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 ______?”

China Film Group Takes Role in Hollywood

Ben Fritz and Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
With a ten percent stake in ‘Furious 7’ China Film Group had, for the first time, an incentive to award an import a good release date.

Wild Pigeon

Photos by Carolyn Drake, words by...
Daylight
“The underlying theme I heard when talking to people was that how you interpret things is how they will be, so its best to look at the bright side of things. You don’t mention bad dreams, or you try to interpret them in a positive way. People told...

The Netflix of China Is Invading the US With Smartphones

Cade Metz
Wired
LeTV launched its Internet video streaming service three years before Netflix (2004 versus 2007). 

China: What the Uighurs See

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Xinjiang is one of those remote places whose frequent mention in the international press stymies true understanding. Home to China’s Uighur minority, this vast region of western China is mostly known for being in a state of permanent low-grade...

Culture

04.10.15

A New Opera and Hong Kong’s Utopian Legacy

Denise Y. Ho
This year, the 43rd annual Hong Kong Arts Festival commissioned a chamber opera in three acts called Datong: The Chinese Utopia. Depicting the life and times of Kang Youwei (1858-1927), a philosopher and reformer of China’s last Qing dynasty, it...

Books

04.09.15

Revolutionary Cycles in Chinese Cinema, 1951-1979

Zhuoyi Wang
A comprehensive history of how the conflicts and balances of power in the Maoist revolutionary campaigns from 1951 to 1979 complicated and diversified the meanings of films, this book offers a discursive study of the development of early PRC cinema. Wang closely investigates how film artists, Communist Party authorities, cultural bureaucrats, critics, and audiences negotiated, competed, and struggled with each other for the power to decide how to use films and how their extensively different, agonistic, and antagonistic power strategies created an ever-changing discursive network of meaning in cinema. —Palgrave Macmillan{chop}

China Escalates Hollywood Partnerships, Aiming to Compete One Day

David Barboza
New York Times
Chinese studios are moving up the value chain, helping to develop, design and produce world-class films and animated features.

Environment

04.02.15

‘Wolf Totem’ Trainer Sees Risks, Rewards for Hollywood in China

from chinadialogue
Wolf trainer Andrew Simpson has just wrapped up three years in Beijing coaching wolves to perform in the film version of the novel Wolf Totem. The Sino-French adaptation of Jiang Rong’s best-selling 2004 novel opened in Beijing and Europe in...

Beyond Ai Weiwei: How China’s Artists Handle Politics (or Avoid Them)

Christopher Beam
New Yorker
Westerners are often criticized for looking at Chinese art through a narrow political lens.

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...

Books

03.16.15

The China Collectors

Shareen Blair Brysac and Karl E. Meyer
Thanks to Salem sea captains, Gilded Age millionaires, curators on horseback, and missionaries gone native, North American museums now possess the greatest collections of Chinese art outside of East Asia itself. How did it happen? The China Collectors is the first full account of a century-long treasure hunt in China from the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion to Mao Zedong's 1949 ascent.The principal gatherers are mostly little known and defy invention. They included "foreign devils" who braved desert sandstorms, bandits, and local warlords in acquiring significant works. Adventurous curators like Langdon Warner, a forebear of Indiana Jones, argued that the caves of Dunhuang were already threatened by vandals, thereby justifying the removal of frescoes and sculptures. Other Americans include George Kates, an alumnus of Harvard, Oxford, and Hollywood, who fell in love with Ming furniture. The Chinese were divided between dealers who profited from the artworks' removal, and scholars who sought to protect their country's patrimony. Duanfang, the greatest Chinese collector of his era, was beheaded in a coup and his splendid bronzes now adorn major museums. Others in this rich tapestry include Charles Lang Freer, an enlightened Detroit entrepreneur, two generations of Rockefellers, and Avery Brundage, the imperious Olympian, and Arthur Sackler, the grand acquisitor. No less important are two museum directors, Cleveland's Sherman Lee and Kansas City's Laurence Sickman, who challenged the East Coast's hegemony.Shareen Blair Brysac and Karl E. Meyer even-handedly consider whether ancient treasures were looted or salvaged, and whether it was morally acceptable to spirit hitherto inaccessible objects westward, where they could be studied and preserved by trained museum personnel. And how should the U.S. and Canada and their museums respond now that China has the means and will to reclaim its missing patrimony?—Palgrave Macmillan {chop}

China Blocks Web Access to ‘Under the Dome’ Documentary on Pollution

Edward Wong
New York Times
The drama over the video has ignited speculation over which groups supported it and which sought to kill it.

The Cowboys (and Indians) of Sichuan: Photographers Search for China's Billy the Kid

Stephanie Borcard and Nicolas Metraux
South China Morning Post
The people of remote Tagong in the southwestern grasslands resemble the cowboys and Indians of North American history.

China’s Premier Vows to Promote Film, TV Industries, “Core Socialist Values”

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Li Keqiang pledging to promote  entertainment industry as delegates renewed calls for film classification system.

