Back to the 1950s? Weibo and the Patriotic Journalist

 

Huanqiu Shibao returns to the 1950s: Reprinting Korean War posters, March 26, 2012

Back to the 1950s? Weibo and the Patriotic Journalist

by Adam Cathcart, with Franz Bleeker

Had Chinese journalists been equipped with Weibo feeds in the early 1950s, what might they have said?  Like the slashing calligraphy of a big-character poster, a Weibo post has every potential at its disposal: It can commemorate injustices visited upon the dead, threaten violence upon the state’s presumed enemies, and proclaim the author’s pithy ideological correctness.

For Chinese journalists and intellectuals of the 1950s, the microblog medium surely would have offered an ideal method through which to demonstrate what necessarily had to be publicly demonstrated: support, among other things, for the new government’s campaigns to police and purge China of the human legacies of imperialism.

In the context of Beijing’s present campaign to regulate and police China’s polyglot foreign population, a recollection of the early 1950s might, seem a bit of a stretch.  Few foreigners today are being publicly beaten or humiliated, and none sentenced to death.  Using China’s own metrics for the expansion of human rights, this should count as a sign of progress.

When one reads a careful translation of the now-notorious May 16, microblog post by Yang Rui, the prominent CCTV-English television host, one might be forgiven for having flashbacks to the movement to “suppress counterrevolutionaries.”

The historical resonance of Yang’s inflammatory comments – not to mention their almost precise echoing of themes in the North Korean media – escaped the notice of most commentators.  What was noticed was the fact that Yang’s post was intended to lay down a line of supportive fire for the government in debates about incidents in May involving foreigners.

If it remains unclear if Yang’s post was an act of great virtuosity or stupidity, it might bear recalling that the ability of a state journalist to augment one’s usefulness to the state via an act of calculated provocation in a year of political transition is not entirely easy.

  Like his famous counterpart Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times, Yang Rui is nothing if not a establishment “intellectual,” a man whose vocation is to aid the state in promoting a matrix of lively but rarely challenging domestic propaganda and at least the internal image of international prestige.

Might it be possible, however, to view Yang Rui’s actions in a less cynical light, through the prism not of the bullied and bullying propagandist, but instead through the historical prism of embattled Chinese nationalism? Whatever the state incentive structure, Chinese journalists can easily slip upon themselves the mantle of nation, and do so with the most sanguine language. It might bear recalling that in week in question, Yang Rui’s outburst was competing with a Xinhua reporter who had picked up and boated all the way out to an island off of the Philippine coast to plant a Chinese flag.

Yang Rui’s Competition: A Chinese Journalist Plants a Flag in the South China Sea, May 10, 2012

In line with such patriotic writers and television journalists, Yang Rui has thousands of predecessors, men and women with a cause.  One in particular bears noting: Wang Yunsheng (王芸生), born in Tianjin in 1901.

Like Yang Rui, Wang Yunsheng had spent significant time abroad (in Japan, rather than England), and often leveraged that experience as a means of augmenting his credibility in the Chinese marketplace of ideas. Long before the television era, Wang’s influence during the War of Resistance was radiated outward through the typeface of the Dagongbao, the respected daily paper.

Wang Yunsheng in Chongqing before his offices were bombed, 1940

His editorial offices in Chongqing having been bombed by the Japanese, Wang stayed on in the ersatz capital in 1946, met Mao Zedong and did his part to attack the enemies and false allies of China – who at the time included Harry Truman, Josef Stalin, and the miraculously undead Japanese militarist Hideki Tojo. Offered a paid trip to Japan by General Douglas MacArthur, Wang accepted the invitation, rubbed shoulders with Japanese colleagues, returned to Shanghai and proceeded to savage American occupation policy as an independent voice. He was an intrepid soul in intrepid times.

The problem with being a critical soul, however, is that times can change; to be a good journalist in China, one has to be a chameleon as well. In Wang’s case, his unfiltered attacks on Stalin and extensive contacts with Americans during the war morphed into career problems after 1949, when the CCP took over the Dagongbao.  His authoritative book on Japan had to be heavily revised for reissue during the Anti-Rightist Campaign; Wang’s insufficiently Marxist analysis of Japanese imperialism brought him a great deal of pain.  Tweets, it seems, can be deleted, but a book is forever. Wang Yunsheng managed to survive the Cultural Revolution and died just as Yang Rui was preparing to enter university in Jilin in 1980.

The difficult experience of Wang Yunsheng and whole generation of Chinese journalists is a quiet undercurrent to China’s contemporary media landscape.  The lessons learned during the original takeover of China’s press structures in the late 1940s, the Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957, and having been yanked back from the edge of full-scale change in 1989 have been learned at no small cost.  Perhaps this is why Yang Rui is no Deng Tuo.  Yang, after all, has learned to align himself not so much with a specific set of policies and cultural debates as with the master narrative of “China’s rise,” its raw power and influence.

In the aftermath of Yang’s Weibo explosion, critics went digging through the rest of his online oeuvre. However, no one seems to have mentioned  his interview with “Zhongguo Guangbo Yingshi”, a magazine published by SARFT – in which, Yang explained his own role in 2008:

Q: Behind every outstanding program, its producers may have tough times, and there may be setbacks in the process. How do you overcome difficulties or crisis?

Yang: When things aren’t the way one wants them to be, personally, I remind myself more frequently that I’m no longer just representing myself, but that I’m an image spokesperson of the country, that my ideological level must match with my image on the screen, that I should, as far as possible, be indifferent to worldly rewards, and remain aware of the overall picture.

Later, speaking for a full hour about himself and China’s image on a counterpart talk show hosted by Sultan M. Ali in Pakistan, Yang provided more or less the most complete example to date:

When you talk about my own image, it’s not about myself, really. My name, my image, are a symbol of a country on the rise, and our rapid integration into the rest of the world has generated so many debates as to the global and [...] implications whether we pose any threat to our neighboring countries or the existing international economic and political order. Certainly we have different values and a different social system. But does it mean that we would have zero tolerance for differences, or the other way round? This is a question I keep asking in hundreds of editions of dialogues that I have with elites, politicians, policy makers from around the whole world. I never take myself as a an anchor in that sense, because China needs to have a dialogue.

A dialogue on the basis of China’s economic strength and growing global might seems rather preferable to a rhetorical redux of the paranoid campaigns of the early People’s Republic.  The extent to which Chinese journalists and television personalities are able to balance their patriotic legacy against the bruises hidden by the flag may dictate how far China is ultimately able to rise.

Adam Cathcart is Assistant Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington; Franz Bleeker, who provided indispensible input for this essay, is an independent sinologist and translator in Bremen, Germany. 

Documenting Claims of China’s “Charm Diplomacy”

A recent essay on Chinese “soft power” written not by a US-trained academic, but from within China, provides a chance to find fissures between how and why China is using Western concepts of cultural power on the global stage.  (See Yang Danzhi, “Charm Diplomacy Bears Fruit,” China Daily, April 9, 2012).

The tendency is to read the China Daily as merely a state-controlled paper whose editorial line is relatively monolithic.  But Chinese op-eds — like policy directions, for that matter — are often cobbled together piece by piece, and it is individual academics who bring the issues forward into light, often with telling, revealing, or simply clumsy juxtapositions. Scholars who do not occupy the top chairs in Chinese think-tanks do not drive policy, but they way that they chose to interpret overall policy direction —and the prose that they churn out in that endeavor – can tell us more about the ideological and foreign policy terrain being surveyed in Beijing.

Yang Danzhi, a researcher in the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at (CASS[English]/中国社会科学研究院[Chinese]) provides grist for review today. Because I have not had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Yang, we can only gather a few facts from online ephemera: resume, previous output.  A dissertation, of course, would tell us much more, but with a handful of op-eds over the years, a series of views emerges which is very much in line with the kind of Huanqiu Shibao brand of nationalism.

Yang spent several years in Yunnan Province, on China’s Southwestern frontier, where the presence of India and Southeast Asia is felt far more palpably than in distant, dusty, and dry Peking.  Scholars from the periphery tend to sometimes be even more hardline.

The world looks very different from the China-Myanmar frontier — Photo by Jonah Kessel, courtesy Danwei.org

If more fodder is needed to pinpint the type – an all-purpose pundit with an emphasis on the southern hemisphere — this piece on Sino-Austrialian relations from 2010 is indicative of the tack taken: Australia is “confused” by China’s rise.”

Perhaps not too much should be expected from the scholars in Beijing who do not rise to the level of gravitas of Zhang Liangui, Lv Chao, or the Beida oracle Zhu Feng, particularly when one realizes that back in January 2011 they were writing nice things about North Korea’s impressive asymmetrical warfare capacities which hamstrung “great powers.”

From my somewhat-Chengdu-centric standpoint, Yang’s “Charm Diplomacy” piece is incongruous in the extreme.  Boosterism for one’s country is perhaps to be expected, but to wax rhapsodic about the bright and harmonious future of Sino-Indian cooperation during the BRICS meetings in India while the PLA press was churning out whole public dossiers on the coming conflict in what it calls “southern Tibet” would appear to indicate a certain blind spot.

Franz Bleeker is thanked for his comments on and contributions to this essay

Cultural Power Battle Threads

From the May Fourth Generation to Today

- The Telegraph reports in alarmist fashion about Hu Jintao warning, as the newspaper headline puts it, of “cultural warfare from the West”

- A closer examination of the story indicates that Hu Jintao’s “battle cry,” above, was a speech given on October 18, 2011, that was republished yesterday in the preemminent journal for CCP theory, Qiushi (Seeking Truth / 求是).

In fact most of the speech is not at all about the West, but the need for more powerful socialist culture.  However, the key detonating sentences in this long and rather boring speech are, after a discourse on China’s rising soft power, as follows:

同时,我们必须清醒地看到,国际敌对势力正在加紧对我国实施西化、分化战略图谋,思想文化领域是他们进行长期渗透的重点领域。我们要深刻认识意识形态领域斗争的严重性和复杂性,警钟长鸣、警惕长存,采取有力措施加以防范和应对. At the same time [that we develop our cultural industries and gain international advantage thereby], we must see with utmost clarity that hostile international forces are currently stepping up the implementation of Westernization in China, attempting to do so via in a variety of strategies; their long-term focus is on infiltration [渗透/shentou] in the ideological and cultural fields. We should thoroughly understand the seriousness and complexity of this ideological struggle, remaining vigilant (lit. “always keep the bell ringing“), ever alert, and taking effective measures to prevent and respond to [the challenge of cultural infiltration].

The full text of the article is available in rough English via Google Translate here.

- My own evidentiary contribution to the discourse on Hu Jintao’s retrograde and conservative tendencies with regard his extensive work in “socialist culture” are described in this essay about some materials I found about Hu Jintao in East German archives in 2009.

- As usual, with reference to cultural diplomacy and the soft power discourse, JustRecently is already well ahead of the curve.  His website has the most extensive open-source translation available of the Party’s “cultural document”, a document which stemmed out of the same meetings at which Hu Jintao weighed in above.

- In reading headlines about Hu Jintao’s fear of Western “infiltration,” I think it’s important to note that there are far more nuanced Chinese examinations of soft power out there.  PRC scholar He Zengke published a rather wide-ranging article this past December 23 in a reformist journal surveying French and German modes of exerting soft power, noting:

France was one of the first countries to understand the role of cultural soft power. Napoleon once said that a pen was equal to 1,000 Mauser rifles*), and a former French minister of culture said that culture and the economy are one and the same battleground. French people believe that a cultural mission can take the place of a country’s military power.[9] In 1883, France established the Alliance Française to promote French culture. Starting in 1959, France began to define the “First Five-Year Plan for the Expansion of French Cultural Activities”, and afterwards, 25- and 35-year plans etc. were gradually developed. From the total amounts spent and per capita, France belongs to the first-ranking countries worldwide.[10] From that, it can be seen that France attaches great importance to the development and use of soft power.

法国是最早懂得文化软实力的地位和作用的国家之一。拿破仑曾经说过,一支笔等于1000支毛瑟枪。法国前文化部长曾经说过:文化和经济是同一场战斗。 法国人认为,文化使命可以代替国家武力。[9]1883年法国就建立了法语联盟,在世界各地讲授法语,推广法国文化。从1959年起,法国开始制定“关于 在国外扩张和恢复法国文化活动的第一个五年计划”(1959-1963),后来又陆续制定了“二五”、“三五”计划等。法国的国际文化交流支出从总数和人 均来看都居于世界第一的位置。[10]由此可见法国对发展和运用文化软实力的高度重视。[Translation here by JustRecently]

He’s essay reminds us again:

-For all the huffing and puffing about Confucius Institutes, the “hanban” is still behind such institutions as the Alliance Française when it comes to enrollments and influence globally, a fact which I reported in July 2010 (from a cafe in Seoul, awash in K-pop, WiFi signals, kimchee and bubble tea) via a translation of a Huanqiu Shibao interview with the Hanban head.

- Finally, the magazine Monocle (which I fittingly tend to read in international airports; this one was in Tokyo) recently did some comprehensive “soft power ratings” in which the US was #1 but France not far behind.  China, by the way, was #17.

Shanghai Impressions, or, What Cellistic Ennui Tells Us about Cultural Dynamics in the Sino-North Korean Relationship

A few days in Shanghai rarely fails to reorient one immediately from wherever illusory place one has been prior.  In Shanghai, China’s upward thrust is paired with its revolutionary guts, its past foreign dominance juxtaposed at every turn with the new impositions of 1949.  Art of various kinds slides past taxi windows, and the low and sulfurous scent of commerce being transacted hand over fist leaves a low undertone to practically every act undertaken after noon.

Every visit to Shanghai is worth the price, but it remains possible to waste the experience, frittering away one’s time in sullen Western cafes from Seattle and reeking of a desperate quest for WiFi, or in being too rapidly sated by a stroll along the Bund as the sole recognition of the shadows of the 19th century, when in fact a Li Hongzhang-Alfred Thayer Mahan redux is perpetually in motion in the newspapers that so rapidly populate one’s backpack.

What is a wasted visit to Shanghai? Surely, it would be a visit absent a stroll along the long spine of Huaihai Road. There looms the Shanghai Municipal Library, that object of lust for many a researcher with a hunger for the dead, for old magazines, for epochs reorganized and reclaimed, for the first Chinese Republic.  Just beyond the great translucent book drop of the library, which neatly displays and precatalogues what patrons have been dropping into its great and vigilant plastic innards, the American Consulate squats in colonial splendor behind high cream walls.  Once, enchanted by a new digital device and the music positively throbbing from a scratchy erhu by an old man under those walls, I there kicked a can of RMB coins in every direction. It was a worthy metaphor for Shanghai: desire – for experience, for documents, for modernity, for funds — radiating in every direction, abundant technology colliding in mistaken entwining with a dental casualty of some unnamed province, fingertips hardened by rural farming in the one case and by urban typing in the other,  scattering metallic largesse to the sound of a Communist war song in the shadow of muted American power.

And just beyond, beyond a bend on Huaihai Road, rises a large round pillar, the largest bulwark of Western music on the mainland between Tokyo and Calcutta, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.  To come to Shanghai and miss the opportunity to visit such a site would truly be counted as wasted.

Thumbing through the shelves at the Conservatory bookstore is always rather instructive: ethnomusicological research at the institution is abundant, and the publications in this realm are rapid and interesting. Titles like “PHONE”… proliferate.  Western-educated scholars have returned to Shanghai in droves, and their work fuels this city’s prodigious growth not simply in GDP but in lists of published work, or things in the category of what some idealistic people with no regard for the convincing heft of aircraft carrier ordinance might call “cultural capital.”

Then I ran across an intriguing new collection of cello scores “in the style of [Chinese] ethnic minorities” which I proceeded to purchase.  Upon negotiating my way through a few large crowds of Japanese moms retreating out of the campus with their children, each person radiant with the kind of upward gestalt that only in-tune group singing can provide, I went to the airport, flew to Chengdu, and there reunited with one of my cellos in order to test which of the “ethnic talents” who was writing for cello was most worthy of my attention.

Shanghai was thus dispatched.

Immediately upon opening the score in Chengdu, I was struck most by the piece “Autumn Song [秋之歌]” by Kim Jongpyong, or Jin Zhengping [金正平].  Judging from the textual introduction to the collection (focusing on “high talents from among our country’s ethnic minorities”), as well as the svelte harmonic style and harmonically supple idiom, I assumed the composer to be a successfully struggling ethnic Korean music graduate from, say, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing sometime in the mid-1980s.  If the reader be a bit uncertain, such a provenance should be regarded as a complement: the young talents like Gao Ping who emerged out of the conservatory milieu in that era are cutting new pathways into the musical realms all over the world, and justly so.

I was quite wrong about his age, and his relationship to China’s cultural bureaucracy.  Jin’s full biography is available on the website of the Association for the Research of Chinese-Korean Music, to be explained shortly.

Rethinking “China’s Peaceful Rise”

Although I occasionally mourn my inability to be in two places at once — as Sichuan and Tibet come immediately to mind — the benefits of being in the Puget Sound region in the autumn, I now recall, are multiple, as these perks include the ability to spend time talking with, and hearing from, Sidney Rittenberg.

A new film project, “The Revolutionary” — a preliminary screening of which I was able to attend in Tacoma — calls Rittenberg “the most important foreigner in China since Marco Polo.”

Rittenberg has subsequently undertaken a lecture series on the campus where he and I are both members of the Chinese Studies faculty — Pacific Lutheran University.  The intersection of Rittenberg’s vast experience and unique deep background on China along with our students is enjoyable to observe and to navigate.  One of the most interesting juxtapositions of worldviews comes when with military backgrounds get a chance to think through the elder Rittenberg’s assessment of China’s place in the world, and the global outlook for what some folks call “China’s peaceful rise” (or what students with a DoD connection, urged on by events and information, might rather call “China’s peaceful rise with aircraft carriers and ICBMs”).

Today I received a truly interesting communication from one of my students growing out of Rittenberg’s lecture, and I thought it might serve as a solid pretext for “breaking out of the [writer's] blockade” which I seem to have imposed myself recently upon this blog.

Thus:

During Sidney Rittenburg’s lecture he portrayed a very (as we stated in class) rosy view of China especially on the military side. In short, he stated that the idea of Chinese imperialism does not fit the culture of China. The one exception he provided is Chinese territories (Taiwan, Tibet, ect.). Over the years, China has used many forms of soft power to force nations to recognize the “One China Policy” and deal primarily with the PRC over the ROC.

Sidney also recognized the danger of growing ultra-nationalists (especially amongst the youth of China) and their affect on China’s foreign policy.

I was wondering what your thoughts were on the possibility of ultra-nationalists (or even moderates) within the government extending the “One China Policy” to other areas within East Asia under the precursor of China’s historical ownership over the land and how China’s soft-power can be defined as a form of Chinese neo-imperialism ultra-nationalists may utilize to carry out their agenda.

Thank you for your thoughts. I understand this is a complex question.I have a reason why I am asking this question that I may be able to discuss with you later in the semester. In short it has to do with the strategy used in weiqi.

Before dropping down a fuller answer, and in its stead, I cannot recommend highly enough this piece from Foreign Policy on the form and function of the Global Times or Huanqiu Shibao, one of the foremost means by which China could and does justify its policy of military growth. [Update: In keeping with the heavy comments that follow this particular post, Global Times has a riposte to the Foreign Policy summary of its activities available here in English; Kaiser Kuo's always-worthwhile Sinica podcast this week covers the same issue in style and itself links to one final takedown of Huanqiu Shibao's "Top 10 Screeds" and take-no-prisoners editorial style.]

Report from the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, Sichuan (Die Zeit)

Last year I made two trips to the Jianchuan Museum Cluster in Sichuan, the PRC’s only private collection of museums and facilities which are completely ground-breaking in their somewhat individualistic take on curating and historical interpretation in general.  The museum cluster, owned and very much directed by the entrepreneur Fan Jianchuan, includes a museum of the Cultural Revolution, among other things.

An excellent overview of the museum’s themes (with video) is available here; my colleague in Tokyo, Jeff Kingston, wrote this piece for Japan Times after visiting me to talk Chinese nationalism in Chengdu last winter.

But here is the most recent reporting from the museum site, from the pen [aus der Feder] of Angela Kockritz, one of Germany’s best reporters in the PRC.

et la pièce de résistance

Celebrating the National Day Holiday Week in the PRC

Just when you think that China has completely exhausted its capacity to surprise you, the hard-line foreign policy tabloid Huanqiu Shibao sends a reporter to cover an S & M-themed show at an International Exhibition in a second-tier city like Zhengzhou, Henan, where apparently, if the face of the little old man at the foot of the stage is any indication, the show brought much joy and proof of China’s internationalism to the masses.

image courtesy Huanqiu Shibao -- picture links to further images and some extensive Netizen commentary

Given his attempts to wipe out sex-themes samzidats as head of the Communist Youth League in the mid-1980s (as documented in the East German archives, among others), I can’t imagine Hu Jintao signed off on this one,

Perhaps the Health Ministry [卫生部] has won an important internal bureaucratic battle?  It seems that the promotion of information about sex in China has been significantly increased since even August.

Or, as one Netizen said in response to the above gallery: “中国 开的太放了 该管管了 [China has opened up too much; need to manage manage....].”

By contrast, Kim Jong Il’s travels through Manchuria and the Russian Far East led him to decree an end to short skirts, tight pants, and English-language T-shirts in North Korea.  Whereas China, the socialist ally and cultural intermediary for North Korea, promptly began, at the same time, the state promotion of rubber dolls by women wearing bunny ears.

Perhaps it’s not inaccurate to say that the “culture wars” continue in East Asia?  Before long, even this analyst will be crying for the return of the Generalissimo and the spiritually healthier days of the New Life Movement.

But in the meantime, happy birthday PRC.  If the 2008 Olympic Games somehow failed to mark your debut on the world stage, certainly the Zhengzhou Expo marks a new moment in some kind of history of this jagged, morphing, protean, now overtly masochistic, fascinatingly weird and endlessly restless Republic.

Commemorating National Humiliation in China

Today is September 18, 1931, at least in China, where the 80th anniversary of the incident which unleashed the Japanese Imperial Army to break off the entire northeast from the Republic of China and, a few months later, proclaim it an independent garrison state named “Manchukuo” which was justified on rhetoric of ethnic harmony and propogation of the yen bloc.

It’s usually a sign that something else is going wrong, or that the CCP is worried about something other than international relations with Japan, when an anniverary like this one gets such big billing.  Sure, 8 is a important in Chinese numerology, and Manchukuo was a huge deal, and there was a pre-stimulant to bringing all this back online earlier in August in Heilongjiang, but this commemoration is much more state-driven than “demanded by the people.”

I was at the September 18 memorial museum on August 15, 2011, the anniversary of an important victory in the War of Resistance.  In spite of the fact that 8-15 is the logical and victorious feel-good anniversarial antipode to 9-18, the September 18 museum was closed on August 15, and the sidewalks and concrete plaza were being redone, clearly in preparation for today.   Clearly for the CCP it is more expedient in this case to pump up the original offense by the Japanese.  And thus the focus on September 18.  There is a great deal more that could be said about the leadup to this commemoration and what it all means, but in the meantime it should suffice to note its occurence and the broad, country-wide, mobilization to remember the date which included, according to my friends in Sichuan, a long five-minute siren cry in the major cities of that province, as it did last year on the same date.

According to Kyodo News, who surely had people on the scene (as they did, and as was I, on the Marco Polo Bridge on the 70th anniversary of that incident in 2007), about thirty youth in Shenyang chanted insults at Japan and burned a Japanese flag outside the museum.  For Huanqiu Shibao’s propogation of this news inside of China (no photos, however), click the photograph below.

The day and the actions are headline news on Huanqiu.com, so clearly thirty boys burning a flag in Shenyang is much more to the taste of the censors than a few thousand closing a chemical plant in Dalian, and for obvious reasons.

As long as the action remains small and doesn’t prevent Japanese investors in Dongbei, the tremors can ripple out and we can all gather once more around the image of the once-disgraced Generalissimo or the presently-strong Chinese Communist Party, whose underground resistance to Japan in Manchuria in 1931-32 was about to be eviscerated not by some counterinsurgent stroke by Japan’s Marshal Petreaus (Okamura), but by an inner-Party purge known as the Minsaengdan Incident.

Don’t worry, CCP, I have taken your advice to heart, and will never forget the Angus Ward Incident!  When it comes to foreign plots in Shenyang, an American telegraphing his State Department masters in Foggy Bottom in 1948 would be every bit as significant as September 18, 1931, except that you, Party of Parties, had the foresight to prevent the reconstitution of the Japanese Empire under American aegis after the Reverse Course in Japan, for Tojo’s dream and animating spirit, as I have learned so well, was essentially transferred into that otherwise Victorian-Bismarckian skull of the Anglo conqueror MacArthur in 1948.  And thus the Angus Ward Incident should also be celebrated, like August 15, as a mark of pure success in the growth of China’s regional and global power, and as a step away from the politics of humiliation that, like a particularly consequential dog bite, should be remembered as often as possible.

And once more into that good breach…

In the 9-18 Memorial Museum in Shenyang, the T-Shirts read "National Humiliation: September 18" -- courtesy Xinhua/Huanqiu Shibao

Wakeman Inaugurates

It is the first day of a new semester in Tacoma, and therefore fitting to invite the past master, Frederick Wakeman, to the fore for a lecture on Manchu identity at Berkeley.  And, seeking further models, there are few things more personally sustaining to me than the admonitions and advice offered as a preface to his talk by the professor from San Diego, by way of Madison Wisconsin.

I am making a point to record my lectures this semester digitally (they began this morning with a dissertation on the Qin and sinocentric patterns in East Asia), and may make these more widely available soon, but there is little doubt that I won’t be reaching the Wakeman standard anytime soon, or approaching it with less than the appropriate respect.  Perhaps that sounds Confucian, but perhaps it should.