Source: LA Review of Books (1/6/20)
Do Coercive Reeducation Technologies Actually Work?
By Darren Byler
Photo by the author. A People’s Convenience Police Station in Ürümchi in 2018
For the Provocations series, in conjunction with UCI’s “The Future of the Future: The Ethics and Implications of AI” conference.
Sometime in mid-2019 a police officer tapped a student who had been studying at a university on the West Coast of the United States on the shoulder. The student, who asked me to call her Anni (安妮), after the famous Dutch-Jewish diarist Anne Frank, didn’t notice the tapping at first because she was listening to music through her ear buds. Speaking in Chinese, Anni’s native language, the police officer motioned her into a nearby People’s Convenience Police Station. On a monitor in the boxy gray building, she saw her face surrounded by a yellow square. On other screens she saw pedestrians walking down the street, their faces surrounded by green squares. Beside the high definition video still of her face, her personal data appeared in a black text box. It said that she was Hui, a member of a Chinese Muslim group, and that she was a “converted” or rehabilitated former detainee. The yellow square indicated that she had once again been deemed a “pre-criminal.” Anni said at that moment she felt as though she could hardly breathe. Continue reading
Source: China Daily (12/24/19)
Year-ender: Top 10 cultural events from 2019
The year 2019 is coming to an end, and the past 12 months witnessed several major cultural events that impressed us. Here we have selected the 10 most influential cultural events that happened this year to provide you a snapshot of the year.
1. Public opinion invited for draft law on cultural industries promotion
Visitors view exhibits at the Fourth Shanxi Cultural Industries Fair in Taiyuan city, Shanxi province, Dec 5, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism began to solicit public opinions on a draft law on the promotion of cultural industries on June 28, 2019.
The legislation move aims to boost healthy and sustainable development of cultural sectors and meet intellectual and cultural needs arising from people’s aspirations for a better life, according to a notice by the ministry, which organized the drafting work.
The draft law also stresses the importance of the integration of China’s cultural and tourism industries, which regulates that the country should encourage and support the creation of cultural products based on tourism resources. Continue reading
Source: Washington Post (12/15/19)
Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst Beijing’s one-China bubble
Customers wait at a CoCo bubble tea shop in Beijing on Aug. 9. The brand has faced a boycott in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where people share the same commitment to self-rule in China’s shadow. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Call it the Taipei tea party. Or the new tea wars. For in Taiwan, the pearly is political.
To show their solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and their commitment to Taiwan’s self-rule, many consumers here are boycotting bubble tea chains that support the “one country, two systems” formula that China uses to rule Hong Kong and that it hopes one day to extend to Taiwan.
“I deliberately came here today because it’s an independent Taiwan store and it doesn’t support ‘one country, two systems,’ ” said Alex Shuie, who works in financial services, as he waited for his drink — known as bubble or boba or pearl tea — at the Ruguo stand in central Taipei. Continue reading
MCLC is pleased to announce publication of Els van Dongen’s review of Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals (Columbia UP, 2019), by Sebastian Veg. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/vandongen/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk Denton, editor
The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals
By Sebastian Veg
Reviewed by Els van Dongen
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2019)
“Traditional Chinese scholar-officials are today known as intellectuals. This is however not merely a change in name—it is a change in essence. In fact, this change is the shift of intellectuals from the center to the margin.” Thus stated the intellectual historian Yü Ying-shih in an article published in the Hong Kong-based journal Twenty-first Century (二十一世纪) in August 1991. According to Yü, along with the transformation of traditional scholars (士) into modern intellectuals (知识分子) following the abolition of the examination system in 1905 came a gradual political, social, and cultural “marginalization” (边缘化). Modern intellectuals became, echoing Karl Mannheim, “free-floating.” This marginalization continued unabated—even intensified—through the Mao era and beyond. With Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour, 1992’s Fourteenth Party Congress, the commercialization of Chinese society, and the emergence of a new media landscape, traditional notions of Chinese scholars as moral saviors and members of a select club of luminaries have been even further transformed and/or subverted. As the philosopher Chen Lai 陈来 observed, in reform-era China, the public appeared to be more captivated by pop idol TV shows such as Super Girl (超级女声) than by the musings of intellectuals. Concurrently, the repression of the Tiananmen demonstrations effectively ended the already shaky alliance between intellectuals and the state, leaving the “Enlightenment” ideals of the 1980s in tatters. Echoing Yü, we might say the early 1990s marked the double marginalization of traditional Chinese academic intellectuals by the state and the market. Hence, what did it mean to be a Chinese intellectual from the 1990s onwards? How did Chinese intellectuals perceive themselves and their relationship with the state and society? How did they adjust their approaches to changing realities? Continue reading
Source: NYT (12/4/19)
China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West
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Beijing’s pursuit of control over a Muslim ethnic group pushes the rules of science and raises questions about consent.