Media

03.04.15

The Other China

Michael Meyer & Ian Buruma
Writers Michael Meyer and Ian Buruma engage in a discussion co-sponsoted by The New York Review of Books centered on Meyer's new book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, which combines immersion...

Sinica Podcast

03.02.15

Keep in Touch, Nightman

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In 1997, Beijing was smaller city, and Keep in Touch, Jamhouse, and Nightman were the hippest venues around. There was no traffic on the ring roads, and if you got tired of Chinese food you might take a trip to Fangzhuang to visit this Italian...

In China, Suspicions Cloud Trade Dispute Involving Tech Companies

Paul Mozur and Jane Perlez
New York Times
Top Internet regulator has warned foreign companies to behave if they want to stay in China’s $450 billion technology market.

China Looks West to Bring ‘Wolf Totem’ to Screen

New York Times
French director Jean-Jacques Annaud was reportedly long-banned from China for “his 1997 film "Seven Years in Tibet."...

In China, Oscars Ceremony Touches Nerves Over Hong Kong, Snowden

Simon Denyer and Xu Yangjingjing
Washington Post
Common spoke about dreams of better lives, including “people in Hong Kong fighting for democracy."...

Media

02.19.15

Why 700 Million People Keep Watching the Chinese New Year Gala, Even Though It’s Terrible

Rachel Lu
The Chinese New Year Gala, which aired live on February 18 on Chinese Central Television (CCTV), is a four-and-half hour variety show with song and dance, comedic skits, magic tricks, acrobatic acts, and celebrity cameos. The show celebrates the...

Culture

02.18.15

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Love Affair With Fireworks

Orville Schell
New York City-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang, one of the most celebrated contemporary artists born in China, has become the Godfather of a spectacular new kind of fireworks displays which he calls “explosion events.” Having done large-scale events...

With Lunar New Year Show, Another Link to China for a New York Fireworks Family

Kirk Semple
New York Times
The Central Academy of Fine Arts, China’s largest art academy, is involved in the celebrations this year.

Sinica Podcast

02.09.15

The Changing Look of China, Myanmar, and Visual Journalism—A Chat With Jonah Kessel

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by Jonah M. Kessel, former freelance photographer and now full-time videographer for The New York Times who has covered a wide range of China stories, traveled widely through the country, and...

A Softer Touch on Soft Power

David Bandurski
China Media Project
Soft power has become strategically important for China because cultural productivity and influence are now regarded as important components of comprehensive national power.

China Says Web Authors Must Use Real Names

New York Times
Guidelines aim to force online authors to “take better responsibility” for their works. 

China’s Wanda Cinema Stock Surges in Market Debut

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Wanda has earmarked $200 million of the proceeds from the IPO to expand its exhibition network to 260 theaters and 2,300 screens by the end of next year.

China Is Using ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to Justify Its Own Crackdown on Free Speech

Matt Schiavenza
New Republic
“The world is diverse and there should be limits on press freedom,” read the editorial by Paris bureau chief Ying Qiang. “Unfettered and unprincipled satire, humiliation, and free speech are not acceptable.”

Pictures of the Day: January 15, 2015

Telegraph
Telegraph
A man walks along a newly built rainbow-colored tunnel in Zhengzhou, Henan province. The 400-meter-long tunnel is the first of this kind in China, local media reported.

Sources: Nicolas Cage’s ‘Outcast’ Has Chinese Release Date Delayed Again

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
There have been a host of theories about why Outcast is being delayed. Some distribution sources said in September that YFG was unhappy with the number of screens made available for the film.

The Colorful Propaganda of Xinjiang

BBC
BBC
The government believes religion breeds terror and has been trying to control religious expression in the region by imposing rules on the Uighur community. Critics say it is exacerbating the terror problem.

Media

01.13.15

This Culture Has Not Yet Been Rated

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
It all started with plunging necklines. After the sudden withdrawal and subsequent sanitizing of a popular Chinese show, viewers in China have renewed longstanding calls to strip government censors of their power, using one simple solution: a...

Drawing the News: Wo Shi Chali (Je Suis Charlie)

Anne Henochowicz
China Digital Times
Chinese cartoonists and netizens have responded quickly to the slaying of cartoonists and editors at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Masked gunmen entered the offices of the journal and fired automatic weapons at staff in an...

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...

Beijing’s Art Scene Raises Its Profile

Vanessa Able
New York Times
On a recent Sunday afternoon in the sunken terrace of Beijing’s sleek Opposite House Hotel, an art event was in full swing. The wine was chilling, the dumplings steaming and a few dozen locals and foreigners were looking on with curiosity as the...

Other

12.30.14

A Look Back at 2014

It’s hard to believe, but ChinaFile is almost two years old. It’s been an exciting year for us, and, as ever, an eventful year for China. It was a year of muscular leadership from Xi Jinping, who has now been in office just over two years and who...

Books

12.23.14

Top Five China Books of 2014

Laura Chang
As the editor of ChinaFile’s Books section, I have the privilege of meeting and interviewing some amazing writers covering China today—academics, journalists, scholars, activists. Based on these conversations, we create short videos of the...

