Gerald, Author at at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt - Page 54 of 56

at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Author: Gerald (Page 54 of 56)

On Inter-Cultural Relationships [Global Times commentary]

“Cultures are often more alike than they seem, ” Global Times, Sep. 24, 2009

Recently, the opinion pages of the Global Times have seen a lot of debate over such thorny issues as the relationships between older Western men and young Chinese women, and the tricky subject of living together before marriage.

Relationships, especially families, form the basis of society, and so it’s no wonder that they draw a lot of attention, especially in a rapidly changing society like China’s.

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Bacon with Onion Greens and Chilli, the Chinese way

Chinese Food Culture [Global Times commentary]

Challenge of preserving Chinese food culture, Global Times, July 21, 2009

“Have you got used to the food?” After “Where are you from?,” this is the most common question for foreigners in China.

Food is an essential element of Chinese culture, and people know that strangers may like it, but also find it hard to manage. This is mirrored by friends and relatives outside of China asking if one finds enough decent things to eat. Attitudes toward Chinese food go along the lines that it is very strange and hard to get used to, but it is also an expression of China’s long history and diversity.

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China’s education system… [Global Times commentary]

China’s education system: good for communication and creativity?, Global Times, July 2, 2009

Much is being said about China’s education system. Whether gaokao is the best – or at least fairest – system possible or a way to test nothing but nerves and rote memory; how education supposedly destroyed rather than promoted creativity; or simply how the students were too passive and lax.

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Traveling in times of A (H1N1) flu [Global Times commentary]

Global Times, June 29, 2009

The flu is never a joking matter, yet it is easy enough to make fun of seemingly exaggerated measures when one is just sitting at home. Seen through the PC screen, this pandemic pales in comparison to what disaster movies make us think a pandemic should be like. Getting on an airplane in times like this brings the issue much closer, and makes some things appear in a different light.

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Patrolling the Internet [Global Times commentary]

Different approaches on patrolling the Internet, Global Times, June 18, 2009

The announcement that PCs sold in China after July 1 will have to include “Green Dam” Internet filtering software has caused a lot of reactions, both in China and abroad. Of course, some of the fears raised abroad are the usual ones, of a China that is trying to control its citizens too much.

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China’s Climate Change Opportunity [Global Times commentary]

Another commentary of mine published in the Global Times: China’s Climate Change Opportunity

On the occasion of the “China and Global Climate Change” conference I’m participating in, at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, today and tomorrow – and it even made it into their “Top Stories” links…

Full text below the fold:

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Time to build up the reputation of Chinese brands [Global Times commentary]

Global Times, May 14, 2009

Walking through shopping areas in China is an interesting experience. There is a combination of brands that is quite peculiar. What one does not find elsewhere, and what catches the foreigner’s eye most, are those labels that try to look like a Western brand, but obviously aren’t.

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Chinesische Klöße? Kulinar(r)ische Übersetzungen

Das Essen ist das prototypische Element der Kultur. Kultur, die durch den Magen geht, die sich auf dem Teller anrichten und auf dem Tisch präsentieren lässt. Essen ist typisch für ein Land, typisch für Regionen.
Das Problem mit dem Essen ist allerdings, dass es sich wesentlich leichter probieren, konsumieren und gut oder schlecht finden als beschreiben lässt. So ist es ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür, wieso Übersetzung oft weniger Sinn macht als Erfahrung.

Gewürze etwa sind schon lange rund um die Welt zu finden; Geschmäcker – auch wenn sie verschieden sind – sind allgemein-menschlich. Beides sollte sich also, zumindest im grundsätzlichen, gut beschreiben lassen.

Dennoch bestehen Probleme: So ist süß nicht gleich süß. Mitteleuropäer empfinden manche Backwaren aus dem Nahen Osten als extrem süß, eigene Kuchen, Torten, etc. aber sind einfach süß. Für den chinesischen Geschmack allerdings sind schon viele dieser Speisen nahezu unerträglich süß.

