Translating Chinese Internet Literature–cfp

Call for Contributions for an Edited Volume
Translating Chinese Internet Literature: Global Adaptation and Circulation
Publisher: Routledge (Routledge Studies in Chinese Translation)
Deadline for abstracts: 15 January 2024
Editors: Wenqian Zhang, University of Exeter, UK; Sui He, Swansea University, UK

Chinese Internet literature (CIL), also known as Chinese online/web/network literature, refers to “Chinese-language writing, either in established literary genres or in innovative literary forms, written especially for publication in an interactive online context and meant to be read on-screen” (Hockx 2015, 4). While CIL is commonly equated with Chinese web-based genre fiction known for entertainment value, it encompasses a broader range of genres such as poetry and comic strips, covering realistic themes prevailing in serious literature (Inwood 2016; Feng 2021). CIL is born-digital, but it differs essentially from ‘electronic literature’ or ‘digital literature’ that originated in the West. While Western e-literature is “more technology-oriented” (Duan 2018, 670) and usually involves “some sort of computer programming or code” (Hockx 2015, 5–6), CIL is relatively less technologised and experimental in format. In fact, what makes CIL stand out is its interactive features facilitated by professional literary platforms, its underlying profit motive, and mass participation in terms of literary writing, reading and criticism (Hockx 2015).

Over the past three decades, the proliferation of CIL has been fuelled by advancements in internet technology and formulation of larger social media communities, alongside other key factors such as economic growth and the constantly changing ideological and political discourses in and outside mainland China. One notable landmark in the trajectory of CIL is the implementation of a pay-per-read business model by the literary website Qidian (起点 Starting Points) in 2003 – in this model, Qidian charges readers for accessing serialised popular novels and their ‘VIP chapters’ (Hockx 2015, 110). This step marks the beginning of the commodification of CIL. It reshapes the literary writing practices and author-reader/producer-consumer dynamics in Chinese cyberspace (Schleep 2015, Tian and Adorjan 2016). Further developments along this line have enabled CIL to grow into a streamlined industry and mature ecosystem, with a vast number of popular titles being adapted into films, TV/web series, video games and other types of media products, generating enormous economic value and revenue. Continue reading

Nationalist pundit Sima Nan’s about-face (2)

I just wish that Western media, not least American media, could learn from this, as they keep interviewing Chinese “academics” and other people in China who pretend to have their own opinion that just happens to coincide with the regime — in reality those are just stooges of the regime that will shift any time required. They are interviewed because they are presumably “outside the government.” People like Victor Gao, et al, who are constantly interview by CNN etc. despite the false premise.

Generally speaking, Chinese people in China do not have opinions of their own — because that is not allowed, and it is too dangerous for them, so they typically will tell you (what they think are) the opinions of the government.

I feel it’s deeply misleading, and unethical, when Western media present such “opinionators” as if they represent something other than the regime.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Nationalist pundit Sima Nan’s about-face

Source: China Digital Times (11/16/23)
“Joke of the Year”: Nationalist Pundit Sima Nan Says He “Strives to Promote Friendly Sino-American Relations”
By Cindy Carter

As Chinese state media tone down their anti-U.S. rhetoric and promote the Weibo hashtag #感受中美民意暖流# (#Experience the Warm Current of Public Opinion on Sino-American Relations) in recognition of the Xi-Biden meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco, China’s nationalist pundits have followed suit. The most notable example is Sima Nan, whose fiery blasts against the U.S. have earned him legions of fans, as well as countless critics. His recent claim that he “strives to promote friendly Sino-American relations” was met with incredulity by many online, including the authors of the two essays below.

A screen-grab of a TV program featuring Sima Nan, wearing a dark suit jacket and white shirt, sitting in front of a wall of books in bookcases. 

Sima Nan declares, “I strive to promote friendly Sino-American relations.”

