Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings

Source: Sup China (9/1/17)
Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings
By Jiayun Feng

“Too many Korean pop stars are featured in shows produced by Hunan TV. It’s time for it to make some changes!”

“Since when did ‘mouthpiece of the Party’ (党的喉舌 dǎngdehóushé) become a good word?”

These two comments demonstrate how public opinion differed (in Chinese) on the rectification notice (in Chinese) released by the Communist Party’s Hunan provincial committee after an inspection of Hunan Television from February to April this year. In the notice, Hunan TV, the provincial satellite TV station, is criticized for lacking a sense of political responsibility, an excessive focus on high ratings, and spending too little effort on Party construction.

“For a long time, some leaders in Hunan TV deeply believed that ‘Entertainment is the foundation of a television station’ [娱乐立台 yúlèlìtái], and that ‘High ratings are the only criteria on whether a television station is successful or not’ [以收视率论英雄 yǐ shōushìlǜ lùn yīngxióng],” the notice says. “Some channels have been swinging between social benefits and economic benefits. They have failed to fulfill the mission of being a mouthpiece of the Party.” The notice also asserts that on the surface, the problem with Hunan TV seems to be its loose control of several channels and shows, but in fact it reflects the lack of political sensitivity among the TV Party committee. Continue reading

Rural life live-stream

Source: SCMP (8/30/17)
Rural life live-stream an online hit for young Chinese farmer
Liu Jinyin’s broadcasts of everyday life – including feeding chickens and working in the fields – have helped him attract nearly 100,000 followers, paper reports
By Wendy Wu

Liu preparing for a broadcast on the farm in Luzhou in Sichuan province. Photo: Handout 

A young farmer in a poor area of southwest China has attracted nearly 100,000 followers on the internet by live-streaming parts of his daily life, including feeding the chickens and doing the cooking, according to a newspaper report.

The web broadcasts have also earned Liu Jinyin more than 80,000 yuan (US$12,000) in donations from viewers in six months, the Chengdu Economic Daily reported. He formerly made 4,000 yuan a month as a migrant worker, according to the article. Continue reading

China to ban anonymous online comments

Source: Sup China (8/25/17)
China to ban anonymous online comments
By Jiayun Feng

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the government to ban people from commenting.”
“You are still allowed to write comments, but you have to be responsible for what you say. If you are a well-behaved internet user, there is nothing to fear.”

These are two of the reactions (in Chinese) to news that the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s top internet regulator, announced (in Chinese) that, starting October 1, it will require internet users to identify themselves with their real names to use comments sections on news and social media websites. The users do not have to display their real names when commenting and can continue to use nicknames, but therules require internet companies to verify the real identities of all users of commenting functions. This is known as “real name in the back end, voluntary use of real name on the front end” (后台实名,前台自愿 hòutáishímíng, qiántáizìyuàn). Continue reading

publishers admit to self-censorship

Source: SCMP (8/24/17)
At Beijing book fair, publishers admit to self-censorship to keep texts on Chinese market
Tiananmen, Tibet and Taiwan are off limits for companies wanting to sell their books in China, publisher says
By Agence France-Presse

Just days after the world’s oldest publisher briefly caved in to Chinese censorship demands, international publishing houses are courting importers at a Beijing book fair, with some admitting they keep sensitive topics off their pages.

The censorship controversy that hit Cambridge University Press (CUP) sent a chill along the stands staffed by publishers from nearly 90 countries at the Beijing International Book Fair, which opened on Wednesday.

But some acknowledged their companies had already resorted to self-censorship to ensure that their books did not offend and were published in China. Continue reading

Chinese rocker’s thermos

Source: Sixth Tone (8/24/17)
Chinese Rocker’s Thermos Becomes Viral Symbol of Aging
Commentary in Party paper People’s Daily reminds readers to always look on the bright side of life.
By Kendrick Davis

Left: Zhao Mingyi plays the drums during a concert in 2003. Cheng Gong/IC; right: The viral photo of Zhao holding his thermos at a recording studio in 2017. From his Weibo account

Left: Zhao Mingyi plays the drums during a concert in 2003. Cheng Gong/IC; right: The viral photo of Zhao holding his thermos at a recording studio in 2017. From his Weibo account

The humble thermos — a must-have item for tea-sipping middle-aged Chinese — may seem an unlikely viral sensation, but a photo of an aging rock star holding such a bottle recently sparked wide discussion on social media about aging, midlife crises, and fear of the future.

