The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine (1)

It might interest list members to know that the Grand Hotel in Taipei now stands on the grounds of what was once the Taiwan shintō shrine (台灣神社). I’ve never heard of the 1974 edict, if anything I would have expected such an order to come down decades earlier, maybe the 1950s? At any rate, those interested in stories like this should check out Joe Allen’s book Taipei: City of Displacements. The story of the horse in a park resonates in particular with the incomplete erasure of Japanese flags.

Bert Scruggs <>

The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine

Source: Taipei Times (1/11/19)
Highways and Byways: The Shinto past of a Buddhist shrine
The Bilian Temple in Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township is one of many structures throughout the nation that uses Chinese iconography to paper over Japan’s presence in Taiwan
By Steven Crook  /  Contributing reporter

Externally, Bilian Temple in Hualien County’s Shoufeng Township today resembles thousands of other places of worship in Taiwan. Photo: Steven Crook

I’m not interested in remnants of the colonial period as much as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) efforts after World War II to erase the Japanese imprint. Recently, I was thrilled to learn of a few old houses in the south that bear Republic of China (ROC) embossed flags on their facades — but where the post-1945 paint job is now so faded it’s possible to see Hinomaru (the Japanese flag) emblems that were the original adornments.

The KMT’s animosity toward Japan was understandable given Japanese aggression and wartime atrocities when it ruled Taiwan as a colony from 1895 to 1945. After 1949, however, Japan was a key trading partner and an important investor. What’s more, Taipei and Tokyo were both closely aligned with Washington. However, Japan’s 1972 decision to break off diplomatic ties with the ROC and establish formal relations with the People’s Republic of China provoked a fresh wave of anti-Japanese sentiment, at least among the ROC leaders. Continue reading

Photographer’s quest to reverse historical amnesia

Source: NYT (1/1/18)
A Photographer’s Quest to Reverse China’s Historical Amnesia
By Amy Qin

A rally at a stadium in Harbin, China, in 1966, attended by the photographer Li Zhensheng. A Communist Party secretary and the wife of another official were denounced and splattered with ink.CreditLi Zhensheng, via Chinese University Press

HONG KONG — The photographer Li Zhensheng is on a mission to make his fellow Chinese remember one of the most turbulent chapters in modern Chinese history that the ruling Communist Party is increasingly determined to whitewash.

“The whole world knows what happened during the Cultural Revolution,” Mr. Li said. “Only China doesn’t know. So many people have no idea.”

Clad in a dark blue photographer’s vest, Mr. Li, 78, spoke in a recent interview in Hong Kong, where the first Chinese-language edition of his book “Red-Color News Soldier” was published in October by the Chinese University Press of Hong Kong. Continue reading

Eryue He dies at 73

Source: China Daily (12/17/18)
Literati mourn author of ‘Emperor’ series
By Yang Yang | China Daily

Ling Jiefang. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Elites from the world of literature and fans nationwide have been paying tribute to novelist Ling Jiefang, better known by his pen name Eryue He, who died on Saturday morning at age 73.

Ling, who was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Zhengzhou University in Henan province, was best known for his Emperor series, which was released between 1989 and 1996, and consists of 5 million characters.

After his death, fans shared a couplet-a traditional form of two-line poetry-that includes the line, “Er yue he kai ling jie fang”, which translates as “The Yellow River’s frozen surface breaks in February, the ice is liberated.”

The poem, which quickly went viral, cleverly combines the author’s birth name and pen name. Continue reading

Mental hygiene

Posted by: Anne Henochowicz <>
Source: Aeon (12/17/18)
Collective psychiatry
Chinese psychiatry remains committed to the political ideal of mental hygiene, long after its discrediting in the West
By Emily Baum

A mental patient is seen at a hospital for those suffering from mental illnesses in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, 6 October 2010. Photo by Jie Zhao/Corbis via Getty

[Emily Baum is an associate professor in history at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China (2018). Published in association with The University of Chicago Press an Aeon Strategic Partner]

In English, the term ‘mental hygiene’ likely sounds a bit stale. Having gained a brief but widespread ascendancy in the first half of the 20th century, the phrase gradually faded from popular memory and was replaced by the expression ‘mental health’ in the 1950s. In Chinese, however, mental hygiene is still alive and well. Translated as xinli weisheng or jingshen weisheng, the phrase has been a mainstay in Chinese psychiatric policy for close to a full century.

