I Have No Enemies review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jeffrey Kinkley’s review of I Have No Enemies: The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo, by Perry Link and Wu Dazhi. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kinkley/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

I Have No Enemies:
The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo

By Perry Link and Wu Dazhi

Reviewed by Jeffrey C. Kinkley

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2023)

Perry Link and Wu Dazhi, I Have No Enemies: The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo New York: Columbia University Press, 2023. xiv + 553 pp. ISBN: 9780231216760 (Paperback); ISBN: 9780231206341 (Hardcover); ISBN: 9780231556446 (E-book).

I Have No Enemies: The Life and Legacy of Liu Xiaobo, makes a magisterial contribution to Chinese intellectual and political history. It is a comprehensive biography of an intrepid human rights promoter, leader, and thinker who won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize during his fourth imprisonment in the People’s Republic of China, prior to his being in effect—deliberately or not—consigned to death, which arrived in 2017, during his last, eleven-year sentence. Liu Xiaobo’s 刘晓波 major opinions and the changes in them are briefly summarized, explained, and compared in the context of his life and times, speech by speech, essay by essay. One major dividend is an inside history of a major part of domestic Chinese ideological debate and political dissent in the post-Mao age, in 500 well-documented pages, so often did Liu Xiaobo’s dialogues and exploits interact with those of other freethinkers. The book also reflects on the larger social history of contemporary nonofficial protest and agitation for reform, whose content and strategies were transmuted not just by the failure of June Fourth, 1989, but also by the spread of internet communication early in the twenty-first century. Wu Dazhi and Perry Link meanwhile proffer insights into the emotional life of their main biographical subject. He was blessed with a brilliant intellect, nearly photographic memory, and the ability to deliver memorable and charismatic speeches, despite a tendency to stutter in daily life. Liu Xiaobo was both an inveterate contrarian and an eternal optimist. And yet, in his later years, he was constantly worried about causing unhappy consequences for others (already at Tiananmen in 1989, and later, in the 2008 leadup to Charter 08). He appears to have been tormented in those years by survivor guilt and what he felt was his inadequacy and irresponsibility as a family man. The biography tends to agree with him on the latter. Yet Liu Xiaobo was undaunted about what might happen to his own person, even as he incessantly questioned the logic of his own intellect and agency, and the very moral underpinnings of his personal motivation. The reader sees also the trials and tribulations of Liu’s second wife, Liu Xia 刘霞. A unique love story unfolds in chapter 20, the last chapter before the Epilogue. Continue reading I Have No Enemies review

The Political Philosophy of Ci Jiwei

New Publication
Thinking the Unthinkable: The Political Philsophy of Ci Jiwei
By Johannes Hoerning
New Left Review 143 (Sept-Oct. 2023)

In his 1989–92 lecture series On the State Pierre Bourdieu, following Durkheim, proposed a provisional definition of the state as the basis for ‘both the logical and the moral conformity of the social world’. By ‘logical conformity’, Bourdieu meant that the agents of the social world would share the same categories of perception, the same construction of reality; by ‘moral conformity’, their agreement on certain core values. Taking his distance from classical state theory, such as that of Hobbes or Locke—in which the state, occupying a quasi- godlike viewpoint, oversees all and serves the common good—as also from Marxian traditions, from Gramsci to Althusser and beyond, which focus on the function of the state as an apparatus for maintaining public order in the interests of the ruling bloc, Bourdieu emphasized instead the need to grasp the ‘organizational magic’ of the state as a principle of consciousness—its monopoly of legitimate symbolic as well as physical violence. The social theorist therefore needed to be particularly on guard against Durkheimian ‘pre-notions’ or received ideas, against ‘thinking the state with state thinking’. A first step was to conceive the state as what Bourdieu called ‘an almost unthinkable object’.1

