Tech shame in the new era

Source: China Media Project (4/11/018)
By David Bandurski

Tech Shame in the “New Era”

Zhang Yiming, the founder and CEO of Toutiao.

When does a corporate apology become a political self-confession, or jiantao (检讨), an act of submission not to social mores and concerns, but to those in power? The line can certainly blur in China. But the public apology today from Zhang Yiming (张一鸣), the founder and CEO of one of China’s leading tech-based news and information platforms, crosses deep into the territory of political abjection.

Zhang’s apology, posted to WeChat at around 4 AM Beijing time, addressed recent criticism aired through the state-run China Central Television and other official media of Jinri Toutiao, or “Toutiao” — a platform for content creation and aggregation that makes use of algorithms to customize user experience. Critical official coverage of alleged content violations on the platform was followed by a notice on April 4 from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), in which the agency said Toutiao and another service providing live-streaming, Kuaishou, would be subject to “rectification measures.” Continue reading

China’s propaganda blitz

Source: Foreign Policy (4/23/18)
China’s $6 Billion Propaganda Blitz Is a Snooze
Beijing’s propaganda works at home, but it can’t compete globally.

A man walks past a roadside poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, on Oct. 24, 2017. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

A man walks past a roadside poster of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, on Oct. 24, 2017. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

In a world on the brink of chaos, China has decided that what people everywhere need is more good news — as long as it’s about China. China is creating a giant media outlet called Voice of China, combining the three state television and radio broadcasters aimed at overseas audiences: China Global Television Network, China Radio International, and China National Radio. The hope is that by combining resources and output, China will have a broader platform to spread its message overseas.

But will Voice of China succeed in boosting China’s international image, especially given the dubious performance of previous global state media pushes? Continue reading

Gender discrimination in job ads in China

Source: Human Rights Watch (4/23/18)
“Only Men Need Apply”: Gender Discrimination in Job Advertisements in China

© 2018 Brian Stauffer for Human Rights Watch

Four decades of rapid economic growth in China have created unprecedented economic opportunities for women, but gender discrimination in employment remains widespread.

By some key measures, the problem is getting worse: a smaller proportion of women are working. Only 63 percent of the female labor force worked in 2017, down from 65.5 percent ten years earlier. The gender gap in labor force participation has also grown. While the women’s labor force participation rate was 83 percent in 2007, it had dropped to 81 percent of the male rate by 2017. The pay gap in urban areas has also increased. And according to a report by the World Economic Forum, China’s gender parity ranking in 2017 fell for the ninth consecutive year, leaving China in 100th place out of the 144 countries surveyed (in 2008 China had ranked 57th). Continue reading

USC Grad Symposium–cfp reminder

Reminder: USC Grad Student Symposium CFP
Resistance Reimagined: East Asian Languages and Cultures Graduate Student Symposium – CFP
University of Southern California
September 29, 2018
Proposal Submission Deadline: May 1, 2018

The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Graduates Studying East Asia at the University of Southern California invite graduate students conducting research in all disciplines related to East Asia to submit abstracts for our 2018 symposium, “Resistance Reimagined,” to take place September 29, 2018. This conference aims to investigate and formulate new theorizations of resistance as well as rethink how communities and individuals construct narratives to reimagine social and political changes in the context of East Asia. The topic can be interpreted widely in relation to various fields, including but not limited to cinema and media studies, gender studies, history, linguistics, literature, religion, and visual studies.

Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • Methods and practices that initiate or imagine resistance;
  • Representation of marginal communities or intersectional identities;
  • Strategies or modes of resistance movements and activism efforts;
  • Pedagogies of resistance in East Asian studies.

Continue reading

Exhibition on British lit in China

Source: Global Times (4/23/18)
Exhibition delves into the introduction of British literature to China
By Chen Shasha in Shanghai

Alexandra Ault checks a manuscript at the Where Great Writers Gather exhibition in Shanghai. Photo: Courtesy of the British Library

Since the beginning of the 20th century, a large number of British literature were introduced to China through the tireless efforts of Chinese scholars and translators. A major doorway to China at the time, Shanghai played a critical role in introducing Western culture to the country.

