Uyghur singer sentence to prison term

This is another ghastly chapter in the Chinese regime’s continuing assault against Uyghur culture — the destruction of cultural icons, as part of the destruction of their people as a whole, a 21st century genocide and a crime against humanity, affecting 12+ millions of people or more.–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Radio Free Asia (3/24/20)
Uyghur Singer Rashida Dawut Sentenced to Prison Term by Xinjiang Authorities

Rashida Dawut in an undated photo.

Rashida Dawut in an undated photo.RFA

A Uyghur singer celebrated for her love ballads has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for “separatism” following a secret trial in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to multiple sources.

Rashida Dawut, a long-time member of the Xinjiang Muqam Troupe in the XUAR capital Urumqi who produced popular solo albums in the 1990s, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for “separatism” by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court in late 2019, a source claiming to have close knowledge of the situation recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service. Continue reading

Disappearance of Perhat Tursun

Meanwhile, the massive racist atrocities in Xinjiang continue unabated — Fwd by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia (3/13/20)
Scenes from the Disappearance of Perhat Tursun, a Preeminent Modernist Uyghur Author
Written by Darren Byler

Perhat Tursun smoking his trademark Xuelian cigarettes in his home in Ürümchi in 2015. Image by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.

Perhat was disappeared at the height of his powers by the Chinese state, a victim of the government’s re-education campaign in Xinjiang.

Perhat Tursun is a slight man with a receding hairline. To look at him, you wouldn’t know that he is one of the most influential contemporary Uyghur authors in the world. When I met him for the first time at a reception for a Uyghur-language publishing house in February 2015, his importance was clear from the way other Uyghurs looked at him as he moved through the crowd. He cut a wide swath. After we chatted for a bit at the reception, he said he was really bored. He hated formal gatherings and performing for strangers. He left immediately after the ceremony was finished, glad-handing and mumbling under his breath as he shuffled through the banquet hall. Many people stopped to shake his hand as we walked together to his house.

His house was on the 26th floor of a new apartment building owned by the Uyghur grocery franchise Arman. Many Uyghur celebrities lived in the building. While we were waiting for the elevator, we nodded at Qeyum Muhemmet, the TV actor who was later sent to a reeducation camp along with more than 400 other public figures in 2017. Perhat’s house smelled more of  cigarette smoke than most Uyghur homes. He had some abstract paintings in yellow painted by the celebrated Uyghur artist Dilmurad Abdukadir, which seemed to reflect the complexity of Uyghur traditional urban architecture. Otherwise, his living room was filled with carpets and a coffee table covered with dried fruit. Continue reading

Holding Beijing accountable is not racist

This Johns Hopkins colleague nailed it! — fwd by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Journal of Political Risk 8, no. 3 (May 2020)
Holding Beijing Accountable For The Coronavirus Is Not Racist
By Ho-fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University

Digital generated image of macro view of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Getty Images/Andriy Onufriyenko

As the coronavirus global pandemic is unfolding and deteriorating, an age-old racial stereotype that associates contagious diseases with Asian/Chinese people reemerged. Reports about Asians being beaten up and accused of bringing the disease to the community are disheartening. The use of the phrase “sick man of Asia” in connection to the outbreak and calling the disease “Wuhan pneumonia” or “Chinese virus” invoked accusations of racism. We in higher education kept hearing episodes of Asian students harassed by comments from fellow students or faculty that associate them with the virus.

This racial association of contagious diseases often surfaces with epidemics in history. During the SARS epidemics of 2003, Western media was full of articles, images, and cartoons that explicitly characterized the diseases as an Asian one, as my research documented. In medieval Europe, the spread of epidemics like bubonic plagues often triggered harassment or even massacre of ethnic minorities such as Jewish people. Perennial as it is, this racial association is not only harmful but is also counterproductive to the effective containment of the disease. Epidemics know no ethnic boundary. They always spread beyond ethnic lines very quickly. The racial association of disease makes us overlook carriers who happen to be not among the stereotyped groups. We have to combat xenophobic racism at the time of an epidemic as hard as we can. Continue reading

Dongbei vaporwave

Source: China Channel LARB (2/28/20)
Time-Traveling with Your Uncle Gem
Wujun Ke introduces “Dongbei vaporwave”, the electronic music of China’s northeast
By Wujun Ke

When a friend introduced me to the Chinese viral hit “Ye Lang Disco” (“Wild Wolf Disco”) in September last year, I was not sure what the hype was about. Then, like thousands of internet commentators, I fell victim to the earworm. I was captivated by the song’s refreshingly folksy and unassuming sense of humor. Gem (董寶石), a rapper from Changchun, performed the song in the 2019 season of Rap of China, a popular televised rap competition. Soon after, Gem found breakout success on Tik Tok (known in China as “Douyin”) with this vaporwave-influenced track.

