Burning the ashes

This month, we welcomed our new Chief Editor Michael Broughton, who has been selecting new pieces for you. Translations have been abundant – wxtra cheers to our new translators Pei Y L, Fu Shaolun and Gillian! We will circulate them in a new, serial format – so keep posted!

Don’t date poor people – Xiuxian Lu

A discussion between two girl friends uncovers harsh expectations – if you’re poor, you will not find love.

Haze – Liang

A poetic expression of depression – a meditation on the colour grey

Marathon: a middle-class trap – Yukuan

What underpins China’s obsession with sport? This article sheds a critical look at the new enthusiasm of the Chinese urban middle class for Marathon running.

A top score essay from the 2015 university entrance examinations held in Beijing – anonymous

Many people talk about the Gao Kao, China’s notorious university entrance exam. But what does a successful Gao Kao essay look like? Here is an example from Beijing

Flowers reeking hatred: the songs of the cultural revolution – He Weifang

Lawyer and intellectual He Weifang looks back on the times of his childhood during the cultural revolution, and the ideology carried by the songs he used to sing.

Aladdin – Sweetheart Cooks Mr Bean

Because Chinese poetry is a living genre – this short piece brings together Aladdin’s lamp and anime imagery to paint a picture of adventure and maturity.

The pain of going home – Dizi

Every Festival, millions of Chinese people get to the roads and return to their family. This migration expresses filial piety, but is often accompanied by scenes of pain and extreme tiredness on the road. This piece explores the tension between old customs and the demands of contemporary life.

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.

worship animals

New texts published

Is Weibo a populist paradise – Muran

Some commentators have criticized Chinese micro-blogging Weibo as a platform likely to encourage populism. In this piece, Muran underlines that populist views are only shared by a minority of users, and rejecting the platform on this ground is the sign of a misguided elitist view.

On this topic, you may enjoy reading Muran’s ‘Weibo is a good thing’ (in English) and Yu Ge’s ‘Populism‘ (in Chinese).


Important questions on the new silk road – Zheng Yongnan

In line with its growing development China has expressed a desire to ‘go towards the outside’ – but what geopolitical strategy will the country follow to achieve this goal? As the US ally with Japan in the East, what options does China have? In this piece, analyst Zheng Yongnan proposes an exploration of the ‘silk road’ concept, advocating for a closer alliance between China, Russia and Central Asia, based on peaceful trading relationships. This could be an important element in China’s soft power strategy.


Food memories: Hot Pot -Bo Bangni

In her series ‘food memories’, Bo Bangni explores the personal and collective history of traditional Chinese dishes – followed by a recipe. This piece on hot pot conjures up memories of a conjugal fight in an artistic family – and a woman’s skill at playing angry housewife.


The borders of literary history – Wei Zhou

Three hundred years from now, what will be retained of our present literature? Will people still highly regard what we – or the media – deem to be great works of fiction; or will historians study minor martial arts, self-help, or even cooking books we disregard? Reflecting on a recent History of Uyghur Literature, Wei Zhou proposes to redefine, or at least interrogate, what we deem to be the boundaries of art.


From ‘Super Mario’ to ‘Tetris’, the secret of popular games – Xun Kong

As computers evolve, video games have become increasingly complex – with rich graphics and elaborate story-lines. However, some minimalist games still prove extremely popular and addictive. This piece reflects on the success of these simple, minimalist games – from classic Tetris to the more recent ‘Nervous Cat’.

New translations

How is trauma transmitted across generations? Starting with a classroom scene of abuse from a teacher repeating shame techniques learnt as a red guard, ‘How the cultural revolution affected a post-80s such as me’  reflects on the long term consequences of the Cultural Revolution in the Chinese psyche. This is the first completed translation by our translator Abukamil – whom we would like to thank and congratulate.

People, within and without China, often like to emphasize its exceptionalism, and unique characteristics of China’s culture. ‘Just how special are we proposes an original approach to the question. Starting with a theoretical look at the opposition between pluralism and universalism, the piece argues that excessive emphasis on Chinese only characteristics may hide a secret danger, that of keeping China outside of universal values; or as Guo Yuhua articulates it ‘are Chinese people really people’?