South of Cloud yunnan documentary
China Underground > Video

South of Clouds, a documentary on Chinese Ethnic Minorities in Yunnan Province

South of Clouds (A Sud Delle Nuvole) is a documentary on the ethnic minorities of Yunnan, filmed and edited in 2002 by Dominique Musorrafiti and Matteo Damiani.

Related articles: Yunnan guide, Dali guide, Nujiang guide, Lijiang guide, Honghe guide

The documentary is available in a newly remastered version.

The documentary shows, without commenting, a China-linked to ancient traditions, which nowadays struggles to compete with the rhythm of modern life: villages, customs, music, and lifestyles of the minorities Bai, Lisu, Nusu, Miao, Dai, Hani, Naxi, Yi, and Hui, before the advent of Chinese mass tourism and the exodus of young people to the metropolis in search of a job opportunity.

The rhythms of life of minorities were still strongly linked to the cycles of nature.

The documentary was shot in the counties of Nujiang (Gongshan, Bingzhongluo), Lijiang, Dali, and Honghe (Yangshuo and surrounding area).

Production: CinaOggi | China-underground
A documentary by Dominique Musorrafiti, Matteo Damiani
Soundtrack: Felix l’Amour, Makoto Kawabata, Acid Mothers Temple.
Year: 2002, remastered 2019


Dominique Musorrafiti and Matteo Damiani are the founders of and

Topic: Yunnan documentary, documentary about Yunnan ethnic minorities

Last Updated on 2021/10/24

China Underground > Video

Painting tutorial to celebrate the Spring Festival

Today is the Chinese New Year – AKA– Spring Festival!

In celebration of this 2019 Chinese New Year, Asian American artist Anita Yan Wong created a brush painting tutorial– titled ” Plum blossom and bird” in celebration of art and Chinese culture with everyone.

The artist hopes to inspire more people to learn Chinese art with fresh new ways of teaching traditional art.

Let’s pick up a paintbrush today and make a “Cherry blossom/ Plum blossom and bird” Chinese brush painting together to celebrate this Chinese New Year/ Spring Festival 2019!

Wishing everyone a joyful and creative year of the Boar/Pig!


Last Updated on 2020/10/31

gay couple attacked by security guards
China Underground > Video

A gay couple was attacked by security guards at 798 Beijing art district

The girls in the video were attacked by security guards during an LGBT event held at the Beijing’s popular arts district Factory 798, to celebrate the international day against homophobia (国际 不再 恐 同 日) on May 17th.

The girls said they were just heading to the parking lot to get in the car. However, the guards blocked them at the entrance and attacked them. When the police finally arrived at the scene of the assault, they took the girls to the local police station.

Topic: Homophobia in China

Last Updated on 2020/12/06

InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland
China Underground > Video

The Tianma Pit Hotel, The Shimao Quarry Hotel, is incredible

InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland

The hotel, InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, 上海洲际世茂仙境酒店, Shànghǎi Zhōujì Shìmào Xiānjìng Jiǔdiàn, called also Tianma Pit Hotel, or Shimao Quarry Hotel, Songjiang, or Pit Pegasus Hotel, is built in a deep pit beside Tianma Mountain in Songjiang district of Shanghai.

After few delays, the opening of the hotel is expected to be around the end of 2018.

The British InterContinental Hotels Group will run the project as one of its flagship hotels in the country under the banner of Shimao Wonderland InterContinental. According to Shanghaiist, the group has an investment of US$555 million in the project.


Rooms are expected to be priced at a floor of US$320 per night.

Shanghai Songjiang National Scenic Area was hidden in an abandoned pit. This pit was the quarry of the Japanese invaders before the liberation, and they used the stones collected there to build bunkers.

In 2006, Shimao Group decided to make use of the natural environment in the deep pit to build a five-star hotel, integrating the entire hotel with the area.

The project has been established as early as 2006. Shimao Group spent seven years on scientific feasibility studies and geological examination to solve all the architectural problems of the underground space.


According to the design plan, the main building of this five-star hotel includes the hotel lobby, conference center, guest room section, entertainment catering, and logistics services.


The combination of the unique cliffs, the natural resources, the waterfalls, and the natural indoor and outdoor gardens create a unique ecological environment.


A large waterfall falls, hanging from the cliff, forming a spectacular sight in the hotel atrium.


Source: baike

Topics: songjiang hotel construction,songjiang hotel wiki,shimao quarry hotel,songjiang quarry hotel china,songjiang international hotel,mega projects,china mega projects,mega projects in China

Last Updated on 2022/04/22

China Underground > Video

The last China Steam locomotive

The steam locomotive was central to the Industrial Revolution.

