago.
“I had good luck in the final. I did quite well today, I was basically smooth,” said the 18-year-old, a Tokyo Olympic silver medalist.
After winning all seven gold medals in the pool on the opening day, China dominated again, spearheaded by breaststroke world champion Qin Haiyang.
The Shanghai swimmer added the Asian Games title to his collection with the second-fastest swim this year.
Qin clocked a Games-record time of 57.76 seconds to win the 100 breaststroke.
Fifteen-year-old Chen Ye won the men’s gold medal in the skateboarding park finals. It was the Chinese team’s first skateboarding gold at a large-scale global competition.
At Qiantang Roller Sports Center, Chen and Japan’s Kusaki Hinano, also 15, won men’s and women’s golds.
Zhang Liang became the most successful Asiad rower.
Zhang won the men’s single sculls to add to his double sculls gold from Sunday and now has five Asiad titles from four editions.
THAILAND extended a warm welcome to the first batch of visa-exempt flights from China yesterday, marking the launch of the nation’s fresh initiative to reinvigorate its Chinese tourist market.
Approximately 341 visitors from Shanghai landed at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday morning, greeted with flowers and applause by the newly appointed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and several senior Thai officials.
“This marks a promising first day for Thailand as we welcome Chinese tourists under the new visa-free entry policy,” he said at the airport’s welcoming ceremony.
The Southeast Asian country recently announced its decision to allow visa-free entry for Chinese tourists from yesterday until the end of February 2024, in line with Srettha’s commitment to enhancing Thailand’s economy through tourism.
“We are confident that this scheme will significantly boost the economy,” he said.
According to latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, from January 1 to September 17 this year, Thailand recorded over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.
With the help of the scheme, authorities hope to double the current number, anticipating between 4.01 to 4.4 million Chinese visitors for the entire year.
“Knowing that Thailand has lifted visa requirements for Chinese visitors, my mother and I made a quick decision to visit Thailand for a few days,” 25-year-old Tian Yumeng told Xinhua.
The stimulus visa scheme, effective just ahead of China’s Golden Week in October, has prompted airlines to gear up for expanding China-Thailand routes, increasing flight frequencies, and introducing new connections between favored Thai destinations and second-tier Chinese cities, according to TAT.
On the same day, flights from China’s Kunming, Changsha, and Nanning and landing in the Thai capital Bangkok and other popular tourist cities, such as Chiang Mai and Phuket, were also greeted with Thai-style welcome ceremonies.
CHINA’S top-two ranked male tennis players Zhang Zhizhen and Wu Yibing will partner each other for the first time. The duo is paired in the doubles competition at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Shanghai native Zhang is 60th in the ATP rankings, while 98th-ranked Wu hails from Hangzhou, where he has received overwhelming support from his hometown folks over the past two days since the Games officially kicked off.
At Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Tennis Center, they eased past Chinese Taipei pair Ho Chenjui and Wu Tung-Lin 6-3, 6-0 in the first round on Sunday, and defeated the Qatari duo Alharrasi Mubarak and Naif Mashari 6-3, 6-4 in the second round yesterday.
“After yesterday’s match and today’s singles, I feel more relaxed,” said Zhang. “I found form a bit late today, thankfully he (Wu) was leading the pace.”
“We’re used to playing singles, and we don’t have a lot of time to practice doubles,” Wu noted. “So we’ve done our best with very limited time.
“I think doubles involves taking more responsibility. It’s not only about yourself, you have to talk to each other, get to know what you’re going to do in each situation.”
As a Hangzhou native, Wu’s home advantage is incomparable, with family, friends and relatives attending his matches. “Not only my parents, but my cousins, my parents’ cousins, and my best friend, they all came to watch me play,” he pointed out. “With them beside me, I can really release myself.”
As China’s top professional players, Wu and Zhang have spent most of their time travelling around the world for competitions over the past two years.
“It’s been a long time since the last time my father watched me play,” said Wu, who was in tears when greeting his relatives after their doubles victory on Sunday.
