Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.


Catching the sunset at the Grampians national park, northeast Victoria, Australia.

About this project //

These are my responses to online news on China from the vantage point of Australia. Wandering China maps the Overseas Chinese 海外华人imagination of China from the perspective of a Singapore-born, Australia-based, second-generation overseas-born Chinese. It is part annotated biblio, part diary of my information consumption on things China.

It has been most intriguing observing and making sense of China’s rise from where I am. Australia balances the economic and strategic imperative in its great and powerful friends dilemma between the increasingly binary opposition of the US and China. Born and raised in Singapore, being able to speak and read Mandarin as a second language helps in getting access to news that foreign news sources usually take 3 or 4 days to catch up to.

My goal? To help find a middle path between the polarities of East and West. This I try to do by attempting to bridge gaps and distortions of media representation on China news. To supplement what I read in the news I also keenly travel around China regularly, its SARs and Taiwan to understand China with the primacy of first-hand experience.

This project focuses on online reports from from state, local/regional/ foreign / overseas Chinese mainstream and social media news sources on China’s relations with the world. Of primary interest to me are China’s relations to its political binary opposition of the US; Australia, Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region.

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Creative Commons License
Wandering China by Bob Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at Wanderingchina.org.

– – –

About Me //

Leap and the net will appear!

That nothing beats first-hand knowledge resonates. Traversing the media tsunami in a time-poor networked society (arguably one consequence of the developed world) can mean that knowledge is a most valued commodity. The interest in sharing, via this open source platform stems from a desire to bridge the increasing distortion between media representation and true events.

A Singaporean of Chinese ethnicity, I am currently a graduate researcher in Australia who counts himself part drummer, part digital content producer traversing both sides of the equator.

A 2nd generation Overseas-Born Chinese 华裔 , of Teochew descent, my grandfather and his long line of people come from 潮汕 Chao Shan region, 潮州 Chao Zhou prefecture, Chao An 潮安 ‘zhen’ (town) in Guangdong ‘shen’ 广东省 (province). A social ‘construct’ of post-colonial Singapore and of Chinese ethnicity, I spent the formative years in an utilitarian education system that prized the Western paradigm for economic reward and social mobility – the name of the school I spent more than ten years is revealing in itself (Anglo-Chinese School). As such I grew up being not particularly strong in Mandarin. It has taken a few years of catching up to now be able to read Chinese newspapers. Nevertheless in a sense, an East/West hybrid global villager with ancestral roots in the northern hemisphere, born along the equator and now working in the southern hemisphere.

So – I am rediscovering my roots amidst China’s growing use of public diplomacy from base camp in Victoria, Australia; some 11,000kms south from where my grandfather was born. Here I learn the collective noun ‘Chinese’ is an increasingly huge misnomer unable to represent the vast divides, ethnicities and stratas of China’s ‘official’ list of 55+1 peoples (1 being the overwhelming han majority) spread over 1.3 billion-plus individuals.

In terms of living life, the great outdoors appeals most. A great deal of spare time is spent mapping out treks and campsites to share on Google Earth, with travelling djembe strapped to my back. Steel citied skies and concrete jungles can have a bad habit of making one myopic to the grandeur of this vast planet. I am an advocate of using media for good. Inspired by my father, music and the excitement of air particles is also another area of focus. . Bashing out funk drumming patterns rock my my boat, and ‘Animal’ from the Muppets is my musical hero! You can check out my work on music herehere (Singapore) or here (Melbourne). If you have some spare time, you can even vote for my music on an international chart here.

To get in touch, please write to wanderingchinaonline(at)gmail.com. Thank you for visiting!

– Wandering China

10 Responses

  1. MatthewTan says:

    “I could hardly speak nor read Mandarin”

    Please make an effort to read Chinese. I started reading Chinese newspapers while I was primary six in Singapore English schools. It is not that difficult if you are willing to try. You will not understand everything. But keep going, with the instant translator before (right click while you are on Internet Explorer).

    I was NOT so priviledged to have dad and mom teaching me. I started reading because I was excited about Apollo mission to the moon, and Vietnam war. And the Chinese newspapers were all I had.

    • Thank you for your kind advice Matthew, I will certainly take it to heart. Have made it a point to be come more conversant with Mandarin, thanks to the staple of Chinese friends I regularly keep in touch with – next step, being proficient reading and writing!

      • Little says:

        Just happened to stumble onto your Interesting site with insightful news 🙂

        I think if u were educated in SG, u should have finished up being at least bilingual to some extent, even if u went to an English School from the 70’s thu to now. It is common for many School kids & teenagers today will tell u “I HATE CHINESE”, but they are in fact quite capable of Conversing smoothly, & reading (albeit slowly) at least some Mandarin material (not so much Newspapers but entertainment magazines etc)

        The only classmates I have who manage a C6 or worse in CL2 are Chinese Peranakans. They have no contact whatsoever with the Chinese Lang. at home, but more significantly is their attitude towards learning the Language. When writing Chinese essay, they would argue & insist that Chinese sentence structure should be the same as English Grammar E.g. I want to improve on my Chinese 我要进步我的华语, much to the exasperation of the Chinese Teachers.

        That being said, I guess it is always better to be late learning the Lang. rather than not having learnt it at all. You learn best when u develop an interest. Happy Learning 🙂
        As for me, I have long lost my writing (w/o dictionary) capability thru yrs of dis-use of that skill in SG & Oz after graduating.
        My Prof. in Oz even jokingly questioned my A1 Chinese proficiency stated on my CV, to which I sheepishly agree, was no longer valid! Classic Case of USE IT, or LOOSE IT with Lang. Skills

      • Ho Kee Yan says:

        Just a thought for this thread. I fear for the majority of Chinese Singaporeans who are good in neither English or Mandarin. At best I would rate their standard in both languages as so-so. These the majority of lower middle income and I daresay some from the higher middle income Singaporean Chinese will not be able to speak and write better than Chinese elsewhere eg Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China who are excellent in their first language Chinese and who are quickly and greatly improving their English. Our advantage of proficiency in both languages has eroded. This will be a big setback for Singapore in its English and Chinese interactions internationally.

      • ferylbob says:

        Thanks Kee Yan
        Gen X should have had a headstart,yet so few excelled in mandarin to leverage the time we were gateway to China. Now few thinking we are so. Too late?

  2. Tincup says:

    Wow…I was looking at your post under the economics Tag and found an extremely articulate and intelligent human being. I will review the rest of your blog…but you should use free verse to post in my humble opinion.

  3. Nice replies in return of this matter with solid
    arguments and describing everything regarding that.

  4. Jonathan Lin says:

    I like what you are doing with your site; I too am of Chinese descent born in the United States of America (currently a college student here) and I myself try and use my own blog to bridge the gap between East and West. Again, having given your blog and some of your posts a cursory glance, your work looks real good — keep it up! Great blog!

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East/West headlines of Rising China

East/West headlines of Rising China

About Wandering China

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Creative Commons License
Wandering China by Bob Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at Wanderingchina.org. Thank you for visiting //
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