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December 15, 2016 Yaxue Cao spoke with Chang Ping in Toronto on December 2, 2016.     YC: You used to be the director of the news department of the famed Southern Weekly and a columnist there, and you belong to a community of journalists who distinguished themselves in the 25 years of “market-oriented” media that coincided with the period of soaring economic development from early 1990s until recently. I’ve been wanting to hear your story, because I sensed that your trajectory as a journalist has also been the trajectory of China’s “market-oriented media.” So I’m very happy to see you. First of all, congratulations on receiving the CJFE International Press Freedom Award. They made a great choice. Chang Ping: Thank you. YC: I knew […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 29, 2012   The Shengs were a prominent family in Ningpo. There were the old Shengs and the new Shengs; Mr. Sheng’s family was the old Shengs, landowners for generations. The family residence consisted of ten adjoining quadrangles, the innermost being the ancestor hall where memorial tablets and portraits of ancestors were displayed. I loved to play there the best, said Mr. Sheng, on my family’s visits when I was a little boy, because it was as big as a basketball court and I could run amok there, whereas my older sisters were scared and wouldn’t dare to go. Mr. Sheng’s mother was also from Ningpo, the daughter of a brewery owner. Mr. Sheng’s eldest sister and Sheng Shuren, his […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 28, 2012   I almost forgot; I had been to Shanghai before. It was the Chinese New Year of 1990, I decided spontaneously to go to a friend’s home to spend the holidays. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded an airplane in Guangzhou, and landed, several hours later, at Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. From the airport, I took a taxi to the Shanghai Train Station. I remember it was dusk, the sky overcast, the air chilling beyond a northerner’s assumption of Shanghai. There was not a soul on the streets. I don’t know why, but right at this moment, I am thinking about six o’clock. Two clicks away now, I know the trip is sixteen kilometers long, and passes a […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 27, 2012   On the morning of Christmas Eve as my family and I were getting ready to go to North Carolina to visit my parents-in-law, I received an email from Mr. Sheng Liren whose information I had found on the same school alumni page. He is Sheng Shuren’s brother, seventeen years his junior, a retired professor of mathematics. Before I accidentally heard Sheng Shuren’s story from Erjia, he seemed to be the only person I could potentially find, so I wrote him a letter and sent it to the School of Mathematical Sciences of Anhui University where he had taught before retiring. I did this just to give a try without really expecting too much—perhaps he had moved; even […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 26, 2012   Erjia, who was only a couple of years older than Sheng ’s oldest son, called Sheng “Shuren Dage” (树人大哥) or Big Brother Shuren, and Sheng Shuren called Erjia “Jia Di” (“家弟”) or Little Brother Jia. Shuren Dage and Jia Di did not cook and ate in a neighborhood canteen mainly for the neighborhood factory workers. There, Erjia’s two favorite items, steamed dumpling and pickled duck egg, sold for 5 cents a piece. Going Dutch, the two men lived on twenty yuan a month. Sheng Shuren’s mother was sick, and the two men often went to a general store together to rent oxygen bags for her (she died not too long after Erjia left). When there was nothing […]


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