Cultural Production During the Age of Xi


First Lady Peng Liyuan as the “white haired girl.”

Cultural Production During the Age of Xi

Sina: 新版《白毛女》将全国巡演 彭丽媛任艺术指导 (New production of “The Whited Haired Girl” will make a national tour, Peng Liyuan will provide artistic guidance)
  • 《白毛女》是毛泽东同志《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》公开发表后,延安鲁艺在新秧歌运动中创作出的中国第一部新歌剧,也是民族歌剧的里程碑。它 把西方歌剧艺术与中国革命历史题材融合,采用中国北方民间音乐的曲调,吸收了戏曲音乐及其表现手法,在歌剧中国化的道路上迈出了坚实的一步。Peng Liyuan, China’s first lady, famously played the role of the “white haired girl” in the 1980s.
The New York Times: ‘White-Haired Girl,’ Opera Created Under Mao, Returns to Stage
  • The opera was first performed in 1945 in Yan’an, the Communists’ revolutionary base in northwestern China, inspired by Mao’s precepts for revolutionary art and literature delivered at a landmark forum in 1942. The Ministry of Culture said it had revived the story in response to Mr. Xi’s own landmark speech last year on the role of the arts in China, when he demanded politically wholesome art cleansed of decadence.
Xinhua: New committee to uphold media ethics
  • A total of 50 media organizations signed a pact in September promising to uphold media ethics. It included clauses on the promotion of “healthy and tasteful style” and united opposition of false reporting, vulgar content, harmful information, plagiarism, and false advertising. Those that signed were from across the press, publication, radio, television and film sectors.
Xinhua: China tightens supervision over online music
  • The Ministry of Culture has urged internet companies to increase self-examination over online music content. According to a circular issued by the ministry, online music providers should check the content before songs go online, and music information should be submitted to cultural administrative offices above provincial level.
Related—Sina: 文化部:明年起网络音乐需审核后方可上线 (Ministry of Culture: Next year internet music providers must screen music before uploading)
  • 通知要求,网络音乐经营单位要按照“谁经营,谁负责”的原则,坚持社会效益和经济效益相统一、社会效益优先,切实履行内容审核主体责任。要建立网络音乐自审工作流程和责任制度,并严格按照文化行政部门统一制定的内容审核标准和规范,对拟提供的网络音乐产品进行内容审核,审核通过后方可上线经营。自审制度和产品自审信息要向省级以上文化行政部门备案。

Qstheory: 清除文艺创作中的历史虚无主义刻不容缓 (Eliminating historical nihilism from art and literature production requires immediate action)

  • 由于世界范围内社会主义运动处于低潮和西方对我国和平演变的既定目标没有改变,也由于的确有人妄图扭转当今中国改革开放和中华民族伟大复兴的历史走向,当前,一股历史虚无主义思潮沉渣泛起,不仅染指哲学观点、历史观点、政治观点、法学观点,而且也顽固地渗透于文艺创作之中,严重扭曲着人们的历史观,并颠覆着附着于历史观之上的民族观、国家观和价值观,理应引起我们高度警醒与关注。

Xi Jinping Visits Vietnam

Viet Nam News: Viet Nam, China issue joint statement
  • The two sides were delighted with historical and immense achievements recorded by each country in socialism-building in conformity with the respective countries’ situations, and agreed to increase exchanges and consult each other’s experience, helping speed up Viet Nam’s Doi Moi (renewal) and China’s reform and door-opening process, and create new impulses for each country’s socialism-building.
People’s Daily: 习近平开始对越南进行国事访问 (Xi Jinping kicks off state visit to Vietnam)
  • 习近平向越南共产党全体党员和兄弟的越南人民致以诚挚问候和良好祝愿。习近平指出,中越是山水相连的友好邻邦,两国政治制度相同、发展道路相近、前途命运相关。建交65年来,中越关系内涵不断丰富、水平不断提高,双边关系正朝着建设中越命运共同体的方向不断前进。
Diplomat: China’s Xi Misses the Mark on Vietnam Visit
  • Xi’s arrival was preempted by rare anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which were initially condoned then harshly suppressed. Nationalistic banners called for China’s exit from the South China Sea, where the two sides have hotly contested overlapping territorial claims. Tee-shirts worn by protesters featured Xi’s face with a symbolic “X” marked across his forehead, while on-line activists circulated a petition on Facebook calling on the government to rescind its invitation. Other “No Xi” events, including a meeting of an anti-China football club, were less clearly state-influenced and brutally upended by authorities.

