Brother Nut gets results

Source: NYT (7/13/18)
With 9,000 Bottles of Dirty ‘Spring Water,’ a Chinese Artist Gets Results
查看本文中文版 | 查看本文繁體中文版
By Olivia Mitchell Ryan and Zoe Mou

“The things I’m concerned about are all related to people’s survival experience,” said Brother Nut, an artist and activist in Beijing. He filled thousands of Nongfu Spring water bottles with filthy groundwater from a village in central China to draw attention to its pollution problem. CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times

BEIJING — The 9,000 bottles of water on display at an art gallery in Beijing last month appeared identical to those of Nongfu Spring, one of China’s most popular spring water brands, with one jarring difference. Inside each bottle was brown, murky groundwater collected from a Chinese village.

The water from the village, Xiaohaotu, in the central province of Shaanxi, is polluted with heavy metals, the likely result of nearby coal mining and gas exploration operations, residents and officials say. Continue reading

Guizhou poverty alleviation program

Source: Sixth Tone (7/10/18)
Guizhou pilots carbon offset poverty alleviation program
Government-driven platform encourages people to pay low-income households to plant trees
By Li You

An elderly farmer in Shenyang, Liaoning province, July 15, 2011. VCG

GUIZHOU, Southwest China — Policymakers are hoping to kill two birds with one stone through a tree-planting program that endeavors to trap carbon emissions and combat poverty.

Announced Sunday at the 10th Eco Forum Global in provincial capital Guiyang, the voluntary program connects residents of Guizhou province’s low-income villages with individuals and businesses across the country who are willing to pay to offset their own carbon footprint. Villagers plant the trees and pocket the money — expected to reach more than 1,000 yuan ($150) a year per household, in a province where the average annual income for rural residents is only 8,869 yuan. Continue reading

Top grossing films of 2018

Source: China Daily (7/10/18)
Top 10 highest-grossing 2018 films in the Chinese market
By Zhang Xingjian |

The Chinese film industry has gained momentum in the first half of 2018.

According to the State Administration of Radio and Television, as of June 30 the 2018 box office for Chinese movies reached at 32.03 billion yuan ($4.84 billion), a year-on-year increase of 17.82 percent; the total number of people watching movies was 901 million, an increase of 15.34 percent.

More specifically, the domestic film box office was 18.965 billion yuan, an increase of 80.10 percent that accounted for 59.21 percent of total box office share.

Of the top 10, three were six domestically produced films, and the remaining four were imports.

Check out the current top 10 highest-grossing movies below.

A poster of the film Forever Young [Photo/Mtime]

No. 10 Forever Young
Box office: 747 million yuan
Release date: Jan 12, 2018
Genre: Drama and romance
Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Huang Xiaoming Continue reading

Inside China’s dystopian dreams

Source: NYT (7/8/18)
Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras
By Paul Mozur

A video showing facial recognition software in use at the headquarters of the artificial intelligence company Megvii in Beijing.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times

ZHENGZHOU, China — In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station.

In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped the police snatch two dozen criminal suspects in the midst of a big annual beer festival.

In Wuhu, a fugitive murder suspect was identified by a camera as he bought food from a street vendor.

With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future. Beijing is embracing technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with crucial help from its thriving technology industry. Continue reading

Stout, dark, and not pretty

Source: NYT (6/30/18)
Opinion: The Rise and Fall of China’s ‘Stout,’ ‘Dark’ and ‘Not Pretty’ Pop Star
查看本文中文版 | 查看本文繁體中文版
By Yuan Ren

Wang Ju, a contestant on the popular online Chinese talent show “Produce 101,” performing in the show’s finale on June 23.CreditVisual China Group, via Getty Images

BEIJING — For a moment, it looked as if China’s rigid beauty standards were on the brink of being upended — or at least expanded slightly.

“Produce 101,” a popular online talent show, puts women through their paces for one of 11 spots in a female pop band; at first, Wang Ju, a 25-year-old model manager who’d almost lost her place on the show earlier in the season, seemed an unlikely candidate for success. But over the course of a few weeks in June, Ms. Wang rode a mounting wave of public affection to find herself, as of midmonth, ranked second among the show’s 22 finalists. Suddenly, Chinese commentators were at pains to explain just how Ms. Wang — a woman Chinese media variously referred to as “stout,” “dark” and “not pretty enough” — got there. Continue reading

China caps film star pay

Source: The Guardian (6/28/18)
China caps film star pay, citing ‘money worship’ and fake contracts
Lead actors’ pay packets restricted to 70% of total wages for the cast of a show
By Lily Kuo

‘Yin-yang’ contracts said to belong to Fan Bingbing were posted online.

