Dying to Survive

Source: Quartz (7/5/18)
China’s next box office hit? A dark comedy about smuggling in cancer drugs from India
By Echo Huang

An illustration of Dying to Survive. (Dying to Survive/Weibo)

“Over the years since I became ill, the drugs have cost me my home and bled my family dry. Sir, can you tell me which family doesn’t have a patient, and can you guarantee that you’ll have a lifetime free of illness?”

The words are spoken by an elderly Chinese leukemia patient to a policeman confiscating her smuggled cancer drugs in the movie Dying to Survive, which opens nationwide in mainland China today (July 5). It already looks set to be a major hit, having won acclaim when it debuted at the Shanghai Film Festival last month and racked up thousands of raves on Chinese film portal Douban after preview screenings. At a show in Beijing this week, the audience stood for a standing ovation as the credits rolled. Continue reading

Shanghai Film Fest concludes

Source: SupChina (7/5/18)
Recently Concluded Shanghai International Film Festival Seeks International Cooperation
Swiss-Mongolian drama ‘Out of Paradise’ won Best Feature Film, while Tibetan director Sonthar Gyal won the jury prize for ‘Ala Changso.’
By Ying Wang

The 21st Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) concluded on June 25, having showcased 500 films in 30 categories across 55 countries. Out of Paradise, directed by Batbayar Chogsom, won Best Feature Film, while Ala Changso from Tibetan director Sonthar Gyal 松太加 won the Jury Grand Prix. (Gyal also won Best Screenplay, an award shared with Tashi Dawa.)

As the only Chinese film festival recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), SIFF has always carried with it lofty expectations, for both filmmakers looking for business opportunities and audience-goers seeking the season’s best movies, i.e., films from the “hot summer season” (暑期档 shǔqī dàng). This year’s festival ended with 468,000 tickets sold, a 9.4 percent increase from last year. Continue reading

UN experts seek Liu Xia’s release

Source: SCMP (7/5/18)
UN experts seek urgent release of widow of human rights activist Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xia has been under effective house arrest since her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010
By Reuters

Liu Xia (centre), wife of Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his funeral last year in Shenyang, China. Photo: Shenyang municipal information office via AP

UN human rights experts urged China on Wednesday to release Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, and allow her to seek treatment for deteriorating health, including travelling abroad.

The appeal came nearly a year after Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer on July 13, 2017, while in custody, having been jailed in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power”.

Liu Xia, an artist and poet who suffers from depression, has been under effective house arrest since her husband was awarded the prize in 2010. She has never been charged with any crime and was last seen in public at his funeral accompanied by Chinese authorities. Continue reading

Dialing down the hype

Source: China Media Project (7/3/18
Dialing Down the Hype
by David Bandurski

Dialing Down the Hype

[ABOVE: Screenshot of a recent video claiming China has technological superiority over the United States.]

Last month we looked at the seemingly unstoppable political inflation of Xi Jinping, as a Party publication called for systematic study of international praise for China’s president, and as the Academy of Social Sciences in one province put out a call for “research” on his formative years in the village of Liangjiahe. The “genie of hype and triumphalism,” we said, would not be so easy to stuff back into the magic lamp of propaganda.

But China seems in any case to be trying — wary perhaps of the unease self-aggrandizing discourse can generate internationally, and of the dangerous somnolence it can induce at home.

A cartoon appearing on Chinese social media today reads, “No to arrogant and boastful discourse.”

Continue reading

Stout, dark, and not pretty

Source: NYT (6/30/18)
Opinion: The Rise and Fall of China’s ‘Stout,’ ‘Dark’ and ‘Not Pretty’ Pop Star
查看本文中文版 | 查看本文繁體中文版
By Yuan Ren

Wang Ju, a contestant on the popular online Chinese talent show “Produce 101,” performing in the show’s finale on June 23.CreditVisual China Group, via Getty Images

BEIJING — For a moment, it looked as if China’s rigid beauty standards were on the brink of being upended — or at least expanded slightly.

“Produce 101,” a popular online talent show, puts women through their paces for one of 11 spots in a female pop band; at first, Wang Ju, a 25-year-old model manager who’d almost lost her place on the show earlier in the season, seemed an unlikely candidate for success. But over the course of a few weeks in June, Ms. Wang rode a mounting wave of public affection to find herself, as of midmonth, ranked second among the show’s 22 finalists. Suddenly, Chinese commentators were at pains to explain just how Ms. Wang — a woman Chinese media variously referred to as “stout,” “dark” and “not pretty enough” — got there. Continue reading

Chinese Literature Today 7.1

Dear MCLC List members,

I am pleased to announce that Chinese Literature Today 7.1 (2018) is now available on the Routledge website (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/uclt20/current).

