Story of Yanxi Palace

Source: Inkstone News (8/15/18)
Half a billion views for these backstabbing concubines in a single day
By Sarah Dai

Hundreds of millions are following the Qing Dynasty scheming and intrigue on China's Netflix.

Hundreds of millions are following the Qing Dynasty scheming and intrigue on China’s Netflix. Photo: Huanyu Film

China’s Netflix has a record-breaking hit on its hands. A 70-episode period drama about a quick-witted maidservant and a group of back-stabbing imperial concubines has set a single-day online viewership record in China – of more than half a billion people.

A total of 530 million views – which works out 38% of the population if everyone watched one episode – tuned in on August 12 to follow the scheming and intrigue on Netflix-like iQiyi, China’s biggest streaming platform. Controlled by search engine giant Baidu, iQiyi went public on the Nasdaq exchange in March. Continue reading

Dodging censorship on WeChat

Source: Quartz (8/15/18)
Researchers have figured out ways to dodge censorship on WeChat
By Echo Huang

WeChat users in China have come up with creative ways to circumvent censorship, and one of the more effective methods they’ve discovered seems to be sharing images instead of text, which can be easily caught by censors. In the case of China’s #MeToo movement, which authorities tried to shut down, social-media users decided to share a university student’s censored letter by posting images of it upside down in hopes of dodging the country’s filters.

It’s an ongoing mystery how censorship works on WeChat, which appears to affect only those accounts that are linked to mainland phone numbers. But new research from Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto, is offering some clues on getting around it. Continue reading

China Literature shares plunge

Source: Reuters (8/13/18)
China Literature shares plunge after user numbers slide, news of $2.3 billion deal
By Kane Wu

A company logo of China Literature is displayed during a news conference on its IPO in Hong Kong, China October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Literature Ltd (0772.HK)’s shares slid as much as 14.6 percent on Tuesday, after it reported first-half results that showed a drop in the average number of monthly paying users and announced a $2.3 billion acquisition.

Shares in China Literature, an online literary reading and writing platform backed by Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), fell to HK$57.4 in morning trade, the lowest since China Literature’s initial public offering last November. Continue reading

Hot words

Source: BBC Capital (8/10/18)
China’s rebel generation and the rise of ‘hot words’
By Kerry Allen with additional reporting from Stuart Lau

SHANGHAI, CHINA – AUGUST 05: (CHINA OUT) Girls take a selfie in a house where “flowers” cover all the space with the help of a projector at Plaza 66 on August 5, 2015 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Language Matters is a new column from BBC Capital exploring how evolving language will influence the way we work and live.

Mandarin Chinese is one of the most complex languages in the world. Opening a Chinese dictionary, you find around 370,000 words. That’s more than double the number of words in the Oxford English dictionary, and almost three times those in French and Russian dictionaries.

But these many words have been joined in recent years by a bunch of upstarts. Reci – literally translated as ‘hot words’: are slang terms that young Chinese are creating and using online to communicate how they really feel about current affairs and trends. Continue reading

Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures

Source: China Daily (7/18/18)
Decoding the language of the young
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Cover of The Book of Wallbreaking: Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new book tries to make sense of what the younger generation is saying, Mei Jia reports.

Peking University associate professor Shao Yanjun, 50, is not the first one to discover that the younger generation, growing up with smart devices and the internet, actually use a different language when they are online, and sometimes, offline too, which is not easy to understand for her and her peers.

Therefore she has become the first to direct and guide her doctoral and master’s students to write a book about keywords in Chinese internet subcultures.

A pioneer and established scholar on internet culture/literature studies, Shao began to give lectures on the campus about web novels and online literature in 2011. However, outside class, she felt at loss.

“Their language differed from what they used in class, and I noticed jargon,” she says.

“And sometimes the phrases seemed to be standard Chinese that you’re familiar with, but referred to different things,” she adds. Continue reading

#MeToo reaches nonprofits and media world

Source: SupChina (7/26/18)
#MeToo In China Reaches The Nonprofit And Media Worlds
Several prominent Chinese men have been accused of sexual misconduct.
By Jiayun Feng

The #MeToo movement has entered a crucial phase in China after a number of women in the nonprofit and media industries have come forward in the past few days to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment.

On Monday, Lei Chuang 雷闯, founder of a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against people with hepatitis B and a prominent activist against sexual violence targeting women, admitted to and apologized for forcing a woman to have sex with him during a hiking trip in 2015. Continue reading

War on variety shows

Source: SupChina (7/16/18)
China Is Escalating Its War On Variety Shows, Including Saturday Night Live
By Jiayun Feng

The Chinese version of Saturday Night Live (周六夜现场 zhōu liù yè xiànchǎng) and 真相吧!花花万物 (zhēnxiàng ba! huāhuā wànwù — roughly, “Tell me the truth! Spending money on everything”), two variety shows exclusively on the video streaming platform Youku, have recently been taken down for no apparent reason.

真相吧!花花万物, a talk show hosted by Taiwanese celebrities Kevin Tsai 蔡康永 and Dee Hsu 徐熙娣, was found unavailable on July 13. The Beijing News reports (in Chinese) that Chinese SNL disappeared the next day. A Youku spokesperson did not respond to the paper’s request for comment. Continue reading

China’s soft power rating damaged

Source: SCMP (7/12/18)
China’s human rights record, aggressive military expansion damage its soft power rating
Beijing can drive global agenda, but its soft power efforts must be congruent with its political and economic pursuits, researcher says
By Liu Zhen

China fell two places to 27th in an annual survey of soft power. Photo: Reuters 

China’s soft power has been weakened by its hard line on foreign policy and human rights, according to an annual survey released on Thursday.

