Score a RMB 1,500 Bottle of Wine for a Mere RMB 100 at This Sunday’s Mystery Wine Party

Maovember is an annual charity campaign that sees Beijing's bars, restaurants, and customers come together to raise awareness and money for charities through events and special F&B deals. You can read more about the campaign here.

If you constantly gripe that Beijing lacks good-value wine events, you can stop right now, because a group of boutique distributors are teaming up Sunday to offer some prices not even hotels and restaurants get. Even better, the money goes to charity.

The third annual Mystery Wine Party will feature 45 wines from 10 nations, that retail for RMB 150 to RMB 1,500 per bottle but will be sold for a mere RMB 100. That's it: RMB 100 lets you pick one of the gift-wrapped bottles and discover what's inside. It's like a boozy Christmas morning. Except it's on Sunday afternoon (Nov 26) at Q Bar.

Along with wine, the party includes pizzas from Gung Ho!, brownies from Bread of Life, a screening of wine-related videos, music by DJ Peter Stone, and prizes like Champagne and corkscrews in the Beanbag Ice Bucket Challenge. Plus, if past years are any indication, you'll end up sharing wine with fellow imbibers and making a bunch of friends.

Sound good? Use the QR code in the poster above to register, pay, and reserve your bottle. (Note: The organizers can't guarantee bottles for walk-ins. To ensure you get one, it's best to register beforehand.)

And what wines can you expect? Every importer will supply five wines worth at least RMB 150 per bottle. Here are a few examples:

Hélène Ponty of Le Ponty is donating "Chateau Grand Renouil 2007." It's a 100-percent Merlot from the smallest AOC in Bordeaux. Made by Hélène's father from 80-year-old vines, with only 8,000 bottles per year, it was chosen for the celebration party of French president Emmanuel Macron in Bordeaux. (Retail: RMB 528)

Mike Signorelli of Signature Wine Club is donating "Bull's Blood" from Hungary. It's the most popular wine with his subscribers, he says, and named for its deep ruby color. It has black cherry, cassis, and plum characteristics as well as complex aromas from its extended oak aging. (Retail: RMB 575)

Edouard Simon of Seina Grower Champagne is donating five bottles, including a unique Bloody Rosé Champagne that you can't get anywhere else in Beijing. (To be frank, you can't get any Champagne anywhere for RMB 100.)

There will also be bottles from Le SommelierLa Cava de LaomaThe Wine RepublicLe Wine, and 1421

My blog Grape Wall of China will also source a few top Chinese wines, including "Pretty Pony" Cabernet-Merlot from Fang "Crazy" Wang at Kanaan in Ningxia. It's fresh, rich and fruity, and has received accolades from critics here and abroad. Giddy up! (Retail: RMB 300)

All revenue from the wine, food, and games will go to Maovember and this year's charity partners, Bread of Life and The Library Project (read more about those here). Fundraising events have been (and will continue to be) going on all month, including tonight's Schnapps Tasting at Groovy Schillers, tomorrow's Beijing International Ice Hockey Party at the Irish Volunteer, and Sunday's Mystery Wine Party at QBar.

To register for the Mystery Wine Party, use the QR Code on the poster. For more info, email [email protected].

Images: Maovember

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State of the Arts: Fruityspace’s Ziuren Book Corner Offers Rare Books and Zines

For those who count themselves among Fruityspace’s regulars, the Ziuren book corner may be somewhat familiar. Even if they don’t know it by name, they surely have noticed its goods, tucked in beside the venue’s selection of music records and other related merchandise – a significant collection of self-published fanzines, photo and illustration books, and a curated selection of international publications.

The corner represents a trend that has been growing stronger and bolder in China over the last couple of years. A greater number of dynamic and sometimes self-sustained artists, designers, and illustrators engage – sometimes individually, sometimes collectively – in the creation of a good number of fanzines and publications ranging from doodles to collections of photographs displaying the most eclectic and diverse aesthetic approach. Proof of that can be also seen in bigger fairs such as the ABC (Art Book in China) fair, which serves as a larger showcase for the thriving publishing projects with diverse approaches to the art of creating books – a craft that is not exactly new in China, as shown back at the UCCA's 2015 exhibition The Chinese Photobook.

Talking a bit to Cao Di – the mind behind the corner and the publishing project Ziuren – he mentions that the project is all about “tak[ing] photos and mak[ing] a book,” a venture that also allows him to make a few fanzines about the films he likes. The Ziuren book corner, on the other hand, is the space where he has the opportunity to present both international and local photo, illustration, and drawing books he’s chosen: “One copy for each book, we never restock," he says.

SOTA: Would you like to explain the submission process? What are the criteria you use to select publications?
Cao Di: No submissions. We believe the books should be unique in their own way. It’s hard to describe, it has to have its own attitude. Ziuren is not looking for anything too popular or cliché. The publications need to be different, it doesn’t need to look good (I mean, presentation, or paper quality-wise) or be deep, just unqiue. [Ziuren] prefer personal takes on things, a very personal point of view.

Price range is important, the selection needs to be less than USD 10, and even though there are exceptions, books that are more down-to-earth are much more appreciated.

When did the project start? Can you tell us a bit about its beginnings?
The project started when I met the owner of Fruityspace, Zhai. He liked the idea of a book corner. The self-publishing project happened when I felt I needed absolute freedom to make my books. That moment I understood I needed to do them myself if I wanted to do whatever I wanted. It’s not profit that I am looking for, nor fame, and that spares me from paying attention to the rules of the business. I just do my books the way I like.

How do you see the indie publishing scene in Beijing?
It makes me feel excited and concerned at the same time. The exciting part it’s that it’s nice to see people making their own zines as they see fit, expressing themselves. As for the concern, I worry that indie publishing, due to greater exposure and popularity, might encounter the limits of official censorship.

What’s there in the corner that you feel particularly excited about?
I feel particularly excited about all the different points of view or ideas that the artists have expressed in their books. How unique certain books are. I really value personal views about the world we live in and the subjects they choose to make a book about.
Being inside the product room of Fruityspace, the corner is open to anyone who wants to take a look and roam inside say when you’re chilling in between or after a performance/screening at the venue.

The contents are not available online, as Cao Di explains that the idea behind the corner is to keep it as old-school as possible, “remembering the days when you went to the bookshop to explore and realized you liked a publication and took it with you as the simple result of digging it, feeling it."

Some book recommendations by Ziuren:

VIGIL by Guy Gormley (2012, published by Guy Robertson & Son Gallery).
A book that registers both text and photographs taken by the artist while taking walks at night after reversing his sleeping patterns for a number of days.

Rock Waves by Sam Falls (2014, Published by Karma).
A book that captures abstract-looking images of rocks washed by high and low tide on an unidentified coastline.

SKY2K by Sandy Kim (2013, Published by Unpiano Books).
Sandy Kim places herself at the center of various public spaces for this photo series, published as a large foldout poster work.

See all of Beijing's current art happenings here.

Photos: Cao Di, Fruityspace, courtesy of the publishers

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New Italian Restaurant Simply Fresh Offers More than Modern Delicious Italian Fare

Even though it's hidden on the second floor of the China Overseas Plaza at CBD, Simply Fresh is not a grab-and-go lunch restaurant for busy working bees nearby – it’s a place to sit down, appreciate the food and the relaxing atmosphere with a long meal in a casual yet modern atmosphere.

Greeted by fresh flowers, paintings, and artistic accents, we walked in an immediately noticed the vibrant vibe. Finally, a restaurant is embracing the bright colors of life instead of adhering to the minimalist style that's so popular these days. There's no way the decor of this restaurant could be described as boring or lazy, unlike some establishments that keep the style calm and featureless. The key color tones are white, light grey, and black, brightened up with fresh flowers and plants everywhere, and paintings along the wall from Chinese artist Zhang Changjiang up for sale.

It seems Simply Fresh is quite modest, though not simple at all. Just softly opened less than a couple of months ago, the dishes are executed by master chef Giovanni Young, who was born and raised in Italy, and has worked for several famous Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Osteria Francescana, The Restaurant, and Enoteca la Torre. The sauces, breads, and desserts are made in-house by Young to maintain their consistency and quality. The menu features a wide selection of authentic Italian cuisine with modern twists, including five salads (RMB 38-88), creative starters (RMB 48-88), soups (RM 38-88), different varieties of pasta and risotto (RMB 58-108), mains (RMB 88-288), Australian Angus steaks (RMB 228-888), and desserts.

Kicked off with organic sunny-side-up egg (RMB 48) on top of porcini besciamella sauce (white sauce made from butter and flour), it was served with asparagus and truffle sauce to bring out the earthy flavor.

As for the staples, the ravioli with black bisque in candy shape (RMB 128) was more than just literal eye candy – the juicy prawn filling was bursting with umami flavor. We also liked the spinach & ricotta cheese gnocchi (RMB 78) which is also vegetarian – it was lightly flavored with taleggio cheese sauce, and crisp green cabbage. Blacktail prawn linguine (RMB 98) had a nice and spicy kick with abundant zucchini and pepper, benefitting from the house-made bisque which took hours to make.

We enjoyed the fried smoked lamb tenderloin (RMB 128), which had a crispy exterior from the deep-frying encasing the powerful and tender lamb and lively with marinated button mushroom which was cooked with white wine, and truffle sauce. People say Italian food is all about passion, which we could certainly taste in this dish.

Some of you may know that we have a thing for lava cake (RMB 68), and we couldn’t get enough of the lava cake here. It is made with 70% Valrhona black chocolate and baked to perfection – not too sweet yet rather indulgent. Nothing compares to the excitement we felt when the dense and gooey chocolate center came oozing out slowly. It seems a lot of patrons share our feelings, as we were told that it's the best seller here.

The space is quite airy with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. The tailored chairs are so comfortable that your arse will be glued to the chair for hours (hence our advice to go there for a long lunch), thanks to the furniture designed by Chinese brand Zaozuo.

Aside from the a la carte menu, you can choose the weekday lunch set for RMB 98 (per person) including a choice of starter and main course, or try the three-course tasting menu, including signature dishes such as crab zucchini salad or mushroom soup, a choice between ravioli, fried smoked lamb tenderloin, or red snapper, with pannacotta and coffee or tea for RMB 228 per person. We were happy to see the delicate execution of the dishes and will come back to try more (after payday). Thanks Simply Fresh, for filling the gap and bringing passion from Italy to the CBD.

Simply Fresh
Daily 10.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-10pm, afternoon tea 2.30-5.30pm. 2/F, North Tower, China Overseas Plaza, 8 Guanghua Dongli, Chaoyang District (5290 3887)
馥遇餐厅:朝阳区光华东里8号院中海广场北楼2

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
Instagram: @flyingfigure

Photos:  courtesy of Simply Fresh, Tracy Wang

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New Italian Restaurant Simply Fresh Offers More than Modern Delicious Italian Fare

Even though it's hidden on the second floor of the China Overseas Plaza at CBD, Simply Fresh is not a grab-and-go lunch restaurant for busy working bees nearby – it’s a place to sit down, appreciate the food and the relaxing atmosphere with a long meal in a casual yet modern atmosphere.

Greeted by fresh flowers, paintings, and artistic accents, we walked in an immediately noticed the vibrant vibe. Finally, a restaurant is embracing the bright colors of life instead of adhering to the minimalist style that's so popular these days. There's no way the decor of this restaurant could be described as boring or lazy, unlike some establishments that keep the style calm and featureless. The key color tones are white, light grey, and black, brightened up with fresh flowers and plants everywhere, and paintings along the wall from Chinese artist Zhang Changjiang up for sale.

