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The most convenient way to learn Chinese the way it is actually spoken and used. Start with our basic lessons, and in no time you'll be listening to music, watching films and television and engaging in the actual language. With free daily podcasts, a vibrant community, online study tools and much more, PopupChinese is the most powerful and personal way to learn mandarin.
Updated: 3 hours 56 min ago

Elementary - Huang Xiaoming at the Stylist

Wed, 11/13/2013 - 01:00

Huang Xiaoming brushed his hand through his hair, which glistened in the morning sunshine in a somewhat unusual way. "After the army, I wanted to be able to express myself more fully." Pens scratched against paper in the silence that followed. "But how could I do that with clothing and music alone?" Xiaoming's voice dropped into quiet intimacy, as if he was reaching out to each listener personally. "And that was when I knew I needed to make real innovations in Chinese hairstyling."

Learning Chinese? Or stuck in Yiwu on a sourcing trip and really need to get a haircut? Fortunately, in this Elementary show, we cover both of these likely possibilities in a show that reviews most of the language you'll need to get a haircut, or maybe just a trim, at your neighborhood hairdresser. And - yes - we actually mean hairdresser. If the shop doesn't have scissors you're on your own....

Sinica - Daoism for the Action-Oriented

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 01:00

What Would Confucius Do? What for that matter would Laozi not do? This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy ask these and other questions of Sam Crane, professor of contemporary Chinese politics at Williams College and author of the new book Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Dao. And given that this show explores uniquely Chinese ideas of how to live a life through right action, and how ancient Chinese philosophy might be applied to contemporary American ethical challenges, we're also delighted to be joined by Jeremiah "Honorable Mencian" Jenne, scholar of Qing history, popular China blogger and now director of the IES immersion program.

We really enjoyed our discussion with Sam and Jeremiah this week. If you do too and want more Sinica, be aware you can subscribe to our podcast via our Sinica RSS feed. You can also continue to download this and every other Sinica show directly from our site as a standalone MP3 file. Because choice is good.

Sinica - In the News

Sun, 11/03/2013 - 02:49

This week on Sinica, we return to our China roots with a show covering recent developments in the news including the recent terrorist attack in Beijing and political hiring-and-firing at Peking University. Joining Kaiser and Jeremy to talk about everything that has made both the press and the bar circuit are Andrew Jacobs, correspondent for the New York Times, and Eric Fish, correspondent with the English division of the Economic Observer and co-creator of the China Hangup podcast.

On a side note, we're sorry our show is coming out a bit late this week, and as well for a few minor audio glitches you may or may not notice while listening. As always, we'd like to encourage longtime listeners to subscribe to the show via our Sinica RSS feed. And in the meantime, please feel welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 link.

Sinica - Chinese Literature in Translation

Fri, 10/25/2013 - 01:00

This week, Sinica is delighted to be joined by Linda Jaivin and Alice Liu for a discussion on Chinese literature in translation. As many listeners will know, Linda is a long-standing force in the Chinese literary community and the author of many China-related books including New Ghosts, Old Dreams, A Most Immoral Woman, and Confessions of an S & M Virgin. Alice is the brilliant managing editor of Pathlight Magazine and a long-standing supporter of the Chinese translation community in Beijing.

Enjoy Sinica? Just remember that if you have trouble listening to the show through our on-site player, you are always welcome to download this show as a standalone mp3 file. And if you'd like to subscribe to this and future shows using iTunes, you are welcome to hook up the software to our free public feed at http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica. Inquiries and suggestions for future show topics or guests are also welcome by email at sinica@popupchinese.com.

Advanced - Things We Love About China

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 01:00

Some of our shows can be admittedly negative about China, given all of the pressures and stresses that people deal with living here. But China also remains the world's happiest nation, at least according to North Korean media. So for all of the grumbling that we do, there is plenty to love about living here. Which is why we invite everyone feeling down about life in the Middle Kingdom to join Sylvia and Echo today for an advanced podcast in which we chat about everything we really like about life in China. We keep things upbeat for a change, how about that?

Sinica - Innovation in China

Fri, 10/18/2013 - 01:00

In China, innovation has become one of those political buzzwords which - like harmony - seems to mean anything and everything to the Central Propaganda Department. So much so that we find it difficult to walk down the streets in Beijing now without getting accosted by giant character banners encouraging us to economic feats of creative daring. But how much of what passes for innovation in China is actually the least bit innovative?

