Roundup of China’s best photojournalism from Wuhan

Source: China File (5/15/20)
‘A Letter to My Friend under Quarantine in Wuhan’: A Roundup of China’s Best Photojournalism
By Ye Ming, Yan Cong, Beimeng Fu

Wu Wei, The Paper

In this edition of Depth of Field, we highlight Chinese visual storytellers’ coverage of COVID-19 inside China. Some of these storytellers were on the ground documenting the experience of residents and medical workers in Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged. Other storytellers were not able to travel to the outbreak’s epicenter because of Wuhan’s lockdown, which lasted from January 23 to April 8. But they found creative ways to cover the news from afar: photographing life under quarantine in other cities, stitching together social media footage, using publicly available information to explain the supply chain of medical masks. Their stories, told from diverse perspectives, depict pain, strength, and sacrifice amid the outbreak, and they leave us with lingering questions about what China—and the world—will look like, when they emerge from the crisis. Continue reading

Wu Ang, “Su Volunteers Diary”

Source: Paper Republic (5/7/20)
Su Volunteers Diary, by Wu Ang
Translated by Christopher MacDonaldCarson Ramsdell and Lindsay Sullivan
巫昂: 《宿志愿者日志

[Three translators! One said, ‘When I learned that two other translators I’d met at a short course in Warwick had also responded to express their interest, and we had the chance to work on the translation together, I was pleasantly surprised. Even when translating by myself, I’m constantly bouncing ideas off others and asking for feedback. So, having partners to collaborate with in a sort of three-way game of pong was immensely helpful. No matter how short or long a piece of text, having multiple sets of eyes to look at something is always beneficial. That word on the tip of your tongue you just couldn’t spit out. A more aesthetic way of phrasing something. Reminders that in your keyboard tapping fervor you let the register run off. These are all things that benefit from cross-checking and bring into focus one’s own shortcomings. It allows you to see where improvements can be made, ultimately making one a better translator.’]

Editor’s note: After Wuhan went into lockdown on 23 Jan, and before any temporary hospitals came into operation, the city’s healthcare system was under enormous strain. The hospital admissions system, administered at the local level was also at full stretch. Many of the sick were unable to receive prompt treatment. In early February the Weibo microblogging platform created a dedicated hashtag for people who were ill and seeking help, and the People’s Daily website began collecting their online messages. Several governmental and community groupings became involved, contacting those who had posted messages and helping them gain admission to hospital. One of the groups was Su Volunteers: an inspiring, community-level initiative started by the poet and novelist Wu Ang. Continue reading

China’s new army of tough-talking diplomats

Source: BBC News (5/13/20)
Coronavirus: China’s new army of tough-talking diplomats
By James Landale, Diplomatic correspondent

Lijian Zhao

AFP: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lijian Zhao suggested the US had brought coronavirus to China

Once upon a time Chinese statecraft was discreet and enigmatic.

Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, wrote in his seminal study Diplomacy that “Beijing’s diplomacy was so subtle and indirect that it largely went over our heads in Washington”.

Governments in the West employed sinologists to interpret the opaque signals emanating from China’s politburo.

Under its former leader, Deng Xiaoping, the country’s declared strategy was to “hide its ability and bide its time”. Well, not any more.

China has dispatched an increasingly vocal cadre of diplomats out into the world of social media to take on all comers with, at times, an eye-blinking frankness. Their aim is to defend China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and challenge those who question Beijing’s version of events. Continue reading

Cultural genocide is the new genocide

A series of articles under the heading: CHINA’S REPRESSION OF UYGHURS. My contribution published today: English version is below; Swedish version here.–Magnus Fiskesjö

Source: PEN OPP (5/5/20)
Cultural genocide is the new genocide
The Chinese government is undertaking a broad assault on the culture and heritage of the Uighurs, Kazakhs and other indigenous peoples in Xinjiang, China, including disappearing their poets, artists, scholars and others cultural icons. Most are gone without a trace, but we must assume they are locked away in the new concentration camps alongside the many hundreds of thousands of other innocent people detained there illegally. It’s a 21st century moral catastrophe, writes the China expert Magnus Fiskesjö.

Why are the Chinese authorities detaining hundreds of writers, poets, musicians, artists, famous sportsmen and other cultural figures, from the Uighurs, Kazakhs and other indigenous peoples of Xinjiang (East Turkestan), in western China?

Most have disappeared without any explanation even to their families. All of those “disappeared” have had long careers behind them, and did not previously have problems working under Chinese rule.

