‘Touching fish’ craze

Source: The Guardian (1/22/21)
‘Touching fish’ craze sees China’s youth find ways to laze amid ‘996’ work culture
An online movement is pushing back against the country’s ferocious work culture of long hours for seemingly little gain
By  in Taipei

The e-commerce company Pinduoduo celebrates its listing in Shanghai. It has been criticised for expecting employees to work very long hours.

The e-commerce company Pinduoduo celebrates its listing in Shanghai. It has been criticised for expecting employees to work very long hours. Photograph: VCG/Visual China Group/Getty Images

On the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: fill up a thermos with whisky, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink litres of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone.

“Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” said one netizen. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.”

Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching fish” [摸鱼]. The term is a play on a Chinese proverb: “muddy waters make it easy to catch fish” [浑水摸鱼], and the idea is to take advantage of the Covid crisis drawing management’s focus away from supervising their employees.

The author of a viral post at the centre of the conversation, Weibo user Massage Bear, described “touching fish” as a life attitude. Continue reading

The Roots of Anti-Asian Racism in the US

Alexa Alice Joubin, “The Roots of Anti-Asian Racism in the U.S.: The Pandemic and ‘Yellow Peril’.” Global Social Security Review Vol. 15 (Winter 2020): 50-59.

Abstract: COVID-19 has exacerbated anti-Asian racism—the demonization of a group of people based on their perceived social value—in the United States in the cultural and political life. Offering strategies for inclusion during and after the pandemic, this article analyzes the history and language of racism, including the notion of yellow peril. Racialized thinking and racial discourses are institutionalized as power relations, take the form of political marginalization of minority groups, and cause emotional distress and physical harm.

Journal website: https://www.kihasa.re.kr/web/publication/periodical/list.do?menuId=53&tid=38&bid=991

China’s costly drive to erase extreme poverty (2)

In response to Lily Lee’s query, my impression is that the NYT as well as much of the rest of the media and political establishment in the US has been awakened to what the CCP is about. Just a few years ago a NYT editorial could go along with the CCP’s racist labelling of the entire Uyghur people as ‘terrorists’. Now, they would not do that, in particular as their own reporters have been filing long series of blow by blow reports, thus filling in not just the public, but their own editors, too, on the enormity of the mass atrocities perpetrated by the CCP over the last several years since 2017; on the trampling of the freedom of speech (on Corona, etc,), and so on. But the NYT will still try to produce “objective” reports, and these efforts can sometimes seem awkward.

Also, in the US as elsewhere, there are large pockets of committed China lobbyists and “friends”, not least the Walmarts and such businesses (Apple and some others are said to have lobbied strenuously against forced labor legislation, just recently), and the Kissinger style “China experts” who right now must be struggling behind the scenes, to try to influence the incoming new administration. Continue reading

Feminist comedian accused of ‘inciting gender-based antagonism’

Source: SupChina (12/29/21)
Feminist comedian accused of ‘inciting gender-based antagonism’ after critiquing sexist haters
When reflecting on her past year, Yang Li, the stand-up comedian known for her feminist men-bashing, delivered a barn-burner of a tirade against her critics, blasting them for being misogynist and overly sensitive to critique.

yang li

Yáng Lì 杨笠 knows haters gonna hate, and she has gleefully given them more fuel for the fire.

When she first appeared on the third season of hit stand-up comedy series Rock & Roast (脱口秀大会 tuō kǒu xiù dà huì), which hit streaming platforms over the summer, the young comedian became a national sensation almost overnight. By delivering an eclectic blend of thought-provoking, patriarchy-challenging jokes, Yang has earned rave reviews from women who felt heard and inspired — as well as a ferocious backlash from online trolls, who recently took their opposition to the political level with calls to have Yang censored over her “hate-inciting” views.

The renewed controversy surrounding Yang’s feminist men-bashing stemmed from her latest appearance on the year-end special episode of Rock & Roast, which asked a roster of the show’s previous contestants to share their biggest disappointments from 2020. When reflecting on her past year, Yang delivered a barn-burner of a tirade against her critics (in Chinese), blasting them for being misogynist and overly sensitive to critique. Continue reading

China’s costly drive to erase extreme poverty

Source: NYT (12/31/20)
Jobs, Houses and Cows: China’s Costly Drive to Erase Extreme Poverty
China has spent heavily to help its poorest citizens, an approach that few developing countries can afford and even Beijing may struggle to sustain.
By Keith Bradsher

A farmer driving a truck loaded with corn in  Gansu Province. China’s efforts to eradicate rural poverty have been particularly striking in Gansu, which is China’s poorest province. Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

JIEYUAN VILLAGE, China — When the Chinese government offered free cows to farmers in Jieyuan, villagers in the remote mountain community were skeptical. They worried officials would ask them to return the cattle later, along with any calves they managed to raise.

But the farmers kept the cows, and the money they brought. Others received small flocks of sheep. Government workers also paved a road into the town, built new houses for the village’s poorest residents and repurposed an old school as a community center.