Einen ähnlichen, umgekehrten Fall findet man mit der Schärfe mancher chinesischer Speisen. Für Chinesen die solche Gerichte gewöhnt sind, lassen sich verschiedene Geschmacks- und Schärfenuancen unterscheiden. Die Küche aus Sichuan und aus Hunan, für manche Ausländer etwa einfach nur scharf, ist recht verschieden. Merken sollte jeder das daran können, dass Sichuan-Cuisine gerne Sichuanpfeffer (Fagara) verwendet, welcher leicht zitronig und vor allem betäubend-scharf schmeckt bzw. wirkt, Hunan-Küche hingegen wesentlich klarere Schärfe bevorzugt. Noch innerhalb dieser kulinarischen Traditionen gibt es aber starke regionale Unterschiede – stark jedenfalls, wenn man sie denn schmecken kann.

Natürlich werden, in einem gewissen Rahmen, die verschiedenen Geschmäcker auch benannt; so finden sich dann eben im Chinesischen einige typische Bezeichnungen selbst für die verschiedenen Kombinationen und Arten von Schärfe. Die Beschreibungen ergeben zumindest einen gewissen Eindruck, aber die wahre Vielfalt lässt sich nur erschmecken.
"Aromatisch-scharfer Fleisch-Baozi"

Vieles lässt sich durch analoge Speisen scheinbar gut benennen: größere Teigtaschen mit Fülle sind Klöße bzw. Knödel, also sind Baozi wohl chinesische Klöße; Jiaozi sind kleinere gefüllte Maultaschen, also sind Tortellini wohl italienische Jiaozi? Natürlich, so etwas kann einen Eindruck vermitteln. Oft genug aber verwirrt es bloß; besser als eine Übersetzung ist der Originalname mit Beschreibung, noch besser die Erfahrung.

Letter to China Daily: Pride in China

Haven’t been blogging for a while, seems like it’s time to bring a few things online… and the following was written mid-March. Oh my… been a bit busy.

So, first, a little opinion piece I couldn’t resist writing. I need the practice, and I felt like presenting an opinion. And it got published, too… (the original title was simply “Pride in China,” and you may chide me for “going native” – there’s still quite some way to that, though):

Time for a proud China to lead the way

I come from Austria, and have been working as German lecturer at Xiangtan University, Hunan, since September.

Most Chinese are probably familiar with parents’ advice not to be proud of personal achievements, but to strive harder. The pride expressed and encouraged is in the country and the strength and influence it is regaining.

From the foreign perspective, especially when looking at the German media, this pride is nationalism, instilled in the people through government policy. And it is described as somehow fake and exaggerated.

Being in China, listening to people and seeing how things are, the pride is justified, and could be even stronger. In the 30 years since reforms began, China has fully returned to the world stage. Now, it is finally at the point where the outside world does not always, only, see modern China as a youngster who has to be told what to do, but as an equal partner with whom to have a real conversation: to speak, and to respectfully listen.

What one can notice then is that the pride in China is quite different from foreign national pride: there is an element of longing for “the good old days”, but also hard work to find one’s own way towards the future, to become yet better. There is pride to be Chinese, but it is open to foreign influences and people, not trying to shut others out just because they are others.

In this time of economic crisis, in particular, this humble pride may bring about an even stronger, better China. Already, one can see that companies are moving from being the mere workbench of the world to being innovators and creators of new products. It is time for Chinese brands to develop into labels renowned for their innovativeness, style and quality.

China is also in a position, given its strengths and its problems, to take its own economic path further, take the opportunity that environmental protection and alternative energy offer for job creation, and support deeper changes towards an economy oriented toward jobs, on human well-being, and on working as a part of the planet’s ecology.

This is an orientation with deep roots in Chinese philosophy, such as the idea of harmony between heaven, earth, and humans; there is a lot of research into sustainable agriculture, circular industrial economy and the like being done in China, and any strong achievements in putting them into practice in the modern world would set an example for the whole planet.

Gerald Schmidt

Published in print, and online at (needs scrolling-down)

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