Weibo reverses gay content ban (1)

Source: Sup China (4/16/18)
Weibo revokes ban on homosexual content after uproar
By Jiayun Feng, Jeremy Goldkorn

A rare piece of good news for freedom of expression in China: Sina Weibo, confronting a colossal backlash from the public following its ban on homosexual content issued last Friday, announced today that it had reversed the decision, limiting the cleanup campaign to only pornographic and violent comics and games.

“We won’t target gay content anymore in this cleanup of games and anime,” the Weibo administration announced (in Chinese) on April 16, a mere three days after the initial ban was issued. “Instead, we’ll focus on content with pornographic and violent themes. Thank you for your discussions and suggestions.”

The reversal constituted a rare case in the history of Weibo, one of the biggest and most popular social media platforms in China: It is highly unusual to lift censorship of a certain topic in direct response to user feedback. The decision also marked an unprecedented triumph for the gay community in China. Continue reading

Weibo reverses gay content ban

Source: NYT (4/16/18)
Chinese Social Media Site Reverses Gay Content Ban After Uproar
By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ and ZOE MOU

A conference booth last year for Sina Weibo, which had said Friday that it would reduce gay content as part of a campaign to remove pornographic and violent material from its site. CreditJason Lee/Reuters

BEIJING — Bowing to intense pressure from millions of internet users, a Chinese social media site said on Monday that it would scrap plans to censor cartoons and video games with gay themes.

The site, Sina Weibo, had announced on Friday that it would target gay content as part of a campaign to remove pornographic and violent material from its site.

But its efforts were almost immediately criticized as discriminatory and repressive, spawning an outpouring of #Iamgay hashtags and slogans like “gays aren’t scary.” Continue reading

Rethinking Media History in East Asia

East Asian Media Studies Forum at the University of Texas, Austin
Becoming-media: Rethinking Media History in East Asia and Beyond
April 26-27, 2018
The Department of Asian Studies & The Center for East Asian Studies, The University of Texas, Austin
Organizers and Conveners:  Xuefeng Feng, Jia Liu, and Caitlin McClune

The theme “becoming-media,” borrowed from Joseph Vogl, indicates our hope to initiate a conversation among a variety of theories and approaches in media studies, and by doing so to combine analysis of media content, representation, and semantics with an investigation into the techno-discursive, or material-discursive, aspects of media. In this light, the theme “becoming-media,” on the one hand, embraces historical, contingent, and local events that transform mundane objects into forms of media starting to select, store, and process relevant data and to generating meanings. On the other hand, it pays considerable attention to the epistemological structure of media that enables conditions of meanings and representations in the first place. Continue reading

Neihan duanzi shuttered for vulgarity (1,2)

“段友” are honking their horns and reciting a (vulgar) “secret code” to each other in public:

https://youtu.be/svS62qadk74

天王盖地虎
小鸡炖蘑菇
春风吹杨柳
敢问是段友

On Twitter, some journalists have noted that these videos of honking and protest could be spliced from before the Neihan Duanzi shutdown: https://twitter.com/Anne_MarieBrady/status/984522862206726144.

However, the proliferation of these videos, even if anachronistic/unrelated to Duanzi’s demise, come from real and current support for the late joke platform and for fellow duanyou: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2141744/chinas-communist-rulers-ban-online-jokes-app-comedy.

Anne Henochowicz 何安妮 @annemhdc Continue reading

Personal data on a museum wall

Source: NYT (4/13/18)
The Personal Data of 346,000 People, Hung on a Museum Wall
By SUI-LEE WEE

Last week, the authorities in Wuhan, China, ordered Deng Yufeng’s exhibition of personal data shut down after two days and began investigating him on suspicion of amassing the information illegally.CreditDeng Yufeng

BEIJING — Deng Yufeng wanted to create art that prods people to question their lack of data privacy. What better way, he reasoned, than to buy the personal information of more than 300,000 Chinese people off the internet and display it in a public exhibition?

The police did not appreciate the irony.

Last week, the authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan shut down Mr. Deng’s exhibition in a local museum after two days and told him that he was being investigated on suspicion of amassing the information through illegal means. Continue reading

Neihan duanzi shuttered for vulgarity

Source: Sup China (4/12/18)
Jokes App Neihan Duanzi Shuttered By China’s Media Regulator For ‘Vulgarity’
Interactions between Neihan Duanzi’s users — called “friends of Duanzi” — both in the app and offline are filled with inside references and coded phrases.
By Pang-Chieh Ho

It seems like Jingri Toutiao (今日头条), one of China’s most popular news aggregators, just can’t catch a break these days. On Monday, as part of the government’s growing control over online content, the State Administration of Radio and Television (SART*) ordered the temporary removal of several news apps, including Toutiao, from Chinese app stores. And on Tuesday, news broke that Neihan Duanzi (内涵段子), an app under Toutiao that circulates jokes, memes, and humorous videos, had been permanently shuttered.

*Newly spun off from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), which of course was formerly (and sometimes still referred to as) the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT). Continue reading

Food courier wins poetry competition (1)

This is an oddly superficial treatment from the SCMP of a potentially interesting story.

I would like to know who Mr. Lei’s favorite poets are; whether this delivery-man is familiar with Iron Moon, and what he thinks of it; whether his manner of expressing himself has been influenced by all the poetry he has absorbed; and whether his love of poetry owes anything to the influence of a particular teacher who crossed his path during his (presumably brief) schooling.

