Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Shana Ye’s review of Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan (HK University Press, 2017), edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao. The review appears below and can be read online at: My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer
Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao

Reviewed by Shana Ye
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2019)

Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao, eds. Boys’ Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2017. 292 pp. ISBN 978-9888390809 (hardback $60).

Many students in my Gender and East Asian Culture class are amazed by the almost omnipresent representation of androgynous pop idols, sexually ambiguous celebrities, and gender-bending TV shows in both Chinese mainstream media and fan communities. These cultural proliferations seem to contradict what they have in mind of what China is like from the perspective of their everyday North American lives. Some of the students, especially those with a feminist background who are concerned with the relationships between new forms of queer desire and transnational digital capitalism ironically reinscribe queer transgression into stereotypes of “Asian gender/sexual transitions.” For those who themselves are practitioners of boy’s love, cosplay, and queer cultural production, different media industries and grassroots fandom culture provide new windows through which to reflect on questions of nationality, belonging, cosmopolitan identity, and heteropatriarchy. Yet, a large number of the students still have trouble distinguishing China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea from one another. Continue reading

China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority

Source: The Guardian (4/11/19)
China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority
Smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.
By Darren Byler

In mid-2017, Alim, a Uighur man in his 20s, returned to China from studying abroad. As soon as he landed back in the country, he was pulled off the plane by police officers. He was told his trip abroad meant that he was now under suspicion of being “unsafe”. The police administered what they call a “health check”, which involved collecting several types of biometric data, including DNA, blood type, fingerprints, voice recordings and face scans – a process that all adults in the Uighur autonomous region of Xinjiang, in north-west China, are expected to undergo.

After his “health check”, Alim was transported to one of the hundreds of detention centres that dot north-west China. These centres have become an important part of what Xi Jinping’s government calls the “people’s war on terror”, a campaign launched in 2014, which focuses on Xinjiang, a region with a population of roughly 25 million people, just under half of whom are Uighur Muslims. As part of this campaign, the Chinese government has come to treat almost all expressions of Uighur Islamic faith as signs of potential religious extremism and ethnic separatism. Since 2017 alone, more than 1 million Turkic Muslims, including Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others, have moved through detention centres. Continue reading

Xi app impossible to ignore

Source: NYT (4//19)
In China, an App About Xi Is Impossible to Ignore — Even if You Try
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Javier C. Hernández

Communist Party members using the Study the Great Nation app during a weekly meeting in Beijing in February. Tens of millions of Chinese are now using the app, often under pressure from the government. CreditJason Lee/Reuters

CHANGSHA, China — Inside a fishing gear store on a busy city street, the owner sits behind a counter, furiously tapping a smartphone to improve his score on an app that has nothing to do with rods, reels and bait.

The owner, Jiang Shuiqiu, a 35-year-old army veteran, has a different obsession: earning points on Study the Great Nation, a new app devoted to promoting President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party — a kind of high-tech equivalent of Mao’s Little Red Book. Mr. Jiang spends several hours daily on the app, checking news about Mr. Xi and brushing up on socialist theories.

Tens of millions of Chinese workers, students and civil servants are now using Study the Great Nation, often under pressure from the government. It is part of a sweeping effort by Mr. Xi to strengthen ideological control in the digital age and reassert the party’s primacy, as Mao once did, as the center of Chinese life. Continue reading

High Peaks Pure Earth event

High Peaks Pure Earth: Ten Years of Tibetan Cyberspace in Translation
Monday, April 8, 2019
6:00pm – 8:00pm
EALAC Lounge (Kent Hall 403)
Columbia University

High Peaks Pure Earth has been dedicated to translating literature, news, and cultural commentary from Tibetan cyberspace for the last decade. Join us for a talk by founding editor Dechen Pemba, followed by a roundtable discussion on the internet as a site of Tibetan cultural production featuring Palden Gyal and Riga Shakya (Columbia University) and with video contributions from poet Tsering Woeser (Beijing) and writer Bhuchung D Sonam (Dharamsala).  With an introduction by Eveline Washul.

Light refreshments will be served. This event is sponsored by the Modern Tibetan Studies program, Columbia University.

Communication and the Public 4.1

Communication and the Public has just published its first issue of 2019 (vol. 4, no. 1). It contains articles by Christian Fuchs, Lianrui Jia, Chang Sup Park, Moran Yarchi, Falk Hartig, Hanna E. Morris and Raka Sen. Please see the table of contents below.