As a music genre, vaporwave arises in the context of post-industrial, heavily-networked societies and has been noted for its nostalgic sampling of Muzak (the background music played in many retail stores)  and early computer aesthetics. As a critique of capitalism, it is more playful than denunciatory. As musician and academic Laura Glitsos writes:

Vaporwave digs up those waste products of consumer culture, that which capitalism discards, and brings them to the fore: old VHS tapes, technologies that never reached the market, the grating tones of corporate instructional videos, advertisements from the 1980s. Continue reading

Faces of Tradition

Levi S. Gibbs, ed. 2020. Faces of Tradition in Chinese Performing Arts. Series: Encounters: Explorations in Folklore and Ethnomusicology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN: 978-0-253-04583-6
Available in Paperback and E-Book

Faces of Tradition in Chinese Performing Arts examines the key role of the individual in the development of traditional Chinese performing arts such as music and dance. These artists and their artistic works—the “faces of tradition”—come to represent and reconfigure broader fields of cultural production in China today. The contributors to this volume explore the ways in which performances and recordings, including singing competitions, textual anthologies, ethnographic videos, and CD albums, serve as discursive spaces where individuals engage with and redefine larger traditions and themselves. By focusing on the performance, scholarship, collection, and teaching of instrumental music, folksong, and classical dance from a variety of disciplines–these case studies highlight the importance of the individual in determining how traditions have been and are represented, maintained, and cultivated. Continue reading

Kazakh family caught in Xinjiang vortex

Source: Global Voices (1/22/20)
Kazakh family of writers and musicians caught in the Xinjiang vortex
Three siblings in camps and nobody to care for their elderly mother
By Mehmet Volkan and Chris Rickleton

The Oralbais — another family destroyed by China’s crackdown in Xinjiang. Photo used with permission

When they were children, Bagila and Baktygul Oralbai frequently went swimming. Their village was on the shores of the Ili river and their childhood memories were shaped by that great body of water that flows from the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Xinjiang region to Almaty province in neighboring Kazakhstan.

Their older brother, Dilshat, often joined them. In the warmer months, Dilshat would fish on the river, and in the winter, when it froze over, he would snowboard there. All six Oralbai children loved music, but it was Bagila and Baktygul that sang and danced whenever Dilshat played his dombra, a traditional Kazakh stringed instrument.

Their idyllic childhood, recalled by the trio’s sister Gulaisha Oralbai, finds echoes in the family histories of many other ethnic Kazakhs from Xinjiang. But this way of life, along with those of other Turkic and majority-Muslim groups living in the region (Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, Hui and Tatars) is fast vanishing under a crackdown directed by the Communist Party of China (CCP) that many argue amounts to cultural genocide. Continue reading

Do coercive reeducation technologies actually work

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

Top cultural events of 2019

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.

Visitors view exhibits at the Fourth Shanxi Cultural Industries Fair in Taiyuan city, Shanxi province, Dec 5, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

1. Public opinion invited for draft law on cultural industries promotion

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

Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst one-China bubble

Source: Washington Post (12/15/19)
Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst Beijing’s one-China bubble
By Anna Fifield 

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)

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

Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals review

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: 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)

Sebastian Veg. Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. ix + 352 pgs. ISBN: 9780231191401 (hardcover); ISBN: 9780231549400 (e-book).

“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.”[1] 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.[2] 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

China uses DNA to map faces

Source: NYT (12/4/19)
China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
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

Tibet’s most popular song

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.

South Park creators offer fake apology

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

China’s war on Uighur culture

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 <>

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

China Brand Insider

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.

Best Regards,
Chen Zeng
China Film Insider