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Foreigner in China: Economic Transition and the Chinese State’s Vision of Immigration and Race

China’s recently proposed immigration reforms highlight the country’s need for foreign talent in its transition to a knowledge-intensive economy. The state’s vision, however, seems to be coloured by issues of race. Examining the representations of foreigners of different ethnicities and backgrounds on Chinese Central Television, this essay argues that while the state may be relaxing permanent residency restrictions, it favours white foreigners because of the racialised assumptions about the high levels of education and expertise that supposedly come with their whiteness.

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The End of an Era? Two Decades of Shenzhen Urban Villages

Discussions of ‘urban villages’ tend to refer to this term as if it had had a universal and fixed meaning. In this way, the phrase comes to implicitly refer to the present moment, telescoping our understanding of rural and urban relations to the present. By looking back at the experience of Shenzhen over the past decades, this essay restores urban villages to their historicity and unpacks the unacknowledged moral judgments that often underlie our understanding of these places.

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Reining in Rogue Legislation

An Overview of China’s Invigoration of the ‘Recording and Review’ Process

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Chinese Government created two forms of administrative detention to combat perceived social ills. The first, ‘custody and repatriation’ (C&R, 收容遣送), was used ‘as a coercive measure to manage the flow of migrant workers and undesirables into China’s urban centers’ (Hand 2006: 120). The other, known as ‘custody and education’ […]

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Industrial Things in a Post-Industrial Society

The Life and Afterlife of a Chinese Glass-Forming Machine

This essay considers the emergence of post-industrial China through an examination of the ‘social’ and ‘antisocial’ lives of an industrial glass-forming machine. By reviewing the process through which glass-forming technology developed in China, the closure of industrial glass manufacturing in Shanghai, and the adoption of an abandoned glass-forming machine by the Shanghai Museum of Glass, the essay reflects on the ways in which one formerly industrial district has begun to negotiate its multiple and sometimes conflicting identities.

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Outsider Within: Young Chinese Feminist Activism in the Age of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom

In early February 2020, COVID-19 sparked increasing racist violence against Chinese communities in the United Kingdom. In response to this, we as Chinese feminists who study in the country initiated a campaign called ChineseAgainstRacistVirus. Along with coordinating posts on social media, we organised a public protest in London’s Trafalgar Square. Four months later, the death […]

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Labour Relations, Depersonalisation, and the Making of Class Identity in a Chinese Rural County

In rural China, a generation born and raised in shared conditions of poverty and farm labour has differentiated into bosses and workers as private enterprise re-emerged after the 1980s. In Xishan (a pseudonym), a rural county in inland China, at the border between Shandong and Henan, industrialisation was, at first, essentially driven by petty entrepreneurs […]

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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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An Anatomy of Trump’s Appeal to Chinese Liberals: A Conversation with Teng Biao

Since coming to power, former US President Donald Trump has attracted and maintained a remarkable following among the Chinese diaspora in and outside the United States. These Trump followers come from different backgrounds and their support has a variety of motivations, which is nothing unusual. What is out of the ordinary, though, is the popularity […]

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The Chongqing Model One Decade On

Between 2007 and 2012, China observers around the world and a significant segment of the international left paid a great deal of attention to a city in China’s southwest, Chongqing. Under the leadership of the municipal secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s municipal government engaged in a set of extraordinary political […]

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