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Hao Jingfang’s “Limbo”

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Ursula D. Friedman’s translation of Hao Jingfang’s 郝景芳 novella “Limbo” (生死域). A teaser is found below, but to read the entire story, go to: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/limbo/.

Kirk Denton, editor

Limbo

By Hao Jingfang 郝景芳[1]

Translated by Ursula D. Friedman[2]


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July 2020)


1

The Lonely Depths, by Hao Jingfang

He ventured cautiously through this strange twilight city. The sky was gray, the city gray. There was a peculiar feel to this city, the air swollen with an impending danger. The skyline was punctuated by a relentless succession of high-rises—the buildings’ rebar skeletons were gray, their glass flanks tinted gray. The gaps between the buildings were inked an impenetrable charcoal-gray. The sky was choked by a dense layer of low-hanging clouds, the skyscrapers’ invisible crowns swallowed by the ashen haze.

As he strode deeper into this city of shadows, he took stock of his surroundings, on constant guard against potential dangers lurking behind hidden street corners. His pace was slow and measured.

He did not know where he was. The last thing he remembered was blowing through a red light along Beijing’s Second Ring Road at two o’clock in the morning. A black Maserati had come flying out of nowhere, striking his vehicle full-on and flattening him into a corner of the driver’s seat. His car slammed into the guardrail, metal and glass debris piercing his flesh like a rain of bullets. . . . Later on, he vaguely recalled the bluish gleam of the lights in the operating room, and the IV bag in the hospital ward . . . and then . . . and then . . . [click here to read the rest]

Covid-19 special issue–cfp

Call for Papers: The Great Dis-Equalizer: the Covid-19 crisis Special double curated issue
PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread to communities across the globe, governments reacted to the crisis in various ways, often enforcing various iterations of a lockdown. The crisis – as much economic and political as biological and affective – was quickly branded the “great equalizer” and a shared global event that made present the fragility and vulnerability of the human body and mind. The tendency to universalize the lived experience of the crisis and living in lockdown rested on underlining the affective bonds between peoples and societies and their shared suffering.

This special issue aims to unsettle the narrative of the Covid-19 crisis as the “great equalizer” by presenting diverse accounts of living in lockdown that foreground the pandemic as the great dis-equalizer. We invite short submissions (up to 3000 words) that reflect on the questions below or any other aspect of the lived experience of living through the crisis and/or in lockdown: Continue reading

Viral Politics: Left Perspectives on the World and China part 2

Thank you to everyone who joined the first session of the Critical China Scholars roundtable, “Viral Politics: Left Perspectives on the World and China.” We are greatly looking forward to the second session (“Against Racism and Nationalism,” Thursday, July 2, 7-8:30 p.m. EDT), and we encourage everyone to register via Eventbrite.

If you missed the first session, you can download the audio at our new website, http://criticalchinascholars.org, where you will also find our Statement of Principles. You may also be interested in visiting our Facebook page.

Viral Politics: Left Perspectives on the World and China

Presented by Critical China Scholars and co-sponsored by Verso Books, Haymarket Books, n+1, Made in China Journal, The Nation, New Politics, positions, Spectre, The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), and Justice Is Global. Continue reading

HK security law sends chill over the city

Source: NYT (7/1/20)
‘It Could Be Anyone’: Hong Kong Security Law Sends Chill Over the City
Protesters are deleting their accounts on Twitter and Telegram. Booksellers, professors and nonprofits are questioning their future.
By Vivian Wang and 

Protesters marched in the Causeway Bay neighborhood on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — A museum that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is rushing to digitize its archives, afraid its artifacts could be seized. Booksellers are nervously eyeing customers, worried they could be government spies. Writers have asked a news site to delete more than 100 articles, anxious that old posts could be used against them.

And on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control — a day usually observed by huge pro-democracy marches — a scattered crowd of protesters tried to rekindle that energy, only to be corralled by the police and arrested over offenses that did not exist a day earlier.

The Chinese government’s new security law for Hong Kong is less than a day old, and already the city is feeling its chilling effect. The law was designed to stamp out the anti-government demonstrations that have wracked the semiautonomous territory for more than a year. But it also threatens the fabric of life that has made Hong Kong, with its freewheeling cultural scene and civil society, distinct from the rest of China. Continue reading

As China strengthens grip on HK, Taiwan sees threat

Source: NYT (7/1/20)
As China Strengthens Grip on Hong Kong, Taiwan Sees a Threat
The sweeping new security law in Hong Kong has further eroded what little support there was in Taiwan for unifying with the mainland.
By Javier C. Hernández and 

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, center, has repeatedly pledged to defend the island’s sovereignty against threats from China. Credit…Taiwan Presidential Office, via Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan — China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has long tried to convince Taiwan that unification was a historical inevitability, alternately enticing the democratic island with economic incentives while bluntly warning that any move toward formal independence would be answered with military force.

Now, the incentives are gone and the warnings seem more ominous following Mr. Xi’s swift move to strengthen China’s grip on Hong Kong, a semiautonomous territory that only last year he held out as a model for Taiwan’s future.

The new security rules for Hong Kong that China passed this week — without input from the city’s Beijing-backed leadership — have made Mr. Xi’s promise of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework seem hollow. And it has raised fears that China will move more aggressively to bring Taiwan, too, under its control. Continue reading

China pass HK security law

Source: NYT (6/29/20)
China Passes Security Law With Sweeping Powers Over Hong Kong
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Lawmakers in Beijing voted in a process that has been criticized for its secrecy and haste. The law will extend the Communist Party’s reach into Hong Kong.
By Chris Buckley and Keith Bradsher

A billboard in Hong Kong promoting China’s national security law for the city on Monday. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

China passed a contentious new law for Hong Kong on Tuesday that would empower the authorities to crack down on opposition to Beijing, risking deeper rifts with Western governments that have warned about the erosion of freedoms in the territory.

Lawmakers in Beijing voted unanimously to approve the national security law for Hong Kong, according to Lau Siu-kai, a senior Beijing adviser on Hong Kong policy, as well as two ​Hong Kong newspapers​ that serve as conduits for ​official policy from Beijing, Wen Wei Po an​d Ta Kung Pao.

The swift action, less than two weeks after lawmakers first formally considered it, signaled the urgency that the Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, has given to expanding control in Hong Kong after the territory was convulsed by pro-democracy protests last year. Continue reading

Hu Jie, excavating Chinese history

Source: NYT (6/28/20)
Excavating Chinese History, One Harrowing Film at a Time
The work of Hu Jie, who has made more than 30 movies, is little known even in China. The release of “Spark” and “The Observer” should make him better known abroad.
By Ian Johnson

The filmmaker Hu Jie in “The Observer,” a documentary about Hu, directed by Rita Andreetti. Credit…Icarus Films

For more than 20 years, the filmmaker Hu Jie has been trawling the deep waters of Chinese history to create a series of harrowing documentaries about the early years of Communist Party rule.

Though Hu is largely unknown outside Chinese intellectual and foreign academic circles, two films, to be released on June 30, should increase the visibility of his work and help make it accessible to outsiders. “Spark” — a film that has undergone many iterations, alternations and expansions — reconstructs the fate of a group of young people who started an underground journal 60 years ago. And “The Observer,” a documentary about Hu by the Italian director Rita Andreetti, is at once a sympathetic portrait of the filmmaker and an introduction to his films.

Both are being distributed by Icarus Films as part of dGenerate Films’ collection of independent Chinese movies, curated by the American film producer Karin Chien. Their release — along with three other important Hu works that Icarus has released — makes it possible for audiences to see the sweep of his body of work. Continue reading

Li Zhensheng dies at 79

Source: NYT (6/25/20)
Li Zhensheng, Photographer of China’s Cultural Revolution, Dies at 79
With his camera and red arm band, Mr. Li captured the dark side of Mao’s revolution at great personal risk.
By Amy Qin

Li Zhensheng in a risky self portrait taken during China’s Cultural Revolution on July 17, 1967, when people were expected to put party before self. His photographs offer a rare visual testament to that tumultuous period in Chinese history.  Credit…Li Zhensheng/Contact Press Images

Li Zhensheng, a photographer who at great personal risk documented the dark side of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, producing powerful black-and-white images that remain a rare visual testament to the brutality of that tumultuous period, many of them not developed or seen for years, has died. He was 79.

His death was confirmed on Tuesday by Robert Pledge, a founder of Contact Press Images and editor of Mr. Li’s photo book “Red-Color News Soldier,” who said that Mr. Li had been hospitalized on Long Island. He lived in Queens. Further details, including the date of his death, were not released.

Mr. Li was a young photographer at a local newspaper in northeastern China when Mao started the Revolution in May 1966. Wearing a red arm band that said, “Red-Color News Soldier,” Mr. Li was given extraordinary access to official events. Continue reading

China targeting journalists in new push for influence

Source: The Guardian (6/24/20)
China targeting non-English-speaking journalists in new push for influence – study
Exclusive: International Federation of Journalists finds tours, control of infrastructure and provision of pro-China content part of escalating campaign
By Ben Doherty

 Uighur men dancing after Eid al-Fitr prayers, marking the end of Ramadan, outside the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, in China’s western Xinjiang region

IFJ research found China has taken several groups of journalists from Muslim countries to ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

China is attempting to use journalists from non-English speaking countries to promote its policies beyond its borders in a concerted new push for influence, a report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has found.

A survey of journalist unions across 58 countries found that through study tours, control of media infrastructure, and the provision of pro-Beijing content, China is “running an extensive and sophisticated long-term outreach campaign … [in] a strategic, long-term effort to reshape the global news landscape with a China-friendly global narrative”.

The IFJ report, The China Story: reshaping the world’s media, argues Beijing is also seeking to build control over messaging infrastructure – effectively the channels by which countries receive news – through foreign media acquisitions and large-scale telecommunications ventures. The report found the decade-long campaign “seems to be escalating”. Continue reading

Eclipse film review

Source: Taipei Times (6/25/20)
Movie Review: Eclipse
A 45-second classic television commercial is turned into a gripping and entertaining 83-minute thriller that addresses current social issues such as abuse in the military and transitional justice
By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

Kai Hsieh, left, and Kelvin Chi star in Eclipse. Photo courtesy of atmovies.com

It’s hard to know what to expect from a film that takes a popular 1990s “Iron Ox” (鐵牛運功散) herbal remedy television commercial and expands it to 83 minutes. There’s infinite room for imagination, as the commercial basically consists of a young military conscript calling his mother and telling her how effective the remedy is.

“Mom, it’s A-jung!” (媽! 我阿榮啦) he exclaims into the old-school payphone, the catchphrase serving as the Chinese title of Eclipse. He enthusiastically describes the medicine’s benefits, after which his father takes the phone and asks him to come home soon. The ad is still shown on television every now and then, giving rise to the running joke that A-jung is still stuck in military service over 20 years later and still hasn’t returned home. Continue reading

Citizen journalist charged for covid-19 reporting

Source: China Media Project (6/22/20)
CITIZEN JOURNALIST CHARGED FOR COVID-19 REPORTING
by 

Citizen Journalist Charged for Covid-19 Reporting

According to Chinese news reports and online posts, Shanghai-based citizen journalist Zhang Zhan (张展), who was arrested in May after posting a video criticizing the government’s epidemic response measures, was formally charged last Friday with the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事罪). This is a criminal charge often used in China against activists, dissidents and writers. Zhang is reportedly being held in the Pudong New District Detention Center (浦东新区看守所).

Sometime around February 1 this year, after the outbreak in Wuhan became public knowledge in China, Zhang travelled to Wuhan from Shanghai to report on the crisis. She filed a number stories through WeChat, YouTube and Twitter before becoming the fourth citizen journalist detained in Wuhan by authorities – following journalists Chen Qiushi (陈秋实), Fang Bin (方斌) and Li Zehua (李泽华).

Back in February, CMP documented and translated a speech Li Zehua gave to local police outside the door of the apartment where he was staying before turning himself in. “I’m not willing to disguise my voice, nor am I willing to shut my eyes and close my ears,” he said.

