Helena’s JOMEC blog

{February 13, 2007}   On its own way

China has come a long way from the feudal regime it was only 100 years ago, and it will reach democracy on its own terms.” Christina Feng, a reader of Time magazine wrote to the editor after she read the article concerned with modern China which was published in a previous edition. Her words are in the latest Time magazine. 

To some extent, she is right. Democracy is not a concept inherent in Chinese culture or political philosophy. In fact, it is in complete opposition to Confucian ideology, which stresses harmony and obedience. Although in recent years this word has gradually taken hold in the minds of Chinese youth, I do not believe the western democracy system could be totally implemented in Chinese society, at least for now.

Perhaps most Chinese college students around my age have seen a documentary about the Tiananmen Event which is a taboo subject in China. In 1989, democracy was the slogan for the student parade. The students were fighting for a morally desirable system of governance involving free elections, clean politics and etc. Finally, the movement was put down as a rebellion by the army and a large number of intellectuals were exiled overseas.

A governor of Beijing Council of Culture once said to me that China will not become a real democracy unless there were several political parties and free elections. Even though he is a Chinese communist, he does not agree with the current policy of the CPC (The Communist Party of China). At the same time, he admitted that stability and peace are paramount importance for China and the western style democratization could not be dangerous for Chinese society. Actually, most Chinese citizens feel this kind of ambivalence.


{December 18, 2006}   interview

H: Were you born in Cardiff?

J: Yes

H: Are you the second generation in Cardiff? I mean when did your parents come to Cardiff

J: Oh, I’m the 1st generation. My parents came to
Cardiff 30 years ago.

H: In that way, you should be the second generation in your family who live in
Cardiff. Because you have to include your parents.

J: Oh, I am the third generation as you count. My grandparents live here too.

H: Where is your original family home? Have you been there before?

J: Vietnam and Hu Bei (湖北) China, to be specific, 天公橋, 武漢, 湖北

H: Can you speak Chinese or Cantonese? If you can, how did you learn the language? (family or language class) Do you use Chinese or Cantonese very often?

J: I speak Cantonese fluently, mandarin to an intermediate standard and Hu Bei dialect and Vietnamese basic. I learnt all these languages from my family. This is because my grandparents are from Hu Bei so spoke the Hu Bei dialect, my parents were born in Vietnam so spoke Vietnamese, however they were schooled in Mandarin and Cantonese. I also learnt Cantonese when I went to Sunday Chinese School and from TVB, a television channel you know?

H: Yes, I know. TVB8 is my favorite. Do you know any Chinese Language Class in Cardiff?

J:Yes. Fitzalan High School Chinese Sunday Class and the Sunday Chinese School run by the Cardiff Chinese Christian Church (卡迪夫華人基督會)

H: When you talk with your BBC friends, which language do you speak?J: Both English and Cantonese. Mostly my BBC friends are from Hong Kong backgrounds and speak Hakka.

H: When you began to school, do you think you are different from native classmates? Are there any advantages or disadvantages?

J: I don’t think I was different to my British classmates, I was treated the same. Two of my closest friends are British. The advantage was that I could speak different languages so it helped me to understand things better and easier. The only real disadvantage was that I’d sometimes come across racism.

H: Do you have any interesting story about your life (because you are BBC) or your friends story, that will be fine

J: I don’t have many interesting stories. Other than working in a takeaway, despite me never wanting to work in a takeaway.

H:  What about China or your father’s home town in your mind? (a remote and irrespective country?)

J: My family history is interesting. My grandfather left Hu Bei because he did not want to join the Red Army. A distant relation of his used to be a Manchu Official (there’s a picture in my aunt’s house). My grandfather left go to Vietnam where he sold flowers to make a living. Soon after my great grandfather sent a letter to him to say that he had to go back to Hu Bei to get married. He married my grandmother and went back to Vietnam and he opened up a dentist surgery. My mother and father had an arranged marriage and left Vietnam shortly after the Vietnam War. My brother was born in Vietnam but I was not.

H: Do you know how many BBC around your age in Cardiff? Do they have the same ideas as you?

J: I know a lot of BBC around my age in Cardiff and the surrounding areas…. Probably upwards of 30. I don’t know if they have the same ideas as me because I’ve never really asked them, but we get on well, so we must be from the same kind of background.

{December 18, 2006}   500 words (2)

Chinese Face, British Mind

How does the second generation of Chinese immigrants live in


Ally is a 19 year-old girl who was born in
Cardiff. Her parents immigrated from Guangdong province in China 27 years ago and have never been back to their hometown.

