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

Chinese language items

Source: Sup China (12/4/18)
Chinese Language

China rules / Language Log

“For the last few weeks, the New York Times has been running a hyped-up, gushing series of lengthy articles under the rubric ‘China rules.’ On a special section in the paper edition for Sunday, November 25, they printed this gigantic headline in Chinese characters — and made a colossal mistake.” Times editor Phil Pan responded in the comments.

“I’m so qiou” – The new Chinese ‘character of the year’ is ‘dirt-poor & ugly’ / What’s on Weibo
“A new Chinese character, created by netizens, has become all the rage on social media this week. The character is a combination of two characters, namely ‘穷’ (qióng) and ‘丑’ (chǒu). The first (穷) literally means ‘poor,’ whereas the second (丑) is used to describe something ugly.”

These are China’s top ten words of the year / Radii China

Chinese magazine Yǎowén Jiáozì 咬文嚼字, which is translated variously as “Correct Wording” and “Chewing Words,” turns a critical eye to the misuse and abuse of language in Chinese society. It has released its top 10 popular words of 2018 list, which are explained by Radii China.

Young artist pays hospital bills with portraits of ailing father

Source: SCMP (11/29/18)
Young artist finds creative way to pay hospital bills with portraits of ailing father
Woman who is hoping to get into art school in northeast China sells sketches online giving intimate glimpse of her dad’s life in cancer ward
By Alice Yan

Wang Tianyue says her father, Wang Fei, taught at an art studio before he fell ill. Photo: Sina

A 21-year-old woman in northeast China has found a creative way to help pay for, and cope with, her father’s cancer treatment – selling moving portraits of his life in hospital.

Wang Tianyue, who is hoping to get into art school in Shenyang, Liaoning province where she lives, has spent much of her time at the hospital where her father is being treated since he was diagnosed with terminal bile duct cancer in March, news website Sina reported on Wednesday.

The devastating news came not long after her mother underwent surgery for uterus cancer in September last year, according to the report. Continue reading

Chinese influence and American interest

Source: Hoover Institution (11/29/18)
Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance
Edited by Larry Diamond

[This is a summary of a long report that can be found here]

For three and a half decades following the end of the Maoist era, China adhered to Deng Xiaoping’s policies of “reform and opening to the outside world” and “peaceful development.” After Deng retired as paramount leader, these principles continued to guide China’s international behavior in the leadership eras of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Admonishing Chinese to “keep your heads down and bide your time,” these Party leaders sought to emphasize that China’s rapid economic development and its accession to “great power” status need not be threatening to either the existing global order or the interests of its Asian neighbors. However, since Party general secretary Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, the situation has changed. Under his leadership, China has significantly expanded the more assertive set of policies initiated by his predecessor Hu Jintao. These policies not only seek to redefine China’s place in the world as a global player, but they also have put forward the notion of a “China option” that is claimed to be a more efficient developmental model than liberal democracy. Continue reading