May 27, 2010

"Media Kills People"

From Chen Wending's microblog. Chen Wending (陈文定) is the head of Southern Metropolis Daily's reporter station in Shenzhen.
I was just attending a government departmental meeting. One furious cadre said: "Media kills people!" He continued, "All the latest scandals, including Foxconn suicides and the kindergarten stabbings, which one of them was not caused by the media? Why do so many people leave China after they become rich? Because they cannot stand the media putting them to trial."

May 26, 2010

Lost in Translation

In the last twenty years or so, English has become an integral part of the Chinese education curriculum. Lessons typically begin in seventh grade and the requirement lasts well into graduate school. Before receiving his bachelor's degree, any non-English major must pass the standardized CET, Level 4 exam. If he chooses to get a master's, the Chinese student must also pass the CET, Level 6 exam. English majors have similar examinations that are probably more difficult.

Unfortunately, short of replacing Chinese with English as the first language in China, it is difficult to make every citizen universally proficient. Below are a few examples where English has been used to hilarious effect...

1. On a college campus..
Chinese: "让我们的校园充满爱"
English: "Let's make love everywhere in our school."
(Should really be: Let's fill our campus with love)

2. In a restaurant
English: Mixed seafood Iraq government office surface
(Should really be: E-fu noodles with vegetable and seafood)

3. Tianshen Street, Shanghai
English: The numerical code flushes India
(Should really be: Digital printing)

4. In a Nanchang Uprising museum in Jiangxi Province

English: Go go come.
(Should really be: [Sorry, I have no idea what the owner is trying to express...])

English: Mobilephone electrizing
(Should really be: [For charging cellphone])

7. At a bar
English: Unhappy Hour PM 11:00-AM 11:00
(Should really be: [...])

English: Postcard mono plize
(Should really be: Postcard store)

English: Slip and fall down carefully
(Should really be: Caution! Slippery!)

English: Do drunken driving
(Should really be: Drunk driving prohibited)
English: Please forgive to be incontinent for interior decoration
(Should really be: Interior decoration in progress. Please forgive the inconvenience)


May 25, 2010

Beijing Fengtai Supermarket Sells 2-meter Long Live Crocodile

At the supermarket. Photo by Yang Tianxiao (杨天啸) from Beijing Times

Translation: 北京超市出售活鳄鱼和鲨鱼 市民称太残忍 by Beijing Times

Two days ago, Yonghui Supermarket on North Zhenguosi Street in Fengtai District (丰台区镇国寺北街永辉超市草桥店) opened for business. On display in its fresh meat section was a crocodile around 2 meters long. As parts of the reptile were reserved and sold throughout the day, the practice stirred up debate among Beijing residents.

Mrs. Zhang said that when she visited the new supermarket, she saw a 2 meters long crocodile, with its mouth tied shut and four limbs held immobile. An explanatory note next to it explained the nutritional benefits and as well as a few methods of preparation. A large crowd had gathered around the area. Mrs Zhang exclaimed: "This is so cruel. Crocodile is one of China's protected species. Why is it on sale publicly?"

Last night at 9PM, the reporter found said crocodile. The shark beside it has already been butchered. On-lookers doubting the authenticity of the reptile tried to touch it. The sales people pointed to the rising and falling stomach, saying: "It is alive."

Mr. Huang, manager of the fresh meat department, said that the crocodile was booked on the first day. It will be slaughtered this Sunday and sold off by part. "Both the croc and the shark were bred on farms. They are not wild."

In 2003, the State Forestry Administration lifted bans on the commercial domestication and breeding of 54 animal species. Crocodiles were also on the list, but business units must first obtain licenses for commercial operations related to wild animals and associated products.

When the reporter asked to see permits for selling crocodiles, manager Liu who is in charge of reception told him that the crocodile and shark were purchased from the farmer's market. The sellers provided health records as well as licenses. "We can buy and openly sell as long as the suppliers possess relevant certificates. Supermarkets do not have to show any permits."