 Every Friday afternoon, Ally goes to a Chinese language class for learning Cantonese. This is because a year ago, she fell in love with a boy who comes from
Hong Kong and she hopes to be able to communicate with her boyfriend in his mother language. When she first went into the class, some of her classmates were quite astonished. “They thought I was the teacher because they didn’t believe I can’t speak Chinese. But in fact, I only have a Chinese face.”

Ally calls herself “BBC”, abbreviation of “British Born Chinese”. It means those overseas Chinese who were born in the United Kingdom. The majority in this group are from former British territories, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, and also other countries such as Vietnam, whereas people from mainland China and Taiwan and their descendents make up a relatively small proportion of the British Chinese.

In Cardiff, there are nearly 50 “BBC” around Ally’s age. They are the second or third generation of their families in the UK; They have British citizenship but celebrate Chinese traditional festivals together; They communicate with each other in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, even in some dialects and have their own forum on the Internet. 

“We get on well, so we must be from the same kind of background.” Jenny, an active girl in “the BBC forum” said.

Jenny has a special family history. “My grandpa left Hubei (a middle province in China) because he did not want to join the Red Army,” she explained. “He went to Vietnam and then opened up a dental surgery. My mother and father had an arranged marriage and left Vietnam for the UK shortly after the Vietnam War.”

So Jenny can speak fluent Cantonese and Mandarin, basic Hubei dialect and Vietnamese. She learnt all these languages from her family and from TVB, a Channel operated by Television Broadcasts Limited in Hong Kong.

Lee, Jenny’s “BBC” friend, can also speak Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Generally, most “BBC” people can speak one or two languages apart from English. They learn Chinese from families or language school in Cardiff, formally or informally. The Chinese Sunday Class of Fitzalan High School and the Sunday
Chinese School run by the Cardiff Chinese Christian Church are the most widely known. Jenny and Lee have both been to some classes to improve their Chinese.

“Understanding different languages helped me to learn better and easier,” Lee stated, “I can read more and understand more than my peers.”

For their lives in Cardiff, most “BBC” pointed out there is no difference to other natives. They are all pretty much westernized so they have always been called as “banana people” who have Chinese face but British mind. And they are also eager to enter into society as a host even though sometimes they come across racism.

“I don’t think I was different to my British classmates. I was treated the same and you know, two of my closest friends are British.” Jenny said.        


{November 16, 2006}   500 words (1)

The last challenge for Hyper Value

A huge “store closing” sign has been hanging outside a Hyper Value store located near Cardiff city centre for more than a month. And recently, a new “50% price for Christmas” advert has been prominently displayed nest to it. The cut-price shopping chain announced last month that 9 of its 15 stores in Wales are to close.

When I walked around the city centre branch which is on the “to be closed list”, I realized why discount stores have been so popular and at the same time, why they had lost their buoyant market status in recent years.

In contrast with the deserted scene of recent months, the store is now busy and full of Christmas atmosphere. The clearance advertisements attract many more customers than at any other time and people fill their shopping basket as if all the merchandise is free.

In fact, I was a little shocked by the low prices, such as children’s thermal gloves at £1 for three pairs, Christmas cards less than 2p each and Christmas decorations selling for just 30p.

Crossing over the road to Sainsbury, I could only find a few fine Christmas cards and bells on a small shelf. Of course, they all cost more than £1.5 each. When I asked whether there were some Christmas pompoms or colored lights, the answer from staff was “Not yet… Maybe in a week…” Obviously, the store has not yet plunged into the commercial Christmas period.

“When I first passed by this store, I believed that it was an old storehouse rather than an open shop,” said a new Korean student at Cardiff University. “Now I think there are some good things with really amazing prices and it is a clever choice to shop for Christmas there.” But she added: “Despite low prices, I would not shop there very often because in my mind, the bargains always lack good quality.”

As she mentioned, the merchandise in store stacked in a disorderly fashion. Some bath towels and children’s gloves are even thrown on the floor. Moreover, various knick-knacks and bits and pieces on the shelf seem to be fragile and only fit to be used once.  

Generally, most of the Christmas party goods will no doubt end up in the bin when December 26 comes. So the majority of people would not care too much about the quality and durability of their Christmas stuff.

However, Christmas only comes once a year. Other times, as Mr Morgan, a director at Cardiff Business School asserted, “people would camouflage themselves to walk into Hyper Value and wouldn’t want to be seen there.” He pointed out, “Young people, especially teenagers would never be seen walking round with a Hyper Value carrier bag.”

