“Fragile” music video (1)

As a follow-up to my Oct. 22 post, see below, for an excellent write-up by Chris Horton in The Atlantic, on the hit song “Fragile” (or Glass Heart 玻璃心) by Namewee and Kimberley Chen, now at 27 million views already, not just 26m … that was yesterday.How refreshing this is! Just like Kimberley Chen says here: “it is not censored, it is not limited, it is not bullshit.”–Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

ps. The song again:

Earlier I recommended this discussion. And this is PRICELESS: Namewee responding to China netizens’ comments on Weibo (May 16, 2021, before the song was released):

What a guy! The man has both a spine, and a heart! Such a contrast to all the cowardly censors, spiteful propagandists, and petty trolls in China.

Also see this, very revealing report about how Kimberley was treated in China, as a would-be Tencent talent (her phone confiscated for months, room camera surveillance by pervert staff, and on and on, “This is China”).

Source: The Atlantic (11/9/21)
The World Is Fed Up With China’s Belligerence: Democracies are no longer as worried as they once were about offending a fragile Beijing.
By Chris Horton

In Chinese-speaking communities beyond the reach of Beijing’s censorship regime, the song “Fragile” has been an unexpected hit. With more than 26 million views on YouTube since dropping in mid-October, the satirical love song to Chinese nationalism has topped the site’s charts for Taiwan and Hong Kong, its lyrics mocking Chinese Communist Party rhetoric about Taiwan while also taking aim at Xi Jinping and Chinese censors. Continue reading

“Fragile” music video

This new music video “Fragile” is something else!

“It might Break Your Pinky Heart” by Namewee 黃明志 Ft.Kimberley Chen 陳芳語【Fragile 玻璃心】@鬼才做音樂 2021 Ghosician. Premiered Oct 15, 2021.

  • A nice writeup:

Malaysian rapper Namewee breaks the hearts of mainland Chinese ‘little pinks’ – Namewee and Kimberly Chen’s music is now banned in China.” Written by Oiwan Lam, Global Voices, 19 October 2021.

The Chinese lyrics are fantastic, the English translation a little bit halting, but you get it. (Can’t read the Malay subtitles). The lyrics even mentions the camps and the forced confessions — and are otherwise chock full of allusions to things like the pro-Chinese govt trolls’ disgusting “NMSL” curse, “Your Mom Is Dead.” Also the apples and pineapples, referring to the Chinese regime’s weaponizing of Taiwan fruits; etc. etc. Every sentence politically loaded, while at the same time it can all be read like it’s about complaining about an impossibly thin-skinned and abusive-domineering boyfriend, with a “heart of glass”, always angry and always smashing something, yet always insisting “You Belong to Me.”

In the end, the main thing may be how the Chinese regime is proving the singer-songwriter Namewee 100% right — by censoring him and Kimberley! These massively popular Chinese-language singers are now banned in China. Simply out of spite. Ha — their song just passed beyond ten million views now on Youtube.

I confess I watched it twice.

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Chinese student visas for US at pre-pandemic levels

Source: SupChina (8/24/21)
U.S. granted Chinese student visas at pre-pandemic levels in June
The U.S. issued nearly 34,000 F1 visas in June for Chinese students, about the same level as 2019. It’s not yet clear if the total number of Chinese students for the fall semester will be higher or lower than before the pandemic.
By Lucas Niewenhuis

An education expo in Beijing

An education expo in Beijing in 2018. Photo from Oriental Image via Reuters Connect.

For the approximately 370,000 Chinese students attending school in the U.S., the summer of 2020 was marked by a series of towering hurdles:

Continue reading

Chinese influence in higher education

Another example of corrupting Chinese influence in higher education, in democratic countries — this time from Switzerland:

A tweet cost him his doctorate: The extent of China’s influence on Swiss universities

A Swiss Ph.D. student tweeted critically about China. Afterward, his professor at the University of St. Gallen wanted nothing more to do with him, worried that her own ability to get a visa would be at risk. Larissa Rhyn, Katrin Büchenbacher (text); Christoph Fischer (illustrations) Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 4, 2021.

See linked article for multiple illustrations.

posted by: Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Chinese Heritage in the Indian Ocean

The University of Sydney China Studies Centre
Chinese Heritage in the Indian Ocean : A Cultural Anthropological Perspective
Date: Friday 13 August 2021
Time: 12:00 pm–1:00 pm AEST

Location: Online

About this event

Organised by the Department of Chinese Studies in collaboration with the China Studies Centre ‘Language, Literature, Culture and Education’ cluster, The Australian Society for Asian Humanities and the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture at UNSW.

