This column offers a short digest of the latest pieces published on our website. 

by the pond - small

New texts published

The government also wants a new normal – Muran

As the concept of a ‘new normal’ is increasingly spreading in economic discourses, essayist Muran calls for a ‘new normal’ regarding government – which would include increased new services, big society, equal consultation and the rule of law.

I’m a star… – Shudong

Shudong is a website where people can anonymously share their worries and cares. This short post is a call for help from a Chinese actress harassed by her director.

Maturity – Li Yinhe

We dread old age and the sense of physical decay that accompanies our own aging – but in this optimistic piece, Li Yinhe invites us on the contrary to celebrate the pleasures of maturity, the freedom and wisdom that it bring.

China’s diplomatic multilateralism – Zheng Yongnian

How is China managing its own growing power on the international stage? Singaporean expert Zheng Yongnian returns to the history of China’s multilateral diplomacy to explore the conditions for a responsible way forward.

Love is a double-edged sword – Li Yinhe

Gender specialist and sociologist Li Yinhe offers a friend advice on how to handle passion disrupting his marital life. Her answer: poly-amorous ethics.

Japan in my eyes – Song Xiuyin

A trip to Japan is an opportunity for Song Xiuyin to appreciate the country’s culture – cleanliness, humanity, respect for nature and the land.

This column offers a short digest of the latest pieces published on our website. 

New texts published


On hearing only powerful voices – Zhang Ming

On the basis of a pollution case in Inner Mongolia, Zhang Ming calls for a reflection on the voices that get heard, and those that remain ignore – and how to curb abuse of power from officials who refuse to listen.

Encounter stories at the dinner table – Zhao Jianfei

Small anecdotes can reveal the spirit of the times. Blogger Zhao Jianfei jots down two conversations overheard, revealing aspects of economic and romantic success in today’s China.

Protocols for the dignity of legal officials – He Weifang

Legal procedures have historically been connected to complex rituals and protocols. Law expert He Weifang reflects on the reasons for the rites surrounding the exercise of justice, and the necessity to create conditions that guarantee of officials in charge of determining justice.

Immortality – Li Yinhe

This short meditation by sociologist Li Yinhe questions our quest for immortality and aspirations to historical grandeur. Is this the path to happiness?

Love and revolution (10) – Ye Fu

A new stage in Ye Fu’s family story and memories of the second world war – now taking us to Chongqing, and remembering the ongoing role of education during these troubled times.

Reasons to read books – Yu Ge

Remembering the day he returned his library card after graduating is a starting point for Yu Ge’s meditation on the art of reading. Reading does not have a clear purpose – it will not change the face of China – yet should we stop that activity altogether, just because it has no direct utilitarian purpose? What if reading was one of the key elements for spiritual freedom?

Can princesses have abortions? – Ka Hu

Is it wrong for a primary school girl to write a princess abortion into her fairy tale narrative? This happened in a Chinese primary school, and the teacher not only marked harshly, but published the student’s essay on weibo for public mockery. Freelance writer Ka Hu reflects on this story – inviting a more measured and respectful way of considering a child’s way of integrating the complexities of the contemporary adult world.

Jinan – Wei Zhou

Shanghai-based travel writer Wei Zhou returns to the Shandong capital after fifteen years, observing the many changes that occurred: long stretches of new suburbs, refurbished plaza. The text then turns on to a quest for the sources and memories of this non-touristic city, and the essence of Shandong culture.

Translating online is great – translating offline with buddies is even better! That’s what we figured – and so, in line with this insight, we decided to launch a regular Marco Polo Project Melbourne Meetup!

The first of those took place last Wednesday, March 20, at the Melbourne Multicultural Hub, in partnership with Language Connection.

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The Marco Polo meetup is a low-key get-together for Mandarin language enthusiasts to practice translation in small teams of three. During this first event, we translated the opening paragraphs to three pieces from China30s: From Harvard to the alpaca business‘, ‘Triathlon changed my view of life‘ and ‘A young man’s magic time machine‘.

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We’re planning to run these events on a monthly basis – so, help us spread the word – and come along next time!

On March 13, Marco Polo was invited by Fudan International High School in Shanghai to run its first massive school translation event. We brought together ninety-five students from year 9 to 11 for a first-of-its-kind collaborative translation race.

Big class

Our afternoon started with an address by Tony Li, journalist and founder of China30s. China30s is a Shanghai-based website documenting the changing lives of Chinese innovators from the ‘Sandwich Generation’, born 1975-85 – and provided all material for the day’s translation. The students formed into thirty two groups of three, and translated Chines to English for two hours. In total, the group produced over 25,000 words – with five teams translating over 1500 words each.


