Blandness, Bathos, or Brashness? Choosing Pathways to Validity and Relevance for Chinese Politics Research

The study of Chinese politics and society has reached a crossroads. A year ago I called for scholars to eschew exclusive focus on the current ‘methods arms race’ and engage in more cross-national comparative analysis to bring the study of Chinese politics out of isolation (Hurst 2018). Upon further reflection, however, it seems the choice we face is actually more complex and nuanced. Two shifts have changed the way we must approach data collection and left us with three main alternatives: blandness, bathos, and brashness.

Will the Future of Human Rights Be ‘Made in China’?

For at least three years, my organisation has been tracking—and helping others to track—the way in which China is expanding its influence in multilateral institutions, in particular the United Nations (UN). However, when the Trump Administration announced the withdrawal of the United States from the UN’s peak human rights body, the Human Rights Council, on […]

China Studies between Censorship and Self-censorship

It has not been a very auspicious year for freedom of expression in China Studies. In August 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP) removed over three hundred articles published in The China Quarterly from its Chinese website. The articles had been chosen for censorship by very haphazard searches based on ‘sensitive’ keywords: Tiananmen, Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, […]

Xinjiang Today: Wang Zhen Rides Again?

Nostalgia for the boyishly-brutal Wang Zhen flooded across Han Xinjiang in the days, weeks, and months following the intra-communal violence of early July 2009 in Urumqi. Many Han invoked Wang Zhen’s notorious approach to management of Xinjiang’s non-Han (and in particular, Uyghur) population as the solution to what they termed the ‘ethnic problem’ (minzu wenti). […]

Nostalgia for the boyishly-brutal Wang Zhen flooded across Han Xinjiang in the days, weeks, and months following the intra-communal violence of early July 2009 in Urumqi. Many Han invoked Wang Zhen’s notorious approach to management of Xinjiang’s non-Han (and in particular, Uyghur) population as the solution to what they termed the ‘ethnic problem’ (minzu wenti).

One legend—with a number of variations, as all good legends must have—venerates disproportionate response. According to this story, in 1950, as Wang Zhen’s forces were spreading down into Southern Xinjiang, a Han man had unthinkingly or insensitively prepared a meal of pork in a Uyghur village, and was killed or badly beaten for the transgression. Upon hearing about this, Wang Zhen had his troops surround the village so no one could escape. He then forced the villagers to hand over the perpetrators and publicly executed them in the village square. Next he had his troops slaughter two or three pigs and boil them up in a large cauldron; at bayonet point, the troops then forced each and every remaining resident of the village to eat a bowl of boiled pork. Given the shortage of meat to feed his own soldiers, this was surely a high-cost exercise.

Continue reading

Confessions Made in China

Globally, mass media face a difficult dilemma: how to report on the Chinese spectacles of prisoners forced to perform fake, scripted confessions? The Chinese authorities produce these confessions in order to create a new ‘truth’, one that is to be disseminated through Chinese state media and, if possible, through foreign mass media, and social media […]

Eviction and the Right to the City

Beijing’s eviction of migrants from their dwellings in November 2017 following a deadly fire left tens of thousands homeless within days. It was rightly seen not as a legitimate response to a fire hazard but a convenient opportunity to push forward new political goals with regard to the city’s migrant population. The evictions were undoubtedly […]

Beijing’s eviction of migrants from their dwellings in November 2017 following a deadly fire left tens of thousands homeless within days. It was rightly seen not as a legitimate response to a fire hazard but a convenient opportunity to push forward new political goals with regard to the city’s migrant population. The evictions were undoubtedly not just an unintended consequence of a disaster. They were preceded by the forced closing of shops, restaurants and housings in similar areas, and by the announcement of a plan to relocate Beijing’s city government and public institutions to a nearby province. This is part of a wider strategy to supposedly slow down the urban growth of the capital—moves that have produced heightened anxiety and uncertainty among the Chinese floating population. This poses the question: do migrants in today’s China have a right to the city?

Continue reading

The Abolition of the Two-term Limit: A Sea Change?

On 25 February, almost at the same moment his visage appeared on screen at the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Korea, Xi Jinping made a play to keep himself at the centre of Chinese politics for many years to come. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that it would advise the repeal of term limits for the President and Vice President from Article 79 of China’s 1982 Constitution. On 11 March, the National People’s Congress duly voted to codify the changes…

Beyond the Great Paywall: A Lesson from the Cambridge University Press China Incident

On 18 August it was revealed that Cambridge University Press had complied with the demands of Chinese government censors to block access on its website in China to hundreds of ‘politically sensitive’ articles published in its prestigious China Quarterly journal. The ensuing debate has generally overlooked the problematic nature of the commercial academic publishing industry. Isn’t it time to take the profit motive out of the equation and to rediscover a certain measure of idealism in academia?

Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom: A Response to William Hurst on the Field of Chinese Politics

In his powerful essay, William Hurst raised the question of how to make the study of Chinese politics relevant to the discipline of political science. Yet, the prevailing question should not be ‘how do we make China relevant to the discipline?’, but ‘how can the study of China help us rethink the study and practice of comparative politics?

Treating What Ails the Study of Chinese Politics

For almost as long as political science has existed as a discipline, the study of Chinese politics has been afflicted with a chronic disease. Depending on one’s perspective, this malady’s manifestations have amounted to either neglected isolation or arrogant exceptionalism. To treat this illness, it is important to set aside any rigid orthodoxy and resort to diversity and bold experimentation.

  • 1
  • 5
  • 6

Subscribe to Made in China

Made in China publications are open access and always available as a free download. To subscribe to email alerts for each issue of the Journal, newly published books, and information about upcoming events, please provide your contact information below.


Back to Top