Remembering Ren Hang

Hated by many but loved by many more, Ren Hang, the famous and controversial Chinese photographer, tragically died last week. Some commentators speculated that he committed suicide, following years of his self-documented depression. [@renhangrenhang] “Every year, the wish I make is the same: to die earlier.” Depression is a mental illness which can manifest in a variety…

Tech upstarts power hope for Kosovo

Pristina, Kosovo It’s hard to be both young and optimistic in Kosovo. But instead of making a life elsewhere, Rron Cena returned after college and launched a business that he hopes will create jobs and help provide a future at home for people like himself. Two-thirds of this small Balkan country’s 1.8 million people are…

China’s Female-only Mosques

China has a long, nuanced history of Islam, and one of the most surprising outcomes of centuries of cultural exchange and experimentation has been the creation of female-only mosques, led by female imams. With a dense cluster located in Kaifeng, Henan Province, and over a dozen more scattered throughout the country, these matriarchal mosque stand…

Cyberpunk Revival

Cyberpunk– a science fiction genre that tends to be defined by high-tech-low-life urban dystopia—is usually set in the not-too-distant future: think The Matrix, Existenz or the forthcoming Bladerunner 2049.  But the mainland release of Ghost in the Shell on April 7—a film based on a 1989 anime series originally inspired in the landscapes of Hong Kong—has placed the focus…

Megapolis in Sight

Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a megalopolis 137 times bigger in size than London. This is what it would be like to visit China’s planned mega-city of Jing-Jin-Ji. Jing-Jin-Ji, which stands for Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei (referred to as the Ji prefecture in ages past), is a massive economic and urban development project proposed by the Chinese…

Hobby or Career?

When the ambulance arrived, as he recovered consciousness from trembling on the floor and coughing blood, he told the paramedics: “Quick help me back up, we’re about to win!” This man, from Lu’an, Anhui province, made the news last week from collapsing after playing online games for more than nine hours straight. Previously, an unconscious 19-year-old…

Dying for Dope

A glimpse into recent cases of foreigners sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling