Sheila Melvin writes about culture in China.  She is a regular contributor to The International Herald Tribune and Caixin, and her articles have appeared in numerous other publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of two books, Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese (co-authored with her husband, Jindong Cai) and The Little Red Book of China Business. She is at work on a new book that examines China’s quest to become a cultural superpower.

Last Updated: November 13, 2014

Caixin Media

06.03.16

Bearing Witness to the China Story

Sheila Melvin
In 1993, Fritz Hoffmann was a young American photojournalist ready for a new adventure. He had honed his picture-making skills while hitchhiking across the Pacific Northwest, harvesting crabs in Alaska, and working at newspapers in West Virginia and...

Caixin Media

12.02.15

Zhang Zhixin: The Woman who Took on the ‘Gang of Four’

Sheila Melvin
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The desire not to dwell on that tumultuous decade, after half a century has passed, is understandable, but the failure to reflect on its impact, offer a full...

Caixin Media

11.10.15

Mao’s ‘Proud Poplar’: Yang Kaihui

Sheila Melvin
Yang Kaihui—who was killed 85 years ago this month—was the first of Mao Zedong’s three freely chosen wives. (Mao was forced by his parents to wed an older neighbor when he was just 14 but did not consider this a true marriage.) Yang’s dramatic, and...

Caixin Media

10.23.15

Hemingway's Literary Escape

Sheila Melvin
One noonday in 2002, a friendly acquaintance of mine—I’ll call him Q—left his office in a Beijing concert hall to go to lunch and never returned. After a series of inquiries, his wife and colleagues learned that he had been arrested. Various charges...

Caixin Media

01.06.15

In Praise of Hu Feng

Sheila Melvin
Hu Feng (1902-85) is a name that most students of P.R.C. history have undoubtedly encountered at one time or another. I remember reading it for the first time years ago in Jonathan Spence's "The Search for Modern China." It stuck in...

Culture

12.19.14

‘One Day the People Will Speak Out for Me’

Sheila Melvin
The ongoing exhibition “@Large: Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz” is both revelatory and heart-wrenching, a stunning and sobering work by an artist who understands firsthand the fragility and pricelessness of freedom.Detained without warning or charge for 81...

Conversation

11.12.14

Xi Jinping’s Culture Wars

Stanley Rosen, Michael Berry & more
Given China’s tightening restrictions on film, TV, art, writing, and journalism, and the reverberations from President Xi Jinping’s recent speech on culture, we asked contributors why they think Beijing has decided to ramp up its involvement in the...

Caixin Media

10.14.14

Sounds of Distinction

Sheila Melvin
The Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) is generally acknowledged to have been the greatest performer of female dan roles in the history of his art. He was also a renowned theatrical innovator whose performance style is carried on as the...

Culture

08.11.14

The Bard in Beijing

Sheila Melvin
At the end of a rollicking production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—directed by Tim Robbins and staged in China in June by the Los Angeles-based Actors’ Gang—the director and actors returned to the stage for a dialogue with the...

Caixin Media

06.10.14

A Jesuit Astronomer in a Qing Emperor’s Court

Sheila Melvin
Of the 920 Jesuits who served in the China mission between 1552 and 1800, only the Italian Matteo Ricci (Li Madou) remains well known. This is understandable—it was Ricci who first gained permission for the Jesuits to live in Beijing and who...

Conversation

03.19.14

What Should Michelle Obama Accomplish on Her Trip to China?

Orville Schell, Vincent Ni & more
Orville Schell:  Looking at the challenges of rectifying U.S.-China relations and building some semblance of the "new kind of a big power relationship" alluded to by presidents Obama and Xi at Sunnylands last year, will most...

Culture

02.10.14

Will Xi Jinping Stop the Music?

Sheila Melvin
In late November of 2013, I sat chatting in a California concert hall with one of the PRC’s most famous first-generation pianists. Normally at this time of year, the pianist told me, he would be heading off to China to perform multiple New Year’s...

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Great Flourishing
08.27.12

Citizens of the PRC are accustomed to having reams of statistics thrown at them – indeed, contemporary Chinese rhetoric demands that any important speech begin with a recitation of numbers and percentages.   The accuracy of such statistics is not taken for granted – even officials at the State Statistics Bureau have been known to...

Topics: Arts