Interview with Wang Hui

The Role of Intellectuals in China’s History, an Interview with Wang Hui

Harvard’s Peter Bol and Yu Wen interview visiting professor Wang Hui to discuss the changing role of intellectuals in China’s history. By tracing discourse on Chinese intellectuals back to Neo-Confucian debates in the Song Dynasty, Wang Hui examines intellectual history over the longue durée, as discussed in his four-volume work,The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought《現代中國思想的興起》(2004–2009).

Watch the full interview on the Fairbank Center’s YouTube page:

Peter Bol is Vice Provost for Advances in Learning and the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

Wang Hui is a Visiting Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the Harvard-Yenching Institue, and Professor of literature and history at Tsinghua University.

Yu Wen is a Ph.D. student in history at Harvard University.

This interview was produced by ChinaX and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.


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

Footage of comfort women in Yunnan (1)

At a panel of the annual New York Conference on Asian Studies just a few years ago, it was strongly suggested by an historian of the Pacific War that more accurate vocabulary be used when referring to this phenomenon, namely: we should refer to “rape stations” rather than “comfort stations”,  and “sex slaves” rather than “comfort women.” He further suggested that “stations” was a euphemism, since the women were forcibly kept there, as prisoners.

Nick Kaldis <>

Footage of comfort women in Yunnan

Source: What’s on Weibo (7/6/17)
Footage of Comfort Women in Yunnan Made Public after 73 Years

For the first time in 73 years, moving images have been made public that show Korean women imprisoned by the Japanese army in China, where they served as comfort women. The 18-second-clip made its rounds on Chinese social media on June 5th.

The footage was filmed in Yunnan province, in southwest China, in 1944. Previously, there were numerous texts and photographs documenting the imprisonment of comfort women in China, but this is the first time for these moving images to be made public showing these particular scenes of wartime China.

A South-Korean research group, consisting of members of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul National University Human Rights Center, made the footage public. Researchers say the clip shows seven Korean women in front of a private house used as a “comfort station” in Songshan, Yunnan Province.

According to the Korea Times, the research team found the footage at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration after a two-year search for film records. This source also says that the film allegedly shows a Chinese military officer of the US-China Allied forces speaking with the women.

At the time the moving images were filmed, Japan was losing the war and the US-China Allied Forces defeated the Japanese in Songshan, where ‘military comfort stations’ for the Japanese troops were situated.

Footage of Comfort Women in Yunnan Made Public… by whatsonweibo Continue reading

The Cultural Revolution on Trial review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Man He’s review of The Cultural Revolution on Trial: Mao and the Gang of Four (Cambridge UP, 2016), by Alexander C. Cook. The review appears below, but is best read at its online home:

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

Kirk A. Denton, editor

The Cultural Revolution on Trial:
Mao and the Gang of Four

By Alexander C. Cook

Reviewed by Man He
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2017)

Alexander C. Cook, The Cultural Revolution on Trial: Mao and the Gang of Four. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. xv, 277 pp. ISBN: 9780521135290 (hardback).

“What did it mean for the Chinese to use a legal trial to address the injustices of the Cultural Revolution?” (10). Alexander C. Cook raises and answers this key question in The Cultural Revolution on Trail: Mao and the Gang of Four. Conducted over the winter of 1980-81, the Gang of Four trial was the defining event of China’s post-Mao transition in legal, political, and cultural senses. Not only did it signal a return to law and order after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, it affirmed the continuing rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its authority to render a verdict on China’s recent past. Despite the trial’s importance, there has been little English scholarship on the subject, due to the inaccessibility of archival materials and, paradoxically, the widespread availability of “partially redacted courtroom transcripts” (4). The former is an expected bureaucratic hurdle, but the latter is also problematic because the “linguistic engineering” (9) of such documents is apt to make outsiders complain about the empty jargon, leaving only insiders alert to “the heavy freight of meanings that words . . . could convey” (10). Not content to allow these factors to let the trial languish in an “analytical black hole” (7), Cook has devised a compelling means to tackle the issue. Alternating between chapters that focus on legal documents and court proceedings (dealing with the indictment, testimony, and verdict, respectively) and chapters on relevant literary works (in the genres of reportage, psychological realism, and personal memoir), Cook succinctly unveils the legal, political, and cultural meanings hidden in socialist legal and literary narratives, as well as the broader political and social implications of the trial. In other words, by reading legal documents in a literary way and literary narratives politically; Cook demonstrates to outsiders and insiders alike that there is something intriguing and far-reaching about this apparent “show trial.” Continue reading

KMT sinicization

Source: Taipei Times (6/11/17)
Taiwan in time: Curing a ‘deeply poisoned’ populace
The KMT sought to eradicate almost a decade of Japanization in Taiwan by instilling aggressive sinicization policies immediately after World War II
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese schoolchildren are gathered for the visit of then-Japanese crown prince Hirohito in 1923. The KMT sought to eradicate all traces of Japanese influence after its arrival in 1945. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

June 12 to June 18

In November 1945, an article appeared in the Shin Sheng Pao (新生報) newspaper written by then-Taipei Mayor Yu Mi-chien (游彌堅) that denounced Japanese culture with rhetoric that aligned with the newly-arrived Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) goal of promoting the use of Mandarin and adoption of Chinese culture.

Note that nuhua (奴化, literally enslavement) was commonly used by the KMT back then to refer to the Japanization of the Taiwanese people, which they hoped to reverse as quickly as possible. Continue reading

Tiananmen protest photos see light of day

Source: NYT (6/1/17)
Hidden Away for 28 Years, Tiananmen Protest Pictures See Light of Day

Protesters aboard a truck near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in May 1989. One appears to be in a police uniform. It was not unusual then for police officers to join the demonstrators. CreditDavid Chen

For nearly 28 years, David Chen hid away a treasure chest of black-and-white photographs that he took of the protest movement that erupted at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the spring of 1989. Continue reading

Interview with Scott Savitt

Source: LA Review of Books Blog (5/31/17)
Crashing the Party: An Interview with Scott Savitt
By Matthew Robertson

Editor’s Introduction: The China Blog often publishes something at this time of year that looks back in one way or another to the June 4th Massacre of 1989, an act of state violence that curtailed a national movement whose biggest protests took place at Tiananmen Square.  This year is no different.  Our June 4th anniversary post this time takes the form of an interview with an eyewitness to the demonstrations and crackdown of 1989, Scott Savitt, who has recently published a memoir, Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China, which deals in part with the dramatic events that convulsed Beijing and captivated television audiences around the world twenty-eight years ago. Matthew Robertson, a researcher and translator, conducted the interview, which begins after a brief introduction he provides to Savitt’s life and Crashing the Party, which Publisher’s Weekly describes as the work of a “smart, thrilling memoirist.” -Jeff Wasserstrom Continue reading

Official surveys on morality?

Dear All,

As part of my PhD project on cadre education in traditional culture I am trying to find official surveys on a) citizen morality and public ethics, b) cadre morality, c) party members’ attitude towards traditional culture.

I’m mostly interested in post-2000 surveys, but older surveys as well as other types of systematic official inquiry into these areas would also be very valuable.

So far I have managed to locate one survey per each of these categories and was hoping maybe group members came across this type of resources and would be willing to share, here or via e-mail (

Best wishes,

Aleksandra Kubat

PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies Research
King’s College, London
伦敦国王学院 中国研究所

Professional peasant revolutionary in Taiwan

Source: Taipei Times (5/14/17)
Taiwan in Time: ‘Professional peasant revolutionary’
Chien Chi left his job as a schoolteacher and devoted his life to fighting for peasant’s rights, later also becoming involved in communism
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

A portrait of Chien Chi, who spent most of his adult life fighting for peasant’s rights. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

He was born exactly 85 years before farmers traveled to Taipei on May 20, 1988 to participate in what is considered Taiwan’s largest peasant movement since World War II. It’s probably a coincidence that they marched on his birthday, but Chien Chi (簡吉) was a notable peasants’ rights organizer during the Japanese colonial era, also leading a group of farmers to Taipei in 1926 to protest the government’s agricultural policy.


Chien grew up in a farming family in what is today’s Fengshan District (鳳山) in Kaohsiung. He recalls that his parents had to “work like cows and horses,” and that his younger brother had to quit school to help in the fields. Chien was lucky enough to graduate from Tainan Normal School (台南師範學校) and became a local schoolteacher. Continue reading

request for sparrow campaign interviewees

I’m a radio/podcast journalist working on a story about the sparrow war during the Four Pests Campaign in China. It’s for a new podcast I’m developing, called Just Animals, that tells stories about the places where human and nonhuman lives meet and influence each other, for better or worse.

I’m seeking first-person accounts from people who participated in or witnessed the attack on sparrows that occurred around 1958-59. These would be people who were children or teenagers at the time, and would be in their 70s and 80s today. I’d like to interview these people on tape and possibly use them as storytellers in my podcast. Ideally the interviews would be in English, though I could use a translator if necessary.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I’m pasting more information about the show and myself below. Thanks for your consideration. Please contact me directly at this email:  <> Continue reading