More on this year’s gaokao

Source: Sup China (6/7/18)
Propaganda and finger vein recognition: China’s 2018 college entrance exams
By Lucy Best

The gaokao (高考 gāokǎo) is a three-day college entrance test that covers literature, science, math, and English (see SupChina’s brief history of the exam). This year more than 9.75 million students are taking the test, according to Sixth Tone.

Propaganda is big this year. Today’s morning test session was for Chinese language and literature and included an 800-character essay. Quartz reports: “Of the nine essay questions asked across the nation — there are some regional variations — five were directly related to propaganda terms put forward by the Chinese president.”

Cheating on the gaokao already carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail, but Chinese authorities are instituting additional measures this year. Test centers in Inner Mongolia will use finger vein recognition (as opposed to fingerprint recognition) to verify test takers’ identities, according to the South China Morning Post. Metal detectors, facial recognition, and fingerprint recognition are expected to be commonplace around the country.

Gen Z candidates shrug off gaokao

Source: SCMP (6/6/18)
China’s Generation Z gaokao candidates shrug off college entrance exam’s reputation for making or breaking futures
China’s gaokao exam season moves into a new era as students born in the 21st century take the rigid national college entrance examinations for the first time
By Zhuang Pinghui

Students born in the 21st century are to take China’s gaokao, or national college entrance examinations, for the first time this week. Photo: EPA

China’s gaokao exam season will move into a new era this week as students born in the 21st century take the rigid national college entrance examinations for the first time.

Their scores will determine whether they can go to university, which institutions will accept them and what careers await them.

But many of the 9.75 million secondary school students who will sit for the exams, officially known as the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, for between two and three days from Thursday, reject the popular view that gaokao can make or break their futures, according to a new survey. Continue reading

China Matters

On this day of June 4, China Matters Ltd in Australia saw fit to publish this mumbo-jumbo about the mysterious, and very pure, profundity of China. See below. The author recycles several falsities, notably the very old misunderstanding of Chinese writing as pure pictures:

“On a purely linguistic note, … Chinese language as a pure logogram and European languages which are all phonogram … ”

–But such theories have been debunked by all the linguists! For how long now? Centuries?

It goes on. Take this for example: “Classical Chinese does not operate under a set of grammatical rules,” (!!) … and so on.

But perhaps the fakery doesn’t matter, if one’s fantasy “China” matters more — as it seems to, at China Matters Ltd.?

One writer on Twitter labelled this “pure bullshit,” and there’s something to that. However, I think it is also an example of what Andrea Ghiselli in the latest China Quarterly called “Cherry-Picking” (see: “Revising China’s Strategic Culture: Contemporary Cherry-Picking of Ancient Strategic Thought,” China Quarterly, Volume 233, March 2018 , pp. 166-185.

This strategic “Cherry-Picking” is, I think, very closely related to Trumpian fakery, which also cares nothing for the facts except as the raw material with which to fashion a semi-plausible new truth that will fool some, at least.

One could use the same term for both. And the current industry of “Cherry-Picking” to mystify-and-glorify China deserves much more research, analysis, and exposure.

(In my recent article I took on the longstanding, but fake, narrative that China was always peaceful, never an empire, etc etc.: The Legacy of the Chinese Empires, in: Education About Asia 22.1, (2017), pp. 6-10, download at:

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: China (6/4/18)
A Piece to the Puzzle: Reading China’s Strategic Mindset
By Kelvin Chau

Australia will need to study Chinese cultural knowledge more comprehensively to remain competitive in the ongoing Asian Century. Studying Chinese strategic culture, notably Chinese conflict management principles, is both necessary and the first step to take. To put it simply, the importance of understanding the role of strategy in the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) business culture and policy formulation is captured by the title of Professor Xuetong Yan’s book “Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern China’s Power”. Continue reading

Vagina Monologues cancelled at Fudan

Source: Sup China (5/31/18)
Student Group At Fudan University Forced To Cancel Annual Production Of ‘The Vagina Monologues’

This year at Fudan University in Shanghai, there will not be any students talking loudly about female genitalia. Zhihe Society 知和社, an on-campus student organization committed to addressing gender issues, was forced to cancel its annual performance of the feminist play The Vagina Monologues (阴道独白 yīndào dúbái), which was set to take place on May 31.

Written by American playwright and activist Eve Ensler in 1994, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of women’s rights, bodies, and sexual experiences.

In 2004, students at Fudan University performed the Chinese version of The Vagina Monologues for the first time on campus, making the school the first Chinese college to produce the play. In subsequent years, the student group constantly adapted the original play for the contemporary Chinese context, and the annual production has evolved into a well-received cultural event among college students in Shanghai. Continue reading

Patriotic writer draws ire

Source: Sup China (5/29/18)
Patriotic Chinese Writer Draws Ire After Trying To Enroll Her Kid At An American School

Yuan Xiaoliang, from her Weibo account

Yuan Xiaoliang 袁小靓 made a name for herself by bashing democracy. In 2013, she called India a nation “raped” by democracy, and said Chinese fans of Apple products were American “slaves.” A year later, she wrote, “Despite how good America is, it is someone else’s motherland. No matter how bad a mother China is, it is my home. I don’t need a reason to love her and protect her, yet there are reasons aplenty.”

