Yellow Perils review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Anne Witchard’s review of Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World (Hawaii, 2018), edited by Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk A. Denton, editor

Yellow Perils: 
China Narratives in the Contemporary World

Edited by Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky

Reviewed by Anne Witchard
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright August, 2019)

Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky, eds., Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2018. Viii + 276. ISBN: 978-0-8248-7579-4 (hardcover).

In the last decade the emergence of China as a global superpower has provoked an array of responses that have prompted comparisons with the early-twentieth century rhetoric of a Yellow Peril. Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World is a timely collection, coming as it does when the might of Beijing indeed poses a significant threat, to Muslims in Xinjiang Province for example, and (at the time of writing) to democracy activists in Hong Kong. It is all too easy to resort to inflammatory responses and indeed hostile and/or prejudicial treatment that fails to distinguish between the actions of China’s current Party State regime and ethnic Chinese in the PRC and across the globe.

Despite the time elapsed from research to print and the astonishing rapidity of change in the current political scene, Yellow Perils’s relevancy may perhaps be greater than might have been predicted by its editors. It is unfortunately all too easy to find statements that reflect Sinophobic predispositions informing some decision-making under the Trump administration. In April 2019, Kiron Skinner, director of policy planning at the State Department said at a security forum in Washington, D.C.: “This is a fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology and the United States hasn’t had that before.” Of course, as any high school student might remind her, the notorious Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) repealed only in 1943, was formulated upon exactly this racialized and divisive narrative. Continue reading

China sends stark warning to HK

Source: NYT (8/19/19)
With Troop Buildup, China Sends a Stark Warning to Hong Kong
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Steven Lee Myers and 

The People’s Armed Police ran running exercises and drills, while armored vehicles arrived at Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, across the border from Hong Kong, on Friday. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

SHENZHEN, China — The Shenzhen Bay Sports Center rises along the shore with the green hills of Hong Kong visible across the water. It normally bustles with a variety of youth sports programs and dance, art and language academies, including one that advertises a “Hong Kong Style Education.”

In recent days, however, it has become a staging ground for olive-green military transports and armored personnel carriers that arrived on Aug. 11 and disgorged hundreds of security officers from the People’s Armed Police, a Chinese paramilitary force, who are loudly running through daily exercises and drills.

By massing the troops within view of Hong Kong, the semiautonomous territory convulsed by protests, China’s Communist Party is delivering a strong warning that the use of force remains an option for Beijing. It is also a stark reminder that military power remains a bedrock of the party’s legitimacy. Continue reading

Support Prof. Benny Tai

Support Professor Benny Tai and the University of Hong Kong’s Autonomy

To sign on the statement, please visit:

Members of academia are invited to express their support for our imprisoned colleague Benny Tai Yiu-Ting (戴耀廷), an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Faculty of Law, who is at risk of wrongful dismissal.

In April 2019, Professor Tai was found guilty of conspiracy to cause public nuisance and inciting others to cause public nuisance and sentenced to sixteen months imprisonment for his role in the ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ campaign. In the first-instance verdict against him, Judge Johnny Chan rejected Professor Tai’s argument that he had merely engaged in peaceful civil disobedience and ought not to be punished. Continue reading

Teenage brides trafficked to China

Source: NYT (8/17/19)
Teenage Brides Trafficked to China Reveal Ordeal: ‘Ma, I’ve Been Sold’
By Hannah Beech

Nyo, 17, back home in Shan State in Myanmar, after being trafficked by brokers who sold her and her friend to men across the border in China. Credit: Minzayar Oo for The New York Times

MONGYAI, Myanmar — She did not know where she was. She did not speak the language. She was 16 years old.

The man said he was her husband — at least that’s what the translation app indicated — and he pressed himself against her. Nyo, a girl from a mountain village in the Shan hills of Myanmar, wasn’t quite sure how pregnancy worked. But it happened.

The baby, 9 days old and downy, looks undeniably Chinese. “Like her father,” Nyo said. “The same lips.” Continue reading

Three rallies mark 11th weekend of protests

Source: The Guardian (8/17/19)
Hong Kong: three rallies mark 11th weekend of protests
Demonstrators aim to show public support for movement remains strong
By Lily Kuo in Hong Kong

Thousands of teachers rallied against police brutality toward young protesters.

