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A film in Shanghai dialect is a surprise hit in China

THERE ARE several reasons why “Aiqing Shenhua”, a new film released on Christmas Eve in Chinese cinemas, has surprised movie buffs. One is that the movie, whose English title is “B for Busy”, is a tender portrayal of relationships among a group of middle-aged Shanghai urbanites, yet stars Xu Zheng, a veteran actor more famous for raucous comedies. Another...

How Chinese propaganda films became watchable

IN 2021, THE year after China overtook America to become the world’s largest film market, “The Battle at Lake Changjin” became the highest-grossing film in Chinese history, and the second-highest of the year worldwide. It made over $900m, just behind “Spider-Man: No Way Home”. The eponymous battle took place in 1950 during the Korean war and saw...

The Communist Party revisits its egalitarian roots

CHINESE NATIONALISTS and fans of liberal democracy do not often agree. Still, early this century, both groups sounded convinced of the subversive power of affluent Chinese buying American coffee. In 2007 a state television anchor growled that a Starbucks branch in the Forbidden City “trampled Chinese culture” (the branch closed the same year). In 2004...

Xi Jinping’s job is safe but China’s leadership is being shaken up

ELITE CHINESE politics take place in a fog of obscurity. But one forecast is commonly accepted: Xi Jinping will still be China’s ruler next year and beyond. Having completed a decade in power, he is likely to defy convention and remain in office. But throughout the rest of the hierarchy, huge changes are under way. They will reach a climax late this...

America and China are one military accident away from disaster

IN AN AGE of superpower rivalry and distrust, it is odd to talk of good fortune smiling on America’s relations with China. But in one important domain, the rivals have shared a long streak of astounding luck. It is two decades since the last fatal encounter between the armed forces of America and China. Today the skies and seas around China swarm with...

China and America prepare for a human-rights showdown at the UN

LAST YEAR the Human Rights Council in Geneva passed resolutions condemning abuses in Afghanistan, Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria. But as in every other year since its creation in 2006, the United Nations body was silent on China. Fearful of reprisal, and uncertain of victory, member governments have been reluctant even to propose...

China’s online nationalists turn paranoia into clickbait

AN ANXIOUS WORLD has long worried that rising nationalism might one day lead ordinary Chinese—especially the young—to outbursts of uncontrollable rage. If recent months are any guide, outsiders missed a more insidious threat: that anti-foreign paranoia would become a nasty but profitable game. These are frightening times for Chinese civil-society...

China crushes Hong Kong’s independent news outlets

LIFE AS AN independent journalist in Hong Kong, long hard, is becoming impossible. On December 29th Stand News, the territory’s leading pro-democracy news outlet, was forced to shut after hundreds of police raided its office, froze its assets and arrested seven people. The current and former editors were charged with conspiracy to publish seditious...

Even in secret, China’s leaders speak in code

IN NOVEMBER 2022 Xi Jinping will have served for ten years as China’s leader. In the coming months, state media will be filled with fawning tributes to his decade in power. Yet they will give little inkling of how he makes decisions or interacts with colleagues. Even more than his predecessors, Mr Xi operates in the shadows. China has published many...

Nearly one-third of suicides in China are by old people

AS CHINA AGES, worries are mounting about the mental health of its elderly population. Globally, suicide rates among old people tend to be higher than average. In China this is especially true. People there aged 70 and above kill themselves at more than four times the rate of the general population, compared with around a quarter more in America. Loneliness...

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