The Little Red Podcast Series

The Little Red Podcast provides fresh, expert takes on China that go beyond the obvious. Combining journalistic sensibilities with academic rigour, we discuss the pressing issues of Xi Jinping’s China, and how their impact is felt far beyond the Beijing beltway. From East Timor to Eastern Qinghai, we take listeners to forgotten places that are missed in mainstream narratives of modern China. Hosted by Graeme Smith, China studies academic at large, and Louisa Lim, former China correspondent for the BBC and NPR, now with the Centre for Advancing Journalism at Melbourne University. Follow them @limlouisa and @GraemeKSmith, and find show notes on the Facebook page of the Podcast.

EPISODE 10

Hong Kong: The New Tibet?

As Hong Kong gears up to mark the twentieth anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty, the country’s number 3 leader Zhang Dejiang has made clear Beijing’s intention to tighten its control over the former British colony. He has spoken recently of the need to enact anti-subversion legislation and warned against any attempts to turn Hong Kong into an independent entity. But Hong Kong localists made a strong showing in the September 2016 election, winning six seats and securing twenty percent of the vote. In this episode, we look at the roots of the localism movement, and what impact China’s approach is having. As Beijing signals its tightening control, are parallels emerging between the Basic Law and the seventeen-point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet signed in 1951? Louisa and Graeme discuss Hong Kong’s future with Kevin Carrico of Macquarie University, who is writing a book on Hong Kong’s localist movement.

EPISODE 9

Feng Chongyi: Research Is Not a Dinner Party

Sydney academic Feng Chongyi, whose detention in Guangzhou created international headlines, warns that his experience is designed to intimidate academics researching topics deemed sensitive by Beijing. He describes heightened surveillance by China’s state security apparatus and increasing curbs on his research into human rights lawyers. Feng, who is still a Chinese citizen and Communist Party member, attributes his release to the fortuitous timing of Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Australia, combined with media attention and a high-profile campaign. He firmly rejects the notion that backroom negotiations were instrumental in securing his release. Feng is issuing a warning that China’s influence risks influencing academic and press freedom in Australia.

EPISODE 8

The Best Officials Money Can Buy: China’s Crony Capitalism

Is President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign working, or is it simply driving corruption underground? This episode we are joined by Minxin Pei from Claremont McKenna College, who has just released a forensic analysis of China’s corruption market, with insights gained from an examination of court cases. Among his findings are the fact that eighty-four percent of convicted officials were promoted while engaged in corruption, that those caught taking bribes had been doing so for an average of nine years, and that the higher the level of corruption the longer officials get away with it. Pei not only argues that China has reached the late stage of regime decay, he is even willing to estimate how much longer he believes Communist rule can last.

EPISODE 7

To Be Demolished Is Glorious: China’s Resettlement Industry

China is a world leader in resettlement, having resettled eighty million people since 1949. Before 2020, a further one hundred million people will be moved for environmental protection, poverty relief, and development. So who ultimately benefits from China’s massive resettlement programmes? And has China invented an entirely new academic discipline—resettlement science—to provide academic respectability to its far-reaching resettlement campaigns? This episode we are joined by Brooke Wilmsen from LaTrobe University and Sarah Rogers from the University of Melbourne to drill down into China’s resettlement industry.

EPISODE 6

China’s Little Emperors: Art Vs Science

In this episode we visit a theatre, a prison and an analyst’s chair to ask: are China’s little emperors really spoiled and lonely, or is this just lazy stereotyping? We meet Wang Chong, who’s directing Little Emperors; a play written by Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott about how one family has been affected by the One Child policy. It’s now playing at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. We’re also joined by Lisa Cameron, a behavioural economist from Monash University, who has tested how altruistic, risk loving and neurotic the little emperors are, and come up with surprising findings that suggest the One Child policy could be one factor driving China’s lonely hearts to crime.

EPISODE 5

China, East Timor, and the New Great Game

In Asia’s newest nation, East Timor, China’s influence is clear to see. Beijing built the Presidential palace, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the army barracks, and even offered training in China to more than one thousand Timorese civil servants. In this episode, we discuss the new Great Game playing out over East Timor’s geostrategic position with Swinburne University’s Michael Leach.

EPISODE 4

Trashing the Brand? Australian Universities and the Lure of Chinese Money

Is mainland Chinese money compromising the independence and quality of higher education in Australia? In this episode, the panel includes Latrobe University’s James Leibold, University of New South Wales’ Louise Edwards, and Paul Macgregor, a historian and former curator of the Chinese Museum in Melbourne.

EPISODE 3

Control and Capture: Taming China’s Overseas Media

Operatives in the studio, loyalty pledges by media outlets, and state security hounding advertisers. This week we hear from insiders about the range of strategies used by the Chinese government to tame the Chinese-language media in Australia—ranging from cooption to intimidation to outright censorship. The panel includes Raymond Chow from Sameway Magazine, John Fitzgerald from Swinburne University, and Yan Xia from Vision China Times.

EPISODE 2

The Politics of Language on the Tibetan Plateau

In this episode, guest Gerald Roche from the University of Melbourne introduces Tibet’s language diversity and explains how it is paradoxically being threatened by a resurgence in Tibetan identity.

EPISODE 1

Have China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Peaked?

China produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country in the world, and more than all the rest of the world put together. Its emissions had been set to peak between 2025 and 2030, but researchers are wondering whether Beijing’s emissions have already begun falling, more than a decade earlier than expected. Fergus Green from the London School of Economics explains how changes in the Chinese economy are having an impact on China’s emissions.