The Book of Swindles review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yinghui Wu’s review of The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (Columbia UP, 2017), by Zhang Yingyu, translated by Christoper Rea and Bruce Rusk. The review appears below and at My thanks to Michael Berry, MCLC book review editor for translations, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Book of Swindles
Selections from a Late Ming Collection

By Zhang Yingyu

Translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk

Reviewed by Yinghui Wu
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2018)

Zhang Yingyu, The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection Trs. Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017. xxxvi, 226 pp. $25. ISBN 978-0-231-17863-1 (paperback); $75, ISBN 9780231178624 (hardcover)

The Book of Swindles, by Zhang Yingyu 張應俞 (fl. 1612-17), is a collection of fascinating tales that speak to a common concern over time and across cultures—namely, anxiety about deception. A product of the publishing boom in seventeenth-century China, with a preface dated 1617, the book is “said to be the first Chinese story collection focused explicitly on the topic of fraud” (xiii). Ostensibly a manual for self-protection against scams, it belongs to a rich body of publications that promise to help their readers navigate the increasingly complex and perilous world of late Ming China.[1]Yet, this book serves equally well as a manual for swindlers (xiv).The author, also speaking as the commentator on his stories, often marvels at the crooks’ ingenuity while lamenting the moral decline of his age and blaming the victims for their folly or naïveté. The forty-four stories, elegantly translated by Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk, offer a valuable source for specialists of late imperial China, as well as a good read for anyone looking for entertainment. Continue reading

The great Chinese art heist

Source: GQ (8/15/18)
The Great Chinese Art Heist

Security guards stand beside an item at a Sotheby's auction

Security guards stand beside a vase after being sold for $14.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong Bobby Yip/Reuters

Strange how it keeps happening, how the greatest works of Chinese art keep getting brazenly stolen from museums around the world. Is it a conspiracy? Vengeance for treasures plundered years ago? We sent Alex W. Palmer to investigate the trail of theft and the stunning rumor: Is the Chinese government behind one of the boldest art-crime waves in history?

The patterns of the heists were evident only later, but their audacity was clear from the start. The spree began in Stockholm in 2010, with cars burning in the streets on a foggy summer evening. The fires had been lit as a distraction, a ploy to lure the attention of the police. As the vehicles blazed, a band of thieves raced toward the Swedish royal residence and smashed their way into the Chinese Pavilion on the grounds of Drottningholm Palace. There they grabbed what they wanted from the permanent state collection of art and antiquities. Police told the press the thieves had fled by moped to a nearby lake, ditched their bikes into the water, and escaped by speedboat. The heist took less than six minutes. Continue reading

How WeChat became China’s everyday app

Source: SCMP (8/16/18)
How WeChat became China’s everyday mobile app
Tencent has frequently added innovations to WeChat, designed to drive growth and loyalty, the latest being mini programs
By Irene Deng Celia Chen

WeChat has laid the foundations for stellar growth at Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings. Illustration: Lau Ka-kuen

Many people outside China either still haven’t heard of WeChat or they think it’s the country’s equivalent of popular messaging service WhatsApp or social media giant Facebook. For many people in China, WeChat is much more – it is not an overstatement to say it’s an indispensable part of their everyday lives.

WeChat, or Weixin as it’s known in China, began life in a southern corner of the country at the Tencent Guangzhou Research and Project centre in October 2010. Since then, it has grown into the most popular mobile app in the country with over 1 billion monthly active users who chat, play games, shop, read news, pay for meals and post their thoughts and pictures. Today, you can even book a doctor’s appointment or arrange a time slot to file for a divorce at the civil affairs authority. Continue reading

TAP “Circulation” issue–cfp

The Trans Asia Photography Review seeks articles and projects relating to the theme of Circulation for possible publication in our spring 2019 issue. We are interested in the ways that photographs have circulated to, from and within all regions of Asia. What have been the consequences of this circulation? How have historic platforms for the circulation of photographs (books, periodicals, exhibitions and catalogs, websites, collections, informal networks…) changed over time? How do the meanings of photographs shift when they circulate?


  • Proposals are due October 9, 2018; proposals are then reviewed.
  • Full articles from accepted proposals due Dec 15, 2018; articles are then sent out for peer review.
  • Final revised text of accepted articles, all images and permissions due Feb 15, 2019.

Continue reading

Tsai Ing-wen made rare stopover in US

Source: The Diplomat (8/14/18)
Tsai Ing-wen Made a Rare, High-Profile Stopover in the US
As Beijing increases its pressure on Taipei, Tsai vows “to be firm so that no one can obliterate Taiwan.”
By Charlotte Gao

Tsai Ing-wen is greeted by supporters at the Los Angeles Airport. Image Credit: Office of the President, ROC (Taiwan)

Ahead of her nine-day state visit to Taiwan’s diplomatic allies Paraguay and Belize, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen made a two-day stopover in the United States. It was her first stopover in the United States since U.S. President Donald Trump in March signed the Taiwan Travel Act, a law encouraging high-level officials of Taiwan to visit the United States and vice versa.

