Out of School

06.25.12

Review: “The Revolutionary”

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
The Revolutionary, a new documentary that has begun showing on university campuses and at cultural centers, looks at the life of Sidney Rittenberg, a ninety-year-old man who has had an extraordinary variety of experiences. Born into a well-to-do...

Reports

06.25.12

U.S.-China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey 2012

Emily Brill
Committee of 100
The re-establishment of U.S.-China relations in 1971 marked a strategic step that ended China’s isolation and transformed the global balance of power. Since that historic milestone, the United States as an established superpower and China as an...

China: Politics as Warfare

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
Mao’s Invisible Hand is one of those books that make one feel good about scholarship. It describes inner workings of Chinese Communist society about which few nonexperts know anything—it may even surprise the experts—and it will interest anyone...

Can China's Rust Belt Reinvent Itself?

Jonathan Kaiman
Foreign Policy
To understand this industrial Chinese city's past, begin with the smoldering crater on the south side of town, an open-pit coal mine as wide as Manhattan and deeper than the height of the Chrysler Building. Known as Haizhou, or "Sea State...

Media

06.11.12

A Great Massacre, a Great Earthquake, and a Great Famine

Hu Yong
The head of the Gansu branch of People’s Daily, Lin Zhibo, provoked the ire of many netizens for remarks he made regarding the Great Famine on his Weibo account. Lin claimed that in many of the villages in Anhui and Henan (the two provinces that...

Exhibition Rewrites History of Han Civilization

Souren Melikian
New York Times
“The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China” on view at the Fitzwilliam Museum through Nov. 11 is one of those landmark shows that shed new light on a crucial historical period in one of the world’s great civilizations.

Media

06.07.12

An Absent Presence

Sun Yunfan
In Chan Koonchung’s dystopian science fiction novel The Fat Years, set in China in 2013, the whole month of Feburary 2011 has disappeared from people’s memory. In reality, the month that is closest to being spirited away is the month of June 1989...

Postcard

06.06.12

The Lesser Wall

Michael Meyer
There is no such place as Manchuria, but the word still resonates like a bell struck a century before. The region is now more prosaically called dongbei—the northeast—yet its contemporary toponyms sing of its imperial past, when it was the homeland...

Media

06.02.12

On Weibo: Cultural Revolution Suicides

Amy Qin
As people across China took part in the June 1 Children’s Day campaigns to, among other things, remember the millions of “left-behind” children in the countryside, some netizens on Weibo spent the time reflecting on another, seemingly bygone, era...

Media

05.31.12

Godwin’s Law with Chinese Characteristics

Hu Yong
This winter writer-blogger-race car-driver Han Han found himself facing charges of plagiarism from celebrated fraud-buster Fang Zhouzi. Both Han and Fang have huge followings among China’s microbloggers. And their personal disagreement soon...

China Confronts the Great Leap Forward

Helen Gao
Atlantic
When Bo Xilai, the now-sacked Chongqing party chief, blanketed the city with a Maoist-style campaign of nationalism and state control, the critics who worried about the dangers of reviving red culture in modern Chinese society included the Communist...

Review of "The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China"

Xavier Paules
French Centre for Research on Contemporary China
Lovell has taken pains to present a series of lively and precise portraits of the major protagonists of the First Opium War such as the Emperor Daoguang, imperial commissioner Lin Zexu and his Manchu successor Qishan, and on the British side,...

Ex-Beijing Mayor Plays Down Tiananmen Role

Chow Chun-yang
South China Morning Post
Former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong—blamed for years as one of the main culprits of the military crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square—has called it “a regrettable tragedy that could have been avoided” and aimed to play down...

Is China Finally Confronting Its Dark History?

Mark MacKinnon
Globe and Mail
You won’t find any state-sponsored memorials to the millions who died during Mao Zedong’s horribly failed Great Leap Forward (the estimates range between 17 million and somewhere upwards of 45 million). While the crimes of the Japanese during the...

Documenting China's Lost History of Famine

Michael Bristow
BBC
The great famine that devastated China half a century ago killed tens of millions of people—but is barely a footnote in history books. There are few open public records of an event that is seared into the memories of those who survived this largely...

Sinica Podcast

05.25.12

The Indiana Jones of China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
After his controversial involvement with the Tarim mummy excavations in Western Xinjiang, Victor Mair might just be the closest thing Sinology has to Indiana Jones, assuming the fictional Spielberg character was a renowned linguist, translator, and...

Books

05.11.12

Midnight in Peking

Paul French
January, 1937: Peking is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, lavish cocktail bars and opium dens, warlords and corruption, rumors and superstition—and the clock is ticking down on all of it. In the exclusive Legation Quarter, the foreign residents wait nervously for the axe to fall. Japanese troops have already occupied Manchuria and are poised to advance south. Word has it that Chiang Kai-shek and his shaky government, long since fled to Nanking, are ready to cut a deal with Tokyo and leave Peking to its fate. Each day brings a racheting up of tension for Chinese and foreigners alike inside the ancient city walls. On one of those walls, not far from the nefarious Badlands, is a massive watchtower—haunted, so the locals believe, by fox spirits that prey upon innocent mortals.Then one bitterly cold night, the body of an innocent mortal is dumped there. It belongs to Pamela Werner, the daughter of a former British consul to China, and when the details of her death become known, people find it hard to credit that any human could treat another in such a fashion. Even as the Japanese noose on the city tightens, the killing of Pamela transfixes Peking. Seventy-five years after these events, Paul French finally gives the case the resolution it was denied at the time. Midnight in Peking is the un-put-downable true story of a murder that will make you hold your loved ones close, and also a sweepingly evocative account of the end of an era. —Penguin Books

Books

05.11.12

Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom

Stephen R. Platt
A gripping account of China’s nineteenth-century Taiping Rebellion, one of the largest civil wars in history, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom brims with unforgettable characters and vivid re-creations of massive and often gruesome battles—a sweeping yet intimate portrait of the conflict that shaped the fate of modern China. The story begins in the early 1850s, the waning years of the Qing dynasty, when word spread of a major revolution brewing in the provinces, led by a failed civil servant who claimed to be the son of God and brother of Jesus. The Taiping rebels drew their power from the poor and the disenfranchised, unleashing the ethnic rage of millions of Chinese against their Manchu rulers. This homegrown movement seemed all but unstoppable until Britain and the United States stepped in and threw their support behind the Manchus: after years of massive carnage, all opposition to Qing rule was effectively snuffed out for generations.Stephen R. Platt recounts these events in spellbinding detail, building his story on two fascinating characters with opposing visions for China’s future: the conservative Confucian scholar Zeng Guofan, an accidental general who emerged as the most influential military strategist in China’s modern history; and Hong Rengan, a brilliant Taiping leader whose grand vision of building a modern, industrial, and pro-Western Chinese state ended in tragic failure. —Knopf

Caixin Media

05.04.12

The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan

Sheila Melvin
On a balmy, moonlit evening in the autumn of 2010, I took my son out to Yuanmingyuan to wander among the ruins. The 150th anniversary of the destruction of “The Garden of Perfect Brightness”—often called the Old Summer Palace—was approaching and I...

Books

04.24.12

The I-Ching

Richard J. Smith
The I Ching originated in China as a divination manual more than three thousand years ago. In 136 BCE the emperor declared it a Confucian classic, and in the centuries that followed, this work had a profound influence on the philosophy, religion, art, literature, politics, science, technology, and medicine of various cultures throughout East Asia. Jesuit missionaries brought knowledge of the I Ching to Europe in the seventeenth century, and the American counterculture embraced it in the 1960s. Here Richard Smith tells the extraordinary story of how this cryptic and once obscure book became one of the most widely read and extensively analyzed texts in all of world literature.In this concise history, Smith traces the evolution of the I Ching in China and throughout the world, explaining its complex structure, its manifold uses in different cultures, and its enduring appeal. He shows how the indigenous beliefs and customs of Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet "domesticated" the text, and he reflects on whether this Chinese classic can be compared to religious books such as the Bible or the Qur'an. Smith also looks at how the I Ching came to be published in dozens of languages, providing insight and inspiration to millions worldwide--including ardent admirers in the West such as Leibniz, Carl Jung, Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan, Jorge Luis Borges, and I. M. Pei. Smith offers an unparalleled biography of the most revered book in China's entire cultural tradition, and he shows us how this enigmatic ancient classic has become a truly global phenomenon.  —Princeton University Press

‘Worse Than the Cultural Revolution’

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Tian Qing may be China’s leading cultural heritage expert. A scholar of Buddhist musicology and the Chinese zither, or guqin, the sixty-four-year-old now heads the Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center, an institution set up by the...

A Master in the Shadows

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
How should one assess the best ways to survive in a revolution? What exactly is the tipping point between obedience and outright sycophancy? When does one try to hold on to the values that gave meaning to one’s upbringing, and when is it best to...

Books

03.29.12

The Gender of Memory

Gail Hershatter
What can we learn about the Chinese revolution by placing a doubly marginalized group—rural women—at the center of the inquiry? In this book, Gail Hershatter explores changes in the lives of seventy-two elderly women in rural Shaanxi province during the revolutionary decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Interweaving these women’s life histories with insightful analysis, Hershatter shows how Party-state policy became local and personal, and how it affected women’s agricultural work, domestic routines, activism, marriage, childbirth, and parenting—even their notions of virtue and respectability. The women narrate their pasts from the vantage point of the present and highlight their enduring virtues, important achievements, and most deeply harbored grievances. In showing what memories can tell us about gender as an axis of power, difference, and collectivity in 1950s rural China and the present, Hershatter powerfully examines the nature of socialism and how gender figured in its creation. —University of California Press

Sinica Podcast

03.16.12

Midnight in Peking

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
In a China accustomed to glacial political change, Bo Xilai’s dramatic fall from power this week has stunned observers nationwide. Joining us to help make sense of things is Guardian correspondent Tania Branigan, who helps review what exactly...

Sinica Podcast

03.09.12

The Mirror of History: China Through the Looking Glass

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Sinica is coming out a bit earlier than usual this week: We were lucky enough to catch Jeffrey Wasserstrom on Monday during a well-timed visit to Beijing, and dragged him into the studio to get his views on the recent elections in Wukan, what is...

Books

03.02.12

The Mongols and Global History

Morris Rossabi
An accessible, documents-based introduction to the history of the Mongols. The volume opens with a brief original essay by Morris Rossabi, one of the world's foremost scholars on the Mongols. Rossabi's essay gives a historical and interpretive overview of the Mongols and charts their invasions and subsequent rule over the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Following is a rich collection of primary sources translated into English from Armenian, Arabic, Chinese, Franco-Italian, Italian, Korean, Latin, Persian, Russian, Syriac, and Tibetan that will give students a clear sense of the extraordinary geographic and linguistic range of the Mongol Empire as well as insight into the empire's rise, how it governed, and how it fell. Each primary source includes a headnote and study questions. The volume ends with a list of further readings. —WW Norton & Company, Inc.

Sinica Podcast

03.02.12

China in the World

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, your hosts Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn are pleased to welcome Geremie R Barmé, the well-known Chinese historian, author, filmmaker, and translator, and the Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the...

Books

02.09.12

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World

Rebecca E. Karl
Throughout this lively and concise historical account of Mao Zedong’s life and thought, Rebecca E. Karl places the revolutionary leader’s personal experiences, social visions and theory, military strategies, and developmental and foreign policies in a dynamic narrative of the Chinese revolution. She situates Mao and the revolution in a global setting informed by imperialism, decolonization, and third worldism, and discusses worldwide trends in politics, the economy, military power, and territorial sovereignty.Karl begins with Mao’s early life in a small village in Hunan province, documenting his relationships with his parents, passion for education, and political awakening during the fall of the Qing dynasty in late 1911. She traces his transition from liberal to Communist over the course of the next decade, his early critiques of the subjugation of women, and the gathering force of the May 4th movement for reform and radical change. Describing Mao’s rise to power, she delves into the dynamics of Communist organizing in an overwhelmingly agrarian society, and Mao’s confrontations with Chiang Kai-shek and other nationalist conservatives. She also considers his marriages and romantic liaisons and their relation to Mao as the revolutionary founder of Communism in China. After analyzing Mao’s stormy tenure as chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Karl concludes by examining his legacy in China from his death in 1976 through the Beijing Olympics in 2008. —Duke University Press

