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New Books in Chinese Studies
68 minutes | 14 hours ago
Els van Dongen, "Realistic Revolution: Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989" (Cambridge UP, 2019)
What is the role of the intellectual? Is violence, not to mention radical change, necessary? Can there be a revolution without them? Realistic Revolution: Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989 by Els van Dongen (Cambridge University Press, 2019) analyses a series of debates in the early 1990s between Chinese intellectuals as they discussed such questions. Grappling with China’s turbulent twentieth century, such intellectuals came to say goodbye to radicalism, and instead advocated for “realistic revolution” in the service of future modernization.Using journal articles, official newspapers, monographs, and edited volumes, as well as interviews conducted with the main scholars involved in the debates, this book unpacks these complex—often convoluted yet always fascinating—debates effortlessly. Shedding light on the transnational nature of these debates and tracing intellectual exchanges and the evolution of concepts and ideas borrowed from other thinkers, van Dongen has created an intimate look at intellectual thought in early 1990s China. This book should interest those seeking to learn more about Chinese intellectual thought and this moment in global intellectual history, as well as those seeking a model for thinking beyond Eurocentric definitions and interpretations of concepts like ‘conservatism,’ ‘radicalism,’ and ‘modernity.’Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike.
38 minutes | 5 days ago
David Chaffetz, "Three Asian Divas: Women, Art and Culture In Shiraz, Delhi and Yangzhou" (Abbreviated Press, 2019)
The “diva” is a common trope when we talk about culture. We normally think of the diva as a Western construction: the opera singer, the Broadway actress, the movie star. A woman of outstanding talent, whose personality and ability are both larger-than-life.But the truth is throughout history, many cultures have featured spaces for strong female artists, whose talent allows them to break free of the gender roles that pervaded their societies. In Three Asian Divas: Women, Art and Culture in Shiraz, Delhi and Yangzhou (Abbreviated Press: 2020) David Chaffetz briefly explores how these “Asian divas” could be seen as some of the first recognizably “modern women''.In this interview, David and I talk about the three different cultures of Three Asian Divas: Shiraz, Delhi and Yangzhou. We discuss what it meant to be a diva in these historical contexts, and what they say about gender roles in these historic Asian societies.After studying Persian, Turkish and Arabic in college, David Chaffetz worked on the publication of the Encyclopedia Iranica and is also the author of A Journey through Afghanistan, a study of its varied people, social classes and religious sects. He has lived in Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, and travelled extensively in Asia. After a forty-year break working in the technology industry, he returned to writing with “Three Asian Divas.”You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
63 minutes | 5 days ago
Guojun Wang, "Staging Personhood: Costuming in Early Qing Drama" (Columbia UP, 2020)
Much is known about the Qing sartorial regulations and how the Qing conquerors forced Han Chinese males to adopt Manchu hairstyle and clothing. But what happened on the stage? What did Qing performers wear, not only when they performed as characters in the Han past, but also when they appeared as subjects in the Manchu present? Reading dramatic works against Qing sartorial regulations, Staging Personhood: Costuming in Early Qing Drama (Columbia University Press, 2020) explores a two-sided question: how did the Ming-Qing transition influence costuming as theatrical practices and how, in turn, did costuming enable the production of different types of personhood in early Qing China?With readings of several early Qing theatrical works, from the canonical Peach Blossom Fan (Taohua shan) to the lesser-known A Ten-Thousand-Li Reunion (Wanli yuan), combined with visual and performance records and historical documents, Staging Personhood provides a new and interdisciplinary perspective on the cultural dynamics of early Qing China. Not only does this book turn an interdisciplinary lens to the entanglements between Chinese drama and nascent Manchu rule, it contains a plethora of fascinating moments from early Qing plays—from double-cross-dressers to fake queues—touching on issues of class, gender, ethnicity, and conceptions of time. Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike.
52 minutes | 6 days ago
Rachel Silberstein, "A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing" (U Washington Press, 2020)
Rachel Silberstein’s book A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing (University of Washington Press, 2020) reveals how Qing fashion was produced at the intersection of commerce and culture. Drawing on a wide array of visual and textual sources, from pattern books and gazetteers to embroidered jackets and a sample book of ribbons, Silberstein both challenges the myth of the absence of fashion in China — perpetuated in large part, as is shown in the book, by museum narratives and collection practices — and presents women as active consumers, participants, and producers in Qing fashion.A Fashionable Century is not only deft in its writing and visual analysis, but this well-written book is itself a beautiful object itself. Woven throughout the chapters are numerous paintings, photographs, prints, and objects, all of which bring the vibrant world of Qing fashion into vibrant (and well-trimmed) relief.Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike.
81 minutes | 11 days ago
Nicholas Bartlett, "Recovering Histories: Life and Labor after Heroin in Reform-Era China" (U California Press, 2020)
Heroin first reached Gejiu, a Chinese city in southern Yunnan known as Tin Capital, in the 1980s. Widespread use of the drug, which for a short period became “easier to buy than vegetables,” coincided with radical changes in the local economy caused by the marketization of the mining industry. More than two decades later, both the heroin epidemic and the mining boom are often discussed as recent history. Middle-aged long-term heroin users, however, complain that they feel stuck in an earlier moment of the country’s rapid reforms, navigating a world that no longer resembles either the tightly knit Maoist work units of their childhood or the disorienting but opportunity-filled chaos of their early careers. Overcoming addiction in Gejiu has become inseparable from broader attempts to reimagine laboring lives in a rapidly shifting social world. Drawing on more than eighteen months of fieldwork, Nicholas Bartlett explores how individuals’ varying experiences of recovery highlight shared challenges of inhabiting China’s contested present. Recovering Histories: Life and Labor after Heroin in Reform-Era China (University of California Press, 2020) is an important intervention contributing to cultural and medical anthropology and to the field of China studies.Suvi Rautio is a part-time Course Lecturer at the Social & Cultural Anthropology discipline at University of Helsinki.
45 minutes | 12 days ago
William C. Hedberg, "The Japanese Discovery of Chinese Fiction: The Water Margin and the Making of a National Canon" (Columbia UP, 2019)
The classic Chinese novel The Water Margin (Shuihu zhuan) tells the story of a band of outlaws in twelfth-century China and their insurrection against the corrupt imperial court. Imported into Japan in the early seventeenth century, it became a ubiquitous source of inspiration for translations, adaptations, parodies, and illustrated woodblock prints. There is no work of Chinese fiction more important to both the development of early modern Japanese literature and the Japanese imagination of China than The Water Margin.In The Japanese Discovery of Chinese Fiction: The Water Margin and the Making of a National Canon (Columbia UP, 2019), William C. Hedberg investigates the reception of The Water Margin in a variety of early modern and modern Japanese contexts, from eighteenth-century Confucian scholarship and literary exegesis to early twentieth-century colonial ethnography. He examines the ways Japanese interest in Chinese texts contributed to new ideas about literary canons and national character. By constructing an account of Japanese literature through the lens of The Water Margin’s literary afterlives, Hedberg offers an alternative history of East Asian textual culture: one that focuses on the transregional dimensions of Japanese literary history and helps us rethink the definition and boundaries of Japanese literature itself.Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese Cultural and Literary History, University of Arizona
58 minutes | 20 days ago
Kelly A. Hammond, "China's Muslims and Japan's Empire: Centering Islam in World War II" (UNC Press, 2020)
The 1930s-40s expansion of the Japanese empire was marked by significant interest among Japan-based scholars and policy-makers in China’s Muslim population and how best to write them into a new pan-Asian story. At the very same time, as Kelly Hammond shows in China's Muslims and Japan's Empire: Centering Islam in World War II (UNC Press, 2020), members of this longstanding community of Sino-Muslims were themselves engaged in numerous complex debates over culture and identity, and their place in an emerging post-dynastic China and a wider Islamic world. Choosing to reciprocate Japanese interest was thus just one possible path.Expertly navigating the multi-layered, transnational concerns which are brought into focus by the twentieth-century encounter between Japanese Empire, Chinese Nationalism and Sino-Muslims, Hammond reframes our understanding of wartime East Asia. From global developments stretching as far afield as Central Asia, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to the more intimate everyday experiences of Sino-Muslims caught between imperial spaces, the author offers a rich and little-told account of a particularly febrile period of recent history, as well as charting developments which continue to resonate in international relations and domestic minority policies to this day.Ed Pulford is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.
32 minutes | 21 days ago
John Wei, "Queer Chinese Cultures and Mobilities: Kinship, Migration, and Middle Classes" (Hong Kong UP, 2020)
John Wei’s book Queer Chinese Cultures and Mobilities: Kinship, Migration, and Middle Classes (Hong Kong University Press, 2020) studies queer cultures and social practices in China and Sinophone Asia. Young queer people in Asia struggle under the dual pressures of compulsory familism and compulsory development, that is, to marry and continue the family line and to participate successfully in the neoliberal development of Asia. Compulsory development often necessitates migration for education and work. Wei explores how queer people grapple with kinship, home, and developing queer communities under these conditions. Using his training in film and media studies, he analyzes films by queer Chinese-language filmmakers and discusses the creation of gay communities in cafes, queer film clubs, online social media platforms, and mobile social media. Thoroughly grounded in theory, Wei contributes new metaphors of stretched kinship and gated communities to understand movements of queer cultures and social practices.Laurie Dickmeyer is an Assistant Professor of History at Angelo State University, where she teaches courses in Asian and US history. Her research concerns nineteenth-century US-China relations. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @LDickmeyer.
47 minutes | a month ago
Ronald C. Po, "The Blue Frontier: Maritime Vision and Power in the Qing Empire" (Cambridge UP, 2018)
In this revisionist history of the eighteenth-century Qing Empire from a maritime perspective, Ronald C. Po argues that it is reductive to view China over this period exclusively as a continental power with little interest in the sea. With a coastline of almost 14,500 kilometers, the Qing was not a landlocked state. Although it came to be known as an inward-looking empire, Po suggests that the Qing was integrated into the maritime world through its naval development and customs institutionalization. In contrast to our orthodox perception, the Manchu court, in fact, deliberately engaged with the ocean politically, militarily, and even conceptually. The Blue Frontier: Maritime Vision and Power in the Qing Empire (Cambridge UP, 2018) offers a much broader picture of the Qing as an Asian giant responding flexibly to challenges and extensive interaction on all frontiers - both land and sea - in the long eighteenth century within the Indian Ocean World.Dr. Ronald C. Po is an Associate Professor in the Department of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science.The co-host Mohammed al-Sudairi is the Head of Asian Studies at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Hong Kong Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. He tweets @MohammedSudairi.Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the Western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome.
80 minutes | a month ago
Enze Han, "Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State-Building Between China and Southeast Asia" (Oxford UP, 2019)
Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State-Building Between China and Southeast Asia (Oxford UP, 2019) explains the variations in state building across the borderland area between China, Myanmar, and Thailand. It presents a comparative historical account of the state and nation-building processes in the ethnically diverse and geographically rugged borderland area where China meets Southeast Asia. It argues the failure of the Myanmar state to consolidate its control over its borderland area is partly due to the political and military meddling by its two more powerful neighbors during the Cold War. Furthermore, both China and Thailand, being more economically advanced than Myanmar, have exerted heavy economic influence on the borderland area at the cost of Myanmar’s economic sovereignty. The book provides a historical account of the borderland that traces the pattern of relations between valley states and upland people before the mid-twentieth century. Then it discusses the implications of the Chinese nationalist KMT troops in Burma and Thailand and Burmese and Thai communist insurgencies since the mid-1960s on attempts by the three states to consolidate their respective borderland areas. The book also portrays the dynamics of the borderland economy and the dominance of both China and Thailand on Myanmar’s borderland territory in the post-Cold War period. It further discusses the comparative nation-building processes among the three states and the implications for the ethnic minority groups in the borderland area and their national identity contestations. Finally, the book provides an updated account of the current ethnic conflicts along Myanmar’s restive borderland and its ongoing peace negotiation process.Enze Han is an Associate professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Hong Kong.Victoria Lupașcu is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at University of Montréal. Her areas of interest include medical humanities, visual art, 20th and 21st Chinese literature and Global South studies.
67 minutes | a month ago
Paul Goldin, "The Art of Chinese Philosophy: Eight Classical Texts and How to Read Them" (Princeton UP, 2020)
Paul Goldin's book The Art of Chinese Philosophy: Eight Classical Texts and How to Read Them (Princeton UP, 2020) provides an unmatched introduction to eight of the most important works of classical Chinese philosophy--the Analects of Confucius, Mozi, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Sunzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. Combining accessibility with the latest scholarship, Paul Goldin, one of the world's leading authorities on the history of Chinese philosophy, places these works in rich context as he explains the origin and meaning of their compelling ideas.Because none of these classics was written in its current form by the author to whom it is attributed, the book begins by asking, What are we reading? and showing that understanding the textual history of the works enriches our appreciation of them. A chapter is devoted to each of the eight works, and the chapters are organized into three sections: Philosophy of Heaven, which looks at how the Analects, Mozi, and Mencius discuss, often skeptically, Heaven (tian) as a source of philosophical values; Philosophy of the Way, which addresses how Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Sunzi introduce the new concept of the Way (dao) to transcend the older paradigms; and Two Titans at the End of an Age, which examines how Xunzi and Han Feizi adapt the best ideas of the earlier thinkers for a coming imperial age.In addition, the book presents clear and insightful explanations of the protean and frequently misunderstood concept of qi--and of a crucial characteristic of Chinese philosophy, nondeductive reasoning. The result is an invaluable account of an endlessly fascinating and influential philosophical tradition.
45 minutes | a month ago
Yuen Yuen Ang, "China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
Today I talked to Yuen Yuen Ang, a Professor of political science and China expert at the University of Michigan. We spoke already in summer 2019 to discuss her previous book: How China Escaped the Poverty Trap. In that book she anticipated the theme of this book: corruption. She explains that 'contrary to conventional wisdom, rich nations became rich by first eliminating corruption, the real history is that corruption was never eliminated, it changes in form and structure as an economy becomes richer.' We started our conversation with a definition of corruption and her typologies: petty theft, grand theft, speed money, access money.The argument in China's Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption (Cambridge University Press, 2020) has been widely taken out of context, as ‘corruption is good for growth’. I asked Yuen to clarify. She believes that not all types of corruption carry the same harm and have the same impact on growth. She explained this with the analogy of types of drugs.Corruption is a complex phenomenon. She argues that we fail to understand it when we adopt one-dimensional measures. Some countries appear free of corruption but instead they are just characterized by more sophisticated forms of corruption. Yuen gave us a short outlook on the state of research in the field of corruption and her contribution.The book, 150 pages organized in seven chapters, is rich of tables and pictures. Yuen created a database with hundreds of party leaders and bureaucrats, and their fate. We learn about tigers and flies, in the terminology of Xi’s campaign against corruption. In your previous book, she described the strange case of China’s meritocracy. Despite absence of democracy and freedom of press, since Deng, in most cases, the Chinese Communist Party has been selecting a good ruling elite. Overall, the promotion of local cadres and their careers from village level to Zhongnanhai has been based on their ability to meet objective, measurable targets. To some extent, corruption is the opposite of the ideal of meritocracy. I have asked what is the interplay between the two in China.In the section Chinese Bureaucracy 101, Yuen argues that we commonly use public administration theories that are based on ahistorical and wester-centred principles. This is not helpful to understand China she concludes.The book ends with conclusions in the form of five questions. In fact, the very end is a final, timely, note on the risk of a new cold war between the USA and China. Yuen argues that stereotypes and misunderstandings are dangerously fueling commercial and political confrontation. Her study on corruption, and the parallel between China’s and the American Gilded age, is an example of how perhaps China is not that exceptional, exotic and hence dangerous to us. This is a great new book that contributes to the study of corruption in two ways: with a methodological innovation and with a comparative historical analysis. It is a must have for the libraries of economists, sociologists, political scientists and much more. It is also accessible to non specialists and a pleasure to read.
67 minutes | a month ago
Sharon J. Yoon, "The Cost of Belonging: An Ethnography on Solidarity and Mobility in Beijing's Koreatown" (Oxford UP, 2020)
How vulnerable can you be as a researcher? Why, in a commercially successful city like Wangqing, are Chinese Koreans more successful in their businesses than entrepreneurs from Korea who often have prestigious educational degrees? These are some of the questions Sharon Yoon addresses in her powerful new book, The Cost of Belonging: An Ethnography on Solidarity and Mobility in Beijing’s Koreatown (Oxford University Press, 2020). Through in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Korean Chinese mum and pop store, underground Korean Chinese church, South Korean megachurch, chaebol (conglomerate) company, and 800 migrant surveys, Yoon shows how hybridity of Korean Chinese people lead to their economic success, but at the emotional cost of belonging in middle-class and longing for gohyang (home). However, Yoon contests the romanticized idea of diasporic homeland by demonstrating how Korean Chinese feel alienated from their homeland (South Korea), while neoliberal restructuring lead to isolation within the ethnic enclaves like Wangqing as people draw ethnic boundaries. She examines how “ethnic boundary-making process" constitute "conflicting notions of class and morality justif[ying] who deserve[s] to belong” in Wangqing between Korean entrepreneurs, expatriates working in chaebol companies, and Korean Chinese (2). Yoon further analyzes how spatial divisions also disempower individuals from breaking the script of distrust and othering. Racialization intersects with gender, as ethnic Others (Korean Chinese)' labor is reduced to feminized and devalued work in chaebol companies. However, their cultural, feminized skills become crucial in the entrepreneurial successes they attain later in their career, which destabilize value embedded in gendered demarcation of labor in the first place. In this well-researched and nuanced monograph, Yoon makes major contributions to East Asian studies, migration studies, and critical race studies through her insights into how globalization is changing the meaning of ethnicity and boundary-making in the context of East Asia.Sharon J. Yoon is assistant professor of Korean studies in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include global and transnational sociology, qualitative methods, and race, ethnicity, and migration.Da In Ann Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include care labor and migration, reproductive justice, social movement, citizenship theory, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at email@example.com.
