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by Jeremy Goldkorn (last update: March 24, 06 05:32 PM)

Writer, publisher and film producer John Chan Koon Chung (陳冠中) has started a blog called chenguanzhong where he has uploaded some of his writings in English and Chinese.

The top post is currently the English version of a meditation on Beijing called Who Said You Have to Love Me. Here is a little taste of it:

Beijing is not unfamiliar with the culture of the intruders – the Qidans, the Jurchens, the Mongols, the Manchus, the Nationalists, the Japanese, the Communists, and now the new phalanges of economic migrants, from expatriates to new rich from the provinces to peasant laborers. It would be historically correct to say that barbarians built Beijing.

Chan was profiled on Danwei in 2004: People: Chan Koon-chung

by Jeremy Goldkorn (last update: March 24, 06 02:12 PM)
Buy a magazine, get a gift - click to enlarge

If you are ever visited by magazine advertising sales people in China, you will inevitably be subject to a boring PowerPoint presentation.

You will see many pie charts that demonstrate how many "white collars" and "gold collars" read the magazine, and graphs illustrating the different types of content in the magazine and how the content appeals to the usually fictional reader demographics.

But sometimes it seems that it does not matter what content is in the magazine: as long as it published with a free gift, sales will go up. This is a list of gifts that came with the March issues of a small selection of glossy magazines:

- Vogue offered readers a make-up mirror.
- Rolling Stone gave away a baseball cap
- Mingshi (Prestige) magazine included a replica antique snuff bottle
- Car and Driver offered a pillow that can be attached to a car seat
- Lady came with a scarf
- Marie Claire contained a photo frame

by Jeremy Goldkorn (last update: March 24, 06 12:31 PM)

That's China is the title of an article by Mark Kitto in Prospect magazine, that starts like this:

After seven years building up a magazine empire in China, I had it stolen by the state. I lived in the grey zone that is China's media business and, despite my commitment to the country, paid a high price.
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 23, 06 03:47 PM)

Some kind soul has prepared a chart to help navigate the complicated world of celebrity gossip:

Beijing music scene soap opera.

Yeah, it's old news - the original text version purported to prove that Faye Wong and Zhou Xun were 妯娌. A later black-and-white version was a little hard to read. This latest version has been making the rounds of blogs and forums lately probably in reaction to the news earlier this month confirming that Dou Wei and Gao Yuan had separated a couple years back. And Dou Wei and Dou Peng aren't really related at all - they just share a surname.

Still, it'd make a pretty good TV serial, don't you think?


Another chart is needed to outline the relationships between the characters in Zhang Yimou's new movie, Golden Armor, particularly for star Jay Chow, who reportedly didn't know what the movie was about when he agreed to do it after Zhang saw his performance in the music video for Fearless.

Golden Armor takes the Cao Yu play Thunderstorm and sets it in Tang Dynasty China. The chart helpfully shows the correspondence between the roles played by Chow Yun-fat, Gong Li, Jay, and the other actors, and the Zhou and Lu families of the original play.

What it does not do is lay out the conspicuous similarities that have led to accusations that Golden Armor is stealing from Feng Xiaogang's The Banquet.

Links and Sources
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 22, 06 11:23 PM)
World Military Affairs magazine.

There's a brief note over at Century Chinese International Media Consultation that lists periodicals confiscated from newsstands by order of the Beijing Newspaper & Periodicals Circulation Bureau. Though many of the listed titles are unlicensed, the list also includes popular magazines and papers that had valid publication numbers. The best-selling World Military Affairs, China Marketing and China Computer World, the People's Revolutionary Army Museum's Military History, and the English-language 21st Century were all scheduled to be pulled along with their illegal brethren.

According to the note, posted on the 20th, the blacklist was issued by the bureau in January. A look through the inventory of a dozen or so Beijing newsstands this afternoon finally turned up an April issue of World Military Affairs, so we'll hold off on the cries of doom.

