Artists reflect on what has gone in HK

Source: SCMP (9/5/19)
Out of time: artists return to darkroom, make coin collages to remind Hong Kong of what has gone
Anita Mui, Queen’s Pier, and former Legco building among icons of Hong Kong artist Giraffe Leung depicts using specially treated 20-cent coins. Multiple exposures of city streets in China, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, printed in a darkroom without digital manipulation, make up Simon Wan’s show
By Snow Xia

Giraffe Leung rubs a panel made of 20-cent coins with chemical solutions to create an image of Hong Kong at La Galerie Paris 1839 in Central. Photo: Snow Xia

Giraffe Leung rubs a panel made of 20-cent coins with chemical solutions to create an image of Hong Kong at La Galerie Paris 1839 in Central. Photo: Snow Xia

Coins and darkroom photography may be falling out of use, but they have been given new life in an exhibition that explores and evokes Hongkongers’ collective memory.

Showing at La Galerie Paris 1839, Hollywood Road, Central, “Coins – Memories of Hong Kong” by Giraffe Leung Lok-hei and “City Glow” by Simon Wan Chi-chung look at how rapid urbanisation has changed the city.

“As e-payments and virtual money have replaced traditional money globally, I want to use money to remind us of the role … people and things play in our lives [and their value],” explains Leung, whose show re-examines unremarkable objects that became or are becoming obsolete. Continue reading

Su Shaozhi dies at 96

Source: The Guardian (9/3/19)
Su Shaozhi obituary
Chinese political scientist who was forced into exile after the Tiananmen Square massacre
By John Gittings

Su Shaozhi was a prominent campaigner for reform of the Chinese Communist party

Su Shaozhi was a prominent campaigner for reform of the Chinese Communist party

The political scientist Su Shaozhi, who has died aged 96, was a campaigner for reform of the Chinese Communist party in the post-Mao years, until he was forced into exile after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Su was eventually allowed to return to China, but the news of his death has been ignored except on unofficial websites.

In his earlier career, Su would admit, he had “put obedience to the [Communist] party in first place”, churning out what was required to “elaborate the thoughts of Chairman Mao”. He made up for this in the 1980s by denouncing the party’s “feudalism and Stalinism” and proposing democratic reforms that are still unachieved. Privately he was even more outspoken, telling me in 1985 that “we need to make a clean sweep of the leadership”, which still insisted on rigid control. Continue reading

HK’s changing attitude toward China

Source: NYT (9/3/19)
Hong Kong Was Once Passionate About China. Now, It’s Indifferent or Contemptuous.
By Andrew Higgins

Hong Kong’s harbor. The attachment many Hong Kongers once felt with the mainland is fading. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — As a young student learning classical Chinese, I stopped off in Hong Kong nearly 40 years ago to catch a slow train up to Beijing, then still known as Peking. At the station, I bought a Chinese-language magazine of politics, culture and ideas that I was advised to hide when I crossed the border out of what was then still a British colony into China.

With only a rudimentary grasp of modern Chinese, I spent much of my three-day journey north trying to decipher the Hong Kong magazine’s articles that were wrestling with China’s past political convulsions under Mao, its present challenges and future possibilities. It was my first taste of what was then the city’s raucous and passionate debate about China. Continue reading

“Teaching the PRC” PRC History Review 4.2

The PRC History Review
Volume 4, Number 2 (August 2019)
Special Issue: Teaching the PRC

The PRC History Group is very excited to announce the newest issue of The PRC History Review, which features a series of essays on teaching the PRC. An extra special thanks to our guest editors, Brian DeMare and Covell Meyskens, for all of their work on this issue, which also includes contributions from (in the order they appear) Rebecca Karl, Marc Matten, Emily Wilcox, Gail Hershatter, Ralph Thaxton, Kirk Denton, Denise Ho, Guobin Yang, Jeremy Brown, Stefan Landsberger, Elizabeth Perry, Eddy U, Sun Peidong, and Kaiser Kuo!

