Essays

The Essay (zawen) has long been a favoured medium for those wishing to challenge or even upend established power structures or ways of thinking. In this tradition, the Chinoiresie Essays section offers a selection of writings, photo galleries, speeches and conversations that seek to question and critique given truths and common sense certainties about China. All original essays published by Chinoiresie are peer reviewed. The editorial team solicits essays on specific topics and accepts submissions. If you are interested in contributing to Chinoiresie, please first contact the editors with a proposed topic at info@chinoiresie.info.

Social welfare in China has emerged in recent years as a major cause of migrant workers’ discontent and collective action. Reforms of the social welfare system in China since 2002 have expanded coverage and protection of vulnerable populations, but structural problems remain for migrant workers......

In September 2011, the village of Wukan in Eastern Guangdong province became the centre of a media storm and made international headlines for its violent protests against the illegal sale of land by their established, and corrupt, village elite. Village leaders had taken it upon......

The night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12 a  Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory. Mao Zedong Alain Badiou’s......

Western media and research often frame China’s expanding presence in African countries as a new project in empire building on the continent. The Chinese government, on the contrary, espouses a very different narrative—one which depicts Chinese companies and migrants as promoting development through beneficial South-South......

On 15 May 2013, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama announced the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Task Force aimed at bringing ‘sanity’ to the country’s rapidly (and chaotically) expanding small-scale mining sector. Over the course of the next month, the army and police proceeded to ‘flush......

In 2007, the Chinese authorities issued the Labour Contract Law to grant new legal protections to workers and the Labour Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Law to make it easier for them to enforce their rights through litigation. In the decade that followed, Chinese workers have......

On 16 November, the third World Internet Conference (WIC) will open in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, under the auspices of the Cyber Administration of China. One of the primary goals of the event is the promotion of a multilateral Internet governance model based on the notion......

The happiness of the Chinese people is one of the declared aims of the Chinese dream. An educational volume on social governance and welfare published by the official Red Flag Press entitled Building a Happy China sums it up like this: ‘The process of the......

Zhao Liang’s recent film Behemoth (beixi moshou) is a cinematic meditation on the Anthropocene—the current geological epoch marking ‘a new phase in the history of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces become intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of......

As an historian of Chinese religion, my work overlaps with, and sometimes confronts the work of rights advocates. These encounters can be uncomfortable for both parties. At one level, there is a clash of disciplines. Historians generally resist the call of advocacy, or at least......

One fascinating question concerning labour activism in contemporary China regards the attitude of Chinese migrant workers towards the law. In recent years, much has been written about the ‘rights awakening’ (quanli de juexing) of Chinese workers. But what kind of rights are we talking about?......

With its ample resonance both within China and internationally, the ‘rule of law’ (yifa zhiguo) is an expression that can justify the most disparate justice reforms. It is both a political value worth defending and a reason for consternation; it is an ideal that is......

Most Han in Xinjiang, Western China, have settled—or been settled by state decree—in the region since the Chinese Communist Party won the Civil War and took control of China in 1949. Since that time, the proportion of Han in the population has risen from 4......

By Ivan Franceschini and Elisa Nesossi Recently, people from the State Security who had summoned me to ‘have a tea’ said to me: ‘Us from the State Security are still quite civilised, but with this coming law that will regulate NGOs you will have to......

In the first quarter of this year, a week-long strike at an ailing state-owned steel factory in Guangzhou, a street protest by miners in Heilongjiang denouncing the governor for a misleading remark about their wages, and a symbolically powerful convergence of coal miners in the......

In the past decade scholars have put forward several scathing criticisms of Chinese labour NGOs that go well beyond the usual concerns about the lack of transparency and internal democracy. Some have criticised them for being nothing less than ‘anti-solidarity machines‘ that, by putting too......