Australian official warns about Chinese influence

Things are really heating up in Australia, with the country’s foreign minister and other elected officials warning Chinese Communist activists in the country to respect Australia’s “values of openness and upholding freedom of speech.” –Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation (10/16/17)
China’s soft power: Julie Bishop steps up warning to university students on Communist Party rhetoric
By defence reporter Andrew Greene and political reporter Stephen Dziedzic

Julie Bishop speaks into two microphones at a lectern. She is wearing a beige coloured suit and jewelled earrings.

Julie Bishop gives a speech. Ms Bishop said freedom of speech was crucial for all those living in or visiting Australia.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has issued a blunt warning to Chinese university students affiliated with the Communist Party, urging them to respect freedom of speech in Australia.

There are mounting anxieties about the way the Chinese Government uses student groups to monitor Chinese students in Australia, and to challenge academics whose views do not align with Beijing’s.

Australia’s security agencies are now pushing allies — including the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand — to hammer out a collective strategy to resist Chinese Government intrusions into Western universities. Continue reading

The Giant Awakens

A Collection of Insights into Chinese Government Influence in Australia

Download the full PDF version of The Giant Awakens

Read the e-book version of The Giant Awakens online


Influence /ˈɪnflʊəns/ [mass noun]:The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.

The Chinese government’s vast sphere of influence has been a widely debated topic over the past few months. In many instances, discussions have blurred the lines between China – a country with a rich history of 5,000 years – and the Chinese government – currently controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s culture, its arts and trade relations with Australia, have had a significant influence on Australia’s development as a well-integrated multicultural society. The cultural and economic contributions of the 1.2 million Chinese living and studying in Australia cannot be overstated. Continue reading

Exile or Pursuit

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Wai-chew Sim’s translation of an excerpt from Exile or Pursuit, by the Singapore writer Chia Joo Ming. The translation is too long to include here in full. The whole translation can be found at

Born in 1959 in Singapore, Chia Joo Ming (谢裕民) won the Singapore Young Artist award in 1993 and participated in the Iowa international writing program in 1995. He was also writer-in-residence in the Chinese program, Nanyang Technological University, in 2014. Chia is a three-time recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize, in 2006, 2010, and 2016. His works include: The Most Boring Nationality (最闷族, 1989),  New Words of Worldly Tales (世说新语, 1994), The Insignificance of Being (一般是非, 1999), Reconstructing Nanyang Images (重构南洋图像, 2005),  M40 (2009), 1644: The Year A Dynasty Was Hanged (甲申说明书, 2012), and Exile or Pursuit (放逐与追逐, 2015). He is currently a senior executive sub-editor in Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报), Singapore main’s Chinese-language newspaper.

Exile or Pursuit (2015) tells the story of Hok Leong (福良), whose family runs a won ton noodle stall in a food centre. It follows his experiences through school, national service (compulsory military service), and early adulthood, detailing in the process a distinct period in the Singapore socio-historical formation and experience.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Exile or Pursuit (an extract)

By Chia Joo Ming [1]
Translated by Wai-chew Sim [2]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October 2017)


The year it all started, Hok Leong had just entered secondary two. A new student came into their classroom. Her name is Lin Chiu-yun, the form teacher said. She’s from Indonesia. From now on—everybody—please help her out as much as you can.

Hok Leong’s tentative memories of school life began more or less from that period.

To welcome the new student, the teacher clapped his hands, willing everyone to join in. Hok Leong felt that this was a tad unsophisticated but was prepared to go through the motions. He raised his hands and was about to bring them together when suddenly he heard his name.

“Hok Leong. Your Chinese is pretty good. You should help Chiu-yun.”

The boys in the class started to hoot. Hok Leong felt embarrassed and put his arms down. Continue reading

Singapore dispute

Source: NYT (7/4/17)
Dispute Over Singapore Founder’s House Becomes a National Crisis

SINGAPORE — Two years after his death, no memorials, statues or streets in Singapore are named after Lee Kuan Yew, who established this city-state as a modern nation and built it into a prosperous showcase for his view that limited political freedoms best suit Asian values.

Now a bitter and public family dispute over the fate of his modest house has shattered Singapore’s image as an orderly authoritarian ideal and hinted at deeper divisions about its political future. Continue reading

Can free speech withstand Chinese nationalism

Source: China File (5/25/17)
Can Free Speech on American Campuses Withstand Chinese Nationalism?

The ChinaFile Conversation is a weekly, real-time discussion of China news, from a group of the world’s leading China experts.

Earlier this week, Kunming native Yang Shuping, a student at the University of Maryland, gave a commencement speech extolling the “fresh air” and “free speech” she experienced while studying in the United States. Video of her speech spread on the Internet, and Yang and her family found themselves under attack by fellow Chinese students in the U.S. and a chorus of critics on Chinese social media, who argued—at times viciously—that she had betrayed her country. Yang then apologized for the speech and asked for “forgiveness from the public.” Why was she attacked? What do her speech and the reaction it engendered reveal (or obscure) about the experiences of Chinese students on American campuses, and what do they portend for the future of academic freedom in the U.S.? To what extent is Chinese nationalism reshaping university life in America? —The Editors


Yifu Dong

I’m not surprised that Yang Shuping had to apologize in the face of severe nationalistic backlash against her speech. The following is part of the speech I would have given at my graduation, if Yale was not so obviously anti-Chinese to let me freely express myself on the podium during its two-hour Class Day ceremony. I regret missing an opportunity to garner respect from like-minded Chinese netizens and set an example for all future Chinese students who are tasked with the sacred duty of nationalistic speech-giving in paper tiger imperialist regimes. Continue reading

China funds new garden in Washington

Source: Washington Post (4/27/17)
China wants a bold presence in Washington — so it’s building a $100 million garden
By Adrian Higgins

The Ge Garden in Yangzhou, which will be replicated in the National China Garden at the National Arboretum. (Courtesy of the National China Garden)

This summer, a construction team is expected to begin transforming a 12-acre field at the U.S. National Arboretum into one of the most ambitious Chinese gardens ever built in the West.

By the time Chinese artisans finish their work some 30 months later, visitors will encounter a garden containing all the elements of a classical Chinese landscape: enticing moongate entrances, swooping and soaring roof lines, grand pavilions with carved wooden screens and groves of golden bamboo. The grounds will boast two dozen handcrafted pavilions, temples and other ornate structures around a large central lake. Continue reading

Confucius Institutes

See below for a nice summary of the state of play as regards the Confucius Institutes, in the light of both the recent report from the National Association of Scholars, “Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education” (published April 26, 2017, download at:, and of the efforts in China to curb Western “infiltration”. –Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: NY Review of Books (4/28/17)
Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms?
By Richard Bernstein

Imaginechina via AP Images: Students from a Confucius Institute in the US visiting the Confucius Temple in Qufu, China, April 17, 2013.

Since their beginning in 2005, Confucius Institutes have been set up to teach Chinese language classes in more than one hundred American colleges and universities, including large and substantial institutions like Rutgers University, the State Universities of New York at Binghamton and Albany, Purdue, Emory, Texas A & M, Stanford, and others. In addition, there are now about five hundred sister programs, known as “Confucius Classrooms,” teaching Chinese in primary and secondary schools from Texas to Massachusetts. Continue reading

Tibetan posters vandalized at Cornell

The Cornell Daily Sun, the campus student-run newspaper, carried an article on the recent anonymous night-time vandalization and theft of a university-approved lawn exhibit mounted on campus by the Tibet student group. –posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Cornell Daily Sun (4/27/17)
Students Divided Over Swiped Pro-Tibet Signs Depicting Self-immolation
By Yuichiro Kakutani

More than half of the 34 signs were swiped, members of the Tibet Initiative at Cornell said in a recent interview, emphasizing a campus divide on Chinese policy. Tibet Initiative at Cornell, via Facebook

Two dozen posters in the Arts Quad depicting Tibetans self-immolating in protest were snatched last week by an unknown person or people on the same night a Cornell group had put the signs up. Continue reading

Swedish police arrest man for spying

Swedish security police have arrested a man for spying on the Tibetan refugee community. This is big news in Sweden. A few years ago, in 2009, a naturalized Swedish citizen was arrested and sentenced to jail for similar espionage on Uighur refugees, and a Chinese diplomat was expelled. In this new case, nothing has yet been said about which country is behind the spying. For more reports in English, see:

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Local (2/27/17)
Man arrested for ‘refugee espionage’ in Sweden
TT/AFP/The Local

The Swedish security police (Säpo) office in Stockholm. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Sweden’s security police Säpo has arrested a man suspected of spying on refugees in the country.

