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

Can free speech withstand Chinese nationalism

Source: China File (5/25/17)
Can Free Speech on American Campuses Withstand Chinese Nationalism?

The ChinaFile Conversation is a weekly, real-time discussion of China news, from a group of the world’s leading China experts.

Earlier this week, Kunming native Yang Shuping, a student at the University of Maryland, gave a commencement speech extolling the “fresh air” and “free speech” she experienced while studying in the United States. Video of her speech spread on the Internet, and Yang and her family found themselves under attack by fellow Chinese students in the U.S. and a chorus of critics on Chinese social media, who argued—at times viciously—that she had betrayed her country. Yang then apologized for the speech and asked for “forgiveness from the public.” Why was she attacked? What do her speech and the reaction it engendered reveal (or obscure) about the experiences of Chinese students on American campuses, and what do they portend for the future of academic freedom in the U.S.? To what extent is Chinese nationalism reshaping university life in America? —The Editors


Yifu Dong

I’m not surprised that Yang Shuping had to apologize in the face of severe nationalistic backlash against her speech. The following is part of the speech I would have given at my graduation, if Yale was not so obviously anti-Chinese to let me freely express myself on the podium during its two-hour Class Day ceremony. I regret missing an opportunity to garner respect from like-minded Chinese netizens and set an example for all future Chinese students who are tasked with the sacred duty of nationalistic speech-giving in paper tiger imperialist regimes. Continue reading

China funds new garden in Washington

Source: Washington Post (4/27/17)
China wants a bold presence in Washington — so it’s building a $100 million garden
By Adrian Higgins

The Ge Garden in Yangzhou, which will be replicated in the National China Garden at the National Arboretum. (Courtesy of the National China Garden)

This summer, a construction team is expected to begin transforming a 12-acre field at the U.S. National Arboretum into one of the most ambitious Chinese gardens ever built in the West.

By the time Chinese artisans finish their work some 30 months later, visitors will encounter a garden containing all the elements of a classical Chinese landscape: enticing moongate entrances, swooping and soaring roof lines, grand pavilions with carved wooden screens and groves of golden bamboo. The grounds will boast two dozen handcrafted pavilions, temples and other ornate structures around a large central lake. Continue reading

Confucius Institutes

See below for a nice summary of the state of play as regards the Confucius Institutes, in the light of both the recent report from the National Association of Scholars, “Outsourced to China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education” (published April 26, 2017, download at:, and of the efforts in China to curb Western “infiltration”. –Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: NY Review of Books (4/28/17)
Should the Chinese Government Be in American Classrooms?
By Richard Bernstein

Imaginechina via AP Images: Students from a Confucius Institute in the US visiting the Confucius Temple in Qufu, China, April 17, 2013.

Since their beginning in 2005, Confucius Institutes have been set up to teach Chinese language classes in more than one hundred American colleges and universities, including large and substantial institutions like Rutgers University, the State Universities of New York at Binghamton and Albany, Purdue, Emory, Texas A & M, Stanford, and others. In addition, there are now about five hundred sister programs, known as “Confucius Classrooms,” teaching Chinese in primary and secondary schools from Texas to Massachusetts. Continue reading

Tibetan posters vandalized at Cornell

The Cornell Daily Sun, the campus student-run newspaper, carried an article on the recent anonymous night-time vandalization and theft of a university-approved lawn exhibit mounted on campus by the Tibet student group. –posted by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Cornell Daily Sun (4/27/17)
Students Divided Over Swiped Pro-Tibet Signs Depicting Self-immolation
By Yuichiro Kakutani

More than half of the 34 signs were swiped, members of the Tibet Initiative at Cornell said in a recent interview, emphasizing a campus divide on Chinese policy. Tibet Initiative at Cornell, via Facebook

Two dozen posters in the Arts Quad depicting Tibetans self-immolating in protest were snatched last week by an unknown person or people on the same night a Cornell group had put the signs up. Continue reading

Swedish police arrest man for spying

Swedish security police have arrested a man for spying on the Tibetan refugee community. This is big news in Sweden. A few years ago, in 2009, a naturalized Swedish citizen was arrested and sentenced to jail for similar espionage on Uighur refugees, and a Chinese diplomat was expelled. In this new case, nothing has yet been said about which country is behind the spying. For more reports in English, see:

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Local (2/27/17)
Man arrested for ‘refugee espionage’ in Sweden
TT/AFP/The Local

The Swedish security police (Säpo) office in Stockholm. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Sweden’s security police Säpo has arrested a man suspected of spying on refugees in the country.

