Category Archives: The China Blog

LARB’s China Blog covers the life, culture, politics and literature of China. It is edited by Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Maura Elizabeth Cunningham. If you’re looking for blog posts prior to September 2013, please visit our China Blog tumblr page.

New and Old Histories of the Qing Dynasty: An Interview with Richard J. Smith

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

I’ve been reading and learning from Rich Smith’s work for decades now, and most recently I have been enjoying his latest book, The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese Culture. Smith, whose earlier “biography” of the Yi Jing was reviewed for LARB by James Carter back in 2012, was recently good enough to make time to respond to some questions I put to him via email, both about The Qing Dynasty and Traditional Chinese Culture, which Rowman and Littlefield published in 2015, and other topics, from the politicization of historical work in the PRC to what he is working on now. I begin, though, as I plan to make it routine to start future Q&As for the China Blog and in due time LARB’s new China Channel, with the trio of questions I put to Paul French last week about readings he wishes got more or less attention than they have and things he hasn’t read, seen, or listened to — that he knows some people think he really should have.  Continue reading

An Interview with Paul French on Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Penguin China is having a busy summer when it comes to releasing short books in its “specials” series, many of them linked this year to round number anniversaries. First came a set of short volumes on Hong Kong, on issues such as youth and protest, to mark the 20th anniversary of the territory’s transition from being a Crown Colony to being Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Next up is Paul French’s look back to a dramatic and dreadful day on Shanghai history, dubbed “bloody Saturday,” which will be published as the 80th anniversary of that August, 14, 1937, date arrives. Here are some questions Paul, known for works such as the Edgar-winning Midnight in Peking, was good enough to answer via email. Continue reading

Announcing the LARB China Channel

Dear China Blog Readers,

Thanks to a generous seed grant from the Henry Luce Foundation as well as support from the Los Angeles Review of Books, the “China Blog” will be morphing into a freestanding magazine within the magazine. The LARB China Channel will join a set of pre-existing LARB Channels (these vary widely as you can see by clicking here), so we will be in good company. We are very excited about this — “we” being the following team of editors: Continue reading

A Collective Grief: Mourning Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong on July 15, 2017

By Yvonne Yevan Yu

It was a day of migrating rainclouds, which meant random gusts, a thickness almost tangible on one’s skin, and sunlit downpours. Summer rains in Hong Kong are equally quick in temper and forgiveness. The whole world darkens, the deluge like distant applause, then just as unexpectedly the air is open again, with a luminous clarity. Car windows and the rush beneath gutters are the only evidence of what had passed. Continue reading

The Varied Views of Dissidents in China — A Response to James Palmer

By Maria Repnikova

In the wake of Liu Xiaobo’s tragic death, Western news sites have been filled with assessments of many things related to the literary critic turned prisoner of conscience and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Few efforts have been made, though, to gauge reactions to Liu’s treatment and demise on the Chinese mainland. James Palmer’s “The Chinese Think Liu Was Asking For It” is an exception. In this commentary, Palmer, a longtime resident of Beijing and editor at Foreign Policy, argues that many — perhaps even most of the well informed — Chinese living on the mainland either know little or nothing about Liu Xiaobo or view him as a person who made the mistake of going too far, and in a sense wrote his own death warrant. Continue reading

Singing for Democracy in Hong Kong

By Alec Ash

In October 2014 I travelled to Hong Kong for a friend’s wedding. I had booked my flight the year before, and went straight to St John’s Cathedral from the airport. But instead of taking a cab down Connaught Road, a central thoroughfare usually choked with traffic, I walked down the empty multi-lane expressway. Later, after dusk had fallen and vows had been made, I slipped out of the wedding reception in the Foreign Correspondent’s Club and returned with a couple of friends to the blocked-off stretch of motorway, where crowds had gathered in their tens of thousands, to march for democracy. Continue reading