To help Sinica answer this question, this week Kaiser and Jeremy are pleased to be joined by Tom Saunders, a researcher and policy analyst at the Nesta think-tank on innovation who is in Beijing as part of a high-level British delegation focused on strengthening economic ties with China. More importantly, Tom is also the author of a recent report on China's Absorptive State: innovation and research in China, a report which tries to make sense of how much innovation in China is genuine, and what this means for the rest of the world.

Like Sinica? If you have trouble with our on-site player, don't forget that you can download the latest episode of Sinica as a standalone mp3 player. Users of iTunes or other RSS feed readers please also note that you can subscribe to our show by using this dedicated RSS feed.

Intermediate - Faking the Art of War

Mon, 10/14/2013 - 01:00

In this Intermediate show, David, Echo and Sylvia drop into our studio to chat about The Art of War, revealing not only what the Chinese military classic has in common with Monty Python, but also our own personal favorites from among the text's celebrated 36 strategems. And our goal? Helping you seem hyper-educated: because we're all about shortcuts, and why read the original text when you can just fake it through a podcast?

Learning Chinese? This lesson is a touch on the more difficult side for our intermediate series. Not only do we have a lot of native Chinese spoken in the discussion section of our podcast, but our non-dialogue focus is on some of the more commonly used strategems from The Art of War that you'll run into in daily life in China. But if you're an upper-level student, please do check it out and let us know what you think.

Sinica - Steven Schwankert and the HMS Poseidon

Fri, 10/11/2013 - 01:00

When the HMS Poseidon struck a Chinese freighter in the Gulf of Bohai in 1931, the collision sparked a devastating accident that would see the British submarine plunge to the ocean floor in mere minutes, claiming the lives of nearly half the crew, but then making history through the daring escape of six submariners who found themselves trapped in the torpedo room of the doomed vessel and made their way to the surface nearly an hour after its sinking.

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy help peel back the mystery of this Poseidon, as well as the secret Chinese salvage operation that took place decades later unbeknowst to the British Navy, in a discussion with Steven Schwankert, managing editor of The Beijinger, owner of the SinoScuba training school, and now author of the just-released book Poseidon: China's Secret Salvage of Britain's Lost Submarine.

Enjoy Sinica? If you're looking for an easy way to keep up-to-date on what we produce, feel free to subscribe to our RSS feed. If you use iTunes this will download new episodes of Sinica automatically as they become available. And let us know if you have any suggestions or feedback at sinica@popupchinese.com. [standalone mp3 download]

Elementary - Buzzing Up (and hating China)

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 01:00

So this story is somewhat off-topic, but after you hear the podcast you'll understand. The back-story is that Amazon emailed (repeatedly) to notify us that some books we had ordered for next-day delivery were shipped and would arrive that afternoon. But then after changing plans to make sure someone was home, we were notified by a telephone call in the late afternoon that the shipper hadn't even bothered to put the books in the mail. Because they wanted to check that we really wanted them.

Admittedly, this isn't a bit deal in the scheme of things, but is complaining about it unreasonable? Does it mean we hate China? Because maybe it means we've got other stuff on our plate: you be the judge.

Sinica - Laszlo Montgomery and the China History Podcast

Fri, 09/27/2013 - 01:00

The broken chopstick fell to our studio floor, its shaft splintered beyond repair where Laszlo had snapped it between his fingers. "Alone we are weak," he looked Jeremy and Kaiser in the eyes while those of us outside the studio wondered faintly who would be cleaning up the mess. "But together," he continued, pulling out a bundle of many more bound tightly between ribbons of silk. "Together we are unbreakable."

As should be obvious from our title, this week on Sinica we are delighted to be joined by the one-and-only Laszlo Montgomery, the force behind the China History Podcast. We waylaid the creator of our favorite history podcast during his most recent trip to Beijing, and dragged him into the studio to hold him accountable for everything he says on his shows. So if you're a fan like us, be sure to join us as we talk shop.

Enjoy Sinica? Please note that we invite everyone to download and share this week's show as a standalone mp3 file. And please consider yourself warmly invited to keep yourself updated on the release of new shows with our Sinica RSS feed. We hope you like the show!

