Tag Archives: China

Julie’s Salon makes the cut

Moving to any city presents a to-do list that involves finding the services on which our lives depend. Convenience, cost, quality of service are the usual criteria employed in making our choice. Moving to Beijing adds an additional criterion – do the people providing the service speak English?

I needed to find a hairdresser and am of an age where I need to have my “rust spots” touched up on a regular basis in order to look presentable and a little younger than my years.

An initial search before moving to China centered on Wella and its website threw up the Eric Paris salon.

Eric Paris, I ask you! Next we will be having a Jack London, George Washington and Irving Berlin.

With a name like Eric Paris, I figured that the salon would likely charge top dollar but if the people spoke English, carried familiar hair products and did a good job, it would be a price worth paying.

Once in Beijing and the need to find a hairdresser becoming more pressing, I did a little more research and found an article on eChinacities.com about foreign-friendly hairdressers. Once again the name of Eric Paris cropped up but so did a number of alternatives.

In terms of convenience, Sanlitun is my preferred location and the article not only mentioned Eric Paris but also Julie’s Salon, which received a good review. A quick check on Google Maps revealed that they are roughly equidistant from the Tuanjiehu Line 10 subway station.

On Saturday, I set off to check them out and book an appointment. I headed for Julie’s Salon first, I was having problems with my iPhone and needed to call in at the Apple Store at Sanlitun Village, which is on the way to Julie’s Salon.

The salon is located at the Workers Stadium, between Gates 9 and 10. I walked in and was greeted by Julie, an attractive and charming woman, with an excellent command of English. We looked at color charts – I had the mix from my previous hairdresser but one of the colors does not feature in China – and discussed prices.

The first time was going to cost more than subsequent visits. Julie explained the technicalities and they made sense to me. First time, with a haircut, would come to 588 yuan ($95.50), a little more expensive than what I used to pay in Jacksonville.

I did check out a Chinese hairdresser’s five-minutes walk from my apartment and was quoted 400 yuan ($65) for color and a haircut. But no one spoke English, they called a customer to translate, and it quickly became apparent that it could be an experience fraught with difficulties.

The extra $35 at Julie’s was worth it for the peace of mind of being able to communicate. Besides, on my next visit the price will fall by 100 yuan and the cost will be $79.

Julie could fit me in there and then, so I went ahead.

She delivered an excellent haircut. It really does look good and I am well pleased. The color is a little darker than what it was before for the reason I explained above but it matches my eyebrows so looks natural.

We enjoyed a pleasant conversation — maybe not up to the standards of Courtney at Salon On The Square, San Marco, Jacksonville, but Courtney is one in a million. After the cut, I sat back and relaxed in the tastefully decorated salon, with a can of Coke. Drinks are not included; the Coke cost 5 yuan.

Anyone who has recently moved to Beijing and is worried about finding a good hairdresser, your worries will end with a visit to Julie’s Salon at the Workers Stadium, Sanlitun.

 

Julie’s Salon

Tel: 136 0137 1790

Monday 1:00 – 8:00 pm.

Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 am – 8:00 pm.

Julie's Salon

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Sex theme park fails to arouse Chinese officials

By Calvin Palmer

China’s Communist Party leaders were just not in the mood for the country’s first sex theme park. Before it even had chance to open to the public, the bulldozers moved in.

Love Land was due to open in October in the southwestern city of Chongqing but the government deemed it an “evil influence”.

Today the rotating sign straddled by a giant pair of women’s legs fell victim the wrecker’s ball.

The park had been due to feature displays of giant genitalia and a photographic exhibition on the history of sex. It had promised workshops to help visitors improve their sexual technique and advise on safe sex.

But pictures of the theme park in the media did not amuse officials and the park’s fate was sealed after a tour of inspection.

One city propaganda official said: “The investigation determined the park’s content was vulgar and that it was neither healthy nor educational. It had an evil influence on society and had to be torn down immediately.”

He Shizhong, head of the municipal publicity department, said the company behind the park had “ignored its social responsibility and was interested only in profiting from sensationalism”.

“It’s a pity the park had to close, but we accept the decision,” said Yang Xiaoyong, a project manager with Mexin Group, the developer of Yangrenjie.

The park was part of an entertainment development costing the equivalent of $153 million ((£100 million).

[Based on reports by The Times and The Guardian.]

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Pentagon official charged in plot to pass secrets to China

By Calvin Palmer

A Defense Department official has been charged with conspiracy to communicate classified information to an agent of the Chinese government.

A criminal complaint unsealed today in the Eastern District of Virginia accuses James Wilbur Fondren, Jr of passing classified information to a foreign agent.

This morning, he turned himself in to federal agents. Fondren is expected to have his initial appearance later today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

He has been on administrative leave since February 2008.

If convicted, Fondren faces a maximum five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

“The allegations in this case are troubling – providing classified information to a foreign agent of the People’s Republic of China is a real and serious threat to our national security,” said Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“The U.S. government places considerable trust in those given access to classified information, and we are committed to prosecuting those who abuse that trust.”

Fondren retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force in May 1996. He later began providing consulting services from his Virginia home. His sole client was a friend by the name of Tai Shen Kuo, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan who lived primarily in Louisiana.

In August 2001, Fondren became a civilian employee at the Pentagon and held a Top Secret security clearance, working as the deputy director of the Washington liaison office for U.S. Pacific Command.

Between 2004 and 2008, Fondren gave Kuo classified information through “opinion papers” he sold to Kuo for between $350 and $800 apiece, officials charge. Eight of the papers allegedly contained classified information, according to investigators.

FBI investigators say that Fondren did not know that Kuo was taking orders from the Chinese government. Officials say Fondren believed the information was being sent to Taiwan.

In February 2008, Kuo and former Defense Department employee, Gregg William Bergersen, were arrested on espionage charges.

They both pleaded guilty. Kuo was sentenced to 188 months in prison. Bergersen was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

Yu Xin Kang, an accomplice of Kuo from New Orleans who was arrested at the same time, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Kuo and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

[Based on a report by PR Newswire.]

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Chinese officials told to smoke their way out of recession

By Calvin Palmer

Local government officials in a Chinese province have been ordered to smoke nearly a quarter of a million packs of locally made cigarettes or risk being fined.

The Gong’an county government in Hubei province has ordered its staff to smoke 230,000 packs of Hubei-produced cigarette brands a year to boost tax revenues and protect the province’s cigarette manufactures from outside competition.

“The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax,” said Chen Nianzu, a member of the Gong’an cigarette market supervision team.

Authorities in Gong’an county are taking the cigarette quota seriously and have established a “special taskforce” to enforce it.

According to a local newspaper account, a teacher from a village middle school said officials burst unannounced into the school one afternoon and started sifting through the ashtray and bins in the staff-room.

Three “non-compliant” cigarette butts were discovered by the “cigarette marketing consolidate team”. The teacher was informed he had violated the civil servants “cigarette usage rule”.

After some negotiation the school was spared a fine, but subjected to “public criticism” for “undisciplined practices”.

China has 350 million smokers, of whom a million die of smoking-related diseases every year. Despite anti-smoking campaigns, cigarette taxes form a major component of China’s annual tax-take at local level.

More than half of all male doctors in China smoke, but the government is now trying harder to get them to kick the habit in order to set an example for others.

It would appear the Chinese have a better grasp of free-market economic theory than capitalism’s champion, the United States.

While state governments are proposing to increase the tax on cigarettes to make up for budget shortfalls, thereby running the risk of actually reducing tax revenue, the Chinese have been quick to grasp the concept that more cigarettes sold means increased revenue.

With that kind of thinking, it is easy to understand how China has emerged as a world economic force, although I am not sure I agree with the compulsion aspect. However, it can be argued that the punitive cigarette tax imposed by states in America is “compulsion” under a different guise.

[Based on reports by The Daily Telegraph and AFP.]

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U.S. lodges protest after Chinese ships harass surveillance vessel

By Calvin Palmer

The United States today lodged a formal protest with the government in Beijing after five ships harassed an unarmed American surveillance vessel in international waters.

The incident took place on Sunday about 75 miles off the coast of Hainan Island, just south of the Chinese mainland.

The Chinese ships closed in on USNS Impeccable and ordered it to leave as it carried out a surveillance mission that involved towing sonar equipment designed for anti-submarine warfare, Pentagon officials said.

Two of the Chinese ships blocked the Impeccable after it requested safe transit, while Chinese sailors dropped pieces of wood in its path and attempted to hook the cables towing the sonar equipment.

The crew of Impeccable sprayed some of the Chinese sailors with a fire hose. The  Chinese sailors responded by stripping to their underwear.

Pentagon officials stressed that the incident was a worrisome violation of standard rules of conduct at sea. The American Embassy in Beijing has lodged an official protest, and the Pentagon repeated the complaint to the Chinese defense attaché in Washington, officials said.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, denounced the Chinese actions as “reckless, dangerous and unprofessional”.

The incident, less than two months after the inauguration of President Obama, immediately drew comparisons to Chinese actions just weeks into the first term of President George W. Bush.

In April 2001, a Chinese jet-fighter buzzed a Navy surveillance airplane in international airspace over the South China Sea, causing a midair collision  that killed the Chinese pilot and resulted in the detention of the 24-member American crew for 11 days after their plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island.

That episode presented the new Bush administration with its first foreign policy challenge.

Obama will have an opportunity to discuss Sunday’s incident with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, when the two meet next month in London at the G20 economic summit.
 
[Based on a report by The New York Times.]

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Cell phone ‘explodes’ and kills man

By Calvin Palmer

A Chinese shop assistant has died after his cell phone exploded, severing a major artery in his neck, according to a newspaper report.

The 20-year-old, who worked at a computer shop in Guangzhou, China, died after he put a new battery in his phone.  It is believed he may have just finished charging the battery and had put the phone in his breast pocket.

According to the daily newspaper, Shin Min Daily News, the accident happened at 7:30 p.m. on January 30.

An employee at the shop told the newspaper that she heard a loud bang and saw her colleague lying on the floor in a pool of blood.  She said the victim had recently changed the battery in his cell phone.

Authorities have yet to determine the make and model of the phone and its battery. Police are investigating whether the phone and battery were counterfeit.

This incident is the ninth recorded cell phone explosion in China since 2002. 

In June 2007, a 22-year-old welder, Xiao Jinpeng, died from chest wounds when his cell phone exploded while he was at work at an iron mill in Gansu province.

An inquiry discovered that the cell phone battery had exploded due to the heat of the iron mill.

Lithium batteries are widely used in cell phones – but if they are overcharged or exposed to heat, the inflammable liquid inside can explode.

Motorola and Nokia, two of the world’s biggest cell phone makers, denied links to the distributors of problem batteries in China, suggesting they were counterfeit.

[Based on a report by The Times.]

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Student killed at Virginia Tech café ‘decapitated,’ say campus police

By Calvin Palmer

Police today revealed that the female graduate student killed in a campus café at Virginia Tech last night was decapitated.  She had only arrived at the Blacksburg campus two weeks ago.

Xin Yang, 22, arrived from Beijing on January 8 to begin studying accounting the Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said.

Her accused attacker, 25-year-old Haiyang Zhu of Ningbo, China, knew the victim but no motive for the slaying has been determined, Flinchum said.  School records showed that Haiyang was listed as one of Xin’s emergency contacts.

Haiyang was charged with first-degree murder and was being held without bond at the Montgomery County Jail.

He is a Ph.D. graduate student majoring in agricultural and applied economics. He began his studies at Virginia Tech at the start of the 2008 fall semester.

Flinchum said the two were sitting at a table at the Au Bon Pain cafe in the Graduate Life Center when the disturbance began. There were seven witnesses to the events that followed and two called 911 at 7:06 p.m.

When campus police arrived less than two minutes later, they discovered Yang’s dead body, Zhu and a large kitchen knife that they believe is the murder weapon.  Zhu did not resist arrest.

There is no record of him being called to the attention of Virginia Tech police, Blacksburg police, the university’s threat assessment or CARE team before yesterday.

University spokesman Larry Hincker said a campus alert system put in place after the mass shootings by Seung-Hui Cho in 2007 sent out messages to 30,000 subscribers by e-mail, text messages and telephone voice mails last night.

Because a suspect was in custody, the messages were sent out as notifications rather than as emergency alerts, he said.

Some students had said that they didn’t receive the alerts until after they had become aware of the incident through the grapevine.

Classes were not cancelled today and the Graduate Life Center is open, although the Au Bon Pain café is sealed off.

[Based on reports by Associated Press and The Roanoke Times.]

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