For the first time in history, goods were transported by something other than the muscle of man or animal.

However, it was replaced by diesel locomotives and electric locomotives in the twentieth century.

Except for a portion of steam trains reserved for tourist purposes, there are few places in the world where steam locomotives still operate commercially.

The Sandaoling open-pit mine (三道嶺露天礦), located in Xinjiang, China, is the largest open-pit coal mine in northwestern China. Since 1958, the total mining area has exceeded one thousand square kilometers and transportation within the mine still relies on steam trains.

There is no doubt that the steam train is a superstar of railway photography while breathing rhythmically smoke, like a living thing.

Every winter, there will be railroad fans all over the world gathering in Sandaoling.

Sandaoling steam locomotive is expected to be fully suspended in 2018, this railroad reputation as the last steam train shrine is about to disappear!

China continued to build mainline steam locomotives until the late 20th century, even building a few examples for American tourist operations. China was the last main-line user of steam locomotives, with use ending officially on the Ji-Tong line at the end of 2005. Some steam locomotives are as of 2017 still in use in industrial operations in China.

Some coal and other mineral operations maintain an active roster of China Railways JS (建设, “Jiànshè”) or China Railways SY (上游, “Shàngyóu”) steam locomotives bought secondhand from China Railway. The last steam locomotive built in China was 2-8-2 SY 1772, finished in 1999.

Source: Youtube, Wikipedia

Topic: steam locomotive, China steam locomotive, steam locomotive video

Last Updated on 2021/10/24

Chinese racist video
China Underground > Video

Chinese propaganda video prompts Indian complaint of racism

BEIJING (AP) — China’s main state news agency, Xinhua, has released a video online criticizing India in a border dispute that prompted an Indian newspaper to complain of “racist overtones.”

The English-language video, titled “7 Sins of India,” accuses the New Delhi government of illegally entering Chinese territory. It includes a man portraying an Indian dressed in a turban and false beard.

Soldiers from the two sides are in a standoff in Doklam, an area between China and Indian ally Bhutan. New Delhi sent soldiers in June to stop China from constructing a road there.

The Hindustan Times said the three-minute video has “racist overtones” and “mocked and parodied Indians.”

The video appears to be an attempt to use humor to win over foreign audiences. It is posted on Twitter and YouTube, both of which the ruling Communist Party tries to block Chinese web surfers from seeing.

It accuses Indian forces of trespassing and breaking international law.

“Didn’t your mama tell you, never break the law?” says the host, identified as Dier Wang.

The video includes appearances by a man in a turban, sunglasses and false beard who speaks in an exaggerated Indian accent over canned laughter.


Source: Apnnews

Last Updated on 2020/12/07

Future Imperfect
China Underground > Video

‘Future Imperfect’

In a not too distant future, the world will be a huge waste dump. A short scifi video about our experience in China.

In a not so distant future people will be produced in large quantities in factories. Sometime some people don’t pass the quality control. Video by Matteo Damiani, 2017 song: Pogo the Clown (Felix l’Amour), recorded in Kunming, China, 2010.

future imperfect
future imperfect

Topic: Science Fiction video in China,China Science Fiction,Robot Chinese Science Fiction,dystopian video,China dystopian scifi video,China dystopian future

Last Updated on 2022/04/22

Interview with Nate Thayer: How the Chinese recruit American journalists as spies
China Underground > Video

Interview with Nate Thayer: How the Chinese recruit American journalists as spies

Interview with Nate Thayer, an American freelance journalist whose journalism has focused on human rights, areas of military conflict, and narcotics trafficking.

On Sept 20, 2014, agents of the Shanghai State Security Bureau of the Ministry of State Security approached him to recruit him as a spy.

Interview by Matteo Damiani

The Chinese requested:

  • US government strategy on the billion-dollar Chinese Burmese gas pipeline
  • Spratly Islands
  • Secret talks between the US and North Korea held in Singapore in January 2015
  • Offered him cash.
  • Asked him specifically to use his “Washington government social circles” and focus on the “State Department and National Security Council” for his investigations to pass them “information not available on the Internet. We already have project managers who do that”
  • Asked him to meet them in person in Shanghai.

Why did they try to hire you and what they want from you?