A just concluded exhibition held in Shanghai, Where Great Writers Gather: Treasures of the British Library, provided a chance for literature lovers in Shanghai to get a better understanding of renowned British writers Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855), D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) and Charles Dickens (1812-1870).

Through translations, critiques and studies by Chinese scholars, the exhibition also presented the audience how British literature was brought into Shanghai and other cities, and how it impacted Chinese literature in a historical period full of great changes. Continue reading

Beida student silenced over rape claim petition

Source: The Guardian (4/24/18)
Student says Peking university trying to silence her over rape claim petition
Young activist publishes letter alleging harassment over role in movement calling for more accountability over campus sex assaults
By Lily Kuo

Peking University

Peking University Photograph: Sipa Press / Rex Features

A student activist calling for transparency over an alleged rape at China’s top university has accused the university of trying to silence her.

Earlier this month, former classmates of a literature student at Peking University (PKU) who killed herself in 1998 came forward to say she had been raped by her professor, Shen Yang, who denies the allegation. PKU and two other universities subsequently cut ties with Shen and a group of current PKU students petitioned the school to hand over all documents related to the case. Continue reading

Liu Zhenyun honored by France

Source: China Daily (4/23/18)
Life and times of a magical realist
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Chinese writer Liu Zhenyun (right, pictured on top) poses with French ambassador to China Jean-Maurice Ripert after receiving a medal of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in Beijing on April 13. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese writer Liu Zhenyun has been honored with France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for his contribution to world literature. Mei Jia reports.

Upon receiving the award of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters on April 13 at the Institut Francais in Beijing, Liu Zhenyun says what he did was just sit beside “small potatoes”, the unimportant people he listened to in times of need, and wrote about them because nobody else would listen to their stories. Continue reading

Changpian 18

长篇 // Changpian // Longform

Welcome to the 18th edition of Changpian, a selection of feature and opinion writing in Chinese. With other resources devoted to the many interesting sound bites from Chinese social media, this newsletter focuses instead on some of the wealth of longer writing that is produced in Chinese, both in traditional news media and on platforms like WeChat.

Changpian includes any nonfiction writing, from stories and investigations to interviews and blog posts, that I found worth my time – and that you might like as well. It aims to be relevant to an understanding of Chinese society today, covering topics in and outside the news cycle.

The selection is put together by me, Tabitha Speelman, a Dutch journalist and researcher currently based in Leiden, The Netherlands. Feedback is very welcome ( or @tabithaspeelman). Back issues can be found here.

I’m glad to finally get to a new issue. Changpian doesn’t really have an events section but for non-fiction fans in Beijing: a 非虚构创作者大会 coming Friday might be of interest. And if you’re looking for a place to read in the capital — non-profit 鸿芷’s coffee shop in 银河SOHO is closing, but still there until May 20. Continue reading

Five ways China’s past has shaped its present

Source: BBC (4/20/18)
Five ways China’s past has shaped its present
By Prof Rana Mitter, University of Oxford

To understand today’s headlines about China’s approach to issues such as trade, foreign policy or internet censorship, turn to its past.

The country is perhaps more aware of its own history than any other major society on earth. That remembering is certainly partial – events like Mao’s Cultural Revolution are still very difficult to discuss within China itself. But it is striking how many echoes of the past can be found in its present.


China remembers a time when it was forced to trade against its will. Today it regards Western efforts to open its markets as a reminder of that unhappy period. Continue reading

A migrant worker’s struggle

BBC Capital (4/17/18)
‘I hadn’t been home for three years’: One migrant’s struggle
China is home to nearly 300 million migrant workers who must leave the countryside for difficult, dangerous jobs in the big city.

Guo Jie, a migrant worker in Shanghai, makes a living by loading enormous stacks of polystyrene foam boxes on her bike, pedalling around Shanghai to re-sell them to wholesalers.

