“Youth” release postponed

Source: NYT (9/25/17)
Touching on History, a Chinese Film May Have Been Burned by It

Feng Xiaogang after winning the best director award for “I Am Not Madame Bovary” at the Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, last year. The release of his new film, “Youth,” has been indefinitely postponed.CreditTyrone Siu/Reuters

BEIJING — One of China’s most popular directors, Feng Xiaogang, was determined to triumph at the box office with the release of his new film “Youth” during the weeklong National Day holiday.

In the run-up to the film’s expected release later this week, Mr. Feng and his actors had been touring China, promoting the romantic drama set against the Cultural Revolution and China’s brief, harrowing war against Vietnam.

But then Mr. Feng’s premiere was abruptly canceled. Continue reading

China punishing UC San Diego (2)

That’s truly low, and petty.

Worse, this kind of petty campaign replicates the awful way in which the Chinese government has even bullied whole countries, like Norway and Spain, separately, for not being “obedient.”

When they use the proverbial method of “killing the chicken to scare the monkey,” one should take note that the bully is not only scaring the “monkeys,” but reducing them to … “monkeys,” without dignity.

Let’s refuse to be those “monkeys,”


Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

China punishing UC San Diego (1)

This is not the starting point of the Chinese government’s punishment of UC San Diego. As a Ph.D. student from the Department of History of UCSD, I arrived in China in July to do dissertation research. Most universities in China refused to write letters of introduction to me and my classmates because of the Dalai Lama incident, including those who have official academic affiliations with UCSD. We are having a very difficult time in China, almost impossible to get any archival material below the provincial-level archives.

Yupeng Jiao <yujiao@ucsd.edu>

China punishing UC San Diego

Posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>
Source: Inside Higher Education (9/20/17)
Is China Punishing a U.S. University for Hosting the Dalai Lama?
Chinese scholars may have more difficulty coming to the University of California, San Diego, after the university invited the Tibetan religious leader to deliver a commencement speech.
By Elizabeth Redden

Is the Chinese government punishing the University of California, San Diego, for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker?

Victor Shih, an associate professor of political economy at UCSD who studies Chinese banking and fiscal policies, posted on Twitter on Saturday an image of a document “regarding questions about government-sponsored study (visit) abroad to UC San Diego.” Shih posted a Chinese-language document — which he said a colleague received directly from the China Scholarship Council — and an English translation suggesting that the agency will no longer process applications for prospective visiting scholars to UCSD who have not already scheduled visa interviews.

“China Scholarship Council puts a freeze on all CSC-funded scholars to @GPS_UCSD, presumably due to Dalai Lama visit,” Shih said on Twitter. Reached via email, he said, “My only comment now is that CSC did not freeze any funding to UCSD, or provide us with any funding in the first place. It seems from the statement that it will freeze funding going to Chinese scholars who wish to be visitors to UCSD.” He did not respond to follow-up messages seeking more information about his sourcing. The chair of UCSD’s 21st Century China Center, Susan Shirk, who was copied on Shih’s email to Inside Higher Ed, did not respond to inquiries. Continue reading

Soft power, hard sell

Source: Chublic Opinion (9/18/17)
Soft Power, Hard Sell

Wolf Warrior

This summer, the Chinese cinema was not short of home-made explosives. Military-themed Chinese movies marked the PLA’s 90th birthday, and thanks to the Domestic Film Protection Month, no Hollywood blockbusters or other foreign movies diverted the attention of Chinese moviegoers.

One such film, The Founding of an Army, was supposed to be the feature of the month. It is based on Party legend about the Aug 1, 1927 military uprising in Nanchang, Jiangxi province that gave birth to the Communist Party’s force which later became the People’s Liberation Army. The movie joined The Founding of a Republic (2009) and The Founding of a Party (2011) as the final piece in the Founding Trilogy dedicated to the Communist Party’s struggle to establish New China in the first half of the 20th century. Apart from its ideological purity, the movie boasts an all-star cast that includes some of the most popular names with the country’s millennials, a sign of the filmmakers’ intention to win the eyes and ears, if not already the hearts and minds, of a younger generation. In today’s China, the second largest film market in the world, the Party’s blessing alone is not sufficient guarantee of box office dominance. The majority of viewers need to be lured, rather than forced, to see a movie. In this regard, ideological purity could be a liability. Continue reading

The great hive of propaganda

Source: China Media Project
by  | Sep 16, 2017

The Great Hive of Propaganda

In December 2012, just weeks after Xi Jinping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party, the official People’s Daily ran a front-page editorial called, “The Internet is Not a Land Outside the Law.” While it is “unrealistic,” the piece said, to demand that “everyone say the correct thing in the correct way,” all Chinese “must have consciousness of the law, being responsible for their words and actions.”