By Sui-Lee Wee and
Images from a study in 2013 on 3-D human facial images. Credit…BMC Bioinformatics
TUMXUK, China — In a dusty city in the Xinjiang region on China’s western frontier, the authorities are testing the rules of science.
With a million or more ethnic Uighurs and others from predominantly Muslim minority groups swept up in detentions across Xinjiang, officials in Tumxuk have gathered blood samples from hundreds of Uighurs — part of a mass DNA collection effort dogged by questions about consent and how the data will be used.
In Tumxuk, at least, there is a partial answer: Chinese scientists are trying to find a way to use a DNA sample to create an image of a person’s face. Continue reading
Source: SupChina (12/9/19)
Tibet’s Most Popular Song
SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng
Not much has changed in the political situation of Tibet since the last peak of international attention in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But culturally, Tibet continues to evolve, and it’s worth taking note as Tibetan-influenced music has become more mainstream in China in recent years. Bill McGrath, a scholar of Tibet and Chinese religions, writes on SupChina about the most popular song in Tibet in recent years — “Fly,” by the hip-hop duo ANU:
ANU is a pair of young men from Nangchen County in Yushu Prefecture at the southern tip of Qinghai Province. Payag (巴雅 Bāyǎ) and Gönpa (宫巴 Gōngbā) moved to Beijing after studying art and music in western China and released their first EP, ANU, in 2016. ANU is an abbreviation for Anu Ringluk, which literally means “Youthism.” In the modern world of Tibet, already filled with established -isms such as Buddhism, socialism, and capitalism, ANU provides a fresh sound for a new generation…
“Fly” has already captured the hearts of ANU’s fans in their hometown of Yushu as well as the rest of China. Last year they won an “innovation award” at the Tibetan, Qiang, and Yi Original Music Award Show, and this year they entered the Chinese national stage by competing on the popular TV show Singer 2019. Where will “Fly” take them next?
Click through to SupChina to listen to the song, and other notable selections from ANU’s discography.
Source: NYT (10/8/19)
‘South Park’ Creators Offer Fake Apology After Show Is Erased in China
“Like the N.B.A., we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” the show’s creators said in a tongue-in-cheek response. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”
By Daniel Victor
Last week’s episode of “South Park,” titled “Band in China,” mocked Chinese censors and American businesses that bend over backwards to appease them. Credit: Comedy Central
HONG KONG — “South Park,” the long-running Comedy Central cartoon whose mockery has spared few touchy topics, was erased from major platforms in China after an episode last week taunted Chinese censors and the far-reaching effect they often have on American entertainment.
The government’s censors, who routinely quash news and commentary deemed undesirable by the ruling Communist Party, wiped out video clips and discussions of the show, which premiered in 1997 and has lasted 23 seasons. Once known mostly for the raunchy humor coming from the mouths of its elementary-school-age main characters, the show has in recent seasons focused on political and cultural satire, without abandoning its boundary-pushing ways. Continue reading
Excellent update report here, on the human rights catastrophe in Xinjiang, China, including on the “single ‘state-race’” racist-nationalist and Han-supremacist ideology that is driving the Chinese government in perpetrating these atrocities. –Magnus Fiskesjö <email@example.com>
Source: Financial Times (9/12/19)
Fear and oppression in Xinjiang: China’s war on Uighur culture: Beijing’s crackdown on minorities reflects a broader push towards a single ‘state-race’
By Christian Shepherd
When Gulruy Asqar first heard that her nephew Ekram Yarmuhemmed had been taken away by the Chinese police, she feared it was her fault. It was 2016, and she had recently moved to the US from Xinjiang, the region in north-west China that is the traditional homeland of her people, the Turkic-speaking Uighurs.
Her nephew’s family had loaned her about $10,000 towards the move, and Asqar had just transferred the money back to Yarmuhemmed when police came to his home in the regional capital of Urümqi and detained him. “I felt so guilty and I cried . . . I thought I was the reason for it,” Asqar told the FT by telephone from her home in Virginia. Continue reading
Dear Media Friend,
The publisher of China Film Insider today announced the launch of China Brand Insider, a new weekly business publication specifically focused on the business of brand integration in Chinese entertainment.
China Brand Insider will act as a key source of news and insights for the business of brand integration in the world’s most dynamic consumer culture. The first issue can be viewed here.
The weekly newsletter, written in English, features original content, case studies, and takeaways from the latest Chinese-language news on the relationship between brands and entertainment. CBI as it is known, will also develop in-depth reports and case studies as well as live events to deeply cover the rapid rise of this industry.
For more information, please see the attached press release. Let us know if you have further questions.
China Film Insider
Source: NYT (8/17/19)
Teenage Brides Trafficked to China Reveal Ordeal: ‘Ma, I’ve Been Sold’
By Hannah Beech
Nyo, 17, back home in Shan State in Myanmar, after being trafficked by brokers who sold her and her friend to men across the border in China. Credit: Minzayar Oo for The New York Times
MONGYAI, Myanmar — She did not know where she was. She did not speak the language. She was 16 years old.
