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

Violence against doctors

Source: Sup China (1/13/20)
Hospitals Install Security Checks To Stop Violence Against Doctors

Photo credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

Nanning in Guangxi Province has become the first city in China to require local hospitals to install security checkpoints under new regulations issued last year — around the same time that a doctor in a Beijing emergency ward was reportedly stabbed to death by a patient’s son.

  • Violence against doctors and hospital staff by frustrated patients and their family members is so common it has spawned a Chinese slang word: yinao (医闹 yīnào), which roughly translates as “medical ruckus.”
  • On January 8, the Second People’s Hospital of Nanning became the first medical institution in the city to introduce security checkpoints under the new regulations. That day, the hospital had 38 security officers on duty who found several visitors carrying knives.
  • As many as 85 percent of doctors who responded to a recent survey (in Chinese) said that they had experienced violence in their workplace. Only 29 percent of them said that their employers had enhanced security policies afterward.
  • China’s new healthcare and health promotion law was passed last month. It takes effect in June this year, and specifically criminalizes threatening or endangering the safety of medical staff.

Scientist accused of smuggling lab sample

Source: NYT (12/31/19)
Chinese Scientist Is Accused of Smuggling Lab Samples, Amid Crackdown on Research Theft
Zaosong Zheng, a promising cancer researcher, confessed that he had planned to take the stolen samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, and publish the results under his own name.
By Ellen Barry

An entrance to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, in 2014. Zaosong Zheng was a cancer researcher there recently. Credit…Steven Senne/Associated Press

BOSTON — Zaosong Zheng was preparing to board Hainan Airlines Flight 482, nonstop from Boston to Beijing, when customs officers pulled him aside.

Inside his checked luggage, wrapped in a plastic bag and then inserted into a sock, the officers found what they were looking for: 21 vials of brown liquid — cancer cells — that the authorities say Mr. Zheng, 29, a cancer researcher, took from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Under questioning, court documents say, Mr. Zheng acknowledged that he had stolen eight of the samples and had replicated 11 more based on a colleague’s research. When he returned to China, he said, he would take the samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital and turbocharge his career by publishing the results in China, under his own name. 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

Pickup artists

Source: NYT (12/29/19)
For China’s Pickup Artists, Sex Is the Goal and Urging Suicide Is a Tactic
In China, teaching men the manipulative ways of the pickup artist became big business. A crackdown is revealing a curriculum of abuse.
By Li Yuan

“You’ve given your best thing to another man,” he texted her, referring to her virginity. “I’m left with nothing.”

She texted back: “I’ve said my best thing is my future.”

“You’re shameless,” he lashed out, calling her a “stinking idiot” and a “slut.”

“I want you to get pregnant with me then get an abortion,” he said.

On Oct. 9, the woman, referred to as Bao Li, the Chinese equivalent of Jane Doe, tried to commit suicide. She has since been declared brain dead.

One of her last messages to the man: “You’re dazzling while I’m a piece of garbage.”

Her tragic story shocked the Chinese public. A hashtag referring to screenshots of her text exchanges got nearly 1.4 billion views in just two days on the social media platform Weibo before it was censored. Continue reading

He Jiankui gets 3 years

Source: NYT (12/20/19)
Chinese Scientist Who Genetically Edited Babies Gets 3 Years in Prison
He Jiankui’s work was also carried out on a third infant, according to China’s state media, in a new disclosure that is likely to add to the global uproar over such experiments.
By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING — A court in China on Monday sentenced He Jiankui, the researcher who shocked the global scientific community when he claimed that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies, to three years in prison for carrying out “illegal medical practices.”

In a surprise announcement from a trial that was closed to the public, the court in the southern city of Shenzhen found Dr. He guilty of forging approval documents from ethics review boards to recruit couples in which the man had H.I.V. and the woman did not, the state broadcaster China Central Television reported. Dr. He had said he was trying to prevent H.I.V. infections in newborns, but the state media on Monday said he deceived the subjects and the medical authorities alike.

