FAKE NEWS, OLD NEWS, COMIC BOOKS AND COSPLAY IN CHINA

FAKE NEWS IN CHINA

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David Bandursk of the China Media Project wrote: “In China this week, “fake news” is in the news. But given the confusion of China’s press environment, where controls and propaganda crisscross with the worst commercial appetites and the best professional impulses, it is often difficult to tell which articles are real “fake news”, which are officially sanctioned falsehoods, and which are fake “fake news,” branded as such by government officials who have an active interest in suppressing the truth.[Source: David Bandursk, China Media Project, January 27, 2011] [Source: David Bandursk, China Media Project, January 27, 2011]

“By some accounts, “fake news”, or “xujia xinwen” , has plagued news media in China since at least the Cultural Revolution, at which time media fabricated news to suit the political purposes of the Gang of Four. Chinese government officials, however, deny definitions of the term that lump in state propaganda, and the allegation of “fake news” can often signal action against news seen to violate propaganda restrictions---news, in other words, that is too true.”

“Over the past twenty years, as economic reforms have moved rapidly ahead, the problem of “fake news” has certainly grown more serious. Many officials and academics point to the commercialization of media industry and intensified market competition as the root causes. But what about propaganda itself? It is not “fake news” when state media run news stories quoting rescued mine workers declaring as they emerge to safety: “Glory be to the Communist Party, glory be to the government, and glory be to the people!”

“In a highly commercialized media environment subject to strict propaganda controls, media find it safer and more profitable to avoid real public interest stories in favor of pleasant, harmless and salable falsehoods. Control, therefore, has played a central role in undermining truth and credibility, and is the soil that nurtures “fake news.”

“Relevant to the issue of state media and “fake news,” there has also been quite a bit of online chatter in China in recent days about remarks made by Deng Yaping, a former ping-pong champion who is now deputy secretary of the Party’s official People’s Daily. Deng claimed in December that the official “mouthpiece” of China’s leadership has “never published fake news” in the past 62 years. But that claim rankles with many, who can cite endless cases of false, misleading or sloganeering coverage in recent months and years---not to mention in decades past.”

Motorcycle Mama and Fake News

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David Bandursk of the China Media Project wrote: “The first story to talk about---almost certainly an authentic piece of “fake news”---was a popular news story in the Chongqing Evening News last week about the saga of Li Chunfeng, a migrant worker in Zhejiang who reportedly drove a motorcycle 2,000 kilometers home to Chongqing after being seized with an irrepressible desire to see her six-year-old son. Seeing the story rising to the top at China’s leading online news site, QQ.com, we wrote on CMP Newswire last week that we suspected the story, which was drawing national attention and sympathy, was fake, and many Chinese journalists and readers have said the same since.” [Source: David Bandursk, China Media Project, January 27, 2011]

“The Chongqing Evening News story seems to play wantonly on popular sympathies ahead of the Chinese New Year, when millions of Chinese struggle to find their way back home to reunite with their families against the world’s biggest transportation logjam, when train and bus tickets are virtually impossible to buy. It tells how Li Chunfeng dreamt one evening in Zhejiang that her boy’s body was covered in blood and under attack by rats, so she decided the next day to make the long journey home on a motorbike she had purchased with an advance from her boss, disguising herself as a man for the sake of safety on the long journey.”

“Li Chunfeng is the only source for this saccharine “news feature,” printed on a full page with two photos that look suspiciously posed, including one taken from the front as Li, with safety helmet on, rides a motorcycle with a look of heartfelt determination. The story is too much, too over the top, and too thin on real facts and sources---despite the fact that it is apparently a concerted effort by a “reporter”, a “correspondent” and an “intern,” all of whom are credited in the byline.”

“The story instantly found a warm-hearted following among Chinese Internet users, who gave Li Chunfeng the affectionate name “Motorcycle Mama” . But doubts about the authenticity of the story were voiced just as quickly, as reported in this China National Radio story. Some asked, for example, whether it was humanly possible for anyone to survive six days on half a bottle of water, as the news story claimed Li had.”

“Before long Xi’an’s commercial Huashang Bao followed up on the story with Li Chunfeng herself and found that she was unable to confirm basic facts, such as exactly when she had set off on the journey and whether she had taken national roads or expressways. Li seemed able to recall only one or two specifics about the journey at all.”

Writing at Southern Metropolis Daily today, well-known journalist and blogger Wu Yue San Ren noted with good humor: "The story suspected of being fake news . . . told how a mother had driven her motorcycle 2,000 kilometers . . . and in her four days on the road slept only 6 hours and basically ate nothing. Of course, the greatest thing on earth is a mother’s love---but this greatness certainly doesn’t translate into superpowers. If this mother were truly a superhero, she would simply have flown home."

Real News Being Labeled as Fake News as Political Tool

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“Unfortunately, we also have this week an example of “fake news” being used as a tool of political control,” David Bandursk of the China Media Project wrote, “We learn from Chinese-language reports by Deutsche Welle and Radio France International, since confirmed by numerous Chinese journalists and activists writing on Twitter, that Chengdu Commercial Daily reporter Long Can was dismissed on January 21 for “serious violations” and “false reports,” or “baodao shishi” .” [Source: David Bandursk, China Media Project, January 27, 2011]

“Sichuan-based blogger Song Shinan reported on Twitter that the Central Propaganda Department had ruled as “fake news” Long Can’s December investigation for Chengdu Commercial Daily into the rescue of 18 students from Shanghai’s Fudan University who had hiked into a rugged mountainous area near China’s scenic Huangshan, a rescue that led to the death of a police officer.”

“For much of December, popular anger in China focused on the Fudan University students. Many said their recklessness and insufficient preparation had put the local police rescue team in a dangerous position. Long’s report revealed that local police in Huangshan had ignored three emergency calls to “110" by student Shi Chengzu earlier in the day. Receiving no response from local authorities, the students contacted “Number Two Uncle”, a relative of one of the students many have speculated is an influential Shanghai official.”

“Once contact with “Number Two Uncle” was made, authorities in both Shanghai and Anhui sprang into action. The local mayor, propaganda chief and police chief of Huangshan all joined the rescue, according to Long’s report. By this time night was falling on Huangshan and conditions were treacherous, but Shanghai officials reportedly said that “rescue must be made whatever the cost.”

Deutsche Welle reported that China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) subjected Long’s report to its own investigation under pressure from the Central Propaganda Department and unspecified official pressure in Shanghai (“Number Two Uncle”. GAPP then meted out the following punishment for Chengdu Commercial Daily: “1. journalist Long Can to be dismissed; 2. editor Zhang Feng to be fined 1,000 yuan; 3. executive editor Xu Jian to be dismissed; 4. head of the news desk, Zeng Xi , to be dismissed; 5. Zhang Quanhong , editorial board member in charge of the news desk, to be suspended from duties and subjected to severe examination; 6. editorial board member on duty that day, Wang Qi , to be fined 3,000 yuan; 7. chief editor Chen Shuping to be fined 3,000 yuan."

Long Can has insisted he told the truth and has complained vehemently about his unfair treatment. According to the RFI report in question, Shanghai police criticized Long Can’s investigative report on the Huangshan rescue, saying they had never received a report from a “so-called influential person” related to the trapped hikers. In any case Bandursk wrote, “The specific issues with Long’s report and the reasons why he and others have suffered as a result are not open for discussion in China. Long’s career as a professional journalist is almost certainly over, and a tragedy that is all too real hides behind an unsupported accusation of “fake news.”

Top 10 Fabricated News of 2010 According to Global Times

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1) A writers' conference in the presidential suite The Chinese Writers' Association (CWA) held a conference at the Hotel Sofitel in Chongqing from March 30 to April 2, 2010. On March 30, the West China City Daily (WCCD) published a brief in its entertainment section concerning a meeting of the CWA then underway in Chongqing. The single-paragraph article reported that delegates were staying in the presidential suite of a five-star hotel, feasting at a cost of 2,000 yuan ($304) per table, and shuttling around the city in Audis. The CWA fought back with a document from the hotel certifying that no one had stayed in the presidential suite and that all delegates had eaten at the standard hotel buffet during March 30 to April 4, when the meetings were being held (oddly, the certificate itself was dated April 2), and fired off an angry letter to the WCCD. The WCCD gave a letter of apology to the CWA on April 1, 2010. [Source: Global Times, January 25, 2011]

2) 2.2 million children died from indoor pollution each year A report published on May 17, 2010 by the China News Service said a study conducted by a health guidance center for the youth under the Standardization Administration showed that 2.2 million children die from respiratory illnesses every year in China. The Xinhua News Agency reported that it was an air filter manufacturer who released the misinformation. The air filter was developed by the Institute of Environmental Health and Related Product Safety. A worker at the Standardization Administration told the Global Times that a health guidance center for youth does not exist. And statistics from the World Health Organization show that the number of annual deaths from indoor air pollution is about 2.6 million globally.

