China detains 2 Americans

Source: NYT (10/17/19)
China Detains 2 Americans Amid Growing Scrutiny of Foreigners
Two Americans who ran an English-language teaching company are being held on charges of organizing illegal border crossings, a Chinese government spokesman said.
By Amy Qin

BEIJING — The authorities in southern China have detained two Americans who led an Idaho-based English-language teaching company, the latest sign of the Chinese government’s growing scrutiny of foreigners working and traveling in the country.

The two Americans, Jacob Harlan and Alyssa Petersen, were detained late last month and are being held in Zhenjiang, a town in Jiangsu Province, according to GoFundMe pages set up by friends and relatives.

Mr. Harlan, a father of five, is the owner of China Horizons, a company he founded in 2004 that arranges for Americans to teach English in China, according to the company’s website. Ms. Petersen, who has lived in China periodically for the past eight years, is the director of the company, according to a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for her legal fees. Continue reading

Testimony from a Xinjiang reeducation camp

Ha-Aretz has published a remarkable testimony from an ethnic-Kazakh woman who claims to have escaped from a re-education camp and has found asylum in Sweden.

The article, by David Stavrou, includes extended quotations from Professor Fiskesjö, and alludes to accounts published elsewhere that paint a consistent picture.

Some nuances may have been obscured by serial translation.For example, she says that inmates were frequently required to write out confessions of their “sins.” The word “sins” suggests that standard CCP self-criticism was given a religious tinge — but by whom? The guards (adapting their message to the culture of their victims) or the prisoners (interpreting the requirement in terms of their religious experience)?

Concerning the atrocities (especially the widespread rapes), I have to wonder where the dividing line runs between high-level policies of cultural extermination and a low-level lack of discipline among the police.

The article also describes an employment contract with Chinese characteristics:

She was told she had been brought there in order to teach Chinese and was immediately made to sign a document that set forth her duties and the camp’s rules.  “I was very much afraid to sign,” Sauytbay recalls. “It said there that if I did not fulfill my task, or if I did not obey the rules, I would get the death penalty. The document stated that it was forbidden to speak with the prisoners, forbidden to laugh, forbidden to cry and forbidden to answer questions from anyone.

A. E. Clark <>

AAS-in-Asia 2020–cfp

Call for Proposals
Hong Kong 2020
June 22-24, 2020

There is still time to submit. Two weeks remaining until the deadline

The Association for Asian Studies (AAS) in partnership with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), are pleased to invite colleagues in Asian studies to submit proposals for Organized Panels, Roundtables and Workshops for consideration for the upcoming AAS-in-Asia 2020 Conference scheduled to take place June 22-24, 2020, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Asianists interested in participating at  AAS-in-Asia 2020 Hong Kong may submit proposals via the electronic application. No Individual Papers will be considered for this conference.  The program committee seeks sessions that will engage panelists and audiences in the consideration of ideas, information, and interpretations that will advance knowledge about Asian regions and, by extension, will enrich teaching about Asia at all levels. AAS Membership is not a requirement for the submission of a proposal or participation.

Proposal Submission DeadlineThursday, October 31, 2019

All proposals should be submitted via the online abstract submission application link posted on the AAS website.  Please make sure to review ALL instructions and guidelines carefully prior to submitting a proposal.

Call for Proposals

Nostalgia from the West: China in Western Collections–cfp

Call For Papers
Nostalgia from the West: “China” in Western Collections
Date: May 22-25, 2020 Location: Guangzhou, China


Boya College, Sun Yat-sen University
Advanced Institute for Humanities, Sun Yat-sen University
School of Art and Archaeology, Zhejiang University
Advanced Institute of Image and History, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts


Advanced Institute for Humanities, Sun Yat-sen University
Advanced Institute of Image and History, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts

Conference Theme:

Museum collections may be considered as ultimate presentations of a culture or nation to which the items belong. Therefore, visitors gain not only an aesthetic experience from artistic works and knowledge about the exhibits, but also understanding about the very culture or nation to which they belong.

For people living in Western societies, perceptions about non-Western cultures or nations is largely shaped by museum collections. Likewise, collected and displayed images of “China” play a significant role in the formation of knowledge about China. Based on an interweaved image of “civilization” and “politics” which are collected as well as exhibited in the West, understandings of China sometimes overlap with images of China conveyed through mass media, but sometimes they diverge, even conflicting with each other. The tensions between them invite further scrutiny. Continue reading

The Myth of Political Brainwashing (3)

The Ryan Mitchell paper is very nostalgic, very bilateral, and rather ivory tower. Xinao, yes. Heard about it, read about it before. Interesting. But this article sounds like a kind of old-school liberal scholarship that has long existed in the West in the Cold War. And in Hong Kong. Removed from the reality of places where there is no academic freedom. Could he have written this in Taiwan nowadays, without someone telling him how it was under Chiang Kaishek? Scientific doesn’t mean nice and neutral, never did. Science wasn’t something better before the Cold War. Not at all. Remember race. Most science on race. Or Scientific Communism. A somewhat discredited term in Central and Eastern Europe. Some still use it, of course. Nothing wrong with Marx. Something tedious about ivory towers. Re-centering, oh god. In love with his idea of China or the East through the ages. Is he still writing in Hong Kong now? Sorry, I know this is very rambling, not very polite and so on. Has anyone looked when the word brain-washing came up in other languages? In Russian, for example. Did Orwell know it? It’s a classical modern scholarship thing to bring up a word, a term, a phenomenon, to declare it Western, Euro-centric, then de-construct it with non-Western facts. In China it works the other way around, ever since the times of the reformers around Liang Qichao Mitchell mentions, and earlier. Marx was very close to the political reality of his time. He wanted that very much. I suspect Mitchell doesn’t. I understand the impulse. But reality has overtaken Hong Kong, hasn’t it?


Martin Winter <>

NUS positions



The Department of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore, is one of the leading institutions in the world in the fields of Chinese Studies and Chinese Language and a major centre in Southeast Asia. We invite applications for the following positions:

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer (Educator Track) – The track aims to attract, nurture and retain suitably qualified and highly effective faculty members who approach teaching as scholarly practice and who therefore focus on and are passionate about excellence in teaching as a means of supporting student learning. The minimum academic qualification is a PhD in Chinese Studies, preferably with expertise in the history of China and Singapore studies.  A proven record of excellent teaching, creative pedagogical approaches for teaching first-year and/or large modules and an interest in pedagogical research will be an advantage.  The appointment will begin as soon as possible thereafter for an initial period of three years with the possibility of contract renewal subject to good performance, departmental teaching needs and continued relevance of the faculty member’s contributions.  The Educator Track scheme has clearly defined career progression to Senior Lecturer (term contract) and finally Associate Professor (open contract). Continue reading

Contemporary China Centre Blog

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Contemporary China Centre Blog.

Based at the University of Westminster, the Contemporary China Centre focuses on interdisciplinary research about contemporary China which is grounded in cultural studies. Our work builds on Westminster’s long-term commitment to Chinese Studies, at whose heart lies an engagement with Chinese language, cultural practice and production, and its critical analysis. We seek to complement social science-based research on contemporary China with a critical perspective from the Humanities.

Our new blog project brings together our research and expertise concerning the cultural dimensions of social and political transformation in China and the cutting-edge issues and agendas that are core features of China’s role in the global circulation of knowledge and cultural influence. It also seeks to promote the University of Westminster Archive’s China Visual Arts Project, which was founded in 1977 and holds over 800 Chinese propaganda posters, as well as a wealth of Chinese books, objects and ephemera dating from the 1940s to the 1980s. We hope that this project will contribute to ongoing debates and promote interdisciplinary dialogue about the social, cultural, political and historical dynamics that inform life in China today.

You can access the Contemporary China Centre Blog at: You can also read about our very first issue, which is entitled Fashion, Beauty and Nation, here: Continue reading

Revenge of the Remakes–cfp

Some colleagues here at BYU are editing a volume on remakes of 1950s sci fi films. They were interested in seeing if any there any colleagues in Chinese studies who might want to contribute a chapter. See the call for papers below.

Steve Riep <>

Call for Papers

Revenge of the Remakes: Adaptations and the Influence of 1950s Sci-Fi Films will be an edited collection of essays that will focus on the influence of 1950s science fiction films in later decades through direct and indirect adaptations. A great deal has been written about the sci-fi films of the 1950s, but much less has been written about how these films have been recycled, repurposed, and reused over the years. Continue reading

3rd Pingyao Film Fest open

Source: China Daily (10/14/19)
3rd Pingyao International Film Festival opens
By Xinhua

A poster for the third Pingyao International Film Festival. [Photo/]

The third Pingyao International Film Festival unveiled its curtain Thursday night at the 2,700-year-old city of Pingyao, Shanxi province, with 54 films from around the world to be shown.

Over half of the films, solicited from 27 countries and regions, are world premieres.

The movies to be aired during the festival include Cannes Award-winning “Atlantique”, Tibetan director Pema Tseden’s “Balloon”, and renowned Hong Kong filmmaker Jacob Cheung’s new production “The Opera House”. Continue reading

Digitally erasing scandal-plagued actors

Source: Sixth Tone (10/9/19)
A Chinese Drama Is Digitally Erasing Its Scandal-Plagued Actors
The producers of ‘Win the World’ say they’re replacing Fan Bingbing and Gao Yunxiang with stars who have yet to fall from grace.
By Kenrick Davis

A promotional image for the costume drama “Win the World.” From Douban.

