Graffiti artists to go on trial

Source: SCMP (12/13/18)
China’s ‘Banksy’ and associate go on trial for defacing city walls with graffiti
Pair charged with ‘provoking trouble’ after spray painting more than 10 walls in south China city. One defendant said he wanted his work to be seen by more people
By Alice Yan

Two graffiti artists went on trial last week for decorating the walls of a south China city. Photo: Pearvideo.com

Two graffiti artists went on trial in southern China last week charged with “provoking trouble” after an evening of spray painting walls failed to impress the local police.

The male defendants, neither of whom was named, appeared in court in Zhaoqing, Guangdong province on Friday in the first trial of its kind, Beijing Youth News reported on Thursday.

One was identified as a 20-year-old university student who was quoted as saying he had a passion for graffiti and wanted his work to be seen by more people. Continue reading

Interview with Xu Youyu

Yaxue Cao has published an interesting interview with Xu Youyu in which he reminisces about the character development of Liu Xiaobo, the role of intellectuals during times of ferment, and Professor Xu’s own experiences of detention and interrogation.  Looking forward, he comments, “I don’t think that the fascist forces and tendencies in China have reached their extreme yet. The worst is yet to come.”–A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

Source: China Change (10/31/18)
An Interview With Xu Youyu: ‘The Worst Is Yet to Come’

This is part of China Change’s new interview series that seeks to understand the effort of civil society in bringing change to China over the past 30 years. The interview was conducted in June 2018 by Yaxue Cao, editor of this website, at Professor Xu Youyu’s home in Flushing, New York City. — The Editors

Xu Youyu, screenshot photo

Photo, Xu Youyu, China Change

Yaxue Cao (YC): Professor Xu, would you mind first introducing yourself to our readers?

Xu Youyu (XY): My name is Xu Youyu (徐友渔); I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in 1947. I was in the graduating class at the Chengdu No. 1 Secondary School in 1966 when the Cultural Revolution erupted — right when I was enrolling for the national college entrance examination. Later, I got deeply wrapped up in the Cultural Revolution and became a leader of a mass organization, and as a result I gained a great deal of understanding of what it was all about. This has put me at an extraordinary advantage for studying the Cultural Revolution period in my scholarship now. I was one of the first new entrants to university in 1977 when matriculation resumed. But I’d only studied undergraduate for a little over a semester when, unprecedentedly, I was recommended to take the graduate exams. I transferred to the China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing in 1979 to become a grad student, and worked at CASS from then on until my retirement. During that period, in 1986, I studied at Oxford for a couple of years. I retired in 2008. Continue reading

It’s all about food that’s ‘Q’

Lu Xun makes another appearance in the US mass media.–Kirk

Source: NYT (10/4/18)
In Italy, ‘Al Dente’ Is Prized. In Taiwan, It’s All About Food That’s ‘Q.’
By Amy Qin

Taiwanese tapioca for sale at the Lehua Night Market in Taipei. It has the prized “Q” texture of Taiwanese food. CreditCreditBilly H.C. Kwok for The New York Times

NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan — As dusk falls at Lehua Night Market, the fluorescent lights flicker on and the hungry customers start trickling in, anxious for a taste of the local delicacies that give this island its reputation as one of Asia’s finest culinary capitals.

Neatly arranged pyramids of plump fish balls. Bowls brimming with tapioca balls bathed in lightly sweetened syrup. Sizzling oyster omelets, hot off the griddle. Deep-fried sweet potato puffs, still dripping with oil.

Take a bite of any of these dishes and you’ll discover a unique texture. But how exactly do you describe that perfectly calibrated “mouth feel” so sought after by local cooks and eaters alike?

Slippery? Chewy? Globby? Not exactly the most flattering adjectives in the culinary world.

Luckily, the Taiwanese have a word for this texture. Well, actually, it’s not a word, it’s a letter — one that even non-Chinese speakers can pronounce.

It’s “Q.”

