Dispatches From Xinjiang: A Poetic Recording As Popular As Song

Dispatches from Xinjiang cassette tape featured image
As in many Islamic societies around the world, Uyghurs listen to cassettes and MP3s of sermons, poetry, and essays as a way to tune in to the sensibilities of the rapidly changing social world and to find their place within larger communities. Those who listen to these forms of media are ordinary Uyghurs, people who work as farmers and seamstresses, small-scale traders, and handymen. They send their children to schools with red scarves tied around their necks and worry that their kids won’t be able to find their way in the new world. Many of the most popular recordings focus on ethical action, on living right, and on what the world “out there” is like. They are both entertaining and instructive. Read more »

Chinese River Runs Red

The River Runs Red 2
Oklahoma and Texas play an annual football game called the Red River Rivalry. When it comes to actually red rivers though, none compare to the one found in Boluo County near Huizhou, Guangdong province earlier this week. It's like the jungle's menstruating. Read more »

An Ostrich Runs Free On The Streets Of Beijing

Ostrich runs in Beijing
An ostrich escaped from a farm and ran alongside cars on a road in the Changying area of Beijing yesterday around 8 pm, reports Shanghai Daily. "The ostrich, apparently upset by noise made by vehicles passing by, ran down the guardrails of a farm as it was being fed, according to the person surnamed Yu who is in charge of the ostrich farm." Lest you think we're surprised... we're not. We've seen this before: Read more »

Anyone Want To Watch Women In Childbirth?

Childbirth reality TV show featured image
There was a Dutch website called Beautiful Agony that asked people to upload videos of their orgasm face as a "multimedia experiment." This was done in the name of art. There was a video we watched in high school biology of a live childbirth, PBS Nova's The Miracle of Life. This was done in the name of science. Now there's a reality show on Shenzhen Television, "Laiba Haizi" (Come On, Child), that shows the faces of women in labor. This is done in the name of... Read more »

Rural Social Harmony Can Now Be Measured To 4 Decimal Places

Social harmony
From a place that loves quantifying the unquantifiable, such as happiness (congrats Haikou!), and numerical rankings of everything, and buzzwords such as "harmony," it's no surprise that a Chinese academy has reportedly mastered the science of measuring collective "honesty and mutual trust," among other things. Here's Xinhua with an explanation: Read more »

How Many Things Are Wrong With This Global Times Illustration?

Global Times illustration of China-Africa
Chinese premier Li Keqiang just finished a four-country African tour on Sunday, so leave it to Global Times to summarize the trip in an unreadable "op-ed" featuring economic stats and sentences such as, "Such a robust momentum of development calls for higher standards in a myriad of cooperation projects." At least the illustration -- by Liu Rui -- was, um, eye-catching. GT even tweeted it. Read more »

Wrenching Heartstrings: Zhang Yimou’s “Coming Home” Trailer, Reviewed

Coming Home featured image
When a movie makes Steven Spielberg cry, you can be sure of one thing: it was written for the express purpose of making people cry. Please take a look at the trailer for Coming Home, the new film by Zhang Yimou starring his muse Gong Li and the distinguished Chen Daoming. Then consider how Sinosphere described one particular audience's reaction after a screening: Read more »

Does China Have 100 Million Christians?

Infographic Jesus More Popular Than Mao on China’s Twitter
It’s odd to imagine Jesus, in China, is more discussed than historic leaders, but Weibo chatter suggests precisely that. An infographic published by Foreign Policy (non-paywalled version here) last month showed that discussion of Christian terms is several times more common than similar political phrases. While the disparity may be exaggerated by attempts to create a healthy environment for discussion, it reflects a growing trend as young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s rediscover religion. Read more »

College Girl Fighting For Her Life After Eating Malatang

Malatang victim dying college girl
Most people know better than to eat street malatang, which -- if you don't know -- basically consists of pieces of veggie and tofu and fish balls and squid and other indecipherable foodstuff stabbed on sticks and boiled/drowned in oil and spices. It's disgusting and no one likes it. But sometimes, because you're drunk or too prideful to say no to a dare, you do eat, and your stomach dies a little. Read more »

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Urumqi Bombing And What It Means To Be A Uyghur Man

The Urumqi Train Station Bombing, Rozi, Abdulla
Watching the leaked surveillance video of two men walking with a sea of migrant workers in front of the train station in Ürümchi makes your blood turn cold. You want to look away but you can’t. You want to understand what was going through the heads of those men with their hats pulled low as they marched with the crowd – but you can’t. Only after the shock of the fireball and the smoke clears can you stop looking, but then you can’t un-see it. You can only play it over and over in your mind. Read more »