The April 3rd Incident review

Source: SCMP (11/29/18)
Yu Hua’s short stories portray disturbing personal and political realities of modern China
The April 3rd incident cements the Chinese author’s position as a literary enfant terrible, mixing techniques and times to weave narratives that are more fantasy than fiction
By James Kidd

The April 3rd Incident
by Yu Hua
[Translated by Allan H. Barr]

The April 3rd Incident collects recent short stories by China’s literary enfant terrible.

Yu Hua’s reputation owes much to his experiments with avant-garde techniques (sudden leaps in time or perspective, unholy clashes of comedy and tragedy), his relish of violence and the scatological (toilets both sumptuous and rudimentary proliferate in his inter­national breakthrough, Brothers, 2005), and how such devices drive the political intent of his writing: the jagged edges of Yu’s fiction reflect “realities of modern Chinese society [that] are even more fantastical than fiction”. Continue reading

Subverting human rights

Insightful below, about how the Chinese regime is already working hard to subvert human rights and to supplant the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Note how similar its basic program of nationalism and incommensurable differences is to those of Trump, Orban, and all the others who dread the sharing of a common humanity with other humans.

I am not sure if Le Monde’s editors set the misleading headline here (which replaces the article’s key observation with an editorial question mark) — but,

In any case, on this day, the 70th anniversary of the UDHR, it is worth remembering the Chinese co-drafter of the Declaration, P C Chang, who as one of six core drafters worked hard to ensure the declaration became truly universal. See the new biography by Hans Ingvar Roth, P. C. Chang and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U. Pennsylvania press, 2018 (

–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique (12/10/18)
Will China dare challenge the UDHR?
by Katrin Kinzelbach

Xi Jinping arriving in Paris for the UN Climate Change Conference. COP

On 10 December the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) turns 70. The seminal document laid the foundations for a global normative order, but for how much longer will this last? The UDHR has some powerful enemies, including the People’s Republic of China.

Of course it has influential supporters, among them Germany’s president. Last week Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised the declaration in a speech at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. He called it a ‘milestone and [an] auspicious moment from the past’ and said: ‘My urgent advice is that we cannot undermine or abandon what we have agreed together. We live in an era of interconnectedness and mutual dependence. We need this joint basis more urgently than ever, partly because I am afraid that we would not manage to achieve something like this again today.’ Continue reading

Make China marxist again

Source: Dissent (Fall 2018)
Make China Marxist Again
Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has reembraced Marx. But Xi’s state Marxism is a top-down attempt to unify the population behind a nationalist ideology, not to inspire class struggle.
By Timothy Cheek and David Ownby

Scene from the talk show Marx Got It Right, which broadcasts Friday nights on China Central Television (CCTV)

Marxism-Leninism has no beauty, nor is there anything mysterious about it. It is only extremely useful.-—Mao Zedong, Yan’an, 1942

On the bicentennial of Marx’s birth last May, President Xi Jinping called on members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to return to the study of the socialist sage. “We commemorate Marx in order to pay tribute to the greatest thinker in the history of mankind,” Xi said, “and also to declare our firm belief in the scientific truth of Marxism.” Party members are required to study selections of Marx’s works, particularly The Communist Manifesto. The public gets its dose as well, among other things via a television talk show, Marx Got It Right (Makesi shi duide). The renewed embrace of Marxism has also been a key element in the rollout of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” which was added to China’s constitution following last year’s 19th Communist Party Congress. Continue reading

Changpian 21

Source: Changpian 21 (12/9/18)
长篇 // Changpian // Longform
By Tabitha Speelman

Welcome to the 21st edition of Changpian, a selection of feature and opinion writing in Chinese. With other resources devoted to the many interesting sound bites on Chinese social media, this newsletter focuses 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 is put together by me, Tabitha Speelman, a Dutch researcher currently based in Shanghai. Feedback is very welcome ( or @tabithaspeelman). Back issues can be found here.

I’m glad to return to the newsletter from a new location and after a break that was longer than planned. Welcome also to new readers, who found Changpian despite the lack of updates! From now on it should be back to about once a month. Continue reading


CFP (General Issues) – Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature
// Seeking Contributions for General Issues //

A general issue appears in March, and its submission deadline is April 1 of the preceding year.

If you have any questions regarding your submission, please send email to

Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature presents cutting-edge research on modern literary production, dissemination, and reception in China and beyond. It also publishes works that study the shaping influence of traditional literature and culture on modern and contemporary China. Prism actively promotes scholarly investigations from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, and it encourages integration of theoretical inquiry with empirical research. The journal strives to foster in-depth dialogues between Western and Chinese literary theories that illuminate both the unique features of each interlocutor and their shared insights into issues of universal interest. Prism is a new incarnation of Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC), founded in 1997 by the Centre for Humanities Research of Lingnan University. For submission guidelines and a more detailed description of Prism, visit Continue reading

Book translations 2018

The Paper Republic folk have come up with their end-of-year list again and it’s a bumper one: thirty novels or other book-length works ranging from classics to contemporary literature, scifi to short stories, and a beautiful graphic memoir (Rao Pingru), as well as six poetry collections and assorted children’s and YA books.And some of last year’s books have won or been listed for prestigious prizes: Remains of Life by Wu He, tr. Michael Berry (Columbia University Press), 2017, was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award 2018. Notes of a Crocodile, Qiu Miaojin, tr. Bonnie Huie (New York Review Books), was longlisted for the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and won the 2018 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize.The Stolen Bicycle, by Wu Ming-yi, tr. Darryl Sterk (Text Publishing Company), was longlisted for The Man Booker International Prize.