Early overseas Chinese communities and their legacies are often disconnected from and overshadowed by grand historiographic narratives that attempt to legitimise China’s footprint in the world today. Drawing on the strength of a museological project commissioned by the Foshan municipal government, Guangdong, on the Cantonese societies in the Southwest Indian Ocean, this talk will unveil with anthropological evidence how during the late 19th and early 20th centuries Chinese migrants established themselves along the western coast of the Indian Ocean (i.e. the Mascarene Islands, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mozambique) and how varieties of Chinese heritage in this particular region are being rediscovered and re-evaluated for the present-day political and economic needs. It offers an alternative and bottom-up view of the role culture plays in China’s global strategy, distinct from the official tones of cultural diplomacy and people-to-people exchange.

About the speaker: Xuefei Shi is a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC-project TransOcean at Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Norway, and currently an affiliated researcher at the Department of Chinese Studies, USYD. His research looks into the mobilities of Chinese fishermen and fishing communities in the Indian Ocean, in particular Madagascar. With a Ph.D. in development studies from Radboud University, the Netherlands, he has extensive fieldwork experience in East Africa in the past decade. Continue reading

Fudan’s storm in Budapest (1)

Nice article, But, it’s dubious that “Shanghai’s Fudan University is one of China’s leading universities, ranked 70th in the world and third in mainland China according to the 2021 Times World University Rankings, after Tsinghua University and Peking University.”

That’s only if you believe the Times rankings, which are deeply flawed. We should not circulate such rankings, which ignore the key factor of academic freedom, which must obviously be a factor in ranking global universities. Fudan, Tsinghua, Beijing U, etc. suffer heavy censorship as they are policed by the Communist party (which admits this and promotes this state of affairs), so these universities of course don’t belong at the top.

There is now a better alternative … the new global Academic Freedom Index (AFi). We should use that, and avoid the flawed rankings from Times Higher Education, QS rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (aka Shanghai), etc. which fail to take these primary basics into account.

For more on this, see f.ex.: “Why university rankings must include academic freedom.” Robert Quinn, Janika Spannagel and Ilyas Saliba, University world news, 11 March 2021.

And: “Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action.” By Katrin Kinzelbach, Ilyas Saliba, Janika Spannagel, and Robert Quinn. Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), 26 Mar 2020.

ps. We should also do more to prevent our own universities from becoming anything like Fudan, Tsinghua, Beijing U. For some ideas, see f.ex.: “Academic freedom is paramount for universities. They can do more to protect it from China’s interference.” By Yun Jiang. The Conversation, June 30, 2021.

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Fudan’s storm in Budapest

Source: China Media Project (7/13/21)
Fudan’s Storm in Budapest
As plans by Shanghai’s Fudan University for a new international campus in Budapest’s ninth district meet staunch local opposition, with fears the project is a Trojan horse, it is unclear what lessons the university’s efforts in Hungary will have for the global future of Chinese higher education.
By Fulop Zsofia

Among the 23 sub-districts of Budapest, the ninth district, Ferencváros, has been called a “rustbelt” – a former industrial area now in decline that is awaiting revitalization. But for me, a resident here, Ferencváros is a vibrant place. Not far from the center of Budapest, it edges up to the Danube. The central area has beautiful old buildings, museums, universities, and one of Budapest’s largest and oldest markets. The place teems with young people, bars and a rich nightlife. The residential area on the outside of the district is equally rich in character, and the building I live in, named for the Hungarian poet Attila József, is green and flowery, drawing together a tapestry of young parents, pets and older retired people.

If you open up Google Maps and scan across the ninth district, you will notice certain changes: several streets here have suddenly had their names changed. On June 2, four streets along the Danube in the ninth district underwent sudden name changes. You can now find “Dalai Lama Road,” “Uyghur Martyrs Road,” “Liberate Hong Kong Road” (a reference to the slogan used during the 2019 protests in Hong Kong) and “Bishop Xie Shiguang Road” (referring to a bishop of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China who died in 2005). Continue reading

Nobelists decry China’s censorship attempts

Source: Science (7/27/21)
Nobelists decry Chinese government’s censorship attempts at the Nobel Summit
By Rodrigo Pérez Ortega

The Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., wanted to prevent Nobel laureate Yuan Lee, a Taiwanese chemist seen here in 2003, from speaking at a high-profile conference. RICKY CHUNG/SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a statement expressing outrage after the Chinese government intended to “bully the scientific community” earlier this year with attempts to censor two Nobel laureates during the Nobel Prize Summit, organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Nobel Foundation in April.

