Lest We Forget: The Missing Chinese Activists of 2019

With the year 2019 coming to an end, we bring to you the faces and stories of some of those labour and feminist activists currently under detention without trial in China. A considerably longer comprehensive list, including dozens who remain detained or unaccounted for, can be found on this website. These are just some of […]

American Factory: Clash of Cultures or a Clash of Labour and Capital?

American Factory, a documentary released in 2019 by Netflix, has attracted attention in both America and China. The film documents the attempts of the owner of the Fuyao Glass Company—an enterprise that supplies 70 percent of the windshields and windows for China’s automobiles—to open a factory in a disused General Motors (GM) assembly plant in […]

Garbage as Value and Sorting as Labour in China’s New Waste Policy

On 1 July 2019, new rules went into effect forcing Shanghai residents and businesses to sort their garbage into four categories (wet, dry, hazardous, and recyclable) under the threat of fines and social credit penalties. An explosion of social media commentary ensued, some supportive but most cynical. The question ‘what kind of garbage are you?’ […]

Revolution and State Formation as Oasis Storytelling in Xinjiang

No one can say that the world is ignoring Xinjiang. In October, at the American Association of Christian Counselors, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likened China’s treatment of over a million Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region to George Orwell’s 1984 (Reuters 2019). This was at the same time that the Trump White […]

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, […]

Rethinking the Cultural Politics of Globalisation: Where Do We Go from Here?

In the days following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016, the same questions appeared repeatedly in the newspaper headlines and media debates: ‘What now?’ ‘What do we do now?’ ‘Where do we go from here?’ These are the cries of people who suddenly find themselves in a confusing, uncertain […]

Turmoil at the Grassroots in China’s Cultural Revolution: A Half-Century Perspective

This is the text of the 77th George E. Morrison Lecture given by Jonathan Unger on 3 November 2016. The Lecture Series is sponsored by the China Institute and the Australian Centre on China in the World. Almost exactly half a century ago, starting in the middle of 1966, Mao Zedong unexpectedly launched the Cultural […]

Oil and Water

Most Han in Xinjiang, Western China, have settled—or been settled by state decree—in the region since the Chinese Communist Party won the Civil War and took control of China in 1949. Since that time, the proportion of Han in the population has risen from 4 percent to at least 42 percent, and is now roughly […]

Chinese Dreams of Happiness: What Are the Chances?

The happiness of the Chinese people is one of the declared aims of the Chinese dream. An educational volume on social governance and welfare published by the official Red Flag Press entitled Building a Happy China sums it up like this: ‘The process of the reinvigoration of the Chinese nation equates to the building of […]

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