Gabrielle Jaffe is a PTC award-winning writer and editor who is currently based in London. She covers culture, food, travel and current affairs.

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China re-embraces Confucius

China re-embraces Confucius

QUFU, CHINA—Confucius is quoted as saying, “How delightful it is to have friends come from afar.” But what would the sage have made of the hordes of tourists now descending on his hometown? Visitors to Qufu—the Shandong town where Confucius grew up over 2,500 years
Chinese city restores century-old synagogue

Chinese city restores century-old synagogue

Two Chinese politicians and an Israeli professor are huddled around an architect’s drawing. “Actually it would be better if the fence rails were shaped like Stars of David instead of crosses,” politely suggests the professor, Dan Ben-Canaan, who is advising on the $16-million project to
Qufu, China: a tour of Confucius's home town

Qufu, China: a tour of Confucius’s home town

“I am a descent of Confucius,” says my guide, and I am enormously impressed – until I learn later that the Chinese philosopher’s progeny officially number over two million people. Still, Kong Xiangqiang (or Tommy, as he asks me to call him) has the ideal
China's Newest Market Opportunity: Pollution Control

China’s Newest Market Opportunity: Pollution Control

It’s a rare “blue sky” day in Beijing. The city is bathed in a beautiful late-afternoon light—the kind that makes people rush outside just to enjoy it. But rather than bask in the weather, a small group of expats and Chinese locals have instead chosen to
Beijing Independent Film Festival derailed by authorities

Beijing Independent Film Festival derailed by authorities

The Beijing Independent Film Festival has a long history of absurd run-ins with the Chinese authorities, but this year’s edition opened in such a Kafka-esque manner it could have been penned by an indie scriptwriter. It began in mid-August with festival director Wang Hongwei announcing
Inside Beijing's former brothels

Inside Beijing’s former brothels

“Welcome to my humble brothel,” jokes Simon Gjeroe, our 6ft-plus guide. Kowtowing to fit through the doorway, he ushers us into a two-storey building that was once one of Beijing’s bordellos. Today we are touring Bada Hutong, an area a half mile square that is
Bringing art to the middle class in China

Bringing art to the middle class in China

As the world’s top collectors, gallerists and dealers converged in Hong Kong a week ago for Art Basel, the city’s inaugural edition of one of the world’s premier art shows, a very different kind of art venture was launching in the mainland: an online platform for buying affordable
Mongolia’s hip-hop beat

Mongolia’s hip-hop beat

Mongolia’s hip-hop scene caught Benj Binks off guard. The young Australian expected the descendants of Genghis Khan to be mostly nomads and herders, cantering over wild, bleak plains. Instead, when he arrived in the capital of Ulaanbaatar in 2004 he found nightclubs, graffiti and guys
Restaurant review: Back Alley Bistro

Restaurant review: Back Alley Bistro

It’s no secret that one of the best burgers in town is served –‑ somewhat incongruously – at the nail salon/bar Frost Nails. But now Beijing’s diners have a more sophisticated place to get their teeth into these juicy buns, as Frost’s owner, Jeff Powell,
The Middle Kingdom Ride:  A motorbike odyssey around China

The Middle Kingdom Ride: A motorbike odyssey around China

Imagine travelling 11,600 miles. That’s more than twice the distance from Beijing to London as the crow flies – or the distance needed to circumnavigate China, as Canadian brothers Ryan and Colin Pyle found out on their epic journey motorcycling all the way round the
Reform now or there’ll be a revolution, Chinese leaders told

Reform now or there’ll be a revolution, Chinese leaders told

China faces the prospect of “violent revolution” if the Government fails to implement political reform, a group of prominent intellectuals is warning six weeks after the country’s change of leadership. The call, from 73 of China’s leading scholars, came as dramatic footage emerged yesterday of
China's indie filmmakers: The way of the dragon seal

China’s indie filmmakers: The way of the dragon seal

BEIJING — Yang Jin shot his first film, “The Black and White Milk Cow,” in his hometown in 2004 for $1,600. He asked villagers to be his actors, paying them only in cigarettes, and his main expense was $320 spent renting the titular cow. The