Wu secured his first ATP Tour title in Dallas, Texas, in February, while Zhang performed better in the second half of the year, overtaking Wu to become China’s top-ranked male player.
“I’m also dreaming of becoming a tour-level champion. It’s always been a goal for me,” Zhang pointed out. “We try to improve each other. I try to push him, and he tries to push me. You cannot be alone, it’s too boring and you lose motivation.”
Zhang has a very busy schedule in Hangzhou, playing in the singles, doubles, and the mixed doubles. In the latter part of the Games, he might be playing three matches a day.
He beat Ammar Faleh A Alhogbani of Saudi Arabia 7-5, 6-2 in the second round of the men’s singles yesterday. Zhang was down 0-3 in the first set, but rallied to victory.
Earlier in the day, Wu saw off Indonesia’s Justin Barki 7-5, 6-1 in another second-round encounter.
The Philippines says it has removed a floating barrier installed by Beijing in the South China Sea.
Fifteen years after a deal to control a fifth of Cambodia's coastline, work has barely started.
CHINESE President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou and hold a welcoming banquet and bilateral events for foreign leaders attending the opening ceremony, on September 22 and 23, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying announced yesterday.
The foreign leaders attending the opening ceremony in the Zhejiang Province capital are: King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah of Kuwait, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda of Nepal, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao of Timor-Leste, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo of South Korea and Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat of Malaysia Johari bin Abdul.
EXPRESSWAYS in China will likely see a record traffic volume during the upcoming holiday due to travel demand, an official said yesterday.
According to Wang Xiuchun, from the Ministry of Transport, the expressway traffic volume on September 29, the first day of the 8-day holiday, will reach a new high and the daily average for the entire holiday will surge over 40 percent from last year’s corresponding period.
This year, the National Day holiday extends from September 29 to October 6, covering the Mid-Autumn Festival. October 1 marks China’s National Day, while September 29 is the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional festival of family reunions.
CHINA contributed nearly one-third of the academic papers published in the most influential international journals in 2022, marking the first time it surpassed the United States to secure the top position, a report released on Wednesday said.
Among the 54,002 papers published last year in 159 journals with the highest impact factors in 178 disciplines, 16,349 were contributed by Chinese authors, according to the report released by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Roughly 27 percent of the nearly 350,000 high-quality publications featured in 371 journals with high impact factors and citations saw their first authors hailing from Chinese institutions.
In 2022, China secured the second position in terms of the number of academic papers and review articles published in 16 top journals.
TORCHBEARERS in the virtual and physical worlds will jointly light up the cauldron for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou tomorrow, organizers said yesterday.
“A green, digital and intelligent Asian Games will leave lasting memories for people. The shows, transportation and related services have been ready for the event,” said Li Yiqing, spokesperson for the Asian Games opening and closing ceremonies operations center.
The 12-day Hangzhou Asiad torch relay, covering 11 cities in Zhejiang Province, concluded on Wednesday. “The cauldron fueled by methanol will be lit by torchbearers at the opening ceremony, which is also a practice of hosting a green Games,” Li noted.
“Advanced technologies, including digital fireworks, glasses-free 3D and augmented reality, will provide the audience with a unique experience to feel local Chinese culture in Hangzhou,” said Sha Xiaolan, chief director and producer for the opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony of an international sports event has always been a major platform to present the host country’s culture. For Hangzhou, the elements of sweet osmanthus, the Qiantang River, and Autumn Equinox, the 16th solar term on the Chinese lunar calendar falling tomorrow, will be found during the ceremony.
Lu Chuan, chief director for the opening ceremony, said, “Life in Hangzhou makes me feel comfortable. I hope to introduce this charming city and the profound Chinese culture to more people through the opening ceremony. We are embracing Asia and the world.”
According to Games organizers, around 50,000 participants will attend the opening ceremony, while more than 1,200 volunteers will be on hand to offer guidance and assistance.
The Hangzhou Games will be the most eco-friendly and smartest games ever held, said Vinod Kumar Tiwari, acting director general of the Olympic Council of Asia. “The infrastructures and stadiums designed, are completely eco-friendly. We see almost all of the cars here are electric vehicles. This probably will be a pioneering thing for the next Asiad.”
