Chinese Film Classics update

Here’s an update on Christopher Rea’s project Chinese Film Classics.–Kirk

A free YouTube playlist of early Chinese films with English subtitles
Translated by Christopher Rea (
List of films current as of June 12, 2020


Laborer’s Love (1922): The earliest surviving complete Chinese film. In this short slapstick comedy, a carpenter-turned-fruit seller is in love with a doctor’s daughter and uses the tricks of his former trade to win her father’s approval. Features special effects and original Chinese-English intertitles. Draws a laugh from kids and grown-ups alike.

Playthings (1933): Ruan Lingyu and Li Lili star as mother and daughter, artisan toymakers whose livelihood is being ruined by mass-produced foreign imports. After her son is kidnapped, Sister Ye leads the community in supporting soldiers defending Shanghai against the Japanese invasion of 1932. Director Sun Yu harnesses the charisma of two screen goddesses in this parable about China’s urgent need for military and economic self-strengthening. Ruan’s final scene is a tour de force. Continue reading

Zoom censorship

The issue of Zoom censorship of users in both the US, China, and in Hong Kong, is becoming a big topic – and the company is failing to answer basic questions.

The issue broke with yesterday’s original Axios report of a U.S. based paid Zoom account shuttered for doing an online Tiananmen conference with participants from China, including a prominent Tiananmen Mother, Zhang Xianling, and Dong Shengkun, a factory worker who spent 17 years in jail for his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy protests. See:

Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law”. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Axios, June 10, 2020. (updated with a vague company response)

The journalist who broke the story, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, tells on Twitter about the Zoom company PR department now flooding her with demands for “corrections” and “updates” – but, Zoom is still not answering her basic questions about exactly what authorities told the company to shutter the account and exactly on what grounds:

One account surfaced today of a noted China scholar at the US Council of Foreign Relations being cut off mid-sentence, for speaking of the wrong topics, including the Uyghurs. Continue reading

U of Freiburg MA program applications

I would like to notify MCLC list readers with students applying to MA programs from within the EU that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our program’s application deadline for EU citizens for the academic year beginning in Fall 2020 has been extended to August 15, 2020 (non-EU applicants are due on June 15).

As of this year, all applications must be submitted through the online electronic system. Updated information about applying to the English-language MA program in Modern China Studies at the University of Freiburg can be found on our website:

If you have students who are interested or need application help, please have them contact me directly with questions: I have also included a copy of our full advertisement for the program below in case you would like to forward this to prospective students.

All best,

Amanda Shuman Continue reading

Portraits of schoolchildren

Source: SCMP (5/29/20)
Portraits of schoolchildren in rural China on show in Hong Kong to raise funds for charity
Hong Kong artist Hazel Tsui has visited more than 100 schools in remote parts of China as a volunteer. At each one, she takes photos that she later uses as the basis for oil paintings
By Kylie Knott

Hong Kong artist Hazel Tsui has helped charities since she was a teenager. Paintings she has made of children she photographed at schools in rural China are on show in Hong Kong to raise money for a charity she and her husband founded. Photo: SCMP / Jonathan Wong

Hong Kong artist Hazel Tsui has helped charities since she was a teenager. Paintings she has made of children she photographed at schools in rural China are on show in Hong Kong to raise money for a charity she and her husband founded. Photo: SCMP / Jonathan Wong

Hong Kong artist Hazel Tsui is modest about her portraits of schoolchildren that capture her time volunteering in remote areas of China.

“I started volunteering in poor rural areas of China around 2004 and have visited more than 100 primary and secondary schools,” she says.

Her work, which has taken her to Gansu, Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, was driven by concerns over the high rates of illiteracy in these remote villages.

“Sometimes it would take up to 18 hours by train, car and foot to reach these places,” she says. “I took loads of pictures and each one tells a story about village life. Putting these moments into a painting has been an interesting process but I must point out that I’m not a professional painter, I’ve had no formal training.” Continue reading

Racism and Orientalism

Racism and Orientalism: An online roundtable on racialised discourse on COVID-19
Date And Time: Thu, 30 April 2020; 18:00 – 19:45 BST
Link to live event:

Across the globe, racism against East Asians, particularly people of Chinese ethnicity, whether in person or on the Internet, has been widely reported since the outbreak of COVID-19. The United States President Donald Trump has referred to the virus as “the Chinese virus”, fuelling verbal and physical abuse and xenophobia towards Asian Americans. In the United Kingdom, there have been incidents of mask-wearing Chinese and Asian students becoming targets for racist attacks. This phenomenon is not only a problematic combination of racist hatred and maskaphobia, but also constitutes a dilemma for Asians who are forced to choose between exposing themselves to the threat of coronavirus and fear of racist abuse. On the other hand, the association of the virus with a particular ethnicity or Asians who exhibit Chinese physical characteristics has also contributed to a conflation of Asians, Chinese people, China and the Chinese government. Under the mask of political critique against the authoritarian-backward Other and concerns over the health and safety of non-Asian populations, central to the racialised and political discourse on the COVID-19 crisis is a dangerous Orientalism that exposes the limits of ethnic and cultural diversity, and frustrates efforts of states in ensuring the overall well-being of its residents in an increasingly globalised and connected world. Continue reading

Chinese Film Classics

I hope list members are keeping well. I am writing to share English-subtitled versions of twelve early Chinese films, which I have made available open-access on the YouTube channel “Chinese Film Classics”:

The films currently available are: 

  1. Laborer’s Love 勞工之愛情 (Zhang Shichuan, dir., 1922)
  2. Daybreak 天明 (Sun Yu, dir., 1933)
  3. Goddess 神女 (Wu Yonggang, dir., 1934)
  4. Sports Queen 體育皇后 (Sun Yu, dir., 1934)
  5. The Great Road 大路 (Sun Yu, dir., 1934 [released 1935])
  6. New Women 新女性 (Cai Chusheng, dir., 1935) (translated by Eileen Cheng-yin Chow)
  7. Street Angels 馬路天使 (Yuan Muzhi, dir., 1937)
  8. Song at Midnight 夜半歌聲 (Ma-Xu Weibang, dir., 1937)
  9. Long Live the Missus! 太太萬歲 (Sang Hu, dir., 1947) (also available with filmscript and stills on MCLC Publications:
  10. Spring in a Small Town 小城之春 (Fei Mu, dir. 1948)
  11. Wanderings of Three-Hairs the Orphan 三毛流浪記 (Zhao Ming and Yan Gong, dirs., 1949)
  12. Crows and Sparrows 烏鴉與麻雀 (Zheng Junli, dir., 1949 [released 1950]) (also available with filmscript and stills on MCLC Publications:

Continue reading

Rahile Dawut petition

Source: network of concerned historians (nch)

Dear colleagues,

Rahile Dawut is a historical anthropologist. She studies the traditions of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Northwest China. On 12 December 2017, she disappeared.

What can you do?

  • Sign a petition on her behalf: here.
  • Visit her website: here.
  • Consult a list of 325 Uyghur intellectuals imprisoned since 2016: here (pdf).
  • See for an incomplete list of imprisoned Uyghur historians: NCH Annual Report 2019 (pdf).

Please find below:

  • A NCH summary of Rahile Dawut’s case.
  • The text of the petition on her behalf.

Continue reading

Access to free resources

Dear Chinese scholars,

We’ve been working with vendors supplying Chinese language e-resources to seek free full access to their databases through June to support online teaching and research in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. We are glad to share that we have prepared a list of over 100 databases with generous support from a variety of vendors and publishers.

We have also been communicating with vendors and asking for flexible pricing models to address our unique needs, such as tier-based or user size-based models. We’d like to encourage you to ask your library to advocate for flexible pricing models when contacting the vendors so that more libraries could afford the needed resources.

We are grateful to the vendors and publishers for understanding the impact of the current global COVID-19 pandemic on our community and making content available and accessible during this challenging time. We hope these resources will facilitate your teaching and research. Wish you, your family, and students stay healthy and safe.

Best wishes,

Yao Chen
East Asian Studies Librarian at UC Santa Barbara
Secretary (2018-2021), Council on East Asian Libraries
Chair (2020-2022), Committee for Information Exchange, Society for Chinese Studies Librarians

Chengzhi Wang
Chinese Studies Librarian at Columbia University
Chair (2020-2023), Committee on Chinese Materials, Council on East Asian Libraries

US intelligence concludes China misrepresented coronavirus deaths (4)

In the age of Trumpism, everything is possible. And, to those who did not know it, one of the most important roles of the intelligence apparatus is to deceive in order to create a “better” ground for its chiefs in their own propaganda efforts. So, let’s make America great again while slamming her competition.

Dan Ben-Canaan <>

HK Cinema MOOC


Hello from Hong Kong! We’ve been thinking about teaching across distances and disciplines for some time now and in these challenging times we are keen to offer you material and a little morale boost.

To accommodate your needs, and expand your menu of online teaching and learning options, we are offering Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Hong Kong cinema to be produced anywhere in the world, as a learner-paced course.  That means all six units open simultaneously on April 1, 2020.

Feel free to enjoy the entire course or pick and choose lessons to fit your own individual needs. Continue reading

Academic freedom index

Fascinating new report on academic freedom globally ranks China down in the worst bottom level. Also, rebuts the idea that some Chinese universities rank high globally. No, they should be downgraded sharply.

See: 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. PDF HERE.

The “dataset was developed collaboratively by experts at the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Scholars at Risk Network, and the V‑Dem Institute. The data is publicly available, and V‑Dem provides an online tool that can be used to analyze any of the indicators.”

BTW, one surprise (for me at least) was that Thailand counts in the bottom level, alongside China. Woa. That bad now.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Being 21 during the Coronavirus

Source: China Channel, LARB (3/21/20)
Being Twenty-One During Coronavirus
Advice for students out of school, from Shi Tiesheng’s celebrated essay
By Nick Admussen

Shi Tiesheng (

Nick Admussen is an associate professor of Chinese Literature and Culture at Cornell University, where all classes were cancelled last Friday. He penned this letter, edited for publication, to his students before leaving his desk.

As cases of Covid-19 spread and we begin a period of social distancing, I want to give you my argument for continuing to do the two things university was designed for: to read and to write. Colleges often present themselves to students as a package excursion for youth: open quadrangles, energetic friends and lovers, deep conversation, light beer, live music, parties. It is that, and much more. Yet my colleagues and I didn’t become literature professors – we didn’t become literate – by going to class. We learned what we know in rooms that lacked conversation, friends, and open doors.

Today I’ve been rereading the Chinese writer Shi Tiesheng, a Beijing native who was assigned to rural labor during the Cultural Revolution, when at the age of 21 his spine was injured in an accident and he was rendered paraplegic. His 1991 essay ‘The Year of Being Twenty-One’, translated by Dave Haysom, records his struggles to come to terms with the new limits on his mobility and his future. In the essay, he watches carefully as the other patients in hospital respond to their own illnesses, and to the social and emotional sicknesses that constrain them. From his sickbed, Shi talks with a man with aphasia (“Bed Two”) who has lost all nouns. He remembers a seven-year old boy who fell off a truck and never walked again. And he tells of a pair of lovers pulled apart by an accident, and more. Their stories leap off the page, as if there is something bigger behind them, laboring to push its way through. Continue reading

Interview with Guo Yuhua

Source: China Channel, LARB (3/15/20)
Guo Yuhua: China’s Suffering Class
By Jonathan Chatwin
An anthropologist of China’s underclasses talks to Jonathan Chatwin

Guo Yuhua next to the Nujiang River (courtesy of the interviewee).

Guo Yuhua is Professor of Anthropology at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She has spent the majority of her career researching and writing about the lives of rural Chinese people. Her work The Narration of the Peasant: How Can ‘Suffering’ Become History? is based on oral histories collected during her research in Ji village in northern Shaanxi province. She has written: “one of the ways to defeat the hegemony of official texts and official discourse is to write the history of ordinary people, the history of the ‘sufferers’.”

Professor Guo is currently undertaking research on food safety and peasant workers suffering from pneumoconiosis, a lung disease which affects workers in coal mines, quarries and foundries. Guo’s books are banned in China. As part of the China Conversations series, Guo Yuhua spoke from Beijing with writer Jonathan Chatwin.

What is your memory of studying history at school?

My college life was in the 1980s, the era of reform and opening up; we were all enthusiastic that China had embarked on the road of modernization. My graduate major was folklore and social anthropology – studying culture and folk custom – and the relationship between tradition and modernity. I hoped to discover which factors affected the habits and mores in Chinese society, and why China had lagged behind the world for many years. That was the reason for my interest in history. 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

Pedagogy of Chinese Film–cfp

In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have witnessed a fast-growing presence of pedagogical practices with moving images across a wide range of fields. Along with the ever-changing film studies curriculum, films have been used in diverse ways to, among other purposes, increase learning motivation and engagement; provide cognitive facilities for theoretical concepts; present complex and subtle information as analytical materials; and simulate an experience with unfamiliar, underrepresented, or difficult-to-reach subjects. At the same time, there are scholars and instructors who caution against using film for teaching, especially when the subject is projected as an “other” on screen, because they are concerned about its potential to create negative emotional tension; blur the boundary between reality and representation; and generate false, distorted, or simplistic understanding of real-world complexity. Continue reading