Continue reading

The Quint–cfp

The Quint is an online peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal hosted by the University College of the North (see link:
https://www.ucn.ca/sites/academics/facultyarts/programofferings/arts/humanities/Pages/Humanities-Journals.aspx). The journal is MLA indexed and archived in the National Library in Ottawa. This spring, we have celebrated the journal’s 10th anniversary.

We are planning on doing a special issue on Chinese Literature and Culture to be published June 2019. I will be the guest editor of this special issue.

So, I am reaching out to Chinese scholars who will be willing to submit an article to be published in this special issue. My expectation is articles about Chinese Literature, Cinema, Culture, Religion, Language and images. Translation pieces are also welcome. I want to avoid articles from solely theoretical studies, to focus only on articles with a “human face”, something anyone can read, understand and able to relate with.

There is no royalty of your article; there is no charge for publishing nor editing your article either.  Your articles must be unpublished previously. Copyright of the contribution accepted for publication in the quint is retained by the Contributor.

The deadline for submission is by October 30, 2018.
The admission notice will be by December 21, 2018.
The publication will be June 1, 2019.

Please find the Contributors’ Guideline is https://www.ucn.ca/sites/academics/facultyarts/programofferings/arts/humanities/Pages/Author-Guidelines.aspx

Thank you very much.

Ying Kong, Ph.D
English Department
Faculty of Arts, Business and Science
University College of the North
Email: ykong@ucn.ca

Faces of Tradition in Chinese Performing Arts

Special Issue “Faces of Tradition in Chinese Performing Arts”
Journal of Folklore Research 55.1 Special Issue

A special issue of the Journal of Folklore Research entitled “Faces of Tradition in Chinese Performing Arts” is now available! Articles in the issue look at ways in which particular areas of cultural production, such as CD albums, singing competitions, representative works, and textual anthologies, come to serve as discursive spaces where individuals engage with and redefine larger traditions and themselves. Below, please find the table of contents and see the link for more information:

Volume 55, Number 1, January-April 2018

http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jfolkrese.55.issue-1

INTRODUCTION

“Faces of Tradition in Chinese Performing Arts,” by Levi S. Gibbs, pp. 1-19 Continue reading

Word of the year shortlist

Source: Sup China (12/11/17)
The Chinese Word Of The Year Shortlist
By JIAYUN FENG

On December 9, a group led by the People’s Daily including a panel of “experts” from the National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Center, the Commercial Press, and Tencent’s QQ.com published a shortlist of contenders for the country’s 2017 “Character of the Year and Word of the Year.”

  • The nominating process officially began on November 20, with millions of Chinese internet users submitting their picks.
  • The contenders that made the final list were selected and announced by the judging panel.
  • A recently popular word — “low-end population” — was perhaps in the news too recently to make the list. Most of the words on the list are highly positive, and several government buzzwords are included.

Here is the shortlist (in Chinese). Continue reading

Asia’s comedy scene

Source: NYT (10/15/17)
Heard the One About Asia’s Comedy Scene? First, You’ll Need a Permit
By CHARLOTTE GRAHAM

Storm Xu, a Chinese comedian from Shanghai, gave up a career as an engineer to become a stand-up comedian. In order to tell jokes, he must first submit his scripts to government censors.CreditYuyang Liu for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Every comedian takes the stage wanting to make people laugh. But it is less satisfying when the audience has been ordered to do so before the first joke has been told.

Storm Xu, a Chinese comedian, found that out during a surreal experience of performing for the country’s military.

In Asia, where a youthful stand-up comedy scene is still developing, comedians in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia are finding creative ways to tell jokes about sex and politics, while coming up against cultures of censorship and taboos.

Among them is Mr. Xu, 30, who lives in Shanghai and ekes out a full-time living from stand-up comedy. Mr. Xu said Shanghai’s small comedy scene involves about 20 regulars who could perform at least 10 minutes of material, and most are Western expatriate men, not Chinese like him.

A former automotive engineer for General Motors, Mr. Xu was able to quit his day job because of corporate comedy gigs, many of which come through Chinese government agencies.

The Chinese government requires him to submit scripts in advance of his commercial performances — that gets him a permit to tell jokes. He also has to provide video of someone reading the comedy lines aloud. Government censors have told him to remove jokes not for political content, but for being too rude.

“They’ll decline you if it’s too obscene or dirty; you can’t swear on stage,” he said.

When Mr. Xu travels to Hong Kong to perform, he can put the swear words back into the script. With its more hands-off local government, Hong Kong has developed into a hub for touring comedians from Asia and further afield, though its scene is fairly new: Its first full-time comedy club wasn’t founded until 2007.

Vivek Mahbubani, 34, is considered one of Hong Kong’s best and longest-serving local comedians, even though he only started performing 10 years ago. Mr. Mahbubani performs in both English and Cantonese, sometimes switching between languages within the same joke, and his material tackles local concerns: Hong Kong’s subway system and his mistreatment by police officers as a Hong Kong-born, ethnically Indian resident.

Mr. Mahbubani said Hong Kong’s comedy scene was diverse and somewhat segregated, with some comedians catering to expatriates with material that deployed exaggerated use of Asian accents, which Mr. Mahbubani felt was lazy.

An audience in Hong Kong watches Vivek Mahbubani, a comedian, perform. Rules for telling jokes are less stringent on the island than in mainland China. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

In bars further away from the glittering night life of the central city, young comics tell jokes in Cantonese, the dominant language in Hong Kong but one on the retreat elsewhere. The city’s annual comedy competition is split into English and Cantonese sections; Mr. Mahbubani is the only person to have won both.

In a city rocked by China’s efforts to exert its political influence over the autonomous territory, Hong Kong’s stand-up comedy scene has become something of a beacon for comedians seeking to push boundaries.

Sorabh Pant, a popular Indian comedian, recently tackled the topic of democracy while on tour in Hong Kong.

“That’s so cute!” he joked about Hong Kong’s election, in which a pro-Beijing candidate won from a slate selected by members of the establishment. “You think your vote mattered! Such an amateur mistake!”

He joked that Hong Kong’s election of a chief executive sympathetic to Beijing showed how the territory was just the latest acquisition by China.

“This is not a nation. You are being sublet,” he said. “This is a franchise.”

Mr. Mahbubani said the local media’s vigorous use of satire and its criticism of the government helps shield the local comedy scene from government scrutiny.

That is not the case in Singapore, where Jinx Yeo, 37, performs. The soft-spoken Mr. Yeo is referred to by fellow comedians as one of the “wise men” of the Asian comedy scene, even though he only started performing in his early 30s.

He grew up watching xiangsheng, or cross talk, a traditional style of Chinese comedy where lines are typically traded between two performers. Asian audiences have slowly learned the conventions of Western-style, single-person stand-up, he said, and now appreciate the value of raucous laughter as reward for a joke well told.

Mr. Yeo has made a full-time career in comedy, even though there are no comedy clubs in Singapore. Most of his performances take place in bars on weeknights, and he supplements his income with lucrative corporate shows.

Mr. Mahbubani performs in both English and Cantonese in Hong Kong. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

To get a license to perform in a theater in Singapore, Mr. Yeo had to submit scripts in advance, as comedians in China do. His work is frequently political; at a recent show in Hong Kong he sang satirical songs to tunes from “Les Misérables.”

In another joke, he imagined what would happen if Singapore legalized adultery in the same way the city-state had legalized protests: only if reported to the government in advance, and only if taking place in designated public parks.

Mr. Yeo said censorship is the biggest obstacle facing Singapore’s comedy scene. And comedians performing in bars had little opportunity to leap to television, as promising comedians in Western countries do, because their best material was unlikely to be approved.

Despite the challenges, the comedians said they were committed to building up the comedy scenes at home rather than forging more comfortable careers overseas.

