Dai Qing

Dai Qing
(neé Fu Xiaoping)
b. 1942
Journalist, culture critic, writer
The daughter of an underground Party worker and an engineer, Dai Qing was raised for the most part in the family of Ye Jianying, one of the founders of the PLA and one of the ten great marshals of the People’s Republic. After schooling in Beijing and training in missile technology at Harbin, she became a technician working for the Public Security Bureau and subsequently, for a short time, an undercover cadre in the Chinese Writers’ Association working for the security organs. Her post-Cultural Revolution career in writing and journalism was inspired by the works of Liu Binyan and the US oral historian Studs Terkel, and she eventually found employment with the leading newspaper Guangming ribao.
During the 1980s, as literary innovation changed the face of Chinese letters—and the old censorship system gave way to a more complex and nuanced ad hoc regime of commercial publishing—she became a leading practitioner of ‘historical investigative journalism’. In a number of popular studies of intellectual and cultural figures (the neo-Confucian Liang Shuming, the writer Wang Shiwei and the journalist Chu Anping), Dai Qing challenged Party rulings and offered her own running commentary on contemporary Chinese politics and society. Some of these writings, which are masterful prose pieces, were the first to excite discussion among the intelligentsia about the revival of the long-ignored liberal democratic tradition in Chinese politics.
An irascibly independent figure, Dai was a unique journalistic voice in the second half of the 1980s. She was a key activist crucially in the founding of China’s first environmental lobby group in 1988 and went on to become a vocal opponent of the Three Gorges Dam project. Jailed in 1989 following 4 June on nebulous charges related to inciting the protesters, she was released the following year and immediately published an account of her imprisonment in Hong Kong. Banned for the most part from publication in China, she continued to act as an independent critique of the authorities. Her freedom to write and travel overseas following her 1990 release have occasioned many comments among the dissident community about her supposed continued affiliation with the security apparat.
Barmé, Geremie R. (ed.) (1992). New Ghosts, Old Dreams: Chinese Rebel Voices. New York: Times Books. [‘From Lin Zexu to Chiang Ching-kuo’, ‘The Case of Chu Anping’ and ‘A Sexy Lady’ (with Luo Ke).]
Dai, Qing (1984). ‘Anticipation’. Trans. Billy Bikales. In Perry Link (ed.) Roses and Thorns: The Second Blooming of the Hundred Flowers in Chinese Fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 146–67.
——(1985). ‘No!’. Trans. Dale R.Johnson. In Michael S.Duke (ed.), Contemporary Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Post-Mao Fiction and Poetry. Armonk, NY: M.E.Sharpe, 109–14.
(1992). ‘My Imprisonment: An Excerpt’. Trans. Geremie Barmé. Index on Censorship 8:20–7.
——(1995). ‘How I Experienced the Cultural Revolution’. In Feminist Press (ed.), China for Women: Travel and Culture. New York : Feminist Press, 79–85.
——(comp.) (1998). The River Dragon Has Come! The Three Gorges Dam and the Fate of China’s Yangtze River and Its People. Trans. Yi Ming. Ed. John G.Thibodeau and Philip B.William. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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