Xi Jinping Foreign Policy

China Net: 成型中的习式外交 (Xi Jinping’s Foreign Policy Takes Shape)
  • 改革开放以来,作为迅速崛起的大国,中国三十多年没有发动任何战争,这在历史上的崛起国中前所未有。中国确实奉行了1982年确定的“独立自主的和平外交”路线,因而获得强有力的佐证。这条外交路线的特色有:不结盟,以免受制于人;强调外交为经济建设服务,这明显区别于改革开放前的外交为政治服务路线;从1990年左右起,从双边走向多边,对多边外交越来越熟练与自信;1990年代后,侧重推行程度不同的伙伴外交,迄今为止,已经与67个国家、5个地区或区域组织建立伙伴关系。[…] 习近平在出访中不时用普通百姓的事迹当例子,在讲演中经常引用对方的国家的谚语、民谣,问候语使用东道国语言等等,都让关心外交事务的普通民众印象深刻。Translation found here

Rising Powers and Public Relations

Reuters: SPECIAL REPORT-Exposed: Beijing’s covert global radio network
  • A Reuters investigation spanning four continents has identified at least 33 radio stations in 14 countries that are part of a global radio web structured in a way that obscures its majority shareholder: state-run China Radio International, or CRI. Many of these stations primarily broadcast content created or supplied by CRI or by media companies it controls in the United States, Australia and Europe. Three Chinese expatriate businessmen, who are CRI’s local partners, run the companies and in some cases own a stake in the stations. The network reaches from Finland to Nepal to Australia, and from Philadelphia to San Francisco.
Global Times: 讲好中国故事传递中国善意 (Telling China’s story well will help transmit China’s good intentions)
  • 以广告的方式公开向世界宣示中国谋求共同发展诚意和决心,与倡议本身一样,也是一次重大尝试。纵观历史,大国在崛起过程中,总伴随着或大或小的战争。崛起的大国也常常以欺骗、讹诈作为打击对手的重要手段。但是,21世纪的中国,正在尝试确立和平崛起、共同发展的新模式、新规则。中国的行为、中国的和平发展战略与“一带一路”倡议意味着中国正试图与历史上大国崛起旧模式彻底决裂;而面向全世界用广告展开战略传播,则强化了中国发展思路的外部认知,坦诚地表达了中国的善意,同时在世界范围内创造出和平发展的新大势。

Run Run Shaw Dies

Times: Run Run Shaw: The Last Emperor of Chinese Movies
  • Shao Yifu, known worldwide as Run Run Shaw, was no minor planet. Among the bosses of any film industry, in Asia, Europe or Hollywood, he was the sun and the moon, and the launcher of many stars, including Chow Yun-fat and Maggie Cheung. Shaw’s entertainment empire stretched from Taiwan to Malaysia, and from the silent era to the present — nearly 90 years in all. With his death today, at the astounding age of 107 (The New York Times says 106, but we’re not quibbling), one can bid farewell to the last emperor of Chinese movies.

Social Media

The Wall Street Journal: China’s Boisterous Social Media: When Beijing’s Online Propaganda Goes Awry
  • Nowadays, China’s social media users are increasingly polarized in their ideological orientations. But several recent cases suggest that the engagement between government-affiliated Weibo accounts and ordinary users can sometimes produce messy results rather than straight propaganda victories for the state.
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Netizens on the cycle of disillusion.

South China Morning Post: It’s your country, not mine: China’s new language of discontent
  • Over the past few months, a new and divisive word has begun provoking debate across China. That word is niguo, translated as “your country”, and it is the most prominent of a new lexicon of words that both mainland and overseas Chinese are using online to distance themselves from the injustice, bigotry and bad behaviour that have become commonplace in China. Lacking an open arena within which to freely express their opinions on important matters that affect their lives, a new generation of tech-savvy Chinese is using niguo to rhetorically opt out of the system and distance themselves from the Communist Party.

Zhihu: “为什么「你国」一词被认为是冒犯的?(Why do people find the words “your country” offensive?)

