Soft Power with Chinese Characteristics

Soft Power With Chinese Characteristics: China’s Campaign for Hearts and Minds
Edited by Kingsley Edney, Stanley Rosen, and Ying Zhu
Routledge (January 2020)
296 pages | 11 illustrations


This book examines the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to improve China’s image around the world, thereby increasing its “soft power.” This soft, attractive form of power is crucial if China is to avoid provoking an international backlash against its growing military and economic might. The volume focuses on the period since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, and is global in scope, examining the impact of Chinese policies from Hong Kong and Taiwan to Africa and South America. The book explains debates over soft power within China and delves into case studies of important policy areas for China’s global image campaign, such as film, news media and the Confucius Institutes. The most comprehensive work of its kind, the volume presents a picture of a Chinese leadership that has access to vast material resources and growing global influence but often struggles to convert these resources into genuine international affection.

Soft Power With Chinese Characteristics will be invaluable to students and scholars of Chinese politics and Chinese media, as well as international relations and world politics more generally.

20% discount available: enter the code “FLR40” at checkout.

Chinese Grammatology

I am happy to announce the recent publication of my book and to provide a discount code (see below) for anyone interested in purchasing it:

Yurou Zhong. Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019.

Today, Chinese characters are described as a national treasure, the core of the nation’s civilizational identity. Yet for nearly half of the twentieth century, reformers waged war on the Chinese script. They declared it an archaic hindrance to modernization, portraying the ancient system of writing as a roadblock to literacy and therefore science and democracy. Movements spanning the political spectrum proposed abandonment of characters and alphabetization of Chinese writing, although in the end the Communist Party opted for character simplification. Continue reading

Unofficial Poetry Journals from China

Dear MCLC List members,

Leiden University Libraries holds an internationally unique Special Collection of unofficial (minjian) poetry journals from China.

These journals travel widely among Chinese poets, critics, and researchers. As such, they are hugely influential. But paradoxically, they are difficult to access, sometimes to the point of becoming almost legendary — because they generally operate outside the official infrastructure of bookstores and libraries.

Now, a digital collection of twelve early items in the Leiden collection (about 1000 pages in all) is full-text available online, for students, educators, researchers and other readers.

This pilot project was undertaken in close collaboration with the editors of the journals in question. Fundraising efforts to digitize more material are underway.

The entry page offers a list of related content, including a web lecture by Maghiel van Crevel, with abundant visuals and intended as an educational resource. (Rotate the prezi / slides / speaker screens using the pop-up button in the top right corner of the biggest screen.) Continue reading

Vol. 31, no. 2 of MCLC

MCLC is pleased to announce the imminent publication of vol. 31, no. 2 (Fall 2019), a special issue on “Reportage and Its Contemporary Variations,” guest edited by Charles Laughlin and Li Guo. Below, find the table of contents, with links to a pdf of the introduction and to abstracts of the esssays. Subscribers will be receiving their copies over the next couple of weeks. If you would like to purchase a copy of this issue, subscribe to the journal, or inquire about the status of an existing subscription, please contact Mario De Grandis (

Kirk Denton, editor

Volume 31, Number 2 (Fall 2019) 

Special Issue on Reportage and its Contemporary Variations
Guest Editors Charles Laughlin and Li Guo


TAP Fall 2019

The fall 2019 issue of the Trans Asia Photography Review is now available online at (You may need to refresh your browser to view the new contents.) This issue, titled “Writing Photo Histories,” features the following articles and book reviews:

Writing Photo Histories

Picturing Meishu: Photomechanical Reproductions of Works of Art in Chinese Periodicals before WWII
Yanfei Zhu


The Shanghai Amateur Photographic Society: An Early Photographic Organization Established by Westerners in China
Che Liang Continue reading

Chinese Poetry and Translation

We are pleased to announce publication of Chinese Poetry and Translation: Rights and Wrongs (Amsterdam University Press, 2019). Open access download here. Order print copies here.

edited by Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

Table of contents:

Introduction: The Weird Third Thing
Maghiel van Crevel and Lucas Klein

Part One: The Translator’s Take

(1) Sitting with Discomfort: A Queer-Feminist Approach to Translating Yu Xiuhua
Jenn Marie Nunes

(2) Working with Words: Poetry, Translation, and Labor
Eleanor Goodman Continue reading

Beijing Garbage

Beijing Garbage: A City Besieged by Waste, by Stefan Landsberger
Table of Contents + Intro
Amsterdam University Press, April 2019
232 pages, 20 b/w illustrations
Hardback: ISBN 978 94 6372 030 4
e-ISBN 978 90 4854 287 1
€99.00 / £89.00 / $120.00
Open access

Why do central and local government initiatives aiming to curb the proliferation of garbage in Beijing and its disposal continue to be unsuccessful? Is the Uberization of waste picking through online-to-offline (O2O) garbage retrieval companies able to decrease waste and improve the lives of waste pickers? Most citizens of Beijing are well aware of the fact that their city is besieged by waste. Yet instead of taking individual action, they sit and wait for the governments at various levels to tell them what to do. And even if/when they adopt a proactive position, this does not last. Official education drives targeting the consumers are organized regularly and with modest success, but real solutions are not forthcoming. Various environmental non-governmental organizations are at work to raise the level of consciousness of the population, to change individual attitudes towards wasteful behavior, but seemingly with little overall effects. Continue reading

Journal of Digital Humanities–announcement and cfp

Journal of Digital Humanities: Journal Announcement and Call for Proposals

The Journal of Digital Humanities (数字人文, quarterly) is jointly sponsored by Tsinghua University (Beijing) and Zhonghua Book Company (中华书局). Its aim is to provide a publication platform for cultivating digital humanities-related research practices and theory, both in China and internationally.

The journal accepts manuscripts in Chinese or English. Types of manuscript accepted for review include humanities or social science research articles, as well as relevant pieces on digital humanities inside and outside of China such as book announcements and reviews, conference and new project notifications, introductions to important resources such as databases and methods, discussions of digital humanities pedagogy, etc. All scholars are warmly invited to submit manuscripts in accordance with the following guidelines: Continue reading

Jia Zhangke’s Filmic World

Dear Colleagues,

I’m happy to announce the publication of my new book China in the Age of Global Capitalism: Jia Zhangke’s Filmic World, published by Routledge. This book maps ten of Jia Zhangke’s films onto three major themes: Jia’s filmmaking and China in the market society; truth claims and political unconscious; “post-socialist modernity” in the age of globalization.  By analyzing Jia’s narrative strategies, the author strives to discuss the impact of the larger political economic changes on ordinary people in Jia’s films and the director’s cultural political notion. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese film studies, as well as other disciplines, such as political science, sociology, anthropology, etc.

For more details, click the following link, Continue reading

Made in China 4.3

Dear Colleagues,

I am glad to announce the publication of the latest issue of the Made in China Journal. You can download the pdf for free at this link:

Below you can find the editorial:

Bless You, Prison: Experiences of Detention in China

‘Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realise that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.’–Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

With these words, Soviet star dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exalted the transformative role of the gulag—where he had been imprisoned for eight years—in reconfiguring his soul. Just like his account of life in the labour camps played a fundamental role in shaping public perceptions of the Soviet labour camps, our views of the Chinese detention system are also widely shaped by the writings and testimonies of former political prisoners, whether victims of the mass campaigns of the Mao era or more recent crackdowns against dissident voices. Reading these accounts, detention easily assumes the tragic connotations of martyrdom, and detainees come to be surrounded by a halo of heroism. But what about those uncountable prisoners who are detained for common crimes or less-noble causes? What about the reality of murderers, thieves, drug addicts, and prostitutes? Is prison a blessing for them too? Continue reading

Notes on the Pekingese

List members may be interested in my translation of a novella by Takbum Gyel, a writer from Qinghai who is well established in the Tibetan literary world. “Notes on the Pekingese” is a surrealist story about ethnic politics and social climbing set in a local government office in Tibet. You can find it here, published as an ebook by Ploughshares Solos:

Christopher Peacock <>


Contemporary China Centre Blog

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Contemporary China Centre Blog.

Based at the University of Westminster, the Contemporary China Centre focuses on interdisciplinary research about contemporary China which is grounded in cultural studies. Our work builds on Westminster’s long-term commitment to Chinese Studies, at whose heart lies an engagement with Chinese language, cultural practice and production, and its critical analysis. We seek to complement social science-based research on contemporary China with a critical perspective from the Humanities.

Our new blog project brings together our research and expertise concerning the cultural dimensions of social and political transformation in China and the cutting-edge issues and agendas that are core features of China’s role in the global circulation of knowledge and cultural influence. It also seeks to promote the University of Westminster Archive’s China Visual Arts Project, which was founded in 1977 and holds over 800 Chinese propaganda posters, as well as a wealth of Chinese books, objects and ephemera dating from the 1940s to the 1980s. We hope that this project will contribute to ongoing debates and promote interdisciplinary dialogue about the social, cultural, political and historical dynamics that inform life in China today.

You can access the Contemporary China Centre Blog at: You can also read about our very first issue, which is entitled Fashion, Beauty and Nation, here: Continue reading


As you know, Hong Kongers are fighting brutal state violence in an ongoing struggle for self-determination. Many of us in the diaspora have been watching livestreams wondering what we can do. To that end, the mission of Lausan 流傘 is to publish English-language discourse about protests that bypasses oversimplified mainstream narratives by focusing on historical complexity and the radical potential of the movement.

We aim to share English-language writing about Hong Kong from an anti-capitalist, decolonial and intersectional perspective — that holds both Western and Chinese imperialisms to account. Lausan 流傘 as a publication shares and translates radical critiques and commentaries on Hong Kong from a left perspective. Our goal is that this can be another small step toward building solidarity with similar resistance movements around the world.

Please feel free to take a look at: and sign up for our newsletter (the form is on our homepage). We are looking for translators at the moment, if that is of interest to any readers of MCLC. This is a really difficult moment for all Hong Kongers. But it is also a moment of new possibilities — requiring all of our critical imaginations.

Christopher Chien <>

The Transcultural Streams of Chinese Canadian Idenitities

New Publication

Jessica Tsui-yan Li, editor The Transcultural Streams of Chinese Canadian Identities. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.–the-products-9780773556850.php

Investigating the conditions that shape Chinese Canadian identities from various historical, social, and literary perspectives. Highlighting the geopolitical and economic circumstances that have prompted migration from Hong Kong and mainland China to Canada, The Transcultural Streams of Chinese Canadian Identities examines the Chinese Canadian community as a simultaneously transcultural, transnational, and domestic social and cultural formation. Continue reading