Dating apps thrive in China

Source: NYT (9/27/22)
Dating Apps Thrive in China, but Not Just for Romance
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By Chang Che and Xixu Wang

‘We Must Wake Up!

Source: China Media Project (9/20/22)
“We Must Wake Up!”
The fatal crash of a quarantine transport bus in Guizhou province over the weekend has galvanized anger over China’s Covid policies. One private post from a well-known journalist yesterday was shared widely on social media before being deleted. It spoke of 1.3 billion Chinese held “in bondage” over irrational fears of contagion.
By David Bandurski

An image widely shared on China’s internet shows the quarantine transport bus in Guizhou on the night of the fatal accident, the driver in full hazmat gear.

As anger flared across Chinese social media yesterday following the deadly crash in Guizhou of a passenger bus transferring positive Covid cases, Gao Yu (高昱), the deputy executive editor and head of investigations at Caixin Media, posted a reflection on the tragedy to his WeChat friend group that was subsequently shared outside the chat.

In his post, Gao urged an end to China’s zero Covid policy, which he argued was unscientific, pursued out of unnecessary fear, and out of step with the rest of the world. “We must wake up! We must return to normalcy!” he wrote. Continue reading

Qizi “On a Bus of Romanticism”

In response to the NYT article on the tragic bus crash, here’s a poem by Qizi that I have translated into English.–Martin Winter

Qizi
ON A BUS OF ROMANTICISM

Are you on a hurtling bus too?
Have you ever thought
of jumping out with me
to fall down and die
on the earth
of realism?

9/19/22
Tr. Martin Winter, September 2022

在浪漫主义的车上
起子

你也在飞驰的车上?
那你有没有想过
和我一起跳下去
摔死在现实主义的
大地上?

2022-9-19

See my blog, with pictures by Qizi (from Weibo) https://banianerguotoukeyihe.com/2022/09/20/im-romantischen-bus-%e8%b5%b7%e5%ad%90-qizi/. Thanks to Sidse Laugesen for important feedback!

Martin Winter

Deadly crash triggers Covid trauma

Source: NYT (9/21/22)
‘We’re on That Bus, Too’: In China, a Deadly Crash Triggers Covid Trauma
A bus heading to a quarantine facility crashed, killing 27. The Chinese public saw themselves in the victims: a country being held hostage by the government’s harsh policy.
By Li Yuan

Waiting in line for a routine Covid test in Beijing. China has faced nearly three years of constant lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines under its “zero Covid” policy.

Waiting in line for a routine Covid test in Beijing. China has faced nearly three years of constant lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines under its “zero Covid” policy. Credit…Andy Wong/Associated Press

After a bus accident killed at least 27 people being transferred to a Covid quarantine facility on Sunday, the Chinese public staged a widespread online protest against the government’s harsh pandemic policy.

It was a moment of collective grief and anger, with a heavy dose of shame, guilt and despair. After nearly three years of constant lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines, people asked how they could give the government the power to deprive them of their dignity, livelihood, mental health and even life; how they could fail to protect their loved ones from the “zero Covid” autocracy; and how long the craziness would last.

They quoted a 1940 poem by Bertolt Brecht, the German poet and playwright.

This is the year which people will talk about.
This is the year which people will be silent about.
The old see the young die.
The foolish see the wise die.

They shared on social media an old article with the headline, “Evil is prevalent because we obey unconditionally.”

They asked themselves, “What can I do so I will not end up on that bus?” Continue reading

New viral game that WeChat is going bonkers over

Source: The China Project (9/16/22)
Sheep a Sheep is the new viral game that WeChat is going bonkers over
A nearly impossible mobile game that only took a team of three to make is making millions of people in China lose their minds.
By Zhao Yuanyuan

Sheep a Sheep

Remember Jump and Jump (跳一跳 tiàoyītiào)? The one-touch mini game within the Chinese ubiquitous social app WeChat that was a cultural phenomenon in 2018? Neither do we. Because now there’s a new mobile game that has taken China by storm, one satisfying tile merge at a time.

Enter yánglegèyáng 羊了个羊, which, loosely translated into English, means “Sheep a Sheep.” Accessed via WeChat’s mini program platform, the ridiculously addictive game was released in early September, but it wasn’t until this week that its popularity exploded. As of this morning, Sheep a Sheep has amassed over 60 million players. For comparison, Genshin Impact (原神 yuánshén), the popular action role-playing game that was developed and published by Shanghai-based developer miHoYo in September 2020, currently enjoys an international player base of approximately 60 million users, a number that Sheep a Sheep achieved in just a few weeks.