Over the years, Sima Nan has been the subject of a number of controversies, some of which he provoked, and others that were simply bad luck. During a visit to the U.S. in early 2012, he got his head caught between the escalator railing and the wall at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., necessitating a trip to the hospital and a neck brace. This prompted some pointed comment on the fact that the U.S. had been willing to grant a visa to such a strident critic. Later that year, after Sima Nan finished a lecture at Hainan University, a student hurled a shoe at him, earning cheers from others in the audience. In 2014, his social media post about hobnobbing with a young passenger with a leather jacket and mohawk on a Beijing subway backfired, as the young man was clearly not a fan. And in July 2023, Sima Nan was ridiculed and accused of hypocrisy after social media posts showed the inveterate critic of the U.S. apparently enjoying himself at an American Independence Day party thrown by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

A recent WeChat essay “Shocking! Sima Nan: I Strive to Promote Friendly Sino-American Relations” marvels at the hawkish pundit’s sudden change of tune. Published by WeChat account @玖奌杂货店 (Jiǔdiǎn záhuòdiàn, “9:00 Grocery Store”), the essay includes an angry, screenshotted message from one of Sima Nan’s loyal supporters, as well as some jocular comments from dismayed readers: Continue reading

Maoist blog attacks censorship

Source: China Digital Times (11/14/23)
Maoist Blog Republishes All-out Attack on Party-State Censorship

In online slang, “rushing the tower”  (冲塔 chōngtǎ) means posting politically sensitive commentary knowing full well that it will be censored, with potentially worse consequences ranging from account deletion to detention. The term is borrowed from the language of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video games. A recent post from the WeChat account @冲破黎明前的黑暗 (Chōngpò límíng qián de hēi’àn, “Breach the darkness before dawn,” in English) is an illustrative example of the genre.

In an essay titled “Arise, Ye Bloggers Who Refuse to be Slaves!” (a reference to the first line of China’s national anthem, the “March of the Volunteers,” which has been repeatedly censored on Weibo), the author strikes out against censors who remove posts for unspecified “violations.” With “they” as an obvious stand-in for the powers that be, the author speculates that there can only be three reasons for censorship of the truth: “1. They’ve done wrong, and fear the people finding out. 2. They’re doing wrong, and fear the people’s criticism. 3. They’re planning to do wrong, and fear the people exposing them.” The essay perfectly captures the sentiments that drive Chinese netizens to “rush the tower,” consequences be damned. CDT has translated portions of the now-censored essay that demonstrate the bravery in the face of censorship exhibited by many Chinese writers, both famous and unknown: Continue reading

Chinese propaganda embraces US

Source: NYT (11/14/23)
As Xi Heads to San Francisco, Chinese Propaganda Embraces America
After years of anti-American propaganda, the softer, warmer depiction of relations with the United States has left some Chinese social media users confused or amused.
By Vivian Wang and 

Xi Jinping holds behind a steering wheel inside a green and yellow tractor. A man is next to him, smiling.

Xi Jinping, then-vice president of China, in Iowa in 2012 in a tractor with a farmer. Credit…Pool photo by Charlie Neibergall

Not long ago, Chinese propaganda was warning that American attempts at easing tensions were mere performance. Its state security agency was urging people to be on guard against American spies. The country’s leader, Xi Jinping, declared that the United States was engaged in a campaign of “all-around containment, encirclement and suppression,” in remarks broadcast across state media.

Now, the tone used to discuss the United States has suddenly shifted. Xinhua, the state news agency, on Monday published a lengthy article in English about the “enduring strength” of Mr. Xi’s affection for ordinary Americans. It included old photos of him sitting in a tractor with an Iowa farmer, and revisiting the home where he once stayed in an American college student’s “Star Trek”-themed bedroom.

“More delightful moments unfolded when Xi showed up to watch an N.B.A. game,” the article continued, describing a visit by Mr. Xi to the United States in 2012. “He remained remarkably focused on the game.”

