Chinese Corner is Jiayun Feng’s review of interesting nonfiction on the Chinese internet.
Chinese schools are embracing brainwave-detecting headbands
By 龚菁琦 Gōng Jīngqí
July 12, 2019
In April, a series of anonymous photos made rounds on the Chinese internet because of their eerie and dystopian vibe. In the pictures, a room of primary school students wear odd-looking black electronic headbands during class, which were later found to be brainwave-reading headsets produced by a Boston-based and Harvard University-backed startup called BrainCo Inc. As the company explains on its website, the device is able to “detect brain activity” and “measure different brain states such as depth of focus, relaxation and meditation.” In order to increase the use of such technology in education, the firm also developed a portal called Focus EDU, which the company boasts as “the world’s first classroom portal for teachers to assess the effectiveness of their teaching methods in real time and make adjustments accordingly.”
Despite the ominous implications of the technology — many netizens raised concerns of student privacy — the photos turned out to be free and valuable publicity for BrainCo, which has since introduced the product to more Chinese schools and is expecting wider application in China.
In this feature story, journalist Gong Jingqi hones her focus on BrainCo’s cautious but steady progress in infiltrating Chinese education. People interviewed by her include a high school student who volunteered to try on the gadget in hopes of improving her school performance, parents who are very enthusiastic about having their children wear it, and some students who already cracked the code by “staring at cracks on walls.”
A history of rock and roll in China
1984-2019, 35 summers for Chinese bands
By 刘玮 Liú Wěi
July 16, 2019
Since girl group survival reality show Produce 101 创造101 became a massive hit in the summer of 2018, a slew of similar programs were produced and swept across Chinese television, which resulted in a revival of idol groups in China. This summer, the craze for such shows extended beyond the world of pop music and into the rock scene. The Big Band 乐队的夏天, a reality TV contest that features an extensive list of mildly popular and little-known bands, debuted in May and quickly earned a cult following that doesn’t look like it’ll slow any time soon.
For many, the show is their first introduction to the rock genre. But rock and roll is an ever-evolving form of music that has a long history in China, where the style has endured ups and downs in different political climates and cultural landscapes. In this essay, the author meticulously traces the trajectory of rock music’s evolution in China since its inception in 1984. Featured are a bunch of well-known bands that span decades, including China’s first rock-metal band Tang Dynasty 唐朝 (co-founded by our very own Kaiser Kuo); New Pants 新裤子, a Ramones-inspired punk act formed in 1996; and some relatively new faces in rock, such as CLICK#15 and 青年小伙子 YOUTH.
The whistleblower buried under a playground for 16 years
Looking for Deng Shiping
By 龚菁琦 Gōng Jīngqí
June 24, 2019
Missing for 16 years, Dèng Shìpíng 邓世平’s body was found underneath a playground at Xinhuang No. 1 Middle School in Hunan Province. Prior to his disappearance, Deng was a project supervisor responsible for the construction of the playground. In the middle of the project, he discovered that the school’s principal, Huáng Bǐngsōng 黄炳松, was corrupt, and filed a report to the local education authority. Soon after, he disappeared. Huang’s cousin, Dù Shǎopíng 杜少平, who was a builder involved in the project, confessed to murdering Deng.
The mysterious couple and murder of a nine-year-old girl
The strangers who took the girl away near Qiandao Lake
By 吴皓 Wú Hào
July 12, 2019
Last weekend, Zhāng Zǐxīn 章子欣, a 9-year-old girl whose disappearance gripped China all month, was found dead in the East China Sea after a week of searching. According to police, the child was drowned by a middle-aged couple, who approached Zhang by renting a flat from her family and winning the trust of the girl’s grandfather. The two committed suicide together after killing Zhang.
The news was one of the most sensational stories of the year and has incited a string of well-written pieces that try to report on the issue from every possible angle. Here is a selection:
- 我们救不了章子欣，但我们可否不让恶魔带走下一个孩子 We failed to rescue Zhang Zixin. But can we prevent demons from taking away another kid?
“In an age of information, the countryside in China and a certain demographic group in that area still lives in a blind zone deprived of information. The hot topics that we fervently discuss on the internet are not hot topics for everyone. The information we are so aware of, that we are almost tired of hearing, can be totally unfamiliar to rural seniors and children.”
- 为什么章子欣成了被恶魔选中的孩子 Why Zhang Zixin was the one chosen by the devil
- 纪念留守女童章子欣 In remembrance of the left-behind child Zhang Zixin
- 9岁女童和两名租客最后的夏天 The last summer of the nine-year-old girl and two tenants
- 浙江淳安9岁女童失踪前的最后轨迹 The last-known trajectory of a nine-year-old girl in Jiangsu’s Chunan before her disappearance
- “编造”9岁女孩父亲推文，百度抢流量不应不顾新闻伦理 ‘Fabricate’ a post of the nine-year-old girl’s father. Baidu shouldn’t break journalistic ethics for the purpose of attracting traffic
- 消失的九岁女孩 The missing nine-year-old girl
Things I read and liked this week:
- 张益唐 天才的野心 Zhang Yitang: The ambition of a genius
- 北京小吃为什么难吃 Why Beijing snacks are bad
- 福建广东的新娘，为什么要在身上挂这么多黄金 Why do brides in Fujian wear so much gold jewellery at weddings?
- 一颗芒果引发的下跪风波 A kneeling affair caused by a mango
- 葛剑雄：不要轻易给洋地名扣“崇洋媚外”的帽子 Ge Jianxiong: Don’t casually accuse places with foreign names of ‘blindly worshipping foreign and exotic ideas’
- 在B站，深夜发弹幕的年轻人 The young people writing bullet comments on Bilibili late at night
- 黄师傅与他的命理之道 Master Huang and his theories of fortune-telling
- 迪士尼真人电影《花木兰》：它是不是一个中国故事？ Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan: Is it a Chinese story?
- 复活A站的二次元疯子们 Anime maniacs who brought AcFun back to life
- 在社交网络上，和AI一起拦截自杀者 Prevent suicide on social network sites with AI