‘Yin-yang’ contracts said to belong to Fan Bingbing were posted online. Photograph: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Chinese authorities are capping the salaries of celebrities, blaming the entertainment industry for encouraging “money worship” and “distorting social values”.

The salaries of on-screen performers should be capped at 40% of the total production costs, according to a joint notice from five government agencies including China’s tax authority, the television and film regulator, and the propaganda department. Leading actors should receive no more than 70% of total wages for the cast, according to the announcement, published in Xinhua. Continue reading

Dongguan in photos

Source: China Daily (6/26/18)
Dongguan in photos: From ‘world’s factory’ to intelligent production
By Li Ping |

Workers in Dongguan are pictured in a photo on display at the Traction Line exhibition in Beijing. [Photo by Li Zhiliang/]

The southern Chinese city of Dongguan in Guangdong province is one of the most important production lines in China, known as “the world’s factory”. With information technology as its pillar industry, Dongguan has witnessed a successful transformation from manufacturing to intelligent manufacturing over the past 30 years.

Thanks to new technologies, the city’s traditional production reliance on low-cost labor and massive human resources has gradually been replaced by automation, digitization and intelligent production. Continue reading

Interview with Cai Xiang

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yu Zhang’s and Calvin Hui’s interview with Cai Xiang, professor of modern Chinese literature at Shanghai University. Too long to publish in full here, you can find the entire interview, along with the original Chinese version, at


Kirk Denton, editor

Postsocialism and Its Narratives:
An Interview with Cai Xiang

Interviewed and Translated by Yu Zhang and Calvin Hui

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2018)

Cai Xiang

Time: July 3, 2016
Location: Bodao Café, 1420 Meichuan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai, P. R. China

Notes from the Interviewers and Translators: Cai Xiang is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature in the Department of Chinese at Shanghai University and the director of its Research Center for Contemporary Literature. His book Revolution and Its Narratives: China’s Socialist Literary and Cultural Imaginaries, 1949-1966 was translated into English by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong and published by Duke University Press in 2016. In this interview, Cai Xiang shares his thoughts about the contemporary Chinese writer Lu Yao (1949-1992) and China in the 1980s, the revival of realism, pure literature, the relationship between the subaltern and the middle class, literary and cultural studies in China, and finally his research on socialist literature and culture. Cai Xiang stresses the importance of rebuilding an ideal mainstream society and looking for a new kind of certainty in this fragmented world. He also introduces illuminating new concepts such as “intellectual laborer,” “cultural proletariat,” and “petty bourgeois-socialism” to understand the cultural politics of postsocialist China. For the Chinese version, see below. The interviewers would like to express our gratitude to Kirk Denton and Xueping Zhong for their support and to Gao Ming for his assistance.

Ordinary World, by Lu Yao

Interviewer: In the past few years, the Chinese writer Lu Yao (1949-1992), the author of the novel Ordinary World, has regained broad attention and huge popularity in China.[1] The airing of the TV serial Ordinary World (2015) made his work even more appealing to contemporary Chinese readers. I heard it has become one of the most widely read novels among college students in China. Your career as a literary critic started with the publication of an essay about Lu Yao’s well-known novella “Life” (1982). Could you tell us about the writing of this essay?

Cai: That was about thirty years ago. Now, looking back, I think what motivated me to write about Lu Yao’s “Life” was several factors: first, “Life” suggests the possibility of changing one’s destiny, even though the male protagonist’s effort fails in this tragic story. This was probably one of the key issues in the 1980s. It was precisely in the 1980s when everyone felt there was a possibility to change their fate. China’s “planned economic system” had lasted for thirty years, but then the system started to be shaken up. The reason I used quotation marks for “planned economic system” is that the concept permeated the entire society, including every aspect of individual life. Therefore, it is not merely an economic concept; an individual’s destiny was determined by the society within the planned economic system. Of course, the planned economy also brought with it a sense of security and even warmth from inside the community. Published precisely at this historical juncture, “Life” implied that the nature of human fate is changing, which actually refers to what is commonly called social mobility (such as the migration from the countryside to the city that takes place in the novella). Moreover, this change can be determined by the individual, yet it comes with high risk and a strong sense of insecurity, and even causes an inner fear. In Lu Yao’s novella, the fear is manifested in the realm of morality. . . [Read the rest of the interview here]

Women, Gender and Research

Women, Gender and Research – Chinese-Nordic Perspectives. New release!
English edition:
Chinese edition: Shanghai Publishing  Company 女性、性别与研究:中国与北欧视角, 上海三联书店 2018.