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Islands Rising in the South China Seas

Haiwai Net: 中国南海岛礁建设画面曝光 (China’s South China Seas Island Building Revealed)
  • Pictures of China’s new man-made island
Canberra Times: US miner Cliffs Natural Resources links iron exports to China’s advance in South China Sea
  • US miner Cliffs Natural Resources has escalated its critique of Australian iron ore miners, accusing them of supplying China with the materials to launch its territorial advances into the South China Sea. In another emotive attack on iron ore exporters such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, Cliffs chairman and chief executive, Lourenco Goncalves, said the miners were supplying China “to become an enemy”. […] “I think that Australia will only believe China is destroying Australia when they build an artificial island on the Great Barrier Reef that they can see from the shore . So it is a matter of a myopic approach to world geopolitics and economics.”

Pollution in China: Worse Than Originally Thought?

The New York Times: China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks
  • China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limit global warming . Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated.
The Guardian: China has ‘duty to humanity’ to curb pollution, premier says
  • China has used up too much energy and too many resources in its quest for growth, premier Li Keqiang has told visiting French president François Hollande, adding that the country has a “duty to humanity” to clean itself up.

Contemplating the Newfound Sino-British Friendship

Financial Times: A complicated friendship between China and Britain
  • Chinese negotiators are among the toughest. Chinese officials admit in private that the “win-win” language deployed with foreigners masks a different cultural norm, the relentless pursuit of “we win, you lose”. The proper response is to be courteous and extremely firm. In China’s political and business culture, attempts to ingratiate oneself tend to be seen as self-abasement. One thinks of the visit by George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, to the troubled western region of Xinjiang and his eagerness for the UK to get ahead of the field in signing up to the China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Such behaviour simply encourages greater intransigence. James Richards, a former diplomat, writes op-ed.

Anti-Corruption Drive

People’s Daily: 人民网评:意见箱放厕所?反腐不能“怯”!(People’s online forum: suggestion box throw in the toilet? Anti-corruption cannot be “cowardly”)

  • 实际上,信访举报既是纪检监察机关获取信息和案件线索的重要来源,也是群众的一项权利。党的十八大以来,信访的方式多管并用,网络举报、“我要曝光”、邮寄信件、电话反映等,都在发挥不同的作用。小小意见箱,既不是线索的唯一来源,无需谨小慎微,也只是反映意见的一种外在形式,并非问题的关键。由此也不难看出,信访举报通道不畅,纪检监察工作就会面临各种不便;信访举报通道顺畅,巡视工作也无需玩弄小手段。说到底,在机制上真正打通各个环节,在观念上树立依法反映问题的正义理念,在法律上切实保障好举报人的权益,才能让反映线索的人走进阳光地带,才能让举报人相信“邪不压正”,也才能切实发挥好巡视工作的作用。

China in the Antarctic

Space Daily: Deal on Antarctic marine sanctuaries fails
  • International efforts to create two vast marine sanctuaries to protect the pristine wilderness of Antarctica failed Friday for the fifth time, but delegates said China’s support for one reserve and Russia’s commitment to further talks gave them hope. […] “It is appalling that while the majority of CCAMLR members are more than ready to create significant marine protected areas in Antarctic waters, China and Russia have blocked efforts to negotiate a successful outcome,” said the alliance’s Jill Hepp.

Luxury Underwear Finds a Market

The Wall Street Journal: Luxury Lingerie Maker La Perla Bets Big on Hong Kong
  • La Perla, the Italian lingerie maker, is bucking the store-consolidation trend to expand in China, betting that Chinese demand for its products such as $10,000 bras made with 24K gold thread will continue to rise.

Beijing Corporate Headquarters

The Australian: China’s fortunes on the rise in business HQs
  • Oddly, Beijing and Bentonville are not cities that come to mind when thinking about corporate power. Bentonville is home to the Wal-Mart empire because this is where Sam Walton bought the group’s first store in 1950; his wife wanted to raise their children there. Beijing is home to more than 50 Global 500 businesses largely because state-owned enterprises have strong political connections.

Was Simplifying Chinese Characters the Right Decision?

Common Net: 汉字简化思想:百年历程及其反省 (Simplifying Chinese Characters: Reflecting on a 100 year process)
  • 虽然中国内地在汉语共同体中是主体,但汉语共同体的其他成员都不使用简化字,久之会造成汉语共同体的撕裂,对大中华也是一种伤害。汉字经过几千年的发展,最大问题不是笔画太多,而是异体字太多,有些写法相差很大,这才是汉字学习的最大负担。倘若1950年代选一种流行最广、最能为人们所接受的字作为标准字,整理出一个分级别的通用字表,然后借助行政力量推行,其效果会比推行简化字要好。历史已经走到反思简化字、考虑統一使用繁体字的时候了。