In the widely circulated photo sits Zhao Mingyi, the 50-year-old drummer for the iconic ’90s rock band Black Panther. Once a muscular man, Zhao’s hair is now graying, he has a slight paunch, and — to complete the picture of middle age in its most distilled form — he holds a silver thermos. In his heyday during the early 1990s, however, Zhao was part of the generation of rockers who gave an energetic voice to China’s economic revival. Continue reading

Guo Jingming accused of sexual harassment

Source: Sup China (8/22/17)
Employee alleges popular author Guo Jingming sexually harassed him
By Jiayun Feng

“I don’t care if Guo is gay or not. It’s a private matter and it doesn’t change the fact that his works are crap.”

“I stay neutral with no evidence provided. But what upsets me the most is that Guo is no longer a writer, he is a pure businessman who only wants money.”

These were two reactions to allegations about one of China’s richest writers, the young-adult fiction author and publisher Guo Jingming 郭敬明. He found himself subjected to a barrage of criticism (in Chinese) online, after Li Feng 李枫, a male author who signed up with Guo’s publishing company, accused Guo of sexual harassment on August 21. Continue reading

10 museums in 10 days

Source: NYT (8/23/17)
10 Museums in 10 Days? A Chinese Start-Up (Virtually) Gives Children a Tour

A guide from the Aha School in Shanghai introducing viewers in China to the works of French Impressionists at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Credit Aha School

HONG KONG — Last weekend: the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. By Wednesday: the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, the Museum of Modern Artin New York and the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

And that’s just the half of it.

Children from more than 180,000 Chinese households are on a virtual tour this week of 10 famous museums. The two-hour daily broadcasts combine slick animations, clips from Chinese presenters’ recent trips to the museums and live-streamed commentary from Chinese academics in a Shanghai studio. Continue reading

What it’s really like to be a journalist

Posted by: Magnus Fiskesjö <>
Source: (8/14/17)
What it’s really like to be a journalist in China
Audrey Jiajia Li was a prominent TV journalist in China, but she quit before getting fired for complying with the official line. Now seeks freedom of speech on social media – but still lives with fear.

Audrey Jiajia Li (IWMF)

Audrey Jiajia Li, also known as Li Jiajia, is a journalist and independent filmmaker based in both Singapore and Guangzhou, China.

A long-time TV journalist, she says press freedom in China has been getting worse every day. In response, she went freelance last year and began writing columns on politics and culture for publications outside of China, including the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore, in order to gain greater expressive freedom.

As a filmmaker, she created the documentary “LA, Say Goodbye to Smog,” which was banned in China. She has also written the book “Zhege Shidai, Zhexie Ren,” (These Times, These People) about people and situations in mainland China. Continue reading

VPN crackdown (1)

Source: Sup China (7/31/17)
VPN clampdown getting real
By Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Virtual private networks (VPNs) have been a popular tool to get around internet censorship of foreign websites in China for more than a decade. While the regulators have interfered with their operation, there has previously not been a sustained campaign against them. That seems to have changed:

  • In January, we noted that the internet and telecom regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), published an order (in Chinese) specifically naming VPNs as a target for regulation.
  • Earlier in July, we reported that some Chinese VPN services have been shut down, while Bloomberg said that state-run telecommunications firms, including China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, have been ordered “to bar people from using VPNs.”
  • Apparently in response to Bloomberg’s report, MIIT released a statement saying that it will not block “legitimate access” to the global internet by local or foreign business and general users, while some pundits predicted that the VPN clampdown was mere rhetoric.

Continue reading

VPN crackdown

Source: Quartz (7/12/17)
What you need to know about China’s VPN crackdown
By Echo Huang

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, computer users sit near a monitor display with a message from the Chinese police on the proper use of the Internet at an Internet cafe in Beijing, China. China is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook amid a wider crackdown on online information, tech companies and specialists said Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. The popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services such as Gmail. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Under watch. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China seems to be sticking to its self-imposed schedule for making it harder for Chinese citizens to connect to the unfiltered web.

