Spending on music in China

Source: Sup China (9/14/17)
China’s per capita spending on music is $0.15, only 0.7 percent that of Japan’s
By Jiayun Feng

“We didn’t pay for music, but we watched ads. I think it’s quite fair.”

“I am appalled by those comments questioning why we should pay for the music we listen to. I know most Chinese have a low level of intellectual property consciousness, but it’s still sad to see that many people have zero respect for musicians and their works. They are not obliged to provide free music for you. Today, you enjoy pirated music and generations after us will have no good Chinese songs to listen to as a result.”

Music tastes of Chinese individuals are very alike — primarily cheesy and insubstantial love songs with hook-laden melodies. Yet as the two comments above indicate, opinions are significantly divided (in Chinese) as to whether music listeners should pay for the products they consume, a poignant question raised by a recent report (in Chinese) from the Communication University of China in Beijing, which reveals the alarming status of China’s digital music industry. Continue reading

The world needs to hear China’s feminist voices

Source: WAGIC: Women and Gender in China (9/11/17)
The World Needs to Hear China’s Feminist Voices
By Li Maizi

Not long ago Séagh told me that they wanted to set up an English-language website on Chinese feminism and invited me to write this piece. I felt really honoured. I have had the idea of building a website like this for a long time. I never thought that Séagh happened to be thinking the very same thing.

Looking back at the story so far, I have been just a tiny part in the vast tides of Chinese feminist movements. In 2012, we started promoting feminism in China using activism methods. At that time we worked with the media to launch a series of feminist actions such as ‘Bloody Brides’, ‘Occupy Men’s’ Toilets’ ‘Bald Girls Oppose Student Enrolment Discrimination’. We also showed our solidarity outside the court rooms with women who had experienced domestic violence and so on. Continue reading

Women and Gender in China blog

MCLCers might be interested in this new blog.–Kirk

Welcome to WAGIC: Women and Gender in China

A dedicated space for discussing gender, sexuality and feminism(s) in China past and present.

Launched in September 2017, WAGIC is a collaborative (hopefully soon bilingual) blog project that aims to provide a dedicated and accessible space for commentary about all aspects of gender, sexuality and feminism(s) in China (incl. contested parts thereof), past and present.

Each month we publish a series of original blogs focused on a single theme. We engage with a wide range of topics relating to gender, sexuality and feminism(s) in China, past and present. We welcome submissions from academics, activists, journalists, writers and those with personal experience of these issues.

We hope this blog project will promote better understanding and awareness of the social, cultural, political and historical dynamics that underpin and inform gender, sexuality and feminism(s) in China today, and create new opportunities for international feminist and queer solidarities.

Han clothing movement

Source: Quartz (8/29/17)
Young people in China have started a fashion movement built around nationalism and racial purity
By Kevin Carrico


China’s mainstream majority is discovering its “traditional” attire. (Courtesy Kevin Carrico)

The Han Clothing Movement, a youth-based grassroots nationalist movement built around China’s majority Han ethnic group, has emerged over the past 15 years in urban China. It imagines the numerically and culturally dominant Han—nearly 92% of China’s population—as the target of oppression by both China’s minorities and “the West,” in need of revitalization to save China. Hoping to make the Han great again, movement participants promote the public wearing of an ethnic outfit that purports to revive a clothing style that is millennia old.

According to enthusiasts of the Han Clothing Movement, the dilemma of today’s China was on full display in the fall of 2001, when leaders from across the Asia-Pacific Region gathered in Shanghai for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting. Just a month after the attacks of September 11, this event’s theme was, appropriately, “meeting new challenges in the new century.” Unbeknownst to organizers and participants, however, one photo opportunity at this meeting was soon to produce a movement that would meet the new challenges of this new century by seeking answers from past centuries. 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

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics review

MCLC is pleased to announce publication of Wendy Larson’s review of Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), by Gladys Pak Lei Chong. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/larson4/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics

By Gladys Pak Lei Chong

Reviewed by Wendy Larson
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2017)

Gladys Pak Lei Chong. Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics. London/New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). vii, 283 pp. ISBN 978-1-78660-009-7 (PB), £29.95/$44.95.

Chinese Subjectivities and the Beijing Olympics is a sociological study of the way in which various actors, including the Chinese state, the population at large, and geopolitical forces combined to produce a shared understanding of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and to drive engagement, accommodation, and resistance among Chinese citizens. Closely following the work of Michel Foucault, Gladys Pak Lei Chong examines the usefulness of famous concepts such as disciplinary power, biopower, and governmentality in deciphering how the Chinese population participated in the Olympics, and the meaning of their engagement. Chong’s data comes from interviews with taxi drivers, volunteers, and others who worked on the Olympics in different capacities. She also studied TV productions and the Internet presence of anything concerning the Olympics, as well as texts, advertisements, posters, photos, and other promotional materials, all collected or examined in four fieldwork trips to China and Hong Kong. At the core of her study is the ethnographic observation of participants, observers, and interlocutors of the Beijing Olympics. 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

Poverty relief

Source: Sup China (8/24/17)
Poverty relief: Xi’s legacy?

