Shandong Province

China’s all-girl pop band crushes hopes of besotted female fans

Just a little under a year ago, Min Junqian was an unknown art student in China’s eastern province of Shandong, dreaming of becoming a star and hitting the big time.

Fast-forward a year and the 23-year-old is a member of Acrush, China’s first all-girl “boy band”, which released its debut single last week, but already has hundreds of thousands of fans.

“Our fathers’ generation still holds the idea that girls should dress in a feminine manner, something I was never comfortable with,” Min told Reuters. “I just like to dress in a unisex way.”

Min wasn’t expecting to be picked when she went to the band’s audition last year.

But her boyish appearance and androgynous style were exactly what entertainment startup Zhejiang Huati Culture Communication, backed by Tencent Holdings, was looking for.

Marketed as a pop band that encourages girls to pursue their own identities and shake up female conventions, Acrush has won more than 749,000 followers on Chinese social networking site Weibo.

Acrush goes against the grain in China’s still-evolving music industry, where girl bands are marketed as sweet young things to appeal to a male audience.

“I left home when I was young,” said the band’s lead singer, 21-year-old Peng Xichen. “To comfort my parents, I told them my boyish appearance would keep me safe.”

Some fans, most of them millennials born after the mid-1990s, have called the band members their “husbands”. Some have sent love letters, which the band cannot answer, bound by contract.

“We are not allowed to disclose our gender preferences or have romantic relationships,” said Lu Keran, the band’s leader.

From day one, Zhejiang Huati has created individual identities for the women.

Min is supposed to be the band’s comedian, while Peng is a “gentle romantic”, and the 21-year-old Lu is portrayed as an energetic dancer with a sunny disposition.

She wears long-sleeved outfits to shield from the public eye a dragon tattoo on her arm, and is reluctant to talk about it, saying only, “I did it when I was an ignorant girl.”

But she did admit to sometimes dressing in pink and behaving like a little girl.

The Chinese blogosphere is ablaze with questions about Acrush’s leanings. Asked if they supported feminism and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, the band said they had no idea what the abbreviation LGBT stood for.

“We’re just ‘handsome’ girls,” said Min.

(Source: Reuters; Reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Thomas Sun in BEIJING; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

China explosion: At least seven dead and dozens injured in nursery blast

Seven people have been killed and dozens more are reportedly injured in an explosion at a nursery school in China.

State media reported the blast tore through the area as children were being collected from school in the city of Fengxian in Jiangsu province at about 4.50pm local time.

Graphic mobile phone footage posted on social media show more than a dozen people lying motionless in front of the nursery’s steel sliding gate in the aftermath of the explosion.

One image shows a woman clutching a sobbing child as paramedics treat the wounded.

Frantic calls to the nursery and the hospital were going unanswered, according to the AFP news agency.

Two people died at the scene and five died in hospital, according to Chinese Central Television. It is not yet clear if children are among the dead. At least 66 people are reported to have been injured.

Images show the force of the blast had torn the clothes from some of those lying motionless on the ground.

It is unclear at this stage whether the blast was an accident or a deliberate act.

“The police and related departments rushed to the scene as soon as it was reported and conducted rescue and investigation work on the site,” police said on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter. “Currently, the investigation work is still underway.”

The newspaper Xiandaikuaibao on its website cited an unidentified witness as saying the blast appeared to have been caused by an exploding bottle of cooking gas.

The blast is the latest tragedy to strike a nursery in the communist country, where there is now a two-child-per-family policy after the government relaxed its one-child policy.

A school bus carrying children to nursery burst into flames inside a tunnel in Shandong province on 9 May, killing 11 children, a teacher and the driver.

Officials said the fire was started deliberately by the driver who was angry at losing his overtime pay.

Kindergartens in the country have been targeted previously in apparent revenge attacks carried out by people bearing grudges against their neighbours and society.

China maintains tight control over firearms and most attacks are carried out using knives, axes or homemade explosives.

Fengxian is in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, about 370 miles (595 km) northwest of Shanghai.

It is home to 1.2 million people, according to the government’s website.

Imam Du Shuzheng rebelled against her family more than 50 years ago to become a female imam in China. She has trained more than 70 women to become imams, but now there are few girls who want to enter the profession because of its low pay. Chinese Muslims have an age old tradition of female imams and female-only mosques run by women for women as spiritual, social, and charitable centers.

Women’s mosques began as a Quranic school for girls. These sprang up in the late 17th century in central China, including Shanxi and Shandong provinces. They morphed into women’s mosques about 100 years ago, starting in Henan province.

beijing smog so bad that government is broadcasting virtual sunrise on immense LED screens.

cacotopian future-present.

edit (via androidnoises): No, Beijing residents are NOT watching fake sunrises on giant TVs because of pollution Over the weekend, a story that originated on the smut-ridden UK-based Daily Mail went viral among major media outlets across the world. Time, CBS, and the Huffington Post were among the dozens of online news media who published stories about Beijing residents flocking to giant TV screens to see fake sunrises during heavy pollution last week. Most of these stories were accompanied by the same photo of a massive TV screen in Tiananmen Square with a sunrise appearing on it. In truth, that sunrise was probably on the screen for less than 10 seconds at a time, as it was part of an ad for tourism in China’s Shandong province. The ad plays every day throughout the day all year round no matter how bad the pollution is. The photographer simply snapped the photo at the moment when the sunrise appeared. Look closely, and you can even see the Shandong tourism logo in the bottom right corner. The photo was credited to ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images, so a Daily Mail reporter did not take it. In fact, Daily Mail reporter James Nye, who apparently quoted a traffic coordinator in Beijing, lives in New York City, according to his Twitter profile. CBS went so far as to copy that quote. The quote, in which the man complained about the pollution, originally came from an unrelated Associated Press story published a day earlier. Yes, Beijing is polluted, as we at Tech in Asia have also been critical of, but this story is complete bullshit. International media should be embarrassed for not taking even a moment to second guess the Daily Mail, one of the least reputable news sources in the UK.

You might be overcome with joy after seeing this tree located in Xia Park in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, thinking that you may have discovered some secret martial arts techniques like the Wuxia novels have described. But unfortunately, they are simply some Tai Chi movements recently painted on the tree. The artwork was created by a group of designers after the gardeners at the park removed the decayed bark to restore the tree’s health.

From the Wall Street Journal: Lemurs, their long, striped tails spread out like a pinwheel, eat at Qingdao Forest Wildlife World in Qingdao, Shandong province, China. REUTERS

Chineasy Review by thelanguagelover

After attempting to learn Chinese on and off for years on my own, I was running out of ways to get any part of the language to stick. Written Chinese is undoubtedly the most difficult part, due to the vast amount of characters and the complexity of them. I was on the verge of giving up until a few months ago, when I heard about a new book being produced called Chineasy, and I knew that I had to get it as soon as possible to check it out for myself. So today I’m here to tell you what’s great (and not so great) about Chineasy by ShaoLan Hsueh.

(P.S. This post is long and picture heavy!)

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Recording-breaking blooms of the algae Enteromorpha prolifera washed up on China’s beaches in Shandong province over the summer. It’s not toxic to people, but it is to other marine life, hogging most of the oxygen in the ecosystem and doing a fair amount of damage. (Source)