March 7, 2014 § 3 Comments
I’ll be talking at Westminster University, London, on March 19th about how Western and Chinese media tends to represent the Xinjiang issue in different yet equally distorting ways – details here.
March 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
I attempt to make sense of the horrible killings in Kunming on the LRB Blog
February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
Ilham Tohti, the respected Uyghur economist, has been charged with separatism and faces ten years to life in prison in China. It’s the kind of thing that’s a reminder of how China’s judicial and political system hasn’t made the same kind of progress as its economy. I wrote about the case on the LRB Blog.
January 17, 2014 § 2 Comments
I went back to Kashgar, in southern Xinjiang, in September last year for the first time in 13 years. In 2000 it was a place that I was sorry to leave; I didn’t feel the same this time. More words and pictures about that can be found at Unmapped, a new travel magazine that’s publishing the kinds of pieces that are in short supply: well-written, insightful reports from places that the news agenda doesn’t seem concerned about.
January 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
November 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
There was an explosion in Tiananmen Square last week. On the LRB Blog I write about why it wasn’t terrorism.
October 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
My first dispatch from Kyrgyzstan is now up on the London Review of Books Blog
Here are some other photos of the town:
October 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
Verbally, that is. My Q and A with the director of this wonderful documentary about Uyghur music is now up at China File
September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
My new essay on knowing a Chinese James Bond is in the new issue of The Dublin Review
This is how it starts:
Everyone in Shaoyang Teachers’ College said Mr Ma had been a spy. If this was supposed to be a secret, it was badly kept. When I first met him, in 1999, Mr Ma was in his mid thirties. He wore black glasses with thick lenses; his hair was in retreat; there was frequently a look of astonishment on his face. He was bashful, polite, prone to excessive laughter. But the fact that he didn’t look or act like a spy only made the rumours more plausible. It meant that he had been a good spy.
September 5, 2013 § Leave a comment
My take on the Bo Xilai trial, the biggest political trial in China for decades, now up at the LRB blog
July 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
My piece on cheating in Chinese education is on the LRB blog.
July 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
My piece for the 4th anniversary of the Urumqi riots is at Dissent magazine.
June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
My review of Liao Yiwu’s prison memoir is now up at The LA Review of Books.
May 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
My interview with Lisa Ross on Uyghur shrines in the desert is at the Los Angeles Review of Books- thanks again to her for answering my questions in such a thoughtful manner.
April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
April 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
Isobel Yeung, who works for CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, recently wrote a piece for The Independent in which she argued that the Western media are misrepresenting China’s policies towards ethnic minorities in Inner Mongolia. She argued that the government aren’t trying to destroy the culture of nomadic herders by moving them into cities- they just want to improve their ‘medieval lifestyle’. Here’s my response to this in The Independent.
March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
I have a review of Sven Lindqvist’s The Myth of Wu Tao Tzu up at the Los Angeles Review of Books
February 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
My Dublin Review piece on corruption and factories in China is now online.
January 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
I have a short piece on the LRB Blog about the Tibetan self-immolations, of which there have been almost 100 since 2011. Click here to read.
October 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
September 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
My essay on Chinese factories and corruption is in the latest issue of The Dublin Review, along with an interesting piece about being a fake priest in Japan. I originally wrote this as the middle section of my LARB piece, but it ended up breaking free from that and hopefully works fine on its own.
The DR is one of the few magazines still interested in publishing longform pieces about foreign countries that aren’t based around conflict or suffering. As such, it deserves our support. A 4 issue subscription costs £36.
I’d also like to thank the gone, but not forgotten, and very much missed Scottish Arts Council for helping to fund the trip to China that led to the LARB piece, the DR piece, and the afterword of The Tree That Bleeds.
August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
My piece on two of my former students is now up at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and features kidnapping, a cow’s vagina,’Peter Burger’ and the house of wasps. I may, perhaps, have burnt some bridges by writing this piece- in which case, dear bridges, I’m sorry. There was so much kindling I could not resist.
You can see accompanying photos here.
August 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
There’s a short video of me speaking about The Tree That Bleeds now up at China File, where there’s a lot of other great content. Thanks to Maura Cunningham for doing the interview and for editing my rambling into coherent form.
August 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
My post on Chinese environmental protests is now up at the LRB Blog.
July 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
I have a new piece on the LRB Blog on Chinese propaganda comics from 1950 that some have used to critique modern China. The only thing I’d add to what I say there is that to argue that China has gone back in time is overlook the many achievements made by the PRC, albeit sometimes at catastrophic cost to its people. Despite the apparent similarities, the problems of contemporary China are those of a very different kind of society and system.
April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’ll be having two kinds of fun in NYC this month. I’ll be giving a paper at the Association for the Study of Nationalities conference at Columbia University on 19th April. The paper is titled ‘Post-Conflict Identities in Xinjiang: Good, Bad and Non Muslims’ and is basically about the mean things that Uighurs I knew said about Han Chinese, Hui and other Uighurs in Yining. For example, this exchange that I had with a Uighur girl in a small village near Yining.
‘Are there any Chinese here?’
‘No, you would be able to smell them.’
‘What do they smell of?’
‘Spices, mostly chilli.’
‘What do they say you smell of?’
‘Lamb. Many Chinese, they can’t stand this smell. When they come here for the first time, they will –’ (she mimed retching) ‘when they smell this.’
Were this not fun enough, I’ll also be doing a book reading at Bluestockings in Manhattan on the 22nd. For the love of God, if you know anyone in NYC, please tell them to come.