China has thousands of Navalnys hidden from the public

Source: NYT (2/29/24)
China Has Thousands of Navalnys, Hidden From the Public
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
China has no dissident with the kind of public profile that Aleksei A. Navalny had. The government has many critics, but they all disappear from view.
By Li Yuan

People at night standing along a tall iron fence outside a building with barred windows. Some are holding a large photo of Aleksei A. Navalny.

Outside the Russian Embassy in Warsaw on Feb. 16, the day Aleksei Navalny died in prison. Credit…Sergei Gapon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After watching “Navalny,” the documentary about the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, a Chinese businesswoman messaged me, “Ren Zhiqiang is China’s Navalny.” She was talking about the retired real estate tycoon who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for criticizing China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

After Mr. Navalny’s tragic death this month, a young dissident living in Berlin posted on X, “Teacher Li is closest to the Chinese version of Navalny.” He was referring to the rebel influencer known as Teacher Li, who used social media to share information about protests in China and who now fears for his life.

There are others: Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in government custody in 2017, and Xu Zhiyong, the legal scholar who is serving 14 years in prison on charges of subversion.

The sad fact is that there’s no Chinese equivalent of Mr. Navalny because there’s no opposition party in China, and therefore no opposition leader.

It’s not for lack of trying. Many courageous Chinese stood up to the most powerful authoritarian government in the world. Since 2000, the nonprofit humanitarian organization Duihua has recorded the cases of 48,699 political prisoners in China, with 7,371 now in custody. None of them has the type of name recognition among the Chinese public that Mr. Navalny did in Russia. Continue reading

30 years of the internet, part II

Thirty Years of the Internet in China: A Retrospective (Part II)
SAT-SUN, March 2-3, 2024
Virtual Event, Open to the Public

Jointly organized by Center on Digital Culture and Society and Center for the Study of Contemporary China, University of Pennsylvania. REGISTER HERE


March 2, 8:00-10:15pm ET

  • Matt Debutts and Jennifer Pan (Stanford University), “China’s Internet Controls: What If Citizens Disengage?”
  • Jack Qiu (Nanyang Technological University), “The Constants of Chinese Internet Research”
  • Yunya Song (Hong Kong Baptist University), “Gender and the Internet in China: A Historical Perspective”
  • Wei Wang (Zhejiang University), “The Reinvention of ‘Locality,’: Imagining Local Society with Local Media”
  • Jian Xu (Deakin University), “From ‘Wanghong’ to ‘Wanghong Thinking’: New Research Agenda and Critical Reflections”
  • Haiqing Yu (RMIT University), “Chinese Internet as the Nexus of Socio-technological Power”
  • Weiyu Zhang (National University of Singapore), “30 Years of China’s Online Fandom”

March 3, 8:00-10:00am ET

  • Jun Liu (Copenhagen University), “Reflections on Studying the Internet and (Contentious) Politics in China”
  • Gianluigi Negro (Siena University), “Studying the Internet in China through Metaphors”
  • Gabriele de Seta (University of Bergen), “From ASCII Greetings to Synthetic Livestreams: Three Decades of Chinese Digital Folklore”
  • Florian Schneider (Leiden University), “Nationalisms on China’s Evolving Internet”
  • Ge Dino Zhang (City University of Hong Kong), “A Decade of Chinese Game Studies in Retrospect”
  • Lin Zhang (University of New Hampshire), “Platformized Family Production: Social Reproduction and E-Commerce in Rural China”

Reimagining Queer Chinese Screen Studies

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to share the publication of the special issue “Reimagining queer Chinese screen studies” of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas coedited by Jamie J. Zhao and Hongwei Bao, which may be of interest to some in this group. Some of the articles are open access on the journal’s site. Please kindly find its TOC and links copied below:

Special Issue of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas
Reimagining queer Chinese screen studies
Guest edited by Jamie J. Zhao and Hongwei Bao

Introduction: Queer screens with Chinese characteristics?: Reimagining queer Chinese screen studies in the twenty-first century
By Jamie J. Zhao and Hongwei Bao

