‘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...

China’s Alibaba Reportedly Eyeing 37 Percent Stake in Lionsgate

Etan Vessing
Hollywood Reporter
The New York Post reported on Friday that the chairman of Lionsgate is looking to unload his influential stake in the mini-studio, with Ma in line to possibly buy it.

Books

10.21.14

Hou Hsiao-hsien

Richard I. Suchenski, Editor
For younger critics and audiences, Taiwanese cinema enjoys a special status, comparable with that of Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave for earlier generations, a cinema that was and is in the midst of introducing an innovative sensibility and a fresh perspective. Hou Hsiao-hsien is the most important Taiwanese filmmaker working today, and his sensuous, richly nuanced films reflect everything that is vigorous and genuine in contemporary film culture. By combining multiple forms of tradition with a uniquely cinematic approach to space and time, Hou has created a body of work that, through its stylistic originality and historical gravity, opens up new possibilities for the medium. This new volume includes contributions by Olivier Assayas, Peggy Chiao, Chung Mong-hong, Jean-Michel Frodon, Hasumi Shigehiko, Ichiyama Shōzō, Jia Zhang-ke, Kent Jones, Koreeda Hirokazu, Jean Ma, Ni Zhen, Abé Mark Nornes, James Quandt, Richard I. Suchenski, James Udden, and Wen Tien-hsiang, as well as conversations with Hou Hsiao-hsien and some of his most important collaborators over the decades.  —Columbia University Press {chop}

When Hong Kong Protests Are Over, Where Will the Art Go?

Ramy Inocencio
Wall Street Journal
As Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests wane, what will become of the iconic artwork Umbrella Man, the Lennon Wall of sticky notes and all the banners?...

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...

China Approves $3.25 Billion Universal Theme Park in Beijing

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
The facility will cover a 300-acre site in the suburbs of China's capital...

Chinese Media Accuse Japanese Manga Star Doraemon of Subverting Youth

Justin McCurry
Guardian
“Doraemon is a part of Japan’s efforts of exporting its national values and achieving its cultural strategy; this is an undisputed fact,” the local communist party newspaper Chengdu Daily said in an editorial.

Media

10.10.14

China Bans Law-Breaking Actors From Movies and Television

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Amid an ongoing government campaign against drugs, prostitution, and other moral vices, a powerful government agency has reportedly issued new regulations banning actors with histories of drug use or prostitution from appearing in movies and...

China’s Wanda to Create Movie Fund to Attract Hollywood Productions

Abid Rahman
Hollywood Reporter
Wanda's billionaire chairman, Wang Jianlin, said the planned fund would work with the private sector to recreate Hollywood in China...

China Detains Poet Wang Zang and 7 Others Ahead of Hong Kong Event

Jack Chang and Isolda Morillo
Huffington Post
On Sept. 30, Wang Zang had posted on Twitter a picture of himself raising his middle finger and holding an umbrella, a symbol of solidarity adopted by the protesters demanding open nominations for Hong Kong's chief executive...

A Cinematic Context for Hong Kong’s Turmoil

Edward Wong
New York Times
Hong Kong’s film industry, commercial and broad-based as it is, has always provided a mirror of the territory’s political anxieties, and a record of its complex history.

Busan: China’s Online Movie Revenues Forecast to Match Box Office in 5 Years

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
China's online giants, who are launching a big push into the film business, have been a significant presence at the South Korean festival this year, popping up as buyers, sponsors and producers...

A Chinese Artist Confronts Environmental Disaster

Orville Schell
New Yorker
What were all these sick animals—lions, wolves, camels, monkeys, gazelles, pandas, and zebras—doing on this dilapidated Chinese fishing boat, sailing past the famous frieze of colonial banks, trading houses, and clubs that make up Shanghai’s Bund?

Hong Kong Celebrities Largely Mum on Protests Gripping City

Violet Law
Los Angeles Times
Hong Kong celebrities are known for their omnipresence and outspokenness, but the city's galaxy of stars and starlets has been almost entirely out of sight during the pro-democracy sit-ins. ...

Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau Speak Up Against Use of Tear Gas on HK Protesters

Channel NewsAsia
Both famous actors spoke against the police use of tear gas, and urged that the safety of the student demonstrators should be a priority.

Culture

09.23.14

Contact Lenses

Vera Tollmann
Will we all become “Chinese?” International New York Times correspondent Didi Kirsten Tatlow ironically asked recently. The question plays both on our fears over China’s economic power and on reflections on the NSA files released by Edward Snowden...

Video

09.18.14

Collecting Insanity

Joshua Frank
Every country has a past it likes to celebrate and another it would rather forget. In China, where history still falls under the tight control of government-run museums and officially approved textbooks, the omissions appear especially stark. An...

Chinese Studio Huayi Brothers to Invest $130 Million in New U.S. Branch

Los Angeles Times
The leading Beijing based independent film production house didn’t say where its U.S. office might be or hint at the number of employees it expects to staff its operation. The plan still needs official Chinese approval.

China Detains Writer Tie Liu for ‘Provoking Trouble’

BBC
Chinese writer Huang Zerong, also known as Tie Liu, has been detained by police allegedly for writing articles critical of a senior official.

In China, a Search for Oscar Contenders

Edward Wong
New York Times
A film from mainland China has yet to win an Oscar, and Chinese officials are eager for the cultural validation that the award brings.

Culture

09.04.14

‘Transformers 4’ May Pander to China, But America Still Wins

Ying Zhu
Hollywood made news this summer with the China triumph of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which broke all previous Chinese box office records. The Chinese box office even outsold the North American box office. But jubilation over the film’s...

Culture

08.27.14

Standing Up for Indie Film in China

Jonathan Landreth
In July, Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth in the action-packed series of Hollywood films about trucks turning into giant robots to save the world, became the first film to sell more than $300 million in tickets at China’s box office...

Fabled Uighur Princess Coming to Chinese Television as a Cartoon

Edward Wong
New York Times
Animators in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen are creating a 104-episode cartoon series loosely based on a historical Qing Dynasty imperial consort, a Uighur woman who is shrouded in myth.

China’s Movie Industry: All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

Jeongwen Qiang and Chen Lin
Forbes
If we just looked at their success, on the surface, the Chinese film industry appears to be flourishing; but there is some cause for concern.

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...

China’s Alibaba Pictures Confirms Zhang Qiang as CEO

Patrick Frater
Variety
Zhang, whose appointment was unofficially announced by the media last month, makes the unusual switch from public sector to private. Since 2011 has been vice president of China Film Group, the state-owned enterprise that dominates film imports and...

The Most Popular Books in China, and Why

MICHELLE TANG
Ozy
Five of China’s best-sellers could give us some telling insights into the nation’s psyche.

Conversation

07.24.14

Alibaba: How Big a Deal Is It?

David Wolf & Duncan Clark
When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba goes public some time after Labor Day it is expected be one the largest initial public offerings in history. This week, a story in The New York Times shed light on ties between Alibaba and the sons and grandsons...

China’s Wanda Plans to Buy ‘One or Two Large International Entertainment Companies’

Abid Rahman
Hollywood Reporter
Amid consolidation chatter in the U.S., the owner of exhibition giant AMC says it plans to become a “real” multinational company and “intensify” its investment in the entertainment sector globally.

21st Century Fox to Sell Its Stake in China’s Bona Film Group

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Investment group Fosun raises its stake as Bona CEO Yu Dong buys the Fox stake, saying the move would not affect ongoing co-productions, including "Bride Wars."...

Culture

07.01.14

Inside the Mind of a Chinese Hacker

Emily Parker
In May, the U.S. announced the indictment of five Chinese hackers for breaking into the computers of U.S. companies. The men went by code names like UglyGorilla and KandyGoo. A recent report revealed that the hackers, who worked for Unit 61398 of...

‘Transformers’ Breaks Box-Office Records in China

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” broke multiple box-office records in mainland China in its first weekend of release and appears to be en route to displacing “Avatar” as the top-grossing film ever on the mainland.

The (Continuing) Story of Ai—From Tragedy to Farce

Paul Gladston
Randian
In recent weeks Ai Weiwei has become embroiled, yet again, in apparent controversy.

Paramount Rushes for Beijing ‘Transformers’ Premiere Amid Dispute

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
The studio was hit by claims of a product-placement deal gone sour.

A Man Takes His Cabbage for a Walk

Jonah M. Kessel
New York Times
The Chinese performance artist Han Bing recently dragged a cabbage through city centers as a social commentary on people’s relationships with objects in their lives.

Chinese Directors on Winning Global Box Office: ‘Attacking Hollywood Is the Best Way’

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
At the Shanghai Film Festival's most popular forum, leading local film figures debate whether Hollywood is friend or foe...

Is That Leg Loaded? Ai Weiwei Starts Web Craze With Mysterious ‘Leg-Gun’ Pose

Nell Frizzell
Guardian
The Chinese artist has sparked an internet meme by posting pictures of people with their legs raised and pointing like rifles. Is it his latest revolutionary act? A new dance craze? Or the next Angelina Jolie's thigh? We weigh up the options...

Angelina Jolie Angers China With Taiwan Comments

Ben Beaumont-Thomas
Guardian
The star, promoting Maleficent in Shanghai, said that her favorite Chinese director is Ang Lee – who is from Taiwan, a country still seen by many Chinese as a rogue state.

