A young tourist who scrawled his name on the almost 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple in Egypt has drawn the ire not of Egypt but his home country of China.
The graffiti, which translates roughly as “Ding Jinhao wuz here,” was etched onto the the Luxor’s wall engravings with a rock. A photo of the tag was taken by a different tourist and posted on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site.
The photo has caused outrage in China, where only last week Chinese visitors to foreign countries received an official admonition to straighten up and fly right. There is much hand-wringing in China over the image of the country abroad and the graffiti has been highlighted as an example of why China has such a poor reputation.
The rapid spread of the photo has prompted what is called in China a renrou suosou – a “human flesh search,” in which Chinese Internet users attempt to expose individuals to public humiliation for online content perceived as offensive. The search has prompted other individuals named Ding Jinhao to publicly declare or prove they have never been to Egypt in order to avoid repercussions.
Meanwhile, the real Ding Jinhao has reportedly been outed as a 15-year-old student in Nanjing, whose parents have apologized on his behalf, saying he was young at the time and just copying what he had seen done elsewhere.
Interestingly, the photographer’s tour guide in Egypt allegedly saw no reason to blame the boy, saying it was the tour guide’s responsibility to prevent vandalism.
Foreigners keep out!
Committed to preserving national secrets, the new Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in Nanjing is only open to Chinese citizens. So, if you want to see guns embedded in lipstick, maps hidden in decks of cards and other accoutrements of the spy trade (or, “tradecraft,” as spies over here call it), you have to have the right passport.
Most of the items on display are well past their “use by” dates. Guns disguised as fountain pens and pipes, a bugged calculator and instructions for wiretapping can be found … some of which date back to the communist fight against the nationalists in 1927.
Even though some of these tools and methods are dated, the government likes to keep a leash on its secrets, so the best you’ll get is a second-hand account from a loose-lipped local. A spokesman for the spy museum said to The Associated Press, “We don’t want such sensitive spy information to be exposed to foreigners, so they are not allowed to enter.” Most of the prospective guests turned away, though, understand the reasoning.
Desperate to get a look? You can usually get in if you have “Chinese features” and look “clean.”
In addition to being a complex, beautiful and rapidly changing country, we’ve all heard that China is a copyright lawyer’s worst nightmare. A place rife with pirated DVD’s, software and all manner of luxury clothing and handbag knockoffs. It seems that pirated goods have become such a lucrative industry that the country is now dedicating an entire mall to the concept.
According to recent news reports, a mall in Nanjing, China is set to open with all manner of “copycat” stores, sporting awnings with none-too-subtle reinterpretations of well-known Western brands. If you’re looking for your morning pick-me-up, go no further than “Bucksstar” coffee, the place for all your $5 latte needs in Nanjing. When you get hungry, mall visitors can patronize the local “OMC McDnoald’s” or even grab some “Pizza Huh.” Perhaps the pizza chain name is in reference to the quality of the ingredients?
When I first stumbled upon this article, I actually did a half-spit take. Could this be legit, I thought? Yet in a country with a rapidly emerging consumer class and growing lust for fancy French wine and gated communities, it starts to make more sense. For many individuals, owning and consuming brands legitimizes their place in the world, announcing their ascension to the modern global economy. The creators of this mall in Nanjing seem to have come to a similar conclusion – even a knockoff of the real thing, no matter how awkward and blatant to Western eyes, is better than no brands at all.
I’m an urban girl at heart. I grew up in the city and that’s where I feel most comfortable: surrounded by blaring horns, blazing lights, people as far as the eye can see. Neon signs and the noises of strangers are seared into my psyche in a way that is inescapable.
So it goes without saying that I love night photography, particularly when it captures the lights of a busy urban nightscape. This photo of Nanjing, China by Matt Hintsa captures that perfectly. It’s a little grainy, a little blown out, but so is the city. So is any city.
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