Earthbound China

04.11.13

There Goes the Neighborhood

Sun Yunfan & Leah Thompson
When, in 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner purchased a late Qing dynasty merchants’ house from Huangcun, a village in Anhui province, it was just one ordinary house among thousands like it in the picturesque Huizhou region of China. It took...

China’s Goodfellas

Howard W. French
Wall Street Journal
“A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel” is the most revealing work on the Bo Xilai episode to date. What emerges is an immensely complicated tale of behind-the-scenes power struggles as full of scandal, ambition and betrayal as anything that ancient...

Media

04.02.13

China Concerto

Jonathan Landreth
Before February 2012, when his name exploded onto the front pages of newspapers around the globe, most people outside of China had never heard of Bo Xilai, the now-fallen Communist Party Secretary of the megacity of Chongqing. But in the years...

China’s First Lady Strikes Glamorous Note

Jane Perlez and Bree Feng
New York Times
At a time when China’s Foreign Ministry is struggling to improve China’s international image, Peng Liyuan, 50, who has dazzled audiences at home and abroad with her bravura soprano voice, comes as a welcome gift. 

Chinese Create Tax-Free Zone For Art

Jason Chow
Wall Street Journal
A Chinese state-owned company is aiming to stoke the country's cultural sector with a tried-and-tested industrial model that has worked in the past for China's manufacturing industries. ...

A Building Boom As Chinese Art Rises In Stature

Holland Cotter
New York Times
As the government and private donors sponsor the growth of museums and art culture in China, they must decide what kind of art to feature and what stories to tell.

Guggenheim Gets Grant To Commission Chinese Art

Carol Vogel
New York Times
A $10 million grant for the Guggenheim to commission works from artists born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau. The money will also endow a curator at the museum whose entire focus will be contemporary Chinese art.

Ai Weiwei, China’s Useful Dissident

Matt Schiavenza
Atlantic
By enhancing his celebrity through publicity stunts, Ai has unwittingly empowered the Chinese Communist Party by outwardly conforming to its definition of a dissident: a narcissist more attuned to the whims of foreign admirers than to the interests...

What China’s New President Means For The Entertainment Industry

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
Although China's annual foreign movie quota was recently increased, there’s much uncertainty surrounding how Xi’s rise to power will impact the entertainment industry. ...

‘White Gold’ In China

Gilles Sabrie
New York Times
China is a large importer of illegally acquired ivory. This photo set focuses on the tradesmen who make their living off of carving the ivory, some of which have been doing so for generations.

Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Switches His Protest To Heavy Metal Music

Leo Lewis
Times & Sunday Times
 Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist whose 81-day “disappearance” into secret police detention ignited protest around the world, is to switch his focus to heavy metal music and release an album parodying life in modern China. 

‘Iron Man 3’ Blasts Away at China Co-Production Myth

Laurie Burkitt
WSJ: China Real Time Report
China film consultant Robert Cain said the three companies behind “Iron Man 3”  have likely opted out of trying to gain China’s co-production stamp in favor of winning global appeal. 

Media

03.08.13

“Shanghai Calling” Translates Funny

Jonathan Landreth
Director Daniel Hsia and producer Janet Yang were motivated to make Shanghai Calling, their first feature film together, by the shared feeling that no matter how much more important relations between the United States and China grew, they always...

Chinese Cinemas Cancel Propaganda Film Screenings

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
Theater operators in several cities called off showings of government-backed “Young Lei Feng” after the film failed to sell a single ticket during its premiere on Monday.

Sinica Podcast

03.08.13

Mo Yan and the Nobel Prize

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
When Chinese author Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for literature last year, many critics were fast to pounce on his selection, accusing the committee of making a political choice that glossed over what many consider to be pervasive self-censorship in...

China Launches Screenwriting Competition for U.S. Writers

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
The competition is the Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to get the country more exposure in international markets through voices that might be more in touch with the tastes of foreign audiences.  

