In honor of having turned the manuscript of my book on church bells in China over to an editor, here’s a photo of one of the bells I write about:
It was cast in France, and now hangs in the east bell tower of the Xishiku Catholic Church in Beijing.
Last week one of the hottest stories flying around the inter-webs was about a village perched on top of a mountain in China where the children have to climb an 800-foot cliff to get to and from school at the bottom of the mountain.
Here’s how The Guardian reported the story:
To attend class, backpack-carrying pupils from Atuler village in Sichuan province must take on an 800-metre rock face, scrambling down rickety ladders and clawing their way over bare rocks as they go.
Images of their terrifying and potentially deadly 90-minute descent went viral on the Chinese internet this week after they were published in a Beijing newspaper.
But they only show glimpses of the story. The full-length video report can be seen here in its entirety: (Chinese with English subtitles):
(email readers: go here to see the video)
Reports are that local government officials have been so embarrassed by the domestic and international attention that they have promised to do something:
Uproar over the students’ hair-raising commute brought promises of government action. The region’s Communist party secretary said a steel staircase would be built to connect the deprived hamlet with the outside world while a permanent solution was found.
Jike Jinsong, another official, said authorities did not have sufficient money to build a road between Atuler and the outside world but warned it was also not feasible to relocate the community since its residents would lose their land.
A third local politician has suggested turning the area into a tourist attraction.
The power of face can be amazing.
Image credit: news.163.com
Today is June 4, the 27th anniversary of the military assault on Tiananmen Square to clear it of student protesters. In China it is simply known as “Six Four” (the Chinese way of saying June 4), and it is such a sensitive anniversary that numbers 6 and 4 get censored on the internet. Never mind, though, if anyone really wants to reference it, they just call it Five Thirty-five (or May 35).
I was not in China that spring, but watched with the rest of the world as the events unfolded on live television. When I returned to China the following year, the aftermath of the event still hung heavy in the air as the people waited to see which direction the Party would take the nation — back to Maoism, or forward with economic reform and development. Between 1989 and 1992, it was not at all clear that China would pursue the course she did.
For those of you wanting to get up to speed on the June 4 movement and events, these books are a great place to start:
Tiananmen Diary: Thirteen Days in June, by Harrison E. Salisbury
Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic, by Bettie Bao Lord
The Tiananmen Papers, by Liang Zhang and Andrew Nathan
Red China Blues: My Long March From Mao to Now, by Jan Wong
The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, by Louisa Lim
Image credit: History News Network