Asia dreams in skyscrapers

Source: NYT (10/11/17)
Asia Dreams in Skyscrapers

The skyline of Shenzhen, China, in 2017. Credit Justin Chin/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

The skyscraper was born in the United States, but in recent years, it has grown and flourished in Asia. Countries there recognize that to be seen as a player on the global stage, it helps to have tall buildings.

Over a century ago, New York and Chicago demonstrated that the skyscraper is, fundamentally, a solution to an economic problem: how to allow for hundreds, if not thousands, of people and businesses to be at the same place at the same time. Urban clustering, especially in a high-tech world, is more important than ever. By promoting density, skyscrapers confer a competitive advantage and allow a city to become a beacon of commerce. Continue reading

Interview with Shelly Kraicer on Chinese cinema, part 1

Source: Rice Paper Magazine (10/4/17)
INTERVIEW: Shelly Kraicer on Chinese Cinema – Part 1 of 2

Shelly Kraicer, programmer of Dragons & Tigers at VIFF

A long-time Beijing resident (only recently relocated to Toronto by way of Taiwan) for the past decade, Shelly Kraicer has been the programmer of East Asian films for the Vancouver International Film Festival. More recently, he has consulted for the Venice, Udine, Dubai, and Rotterdam International Film Festivals, organizing a retrospective on legendary Hong Kong director Johnnie To for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival’s fall programming.

Known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese cinema, Kraicer has been a tireless promoter of big and small names alike. His selections for VIFF over the years have ranged from shoestring documentaries to big budget costume dramas.

Chances are, if you’ve enjoyed an East Asian film at VIFF in the last ten years,  Kraicer was behind the scenes, pulling the strings to make it happen.  The result has been a phenomenal amount of high quality Chinese language cinema, much of it almost impossible to see otherwise. To find out more about the method behind the madness, I sat down with Shelly to talk about some of his picks for this year’s festival, which runs from September 28 to October 13. – Nick Stember Continue reading

Poverty not a choice

Source: Sixth Tone (10/9/17)
In China’s Countryside, Poverty Is a Lifestyle, Not a Choice
Working with the nation’s most destitute people has proven to me that the poor need more than just money to live with dignity.
By Deng Chaochao (an expert in poverty alleviation at Serve for China, an NGO)

A villager walks past a local primary school campus in western Hunan province, July 12, 2015. Fu Zhiyong/VCG

The village of Mendai is located in an impoverished part of western Hunan, a province in central China. Difficult to reach and suffering from a shortage of farmland and labor, it is also where I’ve spent the past year working on poverty alleviation programs.

Early this year, a group of university students visited the village as part of their research work. One of them remarked that the villagers were not poor at all. After all, this student said, they had televisions, telephones, rice cookers, and cooking oil — what else could they need? Continue reading

1.34 million officials punished for graft

Source: Reuters (10/8/17)
Chinese watchdog says 1.34 million officials punished for graft since 2013
By Reuters Staff

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s anti-graft watchdog said roughly 1.34 million lower-ranking officials have been punished since 2013 under President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive.

Xi, who is preparing for a major Communist Party leadership conference later this month, has made an anti-graft campaign targeting “tigers and flies”, both high and low ranking officials, a core policy priority during his five-year term.

China is preparing for the 19th Congress later this month, a twice-a-decade leadership event where Xi is expected to consolidate power and promote his policy positions. Continue reading

The Moving Target: Translation and Chinese Poetry–cfa

Call for abstracts | The Moving Target: Translation and Chinese Poetry

On 1-2 June 2018, Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein will convene a workshop entitled “The Moving Target: Translation and Chinese Poetry” at Leiden University, toward the publication of an edited volume in 2019.

Participants will arrive on 31 May and depart on 3 June. Hotel accommodation and all meals will be funded by the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and other local funding bodies.

