Chinese Government Spent $685 million in Subsidies for New Energy Vehicles 2013-15

Chinese subsidies are an ongoing source of trade friction. How Chinese subsidies contribute to overcapacity in the new energy vehicle (NEV) is therefore a topic of interest. One difficulty in studying this topic lies in the frequent unavailability of official statistics on subsidies. However, relevant information is occasionally released, such as during the investigation of subsidy fraud.

An official investigation of subsidy fraud in the NEV sector in 2016 provides some hard numbers. Chinese press reports indicate that more than half of the Chinese companies producing NEVs were implicated in a range of fraudulent practices to obtain subsidies. In its fraud report, Ministry of Finance (MOF) mentioned that the central government spent 33.4 billion yuan on subsidizing from 2009 to 2015. A private-sector analyst reported that on July 9 2016, State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) statistics showed that from 2013 to 2015, central government paid out 28.44 billion yuan in NEV subsidies, while local governments paid out more than 20 billion. (It is unclear whether the SASAC number and MOF number are calculated using the same methodology.) A comprehensive list of suspected manufacturers and the subsidies they collected through illicit means was leaked.1

Distortions created by subsidies may contribute to overcapacity. According to an April 2018 article, by June 2017, NEV capacity Chinese producers are building has surpassed 20 million vehicles, or 10 times the capacity of what the government guidelines planned for up to the year 2020. According to a researcher with Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) affiliation, the overcapacity may be much larger than the Chinese market can absorb for the next several years.2

The inefficiencies due to the poorly designed subsidies are, according to some analysts, harmful to Chinese domestic industry. To begin with, subsidies hurt competitiveness. The market price of NEVs from Chinese producers are twice as high as those from joint venture producers. In addition, through flawed design and implementation, the subsidy regime lead to fraudulent behavior that disrupt industry norms and encourage rent-seeking. Such problems can undermine the health of an entire sector if extensive enough. According to 21st Century Economic Herald, virtually all automobile conglomerates in China were implicated in the MOF investigation.

The Chinese government has undertaken several rounds of reform of direct subsidies for NEVs. They are now smaller and better targeted. However, there has been less scrutiny of other subsidies the government provides to NEVs, such as that for infrastructure, mandated by a 2015 circular from the National Reform and Development Commission. There is some evidence that inefficiencies and fraud may also plague charging stations for NEVs. It is worthwhile to continue to track the development of these policies.

1 China’s 21st Century Economic Herald reported that it was able to confirm through a number of off-the-record sources that the leaked data was accurate. See “72 Auto Companies Suspected of Subsidy Fraud: Time to Rethink The 3 Top Issues and Policy Design from Above,” September, 13, 2018 (accessed may 18, 2018.)

2 Other analysts maintain that a lot of the planned capacity may never materialize, depending on external factors.

Caution against Hasty Decisions in China: the Case of HNA

Alert: This was written in late January 2018 and the picture has shifted again. Still, it may be useful to keep the larger lesson in mind.


In the opaque policy environment in China, it may behoove those of us on the outside to take a closer look at what Chinese investors are thinking and doing. What lies behind the woes of China’s juggernaut, HNA? Many in Chinese bond market see the saga as part of a power play at the top that is far from over. A mid-December 2017 WeChat commentary retweeted by “The Finance Gossip Girl” (金融八卦女)  pointed out that the bond market had not been overly hasty to dismiss HNA and Wanda as dead and gone. Some investors had been, until as late as December 2017, content to “sit back and watch the big show unfold,” having learned their lesson when “blind short-selling” over the embattled Wanda and Hongqiao did not pay off earlier in the summer. The writer delicately alludes to the “labyrinthine shareholder arrangements, opaque subsidiary deals, the two mysterious charities and the stake giveaway that defies common sense,” echoing suspicions that HNA is organized deliberately to hide owners with high-level political connections. This is consistent with Western press reporting.

While this is only a theory, we do have some evidence that some powerful players went to bat for HNA late in the day against central government stance.  Eight policy and commercial banks and the provincial government in Hainan were still vocally supportive of HNA by year-end in a public Dec. 13 announcement (CDB, BOC, CCB,EIBC, ABC, SDPB, ICBC, BOCOM all spoke up here.) The Hainan-based executives said they wanted to get behind the Hainan Deputy Party Secretary Shen Xiaoming’s directive that the well-being of the province is tied to HNA’s fortunes. Only after Guo Shuqing of CSRC said in the People’s Daily on Jan. 17, 2018 that there needs to be a cleanup of “a vast financial conglomerate” did the banks change direction.

