The Great Wall: China Takes on the World with New Matt Damon Film

John Sudworth
BBC
Despite a long tradition of movie-making, and much critical acclaim for its directors overseas, China has never yet produced a truly global blockbuster

Two Movies China Desperately Wants to Hide

Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe
In China, prisoners of conscience are literally being butchered. These films take a look inside China's organ harvesting market. ...

S.Korea Says China is Retaliating Against Its Missile-Defense System by Taking Aim at Korean Dramas

Echo Huang
Quartz
China has turned down Korean stars’ applications to perform in the country and has not let any Korean movies screen in the mainland

Author’s Vision of a Future Beijing Looks to China’s Present

Karoline Kan and Javier Hernandez
New York Times
Meet Hao Jingfang, author of "Folding Beijing,” the science-fiction novelette that beat out Stephen King to win a Hugo Award. ...

A Magician of Chinese Poetry

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Some people, and I am one, feel that Tang (618–907 CE) poetry is the finest literary art they have ever read. But does one need to learn Chinese in order to have such a view, or can classical Chinese poetry be adequately translated?In 1987 Eliot...

Ancient Town in China Enjoys Profitable Rebirth as a ‘Beautiful Stage’

Amy Qin
New York Times
With selfie-ready backdrops — flowing green canals and sloping tiled roofs — Wuzhen, China, takes off with tourists

Books

11.04.16

Land of Fish and Rice

Fuchsia Dunlop
The lower Yangtze region, or Jiangnan, with its modern capital Shanghai, has been known since ancient times as a “land of fish and rice.” For centuries, local cooks have harvested the bounty of its lakes, rivers, fields, and mountains to create a cuisine renowned for its delicacy and beauty. In Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop draws on years of study and exploration to present the recipes, techniques, and ingredients of the Jiangnan kitchen. You will be inspired to try classic dishes such as Beggar’s Chicken and sumptuous Dongpo Pork, as well as fresh, simple recipes such as Clear-Steamed Sea Bass and Fresh Soybeans with Pickled Greens. Evocatively written and featuring stunning recipe photography, this is an important new work celebrating one of China’s most fascinating culinary regions. —W.W. Norton{chop}

Culture

11.04.16

A New Comedy Looks Back at a Bygone Beijing

Jonathan Landreth
The forthcoming Mandarin-language comedy King of Peking takes the viewer back to Beijing in 1998. The sooty rooms, the boxy automobiles of just a few makes, models, and colors, and the alleyways crammed with shops hawking cheap home cooking and...

Dick Clark Productions to be Sold to Chinese Company for $1 Billion

Amie Tsang
New York Times
The deal will give Dalian Wanda Group broadcasting rights to the Golden Globes, the Country Music Awards and the NYC New Years countdown

The 80-Year-Old Runway Model Reshaping China’s Views on Aging

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
Last year, at 79, Mr. Wang walked the runway for the first time, his physique at his age causing a national sensation

Ai Weiwei to West: Tackle China on Human Rights Whatever the Cost

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
‘It doesn’t matter it will hurt me or not – do what you think is right’: artist says Beijing has axed rule of law for anyone with contrary political views

Seeking Lower Rent, Chinese Artists Cut Path for Themselves Outside Beijing

Emily Feng
New York Times
A small and decidedly nondescript city called Yanjiao, about an hour’s drive from Beijing, has been experiencing an influx of artists

An Exiled Editor Traces the Roots of Democratic Thought in China

Luo Siling
New York Times
An interview with Hu Ping, editor of the pro-democracy journal "Beijing Spring," based in New York...

Smiling Panda, Weeping Dragon: China’s Banksy Brings Life to City Sprawl

Christy Yao
Guardian
Qi Xinghua, famous as a 3-D painter, says he wants to ‘add some fun to our lives’ by brightening up drab cityscapes

Dalian Wanda’s Hollywood Event Is Itself a Production

Brooks Barnes
New York Times
"Star Wars" music. Ushers in gold evening gowns. The mayor of Los Angeles. Inside Dalian Wanda's Hollywood event...