Books

02.03.12

The Wobbling Pivot

Pamela Kyle Crossley
This comprehensive but concise narrative of China since the eighteenth century builds its story around the delicate relationship between central government and local communities. With a nod to Ezra Pound's translation of the Chinese classic Zhongyong (The Unwobbling Pivot), Pamela Kyle Crossley argues that China's modern history has not wholly adhered to the ideal of the "unwobbling pivot", with China as a harmonious society based on principles of stability. Instead she argues that developments can be explained through China's surprising swings between centralization and decentralization, between local initiative and central authoritarianism. The author's approach is broad enough to provide a full introduction to modern Chinese history. Students new to the subject will be supported with timelines, maps, illustrations, and extensive notes to further readings, while those with a background in Chinese history will find an underlying theme in the narrative addressing long-standing interpretive issues. —Wiley-Blackwell 

My First Trip

01.19.12

Looking Back from Age Ninety

Sidney Rittenberg
May 1944: Based on a language aptitude test, I was taken out of the infantry, training in the Oregon snows, and shipped down to sunny Stanford, to be trained in Japanese. I opted for Chinese instead, thinking this would bring me home earlier. And...

Reports

01.01.12

A Preliminary Mapping of China-Africa Knowledge Networks

Tatiana Carayannis and Nathaniel Olin
The Social Science Research Council
Given the growing importance of Chinese engagement in Africa, over the past year, the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF) of the SSRC has expanded its research engagement and policy outreach on China-Africa. The origins of this preliminary...

Out of School

12.20.11

The “United States of China,” 100 Years Later

Stephen Platt
On September 29, 1910, a young Chinese cook in Berkeley named George Fong bought himself a .38 caliber revolver. The next day he hiked up into the hills behind the fraternity house where he worked at the University of California, found a secluded...

The Real Deng

Fang Lizhi from New York Review of Books
When a scientific experiment uncovers a new phenomenon, a scientist is pleased. When an experiment fails to reveal something that the scientist originally expected, that, too, counts as a result worth analyzing. A sense of the “nonappearance of the...

Reports

11.01.11

Historical Precedents for Internationalization of the RMB

Jeffrey Frankel
He Jianan
Council on Foreign Relations
The twentieth century saw the rise of the US dollar, the German mark, and the Japanese yen as international currencies. Now the Chinese renminbi is on a similar course toward reserve currency status, but its path is deviating from those of its...

From Tenderness to Savagery in Seconds

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Much nonsense has been written about the Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking. We know this much: in December 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army, after taking the Chinese Nationalist capital of Nanjing, went on a six-week rampage,...

Sinica Podcast

10.13.11

Sun Yat-sen and the Xinhai Revolution

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
One hundred years ago this week, local outrage over plans to nationalize provincial railways triggered the Wuchang Uprising, an act of sedition that marked the start of the Xinhai Revolution and the beginning of the end for China’s long-governing...

My First Trip

09.17.11

Coming Home to a New Place Each Time

Liu Heung Shing
As a Hong Kong-born Chinese who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, it’s hard to pinpoint my first trip to China; at least, one that I remember clearly, for my real first trip was as a toddler, in 1953 in the arms of my mother who carried me to her...

China’s Tibetan Theme Park

Richard Bernstein from New York Review of Books
In the international press, China’s tensions with Tibet are often traced to the Chinese invasion of 1950 and Tibet’s failed uprising of 1959. But for the Chinese themselves, the story goes back much further—at least to the reign of Kangxi, the Qing...

Kissinger and China

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
It is hard to fit Henry Kissinger’s latest book, On China, into any conventional frame or genre. Partly that is because the somewhat self-deprecatory title conceals what is, in fact, an ambitious goal: to make sense of China’s diplomacy and foreign...

China’s Glorious New Past

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
I first went to Datong in 1984 and was immediately taken by this gritty city in China’s northern Shanxi Province. Along with half a dozen classmates from Peking University, I traveled eight hours on an overnight train, arriving in a place that felt...

My First Trip

05.14.11

Let the Devil Take the Hindmost

Lois Snow
China became part of my life when I met and married Edgar Snow. I had read Red Star Over China long before I knew the author but the years that followed were largely devoted to my acting career in New York. China was rather remote from Broadway...

The Worst Man-Made Catastrophe, Ever

Roderick MacFarquhar from New York Review of Books
When the first waves of Chinese graduate students arrived on American campuses in the early 1980s, they were excited at entering an unfettered learning environment. After the recent ravages of the Cultural Revolution, political science students had...

Sinica Podcast

12.24.10

The Long Arm of History

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
{vertical_photo_right}Visitors to China might be forgiven for concluding that history carries more weight here. For whatever the reason, even the far-off ghosts of the Opium War, the scramble for concessions, and the Treaty of Versailles still haunt...

