The Fake Cars of Beijing

On my last few visits to China, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon — the conversion of 3-wheeled motorcycles commonly used by the elderly and handicapped into what I can only describe as fake cars. Someone is making serious money converting these 3-wheeled motorcycles into vehicles that look like they want to be cars when they grow up.

Because they aren’t registered as cars, it seems that most traffic rules don’t apply to them. They can zip up and down the streets and/or sidewalks!

Here are some of the fake cars I spotted on the streets of Beijing earlier this month.

Next time you’re in China, keep your eyes peeled for the fake cars!

And So It Begins

Last week, while making the trek to Tiananmen Square through multiple layers of security, I spotted this display in a souvenir shop:

The return of the exalted-political-leader-on-a-plate souvenir, something we haven’t seen for a very long time.

Two weeks ago, the current leader of China orchestrated a change in the constitution that will allow him to remain in power indefinitely. It seems that Deng Xiaoping’s attempts to move the Party away from indefinite rule by one powerful leader was only able to last for 30+ years.

Here is some more about the rise of Xi Jinping art and propaganda, from CNN:

It certainly is a new era in China, but one that has a decidedly “old era” feel to it.

 

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The 11th Foreigner

The National People’s Congress was meeting in Beijing for the past few weeks, and whenever that happens a new wave of silliness breaks out in the form of random (and mostly meaningless) “security measures,” ranging from bans on purchasing knives, flying kites, or rolling down the backseat windows of taxis.

The silliness seems to have reached a peak last weekend in Wudaokou, the university district of Beijing that is home to numerous expat watering holes. For some reason, a few establishments that cater to the large foreign student community suddenly announced that no more then 10 foreigners were allowed in at a time.

Here’s how the The New York Times reported the story:

Wudaokou (pronounced woo-DOW-koh) is a small neighborhood in Beijing’s northwest bordered by several universities, including two of the country’s most prestigious, Tsinghua and Peking. They provide a steady stream of young Chinese and foreign customers to the bars and cafes on this block adjacent to a metro station.

At least two venues received the notice ordering the limit on foreign customers — a cafe and bar called Lush, and Pyro, a pizza bar, both owned by the same person. Although the restriction will be lifted after the congress ends next week, some fear the scrutiny will not.

Managers of the two bars, who would not comment for the record, hung the notices outside the entrances. Photos quickly appeared on social media, where they elicited outrage and disappointment.

That same weekend, I was in Beijing and happened to have an appointment to meet a friend at a cafe next door to Pyro Pizza.  I must admit that as I opened the door, I was hoping that I would not be the 11th foreigner, and wondering what would happen if I were!

I wasn’t; they let me in.

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