Mr. Xu has recently started his own comedy club in Shanghai. He has steered away from political humor in his work because he did not see a point in making himself a martyr, or risk destroying his career, just as he was helping to pioneer a new comedy scene.

“I’m not trying to compare myself to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, but the position they were in the 1960s is perhaps the position people like me are in now,” he said. “There are a lot of obstacles and a lot of opportunities.”

He agreed Chinese audiences were coming around to the idea of stand-up.

“When I used to post my videos online, people didn’t understand what stand-up comedy was and the comments were quite harsh,” he said. But now he predicts “exponential” growth for stand-up in China.

In Malaysia, Hannan Azlan, 22, has been winning fans in the local comedy scene after going full-time in 2016. She was the youngest ever person, and the first woman, to win the Hong Kong International Comedy Festival, and since then gigs have rolled in, including spots at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Ms. Azlan’s sweet-voiced comic songs skewer sexism, racism and gender stereotypes. But she said she wasn’t interested in pandering to liberal audiences elsewhere; one of the tests of her success was whether she could perform her edgiest social commentary in more conservative Malaysia.

“Comedy is soft power,” she said, “I’m starting to talk about Malaysian politics more at home, and it’s been received very well.”

Museum accused of racism over photos

Source: The Guardian (10/14/17)
Chinese museum accused of racism over photos pairing Africans with animals
More than 141,000 people visit the exhibit in Wuhan before it is eventually removed after sparking complaints from Africans
By Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

Photo

A photo of an African boy and a gorilla by Yu Huiping in an exhibit in China that was removed after sparking accusations of racism. Photograph: Shanghaiist

A museum in China has removed an exhibit this week that juxtaposed photographs of animals with portraits of black Africans, sparking complaints of racism.

The exhibit titled This Is Africa at the Hubei Provincial Museum in the city of Wuhan displayed a series of diptychs, each one containing a photo of an African person paired with the face of an animal. In a particularly striking example, a child with his mouth wide open was paired with a gorilla and other works included baboons and cheetahs. Continue reading

Excerpt from Guo Xuebo’s “Mongolia”

List members may be interested in the following:

Source: Bruce-humes.com (9/28/17)

“The Mongol Would-be Self-Immolator”:An excerpt from “Mongolia,” a novel by Guo Xuebo

The reason I mention this is that, to the best of my knowledge, self immolation (自焚) is a largely taboo subject in Chinese fiction today. This text — penned by Guo Xuebo 郭雪波, an ethnic Mongol raised in Inner Mongolia — not only poke funs at the omnipresent “stability maintenance” policy, it actually deals head on with the paranoia surrounding the topic of self-immolation.

Bruce Humes <turklit4china@gmail.com>
www.bruce-humes.com

Han clothing movement

Source: Quartz (8/29/17)
Young people in China have started a fashion movement built around nationalism and racial purity
By Kevin Carrico

carricohan1

China’s mainstream majority is discovering its “traditional” attire. (Courtesy Kevin Carrico)

The Han Clothing Movement, a youth-based grassroots nationalist movement built around China’s majority Han ethnic group, has emerged over the past 15 years in urban China. It imagines the numerically and culturally dominant Han—nearly 92% of China’s population—as the target of oppression by both China’s minorities and “the West,” in need of revitalization to save China. Hoping to make the Han great again, movement participants promote the public wearing of an ethnic outfit that purports to revive a clothing style that is millennia old.

According to enthusiasts of the Han Clothing Movement, the dilemma of today’s China was on full display in the fall of 2001, when leaders from across the Asia-Pacific Region gathered in Shanghai for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting. Just a month after the attacks of September 11, this event’s theme was, appropriately, “meeting new challenges in the new century.” Unbeknownst to organizers and participants, however, one photo opportunity at this meeting was soon to produce a movement that would meet the new challenges of this new century by seeking answers from past centuries. 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

China funds new garden in Washington

Source: Washington Post (4/27/17)
China wants a bold presence in Washington — so it’s building a $100 million garden
By Adrian Higgins

The Ge Garden in Yangzhou, which will be replicated in the National China Garden at the National Arboretum. (Courtesy of the National China Garden)

This summer, a construction team is expected to begin transforming a 12-acre field at the U.S. National Arboretum into one of the most ambitious Chinese gardens ever built in the West.

