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

435 ethnic minority intellectuals in mass detention in Xinjiang

Today the Uyghur Human Rights Project updated its count of confirmed detained & disappeared ethnic-minority intellectuals (artists, authors, academics etc.), a key part of Chinese authorities’ forced-assimilation campaign targeting the ethnic minorities of Xinjiang, western China, including with mass internments in concentration camps, mass surveillance, blanket criminalization of everyday religious practices, forced marriages, and more.

Today’s updated report confirms the detention or disappearance of 435 intellectuals. (This expands the earlier confirmations of 231, in October 2018, 338 in January 2019 and 386 in March 2019). See further:

The report also underlines: “This group is likely a small fraction of all Uyghur intellectuals suffering serious human rights violations.” Continue reading

Blood Letters of a Martyr

Source: LARB, China Channel (5/19/19)
Blood Letters of a Martyr
By Ting Guo
Ting Guo talks to Lian Xi about his new biography of Lin Zhao

On May 31, 1965, 33-year-old Lin Zhao was tried in Shanghai and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. She was charged as the lead member of a counter-revolutionary clique that had published an underground journal decrying communist misrule and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a collectivization campaign that caused an unprecedented famine and claimed at least 36 million lives between 1959 and 1961.

“This is a shameful ruling!” Lin Zhao wrote on the back of the verdict the next day, in her own blood. Three years later, she was executed by firing squad under specific instructions from Chairman Mao himself.

Lin Zhao’s father committed suicide a month after Lin’s arrest, and her mother died a while  after her execution. In Shanghai, where I grew up and where Lin was tried, imprisoned and killed, the story (the sort told only in private) goes that Lin’s mother was asked to pay for the bullets that killed her daughter. It is also said (in private) that in the years that followed, at the Bund, the former International Settlement on the Huangpu River, one could see Lin’s mother crying and asking for Lin’s return. Continue reading

The cruel irony of China’s celebration of Asian cultures

I think this article, below, by Shannon Tiezzi in The Diplomat, is very important. Indeed it’s cruel irony, the height of blatant hypocrisy, for Chinese leaders to pretend to be for diversity in Asia today, all the while they conduct a veritable campaign of state terror, to cruelly force-assimilate away whole cultures in their own country, in the atrocities they are committing in Xinjiang. And yes indeed, in carrying this out, it can seem Mr Xi is grossly violating his own pronouncements on how it “It is foolish to believe that one’s race and civilization are superior to others, … It is disastrous to willfully reshape or even replace other civilizations.” But this may not be cognitive dissonance. Rather, it is founded on a theory of cultures/civilizations that regards them as separate, intrinsically organic beings, and essentially unchangeable. China for the Chinese, as it were. It’s of a family with nazism, and it is indeed “keeping pace with the times,” in the sense that this kind of crude and narrow nationalism is the new global political epidemic. It’s founded on the same kind of outdated theory of civilizations or cultures-as-organisms needing lebensraum, which propelled expansionist authoritarianisms of the past. Its converts will have no tolerance of minorities, but instead tend to abhor them, since they seem to muddy their “pure land.” The logical conclusion for this theory, as in the past versions, is to try to eradicate the minorities by way of “purification” — as we are seeing currently in China. Continue reading

How a journal censored by review of Xinjiang (5)

May I chime in as an Uyghur scholar?

I don’t think to hold a person accountable for restricting academic freedom is attacking. We should hold Brill accountable for their lack of communication and oversight but the person who is responsible for censoring the content is at fault from the beginning. Maybe it is my personal experience and feelings as an Uyghur are clouding my judgment, but at least my view comes from a desire for academic freedom, which I never had before coming to the US. If calling out Han Xiaorong for not respecting academic freedom is “attacking” him, well, count me in! I’m “attacking” Han Xiaorong for attempting to censor Dr. Grose’s review. It also is irresponsible of us if we solely put the blame on Brill, and would only perpetuate this kind of abhorrent behavior further.

Mirshad Ghalip <>
Department of Anthropology
Indiana University

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (5)

Recently a suspected case of censorship in one of Brill’s journals came to our attention, involving a book review written by Timothy Grose for our new journal China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies.  We have heard about the case on 7 April through Timothy Grose’s posting on social media and have acted immediately by contacting him. During the last weeks we were in a process of gathering information about the case. We have received a report from the author and copies of the correspondence between the author and editor. On 16 May we have received a report from the editor describing his perspective of the events. We will review this information to decide whether our publication ethics have been breached. As publisher we are never involved with editorial decisions and our editorial boards enjoy complete academic freedom. However, if our publication ethics have been breached, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action. Censorship or any other bias to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors would be a clear breach of our ethical standards and are not acceptable.

Jasmin Lange <>
Chief Publishing Officer, Brill

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (4)

I do not believe it is fruitful or correct to focus on Han Xiaorong or any one person. I do believe Brill, as a publisher and as a business that purports to work in the academic world of free inquiry, needs to take responsibility for its attempts to play all sides of a very fraught issue. It cannot be an honest broker without honesty. Brill needs to be held to account. The attacks on Han Xiaorong need to stop. In my opinion.

Rebecca Karl <>

Taiwan legalizes gay marriage

Source: BBC News (5/17/19)
Taiwan gay marriage: Parliament legalises same-sex unions

Media captionCrowds celebrate as marriage law passes

Taiwan’s parliament has become the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage following a vote on Friday.

In 2017, the island’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.

Parliament was given a two-year deadline and was required to pass the changes by 24 May.

Lawmakers debated three different bills to legalise same-sex unions and the government’s bill, the most progressive of the three, was passed. Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (3)

No one ever openly and proudly admits that they are engaged in censorship. I get it. Even the Propaganda Department would like to be known as the Publicity Department.

And yet, like the famous quote about obscenity, when it comes to censorship, I know it when I see it. And despite Han Xiaorong’s attempts to explain away what happened at the journal China and Asia, this seems to me to be an extremely clear-cut case of censorship.

Han claims that the reference to Xinjiang’s concentration camps at the beginning of Grose’s review is “political” and thus somehow inappropriate. But as someone who writes a fair amount of book reviews, I’ve never encountered an editor who was resistant to linking a book review to pressing current affairs. This applies even to journals focused on history. Books are, after all, read in the context of the world as it is today, and I find it frankly impossible to read Cliff’s book without thinking about the ongoing tragedy in Xinjiang. Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (1)

My Response to Timothy Grose’s “How an Academic Journal Censored My Review on Xinjiang”
Han Xiaorong
Department of Chinese Culture
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

As the editor-in-chief of China and Asia, I was solely responsible for selecting reviews for the first issue of our journal, and none of our advisers or editorial board members was involved in the selection process. In other words, Tim was on target by focusing his criticism on me.

Due to miscommunications between our book review editor and me (for this I offer my sincere apology to all parties involved), we acquired two book reviews (one was from Timothy Grose about Xinjiang, and the other reviews a book about the Chinese Communist revolution) that were not directly relevant to our journal’s central theme, which is China’s historical relations with other Asian countries. This is why I did not include these two reviews in our first issue. For the list of works published in the first issue of our journal, please click here.

Each piece in that issue deals with China’s historical interactions with other parts of Asia, specifically between China and the Indian Ocean world and between China and Korea. Continue reading

Poetry meets politics in photos

Source: NYT (5/15/19)
Poetry Meets Politics in Photos of China
Between violent flash points in history, Liu Heung Shing saw tenderness and subversive humor in societies saturated with propaganda.
Photographs by Liu Heung Shing
Text by Tiffany May

Musicians giving an impromptu performance in support of demonstrators during the Tiananmen Square protests. Beijing, 1989.Credit Liu Heung Shing

Liu Heung Shing looked outside the car window: an imposing portrait of Mao Zedong had disappeared from the east side of Tiananmen Square. It was 1981.

Mao loomed large that year as people gathered to watch the depositions of his political cronies, known as the Gang of Four, on state television.Earlier that autumn, before Mao’s portrait was removed from a history museum in Tiananmen Square, Mr. Liu photographed a skater gliding past a statue of Mao. The frozen faces of Communist leaders got a breath of fresh air in Mr. Liu’s photography: A Beijing resident in 2008 lined the facade of her house with the portraits of lionized figures, in plucky defiance of demolitions planned before the Summer Olympics. Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang

More Brill malfeasance. How sincere is the publisher about not bowing to pre-emptive censorship? Or was the Frontiers mea culpa all window dressing, as I now suspect it was.–Rebecca Karl

Source: LARB China Channel (5/13/19)
How an Academic Journal Censored My Review on Xinjiang
By Timothy Grose
A squelched review of Oil and Water by Tom Cliff – Timothy Grose

On January 1, 2018, I received a request from China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies, a new journal sponsored by the academic publisher Brill, a respected Dutch publishing house with some 275 journals under its aegis, which claims “over three centuries of scholarly publishing.” The request from the journal was to review Tom Cliff’s book Oil and Water – an ethnography about Han settler experiences in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I agreed, and the review had a generous November 2018 deadline as the journal would publish its first edition in early 2019. The journal’s book review editor is a trusted friend, and I was pleased to read China and Asia’s mission statement: “Its purpose is to promote communication and exchange among the global Asian studies community, especially among scholars based in Asian countries.” Continue reading

Wikipedia blocked in China

Source: BBC News (5/14/19)
Wikipedia blocked in China in all languages

Screenshot of Wikipedia add

Wikipedia is now blocked in China. Image copyright: PHILIPPE LOPEZ.

All language editions of Wikipedia have been blocked in mainland China since April, the Wikimedia foundation has confirmed. Internet censorship researchers found that Wikipedia had joined thousands of other websites which cannot be accessed in China.

The country had previously banned the Chinese language version of the site, but the block has now been expanded. Wikimedia said it had received “no notice” of the move. Continue reading