Transgender In China: Defending A Formerly Male Dancing Star's Right To Be A Woman

Essay: Jin Xing, one of China's greatest modern dancers, has divided public opinion after she was barred from being a television show judge because censors thought she was a bad influence on teenagers. A close-up look at a unique role model in mo

Jin Xing (Venice Biennale)
Jin Xing (Venice Biennale)
Liu Tong

BEIJING - In September, star Chinese dancer Jin Xing posted on her Weibo microblog account the news that she'd been banned from judging a television program because of her transsexual identity.

This decision was no doubt driven by the belief of many people in China think transsexuals should not appear in the media because they pose a moral threat to adolescents. Jin says this is pure prejudice caused by a lack of understanding and awareness. Her post drew wide support online.

Jin used to be an excellent male dancer. At the age of 28, she realized her dream of a sex change by going under the knife. Since then, she has talked often about her life as a transsexual, hoping the public can understand more about the lives of people like her.

Among the common objections to transsexuals are complaints about their revealing clothing. Other Chinese people, Jin notes, only know about transsexual people through the negative publicity generated by Thailand's sex tourism industry. Yet most transsexual people lead ordinary lives as lawyers, engineers, and workers. They are no different than the rest of us: neither in their appearance and clothing nor in their heart and spirit.

Sadly, however, many people just dislike transgender people instinctively.

A mother, and freedom fighter

Jin appears to be a very strong person in public -- both for her fame as a successful dancer, and for her great courage and spirit of freedom. She has been leading the "Shanghai Jin Xing Dance Theater" for 12 years.

While most think such people are unlikely to be victims of discrimination, Jin was indeed banned from a TV program. Some even dared to say that Jin Xing devotes her time to her work and family in order to atone for the sex change she has committed. Jin was furious: What atonement? Is it a crime to change gender?

Due to her own experiences, Jin, 44, has become very aware of discrimination of all kinds: against children, the disabled and homosexuals.Through her weibo account, Jin also criticized Li Yang, China's most famous English teacher, for beating his American wife. Li Yang blamed the family conflicts on cultural differences between China and the U.S.

Living a life in the performing arts, she says, the highlight has been as a mother of three adopted Chinese children and wife of a German husband. Jin says that she has always put her family ahead of her career, but after her first priority: her freedom.

Read in E.O.

photo - Venice Biennale

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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