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Revisiting Minjian Intellectuals A Conversation with Sebastian Veg

In the past few months, I collaborated with Xu Xibai, a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford, to translate into Chinese Sebastian Veg’s groundbreaking book Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals (Columbia University Press, 2019). We embarked on this project with the conviction that this translation will not only inspire debate on the […]

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Chinese Energy Investment in Cambodia: Fuelling Industrialisation or Undermining Development Goals?

In early 2020, Cambodian authorities fast-tracked approval of two new coal plants. Soon after, they also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao Government committing to purchase energy imports from two proposed coal plants in southern Laos. This marked a significant shift in the evolution of Cambodia’s energy planning, from a model heavily dependent […]

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Beijing from Below: A Conversation with Harriet Evans

In her new book, Beijing from Below: Stories of Marginal Lives in the Capital’s Center (Duke University Press, 2020), Harriet Evans captures the last gasps of subaltern life in Dashalar, one of Beijing’s poorest neighbourhoods. Between the early 1950s and the accelerated demolition and construction of Beijing’s ‘old city’ in preparation for the 2008 Olympic […]

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(Self-)Censorship and Chinese Feminist Networking in a Global Perspective

In this essay, I will examine the relationship between the Chinese feminist movement and self-censorship in its temporal and spatial dimensions. Temporally, my analysis will take into account the period from 1989 up to the time of writing in July 2020. This temporal frame covers the Chinese political vicissitudes from the Tiananmen Square Incident of […]

Going Global: The International Endeavours of Chinese NGOs

On 4 August 2020, a large amount of improperly stored ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut, killing at least 178 people, injuring more than 6,500, and leaving 300,000 homeless (WHO 2020). In response, the Beirut office of the Peaceland Foundation (平澜公益), a Chinese organisation founded in 2018 that already had a presence in […]

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The Cultural Politics of National Tragedies and Personal Sacrifice

State Narratives of China's 'Ordinary Heroes' of the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the rest of the world is still battling the latest wave of COVID-19 and implementing lockdown measures to combat the spread of the virus, China has been celebrating its ‘victory’ over the pandemic since the end of February 2020, with Xinhua (2020) announcing a book praising the country’s success in disease control to be […]

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A Disappointing Harvest: China’s Opium Replacement Investments in Northern Myanmar Since 2009

The launch of the ‘Going Out’ strategy in 1999 precipitated more than a decade of rapid growth in Chinese outbound investment activity. From trivial levels in the late 1990s, Chinese outbound foreign direct investment (FDI) reached US$20 billion in 2006 before surging up to US$196 billion in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of […]

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A Tribute to Daniel Kane

I first met Daniel Kane, or Danny as he was known to friends, during a week-long symposium on Manchu culture and literature that took place inside a grand country house in South Wairarapa, New Zealand, in 2018. The purpose of that gathering was to discuss the acquisition of Chinese language, thought, and art by the […]

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Cultivate Aridity and Deprive them of Air

Altering the Approach to Non-State-Approved Social Organisations

If the organisations and individuals involved in the Six Must Nots consciously resist illegal social organisations, illegal social organisations are sure to gradually die off through a lack of oxygen. Ministry of Civil Affairs Comrade in Charge, 2021   ‘Grey space’ and ‘tacit approval’ are concepts familiar to people working in or studying China’s organised […]

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Securing China’s Northwest Frontier: A Conversation with David Tobin

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Over the past two decades, a rhetoric of terrorism has been used to conflate the criminal actions of a relatively small number of people with the religious and cultural practices of more than 12 million Uyghurs who call the southern part of the Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) their ancestral home. This has had a dramatic […]

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