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Chinese Asianism Yesterday and Today

A Conversation with Craig Smith

Craig Smith’s new book, Chinese Asianism (Harvard University Asia Center, 2021), examines Chinese intellectual discussions of East Asian solidarity, analysing them in connection with Chinese nationalism and Sino-Japanese relations. Beginning with texts written after the first Sino-Japanese War of 1894 and concluding with Wang Jingwei’s failed government in World War II, Smith engages with a […]

The Effable Worker

Notes on Italy's New Working-Class Literature

Locked in a shelter for the homeless on a weekend along with a few dozen vagrants, a young George Orwell was feeling the pangs of boredom. He had nothing to read, nothing to do, and could not even look outside since the windows were too high. He tried to listen to the general conversation, but […]

Lest We Forget: The Missing Chinese Activists of 2021

Back in December 2019, we published a series of portraits of labour and feminist activists who disappeared into China’s legal system in what was a particularly brutal year for activism in China. At that time, a wave of arrests had just engulfed dozens of activists across several sectors and cities, and several of them were […]

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

The continuation of China’s Covid-19 border restrictions into 2021 has attracted an increasing amount of international commentary. Like with Taiwan, New Zealand or Australia, which also largely closed their borders for the past year and a half, there is an understandable focus on the steep human costs of these measures that have separated families and […]

Xi Jinping’s Third Road: A Response

I rarely disagree with my friend and colleague, the always insightful Ling Li, but I cannot go along with her most recent analysis of Party leadership and the succession issue (Li 2021). She suggests that Xi Jinping may reactivate the office of Chairman of the Party Central Committee at the twentieth Party Congress in 2022. […]

Everyday Necro-Capitalism

One of the perks of being the son of an Italian railway worker is that, when I was younger, I could hop on and off any train I wanted without having to buy a ticket. Those were the days before high-speed trains, when Italy’s rail network mostly comprised ‘regional’ and ‘interregional’ trains, which moved very […]

Inciting Subversion by Association: 120 Days in Detention

On 16 February 2020, just a few hours after her partner Xu Zhiyong, a leading Chinese human rights lawyer, was detained, women’s rights and labour activist Li Qiaochu went missing. China’s state security bodies would hold her incommunicado for four months under the system known as ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’ on suspicion of […]

Bilingual Education in Inner Mongolia: An Explainer

China today is in the midst of closing out a three-quarters of a century experiment. That experiment was in minority-language education for certain select ethnic groups: Mongols, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Kazakhs, and Koreans. A heritage of both China’s decentralised past and the Soviet model, minority-language education is now being replaced by a new model of ‘bilingual […]

Living Politics: An Exhibition

This Exhibition was part of the Australian Research Council Laureate Project ‘Informal Life Politics in the Remaking of Northeast Asia: From Cold War to Post-Cold War’. As major political changes reshape East Asia, groups of ordinary people across the region have been developing alternative, self-help ways to address the profound social, economic, and environmental challenges […]

Orwell in the Chinese Classroom

This is the translation of a blog post published on 1 May 2019 by an anonymous Chinese student. For obvious reasons, we were unable to confirm the identity of the writer, but the account resonates with other testimonies from students at Peking University that appeared in the public record or which we have heard personally, […]

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