The statement alleges that staffers at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., phoned NAS officials in March, and again in early April before the summit, to insist that two scheduled speakers, the Dalai Lama and Yuan Lee—a Taiwanese chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986 for his work on chemical kinetics—be disinvited and not allowed to speak. An email with the same demand was received by NAS on 25 April, 1 day before the start of the summit. On all three occasions, NAS said no.

William Kearney, a NAS spokesperson, confirmed to Science that the Chinese embassy pressured NAS to remove both speakers from the agenda, “which of course, we did not do,” he says. Continue reading

Taiwan-born Li Kotomi nabs Akutagawa Prize

Source: The Asahi Shimbun (7/15/21)
Taiwan-born novelist Li Kotomi nabs Akutagawa Prize


Li Kotomi speaks to reporters on July 14 after winning the prestigious Akutagawa literary prize. (Yoshihisa Uehara) 

Li Kotomi from Taiwan was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize on July 14 for her Japanese-language novel “Higanbana ga Saku Shima” (The island where red spider lilies bloom).

Li, 31, became the second novelist whose native language is not Japanese to receive the honor following Yang Yi, who won the literary prize in 2008 for her novel “Toki ga Nijimu Asa” (Morning when time bleeds).

Mai Ishizawa, 41, also received the prize for her novel “Kai ni Tsuzuku Basho nite” (At places adjacent to shells) the same day.

Li, who also goes by the name Li Qinfeng, was born in Taiwan in 1989. Her novel is a fable that depicts an imaginary island to pose questions about gender equality.

Drawn in by the lure of the Japanese language, Li came to Japan in 2013 after graduating from National Taiwan University. She made her debut as a novelist in 2017 with her first work written in Japanese. Continue reading

Science journal editor quits over China boycott article

Source: The Guardian (6/30/21)
Science journal editor says he quit over China boycott article
David Curtis says publisher of Annals of Human Genetics blocked call for protest at treatment of Uyghurs
Matthew Weaver, The Guardian

A Chinese flag flying over a mosque in the Xinjiang region. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

The editor of a long-established academic journal has said he resigned after his publisher vetoed a call to boycott Chinese science in protest at Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Prof David Curtis, from University College London’s Genetics Institute, says his resignation as editor-in-chief of the Annals of Human Genetics is an issue of freedom of speech in the face of the science community’s increasing dependence on China.

The Annals was one of five prestigious academic journals, including the Lancet, the BMJ and the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama), that refused to publish an article [pdf] suggesting that academic journals should take a stance against China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang.

The journals involved have defended rejecting the piece and claimed that a boycott against China would be unfair and counterproductive. They have also denied being unduly deferential to China. But both the Annals publisher, Wiley, and the Lancet did suggest that publication of the letter could pose difficulties for their respective offices in China, the authors claim.

Curtis co-authored the article but said he was prevented from publishing it in his own magazine. He handed in his notice last September in protest and then stood down with immediate effect after rejecting submissions from Chinese academics. Only now has he revealed his reasons for quitting. Continue reading

Meet the mystery woman who mastered IBM’s Chinese typewriter

Source: Fast Company (5/17/21)
Meet the mystery woman who mastered IBM’s 5,400-character Chinese typewriter
Lois Lew operated the improbable, ill-fated machine with aplomb in presentations from Manhattan to Shanghai. 70-plus years later, she’s telling her story.
By Thomas S. Mullaney

Meet the mystery woman who mastered IBM’s 5,400-character Chinese typewriter

[Photos: courtesy of IBM]

I had seen this woman before. Many times now. I was certain of it. But who was she? In a film from 1947, she’s operating an electric Chinese typewriter, the first of its kind, manufactured by IBM. Semi-circled by journalists, and a nervous-looking middle-aged Chinese man—Kao Chung-chin, the engineer who invented the machine—she radiates a smile as she pulls a sheet of paper from the device. Kao is biting his lip, his eyes darting back and forth intently between the crowd and the typist.

As soon as I saw that film, I began to riffle through my files. I’m a professor of Chinese history at Stanford University, and I was years into a book project on the history of modern Chinese information technology—and the Chinese typewriter specifically. By that point, I had amassed a large and still-growing body of source materials, including archival documents, historic photographs, and even antique machines. My office was becoming something of a private museum.

