A language under attack

China’s banning and suppressing of the Uyghur and other native languages of Xinjiang, and the forced teaching of Chinese there, reminds me of the Nazi occupation of Norway, when kids there were forced to learn German. My mom was one of those kids, and she never regained a respect for the German language; even I, born much later, failed to study German, just because the Nazis forced my mom to study it. Now I wonder, will the Chinese language suffer similarly, because of the vile oppression they are carrying out now? In the camps, people are starved and beaten if they don’t keep up, in singing Chinese Communist songs glorifying their Führer. With this sort of campaign, why would anyone want to study Chinese language any more — the language of the concentration camps?

Magnus Fiskesjö  <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: Hong Kong Free Press (6/18/19)
A language under attack: China’s campaign to sever the Uighur tongue
By Rustem Shir, Research Associate with the Uyghur Human Rights Project

Uighur protest in Washington, DC. Photo: Wikicommons.

Of the 7,111 languages being spoken around the world, 41 per cent can be classified as endangered, meaning that face-to-face use by speakers across generations is in decline.

At first glance, it may seem inaccurate to designate the Uighur language as endangered – more than 11 million people speak Uighur as a first language and Uighur is an official language of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkestan) in China.

Yet, despite these indicators of vitality, the Uighur language is in peril because it has been targeted by the Chinese Communist Party for erasure. Continue reading

One more Xinjiang statement

Statement by the European Society for Central Asian Studies, on the detentions and deaths of Central Asian Muslims in ‘re-education centres’ in Xinjiang, China: https://escas2019.excas.net/updates/xinjiang-statement/

… this follows on the Association for Asian Studies strong statement, http://www.asian-studies.org/asia-now/entryid/209/aas-statement-on-extra-judicial-detention-of-turkic-muslims-in-xinjiang-prc

… and on the public statement signed by 700+ scholars (still open for signatures), https://concernedscholars.home.blog

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Uighur author dies in ‘re-education’ camp

Source: The Guardian (6/19/19)
Uighur author dies following detention in Chinese ‘re-education’ camp
PEN America condemns death of Nurmuhammad Tohti, who had been held in a Xinjiang internment camp, as a grave example of China’s violations of free expression
By Alison Flood

Nurmuhammad Tohti, sitting at a scholarly gathering in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, China. Photo courtesy of Abduweli Ayup.

Nurmuhammad Tohti, pictured in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Photograph: courtesy of Abduweli Ayup

The death of the prominent Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti after being held in one of Xinjiang’s internment camps has been condemned as a tragic loss by human rights organisations.

Radio Free Asia reported that Tohti, who was 70, had been detained in one of the controversial “re-education” camps from November 2018 to March 2019. His granddaughter, Zorigul, who is based in Canada, said he had been denied treatment for diabetes and heart disease, and was only released once his medical condition meant he had become incapacitated. She wrote on a Facebook page for the Uighur exile community that she had only learned of his death 11 days after it happened because her family in Xinjiang had been frightened that making the information public would make them a target for detention. Continue reading

A history of gaokao essay questions

Source: Sup China (6/7)19
From Propaganda To Pollution To Smartphones: A History Of Gaokao Essay Questions
For many Chinese high school students, today marked the beginning of three days of Hell.
By Tianyu M. Fang

No other assessment test has been taken by more people than the gaokao, China’s national college entrance examination. Almost every Chinese college graduate you’ve met has at least taken it once, twice, or maybe three times (as was the case with Jack Ma, founder of tech giant Alibaba). What that means is, hundreds of millions of Chinese have gone through the experience of cramming for the test, memorizing materials (up to 60 pieces of ancient Chinese texts), and stressing about whether Lu Xun really meant what he wrote.

It’s no wonder, then, that each year’s gaokao essay questions — which are subjective and often open to interpretation, if not outright confusing — become topics of public scrutiny and debate: because everyone has experienced, to a certain extent, the bewilderment of seeing a question such as, “Write a poem about ‘circle.’” Continue reading

The Nuoso Book of Origins

The Nuosu Book of Origins: A Creation Epic from Southwest China
TRANSLATED BY MARK BENDER AND AKU WUWU FROM A TRANSCRIPTION BY JJIVOT ZOPQU (University of Washington Press, 2010). 296 pp., 17 bandw illus., 1 map, 6 x 9 in.
$30.00S PAPERBACK (9780295745695)
$95.00X HARDCOVER (9780295745688)

The Nuosu people, who were once overlords of vast tracts of farmland and forest in the uplands of southern Sichuan and neighboring provinces, are the largest division of the Yi ethnic group in southwest China. Their creation epic plots the origins of the cosmos, the sky and earth, and the living beings of land and water. This translation is a rare example in English of Indigenous ethnic literature from China. Continue reading

Rural influencers

Source: Trivium (5/28/19)
The rise of rural influencers: Understanding the popularity of China’s “tuwei” KOLs
The popularity of small-town and rural KOLs is driving new trends in China’s internet and marketing cultures.
By Kendra Schaefer

Beginning in 2016, China saw the sudden and meteoric rise of the short video social media platform Kuaishou 快手. The app had been quietly accumulating a following since its launch in 2011, focusing on half-organic, half-algorithm-driven growth and ignoring traditional media and influencer marketing altogether. The strategy worked, and as of 2018, it was sitting on a registered user base of over 700 million people, 100 million of whom visit the platform daily.

