China Everyday

‘Studies of this period have not, therefore, taken sufficiently into account the enthusiasms, obligations and practices of the quotidian, both in cities and in the country. Often regarded as epiphenomenal and ephemeral, it was in activities as diverse as qigong, death ritual, fashion, ufology, local opera, cuisine, sport, online gaming and religious observance (and many others) that people made meaning in their lives. Typically not overtly political, it was in these assertions of individual interest that new sociable communities were formed, communities in which a politics of practice was implicit if generally not acknowledged.’

New Chinese dictionaries released with many new words added and a few removed

Two new dictionaries were published in China recently: the eleventh edition of the Xinhua Dictionary 新华字典, and the sixth edition of the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary 现代汉语词典.

The latter, published by the Commercial Press 商务印书馆, includes 3,000 new words.

In all the dictionary contains some 69,000 entries.

A new edition, the eleventh, of the Xinhua Dictionary, which is described as China’s most authoritative dictionary, was also newly published recently after eight years of compilation, and also includes 3,000 new words.

Some of the new words in this dictionary include:

  • 学历门: Diplomat gate (referring to a scandal of people using fake degrees to get jobs);
  • 房奴: House slave (referring to people saving money for a house);
  • 愤青: Angry youth (especially applied to young people online in China); and,
  • 香蕉人: Banana people, pejorative term applied to Asian-Americans in China, white on inside and yellow on outside.

Some words were removed in the new dictionary, such as ‘kerosene’ and ‘horsepower’ as they are no longer used regularly. Another word that disappeared from the new edition is 白相人 or ‘white-faced person’, an old Shanghai term for a rich playboy.

References:

  • Xinhua: 新版《现代汉语词典》增收’摇号”宅’等3000多条词语 (2012-07-15)
  • 经济日报: 新版《现代汉语词典》出版发行 (2012-07-18)

 

Literary magazine funded by dodgy pay-to-print academic journal

Since its founding in 1994, Master 大家 has been an influential literary magazine featuring the work of many of China’s most highly-regarded writers. Yet since 2010, the same title and periodical registration (CN53-1108/I) has been used for a practically unknown journal of scholarly papers whose authors pay at least 1,000 yuan per page for the privilege of being published. Each fat issue of the ‘theory edition’ 理论板 of Master, which came out three times a month until Yunnan’s Press and Publication Administration ordered it suspended this week, contained between 150 and 300 scholarly articles and, according to the China Youth Daily‘s investigation.

Operating two magazines under the same registration is forbidden under China’s periodical publishing regulations. Liu Dawei 刘大伟, president of Yunnan People’s Publishing House, Master’s sponsoring institution, said that the existence of two magazines under the same license was an entirely permissible consequence of an ‘amended publication period’ 变更刊期 that changed the magazine’s registration from bimonthly to semi-monthly in 2010 and then to every ten days in January 2012. Liu said that the theory edition remained under the umbrella category of ‘general literature and arts’ 大文艺 and did not represent a contradiction with the magazine’s mission. When asked about the presence of papers about auto repair, international trade, and sports management, he blamed editors for not filtering properly. In fact, China Youth Daily reporters looked through seven issues of the theory magazine and found that arts-related papers represented less than twenty percent of the total.

This isn’t the first time that a literary magazine has been charged with selling page space. Back in 2008, China Youth Daily reporters revealed that non-fiction magazine Reportage 报告文学 engaged in the practice (see reports at Danwei and China Media Project), and according to Master president Liu Dawei: ‘Expansion and pay-to-print has become a common strategy for lots of publications across the country.’ What is interesting about the Master scandal is how it highlights the intersection of two disturbing trends in the Chinese publishing world: high-ticket pay-to-print practices in academia, and declining revenues of literary magazines.

Many universities base annual performance reviews and promotion evaluations on scholarly publication, and some academic journals, well aware of the push to publish, offer a shortcut. Although nominal fees to cover costs at society publications have been around for a while – Master cited a 1988 opinion issued by the China Association for Science and Technology 中国科学技术协会 proposing that reasonable fees could be charged for printing technical papers — there is considerable anger in the academic world at the trend toward thick, densely-printed journals charging hefty prices and run at a profit.

Like other literary journals in China, Master is having a hard time supporting itself by publishing pure literature. Wang Jiannan 王建南, vice-secretary of Master’s Party committee, said: ‘Through 2005, the Master agency had lost nearly twenty million on the magazine, and it ran around 700,000-800,000 in the red every year afterward due to manuscript fees, printing costs, and labor.’ The theory edition was one strategy of turning things around. Making the choice particularly tempting was Master’s status as a national ‘core journal’ 核心期刊, which gave extra weight to a publication credit in the eyes of university administrators.

An internal report performed at the behest of the Yunnan Publishing Group, which supervises the magazine’s registration, states:

Master’s expansion was intended to alleviate its economic burden and, referring to the practice of other magazines, when it was unable to sustain the fees required by an intermediary for soliciting contributions, tacitly permitted the intermediary to collect page fees for a portion of the articles, from which the magazine received a very small fee for its work.

Calculating based on the print fees that paper authors were charged, China Youth Daily suggested that the theory edition could have generated as much as twenty million yuan per year, but Master’s editorial office said that the intermediaries took most of the proceeds, leaving just 100-800 yuan per published paper for the literary magazine’s coffers.

The internal report states that the magazine received 446,000 yuan from the theory edition in 2001 and 300,000 yuan through June 2012. All of this was put toward literary magazine, which nevertheless ended up with a 200,000 yuan annual shortfall, and a critical blow to its reputation.

References:

  • 中国青年报: 云南一官方文学杂志出“野鸡刊”敛财 (2012-06-25)
  • 中国青年报: 《大家》理论版已停刊检查 (2012-06-26)
  • 中国青年报: 《大家》杂志社: 版面费大头被中间环节吃掉,自己拿得很少 (2012-06-27)

 

Health official comes under fire for promoting Qigong treatment

Liu Weizhong, director of the Gansu provincial Department of Health who won the nickname ‘pig foot director’ for advocating the efficacy of pig’s trotters as a health remedy on microblog, caught in controversy recently for promoting Qigong treatment. On 23 May, the official website of the Gansu provincial Department of Health ran an article reporting on a Qigong session attended by medical doctors under the instruction of a Qigong master by the name of Li Shaobo 李少波. According to the article, of forty-seven participants, forty-one successfully unblocked the ‘Ren and Du channels’ 打通任督二脉, something resulting in considerable health benefits for the individual ranging from improving sleep quality and stool frequency, as well as enhancing stamina.

References:

  • 新华网: 甘肃卫生厅长力挺真气运行术 因治好其邻居儿子 (2012-5-24)

 

Tibetan monks swear allegiance to the motherland, China

About 1,000 monks in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region have initiated a signature campaign to express love for the country and religion 爱国爱教. The group resolved to comply with the law and dharma, choosing right from wrong, advocating peace and harmony as they put their names down at various monasteries in the prefecture’s counties, Xinhua News Agency reported.

References:

  • 中国新闻网: 西藏山南:千僧签名承诺爱国爱教潜心修佛 (2012-5-22)

 

Government sets up management committees in Tibetan Buddhist temples

In what seems to be an effort to strengthen its control over the monks, the government is establishing management committees in Tibetan monasteries. According to Tibet Daily, in Lama Ridge Monastery 喇嘛岭寺, Nyingchi county in the Tibet Autonomous Region, a management committee was established to oversee general monastery affairs. The report says that the committee members are enjoying friendly relationship with the monks and nuns and the temple has won a title as a national model harmonious temple.

References:

  • 西藏日报: 寺管会进驻西藏寺庙受僧人真心欢迎 (2012-2-14)

 

Emblems of the state invited into temples in Tibet

On 12 January, a giant image of the four leaders overlaid on Tian’anmen was unveiled on the regional government offices in Lhasa. On 8 December 2011, the party apparatus in Tibet launched the ‘nine haves’ 九有 campaign designed to improve the quality of life in temples in the autonomous region. The campaign will insure that temples are provided, free of charge, with: portraits of the four leaders (Mao, Deng, Jiang and Hu), a national flag, roads, water, electricity, broadcast TV, movies, libraries and newspapers (according to People’s Daily and Tibet Daily).

References:

  • 中新社: 西藏党政大楼挂领袖像 百万国旗、领袖像进村入寺 (2012-01-24)
  • 中国西藏新闻网: 西藏党委统战部召开落实寺庙“九有”工作会议 (2011-12-09)

 

Mao loyalist committed suicide after medals stolen

China Newsweek published a sappy story about Li Decai 李德才, a half-crazed vegetable farmer who seemed to have lived in the fantasies of the bygone Communist era and even got beaten for enforcing Mao’s doctrines, ended his twisted life with a rope after his cherished collection of Mao pins and badges was stolen.

References:

  • 中国新闻周刊: 老人收藏百余枚毛泽东像章被盗后自杀-新闻资讯-国内-四月网-青年思想门户-M4.CN (2012-5-5)

 

‘Wizard arrested for raping Buddhist’

Global Times published a short report based on a Beijing Evening News article (Chinese report archived below):

Wizard arrested for raping Buddhist
Police arrested a self-claimed sorcerer in Shijingshan district, who exorcised demons in exchange for sex, the Beijing Evening News reported yesterday. The district prosecutor’s office is pressing a rape charge against the man, surnamed Kang.

Kang met one of his victims, surnamed Ma, in February in Badachu, a temple area in western Beijing. He told her she was possessed and that the way to be cleansed of the demon was to have sex with him. Ma, a Buddhist, believed him. Ma’s family called police when they found she was going to see Kang for a second time.

References:

  • 北京晚报: 强奸手段狡猾龌龊 “算命先生”被批捕 (2012-04-25)

 

Zhengzhou to award communities that are deemed cult-free

An article published by Zhengzhou Daily, a local party newspaper, reports that the municipal government of Zhengzhou awarded the title of ‘cult-free model communities’ to twenty residential compounds. According to the article, an organization called anti-cult association, founded in 2005, has built branches in all colleges and eighty percent of townships under the governance of Zhengzhou.

References:

  • 郑州日报: 郑州命名20个’无邪教示范社区’ (2012-03-20)

 

China Unicom Weinan branch refuses to subscribe to Party periodicals

The Weinan branch of mobile phone carrier China Unicom issued an order to staff last December to cancel their subscriptions to Communist Party publications. The notice cited the financial burden of print subscriptions and mentioned the increasingly widespread access to online information as good alternative. The Weinan Daily, the local party organ, reported the issue in a series of increasingly outraged front-page articles that claimed that the party’s subscription drive was an issue of national policy that the company had violated, questioned the company’s political stance, and openly wondered whether customers would now be expected to read brochures while waiting for service. The Shaanxi Daily brought the issue to a wider national audience.

References:

  • 陕西日报: 党报党刊发行在渭南联通公司竟然受阻 (2012-01-08)
  • 凤凰网: 付尹:2012年渭南联通拒订党报党刊 此举在向谁示威 (2012-01-09)
  • 渭南日报: 渭南联通不需要党报党刊吗? (2012-01-06)
  • 渭南日报: 渭南联通接受记者采访时竟称:不订党报党刊并不违规 (2012-01-07)
  • 渭南日报: 发文拒订党报党刊太离谱 (2012-01-09)
  • 南海网: “退订”党报让人“诧异”背后的真问题 (2012-01-08)

 

The lucrative business of religion

In a lengthy feature titled ‘Contracting out “faith” ‘, China Newsweek looked at how private capital is changing the operation of temples and other religious facilities. In one article, a journalist visited the Yanquan Temple outside of Kunming, Yunnan province, which is a destination for tour buses on their way to the Stone Forest. In 2004, the local government contracted out the temple operation to a private individual for 2.2 million yuan per year. As Yunnan’s tourism industry developed, the annual fee increased, to 4 million in 2009, and to 7.2 million in 2010, when a Hunan-based entrepreneur took over temple management. At that point, according to the magazine’s source, incense prices shot up and tourists were given the hard-sell for blessings by new ‘masters’ who collected a commission on the donations.

The feature includes a commentary piece by a Taiwanese businessman, who observes that in his experience, temples on the Chinese mainland are far more commerce-driven than those on Taiwan.

References:

  • 中国新闻周刊: 被承包的“信仰” (2012-01-04)
  • 中国新闻周刊: 疯狂的寺庙 (2012-01-04)
  • 中国新闻周刊: 台湾游客:大陆寺庙成了赚钱的企业 (2012-01-04)
  • 中国新闻周刊: 寺庙承包:多头管理监管难 (2012-01-04)
  • 中国新闻周刊: 何处安顿信仰? (2012-01-04)