China Change Logo

You are reading about: History

October 25, 2017   Yaxue Cao sat down with Wang Dan (王丹) on September 27 and talked about his past 28 years since 1989: the 1990s, Harvard, teaching in Taiwan, China’s younger generation, his idea for a think tank, his books, assessment of current China, Liu Xiaobo, and the New School for Democracy. –– The Editors     YC: Wang Dan, sitting down to do an interview with you I’m feeling nostalgic, because as soon as I close my eyes the name Wang Dan brings back the image of that skinny college student with large glasses holding a megaphone in a sea of protesters on Tiananmen Square. That was 1989. Now you have turned 50. So having this interview with you outside a cafe in […]


Tsering Woeser, February 10, 2017 Woeser’s note: This essay was written in Lhasa in the summer of 2014, for a very special book. The volume, “Trails of the Tibetan Tradition: Papers for Elliot Sperling,” was a compilation of 31 essays from Tibetologists, paying respect to Elliot Sperling. There were 5 essays in Tibetan, 25 in English, and 1 in Chinese. On February 3, 2015, the book was launched at the Amnye Machen Institute [in Dharamsala]. Prior to that, Elliot didn’t know that this book had been in preparation for two years. It was presented as a gift to him as a token of respect and friendship, and most importantly as a testament to his preciousness and rarity: wise, kind, brave, righteous. And yet… those whom […]


June 4, 2016   (Continued from Part One) Wu: Another find that was very exciting was to discover the chief of staff of the 38th Group Army’s 1st Tank Division. This chief of staff led the spearhead of that tank division, the 1st Regiment of armored infantrymen and the 1st Regiment, the very first tanks to arrive in Tiananmen Square, including the three tanks involved in the massacre at Liubukou. This chief of staff was eager to carry out orders and show his “politically correctness.” In all the military propaganda materials celebrating his “heroic achievements,” he was only ever referred to as “Chief of Staff Yan.” They described how he repeatedly ordered for forcing advancement, and his troops shot dead a student attempting to obstruct […]


June 3, 2016 In 1989, Mr. Wu Renhua was a young faculty member at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, leading the student demonstration along with other young scholars. He participated in the Tiananmen Movement “from the first day to the last,” and was among the last few thousand protesters who left Tiananmen Square in the early morning of June 4. On the way back to his college, he witnessed PLA tanks charging into a file of students at Liubukou (六部口), a large intersection, killing 11 and injuring many. In February, 1990, Wu swam four hours from Zhuhai to Macau, and onto Hong Kong, and arrived later that year in the United States. Over the next 15 years he was the editor […]


As we looked at yesterday, China may not be as welcomed in Africa as some authors might argue. My friends told me a few stories after reflecting on our first discussion that I thought should be shared, but didn’t quite fit into yesterday’s post.* Friend from Zambia You know, it’s probably not fair to think that the Chinese are only bad for Zambia. If they weren’t there many of the mines would have closed. Any job is better than no job. The people working in the mines just consider how much better things were for them when the mines were operated by the gov’t, rather than thinking about what it would be like without any job at all. If we were rational we’d probably be […]


