Top Features on China in 2017

by Julia Tatrai

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like
Buzzfeed didn’t exactly ring a bell as a China specialized news page, but this chilling report by Megha Rajagopalan changed that (to a degree). After interviewing about two dozen of affected Uighurs, her report draws a grim picture of what the combination of a hyper-modern surveillance state with Maoist paranoia and CPC-controlled courts can do to whoever the state is thinking of as an enemy needing re-education.

Out West: A Visual Narrative of China’s Westernmost Region
Xinjiang has always been a top priority on my travel list, a place of longing that seemed to be as magical and remote as images of times long gone. This reportage with exceptionally beautiful pictures by the outstanding Patrick Wack underlines that the region is transforming and that China is eager to transform its dualities into an obedient singularity (if anyone travels there in 2018, send me pictures).

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens
China is making citizen obedience a mandatory online gaming experience by 2020 moving all of us closer to an “onlife” experience. Read about the consequences in this long read by Rachel Botsman in Wired.

Remembering Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xiaobo’s tragic death was one of the China top stories of 2017. Liu, detained for 8 years by the time he died of cancer, was one of China’s most outspoken dissidents and the only Chinese Nobel peace prize winner. In the aftermath of his death, Citizen Lab analysed the scope of censorship in the Chinese internet. Just as with the Tiananmen massacre, citizens interest in Liu is high, but China seems to be keen to remove Liu’s legacy by making searching for information on him virtually impossible.

Zwischen Realität und Spielerei (German)
Another boy band, another success but this time with a twist: the five young singers are not men but women who identify as female but prefer to be addressed without gender pronouns. At first glance, the band seems to be startingly progressive in a country where no laws against discrimination of homosexuals exist and where homosexual content was just banned online. Digging deeper, TAZ author Maxie Römhild explains why FFC-Acrush is no symbol of changing gender politics in China.

Is it too late to save Hong Kong from Beijing’s authoritarian grasp?
Howard W. French, himself author of two highly interesting books on China, is writing about the future of Hong Kong between Beijing’s increasingly oppressive politics and fragmented movements fighting for an independent Hong Kong in this Guardian Long Read.

China’s Urbancide in Tibet
The last years saw a relaxation of the strict Chinese hukou system. Once hailed as a progressive reform, reports this month about migrant cleansing in Beijing have put the social welfare aspect of the reform in serious doubt. Earlier this year, Rinzin Dorjee was already writing about the uniquely negative impact of the reform in Tibet for the Diplomat, resulting in “urbancide” of Tibetan traditions and culture.

Homeless Take Shelter in Hefei’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Making a bookstore your home – for a booklover like me, this sounds like an appealing option at first. Read why it’s not for China’s poor and homeless in this sad story by Guo Quanzhi in Sixthtone.

Treating What Ails the Study of Chinese Politics
This essay is the top-pick of both Aya and Tatjana; William Hurst is analysing what is ailing the study of Chinese politics, claiming that a lack of context and comparison resulting in either “neglected isolation” or “arrogant exceptionalism” is hindering the development of this subfield of Chinese Studies. Written for Chinoiresie, one of my favourite resources on China.

Trump’s Unlikely Ally: The Chinese Dissident
Edward White is talking about something I have thought about a lot this year: Are Chinese dissidents unlikely allies of Trump? Does the Trump presidency mean a – however twisted and yucky (I mean, it’s still Trump) – return of human rights in the official debate between the US and China? At the end of this year, the most likely answer is probably not after all, but White’s essay written in January this year is making a number of interesting points worth considering in depth.

The World Needs to Hear China’s Feminist Voices
WAGIC is my personal favorite initiative on China this year with its welcome focus on Gender in China. The first issue of the has seen a number of highly interesting reads, but this one by Li Maizi has to be my favorite.

Excuse us, while we build new futures.
Our partners Sinonerds have written a number of wonderful stories on China this year; my favorite is this one by Lin Hierse, even though I didn’t see the exhibition she is talking about myself (but she writes as if one was there with her).















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