Film, Finance, and China online panel discussion

Dear Media Friends:

(New York, NY – January 19, 2018) – Join China Film Insider and China Hollywood Society for our second jointly hosted online event!

“Film, Finance, and China,” a web panel discussing co-financing with China, will take place on Thursday, January 25 at 11 am PST/2 pm EST online.

We’ll discuss what co-financing models exist, what the trends are, and what pitfalls to avoid as an independent producer.

Our panelists will include Bennett Pozil, Executive VP at East West Bank; Cristiano Bortone of Bridging the Dragon, as well as returning speaker Rob Cain, founder of ChinaFilmBiz and writer at Forbes.

Time: 11 AM PST/2 PM EST
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2017
Where: Online
Ticket: Free

To RSVP: Continue reading

Porn consumption in China

Source: Sixth Tone (1/10/18)
Porn Consumption in China: The Hard Facts
A series of national surveys show that viewing sexually explicit content has no effect on rates of sex crimes.
Pan Suiming
[Pan Suiming is a professor emeritus and the honorary director of the Institute for Research on Sexuality and Gender at Renmin University of China in Beijing.]

This is the third article in a series on gender and sexuality in China. Parts one and two can be found here.

Sola Aoi is a well-known former adult film star in Japan with legions of young fans in China, including more than 18 million followers on Weibo, a microblogging platform. She has called for friendship between China and Japan and is an enthusiastic advocate of public welfare, traits that have led Chinese netizens to bestow upon her an endearing nickname: Teacher Aoi.

Aoi is one of the most popular stars among Chinese porn viewers. Between 2000 and 2015, I conducted four nationwide surveys into the country’s sexuality, all of which asked the following question: “Currently, there are many videos, DVDs, images, and photographs that depict explicit sexual content. Have you viewed any in the past 12 months? It does not matter how you came into contact with them.” Continue reading

Becoming Environmental–cfp

Please see the below CFP for a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Synoptique: An Online Journal of Film and Moving Image Studies, based out of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University, Montréal.

Deadline for submission is March 31, 2018.

Call for Submissions: “Becoming Environmental: Media, Logistics, and Ecological Change”
Special Issue of  Synoptique: An Online Journal of Film and Moving Image Studies

Synoptique is inviting submissions for an upcoming special issue entitled “Becoming Environmental: Media, Logistics, and Ecological Change.” The focus of this issue will be on the increasing entanglements of global economies of extraction and the circulation of media. The title of this issue is inspired by Jennifer Gabrys’ “becoming environmental” of sensory technologies (2016), where computational media becomes constitutive to the very environment, and subject formation within it, rather than simply operating in the environment as a backdrop. We propose to expand this imperative to the distinctive ways media—from computation, infrastructures, screens, technologies of circulation, and different modes of visualization—become environmental, remaining attentive to how these emerging human/nonhuman relations are constantly reconfigured, if not naturalized, via the state, global market, or other ideological projects. Continue reading

Frost boy

Source: NYT (1/14/18)
‘Frost Boy’ in China Warms Up the Internet, and Stirs Poverty Debate
查看简体中文版  | 查看繁體中文版

View image on Twitter

Frost Boy

BEIJING — On a bitterly cold morning this month, Wang Fuman, 8, set out for school as he usually did, walking 2.8 miles through mountains and streams until he reached the warmth of his third-grade classroom.

When Fuman arrived two hours later, his classmates erupted in laughter. The freezing temperatures had covered his hair, eyebrows and eyelashes with frost, making him look like a snowman. His cheeks were chapped and bright red. Continue reading

How commercial ties make for self-censorship

Interesting article on just how China commercial ties pave the way for Chinese state cooption of foreign media into self-censorship — Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Huang, Jaw-Nian. “The China Factor in Taiwan’s Media: Outsourcing Chinese Censorship Abroad.” China Perspectives [quarterly journal of the CEFC (French Center for Research on Contemporary China) in Hong Kong] no. 3 (2017): 27-36.

ABSTRACT: To investigate how the Chinese government extends its influence to manipulate extra-jurisdictional media, this case study investigates Taiwan’s experience. It suggests that as Taiwanese media companies become embedded in the Chinese capital, advertising, and circulation markets, the Chinese authorities increase their ability to co-opt them with various economic incentives and threats, leading to self-censorship and biased news in favour of China. Using process tracing as the principal method, and archives, interviews, and secondary literature as principal data sources, the study supports the transferability of the “commercialisation of censorship” beyond China. Liberal states around China must design institutions protecting the media from inappropriate intervention by both domestic and foreign political and economic forces.
Continue reading

TV’s latest Zhuge Liang

Source: World of Chinese (1/9/17)
TV’s latest Zhuge Liang wins audiences with English
It was the only thing the genius Three Kingdoms strategist couldn’t do
By Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Second-century military strategist Zhuge Liang has been depicted as being “so wise that he was practically a demon”, at least according to writer Lu Xun. Fictionalized in the 14th-century novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of China’s “Four Classics,” “Zhuge” has since become a byword for wisdom in China.

Given the renown of the character, it’s a tall order for any actor to play Zhuge without fans criticizing one detail or another. A recent TV series may have found the answer—with a Zhuge who happens to know English. Continue reading

Life-size replica of the Titanic

Source: NPR (1/8/18)
A Life-Size Replica Of The Titanic Is Under Construction In China’s Countryside
By Rob Schmitz/NPR

A 30-foot by 30-foot mock-up of the Titanic replica now under construction stands near the construction site in China’s Sichuan Province. Rob Schmitz/NPR

A lot of questions spring to mind on arriving at the construction site for a full-scale Chinese replica of the Titanic:

Why is this being built in the remote countryside, 1,000 miles from the sea? Why is this being built? And simply: Why?

The infomercial the developer screens for visitors at the site in the town of Daying, Sichuan Province, leaves these questions unanswered. Continue reading

Court accepts ban of gay content case

Source: The Hollywood Reporter (1/3/18)
Beijing Court Accepts Case Requiring China’s Censors to Justify Ban of Gay Content
By Patrick Brzeski


A court said it will hear a Shanghai man’s legal challenge to a 2017 rule banning Chinese streaming-video services from carrying content that depicts gay relationships.

A Beijing court on Wednesday said that it will hear a case requiring China’s media regulator to justify a recent classification of homosexuality as “abnormal.”

Fan Chunlin, a 30-year-old man from Shanghai, filed a lawsuit Wednesday with Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court demanding that China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) clarify the policy basis for a regulation introduced last summer banning depictions of homosexuality from online video platforms. The court accepted Fan’s case and is now required to hold hearings and issue a decision within six months, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Tang Xiangqian, told local state media. Continue reading

Excesses of China’s social credit system

Source: Sup China (1/4/18)
The excesses of China’s social credit system
By Lucas Niewenhuis

Sesame Credit (芝麻信用 zhīma xìnyòng) is the leader in the “social credit” industry, which aims to develop an all-encompassing system for ranking Chinese citizens’ trustworthiness, for both commercial and government security purposes.

  • On January 3, the Alibaba subsidiary admitted to an “extremely stupid” design in its app’s settings that inconspicuously shared all users’ credit data with Alibaba’s separate payment app, Alipay, by default, Sixth Tone reports.
  • The New York Times calls (paywall) the outcry over this a “rare, public rebuttal of a prevailing trend in China,” and evidence of “a nascent, but growing, demand for increased privacy and data protections online.”
  • See a summary yesterday on SupChina about changes in China’s Nanny State and how citizens are reacting.

Continue reading

Online satirists driving a ‘youthquake’

Source: Sixth Tone (1/2/18)
The Online Satirists Driving China’s Very Own ‘Youthquake’
Behind the country’s keyboards, youngsters are resorting to humor in order to push for social change.
By Zeng Yuli

Recently, the Oxford English Dictionary named “youthquake” its word of the year. Defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people,” the compound word refers to the political awakening of young voters who played major roles in deciding election results in France, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand in 2017.

While Oxford primarily looks at events in Europe and America when choosing its word of the year, “youthquake” proved a fitting choice in East Asia as well. In Taiwan, young people played a crucial role in passing a marriage equality law in May. In South Korea, President Park Geun-Hye’s resignation was closely tied to polls showing 90 percent of young people had lost faith in her. Meanwhile, in Japan, after a 2016 revision of that country’s Public Office Election Law lowered the voting age from 20 to 18, there was a rise in the number of first-time voters during the 2017 election cycle. Continue reading

Hollywood Made in China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Darrell William Davis’s review of Hollywood Made in China (University of California Press, 2017), by Aynne Kokas. The review appears below, but is best read online at: My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC Editor

Hollywood Made in China

By Aynne Kokas 

Reviewed by Darrell William Davis
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2018)

Aynne Kokas, Hollywood Made in China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017. 272pp. ISBN: 9780520294011 (Cloth: $85.00) ISBN: 9780520294028 (Paperback: $29.95)

Hollywood Made in China is an elegant account of Hollywood’s evolving engagements in China’s commercial film environment. In six concise chapters, Aynne Kokas details the myriad flows of policy, investment, deployment, and rewards of Sino-US media co-productions. Her aim is mostly large-scale entertainment schemes, including contemporary blockbusters, theme parks, and studio co-ventures. Because China is now becoming the world’s largest film market, Hollywood is courting Chinese executives and regulators, the better to ensure access to viewers and returns for American pictures. The objective is market access, in return for which Hollywood players are willing to cede control, a tradeoff the author calls “transformative” (33). This is a transaction not available to Silicon Valley (e.g., Google, Facebook, Netflix), and despite frustrations of piracy and capricious regulations, Hollywood may well count itself fortunate. In any case, Kokas demonstrates that the Sino-US co-production enterprise is a work in progress, always in a state of renegotiation and revision, as she aptly puts it: “The Hollywood dream factory and the Chinese Dream work together, while mired in a state of perpetual negotiation” (20).  A combination of Hollywood “thirst” for ever-larger markets (old) and China’s “cultural trade deficit” (new) brings potential synergies and symbiosis (2-3). It also brings evolving forms of contention and conflict (13). With every new co-production, new standards and practices appear in the playbook. Aynne Kokas makes a strong case for the “interaction and variability” (8), the unpredictability inherent in this volatile relation. Continue reading