The workshop aims to conjoin critical engagement with the notion of translation with deep linguistic, literary and cultural knowledge on poetry in Chinese: written in Chinese, translated into Chinese, or translated from Chinese into other languages. Continue reading

Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s political future

Source: Merics: Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies
Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s political future

How online pluralism challenges official orthodoxy

Unlike any other Chinese leader since the beginning of the reform era, Xi Jinping has worked on crafting a unified national ideology with the aim to strengthen the ties between China’s citizens and the Communist Party of China (CCP). The Xi leadership tries to rally support around the “China Dream,” the vision of China as a global player, and it promotes the “China Path” as an alternative to market economies and liberal democracies.

Although partially successful, the propaganda offensive has so far not yielded the desired result: a broad-based societal consensus on China’s future course. A new publication by the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) shows widely differing views within Chinese society on China’s developmental model and its global role.

For their report, “Ideas and ideologies competing for China’s future,” Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlberg, Simon Lang and Bertram Lang analyzed debates in Chinese social media and conducted a survey among predominantly urban Chinese netizens. Even though party-state propaganda played a dominant role, debates in online chat groups such as Weibo or Tianya Net displayed a wide range of opinions despite censorship and repression of dissent.

Continue reading

Pingyao seeks to host international film fest

Source: Sixth Tone (10/9/17)
Ancient City Seeks to Host China’s Sundance
Pingyao, a UNESCO World Heritage site, hopes to keep tourists coming with new international film festival.
By Yin Yijun

This article is part of a series about the changing face of Chinese tourism.

A view of Pingyao Ancient City during the annual Pingyao International Photography Festival in Jinzhong, Shanxi province, Sept. 26, 2016. Cheng Yuefeng/IC

Millions of tourists visit the walled ancient city of Pingyao every year, but its faded movie theater has never been an attraction. The theater has been closed for over a decade, idly gathering dust as throngs of people shuffle by.

Nevertheless, the 2,700-year-old city in northern China’s Shanxi province could soon be at the center of Chinese cinema.

Several months ago, pile drivers starting pounding away at Pingyao’s abandoned diesel engine factory, transforming it into the site of the area’s first international film festival. The inaugural Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival (PYIFF) — named after the Oscar-winning kung fu movie — will kick off in late October. Continue reading

New Literary History of Modern China review

Source: LARB China Channel (10/9/17)
Republic of Letters
Eleanor Goodman reviews A New Literary History of Modern China, edited by David Der-Wei Wang
By Eleanor Goodman

One evening this summer as I was waiting for a table at a restaurant, I overheard a well-dressed woman describing a bike trip she was planning to take to Japan. “I’m so excited about it,” she told her companion, “that I just picked up Memoirs of a Geisha.”

That literature is a window onto a culture – a point of access that can be utilized even from afar, a safe mental space in which one’s own attitudes, prejudices, preconceptions, and expectations can be challenged and even altered – is an idea that is not only true but important. In an era in which globalism is a simple fact and travel to previously remote places is easy and ordinary, while simultaneously xenophobia and racial fear-mongering are on the rise, there is an increasing need for exposure to other cultures in many forms. Then again, reading a book written by a white man about sex workers in the 1930s and 40s does not necessarily offer the most accurate picture of Japan as it exists today. Continue reading

Virginia Tech position

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Virginia Tech invites applications for a tenure-track position in Chinese to begin August 2018. PhD required by time of appointment in Chinese language, literature, culture, linguistics, second-language pedagogy, or a related field. As a Research I institution, Virginia Tech strongly values scholarly productivity as well as excellence in teaching; the demonstration of an active research agenda is essential. Ability to teach undergraduate courses in language from the elementary to the advanced level as well as literature, linguistics, and culture. Training or experience in second-language pedagogy desired. The standard teaching load is two courses per semester. Continue reading

A monument to Xi’s power

Source: NYT (10/8/17)
Chinese Village Where Xi Jinping Fled Is Now a Monument to His Power
查看简体中文版  | 查看繁體中文版<

Liangjiahe, where President Xi Jinping of China spent a formative period of his youth during the Cultural Revolution, has been converted into a tourist attraction that attempts to show how the village helped forge his strongman style. CreditBryan Denton for The New York Times

LIANGJIAHE, China — Almost 50 years after Xi Jinping first trudged into this village as a cold, bewildered teenager, hundreds of political pilgrims retrace his footsteps every day.