Elsewhere on the Chinese internet, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the game. On Weibo, Sheep a Sheep has spurred nearly 20 trending hashtags, with the most popular one generating more than 2.6 billion views. On short-video app Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese twin, videos about the title have racked up north of 3.7 billion plays. At multiple points in the past few days, the game crashed as it was overwhelmed by an excessive number of players. Continue reading

Sisters Who Make Waves

Source: The China Project (9/7/22)
Same-sex ‘ships’ on the summer’s hottest talent show in China
By Nathan Wei

‘Shipping,’ a once-niche fan fiction practice of pairing two celebrities or fictional characters in a romantic relationship, has become something of a national pastime in China this summer, thanks to a popular reality show with an all-female cast.

As one of the most talked-about talent shows in Chinese television this summer, the recently finished Sisters Who Make Waves, Season 3 (乘风破浪的姐姐) has gained popularity among both women and LGBTQ audiences for weaving feminist and queer themes into performances. This is a defiant feat in an age where China has greatly stepped up its censorship of LGBTQ content on screens large and small.

Produced by Mango TV, a video-streaming site under the Hunan Broadcasting System, the show features 30 female celebrities competing against one another and fighting for a position in an all-women band to be formed at the final. While its format is nothing new, Sisters invites only contestants who are above the age of 30 and have established their careers in respective fields. However, while on the show, they were assigned new challenges that required skills beyond their expertise. Famous singers were asked to learn K-pop choreography, while veteran actors were made to sing onstage. With this novel perspective, the show branded itself as focusing on all-age women’s self-exploration and growth.

When the first season of Sisters came out in 2020, the show received many positive reviews from female audiences who praised it for being refreshing, empowering, and carrying an implicit feminist message. Many considered its cast of middle-aged female stars as diverging from the conventional preference for younger women in the entertainment industry. Its showing of competitors’ mutual support during training sessions was also praised as encouraging the idea of “girls help girls” and challenging the stereotypical display of fights between women that prevails in reality television. Continue reading

Gen Z tries on Communist cadre look

Source: NYT (9/7/22)
So Square It’s Hip: ​​Gen Z Tries on the Communist Cadre Look
Why are some Chinese youth dressing like middle-aged civil servants? It might be ironic, or a longing for stability in uncertain times.
By Joy Dong

President Xi Jinping in his trademark blue jacket with oversize trousers during a July visit to Urumqi, China. The understated look has become surprisingly popular with some younger Chinese.

President Xi Jinping in his trademark blue jacket with oversize trousers during a July visit to Urumqi, China. The understated look has become surprisingly popular with some younger Chinese. Credit…Li Xueren/Xinhua, via Associated Press

A dull blue jacket, oversize trousers, a Communist Party member pin adding a splash of red on the chest, a small briefcase in hand. It’s the typical dress of the typical Chinese official, and has long been the very opposite of the look that many young Chinese strive for.

But now the cadre look is cool.

On Chinese social media platforms where trendsetters trade fashion tips, young people — mostly men — have been sharing pictures of themselves dressed like their strait-laced, middle-aged dads working in Communist Party offices. They call the trend “ting ju feng,” or “office and bureau style” — meaning the working wear of a typical mid-rank bureaucrat.

The paragon of this determinedly dull look is China’s top leader, Xi Jinping. He is highly likely to win another five years in power in October, when about 2,300 delegates gather for a Communist Party congress in Beijing. Many of those officials will be wearing Western-style suits and ties for that special occasion. Back at the office, though, countless officials now sport the dark blue wind jacket favored by Mr. Xi. Continue reading

Twilight of entrepreneurs in China

Source: NYT (9/8/22)
Twilight of Entrepreneurs in China as More Leave the Country
Two of China’s best-known entrepreneurs, Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, stepped down from their top jobs at the real estate development company they built.
By Keith Bradsher

The Chinese entrepreneurs Pan Shiyi, left, and Zhang Xin quit this week as chairman and chief executive, respectively, of their real estate empire, Soho China.

The Chinese entrepreneurs Pan Shiyi, left, and Zhang Xin quit this week as chairman and chief executive, respectively, of their real estate empire, Soho China. Credit…Visual China Group via Getty Images

BEIJING — Wealthy and powerful entrepreneurs in China were once idolized by the public, doted on by the government and courted by foreign investors. They helped build the Chinese economy into a powerhouse, and with it became the global face of Chinese business in a freer era, amassing billion-dollar fortunes, buying mansions overseas and holding court at elite international gatherings.

