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China Analysis Digest #82

A weekly curated list of new China-related analyses.
China Analysis Digest #82

Date range: November 14-21, 2022

Sources scanned: 122

Publications: 192 (English), 45 (Chinese)

“Bad China” makes good news stories — but who benefits and who suffers?
Wanning Sun | ABC - Religion and Ethics | November 14, 2022

Taiwan Shouldn’t Be Used as a Geopolitical Pawn
James Lin | Jacobin | November 2022

University Engagement with China: An MIT Approach
The MIT China Strategy Group | Massachusetts Institute of Technology | November 2022

The myth of the master strategist Part 2: Xi Jinping and getting China wrong
Matthew Sussex and Michael Clarke | Centre for Defence Research, Australian Defence Force | October 2022

邓聿文 | 德国之声 | 2022年11月20日

China Watching

China Neican

Reading the China Dream

"On reflection, it is not at all surprising that Chinese establishment intellectuals said nothing about the 20th Party Congress, because doing anything other than repeating the Party line would be dangerous and foolhardy. In other words, they can write all they want to about how China’s rise will change world history and supplant American hegemony, but they cannot wonder out loud if the particular events occurring at the 20th Congress might not make one worry whether China’s rise to greatness is on the right path. I know beyond the shadow of the doubt that many, many Chinese intellectuals are deeply worried about China’s current trajectory, which means that their silence speaks volume."

Comment: David Ownby points out a vexing problem: there are many things Chinese intellectuals simply cannot say under the current political circumstances. How do we find out what they think short of going to China?

China Heritage

"Readers familiar with the history of High Maoism (c.1956-1976) will know the slogan ‘To rebel is justified’ 造反有理 zàofăn yŏu lĭ, which was paired with the line ‘revolution is legitimate’ 革命無罪 gémìng wú zuì. This was the clarion call of the Red Guards who, encouraged by the Chairman to overthrow his ideological and bureaucratic opponents wreaked havoc in 1966-1967...Many members of that generation of ‘politically awakened’ radicals would undergo a second, corrective awakening. First, in April 1976, they would rebel against the leaders of the Cultural Revolution in Tiananmen Square in April 1976 and then, in late 1978, they led the Democracy Wall Movement. That lineage of rebellion lives on in the efforts of young people...today."

Comment: Barmé's long, meandering post features a collection of sources on the theme of youth awakening and rebellion in modern Chinese history. He presents the Sitong Bridge protest as the latest manifestation of a venerable yet tragic tradition. One source that caused me some melancholy is a few passages by John Fitzgerald on Lu Xun's musing about a scene from A Doll's House, a play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen published in 1879. Lu Xun problematises the very idea of "awakening" as part of the revolutionary agenda:

[John Fitzgerald:] "In his [1923] essay “What Happens After Nora Leaves Home?” Lu Xun...is not content to let the question rest with a simple inquiry into Nora’s fate but raises a further question that has no place on any revolutionary agenda. If an awakening offers no “way out,” after all, of what use is awakening?

[In the words of Lu Xun:] "Since Nora has awakened it is hard for her to return to the dream world; hence all she can do is to leave. After leaving, though, she can hardly avoid going to the bad or returning. Otherwise the question arises: What has she taken away with her apart from her awakened heart?"

China Media Project

China Brief

Opinion Pages

Project Syndicate

"America's latest efforts to block China's technological and economic development are likely to do more harm than good. The peaceful economic relationship of the past 30 years may not have been perfect, but it was certainly better than what will come from zero-sum rivalry and mutual suspicion."
"Notwithstanding the risks posed by Russian aggression, China appropriately looms largest in the Biden administration's new National Security Strategy. Yet by eschewing an assertive free-trade agenda, the United States continues to give China an advantage in precisely the area where it is ascendant."


China Story

"A clever code of rainbows and secret words that avoid online censorship is a must for talking to my LGBTQI+ activist friends in China these days. While a dictionary of this language does not exist and it is constantly changing, fluency in double-speak allows queer 酷儿 communities to communicate without directly mentioning ‘politically sensitive’ and increasingly banned phrases like ‘gender and sexual diversity’ or ‘LGBTQI’. Just like when Chinese feminists replaced the censored #MeToo hashtag with the homophonous #MiTu/米兔 which was then translated as #RiceBunny, double-speak helps LGBTQI+ people avoid direct censorship online.