Digital video activism: Fan Popo’s queer Asian diasporic politics
By Hongwei Bao

Queer cinemas of the Sinosphere: Queer China goes out
By Zoran Lee Pecic

Queering the cinematic border of the PRC and Hong Kong: On Fruit Chan’s prostitute trilogy
By Alvin K. Wong

Taking a queer-friendly stance under censorship: Beijing International Short Film Festival as an alternative site for screening Chinese queer shorts
By Heshen Xie

Queering community: The affect of visuality in the Sinosphere
By Jinyan Zeng

Toward a cinematic transtopia
By Victor Fan

Heart and body: Queer crossings in Go Princess Go
Carlos Rojas

Posted by: Lila Yang (On behalf of Dr. Jamie J. Zhao)

Digital Cultures and AI Governance symposium

China Through the Looking Glass: Digital Cultures and AI Governance: An in-person Asian Studies Symposium 
Date: February 29 and March 1
Location: Montclair State University, 1 Normal AVE, Montclair, NJ, 07043

Thursday, February 29, 3:00pm-4:30pm, University Hall 1030
China’s Digital Cultures: From BBS to Papi Jiang
Guobin Yang, Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

Friday, March 1
A) 9:45am-11:00am, Dickson Hall 177
AI and Data Governance: Going Beyond the US-China Arms Race Framing
Peter D. Hershock, Director, Asian Studies Development Program, East-West Center

B) 11:15am-12:15pm, Dickson Hall 177
Why China and Asian Studies Matter: A Panel Discussion
Moderator: Peter D. Hershock, East-West Center
Panelists: Dona Cady, Middlesex Community College; Kin Cheung, Moravian University; Dorothee Hou, Moravian University; Robin Kietlinski, LaGuardia Community College–CUNY

C) 1:45pm-3:45pm, Dickson Hall 178, Asia Across Disciplines: A Roundtable Discussion

More info, and please sign up here:

Sponsored by Montclair State University, Luce Foundation, Asian Studies Development Program at East West Center

Posted by: Wing Shan Ho <>

Include Me Out lecture

Online Lecture: “Include Me Out”: Mobility, Cosmopolitanism, & the Transpacific, Transmedia Encounters in Eileen Chang
By Ying Xiao, Associate Professor on Chinese Film and Media (University of Florida)
Global Asia Speaker Series
March 18, 2024  |  6 pm CT/ 7 pm ET  |  Virtual

This talk examines and reconsiders Eileen Chang and the adaptations and derivative creativities associated with her from a transpacific, transmedia, and intercultural perspective. Revolving around “Lust/Caution,” Xiao’s study interlaces and remaps the Eileen Chang phenomenon from the original fiction by Eileen Chang (1977) to Ang Lee’s film adaptation (2007) and popular digital culture’s reincarnation and celebration of Chang as the “Goddess of Run” during the crisis of the post-COVID era. The mobility, exile, and transpacific, cosmopolitan imagination of Eileen Chang provide a vantage point to investigate and reread her in the context of transnational cultural production but also as nexus, hyperlink, and method for varied authors, film auteurs, and contemporary users to reinvent and cultivate multifaceted globalism and cross the boundaries between continents, languages, texts, images, and media.

Dr. Ying Xiao is an associate professor of global Chinese studies and film and media studies at the University of Florida. She is the author of China in the Mix: Cinema, Sound, and Popular Culture in the Age of Globalization (2017) and has published articles on neoliberalism and Chinese film industry, hip hop culture, Chinese rock ‘n’ roll film, documentary and transcultural media production, translation and film dubbing, Hong Kong cinema, and the representation of Chinese and Chinese cities in Hollywood film.

Sponsored by the KU Center for East Asian Studies

Posted by: Faye Xiao <>

Race and Representation–cfp

Call for Papers: Race and Representation in Chinese and Sinophone Literature and Culture
Modern Language Association 2025

Although there has been significant scholarship on how the racial construction of Asians, Japanese, or Chinese in an area studies context, it has largely focused on a specific nation-state and often a specific ethnic minority, other studies have focused on Asian settler-colonialism or the representations of race in the Japanese empire or specific racial formations or diasporas, most often North American diasporas While there are clear reasons for organizing studies in these ways, these methodologies do not allow for drawing out resonances and connections that may exist outside of the lines drawn between area studies and ethnic studies, or between studies confined to specific regions.

