Support for targeted academics

Many people are coming out in support of Newcastle University social anthropologist Jo Smith Finley who’s just been sanctioned by the Chinese regime for … doing her research, and for voicing her opinion, on the oppression of the Uyghurs in China.

Chinese Sanctions on Newcastle academic ‘counter-productive,” BBC NEWS (March 26, 2021).

China imposes sanctions on UK MPs, lawyers and academic in Xinjiang row.” The Guardian (March 26, 2021).

Her university officially tweeted their support for her, together with Universities UK, and the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities. ( … though they stopped short of outright condemning the Chinese government’s outrage). Continue reading

Westerners fear traveling to China

Source: CNN (3/9/21)
Westerners are increasingly scared of traveling to China as threat of detention rises
By Jenni Marsh, CNN


(CNN)Jeff Wasserstrom is a self-proclaimed China specialist who is seriously considering never returning to China — at least, he says, not while President Xi Jinping is in power.

The American professor, who for decades made multiple trips a year to China and was last there in 2018, hasn’t focused his career on Tibet or Taiwan — lightning-rod issues which attract Beijing’s ire at lightning-quick speed — but he has written about cultural diversity and student protests in mainland China, and appeared on panels with people he says the Communist Party is “clearly upset with.”

Three years ago, that made the California-based academic wonder if his visa application to China might be rejected.

Today, it makes him consider whether crossing the border risks his indefinite arbitrary detention. The chance of that outcome, Wasserstrom says, might be “pretty minimal,” but the consequences are so grave — those detained can be locked up for years without contact with their families or a trial date — he is not willing to gamble.

And he is not alone. Continue reading

XJTLU China Studies MA info session

Dear Colleagues,

Below find information on the session we are organizing to introduce MA China Studies at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, China. The online information will take place on March 10, Wednesday 10 am (CET). The Zoom link is as follows:

XJTLU is a joint-venture university that grants the University of Liverpool (UK) diploma. The MA China Studies graduate program is an interdisciplinary program with academic and professional components. The degree can be completed online during the pandemic era and scholarships are available.

Ceren Ergenc Continue reading

HK rewrites history

Editors at the New York Times are incrementally making more accurate the headline to this story. The first online edition on Tues read, astonishingly, “Curates History”; yesterday’s print edition read, inadequately, “Edits History.” This one at least says “Rewrites History.” For its next appearance, perhaps they will use the more direct “Distorts History.”–Eva S. Chou

Source: NYT (2/24/21)
To Build Loyalty to China, Hong Kong Rewrites History
Through new lesson plans and expensive publishing projects, the government hopes to teach future generations a curated lesson about Hong Kong’s past.
By Vivian Wang

Golden Bauhinia Square, a symbol of Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — The orders seemed innocuous, even obvious: Primary school students in Hong Kong should read picture books about Chinese traditions and learn about famous sites such as the Forbidden City in Beijing or the Great Wall.

But the goal was only partially to nurture an interest in the past. The central aim of the new curriculum guidelines, unveiled by the Hong Kong government this month, was much more ambitious: to use those historical stories to instill in the city’s youngest residents a deep-rooted affinity for mainland China — and, with it, an unwavering loyalty to its leaders and their strong-arm tactics.

Students, the guidelines said, should develop “a sense of belonging to the country, an affection for the Chinese people, a sense of national identity, as well as an awareness of and a sense of responsibility for safeguarding national security.”

The Chinese government, in its efforts to quash dissent, has imposed a strict set of restrictions on Hong Kong, including new rules this week to bar any candidates deemed disloyal to the Community Party from elected office. Continue reading

Pyramids were poured in concrete to spite China (1)

[The author of this response to Magnus Fiskesjö’s post of yesterday would prefer to remain anonyomous.–Kirk]

This is a very common phenomenon, I would say. A guy named Du Jiangang even argued that ancient Greece and England were created by different waves of Chinese immigrants. And Du Jiangang also was a Chief Professor of Shantou University and a faculty of the Hunan University law school.

