Apr 152007

If you travel to China and think about getting a China visa, consider stopping by Macau, the former Portugal colony. The city has a China Travel Service agency at the city centre, which can process a 90-day single-entry China visa for you within one day, for only HK$240 (about 24 euro). But be sure to hand in your application before 10:30am and you will get the visa at about 6pm the same day.

It is possible that you apply for a double-entry China visa in Macau. But you will have to wait until the following day, for HK$340 (about 34 euro).

Do not expect to have a half-day express service, though the agency’s website says so.

And remember that there is also a China Travel Service agency at the macau ferry pier, but it does not handle China visa applications. You must go to the one in the city centre. Bring the money and a photo, fill in a form, and you will have the visa.

Address of China Travel Services (Macau) in the city centre:

Avenida do Dr. Rodrigo Rodrigues, nºs 223-225, Edifício Nam Kuong, 1º andar “A” e 12º andar “A”, Macau

Tel: (853) 2870 0888; Website: http://www.ctsmacau.com ( unfortunately, mostly in Chinese only)

To view the China visa web page of China Travel Services (Macau), click here.

Hong Kong is also a good place for foreigners to get a China visa, but not as good as Macau. If you go to the many China Travel Service centres across the territory for a China visa, it takes normally 3 days, and you can get a one-month visa only. You have to show that you have been to China (such as a China visa stamped on your passport) in order to get a 3-month visa.

Well, there are a lot more flights to Hong Kong from different parts of the world. It is true that it is more convenient for you to stop by Hong Kong than Macau. But going to Macau from Hong Kong is convenient (one-hour ferry journey). You can also directly leave Macau for China – there are frequent daily buses going to Guangzhou from Macau.


Get a China visa in Macau (part 2)

Macau visa

 Posted by at 2:53 pm
Mar 312007

I saw a profile tonight on Hong Kong TV of Gao Yaojie, China’s retired doctor who disclosed the tragedy of farmers in Hunan Province contracting AIDS after selling blood for money, and consequently suffer house arrest, communication cut-off from the outside world, and monitoring day and night by the police.

If not for watching the profile, I would not have known what a great woman Gao is. Well, I knew she is great, from the media, but not until I get the chance to see on TV what she has to say, and what sacrifices she has to make, do I understand her – and China – better.

She was filmed going to the US to get a prestigious award from Vital Voices, a non-profit organization for her contribution to the AIDS issue in China. She said: “I do not feel happy. I feel a mix of emotions for getting the award.” Previously, she said, her son kneeled down on the floor to beg her not to go to the US. “Just say you are sick. Don’t go to the US, my son said. But how can you lie to the whole world? I don’t want to lie, just like so many people in this dark society.”

“My son’s head kneeled so down that it touched the floor. It hurt me. I announce herewith to the world, what I do has nothing to do with my son.”

Gao going to the US to get the award was stopped by the Government of Henan province, where she lives. Gao was finally be able to make it because Hilary Clinton intervened, pleading to China’s President and Premier. Reaction of Gao’s son is understandable. He was imprisoned for three years during Cultural Revolution because of his mum’s brave criticism of the Government. Now, he didn’t want more troubles for his mum and himself, so he was pleading his mum not to go against the will of the authority.

But Gao was determined. “I am 80 years old. What can I fear? I will not lie and I will die without regrets.”

Her daughter, also a doctor, lost her job because of the fierce criticism Gao levied on the authority. She left China a few years ago and moved to Canada where she has to work as a waitress in a restaurant, rather than as a doctor. She had a bad relationship with her mum Gao since. Only after her dad died, did her relationship with her mum improved.

About the situation of her daughter, Gao said:” I feel helpless. What can I do?”

The TV profile shows her daughter meeting her mother Gao in the US. The daughter didn’t want to talk about her relationship with her mum. She said: “For an outsider, my mum does the right thing. But for an insider, ….” She didn’t want to continue. Her tears were rolling in her eyes.

I think tragedies like this can only happen in China, and more tragically, tragedies like this continue into today’s China, a rising economic power.

 Posted by at 11:13 pm
Mar 252007

Hong Kong is staging a political farce. The candidate of the Chief Executive of the Government, also the incumbent Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, will surely win in today’s election where only a privileged group of 800 people in the whole HK’s 7 million population can vote.

What is more, these 800 people are mainly pro-Beijing businessmen and professionals, mostly appointed or elected in their respective professional sectors. The so called “election” is blatantly a sham – the election’s result is known even before the campaign starts, and most of the people in the territory, including me, are not eligible to vote.

Ironically, Mr Tsang staged a rally on the eve of the Election Day, summoning some HK pop stars and outstanding athletes, among others, to the occasion. Given that these HK pop stars and athletes never discuss in public at length or shown any interest in politics or social issues, and neither any of them is civic or political activist, the rally became an awkward show where they used the language they were uncomfortable with, to sing swan songs to Mr Tsang.

And today, after the election result was announced, the TV showed throngs of people surrounding Mr Tsang, congratulating him on his success. What success is this when the “success” is pre-determined and not won?

I feel disgust. When lies and fakes are obvious lies and fakes, but taken to be truth, and when so many people are willing to be the accomplices of these lies and fakes, can you not feel disgust? 

 Posted by at 12:23 pm
Feb 182007

china's sexologist Li yinheChina’s sexologist Li Yinhe, known for her liberal stand, announced on her blog on Feb 8 that her “leaders” (superiors) asked her to shut up. So she decides that from now on she will avoid not to be interviewed by the media and talk less on sex-related issues.

Ms Li supports same-sex marriage, for instance. This has caused controversy in China where a majority of people view same-sex marriage with disgust.

In announcing her decision to “shut up”, Li said China has not reached the stage of civilization as accepting same-sex marriage. Maybe she can only be the witness of a social change to happen, but not the participant of the change.

It is sad, very sad that a country of five-thousand year civilization has not reached the stage of allowing for a public intellectual discussion of sex-related issues, not to mention tolerance for same-sex marriages.

With no openness of mind and attitude, where will the five-thousand year civilization be directed to, despite its increasing wealth and booming economy?

I recall that I talked about my experience of censorship in China and a foreigner living in China responded that he could not access the gmail, but then so what? So what? Because he himself is not a Chinese and does not rely on Chinese language as the source of information. Of course, he didn’t feel the pinch. As a foreigner living in China, they simply have privileges the local Chinese don’t have in terms of access to information.

Sina.com hosts a major blogging community. The portal exercises censorship on a daily basis. Message can be just deleted without any prior notification. The extent is so that it has flamed public anger recently and a group of sina bloggers, including two law professors in Beijing, launched a joint protest letter, but it was blocked – of course.

The bloggers are becoming an influence force in the society and the government is quite worried. It is said that it is considering to request all who want to blog or respond to the blogs to be registered with id card numbers and their names. That would be a total disaster for China’s freedom of speech.

 Posted by at 10:16 am
Jan 122007

Not only that more people come to China to study Mandarin, but more people are interested in studying in China’s universities as undergrads. 

This is no exception to Hong Kong students. A recent South China Morning Post article reported on their China experience, which lends a window into understanding what it is like being an overseas university student in China. Corruption and Marxist theories turn out to be their most overwhelming cultural discoveries.

Thursday, January 4, 2007
HK students in great leap northward

…But Hong Kong students find they have to make many adjustments on the mainland. One of the worries they share is how to maintain their standard of English during their time on the mainland.

“I really think the English lessons are unacceptable. If my English teacher was in Hong Kong, I think he would be sacked,” Ms Wong said. “I think my English is deteriorating after studying here for one year.”

Many also find studying Marxist political theories heavy going – although exemptions are possible depending on the regulations of individual universities.

“Sometimes I feel lonely because my classmates don’t understand why I find Marxist theories are so hard because they have studied them since they were children,” Ms Wong said.

Adjusting to different living styles is also a huge step the students have to make – including different hygiene standards, communal shower rooms and different working hours.

“There are four living in the same room in the dormitory and there is no privacy,” Ms Sze said. “At first I was not used to it because my room-mates don’t take showers every day.”

Mr Yiu, also a first-year student, said he missed the press freedom in Hong Kong. “In the newspapers in Hong Kong, there are opinion pages and people have different perspectives in looking at the same incident,” he said. “There is no such thing in mainland papers and something is missing here.”

Most students said they believed the understanding they were gaining about the cultural differences on the mainland would help them to mature because they had to take care of themselves.

But some of the cultural discoveries can be overwhelming.

A Hong Kong student who once helped to organise recreational events at her university said the experience helped her to understand how corruption bred on the mainland.

“For example, when students organise a ball, they might tell the university they needed 5,000 yuan for the event,” she said. “When the university approved the funding, most of the money went to the teachers and some went to the student union president. They may end up spending 100 yuan on the event because they borrow the equipment … instead of buying it.”

The student was amused to discover that the event’s organisers actually had two account books – a common practice among mainland companies – one for the university and one for themselves.

“Now I understand corruption starts from a young age,” she said.

Many said understanding how things worked on the mainland would help their careers because most were interested in jobs related to the mainland. Some were also hoping the mainland exposure could help them land civil service jobs in Hong Kong.

But many still had uncertainties about their prospects, with some wondering whether their qualifications would be recognised in Hong Kong.

Law student Vivian Li Sin-wan said she planned to spend more time in her final year to polish English because she had studied law in Chinese and would have to take professional examinations in Hong Kong if she wanted to practise here.

Medical student Dason Cheung said the pass rate for mainland-trained doctors in Hong Kong was low due to protectionism. While he might consider practising on the mainland, he would only consider international hospitals or clinics.

“The salaries for doctors in mainland hospitals are so low,” he said. “In Beijing, they may earn about 2,000 yuan a month. It is hard to survive unless you take red packets [bribes].”

 Posted by at 5:47 pm