Gender Dynamics and Connecting Comparisons
Hilda Rømer Christensen, Bettina Hauge, Cancan Wang


“I Don’t Do Theory – I Do Concept-Work” An Interview With Aihwa Ong
Nina Trige Andersen

Between Necessity and Delight – Negotiating Involved Fatherhood among Career Couples in Denmark.
Anna Sofie Bach Continue reading

Proper nouns must be proper Chinese

Source: Sixth Tone (5/30/18)
Proper Nouns Must Be Proper Chinese, Say Authorities
Ministry mandates that housing developments with names like ‘California Town’ and ‘Norwegian Wood’ must find Mandarin monikers.
By Liang Chenyu

More than 75,000 place names around China have been changed because they were too exotic, strange, or hyperbolic, the Ministry of Education announced Monday.

Tian Lixin, head of the ministry’s department for standardizing Chinese language usage, told The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, that it is inappropriate to see names like “Venice” and “Rome” in Chinese cities.

On social platform Weibo, some users approved of the sweep. “There are so many beautiful words in [Chinese classics], why do you have to choose strange transliterated words?” But others disagreed: “Why does this bother you enough to police it?” 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

Divorce quiz

Source: NYT (5/30/18)
Want a Divorce in China? You Might Have to Fail a Quiz First
By Tiffany May

Some local authorities in China have tried to reduce the divorce rate by asking couples to take a quiz. Know too much about your spouse and you might have to stay married, at least for a while.CreditJohannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — It’s like the Newlywed Game, but for divorce.

In some parts of China, married couples seeking to split up have been asked to take a quiz issued by the local authorities. The more they knew about each other — including a spouse’s birthday or favorite food — the less likely they were to have the divorce immediately approved.

The quizzes, issued in at least two provinces since last year, follow the format of a typical three-part school exam: fill-in-the-blank, short answer and an essay. Questions include the mundane — “When is your anniversary?” — and the philosophical: “Have you fulfilled your responsibility to your family?” Continue reading

China’s gulag for Muslims

Source: Sup China (5/17/18)
China’s gulag for Muslims
The evidence of a campaign to “re-educate” tens, or even hundreds of thousands, of Muslims in western China is building.
By Lucas Niewenhuis

Xinjiang Province has come to be known as one of the most heavily policed regions of the world, especially since Chen Quanguo 陈全国 was transferred from Tibet in 2016 to apply his hardline securitization strategy to the restive Muslim-majority region. Increasingly, it was suspected based on anecdotal reports that massive detention facilities were being used to hold Muslims targeted for their religious practices — but the government has repeatedly denied the existence of reeducation camps.

This week, a few more rare eyewitness reports have been published on the situation:

  • Five sources, including two who were willing to use their full real names, told the Associated Press’s Gerry Shih that the indoctrination camps are real, and they aim for nothing less than the near-complete replacement of detainees’ Muslim beliefs with full devotion to the Communist Party.
  • Crimes that could land you in detention, Shih reports, include “viewing a foreign website, taking phone calls from relatives abroad, praying regularly or growing a beard.”
  • Punishment for these crimes included solitary confinement, food deprivation, being chained up by wrists and ankles, and — especially — forced self-criticism and repetition of slogans.
  • “You have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group,” said Omir Bekali, a Kazakhstan citizen who had lived in China previously, then visited Xinjiang and was “detained for eight months last year without recourse.”
  • “In four-hour sessions, instructors lectured about the dangers of Islam and drilled internees with quizzes that they had to answer correctly or be sent to stand near a wall for hours on end,” Bekali and other detainees reported.
  • The camps require chanting of “Thank the Party! Thank the Motherland! Thank President Xi!” before meals, and repeated chanting of “We will oppose extremism, we will oppose separatism, we will oppose terrorism” during study sessions.
  • Imagine this kind of required Party slogan repetition and self-criticism sessions applied to all of China, not just Muslims in Xinjiang, and you have a core part of theCultural Revolution.
  • This corroborates earlier reporting done by Shih; check out this Sinica Podcast episode for a discussion of his time in Xinjiang and links to his previous reports.
  • Omir Bekali and Kayrat Samarkand, both Kazakh Muslims detained and released in the last year, gave their accounts to both Gerry Shih and Simon Denyer at the Washington Post.

Continue reading

LGBT community treads cautiously

Source: Reuters (5/17/18)
China’s LGBT community treads cautiously amid intolerance
By Christian Shepherd

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s LGBT advocates cautiously organized awareness-raising events across the country to celebrate International Anti-Homophobia Day on Thursday amid concern of growing intolerance towards LGBT causes.

One of the events was a 5.17 km run to raise awareness and celebrate the May 17 anniversary of the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from a list of diseases.

But organizers told participants to run on their own and not en masse.

An organizer of the runs held in Beijing, Liu Yifu, told Reuters that they did not dare to stage any mass events in the capital this year for fear that proceedings might be interrupted by the authorities. 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