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Book Review

China and the Founding of the United States: The Influence of Traditional Chinese Civilization

China and the Founding of the United States The Influence of Traditional Chinese Civilization By Dave Xueliang Wang Lanham, Lexington Books, 2021 365 Pages, ISBN 978: 1793644350, Hardcover Reviewed by Peter K. Frost “The mere thought of Chinese cultural influence on the founding of the United States,” Dave Wang’s states in his very first sentence in this quite extraordinary book, “is unimaginable to some.” The rest of the book is dedicated to combat what he considers “misconcep...

Essay

Sisters and Enemies: A True Story of Two Sisters

They are two sisters born and raised in China’s southeastern coastal city of Fuzhou in Fujian Province. In a family that claims the last emperor’s tutor, Chen Baochen, as one of its ancestors, the girls had the privilege of traditional tutoring at home, in addition to their missionary school education—modern and bilingual—and had dreams as big as the world. The older sister, Jun, wanted to be a teacher, and the younger one, Hong, wanted to be a “big doctor”—in her own words—to ge...

Variolation to Vaccine: Smallpox Inoculation Travels East to West and Back Again

The history of the inoculation process itself might help shed light on the roots of controversies we are facing today. In the spring of 1721, England struggled in the grip of a deadly smallpox epidemic. Mandated shutdowns affected businesses, schools, and social venues, health care services were overwhelmed, and the newspapers reported alarming death tolls. Doctors in London seized the opportunity to introduce the public to the concept of inoculation, which had long been practiced in Asia and th...

Knocking on China’s Door: The First Protestant Mission

China’s “closed-door” policy, upended by the Opium Wars of 1839–1842 and 1856–1860, safeguarded the Middle Kingdom from unwanted advances by the West. A deep-seated suspicion of foreign infiltration—cultural, political, and economic—was augmented by the arrogance of China’s ruling class, who insisted on China’s superiority in the world arena. Western aggression of the 1800s forced China to open up trade with other nations and led to the eventual demise of the Qing dynasty. When...

How the Chinese Communist Party Manages the Bureaucracy: The Case for Rethinking the Role of Information Technology and Good Governance

In November 2021, during a routine inspection of drunk driving in Nanchang, the capital city of Jiangxi province, a woman driving a Maserati was stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. She refused to cooperate with an alcohol test and after sixty-six invalid tests she repeatedly told a traffic police officer to “ask Yu Wei to come over” and tried to make a phone call. The officer stopped her from calling and said to her: “It’s useless to call anyone. Do not call for anyone. This is being ...

Feature Article

Kūkai in China, What He Studied and Brought Back to Japan

The Japanese Buddhist priest Kūkai (774–835 CE) continues to be one of the most popular historical figures to persist in imagination and images around Japan. For introducing Shingon esoteric Buddhism into his country in the early Heian period (794–1184), the emperor awarded him the posthumous title Kōbō Daishi, literally “Great Master Who Propagated the Dharma.” Yet far from this being the extent of his accomplishments, Kūkai also exerted major influences on the development of Japane...

Feature Article

Objects of Fascination: Encountering Six Dynasties China through Material Culture

Material culture—images, built spaces, and objects—can open extraordinary windows into the past. This is especially true when exploring China’s Six Dynasties period (220–589 CE). The Six Dynasties was a time of fragmentation. In the south, there was a rapid succession of dynasties while, in the north, invading nomads competed with Chinese in establishing kingdoms and dynasties. Though often remembered as a time of warfare and disruption, material culture shows that it was also a time of ...

Feature Article

China Versus the Barbarians: The First Century of Han-Xiongnu Relations

The Han–Xiongnu relationship is especially important in world history because it is the first time a major steppe power and a major agriculturalist civilization had extensive contact and conflict with each other. Before the Huns, before the Mongols, there were the Xiongnu.

Feature Article

The Essentials: Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land

Stan Lai (Lai Shengchuan) is one of the most celebrated playwrights working in the Chinese-speaking world. His work over three decades has charted the course of modern Chinese-language theatre in Taiwan, China, and other Chinese-speaking regions.

Columns, Film Review Essay

Have You Seen This Man?

The acknowledged first recorded film made in China is The Battle of Dingjunshan by Ren Qingtai from 1905. As such, the China National Film Museum in Beijing has on exhibit signage that notes this acknowledgment, along with the recreation of the filming. However, there are a number of Chinese film scholars who have their doubts about whether it was ever actually made. Mention is made in a July 1904 article in the professional magician’s journal Mahatma on the Chinese magician C...

Teaching Resources Essay

The Xinjiang Documentation Project

[caption id="attachment_16426" align="aligncenter" width="897"] “Eliminating Extremism.” This is a sample from the “peasant painting” collection, a campaign that was organized by the Xinjiang government to promote official counterterrorism rhetoric. The painting depicts an axe bearing the crest of the Chinese Communist Party cleaving into corpses of men and women wearing traditional Islamic clothing as well as a large serpent. Weapons such as knives, axes, and homemade bombs, a...

Feature Article

New Online Teaching Resources for Early Chinese Cinema

The Chinese Film Classics Project is a research, teaching, and translation initiative aimed at making early Chinese cinema more accessible to the general public. The centerpieces of the project are two interlinked web resources: (1) the website chinesefilmclassics.org and (2) the YouTube channel Modern Chinese Cultural Studies (https://tinyurl.com/4zk6wevb). These sites currently feature twenty-four Chinese films released between 1922 and 1949 with complete English subtitles; over 150 film clips...

Columns

In Memoriam: Ezra F. Vogel (1930–2020)

Those of us who are committed to studying East Asia lost an extraordinary scholar, teacher, and friend when the retired Harvard University Sociology Professor Ezra F. Vogel died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this last December.

Feature Article

Making China And India Great Again? Why China’s and India’s Paths to Power May Hit a Wall, Part II: Foreign Policy Challenges

For the past decade, experts in international relations have suggested that the world’s center of power is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the main reason is the extraordinary rise of China. They add that the equally remarkable, though slightly slower, rise of India will move the center of global power even further from the West. A number of observers strongly believe the efforts of the United States under former President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy to ...

Teaching Resources Essay

Under the Dome

Under the Dome was first shown in China on February 28, 2015 The documentary is now included in the Global Environmental Justice Documentaries Project, which is based in the USA and Canada and supported by the International Documentary Association. The title of the documentary was taken from the book Under the Dome, written by Stephen King and published in 2009. (The documentary is about China; the book is about the USA.) The documentary is also available online.

Teaching Resources Essay

Searching for Sacred Mountain

[caption id="attachment_15764" align="aligncenter" width="515"] Photo montage from scenes in Searching for Sacred Mountain. Source: Screen captures from Searching for Sacred Mountain on the GEJ website at https://tinyurl.com/cuzfbchv.[/caption] This review was written by three colleagues and close friends at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. Although slightly unusual in this sort of review, we believe that describing our academic training and contemplative prac...

Columns

Facts About Asia: Human Flourishing, Energy, and the Environment

By the end of 2019, four Asian countries ranked in the top ten world-wide in total energy consumption, the majority of which is derived from fossil fuels. The Asia Pacific region alone consumed 257.6 exajoules (a joule is a unit of energy measurement and one exajoule is one quintillion joules) of energy, the most in the world. China leads the world by a considerable margin with 141.7 exajoules of energy consumed, almost 50 more than the second-place user, the United States.

Feature Article

Making China and India Great Again? Why China’s and India’s Paths to Power May Hit a Wall Part I: Domestic Policy Challenges

There is general agreement among the pundits and mandarins who study India and China that these two countries will become two of the world’s most powerful nations in the near future, if they have not already. Some believe that they may become the most powerful nations in the world, relegating the United States and Europe to the status of mere ob­servers of the future course of humanity. Regardless when exactly this may occur, such an outcome could be compared, in a sense, to a return to what ...

Columns, Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

A Confucian Classroom in Qing China

In September 2005, at the Panjiayuan Antiques Market in Beijing, I  bought a book of materials once used by an elementary school teacher.  It seems the teacher took some of his classroom materials to a shop in  the city of Panshi in Jilin Province in northeast China and had them copied  onto clean, handmade paper and bound together with string. The shop put  its stamp on the cover, so we know the city where it was located.1 The title  the shop wrote on the cover of this collection was Thre...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Plastic China

Plastic China, a 2016 film from director Jiu-Liang Wang, tells the story of a small recycling factory in Shangdong Province, China. The film’s title suggests a broad coverage of China’s massive plastic recycling sector, but rather we are given a glimpse into the operation of one small, apparently totally unregulated, recycling factory and the fami­lies that live and work there amid the endless seas of plastic and plumes of black smoke emanating from buildings, chimneys, and the ground itsel...

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