New textbooks claim HK was not a British colony

Source: BBC News (6/15/22)
Hong Kong: New school books claim territory was not a British colony
By Frances Mao, BBC News

A woman carries the Chinese and Hong Kong flags while walking down Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong

IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES: China has long said that Britain’s rule in Hong Kong did not usurp its sovereignty over the territory

New textbooks for Hong Kong schools will state the territory was never a British colony, local media report.

Instead, the books declare the British “only exercised colonial rule” in Hong Kong – a distinction drawn to highlight China’s claims of unbroken sovereignty.

China has always asserted it never gave up sovereignty and its surrender of Hong Kong to the British was due to unfair Opium War treaties in the 1800s.

The UK returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 after ruling for over 150 years.

During its rule, it referred to Hong Kong – a port with a deep harbour that grew into a booming city state, and one of the world’s leading financial centres – as a colony, as well as a dependent territory.

The United Kingdom governed the area from 1841 to 1941, and from 1945 to 1997, after which it was handed back to China. Continue reading

Xinjiang Police Files report

“Xinjiang Police Files: Images of horror outrage the world”, report München.

— this is an excellent ARD short film now translated into English, on the recent massive leak of grim photos of camp detainees, and other documents on the Xinjiang genocide, including further reconfirmation that Mr Xi Jinping himself personally is the chief leader instigating and driving the mass atrocities.  Includes discussion of the forensics of the photos and their authenticity, and the significance of this additional major leak of damning Chinese government files.

The film was earlier released In German:
Xinjiang Police Files – Bilder des Grauens empören die Welt. 24.05.2022 ∙ report MÜNCHEN ∙ Das Erste

More materials on the leak in this online bibliography (periodically updated) on the genocide in the Uyghur region (East Turkestan). There you find, for example, the BBC version:

Leaked data offers significant new insights into China’s Uyghur detention camps – John Sudworth,  BBC News, May 24, 2022. Continue reading

Teacher learns the limits of free expression

Source: The New Yorker (5/16/22)
A Teacher in China Learns the Limits of Free Expression
By Peter Hessler

Classroom warped by a fish eye lens

“Animal Farm” was taught in university courses. Many students identified with Benjamin, the donkey who is skeptical of the new farm but keeps his thoughts to himself. Illustration by Josh Cochran

At Chinese universities, when a student reports a professor for political wrongdoing, the verb that’s used to describe this action is jubao. It happens rarely, but the possibility is always there, because potential infractions are both undefined and extremely varied. A student might jubao a teacher for a comment about a sensitive historical event, or a remark that seems to contradict a Communist Party policy. Ambiguous statements about Xi Jinping, the President of China, are especially risky. In 2019, during a class at Chongqing Normal University, a literature professor named Tang Yun offhandedly described the language of one of Xi’s slogans as coarse. After students complained, Tang was demoted to a job in the library.

Other problems can involve class materials. In the fall of 2019, I started teaching at Sichuan University, in southwestern China, where I met a law-school teacher from another institution who had developed a syllabus with some sensitive content. The course included “Disturbing the Peace,” an Ai Weiwei documentary about the artist’s encounters with the Chinese judicial system. For two years, the teacher used the film in class without incident, but then, when he was partway through another semester, some students decided to jubao. Within a week, the teacher had been replaced with a substitute instructor. But the process can be slower, and much less predictable, if an initial complaint is made on social media, which was how it happened to me.

One evening in mid-December of 2019, I was about to leave my office for class when my wife, Leslie, called. A friend had just sent her a message copied from Twitter:

American writer and journalist Peter Hessler, under Chinese name Ho Wei . . . who moved to China with his family in Aug. 2019 to teach Non-fiction writing at Sichuan University, has possibly been reported for his behavior/speech.

The tweet was by a Chinese academic in the United States. She had included a blurry screenshot from Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. People in China often distribute such images, because original Weibo posts can be removed by censors, who have more trouble monitoring screenshots. Leslie’s friend said that the report was spreading quickly on Chinese social media. “I wanted to warn you before you started class,” Leslie told me. …  [READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE]

Math textbooks controversy

Source: NYT (5/31/22)
Crude, Ugly and Pro-American? China Investigates Images in Math Textbooks.
The discovery of what some viewed as disturbing illustrations in books for elementary school students set off a national furor.
By Austin Ramzy

Illustrations in the fourth-grade math textbook that was published by People’s Education Press in China.

Illustrations in the fourth-grade math textbook that was published by People’s Education Press in China. Credit…CFOTO/Future Publishing, via Getty Images

HONG KONG — A little boy pulling up a girl’s dress. Another grabbing a classmate from behind, his hands across her chest. Bulges protruding from male students’ pants. Suspiciously pro-American images.

The illustrations can be found in a Chinese state-run publisher’s mathematics textbooks for elementary school students — books that have been used for years. They set off a furor in China after they were flagged on social media last week by angry commenters as crude, sexualized and anti-China.

The controversy has prompted the textbook publisher to apologize. China’s Ministry of Education at first said that it was ordering an inspection of illustrations in primary and secondary school textbooks. Then, on Monday, as anger spread online, the ministry announced a sweeping, nationwide investigation of all primary, secondary and university textbooks.

“The problems identified will be rectified immediately, and those responsible for violations of disciplines and regulations will be severely held accountable,” the ministry said on Monday. “There will be zero tolerance.” Continue reading

University press creates political review team

Source: China Media Project (3/8/22)
University Press Creates Political Review Team
In a further sign of political tightening in China ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party this fall, the China Renmin University Press announced on February 23 that it is forming a Political Content Review Committee.
By David Bandurski

In open and democratic societies, the university press serves a special role in publishing academic work that has been reviewed by the scholarly community. Through books, journals and reference materials, university presses often help to ensure that research insights, including those that might be overlooked or underappreciated, are made accessible in order to broaden conversations within and across disciplines.

In China, this role is complicated and interrupted by the demands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is keen to see works reviewed prior to publication not just for their intellectual value but also for their political fitness. As sensitivities in China intensify ahead of the 20th National Congress of the CCP this fall, one university press has announced that it is going the extra mile to ensure its political i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.

On February 23, China Renmin University Press, an academic publishing house affiliated with Beijing’s Renmin University of China (RUC), which is known for its relative strength in the humanities and social sciences, announced that it was forming a Political Content Review Committee (政治内容审读委员会). The committee, which held its first training session after the formal inauguration of the group, will be tasked with reviewing the roughly 3,600 titles the press releases each year to ensure that they abide by what the CCP calls “political guidance” (政治导向), or “guidance of public opinion” (舆论导向) – essentially, the enforcement of control over facts and ideas to support the political stability of the regime. Continue reading

How China is turning away from the world

Source: NYT (2/23/22)
How China Under Xi Jinping Is Turning Away From the World
Global engagement has helped the nation prosper. But now, its leader seems intent on recasting the meeting of minds and cultures as a zero-sum clash.
By Vivian Wang

Xi Jinping, as seen on a giant screen outside a shopping mall in July 2021, speaking at an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of China’s Communist Party.

Xi Jinping, as seen on a giant screen outside a shopping mall in July 2021, speaking at an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of China’s Communist Party. Credit…Andy Wong/Associated Press

The miracle of modern China was built on global connections, a belief that sending young people, companies and future leaders to soak up the outside world was the route from impoverishment to power. Now, emboldened by its transformation, the country is shunning the influences and ideas that nourished its rise.

The country’s most dominant leader in decades, Xi Jinping, seems intent on redefining China’s relationship with the world, recasting the meeting of minds and cultures as a zero-sum clash.

Education officials are imposing restrictions on English education and requiring that scholars ask permission to attend even virtual international conferences. Regulators have punished Chinese companies for raising money overseas. Mr. Xi has exhorted artists to embrace “cultural confidence” by promoting traditional Chinese literature and art, and has warned against imitating Hollywood.

And the government, citing the coronavirus pandemic, is no longer freely issuing most passports, the physical symbol of an interconnected world. Borders are almost entirely shut.

“There’s no more integration and exchange between different cultures,” said Zhang Jincan, the owner of Dusk Dawn Club, a live-music venue in Beijing. Continue reading

Xi’s sports dream

Source: NYT (2/15/22)
With Indoor Ski Resorts and Curling Schools, China Lifts Xi’s Sports Dream
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
China said it succeeded on a vow by Xi Jinping, the country’s top leader, to nurture millions of winter sports enthusiasts. But will the interest last after the Winter Games end?
By Amy Qin

Speedskating lessons at a park in Beijing last month. China is seeing a boom in winter sports.

Speedskating lessons at a park in Beijing last month. China is seeing a boom in winter sports. Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

BEIJING — In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, which has sweltering temperatures for much of the year, children are ditching their flip flops for skis and hitting the indoor slopes.

Out west, high up on the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai Province has become an unlikely center for curling, the traditional Scottish sport known as “ice kettle” in Chinese.

Over in the northeastern province of Liaoning, a group of retired men gather every day in the winter to strap on helmets and hockey pads and face off on an outdoor ice rink.

Such scenes, once rare, are growing more common as the ruling Communist Party charges ahead with an ambitious campaign to transform China — large parts of which have never seen a single flake of natural snow — into a global winter sporting power. Continue reading

Interview with Alicia Hennig on teaching in China

Fascinating three-part Voice of America interview in Chinese with Alicia Hennig, about her kafkaesque experience teaching in Chinese Universities:

专访德国亨尼格博士(1):谈匪夷所思的中国大学

专访亨尼格博士(2):谈中国大学与世界一流渐行渐远

专访亨尼格博士(3):谈德国的历史与中国的现实

(In English, there is a brief feature on Hennig here).

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

The Modern Chinese Novel online course

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the public launch of my free online course “The Modern Chinese Novel.”

The course currently covers twelve novels and authors, with three video lectures about each novel and one about the author. Those novels are, in chronological order of authorship (not release, which will be roughly in reverse):

Border Town, by Shen Congwen
Rickshaw, by Lao She
Fortress Beseiged, by Qian Zhongshu
The Rice-Sprout Song, by Eileen Chang
Notes of a Desolate Man, by Chu T’ien-wen
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow, by Wang Anyi
Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City, by Dung Kai-cheung
My South Seas Sleeping Beauty, by Chan Kuei-hsing
Brothers, by Yu Hua
The Three-Body Problem (volume 1), by Liu Cixin
Frog, by Mo Yan
The Man with the Compound Eyes, by Wu Ming-yi

Here is a video about the readings for the course (in English translation): https://youtu.be/Brx1x58m0xc

And here is the first video lecture, about Liu Cixin: https://youtu.be/wbuJ5XLK8bY Continue reading

Save Cantonese at Stanford secures endowed gift

Save Cantonese at Stanford secures $1M endowed gift following a year-long campaign

I am writing as a member and co-organizer of Save Cantonese, a global community-driven movement to preserve Cantonese language and culture for future generations. Our campaign was launched in response to budget cuts that eliminated the only Cantonese lecturer position at Stanford University. Students, alumni, and concerned community members mobilized to Save Cantonese at Stanford: Our initial petition drew 4,000 supporters and global media attention.

After a year-long campaign, we now have the pleasure to announce that S.J. Distributors has made a $1,000,000 commitment to endow Cantonese language classes at Stanford University. This is a very important first step towards restoring and expanding the Cantonese program at Stanford.

I would like to thank everyone who signed our petition and supported us along the way (the link to the petition has been shared on the MCLC blog as well). We hope to build up on this success and continue to protect Cantonese language and culture in the United States and around the world. Everyone who shares our vision and would like to learn more about our efforts is welcome to contact us (savecantonese [at] gmail.com).

The full press release can be found here.

Sincerely,

Maciej Kurzynski makurz@stanford.edu
Ph.D. Candidate, Stanford University

China looks to Western classics

Source: SupChina (1/13/22)
China looks to the Western classics
By Chang Che

Illustration for SupChina by Alex Santafé

As American universities reevaluate the role of Western classical education, Latin and Greek courses are proliferating in China, where students see the Classics as a wellspring of wisdom that remains relevant regardless of hemisphere.

A block east of Tiananmen Square, in a classroom last July, Chinese school children were singing the nursery rhyme “Old McDonald Had a Farm” in Latin: “Donatus est agricola, Eia, Eia, Oh!” The students, aged 11 to 17, were taking an introductory Latin class with Leopold Leeb, a professor of literature at the prestigious Renmin University.

Every weekday during the summer, from nine a.m. to noon, Leeb holds a public class in a marble white church just a stone’s throw away from Beijing’s central government. On the day I attended, Leeb had given each student a Roman name. There was a Gaius, a Flavius, a Monica, and two sisters, Amata and Augusta. The sisters came from Changping, a two-and-a-half-hour train ride away. They sat in the front row and took naps during the 10-minute breaks.

