Half the Universe: Female Writers of Chinese Science Fiction

Through a year of quarantines and lockdowns throughout the world, many women are finding that hard won progress in their emancipation has somewhat diminished. Their roles regressed to the main caregiver, or manager of the house, regardless of their other responsibilities. On this year’s International Women’s Day, it’s important to remember the capabilities and achievements women have pushed forward with, both in spite of gender stereotypes and male bias, and in light of freedoms won. I have recently researched China’s net novelists, and was amazed at the creative output of women who were writing whilst also holding down full time jobs, and labouring under the yoke of domestic responsibility. Science fiction is another realm still primarily considered to be the domain of men, where women’s contribution is often overlooked, especially in China.


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Hesuipian

As Chinese New Year draws close, it’s worth spotlighting a relatively recent tradition, the ‘Hesuipian’, literally, “film to celebrate the birth of a new year”, the New Year Movie, which has now become a tradition of four decades.


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Takeaway Drivers, Stuck In the System

Over the pandemic and lockdown measures, online orders, couriers and delivery drivers have been a lifeline around the world for life to have a semblance of normality, nowhere is this more so than in China, where quarantine procedures have been one of the strictest.  One of the articles that went viral this autumn is a People (renwu) magazine coverage of the condition of takeaway delivery driver and the extraordinary pressures they’ve having to face. This article is, of course, written in Chinese, but it’s a piece that the world needs to read. So I present a quick translation in instalments. It’s the end of the year now, but as the virus rages on, we’re still having to rely on these unsung heroes. So I hope that after reading this article in translation, you’ll think about these people over Christmas, while enjoying the festive treats that have been delivered to your door, and opening gifts that were bought at the click of a button, and perhaps hold back from sending that complaint on the app, the next time your goods are a day or two late. Thank you to Radii for their coverage. 


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Shang-chi: Racist Stereotype or Legendary Kungfu Superhero?

I did some work on Shang-chi for a project last year, which didn’t materialise due to the pandemic. The filming of the MCU movie was delayed, also due to COVID_19. Now that it’s finally in the can, I’m celebrating its shaqing by reworking the contents of that unfortunate project into an article that looks at the pitfalls and potential of Marvel’s cultural representation of a character whose origins were so problematic, and yet whose development through the decades of comics has been so interesting.


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Chinese Horror: Contemporary Writers

Horror is one of my favourite genres. Previously during Zhongyuan (Ghost Month), I’ve written about different types of Chinese ghosts and spirits, classical Chinese horror literature, and horror films. This year, I’m taking a look at contemporary Chinese horror writers. Here are eight significant writers in the kongbu genre. 


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Daughter, Warrior, Woman: The Evolution of Hua Mulan

In the first part of my Mulan article, I discussed what the Disney animation meant for the Chinese in China, as well as for global audiences; looked at the initial trailer of the new live action film and talked about what I hope to see in it. To understand Mulan’s significance as a cultural icon fully, we need to go to her origins and see how she evolved. I will focusing on two relatively recent film adaptations that have made the greatest impact around the world (China included), so we could see where Mulan is culturally, particularly in terms of her representation in cinema, just before a new major work comes out. 


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LGBTQ+ and Chinese Society

In the third article of my LGBTQ+ series, I put the subject into the context of traditional and modern Chinese society, and look at the challenges faced by China’s queer population, governmental approach as well as factors that are changing public perception. 


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , ,

China’s LGBTQ+: Landmark Cases

A few years ago I started a series on LGBTQ+ in China. Despite the cancellations and shut-downs, it was a hopeful time, the internet had brought the public closer to the concept of queerness, established groups organisations were supporting communities whilst improving public awareness. Campaigners were continuing to sue for change in educational materials and the few festival were braving the storms. A few years later, the clamp-down has tightened, especially in the media and on public events. All in all, the enthusiastic bubbling of activities seemed to have quieted down. This doesn’t mean that communities no longer exist, or groups are no longer at work. In fact, many legal battles have been fought in the last few years, some more successful than others, but they have all generated a lot of public debate and amply demonstrated the gaps in China’s legislature with regards LGBTQ+ rights.


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Disney’s Mulan: Past and Present

When Disney announced the live action Mulan film, there was huge excitement around the world for its release. However, the film has had its run of bad luck, first delayed due to controversy surrounding the lack of diversity in its casting decisions. Once that was rectified with a now stellar cast and an excellent lead that represents the story’s original culture, it became embroiled in political controversy and its highly anticipated release was then, cancelled as the pandemic broke out. On the 4th of September, the film will be finally released in cinemas in certain countries and on directly on Disney Plus in others. Despite the set backs and much dampened public energy around this film, I intend to give Mulan some major coverage. For she is an important cultural symbol not only in China but around the world, starting with some thoughts on the significance of the original animation and of this new live-action film to those in China.


Posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Beef Chow Fun: the Taste of Home

Anyone who’s been born into one culture, and transplanted into another, will understand that the idea of one’s hometown becomes more defined after one leaves it. There are many ways in which home can be remembered, some of the most distinct ways are smells and tastes. For the gourmet and food-obsessed Chinese, everything is closely connected to food. There are tens of thousands of ways in which my hometown lives within me, many of them associated with Guangdong’s world-renown cuisines. There is one dish which, if I tasted anywhere else in the world, would bring me right back to Guangzhou, this is the 干炒牛河, Gon Chau Au Hoh, known in English as the Beef Chow Fun. Beef Chow Fun is a speciality of the Guangdong region, and consists of slices of beef, spring onions and bean sprouts flash fried with fresh (not dried) hofun – wide, flat rice noodles from Sha He (Sa Hoh in Cantonese), a town in the city Guangzhou. It’s a very common dish in restaurants and street stalls alike, popularly eaten at lunch or shared along with some congee during Yum Cha (Cantonese morning tea, or dim sums). As a child in Guangzhou, I had consumed it countless times and in countless places, ever since I could remember. My most distinct associations with the dish are: carrying it home from my mother’s work canteen (government bureau canteens housed some of the country’s best chefs) in an aluminium lunch box for wuxiu (lunch and siesta),  the unmistakable Continue Reading →


Posted in Blog