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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Never Forget Chinese Nationalism’s Ethnocentrism

Saying that Chinese increasingly assertive nationalism has a rather ethnocentric streak is nothing new, at least not for those who follow China. However, only when you actually read the source material in Chinese, is the starkness of the PRC’s racialism really driven home. This is something analysts, and other people paid to have opinions on […]

On studying in China

Later this afternoon I leave for the People’s Republic to start my first of two semesters at Peking University, close to Beijing’s beautiful Summer Palace in the northwest. While I like to kid that I look forward most of all to the food, I will also enjoy the opportunity to study and learn about China. But […]

Is China trying use the COC to beef up its Article 281 defence?

Besides ‘we do not accept,’ another legal argument China used to argue that the Philippines case before An Arbitral Tribunal under Annex VII of UNCLOS was inadmissible was that the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea prevented arbitration as per UNCLOS Article 281. This article states that if states […]