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. 

Sex, Spies, and Videotape: Why ‘House of Cards’ Has Nothing on ‘The Americans’

J. Dana Stuster
Foreign Policy
While House of Cards is obsessed with high office and overt power, The Americans succeeds by intimately focusing on the personal.

Chinese Sentiment

Rinse
Medium
Shen Wei is a fine art photographer currently based in New York City. Before going to the States, he’s never even held a camera. But once he did, he never stopped. He was inspired by the medium and began exploring the power of photography. As he...

Media

03.01.14

China’s Oscar Challenge

Jonathan Landreth
On January 3, the film critics of The New York Times published their Oscar nominations wish list. Many of their wishes came true and on Sunday night, March 2, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will broadcast its annual celebration of...

Viewpoint

02.27.14

Why Frank Underwood is Great for China’s Soft Power

Ying Zhu
In depicting U.S. politics as just as vicious, if not more, sociopathic than its Chinese counterpart, House of Cards delivered a sweet Valentine’s Day gift to the Chinese government. The show handed the Chinese state an instant victory when the...

James Cahill, Influential Authority on Chinese Art, Dies at 87

Graham Bowley
New York Times
James Cahill was one of the foremost authorities on Chinese art whose interpretations of Chinese painting for the West influenced generations of scholars.

Culture

02.21.14

Stranger Than Fiction

Zhang Xiaoran
In the short twenty years since Yu Hua, a fifty-three-year-old former dentist, has been writing, China has undergone change enough for many lifetimes. His country’s transformations and what they leave in their wake have become the central theme of...

Chinese Film ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice’ Wins Berlin Film Festival

Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
The recognition comes as China’s film studios and directors vie for a stronger position on the global stage — and they appear to be gaining ground.

Sinica Podcast

02.14.14

Dissecting the 2014 Spring Festival Gala

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
A casual survey suggests that ninety-eight percent of Sinica listeners have at some point joined Chinese friends or family in watching the annual television spectacular known as the “Spring Festival Gala.” Sadly, whether from excessive pork...

China’s Richest Man Eyes Hollywood, Backs Animated Pic ‘Kong’

Pamela McClintock and Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Robin Li -- chairman of Chinese search engine Baidu and president of the Chinese Cultural Chamber of Commerce of the Private Sector  -- is backing a new film production venture that intends to release as its first project a Hollywood 3D...

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...

Feasts for the Eyes, and the Palatte, in Xian, China

Perri Klass
New York Times
On the “Muslim Street” in the Chinese city of Xian stands a bronze tableau in honor of street food.

Film Director Zhang Yimou Pays 7.5 Million Yuan Fine Over Children

Agence France-Presse
Zhang admits he has two sons and a daughter with his current wife and a daughter with a previous wife.

China Crushes Puny US Super Bowl Audience: 704 Million Watch New Year Gala

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Some 814 million watched the Lunar New Year TV extravaganza from China Central Television—way more than the 112 million viewers for the 2014 Super Bowl on Fox in the U.S. 

In China, ‘Once the Villages Are Gone, the Culture Is Gone’

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Across China, cultural traditions like the Lei family’s music are under threat. Rapid urbanization means village life, the bedrock of Chinese culture, is rapidly disappearing, and with it, traditions and history.

Environment

01.30.14

This Chinese Filmmaker Can’t Stop Talking Trash

Sun Yunfan
Documentary filmmaker and photographer Wang Jiuliang spent four years, between 2008 and 2011, documenting over 460 hazardous and mostly illegal landfill sites around Beijing.His award-winning film Beijing Besieged by Waste (2011) provoked intense...

China’s Global Popstars

Rebecca Kanthor
BBC
The ‘Earth Music Project’ will train Ruhan Jia who is one of the first popstars to be actively promoted by the government.

Publisher of Book Critical of China’s Leader Is Arrested

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Yiu Mantin, a retired engineer from Hong Kong, had plans to distribute a withering denunciation of Xi Jinping. 

A Chinese Filmmaker Points His Camera at the Darkest Moments in Communist Party History

Matthew Bell
Public Radio International
Hu's films are tolerated by the Chinese government and have been screened at independant film festivals in China. ...

Media

01.23.14

Out of the Dark Room

Sharron Lovell
Photographers document China’s breakneck development in fractions of a second every single day. Yet the work of Chinese photojournalists remains largely unseen outside their homeland. Of the thousands of images of the country illustrating the pages...

China Teams Up with Hollywood for Terracotta Army Superhero Movie

Ben Child
Guardian
"Super Terracotta Warriors" is China's response to the recent slew of Hollywood films based on comic books. ...

Chinese Novelist Guo to Jonathan Franzen: American Lit. ‘Massively Overrated’

Wall Street Journal
“The worst way to be universal is to try to be universal,” Franzen said in response.

Spring Festival Gala Performance by Chinese Rock Icon in Doubt

Luo Tian
New York Times
The popularity and pizzazz of China's “Godfather of Rock” is not worth the political risk for CCTV. ...

In Rare Video, Wife of Jailed Nobel Laureate Reads Poems While Under House Arrest

The New York Times
New York Times
The video was filmed by the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a free-speech advocacy group established by Ms. Liu. 

Found in Translation: King’s ‘Dream’ Plays in Beijing

Howard W. French
New York Times
The CCP emphasizes American history of inequality while leaving out points of domestic overlap. 

The People's Republic of Television Portraits from 1980's China

Erik Kessels
Time
“Soon, photographs of people and their televisions began appearing around China.”

C. T. Hsia, Who Brought Chinese Literature to the West, Dies at 92

William Yardley
New York Times
Hsia argued that Chinese writers suffered from an "obsession with China."...

Why are China and Japan Accusing Each Other of Being Voldemort?

Justin McCurry
Christian Science Monitor
Ill-tempered media exchanges between the Chinese and Japanese ambassadors to London invoked the universal cultural icon to embellish attacks over islands in the Asia-Pacific. 

A New Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum Puts a Modern Face on Chinese Art

Melik Kaylan
Daily Beast
The art world has embraced the evolution of Western art, but when it comes to China, we seem stuck in the past. A new exhibit at the Met wants to shake up these stereotypes.

The Curious, and Continuing, Appeal of Mark Twain in China

Amy Qin
New York Times
Mark Twain’s “Running for Governor” was taught alongside the writings by Mao Zedong and other prominent Chinese thinkers and literary figures in middle schools across China for more than 40 years.

The Critics Choose Their Oscar Nominees

NYT
New York Times
Two of three New York Times film critics would nominate “Touch of Sin” for Best Picture and Jia Zhangke for Best Director in this year’s Oscars. 

Gay Love Theory as Fans Relish Sherlock in China

BBC
"Curly Fu" and "Peanut" are the names given by Chinese fans to Sherlock and his sidekick, Dr Watson, men who many Chinese fans like to think of as being in love...

Q. & A.: David Der-wei Wang on C.T. Hsia, Chinese Literary Critic

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
C.T. Hsia, the Chinese literary critic who died in New York on Dec. 29, aged 92, had a “legendary career” as “a true cosmopolitan, shrewd, critical and brilliant,” says David Der-wei Wang, Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard University, in an...

Media

01.03.14

Coming to Chinese Headlines in 2014

Chinese people have spent another year breathing dirty air, fretting about food safety, poking fun at corrupt officials, and complaining about tightening censorship—but as a discerning consumer of international news, you probably knew that already...

China of My Mind

Virginia Pye
New York Times
When I tell people that I have recently published a novel set in China, one of the first questions they ask is whether I’ve been there. My response seems to be a letdown.

Books

12.30.13

Every Rock a Universe

Jonathan Chaves (Translator)
The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) of China’s Anhui Province have been famous for centuries as a place of scenic beauty and inspiration, and remain a hugely popular tourist destination today. A “golden age” of Yellow Mountains travel came in the seventeenth century, when they became a refuge for loyalists protesting the new Qing Dynasty, among them poet and artist Wang Hongdu (1646–1721/1722), who dedicated himself to traveling to each and every peak and site and recording his impressions. Unfortunately, his resulting masterpiece of Chinese travel writing was not printed until 1775 and has since remained obscure and available only in Chinese. Here Jonathan Chaves presents the first complete translation of Wang’s work in a Western language. Wang’s newly rediscovered verse is also translated, showing him to be one of the most accomplished poets of his day. Introductory essays explore the history of scholarly and religious pilgrimage to the area, and the role of the Yellow Mountains in the great Neo-Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist revivals of the early Qing period, that is, as the center of a yearned-for spiritual and cultural renaissance.—Floating World Editions{chop}

How Andy Warhol Explains China’s Attitudes Toward Mao

Julian Gewirtz
Atlantic
The sheer number of Warhol’s screen prints of Mao’s face—at once persistent and reinvented—that captures, with unusual clarity, the attitude of China’s leaders today toward Mao, coloring and recoloring this legacy within an enduring outline.&...

Sinica Podcast

12.27.13

Sinica Goes to the Movies

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
As much as expats in China like to complain about the state of Chinese film and television, this week Kaiser and Jeremy remind us that there is a lot of great art out there, too, in a show that asks the critical question of: what is worth our...

Other

12.26.13

2013 Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, we want to take a moment to look back at some of the stories ChinaFile published in 2013. We hope you’ll find something that interests you to read—or watch—over the holidays.It’s hard to remember a recent year that didn...

Culture

12.19.13

Chinese Literature Online

Michel Hockx
In July of last year, Brixton, U.K.-based novelist Zelda Rhiando won the inaugural Kidwell-e Ebook Award. The award was billed as “the world’s first international e-book award.” It may have been the first time that e-writers in English from all over...

Landmark Exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art Opens at Metropolitan Museum of Art

Craig Clunas
Art Daily
A major loan exhibition of contemporary Chinese art presenting works by 35 artists born in China is now on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, including 70 works in various media from the past three decades, from artists such as Xu Bing, Zhang...