Säpo arrested the man on February 26th on suspicion of aggravated unlawful intelligence activities in the country. He is believed to have illegally obtained intelligence about people related to Tibet in Sweden on behalf of another country. Continue reading

The Aesthetics of the Tropics–cfp

“The Aesthetics of the Tropics” Conference CFP
June 23-24, 2017 | Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Language: English or Chinese

The conference “The Aesthetics of the Tropics” invites multidisciplinary papers that focus on the tropics as a location of cultural encounter and innovation, a trope of imagination, desire, and memory, or a site of knowledge production and social engineering. If the tropics loom large in the foundational writings of anthropology as an academic discipline, the melancholy embedded in Levi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques speaks unmistakably to the impossibility of authentic cultural encounters and the catastrophic result such encounters may cost the indigenous societies. In academic fields ranging from anthropology, history, to postcolonial studies, the tropics not only continue to function as a key site for the self-understanding of human culture and history, but are also inextricably entangled in a cultural logic that reinforces the north-south, self-other, colonizer-colonized demarcation and the struggle against it. While “the south” evokes in Chinese culture rich connotations such as the barbaric, the exotic, or the radical revolutionary, the boundary and the hierarchy between the center and the periphery is no less prominent. From the perspective of the outsiders to that of the indigenous, this conference seeks to revisit and reformulate, through the lens of the tropics, the cultural, historical, gender, linguistic, geographical, environmental, medical, and /or technological discourses regarding the region.   Continue reading

Guo Xiaolu on moving to Britain

Source: The Guardian (1/10/17)
‘Is this what the west is really like?’ How it felt to leave China for Britain
Desperate to find somewhere she could live and work as she wished, Xiaolu Guo moved from Beijing to London in 2002. But from the weather to the language and the people, nothing was as she expected
By Xiaolu Guo


By the time I reached my late 20s, I was desperately looking for a way out of Beijing. From 2001 onwards, the city was consumed by preparations for the 2008 Olympics. Every bus route had to be redirected. Every building was covered in scaffolding. Highways were springing up around Beijing like thick noodles oozing from the ground, with complicated U-turns and roundabouts. The city was surrounded by a moonscape of construction sites. Living there had become a visual and logistical torture. For me, as a writer and film-maker, it was also becoming impossible artistically, with increasing restraints placed on my work. Continue reading

Writing the South Seas review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Alison Groppe’s review of Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature (University of Washington Press, 2015), by Brian Bernards. The review appears below, but is best read online at:

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

Happy new year.

Kirk Denton, editor

Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in
Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature

By Brian Bernards

Reviewed by Alison M. Groppe
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2017)

Brian C. Bernards. Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015. 288 pp. ISBN: 9780295995014 (Hardcover: $50.00).

Brian C. Bernards. Writing the South Seas: Imagining the Nanyang in Chinese and Southeast Asian Postcolonial Literature . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015. 288 pp. ISBN: 9780295995014 (Hardcover: $50.00).

As Bernards makes clear from the start—and as many readers will already know—the Chinese term Nanyang literally means the “South Seas” and conventionally refers to the region of Southeast Asia, comprised of what are now Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. It is the book’s identification and highlighting of para-geographical features of Nanyang, as literary device and imaginary, however, that comprises one of its primary contributions. First and foremost, Bernards introduces Nanyang literary texts from multiple time periods, geographical sites, and languages, the majority of which have received scant, if any, attention in English-language scholarship. Continue reading

Xi’s anti-corruption campaign to weed out rivals

Source: SCMP (1/2/16)
Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign ‘to weed out rivals’, says Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter
Criticism made by outspoken sister of Singapore’s prime minister in a rare salvo against Beijing by Southeast Asian leaders or their families
By Shi Jiangtao

The daughter of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew appears to have weighed in on the debate over President Xi Jinping’s much touted anti-corruption campaign in China, describing it as “a game” designed to tighten his grip on power. Continue reading

Chinese taming of Australian media, academia

Some excellent, alarming podcasts are coming out from the Asia Institute, Melbourne, on Chinese interventions there to control Australian media and academia. In the first one, not least John Fitzgerald is astute as an observer and he’s actually not just talking about Chinese-language media but also Chinese interventions in English-language media:  

Control and Capture: Taming Overseas Chinese Media
The Little Red Podcast, Asia Institute, Melbourne, Australia, Dec. 2016.

