China enjoys increased book sales

Source: China Daily (1/11/19)
China enjoys more bookstores, increasing sales
By Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-11 08:18

[Photo provided to]

China had 225,000 bookstores and sales outlets for books at the end of 2018, a 4.3-percent increase from the previous year, according to an annual report on the country’s bookstore industry released Tuesday.

Issued by China’s Books and Periodicals Distribution Association, the report showed that the total sales revenue of publications in China reached 370.4 billion yuan (about $54.1 billion) last year, up 5.9 percent year on year, while 158 billion yuan was from retail, which enjoyed an 11.3-percent growth.

Private bookstores played a significant part in the development, as 85 of the over 160 popular Sisyphe Bookstore chain as of October last year were opened in 2018 alone, and Yanjiyou, another popular brand, opened another 53 bookstores from January to November last year, according to an article on Wednesday’s People’s Daily. Continue reading

Leave No Dark Corner

Leave No Dark Corner, an Australian documentary about the Social Credit system, aired last September. In case other list members missed it then as I did, I’d like to commend it to your attention. It’s well made, despite resorting to a couple of “re-enactments” along with its riveting interviews. The half-hour film focuses on three people: a young professional who, with her cadre husband, thinks the social credit system will do wonderful things for the Chinese people; Liu Hu, the Chongqing journalist whose career was terminated  by the system; and Tahir Hamut, a Uyghur refugee who describes how the system works in Xinjiang.

A. E. Clark <>

The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine

Source: Taipei Times (1/11/19)
Highways and Byways: The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine
The Bilian Temple in Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township is one of many structures throughout the nation that uses Chinese iconography to paper over Japan’s presence in Taiwan
By Steven Crook  /  Contributing reporter

Externally, Bilian Temple in Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township today resembles thousands of other places of worship in Taiwan. Photo: Steven Crook

I’m not interested in remnants of the colonial period as much as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) efforts after World War II to erase the Japanese imprint. Recently, I was thrilled to learn of a few old houses in the south that bear Republic of China (ROC) embossed flags on their facades — but where the post-1945 paint job is now so faded it’s possible to see Hinomaru (the Japanese flag) emblems that were the original adornments.

The KMT’s animosity toward Japan was understandable given Japanese aggression and wartime atrocities when it ruled Taiwan as a colony from 1895 to 1945. After 1949, however, Japan was a key trading partner and an important investor. What’s more, Taipei and Tokyo were both closely aligned with Washington. However, Japan’s 1972 decision to break off diplomatic ties with the ROC and establish formal relations with the People’s Republic of China provoked a fresh wave of anti-Japanese sentiment, at least among the ROC leaders. Continue reading

Unstoppable population decline

Source: CNN (1/7/19)
Study: China faces ‘unstoppable’ population decline by mid-century
By Euan McKirdy , CNN

While China still boasts the world&#39;s largest population, social engineering looks to have precipitated an &quot;unstoppable&quot; decline, a recent study suggests.

While China still boasts the world’s largest population, social engineering looks to have precipitated an “unstoppable” decline, a recent study suggests.

(CNN)China will face an “unstoppable” population decline over the coming decades, with fewer and fewer workers struggling to support an increasingly aging society, according to a report by a leading state-sponsored Chinese thinktank.

The report, which comes more than three years since China officially ended its controversial decades-long one-child policy, warns that the “the era of negative population growth is almost here,” forecasting that the country’s population will peak at 1.44 billion in 2029.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report suggests that the decline in fertility rates will lead to a decrease in overall population to 1990-era levels of 1.172 billion by 2065. World Bank data from 2017 showed a Chinese population of 1.386 billion. Continue reading

Uyghur philanthropist sentence to death for unsanctioned Hajj

This piece dates from late November of last year, but still bears disseminating.–Kirk

Source: Radio Free Asia (11/21/18)
Xinjiang Authorities Sentence Uyghur Philanthropist to Death For Unsanctioned Hajj
By Gulchehra Hoja

Abdughapar Abdurusul in an undated photo.

Abdughapar Abdurusul in an undated photo. Photo courtesy of Abdusattar Abdurusul

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have sentenced a prominent Uyghur businessman and philanthropist to death for taking an unsanctioned Muslim holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, according to his brother.

Abdughapar Abdurusul, of Bakyol district in Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Ghulja (Yining) city, “was arrested in July or August,” his brother Abdusattar Abdurusul recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, citing Abdughapar’s Kazakh business partners living in Kazakhstan’s Almaty city. Continue reading

China targets Uighur intellectuals

Source: NYT (1/5/18)
China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Austin Ramzy

Rahile Dawut, above with camera, is an anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional songs and folklore. She was detained in December 2017 and has not been heard from since. Credit Lisa Ross

ISTANBUL — As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live in far western China. He did so within the strict confines of censorship imposed by the Chinese authorities, who are ever wary of ethnic separatism and Islamic extremism among the predominantly Muslim peoples of the region.