Lazlo Montgomery and the China History Podcast

Fri, 09/27/2013 - 01:00

The broken chopstick fell to our studio floor, its shaft splintered beyond repair where Lazlo had snapped it between his fingers. "Alone we are weak," he looked Jeremy and Kaiser directly in the eyes while those of us outside the studio wondered faintly who would be cleaning up the mess. "But together," he continued, pulling out a bundle of many more chopsticks bound tight between ribbons of silk. "Together we are unbreakable."

As should be obvious from our title, this week on Sinica we are delighted to be joined by the one-and-only Lazlo Montgomery, the force behind the China History Podcast. We waylaid the creator of our favorite history podcast during his most recent trip to Beijing, and dragged him into the studio to hold him accountable for everything he says on his shows. So if you're a fan like us, be sure to join us as we talk shop.

Enjoy Sinica? Please note that we invite everyone to download and share this week's show as a standalone mp3 file. And please consider yourself warmly invited to keep yourself updated on the release of new shows with our Sinica RSS feed. We hope you like the show!

Absolute Beginners - Ambulance Days

Wed, 09/25/2013 - 01:00

Although we claim to be experts in basically everything involving China, we should admit that no-one at Popup Towers has ever had to call an ambulance. The one time a friend came down with a medical problem that needed one, he staggered to the local convenience store and someone took care of it for him. But since you're living in China and can't count on that, be sure to give this lesson a listen as we cover all the Chinese you should need to know to get help in an emergency. Or at least dial the right number.

Learning Chinese? At our absolute beginners level, all lessons are designed for people who have no previous experience speaking Chinese. So even if you don't know any Chinese, you should be able to understand the materials we cover in this class. And when you start finding this stuff too easy? Head up to our elementary level which features more spoken Chinese in the podcast, and longer dialogues in general.

Sinica - Chinese Twitter and the Big-V Takedown

Fri, 09/20/2013 - 01:00

Joining Kaiser and Jeremy this week are David Wertime and Rachel Lu from Tea Leaf Nation, along with Paul Mozur from The Wall Street Journal. And our topic? None other than the firestorm that has engulfed Sina Weibo following China's effective criminalization of anti-government tweeting on September 9th, and then the political crackdown that followed this week targeting the more rabble-rousing of celebrity microbloggers on China's most popular public messaging service.

At the heart of this crackdown lie the fates not only of some of China's most prominent tech companies, but also the degree of editorial independence of some of the most-followed and influential non-Party businessmen, celebrities and intellectuals in China. In addition to discussing this, we also ask whether Sino Weibo will continue to be popular under this sort of chilling effect, and to what extent evidence shows that online discussions are already migrating away from the web towards popular mobile services like Weixin (WeChat) with stronger limits on public broadcasting.

Enjoy Sinica but hate our in-site audio player. Please note that this show is - like all Sinica shows - available as a standalone mp3 file. Please feel free to download it and share with friends.

Sinica - Petroleum and Purges

Fri, 09/13/2013 - 01:00

The Beijing rumor-mill is back on overdrive. With the trial of Bo Xilai only barely concluded and the country now openly speculating on the length of the disgraced politician's likely sentence, factional battles targeting Bo's remaining supporters have moved center-stage, as the government has launched an anti-graft probe into the country's petroleum industry, a sector heavily connected to Zhou Yongkang, China's feared former security chief who reputedly continued to back Bo Xilai against the wishes of the rest of the Politburo.

Joining us to discuss these rumors are two outstanding observers of modern Chinese politics: Bill Bishop from Sinocism, and Jeremy Page from the Wall Street Journal. So join us as we discuss what seems to be happening behind the scenes, what this suggests for Bo Xilai's sentence and the future of the politburo, and what the implications of this probe suggest for everything from internal party politics to China's ongoing air pollution problems.

Note: don't want to use the in-site audio player? Download our standalone audio file!

Sinica - A Goodbye to the Magistad

Fri, 09/06/2013 - 01:00

Can it have been merely a few weeks ago that we sequestered Evan "the turncoat" Osnos in our studio and grilled the celebrated writer on his decision to leave China for what must have myopically seemed like greener pastures? At the time, we intended our podcast to act as a deterrent against further defections among the Beijing literati and set a forceful example of why journalists should love China and stop hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.

Sadly, recent developments indicate that further intimidation tactics may be necessary, as it has now come to our attention that none other than Mary Kay Magistad is also leaving China. One of the legends in Beijing journalism, Mary Kay got her start in 1993 when she began work as National Public Radio's full-time Southeast Asia correspondent. She later took charge of opening NPR's Beijing Bureau in 1996 before starting her decade-long involvement with The World. So clearly, we have quite a bit of debriefing to do....

