Footbinding as Fashion review

Source: Taipei Times (6/27/19)
BOOK REVIEW: Bound for better things?
With Taiwan as the centerpiece, John Robert Shepherd builds an exhaustive argument about the endurance of foot-binding in China and Taiwan despite official attempts to curb the practice
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Footbinding as Fashion: Ethnicity, Labor, and Status in Traditional China, By John Robert Shepherd (University of Washington Press, 2018)

While Footbinding As Fashion looks at the practice in “traditional China,” much of this book is about Taiwan. The nation’s Hoklo majority brought the custom with them when they emigrated en masse across the Taiwan Strait, keeping the majority of their women’s feet tiny and their gait hobbled for centuries until the Japanese colonizers arrived and stamped out the practice.

But most importantly, it was the Japanese who produced the “only systematic accounting of the practice of footbinding that was ever produced” through the 1905 and 1915 censuses of Taiwan, where the author could cross-reference rich data sets that included languages spoken, Chinese province of origin (or Aboriginal), livelihood and whether they were “ever-bound” (currently bound or once bound and released) or “never-bound.”

As a result, researchers can obtain details as specific as the percentage of Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese with ancestry from Fujian Province between the ages of 21 and 30 who at some point stopped binding their feet. The dates are also crucial because the Japanese intensified their efforts in eradicating footbinding in the 1910s until they outright banned it in 1915.

The Japanese made such detailed records not only to keep tabs on the population and prove themselves as “model” colonizers to the international world, but also because they sought to eradicate the “three degenerate practices” among local people: footbinding, queue wearing and opium smoking. The data reveals that footbinding was almost exclusively a Hoklo practice, accounting for 99.6 percent of “ever-bound” women in Taiwan. Continue reading

The 800 Hundred pulled from Shanghai Film Fest

Source: SCMP (6/17/19)
Why the first Chinese Imax war film The Eight Hundred was pulled from Shanghai film festival
By Elaine Yao
The film, telling the story of the defence of the Sihang Warehouse against the Japanese army, was cancelled for ‘technical reasons’. The cancellation led to online anger with some saying the film was cancelled for glorifying the Chinese Nationalist army.

Wang Qianyuan (top) and Zhang Junyi in The Eight Hundred, a film about the Battle of Shanghai which was pulled from the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Wang Qianyuan (top) and Zhang Junyi in The Eight Hundred, a film about the Battle of Shanghai which was pulled from the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The official release date of China-produced World War II epic The Eight Hundred is in the balance after its world premiere at the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival was cancelled. The decision came to light one day before the opening of the festival, which runs from June 15 to June 24.

The official Weibo account of the film said the premiere, scheduled for its opening day, was cancelled due to technical reasons. A series of promotional events planned for the film at the festival were also cancelled. They included a screening on Tuesday at Tongji University in Shanghai, and sessions at which cast and crew members were to meet the media and public in Shanghai. Continue reading

The prince and the rebel

Source: China Channel, LARB (6/13/19)
The Prince and the Rebel
By Jeremiah Jenne
A thwarted assassination that almost changed the course of Chinese history

A hutong bridge in Beiijing’s Houhai neighborhood. (Flickr/Gauthier Delecroix)

Beijing. Early spring, 1910. The early hours of morning. Two young men are furtively digging a hole in the hard dirt beside a small stone bridge in the hutong just north of Houhai. Most other residents are asleep. March nights in Beijing are usually cold, and most people sleep with the windows shut. But there are ears other than human. The clanging of shovels and scratching of earth draws the attention of the neighborhood dogs, whose barking threatens the men with discovery. They run off with the job half-finished.

The next night, they return and complete their excavation. They carefully lower an iron cask into the hole, covering it with dirt to conceal it. That is when they discover that they are missing a crucial item. Their mistake means another delay. After a visit to a local hardware store the next day, the two young men are back the following evening. Only now there is a human witness to their nocturnal activities. Continue reading

The price of dissent in China

Source: The Nation (6/4/19)
Surviving Tiananmen: The Price of Dissent in China
Remembering the Tiananmen Movement is not just about repression—it’s about hope.
By Rowena He

Bicycle commuters, sparse in numbers, pass through a tunnel as military tanks are positioned above on the overpass in Beijing, China, two days after the Tiananmen Square massacre, on June 6, 1989. (AP Photo / Vincent Yu)

“Young lovers from China!” a smiling sales lady said as she approached Yu Dongyue and me in a mall on a rainy afternoon in February. It took me a moment to realize that Yu could be taken as an ordinary man with a girlfriend. Yu’s hat covered the scar that he received from brutal beatings. No one could have guessed that he was suffering from severe trauma and mental disorders after 16 years of incarceration marked by torture and solitary confinement as a political prisoner in China. Continue reading

China continues to deny Tiananmen

Source: The Guardian (6/3/19)
China continues to deny Tiananmen, but we won’t let the world forget
By Rowena Xiaoqing He
On the 30th anniversary of the massacre, commemorations to those who were killed will show the Chinese government we will not be silenced

“He was just a kid, but he cried like an old man in despair.” Liane was trying hard to steady her emotions when she described to me how she had attempted to hold back a young boy whose unarmed brother had been shot by soldiers during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

Liane was a student from Hong Kong when the 1989 Tiananmen movement erupted and she went to Beijing to support the demonstrations. On the night of 3 June, when 200,000 soldiers equipped with tanks and AK-47s were deployed against unarmed civilians, she was outside the Museum of the Chinese Revolution on the north-east corner of Tiananmen Square. She fainted after she failed to stop the young boy from dashing toward the soldiers, and was carried away covered with blood. Continue reading

Someone always remembers

Source: NYT (6/3/19)
Thirty Years After Tiananmen: Someone Always Remembers
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
How people in China keep the memory of the massacre alive despite the government’s efforts to make them forget.
By Ian Johnson

Members of the Tiananmen Mothers, who are relatives of victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre, posing at a secret commemoration meeting in an undisclosed location in China, in March. They publicly released this photo just days ahead of June 4, through the advocacy group Human Rights in China. Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; released by the Tiananmen Mothers via Human Rights in China

BEIJING — In China, the Tiananmen Square massacre is not taught in any textbook, aired on any television channel or marked by any monument. But 30 years on, it remains vivid in the subconscious of the People’s Republic. Why?

This is a question that has followed me since coming to China as a reporter in 1994, shortly after the fifth anniversary of what is known here simply by two numbers, 6/4, shorthand for the date of the crackdown on June 4, 1989. Late the night before and early that morning, government soldiers fought their way into downtown Beijing, using tanks, armored personnel carriers and live ammunition. Their target: Tiananmen Square, where peaceful protesters had been camped out for nearly two months, giving voice to many people’s hopes for a more open society. Continue reading

HK publisher struggles to document Tiananmen

Source: NYT (6/4/19)
In Hong Kong, a Publisher Struggles to Document Tiananmen’s Carnage
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Austin Ramzy

“I met a lot of people at Tiananmen,” said Bao Pu, the founder of New Century Press, a Hong Kong publisher that has resisted censorship efforts by Beijing. “The event really changed our lives. It certainly changed mine.” Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Even after this city returned to Chinese control in 1997, it has traditionally held the largest annual vigil for the Tiananmen protesters killed in the government’s crackdown. It is home to the only museum dedicated to the events of 1989.

But as Beijing’s influence has increased, one of the greatest reservoirs of those memories — Hong Kong’s publishing industry — is imperiled. On the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, people who produce books documenting it and other key moments in Chinese history fear they will soon be driven out of business. Continue reading

Tiananmen crackdown at 30

Here’s a roundup, from Sup China, of Tiananmen-related articles.–Kirk

Source: Sup China (6/3/19)
The Tiananmen Square crackdown, at 30 years

General reporting on Tiananmen’s legacy and how it is remembered:

Continue reading

How I learned about Tiananmen

Source: China File (6/3/19)
How I Learned About Tiananmen: A China File Conversation

A child sleeps on his mother’s shoulder as she crosses Tiananmen Square, Beijing, May 29, 1989.

In April, ChinaFile put out a call, on this website and on social media, for young people who grew up in China to describe how they first learned about the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, and how they felt about it. Here is a selection of the responses we received, including several from authors who requested their posts be published anonymously. —The Editors


My first encounter with the Tiananmen Square massacre took place on a late afternoon in the late 1990s. I was in about sixth grade at the time. I came home quite late one day. When I opened the door, I found the house was dark with only a flicker of light coming from my parents’ bedroom. I went in and found my parents, my grandparents (my mom’s parents), and my cousin’s family. They were all crammed into this small bedroom and were watching something on a VCD on a small TV, even though we had a more comfortable sofa and a larger TV in the living room. It was dead quiet in the bedroom, so I just found a place to sit near a nightstand.

I did not know what was playing on the TV at the time. No one talked to me during the screening or explained what was going on, so I just sat and watched. It turned out to be a documentary on the Tiananmen Square massacre. I later found out my parents had borrowed the VCD from a friend. The documentary detailed everything that took place before, during, and after June 4, 1989, from the death of Hu Yaobang to the student leaders petitioning outside the Great Hall of the People, intercut with interviews of student leaders like Chai Ling, Wang Dan, and Wu’erkaixi. Continue reading

China’s ‘Black Week-end’

Source: NY Review of Books (June 27, 2019)
China’s ‘Black Week-end’
By Ian Johnson

The Last Secret: The Final Documents from the June Fourth Crackdown
edited by Bao Pu
Hong Kong: New Century Press, 362 pp., HK$158.00

Demonstrators and troops during the Tiananmen Square protests, Beijing, June 1989. Kao Bian/New Century Media and Consulting, Co. Ltd.

When Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun began publishing articles last year criticizing the government’s turn toward a harsher variety of authoritarianism, it seemed inevitable that he would be swiftly silenced. Sure enough, Xu was suspended from his teaching duties at Tsinghua University and placed under investigation. But then, remarkably, dozens of prominent citizens began speaking up. Some signed a petition, others wrote essays and poems in Xu’s support, and one wrote a song:

And, so this spring
Again they are scared.1

To anyone familiar with Chinese politics, the reference was clear: the anniversary of the June 4, 1989, crackdown on the Tiananmen protests. The Communist Party’s use of violence to end those peaceful demonstrations left hundreds dead and remains one of the ugliest events in the history of the People’s Republic. Continue reading

Military insider warns: never forget

Source: NYT (5/28/19)
30 Years After Tiananmen, a Chinese Military Insider Warns: Never Forget
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
A former People’s Liberation Army journalist defied a political taboo to describe the bloody crackdown in Beijing and urge a national reckoning.
by Chris Buckley

Vehicles on fire on the night of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989.CreditCreditPeter Charlesworth/LightRocket, via Getty Images

BEIJING — For three decades, Jiang Lin kept quiet about the carnage she had seen on the night when the Chinese Army rolled through Beijing to crush student protests in Tiananmen Square. But the memories tormented her — of soldiers firing into crowds in the dark, bodies slumped in pools of blood and the thud of clubs when troops bludgeoned her to the ground near the square.

Ms. Jiang was a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army back then, with a firsthand view of both the massacre and a failed attempt by senior commanders to dissuade China’s leaders from using military force to crush the pro-democracy protests. Afterward, as the authorities sent protesters to prison and wiped out memories of the killing, she said nothing, but her conscience ate at her. Continue reading

Why we remember June Fourth

Source: China File (5/28/19)
Why We Remember June Fourth
By Perry Link

A student pro-democracy protester flashes a victory sign to the crowd as People’s Liberation Army troops withdraw on the west side of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, June 3, 1989. Mark Avery—AP Photo

Some people recently asked, “Why must you remember June Fourth? Thirty years have gone by. It is history. Get over it. Move on.”

A simple question, but there are many answers. No single answer is adequate, and all of the answers together still leave the question hanging in mid-air, asking for more.

We remember June Fourth because Jiang Jielan was 17 at the time. He is still 17. He will always be 17. People who die do not age.

We remember June Fourth because the lost souls that haunted Liu Xiaobo until he died will haunt us, too, until we do. Continue reading

Blood Letters of a Martyr

Source: LARB, China Channel (5/19/19)
Blood Letters of a Martyr
By Ting Guo
Ting Guo talks to Lian Xi about his new biography of Lin Zhao

On May 31, 1965, 33-year-old Lin Zhao was tried in Shanghai and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. She was charged as the lead member of a counter-revolutionary clique that had published an underground journal decrying communist misrule and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a collectivization campaign that caused an unprecedented famine and claimed at least 36 million lives between 1959 and 1961.

“This is a shameful ruling!” Lin Zhao wrote on the back of the verdict the next day, in her own blood. Three years later, she was executed by firing squad under specific instructions from Chairman Mao himself.

Lin Zhao’s father committed suicide a month after Lin’s arrest, and her mother died a while  after her execution. In Shanghai, where I grew up and where Lin was tried, imprisoned and killed, the story (the sort told only in private) goes that Lin’s mother was asked to pay for the bullets that killed her daughter. It is also said (in private) that in the years that followed, at the Bund, the former International Settlement on the Huangpu River, one could see Lin’s mother crying and asking for Lin’s return. Continue reading

Burying ‘Mr. Democracy’

Source: China Media Project (5/3/19)
By David Bandurski

Burying “Mr. Democracy”

Today, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, the political movement that arose out of student protests in Beijing in response to the Treaty of Versailles, “the youth” figure strongly in official propaganda. But as China’s leadership walks a tightrope, acknowledging this crucial anniversary while seeking to drain it of all hints of sanguine insurgence and youthful opposition (we are just weeks away from the anniversary of June Fourth), the story’s real protagonist is not China’s youth, but rather President Xi Jinping and the Party he leads.

The two most famous figures at the core of the “spirit” of the May Fourth Movement, Mr. Democracy and Mr. Science, are conspicuously absent. Continue reading