THE China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone has almost witnessed the establishment of a new enterprise every hour over the past decade, statistics show.
By the end of 2022, the Shanghai FTZ, which was launched in September 2013 as the first of its kind in China, had attracted 84,000 newly-built enterprises, according to a white paper released yesterday at a forum held in celebration of the zone’s 10th anniversary.
It means that almost 23 enterprises were established every day, one every hour.
The number was 2.35 times that of the same region 20 years before the launch of Shanghai FTZ.
The leading role of Shanghai FTZ is reflected in the numbers:
In 2022, its regional import and export volume accounted for nearly 30 percent of the country’s total 21 free trade zones. Over the past decade, it has amassed US$58.6 billion in actual foreign investment, nearly 30 percent of the city’s total; and pioneered nearly half of the 302 institutional innovation achievements.
The forum also saw the release of 100 typical cases reflecting the innovative development of the Shanghai FTZ, covering areas such as investment management, trade regulation, financial openness, and scientific and technological innovation.
How all these reforms have helped enterprises to break the bottlenecks of development are underlined.
Besides, 100 enterprises were honored for either pioneering the institutional innovation of the Shanghai FTZ or playing a leading role in the industry. Ten attended the awards ceremony held during the forum.
Experts, officials and tycoons shared their views about the FTZ at the forum.
Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Jining hoped the FTZ will continue to better play a pioneering role by strengthening innovation layout in frontier sectors, deepening trade liberalization, increasing global resources allocation ability, etc.
Others who spoke included Dilma Rousseff, former Brazilian president who is also president of the New Development Bank of the BRICS; Guy Bradley, chairman of John Swire & Sons (HK) Ltd; Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Christopher A Pissarides, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics.
According to Cormann, the establishment of the Shanghai FTZ was an important moment in China’s trade liberalization journey, and it has become a real magnet for trade investment.
“It also serves as a center of policy experimentation and innovation with respect to financial sector liberalization, trade facilitation, and more efficient customs procedures, demonstrating the benefits of these reforms, and providing a template that could be successfully applied right across China,” he said in his speech.
Pissarides praised Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai’s Lingang Special Area as a good example of promoting globalization.
“It is contributing a lot to the local economy, employing a lot of people here. And more importantly, it’s producing cars that are sustainable sources of energy, which involves a transfer of knowledge,” he noted.
CHINA’S first domestically built luxury cruise ship, the “Adora Magic City,” will set sail from the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Liner Terminal on January 1, 2024.
Passengers can make reservations for the relevant routes by visiting the company’s official website, using the WeChat mini-program, contacting the customer service center, or inquiring with local travel agencies from Tuesday.
The “Adora Magic City” has unveiled its Northeast Asia route departing from Shanghai. In the future, the cruise ship will be deployed on routes to Southeast Asian countries from China and will also introduce the “Maritime Silk Road” and other medium to long-haul routes in due course, offering a diverse range of travel and vacation options, officials announced at the Wusongkou Forum on Tuesday.
The ship, built by the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corp, has passed all tests and is now ready for operation.
The “Adora Magic City” is a significant achievement for China’s ship-building industry, particularly in the field of luxury cruise liners.
Meanwhile, Shanghai’s first cruise-themed riverside commercial complex was unveiled at the Wusongkou port in the northern suburban district of Baoshan.
The “Shanghai Seaside World” project comprises about 66,000 square meters of shopping malls, around 38,000 square meters of river-view office space and some 25,000 square meters of service apartments and a luxury hotel.
The project will be adjacent to the Wusongkou International Cruise Liner Terminal, known as Asia’s largest cruise liner port, the district government announced at the annual forum yesterday.
The project aims to boost the commercial vitality of the Shanghai International Cruise Tourism Resort and better serve tourists, cruise companies and crew.
It is expected to create a new hub for emerging entertainment activities and depict a picturesque urban holiday life, the Baoshan government said.
