Conversation

11.20.18

Has the World Lost Sight of Tibet?

Gerald Roche, Lhadon Tethong & more
Since the incarceration of roughly a million Uighurs in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang over the last year, the situation in Tibet has gotten relatively less coverage in Western media. What is the current situation for human rights,...

Hong Kong’s Ethnic Minorities Are Struggling with a Chinese Education Gap, but Can the Government See It?

Phyllis Cheung
South China Morning Post
The government has announced that the Chinese-language proficiency requirements will be lowered for 22 civil service grades, bringing the total thus adjusted since the year 2010 to 53.

Sinica Podcast

09.30.17

‘China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-Dresser’

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Michael Bristow, the Asia Pacific editor for the BBC World Service, has written a book called China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-Dresser, in which he recounts his time in China—his travels, his reporting, and his myriad experiences—through the...

The Classic Chinese Text That Ivanka Trump’s Kids Recited for Xi Jinping Was Long Banned in China

Zheping Huang
Quartz
For decades, Sanzijing had been banned from all public kindergartens and schools in China as the Communist regime cracked down on non-socialist ideas.

Zhou Youguang, Architect of a Bridge between Languages, Dies At 111

Colin Dwyer
NPR
Zhou Youguang, the inventor of a system to convert Chinese characters into words with the Roman alphabet, died Saturday at the age of 111.

To Speak is to Blunder

Yiyun Li
New Yorker
My brain has banished Chinese. I dream in English. I talk to myself in English. It was a crucial decision to be orphaned from my mother tongue

What Does a Fried Chicken Restaurant Have to do With Prostitution? China Wants to Know

Echo Huang
Quartz
One business in China is learning that a play on words can get it in trouble with the government

The South China Morning Post Has Suddenly Shut Down Its Chinese-language Website

Ilaria Maria Sala
Quartz
In one fell swoop, years of reporting from SCMP is gone.

Why More Africans Are Learning Mandarin

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The South African government’s 2015 decision to start offering Mandarin Chinese classes as a foreign language option at schools nation-wide sparked an uproar that baffled people in other, often more affluent, societies around the world where the...

Media

05.19.16

Backward Thinking about Orientalism and Chinese Characters

David Moser
For those of us who teach and research the Chinese language, it is often difficult to describe how the Chinese characters function in conveying meaning and sound, and it’s always a particular challenge to explain how the writing system differs from...

Media

05.12.16

Chinese Is Not a Backward Language

Thomas S. Mullaney
Even in the age of China’s social media boom, and billion-dollar valuations for Beijing-based IT start-ups, prejudice against the Chinese language is alive and well. One would be forgiven for thinking that by 2016, the 20th century’s widespread...

Manchu, Former Empire's Language, Hangs On at China's Edge

New York Times
Descendants of the settlers struggle to keep a nearly vanished tongue alive

Viewpoint

11.17.15

What Xi and Ma Really Said

Perry Link
The Chinese government employs hundreds of thousands of people at all administrative levels, central to local, to prescribe and monitor how news stories are presented to the public. These people tell editors of newspapers and web pages not only what...

Warner Bros. Strikes Deal to Make Chinese-Language Films

Jackie Wattles
CNN
China's movie market is thriving...

China’s Confucius Institutes and the Soft War

David Volodzko
Diplomat
The first Confucius Institute opened its door in November 2004 in Seoul, South Korea. Hanban, or the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

Teaching Uighur Children Mandarin will not Bring Stability to Xinjiang

Economist
More schools move to use Chinese only, except a few hours each week in Uighur literature. President Xi Jinping emphasizes this policy as a way to fight terrorism.

The Wonderfully Elusive Chinese Novel

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In teaching Chinese-language courses to American students, which I have done about thirty times, perhaps the most anguishing question I get is “Professor Link, what is the Chinese word for ______?”

Chinese Cultural Diplomacy in Africa

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars in Africa on public diplomacy initiatives that are intended to improve the country’s image. Central to that strategy is the growing network of Confucius Institutes (CIs) spread across the...

Culture

03.23.15

Wordplay

Nicholas Griffin
Way back when, let’s say in 2012, the city of Miami and the country of China rarely mixed in sentences. Since then, connections between the Far East and the northernmost part of Latin America have become more and more frequent. Three years ago, a...

Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
It’s long been said that while China may have an Africa policy, Africans do not have a China policy. In particular, too many Africans do not understand the language, culture, and politics of their new number one trading partner. The University of...

Sinica Podcast

06.02.14

OMG, in Conversation With Jessica Beinecke

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn interview Jessica Beinecke, host of the VOA-funded OMG Meiyu, a Chinese show on English slang that has earned Jessica hundreds of thousands of followers in China. Now the owner of her own production company, Jessica is...

To Play The Part, Actors Must Talk The Talk — In Chinese

Hansi Lo Wang
NPR
The success of the Netflix series House of Cards lies in the details, yet episodes featuring actors speaking in Chinese are one detail the show doesn't get quite right...

Epiphanies from Kevin Rudd

Isaac Stone Fish
Foreign Policy
Former prime minister who spent time with Xi Jinping notes the importance of language proficiency. 

Sinica Podcast

12.20.13

Rectifying Chinese Names

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Living in a community of China watchers, we are unceasingly assaulted by words and phrases for which definitions are unclear, or ambiguous, or over which there is controversy or disagreement. And so, bearing Confucius’ admonition that the most...

China: Five Pounds of Facts

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
No one seems to have measured exactly how old Chinese civilization is, but Endymion Wilkinson can probably give a more precise answer than anyone else. “1.6 billion minutes separate us from the Zhou conquest of the Shang,” he informs us at the...

400 Million Cannot Speak Mandarin

Reuters
China’s governing Communist Party has promoted Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of dialects and numerous minority languages, but that campaign has been hampered by resistance, the country’s size and lack of investment in...

What the Word ‘Toad’ Can Tell You About China’s Modernization

Dan Kedmey
Time
While users of a phonetic alphabet can sound out a word, writers of Chinese must memorize a series of character strokes unique to that word, and the strokes have to be executed in a precise order. 

Sinica Podcast

08.02.13

Shop Talk with Phonemica

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Feeling crowded out by all the laowai speaking putonghua these days? Fortunately for the more adventurous among us, China has no shortage of other dialects, which is why we are delighted to host the creators of Phonemica, a crowd-sourced project to...

Sinica Podcast

12.16.11

Learning Chinese

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Shortly after his arrival in China, the late great 19th-century Sinologist Robert Hart would write his frustrations in his private diary, confiding that the convoluted phonemes of the Chinese language struck him like nothing so much as “the sounds...