Now, billionaire tycoons are the outsiders in an increasingly state-driven economy that prioritizes politics and national security over growth. As the government cracks down on business and the economy weakens, they are keeping low profiles, stepping down from their companies or leaving the country entirely.

In the latest exodus, two of China’s best-known entrepreneurs, Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, resigned this week as chairman and chief executive, respectively, of their real estate empire, Soho China. Both had already moved to the United States early in the pandemic and tried to manage their business with late-night calls back to China.

It has been a rough year for their company. A deal to sell a controlling stake to the Blackstone Group in New York fell apart when regulators failed to approve it. Soho China’s stock has lost more than half its value in the past year. Continue reading

Women in China become ‘invisible and absent’

Source: NYT (9/6/22)
Battling Violence and Censors, Women in China Become ‘Invisible and Absent’
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The Chinese Communist Party has long promoted gender equality as a core tenet, but as cases of gender abuse make headlines, Beijing has tried to squelch dissent and control the narrative.
By Alexandra Stevenson and Zixu Wang

Government censors tamped down support for Zhou Xiaoxuan, a woman in China who accused a famous TV anchor of sexual harassment.

Government censors tamped down support for Zhou Xiaoxuan, a woman in China who accused a famous TV anchor of sexual harassment. Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

HONG KONG — When a prominent woman in China’s #MeToo movement took on a powerful man in court, it was the accused, not the accuser, who was held up as the victim. When several women were savagely beaten by men after resisting unwanted advances in a restaurant, the focus of the story pivoted from gender violence to gang violence. And when a mother of eight was found chained to the wall of a doorless shack, it was her mental fitness — not her imprisonment — that became the talking point.

Each incident went viral online in China, initially touching off a wave of outrage over violence against women. But in every case, the conversation was quickly censored to minimize the ways in which women had been abused.

China’s Communist Party has long promoted gender equality as one of its core tenets, yet as such cases continue to make national headlines, Beijing has done little to address calls for accountability. Fearing social unrest, the party has instead used social media censors to stifle criticism and amplify comments that support the government’s preferred narrative of social harmony.

When a story becomes popular online, the party’s propaganda department will send guidelines to managers at large social media companies for how to handle the topic, said King-wa Fu, a professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Center of the University of Hong Kong. Censors then remove popular comments or accounts that voice opinions that stray too far from the party line. Continue reading

China’s quiet fury over Xinjiang

Source: China Media Project (9/2/22)
China’s Quiet Fury Over Xinjiang
We have been told that China is furious over the UN report on human rights in Xinjiang. But the revealing fact is that so far Chinese media have spoken only to the rest of the world — and virtually zero mention of the report can be found inside the country.
By David Bandurski

Wang Wenbin

The release from the UN Human Rights Office on Wednesday of a report pointing to “serious human rights violations” in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region came with the Chinese government’s anger baked right in. A state response shared by the UN in its release said the report “wantonly smears and slanders China, and interferes in China’s internal affairs.”

China vented its fury again yesterday during a regular foreign ministry press conference. Asked what steps the government would take to address the concerns raised by the UN, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin waved the report off as a “so-called assessment,” alleging that it had been “orchestrated and produced by the US and some Western forces.” Its real objective, he said repeatedly, was to “contain China.”

Reacting to the response, international media outlets made fury a part of the story. China had “lashed out,” reported the Washington Post. France24 spoke of China’s “furious riposte.” And an Associated Press story shared on scores of sites had everyone asking: “Why is China so angry?”

But perhaps the most revealing fact to note today, 48 hours after the release of the Xinjiang report, is that there has been almost no reporting at all inside China. If the external messaging of the China’s leadership has been all about pique, its internal messaging has been about creating a vacuum. Continue reading

Erasing China’s feminist movement

Another article on sexual violence in China, and again it astonishes — for two reasons: First the awfulness of the endemic violence against women, and of the way the regime fails to respond, no doubt to protect itself in its cocoon of enforced silence. Secondly, the utter absence in the article, of even a hint that a massive, systematic, government-directed violent campaign hurting and humiliating millions of women in ethnic minorities, is going on at the very same time, at the other end of the country. Not sure if the Chinese feminists are afraid to mention the elephant in the room, perhaps restricting their reactions only to majority Han Chinese situation, or if the explanation is that even the feminists really are also swept up in the same rabid ethno-nationalism and racism that drives the Xinjiang genocide.–Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: The New Yorker (8/29/22)
The Censorship Machine Erasing China’s Feminist Movement
This summer, a viral video of a group of women being viciously attacked in a restaurant sparked national outrage. The response has been quashed.
By 