69 minutes | a month ago
Geoffrey C. Goble, "Chinese Esoteric Buddhism: Amoghavajra, the Ruling Elite, and the Emergence of a Tradition" (Columbia UP, 2019)
In his recent book, Chinese Esoteric Buddhism: Amoghavajra, the Ruling Elite, and the Emergence of a Tradition (Columbia University Press, 2019), Geoffrey Goble examines the emergence and early history of esoteric Buddhism in China. In contrast to earlier scholarship, Goble contends that it was really Amoghavajra (rather than the two patriarchs preceding him in the lineage) who systematized esoteric Buddhism into a somewhat internally coherent collection of texts and practices. Goble looks at why the Tang-period elite found Amoghavajra’s system so attractive (which was in part due to esoteric Buddhism’s military applications). He also explores the way in which esoteric Buddhism managed to neatly fit into a larger system that Goble calls imperial religion, and examines the reasons why there was some confusion after Amoghavajra’s death as to whether or not his teachings constituted a distinct tradition. This book delves into political, military, and intellectual history to give us an account of the period that will be fascinating for anyone interested in Tang-period Buddhism, and for anyone interested more broadly in the relationships between religious traditions and elite patronage systems. I hope that you enjoy the interview.
68 minutes | a month ago
Jack Meng-Tat Chia, "Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity Across the South China Sea" (Oxford UP, 2020)
Monks in Motion: Buddhism and Modernity Across the South China Sea (Oxford University Press 2020) is the first monograph in the English language to explore the transnationally connected history of modern Buddhist communities in China and Southeast Asia. Dr. Chia introduces the idea of “South China Sea Buddhism,” which allows Buddhist studies to move away from the “China-centered perspective” when studying overseas Chinese Buddhism. This maritime perspective of looking at Buddhism in transregional and transnational networks also invites scholars to rethink “Southeast Asian Buddhism,” which is often associated with Theravāda Buddhist majority on the mainland. Drawing on multilingual research conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, Dr. Chia traces the movements of three Buddhists active in the South China Sea in the twentieth century. Through the stories of Chuk Mor, Yen Pei, and Ashin Jinarakkhita, Monks in Motion discusses how modern Buddhists negotiated and constructed cultural and religious identities in the South China Sea.Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.
61 minutes | a month ago
Rana Mitter, "China's Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism" (Harvard UP, 2020)
Although World War II had been largely remembered in the People’s Republic of China as an experience of victimization since its founding in 1949, that view has been changing since the Deng Xiaoping era in the 1980s. Rana Mitter’s newest book on modern China, China’s Good War: How World War II Is Shaping a New Nationalism (Harvard University Press 2020), traces this transformation in the Chinese interpretations of the war from one marked by humiliation to one that celebrates victory. This change in the discourses surrounding the war began with a changing historiography led by Chinese academia in the 1980s, when research on a variety of previously forbidden areas of historical study was encouraged. Then, through local and public attempts at reviving and celebrating war memories through museums, TV, film, and the online space, WWII has been increasingly narrated in these different arenas as China’s “good war.” What came out of these new narratives, Mitter points out, is an attempt to rehabilitate Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists war efforts, which allows the PRC “to re-create an identity it was forging in the 1930s and 1940s, as a rising power that took a cooperative and powerful role at a time of immense global crisis…” In doing so, Mitter argues that China is able to create a subtle corollary, the idea that China is also a postwar state that is both one of the creators and protectors of the postwar international order. Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.