A cruise departed for South Korea from Wusongkou port in late August, marking the reopening of the cruise liner port after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “2023 Wusongkou Declaration” was released at the forum, which calls on industry stakeholders to jointly “fulfill corporate responsibilities, serve national strategies, develop unique products, stimulate consumer demand and enhance service quality.”
Over 20 commercial and cultural projects for the resort were also announced at the forum to attract investment. They include the Long Beach commercial street, an observation tower and a concert hall.
In addition, the Yangtze River Estuary Water Sports Experience Center will be built. It will become the largest sailing and yacht berthing, training, competition and experience base in Shanghai.
Major renovations will be launched as well on existing venues around the port, such as the Paotaiwan Wetland Park, and the Yangtze River Estuary Science and Technology Museum.
CHINA yesterday urged the United States to stop attacking and slandering the country, following the release of a US presidential memorandum that identified China as one of the major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning made the remarks at a regular press briefing when responding to a query concerning the memorandum released on September 15.
Stressing that the US “designation” is groundless and malicious in nature, Mao said China firmly opposes it and has lodged solemn representations with the US side.
She said the Chinese government attaches great importance to drug control and has classified 456 types of substances as controlled under its drug control laws, making it one of the countries with the most drugs under control in the world, and with the strictest controls.
“There is no doubt that China is a model of global drug governance, that it is the country that is implementing its anti-drug policies in the strictest manner, and this is widely recognized by the international community.”
She said the US, which accounts for less than 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids, is among the countries with the highest demand for drugs and has no right to criticize China's drug control work.
IF you want to have a taste of Jiangnan (regions to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) delicacies, you should visit Jinjiang Amusement Park in Minhang District.
The park has been turned into a paradise for foodies, with various culinary delights.
As part of the ongoing Shanghai Tourism Festival, the Jiangnan Foodie Festival started on Sunday night with a sensational mix of food and music.
It features about 150 types of delicacies with more than 20 booths serving mouthwatering flavors from different areas.
These include specialty delicacies of Shanghai such as Qibao congyoubing (scallion pancakes), Zhuanqiao barrel steamed cakes, Maqiao dried bean curd, and Park Hotel Palmier, as well as an assortment of delectable specialties from other parts of the Yangtze River Delta Region.
Xiangcheng xianrou yuebing, or mooncakes with pork filling, Huainan beef soup, Taizhou steamed dumplings stuffed with crab roe, Shouzhou yuanzi (glutinous rice dumplings), as well as various fish balls, rice cakes, noodles and snacks are served as well.
Performances of Suzhou pingtan (storytelling and singing) to Sichuan Opera (notable for its mask-changing stunts) and traditional ceremony of diancha, making finely ground powder from processed green tea, are being staged.
There are also band performances and lucky draws to lure the young generation.
The park will open for free after 5pm through September 22.
WANG Yi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, will hold the 18th round of China-Russia strategic security consultation in Russia this week, China’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
Wang is making the visit to Russia at the invitation of Secretary Nikolai Patrushev of the Russian Security Council, with the four-day security consultation ending on Thursday.
YU Huaying, a woman accused of trafficking 11 children for illicit gains, was sentenced to death by a court in southwest China’s Guizhou Province yesterday.
It was discovered during the trial that from 1993 to 1996, Yu, born in Yunnan in 1963, colluded with a man surnamed Gong, who died during the course of the case, to repeatedly abduct children from Chongqing Municipality and Guizhou and traffic them to Hebei Province for illicit financial benefits.
According to a previous report by ThePaper, there were three pairs of siblings among the 11 children.
The Guiyang Intermediate People’s Court believed that Yu’s behavior constituted the crime of child abduction and the criminal circumstances were particularly serious, with a great negative effect on society.
Therefore, the court sentenced her to death, deprived Yu of her political rights for life, and confiscated all her personal property.
Yu said she will appeal the decision to a higher court.
Yu was arrested by police in June 2022 following a complaint from Yang Niuhua, a woman who was snatched by Yu in Guizhou and sold in Hebei in 1995 for 2,500 yuan (US$343).
