As China’s Economy Improves, Self-expression Becomes an Industry

By Kat Fan
Mei-Li hair salon owner Cheng Qilai has opened five branches across Beijing since 1995.

As China steps further into the global spotlight, its
citizens are embracing an eclectic sense of fashion and style that has, in turn, led to a boom in the beauty industry.

A Shot of Sincerity

I find myself in this alley near Houhai everyday. There is a coffee shop where I drink milky tea and a small dive where I drink cheap shots at night. Further along, past the tea and pipe shops, the path curves to the left, over a small bridge that leads you into the bar district lining the shores of the lake.

But if you go straight into a crumbly alleyway instead of following the path over the bridge, you might come across Mrs. Xing, 51, selling incense outside the gate of Guanghua Temple.

Beijing Bebop

The backing band is playing Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," but it's clear this isn't the saxophonist's first time around the block. He takes the song's familiar form and makes it something all his own, like a cab driver who knows the destination but chooses to take the scenic route.

I'm in the audience of Beijing's CD Jazz Cafe with no voice recorder, notepad or even a pen. Being a reporter, that's like leaving home with no clothes on.

Backstage at a Fujian Opera


Fujian opera is one of many forms of Chinese opera, a classic art form with codified and ritual postures, facial expressions, and makeup. I went backstage and stepped directly into the dramatic storm: last-minute preparations for an opera in honor of the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Ebb and Flow - What is Old Becomes New Again

For a generation raised on MTV rather than Mao Zedong Thought, Buddhism, along with other traditional Chinese ideologies such as Confucianism and Taoism, offers young people a way to reconnect with their Chinese identity in the face of increasing globalization.

The Sounds of Heaven

In a small corner of one of China's most famous Taoist temples, Meng Zhi Lin tunes up his gu qin, a seven-stringed Chinese instrument.

“The tone is very low, so I’ll close the window,” Meng says through our interpreter.

The gu qin is not so much a musical instrument but a tool through which you practice and know the knowledge of heaven, he explains.

Ten years ago Meng Zhi Lin turned his back on modern life and sought isolation in the mountains, abandoning everything except his gu qin.

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