Monthly Archives: November 2010

China right now: Li Gang’s son

I received some great comments on my post about Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabou and how the Internet is changing China and may force her to liberalize politically. What follows is my recap of a great Financial Times article…

Li Gang is super poweful. He is the deputy police chief of Baoding, a Chinese city with a population of 1 million. When his son 22-year-old son Li Qiming hit and killed a student while allegedly driving drunk, he drove off yelling: “Make a report if you dare – my dad is Li Gang!”

But after those words made a tear across the blogosphere… cartoons were made, songs were composed… Li Qiming was arrested and his father was forced to bow and sob on national television.

One third of China is a web user, either at home, work or at internet cafes, which has made responding to public opinion a very high focus of the party.

Officials at all levels spend a great deal of time monitoring internet chatter; when something heats up too much they simply ask the site to take it down. Public officials will often then respond to the issue in their own online forums and blogs. As you probably know, China blocks many foreign websites including Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times which is how many Chinese were unaware that their own countryman had won a Nobel Prize…

Pulitzer prize-winning Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times in 2005: “It’s the Chinese leadership itself that is digging the Communist party’s grave, by giving the Chinese people broadband.” I can’t help but hope Kristof is right.

Our Thanksgiving abroad.

We had a very lovely Thanksgiving. My grandparents nicely came all the way here for it, so it really felt like home having family around. We also invited two ex-pat couples to join and I think they were very excited to get the full shebang even here in Hong Kong.

All in all, everything was a complete success although I did feel like a chipmunk storing away foodstuffs for the past three weeks or so… realistically, I think I went to 4 super markets and 1 wet market to track down the usual fixings (1. City Super 2. Grate 3. Park N’Shop 4. Wet market 5. Oliver’s).

I love using pumpkins and pomegranates in centerpieces because you will eat them eventually so it’s very economical. My mom gave me these napkins for my birthday. Only she could know how much I would appreciate napkins that can only be used once a year!

My grandfather reading by the appetizers before everyone else arrives.

The Mr. has started a little tradition of popping corks off the balcony…

We started Thanksgiving at 7:30 once everyone was off work… it definitely feels more like a dinner party and less like a holiday when you don’t have the night off. But at least we had a nice night.

My grandmother looking very classy.

I thought there couldn’t be a more American appetizer than these little guys:

(Don’t worry, I did bake them.)

And here is our first married bird!

My friend Sam who went to ND with me (Yay!! for beating USC on Sunday, btw…) gave me this apron… not surprisingly the Mr. gravitates towards the non-floral aprons in our pantry.

I am now a big believer in turkey brining… I did ours in a little cooler while it defrosted the day before which worked brilliantly. And didn’t the Mr. do a great job carving it perfectly?!

The Mr. did the potatoes (he was a huge help as I had gotten a migraine that morning). And he added truffle salt. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant move. Now making the whole spread yourself (although my friend Natalie did bring a delicious salad) is a ton of work. Here is what I made ahead and froze, thanks to my wonderful MIL’s advice: The stuffing, the pie crusts, the dinner rolls, and the green bean casserole. The gravy I did two days out. And I set the table the day before, which is an absolute must in my opinion for any entertaining.

In fact, the thing I miss most about the States is honestly grocery shopping. The only thing I was never able to find was fresh cranberries. The pumpkin for the pie was from Japan. The pecans I did find, but they were sold in bags with about a dozen pecans in each, so I bought 15 at an insane price. But how can you have Thanksgiving without Pecan pie? Our turkey I bought frozen and it was delicious, but also cost a small fortune 🙂 Somehow celebrating a purely American holiday abroad has all the more meaning!

Happy Turkey Day!

Now if you’re not already having a wonderful Thanksgiving, these pictures of little Rose are sure to get you in the spirit!

My good friend Kelly’s sister Kate is the mom and the stylist of this wonderful shoot. She was thinking of taking Rose to a studio to show off her wonderful Thanksgiving wardrobe, but decided to stage a shoot at home instead. They did it a week ago because they knew they would be too rushed the day of…that is actually a chicken roaster, not a turkey… but I certainly didn’t notice and they got a great meal out of it, too! Little Rose is just too cute for words. I always want to take pictures the day of, but it never happens so thinking ahead really helps. Anyways I’ve got to get our Turkey in the oven so I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours will be a little different because no one has the day off, but I’m looking forward to celebrating an American tradition here in HK.

Lots to do!

“You have to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction!”

Today I have that super overwhelmed feeling that comes inevitably with the holidays… so I took a little inspiration (above) from Jenn’s The Simple Life. You really do need to literally tackle your to-do list around the house! I find it totally overwhelming and I don’t even have kids! Jenn homeschools her family and this year they are studying Asia so have been reading my more political oriented posts. I wish I did a little more of that before moving over here. I felt like my education was so Euro-centric… anyways back to pie making and turkey brining!

Everything but the kitchen sink.

I know a lot of blogs have link love on Friday… so I thought I would do something similar here on HKH, but it will just be whenever I have found enough cute, but totally unrelated random things I would like to show you… it will be everything but the kitchen sink, okay?

  • Whisky stones. You know when you go to a super fancy restaurant and they have lemonade with lemonade ice cubes? I love how you don’t end up with a totally watered down drink. I think these cubes would make for a great stocking stuffer for the Mr. in your life. They remind me of those new ice machines that make perfectly square ice cubes–the sharp edges and perfect corners make me happy so I guess that means I really am anal.

  • Hot wheels for little ones. Restoration Hardware has some pretty absurd, but yet awesome gifts for little ones. Check out this plane for a little boy.

  • Sally Draper is all grown up. I cannot wait for Mad Men to resume, but this photo shoot by way of the Neo-Traditionalist, held me over. I think these pleated ruffles are just divine! But I have to ask… can all this really be good for Kiernan Shipka? If you are in love with Burberry and Chanel at age ten… I know I sound like my Mom, but what do you have to look forward to? Luckily, I think she is insanely talented and will be a lifelong star.

  • Save a chair! You’ve heard of Christmas china, which I love by the way. (My friend Tori’s mom has the most divine collection… I’ve asked her to send HKH pics!) But have you heard of Christmas chairs? You just have to check out how my Sister-in-Law Roise’s turned this Christmas chair into the most chic chair you have every seen!
  • New friends. I’ve been so lucky to have found a nice group of girlfriends here in Hong Kong, all thanks to my friend Lauren… you know those people that are natural “connectors”, they just welcome you into their circle and you instantly have 6 new BFFS? My friend Tori was like that for me in SF. These hospitable souls will inherit the kingdom of heaven I swear! Lauren posted some pics of us girls at a rooftop party last weekend on her adorable blog Long Gone in Hong Kong.

Poppy day.

So it took me way longer than it should have to figure out why I keep seeing men here waring red poppies in their little jacket pinholes. It was shocking how many people wearing a poppy had no real idea what it stood for. One guy told me it was to help the orphans, but most seemed to understand it as a symbol of peace.

November 11, Remembrance day, marks the official end of World War I in 1918, when the Germans signed the Armistice at the 11th hour on the 11th. It is celebrated by all Commonwealth countries, or rather any country formerly part of the British Empire… Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and Hong Kong! The red poppy symbolism comes from In Flanders Fields: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row…”

The poppies brought up a lot of controversy when David Cameron visited China earlier this month and refused to take off his poppy. The Chinese government asked his envoy to not wear poppies because they would remind the Chinese people of the nineteenth century opium wars.

David Cameron and Premiere Wen Jiabao (right) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Photo: PA

The basic story is that when the Chinese governor of Hong Kong closed down trade with England and others because of what opium was doing to his people, the British government sent in their warships and took over Hong Kong for the next 70 years.

Wearing poppies, David Cameron, George Osborne, Vince Cable and Michael Gove drink a toast at a contract signing in China. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Despite refusing to take of his poppy, Cameron was still a lot weaker than I expected him to be on human rights, particularly the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo. I think he mostly cares about upping trade with this new behemoth.

Even just last week some sweet old ladies in a mall tried to sell me a poppy–the donations go towards veterans. I was given one today at a British lunch spot. Was I the only person not aware of this apparently fairly entrenched European tradition?

China right now: Polygamy in China.

So the Mr. and I are out to dinner the other night and he begins to tell me about the dinner he had the night before with a colleague, who I had met before. In fact, not only had I met him, but I’d also met his super model wife and four super cute little kids before. Apparently, this exec had told the Mr. that he’s actually a polygamist–not only does he actively practice it, but he’s very involved in advocating for its return in China. He says that after thousands of years of this lifestyle, there’s no way that a couple of decades of altered social norms will have any effect on making men satisfied with just one woman for the rest of their lives. I don’t really see myself as the ‘easily threatened-type’, but this isn’t exactly the kind of guy you really want your husband having beers with!

Stanley with his daughter (left) and (third wife) Ina Chan (right). (I actually really like her dress, although I think it could a bit more tailored.)

The Mr.’s colleague is not a rarity here in China where multiple wives or mistresses are the standard trappings of the wealthy and powerful. Macau Casino magnate Stanely Ho’s four wives and 17 children are a tabloid institution here. Drama seems to constantly follow Ho; his first wife was killed in a car accident in 1973, and his eldest son and wife Melanie were killed in an another car accident. He is estranged from his sister Winnie, who accuses him of owing her money.  Unsolved murders also seem to follow Ho, including those of his assistant who was found with a slit throat in a Hong Kong square.

Stanley with his fourth wife Angela.

According to Forbes magazine, in 2008, Stanley Ho was at 113th place among the world’s richest men with a fortune estimated at 8 billion dollars. In the past few years Ho has moved to transfer more power to his favoured wife Angela Leong, a savvy businesswoman and now a Macau legislator, and his daughter Pansy Ho.

Pansy Ho

Pansy is chief executive of her father’s listed company Shun Tak holdings. Her brother, Lawrence, runs Melco – the Hong Kong-listed company that his father brought for him – that is partner with James Packer’s PBL in Macau.

Macau tycoon Stanley Ho, daughter Pansy Ho (left) and wife Angela Leong (right).

A fun Stanley Ho fact: Ho once bid and won a 1.5 kilo truffle for $330,000 dollars.

And a little background on polygamy in China / Hong Kong, courtesy of Wikiepdia:

  • Polygamy was banned in HK in 1971–not so long ago!
  • Communist Party Leader Mao (who founded the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949) created the “Marriage Law” in 1950 that banned polygamy and forbid child brides.
  • Polygamy in China is considered to be a by-product of the tradition of emphasis on procreation and the continuity of the father’s family name.
  • In Confucianism, the practice of taking concubines was allowed, but a man must have just reasons for doing so. For example, if his wife is not able to give birth to a son, he would be allowed to take a concubine. If a man wants more wives for sexual indulgence, it would be unacceptable. It is illegal in modern China to have more than one spouse for either sex. Polygamy, however, remains seen and tolerated in southwest China among Chinese minorities such as Tibetans etc.