3) Fried garlic master bought gold bars of 10 million pounds. A report by the Beijing News on June 2 said that a customer and investor in garlic stocks purchased 56 kilograms of gold bars. The National Development and Reform Commission issued a statement on June 11, saying the report was a completely groundless fabrication. It was identified that a staff of China Gold Group Marketing Co. compiled a manuscript of the report to e-mail sent to the Beijing News reporter on May 31, 2010. The paper published the report on June 2 without verification.

4) 70 percent of whistleblowers retaliated. According to the Legal Daily on June 20, 2010, the statistics released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate shows that 70 percent of whistleblowers suffered retaliation. The report was accused untrue by the body on June 22.

5) City of Xi'an to turn into municipality The Gansu Daily erroneously quoted an economist, saying that Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, had been designated to become a municipality directly under the central government on July 7, 2010. The report aroused concern, cheered local residents and pushed up share prices of Shaanxi-based companies, but the newspaper admitted later in the day it had been a mistake. A senior official of the National Development and Reform Commission denied that plans are in the works to make Xi'an China's fifth municipality.

6) Housing prices of Kashgar doubled in two months The Xinjiang Daily said that housing prices of Kashgar in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region had doubled in the antecedent two months of July, 2010. The rumor was denied by the National Development and Reform Commission on August 9, 2010.

7) Girl squeezed into pregnancy at Shanghai Expo. A young woman is said to have become pregnant after being raped at the Shanghai World Expo, reported by the Xinmin Evening News. The news spread like wildfire on many social-networking platforms. The victim, He Ting (pseudonym), had been raped while trapped in a huge crowd trying to get a ticket to watch a performance by a South Korean band on May 30, her mother was quoted as saying. The rape last only seconds, leaving the girl no time to scream for help, the stories said. However, police later said there had been no claim of rape as described in the story and no report of the story by the newspaper. It also said the names of the two reporters had been made up.

8) Qingdao military drills. Central News Agency in Taiwan was quoted by American media as saying that on July 27, 2010, the Chinese People's Liberation Army launched a military exercise in Qingdao, Shandong Province.

9) Online game "Stealing Vegetables" to be banned. The Ministry of Culture denied they are thinking about banning the popular online interactive game "Stealing Vegetables" after a controversy on October, 2010. An official surnamed Li from the ministry said they were studying whether the game produces any harmful impact before they consider changing or banning it, the Gansu-based Western Economic Daily said. "Stealing Vegetables" gained popularity among office workers in 2009.

10) Novelist Louis Cha died. Martial arts novelist Louis Cha, better known as Jin Yong, was claimed to have been dead by a microblogger on December, 2010. It was the second time in 2010 that Cha's "death" was disseminated on the Internet. The posting said Cha, 86, passed away at about 7:07 pm at the Santa Maria Hospital in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. However, Internet users quickly realized the information was false as no such hospital exists in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Fake Prostitute's Microblog

In September 2011, China National News reported: “China's popular microblog service provider Thursday permanently deleted the account of a self-proclaimed 'high-profile' female prostitute who was later discovered by police to be a 31-year-old man seeking online fame. Sina.com, the company that hosts the popular Weibo microblogging service, also suspended the accounts of six other users for two weeks for spreading rumours regarding the supposed prostitute, reported Xinhua. [Source: China National News, September 29, 2011]

Using the pseudonym 'Ruoxiaoan1', Lin posted 401 entries on his Weibo account starting from January, fabricating stories about working as a female prostitute in Hangzhou, the capital city of east China's Zhejiang province. On his microblog, Lin depicted himself as a 22-year-old woman who 'accidentally' lost her virginity and became a sex worker. His microblog account was followed by more than 250,000 users, including several prominent Chinese Internet celebrities. Some of his entries were reposted as many as 10,000 times.

Police said Lin took cues from foreign literature while writing his 'prostitute diary' in order to attract attention from netizens. Lin was fined 500 yuan ($78.5) in accordance with China's Internet regulations for disturbing public order. Lin apologized for his actions, police said.