The People’s Daily article came months ahead of a crackdown on influential “Big V” users on Weibo. It predated by more than a year the creation of Xi Jinping’s Central Leading Group on Cyberspace Affairs, and its powerful new Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). Looking back, however, the editorial appears to have presaged an era of obsessive law-making on the internet — until these days, it seems, there is no end to the regulations governing the hills and valleys of Chinese cyberspace. Continue reading

Treating what ails the study of Chinese politics

Dear Colleagues,

Here is an excellent new essay by William Hurst on the ailments that plague the study of Chinese politics. It is well worth a read for anybody who engages in research on contemporary Chinese politics and society.


Ivan Franceschini (ivan.franceschini@anu.edu.au)

Source: Chinoiresie.info (16/9/17)
Treating What Ails the Study of Chinese Politics
By William Hurst, Northwestern University

Le Prêtre Marié (The Married Priest), René Magritte, 1951

For almost as long as political science has existed as a discipline, the study of Chinese politics has been afflicted with a chronic disease. Depending on one’s perspective, this malady’s manifestations have amounted to either neglected isolation or arrogant exceptionalism. At root has been a tendency of China scholars to recount everything they could learn about one village or neighbourhood, one leader, or one army group, without context or comparison, assuming the wider world would care simply because their research was about China; and then the wider world took little notice. Regardless of whom one believes may have been to blame, students of Chinese politics have been searching for curative remedies for at least the past forty-five years. Continue reading

Dissenting academic leaves China for US

Source: The Guardian (9/14/17)
‘Farewell’: Qiao Mu, dissenting academic, leaves China for US
Friends say Qiao’s decision has come after his academic career was wrecked by refusal to fall into line
By Tom Philips

Qiao Mu

Since 2014, Qiao had been banished from the classroom, apparently in punishment for his public support for ideas such as democracy. Photograph: James Wasserman/Demotix for The Guardian

Qiao Mu had always insisted he would not be forced to leave China. “We must change our nation, not our nationality,” the outspoken academic told the Guardian over lunch in the summer of 2015.

Last Friday morning, however, Qiao and his family set off for Beijing’s international airport to catch a Boeing 777 bound for the United States.

“I’m leaving my country and I’ll miss it. Farewell,” Qiao, 47, announced on the social messaging service WeChat as he waited to board Air China Flight CA817 to Washington DC. He did not say when, or indeed if, he might return. Continue reading

Yuan Tengfei’s Weibo account removed

Source: Shanghaiist (9/12/17)
Maverick history teacher has Weibo account removed days after anniversary of Mao’s death


On Monday, a well-known history teacher and government critic had his Weibo account taken down, just a few days after the 41st anniversary of Mao Zedong’s death — a fact which has struck some as being quite the coincidence.

Yuan Tengfei (袁腾飞) rose to national prominence back in 2008 after some of his history lectures were posted online by a Beijing cram school and widely-shared. Yuan’s engaging, humorous teaching-style and the sensitive subject matter that he covered quickly made him into a star among students across China, earning him the moniker of “the most awesome history teacher in history” and turning him into a best-selling author before beginning to interfere with his career prospects. Continue reading

Free Speech and Academic Freedom signature campaign

Dear all,

Please note the signature campaign, titled “In Defence of Free Speech and Academic Freedom — Support Conscientious Scholar Professor Benny Tai” (捍衛言論及學術自由 支持良心學者戴耀廷) has been launched.  A copy of the statement is provided herein for your easy reference. Please visit this link (https://sites.google.com/site/hksaaf/academic-freedom-freedom-of-speech-ch) for details, including the names of initiators and signatories.

Please join and help spread this among your colleagues. This signature campaign targets at local and international academics only instead of students or administrative staff.


Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom
(On behalf of the initiators) Continue reading

Poster confrontation at CUHK

Source: Sup China (9/7/17)
Woman confronted by Hong Kong students after ripping off pro-independence posters at CUHK
By Jiayun Feng

After days of escalating tensions between the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s (CUHK) student union and school officials over pro-independence banners and posters spotted on the campus, a video surfaced on the internet on September 6 showing a woman being confronted by several Hong Kong students in front of the Democracy Wall, where controversial posts were clustered.

