The last time I had an equally active autumn was in 2003. I hosted two English language contests, co-hosted the Christmas & New Year Gala for international students, sat on the panel as a judge in another language contest, and hosted an end-of-year China-US culture exchange meeting. Those were five events with me actively involved in them.
This year, I was actively involved in another five, being additionally involved in one other event — the 21 October 2015 event at Fyvie Street, Regent Street Campus (University of Westminster) — as part of the organising team. But in all the other five events, I had an active role to play and addressed the crowd, something I realised now that not only do I absolutely adore doing, but I’m increasingly sold I was totally born to do.
Of the Fabulous Five that had me deeply involved, here’s a summary of them all. ▶
The month of October 2015 has been increasingly busy for me — first was getting things right for the University of Westminster & SMG event on 21 October 2015, and today, it was all about getting as many people together as possible for the China Media Centre’s Fresher Party, which in spite of rather short notice, meant a crowd turned up — and it was a big one at that. We just about ran out of seating in one of the university’s larger classrooms!
There was obviously cake to go along, as well as a lot of drinks (I had spent the afternoon getting these back from the local Sainsbury’s along with other Centre staff members). Before this, though, both Centre director Prof de Burgh and I briefed all those here with what the Centre was up to. I also announced my role as the organiser of all academic seminars for the year 2015/2016, and that we’d be having people over to present still within this term. ▶
I did something I haven’t been doing for a fair while today at 14:30: speaking in front of an audience of 100+ people. (Stage fright is a one-off thing, though; never mind my last speaking gig in front of close to 100+ was in spring 2014…)
My 30-minute “blah” was about a myriad of things — all related to media, journalism, and the like. Things such as framing the news, covert (and not so covert) agendas, and pigeon-holing people. Things such as really trying to make sense of anything from the refugee crisis in Europe to Corbyn leading Labour (what the media thought, and what the academics thought). Things such as how social media was such a big game-changer, and how the Chinese Great Firewall couldn’t 100% define what happened inside the People’s Republic. ▶
I attended and presented a talk on Invisible Censorship in China at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the afternoon hours of 04 February 2015. I also was part of the panel which took questions about the debate.
My presentation wasn’t an easy one to give — it wasn’t as if I was ever a “problem” in China, but far more because in Chinese cyberspace, there are an alarming number of blocked “false positives”. As someone who had to scale the wall, I had to speak from experience without the emotions — and that I did, by presenting as objective a view of the matter as possible. The blocks in China, I argued, are certainly an irritant, but they form part of the Internet in China. I argued that the late 2014 term “internet sovereignty” was in fact a non-topic as it had existed de facto for much earlier.
I outlined three challenges and “ways out” for China in this day and age when most of the Anglophone media tend to equate it with outright censorship: government can either choose to tackle, tame, or harness what’s on the Web, where I was in favour of the final option — listening in and harnessing the views of the population.
The event was hosted by the China Development Society of LSE, an influential body in the university, and featured Professor Charlie Beckett, director of Polis, as chair, and Professor Hugo de Burgh, director of the China Media Centre at the University of Westminster, as the other speaker. Around 80 turned up and it was a memorable afternoon of debate and learning. ▶
I’m pleased to be part of a very unique course here at the University of Westminster — the MA module, China’s Media and the Emerging World Order, will see my involvement as module co-leader, with the respected Prof Hugo de Burgh as module leader. Just yesterday, we had our very first module, where we briefed students in class.
These lessons will be given every Thursday afternoon at the Harrow Campus of the university, and I’ve already pledged to give two lectures in the module, as well as encourage and lead debate on late-breaking China media developments. My bit will be about China’s Babel: New Media, to be given later this month, as well as a March presentation on social media in China.
Interestingly enough, a sizeable proportion of students are actually from Mainland China, but there’s also quite a few from other places. It will be quite an interesting lesson for students interested in seeing how the rest of the world sees China media. ▶
▶ There is a home-grown Chinese social network with a user base that equates in size to 7 United Kingdoms.
▶ Chinese “netizens” have looked at government differently since two trains collided in southeastern China.
▶ QR codes have taken over China in the same way that Twitter and Facebook addresses have in the West.
▶ Mark Zuckerberg speaks a language spoken by the world’s most populous country.
Find out the trends, the stories, and what will be next for social media in the world’s largest nation, both online and offline.
David Feng will be leading the very first seminar of the China Media Centre this academic year. It will be held at the University of Westminster’s China Media Centre on 05 November 2014. The presentation will be chaired by Dr Paul Dwyer and will take place at Room A.6.08 on the Harrow Campus of the university. David will speak at 14:00 followed by discussions lasting until 16:00. All are welcome to this academic session. ▶
Would you work in a place with the slogan Achieve goals or the Sun will no longer rise? (It’s both a scary and a pathetic slogan — Wikipedians would also tag it factually inaccurate. I myself have missed tonnes of goals and I’ve never made the Sun not come out!)
Most of us know about the crass violations of workers’ rights and dignity at Foxconn, where Apple’s iDevices are churned out in record time. But to me, it was just a violation that “had to be swallowed” or even, worse, “accepted as fact”. The full scale of how scary things were weren’t made clear to me until I attended a talk by Dr Jenny Chan of the University of Oxford. She also focused on corporate misbehaviour in the talk, in addition to giving us all an idea of how scary things were on the assembly line. ▶