In addition, the majority of studies of race in East Asian are historical or anthropological. There is significantly less work that has been done on representations of Asian racial formations in literature and culture. Much of the scholarship that exists focuses either on racial formations in a diasporic context, or how Asians are constructed in a Western context. This panel welcomes applications about racial passing, race relations, and racial ambiguity, and other topics related to representations of race within Chinese and Sinophone literatures.

Description & Requirements:
Please submit 200 word abstracts for topics related to race and its representation within Chinese and Sinophone literature and media. Please submit abstract and brief bio by March 20, 2024 to <>

Posted by: Nathaniel Isaacson <>

When SF Meets Political Fact

Source: China Media Project (2/22/24)
When Science Fiction Meets Political Fact
A win for China in the Best Novella category at the 2023 Hugo Awards for science fiction has been lauded by state media amid global controversy over authors being shut out of the Chengdu-hosted event. But many Chinese readers have panned the winning work — and some suspect that its victory is politically too convenient.
By Alex Colville

Hugo Awards celebration.

To the surprise of no one who understands the Chinese leadership’s obsessive control of ideas, news broke last week that a prestigious international book award was subject to censorship when held in China last October. File 770, a science fiction blog, revealed in a special report how the selection panel of the Hugo Awards in Chengdu had obeyed local laws and regulations, vetting the eligibility of finalists based on their stance on sensitive political issues. The blog also found evidence that Sichuan’s propaganda bureau had conducted “strict checks” on works at the convention.

For those paying closer attention, the red flags had flown at least six months before the awards were held, as rules published by Chengdu WorldCon said content considered for awards would only include works and individuals “that comply with local laws and regulations.” In China, local laws and regulations always abide by the political discipline of the Chinese Communist Party. Foreseeing trouble did not require a vivid imagination.

In media coverage outside China, the most obvious focus has been those writers excluded by Chengdu’s skewed process — including the likes of R.F. Kuang, Neil Gaiman, and Paul Weimer. But what about those writers who were boosted? Continue reading

Hidden Luminaries–cfp

CFP: Hidden Luminaries: Obscure Actresses and Women Filmmakers in Chinese Film History
Special issue of Journal of Chinese Cinemas 
Guest Editors: David John Boyd (University of Glasgow) and Jessica Siu-yin Yeung (Lingnan University)
Associate Editor: Yiman Wang (University of California, Santa Cruz)

This issue will contribute to the field of Chinese women’s cinema, with studies on individual actresses and women filmmakers who have either faded from cultural or institutional memory, or who are significant in their own region but are under-studied in Anglophone scholarship.

In “The Life of the Obscure” (1924–25), Virginia Woolf proposes that the biographies of obscure and common people who led fascinating lives is crucial for recovering silenced histories. These obscure lives gain their significance through their collective worth of historicity, hence shifting the paradigm in life-writing practices from dominant, single lives of Great Men to minor, group lives of ordinary civilians. One of the roles of these forgotten individuals, to Woolf, is to introduce new perspectives on “greatness” and “lives.” This issue takes its cue from this approach and invites contributors to democratise Chinese-language film history, archive the historiographies of women film workers in contemporary form, and further problematise the notion of “Chinese” actresses and filmmakers in existing discourse. Continue reading

Aesthetics in Contemporary China–cfp

Dear all,

I am delighted to share with you the theme of the 17th CCVA Annual Conference (Extra)ordinary Living: Aesthetics in Contemporary China, convened by Dr Federica Mirra and Prof Jiang Jiehong, in collaboration with Nanjing University of the Arts.

Date: 9-10 November 2024 (tbc)
Venue: Nanjing University of the Arts, Nanjing, China (in-person only)
Deadline for abstracts: 1 March 2024

(Extra)Ordinary Living: Aesthetics in Contemporary China

From pre-dynastic rites and music to literati art and volumes on the pleasures of life, the notion of living has long inspired Chinese works of art and objects of design, which, in turn, document and inform diverse modes of society and culture, broadly conceived. More recently, an interest in everydayness re-gained momentum between the 19th and early 20th century. Later, during the Maoist era, life in the countryside and the labour of the masses was brought to the fore with the collective production of paintings, woodblock prints and propaganda posters. Throughout the 1980s, Chinese artists still drew inspiration from living, as suggested by the pioneering work by artist collectives such as the Pond Society (Chishe) and the Polit-Sheer-Form Office (Zheng chun ban), or the early works by contemporary artists in the 1990s, e.g., Geng Jianyi, Song Dong, Yin Xiuzhen, and Zhuang Hui. Continue reading

Emigres are creating an alternative China

Source: NYT (2/23/24)
Émigrés Are Creating an Alternative China, One Bookstore at a Time
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
From Thailand to America, Chinese denied a safe public space for discussion in their home country have found hope in diaspora communities.
By Li Yuan (Reporting from Tokyo; Taipei, Taiwan; and Chiang Mai, Thailand)

“What matters is not what you oppose but what kind of life you desire,” said Anne Jieping Zhang, the owner of bookstores in Taipei and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Credit…Simon Simard for The New York Times

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in central Tokyo, 50 or so Chinese people packed into a gray, nondescript office that doubles as a bookstore. They came for a seminar about Qiu Jin, a Chinese feminist poet and revolutionary who was beheaded more than a century ago for conspiring to overthrow the Qing dynasty.

Like them, Ms. Qiu had lived as an immigrant in Japan. The lecture’s title, “Rebuilding China in Tokyo,” said as much about the aspirations of the people in the room as it did about Ms. Qiu’s life.

Public discussions like this one used to be common in big cities in China but have increasingly been stifled over the past decade. The Chinese public is discouraged from organizing and participating in civic activities.

In the past year, a new type of Chinese public life has emerged — outside China’s borders in places like Japan.

“With so many Chinese relocating to Japan,” said Li Jinxing, a human rights lawyer who organized the event in January, “there’s a need for a place where people can vent, share their grievances, then think about what to do next.” Mr. Li himself moved to Tokyo from Beijing last September over concerns for his safety. “People like us have a mission to drive the transformation of China,” he said. Continue reading

On the poet Nan Ren

Dear poetry fans,

Two weeks ago, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published my article on the poet Nan Ren 南人 (scroll to p. 5; there are a few minor mistakes in the German article, I couldn’t see the final print version before it came out: the first poem has one line added; and Shaanxi became Shanxi). I have decided to write a version in English to post here. This is a newspaper article, so there are no footnotes. The reference to Maghiel van Crevel was not included in the print version. I have thought about many names of other poets I should have mentioned, and other things I should have said. Anyway, such a publication in a major daily in Germany is a big success, a big deal in international exposure for current Chinese poetry. I hope you like it. Please send feedback via email, thank you!

Huang Li illustration for the poem “In a Pawnshop of Pain.”

Martin Winter <>

Sources: Here is a link to the poems in the article including the original Chinese versions. And here are the paintings by Huang Li 黄丽 that accompany the poems in the book. The pictures look much better in the book. Nan Ren has sent them to me in high resolution. He and Xiron have authorized me to look for publishers in Europe and beyond. I hope to find publishers for the German speaking and for the English speaking Pawnshop. Here is a link to about 50 poems in Chinese with some translations in English or German. Here is a link to the announcement from last May, when the book was published in China. The publisher is Xiron Poetry Club, 磨铁读诗会. Xiron is a big publisher, led by the poet Shen Haobo 沈浩波. But Xiron is private and has to purchase an ISBN for each book from a state publisher. The state publisher is on the cover, Xiron Poetry Club is on the first page. Both have to avoid publishing anything that could get the book pulled or forbidden.

