China Texts

‘The projects associated with China Texts will traverse a wide spectrum of images and texts, both historical and contemporary, to discern and explore cultural habits and aesthetic sensibilities that have played, and continue to play, a key role in shaping how “we” see China, as well as how seeing China is constituted, both internally and internationally.’

Tougher restrictions on cultural relics auctions, TV programs

In early July 2012, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage announced tougher restrictions on the sale of cultural relics. The notice, dated 2 July, bans the sale of illegally-obtained relics, and also contains rules intended to cool down the overheated marketplace. Auction catalogs can no longer use seductive language like ‘rare’, ‘sole surviving’, and ‘national treasure’. SARFT also weighed in with rules prohibiting TV programs from fabricating stories about the provenance of relics, and from using actors to stand in for collectors.

References:

  • 国家文物局: 关于进一步做好文物拍卖标的审核工作的意见 (2012-07-06)
  • 北京晨报: 非法掠夺等8类文物禁止拍卖 (2012-07-06)
  • 人民日报: 国家文物局:鉴宝节目不得编造文物流传故事 (2012-07-06)
  • China Daily: China to tighten supervision of relic market (2012-07-12)

 

Southern Weekly on Fang Zhouzi’s online argument technique

Southern Weekly profiled Fang Zhouzi 方舟子 on 22 June in a lengthy article that took a look back at his entire online history and painted an unflattering picture of a man obsessed with online argumentation. Fang shot back that the article, which at first glance seems supported by an impressive amount of first-hand remarks from fellow BBS users, was based almost entirely on his opponents’ opinions, and that it dredged up old disputes that had been put to rest long ago. He also said that the newspaper only contacted him hours before press time for his side of the story.

Fang and his supporters saw the article as another example of the bias against him held by the newspaper and the rest of the Southern Media Group, which was most recently demonstrated by a flattering profile of Han Han published during the height of a contretemps regarding Han Han’s authorship of his blog essays.

References:

  • 南方周末: 方法:方舟子与他所影响的论战法则 (2012-06-22)
  • 南方周末: 打假资金:没有时间表的“透明” (2012-06-22)
  • 方舟子的博客: 《南方周末》是如何构陷我的 (2012-06-22)
  • 方舟子的博客: 再说《南方周末》是如何构陷我的 (2012-06-27)
  • 方舟子的博客: 中文国际网络纵横谈 (2012-06-27)

SARFT moves against online video again

A spokesman for the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) announced on 9 June that some original drama series and films on video websites like Youku.com and Tudou.com don’t meet government quality standards, citing violations such as dirty language, violence and sex. In the future, original productions for the internet will need to be approved by SARFT before they can go live.

This is not the first time SARFT has announced moves designed to tame Internet video, although there have not been any well-publicized or aggressive moves from the famously stodgy regulator for a few years.

A brief history of SARFT and online video:

August 2006: SARFT attacks Internet video, Online video tainted by spoofs, The General Administration of Anxiety about Radio, Film and TV
December 2006: SARFT clamps down on ‘online TV stations
March 2007: Tudou: online video problems
March 2008: Has SARFT gone insane?, The travails of Tudou and Tang Wei
June 2008: Video website licenses for 247 sites – Big Three left in the cold
October 2008: SARFT shuts down 10 video websites, warns others for content

References:

  • 京华时报 / QQ: 广电总局:网络剧微电影将一律先审后播 (2012-07-10)
  • 中国新闻网 / QQ: 中国加强网络剧微电影等网络视听节目管理 (2012-07-09)

 

Ministry of Railways lambasted for 18.5 million yuan propaganda film directed by Zhang Yimou

According to a story in Qianjiang Evaening News 钱江晚报, a metropolitan newspaper published in Zhejiang, a report released by the State Audit Administration has criticised the Ministry of Railways for ‘wasting’ 18.5 million yuan on a five-minute propaganda film by Zhang Yimou 张艺谋, one of China’s most renowned directors.

The report criticised the Ministry for not having followed correct procedure, and said the film did not meet expectations. When the issue came to light, it was widely criticised online for its inflated budget, among other things. A reporter who tried to get in touch with Zhang Yimou’s assistant, Ms Pang, was unsuccessful in eliciting any response.

The video is embedded below, from YouTube:

UPDATE (2012-07-05): Zhang Yimou has since denied directing the Ministry of Railways propaganda film, saying that he only provided suggestions for the film, and that he was not aware that his signature is being used in the credits. He had requested his name to be removed, but the ministry had failed to do this.

References:

  • People’s Daily: 张艺谋执导铁道部宣传片花1850万 遭网友骂 (2012-07-01)
  • 广东卫视: 张艺谋称未拍过铁路宣传片 只出过主意 (2012-07-04)

 

Zhou Yongkang asks university students to resist Western culture erosion

When attending a ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of China University of Political Science, an elite university for law majors, Zhou Yongkang, China’s security chief, urged students to be alert to Western ideas. Zhou reportedly said in his speech that ‘To those erroneous ideas that seek to westernize and disrupt China, be sure to keep a clear mind, and resist confidently and firmly.’

References:

  • 网易新闻中心: 周永康考察中国政法大学要求抵制西化中国思潮 (2012-5-15)

SARFT critiques on-screen vulgarity, bars net celebs from TV

At a forum on creativity in television programming held in Wuhan on April 10, Li Wei, vice-minister of SARFT, spoke on issues related to a memo circulated by the Administration three months ago concerning entertainment programming on satellite channels. Li said that the restrictions on entertainment were not meant to prohibit the public from being entertained, but were aimed at curbing excessive, vulgar, and homogeneous entertainment programming. He brought up TV’s lightweight treatment of history as an example:

There have been a lot of spy dramas recently, so some programs have brought on people who served in the underground in those days to talk about revolutionary history. Yet the hosts are not concerned with their devotion to the revolutionary cause, but with the details of their sham marriages, and how they ate, lived, and slept.

Li received the most attention for his statements emphasizing that SARFT does not permit controversial net celebrities and other scandalous public figures to appear on talk shows. Shortly afterward, mainland media, citing HK media articles, reported that Sola Aoi was the first target of the ban. The Japanese AV star had been recently been taking gigs on the mainland as a fully-clothed spokesperson and entertainer.

References:

  • 南方都市报: 广电总局:禁止网络红人及有丑闻劣迹者上电视 (2012-04-11)
  • 南方都市报: 媒体称广电总局下令禁止苍井空上内地电视节目 (2012-04-16)

‘The Life of Wu Xun’ gets an official release, at long last

The Life of Wu Xun, a 1950 film directed by Sun Yu and starring Zhao Dan, has been released on DVD six decades after it was banned. Although the film, about an educational reformer in late-Qing Shandong, was initially well-received, it became the focus of a lengthy campaign in 1951 that attacked it for slandering the peasant revolutionary struggle, Chinese history, and the Chinese people. In the politically sensitive climate, the film was banned and the Chinese film industry drastically reduced its output. In 1985, the People’s Daily reported Hu Qiaomu’s criticism of the campaign against the film, and Wu Xun himself was rehabilitated the following year. The Life of Wu Xun was eventually permitted to on isolated occasions: by the Shanghai Film Studio 101 on Sun Yu’s centenary in 2000, and again in 2005 as part of a 90th anniversary retrospective on Zhao Dan’s career. Its wide-scale DVD release this year is by Guangdong Senses Culture Communication Co, Ltd.

References:

  • 新京报: 《武训传》“重见天日”幕后寻踪 (2012-03-22)
  • 新京报: 银幕外的《武训传》 (2012-03-22)
  • 新京报: 由一场批判改写的历史 (2012-03-22)
  • 新京报: 赵丹:伤痕永久地镌刻在心上 (2012-03-22)
  • 新京报: 崔永元:《武训传》我看了十几遍 (2012-03-22)
  • 新京报: 孙栋光:该是重见天日的时候了 (2012-03-22)
  • 新京报: 妖灵妖:正版DVD是一种告慰 (2012-03-22)

 

Beijing University professor Kong Qingdong calls Hong Kong people dogs

A video shot on the Hong Kong subway in which a Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese mother engaged in an argument with a Cantonese-speaking local passenger over her daughter eating in the train carriage went viral and sparked heated debate. Some viewers saw the quarrel as proof that Mainland Chinese people lack regard for laws, while others argued that the incident shows the arrogance and colonial attitudes of Hong Kong people.

The latter view was championed by Kong Qingdong, a Chinese professor at Peking University, who is known for his anti-western attitudes. In an online video interview, Kong said that ‘nobody in the country has obligation to speak any dialect’; ‘people who can’t speak putonghua are bastards’; ‘many Hong Kong people don’t regard themselves as Chinese. Those kinds of people are used to being the dogs of British colonialists – they are dogs, not humans’.

Kong’s comments drew much criticism from mainland China and Hong Kong alike. In Hong Kong, Henry Tang Ying Yen, SAR governor candidate issued a statement impugning Kong’s qualification as a professor. Scores of protesters gathered outside the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, denouncing Qingdong by parading their dogs. In response, Peng Qinghua,director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, apologized and called Kong’s speech ‘improper’.

With interaction between the Mainlanders and Hong Kongers increasing, this kind of contradiction amongst the people has become more and more common. While Mainland people often feel that they are on the receiving end of discrimination and prejudice, Hong Kong locals sometimes have the same complaint. Previously, Italian retailer Dolce & Gabbana blocked locals from taking photographs in one of its Hong Kong stores but allowed mainlanders and foreigners to do so. The policy was perceived as discrimination in favor of heavy-spending mainlanders and protests were held. Dolce and Gabbana was forced to issue an apology to Hong Kongers.

This contradiction took on a new political resonance when in a populist gesture designed to appeal to voters, Henry Tang Ying Yen proposed to ban mainland mothers, often called locusts by locals, to give birth in Hong Kong’s public hospitals in order to obtain Hong Kong residencies for their babies. Adding to the urgency of the issue, Hong Kong Internet users raised more than HK$100,000 to finance a full-page ‘anti-locust’ advertisement in Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspaper.

See also: ESWN – Kong Qingdong PK Hong Kong Internet Users, Bad Canto – Mainland scholar: Many Hong Kongers are dogs, and Ministry of Tofu: Despite ugly tension between Hong Kong and mainland China, HK’s accusatory ad becomes Internet meme.

References:

  • 新民网: 孔庆东回应“香港人是狗”言论:我没说 (2012-1-22)
  • 环球时报: 唐英年回应孔庆东出格言论:香港人不是狗 (2012-1-22)
  • 中国经济网: D&G遭抗议双重标准 奢侈品店凭什么歧视香港人 (2012-1-10)
  • 苹果日报: 港人唱蝗蟲歌 諷陸客沒水準 (2012-1-29)
  • BBC 中文网: 港人登广告要求政府限制内地孕妇 (2012-2-12)

 

Proposal to restore punishment for traitors to constitution

Prominent leftist scholars released an open letter calling for the country to restore to the constitution a provision punishing traitors and to promulgate a Law on Punishing Traitors. Constitutions prior to 1982 contained an article stipulating that the state has the authority to ‘punish all traitors’ (惩办一切卖国贼). From Article 14 of the 1978 constitution:

The state safeguards the socialist system, suppresses all treasonable and counter-revolutionary activities, punishes all traitors and counter-revolutionaries, and punishes new-born bourgeois elements and other bad elements.

In Article 28 of the 1982 constitution, this was revised to ‘The state…suppresses treasonable and other counter-revolutionary activities,’ and in 1999, ‘counter-revolutionary activities’ was amended to ‘other criminal activities’.

The drafters of the letter claim that treasonous activities have proliferated in the reform era, and the perpetrators have gone unpunished. They include a laundry list of complaints:

Strategic sectors and resources such as finance, information, foreign exchange, oil, railroads, automobiles, aviation, and seeds have fallen into enemy hands; state land and waters have been recklessly ceded away; foreign capital controls key economic departments; state-owned enterprises and state banks have been sold off for cheap; and genetically modified staples that endanger national survival have been brought in. In politics, the peddling of western universal values has deliberately misguided reforms of the political system and has shaken the foundation of our socialist country. In culture, the peddling of decadent western capitalist culture has attacked socialist culture.

The letter also mentions the recent US policy document, ‘Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,’ which names China as a key security threat.

The letter was posted to the Utopia BBS and is signed by Ma Bing, Li Chengrui, Zhang Hongliang, Kong Qingdong, and other academics, mostly based in Beijing.

References:

  • 乌有之乡: 关于恢复宪法“惩办卖国贼”条款的建议 (2012-01-18)

 

Historian Gao Hua dies at 57

Historian Gao Hua, whose studies on Mao and the Cultural Revolution challenged official versions, died at the age of 57 on December 26, 2011.

In his 2000 book How Did the Sun Rise Over Yan’an, Gao took a revisionist look at the Yan’an Rectification Movement, which he believed inspired and prepared Mao for subsequent political campaigns, including the Cultural Revolution. Even though the book was never published in Mainland China, Gao’s depiction of Mao as a scheming, vengeful dictator has angered many Chinese remain loyal to the passed leader.