Säpo arrested the man on February 26th on suspicion of aggravated unlawful intelligence activities in the country. He is believed to have illegally obtained intelligence about people related to Tibet in Sweden on behalf of another country. Continue reading

The Aesthetics of the Tropics–cfp

“The Aesthetics of the Tropics” Conference CFP
June 23-24, 2017 | Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Language: English or Chinese

The conference “The Aesthetics of the Tropics” invites multidisciplinary papers that focus on the tropics as a location of cultural encounter and innovation, a trope of imagination, desire, and memory, or a site of knowledge production and social engineering. If the tropics loom large in the foundational writings of anthropology as an academic discipline, the melancholy embedded in Levi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques speaks unmistakably to the impossibility of authentic cultural encounters and the catastrophic result such encounters may cost the indigenous societies. In academic fields ranging from anthropology, history, to postcolonial studies, the tropics not only continue to function as a key site for the self-understanding of human culture and history, but are also inextricably entangled in a cultural logic that reinforces the north-south, self-other, colonizer-colonized demarcation and the struggle against it. While “the south” evokes in Chinese culture rich connotations such as the barbaric, the exotic, or the radical revolutionary, the boundary and the hierarchy between the center and the periphery is no less prominent. From the perspective of the outsiders to that of the indigenous, this conference seeks to revisit and reformulate, through the lens of the tropics, the cultural, historical, gender, linguistic, geographical, environmental, medical, and /or technological discourses regarding the region.   Continue reading

Guo Xiaolu on moving to Britain

Source: The Guardian (1/10/17)
‘Is this what the west is really like?’ How it felt to leave China for Britain
Desperate to find somewhere she could live and work as she wished, Xiaolu Guo moved from Beijing to London in 2002. But from the weather to the language and the people, nothing was as she expected
By Xiaolu Guo


By the time I reached my late 20s, I was desperately looking for a way out of Beijing. From 2001 onwards, the city was consumed by preparations for the 2008 Olympics. Every bus route had to be redirected. Every building was covered in scaffolding. Highways were springing up around Beijing like thick noodles oozing from the ground, with complicated U-turns and roundabouts. The city was surrounded by a moonscape of construction sites. Living there had become a visual and logistical torture. For me, as a writer and film-maker, it was also becoming impossible artistically, with increasing restraints placed on my work. Continue reading

Writing the South Seas review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Alison Groppe’s review of Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature (University of Washington Press, 2015), by Brian Bernards. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Happy new year.

Kirk Denton, editor

Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in
Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature

By Brian Bernards

Reviewed by Alison M. Groppe
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2017)

Brian C. Bernards. Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015. 288 pp. ISBN: 9780295995014 (Hardcover: $50.00).

Brian C. Bernards. Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015. 288 pp. ISBN: 9780295995014 (Hardcover: $50.00).

As Bernards makes clear from the start—and as many readers will already know—the Chinese term Nanyang literally means the “South Seas” and conventionally refers to the region of Southeast Asia, comprised of what are now Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. It is the book’s identification and highlighting of para-geographical features of Nanyang, as literary device and imaginary, however, that comprises one of its primary contributions. First and foremost, Bernards introduces Nanyang literary texts from multiple time periods, geographical sites, and languages, the majority of which have received scant, if any, attention in English-language scholarship. Continue reading

Xi’s anti-corruption campaign to weed out rivals

Source: SCMP (1/2/16)
Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign ‘to weed out rivals’, says Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter
Criticism made by outspoken sister of Singapore’s prime minister in a rare salvo against Beijing by Southeast Asian leaders or their families
By Shi Jiangtao

The daughter of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew appears to have weighed in on the debate over President Xi Jinping’s much touted anti-corruption campaign in China, describing it as “a game” designed to tighten his grip on power. Continue reading

Chinese taming of Australian media, academia

Some excellent, alarming podcasts are coming out from the Asia Institute, Melbourne, on Chinese interventions there to control Australian media and academia. In the first one, not least John Fitzgerald is astute as an observer and he’s actually not just talking about Chinese-language media but also Chinese interventions in English-language media:  

Control and Capture: Taming Overseas Chinese Media
The Little Red Podcast, Asia Institute, Melbourne, Australia, Dec. 2016.

“China’s not trying to influence, it’s trying to change Australia.” Continue reading

Brian Bernards on Writing the South Seas

Source: (11/21/16)
Writing the South Seas

by Philip Holden

Research work on Singapore Literature is increasingly exploring connections across languages and national borders, rather than within a single English-language literary tradition. A new generation of scholars such as E.K. Tan, Weihsin Gui, Joanne Leow, Cheryl Naruse, Angelia Poon, and Nazry Bahrawi has made a series of important interventions in the last years, introducing new topics of critical cosmopolitanism and border-crossing. Literature from Singapore, Malaysia, and the surrounding region has often been seen as peripheral to larger literary and indeed civilizational concerns. Singapore writing in English, for instance, has traditionally been viewed as a minor Anglophone postcolonial literature, while writing from Singapore and Malaysia in Chinese has either been absorbed into the literature of greater China, or pictured as part of an exotic periphery. Much contemporary scholarship work on world literatures, however, has emphasized how questions of translation and border-crossing are central to the very notion of what literature is, or might be: viewed through this lens, the literatures of Singapore and the region surrounding gain new prominence. Continue reading