Thousands of teachers rallied against police brutality toward young protesters. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong, as they sought to show their movement still had public support even after two months of increasingly violent clashes.

Protesters, clad in their signature black and holding umbrellas, marched down major streets in Kowloon, chanting: “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our time!” Volunteers handed out herbal tea and juice, while some shops that had closed for the day left boxes of drinks out for protesters.

Three separate rallies were taking place on Saturday, marking the 11th weekend of protests in Hong Kong as residents continue to press the government to formally withdraw a controversial extradition bill as well as meet other demands. Continue reading

Beijing’s game play for HK now clear

Source: The Guardian (8/14/19)
Beijing’s game plan for stifling the Hong Kong protests is now clear
By Sebastian Veg

Manipulation of public opinion and pressure on the region’s businesses, universities and judiciary are part of the strategy

protesters in the departure hall of Hong Kong international airport on 13 August

The departure hall of Hong Kong international airport on 13 August: ‘Beijing has engaged in a battle to turn public opinion in Hong Kong against the movement.’ Photograph: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

As protests in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition law enter their third month, the prospect of any resolution to the unrest seems a long way off. However, the past week has given an indication of the strategy of the governments in Beijing and Hong Kong in dealing with protesters.

The growing pro-democracy movement achieved early success in June with the suspension of the proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China. This followed unprecedented peaceful demonstrations that brought up to two million people on to the streets and, separately, police violence. When Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, declared that she was shelving the bill, the Beijing authorities, having distanced themselves from the unpopular law, seemed to be lying low. Continue reading

Mao Dun Literature Prize 2019

Source: China Daily (8/16/19)
Five novels win China’s top literature award
By Xinhua | Updated: 2019-08-16 20:01


BEIJING – Five novels have won this year’s Mao Dun Literature Prize, one of the four highest literature awards in China, the prize’s organizer unveiled Friday.

The five novels, respectively written by Liang Xiaosheng, Xu Huaizhong, Xu Zechen, Chen Yan and Li Er, won the prize, which is awarded every four years, according to the China Writers Association.

The winners were chosen from 234 candidates after six rounds of reviews and votes.

An awarding ceremony will be held in October in Beijing.

Liu Cixin interview at Brandeis

Dear friends,

In May, the globally renowned SF writer Liu Cixin traveled to Brandeis University to receive an honorary degree. At Brandeis, Liu did an interview with John Plotz (Professor of English, Brandeis) and Pu Wang (associate professor of Chinese) for the podcast channel Recall This Book.

I’m now glad to let you know that our Liu Cixin interview (English version) has gone live.  If you want to listen to Liu’s own voice in Chinese, check out the Chinese version of the Liu interview. Author of Three Body Problem and subject of a recent controversial piece  in the New Yorker, Liu is also a sweet and very chatty interviewee, who does love some Tolstoy….

This is the first time that Recall This Book posted a podcast in a language other than English. In addition, it also published a retrospective discussion after the interview, in which two Brandeis professors reflect on what is most striking in the interview itself.

At Recall This Book, you will also have the accessibility transcripts so that folks who prefer reading to listening can get a quick sense of the discussions.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!


Pu Wang <>

Chinese Literature Today 8.1

Dear friends,  

You are invited to read or download the newest issue of Chinese Literature Today online during our free promotion period between now and the end of August. 

This special issue on contemporary Chinese poetry features a lovely special section on Hong Kong writer Xi Xi (guest edited by Jennifer Feeley), selected poems by seven contemporary Chinese-language poets (Wang Jiaxin, Che Qianzi, Li Dewu, Hu Jiujiu, Jialu Mi, Huang Chunming, and Chen Li), as well as the latest scholarship on Chinese migrant worker poetry by the featured scholar Maghiel van Crevel.

Ping Zhu, Acting Editor in Chief <>

Maoist Laughter

Dear friends,

We are pleased to announce the publication of Maoist Laughter coedited by Ping Zhu, Zhuoyi Wang, and Jason McGrath. The book is now available from Hong Kong University Press (

[From the back cover] During the Mao years, laughter in China was serious business. Simultaneously an outlet for frustrations and grievances, a vehicle for socialist education, and an object of official study, laughter brought together the political, the personal, the aesthetic, the ethical, the affective, the physical, the aural, and the visual. The ten essays in Maoist Laughter convincingly demonstrate that the connection between laughter and political culture was far more complex than conventional conceptions of communist indoctrination can explain. Their sophisticated readings of a variety of genres—including dance, cartoon, children’s literature, comedy, regional oral performance, film, and fiction—uncover many nuanced innovations and experiments with laughter during what has been too often misinterpreted as an unrelentingly bleak period. In Mao’s China, laughter helped to regulate both political and popular culture and often served as an indicator of shifting values, alliances, and political campaigns. In exploring this phenomenon, Maoist Laughter is a significant correction to conventional depictions of socialist China.