Xanadu in New York

Eliot Weinberger from New York Review of Books
1.The Mongols inhabited a vast, featureless grass plain where the soil was too thin for crops. They raised horses, cattle, yaks, sheep, and goats, and subsisted almost entirely on meat and milk and milk products. The women milked the cows and the...

Finding the Facts About Mao’s Victims

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Yang Jisheng is an editor of Annals of the Yellow Emperor, one of the few reform-oriented political magazines in China. Before that, the seventy-year-old native of Hubei province was a national correspondent with the government-run Xinhua news...

Books

12.01.10

Tea Horse Road

Michael Freeman
One of the longest and most dramatic trade routes of the ancient world, the Tea Horse Road carried a crucial exchange for 13 centuries between China and Tibet. China needed war horses to protect its northern frontier, and Tibet could supply them. When the Tibetans discovered tea in the 7th century, it became a staple of their diet, but its origins are in southwest China, and they had to trade for it. The result was a network of trails covering more than 3,000 kilometres through forests, gorges and high passes onto the Himalayan plateaus, traversed by horse, mule and yak caravans, and human porters. It linked cultures, economies and political ambitions, and lasted until the middle of the 20th century. Re-tracing the many branches of the Road, photographer and writer Michael Freeman spent two years compiling this remarkable visual record, from the tea mountains of southern Yunnan and Sichuan to Tibet and beyond. Collaborating on this fascinating account, ethnobotanist Selena Ahmed’s description of tea and bio-cultural diversity in the region draws on her original doctoral research.—River Books

How Reds Smashed Reds

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
July and August 1966, the first months of the ten-year Cultural Revolution, were the summer of what Andrew Walder, a sociologist at Stanford, calls “The Maoist Shrug.” Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong’s wife, told high school Red Guards, “We do not advocate...

Books

11.01.10

Heart of Buddha, Heart of China

James Carter
The Buddhist monk Tanxu surmounted extraordinary obstacles—poverty, wars, famine, and foreign occupation—to become one of the most prominent monks in China, founding numerous temples and schools, and attracting crowds of students and disciples wherever he went. Now, in Heart of Buddha, Heart of China, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man. This revealing biography shows a Chinese man, neither an intellectual nor a peasant, trying to reconcile his desire for a bold and activist Chinese nationalism with his own belief in China's cultural and social traditions, especially Buddhism. As it follows Tanxu's extraordinary life, the book also illuminates the pivotal events in China's modern history, showing how one individual experienced the fall of China's last empire, its descent into occupation and civil war, and its eventual birth as modern nation. Indeed, Tanxu lived in a time of almost constant warfare—from the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, to the Boxer Uprising, the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese occupation, and World War II. He and his followers were robbed by river pirates, and waylaid by bandits on the road. Caught in the struggle between nationalist and communist forces, Tanxu finally sought refuge in the British colony of Hong Kong. At the time of his death, at the age of 89, he was revered as "Master Tanxu," one of Hong Kong's leading religious figures. Capturing all this in a magnificent portrait, Carter gives first-person immediacy to one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history.  —Oxford University Press

Books

11.01.10

Coming to Terms with the Nation

Thomas S. Mullaney
China is a vast nation comprised of hundreds of distinct ethnic communities, each with its own language, history, and culture. Today the government of China recognizes just 56 ethnic nationalities, or minzu, as groups entitled to representation. This controversial new book recounts the history of the most sweeping attempt to sort and categorize the nation's enormous population: the 1954 Ethnic Classification project (minzu shibie). Thomas S. Mullaney draws on recently declassified material and extensive oral histories to describe how the communist government, in power less than a decade, launched this process in ethnically diverse Yunnan. Mullaney shows how the government drew on Republican-era scholarship for conceptual and methodological inspiration as it developed a strategy for identifying minzu and how non-Party-member Chinese ethnologists produced a “scientific” survey that would become the basis for a policy on nationalities.  —University of California Press

A Hero of the China Underground

Howard W. French from New York Review of Books
As a poet and chronicler of other people’s lives, Liao Yiwu is a singular figure among the generation of Chinese intellectuals who emerged after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Unlike the leaders of Beijing’s student movement, people like...

The Question of Pearl Buck

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
The announcement by the Swedish Academy in November 1938 that Pearl Buck had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature was met with sarcasm and even derision by many writers and critics. They were not impressed that this was the third choice by...