The city centre store will close on the Saturday before Christmas. Consequently, with much lower prices than other competitors and much earlier engagement in the Christmas commercial competition, it is the last challenge for the South Wales-based retailer to struggle for profit.

{November 7, 2006}   Rearranging letters

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{November 7, 2006}   Story Pitch

1) What is the story?

Hyper Value in the Christmas commercial struggle

2) Why tell it now?

Although the discount retailer Hyper Value has claimed to close one branch in
Cardiff because of a fall in trade, the store has not made a clearance sale, but has replenished mass stock for Christmas. With much lower prices than competitors and much earlier engagement in the Christmas commercial struggle, Hyper Value has shown its strategic ambition in its last battle.

3) How am I going to do it?

I would like to interview some staff members in the branch which is located in
Cardiff city centre and talk with some customers in the store. Meanwhile, I am going to gather some information or latest news about Hyper Value officially and unofficially.

{October 29, 2006}   Dr. FOK Ying Tung passed away

Remember his famous words? 

(There is a folk history)

“You have to win this battle! If anyone gets hurt and be disabled after this match, I will support him for his rest life.”  FOK Ying Tung, a patriotic businessman encouraged the players of China’s football team before a vital World Cup primary match.

I think the CPC would hardly find a red business leader as him in the future.

Dr. The Hon. Henry FOK Yin-tung

Native District:

Panyu Country, Guangdong Province

Principal Occupation:

Chairman, Fok Ying Tung Group

Other Occupation:

Chairman, Fok Ying Tung Foundation
Chairman, Fok Ying Tung Education Foundation
Chairman, Fok Ying Tung Sports Foundation

Award :

Olympic Order, International Olympic Committee
FIFA Order of Merit

Public Services:

  Vice-chairman,The 10th Political Consultative Committee of the People’s republic of China
  Vice-chairman of the 32nd, 33rd & 36th term of office and Chairman of the 34th, 35th, 37th, & 38th term of office of the Chamber
  Vice-chairman of the 8th and 9th Political Consultative Committee of the People’s Republic of China
  Standing Committee Member of the 5th and 6th Political Consultative Committee of the People’s Republic of China
  Member of the 5th and 6th Political Consultative Committee of the People’s Republic of China
  Standing Committee Member of the 7th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China
  Member of the 1st Selection Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  Vice Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  Vice Chairman, the preliminary Working Committee of the Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  Member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  Member, Hong Kong Affairs Advisor
  President of the Hong Kong Real Estate Developers Association
  Executive Committee Member, Federation of International Football
  President, World Xiangqi Federation

Fok Ying Tung

     A professor in CUC (Communication University of China) e-mail me yesterday. She asked me download a listening list of BBC 4 for her teaching because she can not connect to the BBC website in China at the present.

    In China, people would hardly see the news reporting from BBC. Most of time, the BBC website is not available. Why? There is no technical reason but only because of the content of BBC news coverage. For example, this week, BBC reported a student “riot” in southern Jiangxi Province of China. Chinese people in other parts of country would never know this event because this kind of news could not be shown in front of  public. The news censorship of China is so strict and detailed and if a coverage  contained some information  which might destory the security or stability of the country, wherever it came from, it would be limited.

{October 28, 2006}   From my teacher’s blog

I found some interesting pictures and words in my teachers blog. Share them with you:)



People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically,emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometim! es they act up and force you to take a stand. What we mustrealize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn
has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually giveyou an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only fora season.!
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build
upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant. Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

{October 27, 2006}   Hyper Value closing nine stores
Monday, 23 October 2006 BBC News


Hyper Value store in Canton, Cardiff

Closure notices are in the windows of several stores

Discount retailer Hyper Value is to close nine of its 15 stores in Wales because of a fall in trade.The south Wales-based chain was set up in 1980 and employs 400. It is not known how many jobs will be affected.

It was founded by the late Ken Rogers whose “stack it high and sell it cheap” philosophy saw its empire stretch into south west England.

The company said Barry Island funfair, which it also owns, will not be affected by the changes.

Closure notices have appeared in the windows of several Hyper Value stores in south Wales and it has been holding a “warehouse clearance” sale this month. In a company statement, chairman Ian Rogers said: “The business has traded below expectations in the last few years so we have, regretfully, decided to close a number of loss-making stores whilst we seek alternative strategies for the remaining business.

“With the support of financial guarantees from Hilco, Hyper Value recently offered a settlement payment to its creditors equivalent to 45p in the pound.

“The directors have today confirmed that they have received acceptances from over 95% of creditors and hope to make the first of two payments to creditors in the next seven days.”

The company statement also announced the sale of its stores in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Southampton, and Weston.

et cetera