China As It Is

Liu Xiaobo

It was just announced that Liu Xiaobo has received the Nobel Peace Prize 2010. Great news indeed – the world has not bowed to China and lived up to the common values of human mankind.

Liu’s reaction to it? “I dedicate the prize to those having died in the June 4 event.” And then he shed his tears, according to his wife Liu Xia who informed him about the news. It is a reaction that I would have expected from Liu, who keeps a low profile in his resilient fight for freedom of speech and democracy in China.

I wrote this post about Liu and his wife on 26 December 2009, and would like to copy here as my token of tribute to Liu:
“China’ most prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo was sentenced by the court to 11 years in jail on Christmas Day.

This is the fourth time he has been imprisoned because of his political position and his writings. He was researching in the US while the student democratic movement broke out in China in 1989. He rushed back to China and gave support to the students. He was jailed afterwards by the Chinese government.

But that marked only the first sentencing he, as a dissident, received of a series to follow. Each time he was released, he kept on writing and speaking his mind about how to make China a better and democratic country, and each time he was sentenced to imprisonment or a labour camp.

How Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, supports him is touching. She married him when he was in the labour camp. She sent him books when he was in prison so that he knew what her thoughts were and it was a way of communication between them, Liu Xia said. They also wrote poems to each other.

After the latest jail sentence was announced, Liu Xia told reporters in a clam voice: “If he (Liu Xiaobo) can persevere in the face of the ordeal, so can I.” Liu will be over 60 years old when he is released, she said.

She has had her head shaved. She is such a strong and steel-willed woman, just like her husband. “

Transport Travel Tips

Low cost airline for Shanghai-HK route

Mainland China’s low cost airline Spring Air will launch its service between Hong Kong and Shanghai starting 28 September. If you want to find cheap tickets for the route as well as China’s domestic flights, check out its website (

To mark the new service, the airline offers the unbeatable price of HK$199 (US$26) for a one-way ticket between Hong Kong and Shanghai from now until end of October. But the discount tickets are said to be all sold out.
China Visa Travel Tips

Shenzhen visa

(update on 25 Aug 2014: it is reported that passport holders of Philippines and USA are not given Shenzhen Visa at the border.)

If you plan to go to Shenzhen from Hong Kong, just get a Shenzhen visa at Lowu or Huanggang border. No need to apply for a China visa in advance. But this is the case only if you are a passport holder of certain countries, such as most of the EU countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. US citizens are not eligible for this Shenzhen visa, so are passport holders of the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The Shenzhen Visa Office at Lowu is immediately upstairs after clearing the Hong Kong immigration and customs. It is open 9AM-10:30PM seven days a week and accepts RMB for payment only. The visa is a five-day visa and costs RMB160. If you are a UK passport holder, you will be charged a much higher fee at about RMB470.

A friend has just got a Shenzhen visa for RMB160 at Lowu border. According to him, the whole process took about half an hour. You will first get your queue number, and when it is your turn, you give your passport to the staff for checking, followed by making payment at another counter. You will then have to wait again for your turn  to collect your passport, this time with the visa.

It was a Sunday when my friend applied for the Shenzhen visa, and the visa office, he said, was surprisingly not crowded with foreign travelers, but with Filipino domestic helpers working in Hong Kong and hoping to spend their only free day in a week in Shenzhen.

Note that the Lok Ma Chau border (the one connected by MTR) has no Shenzhen visa service. You can only apply for a Shenzhen visa at Lowu border or Huanggang border.

China As It Is

Who is the chief at mainland university?

It is reported that at a Shenzhen university, some 40 professors competed for the post of Chuzhang (處長),a mid-level official title in the mailand’s bureaucratic system. Why is it that the professors are so keen to be an official? In most other countries, the professors and scholars are usually happy to be left focusing on their research and teaching. They don’t want to bother with administrative work. Not in China. The average basic salary in China for a professor is less than RMB25,000 (US$3,700) a year. If you are an official in the university, you will have much more, including large expenses allowances, fully paid overseas trips and even personal chauffeurs.

And they have power too – great power. The officials in the university have the biggest say on everything, from deciding which staff and courses to stay to funding distribution. So who is the top man in the university? You would think it is the President or Vice chancellor. Nope. It is the communist party secretary. Every public university, even now, has a communist party secretary who is the “decider” of the university.

For mainland’s universities to be world-class, they have a really long way to go. Not until there is revolutionary change in the society when it values free thinking and democracy.

China Visa

China visa update

Since there are queries about China visa, I have looked up the information on the respective websites of China Travel Services in Hong Kong and Macau. It is obvious that if you are not a Hong Kong or Macau resident and if you want to apply for a China visa in Hong Kong or Macau, it is impossible for you to be given a multiple entry China visa. You will be given the ordinary single entry or double entry visa only, which will entitle you to a 30-day stay each time.

For the information posted by the China Travel Services in Hong Kong, check out here.  Their information is dated 30 June, 2010. So it is pretty updated. And here is the information posted by the China Travel Services in Macau.

People from the following nationalities will have to pay a higher fee for a China visa: U.S.A.; Brazil; United Kingdom; Belarus; Panama; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Kazakhstan; Armenia; Iran; Ecuador; Angola; Ethiopia; Congo; Gabon; Cameroon; Cote D’Ivoire; Macedonia; Bolivia; Venezuela; and Chile.