Yuan Ling, "Outside Beijing’s Sixth Ring Road: The Vagrant Life of a Family with Five Off-Plan Children"
New on the site this month, Yuan Ling, "Outside Beijing’s Sixth Ring Road: The Vagrant Life of a Family with Five Off-Plan Children." Yuan Ling (b. 1973), is a journalist and non-fiction writer. The text translated here is drawn from his recently published book, Silent Children 寂静的孩子 (2019), in which he describes, in ethnographic detail, the lives of poor and underprivileged children in many parts of China. This excerpt, the subject of which is a family of seven migrant workers struggling in the far Beijing suburbs, complements Qin Hui's study of China and South Africa by illustrating how constant urban renewal projects make the lives of migrant workers unbearable.
New on the site, the final version of the essay I've been working on for much of the summer. For some reason, this text does not seem to have interested readers as much as other pieces by Qin. It should. His long, dispassionate comparison of China and South Africa, in which he argues that both of their "economic miracles" were the result of status discrimination (South Africa against blacks, China against peasants) leads to the inexorable conclusion that if we condemn one, we have to condemn the other--or should China get a pass because their wretched treatment of peasants is not "racist?"
And even if the piece is ten years old and couched in terms of comparative economic history, I think it is relevant today, even to the events in Hong Kong. One point Qin makes is: China's real problem is not only that it treats its peasants the way pre-democratic South Africa treated its blacks, but also that it treats its city dwellers far less well than South Africa treated even its poor whites. What, then, does greater integration into mainland society mean for super urban Hong Kong?
New on the site, Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa," Part 7. I will finish up the translation and repost everything as one document in the next installment.
New on the site, Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa," Part 6
New on the site, Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa," Part 5.
New on the site, Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa," Part Four.
New on the site, Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa," Part Three.
New on the site, Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa," Part Two.
Also, a shout out to a wonderful new book that's just appeared, Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi, edited by Christian Sorace, Ivan Franceschini, and Nicholos Loubere.
New on the site this month: Qin Hui, "Looking at China from South Africa" Part One. Those of you who enjoyed Qin's "Dilemmas of Twentieth-First Century Globalization" might remember remarks Qin made comparing apartheid South Africa to China in terms of their respective "economic miracles." These remarks drew on extensive research Qin has done on the subject, and which he published online in 2010. The text is quite long--60 pages or so in Chinese when downloaded from the Internet--and we will publish an integral translation over the course of the summer, in serial form (5 or 6 installments). Enjoy!
For those interested in the general topic of Chinese intellectuals, let me plug Sebastian Veg's excellent volume, Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals, just out on Columbia University Press.
New on the site, Li Sipan, "Why Don't Mainland Chinese Liberals Support Women's Rights? This text, recommended to us by Qian Yongxiang, editor of the Taiwanese journal Sixiang, is part of our effort to broaden the scope of our project to include more than the loudest voices. Li, a journalist and feminist activist offers a nuanced critique of Chinese liberalism's failure to engage with feminist concerns.
For those looking for more in the same vein, we would like to endorse Lisa's Rofel's brilliant edited translation of a series of Dai Jinhua's recent essays, entitled After the Post-Cold War: The Future of Chinese History.
About this site
This web site is devoted to the subject of intellectual life in contemporary China, and more particularly to the writings of establishment intellectuals. What you will find here are essentially translations of Chinese texts that we consider important, together with discussions of related issues and a number of reference tools that can help those interested to navigate the project.
This materials on this website are open-access and are published under a Creative Commons 3.0 Unported licence. We encourage the widespread circulation of these materials. All content may be used and copied, provided that you credit the Reading and Writing the China Dream Project and provide a link to readingthechinadream.com.