The fight may still not be over. One of China’s widely read financial social media accounts confirms that Guo’s interview forms part of a larger and consistent policy trend that bodes ill for private sector conglomerates, including Ping An, HNA and, of course, Xiao Jianhua’s Tomorrow Holdings. We are to infer, from Guo’s reticence in not naming the firms directly, that the power play is still ongoing. A Hong-Kong based Chinese commentator thinks the December move by the banks and the Hainan official shows continuing local government disregard of central directives whenever possible, and may point to deeper political rifts. This makes sense since, in the Chinese system, provincial and banking officials rarely act on their own without some significant backing in the top leadership.

What does this mean for the rest of us? In short, in China, it’s not over until it’s over. Chinese bond buyers are not making snap decisions. There’s some food for thought in that.

(Note on the bond market reaction reporting: Granted, the writer may have toned down the bad news given the government’s frequent ban of financial information that is judged to trigger investor panic. Still, “The Finance Gossip Girl” has a proven track record of reporting on sensitive financial information. When “The Finance Gossip Girl” was shut down in June 2017 in the wave of crackdown on entertainment social media, a widely reposted article used the account as an example of successful social media 自媒体and the censorship risk they run, reporting that at its height the account had more than 3,000 sources in the industry and over time became widely respected for its integrity and accuracy.)

Beacon of Democracy: Taiwan as Hope for Chinese Civil Society

My research on the multifaceted impact of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement on the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Whole article here.

Main Point: People in China are supporting democracy in Taiwan as part of their political liberalization. The demonstration effect of Taiwan’s democracy and its refutation of Beijing’s claims of Chinese exceptionalism both contribute to that liberalization, which the Chinese government considers a threat to its legitimacy. Over the long term, Chinese civil society’s support for Taiwan is likely to change the dynamics of cross-Strait relations. The world should take note of the significant benefits of Taiwan democracy for peace and stability in the region.



Save Matt Damon! or, Entertainment Content as Political Commentary in China

Telling political commentary is buried in unlikely places on the Chinese Internet.  Scandals about high-ranking officials and popular criticism of the government are disguised as entertainment gossip. The best proof of the potential for political change found in such gossip is in the goofy admissions from Chinese Internet companies that “aliens have abducted the webpage you’re trying to access”:




The fact that the companies are not content with just making the content disappear, but want to point fingers to the censors that make them do it, however subtly, speaks volumes. One of the most recent targets of this type of veiled political commentary is the movie “Great Wall” starring Matt Damon, due out February 2017.

Here is a quick sum-up of what the most upvoted Chinese users of (Goodreads and Imdb rolled into one), have to say about the “Great Wall”:

“So spineless Hollywood was knocked to its knees with cold hard Chinese cash – I can accept that. But why should our very own Matt Damon get dragged into this muck? Save him!”

“Director Zhang Yimou has been dead a long time already.”

“Okay, fine, Jing Tian’s acting is world-class —— now will you please drop the gun?”

Waving the said gun, the Chinese Communist Party wants to keep its image as the sage leader of a powerful and prosperous country front and center. The Chinese equivalent of Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB and Amazon were chided by the censors recently.  Propaganda-approved movies pushing the Party’s message often received rock bottom scores from a jeering public. The authorities ordered the Internet firms hosting movie content to stop the nosebleed of its disgraced propaganda. How? By messing with user feedback on movies. The companies may delete unfavorable reviews, or even stop users from voting on a movie at all.

So let us  take a look to see how this has benefitted the Great Wall, a Chinese-Hollywood collaboration. It’s too bad that the steamy innuendos which sell movies so well are, in this case, about the movie but not in it. Jing Tian, the female lead of “Great Wall,” purportedly got the role through high-level connections within the Chinese system.  Ms. Tian is a great mystery. Of a belabored, heavy-duty beauty, with eyes likely surgically enlarged to achieve the terror-stricken stare of silent-film era stars, Jing has starred in a series of box office and critical low-ballers that hemorrhaged eye-popping sums of money. She acts about as well as a rock, hence the sarcasm of the last Chinese user review quoted above.

The man who foots Jing’s bill feeds the gossip mill that erodes the government’s legitimacy. There is a list of four names in circulation. A deputy Vice Minister of Propaganda? One of the direct descendants of the men who founded People’s Republic of China on a platform of banning official privilege? The contrast between the image of Xi’s Party as austere, all-correct and faithful, and such blatant patronage and corruption in China’s state-dominated movie industry, is not lost on the millions of gossip-news readers. This is the underside and bottom-up part of China’s anti-corruption campaign, and it’s likely to last long after Xi puts away the scalps of his arch-enemies.

Audience rejection of Party propaganda also comes out strong in their criticism of Director Zhang Yimou. Viewers feel a particular disappointment in Zhang, something akin to seeing Spike Lee morph into an unctuous Leni Riefenstahl chasing greenbacks. Zhang, a one-time Gold Lion winner, spent his more recent movies trumpeting that the people of China require benevolent despotism to save them from their own weakness and folly. Liberal Chinese mourn the one-time Gold Lion winner Zhang, whose courageous exploration of the Party’s misrule, including the Cultural Revolution, was banned (“To Live”).

Little surprise, then, that “Great Wall” is struggling with a 50% rating on the Chinese IMDB Douban (worse than 93% of all fantasy movies), despite a surge of paid boosters who attack the film’s detractors for “kissing the foreigners’ ass” and “sneering condescension at their own culture.” (Both the government and businesses in China are adroit manipulators of culture wars – sounds familiar?) Hollywood merely put the finishing touches on this disaster, spitting out a predictable script “with as many plot holes as monsters,” to quote another disdainful user review.

I would like to think there is a moral here. Keep that 50% rating in mind when debating whether to shell out another $39 bucks for your next movie outing. Follow the Chinese  people’s advice and skip the “Great Wall.” But by all means let us keep watching the political fireworks  that come out of China’s online gossip mill. It signals public dissatisfaction with Xi’s government that belies its 90% poll ratings. 

Post script: Xi’s government shut down a number of entertainment accounts on Chinese social media in June 2017. The official reasons given include “vulgarity” and the “hyping of the relationships and private lives of stars.”  A telling protest letter from a reader to a Hong Kong publication writes: “Frankly, the truth is that in China, political and entertainment news rub shoulders.”

Where Has All the Chinese Internet Traffic Gone? – Business Solutions to Content Overload in China

The Chinese content market offers a fascinating comparison to the rest of the global Internet. According to research by KPCB and Hillhouse Capital, Chinese Internet users numbered 688 million by the end of 2015. Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter clone, saw its market worth catch up to Twitter at around 11 billion dollars in 2016. Tencent, the owner of popular social messaging app WeChat, achieved a market capitalization of $242.04 billion in August 2016.

An underlying factor to consider in understanding China’s online content market is its unique appeal to readers. The Internet offers Chinese users more space for free expression and access to news than offline. That unique appeal translates into more eyeballs and advertising revenue, and Chinese businesses have been fighting fiercely over the prize. Here is a snapshot of two notable trends in China’s mobile content apps market, currently dominated by WeChat but remaining open to ambitious and nimble startups:

Information overload

Like elsewhere, content has exploded on the Chinese Internet and harmed user experience. For example, the Financial Times ran an article in April 2016 titled “Overloaded China users battle ‘WeChat fatigue’” stating that many of the app’s 806 million users find WeChat content, distributed through channels which include 13 million official accounts, “overwhelming and useless.” According to academics at Fudan University and Guangdong Foreign Language University, China’s top mobile news apps, such as Tencent and Sohu, suffer from the same malaise of overflowing information that is badly organized and comes with little personalization. One important demographic factor underpinning this problem of too much content chasing too few viewers is that the growth in both users and time spent on the Internet has been flattening, according to the tech site Huxiu.

User response in turn has been punishing. According to a year-end report on the “WeChat Ecosystem” by Yeezan, a digital media service platform, official accounts are losing followers and page views; featured stories at popular accounts (some with millions of followers) see an 8.9% click-through rate. Dishonest tactics attempting to cover up such decline illustrate the extent of the problem. Reports of faked clicks and bought “zombie” followers to the tune of 1,000 for $3 on WeChat went viral in September 2016.

Solutions to information overload reshaping the content space

In some fascinating ways, WeChat is illustrating the possible outer limits of content distribution via social networking. Chinese commentators have pointed to sources of strain within WeChat that are likely contributing to its declining reach:

1. As social grows, quality slumps:

Both the quality and personalization of the information users receive tend to decline as social network broadens and content from less familiar contacts dilute the information stream, until the stream explodes by several orders of magnitude;

2. Winner-take-all:

The of traffic flows to a small number of top influencers, and the cost of acquiring followers is increasingly steep for latecomers.

3. A laggard in algorithm adoption, WeChat still largely relies on a timeline structure with minimum filtering.

Users have been flocking to curation that pares down content in ways tailored to their preferences. Jingri Toutiao (“Today’s Headlines”), the 4-year-old newcomer mobile news app that has gained an impressive advantage over competitors from traditional portals (such as Netease, Sohu and Tencent), solves the problem using algorithms with impressive success. It now boasts 580 million users, 63 million active daily users, and some of the longest average daily use time in the industry. Tencent News comes in a remote second, with 120 million users.

Consequently, there are now signs that the news industry is investing in algorithms and moving away from human curation. The Chief Editor at Sohu News, for example, is leaving the company, and CEO Zhang Chaoyang admitted to reporters that they are reorganizing the editorial team to take advantage of machine curation. Zhihu, Quora’s Chinese equivalent, stopped having its team of professional experts curate answers, throwing open the door to all users to crowdsource recommendations.

What next?

From the point of view of Chinese users, there is a lot of room for improvement. In response to declining reach, advertisers have been pulling back from WeChat. The WeChat team is now getting its toes wet in developing algorithms and intervening more actively in content distribution. One analyst pointed out that, even though the company is sitting on a goldmine of data comparable to that of Facebook, only 10%, or $514 million, of Tencent’s overall revenue comes from advertising, of which WeChat’s advertising income is only a portion. Similarly, despite its vaunted technical edge, Toutiao’s content customization is rudimentary compared to Facebook’s FYI. Yidian, Toutiao’s acknowledged rival that just received D-series funding, is vowing to improve user experience with a combination of search, human and machine curation. A head-on collision between WeChat and upstart rivals may be hovering on the horizon, and bear close watching. A lot of money hangs in the balance.












美國的廢人,據他們自己說,像是很不少。美國的哲學家或文化評點泰斗,得往電視往夜店裡找,都是講脫口秀的,郭德綱一流人物。在大麻合法之前,美國社會門戶大開,“供應兩種刺激物質,週一到五咖啡因值班,支持生產力,週末酒精接力,這樣才能喝高喝笨,不至於察覺自己在坐大牢”(比爾稀客思,Bill Hicks, 1961-94)。 由此推斷,上班族不廢不笨的,少之又少。
















女兒順口提了一句:我這數學已經算上來了,總分是B,這學期到現在考的都是B 和 C。我心裡緩緩浮出一隻巴掌,做勢甩過去:考個乙你也好意思誇口,你不害臊,我都替你害臊!我眼睜睜和那隻長著獰厲眼嘴的巴掌對看,等它化作青煙四散。









且玩且讀 —— 歐遊讀書雜記

旅遊的時候,要不要帶書,帶什麼樣的書,一向是個為難的選擇。最正宗的自然是「量身定做派」︰知道要去黃山或康斯坦丁堡了,就事先作好功課,勤懇精確的帶上《徐霞客遊記》或蒙太固夫人的《土耳其使館書簡》(Turkish Embassy Letters, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu)。除此之外,還有認為「行萬里路,讀萬卷書」的上下聯勢不能同時並行不悖,堅持純粹體驗,旅行時只讀導遊書的「原教旨派」;擔心被職業導遊和七彩明信片的刻板印象先入為主,連導遊書也不看,要保留想像童貞直到和異地相見歡為止的「驚喜掛帥派」;以及因為沒作功課,錯過羅孚宮的水晶妝臺或融聖妙狂蕩于一身的聖德列莎雕像,捶胸頓足的「事後追悔派」等等。于這些派別,我或多或少都做過入門弟子,滄桑甘苦,一時也說不盡。











『閒話英文中譯』: 查生字水性楊花之必要




原文作 “the most painful song ever recorded,” 看了不怕小粉紅不驕敵自得,大外宣把美帝調戲得拖甲曳兵,創痛平生。殊不知原文字面上意思,並非去到盡頭的劇痛,而近乎北京俗語的“牙磣,” 像聽釘子刮玻璃那種鑽到牙齦裡的酸冷,實在是“做事離譜之極,旁人看著都替你難受著急”之意。認真要中譯,或可寫做“令人不忍卒聽。” 又則,這句型並非正規書面語,乃年輕人誇張輕倩沒三兩重的口語,網路博眼球之用。類似造句包括:

OMG, I’d never seen an outfit that hideous in my life!

諸如此類的“至今最…””有生以來從來沒…” 不建議直接口服,要配著”腦袋瓜那麼大的一顆鹽”吞下(take it with a grain of salt the size of my head。”中文人話的說法,就是“聽聽就好“”酌量參考。”不相信,看紐時或衛報,選情再火爆,川普再胡鬧,也絕不使用最高級形容詞:Donald Trump Is the Most Hate-driven Candidate in US History (川普是美國有史以來最滿腔恨毒的總統候選人)

現代中文翻英文,深情款款,此心不渝,看到辭典第一義就認死扣。依我說,還是水性楊花一點的好。順便多事雞婆一句(大陸的說法是:鹹吃蘿蔔淡操心)上圖據說摹寫的是杜甫的麗人行,“楊花雪落覆白蘋,青鳥飛去銜紅巾。” 杜甫不怕跨省,對網警比中指,公然搬出楊國忠和妹妹虢国夫人亂倫的性醜聞壓軸: “炙手可熱勢絕倫, 慎莫近前丞相嗔,” 膽兒肥碩頂喉嚨了,壯哉!

中文觀點: 中共“军事文化网络主题论坛”上透露了什么信息


The Knowing Ducks of Spring: How to tell when China is Ready to Compete with Hollywood

琅琊榜 黄金分割

People associated with China’s film industry recently declaimed on the CBS program 60-Minutes that the Chinese are poised to give Hollywood a run for its money. Rob Cain of Bloomberg was quite emphatic as to why not. And I wholeheartedly agree with him.

In this I am taking my cue from China’s own tough-love critics, whose opinion I figure must be weighty on this subject. Ranging from Chen Danqing, an artist and arbiter of culture, to Ran Yunfei, a public intellectual harassed by authorities, they all agree that cultural China is but a shadow of its former self. They feel that the ravages of the country’s recent past, such as the Cultural Revolution, left China adrift, severed from much of its heritage and uncertain of its future. You can’t tell powerful stories when you don’t know who you are or where you might be.

China is, therefore, in a long cultural convalescence, and in such straits poses no threat to Hollywood’s global dominance. By the same token, however, healing may eventually usher in a renaissance.

The great Song-dynasty renaissance man, Su Dongpo (1037-1101), writes that “When warm once again the tides of spring grow/The ducks are always the first ones to know.” Here are two spheres of Chinese cultural life to watch, as Su’s proverbial ducks, for the arrival of that cultural renewal. Now, it is inevitable that observers will vehemently differ on whether backsliding or leapfrogging is gaining the upper hand. There will be inexhaustible opportunities to track eye-popping developments on the ground and to wrangle over what they mean. That will be part of the fun.

The Chinese Language. Chinese is slowly recovering from the Maoist style of writing and speaking. Li Tuo, a literary critic, pointed out in 1997 that the language of propaganda and revolution held back modern Chinese. The standardized Maospeak outlawed, and virtually wiped modern Chinese clean, of classical Chinese.

To understand what this means, imagine an English with the widest part of its Saxon and Latinate vocabulary surgically removed. Then ponder how you can grapple with that state of things, knowing only a few odds and ends from your entire literary past that political leaders, the government press and a couple of lionized writers happened to cite. That’s what the Chinese are up against.

Restoring and regrowing Chinese language and culture is an uphill climb. Still, Hollywood should not get too comfortable. For the last several years, a section of Chinese society has honored their past by waxing nostalgic for the culture of the Republican era that immediately preceded Communist rule. For example, Mu Xin, a recently discovered writer’s writer, is beloved of young hip readers as representative of “what Chinese literature would have looked like, had it not been devastated after 1949.” Readers and writers are slowly reforging the broken link to their rich birthright.

Chinese Dramas and Their Critics. While the majority of Chinese audience put up with what domestically produced movie and TV theatricals censors allow them to see, an irrepressible minority have made a wildly popular cottage industry out of ripping into government-approved content that offend them as insults to their IQ. Barrages of jokes and quips greet trite fare restricted to a few categories:

a. Imperial court intrigue emphasizing the sagacity of rulers and the grandeur of Chinese empires;

b. The 101th rehashing of myths on how underground tunnels and airplane-felling pistol shots from Communist guerrillas beat back the Japanese invasion in WWII;

c. Shoddy rom-coms slovenly modeled on Japanese and Korean originals, adapted to Chinese tastes with endless catfights between daughter- and mother-in-law.

Stuff that will not shake Hollywood to its foundations any time soon. Having said that, watch out for the gush of irreverent creativity from their critics: theirs is an outstanding testament to the Chinese imagination and its potential for storytelling. 

Given how formidable that creativity would be if harnessed the right way, just like the country did in the manufacture of more tangible things, China may yet catch up with light-year speed. Nirvana in Fire, a popular 55-episode drama that was seen a total of 3.5 billion times on Chinese streaming platforms as of October 2015, is one recent breakthrough that for once has the homegrown critics applauding. This historical fantasy differs in many regards from mainstream fare. A re-conceived Count of Monte Cristo, it sports a moral backbone, where other censor-sanctioned drama veer between saintly stereotypes (WWII) and nihilistic cynicism (court intrigue). It boasts strong female characters whose horizons extend beyond the love of men. Its treatment of historical details is precise and intimate, going beyond professional polish to that reforging of links to Chinese heritage so vital to China’s renaissance. All this result in a reticent aesthetics rooted in the high tradition of Chinese painting and poetry. The camerawork, costumes and set design are of an understated beauty in a quintessentially Chinese way that has won over viewers both old and young.

In a word, I think we would do well to look to Chinese civil society in order to figure out when their creative springtime is at hand. Until then, Hollywood can try to stay ahead of the game by learning from the worthiest Chinese endeavors. For Hollywood, like China, has to endlessly recreate itself to stay true to its dreams. In that there is no zero-sum game. 

Why The Better Chinese Writer Is Often the Harder Sell in the West: Musings on Wang Zengqi 汪曾祺





Here are some personal reaction, cum brief background, about the writer of “The Connoisseur,” a short story I translated. Wang Zengqi (1920-1997) is, in my opinion, one of modern China’s best writers. He belongs to that last flowering generation of intellectuals who, steeped in an uninterrupted cultural tradition that assimilated every successful invader of China, took up the challenge and clarion call from the West. As a young writer, he counted Woolf and Faulkner among his influences. Li He, an 8th-century poet (imagine a Coleridge who fulfilled his promise with 220 poems), inspired Wang with his gorgeous desolation. Wang represented the best hope of a China that died young.


The post-1949 dystopia destroyed the promise of China’s writers. When the Party permitted them to write again, they no longer knew how. Having had it hammered into them that Western literature was a pernicious colonialism and Chinese culture a tool of class exploitation, they had nowhere to turn. Servile to political goals for decades, their stunted genius saw a second burial. Wang was one of a handful of exceptions. 


What makes Wang stand out among those chosen few is his purity and freedom. He writes as if the Communist devastation has never been. There is no more remarkable act of writerly rebellion. His language, now nourished by a brawny vigor from years of folk theater work, is of a lovely simplicity. A Chekhov who has finally reached peace with himself, he reimagines a China at once panoramic and exact, its struggles, injustices and beautiful things ordered by an ineluctable humanity. That goes against the grain of everything the Party upholds. His classical learning, effortlessly wielded without ostentation, defies and undoes the harm of Newspeak. To this day the Chinese remains largely robbed of their capacity to envision a world and future other than what the Party wills, because their language itself has become so corrupted. In writing like Wang’s, where what is human and universal from China’s enduring past is distilled and fit into the present, the hope for another renaissance beckons. 


Wang has not been translated much, perhaps in part because of what makes up his genius. I hope to change that in what small way I can. The Western reader has very little knowledge of the cultural backdrop which informs Wang’s writing. What makes him so valuable to the Chinese makes him a harder sell here. It struck me that the Internet is our best friend when it comes to bridging those gaps. I try to illuminate the lost world of his writing through web links to Chinese architecture, paintings, calligraphy and cartoons of the inside of a 1920’s Beijing clothier. They are easier to get to and less disruptive to the flow of reading than footnotes. I’m hoping to get reader thoughts from my DC Literature meetup, if I can lobby the folks there to hold a discussion session on the story. My goal is to turn reader feedback into revisions to this translation. Whether a story from a foreign land leaves readers baffled, irritated, bemused or hungry for more, their response shines a bright light on where the two cultures collide and coincide, in ways slowly revealing to us.