• Caterina Paiva

Editorial - Gambling(s) through China

Gambling refers to nothing less than taking a risk in anticipation of gain. But a choice is still attached to the price. This theme seems appropriate to the inaugural Topic of the Month for this community-based online magazine, named ChinaNauts.



The idea of starting an online magazine is, indeed, a gamble; though we are certain that we are not betting on our luck but in the care taken for our notes. What better way to start writing about China, therefore, than from an angle thought-provoking enough to challenge both writers and readers to look beyond the obvious?


Institutionalized gambling has been officially illegal since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. There are obvious exceptions to the rule, such as China’s S.A.Rs, Macao, and Hong Kong. Speaking more broadly, despite the negative connotation of the common word for gambling (赌博 dubo), stating that gambling no longer exists as a part of daily experience in mainland China is far from being accurate. The thin line between 玩 (wan, to play) and 赌 (du, to gamble) marks the difference between an interest in playing socially and that of playing for a monetary gain. However, there is no denying that those interests are often represented together.


Online gambling plays between the nuances of the legal and illegal. Small amounts of money still appear between the cups of tea on top of the Majiang tables, supplying provocative insights between gender and urban-rural relations. And Macau’s fast change of scenario produces some suspires from their inhabitants. The motivation of anticipated returns and a rewarding conclusion are common to all the above.


This approach to the first Topic of the Month is a clear statement of the purpose of ChinaNauts: to provide meaningful viewpoints on the daily in contemporary China, set off by broader ideas towards the practicalities of the day-to-day. Undoubtedly, the study of Gambling offers a precious opportunity to reconsider Chinese society in its near-overwhelming complexity.