The Guangzhou Opera House by Zaha Hadid Architects has opened in Guangdong province. Shaped to resemble two pebbles on the bank of the Pearl River, the building houses a 1,800-seat theatre plus 400-seat multifunctional hall, rehearsal rooms and entrance hall.

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The main auditorium is lined with moulded panels made from glass-fibre reinforced gypsum to create a folded, flowing surface.

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The design evolved from the concepts of a natural landscape and the fascinating interplay between architecture and nature; engaging with the principles of erosion, geology and topography. Like pebbles in a stream smoothed by erosion, the Guangzhou Opera House sits in perfect harmony with its riverside location.

The Guangzhou Opera House has been the catalyst for the development of cultural facilities in the city including new museums, library and archive.

The 1,800-seat auditorium of the Opera House houses the very latest acoustic technology, and the smaller 400-seat multifunction hall is designed for performance art, opera and concerts in the round.

Click here for more stunning images!

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In what has become a very exciting find for archaeologists in China and around the World, a set of coffins from the Ming Dynasty were discovered in the city of Taizhou. The most puzzling part about the excavation is that a female corpse was found to be in perfect condition – the corpse had hardly rotted.

On February 24, in Taizhou city, three coffins were found near Chunlan road. The next day, staff from Taizhou museum rushed to the site and found that construction workers dug a total of three coffins, two close together, separated by only 10 centimeters, and a third coffin was separated from the two by 34 meters.

Museum staff found that the first coffin has been destroyed in the digging, the other two coffins were kept relatively intact. Judging from the method of burial, the museum staff identified the three coffins to be from the Ming Dynasty. The three coffins were transported to the museum to be prepared for further analysis.

On March 1, the museum opened the remaining two intact coffins. Of the two coffins, one was found with the female corpse. Somehow, the corpse did not rot after so many years. The museum staff were surprised. The corpse was so well preserved that the eyebrows were clearly visible and the skin was still elastic.

The rest of the post may contain rather graphic images. Click on the link to continue.

Just when I was getting excited about China’s first capsule hotel, the fire authorities in Shanghai have refused to issue an operating license.

The refusal was mainly due to fire and personal safety concerns. Apparently, the capsules were found to be made of highly flammable materials. In addition, inspectors said that the average space for each guest, which is measured at 2.4 square meters, did not meet the city’s basic requirement for renting houses and may pose difficulties for emergency evacuation.

The “Xitai Capsule Hotel” was set to be China’s first capsule hotel. The hotel features 68 cabinet-sized rooms imported from Japan – where capsule hotels originated – each equipped with a power point, clock, light, television and wireless Internet. The hotel is only opened to men with shared lavatory and shower facilities. It also has a designated area for snoring guests.

The hotel planned on charging 68 yuan ($10) for 10 hours or 88 yuan for 24 hours which is very cheap – even compared to budget hotels in China.

Ta Zan, the owner of the hotel who used to work for capsule hotels in Japan, said that without a license, he had never booked a guest since construction was completed last October. Ta regretted the denial of a license, but said that he would not give up the idea of opening capsule hotels in China.

via China.org.cn.

Hot on the heels of cadmium contaminated rice comes the latest health warning. It seems that cucumbers grown in the Shandong Province may contain artificial growth hormones. Farmers produce the liquid hormone using compounds from birth control pills. Although the effects of eating such cucumbers have not been confirmed, it is safe to say that everyone should stay away from them.

These cucumbers with hormones are actually very easy to identify as the flower on top of the cucumber remains healthy, due to the effects of the growth hormones. The hormone injected cucumbers also taste horrible.

Cucumbers with yellow flowers were very popular in wet markets in Jiaonan City, Shandong. The vegetables were considered tender and fresh. “People in the industry all know these cucumbers contain hormones,” a dealer selling cucumbers at a wet market told Qingdao Morning Post. The growth hormone is also available at the market. The seller boasted that the growth hormone makes the cucumber mature 50 percent faster and keeps the flower from drying up.

via Shanghai Daily.

A quick health warning: be cautious of consuming rice in China.

A study has recently found that some 10 percent of rice sold in China is contaminated with cadmium – chemical that leads to softening of the bones and kidney failure.

This heavy metal was mostly detected in rice produced in southern parts of China including Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong provinces. This highlights a prominent but ongoing problem of Chinese soil being polluted with heavy metals discharged from massive mining operations and other industrial activities over the years.

Other chemical substances including lead have also been detected in rice, according to a study by Nanjing Agricultural University.

Dozens of residents in Sidi village, Yangshuo county, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where cadmium pollution is heavy, are suspected of having the symptoms of itai-itai disease, which is characterized by pain in the joints and the spine.

Statistics from the Guilin Institute of Technology showed that the level of cadmium was 1.005 milligrams in every kilogram of locally grown rice in 1986, five times the standard amount.

Thankfully I eat rice from Thailand…

via GlobalTimes.

Although long expected by many experts, Japan has finally issued data on Monday confirming that China has surpassed it as the World’s second largest economy.

The reactions to such news has been highly mixed.

In Japan, the moment is seen as another marker of an extended weakening. Before the bubble burst, many Japanese were once proud of their country’s growth in the 80s. Now, they are further saddened as their country continues its economic struggles. Others, welcomed China’s rise; seeing it as an opportunity for trade and growth.

In China, the ruling Communist Party was ever more cautious of such news. China’s growing economic supremacy might seem positive, but it is also becoming an increasing burden as the country is expected to shoulder more global issues (like reducing carbon emissions). The headline on a recent article on the website of the People’s Daily reads: “China Surpassing Japan to Become World’s Second Biggest Economy—But Not the Second Strongest”. This in fact is very true as the GDP per capita in China is still ten times lower compared to Japan. The World Bank estimates that more than 100 million Chinese citizens—nearly the size of Japan’s entire population—live on less than $2 a day. Many in China, are still waiting for the same level of success, their country has achieved economically, to be reflected in their daily lives.

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Great news! The Chinese government has issued a ban on animal circuses and certain types of animal abuse at zoos that is in effect immediately.

The ban entails several different stipulations that zoos will need to comply with, and pertains to the 300 state-owned zoos that are part of the China Zoo Association. Firstly, the zoos will be forced to stop pulling the teeth of tiger cubs so that zoo visitors can hold them. Zoos will also have to put a halt to the selling of animal parts in their shops, and the zoo restaurants will have to refrain form serving dishes made using rare animals. On top of this, zoos will need to end the attractions in which live animals are sold to visitors and then thrown to the wild cats, allowing the visitors to watch the cats rip the defenseless animals to shreds. Finally, the zoos will also need to provide the animals with adequate housing, away from disturbance and irritation.

For those of who want a better idea of the animal abuse in China can check out the following video:

This is a big step for China. If the ban is properly enforced; this will make China a better place for animals compared to even many Western countries.

I am quite surprised to hear about this ban. It will definitely affect many zoos and is not an issue most Chinese would care about. Apparently, China’s State Forestry Bureau discovered that more than 50 zoos contained animals that had suffered severely from abuse after a three-month investigation. Well I guess the Chinese government does care about ethical issues and will use its power to make things right.

The great thing about China is when something needs to be done, it gets done. The greatest concern now is that the ban will inevitably push many zoos towards bankruptcy, leaving many animals with possibly nowhere to go.

I guess all this means I won’t be able to taste white tiger meat anymore…

via reddit via Huffington Post

In Taiwan, you better have a good excuse for not paying debt, especially, that owed to drug dealers or you might end up losing something “very” precious.

This 28 year old man found out the hard way. He only owed 4,700 Taiwan Dollars (or 160 USD).

In 2009, China became the largest auto market on the planet, surpassing the United States. 2010 proved to be more of the same, as China cemented itself as the king of car sales. But while automakers are living the high life in China, the capital city of Beijing is trying to slam the brakes on new vehicle sales.

The problem, is that traffic has become so bad in the densely populated city that the government has banned car sales until an auto sale lottery takes place. That means those in Beijing who would like a new car or truck are going to participate in a “lucky” draw and hope for the best.

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At 26.4 miles long, the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge would easily cross the English Channel and is almost three miles longer than the previous record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the American state of Louisiana.
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