Red Star Over Hollywood: ‘Dr. Evil’ Says China Wants Movies

Anousha Sakoui and David McLaughlin
Bloomberg
Lobbyist questions companies’ motives in U.S. takeovers: ‘You will never see a Chinese villain in the movies’ again

Chinese Billionaire Wang Jianlin Descends on Hollywood

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
Wanda's gala event at LACMA is expected to attract A-list stars and executives, as the company's outspoken chairman announces a major new production incentive in China...

Depth of Field

10.18.16

Over-Protective Mothers, E-cigarettes, Sports Hunting, and More

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
A photojournalist’s job is to capture the unique and the universal—to portray brief moments that tell individual stories, yet are instantly relatable to a wide audience. The delightful task of curating that type of Chinese photojournalism is the...

Police Recover 300 Million Yuan Worth of Stolen Sichuan Relics

Teng Jing Xuan
The two-year operation ends with 70 arrests and breakup of 10 criminal gangs

How Hong Kong's Cantopop Scene Went from Heartbreak to Protest

Helier Cheung
BBC
Cantonese pop music is formulaic, intensely emotional, strangely addictive and quintessentially Hong Kong. Now it is also becoming political.

Books

10.07.16

The Age of Irreverence

Christopher Rea
The Age of Irreverence tells the story of why China’s entry into the modern age was not just traumatic, but uproarious. As the Qing dynasty slumped toward extinction, prominent writers compiled jokes into collections they called “histories of laughter.” In the first years of the Republic, novelists, essayists, and illustrators alike used humorous allegories to make veiled critiques of the new government. But, again and again, political and cultural discussion erupted into invective, as critics gleefully jeered and derided rivals in public. Farceurs drew followings in the popular press, promoting a culture of practical joking and buffoonery. Eventually, these various expressions of hilarity proved so offensive to high-brow writers that they launched a concerted campaign to transform the tone of public discourse, hoping to displace the old forms of mirth with a new one they called youmo (humor).Christopher Rea argues that this period—from the 1890s to the 1930s—transformed how Chinese people thought and talked about what is funny. Focusing on five cultural expressions of laughter—jokes, play, mockery, farce, and humor—he reveals the textures of comedy that were a part of everyday life during modern China’s first “age of irreverence.” This new history of laughter not only offers an unprecedented and up-close look at a neglected facet of Chinese cultural modernity, but also reveals its lasting legacy in the Chinese language of the comic today and its implications for our understanding of humor as a part of human culture. —University of California Press{chop}

China’s Rising Threat to the U.S. Movie Industry

Richard Berman
Politico
With firms like Dalian Wanda gaining influence in the U.S., would a war movie called South China Sea ever play in one of Wanda’s theaters?

Fate Catches Up to a Cultural Revolution Museum in China

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
The museum was covered up and shut down in the spring, a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution.

Humanizing the China-Africa Relationship with Film

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
When independent filmmaker Carl Houston Mc Millan was growing up in the tiny southern African country of Lesotho, he saw firsthand the effects of China’s surging engagement in Africa. Even in this remote country, embedded within South Africa, far...

‘The Songs of Birds’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Day and night,I copy the Diamond Sutraof Prajnaparamita.My writing looks more and more square.It proves that I have not gone entirelyinsane, but the tree I drewhasn’t grown a leaf.—from “I Copy the Scriptures,” in Empty ChairsEvery month, the...

Culture

09.27.16

The Perils of Translating a Classic Novel from the Chinese Page to the American Stage

Nick Frisch
Welcome to my dream,” says a Chinese monk pacing along the stage of the San Francisco Opera. So begins Dream of the Red Chamber, a new opera based on the classic Chinese novel of the same name. Its central story is a love triangle framed as Buddhist...

Sony and Wanda Team Up to Market Films in China

Wayne Ma and Erich Schwartzel
Wall Street Journal
Deal could boost Sony Pictures’ box-office returns, strengthen Dalian Wanda’s movie-business profile

A New Literary Genre Critiques the Scariest Part of Life in China: Reality

Adrienne Matei
Quartz
Enter chaohuan, the "ultra-unreal"...