Books

09.15.10

China Marches West

Peter Perdue
From about 1600 to 1800, the Qing empire of China expanded to unprecedented size. Through astute diplomacy, economic investment, and a series of ambitious military campaigns into the heart of Central Eurasia, the Manchu rulers defeated the Zunghar Mongols, and brought all of modern Xinjiang and Mongolia under their control, while gaining dominant influence in Tibet. The China we know is a product of these vast conquests. Peter C. Perdue chronicles this little-known story of China’s expansion into the northwestern frontier. Unlike previous Chinese dynasties, the Qing achieved lasting domination over the eastern half of the Eurasian continent. Rulers used forcible repression when faced with resistance, but also aimed to win over subject peoples by peaceful means. They invested heavily in the economic and administrative development of the frontier, promoted trade networks, and adapted ceremonies to the distinct regional cultures. Perdue thus illuminates how China came to rule Central Eurasia and how it justifies that control, what holds the Chinese nation together, and how its relations with the Islamic world and Mongolia developed. He offers valuable comparisons to other colonial empires and discusses the legacy left by China’s frontier expansion. The Beijing government today faces unrest on its frontiers from peoples who reject its autocratic rule. At the same time, China has launched an ambitious development program in its interior that in many ways echoes the old Qing policies.  —Harvard University Press

Waiting for WikiLeaks: Beijing’s Seven Secrets

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
While people in the U.S. and elsewhere have been reacting to the release by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents on the Afghan War, Chinese bloggers have been discussing the event in parallel with another in their own country. On July 21 in...

Books

04.15.10

Superstitious Regimes

Rebecca Nedostup
We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence.These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.” —Harvard University Press{chop}

Books

03.01.10

China In the 21st Century

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
The need to understand this global giant has never been more pressing: China is constantly in the news, yet conflicting impressions abound. Within one generation, China has transformed from an impoverished, repressive state into an economic and political powerhouse. In China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, Jeffrey Wasserstrom provides cogent answers to the most urgent questions regarding the newest superpower and offers a framework for understanding its meteoric rise. Focusing his answers through the historical legacies—Western and Japanese imperialism, the Mao era, and the massacre near Tiananmen Square—that largely define China's present-day trajectory, Wasserstrom introduces readers to the Chinese Communist Party, the building boom in Shanghai, and the environmental fall-out of rapid Chinese industrialization. He also explains unique aspects of Chinese culture such as the one-child policy, and provides insight into how Chinese view Americans. Wasserstrom reveals that China today shares many traits with other industrialized nations during their periods of development, in particular the United States during its rapid industrialization in the 19th century. Finally, he provides guidance on the ways we can expect China to act in the future vis-a-vis the United States, Russia, India, and its East Asian neighbors.  —Oxford University Press

The Triumph of Madame Chiang

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
Charlie Soong, born in 1866, was a new kind of figure in Chinese history, an independent-minded youngster with an openness to the world who came to Boston from Hainan Island at the age of twelve to work in a store. At fourteen he stowed away on a...

The Enigma of Chiang Kai-shek

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
Back in 1975, when he died in Taiwan at the age of eighty-seven, it was easy to see Chiang Kai-shek as a failure, as a piece of Chinese flotsam left awkwardly drifting in the wake of Mao Zedong’s revolutionary victories. Now it is not easy to be so...

Reports

06.04.09

Taiwan’s Political Status: Historical Background and Ongoing Implications

Kerry Dumbaugh
Peony Lui
Congressional Research Service
In 1979, official U.S. relations with Taiwan (the Republic of China) became a casualty of the American decision to recognize the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as China’s sole legitimate government. Since then, U.S. unofficial...

The Mystery of Zhou Enlai

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
Through the ups and downs of the unpredictable Chinese Revolution, Zhou Enlai’s reputation has seemed to stand untarnished. The reasons for this are in part old-fashioned ones: in a world of violent change, not noted for its finesse, Zhou Enlai...

Reports

05.01.09

China’s $1.5 Trillion Bet: Understanding China’s External Portfolio

Brad W. Setser
He Jianan
Council on Foreign Relations
China is now by far the United States’ largest creditor. Its treasury portfolio recently surpassed that of Japan’s, and it has long held more agency (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) bonds than any other country. Never before has a nation as poor as China...