Beijing has ordered three state-owned telecoms—China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, which together dominate the Chinese Internet access market—to bar individuals from using VPNs, or virtual private networks, starting next February, Bloomberg reported Monday (July 10), citing unidentified sources.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China’s top internet regulation body, on July 12 said it hasn’t issued such an order, according to news site the Paper (link in Chinese). None of the big three telecoms responded to Quartz’s request for comment. Continue reading

China’s new media strategy on Liu Xiaobo

Source: The Diplomat (7/28/17)
China’s New Media Strategy: The Case of Liu Xiaobo
Instead of hushing up issues it find embarrassing, China is now aggressively manipulating the public discourse.

Pro-democracy activists mourn the death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, outside China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China (July 13, 2017). Image Credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip

As Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo lay on his deathbed in a hospital late June, a mysterious video surfaced on YouTube, showing him undergoing medical treatment while in custody and telling medical staff he “greatly appreciated” the care he was given.

While news of his terminal liver cancer was met with shock and disbelief around the globe, China’s state propaganda machine swiftly moved into high gear to make sure its version of the story was dominating public discourse.

When Liu died two and a half weeks later, another video appeared on a Shenyang provincial government website, with a narrator saying Liu had been treated by top medical experts and foreign doctors in a “humanitarian spirit.”  Just hours after his passing, doctors explained to a press conference that Liu couldn’t have traveled abroad to seek treatment as he wished due to the severity of his illness. Continue reading

Online literature franchises

Source: Global Times (7/13/17)
Top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan ($150 million) each
Hurun’s list of most valuable literature IPs reflects growing power of online works
By Huang Tingting

Rupert Hoogewerf (left) and Wang Yuren pose for a picture at a press conference for the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Courtesy of the Hurun Report

The top 10 online literature writers in China have created franchises worth a staggering 1 billion yuan ($150 million) each, Rupert Hoogewerf – better known in China as Hu Run, the British founder and chief researcher of the Hurun Report – announced at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Hurun Research Institute and domestic IP management agency Mopian released the Mopian Hurun Most Valuable Creative Works IP 2017 list, which lists the top 100 most valuable literature IPs in China after 1998. Continue reading

Fake lives in Beijing (1)

Source: Sup China (7/28/17)
Author of hit ‘faking a life in Beijing’ article apologizes, sorta
By Jiayun Feng

As we noted yesterday, the caustic essay “In Beijing, 20 million people are faking a life,” which became a controversial and viral sensation in China in the last few days, also provoked an unusual reprimand from several state media organizations, including the People’s Daily and Xinhua. Now the essay’s author, Zhang Wumao 张五毛, has apologized for not being discreet enough when writing the essay, and begged media “not to magnify my mistake into a matter of principle” in an interview (in Chinese) with The Economic Observer.

“This is an article with many problems. In fact, I didn’t intend to express anything. I was just being contrarian and trying to amuse readers,” Zhang said. “I didn’t realize that I was wrongly contrarian and trying to amuse wrongly. I don’t want to cause more troubles and make anyone upset about it.” Continue reading

Fake lives in Beijing

Source: Sup China (7/28/17)
Xinhua: No fake lives in Beijing
By Jiayun Feng

On July 23, Chinese blogger and novelist Zhang Wumao 张五毛 published an essay titled “In Beijing, 20 million people are faking a life” on WeChat (see a translation including the original Chinese). The article went viral, generating more than 5 million views and nearly 20,000 comments overnight. Although the essay has been scrubbed from the Chinese internet, it has triggered a heated debate and sparked a series of countering articles, including some by state media such as the People’s Daily and Xinhua.

Zhang’s essay is caustically funny. He writes about the alienation of people living in a Beijing that is too big, too polluted and congested, and too expensive. At least for migrants: Zhang writes about rich old Beijingers who have “five apartments under their butts,” while the people from the provinces who do most of the work in the city struggle to afford even a tiny house in the outer suburbs. He also writes about the ongoing teardown of small shops and restaurants — mostly owned by non-locals — and how the years of destruction mean that even old Beijingers don’t really have a home to go back to. The essay ends: Continue reading

LARB China Channel

Dear MCLCers,

The Los Angeles Review of Books will launch its new China Channel this fall. The China Channel will host a broad range of writing and multimedia about China and the Sinophone world, with an emphasis on literature and culture, and will be accessible to a general audience.

As a commissioning editor, I invite you to pitch and submit essays, book reviews, and multimedia content. Please send your ideas and work to

Feel free to email me as well at I look forward to reading/seeing/hearing your submissions. Continue reading