Pictures of china dolls

How to deal with the China Doll Issue

We are just in the beginning research of adoption in China and I’m finding out some very interesting information that I’d not been aware of. I am Filipina – of Chinese/Spanish/Japanese descent – born in the Philippines but raised in NY.

I was not aware of there being so many terms that are found offensive. For instance, I had no idea until I moved to California in 1994 that I should be offended if someone called me “oriental” rather than “asian”. My family even refers to themselves as either Filipino or oriental. I can’t find it in myself to be offended unless the word is spat out at me. The words “woman”, “girl” and “lady” can be just as offensive if ill-used. As a child, I was also referred to as a “China doll”. My mother thought it was endearing and people still look at my baby photos & say, “Oh…you were such a cute China doll!” Again, I cannot bring myself to be offended (even though I’m technically NOT Chinese) because I know that the connotation in which it was used was not ugly. I have a Chinese friend who ran home from school as a 1st grader in tears. When her mother asked her what was wrong, she cried, “They called me a bad word!” When further prodded she yelled, “They called me CHINESE!” She was 6 yrs old but no one in her family (all Chinese) had ever explained to her that she was indeed a CHINESE-American. I had to endure alot of (what I thought then was stupid) questions from classmates: “Does your mom use pots & pans or does she use coconuts to cook in?” “Do you have plates or do you use banana leaves to eat on?” “Is your house on stilts?” “Do you always eat with your fingers?”. I learned later that there had been a National Geographic special on indigenous people of the Philippines – a people who still lived a primitive existence. My parents’ solution to that was for me to give a presentation about the life of a Filipino. They were surprised (and somewhat disappointed) to find that we lived very similarly to them. This is just MY opinion & I respect that others will feel very, very differently. I think there is a fine line between being offended by terms that people use without malice and those that are meant to be racist or hurtful. I’ve heard people say that to tease a Filipino about owning 3000 pairs of shoes is offensive but to tease a Caucasian about it is funny. Either way I don’t care – women in general have many shoes & Imelda Marcos generated a Filipino stereotype. More often than not, during my childhood my “oriental” features and all the stereotypes (smart, good in math – boy! that was wrong, respectful, helpful, etc…) that went with it, gave me alot of advantages. Expectations were perhaps higher in school because of how I looked, but I do think it helped me to excel. I guess in the end, I am glad that my parents taught ME to be tolerant of people’s remarks because they generally were not meant to hurt me or insult me. Let’s face it – no matter how much you teach your friends, family & those you bump into what is acceptable or not in terms of your child, there will ALWAYS be people whom you cannot reach. Give your children the tools to deal with it because you will never be able to shield them completely. My parents both believed in doing your best at whatever you do – schoolwork, your job, living your life, etc…I can never use the excuse that I’m treated differently because of my race thanks to my parents. If they hadn’t given me that, I could very well have grown up feeling offended at every turn and gone on to my adult life that way. Some of my cousins were taught differently and had a much more difficult time straddling their Filipino culture with American culture. They are adults now but I still hear them say, “I was treated that way because I’m not white.” Maybe so…but you can’t use that excuse forever and need to just do your best. ETA: I wanted to add, Li Jia-Yu, that I am so sorry about your experience. China Doll certainly means something different to your Chinese culture than it did in mine. However, I do remember feeling terribly offended & angry whenever the boys would make “chinky” eye gestures at me or yell that childish Chinese/Japanese dirty knees chant at me. I remember thinking, “You’re so stupid – I’m not even Chinese or Japanese.” Children can be very cruel and for the most part, I believe they learn that at home and from the adults in their lives. I would go home & complain to my parents. To me, they would kind of laugh & just say, “They don’t know what they’re saying…just beat them with your schoolwork.” Even when I wanted to press my point about the insults, they would still tell me to ignore them. What my parents said in private, I don’t know. I’m sure their reaction would have been different if I’d been physically harmed in any way. I do know that by not reacting to the taunts, the boys stopped and I did become friends with them all eventually.