As the American new media and commentariat were preparing their opinion pieces on Donald Trump’s deranged rant at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix on the evening of August 22, People’s Daily editors were hard at work on their top story for August 23 (in Chinese). It’s about the English and French versions of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s book on poverty alleviation titled Up and Out of Poverty, which you can pre-order on Amazon. Xinhua News Agency followed with an English story about the book’s release at the Beijing International Book Fair currently taking place in the capital. 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

Remote ethnic group torn between tradition and modernity

Source: Sixth Tone (8/19/17)
How a Remote Ethnic Group Is Torn Between Tradition and Modernity
Poverty relief efforts targeting Yunnan’s native Mang population have improved lives but attuned youngsters to their isolated, stifling existence.
By Tao Anli

During the summer vacation after the first year of my master’s course in anthropology, my advisor suggested that I go study the Mang people, a minority group living near the China-Vietnam border. Even today, very little is known about this group, whose small population calls the region’s mountain forests home.

There are only about 700 Mang people in China, most of whom live in Jinshuihe Township in the southwestern province of Yunnan. Traditionally, the Mang eked out an isolated existence as farmers, lacking access to electricity, clean water, and basic sanitation. But with the support of the government’s poverty alleviation efforts since 2008, this impoverished community has succeeded in adopting a more prosperous way of life. Continue reading

Why anyone can be Chinese (4)

An observation: There’s semantic, conceptual, and historical confusion in this. The conflation of China and empire underscores the regrettable tendency in Western scholarship to understand non-Western experiences only in terms of their own historical experiences and concepts. 

First, semantics: Rome had an emperor, an empire, and colonies; they were called that. China had a  皇帝, so it had a huangdinate, just like Ottoman was a Sultanate. Unfortunately, owing to the Western dominance of knowledge since the Enlightenment  — Said called it Orientalism, I believe — all pre-modern polities that came after the Romans, whether in the West or non-West, were labelled  Empire and Emperor. It is more accurate to say that China/Zhongguo was a Huangdinate, a grounded tributary system, which was a phenomenon that was global and that accounted for the existence of a multi-civilisational world at the time. The West had its own in the form of its feudal system. All were internally parochial systems.

Second, conceptual and historical: But if we are to overlook the semantic confusion and allow that China was an empire that went about conquering the world, we would today be conversing in some dialect of Chinese and the predominant worldview would be neo-Confucian/Daoist/Buddhist. But that is not the case, not now or the past 150 years at least: English remains the universal language, French, the language of diplomacy, most of the prominent languages have been derivatives of Latin etc, and the preponderant worldview is Liberalism. Why? That’s where history comes in. 

From European feudalism emerged what can be designated Euro-modernism, a cultural form that was let loose on the world and conquered it. In short, it established an empire in the true sense of the word. If you take a look around its predations continue, unabated, putting at risk the entire fate of humanity. Its influence is why we converse in English; why the preponderant worldview is liberalism, not Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism etc. The world went from multi-civilisational to mono-civilisational to unipolar. Of course, it seems like this uni-polarity is today crumbling and we could be headed towards a multi-polar world order again, but if we are to talk of empire, is this not at least where we should begin?

I don’t know Bell’s work well but from what little I have read, he should be applauded for having the courage to urge his colleagues re-visit what they already think they know.

Tung-yi Kho <kho.tungyi@yahoo.com>

Why anyone can be Chinese (3)

A few thoughts to add to the mix.

On Daniel Bell: To me, Daniel Bell seems like a cottage industry of finding virtue in “China” by any means necessary. So, even if China today obviously, by most counts, is an increasingly chauvinistic and narrow-nationalistic country, he harks back to the imperial era when ethnicity was indeed less relevant or salient (as is typically the case in empires!), and suggests that stance is, or should be, more true of China the eternal. I think he completely misses things like 1, empire; and 2, the profound impact of the modern ideas of nationalism and racism on modern China, an empire awkwardly re-cast as nation, today joining the new global trend of inwardlooking nationalism.

(One side of the Tiananmen gate has the text “Long live the unity of the world’s people” (世界人民大团结万岁), — I wonder how long it will be before it is taken down, — it does not fit with today’s dominant nationalism).

And so the whole thing comes across as an exercise in wishful thinking (something like his earlier effort to declare China the ultimate laudable “meritocracy” — for a review of that effort, read: http://insidestory.org.au/the-qing-is-dead-long-live-the-qing). Continue reading

Encyclopedia of ethnic groups

Source: China Daily (8/4/17)
China publishes first encyclopedia of ethnic groups
By Xinhua

China publishes first encyclopedia of ethnic groups

The first encyclopedia of China’s 56 ethnic groups. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has published its first encyclopedia of its 56 ethnic groups.

The 15-volume encyclopedia has more than 45,000 entries and 6,400 color images. It deals mainly with the history, politics, military, religions and customs of the ethnic groups.

The Han ethnic group makes up around 91 percent of the total population, according to the 2010 census.

Some 1,000 researchers have been involved in compiling the encyclopedia since 1997, according to the editor-in-chief Li Dezhu.

Late ethnologist Fei Xiaotong, also honorary editor-in-chief, said in the foreword that the book will open a window for the world to understand China’s ethnic groups.

Fei passed away in 2005.

China’s made-up masculinity crisis (1)

RE: 男孩危機: “To prepare for the examinations a boy began at age seven or so and in about six years memorized the 4 books and 5 classics, which totaled 431,000 characters…memoriz[ing] a passage of 200 characters a day…The examination system took a man over a dozen hurdles in the space of 20 or 30 years.  Those who emerged from it had lived an examination life so concentrated on the classical literature that they had made themselves a race apart.  Scholars were typically unmuscular, aesthetically refined, and spoke a language intelligible only to their kind, a small elite trained in the principles of bureaucratic government” (Fairbank, The Great Chinese Revolution: 1800-1985: 28, 27).

Nick Kaldis <nkaldis@gmail.com>