PLA site attacks Fang Fang’s diary

Source: China Media Project (6/23/20)
PLA Site Attacks “Bad Domestic Media”
by 

PLA Site Attacks “Bad Domestic Media”

On June 10, the website China Military (chinamil.com.cn), a news portal operated by the People’s Liberation Army, ran an attack piece on the author Fang Fang, whose diary documenting 74 days under quarantine in Wuhan during the coronavirus epidemic was recently published in both English and German editions. Fang Fang’s Diary, in English titled Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City, is an insider’s account of events in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter in January this year of what would eventually become a global pandemic, and it offers details about the crisis and the official response that are highly embarrassing for China’s leaders.

The piece at China Military, “The Lightspeed Publication of “Fang Fang’s Diary” Will Only Expose the Truth About More Western “Pot Throwing, alleges that certain “bad domestic media,” principally Hu Shuli’s Caixin Media, are responsible for pushing Fang Fang’s account and making it a tool for critics of China in the West. Continue reading

Graphic novel on Tiananmen Massacre

Source: CNN (6/20/20)
Graphic novel on the Tiananmen Massacre shows medium’s power to capture history
Written by James Griffiths, CNNHong Kong

Credit: IDW Publishing

As a young man in Beijing in the 1980s, Lun Zhang felt like he was taking part in a new Chinese enlightenment.

The country was undergoing paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s “Reform and Opening Up,” and previously sealed-off areas of knowledge, arts, and culture were becoming newly available.

People who had only years before been living in the stifling, hyper-Maoist orthodoxy of the Cultural Revolution, in which anything foreign or historical was deemed counter-revolutionary, could now listen to Wham!, hold intellectual salons in which people read Jean-Paul Sartre or Sigmund Freud, or even publish their own works, taking aim at previously sacred political targets.

“In those days, our thirst to read, learn and explore the outside world was insatiable,” Zhang writes in his new graphic novel, “Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes.” Continue reading

US designates 4 more news organizations as foreign missions

Source: NYT (6/22/20)
U.S. Designates Four More Chinese News Organizations as Foreign Missions
The move brings to nine the total number of Chinese state-run news organizations that the State Department has designated with that label. China will most likely retaliate.
By Edward Wong

The headquarters of China Central Television in Beijing. The State Department classified the organization and three others operating in the United States as “foreign missions.” Credit…Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Monday that it was designating four more Chinese state-run media organizations that have operations in the United States as foreign missions, in a new round of restrictions likely to lead to some form of retaliation from China.

State Department officials said they were taking the action to make it clear to American citizens that the organizations are viewed by the U.S. government as propaganda organs for a foreign government. The groups will be asked to send to the department a complete roster of employees in the United States and a list of their real estate holdings.

David R. Stilwell, the assistant secretary for East Asia and the Pacific, declined to say in a telephone briefing with reporters what actions the United States might then take based on that information. Continue reading

On the 9th Reel China Biennial

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Homecoming, Postsocialist Memory, and Subjects: On the 9th Reel China Biennial,” by Qi Wang. The essay, an overview of films screened at the 9th Reel China Biennial, held at NYU in November of 2019, can be read in its entirety at: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/qi-wang2/. Find a teaser below.

Kirk Denton, editor

Homecoming, Postsocialist Memory, and Subjects:
On the 9th Reel China Biennial

By Qi Wang


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2020)


The Reel China Biennial is an independent Chinese film and documentary screening series that was inaugurated in 2001. In November 2019, New York University hosted its 9th edition, co-curated by NYU professors Zhang Zhen (张真) and Angela Zito (司徒安) along with Wang Xiaolu (王小鲁), a leading critic of independent film in China (fig. 1).[1] As in the past, this most recent program is fresh and comprehensive. It showcases twelve films created after 2015. Among those, nine are from 2018, and six are of feature length, going over ninety minutes each.

24th Street (24号大街, dir. Pan Zhiqi 潘志琪, 2018), a nominee for the Best Documentary at the 55th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, observes the vagabond life of Su and Qin, a couple nearing retirement age who have lived together out of wedlock for over two decades (fig. 2). The two make a living by running makeshift restaurants to feed fellow migrant workers on construction sites, the latter a common sight in and near cities such as Hangzhou, where the first part of the film is set, due to the massive urbanization unfolding in China. Without a license and at the mercy of shifting conditions that range from weather and location to the police, the hardworking Su and Qin know distress and failure only too well. With their investment turning fruitless once again, they decide to return to their native Guizhou province and perhaps settle down there. . .  [read the whole essay]