Faced with Beijing’s increasingly intense pressure on Taipei since she came into office, Tsai, in a rare move, made her latest U.S. stopover more high-profile than normal. Continue reading

Reproduction fund

Source: SupChina (8/16/18)
Subsidies for having kids? The Chinese internet is not impressed
By Jiayun Feng

Since China eased its decades-long one-child policy in 2016, the central and local governments have been aggressive in encouraging people to have babies. In recent months, the campaign has become noticeably more intense.

Earlier in August, a People’s Daily opinion piece that urges Chinese citizens to have more babies as a “national issue” caused a backlash online. The online sentiment is perhaps best summarized in this comment (translated from Weibo): “When you don’t want children, you force people to get sterilized. When you want more, you urge us to give birth. What do you think I am?” Continue reading

Puget Sound position

Suzanne Wilson Barnett Chair in Contemporary China Studies
Appointment:  Full-time, tenure-line position; begins Fall 2019.


As part of enhancing its Asian Studies Program and reputation as a center of excellence in contemporary China studies, the University of Puget Sound invites applications for a social scientist of contemporary China with expertise in one or more of the following areas related to Chinese society: (1) international economy and trade; (2) regional and border relations; (3) environmental studies; and (4) social and technological change.

The university seeks an outstanding teacher-scholar with a deep interest in and commitment to interdisciplinary study and the liberal arts who is a specialist in the study of contemporary China. This tenure-line appointment is a new endowed position that will be made at the assistant or associate professor level in the Asian Studies Program and in the appropriate academic department, such as Anthropology, Business and Leadership, Economics, International Political Economy, and Sociology. Continue reading

Writing Beijing review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Lena Scheen’s review of Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginaries in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Films (Lexington Books, 2016), by Yiran Zheng. The review appears below and and at: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginations
in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Films

By Yiran Zheng

Reviewed by Lena Scheen
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2018)

Yiran Zheng, Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginations in Contemporary Literature and Film Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016. v-xviii + 149 pp. ISBN: Hardback 978-1-4985-3101-6 • $79.00; ISBN: Paperback 978-1-4985-3103-0 • $42.99; ISBN: eBook 978-1-4985-3102-3  • $40.50

It was a map of Beijing that sparked Yiran Zheng’s interest in the subject for her book Writing Beijing: Urban Spaces and Cultural Imaginations in Contemporary Literature and Film. Looking at the city’s distinctive spatial structure of “square-like loops” (x), formed by its major ring roads, she noticed how one can read the history of the city in its architectural shape; from its centermost area, still largely consisting of narrow alleyways (胡同) lined with traditional Beijing-style courtyard houses (四合院), through the three- to four-story Soviet-style apartment blocks built from the 1950s to the 1970s (between the 2nd and 3rd ring roads), to the modern high rises that have sprung up since the 1980s (between the 3rd and 4th ring roads), and the recently built townhouses and single-family houses (outside the 4th ring road). In Writing Beijing, Zheng takes three of the city’s representative urban spaces—courtyard houses, military compounds, and (post)modern architecture—as the basis of the book’s three-part structure. Each part itself consists of three chapters. The first chapters of each part (chapters 1, 4, 7) investigate particular buildings and architecture as “representations of space” and analyze how they “reflect, embody, and implement power relations, such as power of the state and power between different social groups” (xii). The second chapters (2, 5, 8) discuss representative writers and filmmakers whose work either prominently features the particular space or reflects how residing there influenced them. The third and final chapters of each part (3, 6, 9) analyze literary representations of these urban forms in novels and films, “namely, how the city is perceived and presented in literature and film, as well as why they choose particular spaces to carry their imaginations” (xii). Continue reading

Story of Yanxi Palace

Source: Inkstone News (8/15/18)
Half a billion views for these backstabbing concubines in a single day
By Sarah Dai

Hundreds of millions are following the Qing Dynasty scheming and intrigue on China's Netflix.

Hundreds of millions are following the Qing Dynasty scheming and intrigue on China’s Netflix. Photo: Huanyu Film

China’s Netflix has a record-breaking hit on its hands. A 70-episode period drama about a quick-witted maidservant and a group of back-stabbing imperial concubines has set a single-day online viewership record in China – of more than half a billion people.

A total of 530 million views – which works out 38% of the population if everyone watched one episode – tuned in on August 12 to follow the scheming and intrigue on Netflix-like iQiyi, China’s biggest streaming platform. Controlled by search engine giant Baidu, iQiyi went public on the Nasdaq exchange in March. Continue reading

Dodging censorship on WeChat

Source: Quartz (8/15/18)
Researchers have figured out ways to dodge censorship on WeChat
By Echo Huang

WeChat users in China have come up with creative ways to circumvent censorship, and one of the more effective methods they’ve discovered seems to be sharing images instead of text, which can be easily caught by censors. In the case of China’s #MeToo movement, which authorities tried to shut down, social-media users decided to share a university student’s censored letter by posting images of it upside down in hopes of dodging the country’s filters.