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...

Fidel Castro Wins China’s Alternative Peace Prize

Associated Press
Guardian
In line with past recipients, the ailing Castro did not come to Beijing to pick up his award and it was unclear whether he was aware of the honour. The prize, in the form of a gold statuette and certificate, was instead handed to a Cuban foreign...

Environmental Filmmakers Have Rare Impact in China

Louise Watt
Associated Press
One clip shows a girl swatting flies from a younger child among piles of trash. Another has children blowing up used medical gloves like balloons. The footage is on the computer screen of Wang Jiuliang as he edits his second film about waste harming...

Chinese Online Giants Eating Into U.S. Dominance of Digital Media

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
China now accounts for two of the six companies with the highest online media revenues and four of the 10 fastest-growing, according to a report from the global research and advisory company Strategy Analytics.

China Will Be Banishing Its Creative Class to the Countryside

John Dyer
Vice News
Chinese President Xi Jinping is channeling the late communist revolutionary Mao Zedong in a potential crackdown on China's burgeoning creative class...

As Chinese Duo Perform at American Music Awards, Those at Home Are Skeptical

Te-Ping Chen and Yang Jie
Wall Street Journal
In an indication of how fragile domestic confidence is in the country’s cultural exports, many Chinese commentators were immediately skeptical of the award’s authenticity. By the next morning on Weibo, the phrase “Chopstick Brothers bought an award...

Xi and Peng Now Have a Song of Their Own

South China Morning Post
After a series of high-profile events highlighting their marriage bonds, China’s president, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Peng Liyuan, now have a song praising their relationship.

Los Angeles Mayor Presses China to Allow More Hollywood Films

Gerry Shih
Reuters
Hollywood producers, eager to build ties to the world's second-largest film market, have embraced an influx of Chinese capital in recent years, leading to a series of high-profile partnerships...

Writers Phil Klay and Evan Osnos win top National Book Awards

Patricia Reaney
Reuters
Klay was awarded the fiction prize for "Redeployment," his book of stories about the wars in Afghanistan. Osnos earned his award for "Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China" in the non-fiction...

“Hunger Games” China Release Date canceled, Likely Due to “Revolutionary” Political Content

Cecilia Wang
That’s
The film's sudden withdrawal may be due to the film's apparently incendiary content, depicting a fictitious revolution aimed at toppling a dystopian future government. It's feared that movie-goers might draw parallels to Taiwan's...

As Chinese Adoptees Return Home, a New Genre Tells Their Tales

Mei Fong
Wall Street Journal
"Ricki’s Promise” a documentary about a Seattle teen’s summer spent with her birth family in China, began showing on the U.S. film festival circuit this month. Next month, the U.S. cable network SundanceTV will premiere “One Child,” a fictional...

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...

‘A Map of Betrayal,’ by Ha Jin

Ben Macintyre
New York Times
Many years ago, the F.B.I. coined an acronym, MICE, to describe the motivations of the spy. This stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego. All spies, it is argued, are drawn into espionage by some combination of these factors.

Culture

11.07.14

‘The Training Wheels Are Coming Off,’ But That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing

Jonathan Landreth
Making a movie is a wild ride no matter where you are in the world, a process fraught with ego and pride; wobblier, riskier, yet potentially more lucrative, the bigger and faster it gets.With U.S. gross sales of movie tickets basically flat, up just...

In Pictures: Designed in China

BBC
The Guo Shoujing Telescope, or Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope, is named after the 13th Century Chinese astronomer and is aimed at bringing Chinese astronomy into the 21st Century.

Toronto School District Cancels Plans for Confucius Institute

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Canada’s largest school district moved to terminate its agreement with the institute, which would have offered after-school Chinese language and culture classes, over concerns about China’s human rights record and restrictions on academic freedom.

600-Year-Old Chinese Book Found in California

Lian Zi
China Daily
The manuscript of a unique volume of the Yongle Encyclopedia (Yongle Dadian), a 16th century Chinese encyclopedia, was uncovered by a Chinese archivist at the Huntington Library in southern California.

China’s Crackdown on Dissent Shows How Nervous Its Leaders Are

The Washington Post Editorial Board
Washington Post
The legal assault on a critic of Mao gives a flavor of the current climate. Tie Liu is the pen name of Huang Zerong, 81, who has collected and published memoirs of people who were purged by Chinese dictator Mao Zedong in the 1950s and 1960s.

Why China Chose a French-Directed Film as Its Oscar Submission

Lilian Lin and Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
“It’s a mild, breezy, accessible, feel-good drama which really pictures China as a harmonious, wonderful place where conflicts of various stripes—across age, class or geographical divides—could easily be reconciled,” said Clarence Tsui, a film...

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Uyghur Blockbuster “Money On The Road”

Beige Wind
Beijing Cream
The comedy Money on the Road (Money Found on the Way in Chinese) features an ensemble of stars, including a cameo by the famous singer Abdulla. It follows the misadventures of three Uyghur farmers who come to the city as migrant workers to...