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?
By

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

A POSTER PROMOTING THE CANCELLED AUT

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

Yenching Academy grads questioned by FBI

Source: NPR (8/1/19)
American Graduates Of China’s Yenching Academy Are Being Questioned By The FBI
By Emily Feng

People cycle past a building at Peking University in Beijing in 2016. The university hosts Yenching Academy, a prestigious graduate studies program. Thomas Peter/Reuters

A sudden knock at one’s door. An unexpected call to meet off campus. Surreptitious visits to family members.

American graduates of the prestigious Yenching Academy, a one- to two-year master’s degree program housed at Beijing’s elite Peking University, are being approached and questioned by the FBI about the time they spent in China. In the last two years, at least five Yenching graduates have been approached by agents to gather intelligence on the program and to ascertain whether they have been co-opted by Chinese espionage efforts.

Brian Kim is one of them. Five months ago, Kim received a call from an unfamiliar number. “It was a person who claimed to be an FBI agent, and I immediately thought it was a scam call,” Kim recalls. Continue reading

Asia at the World’s Fairs

Announcing the launching of
Asia at the World’s Fairs: An Online Exhibition of Cultural Exchange
Presented by the Center for the Study of Asia, Pardee School of Global Studies
Curated by Catherine Vance Yeh

Beginning with the earliest international exhibition at London’s “Crystal Palace” in 1851, “world’s fairs” became a prominent stage for the presentation of peoples and cultures of Asia to a world audience. With its rich, vibrant and diverse histories and cultures, Asia as represented at these universal expositions provided many fairgoers with their first encounter with Asia and helped shape their understanding of the world. Taking place during a time of widespread colonialism, the notion of the world presented at these fairs had many complex layers of meaning. In many cases, indigenous arts and crafts were selected and showcased by their colonial administrators. Yet, many Asian countries chose to actively confront the asymmetry of power in their relationship to the West by presenting in these exhibitions their own image of their country and culture. These expositions served as a grand stage that displayed a complex history of conflicts, contradictions, and engagement of Asia with the world. Continue reading

Xu Zhangrun vs. Tsinghua

Source: China Heritage (7/10/19)
The Case for Humanity Over Bastardy: Xu Zhangrun vs. Tsinghua University, Voices of Protest and Resistance (XXIX)
Geremie R. Barmé

Making a Case for Humanity Over Banditry 《人間不是匪幫》, published by Oxford University Press, is a selection of commentaries, essays, reviews and memoirs written by Xu Zhangrun between September 2012 and February 2019. Many of the chapters have previously appeared online, while some were composed following the publication of the author’s controversial July 2018 essay ‘Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes’ 我們當下的恐懼與期待 (China Heritage, 1 August 2018). Although the ninety essays contained in Xu’s new book range over many topics, they reflect an abiding theme in the author’s thinking: humanity and decency, as opposed to the hypocrisy and lawlessness of one-party autocracy.

Below, we first pause to introduce the Introduction of Professor Xu’s book by offering an essay from the collection itself. ‘A Life at the Lectern’ 一輩子站講台 originally appeared in March 2016 and, unbeknownst to its author at the time, it would be something of an envoi to his previous life since, due to his increasingly outspoken criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party dating from that year, he would eventually be banned from his beloved career as a university lecturer. From late 2018, he was cautioned against all forms of public engagement and, from March 2019 further explicitly banned by ‘special investigators’ assigned to his ‘case’ at Tsinghua University from publishing, be it on Mainland China, in Hong Kong, Taiwan or elsewhere. His response to such interdictions has been that of unswerving recalcitrance and although Xu’s fate alerted people both in- and outside China to the increasingly blighted intellectual landscape of the People’s Republic, his work as well as the voices of his supporters have been a warning and a clarion call to all those who oppose and who are willing to resist Communist Party dominion…. [continue reading]

A language under attack (6)

Thanks. I don’t hate Germany, or the German language, nor China or the Chinese language. Or any language.

I understand your reaction, and would like you to hear me out on this. I made a comparison which I think is very much valid: If your country organizes mass oppression on the scale of what the Chinese regime is doing now, a Hitlerian scale, it will, unfortunately and unavoidably, make a deep stain on its reputation which it will take a very long time to remove.

The Nazis did this to Rilke’s German, and the current Chinese regime is doing this to Lu Xun’s Chinese. There are other examples, of course (don’t expect a Saami person to love Swedish literature), but the Nazi comparison is apt.

As you know, the Chinese regime is carrying out a massive genocidal campaign to destroy indigenous identities, including by prohibiting native languages, and imposing Chinese at the point of a gun. Continue reading

A language under attack (2,3,4,5)

That sounds like a very unfair judgment; why taking Magnus’ remarks so personally? This is an academic platform where we at the very least should expect some respectful manners. “I do not like his articles”: this is a statement not an argument. Could you elaborate please? Besides why not addressing him directly? “Magnus, I don’t like your articles (and here is why)” sounds a bit closer to a dialogue than a public attack.

My own reading is that Magnus was trying to emphasise the traumatic experience of people who are forced to abandon their mother language and to learn the dominant language. Some chose to use this dominant language to express themselves, some radically reject that language. The current Chinese policies in the Uyghur region, rather than building bridges and harmony, are creating the same rejection process; though indeed, as in the German case, some chose to use the dominant language to express their identity (like Tibetan writer Pema Tseden for instance).

Concluding from this comparison that Magnus hates Chinese and Germans… there might be other platforms to “laver votre linge sale” as the French saying goes.

Vanessa Frangville <vanessafrangville@gmail.com> Continue reading

A language under attack (1)

Magnus Fiskesjö seems to hate China. I do not like his articles. Magnus seems to hate Germany. Please let me ask, the Nobel prize winner Elias Canetti who wrote in German was German? Kafka was German, Rilke was German? They all wrote in German, but they were not Germans at all. German is the language of Nazis? There is something else. Like me. Writing in German and in Chinese I am fighting Nazis etc. all the time.

The late Irene Eber – I loved her very much – once told me there were so many Germans who helped her… There is something else….

Wolfgang Kubin <kubin@uni-bonn.de>

A language under attack

China’s banning and suppressing of the Uyghur and other native languages of Xinjiang, and the forced teaching of Chinese there, reminds me of the Nazi occupation of Norway, when kids there were forced to learn German. My mom was one of those kids, and she never regained a respect for the German language; even I, born much later, failed to study German, just because the Nazis forced my mom to study it. Now I wonder, will the Chinese language suffer similarly, because of the vile oppression they are carrying out now? In the camps, people are starved and beaten if they don’t keep up, in singing Chinese Communist songs glorifying their Führer. With this sort of campaign, why would anyone want to study Chinese language any more — the language of the concentration camps?

Magnus Fiskesjö  <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: Hong Kong Free Press (6/18/19)
A language under attack: China’s campaign to sever the Uighur tongue
By Rustem Shir, Research Associate with the Uyghur Human Rights Project

Uighur protest in Washington, DC. Photo: Wikicommons.

Of the 7,111 languages being spoken around the world, 41 per cent can be classified as endangered, meaning that face-to-face use by speakers across generations is in decline.

At first glance, it may seem inaccurate to designate the Uighur language as endangered – more than 11 million people speak Uighur as a first language and Uighur is an official language of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkestan) in China.

Yet, despite these indicators of vitality, the Uighur language is in peril because it has been targeted by the Chinese Communist Party for erasure. Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (7)

Brill is a publishing house with a long tradition of publishing high quality research in Asian Studies, and in particular in Sinology and Modern China. During the selection and review process for publication, we rely on the expertise of our book series and journal editors as well as peer reviewers from around the globe. High ethical standards are the foundation of this selection process, and Brill authors, editors, and reviewers are expected to follow our standards at all times.

