Academia

People wearing face masks walk past a Chinese flag in Beijing, China, 11 January 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Why do the Chinese behave this way? China's 'middle society' holds the clue

Even as Western academics are translating essays by Chinese academics in a bid to understand China better, Wu Guo says that in the field of cultural psychology, the views of the well-educated “middle society“ in China are worth tapping into. Do the trauma of national humiliation and other cultural baggage explain China’s rising nationalism and persistent “grand unification strategy”?
A pedestrian walks past a mural from the "Heart of Cyberpunk" exhibition in Sham Shui Po district in Hong Kong on 24 October 2020. (Photo by May JAMES / May James / AFP)

'Transnational Chinese-language cyber intellectual enclaves': An emerging phenomenon

Wu Guo observes that with the prevalence of WeChat and other online platforms, “transnational Chinese-language cyber intellectual enclaves” are emerging. Such an avenue is freeing for some, as ethnic Chinese academics around the world who mainly use the Chinese language now have an avenue to share their views with other ethnic Chinese in or outside China. But for those keeping track of where the centre of gravity of China discourse is moving towards and who fear being left out of the conversation — should they be worried?   
Professor Ezra Vogel at an event in Beijing for his book Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. (CNS)

Mourning the dearth of China experts in the West with a deep understanding of China

The passing of US scholar and China expert Ezra Vogel means one less voice among those in the West who have a deep understanding of China and who are able to provide an objective and realistic assessment of the country. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu breaks down what this might mean for the world, and for China-US relations in particular.
A sign encouraging voter turnout is seen at a campaign yard sign distribution site in Madison, Wisconsin, US, 17 October 2020. (Bing Guan/File Photo/Reuters)

Intellectuals and accountability: Should scientists sway public opinion on politics?

Zhang Tiankan chastises renowned journals The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Science and Nature, for veering off their professional domains and making prescriptive statements about which US presidential candidate to vote for. Such behaviour is irresponsible and unbecoming, to say the least. He asks: Shouldn't intellectuals be accountable for their views and positions?
People climb the Great Wall, illuminated to mark the first day of Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese National Day, in Beijing, China, 1 October 2020. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Wang Gungwu: The high road to pluralist sinology

Professor Wang Gungwu, eminent historian and university professor of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore, was awarded the 2020 Tang Prize in Sinology earlier this year. At the 2020 Tang Prize Masters’ Forums — Sinology held last month, Professor Wang traced the evolution of sinology in the West and East, observing that today, a “pluralist sinology” is emerging alongside a rising China. This allows for the term “sinologist” to be applied to a much larger group of scholars, and for the bringing together of various knowledge traditions and academic disciplines in the study of China. While there is much to be cheered by this, Professor Wang also urged his fellow scholars to be ready to “douse the fires that others had fanned”, as knowledge gathered by pluralist sinology could be used as a weapon amid intense rivalry between the US and China. This is the transcript of his speech. 
US President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township, Pennsylvania on 22 September 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

There is no grave crisis in the US; China must not read the US wrongly

Wei Da says to avoid making erroneous judgements in taking certain actions, both the US and China need to calmly evaluate and recalibrate their strategic assessments of each other. If cool heads are kept, events such as the upcoming presidential election are not to be feared but welcomed as a harbinger of change.
An American flag is placed on a fence outside of the US Capitol building on 28 September 2020 in Washington, DC. (Al Drago/AFP)

Anti-intellectualism in US diplomacy: How worried should we be?

Intellectual elites in the US have traditionally played a key role in the way the country conducts international relations, and have guided the US government in shaping is foreign policy. However, the US's words and actions about China-US relations and the coronavirus seem to suggest that it has fallen prey to anti-intellectualism, with rationality and long-term vision thrown away. Japan-based academic Zhang Yun examines the issue and finds out if there is indeed cause for concern.
Students attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of Wuhan High School on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan, Hubei, China, on 1 September 2020. (STR/AFP)

Why intellectuals failed to flourish throughout 5000 years of China's history

Chip Tsao laments the dearth of independent thought in China, following a long history of strictures imposed on intellectualism. If the elements of the “scholar”, “intellectual” and “professional” can be combined and inculcated in the country’s elites, a new dynamism can be sparked off that can help China truly modernise.
An incoming freshman checks into his campus dormitory at University of Colorado Boulder on 18 August 2020 in Boulder, Colorado. (Mark Makela/Getty Images/AFP)

Trump's sweeping 'espionage' claims against Chinese scholars unfair, baseless and discriminatory

US academic Zhu Zhiqun opines that conditions in the US are becoming increasingly unfavourable for Chinese and Asian Americans. In particular, the current toxic environment and pressure on US institutions to clamp down on Chinese students are undoing decades of goodwill generated from people-to-people exchanges. Will the authorities realise that soon enough and make a U-turn?