Tag Archives: history

“The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong…

“The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline ‘China in Chaos.’ Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump as Chairman of the Board. As Jiaying Fan noted in May 2016, both also share a taste for ‘polemical excess and xenophobic paranoia.’ For his part, Mao’s rebellion led to national catastrophe and untold human misery.”

For more, see Geremie R. Barme, “The Chairmen, Trump and Mao,” ChinaFile (23 January 2017)

Image: ‘Mao Trump’ by artist Knowledge Bennett. Mark Ralston - AFP / Getty Images

“When Delia Davin, the pioneer of Chinese women’s studies,…

“When Delia Davin, the pioneer of Chinese women’s studies, arrived in Beijing in 1963, aged 19, there were still camels carrying coal and wooden ploughs in the fields outside the city. Davin, who has died of cancer aged 72, quickly established a rapport with her students at the Beijing Broadcasting Institute, whom she found to be ‘very serious about their work, but [to] have a gaiety which saves them from being priggish’. She taught them Irish songs as well as English grammar, and one of them recited ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ to console her, the student said, for not being in England on Shakespeare’s birthday.”

For more on Davin’s work as a pioneering scholar in the intersecting fields of Women’s Studies and East Asian Studies, see her obituary, composed by John Gittings and quoted above, in The Guardian (16 October 2016) as well as an appreciation posted by scholar Gail Hershatter at H-Net (16 October 2016).

“The Japanese have acknowledged that their emperor is not a god…

“The Japanese have acknowledged that their emperor is not a god and he has been stripped of all political power, but the nation still views its monarch as so central to the sense of identity that he is not permitted to resign. Now, Emperor Akihito is suggesting that his people let him retire.He is 82 years old. He has had cancer. He has had surgery. So, in a uniquely Japanese moment on Monday, he went on television to hint at his desire for Parliament to change the law so he can give the job to his son.”

For more, see Jonathan Soble, “At 82, Emperor Akihito of Japan of Japan Wants to Retire, Will Japan Let Him?The New York Times (7 August 2016)

“During China’s traditional festival for honoring the dead,…

“During China’s traditional festival for honoring the dead, Zheng Zhisheng usually visits a vine-draped cemetery where pillars declare the dead’s eternal loyalty to Mao Zedong. He walks among the mass graves, sharing memories, and sometimes tears, with mourners who greet him as their ‘corpse commander.’ They are veterans of the Cultural Revolution and their kin, who at the Qingming festival each year gather at the graves of family and friends killed in the convulsive movement that Mao unleashed upon China.

Cities and regions became battle zones between rival Red Guards — militant student groups that attacked intellectuals, officials and others — and up to 1.5 million people died nationwide, according to one recent estimate. Yet this cemetery in Chongqing, an industrial city on the Yangtze River, is the only sizable one left solely for those killed then. Mr. Zheng, 73, is one of the aging custodians of their harrowing stories. He buried many of the 400 to 500 bodies here, on the edge of a park in the Shapingba district.”

For more, see Chris Buckley, “Chaos of China’s Cultural Revolution Echoes at a Lonely Cemetery, 50 Years Later,” The New York Times (4 April 2016)

Image: Gilles Sabrie / The New York Times

“In the early 20th century, the official history holds, Japan…

“In the early 20th century, the official history holds, Japan forcibly took innocent girls from Korea and elsewhere to its military-run brothels. There, they were held as sex slaves and defiled by dozens of soldiers a day in the most hateful legacy of Japan’s 35-year colonial rule, which ended with its defeat in World War II.

As she researched her book, combing through a rich archive in South Korea and Japan and interviewing surviving comfort women, Ms. Park, 58, said she came to realize that such a sanitized, uniform image of Korean comfort women did not fully explain who they were and only deepened this most emotional of the many disputes between South Korea and Japan.

In trying to give what she calls a more comprehensive view of the women’s lives, she made claims that some found refreshing but many considered outrageous and, in some cases, traitorous.“

For more, see Choe Sang-hun, “Disputing Korean Narrative on ‘Comfort Women’, A Professor Draws Fierce Backlash,” New York Times (18 Dec 2015)

Image: Jean Chung / New York Times

“While Chinese commentary was resoundingly positive about…

“While Chinese commentary was resoundingly positive about Saturday’s meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan, reactions in Taiwan to the historic encounter were decidedly mixed.

On his trip home, Mr. Ma told reporters accompanying him on the plane that he felt most of his goals for the encounter had been accomplished, with the biggest being the meeting itself, bringing together the leaders of the two sides for the first time since the end of China’s civil war in 1949. But he added that he was not satisfied with Mr. Xi’s assertion on Saturday that the Chinese missiles arrayed along the Taiwan Strait were not targeting the island.”

For more, see Austin Ramzy, “Taiwan Debates Its President’s Meeting With Xi Jinping of China,” The New York Times (9 Nov 2015)

Image: David Chang / European Pressphoto Agency

““The system makes so much sense when you think about the…

““The system makes so much sense when you think about the overall ways in which family systems have to navigate between sexual desire, stability, domesticity and claims for children…”

- Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology (NYU), quoted in Amy Qin, “‘Kingdom of Daughters’ in China Draws Tourists to its Matrilineal Society,” NYT (25 Oct 2015)

Image: Adam Dean / The New York Times        

“When Li Yaqin was 16, she ate what her family could scavenge:…

“When Li Yaqin was 16, she ate what her family could scavenge: dandelion leaves, alfalfa, rice sprouts, corn husks ground and pressed into cakes.As her college-age granddaughter quietly captured her on digital camera, the 73-year-old told of watching her father starve to death.

‘He was sleeping on the bed and couldn’t move because he was too hungry,’ said Li, her jet-black bangs framing an expression taut with lingering despair. ‘He called me to pull him up, but when I tried to pull him up, he just rolled around in bed and couldn’t get up. And then he stopped moving.’

The Chinese government would prefer that such stories be forgotten. Wu Wenguang won’t let that happen.”

For more, see Jonathan Kaiman, “Survivors Tell the Camera the Hidden Tale of China’s Great Famine,” The Los Angeles Times (14 October 2015)

Image: Wu Wenguang

“A Chinese campaign to have documents related to Japan’s use of…

“A Chinese campaign to have documents related to Japan’s use of wartime sex slaves and its bloody invasion of Nanjing recognised by Unesco has sparked a new round of diplomatic tension between Beijing and Tokyo. A Unesco panel in Abu Dhabi will announce on Friday successful nominations for inclusion in the UN body’s Memory of the World programme, amid efforts by Japanese officials to block the bid.”

For more, see Justin McCurry, “Wartime Sex Slaves at the Heart of UN Battle Between Japan and China,” The Guardian (8 Oct 2015)

Image: Toru Yamanaka / AFP

“Chinese bloggers have ridiculed a blockbuster film that…

“Chinese bloggers have ridiculed a blockbuster film that attempts to place Mao Zedong at the centre of a second world war summit he never attended. The Cairo Declaration – a big-budget war movie produced by a company with ties to China’s military – hits cinemas this month as part of Communist party commemorations of the 70thanniversary of Japan’s surrender.

Its focus is the Cairo conference, a 1943 meeting near the pyramids at which Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and China’s Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek gathered to assess the progress of the war against Japan and plot Asia’s post-war future…

Chairman Mao, who became the Communist party’s leader in 1935, played no role in the historic dialogue, which saw China recognised as one of the world’s ‘four great powers’ alongside the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.

Yet that didn’t stop the Cairo Declaration’s producers using Mao as their film’s main poster boy.”

For more, see Tom Phillips, “Bloggers Ridicule Chinese Film Placing Mao Zedong at Key Wartime Conference,” The Guardian (17 Aug 2015)

Image: Bettmann / Corbis