It seems Simply Fresh is quite modest, though not simple at all. Just softly opened less than a couple of months ago, the dishes are executed by master chef Giovanni Young, who was born and raised in Italy, and has worked for several famous Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Osteria Francescana, The Restaurant, and Enoteca la Torre. The sauces, breads, and desserts are made in-house by Young to maintain their consistency and quality. The menu features a wide selection of authentic Italian cuisine with modern twists, including five salads (RMB 38-88), creative starters (RMB 48-88), soups (RM 38-88), different varieties of pasta and risotto (RMB 58-108), mains (RMB 88-288), Australian Angus steaks (RMB 228-888), and desserts.

Kicked off with organic sunny-side-up egg (RMB 48) on top of porcini besciamella sauce (white sauce made from butter and flour), it was served with asparagus and truffle sauce to bring out the earthy flavor.

As for the staples, the ravioli with black bisque in candy shape (RMB 128) was more than just literal eye candy – the juicy prawn filling was bursting with umami flavor. We also liked the spinach & ricotta cheese gnocchi (RMB 78) which is also vegetarian – it was lightly flavored with taleggio cheese sauce, and crisp green cabbage. Blacktail prawn linguine (RMB 98) had a nice and spicy kick with abundant zucchini and pepper, benefitting from the house-made bisque which took hours to make.

We enjoyed the fried smoked lamb tenderloin (RMB 128), which had a crispy exterior from the deep-frying encasing the powerful and tender lamb and lively with marinated button mushroom which was cooked with white wine, and truffle sauce. People say Italian food is all about passion, which we could certainly taste in this dish.

Some of you may know that we have a thing for lava cake (RMB 68), and we couldn’t get enough of the lava cake here. It is made with 70% Valrhona black chocolate and baked to perfection – not too sweet yet rather indulgent. Nothing compares to the excitement we felt when the dense and gooey chocolate center came oozing out slowly. It seems a lot of patrons share our feelings, as we were told that it's the best seller here.

The space is quite airy with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. The tailored chairs are so comfortable that your arse will be glued to the chair for hours (hence our advice to go there for a long lunch), thanks to the furniture designed by Chinese brand Zaozuo.

Aside from the a la carte menu, you can choose the weekday lunch set for RMB 98 (per person) including a choice of starter and main course, or try the three-course tasting menu, including signature dishes such as crab zucchini salad or mushroom soup, a choice between ravioli, fried smoked lamb tenderloin, or red snapper, with pannacotta and coffee or tea for RMB 228 per person. We were happy to see the delicate execution of the dishes and will come back to try more (after payday). Thanks Simply Fresh, for filling the gap and bringing passion from Italy to the CBD.

Simply Fresh
Daily 10.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-10pm, afternoon tea 2.30-5.30pm. 2/F, North Tower, China Overseas Plaza, 8 Guanghua Dongli, Chaoyang District (5290 3887)
馥遇餐厅:朝阳区光华东里8号院中海广场北楼2

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
Instagram: @flyingfigure

Photos:  courtesy of Simply Fresh, Tracy Wang

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Rising Sichaunese MC Vava Dishes on the State of Chinese Rap Ahead of Nov 26 Tango Gig

After breaking into the mainstream as one of the participants on the hit reality TV show The Rap of China (中國有嘻哈, zhōngguó yǒu xīhā), Vava is now stepping out on her own, with a new album called 21 and an upcoming tour that will see her perform at Tango on Nov 26.

The timing, of course, couldn't be better for the 21-year-old Sichuan-born MC. After all, Chinese hip-hop is red hot these days, thanks to the popularity of The Rap of China and the breakout success of star MC's like Higher Brothers, who are gaining attention both at home and abroad. This couldn't be a better time to be a burgeoning young rapper in a scene that, until very recently, was pushed to the margins in China. Still, that environment is rife with unique and nuanced challenges for a young MC like Vava, something she tells us more about below ahead of her gig at Tango. 

How did you get into hip-hop in the first place?
I dabbled in pop music before, and then had the opportunity to meet producer Double G in Shenzhen. We messed around in the studio a lot, and I experimented with musical production under his guidance. I think he could see from the outset that I had raw talent and a strong sense of rhythm. So he invited me to Shanghai to join his team, which kickstarted my career in hip-hop.

Each genre of music has its own unique charms. But I think hip-hop afford its artists more freedom, creative space allows us to build our own brands. This suits my personality very well, and several talented producers have been helping me to perfect my style. It's such an invigorating genre to work in because it keeps you hungry. It's so competitive, and it pushes artists to renew themselves and progress constantly.

Tell us about your new album.
Well, I called it 21 because I'm trying to summarize my life up to my current age, which of course is 21, if you hadn't already guessed [laughs]. I want to impart my view of the world, detail my struggles, and more with this new LP. Oh, and one more thing related to the title: the album contains 21 songs.

And what about the production? How do the instrumentals complement your lyrics?
I'm proud to say that my producer, Double G, blended in a lot of interesting elements like Peking Opera and classical pipa playing, along with more contemporary trap rhythms.

What are your plans for the tour, especially the stage setup? Will there be choreographed backup dancers, video backdrops, and a lot of other elaborate elements?
At first, I considered hiring a high-end stage designer. But we'll be performing at pretty basic live houses throughout this tour, and the venues in each city can't really unify or be consistent. So it has been difficult for us to settle on a consistent stage setup, which is a shame. Nevertheless, we will adjust our measures to local conditions at each venue, and work to convey my original vision for the shows as best we can. So I'm confident that the shows will still be great!

I'm very eager for the tour because I want to not only promote my album, but also boost the presence of hip-hop in China. But most of all, I want to give back to the fans and have more interaction with them, because my fans truly are so lovely.

What do you think of the current state of hip-hop in China?
It has certainly gained more international attention, and it has more platforms and more fans. So I'm very optimistic. We have had many happy milestones as rappers in China as of late, and I think the environment and atmosphere will only get better and better, because there's clearly a huge appetite for this music. 

Hip-hop is finally gaining attention here because the scene's elder artists quietly built it up for a long time, and it is now finally ready to burst. China, of course, has had hip-hop for a long time, there just weren't many mainstream platforms for it. But I think many people were charmed by The Rap of China, and it had a big audience. I think this kind of phenomenon isn't perfect, but it at least let you have a new awareness of the genre among the masses now, which is a start that you can build on.

What's it like to be a female rapper in China now? The genre is notorious for having misogynistic elements, in the US at least, but recently female MCs like Nicki Minaj have attained a lot of clout and have really empowered themselves. What do you see happening in China's hip-hop scene in that regard? 
I don't feel that female MC's face that much gender discrimination in China. There are definitely some issues with identity politics, and there is some inherent tension from that. After all, hip-hop's roots are in the African-American community, and now we Chinese MC's are co-opting that style, which can make for potential issues that we all have to be mindful of, when it comes to cultural appropriation and things like that.

And I think it's great that Nicki Minaj can now stand out and be assertive. It's a very inspiring thing for young female MCs like me to see. I think the most important thing for us to do in the Chinese hip-hop community, though, is blend many styles and elements together, and pay homage to those that came before us while also developing styles that are new and our own, instead of just copying what's already been done. After all, we need develop our own rap pioneers and our own distinctive hip-hop environment.

Vava will perform at Tango on Nov 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets are RMB 300-380, RMB 260-320 (advance). For more information click here or see the poster above.

Photos: Baidu, y.qq.com, juksy

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Rising Sichaunese MC Vava Dishes on the State of Chinese Rap Ahead of Nov 26 Tango Gig

After breaking into the mainstream as one of the participants on the hit reality TV show The Rap of China (中國有嘻哈, zhōngguó yǒu xīhā), Vava is now stepping out on her own, with a new album called 21 and an upcoming tour that will see her perform at Tango on Nov 26.

The timing, of course, couldn't be better for the 21-year-old Sichuan-born MC. After all, Chinese hip-hop is red hot these days, thanks to the popularity of The Rap of China and the breakout success of star MC's like Higher Brothers, who are gaining attention both at home and abroad. This couldn't be a better time to be a burgeoning young rapper in a scene that, until very recently, was pushed to the margins in China. Still, that environment is rife with unique and nuanced challenges for a young MC like Vava, something she tells us more about below ahead of her gig at Tango. 

How did you get into hip-hop in the first place?
I dabbled in pop music before, and then had the opportunity to meet producer Double G in Shenzhen. We messed around in the studio a lot, and I experimented with musical production under his guidance. I think he could see from the outset that I had raw talent and a strong sense of rhythm. So he invited me to Shanghai to join his team, which kickstarted my career in hip-hop.

Each genre of music has its own unique charms. But I think hip-hop afford its artists more freedom, creative space allows us to build our own brands. This suits my personality very well, and several talented producers have been helping me to perfect my style. It's such an invigorating genre to work in because it keeps you hungry. It's so competitive, and it pushes artists to renew themselves and progress constantly.

Tell us about your new album.
Well, I called it 21 because I'm trying to summarize my life up to my current age, which of course is 21, if you hadn't already guessed [laughs]. I want to impart my view of the world, detail my struggles, and more with this new LP. Oh, and one more thing related to the title: the album contains 21 songs.

And what about the production? How do the instrumentals complement your lyrics?
I'm proud to say that my producer, Double G, blended in a lot of interesting elements like Peking Opera and classical pipa playing, along with more contemporary trap rhythms.

What are your plans for the tour, especially the stage setup? Will there be choreographed backup dancers, video backdrops, and a lot of other elaborate elements?
At first, I considered hiring a high-end stage designer. But we'll be performing at pretty basic live houses throughout this tour, and the venues in each city can't really unify or be consistent. So it has been difficult for us to settle on a consistent stage setup, which is a shame. Nevertheless, we will adjust our measures to local conditions at each venue, and work to convey my original vision for the shows as best we can. So I'm confident that the shows will still be great!

I'm very eager for the tour because I want to not only promote my album, but also boost the presence of hip-hop in China. But most of all, I want to give back to the fans and have more interaction with them, because my fans truly are so lovely.

What do you think of the current state of hip-hop in China?
It has certainly gained more international attention, and it has more platforms and more fans. So I'm very optimistic. We have had many happy milestones as rappers in China as of late, and I think the environment and atmosphere will only get better and better, because there's clearly a huge appetite for this music. 

Hip-hop is finally gaining attention here because the scene's elder artists quietly built it up for a long time, and it is now finally ready to burst. China, of course, has had hip-hop for a long time, there just weren't many mainstream platforms for it. But I think many people were charmed by The Rap of China, and it had a big audience. I think this kind of phenomenon isn't perfect, but it at least let you have a new awareness of the genre among the masses now, which is a start that you can build on.

What's it like to be a female rapper in China now? The genre is notorious for having misogynistic elements, in the US at least, but recently female MCs like Nicki Minaj have attained a lot of clout and have really empowered themselves. What do you see happening in China's hip-hop scene in that regard? 
I don't feel that female MC's face that much gender discrimination in China. There are definitely some issues with identity politics, and there is some inherent tension from that. After all, hip-hop's roots are in the African-American community, and now we Chinese MC's are co-opting that style, which can make for potential issues that we all have to be mindful of, when it comes to cultural appropriation and things like that.

And I think it's great that Nicki Minaj can now stand out and be assertive. It's a very inspiring thing for young female MCs like me to see. I think the most important thing for us to do in the Chinese hip-hop community, though, is blend many styles and elements together, and pay homage to those that came before us while also developing styles that are new and our own, instead of just copying what's already been done. After all, we need develop our own rap pioneers and our own distinctive hip-hop environment.

Vava will perform at Tango on Nov 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets are RMB 300-380, RMB 260-320 (advance). For more information click here or see the poster above.

Photos: Baidu, y.qq.com, juksy

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China to Have 626 Million Surveillance Cameras Within 3 Years

This post comes courtesy of our content partners at TechNode.

China had 176 million surveillance cameras in operation last year and the speed of growth is expected to see that figure more than triple to reach 626 million by 2020, and one Chinese company has over a fifth of the world market, according to research by IHS Markit.

Various stories have emerged recently on China’s efforts to increase surveillance of its people, with the added capabilities of AI, facial and gait recognition. Beijing announced in October 2015 that it now had 100-percent coverage. However, the UK is still considered to be the most monitored country overall, with previous research showing it had 20 percent of the world’s cameras for just 1 percent of the world’s population. Though China’s networks are growing faster than any others in the world. The research estimates the market in China is currently worth USD 6.4 billion and is growing fast with a rate of 12.4 percent predicted through to 2021, compared to the US which has 50 million cameras and a market worth USD 2.9 billion growing at 0.7 percent annually.

IHS also found that one manufacturer, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, makes up 21.4 percent of the world market share of CCTV camera and video surveillance equipment, the largest supplier for six years, up from 8 percent in 2012 and 19.5 percent last year.

Hikvision has been expanding in the Americas where it now has 8.5 percent of the market, putting it in second place. The Chinese government owns a 42 percent stake in Hikvision, according to a piece by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month on the security concerns of Chinese-made cameras being used in the US. The report uncovered that Hikvision’s cameras are being used to monitor a US Army base in Missouri, in the Memphis police’s surveillance system, and even at the US embassy in Kabul.

Photos: NPR, Frank Hersey

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Noise Pollution: Birdstriking Homecoming at YGYS, Bolt69 at School, VaVa at Tango

Another week on the board, another week closer to our demise, and no better way to celebrate than treating yourself to the array of sounds that make up the music scene here in Beijing. From impassioned noise-pop to avant-garde doom metal, from streetwise hip-hop to world music from Buryat – there's a wavelength out there for each and every one of you. 

Friday, Nov 24

Birdstriking, white+, JaJaTao at Yugong Yishan
One of my personal favorite bands, noise-pop outfit Birdstriking, return from an extensive nationwide tour but not without a homecoming show where they’ll brandish their bruises and show off their rich and melodically pleasing latest, Holey Brain. Supporting them will be fellow Maybe Mars cohorts white+ and grunge opera revisionists JaJaTao, who haven't played in some time – expecting good things from their new set. RMB 100

project:IMPAIR (KR), Wu & the Side Effects, Ghetto Blaster at Temple
The riotous Korean 'gugak' drums-and-guitar duo are getting their fill of Beijing with a rollicking stop at Temple Bar, where they'll join acid blues rock staples Wu & the Side Effects and the up-and-coming Ghetto Blaster, a band I’ve been trying to catch again. Expect spirits high and righteously rowdy – plus, Temple will be sporting their new system, which is all kinds of awesome. FREE

Bolt69 (RUS), Struggle Session, Discord at School
Melodic hardcore punk outfit Bolt69 (a naughty word in their mother language) outta Russia storm through School Bar, stirring up all hell with their visceral pulse-pounding take on punk alongside veteran street punks Discord and theatrical hardcore troublemakers Struggle Session. Best stretch beforehand. RMB 60

Ying Shui Di Jiang at DDC
While the experimental outfit Ying Shui Di Jiang, a Buddhist fusion folk troupe headed by Nanjing musician Zhao Yuan, have been recording music for a decade, they have only ever performed live once. This second performance at DDC will be a rarity both for the band and for fans of eccentric, experimental, ambient music with folk leanings. RMB 80

King Lion Miguel (Cameroon), Inno Pablo, Fila Killa, Abel X, Rawhk, and Kooj at Soi Baochao
Soi Baochao goes all-in for this massive dancehall/reggae/hip-hop party featuring some legit talent from all parts of Africa – including King Lion Miguel from Cameroon, Rawhk and Kooj from Zambia, Fila Killa from Ethiopia, and Inno Pablo from Malawi. Expect this one to get appropriately off the hook. RMB 40

Paradise at Tango
Heavyweight hard rock outfit Paradise, one of the original yaogun bands, will celebrate a staggering 25 years as a band with a blowout show at Tango that’ll likely be packed to the gills with rock and roll royalty both on and off the stage. RMB 200

Secret Club, Self Portrait, Syndrome, Opposite Children at Yue Space
Pop rock, Britpop, punk rock, and all the gooey adolescent feelings in between – catch some of the longest-standing, hardest-working indie-pop and pop-punk bands this side of Gulou including DOG's Secret Club, Self Portrait, and more. RMB 100

Anuar Kaldekhan at fRUITYSPACE
Kazakh folk musician (and a former member of IZ)  brings his unique instrumentation, voice, and "küy", the philosophy of Kazakh music which involves a high degree of sensibility achieved with sound, through the contemporary sound expression to explore the music with modern consciousness. Psychedelic sounds and environmental improvisation. My kind of jam. RMB 40

Tulegur at Jianghu Bar
Tulegur, the veteran Mongolian folk-rock duo whose grungy revisionist take on Mongolian music has won acclaim both here and abroad, performs tonight at the hutong mainstay Jianghu Bar. 80 RMB

Ember Swift at Yichang Cafe
Known for her unique, jazz-influenced guitar playing and elastic vocals, the Canadian-born, Beijing-based singer-songwriter Ember Swift has been a fixture of the Beijing music scene for years. Just returning from a tour, she’ll be giving her first concert in China after her travels through England, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Looking forward to seeing how her solo tour experience translates into her music. RMB 80 (8pm start)

ChaJiYang at Beijing SiLingLing Theater
The contemporary indie-folk singer-songwriter from Dali, Yunnan performs at the new Wangjing space, the Beijing SiLingLing Theater. Dude sounds good and it's always nice to discover new joints, especially in Wangjing which needs more love. RMB 100 (7pm start)

Liu Dongming at Mogu Space
Folk-rock singer-songwriter Liu Dongming - a prominent figure in the folk world for years, and whose album with his band The Sand recently was awarded the Best Folk Album Prize from Douban’s Abilu Music Awards, goes solo in Xizhimen. 66 RMB

Nancy & The Fantastic at Modernista
The multi-national outfit Nancy & The Fantastic, festival favorites all around Asia, bring their intoxicating blend of rock, pop, dance, and R&B, and classics, old and new, to Modernista – a class act in talent and style. FREE

Castle at Mao Livehouse
From the UK and back, Castle, a Chinese rock band that performed in the old Sanlitun days in the '90s and then found its way to England, has returned and are looking to bring some of that old-time feeling back to Wukesong. RMB 50

Desmond Mc Garry, Richard Todd, Heike Wyler at Caravan
For the 17th edition of Caravan’s singer/songwriter night, the Moroccan joint will host a trio of Beijing legends to go solo including Blackwater’s Des, Randomk(e)’s Richard Todd, and the very busy cellist Heike. RMB 60

Lesi Mei, Todd Rewoldt at La Plantation
Chinese pianist Lesi Mei – "philosophical yet uplifting" joins alto saxophonist Todd Rewoldt from the US – "from the mosh pit into an original saxophone style that is all his own" – join forces this evening for a special recital at La Plantation. RMB 200

Lacrimosa (Switzerland) at Omni Space
Lacrimosa is a duo led by German-born Tilo Wolff, the main composer, and Finnish Anne Nurmi, currently based in Switzerland and founded in 1990. Originally geared toward the style of neue deutsche todeskunst (New German Death Art), their musical style has shifted much more towards hard rock and neo-progressive rock with gothic influences. RMB 550

 

Saturday, Nov 25

Nekroma, Noise Arcade at Yichang Cafe
Yi Chang Café and Nasty Wizard Recordings present "Visions in the Night," an evening performance that explores the relationship between sound and visuals, with film and illustration being juxtaposed with ambient and experimental soundscapes in a live setting. Interactive live painting (for both performers and audiences) paired with the avant-garde doom opera of supergroup Nekroma (the sultry fusion of Guiguisuisui and Nekoma) and the pedal heaven and loop orgy of Noise Arcade. RMB 40 (presale only). 7pm start

Zuriaake, The Samans, Bloody Woods, Die From Sorrow, Silent Elegy, Deep Mountains, Nower, S.A.W, Ephemerality, Noblemen, Dark Haze, Dissident, Moth Massacre, Nerve Resistance at Tango
Yup – here we are again. Another metal music festival. With another epic lineup featuring a who’s who of the metal scene – you want thrash (Dissent)? You want neo-folk (Bloody Woods)? You want melodic death metal (Die From Sorrow)? How about black metal with a bunch of dudes cloaked in robes and rice hats (Zuriaake)? If metal is your jam, this is heaven, baby. RMB 366. (3pm start)

EXBJ, Oldy Baby, Boss Cuts (DJ Set), ADDJ at Caravan
Moroccan food restaurant staple Caravan gets downright devious with this wild'n-out lineup featuring rising punk outfit EXBJ, the blitzed blissed-out rock-o-rama of Oldy Baby plus DJ sets from surf-rock dude Boss Cuts and ADDJ spinning vinyl late into the night. RMB 50

Namgar, Rid at Mao Livehouse
World music label Stallion Era presents Namgar – one of the most symbolic, cross-over musical acts of the Buryat minority (stuck between Russia and Mongolia) – who will be having their first show in Wukesong’s new MAO Livehouse, along with Rid, the lively outfit who mix traditional Mongolian music and reggae into an infectious blend. Intriguing sounds for sure. RMB 120

project:IMPAIR (KR), Starrr69, Feline at DDC
The Project Impair ran by Jun Roh from WHOwho (guitar&vocal) and Eun Ho Lee from Egloo Bay (drum), who perform a mix of traditional Korean music called “gugak” (composed of three beats) and the blues. Catch the riotous duo at DDC with two fresh faces on the scene, the female-led ethereal electro-pop outfit Starrr69 and indie-rockers Feline, two bands to keep an eye out for. RMB 60

DJ Quaver, Odd Couple, 双棒儿, Drop Science Crew, SLAN.G, LOFTHESTAR, Reatmo (JP) at School
It’s an underground rap party at what looks like hip-hop’s new home, School Bar, which really goes to show just how far the hip-hop scene has come in the past year. And screw it, I’m ready! Local rap boy-girl duo Odd Couple join the Drop Science Crew, Lofthestar, Reato from Japan and DJ Quaver for an evening of hard-hitting beats, rapid-fire rhythms running to turn at the drop of a hat, and plenty of swagger. RMB 80

Limousine, Division Control, C60 at Temple
Shanghai indie-rock outfit Limousine get down and dirty at Temple alongside the theatrical Tianjin post-punk quartet Division Control and Beijing’s own alt-rock group C60. FREE

Campus Band Competition (Round 2) at Yue Space
After the first round last month, the city-wide campus band competition is back for round two with a narrowed down list of contenders from all over the city – from the female pop-punk stylings of OK Beng to the more established Gentle Grapes (wonder what the parameters are for this) and plenty more fresh faces like EatWithChina and Getting Better – it’s anyone’s game at this point. RMB 50

Anzi & Jiumei at Omni Space
Folk-pop troupe lead by the adorable bossa nova charm of its two leads Anzi and Jiumei bring their bubbly pop-rock jams to Omni Space. RMB 120

Juan Ni, Dan Dan, Wan Qing at Mogu Space
A late afternoon folk filled session with three extremely talented singer-songwriter ladies including Dan Dan, Juan Ni, and Wan Qing. RMB 60 (4.30pm start)

Parakeet at Soi Baochao
Multi-national pop group Parakeet whose style is a mix of smooth jazz, funk and soul music perform tonight at Blue Stream. FREE

Anuar Kaldekhan at DDC
Kazak folk musician, former member of IZ,  brings his unique instrumentation, voice, and “küy”, the philosophy of Kazak music which involves a high degree of sensibility achieved with sound, through the contemporary sound expression to explore the music with modern consciousness. Psychedelic sounds and environmental improvisation. Afternoon jam – 3pm start. RMB 60

Lost In Space, Blood Rainbow, Goodbye Sunset, The Tek Dead at Laifu Livehouse
Shuangjing brings some high-octane, black coated madness to its district with this heavy lineup featuring hardcore outfit Lost In Space, emo rockers Goodbye Sunset, and of course a band with a name like Blood Rainbow (for the win!). RMB 80

Zhang Yang at La Plantation
The piano maestro Zhang Yang, whose musical abilities have brought him all over the world, performs Rachmaninov this evening. RMB 20

 

Sunday, Nov 26

Solaris, Rhonda at DDC
Psychedelic mood setters Solaris, who have slowly become one of the most beloved outfits of its ilk out there, return to DDC after months in the studio - and from the sound of it, it’s gonna be something quite special. Catch give a special performance along Rhonda, who have risen through the ashes this past fall and are ready to unleash instrumental glory upon audiences. RMB 60

Octopoulpe (KR), Struggle Session, ZPax at Temple
Everyone’s tentacled favorite, the Seoul-based one-man drum punk extravaganza, Octopoulpe, is back in town and leading to wreck havoc upon Temple with partners in crime hardcore aerobatics Struggle Session (on their third show in a row!) and hardware freak Zpax. Scrappy dirty Sunday evening mischief. (8pm start) FREE

All Unknown, Bobby’s Satellite, Pure Band, Toy Soldier at School
Alternative rock and pop-punk, reggae grunge and psych-folk-rock - it’s a grab bag of styles and sounds this evening with established pop-punk band All Unknown and Toy Soldiers joining fresh faces Pure Band (hearing good things about these cats) and rockers Bobby’s Satellite (formerly Plateau). RMB 60

VaVa at Tango
Female underground hip-hop sensation VaVa, who's been on all the shows and programs, even getting dubbed ‘China’s First Female Rapper’ brings her dirty south swag and killer production to Tango as she tours the nation in support of her debut hit 21. RMB 260

Grey, The Fuse, RapaciouszC, Trice, Dian Mu, Wu Gan at 80 Music
Looks like that Pinganli venue 80 Music is back in business – and they’ve tossed together a grab bag lineup of young, eager to please rockers looking to put their stamp on the city. RMB 50 (2pm start)

Emma Re (IT) at DDC
Italian singer whose voice was invited by the Olympic Committee of Beijing for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. During the same year, she returned to China to perform for the inauguration of the indoor stadium of Beijing which led to her singing on the opening track of the movie “The Legend of Bruce Lee”. So yeah, China digs her quite a bit. Catch her at DDC. RMB 60 (5pm start) 

Death Penalty, Eternal Power, Armor Forest, Sky Fire, Death Pact at Omni Space
It’s a mobile game release party, cause of course it is. The game is titled ‘Guilar Metal’ which is not a typo and involves, of course, metal music. For the occasion, the designers have invited some of the metal bands who gave a helping hand. So cute. RMB 80

Lu Yiming and Gao Chenwei at Yue Space
Independent singer-songwriter brings some indie-pop flavor to Yue Space as he and Gao Chenwai present their ‘Candle Smoke’ tour with an array of finely tuned, down to earth pop jingles which he himself describes as ‘white pop’ (Wonder Bread pop might be more appropriate).

Terry Heish Quartet at Modernista
Modernista closes out their month-long anniversary with a night of high-quality jazz by some of the best musicians in the city - Terence Hsieh on trombone, Liu Xiaoguang on tenor saxophone, Antonio Fusco on drums and Ivan Xing on bass – a chordless, swinging quartet, that brings a creative and fresh approach to improvisation. FREE

The Beijing Bandits at Blue Stream
Made up of a group of Texans The Beijing Bandits reflects their homeland with interesting blues, jazz and traditional rock elements. Catch them at the Gulou centric venue. FREE

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What’s Up in Beer: A Thanksgiving Beer Guide, Free-Flow Party, and a Pop-Up Beer Takeover

When the sun goes down and the stars come out, spotting the skies and shining like locals’ expectoration on the pavement, it is time to gather our friends around and give thanks. Thank you, reader, for being with us today and clicking on this blog. Whether you're American or not, tonight is a night to spend with close friends and family and share love and a drink. You have my word, it looks to be a very, very long and beery holiday weekend.

Before we start the long list of places to celebrate, let me say a quick congratulations to Jing-A and NBeer who both won awards at the 2017 Brussels Beer Challenge, which saw 1,512 beers take part. Jing-A’s Worker’s Pale Ale won a Gold Medal in the American Pale Ale category. Go give it at sip at either of their locations (RMB 100 for four).

NBeer’s Beijing Gose Modern (4.5 percent ABV) earned a Gold Medal in the sour wheat beer category. Well done, guys!

Wondering about the Europeans’ take on Thanksgiving? The Treuben sandwich (RMB 60) at Arrow Factory (Liangmahe location) may just be the answer. It's a particularly lush sarnie, featuring sliced roast turkey, sliced honey baked ham, traditional herb stuffing, cranberry sauce, white cheddar cheese, and dijonnaise, all sat between buttered and toasted rye bread and paired with hand-cut sweet potato fries and gravy. Get it as a combo with an Imperial Pilgrim’s Amber Ale for RMB 85. The Imperial Pilgrim’s Amber Ale is on special for RMB 35 all night, or you can opt for RMB 150 all-you-can-drink Guanxi Pale Ale bottles. All the promotions start at 6pm, tonight only (Nov 23). They're expecting a big crowd, so you should make a reservation.

Drunk Bar in Wangfujing hasn’t forgotten you, either. You can go for the turkey set dinner (RMB 338 for two) from now until Dec 25, for which you'll get a salad, two pumpkin soups, a roast turkey, two apple pies and two glasses of house wine. You can also enjoy their daily special deals: Monday, 50 percent off on milk tea; Tuesday, 50 percent off on coffee; Wednesday, 50 percent off on dessert; Thursday, 50 percent off on cocktails; and 20 percent off on dishes every weekend until Dec 10. They also recently stocked Boulevard's Tough Kitty Milk Stout (5.5 percent ABV) on tap.