Changpian 16

With Tabitha Speelman’s permission, MCLC will begin posting her newsletter, Chanpian, on non-fiction writing in China. Here is no. 16. Our thanks to Tabitha–Kirk

Changpian // Longform

Welcome to the 16th edition of Changpian, a selection of feature and opinion writing in Chinese. With other resources devoted to the many interesting sound bites from Chinese social media, this newsletter focuses instead on some of the wealth of longer writing that is produced in Chinese, both in traditional news media and on platforms like WeChat.

Changpian includes any nonfiction writing, from stories and investigations to interviews and blog posts, that I found worth my time – and that you might like as well. It aims to be relevant to an understanding of Chinese society today, covering topics in and outside the news cycle.

The selection is put together by me, Tabitha Speelman, a Dutch journalist and researcher currently based in Leiden, The Netherlands. As always, feedback is very welcome ( or @tabithaspeelman). Back issues can be found here. Thanks for the support and all the best in the new year.

干货// Ganhuo // Dry Goods

In this section, I highlight any (loose) themes that stood out in my recent reading.

To Be in Beijing

Much Chinese coverage of the massive eviction of migrant workers and others from their Beijing homes this winter and the responses it triggered has been censored, with many of the links I was hoping to share now dead. Still, thanks to (re-)postings by China Digital Times and other 墙外 outlets, some stories can still be accessed. See for instance a Caixin blog on one family’s last days in Beijing (“我们走了,再也不回来了”) and a piece titled “嘿,他们不是低端劳动力,他们是人by social enterprise C计划, one of the first stories to be widely shared after early evictions following the Nov. 18 fire in Daxing. Continue reading

8 years for activist Wu Gan

Source: Sup China (12/26/17)
Eight years behind bars for activist Wu Gan

Super Vulgar Butcher (超级低俗屠夫 chāojí dīsú túfū) is the social media identity of rights activist Wu Gan 吴淦. On December 26, he was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Chinese court for the crime of subversion.

  • Wu is portly, and sports a goatee and shaved head. He was a soldier and has worked as a security guard. His iconic appearance and effective use of social media and creative street protests in front of government buildings gave his online work prominence. The government did not care for this.
  • Since 2008, Wu has been active in promoting human rights cases in China. In that year he advocated for Deng Yujiao, a waitress who fatally stabbed a government official who tried to sexually assault her.
  • Wu’s activism has been unbending. He called himself a “butcher who slaughtered abusers of human rights.” Critics said that his online and real world protest stunts were “vulgar,” so he appropriated the word and began calling himself Super Vulgar Butcher.
  • “Wu’s brash methods were not universally welcomed by Chinese human rights lawyers,” but Wu believed that “vocal, eye-catching actions were essential to force judges and officials to heed the voices of otherwise powerless citizens,” says (paywall) the New York Times. Continue reading

Real-life magic realism

Source: Quartz (12/22/17)
China’s real-life magic realism of 2017, according to Chinese netizens
By Zheping Huang

In the literary genre of magic realism, made popular by Latin American authors, fantastical elements emerge in an otherwise mundane, rational world. In China, the term is beloved by netizens who use it when surfacing the absurd in political and social phenomena they witness daily. It can describe a doctor who uses electric shocks to treat internet addiction in teenagers, or a top Buddhist monk who professes deep love for the Communist Party, to name just a few examples.

Earlier this week, Shanghai-based news site Q Daily published an opinion poll asking “What magic realism event of the year is beyond your understanding?” The idea, Q Daily explains, is to let users write about the real-life events that are “even more strange and disturbing than our wildest imagination,” and then vote for these posts with 👍. The poll instantly went viral before it got censored, not surprisingly. During its roughly 24-hour lifespan, the poll attracted nearly 20,000 participants, among the highest of any polls run by the site. Continue reading

Hottest internet slang of 2017

Source: People’s Daily Online (12/21/17)
China reveals hottest internet slangs of 2017
By Kou Jie

Chinese authorities on Thursday revealed the 10 most commonly used internet slangs of 2017, noting that the popular words and phrases are the best linguistic representations of China’s current cyber culture.

The selection, which was organized by China’s National Language Resource Monitoring and Research Center, combed through linguistic data from the country’s most popular forums, social media platforms, and online news portals, analyzing the collected information via its massive corpus of over 6 billion Chinese characters. Continue reading