The Dragon and the Fate of China

In 1988, a year of the dragon, China’s Central Television aired a six-part documentary entitled River Elegy 河殤 that caused heated debates among Chinese intellectuals and within the Communist Party. The show’s creators presented a damning critique of Chinese culture, which they saw as agriculture-based and inward-looking compared to the ‘ocean-based’ civilisations of the West. … more

China’s Local Government Debt: Fallout from a Perfect Storm

The hidden debt of China’s local governments, which is held by entities called Local Government Financing Vehicles (LGFVs), has rattled financial markets. Now some worry that it could threaten the entire economy. While there is no official data, one estimate of LGFVs debt puts it at 59 trillion yuan (US$8.25 trillion) at the end of … more

Taiwan’s South China Sea

In Nanjing in 1946, the government of the Republic of China (ROC), in the midst of a civil war, decided to delineate the territory of the Republic so that it could reconstruct the country after the expected successful conclusion of the war against the Communists. ROC officials studied old documents and records that suggested the … more

The University of Mountains and Rivers: Unequal Admissions System Fuels the Dream of an Ideal University

According to its official website, The University of Mountains and Rivers (or Shan He Da Xue 山河大学, or SHU) is located on No.1 Shan He Road, in a special administrative region where China’s four northern provinces, Shandong 山东, Shanxi 山西, Henan 河南, and Hebei 河北 intersect. The name Shanhe is a portmanteau of the four … more

‘Take Off Your Kong Yiji’s Gown’: Why Are State Media and Unemployed Youth Disagreeing Over Interpretations of Lu Xun’s Classic

For graduates in search of a job in China, March and April are traditionally the busiest hiring season. This golden window of opportunity has even acquired the nickname ‘golden March, silver April’ 金三银四. But this year’s job-finding season proved exasperating for many, with the National Bureau of Statistics reporting that in March 2023, unemployment among … more

Tiger! Tiger!

‘The historical attitude in China to the tiger is full of contradictions’, observed Cao Zhenfeng, a specialist on Chinese folk tradition. ‘The tiger is both loved and hated; it is a frightening beast as well as a protecting god; it is a sign of danger and a symbol for good luck; it causes people to … more