The man said he was her husband — at least that’s what the translation app indicated — and he pressed himself against her. Nyo, a girl from a mountain village in the Shan hills of Myanmar, wasn’t quite sure how pregnancy worked. But it happened.
The baby, 9 days old and downy, looks undeniably Chinese. “Like her father,” Nyo said. “The same lips.” Continue reading
Source: NYT (8/3/19)
The Forbidden City Opens Wide as China Projects New Pride in Its Past
President Xi Jinping has pushed “cultural self-confidence” as a signature policy, and one of the beneficiaries has been the former home of emperors, neglected no longer.
By Ian Johnson
Visitors now throng the Forbidden City in Beijing. Credit: Yan Cong for The New York Times
BEIJING — For much of the past century, the Forbidden City has been an imposing void in the otherwise bustling heart of Beijing.
The 180-acre compound, where emperors and their advisers plotted China’s course for centuries, was stripped of its purpose when the last emperor abdicated in 1912. Since then, the palace grounds have at times lain empty or been treated as a perfunctory museum, with most of the halls closed to the public and the few that were open crammed with tourists on package tours.
But as the Forbidden City approaches its 600th birthday next year, a dramatic change has been taking place, with even dark and dusty corners of the palace restored to their former glories for all to see. Continue reading
Announcing the launching of
Asia at the World’s Fairs: An Online Exhibition of Cultural Exchange
Presented by the Center for the Study of Asia, Pardee School of Global Studies
Curated by Catherine Vance Yeh
Beginning with the earliest international exhibition at London’s “Crystal Palace” in 1851, “world’s fairs” became a prominent stage for the presentation of peoples and cultures of Asia to a world audience. With its rich, vibrant and diverse histories and cultures, Asia as represented at these universal expositions provided many fairgoers with their first encounter with Asia and helped shape their understanding of the world. Taking place during a time of widespread colonialism, the notion of the world presented at these fairs had many complex layers of meaning. In many cases, indigenous arts and crafts were selected and showcased by their colonial administrators. Yet, many Asian countries chose to actively confront the asymmetry of power in their relationship to the West by presenting in these exhibitions their own image of their country and culture. These expositions served as a grand stage that displayed a complex history of conflicts, contradictions, and engagement of Asia with the world. Continue reading
Source: Sup China (4/24/19)
Protesting In The Name Of Science: The Legacy Of China’s May Fourth Movement
By YANGYANG CHENG
A hundred years after the rally for “Mr. Science” and “Mr. Democracy,” can the pursuit of scientific truth bring political freedom?
When I bade goodbye to my family in China in the summer of 2009, I proudly declared that I was going to America to study science — and be free. Always hesitant about her daughter’s choice of science over a more “feminine” discipline, my mother was nevertheless more concerned about my second objective. “What do you mean by ‘being free’? What will you do when you are ‘free’?”
“Focus on your profession,” my mother warned. “Don’t talk about politics. Don’t participate in politics. Don’t ever join street demonstrations, not even for the spectacle.” Continue reading
Source: NYT (4/11/19)
In China, a $30,000 Penalty for Maligning a Building’s Feng Shui
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By Javier C. Hernández and Albee Zhang
The Wangjing SOHO developed by SOHO China in Beijing. CreditImaginechina, via Associated Press
BEIJING — A Chinese court has ordered a media company to pay nearly $30,000 to a real estate developer after it published an article that suggested a flashy building in Beijing violated the ancient laws of feng shui and would bring misfortune to its occupants.
The Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing ruled on Wednesday that the media company, Zhuhai Shengun Internet Technology, had damaged the reputation of the building’s developers, SOHO China, one of the largest real estate companies in China. Continue reading
Source: The Guardian (4/11/19)
China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority
Smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.
By Darren Byler
In mid-2017, Alim, a Uighur man in his 20s, returned to China from studying abroad. As soon as he landed back in the country, he was pulled off the plane by police officers. He was told his trip abroad meant that he was now under suspicion of being “unsafe”. The police administered what they call a “health check”, which involved collecting several types of biometric data, including DNA, blood type, fingerprints, voice recordings and face scans – a process that all adults in the Uighur autonomous region of Xinjiang, in north-west China, are expected to undergo.
After his “health check”, Alim was transported to one of the hundreds of detention centres that dot north-west China. These centres have become an important part of what Xi Jinping’s government calls the “people’s war on terror”, a campaign launched in 2014, which focuses on Xinjiang, a region with a population of roughly 25 million people, just under half of whom are Uighur Muslims. As part of this campaign, the Chinese government has come to treat almost all expressions of Uighur Islamic faith as signs of potential religious extremism and ethnic separatism. Since 2017 alone, more than 1 million Turkic Muslims, including Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and others, have moved through detention centres. Continue reading