62 minutes | 2 months ago
Eyck Freymann, "One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World" (Harvard UP, 2020)
China’s One Belt One Road policy, or OBOR, represents the largest infrastructure program in history. Yet little is known about it with any certainty. How can something so large be so bewildering?In One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World (Harvard East Asian Monographs, 2020), Eyck Freymann, a DPhil Candidate in China Studies at the University of Oxford, explores the nature, function, and purposes of OBOR. Drawing on primary documents in five languages, interviews with senior officials, and on-the-ground case studies in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Greece, Freymann sifts through the purposeful ambiguity of the Chinese Communist Party and unravels a series of popular myths about OBOR.He finds that OBOR is not controlled by a monolithic state apparatus; that recipient nations do not consider OBOR a debt trap; and that appeal of OBOR is growing, not shrinking.Ultimately, Freymann argues that the infrastructure projects are a sideshow to something else: Xi Jinping’s project to restore China’s greatness in world affairs and to solidify his place at the helm of the new Chinese empire. John Sakellariadis is a 2020-2021 Fulbright US Student Research Grantee. He holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia and a Bachelor’s degree in History & Literature from Harvard University.
60 minutes | 2 months ago
Vince Cable, "China: Engage!--Avoid The New Cold War" (Bite-Sized Books, 2020)
Anyone doing business with China will have been shocked by the speed with which political and economic relations with Western, and some other, countries – like India – have deteriorated in 2020, but especially the USA and the UK. A crucial issue for the future is whether this is a passing phase, caused by temporary shocks like the Pandemic and by the personalities of leaders in China and the USA. Alternatively, this could be the beginning of a new Cold War characterised by prolonged hostility on several levels, especially the economic.Sir Vince Cable was Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade in the UK's coalition government 2010-15, and before entering parliament he had an extensive career in government, international organisations, universities and business, latterly as Chief Economist of Shell. He has enjoyed Visiting Professorships at the LSE, Nottingham, Sheffield and St Mary’s and Birmingham City Universities. He has been at the heart of trade with China, and brings to this book a depth of understanding and a clarity of thought that is so important today when emotion and feelings dominate over facts, reality and sense. ]His analysis in China: Engage! - Avoid the New Cold War (Bite-Sized Books, 2020) is precise, forensic and clear and he brings to the debate about China realism and facts and this book is vital reading for all of us concerned with international trade and international relations. The march towards a cold war with China led by the US, and apparently supported by the UK, is dangerous and Sir Vince Cable's perspective is a corrective to many of the so-called "alternative facts" that are in circulation.This book is timely and important and vital for anyone concerned for the future of international trade.Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.
87 minutes | 2 months ago
Covell F. Meyskens, "Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
In 1964, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) made a momentous policy decision. In response to rising tensions with the United States and Soviet Union, a top-secret massive military industrial complex in the mountains of inland China was built, which the CCP hoped to keep hidden from enemy bombers. Mao named this the Third Front. The Third Front received more government investment than any other developmental initiative of the Mao era, and yet this huge industrial war machine, which saw the mobilization of fifteen million people, was not officially acknowledged for over a decade and a half. In Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China (Cambridge UP, 2020), Covell Meyskens provides the first history of the Third Front campaign. He shows how the militarization of Chinese industrialization linked millions of everyday lives to the global Cold War, merging global geopolitics with local change.
34 minutes | 2 months ago
Xiaowei Wang, "Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside" (FSG Originals, 2020)
Most of our discussions about how “technology will change the world” focus on the global cities that drive the world economy. Even when we talk about China, we focus on its major cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Xiaowei Wang corrects this metronormativity in their recent book Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside (FSG Originals: 2020), which explores how rural China is not just adapting the technology used around the world, but innovating on it. In this interview, we talk about the frontiers of technology that are being charted in rural China, and why China’s countryside may be the best place to understand how technology, capitalism and society will intersect in the coming years — often in not altogether positive ways. We also talk about some of the more recent developments in how Chinese technology is treated in the United States, with reference to their recent articles: "WeChat Has Both Connected Families and Torn Them Apart" in Slate and "How the Theatrics of Banning TikTok Enables Repression at Home" in The Nation.Xiaowei Wang is the creative director at Logic Magazine, whose work encompasses community-based and public art projects, data visualization, technology, ecology, and education. Their projects have been featured in The New York Times, the BBC, CNN, VICE, and elsewhere. You can follow them on Twitter at @xrw.You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Blockchain Chicken Farm. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
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