Once a Voice of Young China, Han Han Stakes Out a Different Path

Karoline Kan
New York Times
Han Han discusses his writings, the turns his life has taken and what people in the West fail to understand about China

Depth of Field

09.12.16

African Migrants in Guangzhou, Forgetting, Family Planning’s Fate, and More...

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Photographing the aftermath of catastrophic events is challenging—one that photographer Mu Li handles with creativity and grace looking back at the chemical explosion in Tianjin that damaged as many as 17,000 homes August 12, 2015. Another challenge...

The People in Retreat

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Ai Xiaoming is one of China’s leading documentary filmmakers and political activists. Since 2004, she has made more than two dozen films, many of them long, gritty documentaries that detail citizen activism or uncover whitewashed historical events...

Sinica Podcast

08.31.16

What Is Cultural About the Cultural Revolution? Creativity Amid Destruction

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, a chaotic decade of Chinese history made infamous in the West through books such as Wild Swans and Life and Death in Shanghai, which describe in horrific detail the...

Books

08.02.16

Creativity Class

Lily Chumley
The last three decades have seen a massive expansion of China’s visual culture industries, from architecture and graphic design to fine art and fashion. New ideologies of creativity and creative practices have reshaped the training of a new generation of art school graduates. Creativity Class is the first book to explore how Chinese art students develop, embody, and promote their own personalities and styles as they move from art school entrance test preparation, to art school, to work in the country’s burgeoning culture industries. Lily Chumley shows the connections between this creative explosion and the Chinese government’s explicit goal of cultivating creative human capital in a new “market socialist” economy where value is produced through innovation.Drawing on years of fieldwork in China’s leading art academies and art test prep schools, Chumley combines ethnography and oral history with analyses of contemporary avant-garde and official art, popular media, and propaganda. Examining the rise of a Chinese artistic vanguard and creative knowledge-based economy, Creativity Class sheds light on an important facet of today’s China. —Princeton University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

07.20.16

The Kaiser Kuo Exit Interview

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser sits in the guest chair and tells us about his 20-plus years of living in China. He recounts being the front man for the heavy metal band Tang Dynasty and the group’s tour stops in China’s backwater towns, shares his feelings on...

Vietnam TV Station Drops Chinese Drama Over South China Sea Dispute

My Pham
Reuters
The decision comes as several Chinese celebrities speak up against the The Hague’s ruling.

Chinese Architect’s Nature-Infused Buildings Take World By Storm

Kavita Daswani
South China Morning Post
Ma Yansong blurs the lines between lanscaping and architecture, inspired by his Chinese culture....

HBO Asia, China Movie Channel to Co-Produce Martial Arts Flicks for TV

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
The project will be HBO’s first Chinese-language production starring Chinese talent.

Culture

06.29.16

Using Free Sex to Expose Sexual Abuse in China

Jonathan Landreth
Nanfu Wang hoped that a woman called Ye Haiyan (“Hooligan Sparrow”), who had offered free sex on the Internet to draw attention to the plight of poor women selling their bodies to support their children, would lead her to the prostitutes she wanted...

‘Warcraft’ Marches Past $200M, ‘Finding Dory’ Debuts to Solid $17.5M

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
Warcraft is experiencing the big-splash, big-crash pattern followed by nearly every Hollywood tentpole in China this year.

Incendiary Memoir by Chinese Rights Lawyer Reaches Bookshelves Abroad

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
An account of government critique, life in prison, and life under surveillance....

L’Oreal Is Setting A Dangerous Global Precedent By Bowing to China Over Free Speech

Vivienne Chow
Quartz
Lancome cancels concert to appeal to the mainland, sacrificing freedoms for their parnerships....

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...

A New Language for Chinese Film

J. Hoberman from New York Review of Books
Kaili Blues, an eccentric, remarkably assured first feature by the young Chinese director Bi Gan, is both the most elusive and the most memorable new movie that I’ve seen in quite some time—“elusive” and “memorable” being central to Bi’s ambitions...

