Eat Bitter

Source: The China Project (4/21/23)
‘Eat Bitter’ personalizes China’s relationship with the Central African Republic
Co-directors Sun Ningyi and Pascale Appora-Gnekindy offer a depoliticized, if at times dismissive, look into the lives of a Chinese construction manager and a Central African laborer.
By Amarsanaa Battulga

Still from Eat Bitter

Eat Bitter, a co-production between China and the Central African Republic, is the latest documentary to shed light on China-Africa relations. The film had its world premiere last month at the prestigious Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, better known as CPH:DOX, just one day after news broke out that nine Chinese nationals were killed during an attack on a gold mine in the Central African Republic.

However, Eat Bitter largely avoids depicting such conflicts. Instead, Sūn Níngyì 孙宁忆 and Pascale Appora-Gnekindy choose to highlight personal stories and relationships between the Chinese and Central African residents in the capital city of Bangui in their first full-length film.

“I didn’t want to discuss China’s influence in Africa, or [make] a film that focuses solely on economy or politics,” Sun, who initiated the project, explained in an interview. The resulting observational documentary focuses almost exclusively on two men who represent different sides of the China-Africa relationship but also share the same basic pursuits in life: family, wealth, and happiness.

Eat Bitter — a literal translation of the Chinese phrase 吃苦 chīkǔ, or “endure hardships” — starts with a series of strikingly beautiful shots of the Ubangui River at dawn as two locals row a canoe. One of them stands up, prays aloud, and jumps into the water. Moments later, he emerges back on the surface while his partner pulls up from the bottom of the river a bucket that he’s filled with sand, and empties it on the canoe. Continue reading

The undoing of Guo Wengui

Source: NYT (3/30/23)
The Undoing of Guo Wengui, Billionaire Accused of Fraud on 2 Continents
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
He cultivated powerful allies and built an empire in China. Then, fleeing charges, he turned his charms on America. Now the law has caught up with him.
By Michael Forsythe and 

The Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, pictured at his Manhattan apartment in 2017, when he was in self-imposed exile in the United States. He is now in federal custody. Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Luc Despins, a New York bankruptcy lawyer, typically took on difficult jobs: After the energy company Enron collapsed years ago, he helped thousands of victims recover some of their money.

But when Mr. Despins was appointed by a bankruptcy court last year to locate the assets of Guo Wengui, a Chinese property mogul and political provocateur who had failed to repay tens of millions of dollars to a hedge fund, the assignment presented very different challenges.

In November, protesters appeared outside his home and that of his ex-wife. Photographs of his daughters, along with their names and employers, were posted on Gettr, a social platform catering to the American right. A video online accused Mr. Despins of helping to build concentration camps on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. Protesters even entered his office lobby, Mr. Despins testified in court.

“Partners of the firm have been chased up the escalator, with people running — screaming, you know, ‘C.C.P. dog,’” he said.

It would be among the last of many harassment campaigns carried out in Mr. Guo’s name by his global legion of followers. Mr. Guo may now be at the end of a remarkable trajectory, from billionaire Beijing insider to fugitive critic of the Chinese Communist Party and ally of Trump Republicans. That path, fueled by bravado, ruthlessness, a keen political antenna and alleged theft, has left lingering suspicion about his allegiances. And it has now taken him from his Manhattan penthouse to his new place of residence: the Brooklyn federal detention center. Continue reading

Sinophone Southeast Asian Crossings

Sinophone Southeast Asian Crossings:
A Symposium on Nanyang Culture, History, and Memory

Panel 1: 2-3:20pm
Speaker: Professor Chan Cheow Thia 曾昭程, National University of Singapore
Author of Malaysian Crossings

Panel 2: 3:40-5pm
Speaker: Ms. Li Zishu 黎紫書
Author of The Age of Goodbyes 

April 6, 2023 (Thursday)

Zoom registration link:

Posted by: Yedong Sh-Chen <>

Representations of East Asian Migrants and Settlers–cfp

Call for Papers
Representations of East Asian Migrants and Settlers in the Western United States ca. 1850-1929
Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
26-28 September 2024

A conference on the theme of Representations of East Asian Migrants and Settlers in the Western United States ca. 1850-1929 has been organized by Professor Todd Larkin and Professor Hua Li at the Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, under the aegis of the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Montana State University Foundation.

The event will provide scholars from universities, museums, libraries, and archives an opportunity to exchange research on the ways Asian American and Euro-American artists represented Asian migrants and settlers in art and culture in the period between the Gold Rush and the Great Depression.  Please consider submitting a proposal to present a paper to the relevant session chair by the 15 October 2023 deadline.

For more information about the initiative, sessions, and proposal deadline, please click on this link —

Posted by: Hua Li <>

1 Plus Books

I have a publisher friend who used to work in China but has now moved herself and her business  to California. Among emerging independent publishers outside China, 1 plus Books has concentrated on publishing personal histories and other books in humanities that could fill the huge vacuum left by China’s censorship, which increasingly suffocates the creative space in China. This series by  Zi Zhongyun, an outspoken Chinese translator and historian, from 1 plus Books, speaks volumes about this situation.  It is also an interesting case that testifies to the potential of diasporic culture and global Chinese writing/publishing. I am working on a study about these publishers (publishing books in Chinese) outside China.

Shuyu Kong <>



“难求于世有济,但行此心所安”。资先生修改曾国藩名联以自况。不阿世,不迎俗,倡导中国读书人摆脱”帝师”情结……洋洋五十万言,所思所虑,还是”生于斯、长于斯、终老于斯的本乡本土”。 Continue reading

PRISM 19.2

NEW PUBLICATION. PRISM 19:2 Special Issue:The Worlds of Southeast Asian Chinese Literature

We are pleased to announce the publication of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature‘s special issue “The Worlds of Southeast Asian Chinese Literature,” guest-edited by Carlos Rojas and CHAN Cheow Thia.

For centuries, multiple waves of Chinese migrants have fanned out to Southeast Asia, interacting in different ways with local populations and establishing complex legacies. This special issue examines some of these legacies through the prism of modern and contemporary Chinese literature from Southeast Asia, including literature written in various Sinitic languages, literatures written in creole, and also literature written in English. The special issue not only examines these literary formations and the worlds that they represent, it also showcases different interpretive methodologies that can be used to approach this rapidly developing field.

More about this special issue could be found at the following websites:

Volume 19 Issue 2 | Prism | Duke University Press (

A Duke University Press Journal (

Posted by: Heidi Huang

New World Orderings review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Kelly A. Hammond’s review of New World Orderings: China and the Global South, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas. The review appears below and at its online home here: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

New World Orderings:
China and the Global South

Edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas

Reviewed by Kelly A. Hammond

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright January, 2023)

Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas, eds. New World Orderings: China and the Global South Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2022. vii + 268 pp. ISBN 9781478019015 (paper).

This interdisciplinary volume—New World Orderings: China and the Global South, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas—has a lot to offer. By focusing on circulations of global capital and challenges posed by China and the Global South to the neoliberal world order, the combined efforts of the twelve contributors deemphasize state-level diplomacy in favor of an approach that emphasizes “globalization from below” (96). In doing so, the book concentrates mostly on movements of individuals, non-state actors, and economic intermediaries in and out of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and around and throughout the Global South. The chapters focus both on migrations and diasporas, and on cultural and economic interactions, to paint a variegated picture of the lives and experiences of both citizens of the PRC and peoples of the Global South who interact and deal with China and Chinese people on their own terms. The actors in this book—be they African women trying to eke out a living in Guangzhou, or the Chinese traders trying to make it in Johannesburg—are all active agents in the ongoing efforts to displace—or at least disrupt—traditional flows of capital. Continue reading

Students pledge loyalty to Beijing before arriving abroad

Finally! Someone outside Sweden pays attention to the recent revelations about how Chinese students are forced to pledge loyalty to the regime, and do its bidding while abroad. Thanks to the brave Chinese scholars and students who alerted free independent media to these documents. And I hope every American and other Western academic who called foul about any scrutiny of PRC scholars, will read this — and also to read up on the National Intelligence Law in China that forces every citizen to spy for their country whether they agree or not. Don’t believe those who say Chinese are quiet/silent because of their “culture” … No, that is not why! Faced with the Chinese regime, our reaction cannot be to stick our head in the sand; we must understand where the Chinese are “coming from” — Communist rule.–Magnus Fiskesjö,

Source: Radio Free Asia (1/20/23)
Tens of thousands of students pledge loyalty to Beijing before arriving abroad
Two Swedish universities cut ties with the China Scholarship Council as media report sparks furor
By Yitong Wu and Chingman for RFA Cantonese, Hsia Hsiao-hwa for RFA Mandari

Tens of thousands of students pledge loyalty to Beijing before arriving abroad

Chinese students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm [shown], Lund University and the Karolinska Institute, among others, were found to have signed a document pledging loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. Credit: AFP file photo

Tens of thousands of Chinese students studying overseas on government-backed scholarships are required to sign a document pledging loyalty to the ruling Communist Party, as well as putting up guarantors who could be forced to repay their funding should they break the agreement, before arriving at overseas universities, Radio Free Asia has learned.

Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported on Jan. 13 that 30 doctoral students arriving in the country had signed contracts pledging loyalty to their government while overseas, and requiring them to serve China’s interests during their stay.

A review of publicly available documents by Radio Free Asia found evidence that this practice has been going on quietly for more than a decade, with several versions of the contract and related regulations freely available online. Continue reading

Move to ban TikTok in schools

Source: The Conversation (1/18/23)
Dozens of US schools, universities move to ban TikTok
By (Professor of Management, University of North Carolina – Greensboro)

SUQIAN, CHINA – JANUARY 1, 2023 – Illustration: TikTok, a short video platform, Suqian, Jiangsu province, China, Jan 1, 2023. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Disclosure statement: Nir Kshetri does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

A growing number of public schools and colleges in the U.S. are moving to ban TikTok – the popular Chinese-owned social media app that allows users to share short videos.

They are following the lead of the federal government and several states, that are banishing the social media app because authorities believe foreign governments – specifically China – could use the app to spy on Americans.

The app is created by ByteDance, which is based in China and has ties to the Chinese government.

The University of Oklahoma, Auburn University in Alabama and 26 public universities and colleges in Georgia have banned the app from campus Wi-Fi networks. Montana’s governor has asked the state’s university system to ban it. Continue reading

Chinese ‘police stations’ in the US

Source: The Guardian (11/17/22)
FBI director ‘very concerned’ by reports of secret Chinese police stations in US
Christopher Wray says the FBI is investigating the existence of stations in New York, which could violate sovereignty
By Reuters

Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray said the FBI was looking into the legal parameters of Chinese ‘police stations’ in the US Photograph: Michael McCoy/Reuters

The United States is deeply concerned about the Chinese government setting up unauthorised “police stations” in US cities to possibly pursue influence operations, FBI director Christopher Wray has said.

“I’m very concerned about this. We are aware of the existence of these stations,” Wray told a US Senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee hearing, acknowledging the FBI’s investigative work on the issue but declining to give details.

“But to me, it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New York, let’s say, without proper coordination. It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation processes.”

Wray, asked by Republican Senator Rick Scott if such stations violated US law, said the FBI was “looking into the legal parameters”. Continue reading

Supporters of student alleging rape are silenced in China

Source: Star Tribune (8/29/22)
Supporters of University of Minnesota student alleging rape by Chinese billionaire are being silenced in China
Social media accounts sharing information sympathetic to the student are being suspended or shut down.

LINTAO ZHANG, GETTY IMAGES/TNS. Billionaire Richard Liu is accused of raping a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

Supporters of a University of Minnesota student who is suing a Chinese billionaire for allegedly raping her in Minneapolis in 2018 say their social media postings about the case are being blocked in China.

Xiaowen Liang, a leading Chinese feminist activist in the United States, wrote an article about the young woman for WeChat, an instant-messaging site in China with a billion subscribers, in which she provided details from a June hearing in Hennepin County District Court. She said that after the article had racked up about 100,000 views, it was blocked along with her own account. “I lost over 2,000 contacts,” she said.

A Chinese student at the U who said he copied Liang’s report and sent it out on WeChat also had it blocked, and said his account was shut down for two weeks. He asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation.

“In the past few years, the Chinese government has been cracking down on the MeToo activists in China and Chinese feminists,” Liang said in an interview. “More and more women are paying attention to the movement and are very vocal on Chinese media. On the other hand, the censorship against young women activists is getting more and more serious.” Continue reading

Taiwan identity politics and the California church shooting

Source: NYT (6/12/22)
They Inhabited Separate Worlds in Taiwan. Decades Later, They Collided in a California Church.
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The 68-year-old suspect in a May mass shooting harbored resentment dating back to his formative years in Taiwan.
By Amy QinJill CowanShawn Hubler and Amy Chang Chien

Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., where members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were meeting when the shooting occurred.

Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., where members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were meeting when the shooting occurred. Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

David Chou and Pastor Billy Chang spent their whole lives forging parallel paths. They were born in early 1950s Taiwan, grew up just miles apart during martial law and later rebuilt their lives in the United States.

But over several decades, they carried with them vastly different memories — and views — of the island of their birth.

Mr. Chou was the son of parents who fled mainland China following the 1949 Communist revolution, part of a mass exodus of Chinese who established an authoritarian government-in-exile in Taiwan. Though he was born on the island, he and his parents were “mainlanders” devoted to the Chinese motherland and saw Taiwan as forever part of China.

Pastor Chang’s relatives were local Taiwanese who had spent centuries on the island. At home, he spoke Taiwanese Hokkien, a language that for decades was banned in public spaces. Pastor Chang grew to believe that despite Beijing’s longstanding claims, the self-ruled island had its own identity, separate from China.