Dr. He sent the scientific world into an uproar last year when he announced at a conference in Hong Kong that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies — twin girls. On Monday, China’s state media said his work had resulted in a third genetically edited baby, who had been previously undisclosed. Continue reading

Children not spared (1)

This is a great article which contributes a lot to the description of the ongoing assault on the indigenous peoples of Xinjiang.

But the NYT framing also continues a weird trend with headlines telling us this is about “Muslims” and “religion” even though this is only one part of it, and the primary goal clearly is the destruction of the cultures and peoples of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and the other minority peoples, as such.

Why this framing? One possible explanation could be that the editors think that Uyghur, Kazakh, and the other targeted peoples have “too difficult names” for their readers to handle. Or, that the NYT willy-nilly is aligning itself with the current administration officials who have often spoken up, admirably so, for the people of Xinjiang, but often in terms of the freedom of religion (Note: I do think it is indeed very admirable that conservative evangelical Republicans do speak up for oppressed Muslims, and it is of course true, to say that this is an assault on the freedom of religion). Continue reading

Children not spared

Source: NYT (12/28/19)
In China’s Crackdown on Muslims, Children Have Not Been Spared
In Xinjiang the authorities have separated nearly half a million children from their families, aiming to instill loyalty to China and the Communist Party.
By Amy Qin

HOTAN, China — The first grader was a good student and beloved by her classmates, but she was inconsolable, and it was no mystery to her teacher why.

“The most heartbreaking thing is that the girl is often slumped over on the table alone and crying,” he wrote on his blog. “When I asked around, I learned that it was because she missed her mother.”

The mother, he noted, had been sent to a detention camp for Muslim ethnic minorities. The girl’s father had passed away, he added. But instead of letting other relatives raise her, the authorities put her in a state-run boarding school — one of hundreds of such facilities that have opened in China’s far western Xinjiang region.

As many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others have been sent to internment camps and prisons in Xinjiang over the past three years, an indiscriminate clampdown aimed at weakening the population’s devotion to Islam. Even as these mass detentions have provoked global outrage, though, the Chinese government is pressing ahead with a parallel effort targeting the region’s children. Continue reading

They said #meetoo, now they are being sued

Source: NYT (12/26/19)
They Said #MeToo. Now They Are Being Sued.
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A growing number of men in China are using defamation lawsuits to counter claims of sexual harassment. Women are thinking twice about speaking out.
By Sui-Lee Wee and Li Yuan

Jialun Deng

In a small courtroom in Beijing, supporters of Wang Qi huddled together, awaiting the start of China’s first #MeToo trial. Ms. Wang had accused her former boss of sexually harassing her.

But it wasn’t Ms. Wang’s former boss who was on trial. It was Ms. Wang herself.

Zhou Fei, a top official at the China branch of the World Wildlife Fund, sued Ms. Wang in August 2018, accusing his former employee of defaming him when she wrote in a social media post that he forcibly kissed her during a work trip.

“If one doesn’t make a sacrifice for the protection of women’s rights and interests,” she said last year, before her lawyer warned her she risked further defamation claims by talking, “there will definitely be no progress.”

In China, the accuser can quickly become the accused. At least six men publicly accused of sexual assault or harassment have sued their accusers, or people who have publicized those accusers’ claims, for defamation in the past year.

Continue reading

China’s new civil religion

Source: NYT (12/21/19)
China’s New Civil Religion
The Communist Party is reviving traditional beliefs for political gain — while cracking down on some faiths.
By Ian Johnson [Mr. Johnson’s most recent book is “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao.”]

A woman offers joss sticks and prayers at the Lama Temple in central Beijing, a place of worship very popular with locals praying for wealth and good health.Credit…Sim Chi Yin/Magnum Photos

BEIJING — In the northern suburbs of this city is a small temple to a Chinese folk deity, Lord Guan, a famous warrior deified more than a millennium ago. Renovated five years ago at the government’s expense, the temple is used by a group of retirees who run pilgrimages to a holy mountain, schoolchildren who come to learn traditional culture and a Taoist priest who preaches to wealthy urbanites about the traditional values of ancient China.

Perched atop a hillock overlooking the sprawling capital, the temple is a microcosm of a new civil religion taking shape in China — an effort by the Chinese Communist Party to satisfy Chinese people’s search for moral guidelines by supplementing the largely irrelevant ideology of communism with a curated version of the past.

This new state-guided religiosity is the flip side of the government’s harsh policies toward Islam and Christianity. Officials believe these two global faiths are hard to control because of their foreign ties, and they have used negotiation or force — diplomacy with the Vatican, arrests of prominent Protestants, internment camps for Muslims — to try to bring these religions to heel. Continue reading

10 top grossing films of 2019

Source: China Daily (12/13/19)
Year-ender: 10 highest-grossing films of 2019
By Li Wenrui

Posters of six films on the list. [Photo/Mtime]

Editor’s Note: Despite the “cold winter” theory stemming from the lackluster start of 2019, China’s film industry has come through with a chain of homegrown blockbusters and impressive revenues. On Dec 6, the Chinese annual box office crossed the mark of 60 billion yuan ($8.53 billion) — 24 days earlier than the previous year according to China Movie Data Information Network.

At present, 78 pictures exceeded 100 million yuan ($14.22 million), and among these 15 grossed over 1 billion yuan ($142.2 million) and 6 over 2 billion ($284.5 million). In the last fortnight of 2019, highly-anticipated films like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Ip Man 4 will be screened in the Chinese mainland. So the annual box office total is waiting to be unveiled.

Eight of the top moneymakers are domestic productions, such as the phenomenal Ne Zha, the sci-fi saga The Wandering Earth and romantic crime coming of age film Better Days. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, two high-profile pictures My People, My Country and The Captain seized a considerable market share. Moviegoers in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen contributed most to the national box office. Continue reading

Abandoned children remembered in short film ‘Pearl’

Source: SCMP (12/20/19)
Based on a heartbreaking true story: China’s abandoned children remembered in short film
Chinese filmmaker Yuchao Feng believes his short film Pearl can help heal the wounds of the past for his family and many others who have suffered a similar fate. Feng based his short film Pearl on his mother’s account of being abandoned by her own mother in Fujian province at the age of six
By Kylie Knott

A scene from Chinese filmmaker Yuchao Feng’s heartbreaking short film Pearl, which is about child abandonment and is based on his mother’s childhood.

A scene from Chinese filmmaker Yuchao Feng’s heartbreaking short film Pearl, which is about child abandonment and is based on his mother’s childhood.

One Sunday afternoon in February, 2017, Chinese film director Yuchao Feng was in his flat in the US state of New Jersey when he received a phone call from his mother that would shock and inspire him.

Feng knew something was wrong – not just because it was 3am in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, where Wang Jingjing was calling from, but because they rarely spoke.

“My parents were not around much when I was growing up in Ningde,” says Feng, recalling the city of three million in Fujian province, in the country’s southeast, known for its tea cultivation. “And we talked even less after I moved to the US to study film in 2011.” 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.
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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

Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst one-China bubble

Source: Washington Post (12/15/19)
Taiwan’s tea party aims to burst Beijing’s one-China bubble
By Anna Fifield 

Customers wait at a CoCo bubble tea shop in Beijing on Aug. 9. The brand has faced a boycott in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where people share the same commitment to self-rule in China’s shadow. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Customers wait at a CoCo bubble tea shop in Beijing on Aug. 9. The brand has faced a boycott in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where people share the same commitment to self-rule in China’s shadow. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Call it the Taipei tea party. Or the new tea wars. For in Taiwan, the pearly is political.

To show their solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and their commitment to Taiwan’s self-rule, many consumers here are boycotting bubble tea chains that support the “one country, two systems” formula that China uses to rule Hong Kong and that it hopes one day to extend to Taiwan.

“I deliberately came here today because it’s an independent Taiwan store and it doesn’t support ‘one country, two systems,’ ” said Alex Shuie, who works in financial services, as he waited for his drink — known as bubble or boba or pearl tea — at the Ruguo stand in central Taipei. Continue reading