The event was run as a race, with a prize for the fastest team, and a prize to the best quality translation. But the most striking element for all involved was the spirit of collaboration across year levels and streams – and seeing students who had never met before make new friends in the course of an afternoon.

Smiling kid

All translations and original texts are available on the Marco Polo Project website under the China30s tab. Some of them still need completing and editing. You’re warmly invited you to complete them, or just peek at already translated passages for insights into the lives and mindset of young Chinese innovators.


A similar event is under preparation at Raffles Institution in Singapore, focusing on the work of local authors writing in Mandarin, and at Beijing Foreign Languages University on Sunday 12 April. In the future, we’re looking forward to developing editing events, gathering language enthusiasts to review existing translations and improve them – so, stay tuned for more information on Marco Polo Project translation events!

We wish to warmly thank Tony Li from China30s and Fudan International High School, more particularly the English teaching team, with special thanks to Ms Britte for believing in us, and making this event possible.


On Wednesday, March 18, we’re running the first Marco Polo – Fudan – China30s massive translation event: an epic translation race with 90+ students of year 9-12 from the International Section of Fudan High School in Shanghai, translating interviews with leading Chinese innovators published on China30s. 

In preparation for this event, we’ve been publishing a wide range of texts from China30s, but won’t be offering a detailed digest this week. Log into our website on Thursday, March 19 to our China30s page to check out the results of the translations – and find out more about the lives of the coolest people in China!

This column offers a weekly digest of the latests pieces published on our website and our most recently completed translations.

Suzhou pond reflection small

New texts published

A dreamer from Suzhou – China 30s

China30s reveals the lives of exceptional young Chinese people. In this piece, we encounter Xu Neixiang, a dreamer from Suzhou – dedicated young woman who, rather than pursuing a career in chemistry, decided to pursue her dreams and open an art gallery.

Reflections on the winter solstice – Zhao Qiang

A reminder of nature’s influence, even in the midst of the post-modern city: this piece explores the sensual experience of the winter solstice in Beijing.

Love and revolution (9) – Ye Fu

In a box legated by his uncle, Ye Fu finds old letters shading a new light on the inner workings of party leadership during the Chongqing period

The taste of my mother – 1874 CE

For many of us, nothing will ever beat the taste of our childhood, and the food prepared by our mother – and mothers are the greatest chefs.

New translations completed

Two of our translations, Sam Hall and Eugenie Ho, have been very active this week to bring new voices from China to you.

This week’s selection offers a chance to better understand the complex interaction of ethics, politics and economics.  Poverty, freedom and justice offers an in-depth articulation of Zhou Baosong’s position on market liberalism, framed within the broader context of political philosophy (translation by Samuel Hall). In parallel, Is the briber also guilty by Luqiu Luwei reflects on corruption from multiple perspectives, going beyond simplistic finger-pointing (translation by Eugenie Ho).

For a more personal approach to life in China,  ‘Reflections on the winter solstice by Zhao Qiang reminds us of nature’s influence, even in the midst of the post-modern city, by recounting the sensual experience of midwinter Beijing (translation by Samuel Hall).


This column offers a weekly digest of the latests pieces published on our website and our most recently completed translations.


New texts published

I’ve liked a person for five years – Shudong

Shudong is an anonymous depository of short personal texts about personal life, family trouble and romantic relationships. This very short piece gives us a direct insight into Chinese college romance. (If you like this kind of writing, have a look at these short stories by Zhang Jiajia)

God won’t ensure that good triumphs over evil – Mao Yushi

Folk wisdom and general morality tells us that there is a retribution for good and bad actions – and this belief is a guide towards ethical behaviour. But this is not always the way of the world, as this fatalistic piece by economist Mao Yushi illustrates.

Love and revolution (8) – Ye Fu

Part eight of Ye Fu’s family saga takes the read to the ethnic enclave of Enshi, in Western Hubei, not far from the site of the current Three Gorges Dam – and a key position during the war of resistance against Japan.

The unbearable lightness of blogging – Muran

How did the rise of WeChat affect micro-blogging? This fascinating piece follows the ups and downs of Weibo as a consensus making platform in contemporary China, and the many dreams and hopes projected onto it.

New translations completed

This week saw a flurry of new translations from Samuel Hall and Eugenie Ho – a big round of applause to both of them.