Culture

03.06.13

Lei Lei: A Sketch of the Animator As a Young Man

Sun Yunfan
Lei Lei, a.k.a. Ray Lei, 27, is one of the best-known animators in China. Unlike many other smart kids of his generation who graduated from China’s top universities, he went off the beaten path early in his career and never turned back. In a country...

Chinese Family Memories, Recycled

Kerri MacDonald
New York Times
Thomas Sauvin's photo project, composed of discarded negatives, "starts with birth, [and] ends with death... It talks a bit about love. People go to the beach. People travel." In short, it's about life. ...

After Ang Lee’s Oscar Win, China Imagines Cinema Beyond Censors

Abby
Global Voices
A look at the various reactions on Chinese social media to Lee's Oscar victory , as well as the censorship-related conversation it sparked...

Mo Yan Grants First Interview Since Winning Nobel Prize

Anthony Tao
Beijing Cream
A look at the highlights from a Der Spiegel interview with Mo, covering Ai Weiwei’s and Liao Yiwu’s criticism of the author, his comments on the Cultural Revolution, and his relationship with the government. 

Culture

02.28.13

Classical Music with Chinese Characteristics

Sheila Melvin
On a frigid Friday morning at the end of 2012, a stream of expectant concertgoers poured through the cavernous lobby of the China National Center for the Performing Arts. They had come to the stunning, egg-shaped arts complex at this unusually early...

Thank You, Xie Xie, Namaste: A Movie Undercuts Old Rivalries

Didi Kristen Tatlow
New York Times
For Xinhua to quote Ang Lee thanking Taiwan would be to unacceptably recognize the de facto reality that Taiwan is a separate state, so his thanks didn’t make it into China, at least not via the official media. 

Hollywood And China: Revenue And Responsibility

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
Until recently, Hollywood looked upon China with a mix of dread and desperation, but Hollywood’s view on Beijing has—in Washington parlance—evolved, because China is now where the money is.

Books

02.19.13

Every Grain of Rice

Fuchsia Dunlop
Fuchsia Dunlop trained as a chef in China’s leading Sichuan cooking school and possesses the rare ability to write recipes for authentic Chinese food that you can make at home. Following her two seminal volumes on Sichuan and Hunan cooking, Every Grain of Rice is inspired by the vibrant everyday cooking of southern China, in which vegetables play the starring role, with small portions of meat and fish. Try your hand at stir-fried potato slivers with chili pepper, vegetarian “Gong Bao Chicken,” sour-and-hot mushroom soup, or, if you’re ever in need of a quick fix, Fuchsia’s emergency late-night noodles. Many of the recipes require few ingredients and are ridiculously easy to make. Fuchsia also includes a comprehensive introduction to the key seasonings and techniques of the Chinese kitchen. With stunning photography and clear instructions, this is an essential cookbook for everyone, beginner and connoisseur alike, eager to introduce Chinese dishes into their daily cooking repertoire. —W. W. Norton & Company

“China’s Leonard Cohen” Calls Out Political Corruption

Louisa Lim
NPR
On “These Tiny Grapes,” Zuoxiao Zuzhou’s new album of edgy ballads focusing on the woes of modern-day China, he hones in on rampant corruption, food scandals, injustice and abuse of power.

S.E.C. Inquiry Into China Film Trade Unnerves Hollywood

Michael Cieply
New York Times
 Hunkered down. Lawyered up. Looking over your shoulder for the prosecutors. That is a not a comfortable way to do business. But it may become business as usual for those who have been struggling to make China both a customer for Hollywood...

Media

02.12.13

Joke About Gay Romance on Chinese New Year Gala Lights Up Blogosphere

Is “bromance” in the air? Not according to state-run China Central Television (CCTV).{vertical_photo_right}Thousands of fans yelled “Get together” in unison when piano prodigy Li Yundi made a guest appearance at Chinese-American pop sensation Leehom...

Province By Province, A Portrait of China

Kerri MacDonald
New York Times
A Swiss couple thought it would be a good project to photograph all of China's provinces. They got a great portrait series, and then some...

Media

02.08.13

Lil Buck Goes to China

Jonathan Landreth
In November 2011, The Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations, headed by Orville Schell, hosted the inaugural U.S.-China Forum on the Arts and Culture.Schell's son, Ole, a filmmaker, tagged along with his video camera and captured the...

Move Over James Bond, China Has An Unlikely Box-Office Champ

Frank Langfitt
NPR
 The surprise hit Lost in Thailand, a road comedy that cost less than $5 million to make, has become China's highest-grossing domestic film...

Celine Dion to Peform at China Central Television’s New Year Gala Show

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
The Canadian singer will become the first Western artist to appear on the Chinese state broadcaster’s annual festive program, which is the most-watched TV event in the world.

Chinese Artist Crosses a Line

Joyce Lau
New York Times
In Hong Kong, a business city trying to turn itself into a global “art hub” with a steely determination and large amounts of cash, art events now involve so many government and corporate entities that it almost squeezes the fun out of it.

(Essay) Masters of Subserviance

Louisa Lim
New York Times
The Chinese author Wang Xiaofang learned to write corruption exposés the hard way. His decade as a pen-pushing civil servant culminated in a three-year investigation for corruption while his boss, the deputy mayor of the rust-belt city of Shenyang,...

Translation of “Finnegan’s Wake” Sells in China

Didi Tang
Associated Press
The Chinese version is no easier to read than the original, the loyal-minded translator assures, but James Joyce‘s “Finnegans Wake” has still sold out its initial run in China — with the help of some big urban billboards.

Video

01.29.13

Director Zhang Yuan, Still Kicking

Sun Yunfan
Zhang Yuan, a veteran rebel among Chinese filmmakers, recently came to New York for the premiere of his film Beijing Flickers at the Global Lens 2013 series at the Museum of Modern Art. Ever since Mama, his 1990 debut about a mother and her mentally...

Will China Buy a Hollywood Studio?

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
All of China's recent investment in Hollywood raises the question: Is China positioning itself to buy a major studio? Three reasons why it will, and one why it won't...

Media

01.25.13

Former China State TV Director Bemoans Anti-Japanese Propaganda: “Where’s the Creativity?”

Are Chinese audiences growing weary of anti-Japanese propaganda? It would seem that some, at least, are growing sick of the pathetic villains, superhuman heroes, and lame endings that many Chinese movies and television series about World War II, or...

Former Porn Star is China’s Hottest New Politician

John Chin and Te-ping Chen
Wall Street Journal
Actress Diana Pang, known for starring in “Erotic Ghost Story–Perfect Match,” caused a stir by attending the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress in Gansu.

“Cloud Atlas” Cut by 38 Minutes for China Audience

Louise Watt
Associated Press
Nearly 40 minutes were cut from the Hollywood film “Cloud Atlas” for Chinese audiences, deleting both gay and straight love scenes to satisfy local censors. 

Earthbound China

01.23.13

Appalachia Comes to Anhui

Leah Thompson
This past fall, my colleague Sun Yunfan and I were preparing to bring Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition we produce for Asia Society, to rural Anhui Province to participate in the Yixian International Photography Festival. Upon hearing...

When Tibet Loved China

Isaac Stone Fish
Foreign Policy
Rare Cultural Revolution Era photos from the Land of Snows.

An Overture from China Has Yet to Win Hollywood

Michael Cieply
New York Times
In September, China’s Dalian Wanda Group chairman and president said he would invest $10 billion in the U.S. To judge from the deal-making pace, it may take a while.

Crime With Chinese Characteristics

Ilaria Maria Sala
Wall Street Journal
A review of “The Civil Servant’s Notebook,” the first book by popular novelist Wang Xiaofang to be translated into English. 

Culture

01.17.13

An Alternative Top Ten

Shelly Kraicer
Most accounts of the last year in Chinese cinema are dominated by films that were made for the ever-expanding domestic box office, and the local film industry’s struggle for screen time in competition with Hollywood imports. On the one hand, we...

Culture

01.16.13

Hong Kong’s Bard of the Everyday

Ilaria Maria Sala
 I have your words, that you put down on paperbut nothing at hand to return, so I write downpapaya. I cut one open: so many dark points, so many undefined things On Sunday, January 6, when Leung Ping-kwan, author of these lines,...

Culture

01.11.13

Top Floor Circus

Sun Yunfan
At nine o’clock on a recent Monday morning, Lu Chen, the slender and polite lead singer of Top Floor Circus, the first rock band to sing in Shanghainese—and a man whose transformative stage persona sees him swearing, stripping nearly naked, and...

Culture

01.10.13

Punks Are All Sissies - Lyrics

Sun Yunfan
“Punks Are All Sissies” is a song by the Shanghai rock band Top Floor Circus, off of their third album Timmy Revisits Lingling Road 93 (2005). The album generally is seen as a parody of punk music, making references to Bob Dylan, GG Allin, a Beijing...

Culture

01.10.13

Be a Nice Guy - Lyrics

Sun Yunfan
“Be a Nice Guy” is a song by the Shanghai rock band Top Floor Circus off of their fourth album 13 Classic Hits of Shanghai Pop Rock (2010). The album celebrates the everyday life of the Shanghainese. Lu Chen, the lead singer of the group, sings the...

A Retailer Discovers China’s New ‘It‘ Girl: Grandpa

Laurie Burkitt and Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
Retired Farmer Becomes Fashion Sensation; He's 5-8, Thin and Looks Great in Crimson...

Media

01.09.13

Why is a Mediocre, Low-Budget Comedy Taking China’s Box Office by Storm?

December 2012 saw hot competition in Chinese cinema. It began with Life of Pi, which was directed by Ang Li, an Oscar-winning director, followed by 1942, a historical movie by director Feng Xiaogang, and The Last Supper, by up-and-coming director Lu...

China, the American Press, and the State Department

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
It’s time for the State Department to take up the matter of American reporters in China, and Chinese reporters in America. 

A Meaty Tale, Carnivorous and Twisted

Dwight Garner
New York Times
Nobel laureate Mo Yan's latest novel to be issued in English, “Pow!,” is a red-toothed fantasia about meat production and meat consumption...

Telling China's Stories Through Food

Rebekah Denn
Seattle Times
Former Associated Press reporter Audra Ang, talks about To the People Food is Heaven, her journey through a complicated, sometimes maddening, sometimes breathtaking society.

Caixin Media

12.28.12

Uncertain Future for Architectural Treasures

Nestled between mountains and a winding river in a scenic corner of Shanxi province is Zhongyang County, the home of an exquisite Confucian temple built during the Ming dynasty.The colorful wooden temple graced this idyllic valley for hundreds of...

Out of School

12.24.12

Politics and the Chinese Language

Perry Link
The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Chinese novelist Mo Yan has given rise to energetic debate, both within China’s borders and beyond. Earlier this month, ChinaFile ran an essay by Chinese literature scholar Charles Laughlin...

Video

12.20.12

Stars in the Haze

Joshua Frank
Flying kites is the quintessential Chinese pastime. But “wind zithers” or “paper sparrow hawks,” as they are known in Chinese, also have a long history as tools. Over millennia, Chinese have used them for measuring the wind, gauging distances, and...

Chinese Directors Call for Censorshp Reform

Clarence Tsui
Hollywood Reporter
Chinese filmmakers are calling for a system of classifying films according to their suitability for audiences of different ages.

CCTV Airs “V for Vendetta”

Anne Henochowicz
China Digital Times
When CCTV aired, uncut V for Vendetta about an anti-totalitarian masked crusader, viewers couldn’t believe their eyes.

Why Salman Rushdie Should Pause Before Condemning Mo Yan

Pankaj Mishra
Guardian
Mo Yan, China's first Nobel laureate for literature, has been greeted withsome extraordinary hostility in the west. This week Salman Rushdie described him as a "patsy" for the Chinese government...

Culture

12.11.12

Sheng Keyi on Mo Yan: “Literature Supersedes Politics and Everything Else”

In a recent conversation at the Asia Society, novelist Sheng Keyi said she felt the critism of Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize was unjustified. The controversy, she said, arises from Mo Yan’s politics rather than his literature, “and I think to critique him on...