  1. Revisiting the Althusser/E. P. Thompson-Controversy: Towards a Marxist theory of communication
    By Christian Fuchs
  2. What public and whose opinion? A study of Chinese online public opinion analysis
    By Lianrui Jia Continue reading

Fantasy novel about antiques adapted for online series

Source: China Daily (3/14/19)
Fantasy novel about antiques becomes hit online series

A poster from the online series The Golden Eyes. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When veteran producer Bai Yicong occasionally “clicked” on a fantasy novel online in 2010, he could scarcely have thought that it would one day become one of his biggest-budget productions.

The work of fiction, titled Huangjin Yan, or The Golden Eyes, follows the adventures of a young pawnshop employee, who possesses the power to be able to see the past and future of every object he sees after his eyes are injured by a group of robbers.

Thus the protagonist becomes a legend in the antique world and an easy winner in gambling on stones, the practice of buying a raw rock and then cutting it open, with the hope of it holding some gems.

The story, penned by online writer Tang Yong, better known by his pseudonym Dayan, has accumulated more than 30 million views since its debut on China’s largest internet literature site Qidian in 2010.

“I was deeply attracted by the novel. It has a lot of riveting depictions about underground adventures, enriching my knowledge about antiques,” says Bai, sitting in his office located in eastern Beijing. Continue reading

‘Low-level red’ and other concerns

Source: China Media Project (3/11/19)
“Low-level Red” and other concerns

“Low-Level Red” and Other Concerns

On the last day of February, a pair of new political catchphrases made their way not just into the Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper but into a central-level Party document. These were “high-level black,” or gaojihei (高级黑) and “low-level red,” or dijihong (低级红). Before we explore how these two terms emerged on the internet and then made their way into central Party documents (中央文件), let us first take a look at some of the key trends that could be noted in Chinese political discourse in February.

Slogans, Hot and Cold

According to the six-level heat index developed by the China Media Project, here is how various important political phrases appeared in the People’s Daily:

One important thing to note as we look at phrase frequencies is that during February the total number of pages in the Party’s flagship newspaper was reduced to eight in light of the Spring Festival holiday, meaning that the total number of articles was likewise reduced, and so word frequencies were about half of what might usually be expected and we don’t see any dramatic changes in the temperature of various keywords. Continue reading

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist (2)

PS on the plagiarized PhD theses of Chinese officials:

Yet one more separate investigation, by the Agence France Presse, concludes Chen Quanguo (the Xinjiang province party chief currently in charge of the new concentration camp system and genocide under way in Xinjiang), plagiarised his PhD — along with other officials who also did so.

It concludes that Chen’s thesis “includes over 60 paragraphs copied without citation from another work.”

Read more here:

Or here:

Have there been any responses from, or any discernible consequences for, those outed as plagiarists?

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Why China silenced a clickbait queen

Source: NYT (3/16/19)
Why China Silenced a Clickbait Queen in Its Battle for Information Control
By Javier C. Hernández

Chinese blogger Ma Ling, right, speaking at an event in Shanghai in 2018.CreditZhou Junxiang/ImagineChina

BEIJING — She was known as China’s clickbait queen, an irreverent blogger who prescribed shopping to combat sadness (“better than sex, orgasms, strawberry cake”) and makeovers to win back cheating husbands (“men are visual animals”).

But late last month, Ma Ling, a blogger who commanded an audience of more than 16 million people, went conspicuously silent.

In the battle for control of the Chinese internet, the authorities had designated Ms. Ma a threat to social stability, pointing to an article she published about a young man with cancer whose talent and virtue were not enough to overcome problems like corruption and inequality. Continue reading

Entrepreneur takes on system

Source: NYT (3/9/19)
Chinese Entrepreneur Takes On the System, and Drops Out of Sight
By Chris Buckley

Zhao Faqi, 52, hoped to strike it rich when in 2003 he signed a government contract for coal exploration rights. Then the government tore up the deal. He fought back, and now he has vanished. Credit Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

YULIN, China — For months, Zhao Faqi was a folk hero for entrepreneurs in China — an investor who fought the government in court and online, and against the odds, seemed poised to win. He accused officials of stealing his rights to coal-rich land, and ignited a furor by accusing China’s most powerful judge of corruption.

Now, Mr. Zhao has dropped out of sight — and the authorities want to erase his story.

For much of the winter, Mr. Zhao’s case was the subject of avid discussion on Chinese social media, and his supporters saw it as a test of whether the president and Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, would support the troubled private sector against grasping officials. Continue reading

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist (1)

According to news today, the Twitter account that revealed Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo’s and other party official’s plagiarizing of academic degree theses, has been emptied, and the Github trove of data supporting it disappeared:

Such a deletion looks a lot like an official admission of “guilty as charged.” Has anyone seen any attempt to actually answer the plagiarism charges? Or have they been met only by silence?

(ps. The Financial Times also had an article on the issue, [Paywall])

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Social Media, Algorithms, and Journalism Innovations–cfp

Call for Papers
The 5th Symposium on Communication and the Public
“Social Media, Algorithms, and Journalism Innovations”

Two sets of technological advances are shaping not only how information in a society is gathered, disseminated, received, and utilized, but also how we are related to one another in public and as publics. These are the advent of social media and the proliferation of algorithms. They are reshaping the profession of journalism, as well as the news media institutions that are built upon its promises and practices; they are also posting multifaceted challenges to our understandings and practices of public formation. How is journalism changing? What technology-driven innovations are emerging in news media and/or journalism? How are platforms affecting the circulation and composition of public information? How are these changes reshaping news and more broadly journalism? How are they eroding objectivity and factuality as not only the norms in journalism but also the criteria employed to constitute the shared information basis in public formation? How are they contributing to the rise of the discourses of “post-truth” and the emergence of varieties of publics? How do we understand the challenges and possibilities of the familiar models of publics in democratic theories, namely publics who are expected to be informed, participatory, deliberative, and/or empowered? Continue reading

Recommended online works

Source: China Daily (2/27/19)
24 online literature works gain official recommendations
By Fang Aiqing

[Photo provided to]

The National Press and Publication Administration and China Writers Association have released a recommended list of 24 online literature works that were serialized between August 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018.

This is the fourth year in a row that such official recommendations have been given.

More than 500 online literature works submitted by 52 websites from 15 provinces competed for the recommendations, according to the organizers.

A group of these works feature topics like innovation and entrepreneurship, poverty alleviation and volunteer teaching.

The writing sector is continuously expanding with the number of works soaring, and the content and the artistic level is improving, says Chen Qirong, the director of the online literature committee of China Writers Association and the leader of the judging process for the competition. Continue reading

The ‘bots’ of Weibo

Source: LA Review of Books, China Channel ()
The “Bots” of Weibo
By Bai Mingcong
How fake automated Chinese social media accounts are being used as a Trojan horse for dissent

On October 21, 2018, an account named ‘People’s Daily bot’ (@人日bot) posted this message on Weibo:

They fear the empowerment of the people, fear that the people shall see the true face of our era, and further yet, they fear that their vice shall be exposed in front of the masses! (他们害怕人民翻身,害怕人民认识大时代的真面貌, 更害怕他们自己的丑恶暴露在人民大众面前!)

Taken at face value, the account appears to directly and forcefully target the Chinese regime. Puzzlingly, by the time of publication, the post has yet to be removed, and the account has not been banned, as usually happens to dissenting social media in China. Yet a closer look reveals that this is a repost of a 1946 editorial from the People’s Daily, the central mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, that criticized the treatment of journalists in the Nationalist “occupation zone” as contrasted with the communist “liberated zone” under CCP control. The survival of the post in the face of hardening censorship is not a loosening of the cords. Instead, it is representative of a new trend on the Chinese internet, in which Weibo accounts purporting to be bots hide their criticism of the government behind prominent and often politically unassailable figures of modern China. Continue reading

Robot does tedious homework

Source: NYT (1/21/19)
Chinese Girl Finds a Way Out of Tedious Homework: Make a Robot Do It
By Daniel Victor and Tiffany May

Upgrading a handwriting robot’s software at an exhibition in Guiyang, China. A student made the news in China for putting a similar machine to inventive use.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Some would say she cheated. Others would say she found an efficient way to finish her tedious assignment and ought to be applauded for her initiative.

The debate lit up Chinese social media this week after the Qianjiang Evening News reported that a teenage girl had found a loophole for her homework: She bought a robot that mimicked her handwriting. Instead of having to manually copy phrases or selections from a textbook dozens of times, a repetitive task common in learning Chinese, she could just teach the robot to do it for her. Continue reading