“Living With Dead Hearts” trafficked Chinese children documentary free to view online [Updated]

For those of you with an interest in human trafficking, international adoption or China in general, you’ll probably want to see this heart-breaking documentary from ChinaGeeks. Tens of thousands of children are kidnapped each year in China and sold into domestic adoption, forced labour, prostitution, or overseas adoption. Here’s the trailer:

Living With Dead Hearts provides a simple introduction to infant and child trafficking in China, and allows a few families a chance to tell their stories. We glimpse their anguish and unrelenting attempts to track down their children, made all the worse by incompetent, callous and/or complicit gov’t officials and law enforcement.

Even one of the kidnapped tells his story, or at least the parts he knows: “I just want to know my birth parents, where I came from, and for what reason I was kidnapped and sold.”

In Carried Off, co-director Charlie Custer relays the experience of American adoptive parents searching for the truth of their Chinese child’s past, and provides greater detail about Chinese child trafficking in general.

For more about human trafficking and related issues see:

*Updated with more and better links for further reading.

“Legastories” creatively bridges the China-West cultural divide

From Access China founder and Legastories creator-performer Tim Nash:

All human beings are shaped by stories out of their culture. I invite you to journey with the Chinese people, through the legacy of stories which make them what they are today.

This looks awesome, like one of the more creative and effective ways of bridging cultural distance between China and the English-speaking world. It’s called Legastories (as in, Legacy of Stories), a one-man stage show introducing English-speakers to the Chinese people through the legacy of stories that makes them what they are today. It’s the 5000-year-long story of China in one continuous artistic narrative over 24 chapters performed live.

We heard Tim Nash speak on China on several occasions while living in Tianjin. This is bound to be fantastic. Here’s the trailer:

When I first started studying Chinese 25 years ago I very quickly came to despise it; it was very dry, it was very foreign, it was very dead. And then I went and lived with a Chinese family and suddenly China became alive. China was about people. And suddenly it was human experience that could be shared.
Language is not the issue. The key is to be able to translate a concept from one cultural context to another – whether that’s from Britain to China, from Sales to Customer Support, or husband to wife.
That’s key if we’re going to build successful relationships at any level, whether it’s within a family, within a company, between a company and its customers, or between nations. For me, the challenge of the Western world trying to build relationships with China, when the two places are so clearly different is the best place to explore some of the principles that we need to get our heads around.

For more visit legastori.es and Access China.

More about China-West cultural differences:

So you want to make a difference in China?

Good luck. ;)

Here are four quotes from three different centuries. The first three come from Jonathan Spence‘s To Change China: Western Advisers in China 1620-1960 (1969).

Jonathan Spence on education in 19th century China:

It was particularly hard for a foreigner to enter the educational sector. To the Chinese, education was the key to social harmony and political stability: from the Confucian Classics, hallowed by a tradition reaching back over two thousand years, the young learned obedience, morality, and the norms of acceptable behaviour. On the basis of their study of the Classics, they participated in ascending levels of examinations for the civil service. Success in these examinations opened up prospects for a career in government, the major source of wealth and power. To introduce new subjects — such as Western philosophy, languages, or natural science — was to threaten the basis of the Chinese state. Innovation, accordingly, was vigorously resisted. [Spence, 129]

John Fryer, missionary/educator/translator employed by the Qing dynasty, on learning Chinese:

It was all a question of time and tenacity: “Most foreigners who come to China have the notion that in a year they will master the language. They get a teacher, and pound away vigorously for a week or perhaps a month and then give up in disgust.” Accordingly, they made ludicrous mistakes which negated all their endeavors. He told his cousin of hearing a missionary in Shanghai trying to tell his Chinese audience that “Jesus is here also”; the missionary, muddling his tones and aspirates, succeeded only in assuring the puzzled listeners that “Jesus is inside shaving his head.” “If I could have my way, not a single missionary should say one word in public till he had lived with the people and studied the local dialect of his mission station at least five years, and passed an examination. Just imagine the ridicule which such people bring to Christianity.” [Spence, 145]

Mikhail Borodin, “Stalin’s man in China,” on his failure:

I came to China to fight for an idea. The dream of accomplishing world revolution by freeing the people of the East brought me here. But China itself, with its age-old history, its countless millions, its vast social problems, its infinite capacities, astounded and overwhelmed me, and my thoughts of world revolution and the fight for freedom, in China became an end in itself, and no longer a means to an end. My task was to grasp the situation, to start the great wheel moving, and as time has passed it has carried me along with it. I myself have become only a cog in the great machine. [Spence, 202]

BBC commentator Martin Jacques on understanding China (quoted by Dr. Brent Fulton of ChinaSource.org):

Last year Martin Jacques, a BBC commentator, put it well when he said, “The great task facing the West over the next century will be to make sense of China – not in our terms but in theirs. We have to understand China as it is and as it has been, not project our own history, culture, institutions and values onto it. It will always fail that test. In truth such a mentality tells us more about our own arrogance and lack of curiosity than anything about China.”

(And of course we have lots more quotes and reviews of China Books and DVDs.)