BEIJING — The other day I read Hou Hongbin’s article entitled, “Why are Chinese men so ugly?’ It harshly criticizes the generally unkempt appearance of Chinese men. I can’t help but admire the author’s mastery of words in describing Chinese men’s singular neglect of their looks.
Naturally, it also left me feeling like crying for Chinese women. Perhaps it also explains why so many mature Chinese wives, disgusted by their bedroom mates, are behaving like young groupies with those South Korean male television series stars who look so exquisitely groomed and fashionable. One rich Chinese lady even went as far as taking a whole page of the Beijing News to wish happy birthday to Kim Soo-Hyun, the leading South Korean actor of the successful series You Who Came From The Stars.
So is the reality truly so depressing? After all, the article mostly addressed the over-40 set. Perhaps the under-40 male generation is better groomed?
Wei Kunlin, a Peking University professor and a jury member of The Best Brain, a popular program of Zhejiang Satellite TV, offers hope for despairing Chinese women, not only with his curriculum vitae but also his good fashion sense. There are, in fact, suddenly more and more decent looking Chinese guys such as Wei — and not just gay men.
It’s well known in China’s publishing world that magazines such as Trends Health or L'Officiel Hommes used to primarily target homosexual readers. But this is gradually changing. Because of my work, I often need to buy or order men’s fashion magazines, and in the past two years I have often bumped into straight men at the ground floor of an office building doing the same.
A female friend of mine recently was so surprised by her public relations agent boyfriend who gave her a skirt from 3.1 Phillip Lim as a gift. The fact that he showed such great attention to fashion and knows even better than she does about brands made my friend wonder whether he is actually gay.
When she finally found the courage to confront him about her doubt, she felt ridiculed by his answer, “Are you still in the world of the 20th century?”
Lazy in looks
In the article, the middle-aged men over 40 are described as an unkempt bunch “with greasy hair, dirty face and a big belly, who dress like old men and never polish their shoes.” They completely neglect their appearance because there is another pressure in Chinese society much more urgent than aesthetics: to become rich.
Old style — Photo: Kevinpoh
Instead, the under-40 Chinese men manage to both strive professionally and actually enjoy the fruits of their labor. The pursuit of success, in other words, is important but not at the cost of reducing one's quality of life.
The fact that more and more Chinese men have studied abroad and have returned home to work probably partly explains why Chinese men’s aesthetic sense is finally improving. This goes hand in hand with their taste, and this is brought back to China with them.
Certain of these men admiringly buy tailor-made suits, which even have made-to-measure pockets for their smart phones, or they fall in love with the particular sewing touch of a hand-made Kiton shirt.
Of course, you may say that they are just a few elite boys who don’t represent the Chinese mainstream. But that would ignore the fact that a new generation of Chinese women are also doing their best and contributing to transforming their partners’ look.
A straight friend of mine asked me to go shopping with him a while ago. I was originally prepared to be his clothes shopping assistant until I found out, surprisingly, that this old classmate of mine — who only knew T-shirts and jeans in the college days — now wears chic Brooks Brothers suits and would make a special trip to Hollister just to buy his casual wear and swimming trunks for an upcoming holiday in Thailand.
The saying that “There’s no such thing as ugly women, just lazy women” seems to apply to men as well. Rather than just complain about the scruffy look of one’s partner, Chinese women should initiate the aesthetic education of their men.
With some luck, Chinese people’s living standards will continue to rise. The new generation no longer consider themselves just breadwinners in life. With more patience and attention to their fellow countrymen, Chinese women should be able to look forward to a better future where Chinese men can actually teach each other the fine art of good taste.
Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.
MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative
These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."
In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."
The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.
Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.
NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.
"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.
The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."
Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."
The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.
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