Can free speech withstand Chinese nationalism

Source: China File (5/25/17)
Can Free Speech on American Campuses Withstand Chinese Nationalism?

The ChinaFile Conversation is a weekly, real-time discussion of China news, from a group of the world’s leading China experts.

Earlier this week, Kunming native Yang Shuping, a student at the University of Maryland, gave a commencement speech extolling the “fresh air” and “free speech” she experienced while studying in the United States. Video of her speech spread on the Internet, and Yang and her family found themselves under attack by fellow Chinese students in the U.S. and a chorus of critics on Chinese social media, who argued—at times viciously—that she had betrayed her country. Yang then apologized for the speech and asked for “forgiveness from the public.” Why was she attacked? What do her speech and the reaction it engendered reveal (or obscure) about the experiences of Chinese students on American campuses, and what do they portend for the future of academic freedom in the U.S.? To what extent is Chinese nationalism reshaping university life in America? —The Editors


Yifu Dong

I’m not surprised that Yang Shuping had to apologize in the face of severe nationalistic backlash against her speech. The following is part of the speech I would have given at my graduation, if Yale was not so obviously anti-Chinese to let me freely express myself on the podium during its two-hour Class Day ceremony. I regret missing an opportunity to garner respect from like-minded Chinese netizens and set an example for all future Chinese students who are tasked with the sacred duty of nationalistic speech-giving in paper tiger imperialist regimes. Continue reading

Lesbian app Rela shut down

Source: Shanghaiist (5/29/17)
Rela, China’s leading lesbian app with over 5 million registered users, gets shut down
By Alex Linder


China’s leading lesbian app Rela (热拉) was shut down last week following a viral incident at Shanghai’s marriage market in People’s Park in which a group of mothers of LGBT children were kicked out by police while trying to raise awareness for gay rights.

Last week, the Shanghai-based app’s users were shocked to find that Rela’s official Weibo account had been deleted, along with its website. The app is no longer available on the Apple or Android app stores where it counted over 5 million registered users. Existing users are no longer able to log into their accounts. Continue reading

Qiu Yang wins short film Palme d’Or

Source: China Film Insider (5/29/17)
Qiu Yang Becomes First Chinese Director To Win Short Film Palme d’Or

“F#cking amazing!” the 28-year-old director said in what Cannes organizers described as the “shortest acceptance speech ever heard at the Cannes Festival.”

Director Qiu Yang became the first Chinese filmmaker to win the prestigious Palme d’Or for best short film at the 70th Cannes Film Festival awards on Sunday.

The 28-year-old director won the award with A Gentle Night, a 15-minute short film about a mother searching for her missing daughter on the eve of the Lunar New Year in a small Chinese town.

“F#cking amazing,” the  28-year-old filmmaker, said in accepting the award in a two-word thank you Cannes organizers described as “the shortest acceptance speech ever heard at the Cannes Festival.” Continue reading

Curious rise of the “white left” as an insult (2)

I’ve just read the latest part of this “white left” thread today, five days after it appeared on the MCLC list. Didn’t want to look at it first. The post next to it said STOP FEEDING ULTRA-NATIONALISTS or something like that. How do you do that? Makes me think of famine again. Once there was an Orientalism expert, desperately proclaiming there was no great Great Leap famine. [yes, that was intentional. great great great great not so great …like in Dr. Suess] How do you stop feeding them? Seriously. So I wrote two poems. Yes, I write like Yi Sha 伊沙. In a way.

Thank you all very much for your indulgence!

Martin Winter <>


what are global times?
we are living in global times
who are we
where did we come from
where are we going Continue reading

The fall of Guangdong’s urban villages

Source: That’s Magazine (5/29/17)
The Fall of Guangdong’s Urban Villages, Migrants’ Last Refuge
By Bailey Hu

Imagine living in a maze of a neighborhood where apartment buildings 10 stories tall crowd so closely together that their residents dwell in perpetual shade.

Your apartment window, set with steel bars, is little more than a meter away from the building next door; if it weren’t for the frosted glass, you’d be able to see directly into the room across the alley.

Going outside and looking up, you’d glimpse the sky only in the narrow strips between buildings. But it’s better to keep your head down anyway – in the summer, air conditioners hung outside windows have a habit of dripping on unwary pedestrians. Continue reading

Taiwan ruling widens political divide with China

Source: Bloomberg News (5/25/17)
Taiwan Gay Marriage Ruling Widens Political Divide With China
By Ting Shi and Chinmei Sung

  • Landmark change faces higher hurdles under one-party rule
  • ‘It’s the system. This is a problem stemming from the system’

Same-sex activists hug outside the parliament in Taipei on May 24, as they celebrate the landmark decision paving the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage.Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan’s historic court ruling this week did more than make it the first place in Asia to let same-sex couples wed: It also widened the political gap with China.

The decision by Taiwan’s constitutional court Wednesday to legalize gay marriage in two years — if lawmakers don’t do so first — underscored the differences between the democratic island and one-party China, which wants to unify the two sides. The Communist Party controls all branches of government and faces little public pressure to allow same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Furth memoir

Opening to China: A Memoir of Normalization, 1981–1982
by Charlotte Furth

“Charlotte Furth’s memoir provides a window into a China that few of us can remember or even believe possible: a country that was not the economic and political powerhouse of today, but a hesitant, slightly paranoid society emerging from decades of being closed-off to the outside world. As one of the rare witnesses to this crucial transition, Professor Furth takes us into the life of China’s most important university, showing the struggle to accept her group of visiting scholars–a microcosm for the debate in China at the time over whether the country really should open up. Written honestly and candidly, this memoir will be of interest to scholars of US-China engagement but also to general readers eager to see how much China has changed over the past decades.” —Ian Johnson, Beijing correspondent for The New York Times, and author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao Continue reading

Can Xue email?

Dear List Members,

I have worked with the female Chinese writer Can Xue 残雪 on translating some of her writings. Can Xue’s real name is Deng Xiaohua 邓小华.  I am now translating an essay she sent to me into English. But I have lost touch with her for some time because of personal reasons. Does anyone on the list know her email address? If you could send it to me, I would very much appreciate your information.

Thank you in advance.

Liyan Shen <>

US universities in China

Source: Asia Society (5/19/17)
Podcast: American Universities in China — Free Speech Bastions or Threat to Academic Freedom?
By Eric Fish

A student walks past the entrance to New York University’s Shanghai campus. (Eric Fish/Asia Society)

The Asia In-Depth podcast provides deep audio analysis on everything from China’s economy to “honor killing” in Pakistan. See the complete episode archive.Learn more

In 1986, Johns Hopkins University opened a study center in Nanjing University, making it the first American institution of higher education allowed to establish a physical presence in China during the Communist era. Since then, dozens of other institutions have followed suit, armed with guarantees that they can maintain the same standards of free speech and academic freedom that they enjoy in the U.S. … so long as those freedoms stop at the university door. Continue reading

novel-writing police chief executed for grisly murder

Source: SupChina (5/26/17)
Novel-writing police chief executed for grisly murder

Reuters reports that authorities executed Zhao Liping (赵黎平), the “former police chief of the northern region of Inner Mongolia, after convicting him of murder, bribery, and possession of firearms and explosives.” In 2016, overseas Chinese news and gossip siteWenxue City reported (in Chinese) that Zhao was the first senior official to be guilty of personally murdering someone with his own hands since 1949. There is some debate on the Chinese internet about the true story of Zhao’s crimes, but the broadly accepted facts seem to be:

  • Zhao Liping was called the “cultured cadre” by his colleagues in the Inner Mongolian police force. He published several novels and personal essays — some under the pseudonym of Mr. Dead Tree 槁木先生 — and was a member of the Chinese Writers Association. You can read Mystery in Wangling 王陵疑案, a novel that Zhao co-authored, at this link. Continue reading

journalism professor resignation note goes viral

Source: SupChina (5/26)/17
Journalism professor’s resignation note goes viral

On May 25, Xia Qiong 夏琼, who served as head of Journalism at the School of Journalism and Communication at Wuhan University for 12 years, posted a resignation letter on her WeChat Moments social media feed. The letter was circulated and discussed widely on the Chinese internet. Xia wrote: “During my 12 years serving as the head, I accomplished nothing and made no contributions to the school.” She added: “I asked for the school’s approval of my resignation.”

In a later post, Xia further stated: “After fighting for years against a flawed higher-education administration system that has no respect for teaching, tramples on teachers’ dignity, and undervalues students’ intelligence, I eventually realized that all my efforts are meaningless and of no value… It’s extremely difficult to be a dedicated teacher.”  Continue reading

Building cultural confidence

Source: Xinhua (5/24/17)
Political advisors discuss building cultural confidence

Yu Zhengsheng (C, back), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), presides over a meeting on how to build the country’s cultural confidence and tell China stories well, in Beijing, capital of China, May 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese political advisors met on Tuesday to discuss how to build the country’s cultural confidence and tell China stories well.

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body, chaired the meeting. Continue reading

Stop feeding the egos of China’s cyber-nationalists (1)

Thanks. This was a refreshing take, on the tragic incident with the harassment of the Chinese student in Maryland.

I sympathize with the suggestion not to help spread the vitriol. However, it may not be like this SCMP contributor seems to assume, that “patriotic” campaigns like this is all done by actual extremists, who are the ones responsible for the “cesspools on the internet” that we should  ignore. I think it may be more serious than that.

Sure, many real-life ultranationalists feel compelled to join, or people are caught up in this “Red Guard”-style, — about these real-life people, see also;,, and
Continue reading

what sex workers tell us about China

Source: Sixth Tone (5/23/17)
What Sex Workers Can Tell Us About China’s Transformation
Scholar Ding Yu explains how sex work reflects changing times, from ‘xiaojie’ to ‘compensated dating.’
By Qian Jinghua

A sex worker lies on her bed in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, March 6, 2010. Li Qin/VCG

In the 1990s, if you were a young woman in any Chinese city, everyone from waiters to taxi drivers would call you xiaojie. Ten years later, the once-ubiquitous term had become a euphemism for female sex workers. Some government offices even passed guidelines banning their employees from referring to their colleagues as xiaojie.

Though prostitution was outlawed in China in 1949, it has proven to be an extensive and resilient industry. Chinese economist Yang Fan has estimated that up to 20 million people are engaged in some form of sex work — from mistresses in private apartments and “money boys” in high-end clubs to street-based workers of all genders. Massage parlors, karaoke clubs, mahjong game rooms, and hair salons are all common sites for commercial sex. Continue reading

Stop feeding the egos of China’s cyber-nationalists

Source: SCMP (5/25/17)
My Take: Stop feeding the egos of China’s rabid cyber-nationalists
Online rants about a Chinese student’s comments about the US and an actress’ dress are not worth paying attention to: don’t give them the oxygen of publicity
By Alex Lo

Yang Shuping, a graduate student at the University of Maryland in the United States, who praised United States’ fresh air and freedom of speech has been forced to apologise after she was slammed as a liar and told to stay in America by nationalistic netizens. Photo: Handout

China’s army of cyber-nationalists really doesn’t leave much room for discussion or celebration of the nation. A mainland student in the United States making a few complimentary statements about her host country in her graduation speech has been angrily denounced on the internet for belittling her motherland. Meanwhile, actress Xu Dabao was rounded on for walking on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival with a dress with a design that mimics the national flag. Continue reading