You can preview the introduction “The Study of Laughter in the Mao Era” by Ping Zhu and Chapter 8 “The Revolutionary Metapragmatics of Laughter in Zhao Shulin’s Fiction” by Roy Chan on the HKUP website (

In Defense of the Yenching Academy

Source: Sup China (8/9/19)
In Defense Of The Yenching Academy
The FBI’s unfair targeting of my classmates, and NPR’s suggestive and narrow reporting on the issue, have tarred the reputation of Yenching. Can cross-border academic exchange survive strategic competition?

Late last week, NPR reported that the FBI had questioned at least five American graduates of the Yenching Academy, an English-language master’s program Beijing founded five years ago to replicate the soft-power successes of the West’s Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. I spent the last year at Yenching, and will be returning in September to complete my second year. Although I have become accustomed to the Trump administration’s “whole of government” effort to combat Chinese espionage and influence, for the first time it felt personal. Continue reading

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History no. 104

Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, no. 104

The latest issue of Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Vol. 104 is now available online at:



When Direct Governance Encounters Frontier Customs: Institutions, Miao Customs and “Miao Bandits” in the Miao Frontier of Western Hunan from the Eighteenth to Nineteenth Centuries
By Xiaohui Xie

Medical Treatment, Law and Local Society: A Re-exmination of the “Liu Liang Medical Case” in the Republic of China
By Ji Ling-hui

The Guomindang’s Provincial Party Headquarters in Shanxi: A Study of Organization and Personnel, 1938-1944
By Liang Xinlei

[Book Reviews]

Chao Shu-kang, Sparks and Incense: The Chinese Communist State Structure in Mass Culture and Local History, Reviewed by Wu Zhe

Posted by: Jhih-hong Jheng

Meng Jinghui’s Teahouse at Avignon

Hi everyone,

Meng Jinghui’s production of “Teahouse” 茶馆 was featured at the Avignon Festival July 9-20, 2019. It was the first time in its 73-year history that a show from China was included in the Avignon “IN” festival (the main festival). Meng previously brought several productions to the “OFF” festival beginning in 2010. “Teahouse” first premiered in an earlier form at the Wuzhen Festival in China in October and was performed in Nanjing in June. I translated the play from Chinese to English and worked with the production team at the Avignon festival in July (surtitles in both French and English were available to audiences at Avignon).

This article is a brief overview with images and includes a quote from festival director Oliver Py, and also a video link in the first image that shows moments from the performance:

Continue reading

Qiu Miaojin Conference grad panel–cfp

CFP: Grad student panel, Qiu Miaojin Conference at HKU (Nov 28-29)

Dear MCLC list members,

On November 28-29, 2019, the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong will host a 2-day conference on the work of queer Taiwan writer Qiu Miaojin. The conference planning is now at its final stage, but we hope to recruit 1-2 more graduate students who can present on Qiu Miaojin’s work. I provide a description of the conference below. Due to limited budget, we unfortunately can’t provide funding for travel and accommodation at this point. Lunch and dinner will be provided. Confirmed speakers include: Ari Larissa Heinrich, Tze-Lan Sang, Luo Yijun, Chi Ta-wei, Fan-Ting Cheng, Bonnie Huie, Evans Chan, Lolita Hu Ching-fang, and more.

Please send inquiry and abstract to Alvin K. Wong at Continue reading

China and the World–cfp

Upcoming Conference: “China and the World: Language, Culture, Politics”, Sofia University, December 12-13, 2019

The Sinology Departments of Sofia University in Bulgaria and the Department of China Studies of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University are jointly organizing a conference that aims at bringing together leading European and East Asian scholars to engage with the subject of China’s increasing role in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Balkans in particular.

Conference details:

Venue: Sofia University, Bulgaria
Dates: 12-13th Dec 2019
Abstract submission deadline: 30th August 201 Continue reading