At the beginning of the three-minute video clip, the female student seemed surprised to find she was being filmed while holding a few torn posters, which read, “Fight for our homeland. Fight for Hong Kong independence.” Questioned by a male student in Cantonese, the woman replied in Mandarin, “I don’t understand what you are saying, but I know these things are not allowed to be posted.” Another female Hong Kong student then approached, explaining that they are members of the student union, and that Cultural Plaza, where the wall is located, is managed by the student organization. “If you don’t agree with the stuff we put on, you should put something that is against this on the wall,” she said in English. Continue reading

Rights crackdown most severe since Tiananmen

Source: NYT (9/6/17)
China’s Rights Crackdown Is Called ‘Most Severe’ Since Tiananmen Square
查看简体中文版  / 查看繁體中文版

Pro-democracy activists held portraits of the detained Chinese human rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong, background left, and Wang Quanzhang at a protest in Hong Kong this summer.CreditTengku Bahar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

GENEVA — China is systematically undermining international human rights groups in a bid to silence critics of its crackdown on such rights at home, a watchdog organization said on Tuesday. The group also faulted the United Nations for failing to prevent the effort, and at times being complicit in it.

“China’s crackdown on human rights activists is the most severe since the Tiananmen Square democracy movement 25 years ago,” Kenneth Roth, the director of the agency, Human Rights Watch, said in Geneva on Tuesday at the introduction of a report that he described as an international “wake-up call.” “What’s less appreciated is the lengths to which China goes to prevent criticism of that record of oppression by people outside China, particularly those at the United Nations.” Continue reading

Poet Langzi detained

Update today on detained poets–fwd by Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: HKFP (9/7/17)
Chinese poet Langzi detained after commemorating late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo
By Catherine Lai

poet langzi

The poet Langzi. Photo: Supplied to RFA.

A well-known poet from the southern province of Guangdong has been detained after he helped produce an anthology of poems commemorating the late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Wu Mingliang, who is better known by his pen name Langzi, was taken from his home by police officers and criminally detained on August 18 upon suspicion of “illegal business operations,” according to Amnesty International.

The NGO said his lawyer and friends believe that Wu is being detained for taking part in writing, editing and compiling an anthology of poems commemorating the prominent dissident, who died of liver cancer in a hospital under police surveillance in July. Continue reading

The people behind state media videos

Source: Sixth Tone (9/5/17)
The People Behind Chinese State Media’s Viral Videos
The recent BRICS summit has given government mouthpiece Xinhua a chance to launch its latest charm offensive.
By Lu Hongyong

A screenshot from the video ‘Light of BRICS’ produced by Studio One of Xinhua.

Another day, another viral video. Zheng Xiaoyi and key members of Studio One, an arm of China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency, finally call it a day well after midnight. Today, Zheng is the co-director of an animated short video by the often straitlaced newswire to mark the opening of the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, a coastal city in Fujian province, eastern China.

“Featuring the voyage of a five-masted vessel codenamed BRICS, the video was viewed more than 100 million times in the first 12 hours after it went online Saturday,” Zheng says from the conference’s 8,000-square-meter media center. Reporting on the event are more than 300 of Xinhua’s journalists out of a total media corps of 3,000 people. Continue reading

Network of Concerned Historians 2017 report

Below find the China section of the 2017 annual report from the Network of Concerned Historians.–Kirk

Source: Network of Concerned Historians
Annual Report 2017

In 2013, historian Hong Zhenkuai, a former executive editor of the history journal Yanhuang Chunqiu (China Through the Ages), challenged in two articles the official narrative about the Five Heroes of Langya Mountain, whose reportedly heroic defense of the area against invading Japanese troops and ensuing suicide in 1941 became part of the revolutionary mythology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In August 2015, the sons of two of the five men sued him. On 27 June 2016, the Beijing Xicheng District People’s Court ruled that Hong had defamed the heroes and that he should apologize publicly on websites and news outlets to the complainants. In its verdict, it wrote that Hong’s articles failed to portray the five men positively and, “based on insufficient evidence,” cast doubt on the CCP’s narrative of events. According to the verdict, “The national sentiments, historical memories and the national spirit reflected in the five heroes of Langya Mountain and their story are important sources and components of modern China’s socialist core values … Thus, it also damages the Chinese nation’s spiritual values.” On 15 August 2016, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court upheld the ruling. In a reaction, Hong declared that he would not apologize, saying that the plaintiffs had not provided any evidence that disproved his findings: “This is basic academic freedom, and I need to maintain my dignity as an intellectual.” The court would probably publish the verdict in the news media and order Hong to pay the publication costs. In July 2016, one of the plaintiffs, Ge Changsheng, had said in an interview that Hong’s articles negated CCP history and heroes and constituted “historical nihilism”. Continue reading

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