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.

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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A Feminist Snap: Has Feminism in Hong Kong Been Defeated?

This essay analyses the politics of the Hong Kong protest movement and the displacement of feminism within it. It highlights the emergence of an internal rift between ‘Left in form, Right in essence’ (形左實右) feminists and ‘Leftard’ (左膠) feminists (those who refuse to move to the Right), which, along with the suppression of dissent within the protest movement, ultimately led to the collapse of Hong Kong feminism.

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The Annihilation of Hong Kong’s Civil Society

Implications and Weaknesses

Since the passage of the National Security Law in July 2020, a relentless purge has been going on in Hong Kong, targeting political opposition parties, large and small trade unions, student associations, nongovernmental organisations, churches and their affiliates, and media. This essay takes stock of the implications of this crackdown for civil society in both Hong Kong and mainland China and looks into the tactics employed by Hong Kong political activists to cope with the changed reality.

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The Trouble with Wang Yangming

The revered Confucian Wang Yangming has received much attention in recent years, not only because his compelling life story and philosophy deservedly attract it, but also because President Xi Jinping has openly expressed admiration for him. Building on the foundation of his grassroots popularity and historical and philosophical significance, the government of China has actively encouraged learning from the Ming Dynasty scholar-official. However, the political implications of his tenets and conduct as a Ming official have long been the subject of heated debate, one that remains relevant today. This essay reviews the revival of Yangmingism in China and explores the meaning of it.

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From the ‘Chinese National Character’ Debates of Yesterday to the Anti-China Foreign Policy of Today

Retracing the basic contours of the debates about the ‘Chinese national character’, this essay considers the harkening back to the ‘national character’ discourse of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by many liberal Sinophone dissident scholars in the 1980s and Hong Kong cultural critics in the 2000s as a reaction against decades of class discourse in China. This revival of cultural essentialism has since provided a key ideological register for dissidents, especially those on the frontlines of shaping anti-China foreign policy in the West today, thus limiting the horizon for alternative imaginaries of democratic politics.

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Unfortunate or Convenient? Contextualising China’s Covid-19 Border Restrictions

China’s Covid-19 border control measures have disrupted decades of ever-increasing mobility in and out of China, just at a time of growing uncertainty about China’s relations with much of the outside world. As they persist into 2022, fuelling worries about China’s increasing isolation, it is useful to take stock and look at these policies more […]

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Disarticulating Qingnian

Chinese Youth beyond ‘Rising Tides’ and ‘Lying Flat’

This essay explores youth in today’s China by analysing Bilibili’s widely viewed Rising Tides video and the recent ‘lying flat’ campaign. To put these two phenomena in context, the essay examines a group of young students who are able to move beyond the confines of the position designated them by the state and the market through knowledge accumulation, cooperation, and network-building, but unable to become an autonomous social force.

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