“Science fiction was imported from the West early in this century by some Chinese elites who believed that the genre could help people become ‘intelligent’ and enable the country [to] get modernized.” -Han Song
It’s a good, albeit Comic Sans-y article, and one that identifies one of the key issues you have to deal with if you’re going to do China studies or SF: The inescapable connection between science fiction, Chinese development, Enlightenment thinking, and the West. It’s like how if you’re going to do modernization, you’ve got to do westernization too. The question is whether science fiction is used as a means of imitating the West, or if it’s also a form of deconstruction, a way of dealing with imposed (or at least ever-present) Western norms.
One thing I haven’t been able to find out much about yet is the apparent ban on science fiction in the early eighties–everyone alludes to it, but there doesn’t seem to be information in English about why it happened, or what it meant in practical terms: If I recall correctly, there may have been a similar ban a year or two back on horror films around the time of the Olympics, so I’m guessing it’s a similar deal to that.
The Chinese-language web might have something about it–I bet someone has posted about it on one of the sci-fi blogs–but my Chinese google-fu is pretty weak, especially when I’m dealing with things I don’t know the precise term for. I believe the ban went under the name of an anti-spiritual pollution (精神污染) campaign, but I’m not sure if there was a particular name for it or not.
(Cross-posted at Cyberpunks Not Dead)