China

Welcome to the Frontlines: Beyond Violence and Nonviolence

Welcome to the Frontlines: Beyond Violence and Nonviolence

From Chuang

Over the past two weeks, the US has seen some of the largest, most militant protests and riots in decades. The now nationwide movement began in Minneapolis following the police murder of George Floyd. The anger that followed led to mass demonstrations, confrontations with the police, arson and looting, mourning and rebellion that spread across the country within a matter of hours. The Minneapolis Third Precinct station house, where the murderers had worked, was burned to the ground, and police cars were set aflame from New York to LA in the most widespread damage to the punitive edifices of the US state seen in this century, fueled by decades of anger at racist policing and the ceaseless stream of police murders of Black people. Now, even the reform-oriented electoral left is seriously discussing a softened version of police abolition on a national level, re-imagined as “defunding,” and the Minneapolis City Council has pledged to “disband” the city’s police department. Not long ago, such a demand would have been considered utopian.

Remolding Hong Kong: A View from the Mainland

Remolding Hong Kong: A View from the Mainland

From 闯 Chuǎng

For several months starting late January, the Covid-19 Pandemic seemed to have demobilized the mass movement in Hong Kong, in any case pushing it off the radar of global news. Over the past few weeks, however, the Special Autonomous Region’s unresolved conflict has again begun to heat up, with fifteen prominent anti-Beijing (“pan-democracy”) politicians being arrested on April 18 for “organising and participating in unlawful assemblies,” and the revival of city-wide protests, including one on May 10 ending in over 200 arrests, the firing of a pepper ball round in a shopping center, and the police strangling of a journalist caught up in the melee (one among multiple recent police assaults on journalists). On May 12, “Ms. X,” the teenager who had accused Hong Kong police of gang-raping her in detention after a round-up of protestors last September, learned that the state had now issued a warrant for her arrest on the charge “making a false statement” and “absconding” to Taiwan, and that the Department of Justice had dropped her case against the police. Meanwhile in the Legislative Council, a number of controversial measures have been pursued by pro-Beijing officials, including a 25 percent increase to the police budget, passed on May 14, for the force to add 2,500 officers and purchase more weapons. The next day saw the first in what is expected to become a flood of trials for participants in last year’s protests, with 21-year-old lifeguard Sin Ka-ho being sentenced to four years in prison for “rioting.” Most importantly, Beijing’s “Two Sessions” are currently pushing to impose national security legislation that, opponents argue, would effectively incorporate Hong Kong into China’s political structure, prematurely ending the era of “one country, two systems.”

Social Contagion: Microbiological Class War in China

Social Contagion: Microbiological Class War in China

From communists in situ via Chuang.org

The Furnace

Wuhan is known colloquially as one of the “four furnaces” (四大火炉) of China for its oppressively hot humid summer, shared with Chongqing, Nanjing and alternately Nanchang or Changsha, all bustling cities with long histories along or near the Yangtze river valley. Of the four, Wuhan, however, is also sprinkled with literal furnaces: the massive urban complex acts as a sort of nucleus for the steel, concrete and other construction-related industries of China, its landscape dotted with the slowly-cooling blast furnaces of the remnant state-owned iron and steel foundries, now plagued by overproduction and forced into a contentious new round of downsizing, privatization and general restructuring—itself resulting in several large strikes and protests in the last five years.

The Divided God

The Divided God

From Chuang

A Letter to Hong Kong

Since the Arab Spring in 2011, the world has been riven by abrupt tectonic shifts in the landscape of political potential. The certainty that once embroidered every discussion of the global economy has, after a decade of crisis, become a laughable afterthought. In retrospect, we might argue that the “Rebirth of History” began in Algeria or Egypt, but now history is beginning to shake loose even in the wealthy countries, beneath the sprawling, shining cities built on decades of speculation. Places once considered stable ground—requiring little more than periodic tending by the technocratic management of central banks and think tanks—have now shown themselves to be founded on fault lines.

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