It’s an ongoing mystery how censorship works on WeChat, which appears to affect only those accounts that are linked to mainland phone numbers. But new research from Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto, is offering some clues on getting around it. Continue reading

Xu Zhangrun essay

Here’s an essay by Xu Zhangrun 許章潤, “Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes” (我們當下的恐懼與期待), as translated and introduced by Geremie Barmé.

Barmé introduces the essay as follows:

Xu Zhangrun’s essay ‘Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes’ 我們當下的恐懼與期待, offers words of warning to China’s leaders, as well as a series of practical (although unimaginable) policy suggestions. Xu’s style is a heady admix of the most dense kind of writing combining the vernacular with the literary registers of written Chinese. Despite the sometimes knotty circumlocutions, it is an incisive, amusing and sarcasm-laden work. It does not spare its reader literary references, quotations from important traditional and modern works, the use of historical analogy, or indeed contemporary jokes and vulgarities.

Although the author’s message is clear, his layered and nuanced prose may well be overlooked by the careless reader or dismissed by those ignorant of Chinese discourse as mere affectation, nothing more than an effort to appeal to sanctified tradition, a kind of pedantic footnoting or a flashy display of scholarship. However, for those familiar with modern Chinese prose more generally, such devices are par for the course. This kind of literary-historical-intellectual 文史哲 usage adds both literary validation and strength to prose that appeals both to the heart and the mind of the Chinese world. Merely to mine this kind of writing for transient and ill-conceived political purposes, or to fail to appreciate the broader cultural, social and political ambience that it reflects — one far beyond the limited purview of the Communists and their immediate critics — is to overlook an essential part of Chinese cultural expression.

Xu’s original article may be found via this link:

China Literature shares plunge

Source: Reuters (8/13/18)
China Literature shares plunge after user numbers slide, news of $2.3 billion deal
By Kane Wu

A company logo of China Literature is displayed during a news conference on its IPO in Hong Kong, China October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Literature Ltd (0772.HK)’s shares slid as much as 14.6 percent on Tuesday, after it reported first-half results that showed a drop in the average number of monthly paying users and announced a $2.3 billion acquisition.

Shares in China Literature, an online literary reading and writing platform backed by Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), fell to HK$57.4 in morning trade, the lowest since China Literature’s initial public offering last November. Continue reading

Interview with Christopher Rea

Before Crazy Rich Asians, which opens today, there were the Chinese celebrities in the 1930’s. In his latest book Imperfect Understanding: Intimate Portraits of Modern Chinese Celebrities, Professor Christopher Rea (University of British Columbia) takes us into the world of Chinese elites and what they had to say about each other. Louise Edwards, Scientia Professor and Deputy Head of the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales, hails Professor Rea’s latest book as “satirical, witty, and compulsive reading.”

So, what did it mean to be a celebrity in modern China? In Imperfect Understanding, Christopher Rea presents fifty brilliant pen sketches of Chinese cultural and political elites, written and edited in 1934 by Wen Yuan-ning, a Cambridge-educated ethnic Hakka from Indonesia and a master literary stylist. In this interview, Christopher Rea discusses whatImperfect Understanding reveals about the politics fame in China, then and now. Continue reading

International Journal of Chinese Education 7.1

International Journal of Chinese Education 7.1

The latest issue of International Journal of Chinese Education now available! Below, please find the table of contents and see the link for more information:

Volume 7, Navigating Higher Education to Enhance Student Success, 2018

ISSN: 2212-585X
E-ISSN: 2212-5868

“Navigating Higher Education to Enhance Student Success,” by Hamish Coates, pp.: 1–5 (5)

“Student Success as a Social Problem,” by Brendan Cantwell, pp.: 6–21 (16)

“International Student Success: A Multilevel Perspective on Factors That Contribute to the Success and Quality of the Experience Abroad,” by Umesha Weerakkody and Emeline Jerez, pp.: 22–41 (20)

“Engaging Students as Participants and Partners: An Argument for Partnership with Students in Higher Education Research on Student Success,” by Kelly E. Matthews, pp.: 42–64 (23) Continue reading

The China Nonprofit Review 10.1

The China Nonprofit Review 10.1

The latest issue of The China Nonprofit Review now available! Below, please find the table of contents and see the link for more information:

Volume 10, Issue 1, 2018
ISSN: 1876-5092
E-ISSN: 1876-5149

Research Article

“A Study of Social Think Tanks in China: Dilemma, Trends and Breakthroughs,” by Dong Wang, pp.: 1–33 (33)

“Investigation into Funding Strategies of Social Enterprises,” by Shengfen Zheng, pp.: 34–61 (28)

“A Literature Review on the Publicness of Chinese Social Organizations,”by Yina Geng, pp.: 62–107 (46) Continue reading