Yang, 33 years old, had been trying hard to find her biological family. She posted a searching-for-family video on social media in 2021, which was seen by one of her cousins. Finally she had a successful DNA match and was reunited with her family after 26 years. Unfortunately, Yang’s biological parents passed away in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
She went to Guiyang police to file a complaint about her abduction in 2022. Yu was caught soon afterwards and prosecuted this February.
On July 14, 2023, during the open proceedings of the Guiyang court, when it was Yang’s turn to speak, she suddenly stood up, knelt down on the spot, and tearfully pleaded with the court to severely punish Yu.
SENIOR Chinese and US officials held multiple rounds of meetings in Malta on Saturday and Sunday, agreeing to maintain high-level exchanges and hold consultations on Asia-Pacific affairs, maritime affairs as well as foreign policies.
The meetings were between Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, emphasized that the Taiwan question is the first red line that must not be crossed in the China-US relationship and the US must abide by the three China-US joint communiques and honor its commitment to not support “Taiwan independence.”
The two sides conducted candid, substantive and constructive strategic communication on stabilizing and improving China-US relations.
Wang said China’s development has strong endogenous driving force and follows inevitable historical logic and it cannot be stopped. The Chinese people’s legitimate right to development cannot be deprived, he added.
The two sides agreed to continue to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state during their meeting in Bali, maintain high-level exchanges, hold consultations between the two countries on Asia-Pacific affairs, maritime affairs and foreign policies.
They discussed measures to further support and facilitate personnel exchanges between the two countries.
The two sides also talked in-depth about the ongoing situation in the Asia-Pacific region, Ukraine, the Korean Peninsula and other international and regional issues.
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EVERY morning, before Tian Binqun, a 64-year-old doctor, heads to work in Wuhan, central China, he swims for half an hour in the Yangtze River, China’s longest river, or the city’s iconic East Lake.
As a urologist at Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital, Tian begins work at 7am. His work, filled with operations, is demanding. “I’ve come to realize how vital swimming is for my health and vitality, given my intense work schedule,” he said.
To maintain his swimming regimen, Tian rises at 5am when indoor pools are generally closed, making open water an optimal choice. “I freshen up, drink some milk and then drive off to swim about a kilometer. This routine keeps me energetic for the day,” Tian said.
Tian was among more than 1,900 swimmers who participated in the Wuhan Yangtze River Crossing Festival, one of the world’s most challenging swim events, last Sunday. He swam 6 kilometers during the renowned citywide physical fitness gala.
Located at the confluence of the Yangtze River and its longest tributary, the Han River, Wuhan is home to 165 rivers and 166 lakes. These abundant water resources foster a deep-seated love for open-water swimming among Wuhan’s inhabitants.
“Many people in Wuhan swim in the Yangtze River because they want to challenge nature, endure tough conditions and build their resilience,” said Yao Qin’an, director of Wuhan’s social sports instruction center. “To some extent, the Wuhan population’s penchant for crossing the Yangtze reflects the city’s determined spirit.”
The Yangtze River’s average width in the Wuhan section is 1.7 kilometers. Given the potential for wind, rapids and whirlpools, crossing the Yangtze is a significant challenge.
“Swimming in the Yangtze River is truly challenging. It’s unlike any other competition course I’ve experienced. The strong current makes for a challenging crossing, but it’s immensely rewarding when you reach the other side,” said Ashley Hogg, a PhD student from Manchester, England, who has competed in the festival four times and once placed fifth in the 1.8-kilometer race.
Hogg added, “The event requires strategic thinking and adaptation. It aligns with the city’s slogan — ‘Wuhan, different every day.’ One day, you need to aim in one direction to finish in a good time. But the following day or year, slower currents could render the same strategy ineffective, so constant adaptation, strategy and rigorous training are required.”
While crossing the Yangtze has been a Wuhan tradition for decades, the sport faces challenges of continuity. Most open-water swimmers are over 50, with fewer young people showing interest.
To engage younger generations, the Wuhan Yangtze River Crossing Festival’s organizing committee began encouraging citizens under 35 in 2019 to form a youth phalanx to partake in the six-kilometer public swimming event in the Yangtze River.
