Online Publishing Grows in China

In the final installment in a three part series on China’s independent digital culture, NPR’s Laura Sydell investigates online publishing:

Back in the days of the Cultural Revolution when Mao Tse Tung was still running China, people passed around bound notebooks of underground literature.

“It was very dangerous to copy them and to pass them around,” says Perry Link, a professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. “You could get in trouble if you got caught.”

Those notebooks weren’t filled with the writings of a Chinese Solzhenitsyn, criticizing the Communist Party. “They were almost all … entertainment fiction,” says Link. “Triangular love stories and detective stories and things like that.”

The only kind of literature that made it through the government censors — even long after Mao was dead — was dry and boring. It had to have a message about the improvement of communist society.

But writer Fu Tian — that’s her pen name — does not think about how to make a better China when she writes.

As the pale afternoon sun filters through a dusty window in her Shanghai apartment, it lights up her mischievous face as she types. All she wants is to entertain her readers.

Previously in CDT: ‘Lost’ in China and Internet Helps Liberate, Create Music in China.


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