May 22, 2010

Google Earth for Checking Out Pollution in Chinese Cities

Another clever use of Google Earth, besides scouting for and taxing pool owners like the Greek government does

Original: 【网络通缉令】用GoogleEarth看到的中国各城市排污情况 via Ruan Yifeng's blog

(The post is two years old, but for some reason people are becoming interested once again. I guess a lot of the pollution hasn't been clearing up.)

Pay attention to the bodies of water

1. Bengbu, Anhui (蚌埠)

2. Wuxi, Jiangsu (无锡)

3. Wuhu, Anhui (芜湖)

4. Tianjin (天津)

5. Rizhao, Shandong (日照)

6. Suzhou, Jiangsu (苏州)

7. Hefei, Anhui -- unloading sewage into Chao Lake (one of the five biggest freshwater lakes in mainland China), looks shocking

8. The explosive growth of blue algae in Lake Tai (another one of the five biggest freshwater lakes in mainland China), Wuxi, Jiangsu. Note the picture might not be from 2007

9. The industrial zone of Shaoxing, Zhejiang dumping its waste into Cao'e River (曹娥江)

10. Xiamen, Fuzhou, Xinglin Waste Water Treatment Factory

11. Weifang, Shandong

12. Dagang, Tianjin (天津大港) -- Qingjinghuang Flood Diversion Channel or, as residents fondly call it, Qingjinghuang Drainage River

13. Kunming, Yunnan -- Dian Lake (昆明滇池)

14. Shantou, Guangdong (汕头)

15. Zhangzhou, Fujian (漳州) -- The most decoration-like [useless] waste water treatment factory in the history

16. Quanzhou, Fujian (泉州) -- Industrial zone dumps its sewage into the river. The worst offender appears to be an oil refinery.

17. Fuzhou, Fujian -- City drainage river

18. Wuxi, Jiangsu again

19. Yet another Wuxi, Jiangsu

20. Shizuishan, Ningxia (宁夏石嘴山)

May 20, 2010

Chinese Forum Becomes a Huge Hit by Teaching Paramours to Become Official (Legal) Wives/Husbands

Translation: “小三”论坛蹿红网络 网友称其挑战道德底线

Since the infidelity of spouses have made many people abhor "xiao san," it is unsurprising that a "xiao san" website recently came into the spotlight when wives/husbands denounced it and called it challenge to the moral bottom line. The website's creator, however, believes that his BBS forum is giving all mistresses with a conscience an opportunity to speak out, thus preventing them from going to extremes.
Name: Xiao San BBS

Description: China's only website concerned about the xiao san phenomenon. A nonprofit website.

Slogan: Pay attention to the xiao san phenomenon and build a harmonious family
Reader complains: wife discovered professional "Xiao san website" after husband's adultery

Yesterday, a Netizen sent a link to the business newspaper through QQ: "Take a look at this website ( It is crawling with xiao sans who destroy other people's families."

This Netizen discovered her husband's betrayal two months ago. The "xiao san" works in a bank in Luoyang and got to know the husband through internet. What she found hard to endure are phone calls from this "xiao san," asking her to divorce immediately.

She and her husband had a huge fight. She decided to stick with her marriage because they have a 6 year old child. The husband did not want a divorce either. He knelt in front of her and begged for a second chance.

Although the whole mess was hard to swallow, she compromised for the sake of the child. Not long after, her friend found out that the husband and the Luoyang woman are together again.

She felt frustrated and found several QQ chat groups devoted to crusades against mistresses.

It was during one of the chats that she came upon a "xiao san forum." She said: "Just too much! How can they do this? Mistresses strutting about like they are the righteous ones? I hope you can give us justice."

Website content includes a guide teaching xiao sans to obtain official, legal status

The reporter logged unto this BBS forum yesterday. It has 5 boards: "General Discussion", "Fighting Xiao San", "Xiao San Has Got Something to Say", "Emotional Stories," and "Legal Consultation." There are currently 3000 registered users.

The forum slogan is prominently displayed on the pink webpage: Pay attention to the xiao san phenomenon and build a harmonious family.

The hottest board is "Xiao San Has Got Something to Say." In addition to accounts of xiao sans' personal life experiences and their inner turmoils, there are a great deal of "instructional" content, such as "A Guide to Becoming Official Wives/Husbands, Teaching You How to Acquire the Legal Status."

