Vol. 32, no. 1 of MCLC

MCLC is pleased to announce publication of vol. 32, no. 2. Below find a table of contents, with links to essay abstracts. Those of you who are subscribers will be receiving your print copies in the next few weeks. If you have any questions about the status of your subscription or if you would like to initiate a new subscription, please contact Jennifer Nunes, my new editorial assistant, at mclc@osu.edu.


Kirk Denton, editor

Volume 32, Number 2 (Fall 2020) 

New party in HK calls for stability (and raises suspicions)

Source: NYT (1/16/21)
In Hong Kong, a New Party Calls for Stability (and Raises Suspicions)
Democracy advocates have called the Bauhinia Party a “Trojan horse” for the Chinese government. But Beijing’s local allies are wary of it, too.
By Keith Bradsher and Vivian Wang

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in November. Businessmen in Hong Kong with ties to mainland China have created a new political party that some consider a “Trojan horse” for spreading mainland Chinese influence. Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

BEIJING — They are businessmen, born in mainland China, who serve on top advisory committees to Beijing and profess patriotism for the motherland. One recently traveled to an obscure village in southeastern China to study Xi Jinping’s doctrine for guiding the country to greatness.

Now, they are seeking to bring that ardor to Hong Kong, as the founders of the city’s newest political party. They are calling for social stability to unify a deeply fractured society and mend a damaged economy.

“You cannot have a protest every day,” said Li Shan, the founder and chairman of the party.

The arrival of the Bauhinia Party has fueled furious speculation about the future of Hong Kong’s once-vibrant, at times unruly, political scene. The party, led by business executives who moved to Hong Kong from the mainland, is entering the fray amid forceful moves by the Chinese government to quash dissent, after huge pro-democracy protests in 2019 challenged its rule. Continue reading

Wu Fuhui dies at 82

Professor Wu Fuhui 吳福輝, a leading scholar of modern Chinese literature, passed away on January 15, 2021. He was 82. Wu was born in Shanghai in 1939 and grew up in Liaoning Province. He graduated from Peking University with a degree in Modern Chinese Literature in 1981. Wu’s research redefined the concept of “haipai wenxue” 海派文學 with a focus on the modernist writings by authors active in the 1920s-40s, such as Ye Lingfeng, Liu Na’ou, Mu Shiying, Shi Zhecun, Xu Xu, Wumingshi, and Eileen Chang. In the 1980s, Wu joined Qian Liqun, Wen Rumin, and Wang Chaobing to write and publish the landmark monograph, Three Decades of Modern Chinese Literature 中國現代文學三十年. He was the founding deputy director of the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature. His latest publications includes A Cultural History of Modern Chinese Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2020). David Der-wei Wang wrote an introduction to this book, in which he presents the following overview of Wu’s life and work: Continue reading

Seeing the CCP clearly

fffSource: NY Review of Books (2/11/21)
Seeing the CCP Clearly
For Chinese dissidents, the end of Washington’s deference to Beijing has been a long time coming.
By Perry Link

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images. Chen Guangcheng speaking at the Republican National Convention, Baltimore, Maryland, August 26, 2020

In a speech at the Republican National Convention last August, Chen Guangcheng, a blind, iron-willed human rights lawyer and dissident from China whom the Obama administration brought to the United States in 2012, said:

Standing up to tyranny is not easy. I know. When I spoke out against China’s One Child Policy and other injustices, I was persecuted, beaten, sent to prison, and put under house arrest….

The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is an enemy of humanity. It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well-being of the world…. The United States must use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop CCP’s agression. President Trump has led on this, and we need the other countries to join him in this fight—a fight for our future.

Within hours, Teng Biao, an old friend of Chen’s who is also a Chinese human rights lawyer based in the US, tweeted, “I completely oppose what he is doing.” Teng, too, is a veteran of persecution, beating, and imprisonment at the hands of the CCP, and he would not disagree with what Chen said about the CCP. What he opposed was Chen’s bow to Donald Trump. “For Chinese human rights defenders, there is zero logical consistency to supporting Trump,” Teng tweeted. Continue reading

Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon

Rethinking the Modern Chinese Canon: Refractions across the Transpacific by Clara Iwasaki (Cambria Press)
Cambria Sinophone World Series (General Editor: Victor H. Mair)
Hardback  9781621965473  $104.99  244pp. (Save 25% off hardback—use coupon code SAVE25).
E-book editions start at $30.99—Order from Cambria Press.

The texts that are examined in this study move in and out of different languages or are multilingual in their origins. Texts and authors do not move randomly; rather, they follow routes shaped by the history of contact between different nations of the transpacific. As these texts move into and out of the Chinese language or become multilingual, they necessarily do not always remain Sinophone. The works of the authors discussed are refracted out of Chinese literature into American, Malaysian, and Japanese literatures and, in some cases, back into Chinese again. Following their paths through multiple languages makes visible the ways that these trajectories are informed by, are arrested by, and bend around historical and geopolitical barriers across the Pacific. To this end, examining the path that these texts from a transpacific perspective allows for the possibility of not only multilingual but multidirectional movement. Continue reading

Whither Taiwan’s universities

Source: Taipei Times (1/4/21)
Wither, Taiwan’s universities?
If the central government did not keep private universities liquid with subsidies, many of them would be forced to close
By Michael Turton / Contributing reporter

Music students from National Tsing Hua University in November experiment with a sound board. In Taiwan most students want to go to a public university, where tuition is a pittance and the education and facilities are generally better. Yet typically only well-off local families can afford the intensive education necessary to put a child into a good university. Photo courtesy of Tsing Hua University

This week brought more doleful news on the university front. Ministry of Education (MOE) statistics widely quoted in the media showed that a dozen universities had less than 60 percent enrollment (up from 6 the previous year), while 121 university programs, including 79 graduate programs, had zero students enrolled. The ministry announced that more than 40 schools, from high schools to universities, are on their critical list.

Because MOE subsidies are based on enrollment, schools with low student enrollment receive reduced subsidies from the government, forcing them to close sooner or later.

This outcome had long been predicted, the inevitable result of Taiwan’s low birthrates and surplus of universities. After educational reforms in the mid-1990s, the number of universities boomed. Vocational schools, technological universities and junior colleges upgraded to “universities.” Continue reading

MLA 2022 panel submissions

Dear colleagues,

As the incoming chair of the MLA’s forum on modern and contemporary Chinese literature, I’d like to invite you to consider submitting a proposal for the 2022 MLA conference in Washington, D.C. Calls for papers can be submitted now and will be accepted through February 28: submitting a call through MLA brings your session to the attention of potential participants (as described here). CFP are optional: complete special session proposals (described here) are due on April 1. The conference is committed to participant access and was completely virtual this year; I suspect that the risk of coronavirus will make next year’s conference hybrid physical/virtual. I will also point out that the MLA is one of the few conferences which allows for non-English presentations; I am available to revise proposal translations (which must be in English) for MCLC members and people in the field, just contact me off-list.

The forum leadership under outgoing chair Lee Haiyan has made some exciting plans for next year’s program. We would love to see you in D.C. (or online) in January.


Nick Admussen
Cornell University Continue reading

Save Cantonese at Stanford petition

A petition is being circulated by Stanford students and alumni regarding the Cantonese language program at the Stanford Language Center. I’m forwarding it along as a Stanford alum and Cantonese speaker, but the petition itself is an interesting read for scholars. You can read the arguments for Cantonese and sign the petition at: https://tinyurl.com/save-cantonese-at-stanford

Latest coverage by the Stanford Daily: https://www.stanforddaily.com/2021/01/11/thousands-petition-stanford-to-save-cantonese-program-renew-sole-lecturers-contract/

Christopher K. Tong

Yeng Pway Ngon dies aged 73

Source: The Straits Times (1/12/21)
Acclaimed Chinese-language writer Yeng Pway Ngon dies aged 73
By Olivia Ho

Yeng Pway Ngon's work spanned genres, ranging across poetry, essays, plays and more.

Yeng Pway Ngon’s work spanned genres, ranging across poetry, essays, plays and more. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – Yeng Pway Ngon, one of Singapore’s most eminent Chinese-language writers, died on Sunday (Jan 10) after a long battle with cancer.

The Cultural Medallion recipient and three-time Singapore Literature Prize winner was 16 days shy of his 74th birthday.

He wrote more than 20 works, including acclaimed novels such as Unrest (2002), Trivialities About Me And Myself (2006) and Art Studio (2011).

The latter two were selected by the journal Asia Weekly for its prestigious annual list of the 10 Best Chinese Novels in the World, alongside works by Nobel laureate Mo Yan and Yan Geling. Continue reading

Surviving a Uighur ‘re-education’ camp

Source: The Guardian (1/12/21)
‘Our souls are dead’: how I survived a Chinese ‘re-education’ camp for Uighurs
After 10 years living in France, I returned to China to sign some papers and I was locked up. For the next two years, I was systematically dehumanised, humiliated and brainwashed
By  with 

Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uighur woman who spent two years in a re-education camp in western China.

Gulbahar Haitiwaji. Photograph: Emmanuelle Marchadour

The man on the phone said he worked for the oil company, “In accounting, actually”. His voice was unfamiliar to me. At first, I couldn’t make sense of what he was calling about. It was November 2016, and I had been on unpaid leave from the company since I left China and moved to France 10 years earlier. There was static on the line; I had a hard time hearing him.

“You must come back to Karamay to sign documents concerning your forthcoming retirement, Madame Haitiwaji,” he said. Karamay was the city in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang where I’d worked for the oil company for more than 20 years.

“In that case, I’d like to grant power of attorney,” I said. “A friend of mine in Karamay takes care of my administrative affairs. Why should I come back for some paperwork? Why go all that way for such a trifle? Why now?” Continue reading

Shades of Green: Notes on China’s Eco-civilisation

The University of Sydney China Studies Centre is pleased to announce Shades of Green: Notes on China’s Eco-civilisation (edited by Olivier Krischer and Luigi Tomba, 2020), published with Made in China journal as the first in a new series of ‘Made in China Notebooks’.

Shades of Green: Notes on China’s Eco-civilisation
Edited by Olivier Krischer and Luigi Tomba

Is China the new champion of environmentalism? Are democratic models becoming obsolete? Is efficiency all we need to tackle this environmental crisis? Believing such questions to be flattening the debate and obscuring as much as they reveal, Shades of Green offers short reflections from the perspectives of 14 young scholars addressing the problem in compelling and original ways. They are exploring issues of language and policy interpretation, the complex nexus of social and environmental justice, case studies in rural revitalisation, precarious urban housing and hygiene impacts of city development, as well as the potential to address spiritual or indigenous questions to ecological challenges in the context of China today.

The PDF book is available on China Studies Centre website.

YANPING ZHANG | Events and Communications Officer
China Studies Centre

Utopian Ruins review

Source: http://www.biblioteca.montepulciano.si.it/node/1155 (1/12/21)

Jie Li, Utopian Ruins, a Memorial Museum of the Mao Era. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020
Reviewed by Silvia Calamandrei

Utopian Ruins but also Ruins of an Utopia are the subject of Jie Li’s work, enquiring how to build  a memorial of the Maoist era, an archive-museum assembling together different pieces and traces of the past: on paper, in films and photographical work , as objects of articraft, as architectural environmental and landscape  signs, so to help new generations to fight against imposed amnesia and old generations to awaken  and remember: in fact historical narrative is  the fruit of intergenerational imbrication and stratification of memories, open to new readings.