In Sichuan Province, an Artisan Retreats to China’s Past

Jonah M. Kessel
New York Times
Hanshan, an ethnic Miao, survives by selling the clothing he dyes to the same people he considers too materialistic.

Culture

04.19.16

A Newly Translated Book Revisits Japan and China’s Wartime History

Karen Ma
Award-winning screenwriter and author Geling Yan has written more than 20 novels and short story collections about China, many adapted to film or TV, including Coming Home and The Flowers of War, both of which became feature films directed by Zhang...

Rising in the East

Holly Williams
CBS News
China's film industry has grown so big so fast, that it is now looking to compete with Hollywood...

Viewpoint

04.06.16

Will China Ever Have Its Own Cinematic Superhero?

Anthony Kao
As Batman v Superman attempts to barnstorm cinema box offices worldwide, including in China—now the world’s No. 2 movie marketplace—I’ve been watching a different kind of hero movie: Jian Bing Man.This 2015 Chinese blockbuster isn’t exactly a...

Depth of Field

04.03.16

Meet ‘Depth of Field’: The Month’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Welcome to ChinaFile’s inaugural “Depth of Field” column. In collaboration with Yuanjin Photo, an independent photo blog published by photographers Yan Cong and Ye Ming on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, we will highlight new and...

Reality Show Singer Breaks China's Cultural Revolution Taboo

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Yang Le sings of how he lost his father in Mao’s crackdown on perceived enemies 50 years ago.

Media

03.29.16

‘River Town’ the Movie

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
Not since Iron and Silk premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 has a movie based on a memoir about teachers on the front lines of U.S.-China relations come to the big screen. Director Shirley Sun’s mostly-English-language film adaptation of...

Market for Chinese Art Is Increasingly in China

Scott Reyburn
New York Times
Chinese decorative art and antiques was one of the few auction sectors that grew in 2015.

Excerpts

03.22.16

Beyond ‘Chicken or Beef’ Choices in China Debates

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up in California with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the big country across the Pacific was mix-and-match meal creation. On airplanes and in school cafeterias, you just had “chicken or beef” choices,...

Conversation

03.04.16

Xi Jinping: A Cult of Personality?

Jonathan Landreth, Taisu Zhang & more
By some accounts, Chinese Presdient Xi Jinping is the most powerful leader the country has  had since Mao Zedong. One arrow in his quiver that echoes Mao’s armory is Xi’s embrace of popular song, listened to these days not on the radio or...

China Could Beat Hollywood by 2017

Bloomberg
The country’s box-office sales are growing an average of 34 percent a year.

China: No More Weird Buildings

Matt Rivers and Chung Fun
CNN
New guidelines will forbid the construction of "bizarre" and "odd-shaped" buildings that are devoid of character or cultural heritage...

Lost in China’s Exploding Future

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s new movie, Mountains May Depart, begins with a disco dance in a bleak mining town to the sounds of “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys. It is the lunar New Year, 1999. Outside, the end of the millennium is celebrated in a...

Media

01.29.16

‘The New Yorker’ on China

Jiayang Fan, Peter Hessler & more
Following is an edited transcript of a live event hosted at Asia Society New York on December 17, 2015, “ChinaFile Presents: The New Yorker On China.” (The full video appears above.) The evening, introduced by Asia Society President Josette Sheeran...

Conversation

01.13.16

Does Chinese Investment Pose a Threat to Hollywood?

Jonathan Landreth, Stanley Rosen & more
The Wanda Group, China’s leading real estate developer, on Monday paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, maker of Jurassic World, among other global blockbusters. At a time when Hollywood is...

Culture

01.05.16

In ‘Mr. Six,’ China’s Changing and Staying the Same

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
Playing an aging gangster railing against the “little punks” who kidnapped his son in Beijing, Feng Xiaogang gives a solid performance as the title character of Mr. Six: a gravel-throated vigilante shaken when his go-it-alone rescue effort puts him...