Latest Issue

Provocateur in heels

Film star Yao Chen is pushing the boundaries of free speech in China. How far will she go?

By Dan Levin   April 2012

In 2006, a martial arts sitcom called My Own Swordsman, set in a mythical Ming Dynasty-era tavern, had its premiere on Chinese television. For 80 episodes, the inn’s zany cast of characters flew over tiled roofs, drank rice wine and fell in and out of love, all the while battling corrupt imperial officials and slaying would-be assassins. A young actress named Yao Chen provided much of the comic relief, playing a sassy, altruistic waitress who knew kung fu (her signature move was known as “the fist of toppling mountains and moving oceans”). To get a sense of the show and…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect