Te-Ping Chen writes: China has long struggled with the question of how to build world-class universities that encourage creativity and innovation. This week, that challenge was again in the spotlight after Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University – one of the country’s best schools – pulled a glossy promotional video from its website, following a public outcry over allegations of plagiarism.
Posted earlier this week, the video bears a striking resemblance to the University of Tokyo’s official promotional video, “Explorer,” which was released last year. In it, an astronaut walks through campus and the city of Tokyo, narrating in English in a contemplative voice.
“I took this city as an explorer, ate with strangers from the same bowl, laughed, partied together, became a family,” the astronaut intones in English, as the video shows footage of her busting various moves on a laser beam-lit dance floor. The video culminates with a shot of the main character removing her white helmet to reveal a woman identified as astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, class of 1993.
Fudan University’s film follows a similar arc, with the main character dressed in a flight suit and shown partying on a dance floor. When she whips off her helmet at the end of the video, it is revealed that she is Le Yafei, class of 2009 and a flight test engineer.
Social media users were quick to mock the video, which the university explained earlier this week was produced in English in keeping with its increasingly internationalized campus. Read the rest of this entry »
“Things have been changing dramatically in the last two years. Since Xi Jinping came to power, what was tolerated before is not tolerated any longer, in China or Hong Kong.”
Ilaria Maria Sala writes: The shop assistant is abrupt when the question comes.
“We are not going to sell that one. Sorry,” he says, when asked for a copy of one of Hong Kong’s most eagerly searched-for books.
[Order Zhao Ziyang book “Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang” from Amazon.com]
“It might come back,” he says vaguely.
On the surface, there seems to be no censorship in Hong Kong. Unlike the mainland, the web is free, a wide range of newspapers is available, TV news covers demonstrations and protests, and nobody needs to apply for permission to print books.
“The pressure is on to stop Hong Kong people and mainlanders from reading unapproved books. When sales became harder, we started shipping books to individual customers in China. Nothing reached them. We tried through a courier in Shenzhen, but they stopped accepting books.”
“In 40 years, I know of only one book that has ever been stopped from distribution,” says Wong Sheung Wai, director of Greenfield Bookstore, a shop and distribution company, “and that was the Chinese translation of a guide to suicide.
“The real problem, though, is that our local government does not defend our autonomy. Rather, they lecture Hong Kong on how to behave to please the central authorities.”
“Taiwan translated it, but the Hong Kong authorities did not allow for it to be published and distributed here,” he says.
But mounting pressure from China to have greater control over what the Hong Kong public, and the Chinese tourists flocking there, read is creeping into this former British colony.
“Even the three big chains are commercial interests, so they do try to sell what clients want. At times certain books disliked by the Chinese authorities will still be available, but hidden behind a counter, or piled up with the spine turned to the walls.”
Through a complex web of self-censorship, soft censorship and mainland economic control, bookshops and media outlets in the territory have been changing their tone or giving less coverage to topics that China deems sensitive.
A slow but steady “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong, a key factor in bringing tens of thousands of protesters to the streets during last year’s umbrella movement, has been changing the face of the publishing and book distribution industry, with fewer shops willing, or able, to sell books forbidden in China.
Booming real estate costs add to that problem.
“Readers’ numbers are going down everywhere, and nobody can afford a ground-floor bookshop unless they are backed by people with very deep pockets,” says one publishing industry insider.
“If you ask me what is the biggest problem that Hong Kong faces right now, it is the Liaison Office, and their growing involvement in Hong Kong’s affairs.”
— Alex Chow, one of the student leaders at last year’s protests
The three main local bookshop chains, with a total of 51 outlets, are controlled by the Liaison Office, Beijing’s official representation in Hong Kong, which, she adds, makes sure they only pay a nominal rent for their operations. Read the rest of this entry »
Vacationers from the People’s Republic have acquired a reputation for being unruly at times, and have lately made global headlines by attacking flight attendants, fighting in airplane aisles and opening emergency doors in non-emergency situations
Colum Murphy reports: Here’s a new addition to China’s growing list of do’s and don’ts for citizens when traveling at home and abroad: don’t snap a selfie while sitting on the head of a Red Army warrior when visiting a place that considers itself a holy land of Maoist China.
“Are these people raised by monkeys? Whatever they see at scenic spots, trees or statues, they climb up for pictures.”
— Sina Weibo user Li Biyou
That’s exactly what 18-year-old Li Wenchun did on a recent visit to what’s known as a red tourism site —and now he’s paying the price.
The incident took place in the city of Yan’an, in northern Shaanxi province, famous in Communist Party history as the endpoint of the Long March. On its website, the government of Yan’an says the city “is reputed as a world-renowned holy land of Chinese revolution,” where “tourists are organized to learn knowledge of revolutionary history and attend theme activities for traditional revolutionary education and experience broadening.”
“What an ignorant man. Without the Red Army, how can you live a happy life?”
— Another Sina Weibo user
The only things Mr. Li widened were his legs. Photographs of him circulating on the Internet show him dressed in a black shirt and trousers and wearing red sneakers, striking a pose on the heroic head of a bronze statue of a female warrior.
As a result of this stunt, Mr. Li has become one of the first Chinese to be added to a blacklist that China’s national tourism authority said earlier this year it would introduce to discourage Chinese vacationers from misbehaving while traveling. Read the rest of this entry »
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 26, 2015
And it was their first attempt — beating the less than 50% success rate of all Mars missions to date. Read all about it here.
What is red, is a planet and is the focus of my orbit? pic.twitter.com/HDRWjOcPus
— ISRO’s Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) September 24, 2014
— NASA (@NASA) September 24, 2014
AURANGABAD, India—NIHARIKA MANDHANA writes: Conservative Hindu activist Chetna Sharma looked sternly at her audience of more than 40 young Hindu women gathered in the living room of a rural home and issued a warning: Muslim men would try to trick them into marriage and force them to convert to Islam.
“When one Hindu girl leaves to be with a Muslim, four or five new members will be added to that community.”
Given a chance, Muslim men would force a woman “to have two or three children and then leave her, or rape her, or throw acid on her if she resists, or murder her,” she said. “You can’t even imagine what can happen if you don’t protect yourself from love jihad.”
“A majoritarian Hinduism got elected and that is having rather subtle but threatening consequences.”
Right-wing Hindu organizations and politicians have mounted a high-profile drive against “love jihad,” which they paint as a dark, international conspiracy aimed at eroding Hindus’ demographic dominance in India by brainwashing Hindu women.
[The cover of the latest edition of Panchjanya, a right-wing magazine, asks: Is love blind or a business? Junho Kim for The Wall Street Journal]
Authorities say they haven’t found any proof of an Islamist conspiracy to convert or abuse Hindu women. Critics of the Hindu right dismiss the whole thing as nonsense. And Muslim leaders decry it as a campaign of hate. Read the rest of this entry »
Political ass-kicking in India: Spoofs on the internet and TV
Jay Mazoomdaar writes: For a people not known to take themselves lightly, a surprising number of Indians are laughing their way to the general election.
A generous dose of irreverent political humour is now competing with shrill campaign rhetoric, thanks to a new crop of satirists.
The genre is not new in India – there is a rich tradition of cartoons in newspapers – but the appetite for political satire is.
CNN-IBN‘s spoof show – The Week That Wasn’t, starring Cyrus Broacha – was popular long before the last general elections in 2009, and Hindi show Pol Khol (Expose) by Shekhar Suman on Star News became a hit during the 2004 elections. Read the rest of this entry »