LGBTQI+ communities are surviving — if not thriving — in the digital space under the current political climate. Queerness is not something that can be suppressed, including by censorship, and resistance inevitably follows control and surveillance. A practice with historical roots when sexual and gender diversity was outlawed, double-speak is an important strategy for self-preservation of LGBTQI+ individuals, and to preserve their digitally connected communities. As one of LGBTQI+ activists and advocates put it in conversation with me, ‘even if lotus seeds are dormant for a hundred years, they will bloom when the conditions improve.’"


China-US Focus

East Asia Forum

China Dialogue

Pearls and Irritations

The Strategist

"What we can celebrate is the fact that, by refusing to compromise on any area of Australia’s national interest, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was able to go into the meeting with his counterpart in a position of strength. Beijing has effectively accepted that its coercion of Australia has, so far, been unsuccessful. That is a significant achievement, not just for us but for all countries that were watching to see how far Beijing would go to bend another country to its will."

Comment: the idea that Australia should "refus[e] to compromise on any area of Australia’s national interest" in dealing with Beijing is unrealistic. Of course, countries give and take in their dealings with great powers; compromise is unavoidable. When Beijing refused to improve relations, the hawks accused Beijing of trying to grind Australia into submission. But when Beijing took steps to improve relations, the hawks taunted Beijing for "capitulation". One wonders, under what circumstances would these hawks reflect?

News & Magazines

Sixth Tone

"Zhao Dingxin: The two-in-one system known as the Confucian-Legalist state has indeed been broken; more precisely, the Confucian part is largely gone, but the Legalist part remains...

the two main institutional foundations that sustained the Confucian tradition, the imperial examination system, known as the keju, and the lineage-based social organization, were destroyed during the transformation of modern China. What is more, the prolonged implementation of the one-child policy has destroyed the culture of large families, undermining a diffuse institution that once sustained Confucian values...

The continuation of Legalism in China is supported by the following institutions: A state with both the strong desire and capacity to adopt rigid control measures when dealing with social complexity, a population that readily accepts the penetration of the state into their private lives, and a culture of managerialism reinforced in child rearing and education."
"Similar to its cousins, cyberpunk, steampunk, and solarpunk, silkpunk represents a mix of two equally important elements: silk — an aesthetic style inspired by Asian-Pacific mythology, history, and culture — and a punk-like tendency to question, deconstruct, and rebel...

Silkpunk is neither about showcasing diversity and underscoring one’s “origin story,” which could quickly degenerate into an ethnocentric trap where everyone is shoehorned into their own little box of cultural representation, nor is it about appropriating the flashy elements of Asian-Pacific culture and grafting them indiscriminatingly onto fundamentally Euro- or American-centric stories. The result is neither Chinese nor Western, but a kaleidoscope of vibrant, varicolored myths: a reimagination of the past with the potential to rewrite the future of sci-fi and fantasy."

Comment: if we can accept this level of syncretism in the fiction that we read, why not then in the imagining of our identities and the visions for our communities?

China Digital Times

The Conversation

The Wire China

The China Project (SupChina)


The Diplomat

Foreign Policy

Think Tanks

Center for Strategic and International Studies


Council of Foreign Relations

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

Asia Society

Australia-China Relations Institute


Politico China Watcher

Politico China Direct

The India China Newsletter

Beijing to Britain

Beijing to Canberra and Back

China-Russia Report

Maple Kingdom (China-Canada)


Discourse Power

Beijing Baselines



Tracking People's Daily

Beijing Channel


China Law Translate

China Trade Monitor

Society & Culture

What's on Weibo

Chaoyang Trap House


Greater China

Hong Kong Free Press

Taiwan Insight

Chinese Language Sources








Comment: This is a sensible read on the People's Daily article 《增强实现中华民族伟大复兴的精神力量》by Li Shulei, the new head of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee. Xi is unlikely to repeat a Yan'an-style rectification or repeat the Anti-Rightist Campaign for various reasons.

By Adam Ni

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