Xinhua News Agency was established by the Chinese Communist Party in 1931 in a little house in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province. Until 1938, it was called the Red China News Agency 红色中华通讯社, but it has always had the same goal: to collect information for the Party and act as its voice. Despite its propagandist mission, Xinhua has produced some excellent journalists, such as Yang Jisheng 杨继绳, author of Tombstone, an excruciatingly detailed record of the Great Famine of 1959–1961.
Xinhua operates in a similar way to Western newswires such as Reuters: Thousands of journalists and editors across China and in 170 foreign bureaus churn out news articles, video, opinion pieces, and breaking news briefs, which are fed out to newspapers and websites across the country. But there are some key differences: Chinese newspapers and websites cannot only use Xinhua content for free; sometimes instructions from the authorities compel them to run Xinhua copy. So when Xinhua updates its style guide, it affects the way the news is written in numerous newspapers and websites across China. Continue reading →
The article states that the name “Xinhuashe” (新华社) was adopted “after the 1949 revolution.” Two problems with this. First, the name Xinhuashe was used from 1937 when the CCP moved to Yan’an (after the Xi’an Incident). Second, officially there was no “revolution” in 1949, only the “establishment of the PRC” (建国).
Source: Sup China (7/20/17)
A style guide for Party media: no bosses or green tea bitches
Founded in 1931 as Red China News Agency 红色中华通讯社, and named after the 1949 revolution, Xinhua News Agency is China’s most important state-owned newswire. Every day, Xinhua feeds thousands of articles to newspapers, websites, and TV stations across China. Xinhua copy is available for free to any news organization; in addition, during some political events, news organizations are required to use Xinhua copy.
So when Xinhua updates its style guide, it affects the way the news is written in every media organization in mainland China. On July 20, Xinhuaadded 57 new rules (in Chinese) to its existing style guide (which was released in May 2015). Here are some of them:
Boss Never use boss (老板 lǎobǎn) to describe leading cadres of the Party or people in charge of state-owned enterprises. Continue reading →
When I decided to start studying Mandarin as a teenager, friends and family approved. China was enjoying explosive economic growth, so speaking the country’s lingua franca was sure to open doors. But when I moved to China after college, I ended up in one place where Mandarin doesn’t get you very far: Hong Kong.
The majority of the city’s 7.3 million people speak Cantonese, a Chinese dialect mutually unintelligible from Mandarin. And while I’ve thrown myself into learning Cantonese with just as much passion, I do not get the same reaction that I did with Mandarin. Instead, I’m told Cantonese is on its way out the door.
All four articles evince a keen sense of the centrality of Cantonese language in maintaining the cultural identity of its speakers. I urge anyone who is interested in Cantonese to read each of these articles to gain a better idea of the vital issues of language education and preservation that members of the Cantosphere are facing, wherever they are. Continue reading →
Mourners gather in Beijing on May 18 for the memorial service of former foreign minister Qian Qichen.
When Lux Nayaran, the co-founder of content analytics company Unmetric Inc, fed 2,000 New York Times obituaries into a natural language processing program, he found that most all the people featured, famous or not, had used their talents for good. They had, he said, “made a positive dent in the fabric of life.” Had Nayaran instead run 2,000 obituaries from Chinese Communist Party leaders through his program, he might have found something astonishing — that they had all made more or less identical dents in the stiff fabric of Chinese politics. Continue reading →
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 →
A Chinese-created term is catching attention on American social networks. Baizuo, or literally the “white left,” has triggered heated discussions about how it should be interpreted.
The term can now be found on Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced online dictionary of slang words and phrases. The dictionary describes the buzzword as “meaning a naive Western-educated person who advocates for peace and equality only to satisfy their own feelings of moral superiority.”
A baizuo only cares about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment. The term first became a hit amid the European refugee crisis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first Western politician tagged with the baizuo label because of her open-door refugee policy. Reporters said that Chinese students and job hunters complained that they had to try hard to stay in Europe, while unskilled refugees could just claim asylum and get welfare. Continue reading →
Meet the Chinese netizens who combine a hatred for the ‘white left’ with a love of US president Donald Trump.
Internet cafe, Beijing, Flickr/Kai Hendry. Some rights reserved.
If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it’s impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo (白左), or literally, the ‘white left’. It first emerged about two years ago, and yet has quickly become one of the most popular derogatory descriptions for Chinese netizens to discredit their opponents in online debates. Continue reading →
China’s Ministry of Education and its National Language Committee have issued an announcement (in Chinese) calling for intensive work to spread the use of spoken Mandarin and standardized Chinese characters. Currently, about 70 percent of the population can speak Mandarin. In big cities, the figure is around 90 percent, but according to the announcement in some rural areas and among ethnic groups, the number is 40 percent or even lower. The BBC has a short report on the announcement that says the target is to have 80 percent of the population speaking Mandarin by 2020, but the original announcement does not actually mention that number.
The Ministry of Education says that ensuring that the use of Mandarin is thoroughly popularized is an important goal of the 13th five-year plan, and necessary to meet China’s development goals and to preserve social harmony and unity of the nation. The announcement also calls for the “scientific preservation” (科学保护 kēxué bǎohù) of the languages of ethnic minorities.
“You almost never hear the old Beijing dialect on the city streets nowadays,” said Gao Guosen, 68. Mr. Gao has been identified as one of a diminishing number of “pure” speakers of the dialect. Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times
BEIJING — To the untutored ear, the Beijing dialect can sound like someone talking with a mouthful of marbles, inspiring numerous parodies and viral videos. Its colorful vocabulary and distinctive pronunciation have inspired traditional performance arts such as cross-talk, a form of comic dialogue, and “kuaibanr,’’ storytelling accompanied by bamboo clappers.
There was a mistake in how applications should be submitted in the version of this job announcement I posted on Oct. 28. Please use this updated version.– Liang Luo
Open Rank Faculty in Second Language Acquisition
The Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures & Cultures at the University of Kentucky invites applications for a tenure-track position in Second Language Acquisition to begin August 2017. The position is pending final approval of funding. The level of the position is open and will be determined on the basis of the candidate’s qualifications. The successful applicant’s tenure home will be in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures & Cultures, a dynamic academic unit committed to interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue among faculty with diverse geographical interests, theoretical concerns, and methodological approaches. Applicants are expected to have a Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition or in a related field by August 2017. We seek a candidate who has expertise in Chinese. Experience in teacher education is mandatory. Experience building international collaborative programs is a plus. Continue reading →
My writing day starts in the night, with midnight or early morning dreams. When I wake up in my east London flat, I ponder on them while making coffee. In one recurrent dream, my dead Chinese grandmother speaks in my hometown dialect to my western boyfriend, and my western boyfriend responds to her in his language. Both seem to understand each other perfectly without a translator. I must have been using a hidden language to narrate the dream – neither Chinese nor English. It is a dreaming language. I desperately want to capture it, and write in it. Continue reading →
China’s President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, Sept. 4, 2016.
Censors in China are working overtime to scrub the Internet and social media of any mention of a slip-up made by Chinese President Xi Jinping made during a speech in Hangzhou before the Group of 20 Nations leaders’ summit.
In a speech Saturday to the Business 20 (B20) summit, which advises the G-20 leaders on policy decisions, Xi talked about the global economy and quoted an ancient Chinese phrase: “Make the tariff light and the road smooth, promote trade and ease agricultural policy.” [轻关易道，通商宽农]
But because the last character in the phrase for agriculture is very similar to the one for clothes, he ended up saying “taking one’s clothes off” [宽衣] instead of “ease agricultural policy.” [宽农] Continue reading →