Media Coverage

Global Briefs
Jan.29.2008    Source: AsianWeek
Chinese Class Via Internet
SAN FRANCISCO — Teachers in Beijing are teaching Chinese to students in the United States and 41 other countries through the Internet language school eChineseLearning. Born in Beijing, Fred Rao, founder and CEO of eChineseLearning, launched his school in the spring of 2006. After the U.S. College Board’s Advanced Placement Program added Chinese to its curriculum, thousands of U.S. high schools started offering Chinese courses. Now eChineseLearning has more than 40 teachers and 200 students who use the free Skype service to communicate in virtual classrooms. Each course is tailored to each student’s need. The price is a big draw for students, who range from 4 to 72 years old. eChineseLearning charges students nine U.S. dollars per hour, less than half of the market price of $20 to $30 in the San Francisco Bay Area or New York. Rao plans to attract students from at least 100 countries next year. — New America Media . . . . . . . . . .
A New Generation Of Chinese in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South Africa’s Chinese community is the oldest and largest on the continent. South Africa’s first Chinese immigrants arrived from southern China in the 1870s. Under apartheid, Chinese were classified as “nonwhites,” denied the right to vote or own property, and were kept away from skilled jobs and certain residential areas. Their descendants became professionals and businessmen. As many as 13,000 lived in South Africa in the 1980s. But in recent years, their numbers have dwindled due to political uncertainty and the country’s high crime rate. However, after South Africa dropped Taipei for Beijing, an ally to the liberation movement of the African National Congress, new Chinese immigrants began to arrive. Initially they came as employees of state-run enterprises. A decade later, most of the newcomers are entrepreneurs. In the last five years, their ranks have swelled to about 250,000. . . . . . . . . . . A Bundle of Joy
Never mind the Tamagotchi electronic baby toy. With the Dakigokochi, you can actually cuddle your gift.
A Dakigokochi is a baby-shaped bag filled with rice. It weighs exactly as much as the newborn infant whose photo is printed on the bag. New parents and proud grandparents who shop at the Yoshimiya rice shop in a residential area of Kita-Kyushu’s Yahata-Nishi Ward are ordering the cuddly bags as gifts to celebrate recent births. It is personalized with a photograph of the new baby printed on the rice bag’s surface. The newborn’s name and birth weight are also printed on the bag, along with a short message from the proud parents. Each Dakigokochi is about 30 centimeters long and rounded at the top. Holding it feels just like holding a swaddled baby. Orders for the unusual product are coming in from all over via the shop’s Web site, owner Naruo Ono, 33, said. Yoshimiya has sold more than 1,500 bags since June. —
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Vietnam Looks Forward to United Nations Role
This new year will see Vietnam in the hot-seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The two-year membership is being seen as a test of Hanoi’s readiness to take on bigger international roles. The Communist state has already moved a long way toward integrating with the rest of the world. But the new U.N. role could be challenging for a country, which was, until recently, totally isolated from the international scene. The U.N. vote last October, when Vietnam and four other countries were selected as temporary members of the Security Council, was greeted with much fanfare and expectation in the country. The domestic media has run numerous articles and interviews with the country’s top leaders, who promised Hanoi would do its utmost to “serve the interests of the international community, both globally and regionally.” As a newcomer, the toughest test for Vietnam will be how to deal with the five permanent members of the council, especially neighboring China. — BBC
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Massive Renovation Project In Beijing
BEIJING — The Beijing government launched its largest renovation project in 50 years this January to rebuild 44 historical hutongs and more than 1,400 siheyuan, a type of traditional Beijing residence with a courtyard, in its four downtown districts, costing 1 billion Chinese yuan (about 137 million U.S. dollars). The renovation will reduce the number of households in Beijing’s historic downtown from 1.8 million to 1.1 million. The city of Beijing has been the capital of five Chinese dynasties over 3,000 years, which left historical ruins across the city, especially in the downtown area. To protect them, the Beijing government set up new rules requiring the renovation to use original materials and to construct buildings in the traditional way. The renovation will also add water, electricity, drainage, telephone and cable TV systems. — New America Media
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Buddhism Forced To Turn Trendy In Japan
TOKYO — More than 1,200 years after its arrival in Japan from mainland Asia, Buddhism is in crisis. About 75% of Japan’s 127 million people describe themselves as Buddhists, but many go to temple only at New Year’s and when attending a traditional funeral. As a result, public donations are drying up, and many of the country’s 75,000 temples are in financial trouble. Applications to Buddhist universities have fallen so dramatically that several schools have dropped the religious association from their titles. Some believe that Japan’s mainstream sects must shed their conservative image to broaden their appeal. Recently in Tokyo, Buddhist monks and nuns took to the catwalk in colorful silk robes as part of a public relations event called “Tokyo Bouz Collection” at Tsukiji Honganji temple. The event opened with the recital of a Buddhist prayer to a hip-hop beat. — The Guardian
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Koreans Want E-3 Visas
The South Korean government is pushing the United States to create the E-3 Visa category for Korean professionals, reported the Korea Daily. It has begun lobbying the U.S. Congress to secure an annual quota of 15,000 to 20,00 E-3 Visas. The E-3 is a new visa category created after the ratification of Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. It is currently available only to the citizens of Australia going to the U.S. to work temporarily in a specialty occupation. The E-3 Visa is similar in many respects to the H-1B Visa, a non-immigrant visa that permits U.S. employers to seek temporary help from skilled foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree. However, the E-3 visa may allow spouses of its holders to work in U.S. with no restrictions and can be renewed indefinitely. — Korea Daily
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China to Ban Free Plastic Bags In Supermarkets
BEIJING — The Chinese government published nationwide rules to regulate the production, sales and usage of thin plastic bags, a source of “white pollution,” reported the Sina News, a Chinese Internet news service. According to the regulation, which will take effect on June 1, supermarkets across China will stop providing plastic bags for free. Chinese and foreign media worry whether the supermarkets will follow the new rule, which might negatively affect their sales. But Dia, a supermarket chain based in Spain, has already stopped giving out free plastic bags in some of its stores in China. Sohu News, another Internet news service, wrote that foreign media have reported positively on the new regulation. Other countries, such as Australia, came up with a ban on plastic bags following China’s example. — New America Media Comments
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Written by Catherine Stewart. Posted on November 20, 2014.

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