Many of the people around me have tested positive for omicron. In Chinese, the word for positive is 阳性 (yáng xìng), and the pun is with 羊 (yáng) or “lamb.” In keeping with the animated pandemic, this means that most memes involve 🐑 puns. During the lockdowns, one of the most popular phone games was 羊了个羊, a game that can be played on WeChat. The game is similar to a 3-tile puzzle and indeed, some say its a rip off of the original Three Tiles. At any rate, tens of millions have played, posted about playing, and analyzed the play while locked down. Now, that people actually have joined the omicron herd, there is more talk about how to convalesce and take care of oneself. And there’s the rub: party members are being asked to put their bodies on the line. Below, I’ve translated a recent article from the headline news app (今日头条). The gist: a true Party member puts their body on the line for the good of the masses:Continue reading
Tag Archives: translation
gaslighting 101: shanghai hasn’t reopened because it was never locked down…
That’s what they’re going with? This is a popular gloss on the press conference that didn’t announce that the city had reopened. Instead, government spokespeople performed a master class in gas lighting.
The past two months are being presented as if neighborhood offices acted independently of the municipal government and Sun Chunlan 孙春兰 never came to take charge of the pandemic; and indeed, unlike in Wuhan and Hong Kong, Sun’s tenure in Shanghai was brief and remarkably not lauded. There is no official position on the not-lockdown, which reads like blaming the victim with Chinese characteristics. So to speak.
In response to the blatant buck-passing, testimonial videos about what happened during the lockdown have been posted. In addition, stories about how the Shanghai government has not taken responsibility for the recent lockdown are also circulating. The pleasure of these second category of stories is that they show an actual representative of the Party and government telling the truth. Below I’ve translated one of those stories that I’m calling, “Speechless 无语 in Shanghai.”Continue reading
yang qian early plays
By now you’ve figured out that this week, I’m organizing the blog. Kind of. Anyway, today’s post is a treat from years past, when Shenzhen was and was transitioning from being the world’s factory. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Yang Qian wrote plays about how dreams took root and reformed in the soil of the Special Zone. Crossroads, especially, gives insight into the lived contradictions of the 1990s, when Shenzhen was considered a city without culture, even as Neolithic sites were buried in the rush to the future. The plays included in Unclassifiable Dreams were translated and published as part of the 2008-2009 Foodscape project, which was funded by Pro Helvetia. (Just an aside, during the project, Swiss artists complained to artists from China and the US that arts funding in Switzerland was limited. In the language of China du web, we call that 烦而赛 or humble bragging. Sigh.) Enjoy:
Unclassifiable Dreams: Five Plays by Yang Qian.
Also, Divine Garbage a video from 2003, when the second line was still operational, Shekou was still a manufacturing hub and Fat Bird was an unregistered group of friends, who did guerrilla performances throughout the Special Zone (we never performed in Bao’an before its 2004 restructuring):
We Were Smart
So, in 2020, Chen Wenhui and I translated Li Yifan’s documentary, We Were SMART (杀马特我爱你). If you get a chance to watch the film, it provides insight into the 2000s, when a second generation of migrant workers came of age.
The film, with English subtitles, can be viewed on Danshi. If you’re interested in the filmmaker’s story, he gives an YiXi talk on Bili Bili (in Mandarin).
are you involuted?
The caption to the comic reads, “Comrade, wake up, you still have overtime to work.”
There is much talk of neijuan (内卷) or involution in Shenzhen and indeed throughout China. The conversation is so robust, it even made the New Yorker (Yi-Ling LIU, May 14, 2021). Liu explains that China’s “involuted” generation is overworked, burned out, and despairing that life will get any better. Instead, of seeing rewards at the end of their hard work, they’re seeing just more pointless work. Indeed, as the comic suggests, crashing is often the result of neijuan. In popular culture, many young people have expressed their discontent through tangping (躺平), which translates as “laying down” but resonates with what US Americans would call getting out of the rat race. The expression is so popular, Alibaba even came up with a tangping app, which promotes making money through a relaxed, enjoyable lifestyle.
Of course, the tangping app is itself a symptom of involution…Continue reading
voices from coronavirus@sz
A poem from a friend:
And two other posts: Continue reading