In the “Soft Power 30” report by communications consultancy Portland and the University of South California Centre on Public Diplomacy, China ranked 27th of the 30 countries to make the list, down two places from last year.

The weaker showing was mostly a result of it finishing bottom on the “Government” subindex, which measures nations’ political values, such as their position on human rights, democracy and equality, said Jonathan McClory, the report’s author and Portland’s general manager for Asia. Continue reading

Dialing down the hype

Source: China Media Project (7/3/18
Dialing Down the Hype
by David Bandurski

Dialing Down the Hype

[ABOVE: Screenshot of a recent video claiming China has technological superiority over the United States.]

Last month we looked at the seemingly unstoppable political inflation of Xi Jinping, as a Party publication called for systematic study of international praise for China’s president, and as the Academy of Social Sciences in one province put out a call for “research” on his formative years in the village of Liangjiahe. The “genie of hype and triumphalism,” we said, would not be so easy to stuff back into the magic lamp of propaganda.

But China seems in any case to be trying — wary perhaps of the unease self-aggrandizing discourse can generate internationally, and of the dangerous somnolence it can induce at home.

A cartoon appearing on Chinese social media today reads, “No to arrogant and boastful discourse.”

Continue reading

Document reveals sweeping effort to censor political content

Source: Toronto Globe and Mail (6/3/18)
Unpublished Chinese censorship document reveals sweeping effort to eradicate online political content

Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on the country’s online broadcasting platforms, banning a long list of content – everything from tattoos to religious proselytizing, violations of “mainstream values,” flirtatious dancing, images of leaders and Western political critiques – as the government seeks to stamp out any venue that could be used for dissent or behaviour it considers obscene, according to an unpublished censorship directive obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The meteoric growth of online video services in China has offered a vibrant venue for creativity and, occasionally, obscenity and political protest – unleashing a daily riptide of user-made cat videos, pranks and glimpses of everyday life. Hundreds of millions of people in China watch short video clips and live-stream video every month. Continue reading

Bi Zhifei defends “worst film on earth”

Source: Sup China (5/31/18)
Director Stubbornly Defends The Worst Film On Earth
By Jiayun Feng

Director Bi Zhifei 毕志飞, 39 years old, needs you to know that by no means is he getting over his debut film Pure Hearts: Into Chinese Showbiz 纯洁心灵, which was a failure, both critically and commercially. You can see nearly 50,000 negative reviews of the film on (in Chinese), one of China’s biggest and most trusted movie review and culture websites.

The reviews on global movie rating site are no better: “Beyond description awful,” “Awkwardly amateur and terrible,” and “The worst film on Earth” are the top three comments. Continue reading

Song King

New Publication
Song King: Connecting People, Places, and Past in Contemporary China
Author: Gibbs, Levi S.
University of Hawai’i Press, 2018

When itinerant singers from China’s countryside become iconic artists, worlds collide. The lives and performances of these representative singers become sites for conversations between the rural and urban, local and national, folk and elite, and traditional and modern. In Song King: Connecting People, Places, and Past in Contemporary China, Levi S. Gibbs examines the life and performances of “Folksong King of Western China” Wang Xiangrong (b. 1952) and explores how itinerant performers come to serve as representative symbols straddling different groups, connecting diverse audiences, and shifting between amorphous, place-based local, regional, and national identities. Moving from place to place, these border walkers embody connections between a range of localities, presenting audiences with traditional, modern, rural, and urban identities among which to continually reposition themselves in an evolving world. Continue reading

Patriotic writer draws ire

Source: Sup China (5/29/18)
Patriotic Chinese Writer Draws Ire After Trying To Enroll Her Kid At An American School

Yuan Xiaoliang, from her Weibo account

Yuan Xiaoliang 袁小靓 made a name for herself by bashing democracy. In 2013, she called India a nation “raped” by democracy, and said Chinese fans of Apple products were American “slaves.” A year later, she wrote, “Despite how good America is, it is someone else’s motherland. No matter how bad a mother China is, it is my home. I don’t need a reason to love her and protect her, yet there are reasons aplenty.”

Her pro-China stances on social media have been widely cited by Chinese state media. In an article published on in 2012, Yuan called herself the “chairwoman” of the 50-Cent Party — a moniker given to those who voice online support for the Chinese Communist Party and China in general. (For what it’s worth, Yuan also claimed to have not made a cent from the Chinese government.) Continue reading

China shutters Utopia

Source: China Media Project (5/23/18)
China Shutters Top Leftist Website
By David Bandurski

China Shutters Top Leftist Website

One key characteristic of Xi Jinping’s “New Era” has been the progressive elimination of all forms of ideological variance within the Party. Growing centralization of Party power has come with a pronounced narrowing of the discourse spectrum. Everyone must converge at the center — or remain silent.

Now comes the news, not altogether surprising, that Utopia, the leftist website espousing that “our only firm belief is in Mao Zedong Thought,” could be shuttered indefinitely. Continue reading

Women’s favorite Internet works

Source:Global Times (4/23/18)
Women’s favorite Internet works

Gu Jianyu Photo: Courtesy of China Literature

What books she likes to read, what TV dramas she likes to watch, what movies she likes to talk about on her WeChat Moments page or on Sina Weibo… Women are not just initiators of hot social topics, but also the driving force behind a plethora of IPs ranging from TV series and movies to books. Their hobbies also have a major impact on what IPs are adapted to other mediums.

Considering this massive influence, China Literature, one of the biggest Internet publishers in China, released a list of the 10 most popular Internet literature works among women in China at an IP salon on Wednesday. Continue reading

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