In the Absence of a Peasantry, What, Then, Is a Hong Kong Farmer?

Given the social and political significance of ‘the peasant’ (nongmin) in modern Chinese history, it is surprising that the term nongmin is largely absent in Hong Kong, where discourses about individual farmers (nongfu) are far more prevalent. In tracing the modern etymology of Chinese peasants and the history of Hong Kong agriculture, this essay argues that the lack of ‘class’ consciousness makes Hong Kong farmers even more vulnerable to the unceasing wave of urban sprawl.

Boom or Bust in China’s Jade Trade with Myanmar

Since 2014, declining economic growth and Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign have led to decreasing demand in certain markets for jadeite—the highest valued type of jade in China. But while institutional factors may explain these short-term fluctuations, historical continuity and cultural imaginations underpinning Chinese demand suggest that the jadeite market boom in China is not quite over yet.

In the Shadow of Kem Ley: Is Civil Society the Solution to Cambodia’s Woes?

The assassination of political analyst Kem Ley in Phnom Penh in July 2016 suggests that civil society touches a nerve of great sensibility in today’s Cambodia. Cambodian democracy is currently experiencing its tensest period in two decades. If civil society plays a role in this context, it is not primarily within the traditional confines of the associational realm. Rather, in looking for a civil society challenge to party politics, we will have to shift our attention away from NGOs to the tentative emergence of social movements and to the fledgling grassroots democracy movement which Kem Ley himself spearheaded.

Burmese Civil Society Challenges China’s Development Assistance in Myanmar

China and Myanmar have been economic partners and allies for a long time. But this partnership is now being challenged by Myanmar’s democratisation process. Although nascent, Burmese civil society has shown it is ready to actively contest the legitimacy of China’s various development and commercial interests in this new democracy.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: a Progressive Deal for Workers?

Following years of secretive negotiations and contentious protests by civil society opponents, at the end of 2015 an agreement on the contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was finally reached, with the long-awaited text released a few days later. Initially seen as the expansion of a previous deal signed in 2006 by four countries—the Trans-Pacific […]

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