A grim vigil

Source: Sup China (7/10/17)
A grim vigil

Dissident Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波, out on medical parole from his 11-year prison sentence to have his terminal liver cancer treated, has been seen by two doctors from the U.S. and Germany:

  • The foreign doctors contradicted Chinese government statements that Liu was too sick to travel.
  • The Global Times published an edited video clip (with no context) of the German doctor praising the Chinese doctors who have been treating Liu. Also circulated by an unknown leaker: images and video of Liu’s wife at his bedside surrounded by a medical team, including the foreign doctors. Continue reading

Tsai Ing-wen embraces Twitter as megaphone

Source: NYT (7/6/17)
Muffled by China, Taiwan President Embraces Twitter as Megaphone

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Over the past year, China has doubled down on its campaign to reduce Taiwan’s presence on the world stage, whether by luring away its few remaining diplomatic allies — most recently Panama — or blocking its participation in international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization.

Now President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan is trying to tweet the island back into the global conversation. Continue reading

Singapore dispute

Source: NYT (7/4/17)
Dispute Over Singapore Founder’s House Becomes a National Crisis

SINGAPORE — Two years after his death, no memorials, statues or streets in Singapore are named after Lee Kuan Yew, who established this city-state as a modern nation and built it into a prosperous showcase for his view that limited political freedoms best suit Asian values.

Now a bitter and public family dispute over the fate of his modest house has shattered Singapore’s image as an orderly authoritarian ideal and hinted at deeper divisions about its political future. Continue reading

Zhang Yang’s ‘Paths to the Soul’

Source: Caixin (7/7/17)
Why are China’s Venture Capitalists Going Gaga Over A Tibetan Pilgrimage Film?
By Liu Fang and Han Wei

A scene from the low-budget docudrama “Paths to the Soul,” which follows a group of pilgrims on a 1,200-mile trek from their village to Mt. Kailash in Tibet. In an act of Buddhist devotion, the pilgrims make the journey while prostrate. Photo: IC

A scene from the low-budget docudrama “Paths to the Soul,” which follows a group of pilgrims on a 1,200-mile trek from their village to Mt. Kailash in Tibet. In an act of Buddhist devotion, the pilgrims make the journey while prostrate. Photo: IC

(Beijing) — A birth, a death, a pilgrimage. A film about the 1,200-mile journey of a pregnant woman, a butcher who wants to atone for his sins and a rag-tag band of villagers who go on foot from their small village in Tibet to the sacred Mt. Kailash has become a surprise winner at the Chinese box office.

It has also found a cult following among an unexpected audience — China’s venture capitalists and startup founders.

The low-budget docudrama, “Paths to the Soul,” has been more profitable per screening than Hollywood juggernauts such as the latest “Transformers” movie, which opened in late June. “Paths to the Soul” raked in over 40 million yuan ($5.88 million), or nearly three times its production cost, during its first 11-day run despite being shown in less than 2% of theaters in the country. Continue reading

Hol Xil joins World Heritage list

Source: Sup China (7/7/17)
Hol Xil joins UNESCO’s World Heritage List
By Jiayun Feng

The 41st session of the World Heritage Committee decided to add a large nature reserve at Hol Xil — 可可西里 kěkě xīlǐ in Chinese — to its World Heritage List. The vast park is located in the northwest of Qinghai Province, covering 45,000 square kilometers of almost uninhabited land.

Part of the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Hol Xil is home to more than 200 species of wild animals, including the endangered Tibetan antelope, or chiru, whose existence has been threatened for years due to excessive poaching. Most people who live in the area are Tibetan nomads, who maintain their pre-modern lifestyle of sleeping in tents and raising livestock. Continue reading

Footage of comfort women in Yunnan (1)

At a panel of the annual New York Conference on Asian Studies just a few years ago, it was strongly suggested by an historian of the Pacific War that more accurate vocabulary be used when referring to this phenomenon, namely: we should refer to “rape stations” rather than “comfort stations”,  and “sex slaves” rather than “comfort women.” He further suggested that “stations” was a euphemism, since the women were forcibly kept there, as prisoners.

Nick Kaldis <nkaldis@gmail.com>

Footage of comfort women in Yunnan

Source: What’s on Weibo (7/6/17)
Footage of Comfort Women in Yunnan Made Public after 73 Years

For the first time in 73 years, moving images have been made public that show Korean women imprisoned by the Japanese army in China, where they served as comfort women. The 18-second-clip made its rounds on Chinese social media on June 5th.

The footage was filmed in Yunnan province, in southwest China, in 1944. Previously, there were numerous texts and photographs documenting the imprisonment of comfort women in China, but this is the first time for these moving images to be made public showing these particular scenes of wartime China.

A South-Korean research group, consisting of members of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul National University Human Rights Center, made the footage public. Researchers say the clip shows seven Korean women in front of a private house used as a “comfort station” in Songshan, Yunnan Province.

According to the Korea Times, the research team found the footage at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration after a two-year search for film records. This source also says that the film allegedly shows a Chinese military officer of the US-China Allied forces speaking with the women.

At the time the moving images were filmed, Japan was losing the war and the US-China Allied Forces defeated the Japanese in Songshan, where ‘military comfort stations’ for the Japanese troops were situated.

Footage of Comfort Women in Yunnan Made Public… by whatsonweibo Continue reading

King of Peking

Source: China Film Insider (7/5/17)
Film Review: ‘King of Peking’

King of Peking (2017)
Grade: A 
This must-see gem of a comedy from sophomore writer and director Sam Voutas is about father and son projectionists who stick together through hard times in Beijing, making ends meet by pirating movies.

Honed in the forge of dishonest dealings, their street savvy reflects the calculus of two thieves arrived at a tipping point in China’s recent past: how to survive when it becomes clear that everybody else is playing by different rules and change is necessary?

King of Peking is set in China’s capital 20 years ago, in the summer of 1997, just as the mainland was reunited with Hong Kong — the rule-of- law British colony from which Chinese-language cinema spread around the world while for decades Communist censors blunted the work of filmmakers north of the border. Continue reading

China Reading ipo

Source: Sup China (7/6/17)
More money for … online literature
By Jeremy Goldkorn

Tencent — the internet behemoth behind WeChat — runs a digital literature publishing company called China Reading, which has begun filing for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, proposing to raise $600 to $800 million. It would be the first listing of a company dedicated to internet literature.

China Reading was originally a company owned by Chinese games giant Shanda. According to TechNode, “China Reading logged $390 million (RMB 2.6 billion) in operating income last year, 77 percent of which came from its reading-related businesses.” The company had around 175 million users at the end of 2016.

Made in China 2.2

Dear Colleagues

I am glad to announce the publication of the latest issue of Made in China, the open access quarterly on Chinese labour and civil society supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World, the Australian National University. You can download the pdf for free and subscribe at this link: http://www.chinoiresie.info/made-in-china-quarterly/. Below you can find the editorial of the new issue:

The Good Earth

In June, the government of the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Accords, severely undermining the global effort to contain climate change. Since then, China has entered the fray, attempting to portray itself as a world leader on environmental issues. Considering that China is currently the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, this development might appear paradoxical. Nevertheless, in recent years the Chinese authorities have become increasingly concerned with the toll that environmental catastrophes are taking on the health of the country’s citizens, as this has the potential to spark unrest that could negatively affect governmental legitimacy. The ‘airpocalypses’ that have hit major Chinese cities and the ‘cancer villages’, where disease has spread due to soil and water pollution caused by industries, are just two instances of major environmental scandals that have made the headlines in China over the years. It is in light of this crisis—and also in an attempt to capitalise on environmental protection economically—that the Chinese leadership has been pushing forward ambitious plans for ‘environmental rejuvenation’, which include new policies and massive investments in renewable energies. Continue reading

Bloggers, filmmakers feel chill of crackdown

Source: Reuters (7/4/17)
China’s bloggers, filmmakers feel chill of internet crackdown
By Pei Li and Adam Jourdan, BEIJING/SHANGHAI

FILE PHOTO - People use computers at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

FILE PHOTO – People use computers at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s latest maneuvre in a sweeping crackdown on internet content has sent a chill through a diverse community of filmmakers, bloggers, media and educators who fear their sites could be shut down as Beijing tightens control.

Over the last month, Chinese regulators have closed celebrity gossip websites, restricted what video people can post and suspended online streaming, all on grounds of inappropriate content.

On Friday, an industry association circulated new regulations that at least two “auditors” will, with immediate effect, be required to check all audiovisual content posted online – from films to “micro” movies, documentaries, sports, educational material and animation – to ensure they adhere to “core socialist values”. Continue reading

Propaganda trailers at cinemas

Source: China Film Insider (6/30/17)
Chinese Cinemas to Show Propaganda Trailer Ahead of Screenings

In preparation for an important Party meeting later this year, four videos remind viewers of key ideological points.

Moviegoers in China will have to watch public service advertisements that extol the “China Dream” and other ideological slogans, according to a directive from the country’s media regulator that will take effect July 1.

Industry insiders said that cinemas have been instructed to show one of four, minute-long videos collectively titled “The Glory and the Dream” before every movie screening. The clips will be shown from July through October in the run-up to the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress in November — China’s most important political event held every five years. Continue reading

Freedom of expression under attack in HK

Posted by Jeff Wasserstrom <wasserstromjeff@gmail.com>
Source: Dissent (7/4/17)
Freedom of Expression Under Attack in Hong Kong
By Louisa Lim

“Enthusiastically Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Return to the Motherland…” (courtesy Sampson Wong)

Late last week, as Hong Kong celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty, pixels of white flickered on the slick glass façade of Hong Kong’s second-tallest skyscraper. The Chinese characters gliding up the building’s 108 stories bore a staunch Communist-style exhortation: “Enthusiastically Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Return to the Motherland, Fervently Welcome President Xi Jinping’s Inspection of Hong Kong.” This greeting—coinciding with President Xi’s first visit to Hong Kong since taking power—is now raising fears about the freedom of artistic expression in Hong Kong, calling into question its future as an international arts hub. Continue reading