Well, that was the question I wanted to know. Obviously, they didn’t say they were cover agents of the Ministry of State Security when they contacted me. What they said was they were from a political risk consulting group which is kind of a common business. I’ve been contacted by legitimate ones before, in Asia, they are called risk analysis groups and they are generally hired by companies who want to do business in a country.

They want to know what the situation is, maybe they want to know what their business partner is up to, they want to know the general economic conditions are.

Nate Thayer

What’s stood out for this, first of all, that the company was from Shanghai, in China, and they have no interesting in economic issues, almost all of the clients of these political risk analysis groups are really interested in economics, their businesses, they are trying to make money.

These questions had nothing to do with businesses, they had to do with a very hot button, political issues between the U.S. and China so that immediately struck me unusual, so I had actually made some work for legitimate political risk analysis groups based in Asia before – I spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent in Asia – so I contacted a couple of these guys and these companies and they never heard of this company and I did just normal basic due diligence, you know, googling who this ‘Shanghai Pacific & International Strategy Consulting Co’ was, and they didn’t exist. There was no footprint of their existence, so I thought “this is interesting”, immediately red flags went off it, they were very amateurish, really.

It was my first thought as a journalist ‘hey, this could be a good story, that’s looking like the Chinese are trying to recruit me as a spy’, and my second thoughts were, ‘wait because you get involved in that murky world and we got all kinds of people on all both teams and all teams who are up to no good and misinterpret stuff, so my work in Asia for 25 years primarily in wars, and countries conflict, and turmoil, I lived in Cambodia many years and I covered North Korea, Burma, and other places, so I have a lot of sources in the intelligence world, so I sent out a couple of messages to them saying ‘what’s going on here?’ and immediately the response was ‘you need to be very careful with these guys, they are not who they say they are.

So I thought ‘Well, I’d like to figure out who they are’, so that began a process of trying to do just that, to figure out who they are, and it became very clear very quickly that they were trying to recruit me as a spy, which kindly pissed me off, frankly …

Yeah, the amount of money offered was … miserable

Yes, exactly, kind of a personal insulting (laughs). I learned pretty quickly this is very common, and make no mistake about it, all sides do the same things. I’m an American, the Americans could do the same things in China, and the Chinese do it to the Americans. Every intelligence service, including Italy, they do the same thing, that’s their job. It’s not that unusual, but these guys were real amateurish.

I don’t know how this works, or I didn’t know how it works, but I know a little better now, but apparently, it’s quite common that the Chinese cast wide net, you know like fishing, so whatever they can pull in, that sometimes can be very fruitful, and useful. If they reach out to someone like me and it doesn’t work out they don’t really care. But I would say I was struck by how bold this was because this was all in writing.

Did you ever go to China during this conversation?

I have been to China many times, but I did not go to treat, that’s was the one thing I was specifically warned about very seriously by people who I consider friends who are intelligent agents. They were very concern. If you go to their turf, if you go to their territory, then you enter a world that can cause you big problems. I actually negotiated with them to meet in a neutral country, two countries were Singapore and Thailand, both of which I’m familiar with, and both of which are kind of neutral. You know, the Chinese and the Americans and all kinds of other people operate in those countries freely.

I don’t and didn’t have the resources to confirm who with these people actually work, because remember that at the end of the day all I really had was fake names and Gmail addresses. So, I contacted the intelligence sources that I know who do this for a living, focused on China, they did whatever they do and make things confirmed that these guys were agents of the Ministry of State Security Shanghai Bureau, which for some reason Shanghai Bureau is very very active in recruiting foreigners, probably because Shangai is an international city, lots of businessmen work there.

Apparently, they target foreigners regularly, and I do know they target people in Washington D.C. all the time, particularly in think tanks and academia, here in Washington D.C. Washington is an interesting city, lots of people from all over the world here up to all kinds of no good, including my president (laughs), so they target people who probably have no idea that they’re even being recruited.

Imagine if you’re a young recent college graduate in your early 20s and you get some message from somebody saying they want to pay you because you’re the, you know, the second coming of Jesus Christ, and you know you’re brilliant and you know everything, and they say they want to pay you for your work, I have no doubt and I know for a fact this is a major concern at least for U.S. intelligence that this kind of people are being targeted and they probably don’t even know they are working for the Chinese. Obviously, these guys didn’t say they were Ministry of State Security but I did have it confirmed 100% exactly who they were.

I was taken aback by how many Americans have been arrested in just the last few years, I wasn’t aware of this for spying for the Chinese or whatever derivation of spying you want to call it.

There’s been like fifty-seven Americans were in federal prisons in a hook. I follow the news pretty closely, but I didn’t realize it was that extensive.