Among the “missing” is the poet Chimengul Awut, whose book A Road with No Return won a national award in China in 2008, and who worked at a state publishing house; the female novelist Halide Israyil, editor at the state paper Xinjiang Daily; the poet Adil Tuniyaz, reporter at the state-run People’s Radio, famous for the books Questions for an Apple, and Manifesto for Universal Poetry; and Perhat Tursun, born 1969, famous since his breakthrough in 1998, with the poetry collection One Hundred Love Poems. The poet, critic, and translator Abduqadir Jalaleddin, a professor at Xinjiang Teachers College, was taken away in a black hood, in January 2018. Another detained poet is Ablet Abdurishit Berqi, partly available in English. Continue reading

Blood-soaked dumplings

Source: China Media Project (5/4/20)

Blood-soaked Dumplings

Writing on social media back in February, Chinese writer Yi Zhongtian likened the excessive emotion, positivity and adulation in reporting and commentary on the coronavirus epidemic in China to “eating blood-soaked dumplings”  (吃人血馒头). This was a reference to Lu Xun’s 1919 short story “Medicine,” the writer’s indictment of senseless superstition, in which poor and illiterate parents attempt to cure their son’s tuberculosis by offering him a steamed bun soaked in the blood of an executed revolutionary.

Just as Lu Xun’s frequent references to “cannibalism” in works like “Medicine” and “A Madman’s Diary” denounced the devouring of individual consciousness by an oppressive feudal society, Yi Zhongtian calls on these insights to highlight the way individual convictions and criticism can be swallowed up in today’s China as people and institutions reflexively conform to power.

This aspect of Chinese politics is most notable in times of tragedy and, as Yi writes, often takes the form of fawning and groveling. “Kissing up is a local specialty [of the Chinese],” he writes. “Every time national adversity strikes, they leap up eagerly and play at writing, which takes two standard forms: first, turning funeral rites into occasions of joy; second, showering leaders with adulation.” Continue reading

In the Clouds: COVID-19, Dystopian Reality, and Online Carnival

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “In the Clouds: COVID-19, Dystopian Reality, and Online Carnival,” a panel discussion edited by Shiqi Lin and Kaiyang Xu. A snippet appears below; to read the whole thing, go to My thanks to the two editors and to the other panel participants for sharing their thoughts on this important topic.

Kirk Denton, editor

In the Clouds:
COVID-19, Dystopian Reality, and Online Carnival

Edited by Shiqi Lin and Kaiyang Xu

Participants: Jenny Chio | Belinda Kong | Shiqi Lin | Carlos Rojas | Kaiyang Xu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May 2020)

Shiqi Lin and Kaiyang Xu

This collection of short essays and Q&A series derives from an online panel, “In the Clouds: COVID-19, Dystopian Reality and Online Carnival,” which was put together in response to the global spread of the epidemic since February 2020. Convened by Shiqi Lin (UC Irvine) and Kaiyang Xu (USC), this panel was held on Zoom on March 26, 2020[1] with an audience across the world. Drawing inspiration from “cloud clubbing,” a creative practice engaged by self-quarantined Chinese web users during the pandemic, this “cloud panel” was an experimental endeavor to discuss digital media, societal fears, and the responsibility of humanities scholars in a time of crisis. The panel brought together scholars working on biopolitics, media studies, video ethnography, urban studies, diaspora studies, and Chinese cultural studies to discuss the sources of pandemic anxieties; humor, care and intimacy animated by creative uses of social media; and the implications of social media in border-crossing. As the spread of the pandemic coincided with a transitional period of remote teaching in academia, the panel was also set up as a space for exploring alternative modes of intellectual collaboration during the pandemic.

The panel was carried out under two shared beliefs. First, in the face of a global crisis, collaboration and dialogue are needed more than ever. Acknowledging the limits of individual strengths brought the panel together, as a reminder that we all need to think collectively, draw expertise from each other and learn from each other in a time of radical uncertainties. In honor of various academic conferences disrupted by the global spread of the pandemic in March 2020, this panel was conducted as a gesture to carry forward the spirit of dialogue and broaden the possibilities of engaging academics in turbulent times. . . . (click her to read all the essays and comments)

Trump officials press spies to link virus to labs

Source: NYT (4/30/20)
Trump Officials Are Said to Press Spies to Link Virus and Wuhan Labs
Some analysts are worried that the pressure from senior officials could distort assessments about the coronavirus and be used as a weapon in an escalating battle with China.
By Mark Mazzett, Julian E. Barnes, Edward Wong and Adam Goldman

Volunteers disinfecting the Qintai Grand Theater in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began. Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials. The effort comes as President Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic.

Some intelligence analysts are concerned that the pressure from administration officials will distort assessments about the virus and that they could be used as a political weapon in an intensifying battle with China over a disease that has infected more than three million people across the globe.

Most intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of a link to a lab can be found, and scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a nonlaboratory setting, as was the case with H.I.V., Ebola and SARS. Continue reading

Returning to the main theme

Source: China Media Project (4/27/20)
Returning to the Main Theme
by Staff

Returning to the Main Theme

An online poster in Party-run media advertises China’s “decisive war against poverty.”

Spring has arrived in the People’s Daily, and the 2020 propaganda themes leaders had originally envisioned to dominate starting back in January are now in full bloom, having survived the frost of the coronavirus epidemic. Chief among these are the themes of eliminating poverty and achieving a so-called “all-round moderately prosperous” society – 2020 having been designated back in 2013, at the start of Xi Jinping’s rule, as the year China would achieve both.

As CMP co-director Qian Gang wrote back in February, the People’s Daily stuck stubbornly to these pre-established propaganda themes through much of January, even as the spread of the coronavirus was of most immediate concern. By February and March, however, the epidemic had finally come to be reported more prominently in the Party’s flagship newspaper. Continue reading

Causeway Bay Books reopens

Despite the paint-spray attack by pro-China thugs just days before the planned opening, brave bookseller Lam Wing-kee re-opened Causeway Bay Books in Taipei April 25, with lots of people, and media coverage.

Lam Wing-kee himself, red paint still visible in his hair, spoke movingly about standing up for freedom of reading, publishing, and speaking. He joked about his new hairstyle — and described Hong Kong as already under Communist Party rule and too dangerous for him to dwell in — after he himself, along with 4 bookstore colleagues in Hong Kong, was seized and forced to make ‘TV confessions’ and he himself later managed to flee and speak out about his treatment and about the original bookstore shuttered by China.

In Taipei, on the Big Day, there were flowers and a greeting from President Tsai Ing-wen as well as warm words from the Speaker of Taiwan’s Parliament (Legislative Yuan), among others. Continue reading

Interview with Yuan Ling

Source: NY Review of Books (3/24/20)
‘Everyone Is Isolated’: An Interview with Yuan Ling
By Ian Johnson

Zhao Junxia. Yuan Ling in Xinjiang helping harvest corn at a family he interviewed for his book Silent Children, undated

Yuan Ling is a border-crosser: between village and city, academia and journalism, mainstream and underground—a writer who is sometimes censored but usually measured (or ambiguous) enough to be published in China.

His concern for China’s marginalized members of society is directly related to his personal biography. Born in 1973, he grew up in an impoverished mountainous region of Shaanxi province. With a mother who was illiterate, a father who was a local doctor, Yuan’s upbringing gave him an outsider’s perspective on Chinese society—and a desire to penetrate more deeply into questions of injustice and exclusion than was possible with his first profession, journalism.

He tested into university in the provincial capital, Xi’an, and then worked for some of China’s best-known media, including CaixinPhoenix WeeklySina, and Beijing News. It was while at Beijing News in 2003 that he wrote one of the first investigative articles on how the reckless use of steroids on sufferers of an earlier Chinese epidemic, SARS, had led to chronic health problems for thousands of people. Other long-form journalistic work delved into topics as varied as the revival of opium planting, problems at the Three Gorges Dam, and the physical abuse of women at a notorious labor camp. Continue reading

Covid-19 and spectres of quarantine for the Chinese Canadian community

Source: Fete Chinoise (4/20/20)
Covid-19 and the Spectres of Quarantine for the Chinese Canadian Community
Written by Angie Wong (Lecturer, Women Studies, English, and Indigenous Learning,
Lakehead University)

( The Asianadian, vol. 2, no. 4. Cover Image courtesy of The Asianadian Co-founder, Cheuk Kwan)

(The Asianadian, vol. 2, no. 4. Cover Image courtesy of The Asianadian Co-founder, Cheuk Kwan)

The crisis of COVID-19 has ushered in a new ‘normal’ for Canadians. Handshaking is now a dangerous proposition. Masks are being donned on the streets of Canadian cities, and it is not only Asian Canadians wearing them. Indeed, the entire world is now being forced to adopt some of the very symbols and practices that previously marked Asian Canadians as different (even suspect). But rather than creating a larger feeling of solidarity or common struggle between Chinese and other Canadians, the crisis of COVID-19 has once again made it scary to be Chinese in Canada, and North America more broadly. The coronavirus is a disease that has been racialized as the “Chinese virus,” loudly echoing the Orientalist notion of the Yellow Peril and the racist idea that ‘China is the sick man of Asia’. Of course, this is hardly the first time that Chinese people have been feared in Canada. Continue reading

China’s Wailing Wall

Source: NYT (4/13/20)
China’s ‘Wailing Wall’: Digital Elegies for a Coronavirus Martyr
By Li Yuan and produced by Rumsey Taylor

Jialun Deng

THEY COME TO SAY “good morning” and “good night.” They tell him that spring has arrived and that the cherry blossoms are blooming. They share that they are falling in love, falling out of love or getting divorced. They send him photos of fried chicken drumsticks, his favorite snack.

