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 the study 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.
A celebration of Taiwan’s National Day in Fiji led to a physical altercation between Taiwan and mainland China officials, which in turn has resulted in a fresh escalation of cross-strait hostilities. Zaobao journalist Chuang Hui Liang examines where this might lead.
Shenzhen has grown rapidly over the past 40 years, such that its GDP reached a massive 2.7 trillion RMB in 2019. Just this month, the Chinese government released a five-year plan to make Shenzhen a “pilot demonstration area for socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Amid plans for reforms and new initiatives, EAI academic Yu Hong asks: How much autonomy will Shenzhen have, and what challenges will it face?
The US has been trying to delink the CCP from the Chinese people, thinking that this will give them a clear path to defining a tangible enemy. But they have forgotten that Western imperialists were abhorred by the Chinese and any form of neo-imperialism would be anathema to them. The US may have overlooked the uneasy truth that nationalism in China is a firm glue that binds the CCP and the people together.
In the context of China-US competition, US-listed China concept stocks companies may find it advantageous to get secondary listings on the Hong Kong or Singapore stock exchange. US companies may also veer towards Singapore and Hong Kong when it comes to international arbitration cases. In the final analysis, will Singapore or Hong Kong have the edge?
China laments that it has not done anything wrong, amid the slew of bad reactions it has been getting internationally. Han Yong Hong points out while negative perceptions of China by major countries of the world are at an all-time high, this is not solely to do with strains in the US-China relationship. Individual countries have their beef with China for a host of reasons. When everything is all said and done, communication is still key, and China has just as much responsibility as everyone else to make the effort to bridge the gap.
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.
Companies like Disney hoping to capture the huge Chinese market must buck up and understand the cultural and political sensitivities involved even more. Otherwise, in an age of increased tension between China and the West, they might find themselves tripping up over landmines from both sides.
Chinese academic Zhu Ying says the US is reviving its rhetoric of ideological crusades against China that harks back to the time of the Truman doctrine. Such tactics will only get worse with post-pandemic tensions and greater strategic competition between the two countries.