Review

Tough Questions

Grace Jackson reviews The China Questions, from Harvard University Press

In 1955, Professor John King Fairbank established the Center for Asian Research at Harvard not to train scholars per se, but to educate and prepare a new generation of public servants for engagement with Chairman Mao’s China. Sinology was already an established academic discipline in Europe and the United States, tracing a lineage from the Jesuit missionaries through to the great nineteenth century translators such as James Legge, Thomas Wade and Herbert Giles. But unlike the Sinologists, who approached Chinese civilization through its ancient texts, the China Hands that Fairbank would train at Harvard were multidisciplinary men – in those days, it was primarily men – of the world: aspiring journalists, diplomats and policymakers.

Review

Left Out

Grace Jackson reviews Leftover in China by Roseann Lake

First coined in the Chinese media over a decade ago, “leftover women” (剩女 shengnü) is the epithet in China for those women who have failed to attract a husband by their mid-to-late twenties and early thirties, and are considered by their parents and Chinese society at large to be flirting perilously with spinsterhood. Much ink has been spilled in the Anglophone sinosphere over this invented category, and the latest addition – plagued by accusations of using uncredited inspiration from an earlier work – is Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower by Roseann Lake. A vibrant survey of marriage and dating in contemporary Beijing, the book is supported with research and interviews, and peppered with personal insights into the romantic lives of China’s educated, urban and doggedly unwed young women.