Netizens who reply frequently admire the posters for their indestructible psyche while urging them to have more ethics. After all, xiao sans should not ask for sympathy after breaking up families. Some kind Netizens try to gently persuade the xiao sans to withdraw from such relationships as early as possible to prevent further harm.

On other boards like "Fighting Xiao San," threads such as "How to Protect Your Love," "How to Vanquish Mistresses" also attract a lot of traffic and comments.

The website owner claims that all the moderators on this internet forum are female. Some used to be xiao sans, while others used to be hurt by xiao sans.

"Give every mistress who has a conscience an opportunity to speak out"

"Xiao san" is a taboo topic for many people. Wouldn't dedicating an entire website to this subject amplify the herd mentality, with the result being that potential xiao sans become emboldened?

Administrator "New Life" (internet username) doesn't think so. By focusing on the mistress phenomenon, the website aims to salvage marriages and save xiao sans.

"New Life" told the reporter that he is a recent college graduate. He was writing a paper on marriage laws in March of last year, when, during the process of researching, he discovered that many families have been ruined by xiao sans. At first he was quite scornful toward this group, but delving more deeply into the matter made him sympathetic.

Believing that mistresses is now a huge social problem, New Life, who currently works in E-commerce, decides to start this "xiao san forum" in order to "give every mistress who has a conscience an opportunity to speak out."

"Have prevented at least ten suicides"

The forum received harsh criticisms from day one.

But as "New Life" sees it, the problem will not cease to exist just because people avoids the topic. "We are just providing a platform for discussion. We hope that in their hours of confusion, xiao sans can receive suggestions and stop hurting others as well as themselves."

"New Life" believes that xiao sans are also in pain. Unlike concubines, they merely met their significant others at the wrong time. Restrictions due to traditional morality burden them with a sense of guilt, yet they can neither control their feelings nor talk over such matters with family and friends. This kind of long-time suppression can lead to extremes.

"Since the birth of our website, we have already prevented more than 10 suicides," said "New Life." He stressed that he looks down people who ruin families for monetary motives.

"Does not have the courage to tell girlfriend"

Nevertheless, "New Life" has not told girlfriend about this endeavor, even though he believes he is doing charity. "She doesn't know. She would have killed me had she known."

People point out that the administrator makes money off the website. "New Life" does not deny this accusation. "Xiao san forum" has already placed ads on its webpages. The revenue is "enough to get by." The website will become more profitable once traffic increases.

"We have been reported by the media already, but they were all critical. They were too one-sided. They did not perceive the positive meaning of my website," said "New Life."

Netizen Comments

"郁闷的兔子啊": I was lei'ed to the extent that I could not find North anymore...I feel faint.

"黑猫州长": All you first wives, why do women have to create troubles for other women? Do not use such a domineering tone to lecture us.

mimleee: Sinful. You know he is married but still intrude on the marriage. Sinful!

蝶舞残天: All those xiao sans who are robbed of their husbands in the future, come back to read your comments. The mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small.

兜兜有糖Mary: Thunder lei. I feel toasted.

Police department: we can't do anything

Some Netizens wonder why such an amoral website is left alone. Shouldn't the police do something?

Leader of Zhengzhou cyber police work force laughs: "Thank you for your sense of justice. But we really can't do anything."

According to this employee, as long as the website steers clear from "pornography, gambling, and drugs," and stays on discussions of emotions and feelings, it is legal. The issue of mistresses remains a morality issue and sits beyond the scope of the law.

Expert Opinion

Qi Xuerui (祁雪瑞), professor at the Henan Academy of Social Sciences, says that the website offers both advantages and disadvantages.

Creating a website to facilitate such talks goes contrary to traditional morality, not only for first wives but also for bystanders.

However, Professor Qi thinks that two boards "Xiao San Has Got Something to Say" and "Fighting Xiao San" are useful. "Xiao San Has Got Something to Say" lets xiao sans vent their feelings and avoid conflict buildup which can escalate to violence. "Fighting Xiao San" give first wives a chance to confront xiao sans, indirectly increasing the communication between both sides.

