The Biopolitics of the Three-Child Policy

Since the 1980 launch of the One-Child Policy, population has been a fraught domain of Chinese politics. An analysis of Weibo comments suggests that the announcement in the mid-2010s of the Two-Child Policy was met with excitement and hope—a sign that the government had heard the people’s demands and opened the circle of freedom after […]

Troubling the Water

The story begins with water. ‘How do we make sure that that spigot remains open and free?’ an audience member asked during a panel discussion on scientific collaboration between the United States and China. He pointed out that the ‘very, very best students’ recruited from around the world are the ‘secret sauce’ that makes the […]

Winter Olympic Dreams and Foreign Friends

With outstretched arms ready to provide a hug, the winner of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics cross-country skiing women’s 30-kilometre Mass Start welcomed the last contestant as she reached the finish line. As the two embraced, Norwegian Olympic champion Therese Johaug consolingly told the last-place finisher, Dinigeer Yilamujiang of the Chinese team: ‘Be proud of […]

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China’s Maker Movement

What Is It and Why Does No-One Talk about It Anymore?

In 2015, the ‘maker culture’ of individual empowerment and open-source production was elevated as part of China’s national economic development strategy of mass entrepreneurship and innovation. Despite the hype, however, the top-down, government-promoted maker movement in China has been in decline since 2017. Drawing on seven months of participant observation as an intern in Shenzhen makerspaces and high-tech start-ups, as well as 95 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021, this essay examines recent developments in China’s maker movement and the perceptions, experiences, and negotiations of individual makers in this process, shedding light on the dynamics of entrepreneurship and innovation in China from the bottom up.

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Cheers and Tears: Life Stories of Highly Educated Women in Shenzhen

Shenzhen, the ‘Silicon Valley of China’, embodies rapid development and the profound challenges it brings. Harvey (2005: 1) describes China’s market-oriented reforms as ‘neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics’ and points out that China is the outcome of a ‘particular kind of neoliberalism interdigitated with authoritarian centralised control’ (Harvey 2006: 34). Shenzhen’s extraordinary transformation from a small […]

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Politics and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hong Kong’s Fifth Pandemic Wave

This essay examines how the dual role of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) during the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong prompts us to consider the interconnectedness of medicine and politics in the city. On the one hand, the Hong Kong Government strongly promoted the use of TCM in what arguably amounted to nationalist propaganda. On the other hand, TCM provided an alternative method of treatment when the option of hospitalisation was not available or desired, with community TCM clinics’ free consultation services and related projects demonstrating a bottom-up politics based on mutual aid.

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Doing Fieldwork in China During and Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Study

The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for those conducting fieldwork in China. To understand how the situation has shifted, we collected firsthand accounts from internationally based China specialists, showcasing the difficulties they encountered and the strategies they used to cope. We also obtained insights from scholars based in China, which provided valuable perspectives on the changing fieldwork environment in the country. By reflecting on these findings, we aim to support a smoother transition for researchers looking to resume their fieldwork-based research in China in the post-pandemic era and beyond.

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Cosmopolitan (Dis)Illusion, Migration, State Policies, and the Mirage of the Shanghai Exception

Throughout contemporary Chinese history, Shanghai has been perceived as an exceptional cosmopolitan space. While these days this exceptionalism is generally framed in terms of the city’s status as a global financial hub, it should not be forgotten that Shanghainese cosmopolitanism is rooted in more than a century of migration, grassroots activism, and the rejection of […]

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China’s Soft Power, Counter-Localisation, and the Role of Stateless Uyghurs in Turkey

[Some people are saying that they cannot contact their relatives in Xinjiang. They are demonstrating in front of our embassy. They also spread fake news on social media. Several Turkish Ministers of Parliament and the Vice-President of the World Uyghur Congress were also involved in endorsing this fake news. It seems it was an organised […]

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Ethics in Social Science Research on China

Although research ethics remains an underdiscussed topic in the field of Chinese studies, it is becoming increasingly important due to evolving research practice standards and growing international distrust of the Chinese Party-State. This essay draws from the relevant literature and the author’s own experiences to offer a reflection on professional, personal, and political ethics in social science research in China. It argues that we must recognise the complex trade-offs involved rather than proposing simple solutions. Social research in authoritarian settings such as contemporary China requires delicately weighing different options, none of which will be ideal, if we do not want to forgo any chance of firsthand data-gathering inside the system.

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