They whisper that they miss him.

Li Wenliang, a doctor in the Chinese city of Wuhan, died of the coronavirus on Feb. 6 at the age of 34. More than a month before that, he went online to warn friends of the strange and deadly virus rampaging through his hospital, only to be threatened by government authorities. He became a hero in China when his warnings proved true, then a martyr when he died.

After his passing, people began to gather, virtually, at his last post on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform. In the comments section, they grieve and seek solace. Some call it China’s Wailing Wall, a reference to the Western Wall in Jerusalem where people leave written prayers in the cracks.

@小兔子的大耳朵A: 李医生,天堂是什么样子的

@小兔子的大耳朵A: Dr. Li, what is heaven like?

Continue reading

The delicate dance of loyalty

Source: China Media Project (4/7/20)

The Delicate Dance of Loyalty

A troupe of Red Guards dances the “Loyalty Dance” in 1968. Image from Wikimedia Commons in the public domain.]

The “loyalty dance,” or zhongziwu (忠字舞), was a collective dance that became prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, at a time when Mao Zedong and his image reigned supreme over all aspects of life in China. The dancers, grasping their copies of the “little red book,” Quotations From Chairman Mao, would dance, leap and shout to the impassioned ring of the music – all to express their boundless loyalty to the Chairman.

One slogan older Chinese may remember from that time, related to the loyalty dance, is the “Three Loyalties” (三忠于): loyalty to Chairman Mao; loyalty to Mao Zedong Thought; loyalty to Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line. It is tempting to think of the loyalty dance and the “Three Loyalties” as relics of China’s political past. But in fact, there are unmistakable echoes in the present.

How, in Xi Jinping’s so-called “New Era,” does one dance the loyalty dance? Continue reading

The truth is the most effective vaccine

Source: China Channel, LARB (4/3/20)
‘The Truth is the Most Effective Vaccine’
By Joan Judge
How the coronavirus pandemic exposes the suppression of information in China, and the real people’s war.

Header: Covid-19 outbreak map. (Wikicommons)

As the coronavirus pandemic escalates globally, and as we grapple with the missteps of our own leadership in the Western world, some are echoing the World Health Organization’s praise of the Wuhan lockdown as a model for the planet. At such a moment it is imperative to bear in mind the human cost of China’s belated and aggressive approach to the outbreak: both loss of life and the brutal repression of public-minded critique.

President Xi Jinping has declared this approach a “People’s War.” Desperate to deflect percolating anger and frustration over the local government’s delayed response to the virus, the central government’s subsequent draconian policies, and the over 3000 (recorded) deaths, Xi unimaginatively turned to familiar tactics of Maoist mass mobilization. Official media have glorified heroic medical personnel in the spirit of labor models of the 1950s and 1960s. They have gone so far as to post a video of a team of female medics having their heads shaved as they selflessly prepared to serve at the virus’s epicenter. Slogans are ubiquitous, galvanizing people to fight the People’s War by altering their behavior. “Those who gather together are shameless;” banners warn, “those who play mahjong are daredevils.” Continue reading

US intelligence concludes China misrepresented coronavirus deaths (2)

I wonder if Tung-yi Kho has been reading the news. For the last several months, mainstream American newspaper, blogs, and journals have appropriately heaped criticism on the coronavirus response in the US, singling out Donald Trump and his gutting of expertise at every level of government (as well as his nepotism, most recently putting his unqualified son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of virus response—Kushner’s first appearance has been widely criticized), the severely lacking health insurance system, the radical right’s rejection of scientific knowledge and their ability to influence the president, the failure to stockpile protective gear for hospitals and medical workers, the inability to test—which makes it very likely that the number of infected people are in fact much greater than those verified—and the overall incompetence and inability to take organized and concerted action. Every day I read twenty or so articles along these lines, in common publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and even the Wall Street Journal. They also come up on my google news feed with great regularity, and there I can see that even minor venues are publishing similar critiques. Articles on the coronavirus and the failures of the US government in addressing it are available free of charge at most major publications. In other words, no one is in the least distracted from the dire American response. Continue reading