Stop comparing countries’ Covid-19 numbers!

As the Covid-19 pandemic rages around the world, we should not let our desire for clear hard numbers blind us for the pitfalls of public health statistics. The havoc caused by SARS-CoV-2 is increasing every day since its terror began in Wuhan, China. Understandably, the public wants something to chart this novel coronavirus’ terrifying progress […]

The China Model for the world: the real revisionism is trying to stop the ‘inevitable historical trend’, according to Beijing

Earlier in 2019, Jessica Chen Weiss wrote a well-considered article for Foreign Affairs in which she argues that China does not seek to export authoritarianism, but merely wants to make the world safer for itself. There is indeed no National Endowment for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, nor has Beijing set up a Peaceful Co-existence Radio […]

Bekijk Taiwan niet steeds door een Chinese lens: vier misverstanden voor de komende verkiezingen

Op 11 januari zijn er in Taiwan verkiezingen voor de president en voor het parlement, de Wetgevende Yuan. In de korte geschiedenis van deze jonge democratie zijn dit de meest cruciale verkiezingen tot nu toe. Kiest de bevolking voor weerstand bieden aan Peking of voor langzame integratie? Het eiland komt meestal in het nieuws in […]

Fretting over systemic tension while ignoring the substantive reasons for worry: China is run by people not by ‘forces’

Recently, a friend attended a conference on Sino-American relations in Singapore. He perceptively remarked that, amid all the talk of rising tension, no one seemed to dare to mention why countries around the world are getting wary of China. Although there are plenty of reasons to highlight systemic causes for tension between a declining United […]

Summarising Zhao Dingxin’s lessons from 1989 for the Hong Kong protests: protest ecology and conflicting state legitimation

Talking about the on-going protests in Hong Kong, pundits love to invoke the 1989 Movement that famously centred around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. I myself have previously argued that it might be more useful to compare the overall effect on Hong Kong of the ‘Hard Had Revolution’ to the effect that the February 28 Incident […]

Hong Kong shows that ‘communism’ is the most efficient creator of alienation

As Hong Kong is gripped in chaos and violence, there is something interesting about the ‘strongly condemn’ statements that Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor puts out at her rare press conferences. Completely in line with the rules prevalent on the Mainland, the first thing she condemns is always the harm done […]

The Hard Hat Revolution will not be Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square, it might be its February 28 Incident

Tension had been building for a long time. It had been a while since the former colonial power had returned the island to China, but rather than being grateful, the local inhabitants were increasingly chafing under what they saw as a breakdown in the rule of law and encroachment on their economic opportunities. Finally, one […]

Party Not Required: nationalism’s long-term threat to the Chinese Communist Party

Xi Jinping’s well-documented attempts to become ‘chairman of everything’—as several observers have argued before me—are in fact a testament to his need to shore up weak central power. The Chinese party-state works through broad project campaigns, launched through the apparatus of party committees and propaganda organs. Local leaders take the cue to come up with […]

Reading that shapes my understanding of PRChina

This is a live list of various works that have most fundamentally shaped my understanding of the People’s Republic of China. Last updated 2019/09/14. Philip Selznick. 1952. The Organizational Weapon: A Study of Bolshevik Strategy and Tactics. 1st ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a marxist-leninist ‘party’. This type of organisation is […]

The question of banning Chinese ‘academics’

Twitter today lit up with condemnation and partial praise over a report in the New York Times about the growing number of Chinese academics banned from the United State and having their long-term visas cancelled by the FBI. This is understandable, as innocent Chinese-Americans have been swept up by espionage paranoia in the past, and […]