Oolong Podcast

Yangyang Cheng on Science Writing

AN EPISODE OF THE OOLONG PODCAST

The second season of the Oolong podcast continues with Yangyang Cheng, a particle physicist who in her spare time writes insightful op-eds about science, technology, and contemporary Chinese politics. With host Lev Nachman, she discusses how she got interested in writing for a wider audience, how she became interested in physics in the first place, and some of the challenges she and other Chinese scientists are facing in today's political climate.

Reviews

Rewriting History

Ting Guo reviews Women and China’s Revolutions by Gail Hershatter

Despite its revolutionary and socialist origins – as women in the garment industry marched through New York City in 1908 demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights – International Women’s Day on March 8 has become a rather commercial holiday in many places around the world. That includes China, my socialist motherland. Taobao, the world’s biggest e-commerce website, uses the day as a shopping festival, and was able to hit 30.8 billion yuan (approximately $4.5 billion) in gross sales for women’s fashion, accessories and cosmetics in 2017. This year, however, a 1949 speech delivered by the socialist writer Ding Ling (1904-1986), a winner of the Stalin prize for literature in 1951, went viral on Weibo.

This speech, entitled ‘Thoughts on 8 March’, was delivered in the Communist heartland of Yan’an on August 3, 1949, a few months before the founding of the People’s Republic of China. As Ding Ling wrote:

“Aware, modern women should identify and cast off all their rosy, compliant illusions. Happiness is to take up the struggle in the midst of the raging storm and not to pluck the lute in the moonlight or recite poetry among the blossoms.” 

Translation

The Nursing Home Rightist

A political victim in his winter years, by Yuan Ling – translated by Jack Hargreaves

Ed: This is the second of two storeis by Yuan Ling, originally published in Chinese in One-Way Street Magazine, translated and published in English in partnership with Paper Republic. Read the first here.

I alight at Beigao bus station and cut through the tunnel under the airport expressway. Tractors and tricycle carts trundle past me beneath the low ceiling – entirely another world to the one atop the bridge. 

I cross a trash-strewn area and continue alongside the dry and scorch marked grass verge. I can see the pair of stone lions that guard the nursing home gate. A kiosk sits right inside as a reminder for visitors to buy something. 

Reviews

Home is Everywhere

Rachel Leow reviews Home Is Not Here by Wang Gungwu

“No matter where you live in the world, we all share one origin. There is a place for all of you here at home.”

In so many words, this is the single message which the People’s Republic of China’s Overseas Chinese Office (Qiaoban) channels to ethnic Chinese across the world. It is a relatively new sentiment. The idea that ethnic Chinese of foreign nationality (huaqiao) are not ‘blood traitors’ (hanjian) but patriots-in-potentia – talent (rencai) to be lured ‘back home’ to contribute to China’s wealth and power – has not long been in gestation. But since the 1980s, it has been written with ever more depth into the PRC’s long-term visions. Conceived under the KMT and established by the new PRC in 1949, the Qiaoban languished in the Cultural Revolution and was revived by Deng Xiaoping, who saw in the huaqiao a source of support for reform and opening. 

Three decades later, Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ counts huaqiao, not just Chinese citizens, among its dreamers; his One Belt One Road strategy is designed with huaqiao in mind, as business collaborators with critical local knowledge. 

Translation

Silent Children

Yuan Ling finds lost youths at a Chinese foster home – translated by Jack Hargreaves

One weekend while in Shanghai, I accompany some volunteers to Red Buds Foster Home for Children in the suburban Baoshan District.

Red Buds is in an old two-storey building surrounded by an iron fence. I shout through the railings for someone to open the gate and am greeted by a big beaming smile from the middle-aged man who comes to let us in. He’s great, the head of our group, Donkey explains – very welcoming whenever he sees us.

There’s something quite special about that smile and at first, I can’t put my finger on what. Then it occurs to me that he is always smiling, and it’s always the same smile. Donkey quietly adds that the man has learning difficulties but can tell good people from bad. He doesn’t open the door for people he doesn’t recognize and only smiles like this at the good ones.