If there is one thinker who has met Bourdieu’s challenge to ‘think the state’ without succumbing to ‘state thinking’, it is the Chinese political philosopher Ci Jiwei. Recently retired from the philosophy department of the University of Hong Kong, Ci has devoted most of the past three decades to analysing the nature and evolution of China’s state and soci- ety since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Three of his four books—Dialectic of the Chinese Revolution (1994), Moral China in the Age of Reform (2014) and Democracy in China (2019)—amount to a loose trilogy aiming to clarify the ‘logic’ of the Chinese experience and to track the evolution of the CCP regime since Mao. The collapse of Maoist utopi- anism and the liberalization of the economy after 1978 have left Chinese society in a ‘fundamentally unsettled’ condition, Ci argues.2 Each book in the trilogy addresses a different symptom of this situation: existential or social-psychological malaise in Dialectic of the Chinese Revolution, the undermining of moral subjectivity in Moral China and the looming cri- sis of political legitimacy in Democracy in China. In different ways, they are all concerned with how the Chinese party-state might accommodate itself, for its own and the nation’s good, to citizens’ need to act freely and to understand themselves as free, while at the same time preserving its own stability and that of the country at large.3 [DOWNLOAD THE FULL ARTICLE HERE]


Call for Participants/Papers for a panel “Healing in Chinese Philosophies, Literature, and Religions
In-person presentations at the AAS 2024 Annual Conference, March 14-17, 2024 in Seattle, Washington
Abstract submission deadline: July 26, 2023

We invite submissions of paper abstracts for the panel titled “Healing in Chinese Philosophies, Literatures, and Religions” to be held in-person at the AAS 2024 Annual Conference. The panel aims to explore the cultural, literary, philosophical, and religious dimensions of illness, medicine, and health in imperial China.

  • Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:
  • Social history of illness, medicine, and healing in Chinese contexts.
  • Therapeutic practices such as rituals, feasts, prayers, meditation, confession, and divination for healing and longevity in imperial China.
  • New perspectives and interpretations of disease, body, and health in Chinese cultural, political, religious, and gendered frameworks.

The panelists will participate in the in-person presentations at the AAS 2024 Annual Conference to be held March 14-17, 2024 in Seattle, Washington at the Seattle Convention Center and the Sheraton Grand Seattle Hotel.

Paper abstracts (300-350 words) and a short biography or CV should be sent to the panel organizer Dixuan Chen, Grinnell College, chenyuji@grinnell.edu by July 26, 2023 (Eastern Standard Time). Communication will be in English. Files should be sent as PDF or Word documents (doc or docx). Contact the panel organizer with any questions at chenyuji@grinnell.edu More information about the AAS 2024 Annual Conference 2024 in-person in Seattle, Washington: https://www.asianstudies.org/conference.

CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama (2)

I expand this discussion of the Chinese propaganda against the Dalai Lama, and the stunning gullibility of the Western audiences that fell for it, in this new online interview with the new website Global Order, based out of New Delhi–Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: Global Order (5/24/23)
How the Chinese Communist Party ran a global propaganda campaign against the Dalai Lama

The Chinese Communist Party is running a global propaganda campaign to destroy the credibility of the Dalai Lama. The most recent example of this, says Magnus Fiskesjö, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Cornell University, was the crude and brutal ‘suck my tongue’ controversy where an innocuous Tibetan gesture was attacked by trolling mobs, and even celebrities, around the world as sexual exploitation – all led by propaganda teams of the Chinese Communist Party. Fiskesjö talks to Hindol Sengupta about propaganda, cultural differences and misunderstandings and the redemptive power of compassion.”

CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama (1)

Thanks to Magnus Fiskesjö for providing a reading for the Dalai Lama’s interaction with the child in April. I wasn’t aware of the linguistic and cultural aspects of this meeting, reductively sexualized and sensationalized in Western anglophone media. When I saw the clip, memed with a sort of gleeful meanness, the first thing I thought of is the trope of Buddhist monks and nuns in Chinese culture as lascivious, a sort of a parallel to Catholic clergy in European gothic literature (Lewis’ The Monk is the most well-known version but of course, the Catholic Church has its own historical cross to bear in this regard). The opera “The Little Nun Goes Down the Mountain,” a story of desire for the secular life, is one version of this. A fish-plank beating Buddhist monk is murdered by Shi Xiu in Outlaws of the Marsh for seducing a brother’s wife. And a similar lascivious Buddhist monk trope gets repeated when grandpa murders his mother’s Buddhist monk lover in Mo Yan’s Red Sorghum centuries later.

Maybe we need a social analysis of cancelling, which operates like a secular form of shunning in contemporary media, minus the semblance of consistent moral rationale, and with a multiplicity of actors possessing varying degrees of clout.

Sean Macdonald <smacdon2005@gmail.com>

CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama

Source: The Diplomat (5/20/23)
How a CCP Propaganda Campaign Targeted the Dalai Lama
The latest smear campaign succeeded beyond China’s wildest dreams by playing into Western ignorance about Tibetan culture – and self-righteous “cancel culture” on social media.
By Magnus Fiskesjö

How a CCP Propaganda Campaign Targeted the Dalai Lama

Credit: Depositphotos

On April 8, 2023, a new global smear campaign against the Dalai Lama was unleashed on social media.

This, in itself, wasn’t news. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, has lived in exile in India since 1959, when he was forced to flee his homeland, occupied by Mao’s China. He remains deeply loved in Tibet, but the Chinese regime has made it a criminal offense even to have a photo of him. And ever since 1959, Chinese officials have been vilifying him in every medium possible.

But while this latest round is almost certainly also disinformation “Made in China,” it represents a new approach: Attempting to paint the Dalai Lama as a pedophile. The trick succeeded beyond belief, with millions of people in the United States, Europe, and beyond – due to prior prejudice coupled with the self-righteous tendency to jump to conclusions, combined with widespread ignorance about Tibet.

As the Tibetan exile activist Lhadon Tethong pointed out in a recent public conversation, the goal was very likely also to distract the world from the new dramatic oppression inside Chinese-occupied Tibet. U.N. human rights experts just issued a warning that Chinese authorities are detaining large numbers of both children and adults in Tibet, to erase their culture and turn them into Chinese-speaking laborers – modeled after the massive parallel genocide against the Uyghurs. Continue reading CCP smear campaign targets the Dalai Lama

Tombstone Histories

NEW PUBLICATION: “Tombstone Histories” by Dan Ben-Canaan

Tombstone Histories: Tales of Jewish Life in Harbin is a venture into the strange past of a great Chinese city named Harbin that was for a time home to some 38 different national communities among them a glorious Jewish community before war and revolution destroyed their lives. Tombstone Histories presents the Jewish experience in the city in a personal and unforgettable way. It paints a revealing picture, never shown before, of Jewish daily life in this faraway and alien land.

History so often ends up as just a series of tombstones, but this book provides the other side to the story—the personal details of lives which allow readers to draw their own conclusions about the human experience, especially survival.

Professor Dan Ben-Canaan <canaan@inter.net.il>

China’s renegade philosopher Lu Xinghua

Source: The China Project (1/31/23)
The world according to Lu Xinghua, China’s renegade philosopher
Lu Xinghua is the sort of individual who complicates the outside world’s vision of China. He is a man of contradictions, an intellectual with brazen ideas who is disconnected from both mainstream politics and popular dissent. 
By Dylan Levi King

Illustration for The China Project by Derek Zheng

In a cramped but tidy workshop in Yiwu in 2013, a Frenchman in a rumpled blazer stands patiently before a table piled with sheets of green plastic. Men jostle around him, pointing out aspects of the production process and interpreting the remarks of the foreman. Patterns will be cut out of the sheets, they explain, and the millions of leaves will be sent out along with polyester petals to workers paid by the piece to turn them into flowers.

The employees of the factory, accustomed to wholesalers on junkets, would not have guessed that they were witnessing the first visit to the country of Jacques Rancière, one of the West’s earliest and most radical interpreters of Maoism, who had earned minor celebrityhood in China after his later work on the politics of aesthetics (and the aesthetics of politics) started to be translated in the early 2000s.

But was Rancière the central figure — or perhaps the target — of an elaborate prank? Prior to his trip to Yiwu, he toured shoe factories and carpet shops in Jiaxing, inspected banners with quotes from Wēn Jiābǎo 温家宝, and heard from export industry professionals on the state of affairs in the Yangtze River Delta. Or maybe the prank was on his devoted Chinese fans, who followed his itinerary closely, looking forward to news about lectures, book signings, and dialogue with local interlocutors — little of which would materialize. Commenters on Douban, and the Art-Ba-Ba forum, home to a thriving community of online art and theory gadflies, demanded to know why Rancière was being shown around like a foreign rug merchant rather than a legendary cultural theorist. Continue reading China’s renegade philosopher Lu Xinghua

Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities

Congrats to Rachel Harris, Simon Adams, Marc-André Renold and Alessandro Chechi, plus Hugh Eakin, whose chapters in this open access book all discuss the Chinese government’s systematic destruction of Uyghur heritage:

Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities (Getty, 2022)

Full-book download is available here, chapters can be downloaded separately. The book’s online search function seems dysfunctional, but the PDFs can be searched.

See esp. Ch. 7, “Uyghur Heritage under China’s ‘Antireligious Extremism’ Campaigns,” by Rachel Harris; and Ch. 16, “Cultural Cleansing and Mass Atrocities,” by Simon Adams — on how “cultural cleansing” has been used as strategy to destroy #Yazidi #Rohingya #Uyghurs & #Hazara … ; and Ch. 23, “International Human Rights Law and Cultural Heritage,” by Marc-André Renold and Alessandro Chechi, plus several more chapters, in passing. –The parallel suffering of the Kazakhs is not mentioned, it seems.

As far as I can see, the book also does not seem to discuss how nearly all Islamic countries, on cue from mighty China, have turned their back on the Uyghurs to let their mosques be bulldozed, Korans burned, and the imams sent to concentration camps. Continue reading Cultural Heritage and Mass Atrocities

The not-so-scary truth behind horror sensation ‘Incantation’

Source: SupChina (7/29/22)
The not-so-scary truth behind horror sensation ‘Incantation’
Audiences are raving about Taiwan’s newest horror film “Incantation,” which just hit international Netflix this month. Exactly how real are the religious elements at the center of the movie?
By Emma Burleigh


This month, the Taiwanese film Incantation (咒 zhòu) hit international Netflix: a found-footage horror movie following the experiences of a cursed woman — and the consequences of the curse. Viewers were quick to hype up the film, daring others online to try and sit through the whole thing.

Since its premiere in March, the movie has become the highest grossing Taiwanese horror film of all time, and Taiwan’s highest grossing film of 2022. Incantation also finds itself at the center of a debate on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The hashtag “Is Incantation scary?” (咒吓人吗 zhòu xiàrén ma) has garnered millions of views. The ultimate consensus: not that scary, but still worth watching.

Something feels different with Incantation. Directed by Kevin Ko, the movie interacts with its viewers. The protagonist, Ronan (Tsai Hsuan-yen [蔡亘晏 Cài Gènyàn]), leads the audience through mind exercises, directing chants to be spoken. By the end of the movie, you feel like you’ve been tricked. Maybe cursed.

The movie is set around Ronan’s curse after she breaks a religious taboo while ghost-hunting in Yunnan province. Ronan and her two friends visit a remote village practicing an extreme form of Buddhism. They become wrapped up in a local ritual, unknowingly binding themselves to Dahei Mother Buddha.

Continue reading The not-so-scary truth behind horror sensation ‘Incantation’

Philosophies of Co-Becoming and the Sino-Island

Philosophies of Co-Becoming and the Sino-Island is an international conference that will take place on July 8-9, 2022. It will bring scholars together from half a dozen countries to discuss the notion of a philosophy of co-becoming (共生哲學) in our contemporary world. Many of the conference organizers work and teach on the island of Taiwan, which we call the Sino-island, to denote the island’s long history as a center of immigration for Sinitic speaking peoples, as well as its rich Sinological institutions and scholarly traditions. In a contemporary world riven by nationalist warfare, economic inequality, the ravages of climate change, gender discrimination, and a global pandemic whose effects are disproportionally borne across diverse populations up to the present day, the question of how to co-exist — with the natural world, with our own bodies, and with each other — has never been a more urgent one for contemporary thought.

Each panel of the conference will be live-streamed through Webex online software. To register to view the conference online, please fill out this form. The conference website can be found here. The conference program can be found here.

This conference is co-sponsored by The Global Sinology Forum at National Sun Yat-Sen University, the National Library (ROC)’s Center for Chinese Studies, and the East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts at The University of Tokyo.

Any inquiries regarding the conference can be directed to:  tgsfseminar2022@g-mail.nsysu.edu.tw The conference will be conducted in Chinese and English. Continue reading Philosophies of Co-Becoming and the Sino-Island

Pushing the Boundaries lecture

The University of Sydney China Studies Centre
Pushing the Boundaries: Assessing the Potential of Intersections between China’s Current National Self-image, Tianxia (‘all under heaven’) and the Traces of Confucian Morality and Aesthetics
Date: Wednesday, 8 September 2021
Time: 1:00PM-2:00PM AEST
Location: Online
This seminar is free and open to the public!


In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has become increasingly assertive in the upholding of its national territorial limits. The reasons for this assertiveness are not far to seek. Exponential domestic economic growth over the last four decades has greatly enhanced the PRC’s confidence on the world stage in addition to strengthening the country’s military reach, regionally and internationally. Alongside a desire to re-establish Greater China’s former geographical integrity following the divisions wrought by civil conflict as well as Euro-American and Japanese colonialism/imperialism there is also a necessity to secure vital trading routes and access to resources. Less materially to the fore, but also important, are intersections between the PRC’s current national territorial assertiveness and the recent revisiting by Chinese academics of an uncertainly bounded governmental authority signified by the term tianxia (‘all under heaven’)—and by association cognate Confucian conceptions of morality and aesthetics—during China’s dynastic-imperial past as the basis for a new harmonious, non-interfering “post-West” world order. It will be argued that while those intersections are open to interpretation as tracing a durable Chinese civilization-specific cultural habitus in support of the PRC’s contemporary national self-image they have by turns a potential to shape China as a renascent world power deconstructively/reciprocally—as a matter of parallaxic discursive positioning—somewhere (and nowhere) between the dual imaginaries of empire and the nation-state. Continue reading Pushing the Boundaries lecture

Bulldozing Uyghur culture (1)

I’d like to thank Magnus Fiskesjö for continuing to write about the extermination of Uyghur culture. He mentioned that a Hilton hotel was built where a mosque had been razed.  I had missed that report.  It made me wish for an accessible and regularly updated website naming Western companies that are complicit.  This would facilitate small but meaningful acts such as sharing information with the manager of one’s local store, for example, and politely asking if he is aware of what his company is doing. Writing to the public-relations teams at such companies, or to major stockholders, is surely useless, but making lower-level employees aware of what they are being associated with— even if there is nothing they can do about it — may prepare the ground for future change.

The excellent work of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute provides much material, Another organization, Save Uighur, proposed action-items in the wake of that report, with a terse update here.

But the problem goes beyond retail products made with forced labor: incidents such as the Hilton in Hotan or Disney’s expression of thanks to the Public Security bureau after filming Mulan in Xinjiang should be included in any compilation.  Regular updates would be important, as well as acknowledging the companies that have terminated such relationships.

Maybe someone is already doing this?

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

What is South China Sea Buddhism

Lecture: What is South China Sea Buddhism?

Organised by the Department of Chinese Studies in collaboration with the China Studies Centre ‘Language, Literature, Culture and Education’ cluster and The Australian Society for Asian Humanities (formerly OSA).

Chinese Buddhists have never remained stationary. They have always been on the move. Why did Buddhist monks migrate from China to Southeast Asia? How did they participate in transregional Buddhist networks across the South China Sea? In this talk, I will tell the story of “South China Sea Buddhism,” referring to a Buddhism that emerged from a swirl of correspondence networks, forced exiles, voluntary visits, evangelizing missions, institution-building campaigns, and organizational efforts of countless Chinese and Chinese diasporic Buddhist monks. Drawing on multilingual research conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, I challenge the conventional categories of “Chinese Buddhism” and “Southeast Asian Buddhism” by focusing on the lesser-known—yet no less significant—Chinese Buddhist communities of maritime Southeast Asia. By crossing the artificial spatial frontier between China and Southeast Asia, this talk brings Southeast Asia into the study of Chinese Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism into the study of Southeast Asian Buddhism. Continue reading What is South China Sea Buddhism