So, it’s common and I thought ‘well, you know, it’s a kind of a good story and so I tried to string them along. I did not meet them, and I obviously didn’t take money from them, but I did keep communication with them going on for more than a year and they were very bold, they specifically asked me to steal classified information from the U.S. federal government and give it to them.

Does Chinese intelligence try to hire journalists only to gather information or also to spread misinformation abroad?

That it’s an excellent question. I don’t know, I presume they do because all spy agencies are up to all kinds of no good. It doesn’t matter what team you’re working for, so I presume that they spread this information. Their job is to provide raw intelligence to their analysts essentially and then they have other units that are getting up to things like spreading information.

I didn’t find these guys to be very sophisticated, but I’m told that they are the same people who actually have done serious damage to CIA operations in China over the last couple of years. They managed to really crack down the CIA operations. That’s my understanding, so you are not playing around here, and here in this country ever since 9/11 the U.S. has quite extraordinary surveillance powers and they arrest people all the time here and now for even tiptoeing info, what they call stealing national security secrets, so honestly one of my worries was that I was going to end up getting arrested by some idiot of the U.S. intelligence who doesn’t understand what journalists do, and that was the concern of many of my intelligence sources too. You know, some guy sitting in from a windowless room would misinterpret what I was doing and then all bets were off.

So I was very strongly recommended not to go to Shanghai which I was invited to go with these people and not to take any money. I didn’t do either but I also wanted to know who these guys were, so as a journalist I had a couple of choices, I could either meet them so that there was a human being on the other end instead of a computer, you know, email is a gate, or I could create some kind of paper trail like a bank transaction which might be able to use to trace back who their people work with but if I did either one of them, then I was getting into deep shark-infested waters.

I did contact the FBI here, the people responsible for Chinese recruitment of the American disguises to the foreign counterintelligence division of the FBI, because the CIA is not allowed to operate in the U.S., so it’s the job of the counter-intelligence bureau to the political things.

I did eat with them, they did confirm who these people were, but they said ‘yes, you are right, they are trying to recruit you’ but then they said ‘you either have to work with us and not lightning the story, and let us control through a whole operation from now forward or we can have anything to do it’ so obviously I couldn’t do that, you know, that’s not my job to work as an asset for the government, but that’s why I contacted them in the first place because the Chinese wanted me to do just that, so I wasn’t going to do that for any government and that was kind of the end of it, but it did strike me what idiots the U.S. intelligence was – it took them a year to get back in touch with me, I have very good sources and U.S. intelligence I pass this information on fully, all the email exchanges because I wanted to make sure black and white that there was a paper trail showing that was not tracking or trying to work for the Chinese intelligence. It took the FBI a year to get back in touch with it.

If I had been up to some kind of no good I could have done a lot and that it’s not very impressive on both sides. I wasn’t impressed by the Chinese spy tradecraft but I wasn’t impressed by the U.S. spy tradecraft either.

Topic: Chinese spy, Chinese spies, Chinese spies in us, Chinese spy agency, FBI Chinese spy

Last Updated on 2023/05/24

drunk man beats a policewoman
China Underground > Video

Hubei drunk man beats a policewoman

A drunken man beats a policewoman in Enshi (恩施), a county-level city in Western Hubei province.

The video shows the female police agent attacked many times by the man. The man now being held by police was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of official duties.

drunk man beats a policewoman

Last Updated on 2020/12/06

Super rare live recording of the legendary Chinese band Glamorous Pharmacy
China Underground > Video

Rare live recording of the legendary Chinese band Glamorous Pharmacy

We bring you one early super rare and moving live demo of the legendary Chinese band Glamorous Pharmacy (美好药店, Meihao Yaodian) performed exclusively for us in Beijing in 2002.

China between the middle ’90s and early ’00s became one of the most interesting countries from a cultural point of view: the emerging contemporary Chinese art scene, the cinema of the sixth generation, the punk and alternative bands in Beijing, all of them characterized by a rebellious and experimental spirit began to emerge in the post-Mao’s death China. Glamorous Pharmacy was one interesting piece of the cultural puzzle of the early 00s’ Beijing.

YouTube player

Xiao He is considered one of the most creative and eclectic Chinese singers. Massimiliano Carponi recorded this demo in Beijing in 2002. The bootleg is well recorded and you can have now the opportunity to listen to the sound of one of the best alternative Chinese bands.

