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.
The first Uyghur contemporary art exhibition was launched at Xinjiang Contemporary Art Museum on May 16, attended by several hundred people from across the province, including most of the represented artists. Since the majority of the painters were teachers or professors, many leading administrators from local universities were also present. Aside from them and a few Han painters from local art schools that the museum’s leading curator, Zeng Chunkai, had invited for the opening, nearly everyone was Uyghur. Even a famous Uyghur public intellectual, Yalkun Rozi, came and praised the artists – although he clearly didn’t understand contemporary art.
Last year was the 25th anniversary of the “June 4 Incident,” as it is officially known. State security went full bore over the ultra-sensitive date, harassing journalists and activists, detaining anyone who sneezed on the subject.
Do you know what is considered pornographic? Can you differentiate between sexual and sexually explicit? Do you have experience looking at a lot of porn? Because there might be a 200,000 RMB job for you.
A year after leaving China and five years after publishing his first book (China Cuckoo: How I Lost a Fortune and Found a Life in China), Mark Kitto has a follow-up, That's China, technically a prequel that traces the beginning of his That's magazine franchise and looks underneath the fingernail of Chinese publishing. Kitto wrote the following column for Prospect, republished here with the author's permission -- with a freshly appended postscript.
If you’ve read a story about China in the last couple of years that sounded just too good to be true – that smelled, in fact, more like sweet, sweet horse manure – chances are it came from CEN, a European-based “news agency” whose bluff just got called in exhaustive length by BuzzFeed investigative reporters.
Although their offices and staff are in Vienna, CEN’s scope is worldwide – Russia, Argentina, India, Macedonia and the PRC, where it regularly elbows Xinhua aside to publish the least likely version of events.
A few weeks ago when talking to a Uyghur acquaintance, I was told: “One the biggest problems among Uyghurs today is the rate of divorce. I think it is as high as 70 percent. Most of it is the fault of women. They have misunderstood what women’s equality is all about. They think that it means that they should be equal to men in every way; or that men should be just like them. They try to control men, stop them from going to bars. They order men to do housework, and then spend all of their money. They don’t understand that that is not their place. If they would be encouraging to men, than men would never cheat on them.”
I understand the HeForShe movement is a global initiative spotlighting men (officially, "a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half"), but holding a gender equality discussion without inviting any women kind of makes for bad optics. Also, men clearly need more appreciation: