Whitewashing China’s record on Covid

Source: China Media Project (1/9/23)
Whitewashing China’s Record on Covid
An official commentary published yesterday in the CCP’s official People’s Daily newspaper is one of the more egregious efforts to date to present China’s handling of the pandemic over the past three years as evidence of strong global leadership.
By David Bandurski

Images by Gauthier Delacroix available at Flickr.com under CC license.

China’s leaders have been at pains in recent days to defend their handling of Covid-19 in the face of tough criticism both at home and abroad, with cases soaring and concerns rising among international experts and foreign governments that China is under-reporting cases and fiddling with the facts — the type of obfuscation, it could be said, that got the world into this mess in the first place.

Published yesterday in the Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily newspaper, the latest official commentary from “Zhong Sheng” (钟声), an official pen name used routinely for important pieces on international affairs on which the leadership wishes to register its view, is one of the more egregious examples of how determined CCP leaders are to present their handling of the pandemic over three years as evidence of strong global leadership. Continue reading

MCLC 34.2

We are pleased to announce publication of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 34, no. 2 (2022), a special issue on “Taiwan and Hong Kong’s Global Connections.” Find the table of contents below, with links to abstracts. See here for information on how to subscribe.

Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier, Editors

Table of Contents
Volume 34, Issue 2, December, 2022

Note from the Editors, by Natascha Gentz and Christopher Rosenmeier
34(2), pp. v–vii
Full Text | PDF/EPUB

Beyond Party Politics? Visitors and Meaning-Making in the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, by Emily GRAF
34(2), pp. 241–290

The Making of Small Literature as World Literature: Taiwanese Writer Wu Ming-Yi, by Kuei-fen CHIU
34(2), pp. 291–312

“World Literature” between Transcultural Poetics and Colonial Politics: Yang Chichang, Le Moulin, and Surrealism in Taiwan, by Fangdai CHEN
34(2), pp. 313–344
Abstract Continue reading

Peng Ming-min dies at 98

Source: NYT (4/16/22)
Peng Ming-min, Fighter for Democracy in Taiwan, Dies at 98
He endured Japanese imperial rule, a lost limb in World War II, Chinese martial law and decades in exile to become a leading force for Taiwanese self-determination.
By Chris Horton

Peng Ming-min delivering a speech in 1995, when he was running for president of Taiwan. He did not win, but his candidacy was a turning point in Taiwan’s democratic journey.

Peng Ming-min delivering a speech in 1995, when he was running for president of Taiwan. He did not win, but his candidacy was a turning point in Taiwan’s democratic journey. Credit…Andrew Wong/Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Peng Ming-min, a victim of World War II who endured Japanese imperial rule, brutal Chinese martial law and decades of exile to become a leading fighter for democracy and self-determination for his native Taiwan, died here, the nation’s capital, on April 8. He was 98.

His death, at the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center, was confirmed by Lee Chun-ta, director of the Peng Ming-min Foundation.

Mr. Peng pressed his case for a democratic Taiwan over the years as a lobbyist, author and academic, both in Taiwan and in exile in the United States.

As a young Japanese subject in 1945, near the end of the war, he lost his left arm during an American bombing raid on Japan. Days later, while convalescing at his brother’s home near Nagasaki, he witnessed the atomic bombing of that city by the United States.

Mr. Peng returned to Taiwan after Tokyo’s surrender ended its 50-year colonial rule of the island, with the Republic of China under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek taking control. In 1947, he lived through what came to be known as the 228 Massacre, in which Chiang’s government executed as many as 28,000 members of the Taiwanese elite, effectively killing off a generation of leaders. Mr. Peng’s father narrowly escaped the government roundups in the southern port city of Kaohsiung. Continue reading

Chen Qiufan on how sci-fi imagines the future

Chen Qiufan | 2041: How Chinese Science Fiction Imagines Our Future

We invite you to join us at an online seminar titled “2041: How Chinese Science Fiction Imagines Our Future,” featuring sci-fi author Chen Qiufan and Cornell professors Andrea Bachner and Anindita Banerjee.