WMA is one of the country's top-selling magazines - incomplete statistics collected through China Post's distribution numbers put it in the top twenty in Xining, Taiyuan, Nanjing, and Shenyang. China Marketing was #16 in both Guiyang and Xi'an, and another blacklisted magazine, Speech and Eloquence ranked #14 in both Changsha and Guangzhou.

China Marketing from November, 2005.

The vast majority of the magazines ranked in the top 20 are priced below 4 yuan (US$0.50). Some of the software, sports, and auto-themed magazines are priced slightly higher; China Marketing is 7.5 yuan.

Fighting over the top three spots are Readers (3 yuan), a digest magazine, Bosom Friend (3.5 yuan), a women's interest magazine, and Stories (2.5 yuan), whose title is pretty self-explanatory. They are published twice a month, and have circulation numbers reportedly between 4 and 8 million (see the Danwei TV spot for visuals and more info).

Overall, stories appear to be what readers are most interested in. Apart from Stories itself (two issues a month plus a supplement), Fiction Monthly, Story King, Science Fiction World, Shanghai Stories, Legends New and Old, and Chapter Fiction all make an appearance in the rankings.

Links and Sources
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 22, 06 12:03 PM)

If you had the misfortune to take Beijing public transportation during rush hour yesterday, you may have seen a new on-board traffic TV service. The ad delivery machines that have appeared in around 10,000 taxis and buses throughout the city will now deliver up-to-the-minute reports of traffic jams and accidents so you'll know why your commute is taking so darn long.

Beijing All Media and Culture' s ad network will run five hours a day of traffic-related programming - views from more than 700 cameras installed throughout Beijing will be processed by BAMC, with the results sent out to viewers in cabs, buses, and the #13 subway line.

BAMC also says that starting in June of this year, individuals will be able to subscribe to the mobile television service, allowing them to recieve updates on the World Cup while they are stuck in traffic.

BAMC's promo spot is here. Why read the newspaper or gawk at passing beauties when you can watch ads in the comfort of the back seat of your taxi?

Links and Sources
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 21, 06 10:49 PM)
Kang Kang's show in Taiwan. Topic: underwear models.

Kang Kang (aka Kang Jinrong) is an entertainer from Taiwan who was on the mainland earlier this month promoting his new album, My Family (我的家庭). This album is a reworked (and sanitized) version of one that came out on Taiwan last fall under the slightly more agressive title What's it to you who I marry? (管你妈妈嫁给谁).

Kang Kang is known for his colorful language and crude humor, and did his promotional tour on the mainland under the label "talk show host" rather than "singer," a choice that enabled him to comment on the cross-straits disparity: remuneration (hosts from Taiwan make serious coin on the mainland), attitude (mainland hosts should find their own expression amid their imitation of Taiwan mannerisms), and Super Girls (he wants to create a program that will pay contestants for how long they last on stage before the judges kick them off). The fact that his music has not been judged too highly may have had something to do with it as well.

Speaking to Southern Metropolis Weekly about talk show topics, Kang Kang compared the situation on the mainland to that in Taiwan:

Serving in the army, for example. What does it mean that I was in the army over there? There are some things that are too sensitive; to casually bring them up may or may not raise problems. So there is certainly some hands-tying going on. When I come over to do a program, I have to add in a couple of mainland partners in order to pass certification.

[He gives an example:] I read in the newspaper that cigarette smoking is bad for you, so I stopped smoking. I read in the newspaper that drinking is also bad for you, so I stopped drinking. I read in the newspaper that sex is bad for you, so I stopped reading the newspaper. This is a funny joke, but I can't tell it over here. Telling jokes in Taiwan is closer to American talk shows, but telling jokes on the mainland is more like crosstalk, and you can't talk about this stuff. I'm learning slowly, finding out what I can and can't talk about. I need to be careful.