By the time Chinese artisans finish their work some 30 months later, visitors will encounter a garden containing all the elements of a classical Chinese landscape: enticing moongate entrances, swooping and soaring roof lines, grand pavilions with carved wooden screens and groves of golden bamboo. The grounds will boast two dozen handcrafted pavilions, temples and other ornate structures around a large central lake. Continue reading

China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau

Source: SCMP (4/22/17)
China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau
Survey to help draw boundary of 2.5 million sq km park scheduled for this summer
By Stephen Chen

Tibetan nomads ride a motorcycle on the Tibetan plateau in Qinghai province. Photo: AFP

China is considering turning the entire Tibetan plateau and surrounding mountains into a huge national park to protect “the last piece of pure land”, according to scientists briefed on the project.

Dubbed the Third Pole National Park because the plateau and mountains, including the Himalayas, have a natural environment that in many ways resembles polar regions, it would be the world’s biggest national park. The plateau covers an area of more than 2.5 million sq km, mainly in Tibet and Qinghai, dwarfing the biggest national park at present, Greenland’s 972,000 sq km Northeast Greenland National Park. Continue reading

China’s stone age skiers

Source: NYT (4/19/17)
China’s Stone Age Skiers and History’s Harsh Lessons
Cave paintings in the Altai Mountains may show the cradle of skiing is in China. But the ethnic minorities who live there worry the old ways are in danger.
By KADE KRICHKO

Young skiers outside the village of Khom, in northern Xinjiang, China, last year. Fewer children are learning to ski in a region thought to be the birthplace of skiing. Credit Garrett Grove

Tucked beneath a shallow outcropping in the rolling lowlands of the Altai Mountains, four men glide along the shadow-pocked rock face, their faint silhouettes stalking a herd of unsuspecting ibex. To their left, a fifth swoops downhill, corralling the beasts with a spear in his hand.

His pigmented frame arcs from left, to right, and back again — a ski turn that may be the oldest ever recorded.

The hunters are part of a cave painting in the northern tip of China’s Xinjiang Province, a wedge of territory that pokes up between Mongolia to the east and Kazakhstan to the west. According to Chinese archaeologists, the painting dates back more than 10,000 years — 2,000 more than the next earliest ski artifact on record.

Now, as the popularity of winter sports explodes in China, driven by President Xi Jinping’s decree that his country would have 300 million winter sports enthusiasts by the time it hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics, ski tour companies have begun opening their doors in this remote region. The first heli-skiing and snowmobile-access tours started operating this winter in the nearby village of Khom, offering trips deep into the heart of the Altai. Continue reading

Michael Puett’s The Path

Source: The Guardian (3/26/17)
Can Harvard’s most popular professor (and Confucius) radically change your life?
Michael Puett’s book The Path draws on the 2,500-year-old insights of Chinese philosophers. He explains how ‘straightening your mat’ can help you break out of the patterns that are holding you back
By Tim Dowling

Professor Michael Puett

Professor Michael Puett: what we really are is ‘a messy and potentially ugly bunch of stuff’. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

The School of Life’s Sunday sermons could be described as lectures for people who don’t believe in God but still like church. They sing secular songs before and after the sermon (when I arrive, the large congregation at Mary Ward House in London is on the second verse of A Spoonful of Sugar), and everybody seems to share an abiding faith in the power of open-mindedness.

On this particular Sunday, the sermon is to be delivered by Michael Puett, professor of Chinese history at Harvard University, and is based on his book The Path, which applies the lessons of ancient Chinese philosophers to modern life. These philosophers may have done their best work 2,500 years ago, but they were trying to answer the same big questions we still ask. How do I live my life? How do I live my life well? Continue reading