A digest of online China July 18-22

This weekly column offers a digest of the latest pieces from the Chinese blogosphere published on our website and most recently completed translations of new Chinese writing.

Sun Yat Sen memorial

New texts published

Public intellectual, or Private thinker – Lan Ran

Remembering Umberto Eco’s visit to China, this piece offers a meditation on the potential role of novelists as public intellectuals – how such figures existed during the Republican period, but are now failing in contemporary China’s literary scene.


Dead money, live money – Xin Lijian

Where should the money go? In this discussion informed by historical precedent, Xin Lijian argues for a redistribution of national wealth, in favour of entrepreneurs, or ‘hens’ – who generate more for the community – and away from public servants or ‘cocks’, who simply monitor and control. Only then would be wealth of China become ‘alive’, and china prosper.


‘I was here’: reflections on travel – Wei Zhou

Why do Chinese people feel an impulse to leave inscriptions at places they visit? This pieces offers historical insights into the development of tourism in China, from old times to the modern period, and the multiple ways in which Chinese travellers like to memorialise their journey to places of cultural significance.


Odd expressions of individual rights – Chen Xingzhi

No traveller to China can ignore the odd phenomenon of massive square dancing on public places. Chen Xingzhi explores the psychological and sociological motivations for this new phenomenon: an aging population, a lack of public space – but also, the expression of individual rights in a changing society.


Passion is the most important thing in our lives – Li Yinghe

Sociologist Li Yinhe specializes in gender study – but on her blog, she sometimes publishes more personal reflections, like this one, on passion and its role in our psychology. A great mind celebrating the irruption of irrational emotions.

New translations

In this speech on Media Power, media pluralism and media governance’, delivered at a forum on internet public communication, cultural analyst and leading journalist Zhang Tianpan reflects on the decline of opinion pieces in China – particularly those advocating for ‘enlignment values’, and proposes a way ahead: increased involvement of opinion writers in civil society, and influence on events themselves.

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