Opinion

[Chenglish] Chunyun implies more than mass migration

  • 2014-03-17
  • 2014-03-17

Epic traffic jams in many Chinese cities and in the country's capital city, Beijing, in particular, has been in the press for years. No matter if it is because of bad weather, road construction, school year commencement or weekend rush, even a trivial matter can virtually bring the municipal traffic to a halt, leaving tens of thousands of drivers stranded on the street. Journalists are already callous to endless complaints against these year-round scenarios and ironically have started to report on empty roads instead of routinised congestion. Together with uniform shutdown of government houses and private businesses, the bizarreness of city-wide smooth traffic marks the week-long Chinese New Year celebration – the height of Chunyun, when hundreds of millions of urban dwellers migrate back to their hometown for family reunions. Dubbed as the largest scale of human migration in the world, Chunyun, literally translated as spring commute, refers to the massive exodus of Chinese people returning home from work or study elsewhere during the spring festival. It forms an annual stress test for the country's transportation system. The two biggest national "golden-week" holidays in China, namely the Lunar New Year and national day celebrations that each last for one week, are often compared to each other. Both of them give people enough time to travel to a more distant place, but it is Chunyun that evokes people's emotional bonds to their family and poses a near mandatory duty for all Chinese people to go home, regardless of how much they earn. Of course, the well-off class can afford to go anywhere on either occasion, but for the giant army of lowly-paid migrant workers who have been consciously saving every penny that they pocketed, a sightseeing trip during the national day celebration seems too luxurious. They prefer to work overtime in …

Chenglish: Watch Out for Words of the Year

  • 2014-01-15
  • 2014-01-15

Besides enjoying fireworks at Victoria Harbour on chilly New Year's Eve, there is one more interesting thing to do as we conclude the year 2013: Checking end-of-year lists. We want to know who are among the richest people in the world or in our country, although we do not earn as much as they do.

Chenglish: Downgrading English in college entrance exams is a costly move

  • 2014-01-07
  • 2014-01-07

Mainland China is probably an ideal place to learn anything but English. Okay, those who strongly oppose my hypothesis would cite the sprawling multi-billion-dollar revenue generated by the country's emerging industry of English tutoring, or mention the burgeoning role of the English department at almost every university in the country.

Chenglish: The Panacea for Medium of Instruction Row

  • 2013-11-15
  • 2013-11-15

I seldom comment on Hong Kong affairs, given my limited knowledge of the city where I have been residing for three years. Otherwise I would be "playing with an axe at the front door of carpenter Lu Ban's house", a Chinese idiom meaning showing off one's meagre skills before an expert, without realising one's limitations. Discerning readers might have well guessed my mainland background through the following hints, including the pinyin romanisation of my Chinese name and the title of my column, Chenglish.

Chenglish: Kungfu Star Fails to Master Weibo

  • 2013-10-14
  • 2013-10-14

Whenever I meet someone at university, he or she will soon fade out of my mind unless we have become friends on Facebook. Although such popularity among our seven million population is likely to continue, I have seen more and more Hong Kong people start to use Sina Weibo, a micro-blogging website that entertains more than half a billion mainland Chinese netizens, although it has been one of the targets of Beijing's vigorous censorship.

Chenglish: "Thanks for sparing my life!"

  • 2013-07-21
  • 2013-07-21

These days, a strong sense of vulnerability has infected Chinese students, no matter where they are. Back home, a medical student at the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai was poisoned to death in April due to "trivial" grudges. Overseas, two Chinese students at the University of Southern California were fatally shot last year. Lately, one of the three victims who died in the Boston marathon bombings was a postgraduate student from China.

Watch out for those new glasses

  • 2013-03-15
  • 2013-03-15

Not too long ago, phones were dumb and would not tell you jokes even if you beg them. The tablet as we know it did not exist and mobile computing was largely unpopular. Today, it is all but surprising to see the likes of iPhone and iPad under the fingertips of dozens of people on just one car of the MTR.

University graduates should not compete with the needy for public housing

  • 2013-03-02
  • 2013-03-02

To many soon-to-be graduates, property prices in Hong Kong these days are pretty scary.