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Posts Tagged ‘food’

The Rise of China and Meat Prices

Back when I was in California growing up, my parents would occasionally take us out to eat at western restaurants or fast food places. I was generally able to finish my food as a kid, but my sister used to be able to eat only a spec of food before she explodes (though these days she can eat a water buffalo and then ask what’s the main dish). My parents would try to force her to finish it, but when its obvious that she couldn’t, they’d always tell her to eat the meat because it’s more expensive. 

In most restaurants here in the mainland, especially the Chinese fast food joints that I frequently eat at, the meat dishes are more expensive than the vegetable ones even if there is only a couple specks of preserved pork within a sea of noodles. For example, at my favorite Chengdu Xiaochi place, the Tomato and Eggs rice dish is 8 RMB while a Pepper and Preserved Pork dish is 10 RMB. Non-preserved meat would be around 12 RMB a dish. Of course this is more expensive since I’m in Beijing, but the price difference between meat and vegetables is pretty big throughout most of the country.

Yeah, so the article goes on to talk about how increased purchasing power has allowed more and more people to buy meat. It’s pretty good so I recommend taking a little time to check it out.

China Tries to Increase Telecom Competition

China Unicom sucks. It’s a pretty much accepted belief here in China. I once unknowingly got a non-China Mobile SIM card while I was in Guangdong and my students all stared at me in disbelief when they found out. For one thing, the roaming charges were ridiculous. Recently, I used my Beijing China Mobile SIM card in Guangdong for three days and I still had most of the 50 bucks I charged it with. When I lent my Guangdong China Unicom phone to my sister while she was in Beijing, all 100 RMB was gone after just two and a half days. Maybe I just got a bad plan, but right now I’m pretty convinced Unicom blows.

So maybe with all this reorganization, China’s telecom industry would be able to get more competition and encourage more innovative plans and adoption of new technologies. Maybe one of those companies will be able to sign a deal with Apple and get official iPhone support on the mainland. Good stuff.

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China may lease foreign fields

Wow, this is pretty interesting. So China plans to rent land from other countries, grow food on it, and then ship the food back to China to decrease grain prices. At first glance, this would seem like globalization at it’s best: I mean without low transportation costs, how else could this plan even be feasible?

However, this isn’t really ‘globalization’ in the free market, free trade sense. If it was, the US would end their farm subsidies and flood the world market with cheap grains instead of paying the mid-west to destroy their own crops so that there wouldn’t be a need for this plan in the first place (I never really did much research on this stuff so it’s probably more complicated than I make it).

China in a way is still attempting to maintain self sufficiency in grains instead of purchasing it off the world market. Except it’s kind of weird because it’s not really self sufficiency if you have to rely on grain being grown on foreign lands thousands of miles away. It kind of smells a little like colonialism, but it also looks similar to the way western corporations move to China to exploit cheap labor. Except in China’s cases, they’re exploiting… cheap land?

Now the article is really brief and I can’t seem to find much other information on the internet either. So here are all my questions: Is China going to send their own peasants to other countries to farm the land? Who will be managing these farms? Is the land that’s to be rented out originally farmland or are they cutting down forests? What about environmental issues? If China is sending their own workers there, will they have to abide by Chinese or domestic laws?

And finally, this doesn’t seem to make much economic sense. So if these farms are producing grains for the sole purpose of lowering domestic prices, that means the gap between China’s and the world’s grain prices will increase. There is a higher profit to be made to sell the grain on the world market, so there seems to be a built in incentive for the managers to cheat. It’s like they’re bringing back the old wheat-tax-quota from the 1980s, except they’re exporting this system to foreign… collectives? I mean these will be state-owned factory farms. Wouldn’t these farms hurt the Chinese household farmers as well? Didn’t China’s Green Revolution take place because they allowed the market to dictate the peasant’s behaviors?

If anyone has more information on this, please comment. Muchas gracias.

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Tasting China

In the news, there has been something about Chinese frozen dumplings being poisonous and ended up sickening a bunch of Japanese consumers. To commemorate the occasion, I have decided to make a list of my favorite Chinese foods.

Yanji Leng Mian – Yanji Cold Noodles – Northeastern noodles in vinegar soup filled with preserved vegetables and meat. Usually served in a huge metal bowl

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Yang Rou Chuan – BBQ Lamb Sticks – Standard sticks of lamb with a fatty piece in the middle all nice and spiced up.

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Kao Jiu Cai – Guangdong specialty. BBQed Chinese Chives on a stick. Bloody amazing stuff also covered in spices.

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Jian Bing – Chinese Pancake Thing – Flour-based liquid substance spread on a hot stone with an egg cracked on top. Proceed to add a crunchy east-west, hot sauce, salty sauce, wrap, roll up, put in a plastic bag, and eat while taking your final exams.

Yuhuan Haixian Mimian –  Yuhuan Seafood Rice Noodles – Hot clay put with boiling seafood broth. Throw in the rice noodles for a minute and cover it with crayfish, shrimp, clams, mussels, and chopped up fish. The noodles are the key here. They don’t turn soggy!

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Liang Pi – Chinese flat noodles mixed with peanut and hot sauce, shredded cucumbers, bean sprouts, and sponge tofu before being served in a plastic bag. Eaten cold and perfect for hot summer days.

Fujian Zheng Jiao – Fujian Steamed Dumplings – Meat dumplings folded in the ‘mouse style’, put onto a steamer, and served with peanut sauce. Hot sauce also an option. A good meal for only 3 RMB.

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Ban Hun Tun – Half Won Ton – Won ton dumplings boiled and served dry on a plate. Topped with peanut sauce and weird vinegar soy sauce mixture. Chopped leak added for aesthetic purposes.

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Ting Zi Zhou – Boatman’s Congee – Rice congee made up of fried pork skin, shredded fried egg, peanuts, and fish. Very flavorful as well as filling.

Nan Yu Diao Shao Ji – Preserved Tofu Flavored Roasted Chicken – Once again, the name says it all.

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Lu Rou Huo Shao – Donkey Meat Biscuit – Chopped donkey meat served in a northern-style fist-sized pita-like biscuit thing. Tastes especially good if eaten with a bowl of granulated corn congee.
 

Yu Dan Mian – Fish Balls Noodle Soup – Fish balls, made up of flour and fish, rolled up and boiled in a MSG-loaded broth and served with Hong Kong-style egg noodles. A good cheap meal in expensive Hong Kong.

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Bai Luo Buo Nu Za – Chinese Turnip with Assorted Cow Parts – The name says it all. Boiled Chinese turnip is mixed with cow intestines, lung, diaphragm, stomach, and all sorts of internal organs. Usually stabbed and eaten with a long stick from a styrofoam bowl while walking down a street.

And that takes care of that chapter.

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