Great Outdoors on Fangjia Hutong is also helping to spread the holiday cheer from Nov 23-25 at 7-10pm. RMB 228 will get you a slow-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, soup, macaroni and cheese, green beans, dessert, and a glass of wine or draft beer. Book here.

Jing-A Xingfucun will offer a Thanksgiving dinner menu with a choice of a whole, half, or small portion of roast turkey (see the poster above) on Nov 23, with different sides, such as chorizo stuffing, crispy Brussels sprouts, sweet potato with marshmallows, and pumpkin pie in a jar. Their tasty barbecue menu will be available too. Book the turkey in advance by calling 152 1090 7612.

Those of you that didn’t make it to the 8x8 beer fest in the beginning of November, will be happy to hear that Jing-A are bringing it back this weekend. RMB 100 will get you an 8x8 taster glass, and a pour of each of the eight collab beers at Jing-A Xingfucun on Nov 25, starting at 2pm. Seize your last chance to try this special brews!

Slow Boat will launch their dinner set tonight, on Nov 23, 7.30pm. RMB 318 will get you a honey ale-glazed whole roast turkey (cooked by Ramo), four side dishes, dessert, and a glass of wine. You can also add RMB 144 to get two hours of free-flow draft berr. There are only 20 seats available, so book in advance (see the QR code in the poster above). Also, they've released a new Moby’s Dick Red Double IPA with 7.2 percent ABV, a deep red color, dry-hopped to get a floral hop aroma, and sports some additional whiskey-soaked American oak to give some complexity.

NBeer will hand out limited portions of turkey to each table for free at both locations starting at 7pm on Nov 23. They also recommend their new Winter’s Coming Weizenbock with 8.1 percent ABV as a perfect match for scoffing down meat.

Last but not least, I know people are missing El Nido, the much-loved but recently demolished bar on Fangjia. However, boss man Xiaoshuai will place several special kegs on tap as a takeover of Fang Bar on at Shoubi Hutong, starting tonight at 6pm and finishing on Nov 26 at 2pm, providing six beers a day from a selection of Selassie, Leon Pale Ale, Nebuchadnezzar IPA, Mazarin Pale Ale from Omnipollo, Sleeping Lemons Sour, Ninkasi Saison from The Wild Beer, Accidental Jedi IPA from Edge Brewing,

And sadly, as winter's coming, not all the bars will survive. Last night we found out that Forty+ Taphouse at Chaoyangmenwai, formerly bearing the title of most drafts (with 43 taps) has closed. RIP, Forty+ Taphouse (see our last impressions here).

Hopefully, you can attend some of these events and enjoy this crisp early winter weather. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for following What’s Up in Beer. May there always be brews!

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
Instagram: @flyingfigure

Photos courtesy of venues, giphy (1), cafedelites

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Stink Bombs Targeted in Latest Fit of Concern for the Safety of Chinese Children

Chinese police and newspapers are warning parents to be aware of the dangers of stink bombs in the latest wave of hysteria over schoolchildren's safety that never seems to end.

The "Anti-Four Pests" branch of the PSB and the People's Daily are among those sounding the alarm over the schoolyard popularity of stink bombs, a "new kind of toy" responsible for causing injury to a girl this season. 

Video reports show the stink bombs explode with such force that they are capable of tearing a hole in a sheet of paper, conclusively proving that they deserve their label as "dangerous" items.

With their loud bang followed by an acrid odor, Chinese children have taken a liking to stink bombs for their ability to offer a cheap and effective scare while parents and media have demonized the store-bought prank for its hidden dangers.

But while the Chinese backlash may seem disproportionate for something that is nothing more than a novelty item in the West, the reaction is nothing less than overwrought when you consider that Chinese media have been crying wolf over stink bombs for over a decade, always with the same familiar warning.

Stink bombs were reported as a "new" toy that was both "poisonous" and "dangerous" last year, the year before that, and even in 2014 when QQ News said they contain "dangerous chemicals." Beyond incidents in 2012 and 2010, stink bombs posed a threat to public safety all the way back to 2003

And the numbers back it up. Stink bombs are responsible for hospitalizing 37 schoolchildren in Chengdu and 79 students in Taihe, Anhui when they showed symptoms like nausea and vomiting. 

That does sound very serious, and public safety shouldn't be taken lightly. And yet, the Chinese media's ability to label stink bombs as a "new" threat year after year makes it seem like this backlash is more clickbait than anything else.

In circumstances like an enclosed room, a stink bomb could very well cause someone to become nauseous; it can also cause someone to become extremely uncomfortable because ... well, that's literally what they're designed to do. And as for the injuries responsible for this year's stink bomb backlash, Mrs. Li said her daughter injured herself from falling down from the scare of the stink bomb, and not from its concoction of chemicals.

Although chemistry may be a topic out of hand for laymen, some Chinese reports have explained the science behind this "big bang scare." These stink bombs usually contain a powder and a bagged liquid (likely hydrogen carbonate and sodium sulfide) that form hydrogen sulfide when the seal between the two is broken with force.

And yet, the rational explanation gets muddled when these reports take a less-than-scientific approach. Scientists seen in one video conclude that the 50 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide released by a stink bomb are hazardous to humans, but they take the reading inside an enclosed case that can barely fit a human skull.

In another video, a TV host proudly proves that stink bomb emissions cause laboratory mice to become lethargic by simultaneously setting off dozens of them, likely more than the average Chinese child can even afford.

With a past that includes its use as a chemical weapon in World War I, hydrogen sulfide is a potent compound that has been involved in numerous incidents. And yet, chemicals need not remain as a perpetually unknown quantity that causes panic and fear.

Alas, stink bombs haven't been the only thing to threaten the safety of children this year. Children have been banned from using toothpick crossbows earlier this summer as were long periods of playtime on the world's most popular (and lucrative) mobile game, Kings of Glory.

But who has time to remember all these things in this fast-paced world, one with no place for the nostalgic thrill of boiling an egg and leaving it under the sun? If only that simple world could be ours again.

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath
E-mail: [email protected]

Images: Newsinfo, NetEase, Baidu

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