One country, no arguments

Source: NYT (10/11/19)
China’s Political Correctness: One Country, No Arguments
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The Communist Party has spent decades preparing the people to defend a united homeland. Hong Kong’s protests show it has paid off.
By Li Yuan

A military parade honoring the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was held in Beijing in October.CreditCreditWu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hong Kong’s protests have disrupted Yang Yang’s family life. Though the 29-year-old lives in mainland China, he was inspired by the demonstrations to write a song about freedom and upload it to the internet. When censors deleted it, he complained to his family.

They weren’t sympathetic. “How can you support Hong Kong separatists?” they asked. “How can you be anti-China?” His mother threatened to disown him. Before Mr. Yang left on a trip to Japan in August, his father said he hoped his son would die there.

Hong Kong’s protests have inflamed tensions in the semiautonomous Chinese city, but passions in the mainland have been just as heated — and, seemingly, almost exclusively against the demonstrators. Continue reading

Xinjiang education reform

Source: Sup China (10/2/19)
Xinjiang Education Reform And The Eradication Of Uyghur-Language Books
The “bilingual” education system introduced over the past decade in Xinjiang is better characterized as an attempt to transform minority education systems in the region. There have been frightening consequences for Uyghur culture.

Image: Uyghur and Han students at a high school in Atush, Xinjiang perform military drills in 2019.

Names have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals.

In March of this year, Kaiser noticed that his 15-year-old sister Abida began to interject Chinese phrases into their Uyghur conversations. Up until that time they had never spoken Chinese with one another. The words she used signaled her “quality” (素质 sùzhì) as an educated young woman. They often ended with the soft-toned drawn-out particle “a” (啊), as in phrases such as “tǐng hǎo a!” (挺好啊) — “Pretty good!”—  or “wǒ xǐhuān’a” (我喜欢啊), “I like (it).”

The siblings didn’t speak frequently, because it wasn’t safe for them to talk. Kaiser was attending college in North America while Abida was just finishing primary school in her village near the city of Kashgar in southern Xinjiang. Usually they spoke only when a mutual friend who lived in a nearby city visited the family and allowed Abida and their parents to make a WeChat call on his phone. Ever since Kaiser’s younger brother was taken to a “reeducation” camp in 2017, it had become too risky for the family to contact Kaiser directly from the village. Continue reading

Urgent appeal for Tashpolat Tiyip

Dr Tashpolat Tiyip, a leading Uyghur academic from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of the People’s Republic of China, is facing imminent execution.

Since 2014, organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Scholars at Risk have called attention to increasingly severe government repression in the XUAR. Extraordinary levels of human rights violations have been documented by human rights organisations, international media and in peer-reviewed scholarly articles.

The detention and prosecution of Dr Tiyip occurs against the backdrop of an apparent campaign by Chinese authorities to detain large numbers of ethnic minorities in the XUAR, including at least 435 prominent Uyghur, Kyrgyz, and Kazakh intellectuals and scholars. Human rights groups estimate that as many as one million members of these minority communities have been detained at centres for so-called ‘transformation through education’, now officially represented as ‘vocational training centres’. Continue reading


Dear China Studies Colleagues,

I am Andrew Andreasen, Resident Director of the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies (IUP) at Tsinghua University in Beijing (清华大学 IUP 中文中心). I am writing to announce the call for applications to our Spring semester program. Although most of you are aware of the IUP Program, I would like to provide a few words of introduction.

The Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies (IUP), located in Beijing on the Tsinghua University campus, is specifically designed to deliver advanced Chinese language competency through highly intensive and specialized language skills training. We have the lowest student instructor ratio of all Chinese study programs.

Leading the way for more than 55 years, IUP has always been the preferred choice of scholars and professionals seeking high level Chinese language training, including more and more scholars each year applying for from the Blakemore-Freeman, Schwarzman, Yale Light and Yenching Academy programs. IUP is the only program that is supported by a consortium of 11 elite North American universities with leading China studies programs. Continue reading

Tashpolat Teyip

Tashpolat Teyip, former president of Xinjiang university now threatened with execution, is one of many outstanding intellectuals in danger, along with their entire nations: the Chinese regime is proceeding with a wholesale decapitation of the entire cultural vanguard of the Uyghurs and other Xinjiang peoples: )–Magnus Fiskesjö,

Source: Washington Post (9/14/19
The Post’s View Opinion
A Uighur professor vanished and may be executed. Yet China expects respect.
By Editorial Board

WHEN DETAINED in China, political prisoners often disappear for months at a time. Sometimes, they reappear after lengthy interrogation, having made a coerced “confession” that is then televised. Others are less fortunate, reduced to just an announcement that they were convicted without access to family or lawyers. Still others are tortured and denied medical care and die without ever resurfacing.

Given this reality, the case of Tashpolat Teyip is particularly murky and worrisome.

Mr. Teyip is an ethnic Uighur professor of geography. From 2010 until 2017, he was president of Xinjiang University, the leading institution of higher learning in the Xinjiang region in northwest China, home to millions of Turkic Muslim ethnic Uighurs. In the past two-and-a-half years, China has been carrying out a drive to corral 1 million or more Uighurs and others into the equivalent of concentration camps in order to wipe out their traditional language, traditions and mind-set in favor of that of the majority Han Chinese. China at first denied their existence, and now describes the camps as small and benign — “retraining centers” is one favored phrase. Continue reading

Zhiwuzhi, a small bit of shelter

Source: NYRB (5/9/19)
China: A Small Bit of Shelter
By Ian Johnson

Chen Hongguo lecturing on King Lear, China, 2018

Chen Hongguo lecturing on King Lear at Zhiwuzhi, an arts and culture space in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China, 2018. Sim Chi Yin/Magnum Photos

At night, a spotlight illuminates four huge characters on the front of the Great Temple of Promoting Goodness in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province in northwestern China: mi zang zong feng, “The Esoteric Repository of the Faith’s Traditions.” Twelve centuries ago, during China’s Tang dynasty, the temple was a center for spreading foreign ideas. Buddhist missionaries from India lived there, translating texts from Sanskrit into Chinese and advising emperors on their faith’s new ideas about life and society.

Today the temple is a tourist site. During the day visitors snap selfies and pray for good fortune; in the evening, it is dark except for the spot-lit characters. Across the street, though, the third-floor windows of a nondescript commercial building burn brightly, lighting up a sign with five English words: “I Know I Know Nothing.”

In Chinese, this Socratic paradox is rendered as Zhiwuzhi, which is the official name of what has become China’s liveliest public forum. An arts and culture space, Zhiwuzhi offers at least one lecture a day and a dozen reading groups, and it broadcasts its events on Chinese and foreign video websites like Youku and YouTube. Continue reading

Cornell should suspend its China projects

My piece about Cornell U. and China, from last week–Magnus Fiskesjö,

Source: The Cornell Daily Sun (8/27/19)
Cornell Should Suspend Its China Projects
By Magnus Fiskesjö

The massive scale of the Chinese atrocities in Xinjiang has become quite clear. Cornell should suspend all projects involving Chinese counterparts and undertake a transparent review to see if any ought to be terminated because they are aiding these atrocities.

Since 2017, the Chinese government has carried out a mass terror campaign in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, targeting millions of ethnic-minority people and forcing them to give up their culture and religion. Those who refuse are sent to brainwashing camps, where they are tormented into denying their ethnic identity and everyday faith and told to stop speaking their own language.

As I have argued elsewhere, this campaign is effectively a program of genocide. It includes a massive effort to break up families, with children confiscated and cut off from both their families and their culture. This is a mass trauma that will linger for generations. Then there is the mass detention of indigenous cultural icons, which is why the campaign is also called a “cultural genocide.” Continue reading

What China experts have to do to get on Beijing’s ‘whitelist’

Source: Washington Post (9/5/19)
What China experts have to do to get on Beijing’s visa ‘whitelist’
By Isaac Stone Fish

Chinese leader Xi Jinping speaks during the unveiling of the Communist Party's new Politburo Standing Committee in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2017. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping speaks during the unveiling of the Communist Party’s new Politburo Standing Committee in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2017. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

“I call it a ‘whitelist,’” the Chinese government official told me. Beijing, he explained, wanted to reward academics, scholars and business people who spoke positively about the U.S.-China relationship, promoted engagement and overlooked Chinese human rights abuses. “We don’t want people critical of China” visiting China, said the official, who asked to speak anonymously when I met him in New York in August. So Chinese officials in the United States are creating a list of China-watchers whom they will reward with multiple-entry visas. I asked him to share the list, and he replied that it was confidential; he did say, though, that those who “signed the open letter” in The Post would certainly be viewed favorably. Continue reading

HK rally to kick off class boycott

Source: SCMP (9/2/19)
Thousands attend Hong Kong rally to kick off university class boycott
Sit-in at Chinese University draws an estimated 30,000 at start of two-week strike. School pupils at separate event in Central demand the government listen to protesters’ demands
By Gigi Choy, Victor Ting, Sum Lok-kei, Jeffie Lam

Protesters fill the University Mall in Sha Tin. Photo: Sam Tsang

Protesters fill the University Mall in Sha Tin. Photo: Sam Tsang

Thousands of students held a rally on Monday to kick off a two-week class boycott at 11 tertiary institutions across Hong Kong, warning of more radical action if the government ignores their demands related to the now-abandoned extradition bill.

That came hours after more than 1,000 secondary school pupils, many skipping classes, attended a separate rally to send a defiant message that months of civil unrest would not recede with the start of the new term.

At the older students’ protest, held at Chinese University (CUHK), a sea of black-clad people flooded the University Mall, a large open space on the Sha Tin campus. Many wore face masks and hard hats. Continue reading

HK Cinema through a Global Lens MOOC


Registration is now open for the seventh offering of Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Hong Kong cinema to be produced anywhere in the world.  The online course starts on September 17, 2019. Enjoy the conversation on Hong Kong cinema with internationally-recognized film studies scholars Professor Gina Marchetti and Dr. Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park from the HKU Department of Comparative Literature and Dr. Stacilee Ford from the HKU Department of History and American Studies Program with the creative assistance of HKU TELI (Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative).

The edX platform hosts Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, which is free of charge on the Internet. Lively and student-centered, this MOOC is appropriate for secondary, tertiary, and lifelong learners from all corners of the globe, who have a good command of the English language. Teachers are welcome and encouraged to adapt various modules and materials for their own classroom or e-learning needs. The course explores globalization through Hong Kong cinema featuring crisp analyses of the actors and filmmakers whose lives and films connect the local Hong Kong scene to global histories, events, and trends. Throughout the six-week course, students will encounter stars including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung as well as award-winning directors such as John Woo, Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Wong Kar Wai. Continue reading

Australia to tackle foreign interference at universities

Source: BBC News (8/28/19)
Australia to tackle foreign interference at universities

Students walk down the main thoroughfare of the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

GETTY IMAGES: Australia says it needs to deal with foreign interference in its universities

Australia is to formally investigate foreign interference in its universities amid rising concerns about Chinese influence on campuses. The push follows reports of students and staff “self-censoring” on sensitive political issues such as the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Universities had also increasingly been targeted by state-sponsored cyber attacks, the government said.

It announced an intelligence taskforce on Wednesday to combat such threats.

“Universities must act to protect the valuable information they hold where it is in the national interest to do so,” Education Minister Dan Tehan said in a national address. Continue reading

Xiaonao clampdown

Source: Sixth Tone (8/21/19)
Guideline Clamps Down on ‘Xiaonao’ at Chinese Schools
The country’s top education, judicial, and law enforcement officials have identified seven behaviors of aggrieved parents seeking compensation that will now be prohibited on school property.
By Cai Xuejiao

Parents wait for their children to get out of class at a school in Dongyang, Zhejiang province, Aug. 13, 2013. IC)

Chinese authorities issued a guideline Tuesday aiming to crack down on acts they say cause illegal disturbances at schools.

The guideline — jointly issued by five national agencies, including the Ministry of Education, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Ministry of Public Security — lists seven forms of xiaonao, or violence against school staff, that sometimes surface when there are safety issues or accidents on campus. The rules appear to be directed at aggrieved parents who feel they or their child has suffered an injustice, and so take their case to campus in an effort to gain visibility and increase their chances of receiving favorable compensation.

“Because of xiaonao, schools are overburdened with responsibilities and pressures, with some even refraining from holding physical education classes, offering extracurricular activities, or being critical of students,” Deng Chuanhuai, director of the Ministry of Education’s policy and regulation division, said during a press conference Tuesday. “This is not conducive to students’ development of the concept of rule of law, or to their awareness of rules more generally.” Continue reading

Where Chinese students in the US get their news

Source: The New Yorker (8/19/19)
The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News
By Han Zhang

The online publication College Daily brings Chinese students living in the U.S. news with nationalistic undertones, delivered in a stream of memes and Internet-speak.Illustration by Jon Han

On a Monday morning in February, members of the staff of College Daily, an online Chinese-language publication for Chinese students living in North America, gathered in their office, in Times Square, for an editorial meeting. Guan Tong, the editorial director of the New York bureau, reviewed traffic numbers from the previous week. Staring at her MacBook, she seemed satisfied with what she saw. A piece by College Daily’s founder, Lin Guoyu, about the blockbuster Chinese movie “The Wandering Earth,” had garnered more than a million page views; its headline was “Of Course, Only Chinese People Can Save Planet Earth.” The healthy numbers came as a surprise: it was Lunar New Year, which tends to be a slow week for College Daily. “No need to worry about low traffic during Lunar New Year anymore,” Guan said cheerily. Continue reading

In Defense of the Yenching Academy

Source: Sup China (8/9/19)
In Defense Of The Yenching Academy
The FBI’s unfair targeting of my classmates, and NPR’s suggestive and narrow reporting on the issue, have tarred the reputation of Yenching. Can cross-border academic exchange survive strategic competition?

Late last week, NPR reported that the FBI had questioned at least five American graduates of the Yenching Academy, an English-language master’s program Beijing founded five years ago to replicate the soft-power successes of the West’s Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. I spent the last year at Yenching, and will be returning in September to complete my second year. Although I have become accustomed to the Trump administration’s “whole of government” effort to combat Chinese espionage and influence, for the first time it felt personal. Continue reading

A New Zealand university and Chinese censorship

Source: The Spinoff (8/3/19)
We must speak out on AUT, China and threats to academic freedom
Jacob Edmond | Guest writer


The AUT vice-chancellor denies that a Tiananmen Square commemoration was cancelled at the request of the Chinese embassy, but the emails released are enough to send a severe chill through New Zealand’s universities, writes Jacob Edmond

Auckland has a long and proud history of remembering the victims of the June 4, 1989 crackdown on student protests across China. Unfortunately, as the recent actions of Auckland University of Technology have underscored, the city’s universities have a more mixed record.

It is perhaps not that widely known, but one of the relatively few and earliest permanent memorials to the victims of June 4 stands in central Auckland. The memorial was unveiled on 17 September 1989 on the grounds of St Andrew’s First Presbyterian Church on Alten Rd. The initial plan had been to place the stone within the grounds of the University of Auckland. But when the University of Auckland authorities refused permission, St Andrew’s offered a home, and the stone stands there to this day. Continue reading