Sent-down youths revisited

Source: Daily Mail (4/12/19)
China plans to send millions of students from cities to the countryside to ‘develop’ rural areas amid fears that Mao’s Cultural Revolution is making a comeback

  • 10 million Communist Youth League students will be sent to ‘rural zones’ by 2022
  • They will help villagers ‘increase skills, spread civilisation and promote science’
  • Plan raises fears of a return to methods of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution


Students of the China Young Pioneers, an organisation run by the Communist Youth League, salute during a ceremony held for International Children’s Day at Qiyi Primary School on May 31, 2009 in Beijing. The CYL has promised to despatch more than 10 million students to ‘rural zones’ by 2022 to ‘increase their skills, spread civilisation and promote science’

China is planning to send millions of youth ‘volunteers’ back to the villages, raising fears of a return to the methods of Chairman Mao’s brutal Cultural Revolution of 50 years ago.

The Communist Youth League (CYL) has promised to despatch more than 10 million students to ‘rural zones’ by 2022 in order to ‘increase their skills, spread civilisation and promote science and technology,’ according to a Communist Party document. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Tsinghua University

An Open Letter to Tsinghua University
Dr. Qiu Yong
President, Tsinghua University

Dear President Qiu,

Tsinghua University, one of the most highly ranked universities in the world, has suffered severe damage to its academic reputation as a consequence of the university’s punishment of Professor Xu Zhangrun.

As members of the international academic community, we urge the university to restore Professor Xu’s normal status in the university, including his teaching and research duties, and to refrain from any further sanctions against him.


To sign this letter, please email your name and affiliation to:

This letter is open until April 19, 2019, after which it will be sent to Tsinghua University. It will also be made public.

Initial signatories:

Geremie R. Barmé, The Australian National University
Jean-Philippe Béja, CNRS/CERI-Sciences-Po (Centre de Recherches Internationales)
Ian Buruma, Bard College
Steven I. Levine, University of Montana
Perry Link, University of California, Riverside
Andrew J. Nathan, Columbia University
Orville Schell, Asia Society

Institution names are for identification purposes only.

Professor demoted over in-class comments

Source: RFA (3/29/19)
University in China’s Chongqing Demotes Professor Over Comments Made in Class

Tang Yun, a deputy professor at the Chongqing Normal University, in undated photo.

Tang Yun, a deputy professor at the Chongqing Normal University, in undated photo. Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A university in the southwestern city of Chongqing has barred another professor from the classroom as the ruling Chinese Communist Party wages ideological warfare on the country’s campuses.

Tang Yun, a 56-year-old deputy professor at the Chongqing Normal University, was stripped of his rank and teaching credentials after he made “comments injurious to the country’s reputation,” an official directive issued by the school said.

Tang, who penned the university’s anthem, was also accused of being “abad influence” on staff and students at the school. Continue reading

J’accuse, Tsinghua

Source: China Heritage (3/27/19)
J’accuse, Tsinghua University!

On 21 March, the same day on which President Bacow of Harvard delivered a powerful lecture at Peking University in which he extolled the virtues of academic inquiry, independence of thought and the pursuit of excellence, ‘next door’ on the campus of Tsinghua University, Professor Xu Zhangrun 許章潤, a noted scholar of law with an international reputation, was formally notified that henceforth he was banned from all teaching activities. Xu was also told that, on Monday 25 March, the university would launch formal disciplinary action against him for his recent writings, some of which have been translated and published by China Heritage (for a list of these, see below). Xu was to be taken task for exemplifying the very qualities that President Bacow advocated when addressing his audience at Peking University.

On hearing of Xu’s suspension, the celebrated independent writer Zhang Yihe (章詒和, 1942-) published a short note in which she expressed outrage and demanded answers from Tsinghua University. In her comments Zhang listed eight major essays that Xu Zhangrun had published in recent years, unique in that they publicly question the country’s rulers and the political direction of the nation. Meanwhile, Geng Xiaonan 耿瀟男, a film critic and publisher, declared in an online post that Xu’s essays were:

直擊七寸, 劍指廟堂。
Blows directed at their Achille’s Heel;
A sword pointed at their Sacred Heart. Continue reading

New book on Confucius Institutes

Dear MCLC,

I’m happy to announce the publication of my book on Confucius Institutes: China in the World: An Anthropology of Confucius Institutes, Soft Power, and Globalization with University of Hawaii Press.

Jennifer Hubbert <>


Confucius Institutes, the language and culture programs funded by the Chinese government, have been established in more than 1,500 schools worldwide since their debut in 2004. A centerpiece of China’s soft power policy, they represent an effort to smooth China’s path to superpower status by enhancing its global appeal. Yet Confucius Institutes have given rise to voluble and contentious public debate in host countries, where they have been both welcomed as a source of educational funding and feared as spy outposts, neocolonial incursions, and obstructions to academic freedom. China in the Worldturns an anthropological lens on this most visible, ubiquitous, and controversial globalization project in an effort to provide fresh insight into China’s shifting place in the world. Continue reading

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist (2)

PS on the plagiarized PhD theses of Chinese officials:

Yet one more separate investigation, by the Agence France Presse, concludes Chen Quanguo (the Xinjiang province party chief currently in charge of the new concentration camp system and genocide under way in Xinjiang), plagiarised his PhD — along with other officials who also did so.

It concludes that Chen’s thesis “includes over 60 paragraphs copied without citation from another work.”

Read more here:

Or here:

Have there been any responses from, or any discernible consequences for, those outed as plagiarists?

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist (1)

According to news today, the Twitter account that revealed Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo’s and other party official’s plagiarizing of academic degree theses, has been emptied, and the Github trove of data supporting it disappeared:

Such a deletion looks a lot like an official admission of “guilty as charged.” Has anyone seen any attempt to actually answer the plagiarism charges? Or have they been met only by silence?

(ps. The Financial Times also had an article on the issue, [Paywall])

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

China’s about-face on education

Source: China Media Project (2/24/19)

China’s About-Face on Education

In late January, Introduction to Constitutional Law (宪法学导论), a textbook on China’s Constitution first published in 2004 and now in its third edition, vanished from online bookstores, including, and Offline, the book was apparently pulled from shelves at Xinhua Bookstore, a government-affiliated book chain that is also the country’s largest.

Written by Zhang Qianfan (张千帆), a law professor at Peking University and one of the country’s leading experts on constitutional law, Introduction to Constitutional Law has long been essential and required reading for students of law in China. While the precise reasons for the textbook’s disappearance were not entirely clear, rumors posted across social media suggested the textbook had run afoul of the authorities for “promoting western ideas, and singing praise of western systems” (宣扬西方思想, 鼓吹西方制度).

The book’s sudden change of fate is one of the latest and clearest indications of a deeper ideological shift in China under Xi Jinping (习近平), one that puts Marxism — with “Chinese characteristics,” of course — back in the driving seat, with real and felt implications for all aspects of society, including education.

Whatever the backstory concerning Zhang’s book, the news of its disappearance came amid a nationwide operation targeting college textbooks. Continue reading

Robot does tedious homework

Source: NYT (1/21/19)
Chinese Girl Finds a Way Out of Tedious Homework: Make a Robot Do It
By Daniel Victor and Tiffany May

Upgrading a handwriting robot’s software at an exhibition in Guiyang, China. A student made the news in China for putting a similar machine to inventive use.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — Some would say she cheated. Others would say she found an efficient way to finish her tedious assignment and ought to be applauded for her initiative.

The debate lit up Chinese social media this week after the Qianjiang Evening News reported that a teenage girl had found a loophole for her homework: She bought a robot that mimicked her handwriting. Instead of having to manually copy phrases or selections from a textbook dozens of times, a repetitive task common in learning Chinese, she could just teach the robot to do it for her. Continue reading

Xinjiang party boss outed as PhD plagiarist

It’s been reported on Twitter that the current Xinjiang party boss Chen Quanguo, who directly oversees the massive concentration camps in Xinjiang, is also a PhD thesis plagiarist, one of many among Chinese officials. His PhD thesis shows heavy plagiarism: over 80% of intro, and large parts of text body, appear directly lifted from other’s works.

Because this is a politburo member in charge of the ongoing genocidal crimes in Xinjiang, this is major news.

See this Twitter thread by @AirMovingDevice:

It includes, in the third message an onwards, direct evidence of Chen’s copying from someone else’s thesis from just four years earlier. Continue reading

Zhai Tianlin’s doctorate revoked

Source: China Daily (2/19/19)
Zhai’s doctorate revoked after investigation
By Zhang Yangfei |

Actor Zhai Tianlin. [Photo/IC]

Beijing Film Academy has revoked the doctoral degree of actor Zhai Tianlin after he was found to have committed academic misconduct, the academy announced on Tuesday.

As stated by the academy, the investigation team found in a dissertation Zhai published while pursuing his PhD in the academy, Zhai used the viewpoints of other experts but didn’t give credit, which showed Zhai didn’t act normatively and precisely in his academic work. Zhai’s tutor, Chen Yi, also showed negligence on academic ethics and norms and failed to guide and review the dissertation in a responsible manner, the academy said. Continue reading

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool phd opportunities

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University—Humanities and Social Sciences PhD Opportunities

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) is a research-led international University, jointly founded by Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

The University is now offering 5 PhD scholarships at our Humanities and Social Sciences cluster, and we welcome applications from high calibre candidates interested in pursuing a research degree in the areas listed below:

China Studies: Chinese society, Chinese politics and economy, Chinese history, literature and culture.

English: Linguistics, Literature, Translation and interpreting studies

Media, Film and TV arts: Digital/New media, Film, television and visual culture, Journalism, Media and Communication, Media and Culture. Continue reading

Death sentence for a life of service

Source: Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia (1/22/19)
A Death Sentence For a Life of Service
By Amy Anderson

Note: This article written by Amy Anderson is based on interviews with Tashpolat Tiyip’s friends, students and relatives. Their identities cannot be revealed due to obvious reasons. 

Sometime after he disappeared in 2017,  Tashpolat Tiyip, the president of Xinjiang University, was sentenced to death in a secret trial.  The Chinese state has provided no justification for this horrifying violation of human rights. Like hundreds of other Uyghur intellectuals, it has simply taken his life away. Drawing on interviews with Tiyip’s students and relatives, this article tells the story of his life and demonstrates the grotesque absurdity of the Chinese totalitarian state. A man who has dedicated his life to furthering the vision of the state and his people appears to have been sentenced to death for this effort.

A Geographer with a Dream

Tashpolat Tiyip, born in 1958, came of age during the infamous Cultural Revolution during his teenage years. Upon his graduation from high school in 1975, he was asked to join the “Down to the Countryside Movement” and worked as a Red October tractor driver in the fields of Nilka County, in Ili Prefecture.  After six months of saving his salary he was able to buy an Uyghur-Chinese dictionary. According to one of his relatives, every evening he would memorize at least 50 new Chinese words, which he would repeat over and over again while he was driving the tractor in the field from dawn to dusk.  His favorite thing to do after work was to sit beside the Ili River. From a young age he dreamed of becoming a geographer and exploring the physical landscape of the Uyghur homeland. He had faith in a better future as he studied Chinese and enjoyed the sunset over the Heavenly Mountains. Continue reading

Critical Asian Humanities MA

Dear all,

After five years as a successful track within Duke’s East Asian Studies MA, Duke Critical Asian Humanities (CAH) is now a stand-alone MA program. The program provides students with training in cultural studies and critical theory within the context of modern and contemporary East Asia, and we offer informal concentrations in Global China, Japanese Empire Studies, and Borderland Korea, with an emphasis on cinema and visual culture, women’s studies and gender theory, and migration and diaspora.

Core faculty working in our program includes Professors Leo Ching, Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, Claire Conceison, Guo-Juin Hong, Hae-Young Kim, Nayoung Aimee Kwon, Thomas Lamarre, LIU Kang, Yan Liu, and Carlos Rojas. Affiliated faculty include: Rey Chow, Markos Hadjioannou, Michael Hardt, Ralph Litzinger, Sucheta Mazumdar, Walter Mignolo, Cate Reilly, and Kathi Weeks.

Application deadline is January 31, and partial fellowships are available. For more information, please see our website: , or contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Carlos Rojas, at


Carlos Rojas

Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; and Arts of the Moving Image
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Duke University

English as a national language in Taiwan

Source: The Asia Dialogue (1/17/19)
English as a National Language
Written by Isabel Eliassen and Timothy S. Rich.

Image credit: CC by <cleverCl@i®ê>/ Flickr.

For several months, Taiwanese officials have been drafting plans to make Taiwan into a Mandarin-English bilingual nation. By 2019 the government hopes to have concrete policy goals in place. So far, the policies center around increasing the number of qualified English teachers in Taiwan, utilizing free online resources, and more intensive English classes starting at a younger age.

The administration aims to make Taiwan fully bilingual by 2030. Singapore, even with a British colonial influence, took 20 years to establish English bilingual policy, with schools teaching English alongside the first languages of Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil, so Taiwan’s 2030 goal appears quite ambitious. Even if Taiwan is not fully bilingual by that time, it will be clear whether the new policies have been effective or if they need to be revised. The government has also set several short-term goals, including having versions of government websites in English and encouraging government employees to use English at work. Continue reading

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