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Chinese Film Stars


Zhang Ziyi is one of China's hottest actresses, and over the course of a fairly short career (so far) she has managed to conquer both Hollywood and Chinese film, and work with China's greatest directors.

More Film Stars:
Chinese Culture Spotlight10

Journalists or Spies?

Saturday March 29, 2014

China's Xinhua wire service is an interesting organization. It's ostensibly a news organization, but it is a formal part of the Chinese government and it produces domestic and international reporting that is classified and only available to the nation's leadership. This has led some to suggest that foreign countries should consider it an intelligence organization.

While there are journalists doing great work at Xinhua, and I don't think any of them are actively spying in the sense of breaking into government buildings and stealing documents, it's hard to argue that a service which provides classified reporting on a foreign country to China's government is wholly a journalistic entity. With Xinhua expanding globally, this is likely to become a more high-profile issue as the service gains greater influence and presence outside China.

Loud Noises

Saturday March 29, 2014

When people think of Confucius outside of China, they tend to think of the quiet philosopher. But his direct descendant, Kong Qingdong, is known as one of the mainland's biggest loudmouths, and he's been involved in more than a few controversies.

His most recent one is also one of his most embarrassing. During Michelle Obama's recent trip to China, Kong spread a story about the American first lady being "stumped" by a Chinese student's question at a speech. It was a telling symbol of America's failures and its out-of-touch leaders...except that it wasn't true. Numerous people in attendance at the speech in question came forward to say that Kong had completely fabricated the incident. Whoops!

Crouching Zhang, Hidden Ziyi

Tuesday March 25, 2014

I've had a hankering to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon again since I wrote my profile of Ang Lee, and when I finally got around to it the other day I was reminded of a star I hadn't yet written about: Zhang Ziyi.

When she first broke onto the scene, a lot of discussion about Zhang centered around her physical appearance. While there's no denying that she's very pretty, I think a study of her film career shows that she's much more than just a pretty face. She's worked on everything from historical dramas to modern romances, bounced between Chinese and Hollywood productions, and managed to get starring roles in the films of almost all of China's greatest directors in the process. Zhang Yimou, Wong Kar-wai, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, Lou Ye, and Feng Xiaogang have all cast Zhang Ziyi in their films, and her career is nowhere near over. While she has a ways to go before she can claim the lifetime accomplishments of someone like Gong Li or Ge You, I'd say that Zhang Ziyi is well on her way.

The Generalissimo

Tuesday March 25, 2014

Since I've been thinking a lot about the Civil War lately, it's difficult to avoid thinking about Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang was, at least in most of the accounts I have read, the primary driving force behind the war in the early days, as he was unwilling to let the fledgeling CCP develop unhindered or get too intermingled with the KMT government. Whether he was right or wrong isn't my place to say, but given that his own generals had to kidnap him at one point to force him into making a treaty with the Communist forces, one suspects he may have been on the extreme end of popular opinion at the time.

After losing the Civil War, of course, Chiang fled to Taiwan and ruled there for several decades as president. But personally, when I think of him, I think of his encirclement and anti-Communist campaigns in the '20s and '30s. I wonder if China could have avoided some pain and suffering if he had left the CCP alone, or if perhaps somehow that would have made things worse.

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