But she thinks that the xiao san problem is not an issue to be solved by a website. The final resolution depends on the morality system of the society.

May 16, 2010

Kunming Proposes Residence Permits Requirement to Rent Domicile or Seek Employment, Foreigners Are Exempt

I don't know which made people angrier: more bureaucracy or that foreigners (in addition to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents, ironically) are exempt.

Translation: 昆明拟禁止无居住证者租房找工作 外国人除外

Outsiders who visit Kunming from now on, if lacking residence permits, will no longer be able to work or find apartments.

This regulation came from the Residence Permit Regulations in Kunming (Draft) (hereinafter referred to as Draft), provided for public review on April 17. Although one week of review period has already ended, the debate it sparked continues.

The Draft clearly states: "No Danwei should use or hire migrant people who do not possess migrant permits. When recruiting or hiring the migrant population, Danwei should request residence permits, Proof of Marriage and Procreation Status as well as other valid documents for registration." In case of violations, the law enforcement agencies can assess fines between 50 and 5000 yuan.

Lawyer Zhang Honglei (张宏雷) believes that employment is a right granted by the constitution to its citizens, and should not be conditional upon "residence permits." At the national level, the Constitution allows citizens freedom to live and relocate; the Labor Law gives laborers right to equal employment and choice of occupation; and the Employment Promotion Law asks governments to create an environment without discrimination. Migrant farmers who enter cities to find jobs should have the same labor rights as city dwellers. Discrimination against these migrant workers are forbidden.

"Our national policies forbid the Draft from depriving any Chinese citizen of his/her right to live and work in Kunming under pretexts like residential permits. As long as they carry Resident Identity Cards and follow Kunming regulations, non-locals are protected by law." argued Zhang Honglei, "The constraints set forth in the Draft hurt non-locals' legitimate interests and contradicts the spirit of the Constitution."

Furthermore, the Draft states: "Foreigners, stateless persons, people from Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan residents are exempt." This part is also being questioned. "Non-locals Chinese citizens not as good as foreigners?" Zhang Honglei asked: "Why must non-local Chinese citizens apply for residential permits, while foreigners don't?"

In the August 2009 draft of Residence Permit Regulations in Kunming which sought public opinion, Article 18 delineated the requirements for a Kunming long-time resident hukou: "Having lawful residence, employment or steady income; criminal record showing no detention or punishment in the last 2 years and no convicted crimes in the last 5 years; possession of residence permit for more than 5 years and timely endorsement." Many outsiders saw hope in Article 18.

However, the April 17th Draft not only removed this provision, it also added more: To apply for residence permit, one must first obtain the 'Kunming temporary residence permit''; additionally the applicant must have lived in Kunming for more than one year, own a permanent residence and have a stable job. When applying, the applicant shall provide proof from their landlord and work. Compared to the August 2009 version which allowed the application process to begin 3 days after arrival in Kunming, the bar is now set much higher.

An government employee responsible for migrant population management, a division inside the Kunming Public Security Bureau, explained that Article 18 was removed because current policies are more favorable, and re-writing the law is unnecessary. He told the China Youth Daily reporter that, earlier this year, Kunming issued "Additional comments to further improve the household registration system." Purchase and ownership of city apartments more than 120 square meter in area (or county apartments more than 90 square meter in area) is no longer one of the criteria. Instead, as long as the apartment area exceeds 22.72 square meter and is actually where the applicant resides, he/she can apply for hukou.

According to the Draft, newcomers have to have the temporary residence permit for more than a year before they become eligible for preferential policies such as "free immunization for children," "education for accompanying children," "bus fare discount," etc. The government official explained to the reporter that the one year restriction is set because many visits to Kunming are short term. Absence of such a time limit makes it unfair to those who stay longer and actually contribute to the city. Also, people constantly coming and leaving increases the number of legal procedures, making management difficult.

Pu Yuxi (普雨西) from Lincang, Yunnan could not understand: "people are entitled to public career services, basic immunization, and family planning technical services by national law, why do they need to show residence permit now?"

Some legal personnel believe that the Draft tacks on extra restrictions which went against Administrative Licensing Law (ALL) and Resident Identity Card Law. ALL prohibits local, provincial, autonomous region or direct municipality governments from setting additional requirements and demands for licensing and qualification of entities that fall under the central government's jurisdiction. Yet, the Draft clearly violates the ALL, because it restricts and deprives non-Kunming Chinese citizens of their right to legally live, work in the city,

Lu Dong (陆东) from Sichuan, who works in the medical equipment business in Kunming said: "Compared to the August 2009 version, the current Draft greatly reduces government services. The previous version's emphasis on management and services made us expectant. In contrast, the Draft increased the bureaucracy while limiting services. They legalize their own laziness through additional certification and permits."

Some of the most recommended comments:
2010-05-08 06:45:49 sina netizen 老百姓
This draft from Kunming violates the Constitution and should be revoked immediately. What a joke they are discriminating against their fellow citizens. Their administration is an embarrassment.

2010-05-08 06:56:50 sina netizen Convert
Foreigners are exempt? Ridiculous. Non-citizens enjoy the basic rights that citizens are not privileged to.

2010-05-08 10:59:51 Zibo, Shandong kainuo
Foreigners are exempt? What do you mean? We should avoid being Chinese in the next life?

2010-05-08 13:23:49 sina netizen kamlong
Second class citizens in my own country! Speechless! I love my country but my country doesn't love me!

2010-05-08 07:59:59 Dongguan, Guangdong y135383
How many permits do we need to survive in China?

2010-05-08 18:21:36 Nanning, Guangxi lsi12389
A "Chinese and dogs cannot enter sign" would have been enough. Why go through all that trouble to write up a legal document?

2010-05-08 19:53:04 sina netizen 科学发展观
You know why Yunnan has drought? The dragon king who is in charge of wind and rain doesn't have his Kunming resident permit!

2010-05-08 07:55:58 Mobile phone user
Biting the hand that feeds you. No wonder foreigners don't think much of us. We even discriminate against ourselves

To be fair, some netizens supported Kunming's plan. But their comments were booed. Here is one such comment:
2010-05-08 20:41:58 Shandong shenyushu 1
Don't quote out of the context. The regulation says that to find jobs in Kunming requires "temporary resident permit." And after a year one can apply for "resident permit." This is very useful to management and safety. Citizens have the freedom to choose where they live, and what job they want, but the application doesn't exactly constitute restriction. The reporter is intentionally quoting out of context.

May 11, 2010

One Cook Reveals All: Secrets of a Chinese Restaurant

Disclaimer: This is a hot post on Mop, one of the largest forums in China. However, being a popular article doesn't mean that it is fact-checked (as it would probably have been if it were published on some official news website). This only means that enough Mop users believe the information contained in the post is true or they think it is interesting enough to deserve a read.

Translation: 我是厨师。全面的食品安全问题,诸如地沟油添加剂

The city I live in is one of the largest in the east. Here it is always crowded. Here the stress levels are extremely high. Here 100 yuan buys land only half as large as this paper money.

Currently the city is hosting an executive banquet that the whole world has its eyes on. To my great regret, I am not attending because my application was rejected. It would have been a huge honor to offer my services to such a celebration, held during China's most glorious era. My enthusiasm and interest are undeterred however. As everyone knows, under the leadership of our beloved party, China grows stronger each day, gaining international acceptance and recognition. Every Chinese feels proud that the banquet is being hosted by China. I think Yushu quake victims and the poor in the west likewise share the sentiment. Why would they want to protest just because they are poor and miserable? Nothing stops their love for the government and the party. Those who criticize the money ill spent on banquet instead of on disaster areas, or who say that the party does not consider the west to be part of China, do you still have a conscience? How could a Chinese act like this? Have you forgotten the party teachings? We must protect our country at all cost. You *expletive*.

(More along the same line. Omitted)

I am just ranting because the Expo has been vilified. Since my work place is located close by, I often see posters that say: "the banquet makes me broke; my 5 year old store got demolished; furniture fell down and hurt people." This is all a big misunderstanding, and I approve of the government's efficiency in taking down such fliers. I personally had the opportunity to witness the "all for the people" attitude because some of the dormitories belonging to our hotel violated regulations. So one day, while it was raining cats and dogs, people in military uniforms tore down our buildings, broke our computers, tossed out our uniforms, and beat up the dogs. They accomplished the task despite of defiance from my boss. I detest my boss's inability to see the larger issues.  
Anyway, I have digressed far enough. Let's return to the subject on hand--problems that exist in hotels and restaurants. I have worked at all levels of food business, from hotels with star ratings to small food stalls. Most cooks are not well educated, so I do not expect to see many of my peers here. Nevertheless, if you are in the business, I hope that you can be conscientious and objectively comment.   

Let's talk about oil first. Oil from drains and gutters is not that big of a deal. What's in it? Dregs from the oil barrel bottoms poured down the drainage. Oil collected on exhaust fans (this is horrible). And cooking oil from leftover dishes. Our restaurant buy oil from typical suppliers, and we call it refined oil. Because of the frequent need to fry food, we reuse the oil. The recycled oil is called "old oil" but is different from gutter oil. When you see this color (below), you know it is "old." We make Sichuan spicy oil from it. Conventional wisdom in our business says that recycle oil is carcinogenic. What people don't realize that the oil is all genetically modified. I don't understand the details, but I do know that 90% of the chefs give birth to daughters.

We have also used gutter oil. The boss bought some back when regular oil rose to 9 yuan. It has the color of soy oil and stinks. The thing was dirt cheap though, about 2 dollars. The cooks refused to use it because it greatly affected the food quality. I believe the boss had no choice. Otherwise, who would toy with his reputation like that? Besides, the restaurant business has thin profit margins. So, people, rest your fears. Most of the gutter oil is sold to factories to make soaps and fertilizers. But the fast food places in train stations and such will use gutter oil. I know one place for sure uses it. It is not far from our paradise city.

Additives. This poses a serious problem. Without additives the quality of our food regresses back to the 70s. Presently many additives are being marketed as condiments. The types of dishes I prepare require a plethora of additives, including the poisonous and the banned. We even use melamine occasionally.

Food coloring is definitely overused, but I don't know whether that's illegal or not. Let me tell you--one day spent in the restaurants means that you will have consumed on average 100 additives by the time the day ends. Why do you think our beef tastes so tender? We use a powder for that. Why is the pastry so chewy? We have additives for that. Why is the color pretty? Food coloring and baking soda* used to scrub toilets.

(* The writer wrote 石粉,which literally means rock powder. But one commenter pointed out that picture shows baking soda. So the writer probably made a typo. It should have been 食粉, short word for 食用小苏打粉 or baking soda)

The ratio of beef to water used to be 1 to 1. Now it is 2 to 1. Why? Because the beef we buy already has water injected in. We don't put in water to cheat the customers. It is necessary for the texture. But some of the beef in smaller restaurants are fake. They are made of poultry and gigantic amounts of food coloring. Nitrate is also used frequently because it improves the meat texture and adds a moist red color. I will provide pictures later to illustrate.

In reality sanitation is a joke. We just add tons of MSG. Even when preparing food we don't much attention to cleanliness. To give an example, we use our bare hands for everything. After cooking the dish, I will then go on to arrange the plate. We use stinky towels to wipe dinnerware.

Most of the kitchens have surveillance cameras. They are not used to monitor food quality but to fine us. The cameras have not been very effective though. Chinese cuisine presents a special situation. Nowadays chefs have the same status as migrant workers, and they are paid even less. We have no benefits to speak of. I have never seen a retirement card in my entire life. We get fixed salaries, and when things go wrong, we get fined. Hours are long; work is tiring. Many of us end up switching jobs. I am just saying that this area is hard to regulate. Last time some officials came down to inspect sanitation. They found excuses to penalize us even though there wasn't anything wrong. Then I saw the boss handing over a big wad of money. A free meal later, everything was back to normal.
Some people comfort themselves by saying: Rich people and officials eat out the most often, so they receive the biggest dose of additives. This not true. I worked in a state-owned hotel previously. Most of the customers were generals and leaders from Beijing. When they are not here, we do whatever we want. When they are here, a crowd usually tag along, mostly managers, provincial officials, and military people. As we cook, photos are taken and the dishes are inspected. Everything is strict.