Responses to Gao’s death were of two types: some Maoists cheered Gao’s death, calling it a divine punishment for a traitor and Mao-slanderer. On the other hand, in a piece published on Southern Metropolis Daily, historian Zhang Ming praised Gao as ‘China’s spine’ (但是,我们这个时代,需要这样的学者。这样的坚守者,才是这个民族的脊梁).

References:

  • 南方都市报: 高华:一个学者的坚守-中国选举与治理网 (2012-1-8)
  • 强国论坛: 真理无坚不摧丑陋的走资派的走狗汉奸的最好下场——当看南京高华 (2011-12-27)

 

Gu Zhun’s daughter rails against father’s worshipers

Gu Zhun was a Chinese economist who championed the market economy when China was still under the rule of Mao. Gu suffered for his heterodox views – he lost his government job, was denounced as a rightist, exiled to the countryside, and divorced due to political pressure. His posthumous fame came when his theories were vindicated by social changes following the Reform and Opening-up. Today, Gu has become a saint-like character among pro-liberal intellectuals, who see him as a symbol of courage and intellectual integrity.

However, his daughter Gu Xiulin believes that her father has been deliberately misinterpreted to serve the liberals’ own purposes. In one of her microblog posts, she criticizes Chai Jing, a CCTV hostess and blogger, who several times refers to Gu in her articles:

‘I warn Chai Jing and her fans, Gu Zhun was not anti-socialism, neither was he anti-planned economy or Mao. He believed that planned economy should take advantage of market conditions; he believed that the great Mao era had its problems that needed to be addressed, and some of them were big. But that today he is used to attack Mao is total distortion of his political stance and free spirit. Miss Chai, please take a rest.’

References:

  • 凯迪社区: 顾准女儿警告柴静 (2012-1-4)

 

Utopia’s year end poll: Choose China’s top 10 traitors

The Utopia website is conducted a poll at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 to select China’s top ten traitors (汉奸). This is from the most recent posting of the poll:

Yesterday afternoon, there was a big online reaction to our posting the article ‘Changes in poll of top ten traitors’. What does this tell us? It tells us that our calls to make 2012 ‘the year of bringing down traitors’ and our poll to select the top ten traitors are very timely, very necessary and an inevitable product of society developing to a certain stage. Since the attempts of those traitor media organs to encircle and suppress Professor Kong Qingdong failed, the conditions are ripe for the exposing and criticizing of these traitors of our present age…

The list of ‘traitors’ nominated for the poll are:

1. Economist Mao Yushi 茅于轼
2. History teacher Yuan Tengfei 袁腾飞
3. “Science cop” (anti Chinese medicine etc.) Fang Zhouzi 方舟子
4. Economist Wu Jinglian 吴敬琏
5. Diplomat Wu Jianmin 吴建民
6. CCTV host Bai Yansong 白岩松
7. Military scholar, Mao Zedong and Lin Biao biographer Xin Ziling 辛子陵
8. Retired government official / reformer Li Rui 李锐
9. Legal scholar / law professor He Weifang 贺卫方
10. Economist Stephen N.S. Cheung 张五常
11. Economist Zhang Weiying 张维迎
12. Economist Li Yining 厉以宁
13. Southern Weekly deputy general editor Xiang Xi 向熹
14. Former People’s Daily deputy editor in chief Huang Fuping 皇甫平
15. Writer, Nobel Prize winning dissident Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波
16. Former Mao doctor, Mao biographer Li Zhisui 李志绥
17. Peking University jounalism professor Jiao Guobiao 焦国标
18. Former People’s Daily editor in chief / publisher Hu Jiwei 胡绩伟

References:

  • Utopia 乌有之乡: 评选“十大文化汉奸” (2011-12-28 )

 

Hu Jintao warns against Westernisation, calls on Chinese culture to get better

In an editorial in the Party organ Seeking the Truth (求是), Hu Jintao warned of ‘hostile’ powers seeking to ‘Westernise’ China and banged the drum for Chinese soft power. The article was similar to the speech Hu gave at 6th Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee about cultural reform.

Hu name checked the ‘growing spiritual and cultural demands of the people’ and bemoaned the fact that ‘the strength of Chinese culture and its international influence is not commensurate with China’s international status.’

Hu did not explain how Chinese culture could thrive or grow during the current culture and media ice age that started in 2008, and that has intensified once again in the last six months with government moves against TV programs, films and microblogs.

References:

  • iFeng.com: 胡锦涛《求是》撰文 强调建设社会主义文化强国 (2012-01-01)