Separately, Xinhua has published a five-part series in Chinese on “Getting China-U.S. Relations Back on Track.” A torrent of other state media articles has highlighted recent visits to China by the American Ballet Theater and the Philadelphia Orchestra, or the story of U.S. veterans who helped China fight Japan during World War II, some of whom visited China this month. “Veterans visit Chinese cities, anticipating everlasting China-U.S. friendship,” one headline declared. Continue reading

Mao and character reform, revisionist history on CCTV

Source: Language Log (11/7/23)
Mao and Chinese Character Reform: Revisionist History on CCTV
By David Moser

Just when you thought CCP propaganda couldn’t get more absurd, China Central Television (CCTV) has aired a short TV series in which Confucius and Karl Marx actually meet up for comradely chat about ideology. In typical fantasy time-travel style, Marx simply appears miraculously at the Yuelu Academy (estab. 976) in Hunan, and is warmly greeted by Confucius to chants of “A friend visiting from afar is a great delight.” (有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎?) The two gray-bearded philosophers then sit down together to discuss how their respective theories seem to merge harmoniously to form an ideal basis for governing China.

This bit of historical cosplay is part of Xi Jinping’s “Soul and Root” (魂和根) propaganda campaign, introducing the notion that Marxism and Confucianism – the “Two Combines” (兩個結合) – must be integrated to form a unified national identity, with Marxism being the “soul” and traditional culture, including Confucianism, being the “root.”

This awkward conjoining of the two philosophies is a bit of a shotgun wedding. There is the obvious fact that the Confucian emphasis on social roles and class hierarchies are in conflict with Marxism’s ultimate goal of eliminating class distinctions. And more uncomfortable is the fact that the May 4th intellectuals (including Mao himself) despised Confucianism, viewing its stultifying conservatism and dogmatism as a major cause of China’s weakness during the waning years of the Qing dynasty. The TV series at least acknowledges this tension in passing. For interested readers, Ryan Ho Kilpatrick provides a succinct summary of this new Party propaganda push at the China Media Project site. Continue reading

The China Project shuts down

What a shame. The China Project is shutting down. For over seven years, it has offered broad and in-depth news on China that complemented mainstream media reporting. It will be sorrily missed. — Kirk

Jiong -- bright or brilliant

Source: The China Project  (11/7/23)
We have to shut down, and this is why

The China Project (formerly SupChina) launched in 2016 with the aim of informing the world about China with a breadth and depth that general interest news organizations cannot devote to one country.

As the U.S.-China relationship deteriorated, and China’s relations with other countries have become more complicated in the years since then, our work has only become more important.

But sadly, that same work has put several targets on our backs. We have been accused many times in both countries of working for nefarious purposes for the government of the other. Defending ourselves has incurred enormous legal costs, and, far worse, made it increasingly difficult for us to attract investors, advertisers, and sponsors. While our subscription offerings have been growing strongly and steadily, we are not yet in a position to rely on these revenues to sustain our operations. The media business is precarious, and the politically motivated attacks on us from various interested parties put us in an even worse situation.

We are not prepared to compromise our values for funding. And this week, we learned that a source of funding that we had been counting on was no longer going to come through, and we have had to make the difficult decision to close down. Continue reading

China’s Online Literature talk

Online Talk: China’s Online Literature and the Problem of Preservation
Dr. Michel Hockx
Thursday, November 16, 2023
6:00-7:30p.m. CST
Virtual event held on Zoom.

Please register to attend:


Since their introduction in the late 1990s, websites devoted to the production and discussion of literary work have been ubiquitous on the Chinese Web. Over the years, the study of online literature has become an established field of inquiry within the Chinese academy. General studies and textbooks have been produced, and especially for the first decade or so of online literary production, there appears to be consensus on what were the most important sites, authors, and works. This emerging canon of born-digital works, however, can rarely still be found online in its original location and context. This paper addresses the challenges of preserving early Chinese Internet literature, as well as the opportunities for literary analysis when preservation does take place.

About the speaker

Dr. Michel Hockx is professor of Chinese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely, both in English and in Chinese, on topics related to modern Chinese literary culture, especially early 20th-century Chinese magazine literature and print culture and contemporary Internet literature. His monograph Internet Literature in China was listed by Choice magazine as one of the “Top 25 Outstanding Academic Titles of 2015.”

Posted by: Faye Xiao <>

China’s fake press problem

Source: China Media Project (10/26/23)
China’s Fake Press Problem
By David Bandurski
Controls on news and information in China, seen as key to protecting the CCP regime, are perhaps the strictest in the world. So how — and why — are entirely spurious media outfits operating right under the nose of the authorities?

When two men arrived outside the gates of a coal processing enterprise in the city of Zhengzhou back in May this year and began filming video, the company’s boss demanded to know their business. The men explained that they were journalists from Henan Economic News (河南经济报), and that they were documenting his company’s failure to comply with environmental standards.

From there, the conversation moved quickly beyond the facts of their planned report to a more practical question — how the company could make it disappear.

If the boss wished not to have his company’s violations reported publicly, a simple arrangement was possible. For 12,000 yuan (about 1,600 dollars) transferred directly to a designated account, the journalists could shelve the report. The transaction would be disguised as a payment for a company subscription to Henan Economic News. The men could even provide an invoice bearing the media outlet’s official stamp. Continue reading

Chinese mourn the death of Li Keqiang

Source: NYT (10/27/23)
Chinese Mourn the Death of a Premier, and the Loss of Economic Hope
An outpouring on social media for Li Keqiang, the former premier who died Friday, reflected public grief for an era of greater growth and possibility.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, wearing a dark suit, bowing low while standing on a deep red carpet.

Premier Li Keqiang after delivering his state of the nation address in March. He served as China’s No. 2 official for a decade until eight months ago. Credit…Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

They posted videos on social media of the time he promised that China would remain open to the outside world. They shared photos of him, standing in ankle-deep mud, visiting victims of a flood. They even noted the economic growth target for the first year of his premiership: 7.5 percent.

The death Friday of Li Keqiang, 68, prompted spontaneous mourning online. Mr. Li served as premier, China’s No. 2 official, for a decade until last March.

Among many Chinese, Mr. Li’s death produced a swell of nostalgia for what he represented: a time of greater economic possibility and openness to private business. The reaction was jarring and showed the dissatisfaction in China with the leadership of Xi Jinping, China’s hard-line leader who grabbed an unprecedented third term in office last year after maneuvering to have the longstanding limit of two terms abolished.

In post after post on social media, people praised Mr. Li more for what he stood for and said than for what he was able to accomplish under Mr. Xi, who drove economic policymaking during Mr. Li’s period in office. Continue reading

Visual language of official press

Source: China Media Project (10/20/23)
The Visual Language of China’s Official Press
Understanding the political messages of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) requires much more than mere summary and translation — and more even than close textual readings. Here’s a walk through the basics, looking at today’s edition of the Party’s flagship newspaper.
By David Bandurski

In the official Party-state media in China, design is driven by politics — and it is a crucial aspect of the political discourse. Want to see this principle in action? Today’s edition of the People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) offers a prime example.

The oddest and most prominent feature of the front page of the People’s Daily today is the large vertical headline running down the left-hand side. The headline, which announces that top leader Xi Jinping met with international leaders attending the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, ties the rest of the headlines on the page together. All are announcements of separate meetings, each with a different foreign leader.

As has been the case all week in the official state media in China, the top story is the Belt and Road. Coverage has touted its great benefits for participating countries, and for the entire world — emphasizing the growing economic and political centrality of China and its top leader.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the global infrastructure development and trade promotion program, which has been a pillar of China’s foreign policy, and the forum this week is the year’s most prominent opportunity for state-run media to roll out related domestic and international propaganda.