Ping Zhu, Deputy Editor in Chief, Chinese Literature Today



4 Introduction, by Nathaniel Isaacson
6 The Great Wall, by Han Song
12 The Fundamental Nature of the Universe, by Han Song
16 Earth Is Flat, by Han Song
20 Science Fiction and the Avant-Garde Spirit: An Interview with Han Song, by Chiara Cigarini
23 Evolution or Samsara?: Spatio-Temporal Myth in Han Song’s Science Fiction, by Wang Yao
28 Eerie Parables and Prophecies: An Analysis of Han Song’s Science Fiction, by Li Guangyi
33 Han Song and the Dream of Reason, by Carlos Rojas Continue reading

Transnational Postsocialist Media Networks postdoc

Call for applications // Postdoctoral Fellowship:

>applications due September/1/2018
>fellowship begins January/1/2019
Concordia University (Montréal, Canada)
Supervisors: Dr. Joshua Neves and Dr. Masha Salazkina

We invite applications for a postdoctoral fellow of film and media whose research focuses on the relationship – either in comparative or transnational terms – between the former Communist bloc and the Global South. The postdoctoral fellow will be expected to enter into dialogue with the research projects already underway in the department of Cinema under the auspices of the Global Emergent Media Lab (Gem Lab) and the CURC in Transnational Media Arts and Cultures with the goal of interrogating the shifting theoretical questions about the Cold War, colonialism and their legacies and developing a shared conceptual model for describing and assessing these geopolitical flows either from a historical or contemporary perspective.

Apply here:

For more information please contact:

Joshua Neves: joshua.neves@concordia.ca
Masha Salazkina: masha.salazkina@concordia.ca

The Translatability of Revolution

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to announce the publication of my book, The Translatability of Revolution: Guo Moruo and Twentieth-Century Chinese Culture, by Pu Wang. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018. 325 pages, 9 figures. ISBN 9780674987180. Below please find an abstract and the Table of Contents. I look forward to your criticism! Thanks!

Best regards, Pu Wang <pwang@brandeis.edu>

About the Book:

The first comprehensive study of the lifework of Guo Moruo (1892–1978) in English, this book explores the dynamics of translation, revolution, and historical imagination in twentieth-century Chinese culture. Guo was a romantic writer who eventually became Mao Zedong’s last poetic interlocutor; a Marxist historian who evolved into the inaugural president of China’s Academy of Sciences; and a leftist politician who devoted almost three decades to translating Goethe’s Faust. His career, embedded in China’s revolutionary century, has generated more controversy than admiration. Recent scholarship has scarcely treated his oeuvre as a whole, much less touched upon his role as a translator. Continue reading

Ideology and Utopia in China’s New Wave Cinema

Dear Colleagues,

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my book Ideology and Utopia in Chinas New-Wave Cinema: Globalization and Its Chinese Discontents by Palgrave Macmillan. This book investigates the ways in which New Wave filmmakers represent China in this age of neoliberal reform. Analyzing this paradigm shift in independent cinema, this text explores the historicity of the cinematic form and its cultural-political visions. Through a close reading of the narrative strategy of key films in New Wave Cinema, I study the movement’s impact on film, literature, culture and politic.

Table of Contents


  1. China’s “New Wave Cinema” in the Era of Globalization
  2. The Arrival ofPostsocialism: Silence, Sound and Fury
  3. The Fate and Fantasy of China’s “New Poor”
  4. The Taste and Tragedy of China’s “Middle Class”
  5. Memoire of Socialismandthe Chinese Enlightenment
  6. Elitism of Populism? The Problematic of Imagining the Other

Conclusion: The Politics of Dignity and the Destiny of China’s New Wave Cinema

For more information and book blurbs, click: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319911397

Xiaoping Wang <wxping75@163.com>

Beyond the Iron House review

Find below my review of Beyond the Iron House: Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field (Routledge 2017), by Saiyin Sun. The review can also be read online here: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kdenton/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Beyond the Iron House: 
Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field

By Saiyin Sun

Reviewed by Kirk A. Denton
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June, 2018)

Saiyin Sun, Beyond the Iron House: Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Literary Field New York: Routledge, 2017. ix-xii + 212 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-67082-2 (Hardcover) ISBN: 978-1-315-61743-5 (E-book).

In a 1936 essay entitled “Death” (死) written about a month before he died, Lu Xun included a sort of last will and testament in which he prescribed arrangements for his funeral and his legacy. It reads in part:

1. Do not, on account of the funeral, accept a penny from anyone—old friends exempted.

2. Just quickly put the body in the coffin and bury it at once.

3. Do not hold any commemorative activities.

4. Forget me and mind your own lives. If you don’t, you’re just fools. . .[1]

Once dead, of course, things were out of Lu Xun’s control. Against his wishes, his funeral became a highly scripted affair that garnered lavish attention in the Shanghai media, and commemorative events have been held every year on the anniversary of his death. Far from forgotten, Lu Xun has been remembered more than any other modern Chinese writer. That process of remembering Lu Xun has been a contested one, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—and Chairman Mao himself—were key agents involved in the construction of Lu Xun into a “Chinese Gorki,” as David Holm puts it.[2] Lu Xun’s iconic status in China is best captured in the fact that there are no less than six museums—one each in Shaoxing, Nanjing, Beijing, Xiamen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai—devoted to commemorating his life and works. Continue reading

China caps film star pay

Source: The Guardian (6/28/18)
China caps film star pay, citing ‘money worship’ and fake contracts
Lead actors’ pay packets restricted to 70% of total wages for the cast of a show
By Lily Kuo

‘Yin-yang’ contracts said to belong to Fan Bingbing were posted online.

‘Yin-yang’ contracts said to belong to Fan Bingbing were posted online. Photograph: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Chinese authorities are capping the salaries of celebrities, blaming the entertainment industry for encouraging “money worship” and “distorting social values”.

The salaries of on-screen performers should be capped at 40% of the total production costs, according to a joint notice from five government agencies including China’s tax authority, the television and film regulator, and the propaganda department. Leading actors should receive no more than 70% of total wages for the cast, according to the announcement, published in Xinhua. Continue reading

Mao 101

Source: NYT (6/28/18)
Mao 101: Inside a Chinese Classroom Training the Communists of Tomorrow
By Javier C. Hernández

Students watching Feng Wuzhong’s online lecture video during a course on Mao’s ideology at Tsinghua University in Beijing.CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Times

BEIJING — Democracy. Is it effective or flawed? Would it work in China?

Those were the teacher’s instructions on a recent Sunday morning when 17 college students met at Tsinghua University in Beijing for “Mao Zedong Thought and the Theoretical System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” a mouthful of a course that is part of a government-mandated regimen of ideological education in China.

The students were sporting dragon tattoos and irreverent shirts — one had “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” emblazoned on its back — and playing bloody shoot-’em-up video games on their phones before class. Continue reading

Rereading the 1980s

Source: China Daily (6/22/18)
Revisiting the golden age of literature
By Yang Yang | China Daily

Chong Du Bashi Niandai (Reread the 1980s), by Zhu Wei. [Photo provided to China Daily]

After China’s reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, the following decade saw a burst of literary activity, with today’s influential writers shaping their ideas and words back then.

In the preface of his new book, Chong Du Bashi Niandai (Reread the 1980s), literary critic Zhu Wei describes scenes from the decade in Beijing, saying that people would talk about literature all night long, or hang out like “lovers”, walking from modern author Zhang Chengzhi’s house to fellow writer Li Tuo’s. And after eating watermelon under streetlamps, the people would walk along a city street to another author Zheng Wanlong’s house.

Zhu also mentions that people watched rebroadcasts of World Cup soccer matches over drinks in the’80s.

From Franz Kafka and William Faulkner to Alain Robbe-Grillet, Juan Rulfo and Jorge Luis Borges, and from Jean-Paul Sartre to Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein-the discussions about the literary figures and their works were “like swallowing a date whole due to longtime hunger”, Zhu writes. Continue reading

Dongguan in photos

Source: China Daily (6/26/18)
Dongguan in photos: From ‘world’s factory’ to intelligent production
By Li Ping | chinadaily.com.cn

Workers in Dongguan are pictured in a photo on display at the Traction Line exhibition in Beijing. [Photo by Li Zhiliang/ photoint.net]

The southern Chinese city of Dongguan in Guangdong province is one of the most important production lines in China, known as “the world’s factory”. With information technology as its pillar industry, Dongguan has witnessed a successful transformation from manufacturing to intelligent manufacturing over the past 30 years.

Thanks to new technologies, the city’s traditional production reliance on low-cost labor and massive human resources has gradually been replaced by automation, digitization and intelligent production. Continue reading

Changpian (June 2018)

长篇 // Changpian // Longform

Welcome to the 19th edition of Changpian, a selection of feature and opinion writing in Chinese. With other resources devoted to the many interesting sound bites from Chinese social media, this newsletter focuses instead on some of the wealth of longer writing that is produced in Chinese, both in traditional news media and on platforms like WeChat.

Changpian includes any nonfiction writing, from stories and investigations to interviews and blog posts, that I found worth my time – and that you might like as well. It aims to be relevant to an understanding of Chinese society today, covering topics in and outside the news cycle.

The selection is put together by me, Tabitha Speelman, a Dutch journalist and researcher currently based in Leiden, The Netherlands. Feedback is very welcome (tabitha.speelman@gmail.com or @tabithaspeelman). Back issues can be found here.

A late happy 夏至. Thanks for reading and for your messages, including those asking whether this issue would ever arrive. If you could use more longform stories from China, you might also like Chinarrative, a new project by Sixth Tone’s Colum Murphy that includes a newsletter. Compared to Changpian’s 杂锅, Chinarrative seems to focus more exclusively on narrative nonfiction, with each issue discussing a couple of quality stories in more depth. It links to the Chinese original but also includes beautifully translated excerpts. I recommend checking it out.

干货 // Ganhuo // Dry Goods

In this section, I highlight any (loose) themes that stood out in my recent reading.


At the top today just three older stories by (very) young people:

Among the many articles commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake last May, a feature by a team of Wuhan University students at university publication 武大新视点 stands out. Written up by first-year student Zhang Yingyu, 《记者们的震后十年》 is based on in-depth interviews with journalists who covered the events in 2008. Continue reading

Log in
Report this site