One chicken costs 15 yuan, but both the buyer and the supplier are colluding to keep some of the profit. Who can vouch for chickens this cheap? How can chefs cook good dishes? There is a lot of money to be made in state-owned restaurants. One of the local employees only needed to pay 50,000 yuan for a 100 square meter apartment. *expletive* But those of us who are from other places don't receive anything, yet we have to do everything. I witnessed first-hand the misuse of taxpayer money. The daughter of a famous General Peng (she also a general now) once ordered a meal worth 10,000 yuan.

We serve food that are forbidden elsewhere, like pangolins and puffer fish. Because we are operated by the military, no one dares to say anything.

Finally, the money you pay when a waitress opens a liquor bottle. Everybody tends to misunderstand this part. The waitresses and waiters are paid very little, about 1200 yuan or so. Bottle money is the only way they make a profit. The more customers they serve the more bottle money they receive, sort of like gratuity in the West. Yes, you can carry your own alcohol around. No one has right to stop you. But it means that the hotels don't make much money--most of their revenue comes from seafood and drinks. Meals alone are not very profitable. If you know more, please feel free to share.

(Parts omitted. The writers describes the way some typical dishes are prepared)

One bowl of old oil. One bowl of fresh oil.

Hotpot spices. Pure chemical. A whiff of it makes you dizzy for 10 seconds or so, and your nose will temporarily stop functioning.

Food coloring. Big Red. So called "3 no products"--no factory name, no factory address, no health license.

Orange food coloring. Complements the Big Red perfectly.

The sesame oil used to be aromatic. Now I look at this and understand one thing: China surpasses everybody in faking goods.

Nitrate, this is toxic. One spoonful can kill you. Don't mistake it for salt when you are cooking at home.

Melamine. A type of protein milk. Still faking it.

We use red yeast rice for natural food coloring, especially when we prepare red-cooked pork. But synthetic coloring is indispensable. Everybody uses them. If you don't, the dishes won't look as nice and you lose customer. We hide the synthetic ones.

White bottle is used to make the meat tender (fresh and not overcooked). Yellow one is baking soda, great for scrubbing toilets. Again, a pair that complements each other well.

The chewy dumplings you eat at hotpot stores probably contain this.

Another type of spice, rou bang wang (肉宝王). Very aromatic.

But see what it is used in? Cigarettes, liquor, cosmetics. Last time, our CEO told us that our kitchen has all the necessary chemicals to do a perm.

This is called A. I have no idea what it is used for. It has no smell or taste. But I was told that the thing is addictive.

The spices you need to make jiang niu rou (浆牛肉, some sort of beef dish?)

Jian shui (枧水). Barber shops use this in their perms. (Note: this is an basic solution traditionally used in Cantonese desserts, so I don't think it is as dangerous to health as the writer makes it sound)
What go into freshly squeezed juice. We still put in fruits. A few.

These additives are so commonplace to chefs. I haven't had the time to take pictures of the places where my friends work. I want to change my job, because it makes my heart cold.

Wild fungi spice. It is supposed to be used in soups, but cooks apply it in other dishes too.

Xian wei bao (鲜味宝). Tastes twice as good as MSG. An overdose is definitely not healthy. We use a spoonful for each cold dish.

Zeng xiang gao (增香膏). Aromatic to an extreme. It will make all your bland vegetables and eggs taste delicious.

Dead shrimps. When one customer requested shrimps a few moments ago, we showed the live ones to him. As soon as we went back to the kitchen, the lives one were exchanged for dead ones. People who think they are getting fresh seafood shouldn't be so naive. If they request live fish but the restaurant keeps dead ones in the back, they will get the dead ones instead. I can't do much about it. It is all about profit. Sometimes when I get fed up, I will tell the boss that the shrimps can't be salvaged. Headless shrimps are usually dead shrimps.
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