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 2019/04/17. 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 [...]

The Need for Reparations

To this day, the evil of colonialism has not sunken in. The exhibition on Thomas Stamford Raffles in the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore on the occasion of the bicentennial of the 1819 founding of the British colony has provided an opportunity for reflection. I was inspired by posts and remarks from Faris Joraimi [...]

It’s not ‘just’ a social construct: pessimistic about change

‘Social construct’ is a favourite bogeyman of the anti-PC brigade. These daring, freethinking spirits see dangerous relativism lurking behind this widely-accepted social science concept. The problem is that they generally do not understand what a social construct is. They are not alone: even many people dabbling on the more extreme side of 'social justice' seem [...]

The dangerous long-term weakness of authoritarian leadership

A strong leader can put the house in order. Authoritarian figures with a vision have some successes on their names, notably in East Asia. But their cheerleaders often underestimate how much their achievements were possible because of broad support. As Paul Krugman pointed out in his 1994 Foreign Affaris article debunking uncritical celebration of the [...]

Indies Literature: Thoughts on ‘This Earth of Mankind’ by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

The Dutch lack of awareness of its colonial past has almost become a cliché. Anticolonial activists clamouring for compensiation and pundits nostalgic for a past where the Netherlands once dared to dream of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council both lament the uneducated state of the public. Their oft repeated complaint has actually [...]

The laziness of Critical Theory

Critical approaches have done great work in social sciences, adding greatly to our collective insight. However, some scholars have taken the useful viewpoint it brings and turned it into a simplistic replacement of all other social science. For these critical theorists, mere deconstruction has replaced all other scholarship. The notion that all knowledge is premised [...]

Before Europe Can Come Back, Does It Need A ‘Kniefall’?

For large numbers of peoples in the world, the decline of Europe meant their liberation. On his recent state visit in China, President Macron confidently stated 'France is back. Europe is back.' It is good for the European Union to stake out its own place in the world and develop an independent foreign policy. However, [...]

Avoiding Yellow Peril amid PRC infiltration

With legislation introduced in Australia's parliament which Prime Minister Turnbull has explicitly said is meant to counter Chinese interference, the efforts of Beijing to shape the world have been brought to the fore like they haven't in quite some time. Across the Western world, governments and companies are realising that behind Chinese acquisitions and investment [...]