At its most basic level, mental hygiene refers to the branch of medicine that aspires to prevent psychiatric disorders. The term was first coined in the late-19th century and became commonplace by the turn of the 20th. In contrast to mental health (the expression used by the World Health Organization today), early mental hygiene consisted of a prophylactic approach to insanity through education and eugenics, rather than a holistic emphasis on self-actualisation and self-care. Mental hygienists, promising an easy fix to mental illness, gained almost universal support by the 1920s and ’30s. Yet the Second World War changed the course of their trajectory. Following the development of antipsychotic drugs and the discovery of Nazi war crimes, the discipline became both medically irrelevant and politically unpalatable. Continue reading

New year’s statement by Wang Dan (1)

I’m the translator. I didn’t ask not to be identified [nor to be identified]. Wang Dan has a new think tank: It’s in that capacity that he issued the statement. You can post this info, I don’t care if I’m credited, 真人不露相,露相不真人.


Scott Savitt <>

New year’s statement by Wang Dan

Not sure about the original source of this statement by Wang Dan, but apparently the translator has asked not to be identified.–Kirk

New Year statement by Wang Dan 王丹

元旦聲明: 重建記憶,重新出發—-關於紀念“六四”三十週年的呼籲
New Year’s Statement by Wang Dan
Revive Memory, Start Anew—An Appeal Regarding the Commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Democracy Protests and June 4 Military Crackdown

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the bloody repression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests with the military massacre of June 4, 1989. Those of us who participated in the movement and witnessed the massacre issue a public appeal to all who care about China’s development and hope that democratic constitutionalism can be achieved. Continue reading

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, no. 101

The latest issue of Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Vol. 101 is now available online at:



Casting the Territory: A Study of Two Cabinets of Coins from the Qianlong Period in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
By Lai Yu-chih

Wang Guowei and Hu Shi on Literary Revolution
By Joseffin Sae-Chen

Lessons from Japan’s Governance in Taiwan: An Analysis of Fujian’s Official Taiwan Surveys and Investigations, 1911-1933
By Lin Wenkai

[Book Reviews]

Wu Jen-shu, “Paradise” after Disaster: City Life in Suzhou during the Anti-Japanese War, Reviewed by An Shaofan

Posted by: Jhih-hong JHENG <>

U of Manitoba history position

The University of Manitoba is hiring at the assistant professor level in Asian History. Area of specialization is open (any region, period or scholarly specialization, excluding sole focus on Modern China). The full posting is attached. The deadline for applications is January 4, 2019.

Anyone with questions about the History or Asian Studies departments at University of Manitoba, or UM more generally can contact me.

Tina Chen
History, University of Manitoba

The Department of History at the University of Manitoba invites applications for a full-time tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor in Asian History. Applications are invited from specialists in any region, period or scholarly specialization, excluding sole focus on Modern China. The person appointed would be able to teach thematic and/or nation-based courses in Asian history in her/his/their area of specialization at the undergraduate and graduate level. The successful candidate must also have a demonstrated willingness and ability to teach introductory courses. Teaching responsibilities will include introductory level courses in Asian Civilization, as well as the possibility of introductory courses in World History. Continue reading

Wanda to build theme park in Yan’an

Source: SCMP (12/14/18)
Wanda to build a US$1.74 billion theme park in the cradle of the Chinese Communist revolution to cash in on ‘red tourism’
The investment is the second major push by Wang Jianlin’s company to hew to the government’s preferred agenda
By Zheng Yangpeng

A group of visitors to the Jinggang mountains in Jiangxi province, considered the birthplace of the People’s Liberation Army on July 13, 2018. Many tours make it mandatory for visitors to dress up in Red Army uniforms. Photo: SCMP/ Josephine Ma 

Wanda Group, the property and theme park conglomerate built by former People’s Liberation Army officer Wang Jianlin, will spend 12 billion yuan (US$1.74 billion) to build a theme park in the Communist Party’s revolutionary birthplace Yan’an to cash in on the growing trend of so-called “red tourism”.

The theme park, in the loess plateau of Shaanxi province near Gansu and Shanxi, will feature shopping malls, indoor parks, theatres and hotels built in the style of the 1930s when the prefectural city was used as the headquarters of the Communist Party. The project, measuring 1.26 square kilometres in size, will begin construction in the first quarter of 2019 for completion by the first half of 2021 in time for the ruling party’s centenary celebration, Wanda said. Continue reading

Veg on Wang Bing’s Dead Souls

Source: Sebastian Veg Blog (11/25/18)
Wang Bing’s Dead Souls and the Memory of Prison Camp survivors
By Sebastian Veg

A few weeks ago, Wang Bing’s newest 9-hour documentary Dead Souls got a small-scale arthouse release in Paris. In conjunction with the release, EHESS organized public screenings of some of his earlier films and invited Wang Bing to give a masterclass on October 31.

