US intelligence concludes China misrepresented coronavirus deaths (4)

In the age of Trumpism, everything is possible. And, to those who did not know it, one of the most important roles of the intelligence apparatus is to deceive in order to create a “better” ground for its chiefs in their own propaganda efforts. So, let’s make America great again while slamming her competition.

Dan Ben-Canaan <>

HK Cinema MOOC


Hello from Hong Kong! We’ve been thinking about teaching across distances and disciplines for some time now and in these challenging times we are keen to offer you material and a little morale boost.

To accommodate your needs, and expand your menu of online teaching and learning options, we are offering Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Hong Kong cinema to be produced anywhere in the world, as a learner-paced course.  That means all six units open simultaneously on April 1, 2020.

Feel free to enjoy the entire course or pick and choose lessons to fit your own individual needs. Continue reading

Academic freedom index

Fascinating new report on academic freedom globally ranks China down in the worst bottom level. Also, rebuts the idea that some Chinese universities rank high globally. No, they should be downgraded sharply.

See: Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action. By Katrin Kinzelbach, Ilyas Saliba, Janika Spannagel, and Robert Quinn. Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), 26 Mar 2020. PDF HERE.

The “dataset was developed collaboratively by experts at the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Scholars at Risk Network, and the V‑Dem Institute. The data is publicly available, and V‑Dem provides an online tool that can be used to analyze any of the indicators.”

BTW, one surprise (for me at least) was that Thailand counts in the bottom level, alongside China. Woa. That bad now.

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Being 21 during the Coronavirus

Source: China Channel, LARB (3/21/20)
Being Twenty-One During Coronavirus
Advice for students out of school, from Shi Tiesheng’s celebrated essay
By Nick Admussen

Shi Tiesheng (

Nick Admussen is an associate professor of Chinese Literature and Culture at Cornell University, where all classes were cancelled last Friday. He penned this letter, edited for publication, to his students before leaving his desk.

As cases of Covid-19 spread and we begin a period of social distancing, I want to give you my argument for continuing to do the two things university was designed for: to read and to write. Colleges often present themselves to students as a package excursion for youth: open quadrangles, energetic friends and lovers, deep conversation, light beer, live music, parties. It is that, and much more. Yet my colleagues and I didn’t become literature professors – we didn’t become literate – by going to class. We learned what we know in rooms that lacked conversation, friends, and open doors.

Today I’ve been rereading the Chinese writer Shi Tiesheng, a Beijing native who was assigned to rural labor during the Cultural Revolution, when at the age of 21 his spine was injured in an accident and he was rendered paraplegic. His 1991 essay ‘The Year of Being Twenty-One’, translated by Dave Haysom, records his struggles to come to terms with the new limits on his mobility and his future. In the essay, he watches carefully as the other patients in hospital respond to their own illnesses, and to the social and emotional sicknesses that constrain them. From his sickbed, Shi talks with a man with aphasia (“Bed Two”) who has lost all nouns. He remembers a seven-year old boy who fell off a truck and never walked again. And he tells of a pair of lovers pulled apart by an accident, and more. Their stories leap off the page, as if there is something bigger behind them, laboring to push its way through. Continue reading

Interview with Guo Yuhua

Source: China Channel, LARB (3/15/20)
Guo Yuhua: China’s Suffering Class
By Jonathan Chatwin
An anthropologist of China’s underclasses talks to Jonathan Chatwin

Guo Yuhua next to the Nujiang River (courtesy of the interviewee).

Guo Yuhua is Professor of Anthropology at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She has spent the majority of her career researching and writing about the lives of rural Chinese people. Her work The Narration of the Peasant: How Can ‘Suffering’ Become History? is based on oral histories collected during her research in Ji village in northern Shaanxi province. She has written: “one of the ways to defeat the hegemony of official texts and official discourse is to write the history of ordinary people, the history of the ‘sufferers’.”

Professor Guo is currently undertaking research on food safety and peasant workers suffering from pneumoconiosis, a lung disease which affects workers in coal mines, quarries and foundries. Guo’s books are banned in China. As part of the China Conversations series, Guo Yuhua spoke from Beijing with writer Jonathan Chatwin.

What is your memory of studying history at school?

My college life was in the 1980s, the era of reform and opening up; we were all enthusiastic that China had embarked on the road of modernization. My graduate major was folklore and social anthropology – studying culture and folk custom – and the relationship between tradition and modernity. I hoped to discover which factors affected the habits and mores in Chinese society, and why China had lagged behind the world for many years. That was the reason for my interest in history. Continue reading

Holding Beijing accountable is not racist

This Johns Hopkins colleague nailed it! — fwd by Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: The Journal of Political Risk 8, no. 3 (May 2020)
Holding Beijing Accountable For The Coronavirus Is Not Racist
By Ho-fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University

Digital generated image of macro view of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Getty Images/Andriy Onufriyenko

As the coronavirus global pandemic is unfolding and deteriorating, an age-old racial stereotype that associates contagious diseases with Asian/Chinese people reemerged. Reports about Asians being beaten up and accused of bringing the disease to the community are disheartening. The use of the phrase “sick man of Asia” in connection to the outbreak and calling the disease “Wuhan pneumonia” or “Chinese virus” invoked accusations of racism. We in higher education kept hearing episodes of Asian students harassed by comments from fellow students or faculty that associate them with the virus.

This racial association of contagious diseases often surfaces with epidemics in history. During the SARS epidemics of 2003, Western media was full of articles, images, and cartoons that explicitly characterized the diseases as an Asian one, as my research documented. In medieval Europe, the spread of epidemics like bubonic plagues often triggered harassment or even massacre of ethnic minorities such as Jewish people. Perennial as it is, this racial association is not only harmful but is also counterproductive to the effective containment of the disease. Epidemics know no ethnic boundary. They always spread beyond ethnic lines very quickly. The racial association of disease makes us overlook carriers who happen to be not among the stereotyped groups. We have to combat xenophobic racism at the time of an epidemic as hard as we can. Continue reading

Pedagogy of Chinese Film–cfp

In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have witnessed a fast-growing presence of pedagogical practices with moving images across a wide range of fields. Along with the ever-changing film studies curriculum, films have been used in diverse ways to, among other purposes, increase learning motivation and engagement; provide cognitive facilities for theoretical concepts; present complex and subtle information as analytical materials; and simulate an experience with unfamiliar, underrepresented, or difficult-to-reach subjects. At the same time, there are scholars and instructors who caution against using film for teaching, especially when the subject is projected as an “other” on screen, because they are concerned about its potential to create negative emotional tension; blur the boundary between reality and representation; and generate false, distorted, or simplistic understanding of real-world complexity. Continue reading

Yan Lianke on the coronavirus and memory

Source: The Initium (2/21/20)
By 閻連科

2020年2月15日,武漢大雪,一位男士拿著雨傘在路上。 圖:Getty Images

2020年2月15日,武漢大雪,一位男士拿著雨傘在路上。圖:Getty Images






「你有記性嗎?!」 Continue reading

Leipzig MA in Chinese Studies

Master of Arts in Chinese Studies at Leipzig University

The Institute of East Asian Studies at Leipzig University is now accepting applications for enrolment in its English-language MA programme in Chinese Studies in the academic year 2020/21.

Objectives and Target Audience

The two-year Master’s programme in Chinese Studies at Leipzig University offers a comprehensive programme of postgraduate instruction for students with a BA in Chinese Studies as well as graduates from the humanities and social sciences with appropriate Chinese language skills, who want to deepen their understanding of the Sinophone world and improve their research skills. Focusing on religions and literature as well as economic and social history, teaching and research in Leipzig pay equal attention to China’s traditions and to their ruptures and continuities in the present day. We seek to provide our students with a historically grounded view of China, which will prepare them for either further graduate work in a PhD programme or for any occupation requiring a reflective understanding of China’s past & present. Leipzig Chinese Studies alums today work in business, government, academia, cultural enterprises, and NGOs. Continue reading

Harvard prof arrested over ties to China

Source: NBC Boston (1/28/20)
Top Harvard Professor Arrested, Charged With Lying About Income to Feds
Charles Lieber is the chair of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology department; two others were charged as well in alleged plots tied to China
By Alanna Durkin Richer

A Harvard University professor has been charged with lying about his ties to a Chinese-run recruitment program and concealing payments he received from the Chinese government for research, federal officials said Tuesday.

Charles Lieber, chair of the department of chemistry and chemical biology, is accused of hiding his involvement in China’s Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed to recruit people with access to and knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property.

Lieber was arrested early Tuesday at his office at the Ivy League university, officials said. He was expected to appear in court later Tuesday. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Authorities also announced charges against a researcher at Boston University, who is accused of lying about her ties to the Chinese military. Yanqing Ye, who prosecutors say is a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army, did work on behalf of the military while studying at the university, like conducting research and sending documents and information to China, officials said. Continue reading

#MeToo at CAFA

Source: Sup China (1/21/20)
#MeToo At China’s Most Prestigious Art School


Photo credit: SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

A group of students at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), China’s top art school, are calling on school authorities to fire a professor who has been disciplined for sexual misconduct but has retained his teaching position.

The demand first made headlines on January 10, when one alleged victim posted an audio recording (in Chinese) to social media. The clip features a conversation between her and a member of the school’s discipline committee in which she asks why classes taught by Yáo Shùnxī 姚舜熙, who was found violating policies against sexual misconduct, were on the course schedule again.

In June 2019, dozens of students filed a collective complaint against Yao, accusing him of multiple instances of sexual harassment, selling students’ artworks without their permission, taking bribes, and fabricating allegations against other instructors at the school. Continue reading

Do coercive reeducation technologies actually work

Source: LA Review of Books (1/6/20)
Do Coercive Reeducation Technologies Actually Work?
By Darren Byler

Photo by the author. A People’s Convenience Police Station in Ürümchi in 2018

For the Provocations series, in conjunction with UCI’s “The Future of the Future: The Ethics and Implications of AI” conference.

Sometime in mid-2019 a police officer tapped a student who had been studying at a university on the West Coast of the United States on the shoulder. The student, who asked me to call her Anni (安妮), after the famous Dutch-Jewish diarist Anne Frank, didn’t notice the tapping at first because she was listening to music through her ear buds. Speaking in Chinese, Anni’s native language, the police officer motioned her into a nearby People’s Convenience Police Station. On a monitor in the boxy gray building, she saw her face surrounded by a yellow square. On other screens she saw pedestrians walking down the street, their faces surrounded by green squares. Beside the high definition video still of her face, her personal data appeared in a black text box. It said that she was Hui, a member of a Chinese Muslim group, and that she was a “converted” or rehabilitated former detainee. The yellow square indicated that she had once again been deemed a “pre-criminal.” Anni said at that moment she felt as though she could hardly breathe. Continue reading

At ‘sacred lake,’ Chinese declare love for Xi and CCP

Source: NYT (1/8/20)
At ‘Sacred’ Lake, Chinese Declare Love for Xi and Communist Party
Some come to seek an emotional lift, others to sing patriotic tunes. But they all raise a fist and say an oath, a rite meant to show China’s strength in the 21st century.
By Javier Hernandez

Reciting the Chinese Communist Party oath outside the Nanhu Revolutionary Memorial Hall museum in Jiaxing, China. Credit…Yan Cong for The New York Times

NANHU LAKE, China — He was anxious about China’s trade war with the United States. He was worried about the rise of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. So Liu Yuanrong, a lifelong member of the Chinese Communist Party, followed the advice of a friend: Go to the lake.

That would be Nanhu Lake, a cradle of Chinese communism in eastern China that in recent years has become a spiritual retreat for the party’s more than 90 million members.

There, near a forest of pine trees one recent day, Mr. Liu straightened his back, furrowed his brow and threw his fist triumphantly into the air.

“I vow to devote my life to defending communism,” said Mr. Liu, a 57-year-old electronics trader from southern China, reciting a party oath. “I vow to sacrifice everything for the party.” Continue reading

How should Western universities respond

Excellent observations and concrete suggestions for Western universities below, in this article by John Fitzgerald.–Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Source: Journal of Political Risk 8, no. 1 (Jan. 2, 2020)
Chinese Scholars Are Calling For Freedom And Autonomy – How Should Western Universities Respond?
By John Fitzgerald, Swinburne University of Technology [1]

Red Guard political slogan on Fudan University campus, Shanghai, China, toward the close of the Cultural Revolution (Spring 1976). ‘Defend party central with blood and life! Defend Chairman Mao with blood and life!’ Source: Wikimedia

In stifling free and open inquiry, China’s universities are being faithful to the party’s Marxist values and authoritarian principles. Universities in the West could display similar backbone by standing up for the values and principles of their own communities, including academic freedom and institutional autonomy, when they deal with education authorities in China. People in China who value freedom and critical inquiry expect nothing less of us.

On December 18, 2019, China’s Ministry of Education announced the latest in a series of revisions of national university constitutions to ensure that the party takes pride of place in their management, curriculum, and international engagements. Public attention was drawn to changes in the charter of Fudan University when footage went viral of students singing their school anthem in protest at the damage done to their school constitution. The Ministry of Education had deleted two phrases from the Fudan charter still preserved in the old school anthem: ‘academic independence and freedom of thought.’[2]

Clearly students in China think academic independence and freedom of thought are worth preserving.  Do scholars in the West agree? If so, how can they help to  defend the fundamental principles and values under assault in Xi Jinping’s China? Continue reading

Scientist accused of smuggling lab sample

Source: NYT (12/31/19)
Chinese Scientist Is Accused of Smuggling Lab Samples, Amid Crackdown on Research Theft
Zaosong Zheng, a promising cancer researcher, confessed that he had planned to take the stolen samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, and publish the results under his own name.
By Ellen Barry

An entrance to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, in 2014. Zaosong Zheng was a cancer researcher there recently. Credit…Steven Senne/Associated Press

BOSTON — Zaosong Zheng was preparing to board Hainan Airlines Flight 482, nonstop from Boston to Beijing, when customs officers pulled him aside.

Inside his checked luggage, wrapped in a plastic bag and then inserted into a sock, the officers found what they were looking for: 21 vials of brown liquid — cancer cells — that the authorities say Mr. Zheng, 29, a cancer researcher, took from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Under questioning, court documents say, Mr. Zheng acknowledged that he had stolen eight of the samples and had replicated 11 more based on a colleague’s research. When he returned to China, he said, he would take the samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital and turbocharge his career by publishing the results in China, under his own name. Continue reading