Time: Thursday, April 28 at 7:30pm (EST) | Friday, April 29 at 7:30am (China Time)
Speaker:Chen Qiufan (Sci-fi writer, translator, and curator; Author of Waste Tide and AI 2041)
Discussants: Andrea Bachner (Cornell University) and Anindita Banerjee (Cornell University)
Moderator: Song Han (Cornell University)

The greatest value of science fiction is not providing answers, but rather raising questions.

Can AI help humans prevent the next global pandemic by eliminating it at the very root? How can we deal with future job challenges? How can we maintain cultural diversity in a world dominated by machines? How can we teach our children to live in a society where humans and machines coexist? Continue reading

African writing in Chinese translation

Source: Bruce-Humes.com (12/30/21)
African Writing in Chinese Translation: 2021 Round-up + A Peek at 2022
By Bruce Humes

“This has been a great year for African writing,” said South Africa’s Damon Galgut upon receiving the 2021 Booker Prize for his novel, The Promise.

As reported in From the Booker to the Nobel, several other African authors also snagged prestigious European literary prizes during 2021. They include Abdulrazak Gurnah (Nobel), David Diop (International Booker), Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Prix Goncourt), and Karen Jennings and Nadifa Mohamed, longlisted and shortlisted, respectively, for the Booker.

But how keen are Chinese publishers on Africa, arguably an “emerging” supply market for the Middle Kingdom?

One way to gauge interest is to check out AfroLit4China, a bilingual (Chinese and English) database listing African writing (mainly book-length fiction) published in the Sinophone world since the 80s. Literary factoids listed below are based on AfroLit4China.

A few numbers first:

269:  African works published in Chinese
106:   African authors now available in Chinese
40:   People’s Literature Publishing House’s African titles
16:  African works newly published in China during 2020-21 Continue reading

The Battle of Images: The Sino-Hollywood Negotiation lecture

Oxford Seminar on Visual Culture in Modern and Contemporary China
The Battle of Images: The Sino-Hollywood Negotiation
Ying ZHU, City University of New York and Hong Kong Baptist University
Tuesday 23 November 2021, 5pm

HYBRID EVENT: In-person venue: University of Oxford China Centre, Kin-ku Cheng Lecture Theatre; or to attend online (via Zoom), please register here

All welcome

Hollywood dominated the Chinese film market during China’s Republic era, triggering a mixture of fascination and resistance. The Communist victory in 1949 and the outbreakof the Korean War in 1950 led to an official ban on Hollywood imports by the PRC government in 1950.China’sfilm market reopened to Hollywoodin 1994 amidst China’s declining domestic output and theatre attendance. Hollywood has since becomea regular fixturein China, spurringsimultaneously rejection, admiration, emulation, competition and coercion. Rejection and repulsionfor Hollywood’s historical injustice to the China image; admiration and emulation for thesheer allure and market prowess of Hollywood pictures; competition and coercion for Hollywood’s global dominance and a new determination to draft Hollywoodinto serving China’sglobalimage campaign. This talk comparesthe context and terms of Hollywood’s Republic era China triumphto those of its repeated performance in the post-1994 era, and the subsequent expansionof a powerful Chinese film marketto suggest historical contingencies, continuities andchanges in an ongoing Sino-Hollywood dynamic with competing political, cultural and economic interest on and off screen. Continue reading

HKBU PhD fellowships

2022/23 Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme
Department of Chinese Language and Literature

The Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Hong Kong Baptist University is a great place to pursue PhD studies for various reasons.

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

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. Continue reading

Is Taiwan next

Source: NYT (8/4/21)
Is Taiwan Next?
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
In Taipei, young people like Nancy Tao Chen Ying watched as the Hong Kong protests were brutally extinguished. Now they wonder what’s in their future.
By Sarah A. Topol

Nancy Tao Chen Ying outside Taipei.Credit…An Rong Xu for The New York Times

Under the sharp light of Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, the 19-year-old was easy to find. He stood alone where Nancy Tao Chen Ying had instructed.

Nancy was at her office when she received the message. It was a hot and humid Friday afternoon in July 2019, and a friend in Hong Kong asked if she could get to the airport: A young anti-government protester was fleeing the semiautonomous Chinese territory; could she pick him up once he landed? Nancy had never done this before, but when she agreed, the protester sent her an encrypted message with his flight details, and she left work to meet him.

Slightly less than five feet tall and 26 years old, Nancy wore her long dark hair side swept, the layers framing her face. She dressed well, often in pastels, changing styles like moods. As Nancy approached him, the boy seemed unsettled. Tall and slim, he loomed over her, clutching a small backpack. He told her that while he had brought some clothes, he had little money. “It’s OK,” Nancy told him, leading him to the metro. “Let’s just go to Taipei first.” Continue reading

Utopian Ruins review

MCLC Resource Center has published my review of Utopian Ruins: A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era, by Jie Li. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/kdenton3/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton

Utopian Ruins:
A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era

By Jie Li

Reviewed by Kirk A. Denton

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2021)

Jie Li. Utopian Ruins: A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020. 384pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-1123-1 (paper); ISBN: 978-1-4780-1018-0 (cloth)

The past few years have seen a bonanza of excellent books dealing with memory of the Maoist past—Lingchei Letty Chen’s The Great Leap Backward: Forgetting and Representing the Mao Years, Margaret Hillenbrand’s Negative Exposures: Knowing What Not to Know in Contemporary Chinaboth of which I reviewed for MCLC, Sebastian Veg’s edited collection Popular Memories of the Mao Era, and the book under review here, Jie Li’s Utopian Ruins.

Utopian Ruins is framed as “a memorial museum of the Mao era,” with each chapter centered on different sorts of “artifacts”—prison texts “written in blood,” personal dossiers (檔案), photographs, films, and museums/memorials. Li sees herself as a curator—an overused word these days but one that is certainly apt in this case—who sifts through artifacts, choosing them judiciously for what they can tell us about the multivalenced nature of the Maoist past, and then glossing them with nuanced analyses and contextualizations. It goes almost without saying that her “museum” is self-consciously different from PRC state museums, such as the National Museum of China, which whitewash the Maoist past and make what is left serve political narratives of China’s “rejuvenation.” Although Utopian Ruins was conceived in part as a response to Ba Jin’s appeal for the creation of a Cultural Revolution museum, the kind of museum Li has in mind is a far cry from his “official” museum, which, if it were ever to materialize, would be shaped and distorted by state interests and would elide the trauma of the Maoist past. Continue reading

Critical China Scholars statement on the “lab-leak” investigation (2)

It is mystifying to me how otherwise really intelligent people willfully misread the recent CCS Statement on the ‘lab-leak hypothesis.’

The statement says clearly: we call for a multilateral inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 for the purposes of global health and international scientific cooperation; we are skeptical of any US-led inquiry because the inflamed politics of the bilateral relationship politicizes any such inquiry and renders it suspect from the onset; and we are clear that the PRC government would not cooperate with any US-led inquiry.  We are not unaware of the strong likelihood that both the Chinese and the US governments have been lying about many things concerning the virus, and we continue to be clear that the antagonisms of state politics will not resolve the questions, but rather will further inflame them. We link the COVID-19 origins stories and the further inflaming of bilateral antagonisms to anti-Asian racisms in the United States and elsewhere in the West, because we are not representing China or the Chinese, we are critical China scholars who reside outside of China. Our organization has issued clear condemnations of the Chinese state for the systemic racist violence they are perpetrating in Xinjiang, and anyone who is interested can certainly look on our website (criticalchinascholars.org) to find our positions on that and many other things.

In conclusion, I’d ask that those who might wish to disagree with us do so on the basis of what we’ve actually said.

Rebecca Karl (as an individual)

US kicks out Chinese students for ties to military

Source: SupChina (9/10/20)
U.S. kicks out 1,000 Chinese students for alleged ties to ‘military-civil fusion’
The Trump administration says that it has cancelled more than 1,000 visas of Chinese students since a May 29 proclamation that put graduate students connected to China’s “military-civil fusion” in the crosshairs.
By Lucas Niewenhuis

middle school connected to the northwestern polytechnic university in china

A flag-raising ceremony at the middle school attached to Northwestern Polytechnic School in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. Several Chinese undergraduate students in the U.S. who had their visas cancelled said they had previously attended this middle school. Photo via Baidu.

On May 29, 2020, the White House issued a proclamation that made clear the following: Any Chinese graduate student in the U.S. with even a vague connection to “military-civil fusion” in China was at risk of losing their visa.

What was less clear is how many students might end up being affected — one official estimate was “at least 3,000” of the approximately 360,000 Chinese students in the country — or whether the Trump administration would ever make transparent its criteria for determining whether or not a Chinese student was too close to the military for comfort.

  • Universities at the time were “deeply concerned that the order could lead to vast overreach, wrongly shutting out students whose work is non-military, openly published and critical to American research efforts in fields ranging from climate change to energy storage,” the LA Times reported.

Continue reading

Sino-Japanese War as Portrayed in Youth Literature

The Sino-Japanese War as Portrayed in Youth Literature — interview with Dr Minjie Chen, Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton


“That’s how I decided that a study of the representation of the Sino-Japanese War in children’s books was overdue. Little did I know, that quiet afternoon of leafing through a picture book would kick off several years of obsession with any publication about World War II. I combed through library catalogs and bibliographies, collected Chinese comic books, searched for entries in children’s magazines, photocopied pages from school textbooks, hunted out-of-print American children’s novels, and watched more movies than I can name about the Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War. In addition, I interviewed elderly women in my hometown, recorded their recollections of when the mountain town hosted the Zhejiang provincial government in exile until the end of the war, and compared their private experiences with what information was publicly available to youth.” – interview with Dr Minjjie Chen, Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton

China ravages Xinjiang cultural heritage (1)

Rian Thum just published a new article on how the sacred and historical sites of the Uyghurs are being destroyed or desecrated by the Chinese authorities – and he also puts this in the context of regime’s broad campaign against Uyghur culture (down to the force-cleansing of native cultural heritage of private home interior design). Highly recommended.

It can be read alongside other reports, such as the URHRP on Kashgar,  kashgar-coerced-forced-reconstruction-exploitation-and-surveillance-cradle, and on mosques,  Hanlon’s on Turpan, and others.

Yet as far as I know, ICOMOS, UNESCO and other heritage organizations and cultural heritage, architects and other professionals and academic organizations, are still preserving their silence on China’s mass destruction of culture and heritage in Xinjiang/East Turkestan.

It’s a malfunctioning of the world’s conscience. Was the world also as shamefully silent in the 1960s-70s, when the Chinese under Mao smashed up their own temples, as well as those of others, in Tibet and beyond?

In any case, the destruction today is genocidal in character. Over this past summer, new evidence and new testimonies on the systematic abuse and killing of women and children in the Uyghur region appeared, bringing about a clear realization around much of the world that the Chinese government is committing genocide, as defined under the 1948 Genocide Convention – under which Burma is currently being prosecuted in the Hague. Continue reading

Oberlin position

The East Asian Studies Program at Oberlin College invites applications for a one-semester, full- time non-continuing faculty position in Chinese Language and Culture. Appointment to this position will begin in the spring semester of the academic year 2020-2021 (Jan. – April 2021) and will carry the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor or Instructor.


Oberlin’s Chinese language curriculum, offering five levels of Chinese, is lodged within the East Asian Studies Program, which includes Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Studies, and the disciplines of Anthropology, Art History, Cinema Studies, Religion, History, Environmental Studies, and Politics.


The incumbent will teach a total of three courses (in Chinese language at the intermediate level and Chinese Studies). The Chinese studies courses will be taught in English. The incumbent will participate in co-curricular activities in the Chinese Language Program and in East Asian Studies.


Among the qualifications required for appointment is the Ph.D. degree (in hand or expected by the first semester of the academic year 2020-2021). Candidates must demonstrate interest and potential excellence in undergraduate teaching. Successful teaching experience at the college level is required. Native or near-native proficiency in Chinese and in English is also required. Finally, candidates must demonstrate proof of Ohio residency. Continue reading