It was a line that Mr. Mamut navigated successfully for 26 years, eventually rising to become editor in chief of the Communist Party-controlled magazine Xinjiang Civilization before retiring in 2011.

“My father is very smart; he knows what is the red line, and if you cross it you are taken to jail,” said his son, Bahram Sintash, who now lives in Virginia. “You work very close to the red line to teach people the culture. You have to be smart and careful with your words.” Continue reading

Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Yanshuo Zhang’s review of Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia (Lexington 2018), by Yuqing Yang. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Mystifying China’s Southwest 
Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia

By Yuqing Yang

Reviewed by Yanshuo Zhang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2019)

Yuqing Zhang, Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018. vii-x + 251 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4985-0297-9 (Hardback $110.00); 978-1-4985-0298-6 (eBook $104.50)

In Chinese literary scholarship in the U.S., the literary and cultural achievements made by China’s ethnic minority groups (shaoshu minzu 少数民族) remain a largely uncharted territory in clear need of more serious investigation. Some recent scholarship on ethnic minority literatures in China includes Mark Bender’s edited ethnic poetry anthology The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry (Cambria Press 2017) and the chapters on Tibetan literature and the ethnic concerns of the prominent modern writer Lao She (老舍) in Sinophone Studies: A Critical Reader (Columbia University Press 2013).

Despite the wonderful insights on minority literatures developed in these studies, single-authored monographs on non-Han literatures are severely lacking in our field, and Chinese literary studies in the U.S. as a whole seems to be dominated by a Han-focused perspective. Yuqing Yang’s 2018 monograph, Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia contributes to enriching the research on Chinese shaoshu minzuliteratures. An ethnic Bai scholar trained at the University of Oregon and currently teaching at Minzu University of China, Yang charts the cultural myths and fantasies surrounding three minority regions in southwest China, revealing an entanglement between representation and reality—“textual and extratextual formats”—in the making of the Bai, Mosuo, and Tibetan identities in reform-era China (227). Continue reading

Mental hygiene

Posted by: Anne Henochowicz <>
Source: Aeon (12/17/18)
Collective psychiatry
Chinese psychiatry remains committed to the political ideal of mental hygiene, long after its discrediting in the West
By Emily Baum

A mental patient is seen at a hospital for those suffering from mental illnesses in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, 6 October 2010. Photo by Jie Zhao/Corbis via Getty

[Emily Baum is an associate professor in history at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China (2018). Published in association with The University of Chicago Press an Aeon Strategic Partner]

In English, the term ‘mental hygiene’ likely sounds a bit stale. Having gained a brief but widespread ascendancy in the first half of the 20th century, the phrase gradually faded from popular memory and was replaced by the expression ‘mental health’ in the 1950s. In Chinese, however, mental hygiene is still alive and well. Translated as xinli weisheng or jingshen weisheng, the phrase has been a mainstay in Chinese psychiatric policy for close to a full century.

At its most basic level, mental hygiene refers to the branch of medicine that aspires to prevent psychiatric disorders. The term was first coined in the late-19th century and became commonplace by the turn of the 20th. In contrast to mental health (the expression used by the World Health Organization today), early mental hygiene consisted of a prophylactic approach to insanity through education and eugenics, rather than a holistic emphasis on self-actualisation and self-care. Mental hygienists, promising an easy fix to mental illness, gained almost universal support by the 1920s and ’30s. Yet the Second World War changed the course of their trajectory. Following the development of antipsychotic drugs and the discovery of Nazi war crimes, the discipline became both medically irrelevant and politically unpalatable. Continue reading

Why China is getting worse for women

Source: Caixin (12/19/18)
Why China is Getting Worse for Women
By Teng Jing Xuan


China is becoming a more unequal place for women, a new report says.

The nation ranks 103rd out of 149 countries for gender equality, slipping from last year’s 100 out of 144, according to an annual report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Friday.

That puts China behind Myanmar, Romania and Russia.

This marks the fifth year in a row that China’s Gender Gap Index score has fallen. The index measures women’s opportunities in politics, education, health and the economy. Continue reading

Memes of 2018

Source: Sup China (12/19/18)
Men Are All Pig’s Feet’ — And Other Chinese Memes Of 2018 That Reflect Our Times
A year in which online users saw through the BS and women said “Enough.”
By Frankie Huang

Memes have become a way to appreciate and participate in popular culture, a way to find solidarity, construct identity, and communicate with precision.