Elaborate Lattice Work in Confucius Lane

Sue Ann
Shanghai Street Stories
In my few years of photographing old houses around Shanghai, I have never been this buoyant over lattice woodwork in its original setting.

25 Years After the Tiananmen Crackdown

Zhang Hongtu and Zhao Gang
Creative Time Reports
The Asian American Arts Centre responded to the June 1989 events with an open-call exhibition of artworks related to the uprising and its suppression called “China: June 4, 1989.” To commemorate the event's 25th anniversary, Creative Time...

“The Big Bang Theory” and Our Future with China

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
The United States has never faced a rival whose ordinary people lead lives that have so much in common with ours in America. (The Soviets did not get Carson.)

Media

04.30.14

Five Lessons From the Axing of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

It’s a plot twist few saw coming. Not long ago, China’s video streaming sites were trying to clean up years of copyright violations by paying big bucks to license popular U.S. television shows. For their part, Chinese fans had begun to abandon the...

China Breaks Into Las Vegas Show Business

Michelle Rindels
Associated Press
The privetely funded, wordless, loosely plotted "PANDA!" is China's latest soft power incarnate. ...

China’s Aggressive Museum Growth Brings Architectural Wonders

Sam Gaskin
CNN
By the end of 2013, two years before deadline, China already exceeded its goal, tallying a total of 4,000 museums.

Media

04.25.14

Bieliebers They Are Not—Chinese Outraged by Singer’s Tokyo Shrine Visit

Justin Bieber has once again displayed his talent for seemingly effortless international gaffes. The twenty-year-old Canadian pop princeling, who last year wrote “hopefully she would have been a Belieber” in the guestbook on his visit to the Anne...

Artist at Center of Multimillion Dollar Forgery Scandal Turns Up in China

Jon Swaine
Guardian
Pei-Shen Qian, acccused, along with two Spanish brokers, of conning New York art collectors, will likely escape extradition.

Media

04.17.14

Ai Weiwei’s Reach Draws New Yorkers’ Attention to Free Speech

Kim Wall
“Ai Weiwei retweeted me!” exclaimed a young blonde woman, laughing and waving her iPhone in the air with excitement. She and some two hundred other New Yorkers had gathered on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza to show her...

Media

04.15.14

Captain America Conquers China

SHANGHAI—This week, while U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s trip to China was underscoring bilateral tensions between the two powers, the Chinese masses were busy embracing another U.S. visitor. The Marvel superhero sequel Captain America: The...

Seeking More From Chinese Films

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
The China Film Directors’ Guild said it would not award a top prize for film or director of the year because Chinese films need to meet “a higher standard,” said director Feng Xiaogang. 

Media

03.28.14

Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou Talk Movies

Jonathan Landreth
Ang Lee, the Oscar-winning American film director with Taiwan roots, and Zhang Yimou, the storied veteran of mainland Chinese moviemaking, joined together on March 27 at Cooper Union in New York in a discussion billed “Chinese Film, Chinese...

Books

03.26.14

Stagnant Water & Other Poems by Wen Yiduo

Robert Hammond Dorsett (Translator)
On June 6, 1946, at 5pm, after stepping out of the office of the Democratic Weekly, Wen Yiduo died in a hail of bullets. Mao blamed the Nationalists and transformed Wen into a paragon of the revolution.Wen was born into a well-to-do family in Hubei, China, and received a classical education. But he came of age as old imperial China and its institu­tions were being swept away, and the Chinese people were looking ahead to a new China. It was fertile ground for a young poet.In 1922, Wen came to the U.S. and studied art and literature at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this period that his first collection of poetry was published, Hongzu or “Red Candle.” He returned to China in 1925 and took a position as a university professor and became active in the political and aesthetic debates of the time. His second collection of poems, Sishui, rendered by previous translators as “Dead Water,” was published in 1928.As political trends shifted from an intellectual, elitist base toward a populist one, changes in literature were just as pervasive. Wen was one of the leaders of a movement to reform Chinese poetry—hitherto written in a classical style with a diction and rhetoric so far removed from everyday usage that it had segregated itself from all but the wealthy and the well educated—by adapting common speech and direct observation, while maintaining a strict, albeit new, formalism.However, Wen never resolved the conflicts that existed within him: The elitist and the proletarian, the scholar and the activist, the traditionalist and the innovator, the personal man and the public man, fought for ascendancy. Yet it was these contradictions that proved so fruitful and give his poetry its singular power. —Bright City Books {chop}

Giant Birds ‘Fly’ Inside St. John the Divine

Gisele Regatao
WNYC
Two giant birds Chinese artist Xu Bing created out of tools and debris are hanging inside The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights.