China: Blogger-poets

In Qian Zhongshu‘s (钱钟书) 1947 novel Fortress Besieged (围城), one of the greatest works of twentieth-century Chinese literature, protagonist Fang Hung-chien attempts to build a career with a fake degree from an imaginary American university. As seen in a post yesterday [zh] from Bullog blogger Fang Zhouzi, life does still imitate art, seventy years later, and at even the highest levels in Chinese society:


Wu Zheng “PhD” Loses alma mater: Barrington University's Lucky Day

在中国很著名的美国“大学”、吴征获得其博士学位的巴灵顿大学(又写做巴林顿、柏林顿、百林顿大学)在2004年被美国总审计局特殊调查办公室认定为属于标价贩卖文凭的“文凭制造厂”(diploma mill)。

The American “university” so renowned in China where Wu Zheng earned his doctorate, Barrington University, was deemed by the American Government Accountability Office's Office of Special Investigations as a “diploma mill”, selling diplomas for a fixed price.


Barrington University was registered in Alabama on September 14, 1998. A check of Alabama state government corporate registration information shows that this “university” was dissolved on April 19 this year.


Its website has also already been shut down.


Wu Zheng “PhD” has no alma mater.


Although, “Dr.” Wu doesn't need to get upset. There are still many high-level officials in China who are his alumni; for example, China Automotive Systems Inc. board chairman and CEO Chen Hanlin refers to himself in his resume as an ‘MBA graduate of Barrington University in America‘.

Corporation D/C 198-198
Legal Name: Barrington University Incorporated
Place Of Inc: Montgomery County
Date Of Inc.: 09-14-1998 Dissolved.: 04-19-2006
MOBILE, AL 36606-2811
Prin Address: MOBILE, AL
Capital Amt.: 100 Authorized — Paid In


Late last month Journal of Selected Poetry editor Zhao Lihua (赵丽华) found herself on the sharp end of the Chinese blogsphere when several of her old (and admittedly poorly-written) poems were dug up, posted viral, mocked and spoofed to no end. First bringing Chinese poetry back to the forefront of public consciousness, the incident then led to discussions over the value of destructured verse seen in Zhao's poems. One of the more prominent has been the blog battle between author, musician, race car driver and voice of those born post-1980 Han Han and 1990s grassroots literature sensation Shen Haobo, with the younger writer taking the conservative stance [zh]:


Why do poets and modern poetry still exist?


Two days ago [readers] here were arguing over the ‘is it a poem or not’ matter. I didn't look,felt it's strange. Because my view has always been that there is no need for poetry and poets to even exist, and that the form of modern poetry makes no sense. Paper is expensive nowadays; is there anything wrong with writing to the end of the line like good prose? The good thing about ancient poetry is that it has form. Form is not a restriction. Just like only if cars are driven within a designated route will there be an audience to watch. If you just randomly drive all over, isn't that the same thing as traffic on the road? The audience can blindly drive around if they want, so why would they come especially to see you do so? That's why the development of poetry is now in decline. Because they're not even poems anymore, but the poets still seem to think that's what they're writing.

Shen's retort and those following [zh] pulled no punches, dissing Han in language so elegant as to render it untranslatable. A post [zh] written on September 28 mocks Han's having dropped out of high school, poor car racing performance and Han's funding of his own album after being ignored by several music companies. Posts over the last several days have seen a series of increasingly insulting poems—written in Zhao's destructured style—blogged back and forth between the two men.

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