When he recites poetry, is it with feeling and apparent understanding (as I surmise), or has he merely found a picturesque way to work out an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

I’d also like to know why the fellow with all the academic literary credentials could not match Mr. Lei’s mastery. Is it because over the last couple of decades, the study of literature in China has emphasized theoretical discussion of texts to the neglect of actual familiarity with them?

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

Food courier wins poetry competition

Source: SCMP (4/918)
Chinese food courier shows he’s a whizz, by winning first prize in a poetry quiz
Delivery driver, 36, with a lifelong passion for verse beats off challenge from literary magazine editor to win popular game show
By Yujing Liu

Lei Haiwei, a 37-year-old food delivery man from eastern China, beat off all-comers to win a poetry-themed television quiz show. Photo: Sina

A food courier in eastern China wowed viewers and judges alike with his unrivalled knowledge of poets and poetry last week to take first prize in a popular verse-themed television quiz show.

Lei Haiwei, who works in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, said he was as surprised as anyone when he emerged victorious in the latest series of Chinese Poetry Competition, aired by state broadcaster CCTV, The Beijing News reported. Continue reading

Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory

Welcome to Orwell 2.0 — already in place. –posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: Foreign Policy (4/3/18))
Life Inside China’s Social Credit Laboratory
The party’s massive experiment in ranking and monitoring Chinese citizens has already started.
BY SIMINA MISTREANU

Top and above: Roncheng’s “civilized families” are displayed on public noticeboards like these. (Simina Mistreanu)

RONGCHENG, CHINA — Rongcheng was built for the future. Its broad streets and suburban communities were constructed with an eye to future expansion, as the city sprawls on the eastern tip of China’s Shandong province overlooking the Yellow Sea. Colorful billboards depicting swans bank on the birds — one of the city’s tourist attractions — returning there every winter to escape the Siberian cold.

In an attempt to ease bureaucracy, the city hall, a glass building that resembles a flying saucer, has been fashioned as a one-stop shop for most permits. Instead of driving from one office to another to get their paperwork in order, residents simply cross the gleaming corridors to talk to officials seated at desks in the open-space area. Continue reading

Sunset for ‘Sunshine Boy’

Source: China Media Project (4/5/18)
SUNSET FOR CHINA’S “SUNSHINE BOY”
By David Bandurski

Sunset for China’s “Sunshine Boy”

Sunset for China’s “Sunshine Boy”

Zhou Xiaoping’s praise for Xi Jinping was never faint, but his enthusiasm may have damned him nonetheless. The young internet writer, once praised by state-run Chinese media as a great disseminator of “positive energy,” or zhengnengliang (正能量), through his professions of love for China and a profound sense of grievance directed toward the West, seems now to be fading into the wings.

A report on March 22 noted in an otherwise unremarkable account of the minutes of a conference of the Sichuan Online Writers Association held the previous day that “[the] conference accepted Comrade Zhou Xiaoping’s resignation as chairman of the Sichuan Online Writers Association.” Continue reading

Web worship on tomb-sweeping day

Source: Sixth Tone (4/2/18)
Web Worship Is Better Than Nothing on Tomb-Sweeping Day
From online commemoration to mourners for hire, we should be open to new ways of spending the festival.
By Dai Wangyun (Dai Wangyun is a Ph.D. student at East China Normal University focusing on folk customs, body culture, and medical culture)

A man sweeps a tomb on behalf of a client while his companion records him at a public cemetery in Beijing, April 1, 2012. Yin Yafei/VCG

Later this week, during the Tomb-Sweeping Day festival, millions of Chinese people will dust down the graves of their ancestors. I will return to my hometown near Shaoxing, a small city in eastern China’s Zhejiang province that’s famous for its rice wine. There, after tending to my family’s graves, I will breathe the crisp country air laden with the scent of spring bamboo, eat delicious qingtuan — bright green balls of glutinous rice — and stroll through golden fields of rapeseed. Continue reading

SCMP’s on a soft power mission

Source: NYT (3/31/18)
A Hong Kong Newspaper on a Mission to Promote China’s Soft Power
查看简体中文版  | 查看繁體中文版
By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ

The South China Morning Post’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Scholars and activists worry that The Post is softening its critical stance to please Beijing. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — On a recent afternoon, the staff of The South China Morning Post, a 114-year-old newspaper, gathered around roast suckling pig in their lavish new headquarters in Hong Kong to celebrate a remarkable turnaround.

Readership has been surging. The Post has launched new digital products and added dozens of journalists. After more than a decade of decline and editorial chaos, the newsroom now buzzes like a tech start-up, with table tennis and an in-house pub serving free craft beer. Continue reading

Amazon looking to adapt Three-Body Problem

Source: Shanghaiist (3/22/18)
Amazon is looking to turn ‘Three-Body Problem’ into blockbuster sci-fi television series
The company is reportedly likely to earmark $1 billion for project involving the ultra-popular Chinese science fiction trilogy

Chinese sci-fi fans are bubbling over with excitement today following a report that beloved science fiction trilogy “The Three-Body Problem” may be made into a high-budget television series by Amazon.

The Financial Times reported yesterday that the American video subscription service will likely earmark $1 billion in order to acquire the rights to the extremely popular trilogy of novels written by Liu Cixin and produce three seasons of episodes. Continue reading