In the film The Silk Road of Pop a classically trained Uyghur tambur player tells viewers that Western music such as hip-hop and jazz does not carry the same feelings of love, tradition, and family as Uyghur traditional and folk music. He says he hopes that Uyghur musicians coming of age today do not forget their past. This tambur player, a member of studio musicians who often accompany the King of Uyghur pop Abdulla, is repeating a refrain heard frequently by performance artists trained under the Maoist regime.
A group of Chinese dissidents and exiles ran naked on a chilly night outside the Stockholm Concert Hall on Tuesday, December 10, and published a declaration undersigned by Liao Yiwu (pictured above), Bei Ling, Wang Yiliang, Meng Huang, and Wang Juntao. As translated by China Change, the declaration begins:
The New York Times reports that the foreign ministries of the Czech Republic, Portugal, Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary have been hacked by the Chinese ("traced to Chinese hackers"). As we've said before, however, "hacked," as used in popular media, is an incredibly broad term meant to encompass a wide variety of malicious online activity, when in fact its actual connotation is much narrower, signifying a sort organized, targeted attack against an individual or institution. In our digital age, we'd do well to employ more specific words when the occasion calls for it -- "phishing," for instance, which is what appears to have happened with the above European countries.
Ed's note: China's first-ever expat anthology, Unsavory Elements, probably broke a Reddit Books record this past Friday night for the largest group AMA (“Ask Me Anything”). In honor of the 20-plus contributors who joined in, here are the highlights from this historic AMA.
Authorities in Beijing's have reportedly used concrete to seal off wells that had served as makeshift homes for migrant workers in a particularly impoverished area in Chaoyang district. Hug China reports:
Editor’s note: Yesterday, the UK brewery BrewDog issued an open letter on its website to call out a “fake” BrewDog pub in Changzhou, Jiangsu province. “I’ll be along to visit soon – I’m looking forward to trying the 6AM Saint and the Funk IPA,” wrote James, one of the owners. “I do still nurture a small hope, though, that imitation is the starting point for imagination for you. If next time, rather than knocking up a do-it-yourself BrewDog bar with an odd red logo, you go one step further and have a stab at your own craft beer, then you will really be onto something.” What follows is the China Craft Beer Association’s reply, written by Great Leap Brewing owner Carl Setzer.
In 1935, cartoonist Zhang Leping created one of Asia’s most enduring characters: Sanmao. The emaciated boy, named for the three hairs on his head, lent a friendly face to Shanghai’s nameless street urchins and children orphaned by Japanese attacks.
But more importantly, Sanmao’s bitter adventures captured the spirit of social injustice in the city’s “golden era.”
The Silk Road of Pop (2013: 53 min) ends with a young rapper saying he wants the world to know Uyghurs exist. The man, a sculpted crop of hair jutting from his chin, says, “Aside from China, who knows that Uyghurs exist? Zero percent.” As a view from a train window merges into film credits while the Uyghur musician Perhet Xaliq and his wife Pezilet sing an old song of Uyghur youth “sent down” from the city, the pathos of the rapper's plea seems to resonate with the atmosphere of the land, the tight cement block apartments, the frozen sidewalks paved with Shandong tiles.
Pacman, Peso, and I recently returned from a 16-day Asia trip that included a five-day stay in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (as in America, the N-word is taboo in DPRK). This journey started in August when our record label, Forest Hills Tenleytown Music Group, launched a Kickstarter seeking $6,000 to fund the trip and a music video called "Escape to North Korea." With the help of a five-page feature in the Washington Post Style section and a generous $5,100 donation from James Passin (aka "The American Who Bought Mongolia”), we were able to raise $10,400 and get a lot of attention in the process. People actually cared, for some reason.
Xinhua host and moonlighter for the Daily Mail’s venerable China Bureau Nikki Aaron has been blissfully peddling the British tabloid yarns of her “China adventures” for the last few months. All well and good.
Here’s her latest, on dating, a subject she has visited before. The extremely confessional tone of the Mail piece begs the question: who is Nikki Aaron?
By all standards Wang Meng (1934- ) has had a tremendously successful career. Easing out of his problematic role as Cultural Minister in 1989, Wang was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1994 by the Chinese Literary Society. He has published more than 100 books and was listed as the 24th most commercially successful writer in China in 2010 with a net worth of 1.75 million yuan. This past year a village on the border of Kazakhstan opened a museum in his honor.
Holland Got Talent judge Gordon Heuckeroth made several racist remarks at a Chinese competitor, singer Xiao Wang, last week. You might have already seen it, but if not, check the above. What's interesting, however, is the tepid, almost indifferent response from netizens in China, a study in contrast to the outrage expressed after the now-infamous and actually inoffensive skit by Jimmy Kimmel.
An entrepreneur in Dallas got in touch with me last month saying he had a product called Political Prisoners of China Playing Cards, asking if I'd like to review them. Chinese political prisoners. Playing cards. Dallas. I live in Beijing. It made no sense. How could I say no?
Wu'er Kaixi, who fled China following the 1989 student-led protests at Tiananmen, reportedly flew into Hong Kong this morning via Taiwan and is pleading with authorities to extradite him to face trial on the mainland.
Some Old Time American porch music this week, in anticipation of Friday night's big "Roots Rage" show down at Mako Livehouse. The gentleman on the fiddle is Michael Ismerio, visiting us in Beijing from North Carolina. He's been gigging around town, sitting in with the Yellow Hutong Weasels and others, doing roots music workshops, playing shows, and calling square dances. Serious. He was the caller at last night's square dance at the Home Plate BBQ Sanlitun preview dinner. Goes something like this. Dare to be square, man.
“Sometimes the mountains faded into the whiteness of the clouds and it was difficult to distinguish what was snow and what was clouds. Yet some days there were no clouds and the mountains seem to float in the air. This caused me to have a good and proper smile.” –Ai Qing, The Poetic Life, 2007, 67 (looking south from his labor camp in Shihezi to the Heavenly Mountains)