The People’s Map of Global China

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are happy to announce a new initiative stemming from the Made in China Journal: The People’s Map of Global China.

Using an interactive, open access, and online ‘map’ format, we are collaborating with nongovernmental organisations, journalists, trade unions, academics, and the public at large to provide updated and updatable information on various dimensions of Global China in their localities.

The Map consists of profiles of countries and projects, sortable by project parameters, Chinese companies and banks involved, and their social, political, and environmental impacts.

This is a ‘people’s’ map in two ways. First, our content attempts to trace the global imprint of China focusing on the experiences of the people most affected by it. For this reason, you will discover that our profiles have a strong focus on issues related to labour rights, environment, land, Indigenous communities, etc. Second, our map relies on the input of a growing network of people who often hail from the places they are discussing, who have been conducting in-depth research on the various facets of Global China in their localities, and/or are working directly with communities impacted by these projects.

Beside the map homepage, you might also want to check out our project database, country database, list of contributors, and FAQ page. We are currently launching with profiles for 17 countries and 23 projects, but the map will be updated on a rolling basis. Even though we already have much more content in the pipeline, we welcome new pitches and submissions. To keep track of our updates, you can follow us on our dedicated Facebook and Twitter profiles. Continue reading

Taiwan indigenous hunters try to uphold tradition

Source: NYT (4/13/21)
Taiwan Hunters Contend With Taboos, and Trials, to Uphold Tradition
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The island’s Indigenous hunting cultures are circumscribed by ancient rituals and modern legal restrictions. We join a hunt as Taiwan’s constitutional court considers a case on Indigenous rights.
By Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien

Bayan Tanapima, a Bunun hunter, firing his homemade hunting gun in the woods of eastern Taiwan last month. Credit…Ashley Pon for The New York Times

ZHUOXI, Taiwan — The smell of damp earth filled the air on a recent moonless evening as the hunter wove through the dense mountain thicket, clutching a homemade rifle and with only the narrow white beam of a headlamp to illuminate his prey.

But the hunter, Vilian Istasipal, was confident. He knew this terrain well.

A member of the Bunun, one of 16 officially recognized Indigenous groups in Taiwan, Mr. Vilian, 70, has been hunting on this land for more than 60 years.

Some of his earliest memories growing up in Zhuoxi, a town of around 6,000 people in eastern Taiwan, involved going on dayslong hunts with his father deep into the mountains where he learned skills considered essential to being a Bunun man, like how to lay a trap, shoot a flying squirrel and skin a boar.

“We kill them, but we also pay respect to their lives,” Mr. Vilian said in the courtyard of his home in Zhuoxi, also known as Takkei in the Bunun language. Continue reading

China’s bookstores are making a comeback

Source: SupChina (4/8/21)
China’s brick-and-mortar bookstores are making a comeback
Chinese bookshops nearly died under the assault of ecommerce companies, but they are booming again as cultural centers and recreational spaces where books are just one part of the offering.
By Chang Che

Yanjiyou Bookstore in Chengdu. Image: ArchDaily.

On a Wednesday morning in the summer of 2011, the Beijing bookstore Wind in the Pines (风入松书局), a 16-year-old cultural sanctuary, closed its doors for the last time.

“This was once a cultural epicenter of the capital, a spiritual home for many,” mourned one internet user (in Chinese). “Though I knew its days were numbered, I still can’t help but cry on its last day.”

The closure of Beijing’s flagship bookstore was just the beginning of a long road to obsolescence for physical bookstores across the nation. In the early 2010s, China was still on the brink of its digital revolution, accounting for 1% of global online transactions. By 2017, China’s economy had utterly shifted gears: 40% of the world’s digital transactions occurred within its borders, and the prospect of maintaining any brick-and-mortar enterprise during that ecommerce craze seemed like a Sisyphean nightmare.

But now, physical bookstores are coming out of a long winter. Last week, China’s state media reported that bookshops during the pandemic had undergone something of a renaissance: 1,500 brick-and-mortar bookstores closed, but more than 4,000 new ones sprouted up. Continue reading

Shows blur western brands over Xinjiang cotton dispute

Source: NYT (4/9/21)
Chinese Shows Blur Western Brands Over Xinjiang Cotton Dispute
Online platforms that stream dance, singing and comedy shows are pixelating performers’ T-shirts and sneakers amid a nationalistic fervor.
By Tiffany May

The sneakers of a contestant on the stand-up comedy series “Roast” were blurred. Credit…Tencent Video

HONG KONG — Viewers of some of China’s most popular online variety shows were recently greeted by a curious sight: a blur of pixels obscuring the brands on sneakers and T-shirts worn by contestants.

As far as viewers could tell, the censored apparel showed no hints of obscenity or indecency. Instead, the problem lay with the foreign brands that made them.

Since late March, streaming platforms in China have diligently censored the logos and symbols of brands like Adidas that adorn contestants performing dance, singing and standup-comedy routines. The phenomenon followed a feud between the government and big-name international companies that said they would avoid using cotton produced in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where the authorities are accused of mounting a wide-reaching campaign of repression against ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs. Continue reading

“Sister” tackles male gender preference

Source: Sixth Tone (4/8/21)
Hit Film Tackles Male Gender Preference in Chinese Families
“Sister” has emerged as an unexpected holiday hit, surpassing Hollywood heavyweight “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
By Chen Qi’an

A still frame from the Chinese blockbuster film “Sister.” From Douban

A still frame from the Chinese blockbuster film “Sister.” From Douban

A new Chinese movie is casting a spotlight on a long-debated question: Should personal values be prioritized over traditional family values?

The family drama “Sister” [我的姐姐] which topped the domestic box office during the recent Qingming Festival holiday, tells the story of An Ran, a young woman who is suddenly faced with having to take care of her 6-year-old brother after their parents die in an accident. The movie follows An’s trajectory as she struggles to balance her own life choices while becoming her brother’s caretaker.

The movie, starring popular actor Zhang Zifeng as the titular character, has so far raked in over 500 million yuan ($76 million), outperforming Hollywood hit “Godzilla vs. Kong,” according to ticketing platform Maoyan. On review site Douban, “Sister” has scored 7.2 out of 10. Continue reading

Cui Zi’en workshop

May be an image of Zien Cui, sitting and indoorZoom Workshop on: “Queering What Is Left of Queer: The Work of Cui Zi’en.”
April 14, 8:00–9:30 PM EDT
Featuring: Lisa Rofel, UC Santa Cruz; Petrus Liu, Boston University; and Cui Zi’en, film director, producer, film scholar, screenwriter, novelist, and LGBT activist
Sponsored by the CCK Foundation Inter-University Center for Sinological Studies
Registration required:
https://duke.zoom.us/…/tJYofuuvpjooEtSmEMjFordSbpKC9uep…

Hi, Mom top-grossing film for female director

Source: China Daily (4/8/21)
Hi, Mom now world’s top-grossing film ever from solo female director
By Xinhua

Jia Ling [Photo/Mtime]

China’s tear-jerker film Hi, Mom has overtaken American fantasy Wonder Woman to become the world’s top-grossing film ever from a solo female director.

The maiden directorial project of comedian and actress Jia Ling saw its cumulative box office reach 5.396 billion yuan ($822.87 million) as of early Tuesday afternoon and surpass that of the 2017 superhero film from Patty Jenkins, according to the China Movie Data Information Network.

Hi, Mom is currently the top earner of this year in China, as well as globally. It is the second highest-grossing film ever at China’s box office, outshone only by the 2017 Chinese action-adventure film Wolf Warrior 2 that raked in a total of 5.69 billion yuan. Continue reading

Feminist icon

Source: NYT (4/2/21)
A Chinese ‘Auntie’ Went on a Solo Road Trip. Now, She’s a Feminist Icon.
Tired of housework and an unhappy marriage, a 56-year-old woman has been on a six-month jaunt across China that has challenged deep-rooted gender norms.
By Joy Dong and 

“Why do I want to take a road trip?” asked Su Min, a 56-year-old retiree from Henan Province in central China. “Life at home is truly too upsetting.”

She spends each night alone, curled up in a four-and-a-half by eight-foot rooftop tent, balanced on stilts above her car. She often eats her meals in parking lots. She has seen her daughter and grandchildren only once in the past six months, and her husband not at all.

Su Min, a 56-year-old retiree from Henan Province in central China, has never been happier.

“I’ve been a wife, a mother and a grandmother,” Ms. Su said. “I came out this time to find myself.”

After fulfilling her family’s expectations of dutiful Chinese womanhood, Ms. Su is embracing a new identity: fearless road-tripper and internet sensation. For six months, she has been on a solo drive across China, documenting her journey for more than 1.35 million followers across several social media platforms. Continue reading

Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific

Publication Announcement: Howard Chiang, Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific (Columbia University Press, 2021).

As a broad category of identity, “transgender” has given life to a vibrant field of academic research since the 1990s. Yet the Western origins of the field have tended to limit its cross-cultural scope. Howard Chiang proposes a new paradigm for doing transgender history in which geopolitics assumes central importance. Defined as the antidote to transphobia, transtopia challenges a minoritarian view of transgender experience and makes room for the variability of transness on a historical continuum.

Against the backdrop of the Sinophone Pacific, Chiang argues that the concept of transgender identity must be rethought beyond a purely Western frame. At the same time, he challenges China-centrism in the study of East Asian gender and sexual configurations. Chiang brings Sinophone studies to bear on trans theory to deconstruct the ways in which sexual normativity and Chinese imperialism have been produced through one another. Grounded in an eclectic range of sources—from the archives of sexology to press reports of intersexuality, films about castration, and records of social activism—this book reorients anti-transphobic inquiry at the crossroads of area studies, medical humanities, and queer theory. Timely and provocative, Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific highlights the urgency of interdisciplinary knowledge in debates over the promise and future of human diversity.

Tawdry tale of local graft becomes a #MeToo moment

Source: NYT (3/29/21)
A Tawdry Tale of Local Graft Becomes a China #MeToo Moment
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A young woman from a modest background gets a long prison term. The powerful officials who paid her draw lighter punishment. The Chinese public has questions.
By Li Yuan

Credit… Jialun Deng

The woman from a poor village was only 19 years old when she started a sexual relationship with a local police chief. Soon, she had trysts with other local leaders, including police and hospital officials.

Some of the men gave her money. A lot of it. By the time the authorities caught her and charged her with extortion, Xu Yan had received $573,000 from nine men, including eight officials, according to court documents. In December, she was sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to pay the money back, plus $869,000 in fines.

That could have been the end of what seemed to be another tawdry tale of sex and corruption. But when people online learned the details, they began to ask questions.

Why did Ms. Xu get such a long sentence? How did all of the men but one avoid prison time? Where did public officials from such a poor place get so much money? And around such powerful men, can a teenager from such a destitute area really say no? Continue reading

A Conference in Honor of Wang Zheng

Gender in Chinese Studies: A Conference in Honor of Wang Zheng

Join us as we celebrate the career and contributions of Wang Zheng, pioneering feminist and scholar, beloved teacher, and esteemed colleague!

This conference features papers by her former students as well as current graduate students, and a keynote address by Gail Hershatter (Distinguished Professor of History, UC Santa Cruz). We will reflect on the development of Chinese gender studies, past and present, and explore future directions for research. This conference is sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan.

Schedule overview (times in EDT):

FRIDAY, APRIL 9
9:30 am–Welcome
10:00 am–Panel #1 (“Archives and History”)
12 noon–Keynote address, Gail Hershatter
2:00 pm–Panel #2 (“Scholarship and Activism”)

SATURDAY, APRIL 10
10:00 am–UM graduate student panel (“Future Directions”)
11:10 am–Lunch and mingle
1:00 pm–Panel #3 (“Interspecies, Affects, and Boundary Pushing”)
2:45–Closing remarks by Wang Zheng

NOTE: Advance registration is required for this free Zoom event. Visit this link to register.

For the most up-to-date details on participants, papers, and abstracts, please see our Google Doc schedule.

What happened in Mingjing Village

Source: China Media Project (3/23/21)
WHAT HAPPENED IN MINGJING VILLAGE?
By 

The breaking story of a shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday afternoon made headlines across the United States and around the world. Many outlets in the US have followed with live updates, and in the days to come there will surely be further reports and analysis asking a crucial question: Why?

The treatment of the Colorado story by US and international media starkly contrasts with the reporting of a story unfolding the very same day on the outskirts of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou – the detonation of a bomb in a historic village, killing five and injuring five others. In this case, there were no big headlines. There were no reporters on the scene. There was only a trickle of information, including a pair of terse local police notices, a news item from the state-run Xinhua News Agency that parroted the police line, and a graphic video of the aftermath circulating with little context on social media.

Today the Guangzhou story has settled into eerie silence across the Chinese media landscape. News editors are reportedly under instructions to use only official copy from Xinhua — ensuring that if the story is told at all, it is told only in the way the authorities see fit.

Left with only hints as to what might have happened in the Mingjing Village (明经村), what can we learn? Continue reading

Marriage rate drops

Source: SupChina (3/19/21)
A generation without money, houses, or work-life balance also doesn’t want marriage
The government wants young people to get married and have kids. They aren’t having any of it.
By Jiayun Feng

chinese couple marriage

Reuters

China’s marriage rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two decades last year, and experts think that the number will likely sink even further as Chinese people in Generation Z start to reach childbearing age.

New statistics (in Chinese) were released last month by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, showing that only 8.1 million couples tied the knot in 2020, a 12% drop from the previous year and a super-steep drop from the 13.4 million couples who got married in 2013.

Most Chinese media reports attributed the decline in marriage rates to a drop in the number of people of marriageable age after decades of the one-child policy, a harshly enforced system introduced in 1979 to curb the country’s population growth.

Although China relaxed its restrictions on births in 2015, allowing all married couples to have two children, many couples have not chosen to do so. To make things worse, the birth control program, coupled with an age-old preference for sons, has created an excess of 30 million males, who are facing a hard time looking for partners. Continue reading

Ai Xiaoming and the Quarantine Counter-Diary

Source: LARB (3/12/21)
Ai Xiaoming and the Quarantine Counter-Diary
By Thomas Chen

Huiming road ,Wuchang District, Wuhan during 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak. Wikepedia Commons.

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK has spawned the resurgence of one literary form above all: the diary. Under variously imposed quarantines, people all over the world have turned to self-writing and recording to deal with the unprecedented state of isolation.

The “lockdown diary” first surged in China, when the city of Wuhan went into lockdown in late January 2020. The most famous example is the one posted online by the award-winning author Fang Fang, who grew up in Wuhan. Her diary, kept daily for 60 straight days and read by millions of people all over the country, was translated into English by Michael Berry and published as Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City. [Editor’s note: For more on Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary, see the review that Chris Madden wrote for the Hong Kong Review of Books, a Los Angeles Review of Books channel, which appeared July 20, 2020, here: https://hkrbooks.com/2020/07/20/wuhan-diary/]

But another online diary from Wuhan is just as noteworthy. Ai Xiaoming is a prolific filmmaker of over two dozen documentaries. Between the first, Taishi Village (2005), which is about a local government trying to sell collective land to developers, and the most recent, Jiabiangou Elegy (2017), which revisits a labor reform camp during the massive famine of the late 1950s, her documentaries have concerned grassroots activists, violence against women, the AIDS epidemic, the Sichuan earthquake of 2008, and the plight of migrant workers. Born and raised in Wuhan, she was there when COVID-19 erupted and trapped her in the city. Continue reading

Trump as you’ve never seen him before (1)

Interesting piece. Two supplements are needed, though.

1.Some of the attraction to Trump in China comes because, not in spite of, his readiness to oppose Beijing.

2.Countless images of Mao were produced less because he was “an artistic muse” than because he was Chairman of the Communist Party of China.

Perry Link <eplink@ucr.edu>