Chinese cultural chauvinism is also present in some serious archaeology and history studies, for example, Su Bingqi, an archaeologist at Peking University and a senior researcher of the Academy of Social Sciences, once declared that Chinese civilization has cultural roots that go beyond one million years. In his《中华文明起源新探》, he wrote that”世界上没有哪一个像中国如此之大的国家有始自百万年前至今不衰不断的文化发展大系……从超百万年的文化根系,到万年前的文明起步,从五千年前氏族到国家的“古文化、古城、古国”的发展,再由早期古国发展为各霸一方的方国,最终发展为多源一统的帝国,这样一条中国国家形成的典型发展道路,以及与之同步发展的中华民族祖先的无数次组合与重组,再到秦汉时代以后几次北方民族入主中原所形成的中华民族多元一体的结构,这一有准确时间、空间框架和丰富内涵的中国历史的主体结构,在世界上是举世无双的。它所提供的对在如此广阔的国土上丰富多彩而又相互联系的文化,作出纵、横发展的“庖丁解牛”式的辩证统一的研究的条件,在全世界也没有哪个国家具备。所以,中国史在世界历史发展进程中是大头。’’ And this book has become one of the most basic and required reading for all students of Chinese archaeology in the past two decades. Continue reading

Pyramids were poured in concrete to spite China

Years ago people laughed at fringe theories about space alien gods building the pyramids and all that — the argument was that the Egyptians, Maya etc. could not possibly have built them… so it must have been space aliens.

Now, in a sign of the times, there’s a Chinese scholar telling us that it was really Westerners who built those pyramids in the 19th century, pouring them in concrete, to spite China: faking them to look like there was something earlier than Chinese Civilization. Professor Huang Heqing 黃河清 of Zhejiang University says he’s proven this by looking at photos in old books, where he can see no Sphinx and no pyramids (!). And so now he’s out to restore the glory, of Chinese civilization:

浙江大學教授稱有圖有真相金字塔是現代偽造 19世紀用混凝土所建. HK01, 2021-02-04 16:55.

After you stop laughing, consider that this sort of megalomania is not uncommon in China nowadays, and often gets government approval. For the regime in power, archaeology and history are but tools of their power politics, especially when it comes to “proving” that China owns everything it set its foot on, as in the South China Seas, or in Xinjiang — or, proving that China was earlier than everybody, and more glorious than everybody.

One example of the latter that comes to mind, is when the then-Chinese president traveled to Australia a few years ago and exclaimed that “we were here first” (before the Europeans) – something he had learned from the fake “history” book “1421” by Gavin Menzies, one of the greatest and most elaborate money-making scholarly frauds around, which stroked the ego of the Communist regime in China (since nowadays communism is lip service only, facts also don’t matter, and naked nationalism is all that counts).

Magnus Fiskesjö <>

China Study Program fellowships

The Center for Language Education and Cooperation in China’s Ministry of Education has been running its “China Study Program” (CSP) since 2013 and has supported more than 600 students with their studies and research. The fellowship program supports talented overseas students in the humanities and social sciences, whose research interests are related to Sinology or China Studies. As the Secretariat of the Expert Committee of the China Studies Program based at Renmin University of China, we are writing to introduce the program to you, and hope that you may encourage students to apply.

CSP provides individualized training programs for each candidate and offers generous fellowships to cover the cost of research, fieldwork, and living expenses in China. By offering opportunities for collaboration with prestigious professors in key universities in China, this program brings in-depth learning and research opportunities. Ph.D. candidates registered in an overseas university are eligible to apply for a “Joint Research Ph.D. Fellowship”, and those who have obtained a master’s degree and are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in China may apply for the “Ph.D. Program in China”.