What makes it unique among Chinese apps is not its feature set, but the demographics of its user pool, which is comprised of a higher percentage of rural and small-town residents than competing short video platforms. This emerging user segment has given rise to a new type of influencer, the tuwei 土味 KOL, one that doesn’t bother with the manicured, fashion-focused gloss — aka the chaowei 潮味 style — that characterizes urban internet celebs. Continue reading

Internet phrases you should know

Source: Goldthread (5/29/19)
5 Chinese internet slang phrases you should know, illustrated
By Frankie Huang
Frankie Huang is a Shanghai-based illustrator who writes a daily Twitter column called #PutongWords, where she dissects the origins of commonly used Chinese phrases.Many of them are poetic and visual—such as 吸猫 (ximao), “inhaling cats”—but they carry much deeper meanings. (In this case, “inhaling cats” is internet slang for people who are addicted to taking care of their pets.) We asked Frankie to illustrate some common Chinese internet slang and explain the deeper meaning behind the literal phrases.

Image

Get shot lying down

Sometimes you go out of your way to avoid trouble, but trouble finds you like a stray bullet during a firefight. 躺枪 (tangqiang) literally means “to get shot lying down,” and it perfectly describes a situation where you become the victim of a fight in which you had no stake in fighting. The phrase is frequently used in online forums and conversations where multiple parties are present and things get a little too messy or heated. Continue reading

She thought she’d married a rich farmer

Source: NYT (5/27/19)
She Thought She’d Married a Rich Chinese Farmer. She Hadn’t.
By Salman Masood and Amy Qin

Rabia Kanwal and Zhang Shuchen were married in Islamabad in January. Eight days after they went to his home in China, she left to return to Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Rabia Kanwal’s parents were sure her marriage to a wealthy Chinese Muslim she had just met would give her a comfortable future, far from the hardships of their lives in Pakistan. But she had a premonition.

“I was not excited,” said Ms. Kanwal, 22, who lives in a poor neighborhood in the city of Gujranwala, in the eastern province of Punjab. “I felt something bad was going to happen.”

Arranged marriages are common in Pakistan, but this one was unusual. The groom, who said he was a rich poultry farmer, met Ms. Kanwal’s family during a monthslong stay on a tourist visa. He had to use a Chinese-Urdu translation app to communicate with them, but over all, he made a favorable impression. Continue reading

435 ethnic minority intellectuals in mass detention in Xinjiang

Today the Uyghur Human Rights Project updated its count of confirmed detained & disappeared ethnic-minority intellectuals (artists, authors, academics etc.), a key part of Chinese authorities’ forced-assimilation campaign targeting the ethnic minorities of Xinjiang, western China, including with mass internments in concentration camps, mass surveillance, blanket criminalization of everyday religious practices, forced marriages, and more.

Today’s updated report confirms the detention or disappearance of 435 intellectuals. (This expands the earlier confirmations of 231, in October 2018, 338 in January 2019 and 386 in March 2019). See further:

https://uhrp.org/press-release/update-%E2%80%93-detained-and-disappeared-intellectuals-under-assault-uyghur-homeland.html

The report also underlines: “This group is likely a small fraction of all Uyghur intellectuals suffering serious human rights violations.” Continue reading

Taiwan legalizes gay marriage

Source: BBC News (5/17/19)
Taiwan gay marriage: Parliament legalises same-sex unions

Media captionCrowds celebrate as marriage law passes

Taiwan’s parliament has become the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage following a vote on Friday.

In 2017, the island’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.

Parliament was given a two-year deadline and was required to pass the changes by 24 May.

Lawmakers debated three different bills to legalise same-sex unions and the government’s bill, the most progressive of the three, was passed. Continue reading

Poetry meets politics in photos

Source: NYT (5/15/19)
Poetry Meets Politics in Photos of China
Between violent flash points in history, Liu Heung Shing saw tenderness and subversive humor in societies saturated with propaganda.
Photographs by Liu Heung Shing
Text by Tiffany May

Musicians giving an impromptu performance in support of demonstrators during the Tiananmen Square protests. Beijing, 1989.Credit Liu Heung Shing

Liu Heung Shing looked outside the car window: an imposing portrait of Mao Zedong had disappeared from the east side of Tiananmen Square. It was 1981.