Our newly founded journal China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies is a peer-reviewed English-language forum for historical research on relations between China and other regions of Asia that covers both the pre-modern and modern periods. Its purpose is to promote communication and exchange among the global Asian Studies community, especially among scholars based in Asian countries. At Brill, we strongly believe that our journals should be a platform where the entire academic community can freely share and discuss arguments, ideas, and opinions in order to further the advancement of knowledge. Continue reading

Shanghai professor tells grads to fight for liberty

Source: Inkstone (6/19/19)
Shanghai Professor tells graduates to fight for liberty
By Qin Chen

Qu Weiguo went to Harvard University in 2004 as a visiting scholar for the Fullbright program.

Qu Weiguo went to Harvard University in 2004 as a visiting scholar for the Fullbright program. Photo: Weibo

It’s graduation time around the world, including in China, where students don their caps and gowns and listen to speeches that endeavor to offer insight into the meaning of life.

Qu Weiguo, the head of the English department at the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai, took this opportunity seriously.

This week, he gave the class of 2019 an audacious speech praising the importance of fighting for individual liberty, talking with the world outside China and encouraging students to think independently. Continue reading

A history of gaokao essay questions

Source: Sup China (6/7)19
From Propaganda To Pollution To Smartphones: A History Of Gaokao Essay Questions
For many Chinese high school students, today marked the beginning of three days of Hell.
By Tianyu M. Fang

No other assessment test has been taken by more people than the gaokao, China’s national college entrance examination. Almost every Chinese college graduate you’ve met has at least taken it once, twice, or maybe three times (as was the case with Jack Ma, founder of tech giant Alibaba). What that means is, hundreds of millions of Chinese have gone through the experience of cramming for the test, memorizing materials (up to 60 pieces of ancient Chinese texts), and stressing about whether Lu Xun really meant what he wrote.

It’s no wonder, then, that each year’s gaokao essay questions — which are subjective and often open to interpretation, if not outright confusing — become topics of public scrutiny and debate: because everyone has experienced, to a certain extent, the bewilderment of seeing a question such as, “Write a poem about ‘circle.’” Continue reading

Nicholas Clifford, 1930-2019

In Memoriam: Nicholas Clifford, 1930-2019
http://www.middlebury.edu/newsroom/in-memoriam/node/620670

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury today mourns the loss of Nicholas R. Clifford, who, as a scholar, professor, administrator, trustee, and driving force behind the study of Chinese language and East Asian studies at the College, has left a lasting impact on the institution he so dearly loved and served for more than half a century.

“He was, quite simply, one of the most admirable and beloved members of the widespread College community,” said John D. Berninghausen, the Truscott Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies. “A real junzi [Chinese for ‘gentleman’ or ‘cultivated person’], Nick was a man of honor and integrity, personal as well as professional. He was one of the wisest, fairest, most judicious, and intelligent people I have ever met.” Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (6)

Source: Inside Higher Education (5/20/19)
X-ing Out Xinjiang
By Elizabeth Redden
A China studies scholar says a journal editor censored him by striking out a section of a book review critical of the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang. The editor denies it was censorship.

Courtesy of Timothy Grose

In yet another case of alleged censorship in the China studies field, a scholar says a journal editor censored his book review by requesting the deletion of an opening paragraph that contextualized the book in light of Chinese Communist Party policy toward members of the Uighur ethnic minority group in the region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups estimate that China has detained as many as one million Uighurs in camps as part of a mass “re-education” drive aimed at forcing the assimilation of Uighurs and other Muslim-majority groups.

The scholar, Timothy Grose, an assistant professor of China studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, says the requested deletions — and the refusal over multiple months to publish the piece after he did not consent to them — constitute an “open-and-shut” case of censorship, and he has noted that the editor in chief of the journal is on record defending Chinese government policy in Xinjiang. Continue reading