August 6th, 2018

Keywords in Chinese Internet Subcultures

 

By: Mei Jia     Source: China Daily       Date: 18/7/2018

 

Cover of The Book of Wallbreaking: Keywords in Chinese InternetSubcultures. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new book tries to make sense of what the younger generation is saying, Mei Jia reports.

Peking University associate professor Shao Yanjun, 50, is not the first one to discover that the younger generation, growing up with smart devices and the internet, actually use a different language when they are online, and sometimes, offline too, which is not easy to understand for her and her peers.

Therefore she has become the first to direct and guide her doctoral and master’s students to write a book about keywords in Chinese internet subcultures.

A pioneer and established scholar on internet culture/literature studies, Shao began to give lectures on the campus about web novels and online literature in 2011. However, outside class, she felt at loss.

“Their language differed from what they used in class, and I noticed jargon,” she says.

“And sometimes the phrases seemed to be standard Chinese that you’re familiar with, but referred to different things,” she adds.

Shao tried to follow up by frequently checking on search engines before she reluctantly used the language herself when chatting with her students, while being “lectured” by the young people.

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April 23rd, 2018

No joke: have China’s censors gone too far with ban on humour app?

By: Lily Kuo     Source: The Guardian      Date: 22/4/2018

End of Neihan Duanzi, which united strangers around funny memes, has driven users underground where they openly question controls over society

Chinese woman on phone
Neihan Duanzi, a popular Chinese joke app, had been a source of social connection in cyberspace. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

There is a not-so-secret club in China. Members find each other in traffic by honking their horn – one long honk, followed by two short ones. Others identify each other by completing nonsensical couplets: “The son of heaven covers the tiger” – to which the correct response is “chicken stew with mushrooms”.

They call themselves duanyou after the app Neihan Duanzi, or “implied jokes”, where until recently some 30 million users could watch short videos, comedy sketches and follow dirty jokes and memes. Fans also organise offline meet-ups. At one gathering in Hunan province earlier this month, a group posed in a parking lot with little red flags and a sign describing themselves as the “duanyoucoalition”.

China’s media regulator on 10 April ordered Neihan Duanzi’s parent company and one of the country’s fastest-growing internet companies, Bytedance, to shut down the app because of its “vulgar” content. It was one of several news apps to be removed from online stores or shuttered this month.

The group’s unofficial song, On Earth, a ballad about life’s struggles, has been censored. Cities from Shanghai to Changde in Hunan province have placed restrictions on honking. Authorities have advised news outlets not to report on fan gatherings. The founder and CEO of Toutiao, the news platform where Neihan Duanzi was first hosted, issued a public apology for failing to “promote positive energy and grasp correct guidance of public opinion”.

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April 16th, 2018

The Personal Data of 346,000 People, Hung on a Museum Wall

By: Sui-lee Wee and Elise Chen    Source: The New York Times     Date: 13/4/2018

Last week, the authorities in Wuhan, China, ordered Deng Yufeng’s exhibition of personal data shut down after two days and began investigating him on suspicion of amassing the information illegally.

BEIJING — Deng Yufeng wanted to create art that prods people to question their lack of data privacy. What better way, he reasoned, than to buy the personal information of more than 300,000 Chinese people off the internet and display it in a public exhibition?

The police did not appreciate the irony.

Last week, the authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan shut down Mr. Deng’s exhibition in a local museum after two days and told him that he was being investigated on suspicion of amassing the information through illegal means.

Mr. Deng’s project coincides with a growing debate about the lack of data privacy in China, where people are starting to push back against tech companies and their use of information. Online brokers regularly, and illegally, buy and sell personal information online. Chinese people are often bombarded with calls and text messages offering bank loans or home purchases that seem too personalized to be random.

Mr. Deng, a 32-year-old artist based in Beijing, said he hoped to get Chinese people to question that everyday scenario.

“When these nuisance text messages become a daily routine, we develop a habit of ignoring and avoiding these text messages in a numb state,” he said in a telephone interview. “This is actually the mental state of most people here: a state of helplessness.”

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February 27th, 2018

‘Find The Thing You Love And Stick With It’: Xi Jinping And The Perfect Meme

A. A. Milne’s anthropomorphic giggling teddy resurfaces in China, if only briefly.

By: Anthony Tao   Source: SUP China.  Date: 27/2/2018

 

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Chinese internet users, being internet users, had a bit of fun in 2013 on the occasion of Xi Jinping’s visit with then president Barack Obama, posting this picture to social media:

Of course it went viral, because it is almost too perfect. And of course it was censored, because of basically the same reason. As I wrote at that time, “If it doesn’t seem like a picture that compares China’s president to a chubby bear with a sweet tooth would be allowed to stand, it’s because a picture that compares China’s president to a chubby bear with a sweet tooth isn’t allowed to stand. Continue reading

February 7th, 2018

From #MeToo to #RiceBunny: how social media users are campaigning in China

By: Meg Jing Zeng      Source: The Conversation      Date: 6/2/2018

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Rice bunny says, “the only thing I want for the coming Lunar New Year is anti-sexual harassment rulings… You can take my plate away, but you cannot shut my mouth.”

So reads the opening line of a discussion page for the #MeToo campaign in China, posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

“Rice bunny” (米兔), pronounced as “mi tu”, is a nickname given to the #MeToo campaign by Chinese social media users. The #RiceBunny hashtag, accompanied by emojis of rice bowls and bunny heads, is used by Chinese women to expose sexual harassment – often in conjunction with other Chinese hashtags, such as #IAmAlso (#我也是)and #MeTooInChina (#MeToo在中国).