Two scandal-struck megastars in the long-delayed costume drama “Win the World” are being digitally scrubbed from the show, according to its producers.

In a statement Tuesday, Talent Television and Film Co. Ltd. said it had enlisted Tmall Technology, a company under e-commerce giant Alibaba, to replace Gao Yunxiang and Fan Bingbing with as-yet-unnamed “top-tier actors” by means of “scene refilming, technological tools, audio re-recording, etc.” The studio also assured potential viewers that the estimated 60 million yuan ($8.4 million) in changes, slated to be completed by the end of this year, would not adversely affect the quality or integrity of the show. Continue reading

SEC-AAS 2020–cfp

The 59th annual meeting of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies will be held January 17–19, 2020 at New College of Florida in the beautiful city of Sarasota by the Tampa Bay of Florida. The program committee welcomes proposals for individual or panel presentations from faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars. Proposals must be submitted by October 31, 2019. Please submit panel submissions here and individual paper submissions here. Please direct any questions about proposal submission to our program chair, Professor Xia Shi (, and questions about conference logistics to our local arrangements chair Professor Fang-yu Li ( More information can be found on our website, which is


Fang-yu Li
Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Culture
Division of Humanities
New College of Florida

Hong Kong’s sinkhole

Source: Verso Books (10/11/19
Hong Kong’s Sinkhole
By Pang Laikwan
The protests in Hong Kong continue to escalate. Yet, the Western left has struggled to come to terms with the situation – torn between the contradictory desire to support the movement and the mainly liberal democratic demands of the protestors themselves. In this article, Pang Laikwan analyses the nature and stakes of the movement.


I am often asked how Xi Jinping compares to Mao Zedong, and whether another cultural revolution is approaching. To this, my responses are always consistent: Xi might want to model himself on Mao for his leadership skills and charisma, and they might share a common will to power; but from the perspective of political philosophy the two Chinese leaders are polar opposites. The former Party chief truly believed in revolution, while the current one seems to be interested only in protecting the status quo. Mao was an exceptional Chinese leader, willing China into chaos with an, ultimately unrealistic, hope that only a radical social upheaval could save the Chinese people from feudalism and capitalism. Xi however understands and appeals to the deep Confucian and pragmatic psychology of the Chinese people with the promise of perpetual order and wealth. Under Xi’s leadership, there is no chance of a repeat of the 1966 Cultural Revolution in China. Yet what is possible is a new political movement, one that could happen at any time and taking a completely different form to wreak havoc once more. Continue reading

Beautifying Uyghur bodies

Source: The Contemporary China Centre Blog, University of Westminster (10/11/19)
Beautifying Uyghur Bodies: Fashion, “Modernity”, and State Power in the Tarim Basin
By Timothy Grose

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) routinely stages public fashion shows in Uyghur communities of the Tarim Basin (present-day Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). In Yopurgha County (Ch. Yuepuhu), Kashgar Prefecture, young girls, teenagers, and middle-aged women sit patiently as Uyghur beauticians dab face whitening cream, draw perfectly symmetrical eyebrows, and paint lush red lips on their faces. Meanwhile groups of Uyghur women, organized by age and dressed in either blue jeans, mini-skirts, or pencil skirt-business coat ensembles, are paraded on stage to display age appropriate attire. Usma, henna, braided hair and other (secular) grooming habits typical to Turkic Muslims of the Tarim Basin and Fergana Valley are notably absent from the stages. Continue reading

One country, no arguments

Source: NYT (10/11/19)
China’s Political Correctness: One Country, No Arguments
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The Communist Party has spent decades preparing the people to defend a united homeland. Hong Kong’s protests show it has paid off.
By Li Yuan

A military parade honoring the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was held in Beijing in October.CreditCreditWu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hong Kong’s protests have disrupted Yang Yang’s family life. Though the 29-year-old lives in mainland China, he was inspired by the demonstrations to write a song about freedom and upload it to the internet. When censors deleted it, he complained to his family.

They weren’t sympathetic. “How can you support Hong Kong separatists?” they asked. “How can you be anti-China?” His mother threatened to disown him. Before Mr. Yang left on a trip to Japan in August, his father said he hoped his son would die there.

Hong Kong’s protests have inflamed tensions in the semiautonomous Chinese city, but passions in the mainland have been just as heated — and, seemingly, almost exclusively against the demonstrators. Continue reading