Response to Fake News

In November 2011 there were multiple articles in official Chinese media about the importance of the proper handling of microblogs and the dangers of Internet rumors,” Bill Bishop, an American blogger living in Beijing, wrote on his blog DigiCha. One of the primary objectives of the articles was brining attention to stamping out so-called “fake news,” many regard as a rapidly metastasizing social ill.”

First, [fake news] has spread from commercialized, metro media to traditional authoritative [Party] media. Second, it has spread from entertainment and social news to economic and political news. Third, as traditional and internet-based media have had a more interactive relationship, fake news has been transmitted much more rapidly and widely. Fourth, there has been a trend from simple concocting of fake news to making idle reports, reporting gossip, exaggerating, going against common knowledge and other such issues, which have steadily spread. [Source: J. David Goodman, New York Times, December 5, 2011]

Mr. Bishop, the blogger, highlighted two recent articles -- one in Xinhua, the other in The People’s Daily, China’s official newspaper -- where Internet rumors are likened with illegal drugs. “The article states that “Internet rumors are “societal drugs”---which are no less harmful to society than Internet pornography, gambling or drugs,” he said of the piece in The People’s Daily. “The comparisons to drugs and drug dealing, sometimes a capital offense in China, may be a sign of an impending harsh crackdown on those who spread Internet rumors,” he said.

Faked Photo Incites Mockery

Peter Walker wrote in The Guardian, “For government officials in Huili, a distinctly modest county in a rural corner of south-west China, attracting national media coverage would normally seem a dream come true. Unfortunately, their moment in the spotlight was not so welcome: mass ridicule over what may well be one of the worst-doctored photographs in internet history.” [Source: Peter Walker, The Guardian June 29, 2011]

The saga began on Monday when Huili's website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.

The outraged---or amused---calls began to the county's PR department, which immediately apologised and withdrew the image. The explanation was almost as curious as the picture itself: as other photos showed, the three men did visit the road in question, but an unnamed photographer decided his original pictures were not suitably impressive and decided to stitch two together. "A government employee posted the edited picture out of error... The county government understands the wide attention, and hope to apologise for and clarify the matter," a Huili official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Officials from the county, in Sichuan province, even hurriedly signed up to the hugely popular Sina Weibo social media site to post an explanation. All this was, however, too late to prevent a torrent of mockery as the offending image was passed around chatrooms and other websites. Inevitably, within hours there was a flood of parodies showing the officials variously landing on the moon, surrounded by dinosaurs and, in one instance, joined on their inspection tour by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.

Fondness for Old News Newspapers

Antoaneta Becker wrote in the Asia Times, “The headlines of the day's newspapers strike passersby as being strangely out of sync with today's events: "China's quick deployment in the war with India astonishes the world". Or "Corruption dealt with the bullet by Mao Zedong", and "The true reason why Stalin repeatedly postponed Mao Zedong's visit to the USSR". Fastened with pegs to a string across the kiosk, these are novelty "old news" newspapers, which are becoming a hot commodity among both young and old, according to the kiosk girl. The editions look old but the fake newspapers' sensational, semi-fictional historical narratives are a novelty in a country where the truth about many events is censored.” [Source: Antoaneta Becker, Asia Times, October 21, 2010]

The fictional "old news" newspapers, for instance, carry items that run the gamut from the politically important to the curiously piquant. Along with articles that tear the veil of secrecy off relations between late top communist leaders, there are gossip columns about Mao Zedong's insistence on being served live carp during his 1957 visit to Moscow and a full-page feature about the extraordinary measures taken to keep secret the age of Chiang Kai-shek's wife, Song Mei-ling. (He was 50 and she was 21 when they married.)

Unlike the stiff jargon used by the Communist Party's flagship newspaper, The People's Daily, the narrative in the "old news" publications makes the venerated communist leaders of the past appear approachable, almost like the neighbors next door. Is this a jab at the current communist leadership's aloofness and continuous secrecy?

Old News Newspapers Tell the Truth of What Happened in the Past

The popularity of "Old News" newspapers is just one facet of China's new fad with revisiting history, Yang Jisheng told the Asia Times. He is a journalist and writer who recently published a book on one of China's best-kept historical mysteries - the man-made famine during the 1958-1961 Great Leap Forward. "Many things in our recent history have been covered up. What we do know is actually a kind of twisted truth," he said. "People who witnessed those events and read the papers at the time want to know what actually happened. Young people want to read things that are not available in their history books."

