Monthly Archives: February 2017

How is Social Media Changing China? Prof Zhang 6 April 6pm

In this talk, Prof Lifen Zhang currently based in the School of Journalism, Fudan University and Chief Advisor for China Business News, will consider the question ‘How is Social Media Changing China? This respected journalist, author and broadcaster will explain why, in his view, social media, the national obsession and blessing, presents a dilemma to the government and the state of journalism in China.

How Is Social Media Changing China?

China is emerging, unexpectedly, as a giant of social media in the world, rewriting human communication history. The Internet has reconfigured the way its people connect to each other and also how the nation is governed. The entire Chinese rural population has skipped fix-line telephony and operates only via mobile.

China is nowWeChat-Logo-2015.png sitting at the global top table in terms of social media innovation and usage. For instance Wechat (Wei Xin in Chinese), a social media platform developed by Tencent, one of the world’s leading internet conglomerates, is arguably China’s uniquely rare technological contribution to the world in modern history. In major cities people  now increasingly go about their daily life without cash, all through Wechat, for shopping, taxi, banking, restaurants, utility bills, tickets donations, “buying” all sorts of services.

However, the booming of social media in China also calls for a reality-check with contradictions about its regulatory regime and information control. In many ways the internet in China resembles a gigantic intranet and is far from free.  Social media, the national obsession and blessing, presents a dilemma to the government and the state of journalism in China.

Prof Zhang while currently a professor in the School of Journalism at Fudan University, also serves as the Chief Advisor for China Business News (CBN), the largest business media group in China. Previously  associate editor of the Financial Times, he served, from 2004-2015, as the founding editor of, the FT’s award-winning Chinese language business online publication.

Before joining the FT, Lifen worked for the BBC for 10 years during which time he held various roles: assistant producer for BBC TV;  producer; senior producer; senior trainer in journalism & production; and news & current affairs editor at the BBC World Service.

He obtained his BA degree in journalism from Fudan University in Shanghai following which he was a research-teaching assistant. As the recipient of the prestigious SBFSS scholarship (Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Scheme), he received his PhD in Communications (media sociology) from the University of Leicester. He has been a visiting professor at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, the Baptist University in Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong as well as Shanghai’s Fudan University.

He has received various international media awards including Asia’s SOPA journalism award, the BBC Onassis Bursary, as well as the State Street Award for Outstanding Contributions in Institutional Journalism. He is also a media leader at the World Economic Forum.

Key Information

Date of talk: Thursday 6 April 2017
Time of talk: 6pm-7pm followed by Q&A and networking reception
Venue:  Seminar Room LG.09, lower ground floor, David Hume Tower

Booking is required – please book via this link.

Chinese Character Introductory Course 5 weeks from 25 April

Chinese characters are an aspect of the language which can both fascinate and frustrate many westerners.  Lose your frustration and increase your fascination in this 5-week/10 hour Chinese character introductory course. This class will run on Tuesday evenings starting from 25 April 2017. The course will be taught in English.


Content of Course
• The structure of Chinese characters
• Character components and radicals
• Rules of stroke order
• Phonetic and semantic components of Chinese characters

Teaching Method
Theory combined with practice, emphasising the meaning and interesting nature of Chinese characters from principles of construction and cognitive rules to analysis of character structure in whole and in part. This will lead to the goal of recognizing characters and reading and writing in Chinese.

Teaching Goals
Students will master the structures and principles of Chinese characters and be able to recognise and use approximately 150 Chinese characters.

No textbook is required but students will receive printed materials about Chinese characters to help them learn and practice.

When, Where, How Much
When:  Tuesday evenings: 25 April, 2,9.16,23 May from 6pm-8pm
Where: Confucius Institute for Scotland Campus, EH16 5AL
Cost:    £65 (£43.50 concession price)

This course is now available to book online. If you have any questions, please call 0131 662 2180 or email:

Four week Chinese Calligraphy Course
Tuesday evenings from 10 October 2017

Discover the ancient art of calligraphy using the traditional Chinese brush and ink combination that has been in use for thousands of years.

The four week course starts on 10 Oct and runs to 7 Nov (no class on 24 Oct) and will be led by Chi Zhang, the Institute’s experienced calligraphy teacher. Students will be introduced to the materials of ink, brush, stone and paper, and initially common techniques will be introduced.

This 4 week course will start by introducing common techniques related to the Chinese soft brushes and ink. Students will also learn the basic strokes of Clerical Style (Li Shu). Clerical is a traditional artistic writing style dated back 2000 years ago and still widely used in signage and posters nowadays. This writing style is easier to learn and suitable for beginners.

Students can anticipate completing at least one piece of Chinese calligraphy artwork per class. The contents of this work could be a selected Chinese poems or perhaps an ancient master’s quotation. Demonstration and plenty of personal attention will be provided during the class. This course is suitable for both beginners and advanced students.

With a maximum of 12 students in the class plenty of personal attention is guaranteed as well as clear demonstrations and instructions to help students develop their skills.  Both beginners and advanced students are welcome in the class.

The cost is £80 for the 8 hour course which runs Tuesday evenings from 6pm-8pm from 10 Oct There is a concession rate of £70.  The fee includes all materials. A minimum of five students are required to ensure the class goes ahead.

