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Mafengwo Gives Online Travel Planning a Social Twist

As more Chinese tourists are opting for independent travel over package trips, travel social network Mafengwo is on hand to help them plan their trips, handle logistics when they get there, and most importantly, record their experiences for the world to see.

Featuring review-based, user-generated, downloadable travel guides and convenient access to travel products, the app has also built a social community where travel enthusiasts can easily connect with like-minded jetsetters.

The site, officially launched in 2006, has accumulated over 80 million users, a majority of which are active monthly users. Statistics suggest that 80 percent of users are using the site’s mobile application, which offers independent travel products such as hotel and flight booking, travel planning tips contributed by users, Q&A forums where it allows users to interact with each other, visa application agents, and more.

Mafengwo's mobile app.

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When Dealing with China, Canada’s A-game Lies At Home

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(Credit: PolandBall)

 Chinese Foreign Minister’s recent angry rebuttal at a Canadian reporter over a question about the country’s human rights record have triggered nationwide debate in Canada. Hardliners are quick to take the chance and emphasize that Canada ought to “regain its self-respect” issues involving China. Others point out the necessity of establishing a long-term national China strategy, urging Canada to better engage itself in a rapidly shifting world to remain an active major global player.

In terms of specific actions, a recent op-ed asks Canada to “bring its A-game” when negotiating, for instance, a trade deal, with China. It suggests that Ottawa should commit to closing its knowledge gap on China by forming a brightest team across government, sending the team to spend 12 to 18 months on ground in China to “learn the Chinese economy and society in depth.”

To be fair, it points out the lack of understanding of the Chinese mentality on Canada’s side. However, the article, just like many others during this debate, has chosen to rely on some abstract, yet-to-happen, beyond-the-border solutions while turning a blind eye to the vast human and cultural capital Canada has at home. While it is absolutely necessary to equip Canadian policy-makers with China knowledge and look outwards, there is no need to start from scratch. It’d be much more cost-efficient to look inwards and here is how.

First of all, mobilize the Chinese community and engage the alumni of Canadian educational institutions within Canada.

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Overseas Chinese Have Mixed Feelings About Returning Home

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(A shorter version is appeared on the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute Blog.)

PRC Citizen Jiajie Li has decided to go to Hong Kong after completion of his Master’s program in Canada. Currently a doctoral student in law at Hong Kong University, Mr. Li was born and raised in Shenzhen, southern China, and is one of the promising students determined to bring alternative perspectives to China-related studies. His thesis explores China’s “institutional development under the socialist rule of law system”. Even so, there is another reason why Li chose Hong Kong, “I leave an alternative to go to overseas again if things really get worse in Mainland.”

Li’s concern is one shared by thousands of overseas Chinese especially young students studying abroad. Overall, the number of Chinese students returning to China upon graduation is rising especially after the 2008 financial crisis in major Western countries. But it only reflects part of the picture. Many seem to be unsure about betting their whole future on the Chinese Dream, which leads People’s Daily, the Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece media, to warn that China is experiencing “the world’s worst brain drain”. While the central government has launched major projects to lure back top Chinese specialists through preferential policies in hiring and housing subsidies, its tightening control over the media and growing intrusion into private life since 2012 is not helping the situation.

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Reflection: Inside Afghanistan

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Inside Afghanistan: Mellissa Fung on Reporting from One of the World’s Most Fragile States

Date: November 15, 2014

Former CBC journalist, UBC School of Journalism alumna Mellissa Fung has brought Afghanistan’s stories home to Canadians – even after being abducted while on assignment at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul. Drawing on her experiences reporting from the region over the last seven years, Mellissa shares what she has learned about Afghanistan, about its people, and about taking on a foreign assignment in one of the world’s most fragile countries.

Beginning with her powerful footage on Afghanistan under Taliban’s rule, Mellissa’s talk was inspiring. I confessed that my only impression of Afghanistan was how messy, fragile, and dangerous it was as a country, and my impression mainly comes from mainstream newspapers. However, Mellissa brought us “the other side” of the story, that is, women’s general condition is indeed improving and women are regaining many of their rights in Afghanistan.

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