Translation

A Tale of Two Migrants

After laboring abroad, coming home with all or nothing – Zhang Zizhu, translated by Sam Hall

Wu Wei and Lin Tong are from the same town in Fujian Province, and were also high school classmates. Both were born in the 60s and both journeyed across the seas in the 90s to find work. Now, after 30 years, they have returned home from overseas – Wu Wei sitting on 20 million yuan, and Lin Tong empty handed.

Hidden History

The Prince and the Rebel

A thwarted assasination that almost changed the course of Chinese history – Jeremiah Jenne

Beijing. Early spring, 1910. The early hours of morning. Two young men are furtively digging a hole in the hard dirt beside a small stone bridge in the hutong just north of Houhai. Most other residents are asleep. March nights in Beijing are usually cold, and most people sleep with the windows shut. But there are ears other than human. The clanging of shovels and scratching of earth draws the attention of the neighborhood dogs, whose barking threatens the men with discovery. They run off with the job half-finished.

The next night, they return and complete their excavation. They carefully lower an iron cask into the hole, covering it with dirt to conceal it. That is when they discover that they are missing a crucial item. Their mistake means another delay. After a visit to a local hardware store the next day, the two young men are back the following evening. Only now there is a human witness to their nocturnal activities.

Little Red Podcast

Choose Your Own Dystopia

China’s social media and surveillance capitalism

AN EPISODE OF THE LITTLE RED PODCAST

With Chinese citizens’ lives increasingly coded into data streams, the question of who owns this data and how it gets used is largely up to private companies. They control massive volumes of personal information and are tasked by Xi Jinping with everything from astroturfing public opinion to monitoring one-to-one chat in real time. As these companies expand beyond China’s borders, their operations and relationship with the Chinese state bear further scrutiny. To shed light on how China’s tech giants do the Party’s work, Louisa and Graeme are joined by Fu Kingwa from Hong Kong University, Masashi Crete-Nishihata from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Blake Miller of London School of Economics and Political Science, formerly of Dartmouth College. 

Dispatches

A Tour of Lesbian Hong Kong

Names, places, and the stories behind them – Benita Chick

The alley is dark and a bit creepy, and it doesn’t look like it leads to anywhere. Concealed within it is a secret spot that is largely unknown to both locals and foreigners: T:ME Bar.

Probably my favorite spot in Hong Kong’s Central district, right off Hollywood Road and next to Club 71 in Pak Tsz Lane Park, the bar is a hidden gay sanctuary that makes for a particularly enlightening pit stop. In my experience, four out of five Hong Kongers don’t know it exists, or that it relates closely to Chinese history.

Essays

China’s True Legacy of 1989

How the Tiananmen Square protests led to the new China Model – Klaus Mühlhahn

The Chinese leadership is nervous. With great apprehension over the last few weeks, it has been watching the approach of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, which happened without great incident on Tuesday. The dramatic tightening of political control, and the harassment and detainment of government critics, undoubtedly has its origins in the fears surrounding the June Fourth anniversary.

The intoxicating months of spring 1989 on Tiananmen Square, and the abrupt, brutal crackdown by the Chinese military that followed, remain at the forefront of China’s collective memory, despite substantial attempts to censor and repress. The horrible loss of life and violent suppression of democracy will not soon be forgotten. More than a tragic, historic moment, though, the June Fourth massacre marked the decisive and fundamental shift towards the China we know today: a China that has been pushed towards the embrace of authoritarianism and state capitalism. Over the last 30 years, this model has proved much more successful and resilient that most observers had assumed.