This column offers a weekly digest of the latests pieces published on our website and our most recently completed translations. A special post for texts published and translated during our December Translation Challenge is coming soon!

mask in beijing

New texts published

Material wealth and cultural poverty among Chinese youth – Zhang Tianpan

Cultural analyst Zhang Tianpan explores recent controversies around four Chinese ‘media celebrities': Mei Mei, Rui Chenggang, Han Han and Guo Jingming. Through an analysis of attacks against them and their own professed attitudes and values, he traces a portrait of a wealth-obsessed, culturally deprived new Chinese generation.

Love and revolution (4) – Ye Fu

This fourth instalment in Ye Fu’s family story recounts major historical events that happened during the Second World War,  from Xi’an to Wuhan, and defined the future of the Chinese Communist party.

Tracing the source of guilt – He Weifang

Japan and Germany both committed crimes during the Second World War – but what happened since is very different. While Germany went through deep self-reflection to heal the wounds of the war, and deal with its guilt, Japan adopted another course. Lawyer and historian He Weifang explores the parallel stories of these two countries, and how they accept or deny the guilt of the past today.

A sad song to the food market – Li Jingrui

You are what you eat, they say – but where you buy your food is also a major component of your identity. In this piece, writer Li Jingrui recounts the changes in her food-buying habits, from the old food markets of Beijing to the shining aisles of Carrefour, the Chinese supermarkets of New York, on to Taobao’s delivery services, and finally, back to the old food market.

New translations

Why is Tibetan Buddhism hotter and hotter? – Yang Fenggang 

After the closure of all religious sites in the Cultural Revolution, China is currently experiencing a return to religion, with a particular interest for Tibetan Buddhism. This piece explores some of the reasons for this enthusiasm. Translation by Julien Leyre and Ting Wei Tai.

How great is Tokyo – He Weifang

The media like to play up China’s hostility to Japan. However, as this post reveals, some writers express a sense of admiration for Japanese society. Translation by Ting Wei Tai.

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. The Festival was on last week

mala xiang guo

New texts published

Why does China like conspiracy theories – Yu Ge

The belief that conspiracies and secret arrangements have a large influence on our collective lives is not an exclusively Chinese phenomenon; yet this belief may be more widespread in China than elsewhere in the world. In this piece, Yu Ge reflects on potential causes for the vogue of conspiracy theories in China, from Cold War mentality to backdoor politics.


Chengdu – Wei Zhou

It’s been seven years since writer Wei Zhou last visited Chengdu – in the meantime, the relaxed Capital of South Western China turned into an ambitious metropolis. But in the alleys and Museums old Chengdu, Wei Zhou still manages to capture the unique flavor of Sichuan culture.


Left-right wing illusion – Yu Ge

Was Hitler left-wing or right-wing? From this extreme historical case, political analyst Yu Ge brings relativity to our conceptions of the political spectrum


Genius and Patience – Li Yinhe

Is talent a gift from heaven, or the result of sheer persistence and determination? This short piece by sociologist Li Yinhe offers a psychological insight into the sources of great achievements.


New Silk Road, what’s the plan? – Zheng Yongnian

Zheng Yongnian is the director of Singapore National University’s East Asia Institute, and a geopolitical analyst. He’s recently reflected about ‘the silk road’ as a key concept in China’s new model of international engagement. In this piece, he’s wondering about the model for international leadership that China might adopt, and how they can learn from, and differ from previous Western colonialism in the region.

You might be interested in reading other pieces by Zheng Yongnian on the same topic, ‘Important questions on the new Silk Road’, and ’China’s Silk Road and the spirit of the times’

Food writer, I love you: lamb soup – Bo Bangni

This series explores memories associated with eating typical dishes of Chinese cuisines. ‘Lamb Soup’ evokes a scene of family drama, marriage break up, and renewed commitment.

An app to share food-related emotions – China 30s

China 30s is a Shanghai-based organization that documents innovative projects led by young Chinese people from the ‘sandwich generation’, born between the late seventies and the mid-eighties. This post introduces an app developed to transform food picture sharing into a rich social experience, integrating restaurant reviews, emotions, and dish rating.

New translations

If the Chinese university exam is a cause of massive alienation and distress among Chinese young people, if it represents a large injustice, and does not reflect actual intelligence, is it not our duty to rise against it? My Views on the University Entrance Exams by philosopher Li Yehang is more than just a loose opinion, but a call to reform education, for the sake of China’s future.

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’?

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.


New texts published

Can friendship last between women – Shui Muding

Writer Shui Muding explores the meaning of the word ‘guimi’, an intimate and exclusive affection between young women. Deep friendship between women is certainly possible, she says, but the very close-knit, intimate feelings of teenage years cannot last.

Dancing on the street” from collective to public space – Zhang Tianpan

Cultural analyst Zhang Tianpan explores the new phenomenon of dancing on the square in China, under a particular angle: the sense of public space ownership, and the constitution of a community.

Zhang Tianpan will speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival – book your tickets now!

Food memories: bamboo shoots – Bo Bangni

In her series ‘food memories’, Bo Bangni explores the personal and collective history of certain dishes – followed by a recipe. This week, the story of a ‘fat girl’ at a restaurant who lost a considerable amount of weight on a panda diet, eating only bamboo shoots.

You can’t regret a renovation – China30s

China30s is a Shanghai-based magazine offering portraits of alternative Chinese innovators from the ‘sandwich generation’, born between the late 70s and the mid-80s. Considering the high cost of land in Shanghai, how to build a satisfying little nest? Young architect Ying Chaojun caused a lot of buzz on the internet, and attracted many viewers, with the renovation project he conducted on his own apartment: ’40 square meters, 100,000 RMB, 150 days’. Apart from amazing ideas for renovation, he wants to advocate for everyone’s capacity to lead a better life.

Donning the cloak of wisdom – Xin Lijian

What happens when business people meet Buddhist monks? What can we learn from Buddhism? In this piece, Xin Lijian reflects on spiritual pursuits in contemporary life, and the particular role that Buddhism plays in a secularized China.

New translations completed

In ‘Traditional paper media shouldn’t let itself collapse, journalist Wei Yingjie calls on the danger of crying wolf – even if the new media is challenging, the transition must be managed

’How will the book review industry get healthier? is the last piece in a series about Chinese book review ethics by Zhang Tianpan. Here, he invites media, publishers and reviewers to consider ways ahead for a healthier environment: media to maintain independent judgement, publishers to resist short-term commercial pursuits that affect book quality,