Continue reading "Talking about sex on TV in Taiwan and the mainland"
by Jeremy Goldkorn (last update: March 21, 06 10:38 PM)

Below is the second episode of Danwei TV. It's about news stands, magazines and newspapers in Beijing.

Click on one of the little screens below to play; you can also view it in a larger format on the website, or on the website.

The short program shows a typical news stand where many Beijing residents purchase newspapers and magazines, and includes short interviews with a news stand operator and two customers. It was shot and edited by Luke Mines, with the original music by Fernando Fidanza.

Before you watch, ask yourself this question: What news magazines do you read?

The circulation figures for the Beijing Evening News come from ESWN: The Real Circulation Numbers for Beijing Newspapers

After reviewing the video, I fear there might be small inaccuracies when it comes to the stated prices of the glossy magazines. These errors will be corrected in text in this space as soon as possible.

If you want to know more about print media in China, please have a look at the links below.

Links and Sources
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 21, 06 11:28 AM)

A Beijing-based film company is looking for a host for an English-language documentary to be shot in Xi'an.

The documentary requires a fifty-something man - a scholarly, professorial type like John Romer in those Discovery Channel films about ancient empires - to host and provide voice-over narration.

Shooting in Xi'an will take place over ten days in the beginning of April.

Interested? Contact joel [@]

by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 20, 06 08:21 PM)
Yu Hua signs Brothers Part II.

This week's most talked-about book hasn't come out in print yet. Yu Hua, whose first part of the novel Brothers was a bestseller last summer, serialized several sections of the second part on his blog at Sina ahead of the novel's official release on Sunday. Yu Hua's been criticized for not spending enough time on his blog, and for throwing up older, previously published material to avoid letting it go entirely to seed. The appearance of three chapters of his new book lend credence to his earlier excuses that he was simply too busy working on his writing to blog.

Apart from his personal blog, the second part of Brothers also appears in issues 2 and 3 of Harvest magazine, and it will be serialized on Sina's Book Channel. In answer to several questions posed by people commenting on his blog, Yu Hua said that the three chapters he posted were the most pleasant parts of the new volume; the fortunes of the main characters go rapidly downhill from there.

Turning to popular books in print, we find familiar faces on the bestseller list. Net writer Annie Baby has Padma (#2), emoticon-happy Gwiyeoni has the third book in the Outsider series, and Dan Brown's Deception Point (#4) joins The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Digital Fortress in a Chinese edition. The only other new title on the list this week is Peking Duck Restaurant (#8) by director Gu Rong. A copy of this book could not be found for this article, but it appears to be an adaptation of the 1990 film starring Chen Baoguo and Ge You that told the story of the Quanjude restaurant.

Continue reading "Beijing Bestsellers: Zhang Zhongxing's philosophy, a taste of Yu Hua, and more Dan Brown"
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 19, 06 09:24 PM)

Even as Lei Feng Day recedes into the past, the Lei Feng Spirit lives on still. Here, in a true spirit of serving the people, we answer two burning questions about the good soldier.

1. Why are there so many freakin' photographs and stories about Lei Feng?

To address this question, we look at an excerpt of the new Lei Feng biography (Lei Feng 1940-1962). The passage below is taken from the chapter "Lei Feng's 19 poses."

In February, 1961, the Chinese army reached a high point of "Learn from Lei Feng." The Shenyang military district decided to conduct a traveling exhibition put on by the political department and the 10th regiment where Lei Feng was stationed. The group in charge of planning the exhibition prepared to use photographs to reflect events after Lei Feng entered the army, and to do this, they would have to reshoot a number of pictures.

The Shenyang military district engineering commander issued an order concerning the reshoot of Lei Feng pictures: Photography must be real, and it must reflect Lei Feng truly doing good acts.

Zhang Jun was given the order to put together a draft of the contents for the Lei Feng photo reshoots. The outline for the reshoot used as its resources the September 1960 designation of Lei Feng as an "Economizing Model Soldier," the records of his deeds After Liberation I Had a Home; My Mother was the Party and Bitter Recollections and Sweet Thoughts, and his own diary and personal statements.