They follow a well-trod course designed to show how the seven years that the young Mr. Xi spent in this hardscrabble village in China’s barren northwest forged the strongman style that he now uses to rule the world’s most populous nation. Visitors peer down a well that Mr. Xi helped to dig, admire a storage pit that he built to turn manure into methane gas for stoves and lamps, and sit for inspirational lectures outside the cave homes where he sheltered from the chaos of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Continue reading

Manhua modernity

Source: ACAS: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (2/10/17)
The Pictorial Turn and China’s Manhua Modernity, 1925-1960
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By John A. Crespi

Defining manhua­—usually translated as “caricature” or “cartoon”—is like trying to put spilled ink back into the bottle. [1] The word should be warning enough. Where the second character for the second syllable, hua, refers to pictorial art in general, the first character, man, connotes several situations: a state of overflow and inundation, an attitude of freedom and casualness, and, most broadly, a general feeling of being all over the place. The challenge of this book—The Pictorial Turn and China’s Manhua Modernity, 1925-1960—is to embrace the chaos, while also making sense of it. Continue reading

The Giant Awakens

A Collection of Insights into Chinese Government Influence in Australia

Download the full PDF version of The Giant Awakens

Read the e-book version of The Giant Awakens online


Influence /ˈɪnflʊəns/ [mass noun]:The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.

The Chinese government’s vast sphere of influence has been a widely debated topic over the past few months. In many instances, discussions have blurred the lines between China – a country with a rich history of 5,000 years – and the Chinese government – currently controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s culture, its arts and trade relations with Australia, have had a significant influence on Australia’s development as a well-integrated multicultural society. The cultural and economic contributions of the 1.2 million Chinese living and studying in Australia cannot be overstated. Continue reading

Nobel complex

Three years ago, I was at Vermont Studio Center, translating Yi Sha, also getting attention, experience, and inspiration for my own stuff. Yi Sha still remembers our residence in his poetry. I posted his “National Day” last week, along with links to Liu Xiaobo’s last note on NY Review of Books and to translations of Liu Xia’s poems. What is the connection? When Yi Sha and I were in Vermont, we didn’t talk about Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, as far as I remember. He was very much interested in who would get the Nobels for literature and for peace, also if any science Nobels would go to Chinese people. Nobody else at VSC was interested in the Nobel announcements. Last year Yi Sha wrote a poem about this experience. I have just translated it, along with two other poems he has written just now, also harking back to VSC. You can read the Nobel one below. The others are on my blog, along with the originals. Continue reading

Why launch of blockbuster postponed

Source: Sup China (10/6/17)
Why did the government postpone the launch of what should have been China’s fall blockbuster?
Pang-Chieh Ho gives you the latest news from film and TV in China. See her previous columns here.
By Pang-Chieh Ho

A promotional poster for Feng Xiaogang’s latest movie, Youth

It should have been a blockbuster, but the Party has a meeting

On September 23, news media began to report (link in Chinese) that the release date of director Feng Xiaogang’s 冯小刚 latest film, Youth (芳华 fānghuá) [aka Pure Hearts], in China had been mysteriously postponed. Youth was originally supposed to premiere on September 29, during one of China’s most lucrative holiday movie slots, the National Day holiday weekend.

Ever since the news about the movie’s indefinite postponement broke, speculation on the reasons behind the axed release has been rife. While neither Feng nor Huayi Brothers Media, the main investor behind Youth, have offered any official explanations for the movie’s delayed premiere, many suspect that the reasons are most likely to be politically motivated (in Chinese), a conjecture that seems only to be strengthened by Feng’s Weibo post (in Chinese), which rebukes claims that the movie’s nixed release was a publicity stunt or due to poor ticket pre-sales. Continue reading