In ‘A metaphor for Chinese mentality‘, Christian philosopher Li Yehang explores the work of Sigmund Freud to understand a key characteristic of contemporary China: excessive focus on the outside world, and lack of solid internal foundations. (Translation Samuel Hall)

On New Year’s Eve, 35 people died on the Bund, crushed by the crowd. Cultural analyst Zhang Tianpan, reflects on similar mass movements and the Chinese experience of public events in ‘Reflecting on the Shanghai stampede‘. (Translation Samuel Hall)

How scary is unified thought‘ explores the power of ides. Essayist Yu Ge looks back at the figure of Xie Huaishi, who joined and left the Yan’An revolutionary group, to reflect on the dangers and appeal of unified thought. (Translation Samuel Hall)

A delicate look at city life: ‘a Pigeon‘ turns everyday birds into things of beauty. (Translation Eugenie Ho)

This column offers a weekly digest of the latests pieces published on our website and our most recently completed translations.


New texts published

This is what academia looks like – Zhang Ming

The Liaoning Daily sent a range of reporters to lectures in Humanities and Social Sciences in universities around China, and denounced their deviation from political orthodoxy. Based on this altercation, this piece by Zhang Ming offers a critical and ironic look at the situation of academic discussion in Chinese universities today.

Love and revolution (7) – Ye Fu

As the Battle of Wuhan rages, the romance of Ye Fu’s uncle blooms, and fades, in this seventh chapter of a family story.

I have a home in New York – Li Jingrui

An exploration of New York Boroughs and neighbourhoods through the eyes of an international Chinese visitors: the wealthy Upper East Side, hipster Brooklyn, Flushing Chinatown.

Democracy vs vested interests – Muran

A reflection on the power of excessive discourse: everybody talks about democracy, but with many various motivations. Can this inflation of discourse change the nature of democracy, and sign the triumph of vested interests? A sharp systematic look at the various theories challenging the possibility of democracy in China.

New translations completed

Framing discussions on the rule of law in contemporary China, He Weifang’s  Police Powers and the rule of law looks at the question from the angle of law enforcement, and how police forces are managed in contemporary China. Translation by Samuel Hal.

Published in Yi Sha’s online anthology, Poems for a new century, Life and death over there‘ by Chen Haobo takes a cold, detached look at rural suicide. Translation by Eugenie Ho.


This column offers a weekly digest of the latests pieces published on our website and our most recently completed translations.

The Nanjing Massacre

New texts published

What kind of education is the foundation of the country? – Fu Guoyong

A look back in time from scholar Fu Guoyong: in 1904, poetess Lu Bicheng published a piece called ‘education is the foundation of the country’, when China was entering a period of rapid change. How much of her early intuition does still apply today?

Eat as much chocolate as your want – Ka Hu 

A humorous look at liberal education: how should we teach our children the complex art of self-management, when the trend around us seems to be one of increasing indulgence?

How scary is unified thought – Yu Ge

Exploring the power of thought: essayist Yu Ge looks back at the figure of Xie Huaishi, who joined and left the Yan’An revolutionary group, to reflect on the dangers and appeal of unified thought.

New translations completed

Three main types of people surround us in the city: Friends, colleagues, strangers. In this mysterious, insightful short piece, Zhao Qiang gives precious insight into these everyday encounters. Micro-fiction from the heart of Beijing.

How does the past affect the present? Zhu Jian’s poem, ‘The Nanjing Massacre‘, gives an insight into the ongoing effect of past trauma. ‘On the wall, crammed with thousands upon thousands of names of martyrs, I took one look, only one quick look, then I decided to leave. Without glancing back, I left. That is because I saw a friend’s name. Of course I knew, it was only his namesake. I am quite sure, if I had taken a second look, I would have seen my own name.’ Translation by Eugenie Ho.

This column offers a weekly digest of the latests pieces published on our website and our most recently completed translations. 


New texts published

The market is essentially a form of ethics – Mao Yushi

Economist Mao Yushi goes back to the basics, and explains what the market is at the core – a structure facilitating human collaboration.

Love and revolution (6) – Ye Fu

This sixth part in the family sage of Ye Fu’s uncle offers a reflection on the Chinese word ‘组织’, or organisation – and how it evolved from ancient times to the communist period.

In life, there are always unhappy moments – Shudong

Shudong offers personal, intimate testimonies from anonymous internet users. This piece shares the sad story of a pregnant woman discovering the many short-comings of her child’s father.

How should we read, how should we think? – Zheng Yefu

University teaches three things: how to read books, how to write essays, and how to think. This long piece details all three aspects, offering a wise perspective on the fundamental mission of higher education.

New translations completed

This week, we present two short, poetic texts by blogger Li Jingrui.

Spring time‘ offers a meditation on the passing of time – Spring comes and goes in Beijing, year after year, while feelings and human groups form and dissolve. Translation by Jacquie.

A sad song to the food market‘ recounts the changes in the author’s food-buying habits over the years, from the food markets of Beijing to Taobao delivery services. Translation by Eugenie Ho