A result of the “cultural studies” approach, this study of materials and signs evoking Maoist China memories is a useful tool in the debate on history and research into archives: the open question is how to narrate a controversial past as the Cultural Revolution period,  not flattening it to the reasons of the winners or the losers and reflecting all the contradictory aspects and complexity of past experiences. Continue reading

Taiwan’s new passport

Source: NYT (1/11/21)
On Taiwan’s New Passport, the Incredible Shrinking ‘Republic of China’
Officials said the redesign was an attempt to disassociate Taiwanese citizens from those on the mainland, who faced travel restrictions amid the pandemic.
By Livia Albeck-Ripka

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu showing the new Taiwan passport design in Taipei on Monday. Credit…Ann Wang/Reuters

Taiwan on Monday released a new passport that puts a diplomatic spin on the concept of social distancing amid the pandemic.

The self-governing island’s official name, Republic of China, has been downsized, though it remains on the cover in Chinese characters. The words “Taiwan Passport” appear in large bold type. The government said early in the pandemic that it was all an attempt to lessen confusion surrounding its citizens traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, and to disassociate them from people coming from mainland China.

“Today is the day,” Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, said in an Instagram post on Monday evening. “The big TAIWAN on the cover will accompany the people of the country to travel around the world, and it will also make the international community more unable to ignore the existence of Taiwan,” she wrote. (She also boasted that in the past year, Taiwan had successfully slowed the spread of the virus while maintaining economic growth.) Continue reading

Wai-yee Li lecture

2020/21 Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture
Elegance and Vulgarity: The Promise and Peril of Things in Ming-Qing Literature 雅俗分際: 明清文學的物情與物累, with Professor Wai-yee Li (Harvard University)
Wednesday January 20, 2021; 4:00 PM – 6:30 PM (Pacific Time)
Online via Zoom

Graphic by Anh Luu. Image credits: “The Landscape of Suzhou” by Shen Zhou (Ming Dynasty) 明沈周蘇州山水全圖 卷 “Landscape in Snow” by Shen Zhou 明沈周雪景山水

How is value assigned to things? What is the line between the refinement of good taste and the force of obsession? Is elegance compromised by self-consciousness? How can an object of appreciation be both commodity and anti-commodity (inasmuch as true appreciation and the greatest worth are not measurable in economic terms)? Are elegance or vulgarity determined by affirming social consensus or challenging it? How do the fellowship and competition among connoisseurs drive the definition of elegance? Why are “elegant things” associated with nature and reclusion but also embedded in social relations among the rich and the powerful? Can good taste become bad taste, and vice versa? Professor Wai-yee Li will discuss the figure of the vulgar connoisseur in Jin Ping Mei, the contradictions of elegance in a story by Li Yu (1611-1680), and the implications of redefining elegance and vulgarity in The Story of the Stone.

Free & open to the public. Registration required.

Research Seminar: Objectifying People and Humanizing Things in Chinese Literature 物我之間:明清文學的「人化」與「物化」母題 Continue reading

UC Riverside lecturer position

Department of Comparative Literature and Languages
2020-2021 Academic Year
Position: Lecturer in Chinese Literature, Culture, and/or Cinema
Starting Date: The first day of Spring quarter is March 24, 2021; the last day of Spring quarter is June 11, 2021.


Approximately $7047.00, based on 100% annual salary of $56,381 (pending final budget approval). Appointment is eligible for renewal depending on need, funding and performance.


Minimum requirements are an M.A. or higher in Chinese literature, culture and/or cinema. Applicants holding a Ph.D., or who are ABD are also encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to candidates with experience and success in teaching Chinese literature, culture, and/or cinema at an American university.

UCR is a world-class research university with an exceptionally diverse undergraduate student body. Its mission is explicitly linked to providing routes to educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. A commitment to this mission is a preferred qualification. Continue reading