"People are hungry for the truth about their leaders both in the past and now, but we cannot write such stories about current leaders," said Yang. He humorously describes himself as a reporter who has gone from reporting the "new news" for the state-run Xinhua news agency to writing the "old news". He now edits the magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu, which chronicles Communist Party history through the personal accounts of its veterans.

Antoaneta Becker wrote in the Asia Times, And oddly, the choice topics of "old news" publications include current events. At the height of China's row with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the papers ran stories about the two countries' historical disputes. With Beijing increasingly assertive about its claims in the South China Sea, some of the papers have traced the history of China and Vietnam relations. The text of a 1958 declaration by the Vietnamese government allegedly recognizing China's claims over the disputed territorial waters is prominent in the 79th edition of Old News.

"It is great to have the big picture of history and understand a bit why things happened this way and not differently," Xie Yan, who regularly buys the periodicals told the Asian Times. Asked if he believes that they carry the whole truth about history, he smiled whimsically: "It is the one that does not contradict the government's view of history."

Limits of Old News Stories and Pushing Their Boundaries

Antoaneta Becker wrote in the Asia Times, “But while the veil of secrecy on many past issues may have been partially lifted, there are limits to the topics that can be probed. Some tragic events in China's recent history that the party worries about are not to be found in any of the "old news" papers. The most glaring omission is the massacre of unarmed civilians during the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square.” [Source: Antoaneta Becker, Asia Times, October 21, 2010]

“Likewise, no articles probe the true reasons for the Great Famine, which going by different accounts killed between 30 and 45 million people. Other omissions include the Communist Party's internal struggles that led to the violent political campaigns of the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution. Still, writers and independent filmmakers are increasingly pushing the boundaries of what is deemed permissible for historical study by the Communist Party. Yang Jisheng's book on the famine, Tombstone, arguably the first systematic account by a Chinese author of the mass starvation that Mao's collectivization policies caused, was published in Hong Kong in 2008. Banned in mainland China, thousands of copies have been smuggled in, and pirated copies exist too.

Feng Xiaogang, an epitome of commercial success in China's film scene, has produced a film about the country's most disastrous earthquake, the 7.8 Richter-scale temblor that flattened the entire Tangshan city in 1976, killing at least 300,000. Aftershock is a rarity not only because it deals with an event that casts unflattering light on the Communist Party's response to the disaster, but also because the truth about what went on in Tangshan at the time was kept secret from the outside world for many years after. As the survivors in Tangshan used their bare hands to dig through the rubble of their homes, stacking the corpses of their loved ones in the streets, the party refused all international aid and told its citizens to rely on themselves.

“Lu Chuan, a director who made the shocking 2009 film City of Life and Death about the horrors of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, claims that many Chinese intellectuals are now ignoring the party's taboos and looking into the reasons for the Tiananmen crackdown. "Many, many people in China quietly and systematically research June 4, as well as the Cultural Revolution, and collect historical documents to preserve the memory of those events," Lu said after a screening of his film in Beijing.”

Foreign Newspapers and Magazines in China

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In Beijing it is hard to find the International Herald Tribune, Asian Wall Street Journal and Financial Times except at hotels like the Hilton or Sheraton. They are printed in Hong Kong and shipped to mainland A ban on printing foreign newspapers in mainland China was upheld in 2006. A surprisingly large number of foreign magazines are available uncensored at Chinese public libraries.

Some employees at Chinese hotels make a living fishing copies of foreign magazines and newspapers from the garbage and selling them to vendors who in turn sell them on the black market. A survey done by the Beijing Committee of material left behind at the Xinqiao Hotel determined that half of the magazines and newspapers left behind were alright but the other half contained "half-naked advertisements" and "partly erroneous" or "problematic" material.

Chinese-language versions of Cosmopolitan, Esquire and National Geographic are sold in China. Playboy is banned. Cosmopolitan had a circulation of 385,000 in 2002. The Chinese version of the magazine is thick and filled with glossy picturers of Western and Asian women. There are stories about dedication and working hard, lots of Western features and advise on how to look good, but little mention of sex.

