中国特色阅读笔记 - 1922年夏

Reading Notes with Chinese Characteristics, in May, 1922

三十年前的月亮早已沉下去,三十年前的人也死了,然而三十年前的故事还没完──完不了。—— 張愛玲《金鎖記》

“The moon 30 years ago has set, and people 30 years ago has died, but the story 30 years ago hasn’t been over–it can’t be over” Eileen Chang, “The Golden Lock”

Friendly Reminder: Table of Contents can be found on the side bar.

“A Teacher in China Learns the Limits of Free Expression”

Author: Peter Hessler

The original link is here

Quotes and Comments

An infinitely smaller problem, but one that occupied infinitely more of my energy, was that transition sentence. Chinese education traditionally emphasizes imitation of models and rote literary phrases, and my Fuling students diligently incorporated the transition into their argumentative papers. It infected other writing, too: personal narratives, dialogues, literary essays. I might be reading a paper about “Hamlet,” when suddenly a voice would boom out, worse than Polonius’s: “But we should not give up eating for fear of choking.” The words are a direct translation of yinyefeishi, a Chinese literary phrase. Over and over, I tried to explain that this sounds terrible in English.

  • “The transition sentence” (过渡句) was something I had to use as a part of the essay writing in Chinese all the time and I suspect the students mentioned adapt it into English. However I’m curious how that counts as “transition sentence” because it looks like a comment at the end of the analysis, or maybe they use it as a new point… In general 成语 is not the best thing to use in an essay I’d say. I’m also wondering whether “因噎废食” (give up eating for fear of choking) is part of the 中庸之道 (staying in the middle)
    totally shifted the focus away but… I’m confused

For a returning teacher, this was a mystery: how had China experienced so much social, economic, and educational change while the politics remained stagnant, or even regressive? Nobody in freshman English was going to argue that it was a bad idea to remove Presidential term limits, or that the internment camps in Xinjiang should be abolished. Even if a student took a pro-government stance on a sensitive topic, he couldn’t fully engage with a counter-argument. And there was some risk for a teacher who played devil’s advocate while editing.

  • the answer, according to the latter part of the article, is that they are busy competing each other (involution/内卷) instead of exercising citizen’s rights to be against dictatorship…
  • Also I think the fact that this generation (well, my generation) grows up in the patriortic/nationalistic education makes it incredibly hard to see the “alternatives”.

I hadn’t thought it was possible to make “1984” any darker, but the students had succeeded.

  • My favourite quote from the article. This also leads me wondering how people can separate between the literary work and the real life they are experiencing, since the students do appear to be very competent in understanding the flaws of the “system”, but maybe just as he mentioned in the article, they recoganize the “drawbacks” but they also don’t support 因噎废食 (yin ye fei shi)

But my students at Sichuan University were old souls. They knew how things worked; they understood the system’s flaws and also its benefits. The environment they were entering was essentially the same one in which their parents had worked: for the first time, China has been both stable and prosperous for a period that’s longer than a university student’s memory.

  • In Chinese we have a very harsh term to comment on people of this kind (精致的利己主义者 delicate egoist, it’s harsh in a collectivism context).
  • It also explains why those students don’t find any problems with the ruling government – they are the beneficiaries and they don’t have any incentive to change the system.

I think my generation, born in the age of the Internet, is puzzled and somehow depressed by the conflict between Chinese beliefs and Western ones. Propaganda about liberty and reason prevails on the Internet while propaganda about patriotism and Communism prevails in the textbooks. Youngsters are mostly attracted by the former, but when passing exams and pursuing jobs, they should bear in mind the latter, and in practice in China, more often than not, the latter functions better.

  • Interesting perception by bringing the Western’s POV. For me I’m more confused by the contradictory stances people take at the same time. To better capture my feeling I would use the term 撕裂感 (the sense of tearing?).
  • Put into the context, I think it manifests how it’s just easier and more practical not to go against the current.

The Little Pink phenomenon, which seems to be amplified by social media, was not something I observed in the classroom. In my experience, the Chinese students of twenty-five years ago were much more nationalistic, and much less aware, than the students of today.

  • Very interesting observations and I should let all my internet friends read this paragraph. I think a part of it is also the different social-economic status his students were in compared to the students he taught in Sichuan University. Students here are just being very shrewd in choosing what works the best for them.

It impressed me as another way in which the system functioned effectively: in the hybrid arrangement, the decision to get rid of the American teacher could be blamed on the American institution.

  • How did he confirm this though. Also there’s not a lot of details about it. I guess it is always hard…

When teaching Orwell, I often thought about why such books aren’t considered a threat to the Party. In the novels of the Dystopian Trilogy, futuristic societies distract and control individuals by various methods: the continuous war and rewritten history of “1984,” the sex and soma drugs of “Brave New World,” the surgical removal of human imagination in “We.” But none of these books anticipates how useful competition can be in sustaining a long-term authoritarian state. In China, nationalistic propaganda might be effective for children and other people at a lower level, but there’s a tacit understanding that it won’t work as well for the highly educated. As long as these individuals have opportunities to advance and improve their lives, they are less likely to oppose authority. And the system doesn’t need to be hermetically sealed in the manner of “1984.” The vast majority of Chinese students who go abroad choose to return—for them, it’s as simple as yinyefeishi. If they were truly afraid of choking, they would remain in the United States.

  • The unexpected effect of involution.

And there’s a point at which competition becomes a highly effective distraction. For most of my students, the greatest worry didn’t seem to be classroom security cameras or other instruments of state control—it was the thought of all those talented young people around them.

Holiday means others went out to play and I am studying, which is the time that I have the highest relative efficiency. I could learn more than others and I will get a higher GPA. Holiday is the best time that I can go surpass my classmates in study.

The week before I left the university, I met off campus with the publication’s staff. There were about twenty students, almost all of them female. That was another aspect of university life that wasn’t quite Orwellian. From “1984”: “It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy.” In my experience, female students seemed less nationalistic than the men, and I suspected they were less likely to jubao a professor.

Why Xinjiang is an internal settler colony

by Darren Byler, Sept.1, 2021

The original link is here

Quotes and Comments

  • Context

    These new trees, planted in the 1990s and 2000s, were the “Open Up the Northwest” (西北大开发 xīběi dà kāifā) and “Open Up the West” trees (西部大开发 xībù dà kāifā). The people I interviewed also called them “investment” (Uy: kapital) trees. In many cases, the work brigades, which are still the most common form of rural government in Xinjiang, sold the rights to these young trees to villagers. At a certain point, decades from now, they will be permitted to cut down the trees and enjoy the profits of their lumber.

    In the early 2000s, the Hú Jǐntāo 胡锦涛 administration took the regional project “Open Up the Northwest” to a new level, rebranding it as “Open Up the West.”

    The “Open Up the Northwest” project had resulted in rapid and sustained economic growth of over 10 percent per year since 1992, so state authorities were eager to take the development projects further, opening new markets and new sites for industrial production. By the early 2000s, the Uyghur homeland had become the country’s fourth largest oil-producing area, with a capacity of 20 million tons per year.

    • I (for whatever reason that is) never had a second thought about the “Open up the West” policies. Very important context to add I’d say.
  • Cotton:

    At the same time, in June 1992 Chinese leaders announced a new policy position that would turn the Uyghur homeland into a center of trade, capitalist infrastructure, and agricultural development capable of further serving the needs of the national economy. One of the main emphases in the new proposal was the need to establish Xinjiang as one of China’s primary cotton-producing regions.

    By 2020, 85 percent of Chinese cotton was produced in the Uyghur region.

    Using threats of land seizures and detention — a type of legalized theft or expropriation — local authorities often forced farmers to convert their existing multi-crop farms to cotton in order to meet buyer-imposed quotas. In the same manner, in their capacity as brokers with state enterprise buyers, local officials forced farmers to sell their cotton only to these buyers. These corporations in turn sold the cotton at full market price to factories in Eastern China.

  • Colony

    For Tohti, the most important factors associated with Uyghur dispossession were “blatant ethnic discrimination in hiring, a rural labor surplus, overconcentration of economic resources in Han Chinese-dominated urban areas, ‘stability maintenance policies’ that restrict population mobility and exacerbate rural unemployment, and severe underinvestment in basic education.” Millward argues that “what Tohti described — without using the word — is a colonial system of settlement and extraction in Xinjiang.”

    • I do want to add here why we wouldn’t find analyzing Chinese investment in Africa from the colonialism pov productive–the details do matter.

    This process has been fostered by state capital, which subsidized the development of natural resource and industrial agriculture sectors by injecting billions of yuan into the region. As the sociologist Ching Kwan Lee has shown, Chinese state capital often acts as a subsidy in securing long-term economic interests even if they are not immediately profitable. By investing in the Han settlement of Xinjiang, putting settlers to work in natural resource extraction and overseer positions on industrial farming plantations, and fostering a service sector that supported this development, the state was assured of a permanent reserve of domestic energy and raw materials essential to economic growth.

    • So basically extracting the region’s resources without benefiting the residents at all…

    In 2014, Uyghur protests against these obvious forms of west-east wealth transfer were officially outlawed as one of 75 signs of religious extremism or violent terrorism.

    In Xinjiang, dispossession is not just about a lack of compensation, it is about a process of illegalizing traditions and turning sacred land into property.

    These three elements — material dispossession, institutional domination, and settler occupation — are what established Xinjiang as a contemporary settler colony that was internal to the Chinese state.

Related Materials Mentioned in the Article


The link to the article is here. It was written in 2010, so after the 7.5 event in 2009. I think it is a good reference to the central gov’s attitude towards “民族大团结” as a narrative at that time, even though it does have a long history. Basically, the “multicultrualism” with Chinese characteristics means that we all fight and build the “socialism” together.



  • 第一个层次,即高一级层次的民族认同,就是对中华民族的认同
  • 第二个层次,即基层的民族认同,就是对56个民族各自社会身份和社会角色的认同
  • 多元一体格局中,56个民族是基层,中华民族是高层
  • 在当代中国,民族认同并不是单纯民族认同的问题,而是与祖国认同、中华文化认同、中国特色社会主义道路认同,紧密联系在一起的。


  • 和谐社会的建设,包含有双重的任务、解决两个方面的问题,第一,就是如何在一个市场经济的陌生人世界里构筑人际关系和谐、互助合作的新的社会共同体,这个社会共同体,在宏观上叫做和谐社会,在微观上叫做和谐社区
  • 第二,就是如何在价值观开放多元的环境中构建认同度高、归属感强的意义共同性,这种意义共同性,在宏观上叫做社会归属感,在微观上叫做社区归属感,对各个民族来说就是民族归属感




  • For me I think most words use a different definition here compared to their western origins.



New Regulations on Algorithms

One month after the implementation of new regulations on algorithms, how many personalized recommendation services still intrude on personal information?

Link to translation is here, and the original article is here. I found it on ChinaAI Newsletter

Since the implementation of the regulations, here’s what some companies have done:

  • WeChat, Meituan, Bilibili, Douyin, Taobao, Weibo, and Toutiao have added buttons for users to turn off personalized recommendation functions.
  • Some apps now let users view the specific personal info collected by the app as well as the frequency of collection. A few provide an option for users to clear previous activities on the app with one click.
  • The regulations also require companies to increase transparency about how their recommendation algorithms work. Meituan, one of the companies called out by that People exposé on food deliveries, now provides more information about how they calculate “estimated arrival time” for deliveries and builds in more time for delivery workers.

黨旗下的天秤:中國「法治」的政治邏輯|端傳媒 Initium Media

The origin source is here[] (my friend generously shared it with me), in traditional Chinese


耶魯大學張泰蘇教授和哥倫比亞大學金斯堡(T. Ginsburg)教授在最近的一篇論文中指出,「習近平領導下的中國共產黨確實進行了前所未有的集權,但它以高度法律化的方式做到了這一點,賦予法院對抗其他國家機關和黨組織的權力、堅持法律專業精神」



這種態度與中共十年前對法治的態度可謂截然相反。; 「把法律當作擋箭牌」












作者:王左中右 原文链接 archive


  1. 中文越来越低幼。

    • 好像什么事都是过家家。

    • 这么多年,我们为严将军头,为嵇侍中血。为张睢阳齿,为颜常山舌,语言和思想原本很有力量,原本是那样的铁骨铮铮,荡气回肠

  2. 中文越来越敏感。

    • “▢”这个符号虽然是为了屏蔽而诞生的,但它十分像另一个字——口。这就导致了很多原本R-18的内容,开始走向了十八禁的方向。 (我好喜欢这句话,虽然没什么营养)

    • 很多像“杀”这样词,本身并没有什么敏感,但越来越不让乱说,结果反倒是越来越乱说。

  3. 中文越来越失去创造力了。

    • 更可怕的是无所不在又烂俗的谐音梗,以各种刁钻的角度轰炸你的信息流。

    • 所以我们生活的时代:歌词越来越口水化,文学越来越网络化,诗歌越来越浅显化,大众词汇越来越庸俗化…

  4. 中文的废话越来越多了。

    • 文字本质上就是智力的剩余,废话本质上就是思想的懒惰。

Brief Comment:

  • 我觉得其实如果标题还有他的主语换一下就好很多:不是中文已经死了,是墙内社交媒体上的简体中文已经死了
  • 年轻人是谁教出来的lol
  • 房间里的大象…lol
  • 话说回来也是个逃避审查的好方法👌
  • 但是确实启发我,可以去做一些溯源



作者:郑伟 原文链接




What prompts me to read the article: Documentary We Graduate

《广电报》:说说您的第一部作品吧。 王光利:我记得那时候学校旁边是外国语大学,两所学校之间经常进行交流,他们学校有许多国外的学生,带来了许多优秀的片子。于是在1988年,我和贾樟柯他们创立了大学生电影节。这些做法引来了第三代导演的不屑,觉得我们什么都不懂还玩电影。好吧,那我们就无知者无畏一次吧,刚好那时协会布置了作业,让我们拍同学们的生活,最后我就拍出了《毕业了》这部作品,花费少,仅仅是表达我的内心世界。这部作品没过多久就火了,直到现在还经常能收到这部作品带给我的一些费用。有了这次毕业作品的初试,我就想真正拍一部电影,刚开始不知道拍什么,想拍纪录片但又不想太普通,就想拍有挑战性的,拍出的片子也起了一个很直接的名字,就叫《处女作》。最后就由圈内人带领,走地下电影的路线。现在回过头想想,很佩服那时的我,很有勇气,告诉你一件事,其实我拍《处女作》第一天才知道胶片长什么样。


在畢業典禮那天,周圍的美國同學尖叫、歡笑,但我的內心如一片秋天景象,孤寂而荒涼。一瞬間,我的耳邊響起的是重付的歌聲:“親愛的人,再見再見……” 親愛的人,我的生命是幸存的,但我的悲傷與記憶,永遠陪著你們。 (2001年6月7日)

from his facebook page




P11 我似乎必须不断地爬上去,然后再跌下来,从女人手里跌下来。这种例外还不错,可死亡不是这样的例外。死神总是作为男人降临,然后又不像男人了。他潜伏在那里等我们,令人讨厌地冒出来,总是在我们——就拿我当作例子吧——快成功的当儿来捣乱,阻止我们成功,迫使我们出局,连一句安慰话也没有。

P12 别再把自己当成避难所。这样就不会错过真理了。

P20 民众应该缓和自己的行为,以达到自己的目的。至少遇见深层次问题时不要躁动不安。遇见无法解释的事情,就应该让它在解释的地基上安息,直到地下窜出的花朵踢它的屁股。到时候,就该老家它起身为我们启蒙,让我们能对存在的事物有个概念。

P25 下一个问题:人醒后是什么?您会吻谁?我以前从未见过您。我怎么知道您原来是谁?我可是丧失了与生命的练习。虽然存在无与伦比,可人能干什么?人根本就没有比较的可能。您就这么来了,说您是王子。好吧,您也许就是王子,因为眼下我像是醒着,这只有您办得到,F太太当初就告诉过我了。


Warten als win auf ein Anders Sein aus sein.

P28 但我们在这里自然不想把时间看作永恒的敌人,至多是女性美的敌人,因为我作为上帝可以让您相信永生不是我们的目的,它的小妹妹——价值观永恒也不是。


P96 自然我是最漂亮的。我记不需要后母也不需要镜子就知道这一点。





P114 您可是看见了,女士们,先生们。俄底修斯,把脚放在挖沟挖出的土堆上,左胳膊放在大腿上,他用来抵挡影子的剑右手举着,在倾听令人敬仰的人物说话,他是弯着腰的睁眼瞎。您可是看见了,女士们,先生们。白发表明他上了年纪,左手的拐杖表明他是瞎子。您可是看见了,女士们,先生们。

想起lady Lazarus里的 Gentlemen, ladies


You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe In which I have lived like a foot

最后的revenge或许也能和诗篇结尾呼应 There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you. They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you. Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.








// 旁观者视角





// 我记得在看NPD的科普视频的时候有提到类似的technique
// 非常 非常典型的 trauma response
// 很喜欢这篇文章里纪录片编导以及媒体的视角(或者说反思?)



// 中年女性的处境










// …合理怀疑美国高校也是这样(damn)说好的China Task Force呢怎么不用来针对CSSA (喂)是觉得本科生没啥危害嘛,可是明明这帮人更像间谍一点啊(喂)

// 想起CSA(Chinese Students and Activists (CSA) Network) 最近的workshop说想要改变对留学生的stereotype,不想被CSSA代表(damn)




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