In 1999, the band recorded its first demo, “Happy Time“, and started playing in Beijing’s clubs. The three-year period from 1999 to 2001 has been very important for the Chinese art scene in general.

I knew them in 2000. They were an almost unknown band, but they were gaining fans inspired by their psychedelic and hypnotizing melodies. They impressed me for their absolutely personal style, completely different from all the other bands we saw around in Beijing, almost all influenced by the dominant punk spirit.

Glamorous Pharmacy 美好药店

In particular, I was impressed by the powerful voice of the singer Xiao He, who reminded me of the impossible twists of Demetrio Stratos.

The band is known for a variety of names: “Glamorous Pharm”, “Glamorous Pharmacy”, “Pharmacy Glamorous”, “Beautiful Pharmacy”, “Fantastic Pharmacy” and “Glorious Pharmacy” among others.

Their performances, particularly at the beginning, were characterized by a theatrical approach. They used weird costumes, almost to emphasize the extravagant and original attitude that distinguished them. That is why, in China, they are loved or hated. They are difficult to be interpreted, sometimes they use two or three different languages ​​in the same song, and probably also they want to confuse the Chinese audience, still new to this kind of performance.


At the time of SARS, in Beijing in complete paranoia, they presented themselves to a concert dressed up by doctors with masks, playing on stage similar to a hospital ward. On another occasion, they sat down on some stools facing the auditorium and continued to play the same accord for over an hour, shaking the audience. In recent times they have dampened the theatrical side of their performances. Xiao He, the leader of the band, recently said that such performances, though fundamental to the Glamorous, are no longer part of their expressive style.


Voice / Guitar: He Guofeng (Xiao He)
Saxophone: Li Tieqiao
Low: Ye Penggang
Percussion: Guo Zhanxiang (Guo Long)
Battery: Zheng Zhiyong


Please Enlarge My Cousin ‘Photograph – 2005, July 2nd
Glorious Pharmacy 2003-2004
Beijing Band 2001 (VA) – 2003
Ma Music – 2002


Topic: Chinese alternative music, Chinese experimental music, Chinese experimental jazz

Last Updated on 2023/06/18

China Underground > Video

Help us to improve & become an active supporter

Now you can become an active supporter of and! By tipping us as little as $1, you can help provide us with resources to improve & continue making china-underground for you all.


Since 2002 we are curating China-underground (and without any corporate support, investment or funds. Our main goal is to highlight the most interesting aspects of Chinese culture, with a particular focus on Chinese history, art, photography, and trends.

The sites include thousands of articles and essays structured in several sections: Art, Photography, History, Trends, News, Books, Chinese Cinema.

We organize cultural events such as the BigScreen Asia Festival (guests: Jia Zhangke, Wang Xiaoshuai, Wang Yao, Yan Yan Mak, Tujiko Noriko, Mono, and many many other), we produce magazines (Cina Magazine – Italy; Chine Magazine – France), videos and documentaries (Beijing Overload; South of Clouds), photo reportages (China Suburbia, City erasers, Xiamen, the Kingdom of the Little People, etc.), travel guides. All of this material and events are/were FREE (except for the first 5 numbers of Cina Magazine).

We collaborate with Universities, International, and Chinese organizations, art galleries, publishers, in order to produce high-quality content.

If you like our work, please visit our campaign page on Patreon and make a pledge of any amount that will help us to focus on China culture.

What does China-underground need funding for?

We need funds to pay the ongoing technical expenses and to travel in China in order to produce beautiful photo reports and amazing stories! We also invest our funding in improving and expanding our content.

Travel expenses to China – Traveling in and to China is expensive. We need a financial support to cover the travel expenses (plane tickets, train tickets, visas, food, accommodation) for at least two travel in China per year of the duration of 2 months each. During this time we collect tons of amazing material, discovering unknown places, shooting videos, making interviews with artists, directors, academics and with ordinary people. Our first travel will be Xinjiang/Qinghai.

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The stretch goal will allow us to take China-underground/CinaOggi to the next level, enabling us to do things like:

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Last Updated on 2019/12/19

The Belt and Road is How, the awkwardly-named English-language music video
China Underground > Video

The Belt and Road is How, the awkwardly-named English-language music video

China soft power – “The Belt and Road is How” music video performed by children from countries on the new Silk Road.

In the Chinese narrative, the belt and road initiative is an inclusive economic and cultural project, opposed to the Donald Trump’s vision of the world. 

Also, the video is posted on Youtube which is banned in China.

The Belt and Road is How

YouTube player

Last Updated on 2020/12/07