As I thought, I’d encountered the typist previously in my research, in glossy IBM brochures and on the cover of Chinese magazines. Who was she? Why did she appear so frequently, so prominently, in the history of IBM’s effort to electrify the Chinese language? Continue reading

Academics continue China research while targeted by China sanctions

Source:  University World News (6/2/21)
Academics continue China research – while targeted by China sanctions
By Yojana Sharma

After China targeted academics and a research centre in Europe for its first ever sanctions against foreign researchers in March 2021, many feared it would have a wider impact on academic research on China.

But speaking some weeks after the imposition of sanctions on 22 and 26 March, imposed in part due to their work on China’s Xinjiang region, researchers said their work has hardly been impacted by Chinese sanctions as it was already hampered previously by unofficial restrictions and harassment.

However, some feared that sanctions could be widened to more academics as part of much wider geopolitical tensions, affecting China-related research globally. It could also impact on other areas where China sees it has leverage, such as sending international students to universities.

In March China sanctioned Joanne Smith Finley, a reader in Chinese studies at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, for what the Chinese foreign ministry called “maliciously spreading lies and information” about Xinjiang; Björn Jerdén, director of the Swedish National China Centre at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm; and Adrian Zenz, a German expert on Xinjiang who is currently senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in the United States. Continue reading

Critical China Scholars statement on the “lab-leak” investigation (1)

This statement is truly unfortunate, not least since this group has made a few sensible interventions in the past. But this one is just plain wrong.

Above all, it suffers from the kind of myopic, US-only worldview that is sometimes found on the left. Everything is about the USA: Never mind all the other countries and all the other people around the world, who are demanding an investigation of Covid’s origins — because millions of people died around the world and we do not know why. The world needs to know.

Yet the Chinese government now says the investigation is “complete” even before it has even begun, just because they have set their Party line narrative and are imposing strict censorship, as usual, allowing no-one to ask all the unanswered questions.

Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the recent WHO delegation, emphatically said their Wuhan visit was no investigation. Lots of scientists around the world have pointed out what remains to be done in the search for how Covid began. Even the WHO top director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, apparently tired of the earlier strategy of flattering the Chinese regime for its ‘transparency’, now stated clearly and seriously that it is necessary to find this out, and as part of that, the lab leak hypothesis is still on. Continue reading

Sinophone Studies: The View from Taiwan and HK

EVENT: Sinophone Studies: The View from Taiwan and Hong Kong

What does it mean to research and teach Sinophone studies in Taiwan and Hong Kong? Join us for a conversation with Min-xu Zhan, a specialist in Sinophone Malaysian literature at National Chung Hsing University, and Alvin K. Wong, an expert in queer Hong Kong culture at the University of Hong Kong.

Organizer and Host: Howard Chiang (hhchiang@ucdavis.edu)

Time: May 28, 2021 6pm in Pacific Time
Zoom Registration Link

Chloé Zhao and China: The Nomadland Moment

Source: The Film Quarterly (4/28/21)
Chloé Zhao and China: The Nomadland Moment
By Gina Marchetti


OSCAR SPECIAL. With the unprecedented success of Chloé Zhao and Nomadland at this week’s Oscars, Film Quarterly here offers a special Quorum edition: Gina Marchetti applies her expertise in Chinese cinema to decipher the influences lurking just under the surface of a film that may just be more Chinese than anyone realizes. In honor of the three Oscars that it won, Nomadland here gets three times the usual Quorum length.—B. Ruby Rich and Girish Shambu, editors of Film Quarterly and Quorum

The story of Su Min, an unhappily married former factory worker from Henan, who became an Internet sensation when she started posting videos of her solo road trip across the People’s Republic of China in a van, may seem like an unlikely way to open a conversation about Chloé Zhao’s US-set film, Nomadland (2020). However, there are similarities between Su Min and many of the women on the road in Zhao’s film that point to a way of looking at Nomadland that takes it outside of the American West. This perspective underscores its connections to a China which, visually and physically absent in the film, nevertheless structures its production, distribution, exhibition, and, arguably, much of its international critical acclaim.

As single, working-class women living frugally in order to have the freedom to live outside the confines of the traditional, patriarchal,  heterosexual family, either nuclear or multigenerational, Fern (Frances McDormand) and Su Min share common ground across continents. For Zhao, her film speaks beyond politics to a universal humanism that is prized by many in the film industry and can resonate with viewers in China:

I tried to focus on the human experience and things that I feel go beyond political statements to be more universal — the loss of a loved one, searching for home…I keep thinking about my family back in China — how would they feel about a cowboy in South Dakota, or a woman in her 60s living in America?…If I make it too specific to any issues, I know it’s going to create a barrier. They’d go, ‘That’s their problem.’

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