Bon Appetit, Jinan

Last Friday was Sports Day. Usually, I love to take the day off and travel since it’s the only long weekend that isn’t a national holiday and thus there’s a chance that you won’t be with throngs of people. But we got so many polite invitations to participate in the shot put and various races that it seemed wrong to leave town.

I couldn’t bring myself to go to the event though. I’m just not into sports that much and I figure the kids don’t need us there, they are having their own fun.

So I went to Starbucks where I met the owner of Bon Appetit, a new Italian restaurant in the Lushang Shopping Center across from the older stadium. The chef/owner recognized me as did his son. We got a complementary size pizza as an appetizer. I split a thin crust vegetable pizza and my two other friends enjoyed pasta and salad. The portions were satisfying and the service attentive without being annoying. I was impressed by the good English most of the staff spoke. The prices were high for Jinan, but that’s to be expected for imported food and Bon Appetit imports the cheese, flour, etc from Naples. So if you split a pizza expect to pay 70 rmb and pasta and salad will be about 80-95 rmb. By U.S. standards that’s a bargain. The problem is we soon get used to Jinan prices and a Chinese meal in our neighborhood rarely costs more that 20 rmb.

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The Bo Xilai Story

US Secretary Gutierrez meets with Chinese Mini...

US Secretary Gutierrez meets with Chinese Minister Bo Xilai cropped from File:US_Secretary_Gutierrez_meets_with_Chinese_Minister_Bo_Xilai.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been following the Bo Xilai story as best I can, which is hard to do in China. At first the details were murky and I couldn’t figure out exactly what is alleged to have happen, but finally The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Guardian and others have clearer reports of what’s believed to have gone on.

What’s interesting is how little coverage the story gets here.  A month ago CCTV reported that tangentially that several websites had been closed down for “spreading rumors” and that the

I’d just pieced together parts of the story, but now it’s clear that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, is implicated in the murder of a British man, Neil Heywood, who was to help her send lots of money overseas. That Bo has tapped the phones used by high ranking CP officials and that although his job was to stop corruption, he was highly corrupt and also imprisoned people who crossed him. An NPR report a month ago mentioned that family members of missing people in his district were afraid to speak out about their missing relatives.

If this happened in the US, people would be talking about it. A lot.

That’s a big difference in living in China. I wouldn’t ask anyone about it as I think I’d be rude or worse. If a student brought this up, I’d be surprised and I’d probably change the subject, though I’ve been quite open about the scallywags in Illinois politics.  I also don’t perceive the kind of energy that surfaces in the midst of a scandal. There’s no uptick in gossip that I can detect. Yet as I don’t speak Chinese I wouldn’t know, though I would pick up on the change of energy.

Well, it seems that the CCTV segment that showed that all is well in Mr. Bo’s Chongqing was might be on the money. There was an insipid segment on the news in which a reporter went to a GAP-like store in Chongqing and interviewed the assistant manager and a shopper or two. All said everything was hunky dory. Well, sure. When Blogojevich was on trial it’s not like, people stopped needing new jeans. Yet as I watched the report of how calm it was, made me suspicious. Why would someone report about a calm day?

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