How To Care For A China Doll Plant

The China doll (Radermachera sinica) is a fairly new houseplant that has become very popular and widely available. This plant is like a tree, with attractive, glossy, mid-green leaves divided into leaflets. This plant remains fairly compact and it’s easy to look after. While their care can be a bit tricky, once you know the basic growing conditions for China doll plants, you can enjoy their presence in your home.

How to Care for a China Doll Plant

China doll plants need plenty of bright, but indirect, light. They need at least four to five hours of this kind of light a day. If the windows in your house are unable to provide suitable light, then you may want to use an artificial plant light to add additional light.

They are also fussy about the temperature that they thrive in. These plants prefer to live in temperatures of 65-75 F. (18-24 C.). They will not tolerate drafts, so make sure that wherever you put your China doll, it remains free from drafts and wind.

China doll plants need moist, but well drained, soil. Water when the soil on the top of the pot is dry to the touch. Be careful not to overwater the plant, as it does not like this and can develop root rot if left sitting in water due to poor drainage.

This plant should not be repotted, as it grows best when its roots are rootbound.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that China doll plants do not like change. A change in light, water, temperature or repotting the plant will cause a massive leaf drop.

If your China doll plant does drop its leaves, don’t panic. They will grow back if proper steps are taken. The first thing you should do is trim the remaining stems back by two-thirds to one-half. Cut back watering some to help prevent root rot, which is something this plant is particularly susceptible to in this state.

Regular pruning is also a part of how to care for a China doll plant.

China doll plant may be a little on the finicky side, but they are certainly lovely plants that will add to the beauty of your home.

China Doll

China Doll

China doll is a common houseplant with abundant glossy-green leaves. Adapted from its origin as a large tree, this fast-growing plant now happily tolerates indoor-growing conditions. Although China doll doesn’t bloom indoors, a mature specimen will produce large trumpet-shape white flowers when grown outdoors.

genus name
  • Radermachera sinica
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Houseplant
  • 1 to 3 feet,
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 1 to 3 feet wide
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers
  • Stem Cuttings

China Doll Care Must-Knows

When growing China doll in a container, use a well-drained potting medium. That’s because this somewhat temperamental plant grows best with consistent moisture. Let it dry out slightly between waterings to avoid rot and other problems. If a China doll has lived in the same container for a long period of time, the soil may build up excess salt, which can cause leaf-tip burn. Try leaching (or flushing) the soil to remove excess salt. A simple process, leaching is done by placing the potted plant in a drip pan or in the sink and running twice as much tap water as the pot would hold through the soil until the water runs clear. It may take more than one flushing; if so, empty the drip pan each time. Empty the drip pan one last time after you are done leaching so the soil doesn’t reabsorb salty water. Leaching is especially important when a plant has been watered with chemically softened water. If that’s the case, flush the soil with rain water or distilled water.

China doll also appreciates humidity. In an extremely dry environment, increase relative humidity around this plant by placing it on a saucer filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates the level of humidity around the plant will rise. Avoid letting China doll sit directly in the water as soggy soil can lead to root rot.

When China doll lives inside, it fares best with four to five hours of full to part sun exposure a day. With too much shade this plant quickly becomes lanky and will need constant pruning to look maintained. Even when grown in ideal conditions, China doll requires regular trims because of how fast it grows. To keep China doll looking healthy, provide it with an occasional dose of fertilizer in a liquid feed or a slow-release fertilizer every few months. Fertilizing encourages new growth, though, so keep those pruning shears handy.

Check out other plants that grow best in your bathroom.

How to Propagate China Doll

Although it can be less successful than with other types of plants, rooting a China doll cutting can result in a new plant. Cut 2 inches of new growth toward the tip of the plant—green wood only, nothing old and tough. Remove the lower leaves from your cutting, leaving just a few leaflets attached at the tip. Dip the bottom half of the cutting in a rooting hormone powder and tap off any excess. Then stick the cutting in moist potting mix and cover it with a plastic bag to trap as much humidity as possible. Keep the bagged cutting in a bright, warm spot and give it a gentle tug every few weeks to see if it is rooting. As soon as the cutting roots and begins to grow, pinch the tip to encourage good branching.

More fantastic foliage houseplants.

China Doll Plant CareRadermachera Sinica

Home › Indoor House Plant Care › China Doll Pant

The China Doll Plant is for you if you like unusual house plants. Great indoor gardening tips for growing the beautiful China Doll house plant.

The China doll house plant is a great indoor plant for you if you are looking for an attractive foliage plant. They grow into fairly large house plants with shiny leaves that will remind you of an ash tree. The plant can easily grow up to 5 ft but if you don’t have that much room you can keep them at a reasonable size by cutting them back.

Radermachera sinica has its origin in China and the Philippines where this evergreen tree carries white, bell-shaped flowers. Unfortunately the plants seldom flower indoors but they still are very attractive unusual house plants! In their natural habitat they can grow up to 90 ft tall. But don’t worry, the varieties that are in cultivtion as a house plant are much more compact!

Photos: Tatters:)

Where To Grow China Doll House Plants?

These indoor house plants like a spot that is bright all year round. Avoid hot, direct sunlight that could burn the leaves. An east or west facing window is ideal.

During the summer the plant can go outside.

China Doll Plant Care And Maintenance

Keep the soil slightly moist. Soft, lime-free water is best. Reduce the watering during the winter. Feed the plant with a general purpose house plant fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. Reduce the feeding during the winter months to every 6-8 weeks.

Radermachera likes high humidity levels so mist the leaves regularly.

Propagation: You can try to take cuttings but they might be slow to take root. They can also be grown from seed just keep in mind that they need light for germination so don’t cover the seeds.

Why is your China doll plant dropping leaves?

There can be several reason for the leaves yellowing and dropping off.

1. You over-water and keep the plant too wet. This is the most common cause of problems with indoor plants in genreral! This will rot the roots and the plant will start to wither because the roots are not functioning any more.

2. The plant is too dry. Touch the soil with your fingers and feel. If the soil feels very dry your plant will need water!

3. China doll house plants don’t like cigarette smoke! If you are a heavy smoker this might not be a suitable plant for you.

Pests And Diseases

Greenflies and scale insects can become a problem occasionally. Use a spray that contains fatty acids to get rid of these pests. This type of pest spray is not poisonous and won’t harm you or your pets.

Photo: wikimedia

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As fragile as a China doll

China As An Echo Of Japan

Many Americans worry today about China much the way they worried about Japan over a quarter century ago. Then, Harvard scholar Ezra Vogel’s Japan As Number One: Lessons for America, extolled the virtues of a controlled economy in a tightly-wound bureaucracy. Vogel exhorted Americans to copy Japan, whose students recorded higher scores on standardized tests, whose companies exported the larger part of their production with ever better quality, whose economy seemed to be growing exponentially as the economy in the United States was suffering stagflation. Japan loved Vogel’s message. The Japanese translation of his book is still the best-selling non-fiction work in Japanese history. Yet, of course, he was wrong.

Japan’s controlled economy and centralized Ministry of International Trade and Industry triggered much of the philosophy and design behind changes in the countervailing duty laws to account for predatory targeting of foreign markets. The trade remedy tools for antidumping did not seem adequate to take on the wealth and power of the Japanese government. American concerns had focused on semiconductors and steel, but there were many other products ranging from portable typewriters to the most sophisticated computers. The slogan was that American companies could compete with any foreign private enterprise, but not with foreign governments. The perceived solution was to concentrate on challenging Japanese subsidies that were intended to put foreign (American) competition out of business.

