Nicola Davison is a British freelance writer and editor based in London.
The Economist
An evil omen

An evil omen

ON MAY 28th a woman was beaten to death in a branch of McDonald’s in Zhaoyuan, a city in the eastern province of Shandong. The attack occurred in front of onlookers soon after dinnertime, and at least one person filmed the incident on a mobile phone. Its sheer brutality has given the video a viral...
The lure of the Mandarin

The lure of the Mandarin

TO even the most enthusiastic lovers of world cinema, Chinese film can seem obscure. This is not just a result of cultural dissimilarity and a language barrier, but because the closed-door policy China operated before 1978 ensured that many films made during the Maoist era were inaccessible to Western audiences. Even as cinema in Hong...
Right to know

Right to know

IN THE summer of 2013 Wu Youshui sent an open government information (OGI) request to every provincial-level government in China. Mr Wu, a lawyer based in the eastern city of Hangzhou, wanted to know about the fines imposed on violators of the one-child policy. Each year provincial governments collect billions of yuan from couples who...
Scooped

Scooped

LIU JIANFENG began his career as an investigative reporter with noble ideals about serving the public interest. After 20 years in the job, even working for some of China’s more outspoken publications, he felt increasingly manipulated. He also believed the public was hungry for fact-based reporting untainted by the state’s agenda. Casting around for a...
Against the tide of human progress

Against the tide of human progress

“THIS absurd judgment cannot hold back the tide of human progress”, activist Xu Zhiyong told the Beijing Supreme People’s Court on April 11th, as his sentence of four years in jail for ”gathering a crowd to disturb public order” was upheld. Mr Xu had been found guilty at a closed-door trial in January but had appealed the...
Volatile atmosphere

Volatile atmosphere

DEMONSTRATIONS against a petrochemical plant have this week reverberated throughout cities in China’s south-eastern Guangdong province, at times becoming riotous. The unrest began on March 30th, when 1,000 protestors assembled outside government buildings in Maoming, a city in southern China’s industrial heartland. They objected to long-standing plans for a 3.5 billion yuan ($563m) paraxylene (PX) plant, a...
It's only rock 'n roll (but they like it)

It’s only rock ‘n roll (but they like it)

WHEN the Rolling Stones wrote the song “Street Fighting Man” in 1968 few in China had the means to hear it. Maoist revolutionary music was the acceptable genre and foreign songs were prohibited (with the exception of Soviet songs). Chinese youth was preoccupied anyway. Fearful of the Red Guards’ accruing power, Mao Zedong rolled out...
“Cures” for homosexuality

“Cures” for homosexuality

IN 2011 Lin Yan attended the Chuanwei Psychological Counselling Centre in Shenzhen, a southern city. Worried that his parents would not accept his homosexuality, Mr Lin, who was then 24 (and now uses a pseudonym), spent $1,700 on three months of so-called “conversion therapy”. He was shown sexualised images of men and induced to vomit...
Bloodshed at the bakery

Bloodshed at the bakery

KNIFE-wielding assailants have this morning killed five people and caused havoc at a street market in Changsha, a city in central China, according to state media. Police shot dead one suspect at the scene, taking the death toll to six, and detained at least one other. The tragedy occured two weeks after a horrific terror...
Nasty send-off

Nasty send-off

ON AUGUST 18th 1949 Mao Zedong authored an essay entitled “Farewell, Leighton Stuart!”. Within months Mao would consolidate power at the head of the Communist Party and found the People’s Republic of China. The text provided a parting shot at Mr Stuart, an ambassador recalled to America amid escalating tension between the communists and their Kuomintang...
Everyone loves a ruthless leader

Everyone loves a ruthless leader

IN A scene at the start of the second season of  ”House of Cards“, a TV political drama series, the American president and advisors gather for a tense meeting in the Oval Office. China and America are soon to enter into a joint venture on a rare earth refinery in Fujian province. The debate is...
Still on ice

Still on ice

ON FEBRUARY 15th a virtually unknown film-maker from China, Diao Yinan, beat long-established directors to claim the top prize at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, one of Europe’s most respected. Of the eight prizes awarded in the main competition, three went to Chinese films. Mr Diao’s Black Coal, Thin Ice, a noir thriller, won best...