The issue is available online here: Special Issue: Teaching the PRC. Table of Contents appears below.

Fabio Lanza <flanza@email.arizona.edu>

Editorial Introduction
Brian DeMare, Tulane University and Covell Meyskens, Naval Postgraduate School

Why Mao? Why Now? A Brief Essay on Pedagogy and Possibility
Rebecca E. Karl, New York University Continue reading

Rittenberg dies at 98

Source: NYT (8/24/19)
Sidney Rittenberg, Idealistic American Aide to Mao Who Evolved to Counsel Capitalists, Dies at 98
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Robert D. McFadden

Sidney Rittenberg with Mao Zedong during a gathering of Communist Party leaders. Mr. Rittenberg was a dedicated aide to Mao as a party propagandist, but ran afoul of Mao’s suspicions, offended Mao’s wife and spent 16 years in prison. Credit: Personal Collection of Sidney Rittenberg

Sidney Rittenberg, an American soldier-linguist who stayed in China for 35 years after World War II as an adviser and political prisoner of the Communist Revolution, and later made millions as a counselor of Western capitalists exploiting booming Chinese markets, died on Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 98.

The family confirmed the death in a statement.

In a saga of Kafkaesque twists, Mr. Rittenberg was a dedicated aide to Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai as a party propagandist known across China by his Mandarin name, Li Dunbai — the mysterious foreigner in Mao’s government. But he ran afoul of Mao’s suspicions, offended Mao’s wife and spent 16 years in prison, falsely accused of espionage and counterrevolutionary plotting. Continue reading

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History no. 104

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, no. 104

The latest issue of Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Vol. 104 is now available online at: http://www.mh.sinica.edu.tw/bulletins.aspx

Contents

[Articles]

When Direct Governance Encounters Frontier Customs: Institutions, Miao Customs and “Miao Bandits” in the Miao Frontier of Western Hunan from the Eighteenth to Nineteenth Centuries
By Xiaohui Xie

Medical Treatment, Law and Local Society: A Re-exmination of the “Liu Liang Medical Case” in the Republic of China
By Ji Ling-hui

The Guomindang’s Provincial Party Headquarters in Shanxi: A Study of Organization and Personnel, 1938-1944
By Liang Xinlei

[Book Reviews]

Chao Shu-kang, Sparks and Incense: The Chinese Communist State Structure in Mass Culture and Local History, Reviewed by Wu Zhe

Posted by: Jhih-hong Jheng bimhas60@gmail.com

Forbidden City opens wide

Source: NYT (8/3/19)
The Forbidden City Opens Wide as China Projects New Pride in Its Past
President Xi Jinping has pushed “cultural self-confidence” as a signature policy, and one of the beneficiaries has been the former home of emperors, neglected no longer.
By Ian Johnson

Visitors now throng the Forbidden City in Beijing. Credit: Yan Cong for The New York Times

BEIJING — For much of the past century, the Forbidden City has been an imposing void in the otherwise bustling heart of Beijing.

The 180-acre compound, where emperors and their advisers plotted China’s course for centuries, was stripped of its purpose when the last emperor abdicated in 1912. Since then, the palace grounds have at times lain empty or been treated as a perfunctory museum, with most of the halls closed to the public and the few that were open crammed with tourists on package tours.

But as the Forbidden City approaches its 600th birthday next year, a dramatic change has been taking place, with even dark and dusty corners of the palace restored to their former glories for all to see. Continue reading

Yao Li dies at 96

Source: NYT (7/25/19)
Yao Li, ‘Silver Voice’ of Shanghai, Dies at 96
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Richard Sandomir

Yao Li in an undated photo. She began singing in the 1930s and became one of the “seven great singing stars of Shanghai,” performing and recording in wartime. Credit: Pictures from History and Granger, New York

Yao Li, a celebrated singer in Shanghai in the midst of war in the 1930s and ’40s, whose music remained popular after she moved to Hong Kong when China turned communist, died on July 19. She was 96.

