In the Name of the People

Source: SupChina (4/10/17)
Writer of anti-corruption TV series — and insurance regulator — investigated for corruption

Xiang Junbo 项俊波 was a PLA soldier who fought with Vietnamese forces in a border war in 1979 and went on to become a television writer and producer as well as a banker and financial regulator. He became chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China in 2009 before heading up the leadership role at the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. During his TV years, he wrote what Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao calls (in Chinese) the country’s “first television series about auditing work,” the popular 1986 show The People Will Not Forget (人民不会忘记 rénmín bù huì wàngjì). Continue reading

In the Name of the People

Source: SupChina (3/24/17)
Cash, guns, and mistresses

In the Name of the People (人民的名义) is the title of a new TV series that premieres on March 28 on Hunan TV, one of China’s most popular and feistiest channels. Produced by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), the show features guns, bedrooms piled high with cash, officials in bed with foreign mistresses, and a crack team of investigators rooting out corruption at the highest levels of government. The show is the latest and slickest propaganda made in support of the anti-corruption campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping soon after he became general secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012, and is being billed as “the first great anti-corruption TV show.”

The screenplay and a novel of the same name were written by the popular author Zhou Meisen 周梅森 with the support of the SPP, which allowed him to interview detained corrupt officials as part of his research. You can see a trailer for the TV show on YouTube and read an interview with Zhou by Southern Weekend (in Chinese). Reuters has a short article on the TV show.  

TV drama names Xi as traitor

Source: SCMP (3/3/17)
Censors step in after Chinese TV drama scene names Xi Jinping as ‘traitor’
Names of Chinese president and other top leaders featured in period drama scene listing spies from the rival camp
By Kinling Lo

The offending scene was immediately censored after screenshots of it were circulated online. Photo: Handout

The scene, which appeared in an episode of the Qin Empire 3 drama series, was aired on state broadcaster China Central Television last Tuesday.

It showed the names of Xi and other top Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang, former president Hu Jintao, former premier Wen Jiabao, written in ancient Chinese script on bamboo slips.

In the show, the names on the bamboo slips listed traitors who were spying for the rival state of Zhao that the Qin army was trying to identify.

The surname Zhao, or “a member of the Zhao family”, is a euphemism used in recent years to describe China’s rich and powerful elites. The term has its roots in Chinese writer Lu Xun’s political satire The True Story of Ah Q, which featured a wealthy landlord who went by that surname. Continue reading

Ancient poetry game show

For more on this tv show, see — Kirk

Source: Global Times (2/15/17)
Popular game show on ancient Chinese poetry hints at return of traditional culture
By Zhang Yuchen

Top left: Dylan Walker appears on the second season of game show <em>Chinese Poetry Conference</em>.Top right: Students recite Chinese poems in Handan, Hebei Province, on October 16, 2014. Photo: CFPA scene from <em>Chinese Poetry Conference</em>

A scene from Chinese Poetry Conference

Game show Chinese Poetry Conference, which just completed its second season on China Central Television (CCTV), has brought ancient Chinese poetry back into the public spotlight.The literary talent of the show’s host, competitors and panel of experts wowed audiences in China, reigniting the nation’s passion for ancient Chinese poetry.

Competitors from all different walks of life took the stage on the show, even including some foreign competitors. Continue reading

Dating show puts veto power in parents’ hands

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (2/16/17)
Chinese Dating Show Puts Veto Power in Parents’ Hands

The format of “Chinese Dating” adheres to Confucian traditions. The show’s hostess, Jin Xing, far left, is one of China’s most popular entertainment personalities. CreditChinese Dating

BEIJING — You are a young Chinese man whose father tells you the most important skill his future daughter-in-law must have is caring for her home and family. Your mother rejects a 40-year-old woman as your potential mate because she may be too old to bear children.

This is not prerevolutionary China, but a new TV dating show. Continue reading

Overview of Spring Festival Gala

Source: SUPChina (2/1/17)
The biggest TV show in the world
By The Editors
What China’s Spring Festival Gala says about a nation and its New Year traditions.

A screenshot of the opening fanfare for the 2017 Spring Festival Gala.

Over the years, China’s Spring Festival Gala, known as Chunwan (春晚 chūnwǎn), has evolved to become more than an officially sanctioned TV extravaganza to celebrate Chinese New Year. It’s also an accompaniment to the feast that most families enjoy together on New Year’s Eve. It’s hated as much as it’s loved, but it’s so popular that it can make the career of any musician, actor, comedian, or magician who performs in it. Produced annually by China Central Television (CCTV) since 1983, the show is a major topic of conversation around the dinner table and on social media during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday. The show this year reached 78.72 percent of China’s 1.35 billion people, or well in excess of 1 billion viewers (stats in Chinese here). Continue reading

TV shows with subtitles?

We are team teaching a course on film, television, and new media art in China at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this semester. We are having a difficult time finding a few television shows with English subtitles. Can anyone recommend how to find subtitled versions of:

  • River Elegy
  • Yearnings
  • A Beijinger in New York
  • Foreign Babes in Beijing

With much appreciation,

Orianna Cacchione and Jennifer Lee

Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Hui Faye Xiao’s review of Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China (Routledge, 2014), by Shuyu Kong. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Popular Media, Social Emotion and
Public Discourse in Contemporary China

By Shuyu Kong

Reviewed by Hui Faye Xiao
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2017)

Shuyu Kong, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-71989-6 (Hardback: $140)

Shuyu Kong, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 154 pp. ISBN: 978-0-415-71989-6 (Hardback: $140)

Continuing the scholarly investigation of China’s radical socio-cultural transformation in her Consuming Literature: Best Sellers and the Commercialization of Literary Products in Contemporary China (2004), Shuyu Kong’s latest book, Popular Media, Social Emotion and Public Discourse in Contemporary China, examines the burgeoning cultural public sphere shaped by the widespread use of new media, “including the internet, mobile communications and other social media” (3). In the past few decades, a fast-growing body of scholarship has paid attention to the escalating coverage of new media in contemporary Chinese society and speculated upon its socio-political ramifications. Jürgen Habermas’s ideas of public sphere and civil society have been frequently cited by intellectuals and scholars concerned with China’s democratization. However, Kong’s use of public sphere stretches Habermas’s definition, which tends to emphasize the participatory politics of free-willed rational bourgeois individuals. Rather, this book revolves around a new conception of popular media as a public site of cultural production and participatory consumption as well as a transmitter of social emotions and affects. This innovative approach is much needed for a better understanding of today’s Chinese society, which is experiencing yet another change in the “structure of feeling” as a result of an ongoing post-revolutionary “cultural revolution.” Continue reading

Red Star Over China (2)

Some comments on Red Star Over China and Eva Chou’s query about the revival of interest in it:

  • Snow went to Shensi (home of Xi Zhongxun and Xi Jinping)
  • Snow was widely read in China back then (Ch. translations appeared before the US Version came out)
  • Snow also met Lu Xun
  • Snow did NOT meet “with Communist leaders including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in Xi’an” as this was KMT area.
  • Snow did meet General secretary Zhang Wentian and others in Bao’an.
  • The “80th anniv.” does not refer to the First army with Zhang, Zhou, Mao which arrived in ’35.


Thomas Kampen <>

Red Star Over China (1)

In a high school 語文 textbook published by 人民教育出版社, in a volume with the theme of “Selections from Biographies, Chinese and Western,” the third excerpted biography (after those of Du Fu and Lu Xun) is Mao Zedong’s by Edgar Snow. I wondered a bit when I came across that. But it seems that things don’t happen in singletons. First a textbook joins the two men, now a tv series does. We know why Snow was widely read (in English) back then. What are the reasons now (in Chinese)?

Best regards,

Eva Shan Chou <>

Red Star Over China

Source: Global Times (10/12/16)
Historical series ‘Red Star Over China’ to premiere on Hunan Satellite TV next week

The crew of Red Star Over China attend a ceremony kicking off production on January 17. Photo: IC

Historical series Red Star Over China, which follows the evolution of the Communist Party throughout the 1930s and 1940s through the eyes of US journalist Edgar Snow (1905-1972), is scheduled to debut on China’s Hunan Satellite Television next week. Continue reading

TV show spotlights middle class anxieties

Source: China Real Time, WSJ (8/25/16)
TV Show Spotlights Middle Class Anxieties in China
By Liyan Qi

Last year, more than 520,000 people left China to study abroad. A new Chinese TV show might give you some insight into why Chinese parents want to send their kids overseas. Photo: Linmon Pictures

A hit Chinese TV drama that tells the story of three families who sent their young teens to study abroad has surfaced middle-class doubts about their future in the country.

“A Love for Separation,” based on a novel by Lu Yingong, started screening last week and grabbed the public’s attention despite competing with the Olympic games for viewers. Users on the cultural website gave the show an average score of 8.2 out of 10. Continue reading

Anti-corruption drive moves into tv dramas

Source: China Film Insider (4/26/16)
China’s Anti-Corruption Drive Moves into Television Dramas
By Fergus Ryan

In the midst of a nationwide anti-corruption drive led by President Xi Jinping, China’s media regulators have lifted a long-standing ban on the production and primetime broadcast of television dramas featuring high-level corruption, clearing the way for harder-hitting content not seen since 2004.

In the Name of the People (人民的名义), a new television drama with a budget of over 120 million yuan ($18.5 million), is set to finish shooting in Nanjing in June and is expected to be broadcast the end of the year.

The 42-episode series is set to be the first major production with an anti-corruption theme since China’s media watchdog banished such programs from prime time 12 years ago. The show is expected to at least obliquely feature a top ranking government leader as a villain. Continue reading

China’s Sex and the City without the sex

Source: Sixth Tone (5/5/16)
New Drama is China’s ‘Sex and the City,’ Just Without the Sex
‘Ode to Joy,’ a new online TV show, has millions of fans, but also its fair share of critics.
By Wang Lianzhang

New Drama is China’s ‘Sex and the City,’ Just Without the Sex-000_1

Here’s something Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha could only ever have dreamed of: a daily audience of more than 500 million views.

But this is China, and “Ode to Joy,” a show being compared to “Sex and the City,” seems to have struck a chord. Ever since the first episode went online on April 18, the show has been a runaway success.

On iQIYI, just one of the five streaming websites the show is available on, the episodes had been watched more than 19 billion times as of Thursday morning. On microblogging platform Weibo, posts about the show have been read more than 30 billion times. Continue reading