In June, a thirty-one-year-old woman named Wang was eating with three female friends at a barbecue restaurant in Tangshan, about a hundred miles east of Beijing. It was late at night. At around 2:40 a.m., a man came up and put his hand on Wang’s back. She pushed it away and protested, loudly: “What are you doing? What’s wrong with you?” He reached for her face and she pushed him away again. “Get lost,” she said. Then the man slapped her. A struggle ensued. Wang was about to fall off her chair when one of her friends picked up a beer bottle and hit the attacker. Several men rushed over to the table. One of them held Wang by her hair and dragged her into the street. The group stomped on and struck her repeatedly. Wang, whose white short-sleeved shirt was covered in blood, begged for them to stop. One of her friends tried to rescue her, and was pushed to the ground. Her head hit the pavement, making a heavy noise. Other patrons at the restaurant looked on, stunned. Some were crying and one started to vomit. In a corner, a woman tried to intervene but was held back by her companion. Continue reading

Supporters of student alleging rape are silenced in China

Source: Star Tribune (8/29/22)
Supporters of University of Minnesota student alleging rape by Chinese billionaire are being silenced in China
Social media accounts sharing information sympathetic to the student are being suspended or shut down.
By 

LINTAO ZHANG, GETTY IMAGES/TNS. Billionaire Richard Liu is accused of raping a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

Supporters of a University of Minnesota student who is suing a Chinese billionaire for allegedly raping her in Minneapolis in 2018 say their social media postings about the case are being blocked in China.

Xiaowen Liang, a leading Chinese feminist activist in the United States, wrote an article about the young woman for WeChat, an instant-messaging site in China with a billion subscribers, in which she provided details from a June hearing in Hennepin County District Court. She said that after the article had racked up about 100,000 views, it was blocked along with her own account. “I lost over 2,000 contacts,” she said.

A Chinese student at the U who said he copied Liang’s report and sent it out on WeChat also had it blocked, and said his account was shut down for two weeks. He asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation.

“In the past few years, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the MeToo activists in China and Chinese feminists,” Liang said in an interview. “More and more women are paying attention to the movement and are very vocal on Chinese media. On the other hand, the censorship against young women activists is getting more and more serious.” Continue reading

Night Bus

Source: NeoCha (7/14/22)
Night Bus
By Ryan Dyer

Strangers on a bus. Each of them has a secret. Like the best Hitchcockian stories, they all have skeletons in their closets, and once a necklace is stolen in the dead of night, the chain of events that begins to unravel feels unstoppable, like falling dominoes. Viewers are taken on a ride directly into the dark abyss of human nature. This is Night Bus, a 20-minute horror short by Taiwanese director Joe Hsieh that made its way around film fest circuits in early 2022.

Night Bus is Hsieh’s third short film, a follow up to 2006’s Meat Days and 2014’s The Present, and it extends the themes of his earlier work to make this ride into the personal hells of its riders something truly memorable. Along with making deep impressions, the film is also winning awards—at Sundance, Night Bus granted him the Short Film Jury Award for best animation. . . [read the rest of the article here]

Govt boarding schools as a tool of genocide

Please note this upcoming public seminar that should be of burning interest to those angry and protesting similar crimes in Canada, the US, and other countries in the past. Learn about how these crimes are being committed today, now, against hundreds of thousands of ethnic-minority children in China–Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Government Boarding Schools as a Tool of Genocide in the 21st Century: Uyghur and Tibetan Family Separation
Tuesday, July 26, 2022 | 1:00–2:00 p.m. EDT

No registration required, watch via UHRP Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. For full links and more info, see: https://uhrp.org/event/boarding-schools/.

From July 24 to 29, Pope Francis is visiting Canada, when he will publicly apologize for the suffering and abuse in the Catholic boarding schools for Canada’s indigenous peoples, following his historic apology at the Vatican in April. In May 2022, the U.S. government released an unprecedented report on 53 burial sites at 408 boarding schools for Native American children across 37 states, operating between 1819 and 1969. These historic crimes are recognized as causing lifelong and generational trauma.

Now in the 21st Century, the Chinese government is operating a vast system of colonial boarding schools in Tibet, including at least 50 mandatory boarding preschools holding 100,000 Tibetan children, ages 4 to 6. The Chinese government is also operating mandatory boarding schools for Uyghur children as part of its genocidal policies, in a systematic effort to separate Uyghur children from their families, affecting an estimated 900,000 children. Please join us for a discussion of the implications of these crimes and the need for a policy response. Continue reading