Nicola Davison is a British freelance writer and editor based in London.
The Economist
The party’s goal

The party’s goal

ONE of the most dismal days in the history of Chinese national football was June 15th 2013, President Xi Jinping’s 60th birthday. Having lost to Uzbekistan and Holland in friendly matches earlier that month, China were thrashed 5-1 at home by a Thai youth team. Furious Chinese fans swarmed around China’s Spanish coach, José Antonio...
Home truths

Home truths

THE most recent occasion when Ms Fan’s husband beat her until her eyes were black and blue was a row over 100 yuan ($16). Ms Fan, who did not want to reveal her full name, is a 37-year-old cleaner. She helped her husband deliver gas canisters on the outskirts of Shanghai but hid some of...
Shaming an internet celebrity

Shaming an internet celebrity

GUO MEIMEI had often featured in Chinese media, but her appearance on China Central Television (CCTV) on August 4th was different. A gifted self-publicist, the 23-year-old had once liked to flaunt designer handbags, pose by Maseratis and post selfies from tropical locales on social media. The broadcast showed Ms Guo wearing an orange prison-vest. She is...
Drawing a line

Drawing a line

A FISHING barge strewn with what look like animal corpses occupies the atrium of Shanghai’s Power Station of Art (PSA). This macabre Noah’s Ark (pictured above) is the bleak vision of Cai Guo-Qiang, an avant-garde artist who enjoys government favour yet whose works sometimes explore controversial themes. His exhibition, “The Ninth Wave”, opened on August...
China jails foreign sleuths

China jails foreign sleuths

A COURT in Shanghai sentenced a British corporate detective, Peter Humphrey, to two-and-a-half years in prison on August 8th for illegally obtaining private information on Chinese citizens. His American wife and business partner, Yu Yingzeng, was jailed for two years on the same charges. Mr Humphrey, 59, and Ms Yu, 61, were arrested more than...
Chemical highs

Chemical highs

ALL sorts of things can be ordered online in China, but few goods are delivered as fast as ketamine. It takes one hour and 500 yuan ($80), says Nine Ice Dragon Room, a dealer on QQ, an online-messaging service, for five grams of Guangdong’s purest “K” to reach an address in central Shanghai. It is...
Soft power outage

Soft power outage

PINK Floyd’s former frontman Syd Barrett may seem an unlikely vehicle for the dissemination of pro-China propaganda. But Mr Barrett’s face appeared on one of around 100 sham Twitter accounts uncovered by Free Tibet, an advocacy group, and the New York Times. The sole purpose of these accounts, it seems, was to spread airbrushed depictions of how great...
Polar bearings

Polar bearings

CHINA does not loan out its pandas to just anyone, so a deal in April for two of the bears to head to Copenhagen zoo raised some eyebrows in Scandinavia. Some commentators suggested that this was all about the Arctic and especially about Greenland, which Denmark partly administers, and its mineral resources. Certainly China is...
A bitter pill for GlaxoSmithKline

A bitter pill for GlaxoSmithKline

IT READS like a plot from white-collar crime fiction. New twists in the corruption saga enveloping GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) keep adding to the British drug giant’s troubles in China. In May, following a ten-month investigation, Chinese authorities accused the company of “massive and systemic” corruption that created billions of yuan in revenue. Now the emergence of a covert...
The net is cast

The net is cast

WHEN China’s president, Xi Jinping, visited the north-western region of Xinjiang in late Mayhe spoke of spreading nets “from the earth to the sky” to capture terrorists. The increased concern of China’s leadership with domestic security coincides with an uptick in violence attributed to ethnic tension, and possible indications of growing links between Xinjiang and foreign...
Dog fight

Dog fight

SINCE the mid-1990s people in Yulin, a city in the southern region of Guangxi, have gathered on the summer solstice (June 21st this year) to drink lychee wine and savour dog. Served on skewers, roasted or sliced into steaming hot pot, dog meat is considered tasty and detoxifying. The event has become a tourist draw, with around 10,000...
Taming the west

Taming the west

WHEN it opened eight years ago, the railway from Golmud to Lhasa was one of the most ambitious rail ventures ever attempted. At a cost of $4 billion, tracks were built across 550km (340 miles) of permafrost, reaching an altitude of 5,000 metres (16,400 feet)—the highest railway in the world. This September, an extension of...