The death was reported by the newspapers Ming Pao in Hong Kong and The Malay Mail in Kuala Lumpur. No other details were given.

Ms. Yao was called “the silver voice” in Shanghai, her music influenced by jazz and Chinese folk. She was not famous well beyond Asia, but at least two of her songs made an impact in the United States. An English-language version of one of her hits, “Rose, Rose, I Love You” (1940), was recorded by the American singer Frankie Laine in 1951 and rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Continue reading

Land Wars

Dear Colleagues,

I am happy to announce the publication of my new book Land Wars: The Story of China’s Agrarian Revolution. The book is now available for purchase from Stanford University Press at https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=30630.

Land Wars draws on new archival sources, but also on vivid narrative accounts of rural revolution from Ding Ling, Eileen Chang, and William Hinton. It will be of interest to anyone concerned with the connections between narrative and history.

From the back cover:

Mao Zedong’s land reform campaigns comprise a critical moment in modern Chinese history, and were crucial to the rise of the CCP. In Land Wars, Brian DeMare draws on new archival research to offer an updated and comprehensive history of this attempt to fundamentally transform the countryside. Across this vast terrain loyal Maoists dispersed, intending to categorize poor farmers into prescribed social classes, and instigate a revolution that would redistribute the land. To achieve socialist utopia, the Communists imposed and performed a harsh script of peasant liberation through fierce class struggle. While many accounts of the campaigns give false credence to this narrative, DeMare argues that the reality was much more complex and brutal than is commonly understood—while many villagers prospered, there were families torn apart and countless deaths. Uniquely weaving narrative and historical accounts, DeMare powerfully highlights the often devastating role of fiction in determining history. This corrective retelling ultimately sheds new light on the contemporary legacy of land reform, a legacy fraught with inequality and resentment, but also hope.

Brian DeMare <bdemare@tulane.edu>

Li Peng dies at 90

Source: NYT (7/23/19)
Li Peng, Chinese Leader Derided for Role in Tiananmen Crackdown, Dies at 90
By Erik Eckholm and Chris Buckley

Li Peng, then chairman of the National People’s Congress, right, in 2002. At left is Jiang Zemin, then the general secretary of the Communist Party. Credit: Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Li Peng, the former Chinese premier derided as the stone-faced “butcher of Beijing” for his role in the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989, died on Monday in the Chinese capital. He was 90.

Mr. Li’s death was announced on Tuesday by Xinhua, the state-run news agency. Xinhua’s report gave no specific cause of death, saying only that medical treatment had failed.

Born to Communist revolutionaries in the early years of the Chinese civil war and educated as a hydroelectric engineer in the Soviet Union, Mr. Li rose to the top ranks of the Communist Party, serving as a bridge between the old guard of revolutionaries and the more technocratic leaders who succeeded them. Continue reading

Footbinding as Fashion review

Source: Taipei Times (6/27/19)
BOOK REVIEW: Bound for better things?
With Taiwan as the centerpiece, John Robert Shepherd builds an exhaustive argument about the endurance of foot-binding in China and Taiwan despite official attempts to curb the practice
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Footbinding as Fashion: Ethnicity, Labor, and Status in Traditional China, By John Robert Shepherd (University of Washington Press, 2018)

While Footbinding As Fashion looks at the practice in “traditional China,” much of this book is about Taiwan. The nation’s Hoklo majority brought the custom with them when they emigrated en masse across the Taiwan Strait, keeping the majority of their women’s feet tiny and their gait hobbled for centuries until the Japanese colonizers arrived and stamped out the practice.

But most importantly, it was the Japanese who produced the “only systematic accounting of the practice of footbinding that was ever produced” through the 1905 and 1915 censuses of Taiwan, where the author could cross-reference rich data sets that included languages spoken, Chinese province of origin (or Aboriginal), livelihood and whether they were “ever-bound” (currently bound or once bound and released) or “never-bound.”

As a result, researchers can obtain details as specific as the percentage of Hoklo-speaking Taiwanese with ancestry from Fujian Province between the ages of 21 and 30 who at some point stopped binding their feet. The dates are also crucial because the Japanese intensified their efforts in eradicating footbinding in the 1910s until they outright banned it in 1915.

The Japanese made such detailed records not only to keep tabs on the population and prove themselves as “model” colonizers to the international world, but also because they sought to eradicate the “three degenerate practices” among local people: footbinding, queue wearing and opium smoking. The data reveals that footbinding was almost exclusively a Hoklo practice, accounting for 99.6 percent of “ever-bound” women in Taiwan. Continue reading

The 800 Hundred pulled from Shanghai Film Fest

Source: SCMP (6/17/19)
Why the first Chinese Imax war film The Eight Hundred was pulled from Shanghai film festival
By Elaine Yao
The film, telling the story of the defence of the Sihang Warehouse against the Japanese army, was cancelled for ‘technical reasons’. The cancellation led to online anger with some saying the film was cancelled for glorifying the Chinese Nationalist army.

Wang Qianyuan (top) and Zhang Junyi in The Eight Hundred, a film about the Battle of Shanghai which was pulled from the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Wang Qianyuan (top) and Zhang Junyi in The Eight Hundred, a film about the Battle of Shanghai which was pulled from the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The official release date of China-produced World War II epic The Eight Hundred is in the balance after its world premiere at the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival was cancelled. The decision came to light one day before the opening of the festival, which runs from June 15 to June 24.

The official Weibo account of the film said the premiere, scheduled for its opening day, was cancelled due to technical reasons. A series of promotional events planned for the film at the festival were also cancelled. They included a screening on Tuesday at Tongji University in Shanghai, and sessions at which cast and crew members were to meet the media and public in Shanghai. Continue reading

The prince and the rebel

Source: China Channel, LARB (6/13/19)
The Prince and the Rebel
By Jeremiah Jenne
A thwarted assassination that almost changed the course of Chinese history

A hutong bridge in Beiijing’s Houhai neighborhood. (Flickr/Gauthier Delecroix)

Beijing. Early spring, 1910. The early hours of morning. Two young men are furtively digging a hole in the hard dirt beside a small stone bridge in the hutong just north of Houhai. Most other residents are asleep. March nights in Beijing are usually cold, and most people sleep with the windows shut. But there are ears other than human. The clanging of shovels and scratching of earth draws the attention of the neighborhood dogs, whose barking threatens the men with discovery. They run off with the job half-finished.

The next night, they return and complete their excavation. They carefully lower an iron cask into the hole, covering it with dirt to conceal it. That is when they discover that they are missing a crucial item. Their mistake means another delay. After a visit to a local hardware store the next day, the two young men are back the following evening. Only now there is a human witness to their nocturnal activities. Continue reading

The price of dissent in China

Source: The Nation (6/4/19)
Surviving Tiananmen: The Price of Dissent in China
Remembering the Tiananmen Movement is not just about repression—it’s about hope.
By Rowena He

Bicycle commuters, sparse in numbers, pass through a tunnel as military tanks are positioned above on the overpass in Beijing, China, two days after the Tiananmen Square massacre, on June 6, 1989. (AP Photo / Vincent Yu)

“Young lovers from China!” a smiling sales lady said as she approached Yu Dongyue and me in a mall on a rainy afternoon in February. It took me a moment to realize that Yu could be taken as an ordinary man with a girlfriend. Yu’s hat covered the scar that he received from brutal beatings. No one could have guessed that he was suffering from severe trauma and mental disorders after 16 years of incarceration marked by torture and solitary confinement as a political prisoner in China. Continue reading