By Martin Winter

Nan Ren is a legend. He doesn’t like to say when he was born. 1970, found that somewhere. Not important. Nan Ren is a pen name. The nán of ‘south‘ and the rén of ‘person‘. What does that mean? His family comes from the south, somewhere south of the Long River, the Yangtse. Nanren, southern people, was the lowest stratum in the Mongol empire. The Mongols captured the south last, all the better jobs had been assigned to other people already. Almost every poet writing in Chinese has a pen name. People have more than one name in Chinese, even non-artists. It was that way in Confucius‘ times. And in the occident, in the antique, people also had several names, at least prominent people, all the way from Homer. Continue reading

Leaked files

Source: NYT (2/22/24)
Leaked Files Show the Secret World of China’s Hackers for Hire
China has increasingly turned to private companies in campaigns to hack foreign governments and control its domestic population.
Paul MozurKeith BradsherJohn Liu and Paul Mozur reported from Taipei, Keith Bradsher from Beijing, John Liu from Seoul and Aaron Krolik from New York.)

The exterior of the I-Soon office in Chengdu, China.

The I-Soon office building in Chengdu, China, on Tuesday. Credit…Dake Kang/Associated Press

The hackers offered a menu of services, at a variety of prices.

A local government in southwest China paid less than $15,000 for access to the private website of traffic police in Vietnam. Software that helped run disinformation campaigns and hack accounts on X cost $100,000. For $278,000 Chinese customers could get a trove of personal information behind social media accounts on platforms like Telegram and Facebook.

The offerings, detailed in leaked documents, were a portion of the hacking tools and data caches sold by a Chinese security firm called I-Soon, one of the hundreds of enterprising companies that support China’s aggressive state-sponsored hacking efforts. The work is part of a campaign to break into the websites of foreign governments and telecommunications firms.

The materials, which were posted to a public website last week, revealed an eight-year effort to target databases and tap communications in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India and elsewhere in Asia. The files also showed a campaign to closely monitor the activities of ethnic minorities in China and online gambling companies.

The data included records of apparent correspondence between employees, lists of targets and material showing off cyberattack tools. Three cybersecurity experts interviewed by The New York Times said the documents appeared to be authentic.

Taken together, the files offered a rare look inside the secretive world of China’s state-backed hackers for hire. They illustrated how Chinese law enforcement and its premier spy agency, the Ministry of State Security, have reached beyond their own ranks to tap private-sector talent in a hacking campaign that United States officials say has targeted American companies and government agencies. Continue reading

Hillenbrand interview

Source: China Digital Times (2/14/24)
Interview: Margaret Hillenbrand on Her Books “On the Edge” (2023) and “Negative Exposures” (2020).
Posted by

Margaret Hillenbrand, professor of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford, joined CDT to discuss her two latest books: “On the Edge: Feeling Precarious in China” (2023) and “Negative Exposures: Knowing What Not to Know in Contemporary China” (2020).

On the Edge” examines antagonistic cultural forms generated in response to the expulsion of hundreds of millions of China’s precariat from mainstream society, effectively condemning them to “zombie citizenship,” which Hillenbrand describes as “a state of exile from the shelter of the law.” The book covers a kaleidoscopic range of art: assembly line poetry, shit-eating livestreams (literally) on short video apps, and documentaries on trash, to offer but a sampling. Our conversation focuses on two forms: delegated performances, in which charismatic artists recruit vulnerable workers to participate in staged site-specific installations that often include degrading, even sadistic, elements; and “suicide shows,” in which workers stage dramatic protests on high-rise edifices and tower cranes to demand their unpaid wages. The first half of the interview is a wide-ranging discussion on the dark feelings generated by the “cliff-edge” of precarity and expulsion, and the potentially socially transformative powers of abrasive behavior, despite its obvious destructive potential.

