Dispatch

Generational Firewalls

Gifting a VPN for Father’s Day – Mia Li

One Wednesday in early June my father called me at work and said, “I heard it’s going to be Fathers Day soon.”

Alarmed, I sat up in my chair and tried to make sense of this. My father had always said that the invented foreign festivals were decoys imported from America to sell cakes and carnations to China’s new middle class gullibles. Even still, in recent years it had become customary for Chinese children to buy their parents gifts on Fathers and Mothers Day. Pressure from both Confucius and the consumer industry had become insurmountable, let alone guilt trips from mum and dad. Starting the year I got a job, each year my mother dropped hints about what gift she wanted (at least she didn’t make me hand over a portion of my salary like some other Chinese mothers do). But my proud father would never ask me for anything, so I thought.

Dispatch

Slow Burn

The rise of Chinese-American rapper Bohan Phoenix – Yi-Ling Liu

On a chilly spring day in a quiet neighborhood of East Beijing, Bohan Phoenix lounges on the divan of his hotel room. The twenty-five-year-old rapper flew in from Shanghai the night before, and is enjoying a pause after several whirlwind weeks promoting the launch of his new album Overseas. For a brief moment, dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt, black joggers, and a gold hoop on his left ear that once belonged to his grandmother, Bohan lies still, a Portrait of a Reclining Rapper in Repose.

Dispatch

Who by Fire

Erica X Eisen visits China’s Western edge

Of Suoyang City only ruins remain: the scattered remnants of an imperial garrison town in the Gobi Desert that once fended off the advancing armies of Genghis Khan. Early in its history, the westering forces of Xue Rengui were besieged there; the general’s soldiers, depleted and half-starved, kept themselves alive by rooting in the sand for a parasitic purple-brown fungi that thrives in the arid region. When the siege was lifted, the men renamed the city after the only thing that had sustained them.

Dispatch

Gay in Beijing

Notes from the Rainbow Underground – Julien

Somehow, someway, I became the only foreigner to join Purple, the officially “unofficial” LGBTQ organization of Tsinghua University and the greater Wudaokou area. To commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17, Purple planned to hand out rainbow flags in front of the main cafeteria on campus. When IDAHO came, the event lasted less than five minutes before students were escorted away by campus security. I watched the flood of messages in our WeChat group as people scurried to come up with a Plan B. Yet no one felt the shut-down of Plan A was out of the ordinary. In fact, it was expected.