Using emojis to circumvent censorship

A sign used to protest sexual harassment posted on Weibo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The adoption of nicknames and emojis is not just a public relations strategy designed to increase the popularity of the campaign, it also serves as a tactical response to circumvent online censorship.

Similar practices of using homophones and images are widely used in China as a form of coded language to avoid censorship on social media.

“River crab” and “grass-mud horse” – both invented by internet users – are two cases in point. Because of their pronunciations in Chinese, the former is used to indicate censorship and the latter refers to a Chinese obscenity.

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January 15th, 2017

Chinese Artist: Censorship Stems From ‘Bizarre And Ridiculous Sort Of Fear’

By: Jiang Zhi         Source: SUPChina         Date: 9/1/2017

Translator’s note: The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture — a prominent international exhibition of visual art, sculpture, murals, installations, architectural proposals, urban thought experiments, and events — opened on December 15, 2017, and was struck by controversy the following day, when organizers removed a piece of artwork by the well-known young artist Jiang Zhi 蒋志. The piece reappeared two weeks later in the main exhibition hall, only to be removed again a few days afterward in advance of a tour by local Shenzhen officials.

More than 200 exhibits under the main theme “Cities, Grow in Difference” are still offered around the city, with the primary exhibition site located in Nantou Old Town, a historic “urban village” of the kind that has been systematically demolished over the last two decades. Although an introduction to Jiang’s work can still be found on the website (in both the English and Chinese versions), his physical artwork remains unavailable to viewers. Below is a statement that Jiang wrote in response to the situation. The remaining exhibitions will be on display until March 15. Eleanor Goodman

All text in brackets [] signal editor’s notes.

How has something that was “safe” become unsafe?

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January 9th, 2018

Picturing Ai Weiwei in Istanbul

By: Hrag Vartanian      Source: HyperAllergic              Date: 7/1/2018

Sculpture by Ai Weiwei in front of the Sakıp Sabancı Museum and overlooking the Bosphorus (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

ISTANBUL — In an era where superstar Chinese artist Ai Weiwei feels ubiquitous, this past summer I experienced the full extent of that reality over the course of two months. After attending a New York preview for his new film about migrants, Human Flow (2017), I traveled to Israel to visit a major exhibition of his work at the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem, then a show of his porcelain works at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Istanbul. Shortly after that, I returned to New York City, right around the time his major public art project, Fences, opened. And these weren’t the only exhibitions by Ai being mounted around the world. Continue reading

December 29th, 2017

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors

By: Jeremy Page and Eva Dou    Source: Wall Street Journal   Date: 29/12/2017

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Mao Zedong once hailed Fengqiao in eastern China as a model for “mobilizing the masses” to galvanize Communist Party rule. Under President Xi Jinping, there is an app for that.

Launched in Zhejiang province last year, it offers citizens rewards for information as part of a new government effort to meld old-school totalitarian techniques with 21st century e-commerce, big data and digital surveillance.

There’s just one problem: Many people are wary of using the new technology platform.

The “Safe Zhejiang” app enables users to notify authorities of problems ranging from leaky drains and domestic disputes to traffic violations and illegal publications, in text or photographic form, as long as the informants reveal their location and identity.

In exchange, they get perks including discounts at upmarket coffee shops and coupons for taxi-hailing and music-streaming services, as well as for the Alipay online-payment system, run by the financial affiliate of local tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

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December 13th, 2017

China’s Selfie Obsession

Meitu’s apps are changing what it means to be beautiful in the most populous country on earth.

By: Jiayang Fang       Source: The New Yorker  Date: 8/12/17

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HoneyCC likes to say that she scarcely remembers the last time someone called her by her given name, Lin Chuchu. She took her online name from a 2003 movie starring Jessica Alba, about an aspiring hip-hop dancer and choreographer named Honey who catches her break after a music-video director sees a clip of her performing. Something similar happened for HoneyCC, who also trained in hip-hop dance, as well as in jazz and Chinese folk styles, and was equally determined to be discovered.

After an injury cut short her dancing career, a few years ago, she and some friends set up an advertising business. Many of her clients were social-media companies, and her work for them led to an observation about the sector’s development: first there was the text-based service Weibo, the largest social-media network in China at the time; then people started posting images. “But a single picture can only say so much,” she told me recently. “To really communicate a message, you need a video.”

HoneyCC likes to say that she scarcely remembers the last time someone called her by her given name, Lin Chuchu. She took her online name from a 2003 movie starring Jessica Alba, about an aspiring hip-hop dancer and choreographer named Honey who catches her break after a music-video director sees a clip of her performing. Something similar happened for HoneyCC, who also trained in hip-hop dance, as well as in jazz and Chinese folk styles, and was equally determined to be discovered.

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November 26th, 2017

Why Hong Kong artists and activists are turning to zines in the digital age

By: Manami Okazaki.   Source: SCMP  Date: 25/11/17

The independently published ‘pocket-sized works of art’ are undergoing something of a resurgence worldwide. In Hong Kong, with its rich printing history, youngsters have discovered a whole other avenue of expression.

 

To the untrained eye, “zines” don’t look like much: pamphlets stapled crudely together, featuring disparate topics and a range of art forms, such as cartoons, illustrations and photography. To collectors, they are pocket-sized works of art, and tools of self-expression.

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