They have not missed the chance. Coverage of the Belt and Road Forum has eclipsed all other stories, including one of the world’s most pressing concerns, the unfolding conflict in Gaza and its potentially disastrous implications for security in the Middle East. Continue reading

Chongzhen Emperor book withdrawn

China Digital Times (10/18/23)
Xi Parallels Suspected behind Withdrawal of Book on Ill-Fated Chongzhen Emperor

On October 16, it was reported online that a recent reprint of the historical biography “The Chongzhen Emperor: Diligent Ruler of a Failed Dynasty” (《崇祯:勤政的亡国君》Chóngzhēn: Qínzhèng de Wángguó Jūn, ISBN 9787549640775) had been recalled by the book distributor Dook Media Group (读客文化Dúkè Wénhuà). A notice from the distributor stated that due to an unspecified “printing problem,” the book was being recalled from the shelves of all online booksellers, Xinhua bookstores, and private bookstores. At present, the cover image of the book is no longer displayed on online platforms, and the hashtag #Chongzhen has been search-censored on Weibo, with searches only showing content from verified users.

Continue reading

Abe assassination reenactment creates Weibo firestorm

Source: China Digital Times (10/10/23)
Abe Assassination Reenactment Creates Weibo Firestorm

A skit reenacting former Japanese President Shinzo Abe’s assassination—staged during a high school field day in Zaozhuang, Shandong—has reignited online debate over rising anti-Japanese sentiment in China. Abe’s assassination in 2022 shocked the world; the Chinese government’s official statement mirrored that sentiment. But on Chinese social media and in some offline corners of the country, a much different sentiment predominated: glee. On Weibo, some hailed Abe’s assassin as a “hero of the Anti-Japanese War” (as World War Two is referred to in Chinese), and at least one restaurant offered an “Abe Banquet Meal Deal” on the food delivery app Meituan in celebration. A wave of anti-Japanese incidents followed, including the arrest of a woman who paid for memorial tablets for Japanese war criminals in a Nanjing temple, the cancellation of a series of long-running Japan-inspired festivals, and the arrest of a woman in Suzhou who wore a kimono in public. Anti-Japanese sentiment perhaps reached a new apogee with the release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in late August 2023. The Shandong students who performed the skit reenacting Abe’s death drew a connection between the two unrelated events—Abe’s assassination and the Fukushima wastewater release—by unfurling a banner that read, “Two Gunshots Leave A Cold Corpse, Wastewater Release Leaves A Long Aftermath,” at the moment of the actor-Abe’s collapse. Video of the incident was posted to X, formerly known as Twitter: Continue reading

Netflix and East Asian Audio-Visual Culture–cfp

Call for Papers for a special issue of Global Storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images 4.2 (December 2024)

Netflix and East Asian Audio-visual Culture

In the early 21st century, Netflix fundamentally shifted the delivery model for global audio-visual content, and its unique characteristic as a program curator has made it a cultural mediator with the ability to shape local content productions. As global OTT (over-the-top) platforms, including Netflix and Disney+, play a pivotal role in cultural production, East Asian cultural products such as dramas, reality shows, films, and animation have experienced changes in genres, themes, visual style, and narratives. Netflix originals or licensed cultural programs are circulated simultaneously in many countries, compelling local cultural creators to adjust their production norms to attract Netflix and Netflix users. In South Korea, for example, the local audio-visual industry started to develop zombie, sci-fi, adventure, and dark thriller; and there are now a multitude of television dramas and films that focus on these genres and themes in the era of global OTTs. Netflix has also driven in changes in audiences’ consumption habits in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other countries. East Asian cultural creators have re-oriented their standards in cultural production. On the other hand, Netflix has also been on the constant lookout for new genres and themes that have proven successful elsewhere including in East Asia. In Japan, for instance, based on the global success of several Anime products, Netflix plans to develop live-action and animated feature films originating from the country. Continue reading