Note: please feel invited to download this show as a standalone mp3 file.

Sinica - The Trial of the Century

Fri, 08/30/2013 - 01:00

The spectacular trial of Bo Xilai seized the media's attention last week as the fallen politburo member - still widely admired in Chongqing and Dalian and heavily connected among the Party elite - defended himself with unexpected vigor against charges of corruption, and hardly pausing to implicate his wife and subordinates in murder, mutual poisoning and financial skullduggery.

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy host two guests: Ed Wong from the New York Times and James Miles of The Economist for a closer look at what some Chinese commentators are calling China's "trial of the century". Join us for an in-depth discussion to the trial which looks not only at what this means for media transparency in China, but also extends to historical comparisons with previous political purges, including the famous case against Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four following the Cultural Revolution.

Enjoy Sinica? As always, let us remind you that you can always use iTunes to subscribe to Sinica. To do this, just click on the "File" menu and select the option "Subscribe to Podcast". When prompted, enter the URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica and iTunes will download all of our shows to your computer, updating automatically as new episodes are released. Alternately, we welcome all listeners to download this show as a standalone mp3 file. We hope you enjoy it.

Elementary - Lost in a Parking Garage

Tue, 08/27/2013 - 01:00

Safely ensconced on the fifth floor (5A-West) of the parking garage, the Volkswagen Beetle waited patiently for the return of its masters. Minutes passed into hours, and then hours into days. And when winter stretched into spring and spring into summer, the passage of time caused little discomfort for the unprepossessing automobile. Its owners would come, and when they did it would be time to take them and their shopping home.

Learning Chinese. In this show, we cover a few words and phrases useful for getting out of just about anything in mandarin, and remind you that verbs describing thinking and feeling are always used in the present aspect. Finally, we cover a use of 又 which is impossible to translate, since the character carries almost no independent meaning into the sentence.

Sinica - Turning the Tables on Sinica

Fri, 08/23/2013 - 01:00

This week sets a new record for introspective profanity as we reverse our usual format, in a show that features David Moser and Mary Kay Magistad turning the tables on Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo with an interview that explores how both view Sinica’s relationship with the world of academic Sinology as well as China-related journalism, and question to what extent both are relevant and irrelevant in this digital age.

As long-standing guests on our show with roots in the academic and journalism fields respectively, David and Mary Kay are more than qualified to hold Kaiser and Jeremy to account. David Moser is one of the most well-regarded Sinologists in Beijing, and works as the Academic Director for the CET program in Beijing. Mary Kay Magistad is a veteran China correspondent for Public Radio International with over 20 years of experience living in and reporting on Asia.

Enjoying Sinica but frustrated by our on-site flash player? Two solutions are either downloading this show as a standalone MP3 file, or using any RSS feed reader to subscribe to this podcast automatically. In of Sinica right to your computer. In iTunes, you can do this by selecting "Subscribe to Podcast" from the Advanced file menu and providing the URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica when prompted.

Advanced - Chinese Pet Stories

Mon, 08/19/2013 - 01:00

The worst childhood pet stories we've ever heard are variants of Cujo or Pet Semetary, involving a once-beloved puppy which not only goes crazy, but massacres large portions of a small rural village in the process. And in that sense, these childhood stories of Echo and Sylvia are somewhat tame by comparison. But they also make us wonder at the sensibilities of a country which trains its children to raise worms.

Sinica - David Moser interviews Mark Rowswell

Fri, 08/16/2013 - 09:06

If you're a long-timer in China, this is a show that needs no introduction. One of the most famous foreigners in China, Mark Rowswell (a.k.a. Dashan) shot to fame in the early 1990s after a fortuitous break on Chinese television. In this live interview with David Moser conducted at Capital M earlier this month, David and Mark talk a bit about their shared experiences on Chinese television before some light sparring in a deeper discussion of how Chinese media and the Chinese sense of humour have changed over the years.

This is a really great interview and we're delighted to be able to feature it here on Sinica. With that said, before you listen let us remind you as always that suggestions, questions and comments are always welcome in the comments section below, or on our facebook page. We also welcome correspondence by email at sinica@popupchinese.com. So enjoy the show, and let us know what you think.

p.s. here is the standalone mp3 file for download.