Mao loomed large that year as people gathered to watch the depositions of his political cronies, known as the Gang of Four, on state television.Earlier that autumn, before Mao’s portrait was removed from a history museum in Tiananmen Square, Mr. Liu photographed a skater gliding past a statue of Mao. The frozen faces of Communist leaders got a breath of fresh air in Mr. Liu’s photography: A Beijing resident in 2008 lined the facade of her house with the portraits of lionized figures, in plucky defiance of demolitions planned before the Summer Olympics. Continue reading

Gushi FM

Source: NYT (5/12/19)
In China, a Podcast Inspired by ‘This American Life’ Gives Voice to the Real
By Amy Qin

Kou Aizhe, creator and host of the Chinese storytelling podcast “Gushi FM,” says his goal is “to show the complexity of each person.” Credit: Yan Cong for The New York Times

BEIJING — Kou Aizhe, the creator and host of one of China’s most popular storytelling podcasts, has only one criterion for selecting stories.

“Any subject can work,” he said, “as long as it surprises me.”

What emerges is a collection of unusual stories told with an authenticity rarely heard in the country’s tightly scripted, propaganda-heavy state-run media.

A worker for a Chinese construction company describes a harrowing escape from war in Libya in an episode titled “I Shot an AK-47 at Them.” A young man recounts accompanying his ailing father to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide. A lesbian tells of her decision to enter a marriage of convenience to a gay man.

Taking inspiration from American programs like “This American Life” and WNYC’s “Snap Judgment,” Mr. Kou’s “Gushi FM” (Story FM in English) features stories told in the first person by ordinary Chinese of various backgrounds. Continue reading

Finding a voice

Source: China File (3/28/19)
Finding a Voice
By Lü Pin(吕频)

Lü Pin is a Chinese feminist activist focusing on strategic advocacy to combat gender-based discrimination and violence. She started her work on women’s rights in the late 1990s. In 2009, she founded Feminist Voices, China’s largest new media platform on women’s issues. Since 2012, she has been devoted to supporting the activism of young feminists across China. She now resides in Albany, New York, where she continues to follow the feminist movement in China closely.

(Courtesy of Chinese Feminist Activists) A protest against domestic violence in China, 2013.

[This article was first published in the “China” issue of Logic, a magazine about technology.]

When I started writing this article, Feminist Voices had been deleted for six months and ten days. Yes, I have been keeping track of the time: ten days, fifteen days, thirty days, sixty days, three months, six months. . . The first week after it disappeared from the Internet, my heart was filled with mourning; every day I lay in bed and cried. As time went by, I seemed to see a figure drifting away, but her soul was still near me. And her name will always linger in my mind. Continue reading

Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Shana Ye’s review of Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan (HK University Press, 2017), edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao. The review appears below and can be read online at:  http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/shana-ye/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Boy’s Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer
Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

Edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao


Reviewed by Shana Ye
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2019)


Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao, eds. Boys’ Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols: Queer Fan Cultures in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2017. 292 pp. ISBN 978-9888390809 (hardback $60).

Many students in my Gender and East Asian Culture class are amazed by the almost omnipresent representation of androgynous pop idols, sexually ambiguous celebrities, and gender-bending TV shows in both Chinese mainstream media and fan communities. These cultural proliferations seem to contradict what they have in mind of what China is like from the perspective of their everyday North American lives. Some of the students, especially those with a feminist background who are concerned with the relationships between new forms of queer desire and transnational digital capitalism ironically reinscribe queer transgression into stereotypes of “Asian gender/sexual transitions.” For those who themselves are practitioners of boy’s love, cosplay, and queer cultural production, different media industries and grassroots fandom culture provide new windows through which to reflect on questions of nationality, belonging, cosmopolitan identity, and heteropatriarchy. Yet, a large number of the students still have trouble distinguishing China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea from one another. Continue reading

Naked Body comic collection

Source: SCMP (4/16/19)
Naked Body: the Chinese comic collection dedicated to nudity and defying censorship

  • When Chinese artist Yan Cong was told he could not print any nudity in his books, he produced an anthology filled with nude characters
  • Body hair, fetishes, Madonna, and a man’s head being eaten by shaving cream are all themes in the collection

By The Guardian

Naked Body is a Chinese comic collection of short stories all featuring nudity.

Naked Body is a Chinese comic collection of short stories all featuring nudity.

Back in the early 2010s, Beijing comic artist Yan Cong (a pseudonym that translates to “chimney”) was told by printers that they wouldn’t publish any of his books with nudity in them. Both irritated and inspired, he decided to respond to the censorship with an anthology in which all the main characters were nude.

Naked Body, published in Chinese in 2014, highlighted the humour, loopiness, horniness and astonishing breadth of the Chinese alternative comics scene. It is finally due to be published in English this year. Continue reading