Coronavirus updates

Source: NYT (1/24/20)
Coronavirus Live Updates: China’s Travel Limits Now Cover 35 Million People
Shanghai Disneyland and other tourist sites across the country plan to shut down, at an unknown cost to the economy. RIGHT NOW: Beijing’s propaganda machine strikes a positive note as online anger persists over the government’s response.

A deadly outbreak is growing. Here’s what you need to know.

A construction site for a field hospital being built to treat patients with the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, on Friday.

China restricts travel for 35 million people as the death toll rises.

The authorities on Friday greatly expanded a travel lockdown in central China to include 12 cities near the center of the outbreak, effectively penning in 35 million residents — nearly the population of Canada — in an effort to contain the deadly virus.

The new limits — abruptly decreed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel season — were an extraordinary step that underlined the governing Communist Party’s deepening fears about the outbreak of a little-understood coronavirus. Continue reading

U of Minnesota student jailed in China over tweets

Source: Axios (1/23/20)
University of Minnesota student jailed in China over tweets
By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

Images of a cartoon villain

The images Luo allegedly posted.

A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota has been arrested in China and sentenced to six months in prison for tweets he posted while in the United States, according to a Chinese court document viewed by Axios. Some of the tweets contained images deemed to be unflattering portrayals of a “national leader.”

Why it matters: The case represents a dramatic escalation of the Chinese government’s attempts to shut down free speech abroad and a global expansion of a Chinese police campaign to track down Twitter users in China who posted content critical of the Chinese government.

What’s happening: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) called on China to release the student. “This is what ruthless and paranoid totalitarianism looks like,” said Sasse. Continue reading

SUV in Forbidden City prompts rage

Source: NYT (1/18/20)
S.U.V. in Forbidden City Prompts Rage at China’s Rich
Two women posed with a Mercedes in a revered site usually barred to vehicles, and became unwilling symbols of the wealth and privilege President Xi Jinping has promised to rein in.
By Javier Hernandez

Posing for photos by the south gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing. President Xi Jinping has sought to make it a global symbol of Chinese heritage. Credit…Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock

BEIJING — The photos prompted outrage almost as soon as they were posted.

They showed two women inside one of China’s most sacred spaces, the Forbidden City in Beijing, smiling as they showed off a glistening Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle.

On Weibo, a Twitterlike site, one of the women bragged about getting exclusive access to the palace, a notoriously congested tourist site, saying she had gone there to “run wild.”

The photos, which were posted on Friday, have set off debate in China about the privileges enjoyed by wealthy families, at a time when President Xi Jinping is trying to persuade the public that he is working to eliminate corruption and to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Continue reading

43 pound girl

Source: NYT (1/15/20)
She Was Known in China as ‘43 Pound Girl.’ Her Death Sparked Outrage
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The woman’s struggle made her a symbol of the effects of poverty and hunger and raised questions about philanthropy and government aid.
By Tiffany May

A screen grab from a social media post by the Guizhou Forerunner College announcing that Wu Huayan, 24, died of heart failure on Monday.

HONG KONG — To save money for her brother’s medical bills, the woman in a Chinese village often ate only rice and chili peppers or plain steamed buns. Years later, malnutrition wasted her body and worsened a heart problem — and she turned to the internet for help.

The woman, Wu Huayan, was a 24-year-old college student, but she weighed about 40 pounds and stood at a mere 4 feet and 5 inches, according to state news reports. She became an instant symbol of the harsh effects of poverty and hunger, and set off an outpouring of $140,000 in donations — a significant amount in rural China. Continue reading

The Power of Print in Modern China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yue Du’s review of The Power of Print in Modern China: Intellectuals and Industrial Publishing from the End of Empire to Maoist State Socialism (Columbia UP, 2019), by Robert Culp. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Power of Print in Modern China:
Intellectuals and Industrial Publishing from the End of Empire to Maoist State Socialism

By Robert Culp

Reviewed by Yue Du
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2020)

Robert Culp, The Power of Print in Modern China: Intellectuals and Industrial Publishing from the End of Empire to Maoist State Socialism Robert Culp. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. xviii + 371 pgs. ISBN: 9780231545358.

For Robert Culp, prominent leaders in twentieth-century cultural and political revolutions, such as Hu Shi and Mao Zedong, were not the only major players to implement the cultural transformation of modern China. A group of people Culp calls “petty intellectuals” (小知識分子), who engaged in the production of textbooks, reference books, reprinted classics, and book series at China’s leading commercial publishers, also fundamentally shaped the cultural landscape of China during the late Qing and Republican periods and into the early years of the People’s Republic. Focusing on the Commercial Press (商務印書館), Zhonghua Book Company (中華書局), and other institutions in China’s industrialized publishing sector, The Power of Print in Modern China successfully reconstructs the work lives and cultural activities of editors who were tremendously influential but who have heretofore received inadequate scholarly attention. This reconstruction in turn enables the author to engage with core academic debates on print and media, negotiated power, and modernity in China.

While observing the importance of the introduction of mechanized print technology, Culp distinguishes his work from earlier scholarship (by Christopher Reed and others) by laying out how print industrialism affected the ways in which books were produced and the relationship editors had with their products. To generate a wide range of texts in great numbers and in short periods of time, the most influential publishers in twentieth century China maintained large standing editorial departments, something that made China’s publishing sector globally distinctive. These departments adopted an organizational structure that over time came to resemble the factory assembly line. Staff editors with hybrid classical Chinese and Western educations collaboratively generated new content that they then incorporated into different titles to quickly meet market demand. Culp notes that, on the one hand, this process led to the vast majority of these editors losing control over the dynamics of their labor in this factory-style book production; on the other hand, print industrialism gave these petty intellectuals a direct say in the materials that went into standard products such as textbooks and reference books. Because of these books’ authoritative status, staff editors were able to play a key role in introducing new terms, shaping the modern Chinese lexicon, modeling vernacular writing, and “reorganizing the national heritage” (整理國故). Continue reading

Mass line internet control

Source: China Media Project (1/6/20))

Mass Line Internet Control

On December 20, 2019, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top body for internet control and regulation, released new rules governing online information, setting out both generally encouraged content types and content that would be regarded as unacceptable — and making clear that all members of Chinese society have a responsibility to take part in internet governance.

The “Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem” (网络信息内容生态治理规定), available in translation at China Law Translate, were released in draft form back in September as the CAC formally solicited feedback on the regulations from other departments and the public. The final regulations show little substantive change based on a comparison of the texts, although fines for serious content violations that were specified in the draft version at “100,000 yuan or above, not exceeding 500,000 yuan” were apparently removed in the final version, leaving the question of fines ambiguous. Continue reading

Liu Cixin’s stories adapted to graphic novels

Source: China Daily (12/16/19)
Possibilities of mind and matter
By Mei Jia | China Daily

Zhang Xiaoyu’s comic presentation of Liu Cixin’ novella The Village Teacher tells the story of an advanced alien civilization and its threat to Earth.

A new project is set to turn Liu Cixin’s stories into an international series of graphic novels, Mei Jia reports.

Author Liu Cixin’s stories will be turned into comic strips and published as graphic novels in China and France starting in March.

In Japan, The Three-Body Problem, the first book in Liu’s science-fiction trilogy, won the 2019 Booklog Award as the best foreign novel. Some 2 million copies of the books have been sold in 25 languages, according to the Chinese publisher.

During this year’s China Science Fiction Convention in November, critics and researchers agreed that Chinese science-fiction works are gaining more international attention than ever before. 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

Draw strength from weakness

Source: The Guardian (12/28/19)
China’s leaders seeking to ‘draw strength from weakness’ in 2020
Faced with problems at home and abroad, Beijing will seek to boost nationalist sentiment by blaming foreign influences
By Lily Kuo in Beijing

China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, will enter 2020 on the back foot. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

In early December, China’s ministry of foreign affairs jumped the Great Fire Wall used by Beijing to block access to many foreign websites, and joined Twitter to communicate directly with the outside world.

Its tweets so far have ranged from calling the US a “SUPER LIAR” and upbraiding foreign journalists, to lauding China’s victories: “China’s vast land of 9.6 million km² is free from war, fear, refugees and displacement. People of 56 ethnic groups live happy life, BEST human rights achievement!”

China’s new, defensive, somewhat Trumpian, social media strategy betrays Beijing’s anxiety over the country’s image as it enters 2020. Continue reading

Suicide case sparks online debate

Source: China Media Project (12/19/19)

Suicide Case Sparks Online Debate

A report earlier this month by Southern Weekly (南方周末) has generated intense debate in China about emotional abuse and sexism — and has also sparked lively discussion of journalism standards.

The original report in what is now being referred to in shorthand as the “Bao Li suicide incident” (包丽自杀事件) was called “The Death of a Female Peking University Student” (北大女生之死). Published through Southern Weekly’s WeChat public account on December 12, the article, written by journalist Chai Huiqun (柴会群), chronicled the alleged emotional abuse of a third-year female student at the Peking University Law School, identified as Bao Li (包丽) — this being a pseudonym used to protect the victim’s name — by her boyfriend, a fourth-year student in the School of Government at Peking University surnamed Mou (牟). Continue reading

She accused a tech billionaire of rape

Source: NYT (12/13/19)
She Accused a Tech Billionaire of Rape. The Chinese Internet Turned Against Her.
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Liu Jingyao, a college student, describes what it’s like to be slut-shamed by 800 million people.

Liu Jingyao, a student at the University of Minnesota, has accused the Chinese billionaire Richard Liu of rape. Credit…Caroline Yang for The New York Times

MINNEAPOLIS — When Liu Jingyao introduced herself, in the lobby of her apartment building, I didn’t recognize her. It was a puzzling feeling. For an entire year, photos of her had blanketed the Chinese internet. Like tens of millions of other Chinese, I had watched and rewatched surveillance video of her in this very building. She was one of the most talked about and mysterious women in China, and I thought I knew what she looked like.

In the video, she wanders the halls of a mazelike building, with a man trailing along. They get in and out of several elevators. She seems unsure about how to get to her apartment. She wears striking waist-length hair and a long, dark knit dress. She doesn’t look glamorous, exactly, but for a 21-year-old college junior, she is dressed smartly.

But on a morning in early August, she greeted me in a loosefitting checkered dress. Now 22, she looked pale and nervous. Her lips were chapped. She invited me upstairs, and began an intense conversation that continued for 18 straight hours. Continue reading

China tries to brush off HK election results

Source: SCMP (11/25/19)
China tries to brush off pro-democrat victory in Hong Kong election and blames ‘foreign forces’ for interfering
State news agency Xinhua refuses even to report pro-establishment side’s heavy losses and reports only that the elections have taken place. Official outlets say government supporters were harassed on the campaign trail and accuse Western countries of fuelling unrest
By William Zheng and Echo Xie

Pro-democracy supporters celebrate the defeat of Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, one of the most high-profile victims of Sunday’s vote. Photo: AFP

Pro-democracy supporters celebrate the defeat of Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, one of the most high-profile victims of Sunday’s vote. Photo: AFP

Mainland China on Monday tried to brush aside the landslide defeat for the pro-establishment camp in Hong Kong’s district council elections with news of the results being heavily censored.

State media preferred to focus on calls for law and order to be preserved and the accusation that Western countries had been instigating unrest.

Many official media outlets only ran brief reports on the vote, with state news agency Xinhua declining to report the results, in which the pro-democracy camp took control of 17 out of 18 councils.

“According to the announcement by the Electoral Affairs Commission, all 452 district councillors of 18 districts have been elected,” it said. Continue reading

External forces and black hands

Source: China Media Project (11/19/19)

External Forces and Black Hands

Featured image above by Studio Incendo under CC license.

The front page of the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper featured an official commentary yet again today that sent a stern warning over violent standoffs between protesters and police in Hong Kong.

The commentary, like yesterday’s attributed to “a commentator from this paper,” or benbao pinglunyuan (本报评论员), marking it as a staff-written piece representing views in the senior leadership, was a stern warning to so-called “external forces” accused of fomenting discord in order to “impede the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people.”

The commentary says that Xi Jinping’s speech at the 11th BRICS summit of leaders in Brazil — also referenced in yesterday’s commentary — had “sent a severe warning to the radical Hong Kong rioters and their behind-the-scenes supporters.” Continue reading

Making political mythology

Source: China Media Project (10/24/19)

Making Political Mythology

For generations in China, the status of self-effacing soldier Lei Feng as the pre-eminent model of the ideal citizen has seemed unassailable. The myth of Lei Feng has been dusted off and recycled periodically over the decades, the last peak coming in 2013 to mark fifty years since Mao Zedong’s formal launch of the “Learn from Comrade Lei Feng” campaign — which came in 1963 with the widespread publication of the hero’s greatly embellished diary.

The tales and imagery surrounding this hero of the people, with overwrought messages of self-sacrifice, seem absurdly theatrical today. Lei Feng weeps as he resolves to donate his mooncakes during Autumn Festival to a hospital where those injured in the struggle to build a socialist society are recuperating. We are told how, with devoted hands-on study, he teaches himself how best to throw a hand grenade — without any apparent recognition on the part of myth-makers or military commanders of the total folly this involves. He takes smiling joy in basic acts like shoveling manure and darning his own socks. Continue reading