HBO's Game of Thrones arrived in China last week, but the fit-for-CCTV broadcast was so rigorously edited to conform to some "public morality" that one netizen hilariously called it "a medieval European castle documentary." But amid all the articles about this development, we may have lost sight of a more amazing fact: Game of Thrones -- a show about political wrangling, skulduggery, sabotage, dissolution, sex, etc. -- was allowed to air on Chinese TV. It took two whole days before we got this Ishaan Tharoor post on the Washington Post, titled:
When Chinese video streaming sites pulled down all episodes of The Big Bang Theory on orders from China's official censors, it angered fans across the country -- and also, it turns out, the show's creator, Chuck Lorre. The following is what Lorre wrote on one of his "vanity cards" that appeared at the end of Big Bang's May 1 episode (as noticed by the Wall Street Journal):
For the seventh consecutive year on Monday, the Chinese men's ping-pong team won the Swaythling Cup. (Apparently familiarity doesn't make the trophy any less awkward to handle.) It's the 19th time they've finished first at the World Table Tennis Championships, which was held this time in Tokyo. The Chinese women's team, not to be outdone, also won -- also its 19th team title at this worlds competition. The women have lost only twice since 1975.
Take note: if you go on a slashing rampage in public, you'll be shot and treated like a rabid dog, held down by metal poles. Take a look at the video, which shows police manhandling a knife-wielding suspect who wounded six passersby yesterday at Guangzhou Railway Station.
The best search engine for finding random bars is Where the Fuck Should I Go for Drinks, which China watcher and delightful alcoholic Ray Kwong helpfully notes "even works in China." But how well does it work? We gave it a try, and results included:
Six people were injured by knife-wielding attackers around 11:30 am today on the plaza in front of Guangzhou Railway Station. They've been sent to the hospital, but their conditions are unknown. A People's Daily tweet from 12:54 pm claims there were four attackers. State media reports that police fired shots at the attackers, hitting at least one of them.
Peter Harmsen of the excellent China in WW2 blog has a great write-up of Ernest Hemingway and his then-wife, war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, traveling to Chongqing in 1941. You may have heard this story before -- the couple's distaste of the country and Hemingway's dabbling in espionage, among other things -- but there are a few anecdotes I'd like to highlight from Harmsen's piece, titled "For Whom the Gongs Toll."
Links! There are two events tomorrow that could be worth your time: Los Angeles Times reporter / North Korea expert Barbara Demick is talking at Crossroads at 7 pm, while Leslie Ann-Murray is launching a collective for emerging writers called Writing on Walls, with the first meet-up at 6:30 (again, tomorrow) at the Bookworm.
There really isn't much to say about these pictures, which were taken on May 3 on a beach in Sanya, Hainan province and tweeted out by China Daily Show just now ("Who says China lacks innovation?"). Excerpt, perhaps, "Why?" A couple more pictures follow. They might not be appropriate for office gawking.
Liu Xia, who has never been charged with a crime, has been imprisoned in her home since 2010 because her husband happens to be a Nobel Peace Prize recipient currently serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion of state power." That she clearly needs medical attention for worsening mental health makes no difference to the authorities, who insist on punishing her for the perceived sins of Liu Xiaobo.
On April 16, Alec Ash of the Anthill gathered eight writers (technically nine) to read stories at Cu Ju, a rum bar in the hutongs owned by the somewhat legendary Badr Benjelloun, who paired each writer with a rum. The result was glorious. Alec graciously allowed us to record the entirety of that event, which we now present to you as an episode of The Creamcast.
China's one-child policy, enacted in 1979, has undoubtedly changed Chinese society. Whether for better -- curbing population growth in a country with dire resource limitations -- or for worse -- creating a generation of "Little Emperors" who are doted on by two generations of extended family -- remains a debate that may never been settled. Of course, there are places where this debate can both be stimulating and appropriate. In the context of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is not one of those places.
We publicized a Kickstarter on April 1 of a 10-minute dystopian sci-fi film set in Beijing by TED Talks director Jason Wishnow that was advertised as "starring" Ai Weiwei. It blew past its $33,000 goal in no time, probably thanks to the attention that Ai Weiwei -- China's most visible artist -- garners around the world. But now the Kickstarter has been removed and the preview for the movie, The Sandstorm, is only available on YouTube. What gives?