How I “Grew” My Business

Numbers aren’t always what they seem, says Mou Zongyou – translated by Yakexi

Jack Ma, the richest man in China as of 2018, once asked: “Do accurate statistics even exist in China?” In 2007, Li Keqiang, then vice premier, said that China’s GDP numbers, as reported by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, are man-made and not trustworthy. In 2017 and 2018, the authorities in Liaoning, Inner Mongolia and Tianjin all acknowledged that they had made up their GDP data. As a small business owner, I’ve had personal experience with “Chinese numbers.”


The Besieged Rainbow

Dispatches from an ally of China’s LGBT movement – Xiaoyu Lu


The phone call came in at seven or eight in the night. After saying hello, the voice paused. As I was about to hang up,  the voice asked whether I worked for the UN. Yes, I answered. He explained that he was calling from the hotel which we booked for the conference participants. He hesitated again. Is there anything wrong? I asked.

There had been a group of strangely dressed people at the reception, he said, and the hotel would like to confirm whether I had really invited them. I could have started a lengthy lecture about the term “strangely dressed people,” but I did not. Yes, we invited them, I confirmed. I detected a tone of embarrassment in his next question. He asked what kind of conference we were holding, and whether it had been registered with the Public Security Bureau. I raised my voice, and in a solemn manner said it was a UN conference on public health, and there was neither need nor obligation to register. He couldn’t come up with a reply, and hung up.

Dispatches, Translation

A Foreigner in Beijing

Reflections of a returnee – Liuyu Ivy Chen

When I arrived in Beijing in January, I paused on the sidewalk and looked up: the sky was blue, cloudless, immense. I went to college in this city, and often visited after graduation. Back then, Beijing’s sky was typically a murky palette, a mix of smog, dust and sand from carbon emissions, courtyard demolitions, subway construction and northwestern storms. I soon learned that the government had shut down the city’s coal-burning heating systems during a recent eviction campaign which targeted low-skilled migrants. This controversial operation was vaguely documented in the Chinese media, but its result was clearly reflected on the sky.