“China’s not trying to influence, it’s trying to change Australia.” Continue reading

Brian Bernards on Writing the South Seas

Source: (11/21/16)
Writing the South Seas

by Philip Holden

Research work on Singapore Literature is increasingly exploring connections across languages and national borders, rather than within a single English-language literary tradition. A new generation of scholars such as E.K. Tan, Weihsin Gui, Joanne Leow, Cheryl Naruse, Angelia Poon, and Nazry Bahrawi has made a series of important interventions in the last years, introducing new topics of critical cosmopolitanism and border-crossing. Literature from Singapore, Malaysia, and the surrounding region has often been seen as peripheral to larger literary and indeed civilizational concerns. Singapore writing in English, for instance, has traditionally been viewed as a minor Anglophone postcolonial literature, while writing from Singapore and Malaysia in Chinese has either been absorbed into the literature of greater China, or pictured as part of an exotic periphery. Much contemporary scholarship work on world literatures, however, has emphasized how questions of translation and border-crossing are central to the very notion of what literature is, or might be: viewed through this lens, the literatures of Singapore and the region surrounding gain new prominence. Continue reading

Forgotten life of H. T. Tsiang

Source: The New Yorker (7/14/16)
By Hua Hsu


H. T. Tsiang on the set of “Kraft Mystery Theatre.” COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL STUDIOS LICENSING LLC

In the nineteen-thirties, “The Good Earth,” by Pearl S. Buck, was inescapable. The tale of a noble Chinese farmer and his struggles against famine, political upheaval, and personal temptation, the book was an immediate success upon publication, in 1931. Buck was born in West Virginia, but she was raised in rural China, the daughter of American missionaries, and she resisted the sense of Christian superiority many within her circle felt toward the “heathen” Chinese. “When I was in the Chinese world I was Chinese, I spoke Chinese and behaved as a Chinese and ate as the Chinese did, and I shared their thoughts and feelings,” she later recalled. Her sympathetic backstory gave “The Good Earth” a rare kind of authority: it was billed as an authentic tale of a distant, windswept China, but its author was a white American, and it told the kind of story that Americans grappling with the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl wanted to hear—of hard work, perseverance, and triumph in the face of natural disaster and corruption. Continue reading

Teng Biao book raises self-censorship questions

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (4/27/16)
Book Debate Raises Questions of Self-Censorship by Foreign Groups in China
By Edward Wong
点击查看本文中文版 Read in Chinese


Teng Biao in 2013. Credit Gillian Wong/Associated Press

BEIJING — The American Bar Association has rejected a potentially incendiary book that is being written by the Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao, but others are exploring the possibility of publishing it.

“Now, some publishers in the United States are contacting me and saying they are interested in publishing my book,” Mr. Teng said in a telephone interview. “I have not signed a deal yet.”

With the working title “Darkness Before Dawn,” the book is at the center of a public brawl between Mr. Teng and the American Bar Association, which is primarily a professional organization for lawyers in the United States but also has an office in Beijing that aims to help build up the legal system in China. Continue reading

Coyote Traces

CT small 2016-02-04 at 11.04.35 AM_0Coyote Traces: Aku Wuwu’s Poetic Sojourn in America published by Ethnic Publishing House and National East Asian Languages Resource Center, Ohio State University.

The bilingual (Chinese and English) volume was published in late 2015, and is available through this link:

Aku Wuwu is a dynamic  and visionary poet of the Yi ethnic group in Sichuan province who writes in both the Nuosu Yi language and Chinese.  In 2006,  Tiger Traces: Selected Nuosu and Chinese Poetry of Aku Wuwu, edited by Aku Wuwu and Mark Bender, with accompanying audio CD was published in Columbus, OH: Foreign Language Publications, The Ohio State University.  Coyote Traces is a series of  80 poems on diverse cultural experiences, inspired by several trips across the US.  The volume, translated by Wen Peihong and Mark Bender, also includes two interviews with Aku about his poetic vision.