A Chinese version of Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands in China in August 2006. A Chinese-language version of Rolling Stone magazine was launched in China in March 2006. A single issue was released before regulators shut it down and dissolved its publishing agreement with its local partner. The inaugural issue featured Chinese rock pioneer Cui Jian on the cover along with articles about U2, Taiwanese star Jay Chou and blogging. The first run of the magazine’s120,000 copies’sold out quickly.

Rupert Murdoch plans to introduce Chinese and Indian versions of the Wall Street Journal.

Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and served as TIME Magazine's Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000). He now reports for CNN.

Comic Books in China

Mao and the Gang of Four used comic books to present their points of view and spread propaganda messages to illiterate and near-illiterate readers. Today's Communist leaders do the same thing. Beijing, for example, has released comic books that mock Falun Gong and it leader Li Hong-zei. The caption of a frame of one such comic book reads: "His illegal doings seriously disrupted the normal order of society, causing chaos in the people's social and moral principles."

Japanese manga dominate China’s comic market. Chinese manga feature round-eyed, cutesy-faced male heros and buxom girls who carry daggers and powerful guns. Popular heros in these comic book heros include a boy named Congazi (meaning "smart and masculine") and a girl called Juan Juan (meaning "beautiful and graceful"). Among the titles released by the Jieli Publishing House in Guangxi, Province are “Dreaming of Becoming a Star Singer, Soccer War”, and “Live or Die Air Journey”.

Chinese comics and manga are known as “manhua” in Mandarin. They have until fairly recently been controlled by the state.

“Soccer Boy” is a comic about a soccer-crazed boy with big feet who falls into a time tunnel with a girl from school and travels back 4,000 years to the Shang dynasty and returns to the present to help a young couple stop an evil man from selling panda hides. Soccer Boy himself rises above the laziness and lack of discipline of his peers, a group of "little emperors" from single child families, and finds time for both sports and studying.

In 1996, authorities urged comic makers to "foster the lofty idea of working hard to invigorate China and train its youth into a new generation with lofty ideals, moral integrity, a good education and a strong sense of discipline."

Tin Tin in China

The Tintin comics by the Belgian artist Herge are popular in China. The character first appeared in “little book” format in the 1980s. The first official set was released in 2001. More than two million copies of that were sold. Chinese versions of all 22 Tintin books---except the “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets” which was deemed to anti-communist’ were released in 2009, painstakingly translated from the original French by Wang Bingdong, and selling in small and large formation editions that cost $1.75 and $3. Ta Ziwen, one of the leader in China’s Tintin fan club told AFP, “I discovered Tintin in the “little books” in 1983. At the time, only a few books had been translated, but I was always waiting for the next one...China was opening up to the world, and I was discovering the world with Tintin.”

China was the only country that Tintin visited twice. In the first Tintin book set in China, “The Blue Lotus”, Herge took the side of the Chinese over their Japanese occupiers in the 1930s Shanghai. “At the time, that wasn’t an easy thing. The Japanese protested against Tintin’s pro-China stance. It was a dating publication,” the translator Wang told AFP.

Cosplay in China

Cosplay---dressing up as favorite video game or manga characters and acting like those character---is becoming increasingly popular in China. Dozens of performers and hundreds of fans show up at events like Chinajoy Cosplay Carnival in Beijing, where cosplay groups pose in tableaux and are rated by a panel of four judges---government officials and website editors---who award points based on style, performance and similarity to the original characters. The groups can have several dozen cosplayers.

Describing the action at a Chinajoy event in 2009, Jules Quartly wrote in the China Daily, “The group Pink Monkey Heaven’s elaborate role playing performance based on the online game Ragnarok, is one of the highlights. It begins with five girls dressed in Arabian Nights-themed costumes, gauzy skirts and golden bras, posing under golden wings...Organizers tried to eject the amateurs, insisting they need a media pass, but they gave up. A fresh set of cosplayers troop onto the stage, wave their weapons and strike a poses...Pink Monkey Heaven scores 85.6 and comes in second, just 0.4 of a percentage points behind the eventual winner Yi You Comic Club.”

Most of the participants are teenage girls or young women. One of the female members of Pink Monkey Heaven told the China Daily. “Its about putting on a good show, doing the best we can and enjoying ourselves.” A male member said, “I like fantasies, it’s fashionable and lively.”

Image Sources: Asia Obscura

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated July 2012


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