This year’s youngest participant, 14-year-old Liu Enze, said, “I’m really happy to have finished the race. Although our phalanx consisted of 62 people, we kept good formation and it was quite relaxing.” Liu started swimming in the Yangtze River with his father four years ago.
Wuhan offers free swimming access in dozens of natatoriums to students in nine-year compulsory education during the summer holidays for about three weeks. “We’re also providing free training courses to over 3,000 primary and secondary school students this summer, teaching them swimming skills and lifesaving techniques,” Yao added.
The tide is beginning to turn. This year’s Wuhan Yangtze River Crossing Festival champions were Huang Ziqi, a 15-year-old girl, and Wang Baojun, a 17-year-old boy.
Tian, who founded a swimming association at his hospital this year, sees an encouraging trend. “I was pleasantly surprised to see many young colleagues join the association with a keen interest in open-water swimming. It’s great that the tradition can continue,” he said.
TREATING the head or the feet has always been the question for doctors of traditional Chinese medicine.
TCM had its roots in primitive society, and its doctrines appeared about 2,500 years ago. It was based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang and the Five Elements — water, wood, metal, fire and earth — which were used to explain everything in the universe, including the interaction between internal organs of human beings.
TCM focuses on a holistic approach to understanding normal functions and disease processes, emphasizing both prevention and treatment of illness, and seeking to maintain a body in a yin-yang balanced state.
So, the saying toutong yitou, jiaotong yijiao, or “treating only the head for headache and only the feet for a foot sore,” is a criticism of a stopgap treatment of the symptoms but not the disease.
Today, this saying can be used to describe any approach that fails to identify the root cause of a problem and is thus fundamentally unable to solve it.
If Chinese people say a doctor is “treating only the head for headache,” they mean that he is not a good doctor.
Which brings us to another old saying: jiubing cheng liangyi, which literally means “a chronic illness makes a patient a good doctor.” It’s akin to the Irish proverb “Every invalid is a physician.”
These two doctor-patient sayings are still widely quoted in Chinese conversation and writing today.
ALTHOUGH traditional Chinese medicine is generally deemed “alternative medicine” in the West, it has been nearly the only medical system to treat all kinds of illness in China for several thousand years.
Even today, many Chinese patients go to TCM doctors when Western medicine can’t help or proves ineffective.
Traditionally, TCM prescriptions are prepared in forms of decoctions or herb tea and bolus, even though some of remedies come in tablets and capsules nowadays, just like the Western medicines.
Decoction, the most common form of TCM medicine, is a concentrated liquor made by boiling a prescribed combination of different herbs. Dark in color, such decoctions usually taste bad and can be extremely bitter.
However, Chinese people believe that the bitterer, the better in curing illness, leading to the popular saying liangyao kukou liyubing, or “good medicine tastes bitter to the mouth, but it’s effective in curing ailments.”
This saying is usually followed by zhongyan nier liyuxing, or “sincere and honest advice sounds blunt but helps to put one on the right track.”
The Chinese proverb about bitter medicine and blunt advice seems to echo ancient Roman poet Ovid’s quote: “The sharp thorn often produces delicate roses.” Likewise, Israeli-American fantasy author Leigh Bardugo wrote: “Love speaks in flowers; truth requires thorns.”
QUANZHOU is an intriguingly diverse city.
Imagine a suburb with a coffee shop that wouldn’t look out of place in a cool section of any national capital, were it not for an ancient mosque next to it.
Sipping an espresso while looking out to the onion dome in a Chinese city: What a cultural integration and coexistence!
And this is what the coastal city in southeast China’s Fujian Province has been all about since the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties when sailors, merchants and explorers came together from all over the world.
Quanzhou today does not often make the news and is rather underrated, but centuries ago it was the most “cosmopolitan” city of China as Marco Polo called it “one of the two greatest havens in the world for commerce.”
Great Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta, who visited the city in 1345-46, lavished it with praise.
“The harbor of Zayton is one of the greatest in the world — I am wrong; it is the greatest,” he wrote.
Zayton was the city’s Arabic nickname referring to the large quantity of citong (刺桐), or tung trees, planted around the harbor entrance since the 10th century to welcome and impress sailors with their eye-catching red flowers.
The city became the largest port in east China during the Song Dynasty, linked with around 100 other ports along the Maritime Silk Road, including Chennai in India, Siraf in Iran, Muscat in Oman and Zanzibar in Tanzania.
The many foreigners’ presence contributed to the development of harmonious coexistence between the many different ethnic and religious groups in Quanzhou, including Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Nestorian, Jewish, Catholic and Muslim.
In 2021, UNESCO placed Quanzhou on its World Heritage List for its historical role as an “emporium of the world in Song-Yuan China.”
Today, the glorious past with early foreign settlers and thousands of turbaned Arabians are gone, but the cultural mix is well illustrated by the diversity of buildings and extensive archeological remains in and outside the historic quarter of Quanzhou.
To better understand this fascinating city, a visit to the Quanzhou Maritime Museum is highly recommended. Viewers can engage with some of the most valuable archeological findings and religious artifacts from the coastal city.
Spending two to three hours here would reward you with the opportunity to expand your horizons. The hundreds of ancient relics help us realize that, at one time, Zayton was indeed the “capital of religions.”
The museum houses dozens of ancient Christian tombstones and covers carved with crosses, angels and lotus flowers showing a blend of diverse artistic styles.
Elaborate Hindu stone carvings on display are relics of the Hindu temples in the Yuan Dynasty, testifying to the large presence of Indian traders during the era. Quanzhou is the only city in China that still preserves the remains of Hindu temples.
Arabians and Persians made their homes here, and the surnames of Muslim descendants living in the region are Ding, Guo and Pu.
For example, Ding-surnamed Arabic descendants mostly reside in Chendai Town in Jinjiang, a county-level city under Quanzhou’s jurisdiction, numbering more than 20,000. A beautiful collection of Islamic tombstones and carved stone fragments recovered during the dismantling of the city walls are on display at the museum.
There are many fascinating stories about the city with many foreign descendants adopting Chinese names, marrying locals and becoming proud Quanzhou locals.
One is Xu-Shi Yin’e, who is one of the 19th-generation descendants of the Sri Lankan prince who traveled to China in the 15th century. The prince fell in love with the mountains and waters of Quanzhou and resolved to stay.
In 2002, Xu-Shi was invited to Sri Lanka and was received with royal etiquette, but similar to her ancestor, she wanted an ordinary life in the city of Quanzhou.
Quanzhou is known for its friendliness and openness. Its sublime beauty is best savored when you wander the city after dark. Shrines and temples are illuminated, and you can walk the lantern-lit streets, pass the ancient banyan trees and soak up the mythical atmosphere.
The magnificently carved Guandi Temple on Tumen Street is immediately identifiable thanks to its dragon-decorated roof under its atmospheric, fairy lighting. It’s dedicated to Guan Yu, a Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280) general who is deified as a military sage.
Just west of Guandi Temple is the Qingjing Mosque, which stands as a witness to the long-lasting interaction between Quanzhou and the Arab-Islamic world.
Built by Arabs in 1009 and restored in 1310, it is one of the oldest surviving Islamic mosques in China.
Quanzhou has numerous temples and pavilions built over many imperial dynasties, but if you are on a short trip, the must-visit is still the symbol of Quanzhou — Kaiyuan Temple, which has earned the reputation of being “the Buddhist realm of southern Quanzhou.”
During the Song Dynasty, renowned scholar Zhu Xi composed the following couplet for the Kaiyuan Temple: “In old days this place was called a Buddhist kingdom; the streets were full of sages.”
First established in AD 686 during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the land on which the temple stands was originally an orchard of mulberry trees owned by a regional governor, who promised a monk to build a temple if his mulberry trees were to produce lotus blossoms.