Memes like Distracted Boyfriend and BBQ Becky are products of their times, and when people look back on them, they’ll be seen as more than just clever tools of satire: they are snapshots of what captured the public consciousness at the moment of their inception. Continue reading

Detention camps turn to forced labor

Source: NYT (12/16/18)
China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy

Chinese state television showed Muslims attending classes on how to be law-abiding citizens. Evidence is emerging that detainees are also being forced to take jobs in new factories.

KASHGAR, China — Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month renouncing their religious convictions. Now the government was showing them on television as models of repentance, earning good pay — and political salvation — as factory workers.

China’s ruling Communist Party has said in a surge of upbeat propaganda that a sprawling network of camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty, backwardness and the temptations of radical Islam. Continue reading

Wanda to build theme park in Yan’an

Source: SCMP (12/14/18)
Wanda to build a US$1.74 billion theme park in the cradle of the Chinese Communist revolution to cash in on ‘red tourism’
The investment is the second major push by Wang Jianlin’s company to hew to the government’s preferred agenda
By Zheng Yangpeng

A group of visitors to the Jinggang mountains in Jiangxi province, considered the birthplace of the People’s Liberation Army on July 13, 2018. Many tours make it mandatory for visitors to dress up in Red Army uniforms. Photo: SCMP/ Josephine Ma 

Wanda Group, the property and theme park conglomerate built by former People’s Liberation Army officer Wang Jianlin, will spend 12 billion yuan (US$1.74 billion) to build a theme park in the Communist Party’s revolutionary birthplace Yan’an to cash in on the growing trend of so-called “red tourism”.

The theme park, in the loess plateau of Shaanxi province near Gansu and Shanxi, will feature shopping malls, indoor parks, theatres and hotels built in the style of the 1930s when the prefectural city was used as the headquarters of the Communist Party. The project, measuring 1.26 square kilometres in size, will begin construction in the first quarter of 2019 for completion by the first half of 2021 in time for the ruling party’s centenary celebration, Wanda said. Continue reading

Gaokao public outcry (1)

Unmentioned by this article, but essential to understanding it, is the fact that since 1985 the gaokao has not been a uniform national exam.  Zhejiang’s license to customize the exam for Zhejiang students dates from 2003. Wikipedia says that 16 provinces and municipalities customize their exams.

This is doubtless a complex matter which I am not qualified to judge, but it seems to me that varying the questions (as well as the grading protocols) from province to province compromises a national exam’s ability to ration access to the best universities based on merit.

A. E. Clark <>

Gaokao public outcry

Source: SCMP (12/5/18)
No marks for Chinese education bosses sacked after exam results public outcry
Investigation confirms what students and parents suspected. Grades were distorted and results unfair after wrong policy decision.
By Phoebe Zhang

China’s college entrance exams, commonly known as gaokao, are a time of enormous pressure for students, as results can determine their future. Photo: Handout

Two top education officials have been fired while another two are under investigation amid accusations that grades were manipulated in China’s college entrance exams.

Authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province launched an investigation following public protests last month over the results of English language test results in the exams, commonly known as gaokao. Protesters complained of unfairness and questioned the scores.

On Wednesday the provincial government announced on social media that an inquiry committee, headed by provincial governor Yuan Jiajun, had concluded there had been a “wrong policy decision” by the Zhejiang Education Department. Continue reading

People’s Republic of Desire review

Source: Film Insider (12/5/18)
The People’s Republic of Desire: Inside China’s Lucrative Livestreaming Craze

Last Tuesday, the winner of the prestigious South by South West Film Festival 2018 Grand Jury Award for documentary feature was screened in New York at an event co-hosted by China Film Insider and Jing Daily.

People’s Republic of Desire takes the viewer into the lucrative and exploitative world of, a NASDAQ-listed Chinese social media site focused on live video streaming.

A virtual display of the number of fans and their worship of the livestreamer Shen Man. Courtesy Photo.

As many luxury brands increasingly use livestreaming to attract fans and monetize that attention, they need to understand what’s driving the estimated $5-billion livestreaming juggernaut in China. Livestreamers can receive money from viewers — which has sent ordinary people on a quest to instant fame and fortune.

The film has gotten a wave of international attention as it races for the Oscar shortlist. The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Reckoning the cost of fame… a revealing examination of contemporary Chinese internet culture.” The film is also “provocative and unsettling as it brings us on a guided tour through the digital marketplace for something resembling human contact,” commented Variety. Continue reading