I try to only let myself indulge in jubilant patriotism once a year on this blog, and the 4th of July is that occasion (last year’s entry). This afternoon I’m bringing pulled pork sandwiches in to the office, where I plan on chatting with co-workers about how America threw off the chains of imperial oppression and built a nation based on the rights of individuals instead of the whims of monarchs (sentences like this come from listening to Fanfare for The Common Man on a steady loop). I will acknowledge that it took nearly 200 years to even begin to make the idea that “All men are created equal” a reality in our laws, but that for those centuries, it was this founding principal that pushed […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 29, 2012   The Shengs were a prominent family in Ningpo. There were the old Shengs and the new Shengs; Mr. Sheng’s family was the old Shengs, landowners for generations. The family residence consisted of ten adjoining quadrangles, the innermost being the ancestor hall where memorial tablets and portraits of ancestors were displayed. I loved to play there the best, said Mr. Sheng, on my family’s visits when I was a little boy, because it was as big as a basketball court and I could run amok there, whereas my older sisters were scared and wouldn’t dare to go. Mr. Sheng’s mother was also from Ningpo, the daughter of a brewery owner. Mr. Sheng’s eldest sister and Sheng Shuren, his […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 28, 2012   I almost forgot; I had been to Shanghai before. It was the Chinese New Year of 1990, I decided spontaneously to go to a friend’s home to spend the holidays. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded an airplane in Guangzhou, and landed, several hours later, at Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. From the airport, I took a taxi to the Shanghai Train Station. I remember it was dusk, the sky overcast, the air chilling beyond a northerner’s assumption of Shanghai. There was not a soul on the streets. I don’t know why, but right at this moment, I am thinking about six o’clock. Two clicks away now, I know the trip is sixteen kilometers long, and passes a […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 27, 2012   On the morning of Christmas Eve as my family and I were getting ready to go to North Carolina to visit my parents-in-law, I received an email from Mr. Sheng Liren whose information I had found on the same school alumni page. He is Sheng Shuren’s brother, seventeen years his junior, a retired professor of mathematics. Before I accidentally heard Sheng Shuren’s story from Erjia, he seemed to be the only person I could potentially find, so I wrote him a letter and sent it to the School of Mathematical Sciences of Anhui University where he had taught before retiring. I did this just to give a try without really expecting too much—perhaps he had moved; even […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 26, 2012   Erjia, who was only a couple of years older than Sheng ’s oldest son, called Sheng “Shuren Dage” (树人大哥) or Big Brother Shuren, and Sheng Shuren called Erjia “Jia Di” (“家弟”) or Little Brother Jia. Shuren Dage and Jia Di did not cook and ate in a neighborhood canteen mainly for the neighborhood factory workers. There, Erjia’s two favorite items, steamed dumpling and pickled duck egg, sold for 5 cents a piece. Going Dutch, the two men lived on twenty yuan a month. Sheng Shuren’s mother was sick, and the two men often went to a general store together to rent oxygen bags for her (she died not too long after Erjia left). When there was nothing […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 25, 2012 《盛树人》_中文版   I came upon the name Sheng Shuren (盛树人) recently when I was reading one of the documents left behind by Uncle Liu Erning. From the reference I learned Sheng Shuren was a man arrested along with Uncle Erning in Xushui, Hebei Province, in the summer of 1958. I very much wanted to know who he was and whether he was still alive; and if so, whether I could find him and ask about what had happened in Xushui. A Google search found him on the list of notable alumni of an elementary school in the east coastal city of Ningpo. I knew then it was him: “Sheng Shuren, also Yinxing, of the Sheng Family in the […]


…Continued from part 1 An earth-shattering event 3.1 The imperialist powers invasion shattered China’s dream of learning from the West. The October Revolution in Russia sent Marxism to China and cause progressive Chinese to turn their attention from the West to the East, and from bourgeois democracy to socialism. The May 4th Movement furthered the spread of Marxism, and the working class appeared on the stage of history as an independent political force. The integration of Marxism with the workers movement gave  birth to the CPC. The founding of the CPC was an earth-shattering even that brought new vitality to the Chinese revolution. Searching for a new path for the Chinese revolution 3.2 After its founding, the CPC relied on and mobilized workers and peasants, […]


I received this as an email today and was asked to share it with you all. I am writing this in great fear. Let me explain- All of the things happening with the drama of Chen and Bo haven’t even phased people here as they are still more concerned with surviving in their daily lives. But then today that changed. My boyfriend (a Chinese professor of English) received a strange text message. He sent it to me and was very concerned because we are planning on getting married and moving to the US as soon as possible. The text was in Chinese and my Chinese was too poor to understand all of it so he translated it. It read: an announcement received today from concerned authorities that all leaders and professors […]


I’ve been working on transcribing the diary of a missionary doctor who lived in Hefei (then called Lu Chow Fu) around the turn of the century. This passage, written by the doctor’s wife, struck me as particularly interesting for several reasons. Firstly, by the sheer number of people the doctor and his two assistants were able to treat in a year, and secondly by the fact that malaria had been such a major concern in central China. Last year there were only 24 deaths from the disease, and it has been eradicated in Hefei, this is a noteworthy achievement that is rarely mentioned. According to Wikipedia, the population of Hefei in 1930 was ~30,000. The following entry gives us an interesting glimpse of both the […]


By Yaxue Cao On the heel of the 2008 Olympic spectacle that awed much of the world, China celebrated its 60th anniversary of the communist rule on Oct. 1, 2009. In the ancient Chinese calendar system where 10 heavenly stems and 12 earthly branches are combined to designate the sequence of years, the 60th year marks the completion of a cycle, and after that the years start all over again. By the old concept, 60-years is a lifetime. 10,000 military members goose stepped in formation, each consisting of marchers who looked like replicas of each other with the same height, the same built, the same weight, the same haircut and the same expression. After the soldiers, 100,000 civilians paraded in nearly the same sameness along […]


By Yaxue Cao, published September 17, 2011   You would imagine that it is easier for Chinese to discuss Mao Zedong and do so in a productive manner, now that over thirty years have passed since the death of the man and there is enough perspective for retrospection. After all, the look of China is so far removed from Mao’s era, Chinese from all walks of life are travelling all over the world studying, sightseeing, working and living, and new and abundant information has shed such light on the man as never before. No, it is not. Earlier this year, the Chinese economist Mao Yushi (茅于轼) wrote an article entitled “Turning Mao Zedong Back to a Human Being” (《把毛泽东还原为人》 ), calling for just that: To […]


It’s no secret that China is a massive country that is changing at incredible speeds, and so it seems that even 5 days a week isn’t enough to cover everything that is happening in the middle kingdom. So I am very pleased to announce the launch SeeingRedInChina.com’s weekend section. It will have posts focusing on (mis)adventures in China, a brief round-up of the week’s news stories with a brief explanation of why they matter, as well as opinion pieces, guest posts, and hopefully some interviews. My good friend Casey will be kicking things off on Saturday as he starts to tell the story of his first trip to China, and his time spent working in what has to be the absolute worst school in China. […]


Today I wanted to bring you something unique. This is from a diary written by a missionary who arrived in Nanjing at the end of Imperial China, and was integral in spreading western medicine in Eastern China.  I hope you’ll enjoy this moment from the past and reflect on how much China has and hasn’t changed. August 1st, 1891 – One amusing experience was a call to the Fanti’s Yamen to treat a man who had cut his arm and fainted from loss of blood. The Fanti is the treasurer and is a high official. The present one being a relative of the Emperor. A yamen is a palace which in Chinese style is composed of many rooms only one story high, separated by courts […]


China’s system of gov’t is based not on a mandate from the people, nor does it rely on a mandate from heaven (which was the Chinese version of a divine right to rule), instead the current system relies on quality of life improvement spurred by China’s growing GDP (my post on the problem with those numbers) for their mandate to rule. Over the last 60 years there have been fluctuations in the speed of growth, and its effect on stability. Let’s start by looking at each decade incredibly briefly: 1950’s Civil war ends and life expectancy increases as people finally have safety and regular access to food. China is able to launch massive infrastructure projects. 1960’s Great Leap Forward, followed by millions of deaths in […]


For the past few days we’ve been exploring a few of the myths the Party sees as central to their rule (here and here). Today and tomorrow we’ll be taking on the the most controversial one, that Chairman Mao was 70% right and 30% wrong. If you haven’t lived in China, you are probably wondering how anyone ever came up with such a precise statistic. One of my American friends liked to joke with his students (not sure if they realized he was joking) that perhaps the Chairman was only 65% right or that it included his primary school test scores, generally, the students didn’t want to discuss these things. The Chairman is still very much officially revered in China; his face is on every […]


In the mid 1800’s China faced a growing debt with England as a result of opium addiction. Officially opium had been banned by the emperor but corrupt officials continued to allow the drug into the country for the right price. The problem was not only destroying the fabric of Chinese society, but the empire itself. Finally in 1838 a man with an impeccable reputation for being impervious to bribes was sent to deal with the illegal imports, his name was Lin Zexu. Not only was he effective in limiting the amount that entered the country, but was also adept at seizing it from warehouses. In 1839 he managed to destroy more than 2.5 million tons of opium, and wrote a letter to the Queen of […]


vertical_align_top
Support our work

At China Change, a few dedicated staff bring you information about human rights, rule of law, and civil society in China. We want to help you understand aspects of China’s political landscape that are the most censored and least understood. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, and your contribution is tax-deductible. For offline donation, or donor receipt policy, check our “Become a Benefactor” page. Thank you.


Follow Us

Stats
Total Pageviews:
  • 1,312,874
Read in:
216 countries and territories