In May, the lives of the two men collided in a quiet retirement community in Southern California. Authorities say that Mr. Chou, 68 — armed with two guns, four Molotov cocktails and a deep-seated rage against Taiwanese people — opened fire inside the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church as members gathered in honor of Pastor Chang, 67. Continue reading

The Exiles review

Source: SupChina (4/15/22)
‘The Exiles’: Chinese democracy activists reflect on their banishment
Filmmakers Violet Columbus and Ben Klein reopen one of the most tightly sealed boxes from China’s collective consciousness — the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre — to consider what it means to be Chinese.
By Catherine Zauhar

Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng

Good documentaries need to have one of two elements: a wealth of archival material, whether that be footage, documents, photographs, etc., to build a strong visual and atmospheric foundation of the past, or a compelling character to catalyze the story. The Exiles, the Sundance-winning debut feature from Violet Columbus and Ben Klein, has both.

The film opens with Columbus and Klein interviewing Christine Choy (崔明慧 ​​Cuī Mínghuì), who is most well-known for her Oscar-nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chen? In the New York film community, Choy is regarded as one of the brashest, most uncompromising, chain-smoking, expletive-spewing, wonderfully politically incorrect, and always-magnetic people you’ll have the pleasure of talking to. We learn through the film that Choy had ambitions to make a documentary about the exiled leaders of Beijing’s 1989 democracy movement, but the film never came to fruition due to budgetary and emotional constraints.

In 1989 she and a small crew started closely following Yán Jiāqí 严家其, a steadfast and observant intellectual, Wàn Rùnnán 万润南, the once-CEO of the tech firm Sitong, and Wu’er Kaixi (吾尔开希·多莱特 Wúěr Kāixī Duōláitè), a fiery student leader, from the day the men land on American soil. Their post-Tiananmen story is told through press conferences, demonstrations, protests, and quieter moments of conversation and rest. (One of these exiles’ friends, Chén Yīzī 陈一咨, died in Los Angeles.) This footage intimately captures how these young men grapple with witnessing their compatriots die at the hands of a government they once respected. Back then, they believed that China’s political corruption and their own exiles would be temporary, a necessary anguish before a revitalizing rebirth. Continue reading

Germany’s contentious China debate

In an op-ed (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung F..A.Z., March 9), Sinology professors Bjoern Alpermann (University of Wuerzburg) and Gunter Schubert (University of Tuebingen) branded criticism of self-censorship and appeasement within German-language China studies toward the Chinese government as “crusaderism.”

With ad hominem allegations rarely seen in German academic written exchanges, both authors called discussants of this academic discourse „moral crusaders“ (author’s translation) and established China scholars were labeled as „new crusaders“ (author’s translation). Thorsten Benner, Co-Founder & Director of the Global Public Policy Institute pointed out on Twitter that Alpermann and Schubert demonstrate a “most impressive capacity for cognitive dissonance when one claims: ‘Serious China research needs differentiation. Polarization makes it blind’ and at the same time one calls dissenters ‘moralizing crusaders’ who have fallen prey to ‘delusions of decoupling.’”[1]

In addition to these polemical personal attacks, Alpermann and Schubert brushed away arguments and existing research by claiming that there is no evidence for a growing influence of China on German China studies.

Andreas Fulda (University of Nottingham), Mareike Ohlberg (German Marshall Fund), David Missal (Sinologist and Tibet Initative Initiative), Horst Fabian (independent scholar), and Sascha Klotzbuecher (University of Goettingen) have replied with their own op-ed titled “Grenzenlos kompromissbereit?” (Willing to compromise without limits?) (F.A.Z., March 16).

You can read the German version here (paywalled). Pre-print of this article. The English translation of our op-ed is below.

Sascha Klotzbücher <>

Willing to compromise without limits?

In view of Xi’s policy of repression, China studies must rethink its role. Ignoring problems and stigmatizing critical voices are the wrong way to go. A reply to an op-ed by Björn Alpermann and Gunter Schubert.  

By Andreas Fulda, Mareike Ohlberg, David Missal, Horst Fabian and Sascha Klotzbücher.

Last week, sinology professors Björn Alpermann and Gunter Schubert branded the criticism of self-censorship and appeasement within German-language China studies toward the Chinese government that has flared up in recent years as “crusaderism” (F.A.Z., March 9). Critics of the conformist course, including authors of this article, were defamed as “moral crusaders” and stigmatized as defilers of their own nests. The authors brush away arguments by claiming that there is no evidence for a growing influence of China on German China studies. Continue reading