To book and pay online please use the University ePay system.  Alternatively download this Autumn 2017 Half Term-Callig Reg Form then complete and return it to the Confucius Institute for Scotland with a cheque for the correct amount made out to the University of Edinburgh.


Course: Chinese Calligraphy Four Week Course
Date + TIme: Tuesdays Evenings 6pm-8pm 10, 17 & 31 Oct and & 7 Nov (no class on 24 Oct)
Cost: £80 (£70) including all materials
Location: Confucius Institute for Scotland Campus, Abden House


Chinese Silent Films, Bo’ness Hippodrome: 23 & 25 March

For the second year our Institute is supporting Hippfest – Scotland’s only festival dedicated to silent cinema with world-class music, red carpet glamour, and rarely-seen silent era films. Taking place in the retro surroundings of the Hippodrome, Bo’ness, the programme running on the afternoon of Thursday 23rd March focuses exclusively on China. Additionally, on Saturday 25th at 4.30pm, there will be a showing of The Goddess – a masterpiece of social realism.

Read on for more details or download the full programme for the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2017.

Thursday 23 March 2017: **Double Bill Offer**
Women in Chinese Silent Cinema 2pm-3.15pm

In this talk with screenings Prof. Paul Pickowicz will explore the golden age of Chinese silent cinema. The legendary actresses of the early Chinese film world dominated the silver screens of Shanghai and captivated the imaginations of the rapidly growing urban film audiences.

Accompanying the screenings selected by Paul will be Forrester Pyke, one of the most highly respected silent film accompanists in Scotland.

Around China with a Movie camera’ 4pm-5.10pm

This will be followed at 4pm with the first Scottish showing of ‘Around China with a Movie Camera’ from the British FIlm Archive. Featuring rare and beautiful travelogues, newsreels and home movies viewers are taken on a journey through time and across China. See Shanghai’s bustling, cosmopolitan Nanjing Road in 1900, and a day at the Shanghai races in 1937. Cruise Hangzhou’s picturesque canals and visit China’s remote villages in Hunan and Yunnan provinces. Made by British and French filmmakers – from professionals to intrepid tourists, colonial-era expatriates and missionaries – this programme explores fifty years of Chinese history and includes possibly the oldest surviving film to be shot in China, unseen for over 115 years.

Accompanying this silent film on piano will be Ruth Chan, who was commissioned by the BFI to compose the music for this programme. Ruth will introduce the screening and share her personal insight into her composition, the instruments used and the unique challenge of creating music for this extraordinary footage.


Call 01324 506850 to book these two events for only £10.00 inclusive of tea/coffee and cake! Or visit the website for full details of the Hippfest programme and to book online.

25 March 2017: The Goddess (Shen Nu) 4.30pm-5.45pm

A masterpiece of social realism featuring Chinese superstar Ruan Lingyu as a struggling mother who takes to prostitution on the streets of Shanghai in order to shelter her son from the corrupt city and give him a better chance in life.

This devastatingly beautiful and recently restored film was made by first time director/writer/designer Yonggang aged just 27-years-old, and draws its greatpower from the striking and subtle performance by Ruan. Ruan’s heartrending and sympathetic portrayal ofa self-sacrificing woman at the mercy of society’s hypocrisy was a sensation that was tragically echoed in her real-life. On the eve of her trial for adultery and after months of tabloid harassment Ruan killed herself, aged 24, just one year after the release of  ‘The Goddess’.

Performing live to accompany this classic will be John Sweeney on piano

Director:  Wu Yongang, 1934, 1hr 13m
With:  Ruan Lungyu, Tian Jian, Zhang Zhizhi

Call 01324 506850 to book your ticket or visit the website for full details of the Hippfest programme and to book online.



Chinese Film Screening
‘The World’ – 24 March 2pm

Join us if you can for the regular programme of Chinese Films on Friday.  All films screened have sub-titles.  Viewing is from 2pm in the Screening Room, Room G04 at No 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9LH 

The next screening will be on Friday 24 March with ‘The World’ (Jia Zhangke, 2006) which scored 7.1/10 on IMDb and 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Set in the World Park near Beijing, featuring lavish shows amidst replicas of some of the most famous monuments from across the globe, the film focuses on three workers in the park.

Our Free Films on Friday programme is curated by Chinese Studies senior lecturer Dr Julian Ward whose core specialism is in Chinese literature and film.

The University library holds more than 600 films spanning China’s 20th century film history which are available for loan to those who have a library card.

All welcome, no booking is required.

 Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige, 1984) Friday 20 January
Black Cannon Incident (Huang Jianxin, 1985) Friday 27 January
Black Snow (Xie Fei, 1990) Friday 3 February
Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991) Friday 10 February
Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1988) Friday 17 February
Devils on the Doorstep(JIang Wen, 2000) THURSDAY 23 February
Sacrificed Youth  (Zhang Nuanxin, 1985) CANCELLED
Dust in the Wind (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1986) Friday 3 March
In the Heat of the Sun (Jiang Wen, 1994) Friday 10 March
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000) Friday 17 March
The World  (Jia Zhangke, 2006) Friday 24 March
A Touch of Sin  (Jia Zhangke, 2013) Friday 31 March
Black Coal Thin Ice (Diao Yi’nan 2014) Friday 7 April