In this installment of Jiayun Feng’s weekly review of interesting nonfiction on the Chinese internet, she looks at Dolce & Gabbana’s long-standing racism toward China, Yu Minhong’s sexist remarks, single-child families in China, and He Jiankui, the man behind gene-editing babies.
Dolce & Gabbana, chopsticks, and cultural appropriation
From Dolce & Gabbana to Victoria’s Secret: How does the West imagine the East?
By Zhāng Zhīqí 张之琪
November 22, 2018
On November 23, after rolling out several ad campaigns accused of stereotyping China in a disrespectful way and blatantly calling a fashion blogger who exposed its racism as “eat dogs bitch,” Dolce & Gabbana finally admitted the error of its ways. In this video, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, two co-founders of the Italian luxury brand, ask for forgiveness and assert that they “have always been in love with China.”
The apology, to no one’s surprise, was tepidly received. And at this point, given its lengthy history of inflammatory behavior followed by lip-service apologies, it’s hard to predict whether the brand will ever learn from its mistakes.
But the brand’s jarring repetition of displaying cultural insensitivity toward Chinese culture speaks to a broader phenomenon in the West, where artists and fashion designers often unwittingly or intentionally appropriate Chinese culture in the disguise of paying “tribute,” a word Stefano Gabbana used when defending the racist video. “For them, orientalism is an exotic culture to exploit. What’s behind their appropriation is a strong and undying sense of post-colonialism and imperialism,” Zhang argues.
- 从D&G事件说起：东方如何成为被观看的“他者” D&G scandal: How the East became “others” to be watched
- D&G到底错在哪? What’s D&G’s exact mistake?
- D&G何止在辱华的边缘疯狂试探 What D&G did is more than testing the boundaries of insulting China
- 杜嘉班纳的错误 D&G’s mistakes
- 杜嘉班纳不懂的不只是一双筷子 In addition to chopsticks, there are more things that D&G don’t understand
- 奢侈品牌子想在中国做生意？记得千万别作妖 Want to build a business in China as a luxury brand? Remember not to do things that you’re not supposed to do
- 中国人为什么选择了筷子 Why Chinese people chose to use chopsticks
- 中国筷子 Chinese chopsticks
Yu Minhong will be remembered as a misogynist
Yu Minhong’s history of rising to power
By Yè Háng 叶航
November 19, 2018
When Yú Mǐnhóng 俞敏洪, founder of Chinese tutoring giant New Oriental Group, appeared in a high-profile conference called “The Strength of Learning” last week, no one expected him to talk beyond the subject of education. But during a speech about how the direction of the Chinese education industry hinges on evaluating students, Yu made a distasteful analogy: “It’s like if the only thing Chinese women value in their partners is financial stability, and they attach no importance to conscience, then Chinese men will become evil people who focus solely on accumulating wealth. And this is exactly how women in China select their partners these days.”
Yu added that the “depravity” of Chinese women has led to the nation’s decline.
Yu’s sexist remarks quickly raised eyebrows on the Chinese internet, with many blasting him for perpetuating a backward notion in ancient China that women are always to blame for men’s failures and a nation’s downfall. In the eyes of Yu’s critics, in the age of #Metoo, when gender equality is at the center of public discourse, what Yu said was particularly offensive and irritating.
In response to the criticism, Yu posted a clarification on WeChat, saying, “What I really meant was that women determine how great a country is. Wholesome women and mothers can produce wholesome children. If women pursue an intellectual life, men will become wiser. If women only seek money, men will largely be money-driven.”
The clarification, of course, didn’t register well. In fact, it only further exposed Yu’s sexist worldview in which a woman’s utility is limited to her breeding and education of men. And even though Yu later talked to the nation’s Women’s Federation, which helped him realize that he was “fundamentally wrong” about women’s roles in society, it didn’t stop observers from wondering how his caveman views about gender have been ingrained in his massive education empire, which, as the author discovers, puts men in the top of power structures.
- 新东方三大网红跌下神坛这一年 How three celebrities from New Oriental fell from their altars within a year
- 俞敏洪吓坏了 Yu Minhong is terrified
What you don’t know about single-child families in China
Facts you don’t know about only children
By GQ Report
November 20, 2018
In 1978, China first introduced the idea of family planning in several areas to curb population growth. Seeing positive results in pilot cities, the central government soon implemented the one-child policy across the nation, which lasted for more than 30 years before it was abolished in 2016. As a result of the policy, the 1980s and 1990s witnessed a generation of only children grow up as “little emperors,” pampered by their parents. Often criticized as spoiled, inconsiderate, and self-centered, these only children, now adults, have to shoulder the burden of supporting their single-child families as their parents age. Collectively, they have become a key pillar for the national economy.
In this series of articles, GQ Report zooms in on this generation of only children in China, shedding light on the massive pressures they face in various aspects of life.
- 从独生子女变成非独生子女：3+1，还是3*X？From only children to children with siblings: 3+1 or 3*X？
- 独生子女的共同记忆：陪我们长大的物件都在这儿了 Collective memory of only children: These are the objects accomaping them when growing up
- 北京二孩妈妈职场鏖战 For Beijing mothers with a second child, there is a tough battle in workplace
Who is He Jiankui, the man behind gene-editing babies?
Who is He Jiankui, the man behind gene-editing babies?
By Xiè Xīn 谢欣
November 26, 2018
Hè Jiànkuí 贺建奎 is very likely an unhinged scientist on the path to destroying humanity. That’s what people are concluding after looking at his crazy genetic experiments, such as a recent one in which he manually altered the DNA of a pair of twin girls to give them immunity to the HIV virus, a move that has stirred up an anguished discussion about the fine line between scientific advances and unethical misuse of technology.
But while most people didn’t know his name until very recently, He already had quite the reputation among human geneticists in China, according to a person who used to work with him. When asked about He as a scientist, his former colleague said, “If I have to use three words to describe him, they would be smart, crazy, and talented.”
Since He is bound to dominate headlines for a while, as a government-led investigation into his study is underway, now’s the perfect time to read this profile of the man described by an anonymous researcher as “the Chinese Elon Musk.”