After this photo shoot outline was authorized by the leadership, Ji Zeng was made responsible for shooting the photos during the half-month around the Spring Festival. At that time, nearly 20 photos were taken; the photos are familiar to the public who saw them at the exhibition. According to Zhang Jun's outline at the time, the photos are as follows (in parenthesis are Zhang Jun's shooting notes):

Continue reading "A Lei Feng two-fer"
by Jeremy Goldkorn (last update: March 19, 06 11:29 AM)

From the New York Times:

China May Release Jailed Times Researcher, Lawyer Says

By Jim Yardley

BEIJING, March 17 — Chinese authorities on Friday withdrew at least part of the case against a Chinese researcher for The New York Times, in a surprise legal maneuver that left unclear whether he would soon be released as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit the United States next month.

by Jeremy Goldkorn (last update: March 19, 06 10:42 AM)

The China Daily has published an article, taken from CRI titled: China's innovation campaign: dos and don'ts.

The article starts with this cryptic statement:

China has launched a national campaign to enhance its capability for innovation. But experts advise that does not mean China always has to be the original inventor.

The article extensively quotes Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who recently attended "a seminar recently held by the China Center for Economic Research of Peking University".

If you would like to contribute to innovation at The China Daily, they are advertising jobs for editors and writers; see the link below.

Links and Sources
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 18, 06 12:32 AM)

Zhang Rui is news editor at the Beijing Times, and writes an excellent blog about the media business.

Early Friday morning he posted two articles about the media business in China - where it should be headed to do the most good. Translated below is the first of these, which was touched off by a picture he received from another reporter of a beggar reading the Beijing Times.


In the comments, someone named rdzn gives the circumstances behind this photo, which he took in winter, 2003. The man in the photo collected newspapers and other refuse, but every day had a new issue of Beijing Times from which he would read aloud.

Beggars' Paper

I had a guest over in the evening. A Tsinghua doctoral advisor, professor, and an official. During dinner, a reporter Xiao Feng told me that a friend had given him a photo of a beggar reading the Beijing Times at a subway station entrance. This was like discovering a treasure, and I said, yes, yes, send it to me.

That night, I opened up this image.

I'm cranky and abnormal, this I know. I also know that in this abnormal society, abnormality is normal. So when I opened up this image in ACDSEE and covered my whole computer screen, a strange feeling took me by surprise. Yes, a strange feeling - I didn't know if it was happiness, sadness, pride, or shame.

Continue reading "Who should be reading your newspaper?"
by Joel Martinsen (last update: March 17, 06 11:45 PM)
"On the mainland, a person who wears pajamas is a rich person."

Along with the babes and the trolling for anti-Japanese hysteria, one favorite pastime on China's online forums is complaining about the ignorance and prejudice shown toward the mainland by the entertainment industry in Taiwan.

This image comes from a quiz show called "Guess"; bbs commentors mock the contestants for their ignorance of important facts in Chinese history ("How many lions are there on Marco Polo Bridge?" "Marco Polo Bridge has lions?"), as well as their idiotic ideas about the mainland (see the caption to the photo above). One contestant concluded, "You shouldn't ever go to the mainland. You don't know how vulgar the people are there."

Also circulating lately is a set of stills from the talk show "Horny," in which guests spout off about the state of love and relationships on the mainland. Speaking to the topic "How to prevent men from going after mistresses," one woman makes the claim that all mainland girls are interested in is money. Another guest on the show says that the PRC is a "lawless country," that "rape isn't a crime," and that "this follows what Mao Zedong preached back then, communal property and communal wives."

All of this discussion is made possible by the widespread practice of subtitling television shows - even without the audio track, Internet users can follow the dialogue from a series of screen captures.

Links and Sources
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March 26, 2006 | 负责报道一部分

Media, advertising, and urban life in China.