Protests in China: Read, Listen, Watch

During the weekend of November 25-27, protests broke out in many Chinese cities, immediately lighting up the China Twittersphere and leading to endless speculation about threats to Xi Jinping’s authority or the prospect of a violent crackdown like the one carried out on June 4, 1989. Chinese government authorities quickly quashed the demonstrations, but theContinue reading “Protests in China: Read, Listen, Watch”

Burying Books versus Praising Them

When asked as a child to name my hobbies, my usual response was “books.” I wasn’t athletic or artistic; I couldn’t play a musical instrument or entertain an audience on stage. My skill was reading, and I honed it daily: on the bus ride to and from school (two hours a day just to read!Continue reading “Burying Books versus Praising Them”

Getting to Know the Gusset

Michigan is referred to lovingly as “The Mitten” for the way its shape resembles one of those cold-weather accessories the state’s residents normally wear from October through April (at least). In the four years since I moved here, I’ve traveled almost the width of the mitten’s cuff, from Detroit in the east to Kalamazoo inContinue reading “Getting to Know the Gusset”

In Memoriam — But Not Yet

Six years ago, I spent the evening of June 4, 2014 in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park. Rain-heavy clouds had hovered over the city earlier in the day but then moved on without bursting; by the time I arrived at the park around dinnertime the night was clear, though muggy and hot, as is typical forContinue reading “In Memoriam — But Not Yet”

Bookshelf: The Scientist and the Spy

Ask me about places near my house that might be likely targets of industrial espionage operations and my mind would turn south. Head down Nixon Road and follow it a mile or so; at the second roundabout hang a right onto Huron Parkway, then start looking for the sign announcing the entrance to Ann Arbor’sContinue reading “Bookshelf: The Scientist and the Spy

Reading Round-Up: China, Coronavirus, and Quarantine Theater

For most of us who work in the China field, there’s a lull at some point in January or February as the entire country takes an extended vacation to celebrate Chunjie, or the Lunar New Year. Factories shut down, foreign correspondents and businesspeople go on home leave, and the streets of Chinese cities are uncharacteristicallyContinue reading “Reading Round-Up: China, Coronavirus, and Quarantine Theater”

Three Tips for Nonfiction Authors

In the space of only a few days, Michigan’s fall has gone from “crisp, sparkling, riot of color” to “gray, raw, endless rain,” meaning that we’ve now entered the season of meeting people for long afternoon talks in cozy coffee shops. That’s exactly what China media scholar Aynne Kokas and I did Wednesday afternoon, chattingContinue reading “Three Tips for Nonfiction Authors”

Screen: Angels Wear White

Pouring cups of tea and speaking in the practiced staccato common to tour guides and salespeople across China, a young woman wearing a nurse’s uniform outlines the advantages of hymen-reconstruction surgery. Lily, a newly single hotel receptionist in her early twenties, listens nervously. The nurse ends her pitch with the assurance that Lily will findContinue reading “Screen: Angels Wear White

May Fourth at 100: A Reading Round-Up

On May 4, 1919, university students gathered in the center of Beijing to protest the Treaty of Versailles. China had sent 100,000 laborers to Europe in support of the Allies during World War I*, and many in the country had expected that in return the postwar negotiations would deliver German concessions on the Shandong PeninsulaContinue reading “May Fourth at 100: A Reading Round-Up”