The second half of the conversation focuses on “Negative Exposures,” a study of the relationship between “photo-forms”—photographs and their remediated renderings in other media—and “public secrecy” in China. The book makes a dramatic challenge to popular narratives of an “amnesiac China” forgetful of its traumatic past, proposing instead that the silences of the past are, at least in part, conspiratorial. (For more on “amnesia,” see CDT’s recent discussion with Perry Link on Liu Xiabo.) While readily acknowledging the state-engineered project to silence the past, Hillenbrand argues that photo-forms capture “the paradox of things that are fully known but are totally unacknowledgeable.” Silence about China’s past, in Hillenbrand’s telling, is part therapeutic, exculpatory, and self-interested—not so much a product of forgetting but rather, at least in part, of active choice. Our discussion of “Negative Exposures” focuses on photo-forms related to Bian Zhongyun, former vice-principal at an elite girls’ school in Beijing and the victim of the capital’s first recorded murder by Red Guards on August 5, 1966. In 2014, Song Binbin, daughter of a founding father of the Chinese Communist Party and former lead Red Guard at Bian’s school, stood before a bronze bust of Bian erected on the campus they once shared and tearfully apologized for her role in the vice-principal’s death. We discuss whether Song’s controversial apology “created ripples of sound” that have punctured public secrecy in China, or whether the silence of the past continues to hold. Continue reading

Beijing Westerns and Indigenous Opacity talk

Online Talk: Dr. Robin Visser – Beijing Westerns and Indigenous Opacity in Ecoliterature of Southwest China
Mar 7, 2024, 6-7:30pm CST (7-8:30pm EST)
Virtual event held on Zoom.

Please register to attend.


Indigenous knowledge of local ecosystems often challenges settler-colonial cosmologies that naturalize resource extraction and the relocation of nomadic, hunting, foraging, or fishing peoples. In this talk, I present findings from my book, Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan (Columbia UP, 2023), which analyzes relations among humans, animals, ecosystems, and the cosmos in literary works by Han and non-Han Indigenous writers of China and Taiwan. I compare “root-seeking” novels by Beijing writers, set in China’s “exotic” southwest, with literature by Wa and Nuosu Yi Indigenes from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. I argue that Beijing westerns appropriate “peripheral” Indigenous ecological perspectives to critique Maoist destruction of the environment and the undermining of Han neo-Confucian values to strengthen the “center” of the nation-state. Indigenous accounts, on the other hand, manifest what Edouard Glissant has called “opacity,” refusing colonial epistemes by centering the border as a place of home, heritage, and everyday humanity, though under great duress from climate change.

Speaker Bio

Robin Visser is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her book, Questioning Borders: Ecoliteratures of China and Taiwan (Columbia University Press, 2023), compares contemporary literature on the environment by Han Chinese and non-Han ethnic minority writers. Her book Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China (Duke University Press, 2010), translated into Russian (Academic Studies Press, 2022), analyzes Chinese urban planning, fiction, cinema, art, architecture, and intellectual debates at the turn of the 21st century.

Posted by: Faye Xiao

Bridging Worlds–cfp

CFP: Bridging Worlds: Unpacking Asian-German Interconnections in Comparative Asian Literature and Film 
Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association 77th Annual Convention Conference
Dates: October 10-12, 2024
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The “Bridging Worlds: Unpacking Asian-German Interconnections in Comparative Asian Literature and Film” panel invites scholars to explore the multidirectional and multifaceted connections between Asian and German cultures, histories, and philosophies as represented in literature and cinema.

This panel aims to dissect and discuss the complex interactions and influences between Asia and Germany, emphasizing their representations in literature and film. It challenges the boundaries, providing an opportunity to examine how Asian and German intersections contribute to our understanding of global cultural and historical dynamics on the one hand, and reconstructs our traditional understanding of German Studies and Asian Studies on the other hand.

Aiming to foster deeper intellectual intersectionality, we are particularly interested in submissions that challenge the existing narratives and binaries. We welcome critical perspectives on renowned literature and cinema that question dominant discourses and research on lesser-known works that spotlight marginalized voices and narratives. Topics of interest span a wide array, including but not limited to the enlightenment and modernity, colonial and post-colonial legacies, gender and queer identities, ecocriticism and ecofeminism, as well as indigenous and transnational discourse.

Submissions should comprise a 250-word abstract and a brief biography (2-3 sentences), formatted in a DOC file, to be sent to Yingwei Mu at by March 15, 2024. The presentations will be conducted in English.

Posted by: Jasmine Li <>