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Random links- Chinese New Year

Here’re some random links in the midst of a particularly laidback Chinese New Year. In a surprising piece of news, Chinese PC giant Lenovo announced it feels ready to challenge the likes of Apple and Samsung in mobile phones and tablets. What’s surprising is that Lenovo, the world’s second largest PC maker, is also a big player in mobile devices, at least in China, where it claims to sell more smartphones than Huawei and ZTE. I’d thought that the latter two were the main Chinese brands for phones and tablets and I’ve seen their phones selling even in Taiwan. It’d be interesting to have three major Chinese mobile device brands, and even more would be great, since Japan has a ton of well-known brands, small but plucky South Korea has Samsung and LG, while Finland has Nokia. Realistically, these three companies still have a long way to go to be as dominant and respected worldwide as Samsung, Apple and even HTC; but things are looking good for now. Chinese brands dominate their local market though, with a whopping 70 percent, though Samsung is the leader. In addition, there are some local Chinese brands that do well in China even if there’re unknown outside of their country, like K-Touch, Coolpad, and Xiaomi. Meanwhile Taiwanese brand HTC, whose relatively ancient Incredible S I still faithfully use but not without frustration, is still trying hard to reverse its poor fortune with the launch of a new flagship phone, the M7 which sounds more like a highend car model than a phone.

I’ve read and heard from quite a few sources that it’s hard to get a taxi in Beijing at times. This article in China Daily not only confirms it, but gives a bunch of reasons why and tips that include hilarious or shocking ones like hide your children or hide your luggage while hailing a cab. Of course, there are more common-sense and smart tips like don’t stand on a busy street or hail taxis in the direction you want to go. In my travels in China, I took the taxi a few times in Xian, Nanjing, Luoyang, and Hangzhou. It was easy most times, but in Hangzhou, my mother’s friends helped us get one after a long time flagging down cabs without success near West Lake, while in Xian, a friend and I failed to get one outside of Tang Paradise theme park after watching over a dozen taxis speed past, all full.

The 2013 African Nations Cup just ended in South Africa on Sunday, with Nigeria coming out on top over a plucky underdog Burkina Faso team. It was great to see South Africa hosting another major football tournament after the 2010 World Cup. It seems that things went well generally with no major problems, with the exception of some low attendances at some matches. With their victory, this young Nigerian team is set to regain some of their past luster from when they used to be the top team from Africa in the mid to late-90s and hopefully they’ll take this momentum to the next World Cup. It’ll be good since they haven’t done well at the World Cup in the past decade, though I did have a frontrow seat to their tight contest with South Korea in Durban at the last World Cup. Burkina Faso wasn’t the only fairy tale at the tournament as teams like Ethiopia and Cape Verde took the spotlight at times. As well as this guy from the Democratic Republic of Congo (that massive nation in the center of Africa that is yet again experiencing major violence). Mali, which has been in the midst of a war involving Islamist fighters, ethnic Tuareg separatists, a weak and corrupt military, and French saviors, did extremely well to reach the semis before succumbing to Nigeria 4-1. Mali finished third, beating a disappointing Ghana in the third-place match, coincidentally for the second time in a row. Mali’s star player is Seydou Keita, ex-Barcelona star who who plays for Dalian in the Chinese league. The Ivory Coast was knocked out in a massive quarterfinal matchup with eventual champions Nigeria, which likely ends the hopes of their Great Generation to win an African championship. This Great Generation is headed by Didier Drogba, the ex-Chelsea superstar who played for Shanghai Shenhua last season before running to Turkey in January, no doubt fazed by the shenanigans in Shanghai. Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure, brothers who both play for Manchester City, and ex-Chelsea player Salomon Kalou are other guys in this Greatest Generation, all of whom are in or approaching their 30s. This tournament is a fine reminder of why international football is so good, because it allows nations, big and small, poor and rich, peaceful or war-ravaged, to compete on the same stage and grab the spotlight, if only for a moment, and inspire their nation.

I watched Shanghai Calling last night, a romance-comedy about a hotshot Chinese-American lawyer reluctantly coming to Shanghai and getting much more than he bargained for. The movie was better than I thought it’d be, especially in both avoiding and making fun of the white guy-Asian girl phenomena (which you can well see). Set in Shanghai, there’s a lot of fine shots of the famous Pudong skyscrapers and the Bund at night, as well as bustling neighborhood alleys and American-style suburban houses with yards. The male lead is actually Korean-American (US-born half-Korean, half-white Daniel Henny, who was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and he falls in love not with a Chinese girl, but a white, blond American. There’s a fair amount of cultural lessons and jokes mixed in the plot as well as a major twist later in the movie which also adds to the appeal. I’d say the movie would appear to have some cliches but it does a good job of taking them and turning them around into a more enjoyable result. There’s a Chinese band playing reggae music, with Chinese musicians sporting dreadlocks and all, during an outdoors patio party called Long Shen Dao- listen to one of their tracks here

Here’s a very hilarious video of a Malian fan lamenting his team’s destruction against Nigeria in the African Cup semifinal with a passionate rant. There are some fantastic quotes- “They have inflicted another war on Mali!” “The Super Eagles all looked like lions!” “(Nigerian striker Victor) Moses played as if he’s running to buy beer!” However, in reality it’s a spoof of a rant by a local fan after a Tanzanian league match. The footage is real but the subtitles are made up. It’s still funny nevertheless.

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