Ironically, American producers rarely took advantage of these new tools under the countervailing duty laws to address concerns about imports from Japan. Instead, they continued to rely almost exclusively on the antidumping law, using these countervailing duty tools, originally created with Japan in mind, against other countries, most recently China. The sloganeering, however, remains the same – that it is one thing to compete with foreign private enterprise, and quite another to compete with a foreign government.

Japan was determined to move up the production value chain, from the manufacture and export of cheap knick-knacks to the premier rungs of automobiles and electronics. Generally, Japan succeeded under state direction, but the move up led to offshoring jobs for assembling and finishing sophisticated goods, and to the loss of jobs related to lower-cost production in textiles, transistor radios, and other items that had contributed to the reputation of “Made in Japan.”

There were many congressional calls in the United States for tough enforcement of the trade laws in order to guarantee a “level playing field” for American manufacturers. It was not the retaliatory trade laws, however, that slowed the Japanese engine. Instead, it was the stultifying bureaucracy, the government’s replacement of the market to pick winners and losers, the dominance of imitation over innovation favored by the students with high standardized test scores. It was the cost associated with graduating from cheap to more expensive and sophisticated goods. The robust economy turned stagnant, and lost years became lost decades. No one today in the United States would want to have been emulating Japan, even before the devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

There are echoes from Japan in today’s global response to China, whose astonishing growth and achievement during the very period when Japan’s economy was failing has challenged some American beliefs in the free private enterprise system. China’s major producers are state-owned enterprises; the economy is subject to central control and management. China has proved Milton Friedman as wrong as Vogel: democracy is not a sine qua non for successful capitalism. An authoritarian state with a centralized economy can, at least under some circumstances and for some period of time, prosper.

Some, including many Chinese, argue that Americans should be learning from China how to recover from recession and manage an economy. Many Chinese are as enamored of the image of a surging China as the Japanese had been with the Vogel version of Japan. Two years of aggressive foreign policy at the end of the last decade meant, at least in part, to suggest to the United States that China had plenty of muscle of its own, a new self-confidence and independence.

Japan Not Then And China Not Now

Exponential extrapolation has always been seductive to social scientists. Uri Dadush and William Shaw, in Juggernaut: How Emerging Markets Are Reshaping Globalization, project annual 5 percent growth for China for the next forty years, neglecting the exercise of looking back forty years to ask whether anything predicted then would make sense now. China in 1970, in a Cultural Revolution banishing intellectuals and celebrating peasants, becoming the world’s leading exporter of manufactured goods, with more than 300 million people lifted out of poverty and expanding cities? The Soviet Union, instead of the great nuclear rival and threat to western capitalism, going out of business altogether? The type of predictions in Juggernaut rightly scare Americans. Some, who think they must compete with the juggernaut, consider imitation more than flattery.

Americans should no more consider imitating China today than they should have been learning many lessons from Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. It does not diminish the Chinese accomplishment to conclude that it should not be emulated, and that it will not last, in this form and this way, forever (nor even forty years). Japan’s great growth and achievement was a sustained progression from the devastation of World War II. It took around thirty years. China’s growth follows the Cultural Revolution. Once launched by Deng Xiao Ping it, too, took around thirty years. This assessment does not mean that China has run its course, but it does mean that there is much that should (and does) worry China. There is much that is not right in the economy, and many warning signs immediately ahead.

Fragile China

There has been much commentary about China’s fears of instability. The Government reports tens of thousands of protests around the country every year, many violent and involving masses of people. Such protests seem surprising in an authoritarian state with a growing middle class and manifest materialism. From the outside looking in, the Chinese government is in control and the state is not legitimately threatened. The Chinese Government, however, does not see the protests that way.

China is on the precipice of a demographic challenge unlike any ever seen on such a scale by any country before, especially one induced by government policy. While the population is graying rapidly, there are few replacement workers because the one-child policy formalized in 1980 still applies. Its enforcement has been fitful, and there have been tens of thousands of breaches, but China estimates having prevented as many as 400 million births. Less apparent to authorities, however, are the consequences.