Unwieldly, dangerous and by her own admission a bit scary, it’s a job that proves a challenge to navigate busy roads. It also hints at the struggles the nearly 300 million rural migrant workers face in China. As their country undergoes rapid development, many people from rural communities must leave home behind to look for jobs in the city, where there are more opportunities. Continue reading

Contacts, Collisions, Conjunctions

International Conference: Contacts, Collisions, Conjunctions: May 9-10, 2018, HKU

The Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong invites you to their Inaugural Annual Conference: Contacts, Collisions, Conjunctions, to be held on May 9-10, 2018. We are delighted to welcome our keynote speakers: Joseph Auner (Tufts University), Rey Chow (Duke University), François Cusset (University of Nanterre) andLeela Gandhi (Brown University)​.

Please join us in Room 4.36, Faculty of Arts, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU. All are  welcome.

Please register using the following link:

Conference program ( Continue reading

China’s changing sex lives

Source: Sixth Tone (4/17/18)
More Open, More Anxious: China’s Changing Sex Lives
Young people are having sex earlier and earlier, but performance anxiety is on the rise.
By Pan Suiming

[Pan Suiming is a professor emeritus and the honorary director of the Institute for Research on Sexuality and Gender at Renmin University of China in Beijing. This article is part of a series on gender and sexuality in China. Previous articles can be found here.]

Many people think of China as a sexually repressed society. While this is true to some extent, the results of four nationwide surveys I led between 2000 and 2015 show that young Chinese people are becoming increasingly open about sex.

During those 15 years, the average age at which Chinese people reported having their first sexual encounter trended steadily downward. In 2000, sexually active men under age 30 lost their virginity at 22.6 years old on average. For women in the same group, the average was 21.7 years old. By 2015, these ages had dropped to 19.5 for men and 20.4 for women. These figures are highly significant: In just 15 years, men had their first sexual encounter a full three years earlier, and the age for women dropped by nearly a year and a half. Continue reading

KFLC china-related program

Dear List Members,

The 71st annual KFLC conference is taking place on the campus of the University of Kentucky in the next couple of days, from April 19th to 21st.

Please check out the following program for the East Asian Studies sessions and join us if you are able!

Thursday, April 19, 2018 – 9:00am to 12:00pm
From Mao to Now
Patterson Office Tower, 18th Floor, Room A
Thursday, April 19, 2018 – 9:00am to 12:00pm
Organized by: Liang Luo, University of Kentucky ; Masamichi Inoue, University of Kentucky
Chaired by: Melody Yunzi Li, Transylvania University

9:00: Things Lost and Found in Digitally Performing “The Legend of the White Snake”
Liang Luo, University of Kentucky
9:30: Young Taiwan and the Spirit of Protest: National Identity and Political Action Among Taiwanese College Students
Bridget Nicholas, University of Kentucky
10:00: Marginalized Female Characters in Geling Yan’s Novels
Xiaoyang Li, University of Canterbury
10:30: Coffee Break
11:00: Running Away From Mao-ti in Contemporary China
Miao Dou, Washington University in St. Louis
11:30: Home-Building in Mao-Era—The Dialectic between Politics and Family in Yan Geling’s The Criminal Lu Yanshi
Melody Yunzi Li, Transylvania University Continue reading

Posthumanism in Modern Chinese Culture–cfp reminder

Call for Papers: Posthumanism in Modern Chinese Culture
September 29th-30th, 2018, University of New Hampshire

Keynote Speaker: Xudong Zhang (Professor of Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies, New York University)

As with other modern cultures, China in the 20th and 21st century faces the fundamental challenge of re-defining what it means to be human under the changed historical situation. Humanism has unsurprisingly gained wide currency along the way. Humanist discourse not only played a crucial part in launching the New Culture Movement in early 20th century and in re-orienting the intellectual culture in the post-Mao era of 1980s, it also functions as a general underlying principle for many cultural productions and intellectual discussions in modern China.

On the other hand, however, the re-definition of the human has also taken a direction that might be characterized as a posthumanist approach, in the sense that it questions the rationalist premise of humanism and challenges the humanist division between human and animal, and between nature and culture. Posthumanism has never acquired the same level of discursive coherence and prominence as humanism, and sometimes even expresses itself in humanist terms. Despite this fact, however, it has nevertheless persisted as a significant intellectual trend, finding its spokesman in some of the most prominent modern Chinese minds, including Lu Xun. With the rapidly changing social and technological conditions in recent years, in particular, posthumanism has come to assume an increasingly important role in contemporary Chinese culture. Continue reading