Her pro-China stances on social media have been widely cited by Chinese state media. In an article published on in 2012, Yuan called herself the “chairwoman” of the 50-Cent Party — a moniker given to those who voice online support for the Chinese Communist Party and China in general. (For what it’s worth, Yuan also claimed to have not made a cent from the Chinese government.) Continue reading

Seminars in modern Chinese fiction

Two Seminars in Modern Chinese Fiction at the Lau China Centre, Kings College London
Thursday 7th and Thursday 14th June, 10-12, at Bush House, KCL

The first seminar will consider ‘I Love Dollars’ by Zhu Wen, originally published in Chinese in the late 1990s, and the second ‘The Story of Ah Q ‘ by Lu Xun, first published in Chinese in 1921.

The seminars are presented by journalist and writer Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, will be discussions on short stories from bestselling classics from either end of the 20th century.

Through close reading, the sessions will explore the ways the texts deal with sexuality, patriarchy, filial piety, women, masculinity, the individual, romantic love, society and the state. They will also consider the tone of the writing, the use of humour, parody and the absurd, and consider the ways in which they experiment with the story form. Continue reading

Classrooms monitor facial expressions

Source: Sup China (5/16/18)
No Sleeping In Class: Chinese High School Installs Cameras To Monitor Student Facial Expressions

A network of surveillance cameras backed by facial-recognition technology has been introduced to every classroom at a high school in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Praised by the school’s principal as “insightful eyes,” the cameras are capable of capturing and analyzing students’ body movements and facial expressions during class, offering teachers real-time feedback on how attentive their students are.

According to Sina News (in Chinese), with the newly installed cameras that can tell who might be discreetly taking a nap, students at Hangzhou No. 11 High School are more focused in class than ever. “Before the introduction of these cameras, I sometimes took naps or did other stuff while having classes that I don’t like,” one student told reporters, adding that his classmates all felt the same. “But now, I always feel there are mysterious eyes staring at me, so I don’t dare do things that are unrelated to class anymore.” Continue reading

Students at NTU march to defend school autonomy (1)

According to other reputable sources, the controversy at NTU is a bit more complex than the version in the SupChina essay, which mainly blames the DPP government… See, for example, the article below.–Sebastian Veg <>

Source: New Bloom (4/30/18)
Block of Kuan’s Appointment Unlikely to End NTU Presidential Controversy
By Brian Hioe


AFTER MUCH back and forth, the decision by the Ministry of Education to block Kuan Chung-ming from being named president of National Taiwan University (NTU) has at least settled the matter that Kuan will not be the next president of NTU. But one does not expect controversy regarding Kuan’s blocked appointment to end anytime soon.

Namely, the matter has long since become one that the KMT and members of the pan-Blue camp have latched onto as a way to claim that the DPP is politically persecuting political dissidence and that university autonomy is under siege. The DPP has probably not helped matters for itself by allowing the matter to drag on for so long without offering clear resolution and the scandal has already claimed the career of Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung, who resigned due to the lack of resolution regarding the scandal. Continue reading

Students at NTU march to defend school autonomy

Source: Sup China (5/3/18)
Students At National Taiwan University March To Defend School Autonomy

Students at the prestigious National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei are planning a protest — dubbed the “New May Fourth Movement” — on Friday, May 4, to object to the Taiwanese government’s interference in the election of the school’s president.

The organizers condemn the “government’s attempt to undermine university autonomy.” Their main complaint is that Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has been attempting to delegitimize NTU’s election of Kuan Chung-ming 管中閔 as its new president. Kuan, a former Kuomintang (KMT) minister, was elected on January 5 by 21 members of the school’s Presidential Search Committee. Since then, the Ministry of Education has accused him of ethical lapses, and said there was a conflict of interest with one of the voting members of the Presidential Search Committee, according to the Taipei Times. Continue reading

Beida student silenced over rape claim petition

Source: The Guardian (4/24/18)
Student says Peking university trying to silence her over rape claim petition
Young activist publishes letter alleging harassment over role in movement calling for more accountability over campus sex assaults
By Lily Kuo

Peking University

Peking University Photograph: Sipa Press / Rex Features

A student activist calling for transparency over an alleged rape at China’s top university has accused the university of trying to silence her.

Earlier this month, former classmates of a literature student at Peking University (PKU) who killed herself in 1998 came forward to say she had been raped by her professor, Shen Yang, who denies the allegation. PKU and two other universities subsequently cut ties with Shen and a group of current PKU students petitioned the school to hand over all documents related to the case. Continue reading

Graduate student suicide

Source: Sup China (4/5/18)
Graduate Student’s Suicide Raises Questions About The Professor-Student Power Dynamic On Chinese Campuses

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The suicide of a graduate student at the Wuhan University of Technology’s School of Automation two weeks ago has sparked a discussion online about the relationship between mentors and mentees at Chinese universities.

Tao Chongyuan 陶崇园, a graduate student at Wuhan University of Technology’s School of Automation, jumped off the sixth floor of his dormitory building on March 26, reportedly after being mentally abused by his supervisor, Professor Wang Pan 王攀.

Tao’s sister, a doctor at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), wrote on her Weibo account that her brother was coerced into assisting Wang with his personal affairs; under the request of Wang, Tao went to Wang’s apartment at night to prepare meals for him and do his laundry. Continue reading

Li Chenjian’s “Stiffen the Backbone and Refuse to be Cynics”

The vice dean of Yuanpei College at Beida, Li Chenjian, has written an essay commemorating Cai Yuanpei’s “backbone” in standing up for freedom. He and other administrators have resigned from the college.–Kirk

Source: China Digital Times (3/22/18)
李沉简:挺直脊梁 拒做犬儒(北大一二〇纪念)
来自微信公号:飞蜗牛研习社FlySnailLab(ID: FlySnail_Lab)

3 月 22 日,传闻北京大学元培学院常务副院长李沉简发送文章《挺直脊梁 拒做犬儒》后辞职,通识副院长张旭东、院长鄂维南一并辞职(知乎网友指出李沉简、张旭东早在二月底的内部会议上辞职)。3 月 22 日下午 6:00 公众号「大帅直通车」推送文章,6:40 公众号被要求关闭,院内老师以微信语音、打电话等方式要求学生删除转发文章。


戊戌变法、北大建校一百二十年,我们纪念蔡元培校长。在中国近代史上,元培先生当之无愧是现代教育之父。他留给我们的“兼容并包,思想自由”是北大的精神火炬,代代相传。蔡校长在人们的印象里总是一个谦谦君子式的思想领袖。其实蔡校长的另外一个侧面同样是万世师表,那就是一个挺直脊梁、拒绝做犬儒的男子汉。 Continue reading

Confucius Institutes serve diplomacy

Just in case there is still anyone who thinks the Confucius Institutes are somehow innocent cultural entities, not direct instruments of the Chinese regime.–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: ChinaScope (3/1/18)
China Promotes Confucius Institutes to Serve Its Diplomacy in Major Countries

On the afternoon of January 23, Xi Jinping, leader of the leading group for deepening the overall reform of the central government, presided over the second meeting of the leading group and delivered an important speech. The meeting passed a number of “resolutions,” or “documents.” One of them was, “Guiding Opinions on Promoting the Reform and Development of Confucius Institutes.”

The resolution pointed out that the promotion of the reform and development of Confucius Institutes should center on the building of a powerful socialist country with Chinese characteristics, serving China’s major powers diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, deepening the reform and innovation, improving the institutional mechanisms, optimizing the distribution structure, strengthening the building efforts, and improving the quality of education, so as to let the (Confucius Institutes) become an important force of communication between China and foreign countries.

Source:  People’s Daily, January 23, 2018

Confucius Institute at NCSU

Posted by Nathaniel Isaacson <>
Source: The News and Observer (2/26/18)
NCSU should not take money from the Chinese government

Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the Confucius Institute, which is housed at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, in 2011. Chris Walker – AP Chris Walker AP

The Chinese philosopher Confucius, who lived 2,500 years ago, traveled widely inside his country but never outside it. Nonetheless, an institute is named for him at N.C. State University.

Since 2007, the Institute, which is based in the McKimmon Center on Western Boulevard, has operated modestly. Its mission “is to enhance intercultural understanding in the U.S. by supporting and organizing Chinese language and culture programs.” It offers three classes this semester — two classes in Mandarin Chinese and Beginner’s Chinese Brush Painting. Continue reading

Made in China summer school 2018

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to announce the 2018 Made in China Summer School—’Chinese Labourscapes: Transregional Perspectives on Work and Rights’—which will be held in Florence, Italy, from 9 to 13 July.

This event will bring together leading scholars from all over the world for a series of presentations and discussions with students, trade unionists, and NGO activists. For an outline of the initiative and a list of confirmed speakers, please refer to this webpage.

Up to 30 participants will be admitted and applications can be submitted until 25 March through this online form.

No enrolment fee will be required to attend the Summer School, but participants will have to pay for their own transport, food, and accommodation. We have reserved rooms at the Summer School venue, and will be available to assist with all necessary booking arrangements. Additionally, up to four scholarships will be awarded to students to fully cover accommodation expenses.

If you have further inquiries, please contact us at

We hope you will help us circulate this announcement.

Best regards,

Ivan Franceshini ( and Nicholas Loubere