A good while ago the anthropologist Stevan Harrell asked me to consider the unique position of Uyghurs as heirs to an urbanism that predates the rise of Chinese cities in the region. He asked me to think through the ways in which this urban tradition has affected Uyghur social organization. I’m still thinking about this.
As some readers may be aware, new measures restricting foreign content online in China (or “Administrative Regulations for Online Publishing Services”) are dropping March 10 – today. Over at China Law Blog, Steve Dickinson has answers to most of the major players and questions, but we felt obliged to follow up with Steve on a... Read more »
Kneeling over the toilet at the clubhouse of the “largest golf course in the world,” I’m furiously vomiting gray liquid. It is, most likely, the result of dodgy alcohol from the previous night; then again, it might be the 90-minute speech I just heard from the husband-and-wife American “futurists” as they remorselessly praised China again and again and again. Hard to tell.
Protestors in Hong Kong clashed with police in the early morning hours today, reportedly over the removal of illegal street food vendors in Mong Kok. The AP says the violence was the worst in the city since the pro-democracy protests of 2014.
Ursula Gauthier, erstwhile Beijing correspondent for the French newsweekly L’Obs, left China for good in the early hours of January 1. It was not, as they say, of her own volition.
When the clock struck midnight on 2015, Gauthier’s press visa expired and was not up for renewal. According to official organs, she had offended the Chinese people with her November 18 article written in the aftermath of the November 13 terrorist attacks on Paris. Gauthier’s refusal to publicly apologize for remarks concerning China’s attempts to link Paris with its own problems in Xinjiang was taken as the final straw.
In a recent article James Leibold, a scholar at La Trobe University in Australia, discussed the way ethnic minority struggles against police and structural violence has often been officially mislabeled "terrorism." At the same time, in China, as in the United States, violent acts carried out by non-Muslims are read as acts of the deranged and mentally ill, but not as "terrorism." In China, as in the United States, the lives of Muslims which are lost as a result of “terrorist” or “counter-terrorism” efforts go unnoticed and unmourned. All losses of life leave gaping holes in our human social fabric, but why are some more grievable than others? What happens when a population is terrified by the discourse of terrorism?
A reality show about a pair of millionaire tourists has been nixed from China’s Internet, after an episode depicting encounters with Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria was broadcast on the mainland.
Back in April, signs of the famous Uyghur restaurant chain Herembağ (Eden) began to appear on the streets of San Francisco. A few months later, a location in Fremont was opened in a renovated hotpot restaurant with promises of a third Bay Area location in San Mateo. Like their restaurant locations from Beijing to Astana, Kazakhstan, the American version of Eden serves an upscale version of the traditional Uyghur pasta, lamb, and rice dishes, as well as Hui-inspired northwest specialties such as Big Plate Chicken (dapanji) and Turkish-style döner kebab.
On the top floor of the Aq Saray, or White Palace, hotel in Ürümchi is a massive reproduction of Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David. It is flanked on its left by a reproduction of Ivan Kramskoi’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman (which everyone associates with Anna Karenina). Across the expansive red room, otherwise decorated in the style of a Russian tea room, gigantic reproductions of Venetian canals and cityscapes fill out the walls. Overhead murals of clouds, star constellations, and pheasants in flight glow against the ornate heavy white archways that surround them.
Initially many Uyghurs were excited about the Uyghur photographer Qurbanjan Semet’s book-length photo essay I am from Xinjiang on the Silk Road. They were thrilled to see Qurbanjan’s national primetime interview on CCTV News. They were astonished to see it translated into English (by Wang Chiying) and sold alongside Xi Jinping’s boilerplate biography at Book... Read more »
“Thanks to the hyper-paranoid system, authorities are doing themselves further disservice by fighting another fire online, badly.” The Oriental Star ferry “disaster management” model, in which the goon squad manages to seize control of the information spigot early on and develops the subsequent narrative, is not the “new normal” in China that some may have... Read more »
You may think you've seen them all, but this one has that little something extra. It's worth watching from the beginning, but go to the 30-second mark for a mushroom cloud of commentary. Noooooooo fucking way.
Tianjin was woken last night by a massive warehouse explosion that killed at least 44 and injured 500 others -- numbers which will surely rise in the coming days. As authorities investigate the cause -- was it arson? -- we sit here sifting through some amazing photos and videos of the incident. You may have seen some of these already. But they're worth another look.
Wild Pigeon is a special book. It is of the moment and simultaneously untimely. It distills the dreams of millions of Uyghurs who live without the legal right to move beyond the borders of their home prefecture in southern Xinjiang. It shows us glimpses of these dreams; and in the strength of their numbers, the poignancy of their looks, the feelings of their words, they wear us down – wounding our hearts a thousand times.
"To mark the No Bra Day, volunteers call the public to pay attention to the breast health in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province on July 9, 2015. Research indicates that wearing bra may increase the risks of getting breast cancer for a woman."
Last weekend I went to Gulsay Cemetery at the south end of Ürümchi, back behind the power plants right next to the lowest foothill of the eastern section of Heavenly Mountains. Many Uyghur, Kazakh, and Hui heroes are buried in this cemetery; people often just refer to it as “the Muslim cemetery.” Looking at the markings around you, it feels as though you are in a completely Muslim world. In the Uyghur section of the cemetery all of the signs are only in the Arabic script of modern Uyghur. There is little sign in this community of the dead that we're in the largest Chinese city in Central Asia.
Want to visit the backwater Yunnan town of Jinding, which sits in the shadow of Asia's largest lead mine? Of course you don't. Luckily, Greenpeace has done it for you, and come away with this 360-degree, interactive video shot from a drone.
I'm addicted to Taobao.
I've bought everything from Michael Jackson gloves to a swimming pool, and somehow my search results often include sex toys (stay away from search terms including "stick," "shake," "love," "woman," or... "tail"). I’m not the only Taobao troll; according to ranking site Alexa.com Taobao ranks as the 9th most visited website in the world, and 2nd in China.
Before I saw Tom Olden's video, I heard reactions to it. It was described as a "leap off the deep end" with an "ISIS vibe," featuring a "headless girl in the background chopping carrots on an ironing board... PUA-style 'burns' on manhood, and, of course, that Jigsaw voice." That's crazy, I thought. Does the carrot represent neutered sexuality? Is the headless woman some self-aware avowal of misogyny? And what of the knife, that weapon-turned-tool of domesticity, scything away? Is the video menacing or ironic?
In honor of Cyber Security Week in China -- that's this week, whereupon "China's Internet police are stepping into the light," according to WSJ -- I thought we'd take a glimpse at the state of Chinese Internet smut through the lens of a recent happening, photographer Wang Dong's now-infamous Forbidden City photo shoot featuring nude models.