Click Roll-call of Book Translations from Chinese in 2018 for the full list.

many thanks,

Nicky Harman <>

Inside China global propaganda campaign

Source: The Guardian (12/7/18)
Inside China’s audacious global propaganda campaign
Beijing is buying up media outlets and training scores of foreign journalists to ‘tell China’s story well’ – as part of a worldwide propaganda campaign of astonishing scope and ambition.
By Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin

China Central Television’s headquarters (right) in Beijing.

China Central Television’s headquarters (right) in Beijing. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

As they sifted through resumes, the team recruiting for the new London hub of China’s state-run broadcaster had an enviable problem: far, far too many candidates. Almost 6,000 people were applying for just 90 jobs “reporting the news from a Chinese perspective”. Even the simple task of reading through the heap of applications would take almost two months.

For western journalists, demoralised by endless budget cuts, China Global Television Network presents an enticing prospect, offering competitive salaries to work in state-of-the-art purpose-built studios in Chiswick, west London. CGTN – as the international arm of China Central Television (CCTV) was rebranded in 2016 – is the most high-profile component of China’s rapid media expansion across the world, whose goal, in the words of President Xi Jinping, is to “tell China’s story well”. In practice, telling China’s story well looks a lot like serving the ideological aims of the state. 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 <>

Communication and the Public special issue

Communication and the Public has a new special issue on “Embodied and Embedded Connectivity–New Perspectives on Communication, the Public and Cultural Heritages,” guest-edited by Xinmin Liu. Please see table of contents below.


Guobin Yang <>

Communication and the Public
Volume 3 Number 4 December 2018

Special Issue: Embodied and Embedded Connectivity–New Perspectives on Communication, the Public and Cultural Heritages, Guest Editor: Xinmin Liu

Introduction to Special Issue
Foreword: Placing the public(s) in revitalizing local and rural cultural heritages
By Xinmin Liu Continue reading

China’s export of coal power imperials climate goals

Source: Japan Times (12/6/18)
China’s unbridled export of coal power seen as imperiling climate goals

China’s unbridled export of coal power seen as imperiling climate goals

Workers sort coal on a conveyer belt near a mine in Datong, in China’s northern Shanxi province, on Nov. 20, 2015. | AFP-JIJI

Even as China struggles to curb domestic coal-fired power and the deadly pollution it produces, the world’s top carbon emitter is aggressively exporting the same troubled technology to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, an investigation by AFP has shown.

The carbon dioxide emissions from these Chinese-backed plants could cripple global efforts to rein in global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels — especially coal — analysts warn.

“China is a world leader in terms of embracing the policy and investment needs to progressively decarbonize its economy,” said Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Continue reading

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

Plan to make Taiwan bilingual by 2030

Source: Taipei Times (12/5/18)
Bilingual by 2030, council says
Tamkang University professor Hsu Sung-ken said that the government should set the goal of having English as ‘a communication tool for the next generation’
By Wu Chia-ying and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Premier William Lai presides over a ceremony on Friday in Taipei to honor this year’s outstanding civil servants. Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The National Development Council yesterday proposed eight major policies to Premier William Lai (賴清德) in a plan outlining how to turn Taiwan into a Chinese-English bilingual country by the year 2030 to embrace global competition.

The plan, which the council delivered to the premier in a report, would devise key performance indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of the policies in a year.

The eight major policies are: making all official government Web sites bilingual, making official documents used by foreigners bilingual, providing bilingual frontline services in public settings, making the government’s public data available in English, making laws and regulations that pertain to foreigners bilingual, promoting bilingual services in cultural and educational settings, training civil servants to conduct business in English, and making professional and technical licensure exams available in English. Continue reading

CRISPR scientist reportedly missing

The scientist who carried out the gene-editing experiment in Shenzhen has disappeared.–A. E. Clark <>

Source: Motherboard (12/4/18)
Chinese CRISPR Scientist Who Allegedly Edited Infants’ Genes Is Reportedly Missing

Local Chinese media says the controversial scientist has been placed under “house arrest” by a Shenzhen university which has since denied the claim.

He Jiankui. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chinese scientist He Jiankui earned worldwide notoriety last week after claiming to have engineered the first gene-edited babies. Now, He’s whereabouts are unknown according to local media.

The rumors of He’s disappearance were reported by Chinese tabloids Apple Daily and Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper over the weekend. They claimed He was placed under “house arrest” by his former employer, the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTC) in Shenzhen where the associate professor has been on unpaid leave since February 2018. Continue reading