Jia Huanwen, a 58-year-old farmer in the village in Gansu Province, was given a large cow three years ago that produced two healthy calves. He sold the cow in April for $2,900, as much as he earns in two years growing potatoes, wheat and corn on the terraced, yellow clay hillsides nearby. Now he buys vegetables regularly for his family’s table and medicine for an arthritic knee. Continue reading

How Covid-19 slipped China’s grasp

Source: NYT (12/30/20)
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Beijing acted against the coronavirus with stunning force, as its official narratives recount. But not before a political logjam had allowed a local outbreak to kindle a global pandemic.
By Chris BuckleyDavid D. KirkpatrickAmy Qin and 

Moving a Covid-19 victim in Wuhan, China, in February. Credit…CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

Celebrated as the hero who helped uncover the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, now 84, was under orders to rush to Wuhan, a city in central China, and investigate a strange new coronavirus. His assistant photographed the doctor on the night train, eyes closed in thought, an image that would later rocket around China and burnish Dr. Zhong’s reputation as the nation’s medic riding to the rescue.

China’s official history now portrays Dr. Zhong’s trip as the cinematic turning point in an ultimately triumphant war against Covid-19, when he discovered the virus was spreading dangerously and sped to Beijing to sound the alarm. Four days later, on Jan. 23, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, sealed off Wuhan.

That lockdown was the first decisive step in saving China. But in a pandemic that has since claimed more than 1.7 million lives, it came too late to prevent the virus from spilling into the rest of the world.

The first alarm had actually sounded 25 days earlier, exactly a year ago, last Dec. 30. Even before then, Chinese doctors and scientists had been pushing for answers, yet officials in Wuhan and Beijing concealed the extent of infections or refused to act on warnings. Continue reading

China to outlaw ‘mukbang’ videos

Source: Sixth Tone (12/22/20)
In Anti-Food Waste Push, China to Outlaw Binge-Eating ‘Mukbang’ Videos
New draft law also proposes that restaurants should remind diners not to over-order.
By Li You

People Visual

Videos of people eating absurd amounts of food may soon be illegal in China, according to draft legislation that’s expected to turn President Xi Jinping’s campaign against food waste into law.

The draft law proposes, among other measures, that media content producers who promote overeating be given hefty fines of up to 100,000 yuan ($15,300) and have their business operations suspended. The document was submitted Tuesday for review by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, the state-run China News Service reported.

Binge-eating, or mukbang, videos were a popular form of online entertainment until Xi’s call to reduce food waste in August put the category in the authorities’ crosshairs. State media criticized such videos, an industry body announced a ban on them, and they mostly disappeared from Chinese sites. And in the wake of Xi’s comments, many local catering associations announced limits on how many dishes could be served during group meals. Continue reading

Mental health and the pandemic in China

Source: NYT (12/21/20)
China Long Avoided Discussing Mental Health. The Pandemic Changed That
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The government has deployed extensive resources to address the spike in depression and anxiety. But social stigmas and long-term challenges remain.
By Vivian Wang and Javier C. Hernández

A man walking along the Yangtze River in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus pandemic began. The crisis has forced the country to confront the issue of mental health. Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

China’s fight against the coronavirus was mostly over, but Zhang Xiaochun, a doctor in Wuhan, was sinking into depression, convinced she had failed as a daughter and mother. She agonized over her decision to keep working even after her father fell critically ill. She worried about her young daughter, whom she had frequently left alone at home.

But rather than hide those feelings, as would have been common just a few years ago in a country where mental illness has long been stigmatized, Dr. Zhang consulted therapists. When friends and colleagues checked in on her, she openly acknowledged that she was struggling.

“If we can face such a huge disaster as this outbreak, then how could we not dare to talk about something so small as some mental health problems?” said Dr. Zhang, an imaging specialist. Continue reading

Chen Kaige short blasted for ‘glorifying’ surrogacy

Source: SupChina (12/7/20)
Chinese short film blasted for ‘glorifying’ commercial surrogacy
One of the grand old men of Chinese cinema — Chen Kaige — has found himself at the center of a social media controversy after directing a short film about a woman who carries baby for another couple for a fee.
By Jiayun Feng

Chen Kaige Baby

A screenshot from the film

A Chinese short film — directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Chén Kǎigē 陈凯歌 — has become a target of vitriol on the Chinese internet and in government-run media because of its positive portrayal of commercial surrogate pregnancy. The procedure, by which a woman carries another woman’s baby, is technically illegal in China, but rarely punished when practiced on the black market.

Titled “Ten Months with You,” the 30-minute film (in Chinese) was made for the acting reality show “Everybody Stand By 2” (演员请就位), a series where celebrity contestants give their takes on classic scenes from TV dramas and movies. For the finale of the show’s second season, Chen and a group of artists created the controversial film, which tells the story of “the complex and painful relationships among three people who are connected by a newborn,” according to the clip’s official description. Continue reading

Tribute to Rahile Dawut

A moving video tribute to Uyghur folklorist and anthropologist Rahile Dawut, organized by Rahile’s daughter, with a long series of people around the world paying homage to Rahile, demanding her freedom:

Rahile Dawut: Three Years of Silence. Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia, Dec 11, 2020.

This seven minute tribute was made on the three-year mark of Rahile Dawut’s enforced disappearance, on Dec. 12, 2020, as she was boarding a flight to an academic conference in Beijing. In the context of the mass atrocities perpetrated against her people, we fear the worst for our colleague. To help #FreeRahileDawut, go to http://freemymom.org Continue reading

Women’s soccer and dyed hair

Source: NYT (12/10/20)
The Women Faced Off to Play Soccer. One Team Lost Because of Hair Dye.
A Chinese university team argued that an opposing player’s hair was not “black enough,” according to the rules, and her team forfeited the match.
By Yan Zhuang

Female soccer players in China can be disqualified from a match if they wear jewelry or have dyed hair. Male players are generally barred from having long hair. Credit…Wang He/Getty Images

Forget skill, training or even luck. If you’re a female soccer player in China, sometimes victory or defeat comes down to the color of your hair, as one university team recently found out the hard way.

The women’s teams at Fuzhou University and Jimei University were supposed to face off at an intercollegiate tournament last week in China’s southeast. But they were barred from participating because players from both teams had dyed hair, which was against the rules.

Photos from the tournament show all the players with either black or dark-brown hair, but apparently those were the wrong shades. The Fujian Province Department of Education’s rules governing university soccer state that players will be disqualified from a match if they wear accessories or jewelry, or have “strange” hairstyles or dyed hair. Continue reading

What is China thinking

Source: SupChina (12/2/20)
What is China thinking?
How can we understand China if we don’t know what its most prominent intellectuals are saying? A translation project by David Ownby aims to make up for the absence of Chinese voices in Western discussions about the country that nobody can afford to ignore.
By Ian Johnson

What is China thinking?

Illustration by Derek Zheng

The last time a country challenged an established superpower, it was easy to figure out what the newcomer was thinking. That’s because the United States was an English-speaking nation, the same as the one it was slowly supplanting, the United Kingdom. The two countries had frequent contact, read each other’s novels and poems, and shared many of the same political ideas.

But a century later, few outsiders can access the world of ideas found in the new rising power, China. The most obvious problem is language, but that begs the question of why so few Chinese thinkers are translated and why their world of ideas is largely unmapped. Continue reading

Evading facial recognition

Source: Sup China (12/3/20)
Viral video of man evading facial recognition leads to surveillance bans in Chinese cities
Real estate companies in China are using facial recognition to track customers and improve their sales and marketing results. But a viral video has made some city governments crack down on private sector use of the technology.
By Jiayun Feng

helmet man

A viral video of a Chinese man wearing a helmet to outsmart facial recognition surveillance cameras has inspired a national conversation and prompted several Chinese cities to regulate surveillance in the private sectors.

In the eight-second clip (in Chinese), which was shared last month by a real estate agent in the eastern city of Jinan, Shandong Province, a customer at a real estate exhibition can be seen wearing a motorcycle helmet in order to avoid being identified by a network of facial recognition cameras.

As the video racked up hundreds of thousands of views on Chinese social media, commenters noted a concerning trend of real estate agencies and developers installing facial recognition systems, with the aim of categorizing customers and determining commissions for brokers. Continue reading

Zhu Jun sexual harassment case

Source: Sup China (12/2/20)
In a critical test of China’s #MeToo movement, Beijing court starts hearing on landmark sexual harassment case
The long-awaited hearing on sexual harassment allegations against Zhū Jūn 朱军, a prominent TV anchor in China, began today in Beijing, kicking off what’s likely to be a grueling and lengthy ordeal expected to test the power of China’s #MeToo movement.
By Jiayun Feng


Demonstrators carry signs in support of Xianzi outside the Beijing court / Photo by Chen Caiwei

The long-awaited hearing on sexual harassment allegations against Zhū Jūn 朱军, a prominent TV anchor in China, began today in Beijing, kicking off what’s likely to be a grueling and lengthy ordeal expected to test the power of China’s #MeToo movement.

Zhou Xiaoxuan (she has not revealed the Chinese characters of her name, but she is known in China by her nickname Xiánzǐ 弦子), a 27-year-old screenwriter in Beijing, went public in 2018 with accusations that Zhu groped and forcibly kissed her when she was an intern at the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) in 2014. She was working on the high-profile TV host’s signature show, Art Life 艺术人生.

The stakes for Zhou’s lawsuit are high — for all parties involved. Since she came forward about the alleged harassment, Zhou has been battling censorship, sexism, and legal attacks from Zhu, who has consistently denied all the allegations and launched a defamation lawsuit against her. Continue reading