SCMP’s excellent ‘Mainland city survey’ spoof

SCMP-auctionsThe South China Morning Post reports that Hong Kong’s latest whisky auction attracted eager collectors willing to pay over HK$90,000 for a bottle of Japanese (no less) Scotch. And so up-market liquor joins wine, vineyards, racehorses and incarceration of offspring in British boarding schools as symbols of success for China’s new wealthy elite. And let’s not forget art: a vast landscape by painter Cui Ruzhou fetched HK$236 million on Monday, which must have made him feel better after that time cleaners at the Grand Hyatt chucked a HK$28 million scrawl of his out with the trash.

(That article notes that Cui is little-known outside China, where works in ink are ‘popular gifts to … government officials’. What happens, reportedly and allegedly, is that someone gives a painting to their friendly neighbourhood government official, who later sells it to another ‘someone’ for the millions it is probably not remotely worth. That way, as we will all readily appreciate, it’s not a bribe. Not sure if it works with fine Japanese whisky.)

I am reliably informed that the SCMP’s (non-Business) China Desk is made up of three teams: one covering policy, one for technology, and the third – with over half a dozen reporters – devoted to ‘the rich’. I’m not sure whether this reflects the paper’s owners’ establishment shoe-shining priorities, or in some way supports advertising revenues, or is driven by readers’ fervent interest in Mainland celebrity/nouveau riche affairs.

Anyway, let it never be said that the paper lacks a sense of humour – as we see from today’s hilarious if belated April Fool’s joke.

It is clearly inspired by the most famous newspaper spoof of all time: the UK Guardian’s travel supplement about the fictitious ‘semi-colonial’ land of San Serriffe. The SCMP has done much the same thing today, and published a special report on a made-up Mainland city called ‘Zhengzhou’, situated neatly right in the middle of the country’s panda-earthquake ‘flyover’ wastes.

The 16-page supplement is a brilliant parody of a tatty and soulless, hastily developed, third-tier backwater’s desperate and vain self-promotion as a dynamic and modern Chinese metropolis. It’s got the tacky skyscrapers, the nasty bulbous gold arts centre, and of course the inevitable economic logistics zone-hub…


It’s got the laughably awful tourist attractions, ranging from a spookily Auschwitzean museum building to the pseudo-historical heritage theme concept complex…


It’s got the grand, not to say insane, vision thing, thanks to plans for a city built around an airport, with two runways embraced by a ring road and a sprawl of ‘green’ eco-concrete, industry and villas – a JG Ballard-AlphavilleEraserhead nightmare and air-disaster-in-waiting that even Hong Kong’s psychopath Development Bureau could never conceive…


…and we’re so important and modern, we’ve got blond big-nosed foreign gwailo green-eyed-devil barbarians hanging out and taking us really seriously.

Not least, as the birthplace of Confucius, Mao, Buddha, Genghis Khan and Jack Ma, you can bet we’re the original, authentic, accept-no-substitutes focal point of ‘One Belt One Road’…


…and you can see it from space. Funniest thing I’ve seen for ages.

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14 Responses to SCMP’s excellent ‘Mainland city survey’ spoof

  1. NIMBY says:

    The idea of the HK police using water cannons in Kowloon sounded like Michael O’Dwyer trying to bring a Maxim machine gun mounted on an armored car into the Jallianwala Bagh garden. I’m sure there must be a statue to O’Dwyer in China for showing those thieves of precious motherland their proper place. Andy Tsang certainly puts some joss sticks before his photo every morning — O’Dwyer set the gold standard in proper policing of unarmed peaceful protesters.

    However It’s now obvious Andy is learning from the PLA generals in China, and is open up a side business with our tax dollars out at the police training grounds near Ocean Park. We should commend him for his enterprise, Learn from the CE, Learn from the PLA is our new motto; efficient, modern corruption our dearest goal.

  2. Cassowary says:

    Building a city around an airport is such a brilliant idea that we only spent billions of dollars and hundreds of hours of diplomatic negotiations to move our airport away from the city centre for a laugh. It was all a giant practical joke.

    Honestly. Even a thirteen year-old who’s played Sim City could tell you that you don’t put the airport in the middle of the city. Which I suppose, is why that city plan graphic looks like one of those play mats for toddlers. You know, the kind printed with houses and roads and smiling cartoon townsfolk for little Aiden to run over with his Hot Wheels.

  3. Citizen says:

    Good piece on Chinese artists taking over at Venice Biennale.

    “Somehow Venice became a sort of brand for many organizations in China to position their artist inside China,”

  4. Oneleggoalie says:

    Oneleg’s played SimCity with an airport smack in the middle of town…it was spectacular…and it didn’t matter one hoot…
    Coz nobody…actually…lived there.

    Now where’s that Manga porn game with the 10-speed dildo…

  5. Gooddog says:

    If you go to 40.40 in this video you will see what happens when you put an airport in the middle of a city. Duh. Sim City 101.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    Ahh…the legitimacy reinforcing lao wai who’s deeply immersing himself into that most traditional of Chinese cultural activities: mass rehearsed and performed “kung fu”. Would make any North Korean proud, Grasshopper…

  7. PD says:

    Isn’t Zhengzhou one of the world’s economic megahub logistics crossroads capitals for pollution?

  8. Probably says:

    If this s the same Zhengzhou as where the Yutong bus factory is, trust me it is a compete s@@thole. Obviously the PCMP journals have not visited themselves.

  9. Joe Blow says:

    Didn’t Hong Kong once have a airport smack in the middle of Kowloon City ?

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    Don’t be cruel ! Zhengzhou does actually exist ( and I have actually been there )

    The air is foul, the roads are fouler, but it does ( or did) boast the funniest sign I ever saw for the local train ticket booking office :


  11. Cassowary says:

    The difference is that Kai Tak was originally built when there wasn’t much else in East Kowloon, and then the city grew up around it. To deliberately plan to put an airport in the middle of a city takes a special mixture of arrogance and stupidity. The kind that says “Here is a Very Expensive Construction Project. It must be given pride of place so that everyone can see how expensive it is so that we will get promoted.” Because a city is a canvas for showing off official achievements, and not a place where people live or anything.

  12. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Cassowary: BINGO for summing up all that is about modern CCP China.

  13. RSG says:

    If it’s Japanese, it’s not Scotch. It’s Japanese whisky.

  14. SeekTruthFromFacts says:

    @Gooddog: I watched the SimCity video. Only prisoners died. Airports in cities are fine. Possibly even advantageous to the Security Bureau budget.

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