Elaine Yau

Elaine Yau

Elaine Yau is a contributor to Inkstone. She covers culture for the South China Morning Post.

This woman uses wacky dresses to help change the world
Most people choose what they wear to flatter their bodies.  For Chinese artist Kong Ning, fashion is a soapbox she can employ to call people’s attention to some of the most pressing issues affecting the world. And when she uses that soapbox, Kong goes all out. In 2015, she wore an outfit dotted with hundreds of anti-pollution breathing masks and sauntered around smog-choked Beijing.  In 2013, she stitched 999 respirators onto a wedding dress. She titled it “Marry the Blue Sky” and wore it at the Beijing Exhibition Center. In 2016, she wore a wedding dress – made of 100 inflatable white doves – at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. She attached plastic models of Notre
This woman uses wacky dresses to help change the world
Cancer patients suffer brunt of new experimental drug law in China
After Wu Xianfa was diagnosed with lung cancer last year, he had surgery to remove part of his lower left lung. When his doctor recommended chemotherapy to wipe out any remaining cancer cells, Wu refused. Colleagues who had also had lung cancer had died after getting chemotherapy straight after surgery. Following a friend’s recommendation, the 50-year-old from Shanghai started taking an experimental drug. He signed an agreement with Shanghai Spark Pharmaceutical in April last year to join its trial – and says it has been a boon to his health. “I get no other treatments besides the drug,” Wu says. “I get regular checks at hospitals and send the reports about my cancer index and other medical
Cancer patients suffer brunt of new experimental drug law in China
China bans sales of black T-shirts to Hong Kong amid unrest
The Chinese government is cracking down on sales of black clothing to Hong Kong. Black T-shirts, jeans and face masks have been a signature look of the anti-government protesters taking to the streets of Hong Kong week after week since June. The blocking of shipments of protest outfits highlights the Chinese authorities’ efforts to undermine the increasingly violent protest movement, which demands greater accountability and electoral reform. According to a July notice issued by the Guangdong courier company PHXBUY, mainland Chinese customs ordered a halt in delivery of a list of products including black T-shirts, masks, gloves and yellow umbrellas. A subsequent notice posted in late Septembe
China bans sales of black T-shirts to Hong Kong amid unrest
See the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Lego form
A Lego artist has used thousands of bricks to re-create some of China’s most famous landmarks. From the Great Wall to the Forbidden City to the terracotta warriors, the works were created by Andy Hung, China’s first so-called Lego Certified Professional, and his team, for the “Dynasty of Brick – Lego Chinese Culture Exhibition.” “We want to showcase Chinese culture through the exhibition,” says Hung, chief designer of the touring show, which will run in Beijing until mid-October. “While some works have shown before in other exhibitions, there are 18 new designs including Beijing courtyard houses, Fujian tulou or earth roundhouses, and the Tangyue Memorial Archway in Anhui province,” he says
See the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Lego form
Reality TV show highlights indie music in China
Following the massive success of The Rap of China, the country’s top video streaming company is trying to bring rock music to the masses. Since its launch in 2017 by Chinese streaming giant iQiyi, The Rap of China has become a cultural phenomenon, propelling previously underground rap culture to the mainstream and making stars out of several of its contestants. Other subcultures linked to hip hop – such as break dancing, graffiti and street fashion have also enjoyed a boom – and in 2018, iQiyi launched Hot Blood Dance Crew, a reality-TV street dance contest show produced by the same team behind the hiphop show, which recently returned for its third season. Chen Wei, the senior vice-presiden
Reality TV show highlights indie music in China
Get to know rising Chinese leading man Li Xian
China’s top-rated TV series of the summer has made a leading man out of chiseled actor Li Xian. The 27-year-old starred as professional video gamer Han Shangyan in the 41-part smash hit romantic drama Go Go Squid! opposite established actress Yang Zi. The title of the show refers to the online handle of Yang’s character, a social media influencer. Li has been the talk of the town this summer. Since airing in July, the series has been streamed more than 9.6 billion times, making it China’s most-watched TV program last month. For proof of his newfound stardom, look no further than the party held at The Peninsula Beijing hotel by Chinese streaming giant iQiyi to get a sense of Li’s popularity.
Get to know rising Chinese leading man Li Xian
The Bond girl that China barely knows
Decades before superstars such as Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi made their first forays into Hollywood, Chinese actress Tsai Chin played a Bond girl in the 007 spy film You Only Live Twice (1967). To shoot the scenes where her Chinese double agent character traps the debonair British spy in an assassination attempt, Tsai, also known as Irene Chow, was in bed with Sean Connery for three days. Before that, Tsai had been the first Chinese star to perform in London’s West End, earning rave reviews in the star role of Suzie in The World of Suzie Wong in the late 1950s. Yet Tsai is far from being a household name in China, where audiences pay scant attention to her roles in American film and television p
The Bond girl that China barely knows
China finally gets to see Spirited Away, and loves it
Animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 film Spirited Away had a record opening weekend for a Japanese film in China, and has taken more than twice as much as another big animated film, Pixar’s Toy Story 4, which hit cinemas the same day. As of the afternoon of June 25, Spirited Away had box office takings of more than $33 million in China, compared with less than $16 million for Toy Story 4. Spirited Away took more than $18 million from Friday to Sunday, performing even better than the first Miyazaki film to enjoy a wide cinematic release in China, My Neighbor Totoro, which opened in December last year. Miyazaki’s whimsical films have enchanted audiences worldwide for decades, but they had
China finally gets to see Spirited Away, and loves it
Inside Beijing’s last traditional bathhouse
Under a glass roof, groups of old men laze around two large pools, wallow in the warm baths, or relax under a row of shower heads. Some others, lying on their stomachs on benches, get a rubdown with damp towels. Communal bathing in traditional bathhouses like Shuang Xing Tang in Beijing is a popular custom among older men in China. Patrons can spend a whole day pampering themselves for a pittance. Centuries-old traditions fast disappearing in a rapidly modernizing China are also enjoyed here. Customers engage in cricket fights and Chinese chess, and some even take along their caged songbirds. But few such joints are left. Many have given way to pricier modern massage parlors and entertainme
Inside Beijing’s last traditional bathhouse
Why some expat kids go to China’s public schools
Trey Crawford stands out at the high school affiliated with the University of Science and Technology Beijing. The 13-year-old American is one of two foreigners among the 39 students in his class. “As a foreigner, I have more privileges than local Chinese classmates to do what I want,” Trey says. “The English classes are too easy for me. The English teacher lets me read [Chinese novels] during the classes. All my friends are local Chinese. I’ve studied in local schools throughout my school years so I am totally fluent in Chinese.” Trey’s family is among hundreds of thousands of people from around the world who have decided to move to China, often for work. Since China adopted a policy of open
Why some expat kids go to China’s public schools