In the halls of China’s elite universities, Leopold Leeb is sometimes known as “the legendary Austrian.” His friends affectionately call him “Leizi” — Lei from his Chinese name Léi Lìbó 雷立柏, and  (子) an ancient honorific reserved for esteemed Chinese intellectuals, as in Confucius (孔子 Kǒngzǐ), Mencius (孟子 Mèngzǐ), and Lao Tzu (老子 Lǎozǐ). For Leeb, a pioneer of Classics education (the study of Greco-Roman antiquity) in China, the sobriquet is apt: Leeb’s textbooks and dictionaries form a rite of passage for nearly all Chinese who wish to embark on Western Classical study. He has written several monographs on Greek and Roman history, 13 Classics dictionaries, nine textbooks, and over two dozen comparative works, giving Chinese readers access to Western ideas and texts. At 54 with no family and no hobbies, he displays an almost religious devotion to his work. “Obviously,” one colleague wrote of him recently, Leeb is “more concerned about China’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow than many Chinese.” Continue reading

Struggling for historical truth

Source: China Media Project (12/20/21)
Struggling for Historical Truth
By David Bandurski
Late last week, Song Gengyi, a journalism teacher at a vocational college in Shanghai, was fired for making “erroneous remarks” on the number of victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Her firing prompted a fierce struggle online between those who saw her as a lacking patriotism and those who believed she was treated unfairly. But online censorship seems to have given the first group the upper hand.

Song Gengyi, a journalism instructor who was fired from her job at Shanghai’s Aurora College on December 16.

The firing on Thursday of a teacher at a vocational college in Shanghai who, according to state media made the “erroneous remarks” on the number of victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, has prompted a fierce struggle online over the right to explore historical truths. But censorship by the authorities has effectively silenced voices in support of the teacher, sending the message that nuance about CCP orthodoxy on history will not be accepted – and that teachers should beware of student informants in the classroom.

The storm began on December 15 as a short video circulated online – apparently shared by a student “informant” – of a lecture in which Song Gengyi (宋庚一) questioned the 300,000 official number given by the Chinese government for the number of victims in the Nanjing Massacre, a tragedy that unfolded on December 13, 1937, as the Imperial Japanese Army captured the capital city of Nanjing during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Song made the remarks during her December 14 “News Interview” (新闻采访) course at Shanghai’s Aurora College, held the day after nationwide commemoration of the massacre’s anniversary.

On the afternoon of Thursday, December 16, the official Weibo account of the People’s Daily, the CCP’s flagship newspaper, weighed in on Song’s remarks. The tone of the post, which called the 300,000 number “iron-clad fact” (铁证如山), was severe. It said that Song was “errant as a teacher” (枉为人师) for “questioning historical truth,” and that she was “errant as a compatriot” (枉为国人) for “forgetting hardships and denying the evil deeds of another country.” Continue reading

Purdue president responds to Chinese student’s harassment

There’s been an important statement from Purdue University’s president regarding harassment of Chinese students by pro-regime ultranationalist students: reacting to the recent ProPublica report on such harassment, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels sent a message to Purdue students, faculty and staff:

My comment on his statement, also posted on Twitter:

Good. Just one thing: Don’t blame just the Chinese pro-regime harassers, on our campuses. They’re often instigated by the regime, via their nearest consulate. Those officers need to be told off, and closely monitored for violations.

Also, Chinese “education” consular officers should not be allowed to infiltrate and dominate on-campus Chinese student associations for spying purposes, like they have long been doing, with impunity, all over.

The failure to stop the long-running ultranationalist pro-regime political harassment of Chinese students, is a great betrayal of all those Chinese students who thought they’d be enjoying some freedom of speech, and thought, for a while.

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Even on US campuses, China cracks down on students who speak out

Source: ProPublica (11/30/21)
Even on U.S. Campuses, China Cracks Down on Students Who Speak Out
By Sebastian Rotella, photography by Haruka Sakaguchi, special to ProPublica

Students and scholars from China who criticize the regime in Beijing can face quick retaliation from fellow students and Chinese officials who harass their families back home. U.S. universities rarely intervene.

The campus of Brandeis University. An online panel sponsored by the school about atrocities against Uyghurs was disrupted last year.

On the bucolic campus of Purdue University in Indiana, deep in America’s heartland and 7,000 miles from his home in China, Zhihao Kong thought he could finally express himself.

In a rush of adrenaline last year, the graduate student posted an open letter on a dissident website praising the heroism of the students killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

The blowback, he said, was fast and frightening. His parents called from China, crying. Officers of the Ministry of State Security, the feared civilian spy agency, had warned them about his activism in the United States.

“They told us to make you stop or we are all in trouble,” his parents said.

Then other Chinese students at Purdue began hounding him, calling him a CIA agent and threatening to report him to the embassy and the MSS. Continue reading