Instead of frightening readers with implacable monsters, Chinese ghost stories tend to use the spirit world (the very concept of “ghost” is rather fluid) to warn of the consequences of unethical behavior.

鬼故事 guǐ gùshì / goei guhshyh is a very common equivalent for “ghost stories”, but the word 鬼 refers to all sorts of spirits, gods etc, not just the disembodied souls of dead people (what English speakers usually mean when they say “ghost”). 志怪故事 zhìguài gùshì / jyhguay guhshyh “tales of the supernatural” is a broader category that includes all sorts of other weirdness: talking animals, powerful giants, fox spirits (who become beautiful women), and assorted supernatural phenomena.

The most famous collection of ghost stories is 聊齋誌異 Liáozhāi zhìyì / Liaujai Jyhyih (translated as Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio), a collection of 鬼故事 written in Classical Chinese.

Nerdy students who devote years of their lives to learning Chinese will especially appreciate The Lady in the Painting, a tale from the 聊齋, an adaptation for foreign learners written in old-fashioned (post WW II), but simplified Mandarin. Here are the first three pages:

Mr Jang is a bachelor who lives alone, so he buys a painting to keep him company. He starts talking to the lady in the painting, and one day she … [enough spoilers]. The complete story (plus notes in Yale Romanization + Pinyin) is available from Yale U. Press. This is an interesting story that can be enjoyed even if you only know a few hundred characters: highly motivating for struggling beginners.

Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio – Wikipedia

An old movie in the same genre:

Public Domain version (downloadable PDF from the Internet Archive. Sample story:

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