The Chinese population between 15 and 24 years old has been falling precipitously since 2000, to barely 12 percent of the population in 2011. The population over 65 is only 8 percent in 2011, but it will rise to 20 percent by 2040 while the population between 15 and 24 will be just over 10 percent. In a state that provides almost no social welfare net — no pensions, no health care – the growing prosperity that is producing an aging population will evaporate for the elderly, who will depend on a diminishing population to care for and support them.

There are economic forces that will compound this demographic challenge. China is determined to move up the value chain in production, just as Japan did in the 1960s and 1970s. Such movement, however, carries at least two consequences: wages rise, and the number of jobs declines. It already is well-known that Chinese enterprises, and foreign enterprises operating in China, have been offshoring jobs to Bangladesh and Indonesia and Malaysia and Vietnam because of soaring labor costs. The growing middle class is expanding a gap leaving the poor behind, making it more difficult for China to raise the next 100 million from poverty, and the rate of enterprises opening or expanding in China in order to benefit from cheap labor is in decline.

To keep the economy growing and an increasing population (despite the one-child policy) housed and fed, China is becoming the leading consumer of energy and the leading producer of carbon emissions on the planet. It will take a long time for China to catch up to the United States as a per capita consumer and polluter, but not to be the leader in both in sheer volumes and values. The Chinese Government is very aware of the dangers presented by this twin challenge. It is addressing the carbon emissions problem aggressively by subsidizing the development of alternative fuels and power, but for the medium if not long term it cannot escape a dependence on coal for which there seems to be no technical fix as a source of significant pollution. China, like most other countries, has been discouraged by events in Japan from pursuing nuclear alternatives.

The energy challenge has been the focus of Chinese foreign direct investment. China is using accumulated foreign reserves to buy natural resources around the globe and ship them back to China. Not a small amount of resentment is building, however, against this raid on the rest of the world’s natural resources.

China faces a revolution of rising expectations that requires ever-growing quantities of energy, and a permanent challenge to create more jobs and increase wages simultaneously, another feat that appears impossible to sustain. The numbers of protests inevitably will rise in this environment that puts a premium on jobs and private responsibility.

There is also a fear of international contagion. The revolutions of colors (orange, lavender) have bled into seasons (the Arab spring). While outsiders may see no palpable threat to China, Chinese authorities are taking no chances. There is instability all around the Chinese neighborhood, from Chechnya to North Korea to Thailand to Pakistan. There are potential challenges on the peripheries (Tibet, Uighurs); there is a domestic Moslem population. There are daily battles over the seizure of land from peasants for speculation and development, all conditions that, Chinese authorities fear, could ignite something beyond control. And control is important in a country whose history in the absence of central control has been tragic.

The situation in China is inherently unstable because of the unyielding need to keep the economy expanding, employment and the middle class growing. World circumstances do not help. China has suppressed speech and responded forcefully to protests, but has delivered economically. Now, Chinese authorities must deliver economically lest more attention be drawn to the limitations on speech and the prevalence of protest. More individual freedoms surely will come with more prosperity and more international travel and global exposure, but authorities reasonably worry that they cannot maintain the breakneck speed that has produced the greatest improvement in living standards for the greatest number of people in the shortest period of time in the history of the world.

The Fragile China Doll

China has become a power in the world economy. It wants to be recognized for its economic importance, but forgiven as a new and developing country. It wants a place at every table, but not necessarily the burdens of responsibility that others at the table think it should share. It wants to project accomplishment and confidence (the Beijing Olympic ceremonies and the Shanghai Expo being the most outward indications), but it wants to be relieved of pressure. It is, domestically and internationally, layers of paradox.

China dolls are to be admired but not much handled, appreciated but not loved because they are too fragile to hold. Some Chinese authorities seem to perceive China now as a China doll, admirable but fragile, durable only as long as it is not handled. China dolls, however, are finished products, and China is a power in the making with a long way to being admired on a shelf. It will remain fragile, but must be ready for rough handling ahead.


1 of 2 2 of 2

Written and directed by Marjorie Chan. A Gateway Theatre production. At Gateway Theatre on Friday, October 18. Continues until October 26

Gateway Theatre’s production of Marjorie Chan’s China Doll is as complicated, confounding, and visceral as the play itself.

Act 1 suffers through some stilted performances and slow pacing, which creates an emotional distance between the audience and the story unfolding on-stage. China Doll is set in Shanghai between 1904 and 1918, and Su-Ling (Jennifer Tong) is just five years old when her grandmother Poa-Poa (Manami Hara) breaks and binds her feet, promising Su-Ling that this will be the path out of poverty, as it was for Poa-Poa when her own bound feet, the tiniest in her village, helped land her a husband. Circumstances—her daughter, Su-Ling’s Ma-Ma (Donna Soares), is dead, as is Su-Ling’s father—have returned Poa-Poa to a position of servitude to the rich Chen family, and her only hope is to make a proper lady out of Su-Ling.

But Su-Ling wants more, and her insatiable curiosity endears her to Master Li (Jovanni Sy), who secretly teaches her to read against Poa-Poa’s wishes. Act 2 feels like whiplash, so significantly does the action ratchet up. Su-Ling is 16 and has been chosen as Wife No. 2 for one of the Chen sons. She will be a concubine, but Poa-Poa is thrilled. This means a room inside the big house and a return to being a person of status. Su-Ling is a commodity, and not just to her grandmother, but to everybody, including Master Li, whose fetishistic obsession, um, climaxes in a memorably vile scene.

And spoiler alert: when Su-Ling ultimately decides to escape, inspired by the world she’s discovered through books and plays, it’s a tragic and symbolic bid for freedom and rejection of the status quo. She won’t get far on her unbound feet, broken and rotting as they are, but it’s better than the fate that awaits her as a concubine.

China Doll is a visual masterpiece, thanks to beautiful projection design by the Chimerik team, lighting design by Chengyan Boon, and a simple but effective set design by Heipo Leung. But China Doll’s final 30 minutes almost feel like a whole other play, and not just because of its turn towards the disturbing, violent, and perverse (though that helps).

This was Chan’s debut as a playwright in 2004, and it still has some of those debut quirks in 2019: murky character development, plot contrivances, emotional shortcuts. But there’s something about the direction, too, as if the cast were encouraged to keep their performances restrained until the last half-hour. This is particularly true for Jennifer Tong, who shines when she fully embodies Su-Ling’s horror, perfectly conveying the distressing and grotesque reality of her situation. China Doll is a feminist tragedy that takes too long to hit its stride, but the wild last quarter has to be seen to be believed.

Jennifer Tong and Manami Hara in China Doll. Tim Matheson

The China doll is a shrubby foliage plant with bright green, hollylike leaves. These are doubly compound, giving them a very feathery appearance.

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Before sale, the Radermachera is treated with a growth retardant, which causes it to grow normal-size leaves on a short stem. When it wears off, up to a year after purchase, the plant will take on a more open look and will require frequent pinching to maintain its attractively dense growth pattern.

China Doll Quick Facts:

Scientific Name: Radermachera sinica

Common Name: China Doll

Light Requirement for China Doll: Bright Light

Water Requirement for China Doll: Evenly Moist

Humidity for China Doll: Average Home

Temperature for China Doll: House

Fertilizer for China Doll: Balanced

Potting Mix for China Doll: All-Purpose

Propagation of China Doll: Seed, Stem Cuttings

Decorative Use for China Doll: Floor, Table

Care Rating for China Doll: Easy

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Larry Hodgson is a full time garden writer working out of Quebec City in the heart of French Canada where he grows well over 3,000 species and varieties. His book credits include Making the Most of Shade, The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, Houseplants for Dummies, and Ortho’s Complete Guide to Houseplants, as well as other titles in English and French. He’s the winner of the Perennial Plant Association’s 2006 Garden Media Award.

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