The application for the 2021 CSP Fellowship is now open and will remain open until Feb 28, 2021. Please visit this website for detailed information: All applicants will be evaluated once applications close. Continue reading

Research integrity questions for top academicians

Fascinating blogpost today by Leonid Schneider, on a top Chinese academician and scholar appointed chairman of research integrity in November 2019 … and who now, along with some other less-than-careful top scholars, is getting “a slap on the wrist.”

Leonid Scheider, Research integrity: Communist Party gives Xuetao Cao, Meiyu Geng, Hongliang Li a slap on the wristFor Better Science (January 21, 2021).

It’s based partly on this Twitter thread today from Elizabeth Bik. This is hard science — but, fascinating for all of us, since it reflects the corrupt state of the Chinese academy.

I personally could not resist adding a comment about Chen Quanguo, the Politburo member currently overseeing the genocide in Xinjiang, who in 2019 was outed as having plagiarized much of his own PhD thesis! My 3 notes on MCLC, from 2019: Continue reading

Whither Taiwan’s universities

Source: Taipei Times (1/4/21)
Wither, Taiwan’s universities?
If the central government did not keep private universities liquid with subsidies, many of them would be forced to close
By Michael Turton / Contributing reporter

Music students from National Tsing Hua University in November experiment with a sound board. In Taiwan most students want to go to a public university, where tuition is a pittance and the education and facilities are generally better. Yet typically only well-off local families can afford the intensive education necessary to put a child into a good university. Photo courtesy of Tsing Hua University

This week brought more doleful news on the university front. Ministry of Education (MOE) statistics widely quoted in the media showed that a dozen universities had less than 60 percent enrollment (up from 6 the previous year), while 121 university programs, including 79 graduate programs, had zero students enrolled. The ministry announced that more than 40 schools, from high schools to universities, are on their critical list.

Because MOE subsidies are based on enrollment, schools with low student enrollment receive reduced subsidies from the government, forcing them to close sooner or later.

This outcome had long been predicted, the inevitable result of Taiwan’s low birthrates and surplus of universities. After educational reforms in the mid-1990s, the number of universities boomed. Vocational schools, technological universities and junior colleges upgraded to “universities.” Continue reading

Save Cantonese at Stanford petition

A petition is being circulated by Stanford students and alumni regarding the Cantonese language program at the Stanford Language Center. I’m forwarding it along as a Stanford alum and Cantonese speaker, but the petition itself is an interesting read for scholars. You can read the arguments for Cantonese and sign the petition at:

Latest coverage by the Stanford Daily:

Christopher K. Tong

Where is Uyghur folklorist Rahile Dawut

Ruth Ingram writes below on our fellow scholar Rahile Dawut, disappeared in 2017 by the Chinese regime, and vanished since then, but also the recipient of this year’s Scholars at Risk “Courage to Think” award, which her exiled daughter Akida Pulat accepted on her behalf. Their family is but one of the hundreds of thousands of families torn apart by the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal regime. This holiday season, let’s think of the millions of men, women and children brutalized by the Chinese regime, in the genocide now under way in its 4th year, soon the 5th year — the regime undaunted, expanding slave labor, as it continues its reign of terror.–Magnus Fiskesjö,

ps. For more info, see the Uyghur Human Rights Project; one update Ingram missed, is that the number of confirmed detained/disappeared leading intellectuals like Rahile Dawut in the Uyghur region is 435, not 328, but this too is of course only the tip of a very large and very cold Chinese iceberg of oppression.

Source: The Diplomat (11/23/20)
Where Is Uyghur Folklore Expert Rahile Dawut?
Uyghur scholar Rahile Dawut, missing since 2017, was awarded the 2020 Scholars at Risk “Courage to Think” award.
By Ruth Ingram

Akida Pulat poses with a photo of her mother, missing Uyghur scholar Rahile Dawut. Credit: Twitter/ @akida_p

Rahile Dawut’s WeChat profile photo has not changed since she vanished. She is still staring up the same spiral staircase, her diminutive form and kind smile, her hallmark. All the messages we had exchanged have now gone. Every now and again I send a note hoping that something might have changed, but am blocked immediately.

Rahile Dawut, beloved guardian of Uyghur folklore and traditions and celebrated academic at home and abroad, set off for Beijing in December 2017 but has not been heard of since. She has recently joined the dubious roll call of incarcerated writers honored outside China, by becoming the recipient of this year’s Scholars at Risk “Courage to Think” award. Continue reading

Fear clouds HK universities

Source: NYT (11/7/20)
As Hong Kong Law Goes After ‘Black Sheep,’ Fear Clouds Universities
Campuses have long been hubs of protest in the city. Now, the authorities have promised to root out teachers who bring politics to the classroom.
By Vivian Wang

Students at the University of Hong Kong, where a wall of protest posters that students erected last summer was recently dismantled. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

HONG KONG — When Harry Wu, a professor of medical humanities at the University of Hong Kong, gave a lesson last fall about doctors’ responsibilities in society, he focused on a real-world example: the volunteer medics treating protesters and police in the antigovernment demonstrations convulsing the city.

But this semester, after China imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong, Professor Wu hastily reworked his lesson plan. He included photographs of the protests in his lecture slides, but did not explicitly address them. Before uploading the slides to a university portal after class, he deleted the photographs altogether.

“It’s right in front of your eyes, but you don’t have any opportunity to talk about this in class,” he said. Continue reading

China’s stance on homosexuality has changed; its textbooks haven’t

Source: NYT (10/28/20)
China’s Stance on Homosexuality Has Changed. Its Textbooks Haven’t.
A lawsuit brought by a student is part of an effort to get schools, editors and publishers to recognize that being gay is not a mental disorder.
By Sui-Lee Wee

Ou Jiayong, who also uses the name Xixi, at home in Hong Kong. She sued a publisher in China over a psychology textbook that described homosexuality as a mental disorder. Credit…Tory Ho for The New York Times

Early in college, Ou Jiayong had already learned two things. One, textbooks can be wrong. And two, it can be hard to change them—especially on topics as sensitive in China as homosexuality.

In 2016, during her first year at South China Agricultural University in her hometown, Guangzhou, she stumbled across a psychology textbook that described being gay as a mental disorder.

As a lesbian, Ms. Ou felt that was unacceptable, but the complaints she made went nowhere.

So Ms. Ou, who also uses the name Xixi, brought a lawsuit demanding that the publisher remove the reference and publicly apologize. Her case has renewed the conversation about tolerance and human rights in a country where discrimination based on sexual orientation is rampant and where homosexuality has long been seen as incompatible with the traditional emphasis on marriage. Continue reading

HKBU PhD fellowships


The Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Hong Kong Baptist University attaches great importance to diversity of experience in both teaching and research.

Our staff have received their qualifications and previously worked in various academic institutions in, among others, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, USA, UK and Germany.

Their research expertise covers areas as diverse as poetics and literary theory, canonical studies and commentaries, Sino-Korean cross-cultural studies, pre-classical inscriptions, paleography, excavated manuscripts, as well as modern and contemporary Chinese literature and culture.

The department is associated with a number of noted institutions such as the Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology (JAS), the Sino- Humanitas Institute (SHI), and the Centre for Chinese Cultural Heritage (CCH). Among the most recent academic exchange partners of our department are Waseda University, National University of Singapore, Yonsei University, Heidelberg University and others.

Dozens of MPhil and PhD students have benefited from the department’s vibrant and diverse academic environment and community. Having flourished in rigorous programs offered by the department and associated institutions, our graduates have gone on to various paths of their careers. 2 PhD candidates from Ukraine and Germany are currently studying in the department as recipients of the Hong Kong PhD Fellowships Scheme (HKPFS). And they are enjoying the scholarship HK$42,100 per year, HK$25,000 per year for procurement of research materials and books, HK$31,800 per year plus the University’s provision of HK$20,000 for conference and research-related travel allowance. Continue reading