It magically happened and it is for this reason that the temple has been given the nickname: the Lotus-Blooming Mulberry Dharma World (Sang Lian Fa Jie). And this ancient mulberry tree of more than 1,300 years still survives to this day and is listed as the world’s oldest mulberry tree.
As the largest temple in Fujian Province, it features a grouping of halls and a pair of spectacular rust-colored, five-story stone pagodas, with stunningly beautiful scenery.
The intriguing beauty lies in many details. At the base of the “moon platform” that stretches in front of the main hall are 72 sphinx sculptures, with lion bodies and human heads. These sculptures, along with two finely carved columns with scenes from ancient Hinduism mythology are fine evidence of the multicultural exchange that flourished in old Quanzhou.
If time allows, travel outside the historic city of Quanzhou, and there are much more on offer. Just half an hour’s drive from the city center, there is the quirky temple dedicated to Manicheism, a religion originating in Persia in the 3rd century. It is the only Manichean temple that has survived intact.
The most remarkable Manichean relic in the temple is the statue of Mani, commonly referred to in the Chinese Manichean tradition as the Buddha of Light.
The stone statue was donated to the temple by a local adherent in 1339. Additionally, the area around this Manichean temple is profoundly soothing, offering a resting place to enjoy all of nature’s goodness.
Religious sites are essential elements of Quanzhou but beyond that, you should venture to one of the outlying traditional villages, such as Xunpu, to discover more of the region’s hidden wonders.
The fishing village of Xunpu, some 10 kilometers southeast of Quanzhou city center, is a popular tourist attraction these days for its unique traditions.
The women there are famous for raising oysters and their habit of wearing flowery headwear. Such hairdo has been passed from generation to generation.
These days, tourists love to stop for photos with the headwear.
It does look touristy but explore inside the local village, the original oyster shell houses have a kind of fisherfolk atmosphere.
Mazu is the most worshipped sea goddess in China’s coastal areas. Every year, on the birthday of Mazu, there is a grand celebration to worship her in Xunpu.
If you go
To reach Quanzhou from Shanghai, you can take a domestic flight that operates daily between the two cities. The flight usually takes one hour and 40 minutes, landing at Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport.
Alternatively, you can opt for a high-speed train from Shanghai to Quanzhou, which takes about five hours and 50 minutes.
HONG Kong authorities yesterday asked Japan to remove restrictions on direct flights from the city.
Japan became one of the first countries to impose China-specific travel restrictions this week as infections surged across the mainland.
They include restricting direct flights from Hong Kong to four airports — Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda, Kansai in Osaka and Nagoya’s Chubu.
Hong Kong’s transport department said yesterday it was “greatly disappointed by Japanese authorities’ hasty decision during the peak tourist season.”
The department said it had contacted the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong to “solemnly request” a reversal of the decision — which takes effect from tomorrow.
It added that the affected airlines have been told they can still fly empty planes to the restricted airports to pick up any stranded passengers in the coming days.
From tomorrow, Japan will also require on-arrival virus tests for passengers from China, but that will not apply to travellers from Hong Kong and Macau.
UNITED States: An anonymous US official said yesterday that Washington is considering new entry controls on inbound travellers from China, according to Bloomberg News.
The US had dropped the requirement for passengers to show a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) proof while inbound since June 12.
Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said yesterday that from December 30, passengers who have been to or stayed in China within seven days will be required to take a PCR test upon arrival in Japan, and if they test positive, they will have to undergo a seven-day quarantine. Japan is also considering limiting the number of flights from China.
South Korea: The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency added China to the target countries for quarantine at Incheon International Airport on December 16, and travellers and their companions must have body temperature not exceeding 37.3°C, Yonhap News Agency reported.
India: Travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and South Korea must take RT-PCR tests while inbound, and those who are symptomatic or positive will be quarantined. In addition, from December 24, 2 percent of passengers on every international flight will be selected for a random PCR test, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Italy: Starting from December 24, Milan's Malpensa Airport has been conducting nucleic acid tests for all passengers arriving from China, regardless of nationality. The policy is temporarily in effect until January 30, 2023, according to ViaggiareSicuri, the website of the External Affairs Ministry.