Dead Souls is a project Wang Bing has been working on for over a decade. When Yang Xianhui’s book Chronicles of Jiabiangou (a collection of lightly fictionalized oral history accounts of former victims of the Anti-Rightist movement in Gansu who survived the deadly famine in the Jiabiangou Reeducation Through Labor Camp in 1960), which I wrote about in China Quarterly, was first published in 2003, Wang Bing contacted Yang. Wang Bing is from rural Shaanxi, which borders Gansu and, as he has mentioned in interviews, two of his uncles on his father’s side were persecuted as rightists, which may have sparked his interest in the book. After buying the film rights to Yang’s book, Wang Bing proceeded to start seeking out the people Yang had talked to, conducting his own interviews with them. One of these interviews with He Fengming, who had written a book explaining how her husband Wang Jingchao died of famine in Jiabiangou, became a stand-alone film, Fengming (2007). These interviews were preparations for a fiction film project, which was finally completed in 2010 under the title The Ditch. Shot in harrowing conditions more or less on location, it uses what I argued was a form of highly theatrical acting to create a sense of distance between the viewer and the story. Since that time, Wang Bing has mentioned that he had plans to use the footage of the 120 preparatory interviews to make a kind of compendium documentary on the Anti-Rightist movement. This is the project that has now partially come to fruition (Dead Souls is supposed to be the first part of a several-part project). Wang Bing struggled for many years with this material to the point of mental anguish and only managed to overcome the difficulties after going back to Lanzhou in 2014 and re-interviewing those of the survivors who were still alive. He has stated that observing the speed at which their ranks were thinning gave him a sense of urgency that helped him finish the film. Continue reading

Rare CR stamp sells for $2million

Source: SCMP (11/23/18)
Beijing red letter day: rare stamp from Cultural Revolution era sells for $2 million at auction
Pristine Big Patch of Red stamp from 1968 one of nine left.Vintage Communist Party propaganda is big business
By Laurie Chen

A Chinese postal stamp dating from the Cultural Revolution has been auctioned off for 13.8 million yuan (US$2 million), making it one of the most expensive stamps in the world.

Nicknamed Big Patch of Red by stamp collectors, the unused 1968 stamp was sold by auction house China Guardian in Beijing on Thursday.

There are only nine such stamps, and this example was said to be in pristine condition, news site said on Friday. Continue reading

Great Transformation exhibit

There’s been a lot of media attention in China to the recently-opened Great Transformation (伟大的变革) exhibit at the National Museum of China and to Xi Jinping’s visit to it earlier this month. See, for example, this vacuous piece from the China Daily: The SCMP’s take is more interesting.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (11/16/18)
What does ‘opening up’ exhibition giving credit to SOEs and Xi Jinping say to China’s private firms?
By Amanda Lee
Deng Xiaoping, who began reforms that transformed the economy, marginalised in displays marking their 40th anniversary. Beijing continues to send mixed messages about support for ailing private sector, which contributed two-thirds of China’s growth last year

State-owned enterprises are much more prominent than the private sector and President Xi Jinping far more visible than Deng Xiaoping in a special exhibition marking 40 years since China’s reform and opening up, stressing the Communist Party’s role in the economy even as Xi courts private firms to help stabilise growth during the trade war with the United States.

The exhibition, at the National Museum of China in Beijing, devotes half of a display about Chinese leaders to the achievements of Xi, who took office in 2012 yet receives more emphasis than former paramount leader Deng – under whom China began its economic transformation in 1978 – and his successors. Continue reading

Tiny terracotta soldiers found

Source: Live Science (11/13/18)
Hundreds of Tiny Terracotta Warriors Found Guarding 2,100-Year-Old Chinese Site
By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

A 2,100-year-old pit containing a mini “Terracotta Army” has been discovered in China. Credit: Photo courtesy Chinese Cultural Relics

Inside a 2,100-year-old pit in China, archaeologists have discovered a miniature army of sorts: carefully arranged chariots and mini statues of cavalry, watchtowers, infantry and musicians.

They look like a miniaturized version of the Terracotta Army — a collection of chariots and life-size sculptures of soldiers, horses, entertainers and civil officials — that was constructed for Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Continue reading